The Fae Worlds


Very few humans ever found an entrance to the fae school. When they did it was seen as a great achievement and they were automatically accepted for training. Some of the older fae didn’t think that any human should ever be accepted into the fae school so they did all they could to make sure that all the entrances stayed hidden. It didn’t always work. Occasionally the increased protection actually helped a human find an entrance. Tamara was one of those humans.
There hadn’t been a new human arrival at the school for five years when she found an entrance. At first she thought she was seeing things when she walked past a glittering bush. It was a bush she had walked past before but she had never noticed it glitter before. Poking it gently led to her sticking her hand through it as though it wasn’t there. She’d never stuck her hand through a bush before so she thought it would be worth investigating. The possibility that it was an entrance to the fae school hadn’t even crossed her mind. Most people didn’t even think the human entrances existed.
A bell sounded. To her it sounded like one of those bells some shops had above the door to let the shopkeeper know that someone had walked in. From where she stood she could see a building that she had seen before in pictures. It was obvious then where she was. Leaving did cross her mind. Everyone had heard horror stories about what it was like to be a human at the fae school, but she wasn’t someone who gave up something without even trying.
Seconds later she was surrounded by faeries. Most were smiling, or at least managing to fake a smile, but some were staring at her like she was something that the cat had dragged in. Probably a dead mouse or frog. They were the ones she knew she would have to watch out for because they didn’t want her there. Raising an eyebrow she smiled back, amazed at how many had come to have a look at her just because she was the latest human to find an entrance. She realised that finding one made her special even though she never wanted to be special.
“Everyone go back to class,” a voice said from the back of the large group. “You’ll all be able to meet the new girl later.” When they scattered an older female faery stepped towards her. “It’s nice to meet you…”
“I’m Petunia, the head of the Human Student’s Department.” She held her out her hand and Tamara shook it, surprised at how human the action was but she guessed that Petunia liked her human students to feel comfortable. “Please follow me.”
Tamara looked around her as she followed Petunia through the grounds of the school and then into the school itself. Magic glittered all around her. She hoped that she would be taught how to not see magic because the glitter was off-putting. It was a relief when she found herself stood in an office that was devoid of any glitter. Petunia closed the door once she was in the room before going to sit behind a desk that was exactly like the one Tamara’s Head of Year had used.
“Sit down, Tamara.” Tamara sat on the opposite side of the desk. “For the duration of your time here I will be helping you to create a well rounded curriculum. How old are you?”
Petunia nodded, writing something down on a piece of paper in front of her. “That means that you have completed all compulsory human schooling?”
“Yes I have.”
“We will need a transcript of your grades as soon as possible. If you have less than a C grade in any of the three core subjects you will need to retake the exams.”
“I’ve got higher than a grade C in all three.”
“That’s great. Our students usually are proficient in all three core subjects but it’s always best to check.” She looked at Tamara. “For your first three years here you have to live on campus. That’s mandatory for all students. If this is going to be a problem then let me know now and we won’t go any further.”
“It’s not a problem.” Her parents would be glad to have her out of the house. “Will I be able to go home and collect some clothing?”
“I’ll take you when we’re done here and explain everything to your parents.” Petunia smiled at her. “At the end of the three years you may choose to go home every night or stay in the dorms. Most of the fae choose to go home but the human students often stay. Life is very different for humans who have learnt how to use fae magic. Graduation will vary for each student. Some stay here for the minimum six years while others stay on for longer. It often depends on what major they choose and whether they choose any minors.” She opened one of the drawers on her desk and took out a large booklet which she passed to Tamara. “This will tell you all you need to know about choosing your major and minors. You can take up to three minors. Most human students take one, but there have been those who have taken none and a few have taken more.” Petunia then took out another book, this one was wire-bound and reminded Tamara of her old school’s planner. “This is for you to write down your classes and your homework. Your classes will begin next Monday after we have decided on what they will be. Actually you’re really lucky with timing. It’s induction week so you won’t miss any class time.” Petunia looked down at whatever it was she had been writing on. “Actually you will have to take one class this week. How do you see fae magic?”
“It glitters.”
“That must be pretty. Friday you’ll need to go to the magic class and learn how to not see fae magic. River will be able to tell you whether he believes you’ll be any good at fae magic or not. Some humans are better than others. When we know your ability we can decide what direction it would be best for you to go here.” She looked at Tamara. “There are several majors that magically strong humans have preferred and there are several majors that magically weak humans have preferred. You don’t have to follow in their footsteps but it does give us a starting point.” Smiling Petunia drew a line on the paper. “I can still remember when finding lessons that humans enjoyed and were capable of doing was a guessing game. Things are much easier now.”
