"Who is that?"
The hissed whisper comes from the girl who is hunched close to the door of the classroom in order to peer through the slim gap, and who wears both a suspicious and incredulous expression and oversized, teal-marked robes.
"Oh!" Calliope, beside her – another girl, this one with cobalt blue accents – stands a little straighter, shaking back long white hair, shot through with white – which she insists isn't died, merely a result of The Change and the years that followed.
Calliope breathes in deeply, and begins, "I've heard a lot about her. She's a second year, in Horse Hall; her name is Illia, I think, and she went by 'Rashemi' as her family name – making her Russian, or at least indicating traces of such in her heritage or predisposition toward such names by her parents – before-"
The short-haired girl has already tuned this out in lieu of peeking through the gap. Thess'll fill her in later if there's anything interesting; the Toad Hall boy is enraptured by everything that falls from the Butterfly's mouth.
The girl inside converses easily with the Professor, smiling as she gestures towards something in the book.
She pokes a particular passage and his comment is delivered with the faintest hint of a smile, which the girl seems to delight in.
So confused by this is the snooping girl that she almost misses out on the end of Calliope's exposition, but her attention snaps back upon hearing the word 'wife'.
She turns away from the door. "Wait, wife? Whose wife? Grabiner's wife?"
Calliope seems more than a little put out by Calliope's lack of attention; nevertheless, she nods.
"He's married? To wh-" The girl's eyes widen, and her head whips to the door, then back to her friends. "To her? What the – but she's a student, and – is that normal?"
The boy beside her shrugs. "Dunno." (Calliope's remark – "Evie, that's what I was trying to tell you" – goes unheard.)
Evie's (admittedly lame) resort of 'gee thanks, Toad boy, what would we do without you?' is bitten back when Calliope can no longer swallow up her indignation.
"Like I was saying," she presses, waiting until both have settled into themselves sheepishly. "Thank you. It's not a particularly long story, but the details run mostly off of rumors, so I'll try to sum it up. At one point, not quite in the beginning of the year, but not quite at the end, she tangled herself in a promise – a binding one. A Magus demon was involved, I've been told, and this would fit with the other minutiae I've heard. The rest, in layman's terms: because she interfered with a demon that was tied to someone's familial line – Professor Grabiner's in this case, though her reasons for doing this are unclear to me – her options were to masquerade as part of the line to invoke protection. As his wife, in fact. Naturally, due to the strength of a wizard's promise, and the nature of Magus demons, the marriage had to be real."
She pauses to let this sink in.
"Oh. So..." Evie starts slowly. "She... didn't go crazy and decide to marry old Grabby?"
She's only seen Illia on a few occasions, and spoken to her even less, but she seemed respectable and sane enough. She could mesh this imagery with her.
Calliope shakes her head. "Not quite. She acted as she did in order to retain her magic, and to preserve Professor Grabiner's life. However, she seems genuinely fond of him – and, if reports are to be believed, he of her. ...I got most of that from Minnie," she adds, a glint of reverie entering into her eyes.
"Man, you worship that girl," Evie complains, shaking her head at the way her friend had managed to turn yet another conversation into a Minnie-appreciation opportunity. She can take in the rest later.
"She's lovely," Calliope sighs, a dreamy expression taking over her face, "and she's smart, and talented, and ambitious, and friendly, and..."
Thess, at her side, shakes his head. She's lost in the magnitude of respect for the older Butterfly.
So Evie returns to her nosiness.
The girl – Illia – responds with something they cannot hear, finishing it with, "...and it's always nice to see you, Hieronymous."
Both Thess and Calliope wave frantically at Evie's outburst, the former clapping his hand over his mouth with a frown and the latter motioning towards the door.
Cautiously, leans closer to the door, hesitant to actually peek through, now fearing the consequences of being seen.
They are talking still.
She pulls away with a shake of her head and a thumbs up, to which her companions respond with varying degrees of relief.
With any luck, the two within have attributed the noise to students still chattering in the hallway, and not students chattering in the hallway about them.
Evie scoots a short distance away and begins to stand, fully intending to rise and walk away, having done enough eavesdropping to satisfy her inquisitive nature.
Instead she finds herself at eyelevel with a book, held lightly against a grey cape.
"Haah- hithereprofessorsonicetoseey ouhowlonghaveyoubeenstanding there?" Her voice comes out in a squeak and she has to stop herself from reeling backwards.
She'd missed the looks of panic that crossed the faces of the Toad and the Butterfly only moments before.
His immediate response is a raised eyebrow. "Shouldn't you be in class?"
Oh, she is in trouble.
But another person chimes in, "or preparing for an exam!" The older Horse has emerged now, shifting a stack of books in her arms and smiling cheerfully
Evie feels a brief flash of panic that now here are two witnesses to her snooping, and a note of irritation that she is not being helped by the two behind her, which is all soon drowned out by – "wait, there's an exam?"
Illia's eyes stay bright. "There's always an exam! It's not like high school – you have to be prepared at all times."
At the look of despair that crosses Evie's face, Illia gives a short laugh, shaking her head.
"Alright, run along you three. Apparently, you have a lot to do."
They don't have to be told twice – the three nod frantically and nearly stumble over themselves in their haste to move away.
When they have turned the corner, and are away from sight, Illia remarks, "not even three months into the year, and they're already terrified of you." She turns her gaze upwards. "Hard to believe I was like that once."
"Mmh." He watches their disappearance with less mirth. "You do realize this will start the rumors anew."
She ducks her head and laughs softly. "Yeah. But I don't mind so much. The newer ones'll get used to it just the same as they did last year. Besides," she continues, shifting the weight of the books to her hip, "it's not as if they're really making things up, and – well, unconventional as it was, impromptu marriage did help me to get to know you, so… Anyway, I'd better go. I promised Ellen I'd help get everything moved before the performance." She takes a step back, then pauses again, her smile growing. "And since I'm still convinced I'm right, I'll come by tomorrow after class to try and convince you."
"You're welcome to try." His smirk widens. "...Mrs. Grabiner."
Her response is a blush up to her ears, and a brilliant, ecstatic grin.
(Author's note: Evie Reid is my character from the Let's Play I'm doing.
This fic is set in the same continuity as "Make a Note of It", and is meant to take place between that and a larger one I'm planning (and beginning) that's set at the conclusion of MaNoI.
I feel like there might be errors beyond the norm, and that this sounds awkward and rushed. Hopefully... it's not, and you like it anyway?
...hopefully it's not out of character?)