Thanks to my reviewers! Once again, I apologize for not updating for a good deal of time. The inspiration just wasn't there for some time, and I've been REALLY busy what with work and school.
Will had no idea what sort of place he would be staying in. He wasn't even sure if Lyra's Oxford used the same currency as his. The streets were the same, but the buildings on them differed greatly. Lyra's Oxford seemed as if it was stuck in the past; a world that had never moved on with the inventions that Will's had. Lyra had mentioned some things that were the same, but Will had to wonder just how different their two worlds were.
"Do you have any idea where you are?" Kirjava asked from beside him. She could finally talk freely to him in this world, and she enjoyed being able to walk alongside Will without having to worry about being seen. "Maybe you should have asked Lyra where an inn is."
"We'll find one. It shouldn't be too hard. I'm just worried about the money. How long do you think we'll have to stay here?"
"Xaphania didn't say how long we'd be here. We should just try to find a room and worry about how long we'll be here later."
Will turned a corner and noticed a sign for an inn about a half block away. Hopefully that would work, at least for some time.
He and Kirjava entered the inn and noticed many people sitting in what he guessed was a lobby, eating what looked like breakfast. There was a man standing at a counter, and Will walked over to him.
"I'd like a room, please. I'm not sure for how long." It suddenly became apparent to Will that he had no clothes or other possessions with him. He would need to go buy some when he was out later. He was thankful that he wasn't wearing jeans, because those would have probably earned him some stares.
"Alright. We have a room open for some time that you can use. Can I have your name?"
Will knew he couldn't give his real name. He doubted anyone would know who he really was, but he decided to give an alias anyway. "Mark Malone," Will lied. "How much for the room?"
"We'll bill you daily, and it will depend on if you take your meals here. Those get billed to your room as well. We'll expect the first payment tomorrow. I'd say twenty-five pounds a night on average."
Will nodded, wondering how much money he had. Maybe Lyra knew a place he could stay, or somewhere he could work until it was time for him to return.
The man at the desk gave him a key. "It'll be the first room on your left when you go up the stairs. If you need anything, I'll be at the desk here."
Will took the key and went over to the stairs. Some of the customers stared at him as he walked by. Will supposed he looked slightly different from the people here, and wondered if his clothes were giving him away. Kirjava was a pretty dæmon, so maybe that was why people were looking. Will decided not to attract any attention to himself if he could avoid it, and he climbed the stairs quickly.
The room he was staying in was decently sized, with a large bed, a dresser, a desk, and a bathroom off to the side. Will kind of wanted to sleep; that bench hadn't been the most comfortable. Although having Lyra there made up for it…
Will sighed. He had missed her so much, and now he had her again. How much more would it hurt this time when they had to go on their own ways?
Celia couldn't fall back asleep. Lyra had fallen asleep with ease after changing into a nightgown, and she looked content. Celia had to wonder where she had been. As she absentmindedly petted Dongwalo, various ideas flitted through her mind. She was certainly with a boy. Who was he?
Celia glanced at Lyra, but knew that her roommate would reveal nothing about her night. She frowned unhappily. Curiosity was getting the best of her, and she had a feeling she wouldn't be able to stop thinking about this until Lyra told her. She decided to get up and maybe go for a walk around the grounds until it was time for breakfast. Then she would press Lyra for details.
"Go back to sleep," Dongwalo muttered as Celia sat up. "You have some time before breakfast."
"I can't sleep, and you should know that," Celia hissed at him.
"Stop worrying about things that aren't your business. Lyra will tell you if she wants you to know."
Celia sighed and laid back down. She rolled away from Dongwalo, and decided to try and sleep for a few more hours, at least…
Two hours later, Lyra woke up, feeling strangely content. She couldn't figure out why she was so happy…
Will! He was here! He was in her Oxford, and she had spent the entire night with him! She smiled to herself, and hugged Pantalaimon in Will's place. She couldn't wait to see him again. He said he would come by for her later that day. They could go to lunch, and she could show him Oxford, and they could catch up on all the time that had been taken away from them. How she had missed him in the four years that had passed!
Celia had fallen back asleep, Lyra noted. She had expected her roomie to be awake and waiting for details. Celia had certainly pressed her enough this morning. Lyra worried about that aspect of Will's arrival. How would she explain him to people? Who would she say he was? A friend from the past? They had only been twelve after all… it would seem strange to people that they had been in love at such a young age. Her classmates would certainly gossip when they saw him.
Lyra decided to wash her face and then go down to breakfast. When she came out of the bathroom, Celia was awake. She grinned at once, and almost leapt out of bed.
"Who is the boy? You have to tell me! Who were you with all night?"
Lyra sighed, almost just to show how annoyed she was. "Do we have to discuss this now? I was going to get breakfast."
"Lyra, you promised you'd tell me who you were with last night. I'm not letting you get out of this that easily. You're going to have to tell me. Why not get it over with now?"
Lyra picked out a skirt and top, and laid the clothes on her bed. "He is just an old friend. His name is Will. I knew him before I came to school here. He's in town for a little while, and we decided to catch up with each other. I haven't seen him in four years, so we had a lot to talk about."
"That's all. Now, I am going to breakfast. I don't want to talk about Will anymore, so please don't ask me about him."
After Lyra changed, she stormed from the room, Pantalaimon cradled in her arms. She shut the door behind her, and it seemed like Pan was saying something to her.
"She's not telling us everything, Dongwalo."
"I can't blame her. It isn't your business, Celia. Leave her alone about this boy. It's obviously a touchy subject."
Celia didn't respond to her dæmon, but merely decided she'd ask Lyra again later. Lyra couldn't keep this a secret forever. Celia decided to change and go down to breakfast. Maybe after eating her roomie would feel more like sharing?
When Will woke up again, he was somewhat confused. He was in a different room than his bedroom at home. "Kirjava, where are we?"
"We're in Lyra's Oxford, Will."
The events of the previous night came flooding back, and Will sat up immediately. How long had he been asleep for? He had promised Lyra he would come for her sometime that day. He decided to go buy some clothes and then go find Lyra. He put on his clothes from the night before, and tried to leave the inn as inconspicuously as possible. It was obviously after breakfast, because few people were sitting in the main area. Will wondered what time it really was. He doubted this Oxford had normal clocks.
After he bought some new clothes, Will went back to the inn to get his mind in order. His money was sure to run out eventually. With the rate he had been spending recently, it was going to be sooner than later. It wasn't like he could go to the bank and withdraw some more either.
Will changed his clothes and left the inn again. He vaguely remembered where Lyra's school was. After getting lost a few times, Will finally found the large building. Some girls were sitting nearby the school reading. Will supposed that weekends were more laid back. However, he had no idea how to get Lyra. He doubted he could just walk into the school and ask for her. This school certainly had rules regarding boys and visitors.
Some of the girls were looking at him and whispering. The last thing Will had wanted was to attract attention. He shifted nervously from one foot to the other. Why hadn't he given Lyra a specific place to meet?
And almost as soon as he had thought those words, Lyra had appeared. She came running towards him, laughing, and jumped to hug him. Will hugged her back, so happy to actually feel her in his arms again.
"I'm so glad to see you! Now I know you're not a dream," Lyra whispered as she let him go.
Will noticed some of the girls were really whispering now. "Should we go somewhere else? Some of your classmates are staring at us."
Lyra laughed. "They're not used to seeing me with a boy. Come on, I'll take you around Oxford. There's so much I want you to see!"
And to the shock and dismay of Lyra's classmates, the pair walked off into the streets of Oxford holding hands.