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a cup of ambition

Chapter Text

Beep. Be-

Grizzop hit the alarm and sat up, swinging his legs off his bed. He'd been awake for hours, watching sunlight creep over his floor. Less than three hours until his first class — soon enough that anxiety prickled under his skin but late enough to leave him at a loose end. He grabbed some clothes, trying to think. It was probably too early to head to campus; the doors would still be locked, but the idea of sitting here waiting made his skin prickle.

He'd go to campus anyway, he decided. There was a cheap little cafe across the street where he could camp out until the building opened. It'd guarantee him a good seat if nothing else. He took a deep breath as he pulled on his boots. It seemed unfair that he still had first day jitters in his second year, he thought, trying to ignore the foreboding weight in his stomach.


The second hand ticked.

Grizzop kicked his feet impatiently.

He'd been waiting here for half an hour already, and although students had been trickling in gradually, the professor still hadn't arrived. This was their job; shouldn't they show up on time? Grizzop scowled as the clock ticked down.

30 seconds now. 20. 10.

The professor, a stocky elf, walked through the door with a handful of papers. They set their things down on the desk and shuffled through them for a moment before looking up and smiling.

"Good morning, everybody! Welcome to Animal Behaviour. Now, you'll all be proposing and writing up independent research projects this semester, so to give you time we're going to jump right in."

Says the nearly tardy professor, Grizzop thought, but he still flipped his book open as instructed. They started writing bullet points out in a round cursive and Grizzop had to squint to try to parse out the words. The loops and whorls seemed to move with every blink, and a wriggling nausea began behind his eyes.

He pinched the tip of an ear, digging his nails in to ground himself. Stop whining, he told himself. If you just listen properly you don't have to bother with the board. He hastened to scrawl out the points as the professor spoke. His hand protested the pace, but Grizzop set his jaw and pushed on. No time to waste on self-pity.


Grizzop flexed his hand as he left his last class of the day, grimacing. Barely a week in and the hours sitting in a classroom were starting to grind him down. Some of his energy returned to him as he left the building and approached the forest behind the campus. Since last year he'd been volunteering here; last semester had been spent banding birds with his favourite professor, and before he'd left for the summer she'd asked him to come back.

Well.

What she'd actually said was that in September she'd start letting him work more independently, as if there had never been a question of whether he'd come back. For Grizzop there never had been, and it was a relief to have that confirmed.

"Hey! Over here!"

On the path ahead, his professor waved to him. He grinned and ran to catch up.

"Afternoon, ma'am!"

She rolled her eyes.

"Call me that again and you'll have paperwork for the next month." She smiled down at him. "Did you have a good summer off?"

Grizzop felt his happiness dampen a little. He shrugged.

"It was fine. Missed the work, though."

He wasn’t lying. At home, things were at the same time simpler and much more complicated. The familiarity of the language made communication simpler, allowed him to convey his thoughts with a clarity English didn’t allow. On the other hand, the hands-on, direct ways of goblin society meant that if you wanted to be taught something, you had to convince someone to show you. It meant hard work, practicing until you could do those motions in your sleep. By most of the other races’ standards, it was a hard method of apprenticeship. But it was also one Grizzop was used to. It came naturally, unlike the rigid structures of the university. The visit home had been easy, too comfortable, and it made returning here taste bitter in contrast.

Artemis cocked her head, taking in his expression. For a moment he thought she was going to say something and wasn't sure if he was mortified or relieved at the idea of sharing this, but she closed her mouth and clapped him on the shoulder.

"Then let's get to it!"


Grizzop sat cross-legged on one of the cozy chairs in Hamid and Sasha's apartment, scribbling furiously in his notebook. Hamid had insisted that they all come over to celebrate the start of school, not allowing any room for argument. The invitation was presumptuous in the way Hamid could sometimes be, but he couldn’t hold it against him. The way he hugged Grizzop tightly as soon as he showed up told Grizzop that Hamid's summer at home had probably been worse than his. Hamid's eyes were glossy when he let go. He’d stuttered an excuse about checking something in the kitchen and made a quick escape.

Now, Grizzop could hear him humming off-key along to 80's pop in the other room. His ear twitched, and he reminded himself that Hamid was his friend and he should be happy if he was happy, not impatient for him to shut up. He hunched further forward over his notebook, trying to focus. He just wanted to finish the answer to this question before more people showed up and he had to put it down, but the headache knotted behind his eyes only grew. He squeezed them shut for a moment and took a deep breath. Just one more paragraph and then he'd stop.

