Summary: we all know that nothing improper happened on the roof of the Archives between Elodin and Kvothe, no matter how it looked to anyone without an explanation. But Yaoi fangirls and -boys at the University (yes, they do exist) may have a different opinion... Oneshot.
Author's note: This plot bunny bit me when I re-read The Wise Man's Fear by the inimitable Patrick Rothfuss. What with all the stories going around about Elodin and Kvothe, I figured "that incident on the roof" would at least get some mention within the halls of the University because both people are rather well-known and connected to each other. We all know that Kvothe snoops on rumors and stories about himself, occasionally offering suggestions as he sees fit. I thought it would be fun to write about him overhearing a rumor that was not as much to his liking as the others he's heard. Rated T for a little bit of language and some other stuff. Please tell me what you think!
Disclaimer: The Kingkiller Chronicle belongs SOLELY to Patrick Rothfuss. The only thing that is mine in this story is the idea for the circumstance. Everything you recognize belongs to Rothfuss. I just like to muck around in his world.
That Incident on the Roof
Silent as the shadow that usually graced my shoulders, I made my way into Tomes.
I didn't look like me. Not to the casual observer, that is. No shaed, different set of clothes, a hat.
My disguise went deeper than that, though. I kept to the hunched, small posture favored by most of the lower-class members of the University who had not even made E'lir. Nobody paid attention to them. They were only a small step above the runners on the social ladder.
Of course I put on a masterful show. I was Ruh down to the marrow of my bones. I worried my lower lip, books clutched to my chest, paper and pen rather haphazardly strewn on top. Finally I chose a seat away from the main crowd. Not too far away, but far enough that I would not be expected to participate in conversation. Close enough to listen, though, certainly.
Nobody paid me any mind, of course, while I spread the books on the low table and muddled through them, studiously taking notes on the most basic of mathematical principles. All the while my ears worked to catch the words of my fellow students nearby. It was the purpose of this little exercise, after all. I was curious to hear more stories and rumors about myself.
"—cracked as pottery glaze," I heard someone whisper.
"Come on. You don't mean to tell me that they made Elodin a Master when he was crazy?" a second voice muttered back, full of disbelief.
"Not while he was mad," the first replied. "Before. Then he lost his wits. Couldn't very well take away his title, could they? So they put him in Haven...until he broke out."
Someone else made a hushed noise ripe with incredulity.
"It's true," the whisperer insisted. "He even goes back to visit sometimes. Took a student there once too. Kvothe."
One person scoffed. "Don't tell me you actually believe all those stories about the great 'Kvothe the Bloodless,' do you?" someone else said sardonically.
"Of course not," the first speaker bristled. "Felurian doesn't exist, she's just a faerie story. Everyone knows that. And a demon dragon in Trebon? Please. But this one..." He cleared his throat nervously. "This one feels true. It happened right here in Imre. Kvothe insulted Elodin. Accidentally or on purpose, who knows? The young Master called fire and water and iron. Broke through the wall of his old room with the force of it. Kvothe fought back, of course, with wind and lightning. But even the wind Elodin turned against him. Pushed him right off the roof—and he lived."
I smiled to myself, my pen carefully scratching the transitive property onto the paper. Such a fine story had grown out of me jumping off the roof that I hadn't the heart to correct its teller.
"What was Kvothe doing in Elodin's old rooms?" a curious voice piped up.
My attention was effectively caught. What indeed? I was rather curious of that myself.
"Probably Elodin already had a grudge on him for some reason and he wanted to trap him there," the original storyteller replied in an irritable whisper. "Anyway, it happened, true as I tell—"
A few startled chuckles cut him off, and one person chortled loudly enough that twenty people turned to glare. I was one of them, naturally. I would have drawn attention to myself otherwise.
Transitive property, I copied with utmost care, being sure to make several spelling errors. I had to cross out the word each time and start over. Such a pity. It would take me simply ages to finish my simple note-taking at this rate. Maybe even long enough to hear the explanation for the group's sudden amusement.
"Elodin is not sly," the first voice said incredulously.
