Sunlight poured through the dorm windows, penetrating even where I stood inside of the washroom in the dorm leader’s room. Grim snoozed away in the same spot as last night, flopped on his back. Brown eyes fixed on my reflection in the bottle of pills in my hand.
Alright, I just need to take one birth control pill today and be done with it. Either this or deal with periods, cramps and finding out what this dimension’s version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is to clench those cravings on top of everything else. Given that I get periods during the middle of the month, unlike most people with menstrual cycles who have it either at the start or end of the month, it could start up soon as sometime next week.
The top twisted off with a hard tug. I snagged one of the suckers out. A shaky hand popped a pill into my mouth, taking a swig from my water bottle to wash it down. The pill slid down my throat with ease.
Huh. Don’t feel all that different from before. I look the exact same. Popping one of these might be just like taking regular birth control back in my own dimension.
Still, I really need to keep a sharp eye on my body. Long term effects are still possible.
My t-shirt flung off, leaving just my bra on top. I shaved my armpits, making my skin extra smooth, and then brushed my teeth before sliding on some rose scented deodorant. Picking up Ace’s washcloth from the top of his towel, like the rebel that I am, I washed my face with just soap and water. Slender fingers combed through my hair. The colour piece of cloth tied back my dark curls, a little section framing my face.
Brown eyes fixed back on the mirror once I completed my morning routine. My pits were smooth. They smelled a lot better, too. The bow in my hair still seems kinda cute. Bags from a lack of a good sleep still hung under my brown eyes. Scratches marked my light brown skin. My eyelashes lacked any macara. The rest of my face lacked any concealer, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner and everything else.
I look almost presentable… but mostly like horse shit. With my luck and considering the fact I have no money for the next little while and who knows when I find a way back to my own dimension, this is as good as it’s gonna get for the next while. Makeup, straightener, hair, skin care products and stylish clothes, how I long for you! I’ll earn you all back soon.
My t-shirt slipped back on. Bending down, I put on my boots, lacing them up. The bottoms of my jeans folded up against the top brim of my footwear. (Because, hey, if I’m gonna be forced to wear the same stupid old outfit for the third day in a row, might as well let everyone know that I’m that bi bitch that can’t live without cuffed jeans. Am I right?) Grabbing my new phone, face mask and all of the other contents inside of my pocket, I tossed them all into one of the semi cute looking, black cloth bags from yesterday and swung it over my shoulder. I snuck past the sleeping cat monster, lumbering out of the bedroom and into the upstairs hallway.
“Going out?” a familiar voice asked.
I jolted, whirling around. Connie floated in the air with her arms crossed and her ax at her side.
Shit! Really need to ask before I forget. Just spit it out.
“Say, um…” I began, tugging out the paper wrapper from my bag and twirling it. “Could either you or Lucia tell Grim that I went out for a little bit if he wakes up?”
“Certainly,” Connie said, raising a brow. “Why are you asking that? Isn’t he your familiar?”
“Meeting up with Ace’s dorm leader in a couple hours. No familiars allowed.”
“And… could you or Lucia also make sure that Grim doesn’t get into any trouble while I’m out?”
“Yes. Only for today,” Connie said, eyes razor sharp, before she disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Huh. That was easier than I thought.
The stairs creaked as I hurried down each step. Part way down, I paused and peeked from behind the staircase. Ace snoozed away on the couch, a bright red blanket, which he retrieved from his dorm room last night, laying on top of him. Lucky bastard. Wish I could just sleep in like a normal person today instead of waking up early to talk things out on my own.
Lucia uttered a faint, “Hurry back!” as the door slammed shut behind me. I hiked down the steps and the hill, ignoring the pit forming in my stomach and my aching thighs. I can do this. It’s fine! This is no different than going to a job interview. I got this.
I hesitated once I walked up to the full-sized mirror entrance. Brown eyes closed. I plowed right through it and stood on my two feet on the other side.
My eyes flew open. Only a couple other people hung around the circular chamber. Not all that surprised, really. It’s Saturday. A free day off. And the very start of the semester, no less. Most people are probably sleeping in. As I should be.
Actually… What time is it? I haven't looked that up since I got up this morning.
