Edmund’s Request

Edmund caught up to Tunansia in the next hallway, and fell into step next to her as she turned another corner. She made no sign that she noticed him, save for a small twitch in her jaw. Edmund cleared his throat.

“What on earth do you want?” Tunansia asked, her stride not letting up in the slightest.

Edmund licked his lips and tried to think of how to ask for Tunansia’s help. Reflexively, he tried to peek at the book she was reading, curious as to whether he had read it before. It looked to be a book on blood and its many different uses, ills, cures, and properties.

“Just to talk,” Edmund said. “I don’t know anything about you.”

“Imagine my dismay,” Tunansia said, flipping a page. “I’m a vicious brat of a girl who hates the Mouldes, hates her family, hates Matron, and hates you. What else is there to know?”

“You like science,” Edmund prodded, looking again at the book. There was a picture of some strange device that looked a bit like a drill, and a bit like a clamp. “And I do to.”

“You don’t know a damn thing about science,” Tunansia sneered. “I’ve been going to Grimms for two years to learn about science, and you’ve read one book a bit above your reading level.”

“I’ve read more than that,” Edmund protested, wondering what Grimms was. “I’ve read the ‘Symphonic Chemastrie,’ Killdot’s ‘Practicum,’ and Professor Triffle’s ‘Physical Body’ all the way through.”

“I don’t care,” Tunansia said, her pace increasing slightly. “There’s more to science than reading.”

“I can learn,” Edmund matched her stride step for step.

“I haven’t laid eyes on you for longer than an hour, and I know you haven’t got what it takes to follow a formula.” Tunansia’s voice began to drift into a hazy lecturing tone. “There’s an art to it. A spirit. Real science has a bouquet all its own. It has an ethos… it has…”

“Poetry?” Edmund asked.

Tunansia stopped dead in her tracks, causing Edmund to step past her. He turned back to see Tunansia staring at him with a terrifying glare in her eyes. She began to slowly circle Edmund so closely that the still open book brushed against his hair.

“You’re up to something,” she said finally, snapping the book shut with a crash next to Edmund’s ear, causing him to jump. “What is it?”

“I want to make something,” he said, deciding that some level of honesty was called for at the moment. “I have the recipe, but not all of the ingredients. I thought you could help me.”

“And why on earth do you think that I would ever bother to help you?” Tunansia asked, her eyes narrowing.

Edmund stood up straighter, and looked her in the eyes. “Because I would be in your debt.”

If he had said this to her when she had first met him, she would have laughed; or she would have turned away in a huff, irritated at his waste of her time. He hoped now that she realized he could be a threat, or even maybe useful.

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