"Kvothe definitely isn't either," a woman's voice chimed in. "I've seen him look at women. He focuses on them. Sees them. He hasn't done that at all to men."
I had to fight down a grin. Fela would smile at her own observation of the same being repeated in another member of the fairer sex. And Simmon...? Poor Sim. He'd only recently joked that I shouldn't look at him the way Fela had mentioned I looked at women. Maybe I should do it, just once, just to see naïve, gentle-hearted Sim's expression...
"But there's another story that happened right on this building's roof," said a different speaker, dragging me back to the conversation. "Or had you forgotten?"
Silence fell at that. Not true silence—I could hear uncomfortable fidgeting as I penned Commutative property in careful, incorrectly ordered letters. Crossed it out. Wrote it again.
"Elodin took Kvothe to the roof of the Archives. In the middle of the night. During a storm. They lost the key and their clothes. The scrivs found them stark naked and shivering in the morning. What do you think they were doing?" I could almost hear the eyebrow raising in sarcastic questioning.
A slow anger began to unfurl in the pit of my stomach. It had been part of my study in Naming. Elodin had been trying to wake my sleeping mind. Nothing...of that nature...had occurred! But the rumormongers had only seen the end result, and I was hugely irritated with how it looked. They had the story in their teeth now. They would worry it like a dog with a bone. Kist, crayle, en kote. Tiny gods. Tehlu help me, keep me from doing stupid beyond mortal ken. Commutative property.
Then I heard a voice that made me want to laugh in relief. Uresh. Good, logical, clear-headed Uresh, who had been my fellow student in Master Elodin's class. If anyone could make them see sense it was him. Quotient. This I misspelled several times. I was a hopelessly dim young lordling, doomed to spend the rest of my days as—blackened body of God, Tehlu anyway, what was he saying?
"Well..." he was saying slowly, his mathematician's logical mind fitting together the puzzle pieces laid out for him, "they do spend a lot of time together now. Kvothe is Elodin's...private student."
There was a small silence. "You have something else to say, Uresh. Come on, what is it?"
"I don't know about Kvothe," he allowed, and I felt a stab of relief so sharp and quick I could have wept tears of blood. Instead I focused my attention on keeping the nib of my pen steady. Sum. Then my brief taste of hope was cruelly dashed against the rocks lining the sides of my personal pit of despair. "But...one day. Master Elodin told me—"
"—that my assignment for the next class—"
No no no. Product.
"—was to have sex."
I entertained the tiny hope that he would stop there. But no such luck.
"And that if I did not know how to do this...I should see him after class."
After a moment's silence, gasps, shocked giggles, and coughs filled the air before they were swiftly muffled.
"Did you go?" the woman practically hissed in shocked amazement.
"No! Of course not!" His blush was audible. I had not even a shred of pity for him. Uresh the Traitor, that's who he was. Uresh the Logical...? No, that was true, but it sounded too much like a compliment. Uresh the Fool? Yes, much better. It had a nice ring to it.
"Why not?" replied the woman incredulously.
I imagined Uresh's gape filling the startled silence. "I'm not...I don't...no!" he stammered furiously. It was petty, but I was cruelly amused by his complete lack of eloquence. He deserved it.
"Still, I wouldn't be too surprised if you, or Master Elodin, or Kvothe were...why are all the good ones sly?"
I did not stay any longer than that. Not to hear Uresh splutter, or the woman be reminded that she had been so adamant that I was obviously attracted to women a mere minute before. If I had stayed longer I might have done something rash like ruin my entire reputation. As little as I liked this part of it, I quite enjoyed keeping the rest of it intact.
"I say he did," Hemme said maliciously. "He's not right in the head, everyone knows that." Brandeur nodded along like the good little puppet he was.
Elxa Dal looked less than convinced. "I don't know," he replied doubtfully, the concerned expression nearly comical on his stereotypically villainous face. "Elodin's intelligent. He's not acting any differently. He might be sly, he might not be. But with a student?" He shrugged uncomfortably. "I don't think he would. Not even at his least sane. He's odd, yes. He's been in and out of Haven, yes. But sly or not...not a student. And certainly not one as young as Kvothe."
