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 alternative history through banter

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PostSubject: alternative history through banter   Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:27 pm



"I opened the window, and the light broke over my face,
it passed. I sat down and wept,
over my face flowed my tears.
I perceived the shore at the boundary of the sea."

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:02 pm

"Third time's the charm, right," Kip asks.

"If this doesn't work out, I'm moving to New Zealand and keeping goats there."

"Whoa there. Chupacabra much?"

Tawny smiles at Kip. Shakes her head ever so slightly.

They're in an empty classroom, but it won't be empty for long. When the bell rings, the students will trickle in, settle down and wait for their professor to introduce themselves. Tawny could already imagine the disappointment she would feel if these ones declined her offer as well.

It rings, and the school year begins for her.

The most eager students rush into the classroom first and sit in the front row. They take one glance at Tawny, avert their gaze to Kip, then take their pencil cases and notebooks out. The others, 'normal' students, they take their time. It's the first day, after all. There's no presentation to be held and no exam to be taken. All the stress from the year before has been wiped away by the summer, only to be replaced by some more during this school year.

"Young blood", Kip hums. "They're gonna get so ruined by this place."

"College is a place for learning, not for torture", Tawny scoffs and brushes her hair out of her face.

Tawny's hair is long. Really long. It meanders like a muddy river and tangles like the world's hardest maze. When she sleeps, it covers her like a blanket, and when it's windy, it creates comic-like wind lines behind her. And she loves it more than most things in life.

Definitely more than her plain dark eyes, or her thin lips, or her narrow shoulders. They seem so disproportionate compared to her wide hips, and she dresses in a way to hide that flaw of hers. The road to loving your body is long and winding, and Tawny's been on that road for too long to say that she hates the way she looks. She says (perhaps, hopes) she's beyond that at this day and age.

"Who are we kidding, nobody likes school", Kip says, and the Eager Student sitting right in front of the professor's desk looks at her in a way that said, 'I like school, does that mean I don't exist?'. "Except, of course, you little nerds. Good on you. You're gonna go far in life, kid, believe me."

Eager Student seems like he really doesn't want to believe a word Kip says.

Tawny lets a grin escape onto her lips. Kip has that effect on people.

"Alright, gang, is everybody here?" Tawny calls out, raising her voice a couple of decibels so the punks (students with dyed hair) in the back would stop laughing at something one of them was showing on their phone.

"Nat's not", there's a voice from the background. "She's got some issues with her dormmates."

"Apart from Nat", Tawny asks and opens up a notebook. She scribbles a note into it and looks up again. "Nobody? Great." Walking to the centre of the board, she fixes her shirt and clears her brain. Inhales. "I am Tawny Serafim, and I'll be teaching you history this year, maybe even the years following."

The class quietens down. Tawny glances sideways, where Kip is going through her history book and shaking her head.

"And that's Kip. She's here to help me refresh my memory."

"And correct some years. This book is so wrong. Like they don't even care," Kip nods to the students.

There's some laughter in the back.

"Anyway. First we're going to establish some rules, and then I have a proposition for you." Interested murmurs. A girl with two backpacks enters the classroom, mutters an apology and sits in between a girl in a wheelchair and a boy with glasses and wild, curly hair. Tawny notices, but doesn't acknowledge it. "Rule number one, and the one I find most important, is that if you're sick, don't come. The last thing we need is the illness spreading onto other students and having a class-wide epidemic." Tawny pointedly looks at Kip. She, as if she feels Tawny's eyes on her, glances up from the book she was reading.

"What?"

"Like we practiced?"

"Ugh." Kip's groan is met with surprised chuckles and held back laughter. "Great Plague of Seville, from 1647 to 1652, Black Death, 1344 through 1350, Cholera Epidemic of 1853, and plenty more," she recited, rapid-fire and bored.

A single hand shoots up into air.

"Yes?" Tawny ushers him into answering.

"Didn't Black Death start in 1346?"

There's some rustling of papers as Kip shoves Tawny's book off the teacher's desk onto the one in front of it, the desk where the student who asked the question sits. She finds her notebook, leans back on her chair, puts her feet on the table and looks at the student, who now looks terrified.

"What's your name, kid?"

"Horace…?"

"I knew a Horace once." There is a silence in which Tawny leans her forehead against her palm and Kip writes down a note, just like Tawny did before her. "And if you can tell me where the plague started I am giving you a star."

Nobody in the classroom wants to be Horace at that moment.

"China?" Some of the students laugh—obviously, the plague was in Europe! But Kip gets up, takes a black marker from Tawny's bag and creates a small table on the far left edge of the whiteboard. She writes 'Horace' into it, and a little star next to his name.

"Very good. Great, in fact." When nobody says a word, Kip looks around. Dead silence. Then she fires away like a machine gun. "Black Death started in China around 1332, but nobody payed much attention to it because in the Middle Ages up to Colombo's discovery of America, if it wasn't in Europe, it wasn't important. Of course, whilst Europe had the most developed political system, South Asia had the richest culture and science and that's all so promptly ignored in your textbooks."

"Okay, shut up", Tawny interrupts before she can start another uselessly long sentence. "Can I be the professor now?"

"I dunno, can you?"

"We shall see."

By this point most of the class is invested. This is by far the most interesting subject they've had in college, and their professor hasn't even begun teaching properly.

"Anyway, back to my rules. Under rule number one, I'd like to just add that if you start bleeding, like scratch yourself somewhere, please leave the classroom. I see blood and I faint, and if I faint then you have two people to take care of instead of one."

Not many people notice, but Kip smiles a bit at that. It's not a huge grin, it's soft and simple, and a total opposite of what they've learnt so far.

"Rule number two. This is a long one, but it's fairly simple. No racist, homophobic, misogynistic, ableist, xenophobic commentary of any sort. If I hear anything, you're out of my class. Kip, have I missed anything?"

"No slut shaming, bullying of any sort, and mockery of foreign cultures. Just because you dumb Americans are too obtuse to understand some traditions, it doesn't mean that they're not valuable." Another beat of silence as Kip realises what she said. "Oh, fuck, I didn't mean to say you were dumb, it was an example."

The class colectivelly lose their shit.

Through the laughter, Tawny walks over to Kip and whispers to her, "If we didn't have a connection, we'd be kicked out of the school already."

"But we do." A sigh from Tawny.

"Be quiet, sit down and correct my years."

Kip, praise the Gods, does as she was told.

In all places where Kip lacks, Tawny has plenty. Tawny is composed, Kip is a hurricane. It is a nice contrast.

Sometimes it feels like she was physically the polar opposite to Tawny. She has shaggy dirty blonde hair and light blue eyes and she sometimes jokes that Tawny has enough hips for both of them. It's a detail, but they always seem to come back to it.

Tawny goes on and lists a couple more rules. No phones during class, chewing gum is allowed but if it ends up under a desk they better watch themselves, if they have any personal issues or troubles with any part of the curriculum they are free to ask her.

"I think I covered it all. Now, for my proposition." Tawny regains some composure she lost in conversation with Kip and proceeds. "There is an extra history programme that this school's offering. It's an extremely interesting one, if I do say so myself. You don't have to, but if you choose to take it, you'll learn about the side of history that you've never heard of before. Wait, grammar?" Kip doesn't even bother to look up from her book this time.

"You're not English, it's excusable."

"Thanks. Anyway, it does come with a certain cost. It means that in this semester, you're going to have to learn the curriculum of the entire year, and have this class four times a week instead of three." Tawny already see some students copping out, but she is persistent. "But I guarrantee you that I will teach you everything you need to know, and that none of you will fail your exam, nor that you will have to study like crazy. The things you're learning this year have a few years and names to learn by heart, and lots of stories, dramas, politics and sex." Giggling in the back. "What did you expect, we're learning about ancient Greece."

"Hey", Kip calls out.

"You know it's true." Tawny smiles. "As for the second semester, that's when we're doing the programme. There will be practical work, research, loads of discussions and the whole experience will be life-changing to all of you." She lets her words sink in.

A hand is risen. It's the boy with curly hair.

"When was this programme concieved? We haven't heard anything about it." His tone is of genuine curiosity, and Tawny begins to hope.

"It's a secret one, mainly because if we told everybody about it, they'll be shocked, because nobody teaches the nitty gritty details, and believe me, history has bucketfuls of them."

"And why this class?"

"Well, I asked two generations before you, and they said no. This is the last chance I get to interest students into trying new learning methods and subjects, and I care a lot about the programme and I hate to see it all done, but without students. It's also worth noting that, if the programme is chosen and you don't want to take it, you won't have any history classes in the following semester. So there's that."

Tawny walks over to the centre of the whiteboard.

"Shall we vote?"

"Ah, democracy", Kip interrupts again. "Such a wonderful concept. So flawed, and yet, it's the best one there is."

"Who said that?" Tawny asks.

"Winnie. Deeply troubled man. Stretched himself too thin, but I guess it worked for him. I like how you automatically assume that I didn't say it."

"I know you." Back to the class. "Those in favour of taking the extra programme?"

Tawny feels like her heart skipped a beat (and she is pretty sure that's impossible). Because, most of the class raises their hands. Even Kip leaves her book alone and looks impressed.

"Well then." There's a silly and wide grin threatening to form on Tawny's face, and she might just let it. "There's no turning back now. Now, everybody introduce themselves with a song lyric."

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:57 pm

The rest of the semester carries on in a similar fashion, without any major incidents. Kip has only two swearing sprees, one when she was raging about the inquisition, and an enthusiastic glee-ridden fangirling session about Homer.

"That man was a fucking legend. He was blind and he managed to describe the Troyan War, which was incredibly gory and brutal, and you can feel the gore and the mangled limbs in the Iliad. Achievement of the century, I'd say. Man, I bleeding love Homer. When I was younger I wrote him a letter. Never wrote back. Perhaps because he was dead."

