“No sir,” James replied as he stepped fully into the room, making sure that his smile was a friendly one and not a mocking one. “I am meant to be in European history.”
Mister Harrison took the teenager’s schedule, looked it over, and handed it back to him. “Have a seat right here, please,” he said, gesturing to one of the only seat open, this one at the front of the room.
James set his canvas backpack on top of the desk and pulled out a notebook before sitting down. The teacher got started on the lesson he’d planned for that day, more of a presentation to explain a research project, really. Some of the students were groaning, but Mister Harrison showed no interest in their complaints. Once he was done explaining the projects packets that he passed out, the students were given time to form groups and discuss some preliminary ideas. Cerys headed straight towards James, and Himeko followed more shyly.
“This is going to be great,” Cerys told them as she flipped to the suggested topics page of the packet. “There are tons of historical figures that don’t get talked about in the history books, so I’m glad Mister Harrison made that the point of the project.”
“Who wants to read another paper about Alexander or Caesar, anyway, right?” James added. “I take it you have an idea in mind?”
Himeko was tugging on on her friend’s sleeve, and pressed a scrap of paper into her hand. Cerys gave her a skeptical look as she uncrumpled it and read the words on it.
Are you sure about this? Himeko had written. We don’t know anything bout his study habits.
Creys scribbled a quick message back to her friend. Harrison will deal with it if he lets us down.
“What about the duchess?” Cerys told James when she was done.
“What’s so special about her?” James asked.
“She was absolutely insane,” Himeko told him.
“Basically,” Cerys agreed, nodding. “She was kind of a female version of Vlad the Impaler.”
“So we’re dealing with blood and vampires?”
“Only one of those things. I’ll let you figure out which one,” Cerys told him with a wink.
They only had a few more minutes until class ended, Mister Harrison told them that tomorrow’s class would be in the library, and they shuffled out of the room. James had managed to get into the same math class as the girls, so they sat together through that, as well. He turned out to be very good at geometric proofs, and challenged Cerys to see who could get more right. Himeko stared at them as they raced through proof after proof, but said nothing.
When the girls headed to art, James took a turn towards the gym, and they did not seem him again ’till lunch. They whispered about him for as much of art class as they could get away with, but otherwise art class was as typical as it ever was.
When they finally did see him again, they gaped at what they saw going on. There was a crowd around one of the outlying lunch tables, this one not far from the field. Cerys hurried over, her fears confirmed when she saw her brother on the ground, his backpack spilled out across the sidewalk and grass. Bayani was helping him up, but there were two other boys shouting at them, mostly things that nobody would ever want repeated. And there was James, standing between Peter and his assailants, shouting back at them as much as they gave out.