Master Hemme raised an eyebrow. "What do you know about him, Dal? Not what you've heard in stories. What has he or a reliable source told you about his life?"
Elxa Dal looked from Hemme to Brandeur and back to Hemme. "That he was the youngest person ever admitted. Youngest person ever made Master..." He thought hard. "A Namer of incredible power. Brilliant and insane." Dal shrugged then. "Apart from that, nothing."
"Precisely," Brandeur said over his steak, transferring a slice from fork to mouth.
"And have you asked?" Dal rebutted pointedly. Hemme's uncomfortable silence was answer enough. "There you go then. You yourself are going on rumors and stories with nothing to back them up."
Brandeur glared up at Dal incredulously. "What would you have him say or do?"
"That would work well," Hemme spat, gathering momentum from his ally as he waved his fork around to punctuate his words. "'Oh hello there, Master Namer! We were wondering about your personal information. Are you sly?'"
Suddenly his voice caught in his throat and he coughed, eyes bulging. Elodin stood on the paved street, barefoot and in a billowing white shirt and tattered tan breeches, looking boyish and carefree. The wind ruffled his dark hair as gently as a lover. He turned to Hemme. "Sly?" The young Master looked surprised at the question. Then he grinned widely, eyes bright. "As a fox!" He let out a laugh, childlike and delighted, before sobering as suddenly as he had shown mirth. "But Master Hemme, that is not the only question you wish to ask. Go on then." Arms wide, he smiled at Hemme disarmingly. "Ask me." His voice, though calm, had the steely ring of command to it.
Hemme finished choking on his own spit. Then, with all the hatred, pompousness, and righteous indignation he could muster, he blustered, "Master Elodin, have you been engaging in improper and intimate conduct with Kvothe, Arliden's son, that ravel bastard?"
Elodin narrowed his eyes and seemed to consider this second question. Then he smiled a smile so malicious, so predatory, so smug that it would have put a hunting cat—or, yes, a fox—to shame. Hemme blanched as Elodin stalked gracefully forward. The dark young man even went so far as to put his hands around Hemme's face. The pasty-faced Master's fork fell from his nerveless hand to the pavement with a clatter. "Naming is an intimate art, Master Hemme. Your sleeping mind must know what it is calling in its entirety. Each facet, each secret, each way it shapes and is shaped by the world." He moved and wiped his hands distastefully on the sleeve of Brandeur's robe. "Luckily for you, I have no desire whatsoever to know any more about either of you than I already do." He paused then and glanced over to the other Master quietly sitting at the table. "Unlike you two, however, Elxa Dal is a lovely man—" Elodin favored him with a smile, and Dal returned it nervously with color just beginning to touch his cheeks— "and I have no desire to...hmm...violate him in that manner. It would be inordinately, unspeakably, unforgivably rude." Elodin grinned again, wide and wild. "Okay, about Hemme, I take that back...it is lovely to learn that you just pissed yourself. Good show! And as for 'improper'..." He glanced pointedly down at himself, spun around in a circle, then whispered loudly enough for everyone in the crowded courtyard to hear, "I have never been fond of propriety." His childlike, delighted laugh rang out as he scampered away towards Imre, leaving chaos in his wake.
The three Masters were pale with shock. Brandeur was the first to recover. "Wh...what. What was that." His voice had the steadiness that only supreme confusion can cause.
Dal looked at Hemme, then at Brandeur, then at the chattering students around them, and finally down at the table. "That is an excellent question. I don't think it can be even looked at in further detail without some sort of bolster to our courage." He sat back in his chair, signaled to a runner boy, and sent for the strongest brandy the bar had to offer.
I had decided shortly after returning to my room at Anker's that this new rumor about Elodin and me might not be wholly useless. At the very least it could help people believe that I as indeed learning secret, ancient magics from the Master Namer. I would have to grit my teeth and bear it. Maybe in time it would blow over. I could only hope Fela, Sim, and Wil hadn't caught wind of the story yet...
