Home > Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)(6)

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)(6)
Author: Richelle Mead

I felt my cheeks burning, but in a great show of self-control, I stopped myself from telling him to f**k off. I'm pretty sure my face must have delivered that message, however, because his sneer increased. He gestured for me to stand up.

"Well, come on, come on. Don't sit there! Come up to the front so you can help me lecture the class."

I sank into my seat. "You don't really mean - "

The taunting smile dried up. "I mean exactly what I say, Hathaway. Go to the front of the class."

A thick silence enveloped the room. Stan was a scary instructor, and most of the class was too awed to laugh at my disgrace quite yet. Refusing to crack, I strode up to the front of the room and turned to face the class. I gave them a bold look and tossed my hair over my shoulders, earning a few sympathetic smiles from my friends. I then noticed I had a larger audience than expected. A few guardians - including Dimitri - lingered in the back of the room. Outside the Academy, guardians focused on one-on-one protection. Here, guardians had a lot more people to protect and they had to train the novices. So rather than follow any one person around, they worked shifts guarding the school as a whole and monitoring classes.

"So, Hathaway," said Stan cheerfully, strolling back up to the front with me. "Enlighten us about your protective techniques."

"My...techniques?"

"Of course. Because presumably you must have had some sort of plan the rest of us couldn't understand when you took an underage Moroi royal out of the Academy and exposed her to constant Strigoi threats."

It was the Kirova lecture all over again, except with more witnesses.

"We never ran into any Strigoi," I replied stiffly.

"Obviously," he said with a snicker. "I already figured that out, seeing as how you're still alive."

I wanted to shout that maybe I could have defeated a Strigoi, but after getting beat up in the last class, I now suspected I couldn't have survived an attack by Mason, let alone an actual Strigoi.

When I didn't say anything, Stan started pacing in front of the class.

"So what'd you do? How'd you make sure she stayed safe? Did you avoid going out at night?"

"Sometimes." That was true - especially when we'd first run away. We'd relaxed a little after months went by with no attacks.

"Sometimes," he repeated in a high-pitched voice, making my answer sound incredibly stupid. "Well then, I suppose you slept during the day and stayed on guard at night."

"Er...no."

"No? But that's one of the first things mentioned in the chapter on solo guarding. Oh wait, you wouldn't know that because you weren't here."

I swallowed back more swear words. "I watched the area whenever we went out," I said, needing to defend myself.

"Oh? Well that's something. Did you use Carnegie's Quadrant Surveillance Method or the Rotational Survey?"

I didn't say anything.

"Ah. I'm guessing you used the Hathaway Glance-Around-When-You-Remember-To Method."

"No!" I exclaimed angrily. "That's not true. I watched her. She's still alive, isn't she?"

He walked back up to me and leaned toward my face. "Because you got lucky."

"Strigoi aren't lurking around every corner out there," I shot back. "It's not like what we've been taught. It's safer than you guys make it sound."

"Safer? Safer? We are at war with the Strigoi!" he yelled. I could smell coffee on his breath, he was so close. "One of them could walk right up to you and snap your pretty little neck before you even noticed him - and he'd barely break a sweat doing it. You might have more speed and strength than a Moroi or a human, but you are nothing, nothing, compared to a Strigoi. They are deadly, and they are powerful. And do you know what makes them more powerful?"

No way was I going to let this jerk make me cry. Looking away from him, I tried to focus on something else. My eyes rested on Dimitri and the other guardians. They were watching my humiliation, stone-faced.

"Moroi blood," I whispered.

"What was that?" asked Stan loudly. "I didn't catch it."

I spun back around to face him. "Moroi blood! Moroi blood makes them stronger."

He nodded in satisfaction and took a few steps back. "Yes. It does. It makes them stronger and harder to destroy. They'll kill and drink from a human or dhampir, but they want Moroi blood more than anything else. They seek it. They've turned to the dark side to gain immortality, and they want to do whatever they can to keep that immortality. Desperate Strigoi have attacked Moroi in public. Groups of Strigoi have raided academies exactly like this one. There are Strigoi who have lived for thousands of years and fed off generations of Moroi. They're almost impossible to kill. And that is why Moroi numbers are dropping. They aren't strong enough - even with guardians - to protect themselves. Some Moroi don't even see the point of running anymore and are simply turning Strigoi by choice. And as the Moroi disappear..."

"...so do the dhampirs," I finished.

"Well," he said, licking sprayed spit off his lips. "It looks like you learned something after all. Now we'll have to see if you can learn enough to pass this class and qualify for your field experience next semester."

Ouch. I spent the rest of that horrible class - in my seat, thankfully - replaying those last words in my mind. The senior-year field experience was the best part of a novice's education. We'd have no classes for half a semester. Instead, we'd each be assigned a Moroi student to guard and follow around. The adult guardians would monitor us and test us with staged attacks and other threats. How a novice passed that field experience was almost as important as all the rest of her grades combined. It could influence which Moroi she got assigned to after graduation.

And me? There was only one Moroi I wanted.

Two classes later, I finally earned my lunch escape. As I stumbled across campus toward the commons, Dimitri fell into step beside me, not looking particularly godlike - unless you counted his godly good looks.

"I suppose you saw what happened in Stan's class?" I asked, not bothering with titles.

"Yes."

"And you don't think that was unfair?"

"Was he right? Do you think you were fully prepared to protect Vasilisa?"

I looked down at the ground. "I kept her alive," I mumbled.

"How did you do fighting against your classmates today?"

The question was mean. I didn't answer and knew I didn't need to. I'd had another training class after Stan's, and no doubt Dimitri had watched me get beat up there too.

"If you can't fight them - "

"Yeah, yeah, I know," I snapped.

He slowed his long stride to match my pain-filled one. "You're strong and fast by nature. You just need to keep yourself trained. Didn't you play any sports while you were gone?"

"Sure," I shrugged. "Now and then."

"You didn't join any teams?"

"Too much work. If I'd wanted to practice that much, I'd have stayed here."

He gave me an exasperated look. "You'll never be able to really protect the princess if you don't hone your skills. You'll always be lacking."

"I'll be able to protect her," I said fiercely.

"You have no guarantees of being assigned to her, you know - for your field experience or after you graduate." Dimitri's voice was low and unapologetic. They hadn't given me a warm and fuzzy mentor. "No one wants to waste the bond - but no one's going to give her an inadequate guardian either. If you want to be with her, then you need to work for it. You have your lessons. You have me. Use us or don't. You're an ideal choice to guard Vasilisa when you both graduate - if you can prove you're worthy. I hope you will."

"Lissa, call her Lissa," I corrected. She hated her full name, much preferring the Americanized nickname.

He walked away, and suddenly, I didn't feel like such a badass anymore.

By now, I'd burned up a lot of time leaving class. Most everyone else had long since sprinted inside the commons for lunch, eager to maximize their social time. I'd almost made it back there myself when a voice under the door's overhang called to me.

Books
     Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
     Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
     Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
     Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
     Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
     Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
     The Meeting (Vampire Academy 0.9)      Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)