Having shown me everything on the tour, Edward led me back to the front of the mansion via the main teaching corridor, the gallery and then the long corridor on the ground floor. He looked cheerful by the time we got outside but I wondered if my lie had been transparent and whether he didn't secretly think of me badly.
Lindsay and my mother were already waiting for us. They stood on the stop step, chatting until Edward and I appeared.
"The tour's done now," Edward told Miss Steel.
She smiled warmly.
"Wonderful." She looked to me. "Well, we shall see you on Monday, Penny. Just arrive here at ten to nine and you'll experience a day of school here. I've asked your mum to pick you up at five o'clock. You won't need anything, unless you like to take notes, and you can wear anything you like - within reason."
"Wow," I said. "Thanks so much, Miss Steel." I turned to Edward. "Thank you, Ed."
Both Ed and Lindsay smiled, and it was with reluctance that I left with my mother. Despite there being nothing more for me to do, I felt a strong urge to spend the entire day at the Academy. Perhaps that was the effect of the beautiful natural surroundings.
The weekend passed incredibly fast, despite my excitement which I would have expected to slow it down so that I by consequence became bored. Monday came and I found myself dressing in jeans, a blue cotton blouse and a violet purple hooded jumper. Make-up was minimal: just foundation and light eye-shadow.
Before I left the house in my comfy grey trainers I grabbed my phone and a notepad and pen just in case I found anything interesting enough to write down. Stuffing them into my hoodie pocket, I walked quickly out of the house, closing the door and locking it behind me. I practically ran up to the car where Mum was waiting for me.
"Got everything?" she asked.
I suddenly thought of my empty schoolbag lying on the floor in my bedroom and felt a wave of mild panic hit me before I remembered that I didn't need it. I relaxed.
"Yup," I said happily.
Forty minutes later I was at the Academy.
Lindsay welcomed me at the doors at the front of the mansion and took me into the entrance hall. There a very tousled Lor was standing, wearing jeans and a black shirt, looking like he'd just woken up.
"Why me?" he grumbled as Lindsay told me to stay around him until the first period was under way.
"Because you need to learn some responsibility, young man," Lindsay answered in a stern tone, though a smile betrayed her. She walked away, leaving us alone.
Lor smiled after her then turned to me.
I smiled broadly.
He rolled his eyes.
"Why do you look cheerful?"
"It's exciting," I replied.
Lor looked wondering. He turned and started to lead me along the long corridor - between the lab and the dining hall, I worked out.
"Looking forward to seeing Don?"
His question shocked me. But even more surprising was his tone. It wasn't bitter or angry or tone. Rather, he sounded amused.
"Lor, look," I said; "I wouldn't call myself yours because we hadn't kissed yet."
Lor stopped so abruptly that I almost walked into him.
"But you're going on a date with him, aren't you?" he asked, sounding confused.
"Well, yes," I murmured.
Lor started walking again. I had no idea of the expression on his face, which was slightly frightening. I half expected him to pull me into a cupboard and strangle me, even though there were no doors down this corridor.
"But you upset me and confused me!" I said defensively. "You just left me there, lost and feeling like a told off child! And Don was so charming - I hardly knew what I was doing."
Lor spun around with astonishing speed and grabbed my shoulders. I was too shocked to even cry out. His eyes seemed to blaze as he looked into my eyes.
"Did you say yes against your will?"
"N-no," I stammered.
Lor let go. The black fire in his gaze died and he stood motionless. He continued to look at me.
"Then I don't really understand you."
"Nor do I," I confessed quietly.
"I thought you wanted me." He sounded almost like a hurt child.
"So did I," I whispered, wanting to hold him, to comfort him. Yet if I did that, everything would get more complicated.
He winced. "You won't tell Don that though."
"Won't I?" I asked sadly.
Lor shrugged hopelessly. "He's charming. You said. And blow me down if he ever shows signs of wanting to let you go."
A tear came unexpectedly to my eye.
"It's not your fault."
Showing himself to be a master of control, Lor made the pain he was suppressing barely noticeable and turned once more to lead me to the next destination. He walked in silence down the remainder of the hallway, across the Gallery, up the boys' staircase, along the boys' corridor and into the main teaching corridor. I hastily wiped away that single tear at the sight of Don, Ed, Teritt and Dave standing at the other end.
