“That isn’t as interesting,” Sif said, waving dismissively. “Tell me about Einar.”
Lilja shook her head. “There’s nothing to tell. We’re friends.”
“I don’t—” Sif craned her neck to look past Lilja. “There he is now. Einar! Einar Goransson!”
Lilja frantically shushed her, but too late. Einar cast his gaze around the room and saw Sif waving. He made a face which said, ‘ah’, and headed over. Lilja blushed.
“Sif Hrothgarsdottir. Lilja,” Einar said, conspicuously dropping the patronym off of the latter’s name. “Is this spot taken?”
He was tall for his age—less than a year Sif’s senior, just about a year older than Lilja—and lanky. Like most of the men of the Akademi, his fine blond hair was perpetually mid-tousle. His eyes were bright and green, in the middle of a broad face with sharp features.
Lilja glared daggers at Sif, but Einar seemed not to notice. Sif nodded. “Of course. We wouldn’t call you over if it wasn’t.”
Einar laughed. “I guess not.” He sat next to Lilja. “How are you?”
Lilja made no answer. Sif filled in. “Good. We’ve been learning lots of cumulations, so I think we must be getting to a good part of the book of forms.”
Einar bobbed his head. “If you’re close to six hundred, you’ll be starting on gales and tempests soon.”
“Exciting,” Sif said.
Lilja huffed. “For you, maybe.”
Sif lied, “Herre Leifsson’s lecture was harder than usual today. And at least you can read.”
“You can too,” Lilja pointed out.
“It takes me ten times as long.”
Einar held up a finger. “You can read, though.”
“Thank you!” Lilja said. “And she doesn’t even have to work at working magic.”
A servant deposited plates before Lilja and Sif. “Sorry, one more,” Einar said.
“Not at all, sir.” The servant bowed and retreated.
“It isn’t like it comes naturally to me,” Sif said, defending herself. She looked over Lilja’s shoulder thoughtfully. “Working magic, maybe. Not working magic like we’re supposed to.” She put a little boom into her voice, mirroring Ansgar Leifsson. “‘Sif Hrothgarsdottir, are you trying to knock down our tower?'”
Lilja laughed. After a moment, Einar joined her.
“Lilja was telling me you think we might start on the poles soon,” Sif continued.
Einar nodded enthusiastically. “Soon,” he echoed. “Herre Leifsson loves to make things hard. He’ll have to teach you some of the gale forms first, though.”
“Not tonight, then,” Sif said, relieved.
Einar shook his head. “He usually waits until the weather’s worse anyway.”
“Worse?” Lilja said around a mouthful of bread, looking up at Einar suddenly.
“The harder the wind is blowing, the harder it is to make the jumps,” said Einar earnestly.