Fishing out my phone from my makeshift handbag, my finger pressed against the sensor on the back. (All of the cooler fantasy features that allow people to fully unlock these things like by sigil or electrical pulse are apparently only “Mage Territory” or whatever. Go me.) Neon numbers on the top bar displayed “09:35 AM.”
It’s barely past nine-thirty! Of course I got over a couple hours to kill and got yet another night with little shuteye. Worry and self doubt ran through my mind for a couple hours before I decided to screw it, dusting and straightening out some of the dorm leader’s bedroom just to calm down enough to eventually fall asleep a while later. Thanks, brain!
Welp. Got loads of time to kill thanks to my brain being stupid. Going online to look shit up online on my way to get some coffee it is! Need a shot of black coffee and a good breakfast just to think straight. Big time. Especially given what I need to do in a couple hours.
Walking out of the chamber, I waltzed into one of the main hallways, my boots clacking against the tiled floor and brown eyes glued to my phone screen. Logging onto the wifi network and then this dimension’s version of Google, I typed the name “Malleus Draconia” in the top search bar. My finger tapped on the first result, and a picture of the foremented man appeared in an image frame with text floating around it. My eyes went wide at the result.
Holy shit! Genderbent Maleficent! To the point it’s uncanny. Same lithe, tall builds accompanied by dark clothes and pastel eyeshadow. Same pale skin. Same two inky-black horns poking out on each side of their heads. Kinda hot to boot. (Even if Zhongli is a lot hotter than him. Or even Maleficent herself in both the animated and live action movies. Or Dove Cameron… even if I never watched or cared about Descendants.) Though the raven black locks and elf ears are a new addition on Malleus’ part while not taking away from his beauty.
Scrolling down, I continued to read the text. The article rambled about the Zmaj prince, who is the future king of the Unseelie Court in the Valley of Thorns, with the outer and family name, Malleus Draconia. He is the grandson of The Great Queen of Thorns, a lady, if the portraits of her are anything to go by, is Maleficent. Makes sense. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
That didn’t just apply to his looks either. He sounds just like her personality wise as well. For one, he sounded rather stoic and unapproachable. While those aren’t automatically bad traits, he also seems to possess the same pride, pettiness and wicked temper as his grandmother. Stories recounting about the times when he changed the weather and lashed out at others were more plentiful than I ever wanted. One person in the comments even recounted a time when he possibly cursed someone without thinking… Even if I think that was just the person being a troll… or whatever those are called in this Brave New Disney World, since there wasn’t a whole lot backing that up.
Several articles I read afterwards rambled about the same thing outside of the cursing bit. Powerful mage. Grandson of one of the most powerful Unseelie Queens in the Valley of Thorns. Known for his spite, pride and wicked temper. Caused some incidents due to said traits that made people fear him.
That’s the final nail in the coffin. Avoiding him at all costs. As cool as it would be to meet a real life dragon… and I really, REALLY want to, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Like these articles rambled on about and the others said last night, Malleus is one of the most powerful mages in the world. On top of that, he’s the grandson of one of the biggest Disney villains of all time. Messing around with people like that who are powerful and quick to anger is a terrible idea. Last thing I want to do is piss him off before he turns me into a snake. Knowing my luck, that’s an actual possibility!
Though, I really have to be super damn sure I never say the name “Maleficent” out loud. Not even by accident. None of the articles ever stated that name, despite that being clearly who was in the portraits and all of the other Disney villains from the statues being name dropped. There’s a highly likely reason for that. Maleficent could very well be her True Name. Saying that name would not only draw loads of immediate attention and ire, but put me in a ton of danger. Plenty of shady people here will no doubt want access to that information along with my other Disney knowledge for sinister purposes. That’s not including whoever dragged me here!
Taking another step, my foot stomped down on something soft and squishy. Brown eyes dropped. A long tail, golden brown with a tuft of fur at the end, swished on the ground.
“Shit!” I swore, pivoting my foot away and slipping my phone back into my makeshift handbag. “I’m so sorry. Didn’t mean to do that.”
