Nonlinear Companions: Dawn: Part Two
***T he following morning I woke to the smell of freshly ground coffee. "Mmmmm" I moaned, tumbling sideways out of my bed as my snout followed the delicious smell toward the kitchen.
Sat at the table my roommate Priyia, an alien aisha, was pouring freshly brewed coffee into two mugs and chatting jovially to someone, from my vantage point I couldn’t see who she was talking to, so I cleared my throat and stepped from the hall into the kitchen. Sat opposite her was Westron, the pirate krawk I had met the day before. They both looked up as I entered.
"Morning sleepyhead." Westron greeted me.
"Mmrnin." I grunted. I was virtually useless without my morning coffee.
I headed over to the sink, there was a bunch of dirty dishes floating in the murky water.
"Sorry, I'll sort those out in a bit," apologised Priyia, "I had a study group over last night, don't worry that you never showed up," she winked at me, "I hear you did your own revising."
I delved into the sink and moved the dishes around with my hand, until I felt the handle of another mug, I yanked it out. Rinsed it under the tap and dried it with a cloth. I shuffled back toward the table, plonked myself violently onto a third stool and grabbed for the coffee pot.
After the first sip, I started to feel more normal. "Ugh, sorry about that, I'm really not a morning person." I said to Westron.
"It's okay, I did warn him," giggled Priyia, "You could've brushed your hair though!"
I looked into my mug, I could just make out my reflection in the black liquid. My wavy blonde hair looked as if I'd been struck by lightning. It was sticking up at most peculiar angles. I raked a hand through it quickly, although it was a bit late for that.
Westron smiled at me, "You look fine." he lied.
We sat there for half an hour drinking coffee and chatting. Priyia kept twirling her purpley-red locks in her hand. And she came over all misty eyed whenever Westron spoke. It really was quite annoying.
"Okay, I'm going to take a shower." I announced after a while.
I waited a moment to see if either would say anything. Nothing. I stood up and headed to my room.
When I emerged from my room, having showered, dressed and fixed my messy hair. Priyia was gone and Westron was standing at my kitchen sink washing the last of the dishes.
"Oh, you didn’t have to do that! You should have left it for her to clean up!" I exclaimed.
"Nah, it's fine," he grinned, "I know what it's like to be in first year, so much to prove. Day to day tasks often get overlooked, besides, when she left to go to a class," he waved a hand vaguely at the front door, "and you being in your room, I was bored."
"Well, thank you." I said graciously, although to be honest I would have preferred Priyia to do her own dirty work. But it didn’t really matter, I suppose.
Westron smiled at me. "I have class at two, what do you want to do until then?" He asked.
"Hmmmmm, well, I guess since I spent most of yesterday talking about me, why don’t you tell me about yourself?" I said.
"I guess that's only fair," he replied. "I'm originally from Neopia Central, but as a child I stumbled through a magical portal that teleported me back in time to Meridell. There I grew up to become a knigh-"
"That's not fair!" I exclaimed, "I told you the truth about my life, and all you're telling me is the story of Jeran and the Meridell Invasion."
"Oh you picked up on that?" Westron blushed. "Sorry, it's just, well, my life is pretty boring."
"Well, I still want to know about it." I said.
"Okay, I'm really from Darigan Citadel, I had a pretty boring upbringing, scholars for parents, blah, blah, blah, blah. I grew up privileged, but grounded," he winked, "My parents wanted me to go to Darigan University, like my dad had before me. But being the rebellious teen I was, Meridell fascinated me, so I decided to come here instead. That’s pretty much it, I'm currently in my second year of studies, and pretty outcast from my peers, hence why I have to hang out with smelly first years." he nudged me playfully.
"Oi!" I shouted, nudging him back, "I don’t smell, I just had a shower!"
Westron grinned at me. We both laughed. But part of me wondered why he'd said that, was he really outcast from his own year group? And why was he hanging out in a first years' dormitory kitchen cleaning their dishes for them? But I didn’t press the point. He would tell me in his own time.