Vice Dean McLean visited once. Except a conversation with Kip before class, he didn't speak, and the students found him a little bit frightening. Six foot four, sickly pale skin and eyebags as dark as his hair. Nobody wanted to say hello to him, let alone talk to him like Kip did. She grew in everyone's eyes a bit after that day.

Soon it was the end of the semester, the exams were passed, and the break week was over.

The class hasn't even started yet, and everybody's already in their seats. When Tawny and Kip walk into the classroom, they start laughing.

"You look as if I'm going to reveal the world's biggest secret. In a way, I am", Tawny tells them and heads to her desk to leave her bag there. For the first time, she doesn't have her history book with herself.

And neither does Kip, but she's got something else. She's slugging behind Tawny, dragging a cart with two dozen ancient-looking yellow books.

"Stonehenge was built by ancient wizards. The Bermuda triangle is the place with the highest concentration of demonic energy. The Zodiac Killer is actually—"

"If you don't stop talking, I'm going to pin you to the wall for the rest of the class. Give everyone the Epic." Kip's hand is in the air and Tawny scoffs. "Not yet."

Kip grumbles a swear—in Greek, no less— and circles the class, handing everyone a copy of the Gilgamesh Epic.

"I thought we were going to tell them everything with the start of the programme."

"We are." Kip's hand is up again. "For Christ's sake."

Then Tawny's long, cape-like vest catches fire. You know, as most vests do.

"YEAH, SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST, WHY DON'T YA", Kip exclaims as she leaves Gilgamesh behind and sprints to the front of the classroom. The fire disappears as suddenly as it appeared, and it leaves Tawny's vest unchanged, and the entire classroom more confused than ever.

"Thanks", Tawny says, unfazed. She then remembers she's a professor and that there's a bunch of students in front of her wondering what the fuck just happened. "I promise I will explain."

Tawny and Kip share a look.

"Kip, go and deal with Gilgamesh. As for you guys…" she glances at the left side of the whiteboard and her heart fills up a bit. Almost everyone had at least one star on the board, if not ten or more. She truly loved this class. Everyone was engaged and they got into some very interesting debates about the politics in later Roman Empire and how they could have been fixed. Well, everyone except for Nat.

Nat, or Nataly, which was her full name, seemed to have a hard time with college. She passed all her exams, she didn't miss a lot of lessons, but she was so distant. Tawny guessed it had something to do with the girl next to her, Lilianne. She sometimes saw the two of them talking, and it was stilted and just a tad longing. Whatever it was, Tawny plans to get to the bottom of it.

Not right now, though. Right now she needs to assure her students that she is not mad.

"Well, now's your last chance to leave. If you don't want to hear how I caught fire or why I'm giving you these books, the door is open, and you're under no pressure to stay. If you do stay, however, there's one thing that you're obliged to do. Or rather, not do."

Kip places the final book onto Horace's desk and walks to Tawny.

"At the beginning of the school year, you signed a contract. It said the usual stuff, you're obligated to follow school rules and be respectful to other students and professors and blah blah blah, but there was one little paragraph, near the bottom, which said that whatever subject we discuss in this programme, you're not allowed to talk about it to people who don't know it exists." It's Kip who's doing the explaining this time, and students have managed to get used to her talk-or-die way of speaking. "If you're uncomfortable with that rule, you can, again, leave."

Nobody shows any intention to get up, but there's a question from Anthony, the scatterbrain from the middle of the center row.

"What will happen if we accidentally tell someone about this?"

"So glad you asked." Kip looks around, then looks at Tawny. "Okay, now that you've all decided to take this course, I can tell you. You can't do that. You can't tell anyone who doesn't know about the programme about it."

"Okay, but if I do."

Kip sighs so heavily that Mindy's notebook, who sits in the front, gets blown away.

"You physically can't. The paper used was binding paper, and once you sign it, you respect the contract written on it. Simple magic, really."

"We were supposed to ease them into this", Tawny notes, not wanting to stop Kip, but really not wanting her to continue.

"We have to drop the bombshell eventually. And here it is. Boom, or whatever."

Tawny does a short breathing routine to help her deal with Kip.

"Okay, let's take it from the top. Does anyone know of that new movie that's all the rage amongst teens currently? Something about dusks and moon cycles and what not." There's some laughter, and Tawny gets a tad confused.

"If you mean what I think you mean, you're some ten years off", Finn from the right row says, without raising his hand.

"I usually am. So you do know of it then?" Affirmative mutters from all over the classroom. "Great then." Tawny uncaps her whiteboard marker. "Can you name some mythical humans or creatures from folklore?"

It starts slow, with vampires and werewolves, but it gains speed quickly and Tawny writes everything down into four groups. In one group, she puts vampires, witches, succubi and other human-like beings. The second group is reserved for all sorts of fairies: everything from pixies and seelies to Irish faeries, all sorts of nymphs and Pleiades. The third group is filled with werewolves, sirens, centaurs, satyrs and such half-human half-animals. In the last one, only three creatures found their place. Ghosts, angels and demons.

"Okay", Tawny caps her marker and scans the groups. "Good job, you guys. I especially love all the Greek additions, thank you, Horace." Horace salutes Tawny and she bows. "Unfortunately", she tosses the marker into her bag and takes the red one out of the pocket of her jeans, "some of these are just stories." She crosses out centaurs, satyrs, pixies and faeries and circles succubi and the entire fourth group. "As for those I crossed out, they're one hunderd percent fake."

"I'm pretty sure centaurs were invented so that men in ancient Greece could molest horses. But that's just me", Kip adds.

"Demons, angels, ghosts and succubi, or Lilin, they are a mystery still. They might exist, just like there might be a God, but we do not know. All evidence we have is occasional sightings by one or two people, and we can't prove that."

At least seven hands are in the air, all raised with alarming speed.

"So what, you're saying that the other ones are real?"

"I can't believe it. YA novel writers were right."

"Is this a course on how to become a vampire? Because I'm down with being dead. Sign me up."

There's noise, and everybody's talking at the same time. Tawny tries to separate the voices, but it all melts into a cacophonous ball of loud and she sighs. She knew it was going to be bad, but she didn't prepare for it.

Kip grabs her notebook and slams it against the desk. The class becomes eerily quiet in a microsecond.

"If you want to hear an explanation", she starts calmly, slowly (nearly at a human speed) and carefully, making sure that everyone hears her, "you will be quiet and listen. This first class has to be like this, and in a month or two you'll get used to it, but for now, yes. Those beings on the board, uncircled and uncrossed, they're all real. I personally know most of people who are one of those things and during this semester, you will too."

"Are you a nymph?" a question from the back gets flung at Tawny.

"You wish", Kip answers for her. "Anyway, what we'll be teaching you is the history, anatomy and sociology of mythical, or folkloric beings, as someone once called them. You're gonna learn tons of interesting shit and all other subjects will become boring to you, I can see it already."

"Why?" Mindy asks. "I mean, why teach us?"

"Because here have been attempts to start a dialog between humans and other creatures for centuries now. One of those attempts ended up in a genocide of witches, under the name of inquisition", Tawny explains. "For centuries there has been this mutual detestation between us, and lately, the efforts to close the gap have been made. You aren't the first ones chosen to be taught this subject, some sirens in Indonesia have taken up teaching the locals how to speak their language, and guiding small boats all over Oceania."

"In Rio de Janeiro, our good buddy Matheus is working with some fair folk on making the costumes for the Carnaval do Brasil", Kip adds, wiping the dust off of her hands. There's some coughing. "Is anybody asthmatic? I'm sorry, these books have been sitting in our closet for ages. Literally."

Anthony, who's already opened the book, raises his hand.

"Um, is this the original?"

"I believe so. I never cared much for Assyriology, and neither did the Britons in 19th century. These books were just left outside the booksellers next to our flat so we carried them in to save them from the rain. And we've dragged them with us ever since", Tawny says.

To say that the class was confused would be an understatement.

"This book is two hundred years old", Anthony states, not really sure if he believes what he's hearing.

"A little less."

"How old are you?" there's a shy question from Nataly. Tawny at first doesn't believe she actually spoke.

"That's not a question for a lady", she tries to joke, but it falls flat as it becomes obvious that the class wants to know the honest answer. "I'll tell you soon enough, I promise. First we have to discuss some history and lycanthropic anatomy. Then my story."

"When are we doing me?" Kip asks, staring at the whiteboard. She gets up, takes the board eraser and erases most of the creatures. The ones she leaves are werewolves, sirens, vampires, wizards, and nymphs. "Okay, we'll only be doing these five this year. No, but for real, when are we doing me?"

"After vampires", Tawny answers.

"Ah, okay. Very cool. Or, how would you say?"

"Rad."

The class collectively cringes.

"Don't say that. Please. It's embarrassing", Finn tells her.

"I'm old, leave me alone." Tawny walks up Horace's table and holds up his book. "This is The Chaldean Account of Genesis by George Smith."

"You don't need to know that", Kip rolls her eyes. "It's basically a load of bullshit about Babylon, most of which is incorrect, and nearing the end you have the Story of the Flood, which is basically Smith's translation of the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic. But you don't care about that, and neither do I. We gave you these books because we really don't need them and you can sell them to pay for your college fees. You're welcome."

There's a mini celebration which lasts for some five minutes, and they seemingly forget all about the fire and fairies and sirens until Kip takes the eraser again and cleans the entire whiteboard but the table on the left. She then draws a long, horizontal line and marks the beginning with 300 BC and the ending with 2017 AD. After she's made an approximate guess, she marks five years on the line and rewrites the five groups she erased earlier. "Okay. Based on your knowledge of history and literature, which of these years affects which group of people?"

After some debate, they've come to the conclusion that 1492 hurts the sirens the most, because Columbus disrupted their until then peaceful waters. As Tawny mentioned earlier, the year of the permanent establishment of the inquisition, 1229, is most harmful to wizards and witches. Kip puts in 1897 as a joke, and Mindy remembers that it was the year when Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was published, so they put vampires under that year. The two years they don't guess are 1956 and 1589. 1956, as Kip later explains, stands for the year in which Erle Stanley Gardner's novel called The Case of the Negligent Nymph was published. The class doesn't fail to mention nymphomania, producing some giggles in the back. As for 1589, it was the year of Peter Stumpp's trial.