The owner of the lion tail stood up from his spot on the bench and towered above me, yawning into his hand. The handsome man looked as if that guy who played Simon Basset from Bridgerton had an equally hot younger brother, who did a half assed furry Scar cosplay. He wore the bizarre colour combo of black cargo pants and a leopard print shirt with a puffy, bright orange jacket that screamed Naruto over top. For reasons unknown by science, he somehow pulled it off. Proving that anyone who even looks like he could be related to that actor can look hot in anything, even mismatched colour combos. Long, dark hair cascaded down his back, a set of lion ears poking out. A thin scar ran over his left eye.
Piercing green eyes sharpened. “You got some nerve stepping on someone’s tail, especially since I was in the middle of a nice nap.”
I flinched, slowly backing away from him. “Again, really sorry. But I’m in a huge rush, so I should really go.”
“Hey!” the guy growled. I froze in place. He grinned, teeth stark white against his brown complexion. “Aren’t you also that female herbivore that the email blast talked about?”
My face twisted in confusion. “Herbivore? Humans are omnivores. I’m not a vegetarian either. I eat chicken, lamb and seafood.”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
No, really. What the hell does he mean by that? Is that a slang term in this dimension or something?
“Don’t just stand there. Answer my damn question from before!”
Folding my arms, I tossed him one of my old popular bitch smirks and twirled the paper in my freehand. “Yes. I’m the rare, shiny girl attending this university. What about it?”
“Don’t be a smartass. Although…”
The guy marched up to me, pulling me in. He pressed his nose against my neck and sniffed, his warm breath tickling my skin. I stayed perfectly still.
My eyes darted about. No one who brushed past us seemed to care about the fact that a guy was literally sniffing me out. Is sniffing people’s necks normal here? Or is everyone just this apathetic when things go down in general? Or both? I could easily believe any one of those things!
“Huh, that confirms it.” The man pulled away. “I really don’t sense a single wavelength of magic within you nor do you have a Crystal. You really are a total non-mage.”
What the fuck? Normally I wouldn’t complain about if someone who shared a family resemblance to Simon from that TV series came anywhere close to me… or if Daphne, Marina or the Sharma Sisters from that series did the same, for that matter, but this is way too fucking weird. Why the fuck did he sniff me? Who does that?!
How the fuck can he even tell that I’m magicless by doing that? Pressing a pen-wand against my jugular and chanting a spell in order to check to see if a person can use magic? Seems odd, but makes sense. But by scent? I know that he has animal ears and a tail, but he seems completely and utterly human outside of that. So how the hell does that work? Does his catboy traits grant him super smell or something?
“There’s also something else.”
Something else? What the hell does he mean by that?
“Since you’re a girl, I won’t take a tooth as payment. Scram!”
Don’t need to tell me twice. What the fuck? What the actual fuck? Getting the hell outta here and fetching my coffee and breakfast. That’s for sure.
My back sank into my seat cushion just outside of Riddle's office and eyes glued to my phone screen showing this dimension’s version of the Google Docs app. Fingers stopped tapping against the screen. There. That explanation should be good enough. Hopefully…
“You may come in!” Riddle called out coldly from the other side of the door, which opened on its own without warning.
My breath hitched. This is it. There’s no turning back now.
I stood up and walked into the room with my phone and portable coffee cup in tow. Red walls surrounded us with the same pattern on the tiled floor. Riddle, who sported a similar outfit he did yesterday, sat behind a maple wood desk on a black leather office chair. Twin triangular lamps stood on each side of the desk. Perfect match for the Twin Peaks meets Alice in Wonderland aesthetic the rest of the dorm seems to have. I would’ve snapped a picture on my phone, if it wasn’t for the circumstances of being here in the first place.
Riddle sneered, placing his pen-wand with a maroon crystal attached to it into the cup holder. “Surprised that you came on time.”
My lips pursed. Nope. Not say anything to that one.
“Please,” Riddle said, gesturing to the chair in front of the desk.
A shaky breath escaped me. The office chair squeaked a little once I sat down on it, a makeshift handbag still dangling on my arm. I placed the coffee cup on the desk. My hands dropped to my lap, crossing my legs on the chair and playing with the edge of my phone case.
“Tell me. What’s your reasoning for unleashing your familiar?”
I sucked in a deep breath. Come on. You can do this. This is no different than a job interview or something. Treat it as such.
Ugh. What did I write down on that app again? How could I have forgotten that already?! I wrote that out only a couple minutes ago?! This whole thing is giving me the memory of a squirrel. No, a toothpick! Because at least squirrels would be able to remember important info during something important as this.