"Grizzop, if you want some of Azu's cookies you'd better hurry up! Grizzop?"

A hand landed on his shoulder, and Grizzop startled. He looked up and met Hamid's concerned eyes.

"Are you alright? You look... stressed."

He gestured at Grizzop, and Grizzop realised his ears were flattened against his head, and his knuckles were white where he gripped his pen. Self-conscious, he raised his ears.

"Of course I am! Why wouldn't I be?"

Hamid's brows raised, hurt by his deflection, and he pulled his hand away,

"Of course. I didn't mean to imply - I'm sorry."

Grizzop felt guilt start to well up in him, and tried to push it back down. Closing his book, he stood up and pulled a smile onto his face.

"Sorry, it's just - who gives an assignment on the first day of class?"

Hamid laughed a little, but the tension hadn’t entirely dissipated.

"Completely inhumane. If you're done? The others are all in the other room? But of course, if you have work to do that's, that's completely fine, I understand -"

Grizzop cut Hamid off, bumping him with his shoulder. "You just want to have a bigger share of Azu's baking, you can't fool me."

Relief visibly spread over Hamid's face, and he led Grizzop towards the kitchen. Grizzop could hear his friends talking and laughing and knew he should be excited to see them - he was excited! But he also could still feel his work, incomplete, sitting on the chair in the other room. He flexed his fingers, resisting the urge to twist nervously at his ear, and walked into the cacophony.

Chapter Text

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Groaning, Grizzop slapped at his alarm until the noise stopped. The sky was starting to lighten outside but Grizzop's apartment was still dark, everything monochrome in the gloom. He climbed out of bed, wrapping his blanket around his shoulders, and shuffled to the kitchen. Half on autopilot, he switched on his kettle and stood on his tiptoes to grab his favourite mug from the cupboard.

It was huge, big enough that he had to wrap both hands around it, green and pebbly. Azu had bought it for him last winter. She'd apologised when he'd opened it, explaining that it had looked a lot smaller when she'd picked it out, but Grizzop had refused to let her return it. He ran his fingers over the familiar bumps of the surface and closed his eyes, leaning against the counter.

The kettle shut off with a click.

Grizzop reluctantly opened his eyes again. He shook a generous helping of instant coffee into his mug and filled it almost to the brim. Taking a gulp, he winced at the heat scalded the back of his throat. The sting woke him up a little more, and he shuffled to his little table and sat down. His planner lay open, full of assignments and due dates in cramped writing. Steeling himself, he took another sip of coffee and pulled out the draft of his proposal. Time to get to work.


Grizzop sipped his coffee, bouncing his leg under his desk as the professor lectured at the front of the room, gesturing at the slides. He wasn't an especially interesting speaker, and Grizzop was glad he had some caffeine to keep him conscious.

The chair next to him scraped loudly. Glancing over, he saw a harried gnome struggling with a huge bag sliding into the seat, fumbling for their notes. They were obviously trying to be subtle, and failing utterly. They looked up and flushed, seeing Grizzop watching them.

"Sorry!" they whispered loudly. "I just - I missed the bus, and then I got lost trying to find this room, and then I -"

Grizzop's annoyance must have shown in his expression because they quailed, cheeks going red.

"Right. Sorry."

They rummaged through their bag a moment longer and evidently found the book they were looking for because they opened it and lifted their pen. A moment later, they looked back up at Grizzop, embarrassed.

"Sorry, I - can I just - do you mind if I copy your notes?"

Grizzop sighed, but they looked desperate and he wasn't heartless. Besides, this professor talked slowly enough that he wasn't too worried about falling behind. He slid his notebook towards them.

"Just - be quick, alright?"

Gratefulness beamed from their face, and they pulled out their pen and started to scribble down quick notes, tongue poking out of the corner of their mouth. He took a slow drink of his coffee and closed his eyes, letting them rest.

A hand touched his elbow.

"Er, sorry, can you just tell me what the last bit of this says?"