"He was accused of being a cannibal and a serial killer, and because he practiced black magic and confessed to being a lycanthrope. He ate pregnant women and he also raped his daughter", Kip listed. "So an overall great human." From the looks of disgust all around the classroom, she decides to stop talking about it. "Obviously he was a delusional psychopath, not a werewolf, but by having that man as an example, it meant that all other werewolves were stereotyped and trialed with things they didn't do."

"The next class will be much lighter, I swear", Tawny apologetically shrugs as she sits on the teacher's desk. "History is history, and by learning it, we make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes."

The class ends while Kip is explaining how the Greeks, having encountered nymphs and driades, made up their own fantastic creatures, but nobody moves an inch.

"Don't you kids have somewhere else to be?" Kip asks, lowering her marker. After her, the board is filled with vaguely sexual drawings of females with wings. "Like, get your fix or drink or bang someone."

"I wish", someone says.

"Me too", Kip replies. "But unfortunately I have to teach humans about fairies. There's got to be a gay joke in there somewhere. Anyway, why are you still here?"

"Tell us more about the nymphs."

"And werewolves."

"And vampires."

"With time", Tawny says, smiling. "If we revealed everything to you now, you wouldn't have a reason to come to the second class. And the third one. For our last class of the year… Well, you can ask us anything then, is that okay with you?"

"Sure thing, teach." Kip says and throws the marker into Tawny's bag. She misses by at least three feet and rolls her eyes. Her hand is up, and so is the marker, flying into the bag.

An obscenely nasty profanity is heard from the back, and is followed by, "Did you just make that fucking marker fly?"

"I'm gonna make you fly if you don't leave the classroom."

The classroom is empty in record time.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:12 pm

When the students enter the classroom the next time, Vice Dean McLean is talking to Kip again, and most of them consider not entering at all. However, they do, and the class begins.

Tawny has just finished writing a big headline which simply says 'Werewolves' in her messy, tacky cursive.

"Alright. Werewolves", Kip claps and hops off of her chair. "Origin of the word. Were meaning human, wolf meaning… Wolf. If you didn't get that, maybe you're too stupid for this class. They're sometimes called lycanthropes, but that's a mouthful and it's Greek and we say the Old English variant. Their origins can be tracked back to Petronius and his work, Satyricon, but there's no doubt they existed even before that."

"They are most often created in Europe, although there are a couple of packs in Ethiopia, Argentina and Russia", Tawny adds.

"Also our pack on the East Coast and in Canada", Vice Dean McLean says, his deep voice filling each and every corner of the classroom. "But there aren't any except for those and some five hundred packs in Europe."

"Five hundred times approximately thirty, you do the math. More on that later. Now we are doing anatomy and the whole metamorphosis. How it happens, when, why and such questions. Rather, answers." Kip corrects herself.

Compared to the last lesson, the students don't seem even slightly alarmed by the fact that their Vice Dean is a werewolf. If anything, it makes sense to them.

"Is the door locked?" Tawny asks no one in particular. Kip's hand rises in an already familiar gesture.

"It is now. Okay, so. What you're about to see could be gross to some of you, but let's clear some things up. Luther here is going to turn. He's gonna do it slowly, so you get the chance to watch the change under optimal conditions. It looks like it hurts, but it doesn't, I swear. I mean, it hurts the first thirty times, but I could be wrong." Kip looks at McLean for guidance.

"Thirty times is correct, I'd say. It becomes more of a routine after that", he confirms.

"Cool. Is anybody here worried they might be sick or something? Because this is not the most pleasant thing to watch, even knowing it doesnt hurt him."

Some students in the front row look like they're going a tad green, but they, as well as the rest of the class, want to see what's going to happen.

"Alright!" Kip exclaims and a grey mist around Vice Dean's body appears, undoubtedly her work. "Since turning requires a certain amount of enlargment of the body, Luther has to take off his clothes in order to… keep them, I guess. You don't see wolves in their natural habitat wearing suits." The grey mist slowly creeps to the middle of the whiteboard, and stops there.

"Just tell us when you're done", Tawny tells him, moving out of the way of the mist and sitting next to Kip.

"You can leave your underwear", Kip says with a smirk on her face, "Imma stitch it back together before you turn back."

"You find this hilarious, don't you?" Vice Dean asks from the mist.

"Listen, you forced us into this programme, now suffer", Kip replies.

"I'm done."

"Cool," Kip nods. "I'm gonna remove the mist as soon as you start growing fur so I don't completely traumatise our students with a nude image of you. Nice chest hair, by the way."

The students are eerily quiet. It seems as if they came home after the last class and read up on folklore, then meditated for an hour to come to terms with it all, and now they are just waiting to see how it will unravel.

"C'mon, guys, that was funny. Anyway." The mist disappears, revealing (a slightly hairier) Vice Dean.

Turning is not as shocking as Tawny and Kip made it out to be, and everybody survives it with a little help of Kip's commentary and Tawny, trying to shut her up. They explain the way werewolf's bones separate, especially the legs and the ribcage, and the way their faces change to resemble a wolf. It's the noises that bother them the most, bones breaking and the floorboards creaking, but it soon passes, and they're left with a large wolf in the classroom

"Okay. Everybody okay?" Tawny asks, looking around the classroom. Mindy looks the greenest, but that's because she in the front row and the whole bone-breaking ordeal was right in her face. Tawny walks up to her and ruffles her hair, so she laughs. "Alright, kid?"

"Not yet, give me a moment", Mindy says, voicing the entire class' opinion.

"As you can see, werewolves are a bit bigger than your usual friendly next door neighbour wolves", Kip continues with the lesson. "Sit."

The wolf sits, and Kip snorts.

"I didn't think you'd actually do it. Thanks for playing along, Luther. Good boy." Vice Dean lets out a short growl. "Shut up, you love me. Now, how will you distinguish proper wolves and werewolves if you don't include their height?"

"Markings?" Lilianne, a biology freak, asks.

"Markings!" Kip repeats and walks to Vice Dean. "May I?" He nods—or at least it looks like it. "You see these two white crescent moon shapes under his eyes? They're specific for his pack. And no, they're not eyebags, even though they look like it."

"Each pack has its own specific markings, and they're most often on their face, but wolves in Portugal and Spain have a dark line from their mouth over their stomach", Tawny traces McLean's chest fur. His ears lower, and he closes his eyes.

"Oi, back off", Kip gently pushes the wolf's shoulder.

"See, he likes me because I'm nice."

"Fuck being nice, I'd rather be direct."

McLean growls and Kip lets out one of her massive, melodramatic sighs.

"Kids, everyone come pet Luther, he's sure to enjoy it", Kip says, as if anyone in the classroom wanted to get closer to the wolf, which yelps and gets up, alarmed. "Also, a slight ettiquete tip; don't pet wolves without their consent, it kind of implies a romantic intention."

McLean barks twice.

"Sure", Kip nods along to his barks, as if she understands him (hint: no, she doesn't) and looks at her shocked students. "Was that enough about wolves? Can we let Luther turn back?"

The affirmative noise is loud.

"Will do."

The grey mist reappears, and so do McLean's clothes, which disappeared somewhere along in the process. When he's human, he goes onto explaining most common werewolf myths and theories and how most of them are false. He and the class debate the full moon's affect on turning, and they get to an equal conclusion; it's not the moon itself, but its light, and the guidance it provides.

The class ends, and they're still talking. McLean decides to forgive their truanting, because they show intense interest for werewolf history, but ultimately Tawny shoos them out because that's a subject for the next class.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:04 pm

A month after that, it's time to start a new segment. As per usual, the students are already in the classroom before the class, but as time passes, they get more and more casual each time. They celebrated Finn's birthday the other day and brought a cake and balloons and confetti, and even though Kip cleaned it with magic, they still find some confetti in the floorboards every now and then.

Today they're sitting on their desks and eating crisps from two large family-sized bags. The entire classroom smells of crisps when Tawny and Kip enter.

"I never understood the appeal", Kip says, just as a sidenote. "People nowadays love oil and salt and frying potatoes. It's not healthy for you, kids."

"Before my time", Tawny adds. "Doesn't seem too appetizing, but what do I know."

"Feet off the table, we've got a story for you today."

They listen, but not before most of them wipe their hands into their jeans.

"Gross", Kip comments.

Tawny fishes out her infamous markers, erases 'Werewolves' and writes 'Vampires'.

"Some basic facts about vampires." When Kip says that, the class prepares for a motormouth session. "They're both immortal and dead. Not pale as they're presented in media, because they have blood flowing through their veins, it's just not theirs. They don't have fangs, their normal teeth are strong enough to rip flesh apart and fangs were just a human artistic choice when it came to painting them. They drink blood, but not as often as you'd think. At least once in two weeks, but drinking one litre per week works just fine. Blood gets them incredibly high though. A great sight."

Tawny's done with the title and she joins Kip.

"I'd say that there has been loads of controversy related to us, more than for, let's say, wizards or sirens. Because, out of all beings, only vampires are dead humans brought back to some form of life."

"Before you say it, no, zombies don't exist. Thank Haiti and W.B. Seabrook for them. Apart from vampires, there is no way to revive dead people, and becoming a vampire includes getting killed by one, so I guess that's hope lost for reviving your dead greatgrandmas."

"Rats", Anthony makes a sarcastic remark.

"The process of becoming a vampire", Kip continues, smirking. She taught them well. "I decided it's best for a vampire to describe it. Take it away." Tawny steps forward.

"You're a vampire?"

"It's sunny outside, what the fuck!"

"That's why you're so old!"

"My teacher is a vampire, a brand new Disney Channel original."

"Shut up", Kip shouts. "If you think that's old, wait till we get to me."