"I heard an interesting rumor in the courtyard today," a woman's voice said conversationally from behind me.
I turned to look. I was proud when the annoyance and resignation in the pit of my stomach didn't show in my face or the timbre of my voice. "Good to see you, Fela. You too, Sim. You both look well."
Fela grinned. "Aren't you interested in this rumor?"
In a flash of childish irritation I decided I would turn the joke on them when the opportunity arose, as it no doubt soon would. "What of it?" I asked, keeping my expression and voice perfectly casual and pleasant.
Simmon started snickering. Fela began telling the tale, a wicked mirth in her eyes. "As we already know, our favorite fiery-haired arcanist managed to get himself trapped without a stitch of clothing in the dead of night in the middle of a thunderstorm on top of the roof of the Archives. Well, apparently Master Elodin dragged him up there and something happened—the storytellers couldn't agree on whether you were the ravager or the ravaged." She watched me discreetly, looking for signs of my reaction. "This obviously made the fight in Haven a lover's quarrel."
I raised my eyebrows in excellently feigned surprise. "Really now?"
"Yes indeed. And then you know what?" Her eyes were positively gleaming. The woman was terrifying.
"What?" I asked agreeably. What? There was more?
"Hemme, Brandeur, and Elxa Dal confronted Elodin about you. The Master Namer as good as admitted it. And flirted with Dal. And he made Hemme piss himself."
I was startled into smiling. It almost ruined my act, but instead I turned my shocked amusement into an expression of pleased embarrassment, turning and dipping my head slightly and raising a shoulder a little in response.
Fela's own wicked amusement turned to puzzlement. "Kvothe? Is something—are you alright?"
"Perfectly fine, thanks," I replied, still smiling, still hiding my face a bit. I even managed to call up a bit of a blush.
"Then what...?" Fela looked at me again. Really looked. Then backed up a step and put her hand over her mouth. "Merciful Tehlu," she murmured faintly.
Simmon, bless his heart, was as confused as ever. I decided to have some pity on him. Not enough to break character yet, but enough to lead him to the conclusion Fela had already drawn. My lips curved into a smile just for him, and I looked at him like I looked at women. The whole of my attention focused on him. My eyes held sweet fruit, and shadows, and lamplight, and something wild that faerie maidens ran from underneath a violet sky.
His eyes immediately went wide and his skin grew ash-pale. Poor Sim's mouth worked, trying to speak, but he could not.
I couldn't resist taking it a little further. "Between the three of us," I said in a voice both self-conscious and proud with a little hint of huskiness, "Elodin and I traded off being ravager and ravaged as the mood suit us." I said my teacher's name sensuously, tasting it, rolling it around on my tongue like a mouthful of honey before releasing it delicately into the air. Fela just stared, eyes wide. Simmon let out a tiny squeak and swayed, looking like he might faint.
The mask broke then and I doubled over in laughter. Gasping in air, I pointed weakly at my friends and breathlessly exclaimed, "The looks on your faces..." Then I couldn't contain my merriment enough to talk any longer. I chortled and chuckled, gasped and guffawed. My stomach hurt from it. Sim recovered enough to smack me on the back of the head, almost crying with relief.
I wiped tears from my own eyes as well, still snickering a bit at my prank. Then I sobered a little at what Fela had said. "Did that bit with Elodin actually happen?" I asked her.
She nodded, wary. "Right in front of our eyes. We heard every word."
I grinned at her, showing all of my teeth. "That bastard. What exactly did he say?"
Fela hesitated, then gave in when I arched one eyebrow and recounted the tale from the beginning.
I ground my teeth as I listened. That was just like Elodin. Speaking nothing but the truth, with answers as incriminating or as innocent as you cared to make them. It was infuriating. "I'm going to strangle the b—" I began, then remembered something else. "You said he flirted with Elxa Dal?" I couldn't help smirking at that because of the strangeness of the image. "And he made Hemme piss himself? In front of everyone in the courtyard?"
Fela nodded eagerly. After a moment Sim did as well.
I grinned. "Then, because of that, I forgive him."