6.Mature

My jaw dropped.

Edward continued. "And it's not just his looks and his expression and his eyes - God, watch out for his eyes because they'll turn you into liquid before you can say the ‘f' word... It's ... it's instinct." Edward looked helpless. "It's innate within a werewolf (and probably a normal wolf too) to want to mate with the Alpha. You just want him to tear off your clothes and take you on the spot."

"That's awful!" I said, distraught and scared. Scared of feeling something beyond my control (scared that I might do something embarrassing or that I'd regret later because the Alpha was so sexy), of feeling that sort of thing for someone who was a complete stranger, who must be an adult, of feeling it for the headmaster of Lupin Scuela. I didn't really like the idea of wanting to jump into bed when I hadn't formed an intimate relationship with someone: I wasn't comfortable with wanting that much. I'd never really felt desire for anyone, just attraction. And for the first person that I'd feel that towards to be this Alpha made me feel a little sick.

Edward nodded, repulsion clear in his face.

"I just hate to betray Teritt like that. I want my desire to be reserved for him, you know? Or, well, maybe you don't know. But that's how I feel."

"I get you," I whispered. "I mean, I don't have a boyfriend and I don't want this to happen, but how much worse would it be if there were actually someone I might hurt by feeling that way?"

Edward shook his head in hopelessness.

"I'm sorry for telling you, Penny. I am so, so sorry."

"No, don't apologise. I needed to know. How often does he visit?"

"Once a term at the very least, but if he wants to meet new students or lead hunting excursions, he'll come more frequently."

I quivered. "Has he come this term?"

Edward's voice became very quiet.

"No."

"Oh my gosh," I said, unable to help myself. And then I asked, "Is the school okay apart from that?"

I thought of all the things which made this school cooler than most, including something that I hadn't really taken in before: the fact that they didn't go to school on Fridays. I thought of charming Donald and hilarious Teritt, then the guy next to me: wonderful, lovely (gorgeous) Edward. All these things I would miss out on if I chose not to attend. Part of me was astonished by how much I loved the thought of coming to Lupin Scuela but the rest was wrenching its heart out at the thought of declining the offer.

"It's great," Edward murmured. We rounded the next corner and were silent until reached a door at roughly the same distance from the front door as the Science door had been, though my feelings were no less strong as we arrived.

"This is the dining hall," Edward said, his voice still subdued.

I forced myself to calm down when we walked inside. We found Lindsay Steel and my mother chatting near the door.

Lindsay was talking about the room.

"This has only been the dining room for a short period of time," she was saying. "Before, it was the library. The students were so bad at buying healthy meals for themselves from the shops in our local area, though, so we converted it. The library is now on the second floor, beside the drama studio. The students find it a much more pleasant atmosphere to read and study in."

"Hi, Miss Steel," Edward said, as she came to end of her speech. "I need to show Penny the second floor actually."

Miss Steel turned to smile at us. She seemed unconcerned by Lor and Teritt's absence.

"I'm sure you've done a great job so far. Thank you very much, Edward."

"Have you enjoyed your tour, dear?" my mother asked me.

I thought of the good points.

"Yes," I answered.

I looked to Lindsay.

"Miss Steel, would it be possible for me to experience a day here, before making my choice?"

My mother beamed, evidently proud of me for asking such a question.

Lindsay's smile widened: she seemed impressed too.

"Why, of course, Penny. We'll talk to your school and inform you of a convenient date."

"Oh, I'm sure I could tell Penny's school," my mother said, flushing.

Lindsay's smile was charming.

"I'm sure they would appreciate contact from Lupin Scuela. Don't trouble yourself Mrs Howler: this is really no problem."

"You're so very kind," Mum told her.

"We love it when our community grows," Lindsay explained. "The real purpose of school, I find, is to give the student an excellent background to his or her education. Otherwise, what would be the point in anything other than home-schooling?"

My mother nodded fervently in agreement.

"Shall we move on?" asked a quiet voice in my ear.

I looked to the right and saw Edward standing there, an amused grin on his face.

"Yeah," I replied.

"Bye, Miss Steel, Mrs Howler," he called as he led me back outside.

Next we walked up a metal staircase I hadn't noticed before, a short distance from the dining hall. This took us up to the second floor.

We entered the wooden-floored drama studio in which there were chairs with plastic seats and metal legs stacked on top of each other, a cardboard box brimming with costumes and a random garden table with a parasol through the middle of it.