"Can you turn into a bat?" Horace asks.

"Erm, no. Not to my knowledge", Tawny answers. "Although bats and cats are the only animals who can see me. Dogs tend to run into me."

They start talking again, and Kip yells out,

"Hey!" Silence at once. "If you want to hear the whole story, you will shut up and let Tawny speak."

"Thanks." When everybody is settled down, she begins. "Turning a human into a vampire is not as glamorous as you think. It's not bite-and-run, it's a process, and most people don't survive it. Those who do, live to tell, I guess."

"Or jump off of cliffs", Kip adds. Tawny doesn't acknowledge her, or dignify it with a response. She doesn't give her the pleasure.

"Onto my history, then, shall we?" she asks. "First, though, I want you to guess how old I am, and the rest of the crisps go to the person who's the closest."

A bunch of seemingly random numbers get thrown her way. A thousand, two thousand, three thousand, fifty, a hundred, two hundred. When the inital excitement wears down, their numbers become more specific.

"1492", Anthony suggests

"Narcissistic much? You know that Colombo—or Columbus, if you wish—he didn't actually discover America. But okay," Kip complains.

"It's the closest, though", Tawny writes 1460 on the board. "Crisps belong to Anthony from here on out."

"You're kidding, right?" Horace asks.

Tawny laughs softly.

"Not at all. I was born in 1460 in Portugal. We already learned about Portugal as a country which depended loads on its sea, but it also depended on its trade and slaves. My mother was a slave; my father bought her to help his other servants cook. It must sound terrible from your perspective, but that was pretty much the norm back in my day. The sad thing is, my mother was what you would call a saleswoman. She came from China and controlled the number of things to be shipped. If even one thing went missing, it would be her fault. When she got to Portugal, she delivered her shipment, but the men who were supposed to get it didn't believe that a woman was capable of handling trades, so they enslaved her." She takes a break, to let everything sink in a bit. "I mean, this might be slightly incorrect, my only source is my mother and the stories she told me, but that was ages ago."

"Vampires have an issue with their memory", Kip tells the class.

"You would have issues, too, if your brain was dead. It feels like I'm always ten years in the past, thats why Kip always corrects my years. I simply don't remember them. Anyway, my father bought my mother and nine months later, voila. I don't remember much of my human life, but I guess it wasn't that important. I helped my mother with cooking and cleaning and that was about it. I got bitten when I was... Twenty two?"

"Yep", Kip confirms.

"To turn into a vampire, one must bite you for long enough for their venom to flow into your body. The venom kills you, and then it transforms your body, mostly your organs, to be able to consume blood so it flows directly into your bloodstream. The time between you being dead and you being a vampire is very short, and about two thirds of people just stay dead. That's why most vampires you'll see will be between twenty and forty years of age, because if you're any older, your body doesn't have enough strenght to pull itself back to life, and if you're younger, your human body is still developing and it isn't capable of accepting venom like it should. Even then, you might not live."

The class becomes quiet, but not in a shocked way that happened when McLean turned into a wolf before their eyes. This time they were thoughtful, even a bit sad.

"It's fine, kids", Kip tells them. "She's here, ain't she?"

"I suppose I am", Tawny smiles at her. Something passes between them, but nobody notices it.

Once you know someone for long enough, you don't need words. You've already said them all.

"Okay, now that you've heard my sob story, onto less interesting topics. Vampire anatomy and organ placement, which is significally different to yours. And no, we won't be dissecting vampires."

"I was looking forward to that", Lilianne makes a sarcastic remark.

"Of course you were", Kip smirks, "but Tawny and blood? Don't you think that's not a good combo?"

"Ah, yeah, one more thing. We keep a fridge of blood packs in our house. Most often it's blood from people who can't donate blood to other humans, most likely they have some sort of blood-transmitted disease, but they still want to donate. For me, any type of blood works. If it contains any virusae, they just die in my body."

"Also, most vampires have their blood-drinking day. Bear in mind that they have to drink once a week, and the entire day after ingesting blood they're high."

"Dazed."

"Completely high. It wears off during the day, but our Saturdays are pretty fun."

Tawny sighs. Again.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:13 pm

They're nearly done with vampire when the Dean informs the school that they have to have school on Saturday to make up for one Monday they lost due to issues with electricity.

"Alright, y'all", Kip starts the lesson while Tawny looks completely lost, sitting at her teacher's desk and staring into nothing. "Today we're wrapping up vampires so we can learn about me next. I know how pissed you are about being in here on a Saturday, but I made up some hangman words relating to the stuff you already learned, so I suggest you prepare yourself to learn through games."

"Is Tawny okay?" Mindy asks.

"Mrs Serafim is, in fact, not present", Kip tells the class. "She might zone back in during our class, but Saturdays are generally like this. Her body is just processing the blood she drank yesterday." The class doesn't comment much, mainly because they have no idea how to react. "Onto hangman, shall we?"

Kip is making a genuine effort to keep the class flowing, but she's all over the place and the students end up laughing more than learning. It's not something that Kip discourages, though.

Hangman soon fails when Kip realises that most of the words and names she picked for it turned out to be completely unfamiliar to her students so they switch to a makeshift game of Pictionary. They stop when Tawny shakes back to life.

"O que aconteceu1?" She's looking around the classroom with an incredibly confused look on her face.

"Gimme a sec." Kip walks over to Tawny so she can kneel down. She puts her hands on Tawny's knees and gives them a light shake. Then, they have a conversation on Portuguese, and it sounds as if Kip is gently assuring Tawny and saying that everything is okay, while Tawny is slowly calming down.

Kip asks something about English, and Tawny shakes her head.

"Desculpe2", she says.

"Está bem, gatinha3."

Kip ruffles Tawny's majestically long hair and she pushes her away, laughing.

"She'll get back into the present, give her ten minutes."

She does, slowly. Kip continues with her lesson and Tawny blinks her way into speaking English.

"One more thing about vampires. When they zone out like that, they have to almost literally restart their brain. Tawny, you with us?"

"Give me a second", she says, slowly, as if she's testing out the field. "I'm sorry, everybody, it's always like this."

"You're malleable when high."

"I hate you."

"Sure."


1: What's going on?
2: I'm sorry.
3: It's okay, kitten/doll/*insert pet name here*

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:08 pm

"What I'm gonna say to you now will tear your wizard robes, break your flying broomsticks and snap your magic wands in half. J.K. Rowling was wrong", Kip walks into the classroom like she owns the place, Tawny following behind her.

"My Ravenclaw heart is broken", Lilianne puts her hands on the left side of her chest.

"That's right, folks. Witches and wizards, but mainly witches." The title Tawny had written on the blackboard disappears when Kip waves her hand.

"Oh, great, now I'm supposed to write a new one", Tawny drops her bag onto the teacher's desk and gets the markers.

"I mean, I could, but I can't nail your handwriting." The marker gets torn out of Tawny's hands and gets uncapped. Then, it starts writing, but the W turns out shaky. "Nope, sorry, you're gonna have to finish." As the marker flies back to Tawny, Kip leans against the whiteboard. "If I wrote some profanity in Greek nobody will know."

"If you do so, I will not be held responsible", Tawny says not even looking at her, and instead focusing on her title which looks even more vintagy and scripty than the one before.

"Fabulous." Kip finds the red marker, gets ink all over her fingers, and writes something in Greek. Tawny glances at it and leans her head against the whiteboard with enough force to call it banging against it.

"Delete it."

"No."

"Alkippe Georgios, delete it or else."

"I refuse."

Tawny tries to erase it with her hand, but it stays put.

"I'd swear but I don't do that, and this", she points at the inscription, "is crude enough on it's own. I'll hold you to the promise, though."

"The next eclipse will be fun", Kip winks at the students. Tawny pushes her shoulder a bit too hard, and if the window wasn't behind her, Kip would've fallen. "Well, this is reverse déjà vu. Kids, did I tell you about the time Tawny jumped out of a window for me?"

"No!" Tawny exclaims, but it doesn't have much effect because she's laughing. The class is, once again, confused. "No. You don't need to know about that. That's... personal. Anyway, Kip, you can continue with your story."

"Imma steal from you a bit. Guess how old I am."

It takes them a bit less time this way around.

"Someone said 'before Jesus'", Kip points at Finn, "and that's correct." She writes 237 BC on the board. "I could be wrong. The whole Julian-Gregorian calendar mess trips me up, but I'm guessing it doesn't even matter. Hi, I'm Kip, I'm nearly 2300 years old and I'm a witch. The fun thing is, that when it comes to witches and wizards, most people assume we have to learn how to use our magic, when, in fact, it's always in us."

The markers are back in the bag and Kip sits onto the desk.

"Legend has it that the first wizard was a halfling—a child of an angel and a human. Now, we already told you that there is still no definitive proof that angels and demons exist, but in this story, let's pretend they do. You either become one, or you're born as one. Becoming one means that a wizard has to give their power to you, and that means that the old wizard and the new wizard are connected, and if one feels pain, the other one does and so on. If you're born a wizard, that means you're a direct ancestor of the halfling and you're not bound to anybody. So, unlike vampires and werewolves, wizards aren't sterile, so you'd think that there'd be loads of them, right? Wrong." The tone suddenly goes dark.

"The inquisition was a hard time for everyone, that's why we keep coming back to it", Tawny continues. "I hate comparing it to anything, but it mostly felt like human World Wars, except it was been kept secret. Those most in danger were witches and wizards."

They fall quiet for a little while, and the class lets them mourn.

"Nearly eighty percent of all wizards alive at that time were tortured. I'd say about a half were killed after being tortured. My friend Flavia—" Kip stops, and chokes.

"Hey." Tawny put her hand on Kip's thigh and shakes her a little bit. "You don't have to talk about it yet."

"And I won't", Kip sniffs a bit. "Sorry, kids. Some other day. There's more interesting and optimistic stuff connected to literally being magical, let's go back to that. Fun, happiness or some bullshit like that."

