This post is dedicated to Sunni and Hat, for their wonderful University defaults!
“Psst! Psst, Garnet!”
Garnet turned around to see Kiena gesturing to her.
“Do you have any idea what he’s talking about?”
Garnet turned back to the professor, who was now lecturing on the fallacy of the undistributed middle. The only thing Garnet could connect that term to would be the dangers of not wearing a properly supportive undergarment to one’s dress.
So Garnet glanced again at Kiena and whispered over her shoulder, “I have no idea.”
“If you would just pay attention,” came a whispered hiss from Garnet’s right, “you would understand. It’s not that hard. Basic deductive reasoning.”
“Basic?” Garnet whispered. “In what universe is this basic?”
The other young woman glanced sidelong from her furious note-taking. “In the universe that has a Camford with an entrance exam, which you must have passed — somehow — in order to get in here. Or did you take the women’s exam?”
Garnet glared at Heloise and bit the inside of her cheek. She hadn’t even taken the women’s exam; she’d taken the men’s exam like all the other young women of Albion, and she still felt insulted!
Hell, she’d taken it two years earlier than Heloise — comparatively speaking, in terms of their ages — and yet this common chit still had the gall to act as if she were so much smarter than Garnet! Why, she wore her underwear as outerwear — who was she to be calling anyone stupid, least of all Garnet?
She tossed her hair over her shoulder and snorted, forcing herself to stare up at the professor. There was no use getting into it with Heloise, least of all in class. In class, Heloise’s claws were blunted, for she actually wanted to listen to the old codger blather on and on about his fallacies and his syllogisms and his categories and his valids and invalids, the latter of which were supposedly different from the state to which her father was now reduced to.
Her father … she wouldn’t think about her father. Not in class. Not in this class. If she thought about her father, she would only get upset, and getting upset would only cause Professor Baxter to go off on a tirade about “over-emotional females” and their unfitness for the holy pursuit of Logic.
And to think, when she’s signed up for this class, she had been assured that it was one of the easier ones!
“Oh, don’t worry for a minute about taking Logic 101,” everyone had told her. “You’re a girl, all you have to do is show up, don’t fall asleep where the professor can see you, and pretend to be making an effort! The university knows that most girls can’t handle this, so they make Logic 101 easy for that reason.”
Apparently Professor Henry Baxter was making it his personal mission to prove popular rumor wrong.
“As I was saying …” His voice boomed into the lecture hall, bouncing from floor to harsh wooden chair (constructed to prevent sleep, or so Garnet fervently believed) to ceiling to table to wall before reaching the students’ ears in a sort of ringing cacophony. “To fail to properly distribute the middle term is ill reasoning. So ill, I would expect even you children to be beyond such errors — but every year I make that assumption, I am proven wrong in multiple cases, so I have decided to refrain from making that assumption. Can anyone explain why the undistributed middle is such a glaring error — ah, yes, Miss Wesleyan?”
Show off, Garnet thought as the professor gestured to Heloise.
“To fail to distrute the middle means that not all individual members that make up the middle term are safely accounted for.”
Huh? Does she mean all the letters in the word?
“To illustrate with an example,” Heloise continued, “I could but forth ‘All benches are chairs’ as my major premise. Then I could put forth, ‘A throne is a chair’ as my minor premise. However, to say ‘All thrones are benches’ does not follow, for nowhere did I say that all chairs are benches. All benches may be chairs, yes, but the category of ‘chair’ is larger than the category of ‘bench’ — as seen by the inclusion of ‘throne’ into the former category.”
“And just for the sake of argument, Mistress Wesleyan, what if your major premise had been, ‘All chairs are benches’?”
“Then the conclusion — assuming the same minor premise and conclusion, of course — would be valid, but not sound.”
“You had better explain that distinction for the sake of your slower classmates.”
Slower? Slower? Why are we called slow when you obviously can’t teach worth a damn?
“Certainly, Professor,” Heloise answered, practically purring at the opportunity to show off. Teacher’s pet. “A valid syllogism is one that follows logically — that is, it is a syllogism that, so long as the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. A sound syllogism is one that is not only valid, but true — that is, all of the premises contained within it are true, ergo, so is the conclusion.”
Oh, Heloise just loved to show off her vocabulary in the ancient language. It made Garnet want to spit whenever she did that.
“Very good, Mistress Wesleyan. Now, in case any of you blockheads didn’t –”
The bells to announce the change of classes rung out, and Garnet shoved her books into her bag rather than wait to hear Professor Baxter’s parting insults.
She had no sooner stood and adjusted the line of her dress when she saw a surprise waiting for her at the door to the lecture hall.
She loved his gravelly chuckle when she ran up to him and held him. She loved the way he tipped backwards with the force of her collision, the way he laughed into her hair. She loved his lips as they grazed across her cheek. Most of all, she loved the sheltered, protected, loved feeling she got whenever she was in his arms. The only thing she didn’t love was the cold scratching of his chain mail against her unprotected arms and shoulders — but one made sacrifices for the greater good; this she knew.
If only Lamorak would let her make those sacrifices …
But she wouldn’t think about her abortive attempt at making love to him, not right now. Thoughts of that night led to thoughts of her father, and thinking of her father made the tears stand at the corners of her eyes, stinging her and threatening to run down her cheek. He still hadn’t improved, or if he had, nobody — not even Dindrane — had seen fit to tell her.
More than that, though, thoughts of that night were acutely embarrassing, and troubling. Embarrassing because she had, of course, laid it all on the line and been refused. Maybe Lamorak was just being a gentleman, but —
What if he wasn’t?