No matter. I’ll just look up what I said quickly.
Touching the sensor on the back, I unlocked my phone. Tapping on the app with a blue sheet of paper on it took me to a page listing off my lone document in the whole app. Clicking on it took me to my bullet points.
“Put your phone down and look me in the eye!” snapped Riddle, and I jolted. “Answer my question!”
But I was looking in his direction, wasn’t I…? So why say that?
Still, I probably shouldn’t look at my phone right now. Doing that is pretty rude. That’s especially true in meetings, job interviews and whatever the hell this is.
Come on. Just breathe and get this over with. Spit it out already.
Slapping my phone face down on the desk, my gaze fixed on him again, and I fidgeted with the edge of my pocket. “Grim acted out due to stress.”
“Quit propping your legs up and sit nicely. Look me in the eye!”
Oh, right. I crossed my legs. Curse you bisexual inability to sit in chairs properly!
“Right,” I grimaced. My legs dropped to the floor, brown eyes landing in his direction. “Anyways, like I was saying—”
Riddle seethed. “You're still not looking me straight in the eye!”
What?! My eyes sharpened. “I was trying to—”
“Follow the rules and do as you are told.”
Alright, fine! Have it your way, jackass!
Familiar internal jittering return. Just ignore it. You won’t have a meltdown. Just get this done. Now.
Brown eyes focused on him again, and I went back to playing with the hem of my jean pocket. “Vice-Chancellor Crowley gave me the opportunity to be the first woman to attend university here. Since it was sprung on us on short notice, Grim was stressed out. So he stole my ceremonial robes and lashed out during the opening ceremony. I should’ve stopped him. I apologize for that.”
God, I really hope that explanation works. Even if I sounded like I said that at gunpoint. True to some extent, considering this guy is an older, red-haired version of Ciel, who is quick to anger and has superpowers, but I can’t show that. Especially now. Need to be professional and relaxed. Just like my mom in this situation. No meltdown or shutdown at all.
Grey eyes stared at me. “What type of drink did you bring to this meeting?”
Seriously, he’s asking that now? Why the change in subject matter completely? Fine, whatever.
“You brought that during a meeting!” Riddle bellowed. Taking a deep breath, he quickly composed himself again. “Rule one hundred, one mustn't bring coffee inside of the dorms.”
Are you kidding me?! I ignored the internal jitters that only grew stronger. “Why would that matter right now?”
“Rules are the rules around here. Get rid of it immediately.”
“Why?” I asked, the internal itching growing super irritating.
“While you aren’t a Heartslabyul resident, the rules still apply while you are in our domain. Do as you are told.”
A calming breath escaped me. “But it’s not even done yet.”
“If you know your proper etiquette, then follow the bloody rules! Throw that into the dustbin and repeat what you just said while giving me proper eye contact. Immediately. You being a non-mage is no excuse for that. Enforcing the rules will only benefit you.”
I… I can’t! Fuck this. I’m gonna have a meltdown soon. I just know it. I need to get outta here. Now! I don’t want to do this in front of this bastard.
Bolting out of my seat, I grabbed my things, hands shaking. I ran out the door as if the room was on fire just before it tried to lock me inside. Brown eyes darted around as I dashed through the halls. Come on, come on. Where’s a washroom or something similar around here!
I stopped in my tracks. A dark wooden door which said “Gender Neutral Washroom” on it rested in the middle of the hall. Bingo!
The door to the single person washroom slammed shut behind me once I ran inside. I placed my coffee cup on the ledge of the sink with two taps and threw my handbag inside of it.
Collapsing to the tiled floor, I curled up into a ball, fists curled up and shaking. Tears burst from my eyes, streaming down my face. Every single negative emotion built up over the past few days exploded from my brain. Anger, frustration, saddeness, the works. They whirled around and crashed over me like a giant titlewave. Over and over again on repeat.
Moments, minutes or an hour later the world stood still. The titlewave receded. My surroundings snapped back into sharp focus. I laid there for what seemed to be another several minutes or longer.
A knock hit against the door snapped me back to reality again. “Hey! Are you done in there?”
Swallowing hard, I wiped the tears from my face. I tied my curls back into a ponytail with the ribbon again. I snagged my coffee and the makeshift handbag.