We spent the remainder of the morning continuing where we had left off the day before, Westron tested me on what I could remember from my notes, and I was surprised at how much I did remember. I felt really good about this exam.
When lunchtime arrived, we left my dormitory and went down to the student food hall, where they were serving seared salmon sandwiches.
"Excellent brain food," Westron stated, "Help your lickle brain to retain all that information." he ruffled my hair playfully.
We found an empty table and sat down to eat. I gazed out the window.
"Will it snow?" I asked him. This was my first winter in Meridell and I wasn’t accustomed to the weather here, although I suspected it would be similar to Brightvale.
"Well, it didn’t last year, although we did get some pretty persistent sleet." he winked again.
"That’s a shame," I said. "Snow is so pretty. Although I've only ever seen pictures of it before."
"Really?" Westron asked, "You've seriously never seen real snow?"
"Nope." I conceded.
"Well, how about this, on Borovan Day weekend, my family usually go and stay in our cabin up on Terror Mountain, go skiing, etcetera, this year they aren't going, but we could still go? Just you and me?"
I stared at him, I'd only just met him the day before, but somehow I knew he could be trusted, I knew he would never do anything to harm me, and as cheesy as it sounds, I knew we were going to be friends. Always. I knew it was an honest request, he probably just didn’t want to go on his own, or maybe he genuinely just wanted to show me the snow, I'm not sure, but it made no matter what his reasons for asking me were, there was no way I could afford a trip to Terror Mountain.
He seemed to read my mind, "My treat," he said plainly, "As a treat for doing so well in your exam tomorrow."
I opened my mouth to argue, but he shushed me. "I won't take no for an answer. But if you don’t do well in your exam, you can't come." he winked once more.
I didn’t know what to say, I'd never had anyone be so kind to me.
"I better get studying then!" The words had blurted out of my mouth before I could stop them.
Westron laughed. "That’s the spirit!"
That evening after my afternoon class, I sat in my dorm room, going over my notes in my head. There was a gentle knock at the door. "Come in." I said dreamily.
It was Priyia, she sat at the end of my bed, I sat up, "What's up?" I asked her.
Her face was all pink and blotchy, she looked as if she had been crying.
"I just found out my grandaddy is poorly, I have to go home for a couple of weeks, to help my mum look after him." she sniffed.
"Oh my Fyora, I am so sorry hun," I hugged her tightly. "It'll be ok."
"I'm leaving for the Space Station in the morning, I just wanted to let you know, y'know, so you knew where I was." she stood up to leave.
"Don't go, Priyia." I said
"But, you need to study for your exam tomorrow. It's fine I'll just... go sit in my room." She sniffed again.
"It is most definitely not fine! You'll stay here with me."
And with that I jumped off my bed and began pulling blankets and pillows out of my wardrobe. I made a makeshift bed on the floor and insisted that Priyia took my bed. We stayed up late into the night, with hot chocolates and ice-cream, and I tried my very best to keep her company in her hour of need.
I woke abruptly, it was still pretty dark, I turned over to look at the clock on the wall, it was 5am. From the hall I could hear Priyia shuffling about. My wings ached from where I had laid on them during the night. I got up slowly and made my way into the hall, Priyia was standing there checking through her rucksack, making sure she had everything she needed for her journey. She didn’t look up, I headed for the kitchen and put on some coffee to brew, there was no way I could sleep now, I may as well stay awake until my exam at 9am. And if that was going to happen, I would need copious amounts of coffee.
Priyia joined me for a mug of coffee before a small purple grundo knocked on our front door and whisked her away. I wondered to myself when she would return, I hoped it wouldn’t be long. Having lived by myself for so long, it was nice having someone around.
At half past eight I headed down to the examination hall. There were lots of neopets hanging around outside the hall already. Some of them looked half asleep, some of them were rifling through notes and checking information with friends, panicked expressions on their faces.
There was a ringing sound and the doors to the hall opened, we filed in and found our seats. The cloud cybunny at the front of the hall waited until everyone was seated, then indicated that we should begin. I turned the paper over and began reading.
To be continued…