Here is a preview of a Patreon exclusive scene: Looking for her brother, Vivian joins Prince Darius for a tour of the Isle of Argos. Closer than ever to the sky, the two star-crossed lovers cannot control their feelings for one another.
Love and Starlight, Jasmine & Sophie
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Timeline: This chapter takes place just before chapter 15.
In Which Vivian Takes Control of Her Heart
Please be aware Wicked Academia is an adult novel and this scene is intended for audiences 18+.
Find Timothée. Well, that wasn’t anything new. Vivian and Marion had spent more than one night in Wolfhelm scouring the streets for their little brother, only to find him in the strangest places. They’d found him buried in books at the library, feeding a pack of stray racoons, and she didn’t even want to think about the time at the stables with the stableboy.
And now Timothée had got himself lost at the Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars. Typical. Hopefully, they’d find him smiling and laughing in a peculiar corner, mumbling: “Oh, I couldn’t sleep. Just wanted to explore a tad.”
The alternative was too terrible to imagine.
Her father’s warnings still raged in her mind.
The Celestial Academy is dangerous.
But it was so at odds from what she saw as she walked through the halls. White marble walls, fantastical paintings, the smell of fresh rain. The sun was rising, and pink light filtered through the glass windows and ceilings. The last few students drifted to their dorms. They looked so elegant in their uniforms, edges sparkling with silver thread, and arms full of books and parchment and vials of glowing liquid.
Vivian’s chest tightened. It was absurd. How could Archpriestess Kassandra and Loremaster Setviren believe she and her siblings could be like these students, these Starlings?
Marion could be, Timothée could be…
But she? A vampire?
Vivian tugged Darius’s cloak closer, shielding the plain white shift she wore. She must look so foolish walking these halls. She wanted to find Timothée and sprint back to the privacy of the medical ward.
A door opened, and Vivian startled to a stop. A young woman walked out, arms full of thick tomes. Vivian glanced behind the girl: towering shelves full of books. That must be the library.
“Hello?” The girl stopped in front of her. There was a falcon perched on her shoulder, the ends of its wings tipped with blue. “Are you lost? You look lost.”
She was lost. Soon, Marion would search for both her and Timothée. “I’m trying to find my brother. Is there a boy in there? Tall, freckles on his face, probably staring off into the sky?”
The girl scrunched up her nose. She was pretty, with dark black hair and brown skin. Her eyes widened. “You’re Vivian Greywick, the Lost Star Child. I was so mad I didn’t get to see you when your balloon landed! I was dealing with a huge headache in the Den. I’m the Evening Star house leader, by the way, which you might think is strange because I’m only a second year. But you can’t argue with the votes, can you? Oh, my name’s Tal.” She released her hand from the stack of books and held it out. “And this is Minerva.”
“Nice to meet to you both.” Vivian shook Tal’s hand, eyed the Falcon warily. “My brother?”
“Follow me.” Tal hiked up the books in her arms. “Just need to drop these off at the Den, then I’ll help you look for him.”
Panic flared in Vivian’s mind. “I don’t want to trouble you. I know it’s late—uh, I mean early, for Starlings.”
“Nonsense.” Tal let out a big breath, blowing hair out of her eyes. She wore a long blue tunic, the edges trimmed with silver constellations, thick navy leggings, and tall black boots.
She must be an Evening Star, Vivian thought, like Darius.
Vivian trailed after Tal through the hall. They headed up a wide marble staircase, and when Vivian peaked out the window there was nothing but clouds below. “What’s the Den?”
“It’s the Evening Star common room. Each house has an area near our dorms where we can relax and study. The Morning Star common room is the Nest, and the Dark Stars…” Tal stopped on the stair landing next to the tall window and pointed outside to a dark tower. That part of the castle didn’t have any of the glass windows Vivian was used to seeing. “That’s the Cauldron, where the Dark Stars live.”
Vivian felt a cold shiver as she stared at the tower, remembering how the Dark Prophet’s magic had bound her. Did all of his followers wield that Dark Star shadowcraft or could they have any type of magic?
She didn’t know what would be worse come the nightfall: no star coming to her, or a dark one.
“Don’t be frightened,” Tal said, continuing up the stairs. “The Dark Stars can’t use their magic; they just practice their weird potions.”
Vivian took one last lingering glance at the tower then followed Tal. Eventually, the Evening Star stopped in front of a set of grand double doors. They were a brilliant blue, with silver embossed designs of stars and constellations. The door handles were brilliant white wings. Arched over the top of the doors were the words: “On the Wings of Starlight.”
“Wait here.” Tal threw them open.
Vivian caught a glimpse of blue hanging lights shaped like geometrics stars, a low couch, the smell of fresh pine and—the door shut.
She stepped back, gathered her hair over her shoulder. Students actually lived here, where the walls weren’t soggy with rot, where there were endless books to read, where the ceiling didn’t leak, and windows didn’t frost.
She hadn’t thought about how wonderful their home had been in Seagrass, with the crackling fire, and Father’s warm turnip stew, and the pile of quilts. They’d only lived in Wolfhelm for three years, but she didn’t think she would ever take a dry home for granted again.
The door to the Den swooped open. “Vivian.”
Prince Darius Störmberg stood before her. His hair was mussed, and he wore only a simple white shirt and loose trousers that were hastily tucked into shiny black boots.
Keep your distance from the Prince, Marion had told her. Everything is already complicated. Don’t tempt fate, Vivian.
But it felt like fate was always putting him in front of her. They were tied together, if by nothing but a blue ribbon.
A blue ribbon that was still tied around his wrist.
“Tal told me Timothée was missing.”
Tal popped out behind him. “Guess who jumped up from lounging on the sofa the moment he heard who I’d met in the hall?”
Darius ran a hand through his hair, smoothing it down. “I—uh…”
“And if you’re wondering how I knew exactly who you were,” Tal looked Vivian up and down, “it’s because our resident royal didn’t shut up about you all night.”
Darius flushed. “I was merely explaining the events of Wolfhelm in detail to my friends.”
“If you mean describing the starlight colour of her eyes, then yes, you did a fantastic job, Your Highness.” Tal rolled her eyes and punched him in the arm. “Anyways, there a crisis because Lando has accused Olivier of spilling paint over his essays, so I’ll join your hunt for the missing Greywick as soon as I settle it.”
“Oh.” Vivian said. “Well, it’s okay. Maybe Marion has already found him.”
“I’ll help you look.” Darius stepped forward, holding out his arm.
Vivian nodded and walked in front of him. As hard as it was, Marion was right. It was best for everyone if she kept her distance from Darius. He’d help her find Timothée, then she’d have to stay away.
END OF PREVIEW
Thanks to one of our amazing Discord mods for coming up with the name of Tal's falcon!
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