Edward laughed at my expression at the sight of this item of furniture.

"We used it for a short play once."

"Okay," I said, half laughing.

Edward smiled.

"So, some Music Appreciation lessons take place in this room - usually they're in the gallery. Drama's a given. And sometimes if you're studying a play in English, the teacher will bring you up here to act it out."

I nodded as I absorbed the information.

"So what kinds of thing do you do in Music Appreciation?"

"Well, really we just listen to music and comment on it. We're allowed to fall asleep - it's that informal. I think it's just there because werewolves have sensitive hearing and it's nice to get away from the sounds of daily urban life. Sometimes we listen to birdsong and the music of nature and that's just delightful."

"I can imagine," I said, sighing contentedly as I constructed an idea of what such a class would be like in my mind.

Edward grinned.

"Library next," he announced.

The wall at the other side of the drama studio was not the opposite wall of the building: the length of the room was too short; and a single wooden door was located at its centre. This we walked towards and Edward opened it, gesturing for me to enter first.

The adjoining room, the library, was crammed with shelves and shelves of books. Shelves ran the length of two of its walls and there were about twenty on the actual floor.

There was surprisingly enough space to manoeuvre between these rows of bookshelves and Ed led me to a space where there were two armchairs and five beanbags.

"This, unsurprisingly, is where we read," he told me.

"No kidding," I said, grinning.

"It's not mandatory to read at any point during your school career but I don't know: you might read for pleasure."

"Oh, I do," I replied cheerfully.

Edward grinned again.

"Good. It'll be easy to find you."

I laughed. "Yes, it will."

There was a hole in the floor of the library from which led downwards a wooden ladder. Edward descended first and then I followed. The sole contents of the room below were a bench and a humongous wardrobe.

"What an odd place for a wardrobe," I commented.

Edward shrugged. "It contains more drama costumes and it's too tall for the top floor."

Tall it certainly was. It looked to be about 8 feet tall. A teenager could easily stand upright in that thing. A three-legged stool stood in front of the great doors which were painted cerulean blue.

"Can I have a look?" I asked.

"Sure," Edward replied. He came with me up to the doors. Filled with curiosity, I pulled them open.

I gasped at the multi-coloured array of suits and dresses, which ranged from tailcoats to divers' suits, from ball gowns to maids' dresses.

"So, do you think you may do Drama instead of English?" Edward inquired.

I shook my head.

"Sadly no. English remains a firm love of mine. Do you do it?"

Edward nodded. He looked flatteringly disappointed by my answer.

"It could have been interested with a girl."

I laughed.

"Does a gay guy really think so?"

Edward grinned.

"Girls are interesting to any guy. I personally like them because they're often so nice. But it would be interesting if you joined our Drama class because the sole other person in it is Teritt."

I snorted. "I don't think I fancy taking away that possibility of privacy, sorry. I'm sure Teritt would resent me for it."

Edward looked a little curious.

"You say that like you think the sole matter of importance in Teritt's life is romance."

"I mean to suggest that perhaps it's you," I answered. "And why shouldn't it be? It would be so sweet if he felt you were his raison d'etre."

I flushed as I realised I was probably being over-romantic.

Edward nodded slowly.

Suddenly, he grinned.

"You never told me how things went with Lor! Did you finally kiss?"

Frowning, I looked away.

"No." I closed the giant wardrobe doors. "He shut the door in my face because I wouldn't say I was his. But that was unfair: how could I have possibly said we were going out when we'd never kissed: when we'd only ever come close?"

I looked back at Edward. His brow was furrowed.

"Well, Lor's mind does work in mysterious ways. But ... if that's what happened, why did you promise Donald Blackmaw you'd attend Lupin Scuela? Surely you were upset by Lor's behaviour? How did you get over that enough to want to promise you'd come here?"

I blushed. Quietly, eyes averted, I replied with a statement that contained truth but that wasn't the real answer to Edward's questions.

"The possibility of a relationship's not everything one looks for in a school."

Edward continued to frown: he seemed unconvinced.

"Hm, I know but still... It strikes me as odd that you'd make such an optimistic promise after Lor upset you."

I flushed brighter.

"Look, aren't you glad I've said I'll come?"

Edward looked startled.

"Well, of course I'm glad. You seem a very nice person, Penny: a very nice person indeed."

"Thanks," I murmured, feeling slightly ill.

The End

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