He looked down and the gnome nervously gestured to a bullet point. Grizzop had never had any illusions about having particularly nice writing, but now, seeing it through a stranger's eyes, he was taken aback. The letters crowded and twisted together, they might as well be scrawled in crayon. He fought the urge to yank it out of the gnome's sight, and made his fists uncurl.

"It's 'pilotage' - when animals navigate by landmarks."

They nodded, copying the definition in their own round hand, but even with their eyes off him Grizzop felt the pressure of their observation. They must be wondering what he was even doing in this class if he couldn't even write. It was too much, and he cleared his throat. "Sorry, are you almost done? I just, I don't want to fall behind."

"Oh!" The gnome's cheeks flushed and they pushed the book. "Totally, yeah. Thanks again, you're a lifesaver."

Grizzop leaned over his notes again. He tried to focus on the professor's droning voice, wishing he was a better speaker, because he needed to think of something other than the uneven tangle of ink on the page.


Huddled against the arm of Hamid’s couch, Grizzop attempted to watch the movie. It was... some kind of heist, although he must have missed something because apparently the protagonists could do magic? A cat clock on the wall (Sasha's choice, brought home from a rummage sale) ticked next to him, tail swinging side to side.

His proposal was due next month.

Tick.

He should outline that, he hadn't even started.

Tick.

He had to prove he belonged here.

Tick.

He had to prove he wasn't a failure.

Tick.

His friends would be nice about it, he knew. Azu would give him a hug, Zolf would gruffly aim for sympathy, Hamid would deftly avoid talking about it, and Sasha would offer him some shiny trinket.

Tick.

But they'd still look at him with pity, and they'd drift apart as they moved on with Grizzop stuck here as they left him behind and -

Tick.

A large warm hand touched his. Grizzop startled, pulling back before realising it was just Azu. She looked down at him, concerned.

"Is something wrong, my friend? That looks like it hurts."

Grizzop realised that his nails were digging hard into the cartilage of his ear. With an effort he made his fingers relax and winced, running the pads of them over the skin and feeling halfmoon indents where he'd gripped too hard.

"Oh! Oh, there was just an - an itch. I must have gotten carried away."

Azu nodded, apparently taking him at face value. She kept ahold of his hand though, folding it in hers and giving it a little squeeze. Grizzop resisted the initial urge to yank his hand away at a sense of claustrophobia at being held there and it passed, the pressure of the grip grounding, pulling him out of his head.


Grizzop stifled a yawn, closing his eyes briefly. He'd been walking around like a zombie all day, weighted down by exhaustion. He'd made the executive decision that he needed more caffeine and bought himself a coffee after his last class, and had finished half of it by the time he arrived at the cabin. It didn't seem to have made a difference, though, as he suppressed another yawn. He ran an apologetic finger over the feathers of the bird chirruping indignantly in his hands. With a careful hand, he picked up the band and slipped it onto the bird's leg, grabbing the pliers to clip it into place.

"Don't." Artemis's arm reached past him, plucking the pliers from his hand. "That's way too small, it'll cut off circulation."

Grizzop looked down and - of course, she was right. He fumbled the band off, face on fire and fingers clumsy. Artemis held out a larger one.

“Here, use this one.”

Grizzop's flush deepened, knowing she was watching. He struggled to get the band in place, embarrassment making the routine task more difficult than it should be. When the band fell to the table, Artemis put a hand on his shoulder.

"Would you like me to do this one?"

Her voice was gentle, and Grizzop wanted to die.

"N- I- Okay."

He yielded the bird to Artemis, who had the band clipped in place in a few deft movements. Grizzop's eyes stung, and he clenched his fists as tight as he could, nails digging into his palms. He fought to keep his composure when Artemis looked back up at him.

"It's alright, Grizzop. Just a mistake."

Grizzop bit his lip hard and nodded, not trusting his voice. Artemis eyed him carefully, and he thought for a moment she'd do something dangerous like reach out to hug him. He thought he might die if she did that. Thankfully, she exhaled a sigh and held the bird back out to him.

"Come on, you can measure it. I'll start on another."

Grizzop accepted the towel-wrapped bundle of feathers and picked up a set of calipers. It had been a simple mistake, a simple, stupid mistake that he should not be making. This was the thing he loved - if he wasn't good at this, what else could he do? Blinking hard against the prickling in his eyes, he started copying down figures as quickly as he could.