“Will I meet any other humans?”
“If you want I can set up a meeting with the others who are here. Three are a year away from graduating but the rest will be here for another few years. We haven’t had a new arrival for a while so there’s no one here who is starting out like you.”
Tamara nodded. “I’ll think about it. It seems slightly pointless really.”
“You will make friends with most of the fae. The older fae who think that humans shouldn’t be allowed here don’t have so much power over the younger fae any more. If you do meet someone who agrees with them you’ll usually find that they’re related in some way.” Petunia looked back down at the paper in front of her and wrote something more down. “I’ll put you into dorm four for now. There are six beds in each dorm so you’ll be sharing with five fae. If you have any problems then come to me and I’ll move you. I don’t think you will have but you never know.” She looked at Tamara. “Breakfast is served between five and seven am. Morning classes start at half past seven. Lunch is at one pm. Afternoon classes start at two and then finish at half past five. Dinner is from six until eight. If you want anything to eat outside of meals we do have a shop.” Petunia passed the paper she had been writing on to Tamara. “Make sure that you understand everything that I’ve told you before signing the bottom of the paper.”
Tamara read through the paper before picking up a pen and signing it. It was just a list of everything that Petunia was meant to tell her during her induction meeting with a few extra notes that had been written on. She had been worried it might be some sort of legally binding contract but she felt safe signing it. Her grandfather had always told her not to sign a contract without him around because he was a retired lawyer.
“Thank you, Tamara.” Petunia looked over at the clock “If we leave now we should be back in time for dinner.”
Petunia stood up first. Tamara picked up the booklet and planner she had been given before standing. Together they walked to the front entrance of the school. It wasn’t long before she felt totally confused because of the glitter that surrounded her so she didn’t pay much attention to where she was going until they were outside the school.
It was a relief to be outside. Tamara couldn’t wait until she’d learnt how not to see magic because she didn’t like not being able to see properly. Only being able to see glitter made it very difficult to walk anywhere and if it hadn’t been for Petunia’s quick reflexes she would have walked into a couple of walls. Making a fool of herself before she even started any classes wasn’t something she really wanted to do. Very few of her fellow students wanted her there so they would use anything they could to get rid of her, even her magic induced clumsiness.
“Where do you live?” Petunia asked, walking towards what looked like a car park.
“Thirty Holly Court,” Tamara replied, trying to push away the faint feeling that she wasn’t ready to move out.
Petunia nodded. “I know where that is. A few of our previous students came from that area.”
“How long have you been the head of the Human Student’s department?”
“About fifty years now. It’s an interesting position to have.”
“I would have thought it was quite difficult.”
“At times it is difficult. Some of the older fae think that our magic shouldn’t be taught to humans but we mix so much now that it doesn’t seem fair. For someone to have fae magic they must have had a fae relative somewhere and a lot of the time now it’s actually a parent.”
“Neither of my parents seem like they have any magic.”
“There are some fae who walk away from their heritage and give up their magic in an attempt to be properly human. It doesn’t happen very often but I have met a couple of parents who were once fae.”
“It must be difficult.”
Petunia nodded as she unlocked a car and opened the door. “To give up your magic like that is painful, and occasionally fatal, so I would never recommend it, but I do understand why they do it.”
Tamara got in the passenger side of the car. She put the booklet and her planner into the empty glove box. It had been months since she’d been driven anywhere in a car because her younger siblings always needed to be given a lift somewhere. There wasn’t enough money left at the end of the month for her to learn to drive so she walked most of the time. Now it didn’t matter and she was glad she hadn’t started learning as she’d just have to give it up now she was a student at the fae school.
“When we get to your house,” Petunia said as she started the car, “I’ll talk to your parents about what has happened and what you’ll be doing at school so you can pack. Some parents have more difficulty understanding that others that you will have to live in the dorms.”
“Is there anything you won’t allow on the campus?”
“It would be better if you don’t bring anything iron but I’ve never actually known anyone to have something iron.”
“I haven’t got anything iron as far as I know. Do I have a limit on what I can bring?”
