"Oh my god my life is over," Sofia moans, her face buried in her hands, "Just seal me back in the sarcophagus and dump it into the ocean, it would be kinder." Her wrap is a mess, and even the usually meticulously draped linens of her hair are dejectedly askew. Before today, Chris would have said that she had never seen Sofia Lamoureux look anything less than "lightly ruffled", and even that in an elegant and tasteful manner—as if the wind itself was under the impression that Sofia's presence turned the surrounding environment into an impromptu Vogue cover shoot.
Well. "Never", with one glaring exception.
In Chris' defense, college is all about making bad decisions. Trying pot for the first time, sneaking into lecture halls to use the projectors for midnight movie marathons, getting unwisely drunk at parties: it's part of the learning experience. As Chris likes to say in her rah-rah Tri Phi welcome speech, the important thing is to make those bad decisions in the company of people who are looking out for you.
This is to prevent scenarios where, you—a stupid freshman—might get unwisely drunk at a party, make out with a hot stranger, fuck said hot stranger in someone's empty bedroom, and sneak out at 5 AM to avoid an awkward confrontation the next morning. Chris has fluffy ears and a tail one night out of every thirty but she's a bitch 24/7 and she's found it's more efficient to be upfront about it. It's never bitten her back as hard as the moment she dragged her dying carcass to a fates-accursed 10 AM sorority pledge meeting only to make horrified eye contact with her even-hotter-by-daylight one night stand over the breakfast buffet.
But there's only so much chilly avoidance possible over two years in the same ten-bedroom sorority building, especially when Chris is now the head of recruitment and Sofia is in charge of external relations. Chris likes to think that their weekly exec board meetings and frantic budget-crisis all-nighters have added a fond edge to Sofia's invective.
Arguably, swooping over obnoxiously to smack a loud kiss into the air by Sofia's face and say "Looking good, S," when she saw Sofia hunched over a table in the house library might also have been a bad decision.
She'd expected a friendly-by-their-standards "Get lost" in response and was taken aback by the viciousness in Sofia's, "Fuck off, Chris."
"Hey, are you..." okay? Chris had started, before taking a closer look at the tornado of papers on the desk in front of Sofia. "Is that the Advanced Spellwork practical? It kicked my ass last spring but I remember some of it, I could, uh, take a look if..." she'd trailed off, expecting Sofia to cut in. Instead, they'd looked at each other in wary silence for a minute before Sofia kicked the chair next to her out enough for Chris to slide in.
Sometime in the subsequent four hours of squinting at runes and conjugations with Sofia, Chris thinks wow, she smells great, and then has to admit to herself that she's probably broken the bad decisions meter this evening.
Now, Sofia places the feather inside the ring of runes and begins the incantation again. A wisp of purple smoke rises from the feather, congealing into a sphere, which then begins to wobble itself into the shape of a crow before suddenly collapsing, splattering the table with purple droplets as it disintegrates.
Sofia drops her head onto the table. "I knew I should have started this last week," she sighs, "But Amie had that family emergency and there was all the planning for the Apple Bake—blood apples have maybe a two day shelf life so the whole thing is a logistical nightmare—I just completely let 40% of my grade slip my mind–"
"Whoa, hey," Chis says, cutting Sofia off as her voice begins to edge towards frantic, "Take a breath! This is the dream team, you and me? With your stunning good looks, and my brains—and stunning good looks–"
"Oh, shut up," Sofia says, but a smile is tugging at the corner of her mouth so Chris gives herself a mental pat on the back. Truth be told, Sofia is almost always the voice of reason—a mediating presence during officer meetings, a calming influence on panicked freshmen, and ruthless when calling Chris out on her bullshit. Chris isn't sure why her specific brand of bullshit is working in their favor now but she's not about to look a gift kelpie in the fangs.
"Okay," she says instead, pulling the page of runes closer, "I think the smoke is more magenta than a deep purple, and usually the red bleeding through means that your shape inference isn't terminating correctly. Can we check the runes on that middle loop again?"
"Oh!" Sofia says suddenly, tapping a sequence with her finger, "I think that string is reversed, let me–" she quickly erases the segment and re-pens the characters, then takes a deep breath.
"You know what they say, fifty-seventh time lucky!" Chris adds encouragingly, and receives a withering glare in response. "Fifty-eighth?" she amends, mock-musingly.
"You're a moron," Sofia rolls her eyes as she pulls out a new feather to start the incantation again. The smoke rises from the feather, and Chris isn't sure if it's her imagination but it looks less pink-tinged as it forms a sphere and begins to compress and stretch into corvid form. There's a long, fragile moment where the smoke holds the shape, then with a bright pop! an amethyst crow is sitting in the middle of the table.
"Morgan and Merlin," Sofia collapses back in her chair.
"Holy shit." Chris raises her arms in triumph, turning to catch Sofia's gaze before they both dissolve into relieved laughter. "Holy shit!" she says again, "I told you! Dream team!"
"Thank you, seriously," Sofia says.
"Well, if you really want to thank me, you know how..." Chris wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. She can't seem to stop grinning though, which probably undercuts the suave maneuver she's aiming for.
Sofia narrows her eyes, then says, "Okay. Yes."
"What?" Chris blinks.
"I said yes. You, me, dinner tomorrow?"
Sophia raises an eyebrow, her eyes flashing challengingly.
"I mean, yes. Yes? Yes!" Chris might be babbling. Sue her, it's three in the morning. She'll be coherent in... forty-eight hours, maybe.
"All right then," Sofia says, sweeping the papers into a binder and gingerly picking up the crow. It will be a pile of ashes by morning, ending its life the way of most undergraduate spellwork projects. Chris watches Sofia pack her bag and walk over to the library door where she pauses for a moment to look back at Chris with an unreadable expression on her face. "Tomorrow." She says firmly, then turns and leaves before Chris can reply.
"Tomorrow!" Chris says anyway, to the empty doorway. It will probably end in flames—this spellwork assignment has been the longest civil interaction she's had with Sofia all year. It's probably a terrible decision. What the hell, she thinks to herself, it's never stopped me before. She can't wait for tomorrow.