Chapter Text

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Grizzop rolled over, pressing his palms against his eyes as his alarm blared in the background. He took a deep breath, then pushed himself up on an elbow and switched the alarm off. The sky was still dark, for which he was grateful because his eyes ached and felt gritty. He stumbled almost drunkenly as he shuffled to the kitchen, his shoulder smacking into the door frame. Sighing, he rubbed his forehead. Coffee was not going to cut it today. He resigned himself to stopping at the convenience store down the street and picking up some energy drinks.


Grizzop squinted at his proposal, trying to convince it to make some sort of sense. His eyes protested the effort, aching, and he knuckled at them roughly. He had a messy bullet point list of his main points that he had two days to transform into something a professor would accept. And he'd been staring at it for the last two hours.

His phone buzzed on his desk. He took the distraction eagerly, stretching as he checked it.

PROF. A.: are you coming in today?

Grizzop's heart skipped a beat. It was only 10:20, wasn't it? He squinted at the time, and - 12:10. Had he really been here for over five hours? He frantically typed a quick apology, having to go back over the words several times. His fingers were clumsy with panic.

GRIZZOP: yes!! ill b there soon!!!!!

GRIZZOP: sorry!!!!!!!!!!

Fumbling with his bag, he managed to stuff his notebook away and half-ran to the stairs, not caring about the annoyed looks other students gave him. His heart pounded in his ears loud enough to compete with the sound of his feet against the ground, and his head spun, the world feeling distorted and far away. His hands shook and he gripped the strap of his bag tighter to hide it.


Grizzop hunched over his latest assigned reading in Hamid and Sasha's living room. He was exhausted, drained from fighting off nausea and a building headache long enough to claw his way through the majority of this paper. He was only a few paragraphs away from the end now, but he'd lost momentum, tripped up by words he should know.

So close to the finish, but he was making stupid mistakes. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and then opened them, resolutely restarting the same sentence he'd been reading for what felt like an hour.

"The plant stress hypothesis predicts that the protein digestibility of a focal food plant for grouse in Norway, the.. the dil...."

"It's a 'b'."

Grizzop jumped a foot into the air, looking behind himself to see Sasha peering over his shoulder. She pointed at the paper, apparently unfazed by his reaction.

“There’s a trick for these ones, if you just -” she held up both hands, touching her thumbs and index fingers together, the rest pointing straight up “- make your hands like a bed, right, with the sticky-up bits on the ends? And then bed starts with a ‘b’ so you know the first one’s got to be a ‘b’ and then the second one has to be the ‘d’. It’s pretty cool.”

Sasha wasn't even looking at him, but Grizzop felt acutely seen — as if she'd peeked into his innermost thoughts. He snatched the book to his chest, glaring up at her.

"I can read," he snapped. "I'm not stupid."

Sasha's expression shuttered. She stood, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Right, then. Sorry to bother you."

Turning, she marched away towards her room, everything in her posture closed off. Grizzop’s burst of anger faded, and guilt began to well up in its place.

"Sasha, wait, I -"

Sasha's sharp shoulders raised higher and she walked into her room, slamming the door behind her. He heard the distinct sound of a lock clicking into place. He slumped forward, burying his face in his hands. Sliding his hands up to his ears, he tugged them down, twisting hard until the pain outweighed the frustrated tears pricking at his eyes.

He couldn't do anything right, could he.


“Alright, everybody’s proposals have been graded. There were a lot of really impressive ideas in here, you should all be very proud.”

Grizzop fought the urge to bounce in his seat as the TA walked around the room, handing back assignments. Everything, all his work, it had all come down to a few pages, double-spaced. The closer the stack of papers got, the more nervous energy built up in him.

Finally, his own assignment was set down on his desk.

A C- had been scrawled in green ink across the front.

Grizzop felt like he’d been slapped. He'd spent hours and hours poring over this, staying up late to work on it... He shouldn't have gotten his hopes up so high; he shouldn't have expected more than this, but -

Discussion continued in the class around him, but he couldn't look up from the paper—from the letter inscribed on it.

"Are you alright?"

Grizzop realised the conversation had died down and looked up to see his TA staring right at him.

"You look sad. Are you alright?"

"I - ah -" Grizzop struggled for words. "Yes, I'm - Yes, I'm fine. I'm. Fine."

He added tentatively, "thank you."