“Bring anything you want. If that’s your whole wardrobe then that’s fine. Space isn’t a problem. Electrical items don’t work very well inside because of the magic but you can use them outside or in the library. No magic is allowed in the library for that specific reason. There are rooms connected the library for magic use if the book cannot be borrowed.”
“Anything specific that I will need?”
“Some money would be useful. Other than that there’s nothing I can think of. ”
“What about writing stuff?”
“If you have them then bring them but we have a shop on campus that you can use. It sells some of the books you’ll need, the usual school items and food.”
Tamara nodded, even though she knew she wouldn’t be able to buy much with the three pounds she had in her purse. “Can my parents send me money and letters during the year?”
“Of course they can. You’ll be given mail once a week and there’s a cash point close by if they send the money by electronic transfer. The only thing I suggest they don’t use cheques because it will be hard for you to get them cashed.”
“Is there anything else you think I need to know?”
There was silence. Petunia stared out of the windscreen and Tamara looked out of the window, watching everything that passed. It wasn’t long before she started recognising roads so she knew it wouldn’t be long before they got to her house. She didn’t say anything because she thought it was better to let Petunia think.
Finally she said, “We’ve covered everything important. There may be some things that we need to talk about once we get back to the school but they’ll just be minor.”
“If I don’t have something that I need then it will be your fault.”
Petunia shot Tamara a smile. “I live with that every time I enrol a new student.”
“Don’t you ever think about moving into a less stressful department?”
“Occasionally but I like working with magical humans. Every one of you goes through such an amazing journey and I wouldn’t give up guiding you all through it for anything.”
They pulled up outside Tamara’s house. She looked at it for a moment, feeling an unexpected sense of loss. It was the house she had lived in her whole life and she hadn’t even thought about moving out, but there was no way she was going to miss out on the opportunity she had stumbled over. Pushing that feeling away she got out of the car. Petunia followed her up the path to the door. Biting her lip she opened the door, wondering what her parents would say about her going to the fae school. Most people didn’t even think about the possibility, let alone talk about it, so it wasn’t something she had ever talked to her parents about before.
When she walked into the lounge she found that they were both sitting on the sofa, watching an old film. They looked up when she walked in but almost instantly turned back to the TV because she had been expected home. Breathing deeply she stepped further into the room with Petunia behind her.
“Mum, Dad, I need to talk to you,” Tamara said.
Her mum looked at her again before her attention shifted to Petunia. For a moment shock filled her face but then she smiled wryly. She muted the TV as she stood up, which got her dad’s attention. Her dad looked over at her, smiling until he also noticed the woman behind her and then the smile faded into a look of confusion. Tamara soon matched his confusion with her own when her mum walked over to give Petunia a hug.
“Has my girl found her way into the school?” she asked, her voice filled with a mixture of pride and sadness.
“Yes, Rosie, she has. You always knew it might happen.”
“I was at the school,” her mum explained to Tamara as her dad’s confusion had been replaced with understanding, “about thirty years ago. I dropped out at the end of my second year because I just couldn’t cope with being there. Petunia told me that there was always a chance of my children inheriting the same magic that I had even though I hadn’t completed my time at the school.” She smiled. “How do you see magic, sweetheart?”
“It glitters.”
“That sounds irritating. I always saw purple and that was bad enough.” She turned back to Petunia. “Do you want a drink?”
“A cup of tea would be fabulous.”
“Come into the kitchen then. Tammie, are you going to go and pack?”
Tamara nodded, rolling at her eyes at the nickname she hated. She shared a grimace with her dad, who also hated the nickname, before heading upstairs to the room she shared with two of her younger sisters. They were both out so she borrowed a couple of sheets from the notebook that the youngest of her sisters had left on her bed and wrote them each a note to say goodbye as they were the sisters she was closest to. Brushing away a stray tear she slipped the notes under their pillows. It wasn’t the same as saying goodbye in person but it was the best she could do.
She turned to look at the wardrobe. The old battered suitcase her grandmother had loaned her wouldn’t be big enough for everything she owned. Her teeth found her lip again, even though she was trying to get out of the habit. Opening the door she took out everything she knew was hers and then did the same with the chest of drawers. All of her new underwear went straight into it, which had been bought as the first sensible purchase she had ever made with her birthday money. She thought for a long time about which tops she was going to take with her. Leaving something behind that she would want wasn’t something she planned on doing. In the end she chose five of her favourite t-shirts and five long sleeved shirts. When they were carefully folded she put them into the suitcase, trying to work out how much more she could get in.
