A/N: Usually I post stories in the morning, but...work has been killing me lately. So, this month's ToEO entry is coming late...

~X X X~

Tahlea Grande reached up and plucked the heavy, leather-bound book off Dr. Chartreuse's bookshelf.

"Wow, that looks like it weighs a ton."

Tahlea turned and smiled at the fairy hovering beside her.

"It's one of the more useful things about having human-sized arms."

"Only if you want to read it in the first place. What are you up to anyway, Tahlea?"

"It's Arkham's Meditations on the Natural Law. Father says that I need to read it before I can start my advanced instruction in alchemy." She paused, then added in as passable an imitation as she could of Dr. Chartreuse's deep, rich voice, "'I realize that the material may not be the most compelling, but Arkham speaks to important truths that all we who experiment with God's laws must consider.' I glanced at it before, but the writer's style is so boring."

"Are you sure that a guy who'd take a fairy's spirit and use it as the core of a homunculus is the best person to be lecturing anyone on alchemical ethics?"

"It was my spirit, Hibi."

Tahlea didn't actually have any memories of her life as a fairy, but she'd apparently been rather unusual for her kind, delving into the intricacies of magical research that were ordinarily only the province of humans. That had been why she'd volunteered to let herself become what she was now, a creature of alchemy, a life created by the artificial manipulation of the natural laws.

"Which makes you two equally crazy, to my mind."

Tahlea grinned impishly.

"Like father, like daughter?"

The fairy rolled her eyes. Hibiscus had (apparently) been Tahlea's friend in her previous life and had decided that wasn't going to change. As she'd put it, "Hey, if I thought submitting yourself to unnatural magical lunacy was a reason to abandon someone, I'd have dropped this friendship years ago, because anyone could see you were going to do something crazy like this sooner or later."

"Anyway, the book wasn't actually what I was asking about."

"Huh? I thought—"

Hibiscus shook her head.

"What I meant was, what are you doing in here when you're supposed to be administering a test for the aspirants?"

Ideally, students were supposed to learn the basics of magic theory at the Magical Society before coming to the Silver Star Tower, but that wasn't always possible for those with certain backgrounds or from parts of the kingdom where Society branches weren't common. For those, Gammel Dore had instituted a series of basic classes to get them up to speed before beginning study as a proper apprentice.

"I am! They're taking it right now," Tahlea protested.

"And isn't part of the job to make sure that they each do their own work and don't cheat?"


"So how do you do that if they're in there and you're in here?"

"Well, that's easy; I just—" She stopped and blinked. "Eek, I got distracted talking to you. Come on!"

Tucking her book under her arm, she rushed out of the room, Hibi flitting in her wake, then down the hall and into the classroom where five teenagers were sitting, scribbling away at their test papers.

"O'Doul!" she called out, and a freckle-faced boy's head snapped up. "Come with me."

"What? Why?"

"Hibi, would you please get what's inside his left sleeve?"

"Since when did I become your assistant?" Hibiscus groused, but flitted off right away. O'Doul tried to pull his hand back, but he was no match for the fairy's speed; she pulled out a curl of papers the boy had tucked into his sleeve.

"Wow, your handwriting's worse than Tahlea's. What's the point of cheat sheets you can't even read?"

"This is a very serious incident, young man," Tahlea said. "Come with me; Professor Gammel will have to decide what he wants to do about this." She turned on her heel and marched out of the room, the sullen-faced boy shuffling in her wake.

"But Tahlea," Hibiscus asked, flying along beside her, "how did you know?"

"I'm a homunculus now," she said brightly. "I may not be able to do human magic like my big sister, but I do have a homunculus's powers. Clairvoyance is our most basic ability, you know."

Hibiscus shook her head in disbelief. "Man, Tahlea, I pity any kids you ever have. Most moms have eyes in the back of their head, but one that has eyes in completely different rooms is just too much."

~X X X~

A/N: This story was spawned due to the fine folks at "Exiled to the Couch." In the thread there about "Dear Tahlea," I'd made an offhand remark about Tahlea having a snarky fairy friend. Several of the others picked it up and ran with it...and I promptly forgot I was the one who'd made the comment in the first place. When I got over the blushing when they reminded me, I decided to go ahead and use her properly in an omake! As you probably guessed, this story takes place at least some months after "The Making of a Family." I thought a flower name sounded good for a fairy, and hibiscus flowers can be made into wine. As for O'Doul, I figure a brand of non-alcoholic beer fits a cheat!