The door latch opened with a flick. I rushed down the halls, not even daring to look behind me or at any passersby who were no doubt snickering and gawking at me. I just want to get outta here!
Sunlight, or whatever the closet thing which constitutes to that in this pocket dimension type thing, shone down on me once I plowed through the heart-shaped opening. I sat down on the edge of the fountain smack dab in the middle of the main courtyard, eyes glued to the edge of it. My items clattered on the fountain edge beside me. Bending my ring and little finger on both hands, I touched my thumb to each of them. Calming breaths escaped me.
I marched out mid conversation like a dumbass. I probably made Riddle even more pissed at me and everyone else to boot! Fantastic. Just fantastic!
Why did I just have a meltdown in the middle of a meeting like that? I know that was a long time coming, especially given what’s happened over the past few days. But...Ugh! God, I'm such a fucking idiot! I should've chewed him out for that! Can anything go right?!
God, I wish Grim was able to tag along. Or that this dorm carried around emotional support goats. Because if this dorm is based on Alice in Wonderland, something as random as that could be very possible! Just something that I can hug.
“Why so glum?”
I turned around to look at the source. A fair-skinned head with purple cat ears and yellow eyes floated right in front of me. I screamed, gripping the edge of the fountain so I didn’t fall ass first into it.
“Oops,” the guy giggled. “I fur-got to materialize fully.”
The lower half of his body emerged under the head. He wore dark pants and his white button-up was worn loosely over his form, a striped pink-and-purple shirt showing from underneath.
This is weird! Way too fucking weird! I know that he’s probably able to do that thanks to his Unique Magic or whatever, but still… seeing some do that right in front of you is something else. God, now I know how Izuku felt when Mirio did the same thing.
“Are you gonna say something?” the guy mused, flashing me a cat-like smile. “Staring is im-purr-lite.”
“Right,” I said, rubbing the side of my face. “And you are?”
The man placed a hand on his hip, a purple tail swishing behind him. “I’m Artemiy Artemovich Pinkov, but everyone just calls me Tchemya. And you?”
“Adriana, but you can call me Addie.”
“You’re a girl. Aren’t you meow?” Tchemya purred. The sides of my lips twitched up slightly at that. “What are doin’ inside of this dorm? It’s Saturday.”
My smile faltered. Folding my arms and pinching them, I said, “Attending university here as a student.”
Tchemya cocked his head to the side. Right… Think he wants more of an explanation than that.
“The mirror screwed up and brought me here from across the pond for some reason, so the vice-chancellor decided to make me the first girl to attend university here.” First part is a blatant lie, yes. But there’s no way in hell I’m saying what actually happened, especially to someone who vaguely looks like some sorta strange, catboy version of the Cheshire Cat! I don’t even know the full story of that stupid email blast.
Tchemya hummed. “That certainly would explain your accent.”
“As for why I’m in this dorm, I just had a meeting with Riddle just to try to sort the whole opening ceremony situation out. It's also why I'm...upset. It didn't go quite as planned.”
“Can see why. That guy’s been a little stickler for the rules since he was a wee little thing.”
I perked up. “Do you know something about it?”
Tchemya shrugged. “I guess you could say that I do, but at the same time I can say that I don’t.”
My brows furrowed. “Which one is it?”
“What? You wanna know about Riddle?”
“Go ask that glasses guy?”
Glasses guy…? “You mean, Trey? Right?”
Tchemya nodded. “I’d go ask him if I wanted to know more about Riddle, if I were you.”
Why would he say something like that? I know Trey’s one of his vice dorm leaders or whatever, but that doesn’t mean that he knows the ins and outs of his personal life. Do they have a deeper connection?
More I think about it, they might. Trey seems quick to defend him and speak good of him, even when forced to acknowledge his faults.
“Well,” Tchemya said. “I guess you don’t need me anymore, so I best be on my way.”
He slowly faded away, humming a little tune as he did so.
“No wait!” I called out, bolting up to my feet. But the guy ignored me, disappearing completely.
Fuck! I should’ve responded a lot sooner. He might’ve stuck around if I did that. Stupid, stupid.
First thing’s first. I need to create a Magicam profile and try to contact Trey in order to meet up with him later. Then, the library.