My room I shared with Maude lies on the fifth and final floor of the dorms. I had texted April and Honora asking them to meet up in my room and I was guessing that Maude and Gus would probably be there as well. The stairs were easy for me to conquer and as I neared my room, I heard laughter from inside. Grinning to myself, I opened the door.
“Eva!” Gus barreled over to me and shoved a pink bucket of water in my face. “Look at what I got!”
“Whaa?” I peered into the bucket and saw a two tiny black fish swimming around in crazed circles. The bigger one had a very short and stubby tail and its whole body was black. The smaller one was really beautiful. Its body was lean and shaped a bit like a thin teardrop but the most captivating feature was its tail. The colour was light pink with light purple patterns and each edge of the tail darkened slightly, giving the tail a stunning dimension.
“They’re guppies,” Gus said proudly. “There was a group of them and I managed to catch these two. I think the female’s pregnant.”
“They’re guppies,” Maude imitated. “The most common fish in the world!”
“At least they’re not those boring shrimps you always managed to catch,” I said kindly as walked past Gus to sit down. I was’t used to having boys in my room but Gus had told me once that it was okay as long as it was before lights out time.
“April and Honora should be here in any minute,” I told my friends who nodded and on cue, there was a simple knock on the door and in they came.
“What is it you have to tell me?” Honora said, rocking back and forth on her heels once we’d closed the door.
“Well,” April said. “We need your marvelous magic for help again.”
“Compulsion?” Honora guessed and got it right instantly.
“That’s right.” I grinned. “We’re going to move all students and staff from West Valley to Goldenwood Prison!”
Maude, who was sipping on a drink from a thin, plastic bottle spat out a spray of water and gaped at me. “Prison?” She said, her mouth opened wide.
“It’s safe for all of us,” April explained. “With all the guards there and everything.”
Maude pouted but remained quiet otherwise.
“Let me guess,” Honora spoke up. “You guys want me to compel Ms. Chaplan and have her contact the prison?”
“Bang on,” I said, giving her another grin. “You’re so good at guessing our plans you could be a Destine like Maude!”
“Is there any source of water there?” Gus spoke up from the corner, his two hands still holding the pink bucket.
“Well I’m sure there has to be one nearby, or else we’ll all die of thirst,” Honora said.
“No, I mean for fishing,” Gus mumbled. “How am I supposed to maintain my level of fishing if I can’t have regular practice?
“Sorry, Gus.” April gave him a sad smile. “No fishing in prison.”
“Great!” Honora said suddenly. “I cannot wait to compel Ms. Chaplan again.”
“We’ll go together tomorrow morning.” April confirmed. “Eva, you come with us but wait outside.”
“Why?” I asked. I loved seeing Honora do her thing. It was fascinating and a little frightening at the same time.
“You went with her last time, remember?” April reminded me. “She’ll only get suspicious if you go to her with Honora again.”
“You’re right.” I hung my head. I had went with Honora when she had to compel Ms. Chaplan to make her believe that she had hired the Fens to West Valley as guards and she doesn’t really like my guts either, so April’s point was very reasonable.
“We’ll meet up in the dining hall at breakfast, then,” April said, her voice firm with determination.
“Okay!” Honora said brightly. “I would love to stay and chat, but I’m very sleepy now.”
“Yes, Honora.” April put a gentle hand on the small of her back. “You’d better get some rest. We’re all depending on you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight!” I gave my two friends a wave.
Gus and Maude both sat together in the corner of the room, their faces sulky.
“What?” I asked, trying to hide my smile.
“Of all the places we could go to, you guys picked prison!?” Maude demanded. Her wild, black hair flew into her mouth as she spoke and she brushed them away in annoyance.
“Sorry, Maude,” I said, sitting down cross-legged next to her. “You have to understand. It is the safest place for all of us, with the Ballades roaming around and knowing where we are and how strong we are.”
Maude nodded. “I suppose you’re right.”
“How about my fishing?” Gus said, giving me puppy eyes.
I placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, knowing that his intense passion for fishing would have to be paused for awhile.
We sat in silence for a bit and my mind wandered to Asa. Was he thinking of me? Was he as heartbroken as me that he was a Ballades and I, a Fen?
“I’m sleeping here tonight!” Gus declared out of the blue.
“Sure!” Maude nodded vigorously.
“What?” I spun my head around to face my friends. “But, but you’re a boy!”
“Doesn’t matter,” Maude said with a lazy wave of her hand. “He’s got no roommate and the teachers’ poorly performed lights out check won’t be able to tell Gus is here.”
“What about his tracker?” I said, trying to persuade my friends that having Gus sleeping in the same room as us was not a good idea. At West Valley, all students had to wear these metal trackers around their wrists and it would notify the teachers if we were somewhere we weren’t supposed to be.
“The lousy teachers would only know if Gus left campus,” Maude explained. “Hell wouldn’t break loose if Gus spent one night here.”
“Fine,” I said reluctantly.
So that was it. I lay awake at night, listening to the sound of Gus’s snores from the floor by the foot of our beds.