Rael grinned and crooked a finger at Icks. “You liked the Paris house? You’ll just love this.”
She ignore a muttered, “Just when you think she’s gone normal . . .” from Itchy and watched her parents. Her dad walked in and out a couple of time, comparing the size of the office to the rather obvious lack of space in the house, then walking over to the windows to frown out at the horizon.
Her mother was looking at the rug in dismay, and when Exzy persuaded her to put him down, tried to snatch him away from the bear’s head.
“The eyes are glass but real teeth.” Xen translated.
Raod looked around the office, the antechamber, and walked back shaking her head. “Well, good tastes in décor. And the business suit is very nice. Who are you and where’s my little sister?”
Rael snickered. “Once I finish impressing the department, I’ll violate their unspoken dress code. And . . . well, I decided on the general frame, but the décor is all Xen’s fault. Including the rug.”
“I’ll bet it made the rest of the staff jealous. Has it engulfed the office they assigned you?”
Rael pointed. “Unfortunately they were looking smug when they showed me that . . . closet. So . . . we improved it. And added to it.”
Ick looked it over. “Bit small for the head of the magic section, isn’t it?”
“We thought so.”
Xen nodded. “And when various people came to see what I was doing, I put them to work on the floor, Jiol got snooty when she heard about the closet and told me to make it the antechamber and how to fix it . . . Ra’d donated artwork. I haven’t a clue how much any of it is worth. Nighthawk finished the bearskin and said it would be so impressive . . .”
“Is the rest of the house going to be like this?” Dad frowned around.
“A bit. But not as . . . unusual as the Paris house.” Rael grinned. “Oh, C’mon Dad, lighten up. I thought you’d given up on me being normal about forty years ago.”
Snort. “Not quite that long ago.”
Rael scooped up Exzy and led the way back to the house. Looked around the barely furnished living room. “I’ve got a department meeting at six. One knows how long it will drag on.” She opened the fridge to see if she could feed people . . . three platters of sandwiches, veggies and dip and sweet things.
Her father held up the refrigerator plug. “It’s not plugged in. Why is it cold?”
“Magic. And the power’s off until sometime next week. Grab the sandwich tray, won’t you?” she headed for the backroom. Before the first inspectors had shown up it had lost the wall between it and the kitchen, and now looked much more open and spacious. The small table and chairs would eventually migrate to an actual dining room, about the time the counters and counter tops got installed here.
Her old living room furniture was a bit cramped at the moment, but it gave people a place to sit . . .
“So, Sis,” She handed over the baby as Raod sat. “How do you like being hot stuff in Paris after a year?”
“Oh Dear One! How did the Paris art and charity societies survive with neither Orde nor Urfa married? Everyone wants one or the other, or better yet both of us, to be members and come to all the fundraisers. Xiat's runn off her feet.”
“Ah! For a minimum donation, people can come and smooze with such important and popular people! Worth the price of admission, just for the bragging rights with the lower circles of their ‘friends’ and neighbors.”
Raod glowered at her. “You’re much more famous than I’ll ever be.”
“We’ll see. Every once in a while, after Paer was an adult she’d get pulled into things, and rather a lot of people wanted pictures with me as well as her. She thought it was funny.” Rael glanced at her watch. “Well, I don’t want to be fashionably late to my first Department meeting . . . So turn Exzy over to Xen when the jetlag catches up to you—they need to start calling it Corridor lag—and I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
Hugs all around then she headed back to the office.
The Department of Social Sciences
Dr. Eshy had his stern Department Head face on, at the head of the table, to the left as she walked in.
Professor Lows was on Dr. Eshy’s left, with the history guy, Professor Ivy next to her.
Professor Aggy . . . Political science? Yeah, that’s it. . .was on Eshy’s right, turned to scowl at Lenny, who was trying to look casual as he leaned on the empty chair beside Aggy. Joke was down the table, looking worried. Roughly a dozen people she hadn’t met filled most of the chairs around the rather scruffy table.
A small side table, a woman hovering over a keyboard . . . they take notes instead of transcribing from a recording later?
One man was looming at Lenny, actual paper files in his arms, obviously wanting Lenny to get out of the way so he could take the chair. Ha! Lenny understands office politics. The new head of the Magic Section isn’t going to get sent down-table if he can help it.