"Oh, I forgot to give you this," Lor murmured, his tone neutral now as he handed me a rectangular strip of white card.
‘Monday 31st October,' it read. Five boxes in a single row formed a summary of the timetable I would follow today:
‘0900: Flora, Level 1. Room 6.
‘1000: French, Room 1.
‘1130: Moon Child Law, Room 9.
‘1500: English. Room 13.
‘1600: Review of day, Detention Room.'
"Oh dear, I've not even joined and I already have to take a trip to the Detention room," I said.
Lor snorted as we walked up to the others.
"Yes. Tea and biscuits are awful."
I cast him a sidelong glance.
"Is that just for me or is that how you do your detentions around here?"
Lor chuckled. "Just for you."
"So, what will you lot be doing?"
I glanced back at the card.
"Your lessons seem really long here. Are they manageable?"
"Yeah. We all have at least two frees a week. Plus, anyone who says a four day week is tough is pathetic."
I nodded. "I guess that's true. So, why don't you have Fridays?"
"So Ed and I can spend more time together.
Teritt's voice made me jump. I looked towards him and he grinned.
"Hello, Penny. Sorry I disappeared halfway through the tour. I'm always exhausted after the pain I have to endure on Thursdays. I only get three lessons with Ed on those days, you see."
I checked my timetable, confused.
"Do you have different numbers of lessons each day?" I asked. "Because if you don't, three is over half according to this."
Everyone burst into laughter, except Teritt.
"It's clear you don't understand love," he said, shrugging.
"'Course she does," Donald said, causing me to tense up inside. He smiled at me. "Morning, Penny." He looked at Teritt. "All angels do, you know," he said conversationally.
Edward frowned, looking puzzled.
Don turned back to me.
"We have long weekends so we can socialise. The Alpha's keen that we make lots of friends and have lots of fun. I must say night clubs are very diverting."
Astonished I asked, "Are you old enough?"
Don shook his head.
"Nah, but Alpha talks to the owners and we're allowed in. He's a great guy."
"Oh, Don!" Teritt exclaimed. "You never told me you were gay too! You should have told me." Teritt looked disgruntled. "Now I'm with Ed."
"Oh thanks," Edward said, but it was clear he was only pretending to be offended.
Don looked annoyed. "Come on, Teritt, wasn't it enough when you fancied me?"
"Who says I've stopped?" Teritt muttered.
Dave, Lor and I laughed. Don had his arms crossed and Ed was coolly looking at Teritt, one eyebrow raised.
Through his laughs, Lor said, "Maybe you should stop pretending you like girls." He chortled.
My laughter and Dave's died down and the atmosphere became slightly tense.
"Oh, I much prefer girls to guys, Lor." His eyes flashed. "Which is good because I have the greater success with them."
Don's gaze flickered to me.
"I missed you at the weekend, Penny," he murmured. "It's a great shame you couldn't stay longer. There are some beautiful spots on campus. So tranquil." He smiled at the thought. It wasn't a nasty smile. Yet I knew that a positive reaction from me would prove his point about being luckier with girls than Lor.
"Maybe when you're not being cruel to Lor," I murmured. "I really don't want to take sides in your fight.
Edward, I noticed, smiled with pride as I said this, though there was a crease in his brow like he was trying to work something out.
I felt Lor's eyes on me, but I continued to look at Don.
Don nodded slightly.
"I'm sorry to have displayed the flaws in my character before you, angel," he said.
At that moment, a short young man with thinning black hair appeared in the corridor.
"Good morning," he said cheerfully, looking around the boys who smiled in response. He spotted me and beamed.
"Hello, there, Miss Howler. Welcome to Lupin Scuela."
The man looked at Ed and Dave in turn as he said, "Miss Fleurie's waiting in the meadow for you, boys."
"Thanks, Mr Pots," Edward said. He and Dave promptly left to go to their lesson. It was then that I remembered that they were in a higher class than the rest.
Before I followed Donald into the classroom Mr Pots opened the door of, I caught Teritt gazing after Ed wistfully. Despite his teasing manner, he genuinely seemed to care deeply about his lover. But in a moment, the expression was gone and he was following me as I walked into the room.