Apparently this stumbling answer was enough. The TA called on someone else, allowing Grizzop to sink down into his seat and try his best to disappear.

Chapter Text

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Grizzop squeezed his eyes shut, rolling deeper into his blanket cocoon. The small motion set him aching all over, and he made a little noise of discomfort, curling smaller. Even buried under all his blankets, a shiver ran through him. A cold snap had thrown campus into winter almost overnight, and the weather seemed to have settled right into his bones.

He didn’t have any interest in facing the cold head on, and snaked one hand out of his blanket nest to grab some clothes instead, pulling them on without leaving his bed. Buried in his softest hoodie and still wrapped in a blanket, he made his way out to the kitchen. His head felt like it might burst. He pillowed his aching skull in his arms on the kitchen table as his kettle sputtered to life behind him. His stack of books sat next to him on the table, but he couldn't bring himself to lift his heavy head and open his eyes to read them. After his coffee, he told himself. He just needed to wake up a little bit.

The pressure in his head spiked, and he groaned, turning his head to hide his face in his arms.


Grizzop tried to be quiet as he kicked the snow off his heavy boots. Reluctantly, he shrugged off his outer jacket and hung it up. He didn’t want to give up the warmth but he also knew that Zolf wouldn’t appreciate Grizzop dripping all over the floor of his apartment. He pulled his arms out of the sleeves of his hoodie to wrap them around his middle, and walked into the main room.

Cowboys eyed each other on screen, hands hovering over their pistols. Azu was leaning towards the scene on one end of the overstuffed loveseat, eyes shining with excitement. On the other end, Sasha made a good show of being interested, but her eyes kept darting over to watch Azu's expression. Zolf sat in one worn armchair, his attention split between the movie and braiding Hamid's hair where he sat on the floor in front of him.

Hamid tried to look over without moving his head when Grizzop entered, raising one hand in a little wave. Grizzop returned it, sitting in the chair opposite. He tried to hide a shiver, and grabbed a plush blanket off the back of the chair, draping it over his lap. The cold still gripped him, so he leaned over, pulling at the crocheted throw draped over the back of the couch. Azu moved forward obligingly to let him wrap that around himself too. With both blankets pulled tightly around him, the cold began to retreat. Grizzop exhaled in relief, relaxing. His head still felt stuffy and plugged up, but at least he wasn’t shivering.

He looked over and caught Zolf watching him.

"Er, Grizzop, are you feeling alright?"

Grizzop scowled.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Why shouldn't I be fine?"

Zolf's paused, taken aback by Grizzop's curt tone.

"Because you're wearing a hoodie and blankets indoors and you're still shivering. Seriously, Grizzop, I can take a look at you."

Grizzop's scowl deepened.

"I'm fine, Zolf. You've been in class all day, everybody looks like a patient to you. I'm just tired, alright?"

He sat back in his chair, feeling a little bad over how rude he'd been, but sure that Zolf wasn't going to push the issue. His nose gave him barely a tickle of warning before a sneeze exploded out of him, rocking his body.

Grizzop looked up guiltily and made eye contact with Zolf. Zolf sighed.

"I'll be back in a minute, Hamid."

He pushed himself up, leaning heavily on the arm of the chair, and levelled a stern look at Grizzop.

"Come on, you're going to let me take your temperature."

Grizzop rolled his eyes and grumbled, but allowed himself to be led to the small bathroom. Zolf directed him to sit on the edge of the bathtub and stuck a thermometer in his mouth.

"This really isn't nece-" Grizzop started, only for Zolf tell him that talking when he was taking his temperature meant they'd have to start over. After that, Grizzop complied with bad grace, arms crossed and face sour. When Zolf finally deemed it long enough, he pulled the thermometer out and stared at it with pursed lips.

"39 degrees... congratulations, you indeed have a fever."

He opened the medicine cabinet and began to rummage around. "My prescription is lots of water and a few days of bedrest."

"I can't do that! I can't - Zolf, I have too much to do, I can't - I don't have time." Grizzop cut himself off, biting his tongue to keep himself from continuing. Zolf turned back, an orange bottle in one hand, the other pinching his brow.

"I know, I know, and that's why I'm going to give you some cold medicine, but - Grizzop, I really think you should take at least one day off. You have to give your body a chance to recover."