Tawny offers her a tissue, but she shakes her head and instead carries on with the lesson.

"Magic. How does it work? What are the limitations? I'm here to tell you." She cracks her knuckles. "Ow. That actually hurt. So. You do magic with your hands, and it feels like… air, perhaps, being pulled out of your fingers. Doesn't hurt. It sort of feels natural to those who were born wizards, but to those who were created, it takes some getting used to."

"Unlike all other beings, there is no physical difference between wizards and humans, and we don't know where their magic comes from. Was it angels or something else, we still don't know. Once we find out, we'll tell you."

"Or not. It could be hundreds of years before find out. We might never find out. For now, I like not knowing."

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:24 pm

The next class consists of Kip showing off her magic and Tawny trying not to have a breakdown.

"There are a few logical limits to my magic", she says, twirling Tawny's bag around in the air. "For example, I can't make a building fly, because I can't lift a building. I can't create something out of nothing, and I can't make something stop existing. I can make it invisible, but it's still there." Tawny's bag disappears, and reappears. Since it's eight in the morning and most of the students probably spent all night studying, only a few of them look mildly impressed. "Also, killing something and making something alive is not something I can do. Tried and tested."

"Who'd you try to kill", Horace asks. He seems to be the only one prepared for this class. Next to him, Mindy looks as if she's asleep.

"Mindy, if she doesn't wake up." For a brief moment, Mindy is raised from the chair and then dropped back down with a squeal, and Kip is rubbing her wrists. "I am not as young as I used to be."

"What?" Mindy asks, suddenly awake as she looks around, confused. The class, however, is not tired enough not to laugh at her.

"You're heavy. And I mean that in the least offensive way."

"Gee, thanks", Mindy says and goes back to half-sleeping on the desk.

Kip looks at Tawny, who is really not feeling it today, like most of the students.

"What's up with you guys? I thought only Tawny was the one who's dead."

Anthony raises his hand, weakly, like a soldier after war.

"We all have a presentation today and our professor changed her mind and gave us new topics yesterday so most of us spent the entire night working on it."

Tawny raises her hand as well, following Anthony's example.

"It's extremely sunny and sun makes me tired."

"Hashtag just vampire stuff. Wait, that's old and cringy. Ignore me." Kip flies Tawny's bag back to the desk. "Imma be a cool teacher and let you sleep or revise these two class periods, but only if you're willing to sacrifice a Sunday for a field trip."

"Whatever it takes", says Nataly, who looks almost as dead as Tawny.

"I'm with her on this one", some other kid from the class agrees.

The rest of the class is spent in complete and utter silence as their entire classroom falls asleep with a little help of Kip's magic.

"They needed it", she tells Tawny.

"Next time we're moving to Alaska", Tawny replies, yawning.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:04 pm

After they're done with wizards, Tawny proceeds to tell them everything they need to know about the field trip that Sunday, and what they need to take.

"We're going to the beach, but we'll be meeting in this classroom. Bring your bathing suits or at least dark clothes."

"This is not covered by insurance", Kip adds.

"As if they're going to drown. Lilianne, if you could stay a minute or two after the class", she asks, and Lilianne nods. "Great. For the rest of you, go watch The Little Mermaid or something."

"It's accurate to the real mermaids?" Horace asks, but immediately gets shot down.

"Pft. No", Kip snorts, and Tawny punches her ribs 'playfully'. Air exits her lungs in a whooshing sound and causes her to cough.

"Sorry!"

"Love hurts, kids", Kip says, out of breath.

"I told you to watch The Little Mermaid because of its animation", Tawny looks as if she doesn't regret it at all. "Also to ease you into our siren lessons."

"Lesson number one. Not mermaids. Sirens. Death to the patriarchy or whatever. I never understood the incessant need to pin a gender onto everything. Contrary to the popular belief, sirens aren't exclusively female. Neither are nymphs. Humans have, for thousands of years, drawn and described them as girls, you might say. That's because seeing women drawing naked guys was absolutely shocking, let alone guys doing that."

"Do you have any sketchbooks we need to know about?" Anthony asks, causing an avalanche of laughter from the back.

"Who, me?" Kip asks, squaring her shoulders and putting her hands on her waist. "I will not stand such disgraceful attitude! I'll have you know that I was taught by the great Leonardo da Vinci!"

"And by taught she means 'he bumped into me once in Bologna'", Tawny seems amused by Kip's behaviour, for once.

"It was a cold autumn morning of 1515", Kip says, lowering her voice so that it sounds epic and dramatic. "We were getting breakfast. I mean I was. A bearded man walked towards the main square. He was wearing—"

"Shush."

The class shows signs of mutiny.

"Let her speak!"

"Did you really meet Da Vinci?"

"Sure, if the word 'meet' is used lightly. Hey, kids, want to hear a story?"

Half of the students look as if they might fall of their chairs. If she met Da Vinci, who else did she know? Tawny, on the other hand, looks quasi-horrified.

"No."

"Yes. Say, do you, by any chance, know of a man called Shakespeare?"

"You're kidding", Horace flails and nearly hits Mindy in the face. By that point, Tawny is convinced that those two should consider dating and is already working on a cunning plan to set them up. She'll need Kip's help, though, but it's not likely that she'll object.

The rest of the class is just excited to hear a name they're familiar with, not some random witches and werewolves they'd never heard of.

"Frequently, but not this time." They don't do it, but it feels like they huddled closer together a la campfire flashlight horror story. "Imma let Tawny take over, it's mainly her fault anyway."

"It was the end of sixteenth century."

"1598."

"If I'm telling the story, then I'm telling it. No interrupting." Kip just rolls her eyes and settles down for now. "We've just found ourselves a nice motel and unpacked all of our stuff, so we decided to celebrate it in a pub of sorts. We find a place, not too loud but with a lot of people talking amongst themselves, a musician in the corner and loads of middle-aged men, drinking more than they could possibly handle. Kip orders and we just relax and breathe the city in. After a while, she tells me, 'don't turn around, but there's this odd guy staring at you for the past ten minutes'."

"And what does she do?" Kip asks. "Turn around, that's what."

"Listen, you can't just say that and not expect me to listen. And she's right. There's a guy staring at us, with ink-stained fingers, and he's writing something down every now and then. Kip, being Kip, says that we should go talk to him, and I figure, why not? What's the worst that could happen? I'm already dead, it doesn't get worse than that. Kip says hi, and the man waves, spilling some ink on the table. We learn his name is William, and he asks us if we've seen his new play. We say we hadn't had a chance, we'd only moved in, and then he completely changes the topic and says that he really likes my hair."

"By that point, Tawny's squeezing my hand so hard I'd lost all blood in it. A clear sign of 'let's get the hell out of here'."

"That's a smart thing to do", Finn notices. "He was obviously a creep."

"Wait", Kip waves him off.

"He asks me if he's allowed to use me as a muse. I want to say no, but he then stops me. 'It's for practice', he says and shows us his works. The title was Another Sonnet, and under it a bunch of scribbled out names. Dark Lady, Night Lady, Black Lady, then a bit of Dark Queen and Bloody Queen and other such names. Below was a sonnet, with a lot of mistakes which were corrected. 'I'm searching for some new rhymes for my plays', and he invites us to watch them again."

"We did take his offer. Such a great writer", Kip shakes her head, "but he ought to know better than flirt with Tawny."

"He wasn't flirting", Tawny complains, "he was just giving me a compliment."

"Yeah, sure. So, that's a story about how Shakespeare's sonnets were written as jokes and mockery of Petrarca's work."

"Are you the Dark Lady?" Horace asks.

"The point is that no one is the Dark Lady. She doesn't exist, and Shakespeare never wanted them to be published", Kip seems a bit bitter.

"Sonnet 137", Tawny stage-whispers to Horace. "He was writing that one when we met him."

"Well, you could've married Shakespeare instead then, if you liked his poetry so much." It isn't clear how much of Kip's expression is a joke, and how much isn't.

"He liked that Earl Wriothesley a tad too much", Tawny muses.

"Wait, you're married?" there's a question from the third row.

"Sure am", Tawny says, at the same moment that Kip confirms it as well.

"Some five hundred and twenty nine years now."

"Who's the lucky fella?"

"There isn't one", Tawny says. The class is quiet for a beat and the question gets adjusted and repeated.

"Who's the lucky gal?"

Kip's hand shoots up into air, clear mockery of the school's rules to raise hands when they need to ask questions.

"Me, I am the lucky gal."

"You're like a thousand years apart", Anthony points out.

"A thousand six hundred ninety seven", Kip corrects him, and proceeds to defend their case. "It doesn't work like that. Our age is only a marker of our supposed wisdom, and not of actual human age. Physically and mentally, she is twenty two and I'm around twenty five-ish, depends on how I'm feeling that decade. We just live through a lot more than humans do."

"Nothing of great importance happened before Gutenberg's stolen book-press invention and the human discovery of the Americas. I say human because sirens knew it all along. And with that, I end the world's longest tangent and go back to my original lesson plan", Tawny gets her markers out and everybody knows she's talking business.

"We've already set a lesson aside where we'll tell you about our whole lives, because I'm sure you're dying to know. Until then, sirens."

After the class, Lilianne stays behind, but so does Nataly. Tawny doesn't question it.

"So, I needed to tell you. We'll be doing loads of swimming, or diving at least, and Kip suggested that she magics you around, so it's not difficult to you."

"Yeah, I can't really swim", Lilianne says and puts her notebook into her bag. "Are we gonna be meeting some sirens?"

"Definitely", Kip answers and buttons her jacket up. "I have some friends down there and they've been inviting me to visit for decades now."

"We'll see how it goes." Tawny and Lilianne head towards the door, Nataly following behind. Kip locks the door behind them, and they're out.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:57 pm

It feels as if the students started a rebellion.

"Shit, you guys. Was there a sale on Hawaiian shirts?" Kip asks.

"Now I feel left out", Tawny adds.

