Rose's stomach growled the moment she stepped outside the Blue classroom. As soon as Yūei dismissed the class, Rose shoved everything back into her bag and left. Keinan and Chester followed behind, both boys walking on either side of her. Once they were a few steps away from the classroom, to her surprise, Rose heard their stomachs growl next.
The boys shared sheepish looks. With a small smile on his face, Keinan said, "It's good we can eat now. I didn't want to have to eat either of you."
Chester snorted, smirking. "I'm too rich, you'd get a stomachache halfway through... and I don't think dragons would taste very good."
"Scaly things typically don't," Keinan agreed, looking off into the distance with a vaguely perturbed look on his face.
Rose blinked. "Fish are scaly and they taste good."
The look cleared and his smile returned. "You make a good case."
Chester's nose crinkled. "Don't encourage him to try. He will bite you."
Rose then moved to walk on the other side of Chester, causing both boys to laugh. Their friendly demeanors put a chipper spring in Rose's steps, and she found she enjoyed their company on the way to the cafeteria. It was nice to have people to walk and talk with.
"Are these all we take? Magic classes?" Rose asked. "At human school, we usually take math and other stuff."
"Of course, we'll take those, too," Chester exclaimed, his eyebrows raised. "However, for the first year, it's imperative we learn basic control over our magic. If not, our magic could go haywire and we'd turn feral. Turning feral is a fate worse than death, I hear."
"Professor Nigel said that magic could turn on us," Rose murmured, recalling her first conversation with Nigel. "And we prevent that by learning about it?"
"Learning to control it," Keinan corrected her. "The Community says that if we master our magic, it won't turn on us."
Rose blinked, thinking back to how her magic knew exactly what it needed to do. If it knew enough, then maybe it was conscious? If it was conscious, then it would stand to reason it may not want to always do what Rose tells it to do.
These questions were hanging on 'if's, though.
Maybe it was because of her human upbringing, but something didn't sit right with her about magic revolting. She couldn't imagine something so wonderful—something a part of her—turning against her. It would be like thinking her right hand one day decided to try and strangle her, Rose thought. It didn't make any sense.
Then again, she'd once heard about some people becoming allergic to their own bodies. Can someone be allergic to magic?
It was a scary enough thought that Rose promised she'd investigate it when she got the chance. Once more, Rose found her lack of knowledge in this place to be truly frustrating.
As they entered the brightly lit cafeteria and grabbed a table, Chester asked Rose, "So are you like all humans? You were raised as a human, so you must act like most humans, right?"
More students filed into the large room, gentle banter and laughter slowly filling it up. They came in groups of two or three, no one ever walking in alone. Oddly enough, Rose could feel more than a few looks and glances tossed her way. She wondered if it was because they were all new students? Given how small the student populace seemed to be, new students likely caused a stir of interest every year.
That's how it was at the orphanage when someone new came, at least. All the attention would be diverted to them for a while until the interest died down and they faded into the background like everyone else.
"I think I do," Rose told him, ignoring the odd stares. "I still kind of think of myself as a human most of the time."
"That'll pass," Keinan told her off-handedly as he ordered his food.
Chester nodded in agreement with his friend. "Yeah, don't worry about that. So you'd say you're the average human? I've never met a human, so I'm sorry if my question bothers you."
Rose scratched her cheek, shifting her weight on the cool stone bench below her. "Um, kind of, I guess? I didn't spend a lot of time with people my age, though, so I can't tell you if I'm average or not."
"How come?" Keinan asked her. "Were you the only child in your cluster?"
"No, definitely not," Rose said. "I only went to one year in public school before Mother Mara took us all out to be homeschooled. Then she started teaching me separate from everyone else because I got stuff quicker. Reading-wise, at least. So, when the other kids were playing, I was usually getting my lessons from Mother Mara, or sometimes Sister Eliza. Then while they were learning, I played with Mr. Whiskers."
"He—he was my cat." Rose felt a pang in her chest at being reminded of her kitty.
"Your... familiar?" Keinan tilted his head, his brow furrowed. His face was contorted in confusion, almost like he was trying to solve a particularly difficult puzzle. "How do you already have a familiar?"
Rose quickly shook her head. She remembered from movies and books that familiars were supposed to be magical beings bound to a witch or something. There wasn't anything magical about Mr. Whiskers except for how fast he scrambled out of water.
"No, he was only a cat that I took care of."
If either boy noted her glum tone, they didn't comment. The trio ordered food and ate quick enough. They chatted for a bit more about casual things, such as their favorite memories and books. When it was time to head off to their afternoon class, they gathered their things and went together.
The Green Magic classroom was outside, much to Rose's joy. There was a beautiful garden at the back of the castle and eight greenhouses lined up behind it. The garden stretched low and wide, filled with vibrantly colored flowers that Rose had never seen before. Each of them was multicolored, and some poured out shiny dust like fountains. Some of the flowers were tall and stretched above the others around them—there were even a few that waved their long leaves in greeting towards the approaching students.
There were a handful of shaded patios scattered about the garden with tables and benches on them, and they were all heavily covered by vine-like flowers. The white stone path to the greenhouse wove past each of them, twisting and turning like a snake.
The greenhouses were large, but Rose couldn't see very well inside them because the windows were tinted. They looked like nice greenhouses as far as greenhouses went, though...
Not that Rose was well-versed in what a good greenhouse looked like to make an accurate comparison, but they seemed nice. There were no cracks, bumps, or any damage to be seen. Everything gleamed like it was recently polished, and Rose could barely make out some sort of drawings engraved on the wooden panels that lined the bottoms of the greenhouses.
Then the wind blew, and Rose caught all the lovely smells of the garden, delight filling the dragon child. There was no way to accurately describe the smells because Rose had never smelled anything like it. There was a clear flowery touch to it, but it was unlike anything she ever smelled, it played like a melody on her senses, teasing tastes on her tongue. She could almost imagine what the smells tasted like, they were so vivid and invigorating, breathing life into her like never before.
Rose approached a very short, dark-skinned man—Dwarf?—with the rest of her classmates. The man was covered in dirt, grime, and to Rose—after a few sniffs— noted he smelled of rocks and fertilizer. He had a large, bushy beard that had twigs sticking out of it, and the greenest eyes Rose had ever seen. He was shifting his weight back and forth as he seemed in wait of the rest of the students. He hands were folded in front of him, and his eyes moved around wildly, never settling on any one spot.
Then the rest of the students arrived, and the man grinned widely—What a large mouth! It stretches over half his face!—and said, "Good, good! Good, good! Very good. Hello, I'm Professor Mamta, hello, hello."
"Hullo," the students echoed back to him.
The dwarf bounced in place. "Yes, yes, hello, hello. Let's get started then, yes, yes? Come on, come on. First year greenhouse is in the back. Keep up with me! Keep up with me!"