Grizzop’s nails dug into his palms where his hands had fisted as Zolf went on. The weight of all the things he had to do had only pressed closer as the longer Zolf talked, making his breath come shorter.

"I'll recover after finals. Just give me the medicine." Grizzop could hear his voice coming out a half-tone louder than he meant it to, but Zolf just sighed, pouring a measure of the medicine into a little plastic cup and holding it out.

"Just - be careful. Take care of yourself, yeah?"

Grizzop nodded and took the cup, almost spilling it in his haste.

"Got it. Got it, I promise." He drained the medicine, grimacing at the taste, and handed it back to Zolf. The nervous energy didn't leave him as he walked back to the living room, though, and as he sat back down he looked towards his bag. He could do a little writing, right? He'd keep watching, but if he was going to be sick he should probably give himself a head start on his work. Bending down with a sniffle, he pulled his notebook free from his bag and let it flop open on his lap. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zolf’s brows lower. Immediately, Grizzop leaned forward over his book to remove Zolf from his periphery. He certainly didn’t have time for an argument.


Grizzop slumped over his desk, feeling like someone had filled his head with cement. He'd drank what felt like half a bottle of non-drowsy cold medicine this morning, but chills still ran through him. He pulled his hood up and tried to ignore the sensation of his sweat-damp shirt sticking to his back. The teacher kept talking at the front of the room, but the sounds didn't want to resolve into words.

"Does anyone know why that would be? Anyone?"

The usual awkward silence pervaded as the class as a whole attempted to avoid their teacher's gaze. Grizzop was normally happy to answer questions, but today he didn't even have the energy to make himself look busy. He propped his head up on a hand and looked down at his notebook, drawing an idle circle.

Without warning, a sneeze tore itself free. He didn't even have time to muffle it, and it practically echoed from the rafters. Grizzop felt the weight of every eye in the room press in on him in an instant. He cringed, trying to disappear into his hoodie.

A moment that felt like an eternity later, the professor cleared their throat.

"Figgis, what do you think?"

The tall guy in the back row sat up and started blustering his way through an answer. Grizzop let himself slump forward onto the desk.


Grizzop buried his face in his scarf as he trudged through the snow towards the cabin. The tips of his ears had begun to prickle and go numb, and he yanked his woolly hat down further, scrunching his face. It felt like the walk took three times as long as it usually did, but at last he saw the cabin and Artemis standing in front of it.

When she noticed him, her eyebrows raised. Grizzop waved, trying to inject more energy than he felt into the motion.

"What are we doing today, professor?"

His throat ached, but he hoped the scratchy tenor in his voice didn’t sound as obvious to Artemis as it did to him. She aimed a piercing look his way, and he felt his smile flicker.

"You look dead on your feet. My question is, what are you doing out of bed?"

"I'm fine!" Artemis stared flatly, and Grizzop changed tack. "I'm almost fine? I'm getting better, honestly, just about back to normal."

He tried to stand up straighter, but the forest swayed dangerously around him and he had to shut his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, he found Artemis frowning back, thoroughly unimpressed.

"It's the middle of winter and you're sweating. You're sick. Go home, get some tea, and get some rest, this can wait."

Grizzop's brow wrinkled.

"You - you can't just send me home. I'm here to work. You can’t just - you can't just say no to work."

Artemis snorted, cocking her head.

"I think you'll find that I can. Grizzop," she leaned down and put a hand on his shoulder, "you're one of the best students I've ever taught, and you're going to do great things."

She squeezed his shoulder through his thick coat.

"And if you don't go home and go to sleep right now, I'm dropping you a letter grade."

Grizzop's jaw dropped open. He spluttered for words, but Artemis cut him off with a raised finger.

"Another grade for every argument."

He snapped his mouth shut, jaw tight, and glared up at her. Artemis went on, turning him back down the path.

"Now by coincidence I am seized with the need to walk back towards campus, so why don't I keep you company? I know you're heading back to the dorms because you, of course, are an obedient student who would never ignore a direct order."

Her hand kept a firm grip on his shoulder as she started walking.

Grizzop glared, incensed, at the ground, not trusting himself to speak and blinking furiously against the welling heat in his eyes. It wasn't fair, he thought, hating the childishness of his own inner voice. Artemis gave his shoulder a little squeeze as the campus came into sight.

"You're going to be alright, Grizzop. Really. I promise."