They're in the classroom, and it looks like they're a bunch of tourists, with sunglasses and straw hats, looking like they fell out of a roadtrip movie.

"Hedonistically overwhelming", Horace notices. He and Mindy are both wearing plaid t-shirts, and Tawny finds that charming. It's helping her regime.

"Well", Kip looks around again. "Y'all look terrible but okay. Now I need you to make a circle here", she points around her, "and hold hands. Pretend you're a demonic cult, if nothing."

"Why", Finn asks.

"Because we're gonna teleport. At least that's what I'll try to do."

They look confused, but they do as they were told. Kip wiggles her fingers in front of Tawny's, and she takes them with a heavy sigh. Once everybody's holding hands, some more reluctantly than others, they quieten down. In fact, they're quiet for a minute or two until Kip bursts into laughter.

"I can't believe you fell for that! I—I—" Her giggling cuts her sentence off, "I didn't think that'd actually work! You guys just made my year, I swear. Thanks for playing along."

"What?" Nataly asks. She looks visibly uncomfortable, holding Lilianne's hand, and Tawny, for the fiftieth time, wants to ask them what happened.

"I don't need you to hold your hands, I was just messing with you. I wanted to see if you'd go through with it."

Most of the students release each other's hands, laughing at the sheer thought of holding them. Mindy and Horace separate awkwardly, not wanting to look at one another, and, Tawny notices, as Lilianne attempts to move her hand, Nataly doesn't let go.

Kip had told Tawny that she was imagining things and 'shipping' people in their class, and Tawny negated it, mainly because she didn't understand what the maritime culture had to do with anything.

"Okay. Ya might want to close your eyes. Three, two, one."

All of them listen, and blink. When they open their eyes, they're on a beach and the sun is warming up their skin.

"That was so cool."

"Beam me up, Scotty. I am profoundly beamed up."

"We fucking teleported!"

"Hey!" Kip scolds them. "Don't fucking swear."

The class separates after that. Little groups form and everybody takes their clothes off, while Kip's sitting down a bit, regaining her strenght, and Tawny is to be found under the shade of one of the bigger rocks.

"I used to love sun", she informs the group nearest to her.

"Heh, not me", says Patrick, "I generally avoid leaving my bedroom unless I absolutely must."

"Strange generation", she comments. "Not that I would know."

When everybody's in their bathing suits, Kip calls them over to the place where she's sitting to gather around her.

"Pay attention now, kids, because this is important. We're gonna meet some sirens today, but they don't understand human language. I'll do all the talking and translating, I spent some time with the sirens of the Atlantic so I speak a bit of the language. You tell me your questions and I'll translate them.", Kip says and gets up. Dusts the sand off of her. "As for swimming, I will magic you into being able to breathe under water. Speaking feels weird, just a heads up. Also, you will have to swim to catch up with me."

"If you ever feel like something is wrong, immediately tell Kip. She'll shoot you back onto the beach."

"Not shoot, per se", Kip tilts her head, "but not far from it." Tawny sighs, and Kip just finds it encouraging. She claps. "Okay. Everybody ready?"

There's an insecure confirmation from the students.

"A bit more enthusiasm, perhaps?" Tawny suggests.

"Yay", Mindy says in an obnoxious, Valley Girl tone.

"That's my girl!" Kip exclaims. "Now, everybody enter the water. Lilianne, I'm gonna fly you to the water, is that okay?"

Lilianne says yes, and soon everybody is in the ocean.

"Now. Imma ask you to dive in, and then, when I dive in as well, that's your cue to start breathing. It might feel weird at first. I don't know. I spent a century in the water, I've grown numb to it."

"You're practically a fish now", Tawny tells her. She doesn't look like herself, with her usual long black vest and other black clothing, but her bathing suit is dark, so that makes up for it. On the other hand, Kip's two-part is as loud and eclectic as you'd expect from her.

"Nah, fish are boring. I'd rather be a shark", Kip says, absentmindedly.

"You're more of a dolphin", Tawny notices. When Kip looks at her, confused, she explains further. "Annoying."

"Thanks. Is everybody ready? Then dive." When everyone is underwater, Kip helps Lilianne, and she and Tawny go under as well.

It works surprisingly well. Talking under water is weird, but they figure it out eventually with a little help from Kip's magic, and they're off.

They knew that Tawny had a lot of hair, but this is ridiculous. At any given point it looks as if a black cloud is following her. Anthony asks her about it.

"Not that I don't like your hair, but why don't you cut it?"

"I've never cut it in my life, and when I became a vampire, I realised that if I cut it, it'll never grow. I don't think I'm ready to lose it forever."

They swim a bit deeper for about half an hour, and they stop.

"Here", Tawny points into the distance, bubbles coming out of her mouth, "is the border between the humans and the sirens. If I'm not mistaken, wizards and water nymphs create them."

"They sure do. I made the one around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea", Kip says as she's waving Tawny's hair out of her face. "I've organised so that a couple of sirens come and talk to us, perhaps ask you a few questions. If you're ready", Kip says and the border, which reminded them of a thin, transparent veil, drops and uncovers three sirens.

Two of them are male, and they look eerily similar. Their skin is a pale shade of turquoise and their bodies look as if they have no muscle in them whatsoever. They're stick-thin, taller than humans, and their tails glisten because of their fish scales. The girl is exactly the same, but her hair seems to grow yellow and fade to a pink shade of red at the tips.

One of the males speaks, if it could be called speaking. The noise which exits his mouth is more of a gargle than a human voice. Kip responds, with similar gargling sounds.

"He's introduced them", she translates, and their names are", short gargle, long gargle, "and", high-pitched gargle. "They can't really be translated to human, I'm sorry. He also said that you're welcome to ask any questions, as they don't know what to tell you because they don't know what we have already teached you."

They talk for about an hour about different siren types, how their appearance changes whether they live in an ocean or in the sea, and Kip gets absolutely exhausted.

She gargles something to the sirens, and then turns to the humans.

"Okay, guys, I'm done. I can't hold you underwater and translate at the same time."

"You alright?" Tawny swims to Kip. "You're a bit pale."

"Says a vampire", she scoffs, "I've survived worse, but I don't wanna drag the kids down with me. We're heading out, say goodbye to the sirens, everybody."

The students wave, lacking a better way of communicating, and just as they're leaving, something grabs Tawny's leg and pulls her into the depths.

In an instant, Kip sends everybody to the beach and swims down.

"Stay out!" she yells after them.

They're on land in less than thirty seconds, completely dry, and just a tiny bit terrified.

"Does anybody know what's going on?" Nataly asks, while she's helping Lilianne into her wheelchair. Nobody else seemed like they were going to speak, and she needed some answers.

"Are they gonna be okay?" Mindy adds. For the next twenty minutes, they're mainly debating sirens, as if to forget that their teachers are in danger, but sometimes they're throwing ideas about what's going on. They stop immediately when the ideas get dark.

When the water starts bubbling up, a wave of relief washes over them. Kip resurfaces, dragging Tawny behind her.

When they get to the shore, Kip throws herself onto Tawny, hugging her and whispering into her ear, while she's sobbing into her shoulder.

"Eu preciso de você1. Stay here", she says, pressing her lips into Tawny's hair. Tawny's legs are bleeding, and they left a red trail from the sea to the place where she was sitting.

They stay like that for a while.

After that, Kip teleports the students back into the classroom without a word.


1: I need you here.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:53 am

Right before the class, Kip marches into the classroom. She's wearing a beige cable-knit jumper, something so uncharacteristic for her that doesn't go unnoticed.

"I like your jumper", Anthony notices.

"Okay", she responds. She meant it as a joke, but it comes out lifeless. She waves her hand towards the board, the 'Sirens' title Tawny'd written down disappears. She sighs. "I'm sorry, everybody, I'm not in the mood today. Give me like a week."

"Where's Tawny?" Lilianne asks.

"Home. I tried healing her legs, but it's siren work and I have nothing to do with it, so I had to call the sirens." She moves her messy hair from her face. "I'm guessing you all wanna know what happened." Affirmative murmurs are heard around the classroom. "Imma tell you, but not yet. It's a long story and it has to do with Tawny becoming a vampire and a curse. We'll tell you everything about that nearing the end of the year."

It seems like they're constantly promising to tell their whole history at the end of the programme. They give out snippets every now and then, though, mentioning Morocco, Texas and the entire coast of Africa. Kip once brought up dragons but shut up rather quickly as she realised that, if she started, they wouldn't let her stop.

This class, however, is a quiet one. Kip repeats everything they learned from the sirens so they can memorise it better, and she adds a bit more. She tells them that sirens only live in salty water, and that nymphs mostly live in rivers and lakes, but sometimes they coexist with sirens.

Kip is visibly distressed. They'd never seen her like that before, not joking after every line and complaining about the American schooling system. She doesn't even write on the whiteboard, and they miss Tawny's board markers more than they probably should.

But the class tries to cheer her up instead. They try to make the lame jokes Kip did, and sometimes they succeed, and Kip rewards them with a smile. It doesn't seem that honest, but it's a step in the right direction. They stop caring about sirens and start caring about making Kip happy.

They don't succeed fully, but she leaves the classroom a bit lighter.

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:00 pm

When Tawny opens the door before their next class, the students cheer her on.

She doesn't look that much different, they notice, and if nothing, she's got a bit more colour in her face. Even if she was a bit quieter, it wasn't that drastic of a difference as it was with Kip.

"You're back!"

"Hey, is everything okay?"

"I'm fine", Tawny smiles at them, "it was just some past catching up with me. It's all gotten rid of now and you needn't worry about it."

"You know they're still gonna worry", Kip notes, "but okay. Are you ready to meet a nymph?"

"Where is she?" Finn asks.

"Travelling. It takes a while to move from place to place for nymphs", Tawny tells them. She takes one look at the blank whiteboard, frowns, grabs her markers and everything is right again.