As always, when that thought rung through Garnet’s head, it was followed by her mother’s voice:
“Your young Lamorak has not only had the pleasure of bedding an experienced woman, he’s had the pleasure of bedding a near-perfect speciman of womanhood. I’ve been making grown men weep with pleasure since before he was born. You, on the other hand, will not only – seven years from now — come to his bed as a frightened virgin, you will soon enough prove to him just what you really are — a defective copy of a superb original. How long do you think it will be before he is turning back to me, in his fantasies if nothing else?”
That thought alone was enough to make Garnet moan and bury her head onto Lamorak’s shoulder, chain mail and all.
“Hey — hey, sweetheart, what’s that all about?” he asked, turning her chin up. “Was Back-stabber that bad today?”
Back-stab … oh, the professor! “You could say that.”
“Your friend seems to like him.”
“My friend –” Garnet turned to look, and saw — as she should have guessed — Heloise standing near the professor, the two of them laughing over some joke whose terms would have gone clear over the heads of three-quarters of the class.
“Oh, that’s not my friend. That’s just Heloise.”
“Rob’s little sister?”
Never having met Rob, Garnet could only shrug.
“I’ll bet she is. She looks a lot like him — and she’s supposed to be some sort of genius anyway. Rob’s been known to call her almost as smart as he is,” Lamorak chuckled.
“Oh?” Garnet desperately tried to sound interested.
“Isn’t it great?” Lamorak chattered. “I only passed logic because of Rob, and you get to pass logic because of his sister! Neat symmetry, huh?”
“I doubt I’ll be passing logic at all,” Garnet moaned.
Lamorak took one look at her face, then grabbed her hand and led her from the room. Garnet’s heart surged — he would take her someplace private, someplace where they could be alone, and if not make love, then surely complete the preliminaries —
Her disappointment when Lamorak turned into the small, if deserted, library with her was understandably acute.
“Look,” Lamorak said, leaning forward with a whisper. “I wouldn’t worry about passing logic. Baxter is a hardass and likes to make everyone’s lives miserable –”
“He hates all the girls in the class.”
“Nah, that’s not true, he hates all the over-emotional, brain-dead women who can’t hold more in their heads than thoughts of their betrothed and of the latest embroidery pattern — and you’re not that type of girl, Garnet.”
Garnet was forced to giggle. “Well, Lamorak, you do take a lot of room in my head.”
“But you have a very spacious head,” Lamorak replied. “And it seems to have only grown since you got here.”
“That’s just because I stopped using that horrible potion Mother made me put in my hair!”
Was she a bad person if Lamorak’s slight shudder at th mention of her mother made her want to sigh in relief? “It’s not — it’s not your hair,” Lamorak replied. “It’s your head. Your brain. It’s expanding, I can see it.”
“Will you still love me, if it gets much bigger?”
“Sure I could. There’s just that much more of you to love.” He kissed her forehead, his nose brushing against her ruby-crowned circlet. “Besides, one of us ought to have a functioning mind, and Wright knows it won’t be me.” He dragged a finger deliciously down her arm, smiling at her.
“Not it!” Garnet giggled.
“Nonsense, you’ll have to be. I scraped through logic by the skin of my teeth, while you’re going to pass with flying colors.”
“How sure are you about that?”
“Other than when you went home to — to — when you went home, how many classes have you missed?”
“How many times have you fallen asleep in class?”
“Do you at least try to take notes?”
“Raise your hand from time to time?”
“Only when Heloise has shot hers up in the air with that ‘Me! Me! Me!’ look on her face.”
“And you plan to show up for and study for the exam?”
“Then you’ll pass,” Lamorak replied.
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re a girl of noble blood — no, seriously, listen to me. Even though Back-stabber is a hardass and I’d never take a class that he just taught, he’s actually useful for some things. The exam you have to take, everybody who takes Logic 101 takes that same exam. And all the professors have to grade it according to the same scale — from the fluff professors who are just trying to get their students in and out the door to the hardasses like Baxter. And let me tell you, the fluff-graders have a lot bigger voice when it comes to making that scale than the hardasses.”
“You mean –” Garnet’s voice began to glow. “You mean I should pass?”
“Should pass? Garnet, Baxter should have just put you down for a pass when he saw your name in his gradebook. They don’t let well-born girls fail Logic 101 unless they don’t even try.”
“Oh, that’s such a relief!”
“Silly Garnet –”
“Oh, I know it’s silly,” Garnet interrupted, trying not to blush. “I mean, all things considered, I just have to graduate on time, so we can get married. It’s not like anything’s riding on my education.”
Why did Lamorak suddenly look so uncomfortable? It wasn’t at the thought of getting married, was it? He wasn’t having second thoughts, was he? He didn’t want her mother, did he?
“Garnet …” Lamorak sighed. “Speaking of …”
Garnet held her breath.
“… graduation –”
” — if I plan on actually graduating with my class, I have to run — I can’t miss this next class. And my father would probably kill me if I fu–if I screwed this all up at the last minute.” He tickled her under the chin. “Unlike you, I actually have to do something with my degree.”
“Aye, aye. So — see you later?”
“If you like.”
“Very well.” He stroked her cheek. “I’ll stop by your dorm after class — maybe we can get something to eat.”
“I’d like that!”
“Good, good. Oh, and one more thing …”
He reached forward, grabbed her around the waist, and pressed his lips against hers.
When they parted for air, Lamorak whispered, “If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ll have to support you someday … you couldn’t get me into that class and away from you at swordpoint.”