Staring at her collection of trousers she knew she only had space for three pairs. That was the easiest choice she’d had to make. Her three favourite pairs of jeans went into the suitcase. Skirts weren’t something she wore very often but she packed a couple that would go with the prettier long sleeved shirts she’d picked. Finally she looked at the dress she had worn for her prom.
Even after three years she could still remember her prom night as though it had happened the night before. Nothing was the same as it had been then. Her friends had all moved on while she stayed in their home town. Finding an entrance to the fae school made her grateful that she had but at the same time she still wished that she’d had the courage to go with them. They were all living in one of the biggest cities in the area, together in one flat, and she didn’t think they even thought of her any more.
Making the choice she folded it carefully before putting it into the suitcase. It wasn’t because she thought she’d have a chance to wear it. She needed it so she could remind herself that she was lucky even though she wasn’t with the people she had once called friends. At the fae school she would, hopefully, make new friends so she wouldn’t have to look into the past to remember a time when she’d been close to someone who wasn’t one of her siblings.
Closing the suitcase was easier than she expected it to be. The last time she’d used it the zip had been stiff and her dad had been the only person who could close it. She smiled at his thoughtfulness before a wave of sadness passed over her. Chewing lightly on her lip still, she looked around the room that she was leaving behind. At least it meant her sisters would be able to sleep in two separate beds rather than the bunks they’d always had. Blinking back more tears she picked up the suitcase and went downstairs.
Petunia was sat on one of their very old chairs, having an animated conversation with Tamara’s mother. Her dad was sat on the sofa looking bemused. He shot her a smile when she walked into the room but it didn’t quite manage to hide the sadness in his eyes. She smiled back, sure he could also see the sadness in her eyes.
“Are you ready to go?” Petunia asked.
“I think so.” Tamara looked at her parents again. “Will you be okay without me?”
Her mum stood up, walked over to her and wrapped her arms tightly around Tamara. “Of course we will, sweetheart. Make the most of this opportunity. I wasted it and I’ve regretted walking away ever since, so don’t make my mistakes.”
“I will Mum.”
“Good girl.” Pulling away she walked over to the mantelpiece. “We’ve been saving this for a while, just in case one of my children had the same magic that I did, and I’m glad we did.”
She held an envelope in her hand that she held out to Tamara. Tamara stepped forward so she could take the envelope out of her mum’s hand but didn’t take it. Instead she looked at it, wondering how she could take money for school when she knew how much her family needed it. With tears in her eyes she looked between her parents.
“Take it, Tamara,” her dad said from behind her. “We planned for this possibility.”
“We’ll send you fifty pounds each month,” her mum continued, “which we expect you to use carefully. Once it’s gone you won’t get any more until the next month.”
Nodding, she took the envelope. She couldn’t bring herself to look in it so she put it into her pocket instead. A tear ran down her cheek and her mum wiped it away before pulling Tamara into another hug.
“I promise you that we’ll be fine. When I left the school I set up a savings account. We’ve put a little bit in when we could and your dad always made sure that it was getting the best interest it could. Your siblings won’t be missing out on anything.” She laughed. “I think we’ll even have enough if another one of you has fae magic.”
“As long as you’re sure.”
“We’re sure. Go and enjoy yourself.”
Tamara nodded before stepping away. “I’ll try Mum.”
“There may be some fae there who don’t want you there but you have every right to be there. My grandfather was fae and he was very strong magically.”
“Why didn’t you tell us before?”
“I didn’t want to get your hopes up. Sometimes the magic doesn’t get inherited.”
“We need to get back, Tamara,” Petunia said. “I need to show you your dorm before dinner and that doesn’t give us a lot of time.”
Turning, she saw the sympathy is Petunia’s face and knew that the fae woman didn’t want to push her but had no choice. “Write to me,” she said, turning back to her mum for a moment. “Tell me all about your grandfather.”
“I will.” Her mum smiled. “He’s a wonderful man. I’ll see if I can convince him to visit you while you’re at the school.”
It wasn’t a surprise that he was still alive. The fae lived longer than humans and magically inclined humans usually lived longer than non-magically inclined humans. Nodding Tamara let Petunia lead her out of the house and back to the car as she tried to get used to the fact she had a living relative who was fae. Once she was in the car she turned to look at her parents, who were in the doorway. They waved as Petunia pulled away from the curb. She stared out of the window until she didn’t know where she was any more.