"It's been so long since I've seen Matheus, I can't wait." The students only now notice that Kip is almost shaking with excitement. "The last time we saw him was in the late 1400s, and since then we only communicated through letters and, as of lately, through videochat. You kids have no idea how lucky you are with all your technology."

"I don't get internet", Tawny muses.

"Give it ten years and you'll to catch up with the latest memes", Kip winks at the giggling group in the back. "You have no idea how many hours I've lost to Reddit and the deep web."

"So that's what you do on Saturdays?" Horace asks.

"Mostly. Sometimes I stack up coins on Tawny's head and wait until she realises it. Most often, she doesn't."

"Well, I'll notice it now!" Tawny says, 'offended'.

"The things you need to know about nymphs", Kip talks over her as she starts complaining. She smiles apologetically and continues. "They're tall and pretty. They will try to flirt with you. In fact, Matheus will probably do that. Don't fall for it."

A glowing portal appears in the middle of the front of the classroom. By this point, students have seen werewolves and sirens and magic, and pretty much nothing can surprise them.

"Está tudo bem contigo1?" Tawny asks, as nothing happens for a couple of seconds.

"Uh… Mais ou menos2." The voice that comes from the portal is surprisingly melodic, a rich baritone.

"English, kids."

"Tudo em inglês… Claro3." In an instant, a tall man pops out of the portal, it closing behind him. He's got long brown hair with blue tips, casual clothes, and he's eating from a tupperware container full of cookies.

"You brought me biscoitos de maizena4!" Kip squeals and runs into his arms. With inhuman elegance, he moves the container to the side as he holds Kip up, hugging her back.

"Promise me we won't be separated this long", he tells her as he puts her down and plunks the cookies into her hands. He heads towards Tawny and gives her an equally consuming bearhug.

"Oi, garota5! You're still forcing this overly long haircut?" he asks, lifting Tawny's hair and making it cascade over her shoulders.

"I don't like change."

"You've been married to the same person for five hundred years now. It's apparent."

Matheus lets go of Tawny, and only then notices the rest of the class.

"And who are you children?" he asks.

"Students", Kip says with her mouth full of biscuits. "We're teaching them about our culture."

"I thought we we're going to sit down and talk for a week, but okay. I'm supposed to tell them something about myself, then?"

Kip hums an affirmative noise, at which Tawny laughs.

"Manners", she tells her. Kip responds with a noise which vaguely resembles a swear.

"It's nice to know some things never change", Matheus notices. "Anyway, I'm Matheus, I was born in Spain, earlier 13th century and I'm a nymph. "

"Matías. That was his name before he moved to Portugal."

"Shush", he shakes his head at Tawny. "I've not used that years in centuries. It hurts my masculinity."

Kip snorts.

"What masculinity?" The cookies fly away from Kip onto Tawny's desk.

"I knew you didn't deserve them."

"Tell them about nymphs." Tawny looks amused by their exchange and shows no intention of stopping them.

"They're great cooks", Kip deadpans.

"Shut up."

By that point, almost everybody adores Matheus.

"You can think of as nymphs as a crossover between wizards and sirens", Tawny continues her lecture. "There are two types. Dryads and water nymphs. You're probably learned the difference between water nymps and sirens, but let's hear it again."

Lilianne raises her hand.

"Sirens live in sees and oceans, water nymphs live in lakes and rivers."

"And alongside coasts", Matheus adds. "Mostly as protectors of gulfs and bays. I lived in Guanabara Bay until fifty years ago, and now I'm assigned to the Tijuca Forest. You can see it in the hair", he takes his tiny ponytail and shows the blue part.

"Why did they reassign you?" Horace asks. "Also, how can you just stop being a protector of something? What happens to that place?"

"As for Guanabara Bay, after the Olympic Games, it's been so polluted that any nymph or siren still living there would be dead by now. Health of a nymph depends on the health of the place they're protecting", Matheus explains.

"So you can just switch from a water nymph to dryad at any given time?" Lilianne joins the discussion. After the siren incident, she and Nataly look like they've made up after whatever fight they had, and Nataly looked happier.

"Not 'just switch' and not at any given time, but if the place you're protecting gets polluted, or if your forest gets cut down, you can pick whatever place you want to protect."

"Have you been practicing teaching?" Kip asks as she makes the cookie container float back to her. "Some day you will be as good as Tawny at it."

"And yet, Kip is the only one certified to teach", Tawny says.

"Have you kids heard of the University of Al Quaraouiyine?"

"Stop", Tawny tells her.

"In fact, I have been practicing. McLean told me to replace you two next year", Matheus tells them.

"What?"

"You're leaving?"

"No way."

"Yes way", Kip replies. "I have more important business than teach you delinquents."

"She lied", Matheus adds.

"You'll be in good hands. No, wait, you'll be in Matheus' hands."

The bickering continues among them for the rest of the class, but they still manage to teach the students about the differences between nymph magic and wizard magic. Tawny looks as if she wants to divorce Kip and send Matheus back to Brazil through the entire duration of their conversation.

"I didn't think that vampires could get migraines, but thanks for proving me wrong", she comments.

Matheus teaches the next lesson as well, while Kip's eating in the background, and Tawny spends the entire lesson on making her 'Nymphs' title ridiculously ornate and fancy.



1: Is everything okay with you?
2: More or less.
3: Everything in English... Sure.
4: Yummy Brazilian cookies
5: Hey, girl/gal!

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PostSubject: Re: alternative history through banter   Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:11 pm

"We've reached the end of the year", Tawny informs the students next class, "and I've reserved this lesson to talk you through our lives, because most of you want to know about them."

"You mentioned dragons", Mindy says, as if apologetically.

There is something resembling a budding romance forming between her and Horace, and it seems like everyone knows about it except them. Tawny already told Matheus all about the class couples, and it's apparent that he'll do anything to get them together.

"Dragons were fun", Kip says, "and they're somewhere near the start of the story. May I start?" she asks, probably the most polite she's ever been in the classroom.

"Take it away."

"Tawny said once that before the 1200s, the world was a boring place, and I tend to agree. Everything was slow and laid back, sure, but rarely anything happened if you weren't aristocratic. Mostly you just spent your days doing repetitive work, and every decade or so, someone got murdered or a famine happened or a war began. Anyway. I was  born in Athens, but after thirty years of living there, I moved to Delphi, as people were becoming suspicious. My name was just Alkippe, but I added my brother's name, Georgios, when surnames became popular. Until the fall of the Roman Empire, I lived in Delphi and I worked with the Oracle of Apollo.

I mean, it was all bullshit anyway, I'm sure you're aware of that. It all depended on the craft of ambiguity. Most often it was something like, 'the best will win the battle', and the person who asked for the prophecy immediately assumed we were talking about them. There's not much to say about that time. I met a lot of water nymphs around the Mediterranean and the Aegeian, hung out with loads of witches, learned about my magic and how to use it. A happy, but ultimately boring time. So I travelled to Asia.

Asian folklore is so colourful and beautiful. Young me loved it after the yellows and blues of Greece. They had different food, culture, politics and society, and I enjoyed myself there. Consider it a leap year, if you wish. But there was this issue; as they drained their lakes to get water for their crops, more and more water dragons lost their homes and they didn't know where to go. You're doing dragons next year, but the thing you need to know about Chinese Water Dragons is that they don't have legs or wings, they're built for swimming and removing water from the lakes they lived in meant that they got discovered, and slowly suffocated. That's where we came along.

Me and a couple more wizards helped transfer hundreds of dragons into the sea. It wasn't ideal, because they weren't used to salt water, but it was better than death anyway. And if you're wondering how you transfer a dragon, you do so with a ton of water and a huge saddle. I will not explain this further. After my dragon adventures, I went back to Europe and lived in Rome for a bit. They didn't like me there, surprisingly enough.

The Roman Empire then fell, but life continued on, with just a tad more migrations than in the past. That's when I met met Flavia." She stops and inhales slowly.

"Take your time", Tawny tells her.

"I'm fine. I hope. I practiced for this." Another inhale. "Flavia was one of the most powerful witches at the time, and one of the most generous. I told you that creating a wizard means sharing your energy with them?" The students nod. "Flavia created thousands. Most often she gave her magic to people who were too poor to survive on their own, or had terminal illnesses, or at least illnesses we didn't know how to treat back then. We had a small place near the Temple and most often we cured the citizens, or just gave advice on love and family. Sometimes we helped with sacrifices to Gods, mostly with some newly-forming pagan religions. We spent some two hundred years there, again, living a normal life. It got boring soon, so we travelled south-east, through the Middle East to Africa. We separated ways then, because it was the year of Hijrah and we obviously have to run into all the most important historical events. Flavia decided to follow Mohammad to Medina, out of sheer curiosity, because until then, she lived around mostly Christians, so a new religion was an interesting new field of study to her. I headed alongside the African coast of the Mediterranean, and I promised to her that we'd get together again soon. We didn't know how soon that was, but it was a promise, and witch's promise doesn't break.

Africa gave me yet another culture shock. Although I still prefer Asia's culture, you can't help but marvel at the sheer energy, vibrance and just pure life most tribes carry even now. Their dances, music, rituals, and especially weddings left me so full of joy and hope, particularly after separating with Flavia.

I made a full circle around Africa. I lived mainly with sirens, but sometimes with water nymphs, that's why I speak their language. Another two hundred years passed, and I found myself in Morocco. Some of the fairies I had met told me about the big school that was opening, and I decided, for the hell of it, to see what they're learning there. The 'big school' I'm talking about is actually University of Al Quaraouiyine, world's first university. Don't give me any of that Bologna bullshit. Morocco had a university centuries before Europe did, but, again, when it comes to history outside of Europe, everyone conveniently forgets it.

I studued history, and I was amazed at how many things they got wrong. They didn't mention some crucial moments, but nitpicked through some irrelevant ones. Nevertheless, Flavia and I finished the schooling, and we got what can be considered an equivalent to today's doctorate. Technically you all need to call me Doctor Kip."

"As kinky as that sounds", Patrick interrupts, and, through laughter, Kip thinks that she taught them well.