Rael sauntered around them, flashed a smile at Dr. Eshy, as Lenny stepped back, and pulled out the chair for her. Bumping the scowler.
“Oh, sorry, White, didn’t see you there.” Lenny smiled and walked down to the furthest empty chair and sat.
Rael, ignored “White” and sat, facing half toward the head of the table. A bright smile. “Dr. Eshy.” And to her left, “Professor Aggy.” Ignored the irritated man still standing behind her.
Eshy cleared his throat, sounding a bit irritated. “Go sit down, Dr. Whte.” He glowed at Rael. “So, you’re into office politics?”
“Yes, rather like whoever left me off the memo list.” Rale grinned back. “Fun, isn’t it?”
“Not really.” He glanced down the table, then rapped his knuckles on the wood. “Right we’re all here. For the new head of the Magic Section, let me introduce all the staff.” A wave at the woman at the side table, “my secretary, Puwd. You know Lows and Ivy.”
Rael caught names and faces as he rounded the table. Five women, nine men, including Joke and Lenny.
Lenny got a glare. “Most of our Doctoral Candidates, even those teaching a class or two, don’t come to our meetings.”
I wouldn’t come if I had a choice, either!
Rael smiled. “A pleasure to be working with all of you.”
Dr. Shy scowled again. “And perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier that while you are the head of the Magic Section here, we cooperate closely with the School of Magic in teaching both basic and advanced magic. You need to fit in, and get along with the staff, there.”
“Yes. I’m afraid Professor Yppo’s sudden death left Professor Jues with an opportunity to, as you say, indulge in office politics and flunk every single Directorate Student taking Introduction to Magic last Fall, even going so far as to drop two students by three full points.” Rael shook her head sadly. “Violating their own by-laws. But, it’s all been corrected now.”
“I was obliquely referring to a magic duel on campus!”
“Yes . . . that was very odd. Several people are looking into those absurd old laws, ought to fix that problem quickly.” Rael kept a sunny smile on her face . . . and wondered how close Dr. Eshy’s relations were, to the School of Magic.
Good thing most magic squabbles are treated as minor infractions unless someone is seriously injured or killed, else every cat fight between Princesses and Wives would have to be treated as if it were a gunfight. But deliberate, potentially deadly formal duels? Nope. Needs to not happen.
Ivy leaned forward. “She flunked every Directorate Student? How the hell are we supposed to turn out trained Teamers without magic?”
Eshy shrugged. “So they’ll miss a semester, and start techniques next fall. Thank you, Dr. Rael, for dealing with this issue, without bothering to tell your Department Head about it.”
Rael blinked. “Dear me. I thought you’d have heard about an entire flunked class. But without Dr. Yppo . . . well. I certainly hope it won’t happen again.”
He glared. Cleared his throat, and rustled the papers in front of him. “Well, I believe I failed to bring the meeting to order. So . . .”
So all of that was off the record? Ooo! Going to have to up my game!
She pulled out her minicomp, since everyone there had papers, and pretended to be taking notes. “. . . and respecting security measures at the same time we present a respectable, dignified, honest, and moral presence to the students and the public.” Oh? Looking at me Eshy? Again? I suspect that you’re going to be in for a series of shocks this semester . . . or maybe I should try to spread them out a bit. No one here’s seen Exzy . . . but they all know I’ve got two kids . . . and surely they’ve recognized Ryol!
Then a lot of tedium “reminding everyone” of midterm and final report dates. Many rolled eyes and glances toward Rael.
Oh . . . didn’t I say something about a test in some class?
“Any other matters . . . Yes, Professor Rael?”
“Umm, do I have a budget for teaching assistants? I have two very large classes . . .”
“Yes, every section gets four teachers and two assistants. The younger lecturers frequently TA the senior professors’ classes. Come by my office Monday and I’ll have Puwd walk you through the process.” A frown down the table. “Hiring your assistants saves a lot of paperwork.”
“Sounds good . . . so I’m very short on staff. Right.” Rael sat back. Hire Lenny and Joke to TA . . . pity they aren’t magically stronger. I need someone to teach basic magic!