"All the best superhero villains are always doctors", Anthony adds.

"So I'm a villain now? What did I do to deserve the title? Never mind, I don't care." Kip clears her throat and continues. "Flavia and I spend some time in Morocco, learning some of their magic. It's very strange, how almost every country's wizards have their own way of doing the same thing. But more on that on your next year. I already have some of my friends in plan to visit America, it's our 530th wedding anniversary and I'm planning on getting wasted off of fairy cocktails. Long story."

"Can't wait", Tawny interrupts with a bitter tone in her voice.

"Aw, boo. We'll get you a Bloody Mary. The original one. Anyway." Kip breaks her train of thought to smile at Tawny. "After that, we decided to check Europe out, as massive changes were taking place, so I spent some time in Germany, and she remained in Byzantium. I had enough of Greece for a millenium. As I've already went into detail about everything, I'll skip this century. Conrath III, and I fled. That man was insane, and I didn't have enough stuff tying me to Germany, the only reasonable thing to do was to leave. I heard from Flavia, and she sailed over to Spain, so we agreed that I'd meet her there."

"It was around 1100s, right?" Tawny asks. "I'm trying to give them some perspective."

"I believe it was 1128. Could be wrong. A lot of my memories from that time aren't very clear." Kip stops and sighs. "We lived there for less than a century when the inquisition started. Now, you are taught that, in Spain, it started around 1477, when, in reality, it started way before Queen Isabella and De Torquemada. Antisemitism and anti-Moor procedures were directly linked to other supposed heretical doings. Women, LGBT+ people, witches and wizards, sometimes nymphs, all those groups were directly affected since the beginning of the millenium, and nobody cares to mention that in your history books.

Flavia didn't know it at the time, but once we entiered Spain, we couldn't get out until the main Judge declared that we weren't heretics, and that's not something easily done. Some wizards were forced to create shields around the country so nobody could escape.

We were in hiding for decades. Mostly it was in attics or basements, with other witches. That's when we came across Matheus. You can't even imagine it."

Kip doesn't explain it further, but she doesn't have to.

"In 1296", she starts, and most of the students don't want to hear what follows, "I lost her. And thousands of my other friends."

She's looking into the distance, and it doesn't seem that she will continue.

Tawny clears her throat, like Kip did before her, and continues, with her hand on Kip's knee.

"Kip and Matheus found that the safest place for magical beings at that time was Romania, so they travelled there."

"How? Wasn't Spain locked out?" Mindy asks.

"The wizard who created the border died with Flavia", Kip spits out.

"Hey. Agapi mou1. I got this", Tawny stops her, and continues. Kip doesn't seem like she'll complain. "Romania, as a country, even today has one of the highest concentration of witches and wizards. They are incorporated into the everyday of humans more than anywhere else, and their rituals have been kept ever since the Iron Age. It might seem a bit pagan to you, but it's the same magic as Kip uses, but less sofisticated, because most modern-day wizards learn from different cultures and perfect their magic, while Romanian witches are intent on keeping their craft as it was thousands of years ago. I say witches because wizards are rare, for some unknown reason. There's eighty percent witches and twenty percent wizards, and if I was to guess, it would be because men's witchcraft wasn't as wanted during the Middle Ages as female work, so they stopped wanting to learn and develop their magic."

"We hid there for a nearly a century and a half. They took good care of us, and since Romania wasn't affected by the inquisition, we were free again. At least, I was. We had to travel back through Spain to Portugal, because the nymph who had previously protected the estuary of the Tejo river had gone missing, and Matheus got assigned to it. So we ended up near Lisbon around 1480s." Kip stops and looks at Tawny. "Your turn."

"I suppose it is. In 1482, I was turned, and it was pretty traumatic. I woke up behind some barrels with blood all over my clothes, and I didn't know whether it was mine or not. So I did the only thing I could. I cleaned myself up and I went to find my mother. She was the only person I trusted at the time. And… Young vampires don't control their thirst. I couldn't walk through the town without wanting to kill someone." Tawny stops.

"Consider it like this: when you're a vampire, your thirst is purely physical. You have no control over it and your mind could be telling you to stop, but your body won't listen."

"I ran. I ran far away from the city because I couldn't stand the thought of killing anyone. Have you ever seen photos of the Portugal coast?" Tawny asks. Mostly, the class shakes their heads. "It has a rough cliff coastlines which are very high, and I ended up on one of them. It was the best way to distance myself."

"I still don't understand how she managed to do it", Kip says. "It's pretty much impossible to control yourself when you're that young. If I was to guess what happened, it would be that you drank the entire city dry."

"I just thought about my mother and I couldn't stand the thought of having anything happen to her. As I was trying to figure out what happened to myself, it dawned on me. The only thing I could do to solve my situation and have the least amount victims was to jump off the cliff." She lets it sink in. "So I prayed to Him to give me the strenght to end myself."

"Flashback to the beginning of the year?" Kip asks the class. "What happens when you're a vampire or werewolf and you mention God?"

"Fire?" Anthony asks.

"Fire", Tawny confirms. "I felt my hands and legs catching flames, and that was the push I needed. I jumped." Silence.

"If I hadn't been there—" Kip chokes, or at least it sounds like it. "I was near the seaside, because Matheus was getting used to the ocean and talking to some sirens, and I saw her falling. I tried to magic her back onto the cliff, but I was too far. So I swam. Even though I was sure that she was already dead. Humans generally don't survive jumping off cliffs. I reached her and pulled her out."

"It's important that you know that I'm cursed because of this", Tawny continues. "Ocean, and water in general, is a thing of life and angelic energy, if you wish, and since I tried to suicide using it, the sirens cursed me, because they didn't want me carrying death near them. Kip and I guessed that the curse lasted some five hundred years, so that's why I allowed myself to swim in the Atlantic, but apparently it's longer, and we're going to deal with it later. Until then, I can survive not swimming in the Atlantic."

"Curses usually don't last this long. But again, it's sirens", Kip shrugs.

"So, what pulled you down?" Lilianne asks.

"Water", Tawny says. "Water is an entity of its own."

"After I pulled her out", Kip continues. She had glanced at a clock and realised that they don't have much time left, so she sped up. "I was surprised to see that she was still breathing. I checked and saw that she had vampire bites on her neck, and that was the final puzzle piece I needed."

Tawny moves her abundant hair to her right shoulder and traces a round shape on her neck.

"It's faded significantly, but it's still here."

"I called Matheus and we pulled some strings to get Tawny some blood. Meanwhile, I had to tell her mother that she wasn't coming back. I invented a story about how some traveller needed a servant girl or something, I don't remember. Here comes the fun part."

Tawny smirks at that.

"1488. I remembered this year", she points out. "That's when we got married." She holds her hand up and shows them her ring.

"Human weddings carry so little of the meaning that our weddings have had for millenias", Kip muses.

"It's also worth noting that I believe that personal life and professional life should be separated."

"And we're throwing that notion out of the window today." Kip wraps an arm around Tawny's shoulder. "In the five years we knew each other, we've grown pretty close. Tawny, Matheus and I lived in a small so-called flat near Santa Maria de Belém, and it only had two beds. Even though Matheus was thrilled to have another lady in the house, when I wouldn't put out, I kept Tawny close. Even though she didn't need to sleep, she lay in bed next to me and pretended."

"I couldn't get used to it. What was I supposed to do with the extra hours in the day?" Tawny asks.

"So instead you looked at me like a freak."

"Hey." There's a bunch of 'aww' sounds from the class. "She had great hair back then", Tawny makes an excuse for herself, "it was longer and beautiful."

"Offended."

"Shush."

"Basically I made her fall for me."

"Did not."

"Yes, I did." Kip stops for a second. "Well, when I proposed, you could've said no."

"But I didn't."

Then they remember that they're still in class and proceed to explain their situation.

"So, as I was saying, our weddings are different. They're more of a binding ritual than a romantic gesture. When you ask someone to marry you, you basically promise to share their pain and their happiness. It means you don't have to go through life alone."

"That's enough of private things for today", Tawny stops Kip.

"We're giving out our sex tape at the end of the class."

Tawny pushes Kip off the desk. She is quick to react, though, because she remains seated on air rather than the desk.

"I'm kidding."

"You better", Tawny scoffs, but then continues in a similar tone. "I wouldn't want our sex tape going anywhere."

"Maybe I can create a jokester out of you", Kip says.

"Nah."

"To finish off our life story", Kip smirks, "after our wedding we tried to find a place to live in. We tried Italy, lived there for some fifty years, then Britain, we already told you about Shakespeare and Da Vinci, and after the Declaration of Independence we travelled to the States."

"For the first hundred years we lived in the South, helping slaves with their work and gathering up a community of wizards, which was important to do because their numbers are getting smaller and smaller each year."

"And now we're here."

Lilianne raises her hand.

"What are the plans for the future?"

"Brazil", Tawny answers.

"Matheus has been bothering us to go for decades now and we can't keep saying no forever. After that, who knows."

"The moon."

Horace, who looks thrilled by everything Kip and Tawny said during the lesson, asks,

"How many languages do you speak?"

"Um", Tawny starts counting, "Portuguese, Spanish, Latin, a bit of Italian, English and swears in Greek."

"Same for me, but I know Greek a tad better. Also, German, Arabic and Congo Swahili."

"That's so cool", Mindy exclaims.

"When you have extra time", Kip repeats the phrase Tawny'd said before. "But that's just a fraction of our lives. Some things we like to keep private, some things won't make sense to your generation, and for others, we don't have the time to go through all of them. But that's it, I think."

"Thank you for being an excellent class, and keep on being this good to Matheus. Kip and I are staying here for another year to celebrate our anniversary and you're all invited."

"If you are to take anything from these lessons we've had, it's that time passes. It passes quickly, and if you don't hold one, you won't live fully, but if you do, you're almost guaranteed to be happy. Which is the most important thing in your lives."

It rings, and the school year is over.


1: My love.

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