Home > Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)(8)

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)(8)
Author: Richelle Mead

I turned to Lissa. "You okay?" She nodded. "Any idea who I just threatened to beat up?"

"Not a clue." I started to lead her toward the lunch line, but she shook her head at me. "Gotta go see the feeders."

A funny feeling settled over me. I'd gotten so used to being her primary blood source that the thought of returning to the Moroi's normal routine seemed strange. In fact, it almost bothered me. It shouldn't have. Daily feedings were part of a Moroi's life, something I hadn't been able to offer her while living on our own. It had been an inconvenient situation, one that left me weak on feeding days and her weak on the days in between. I should have been happy she would get some normality.

I forced a smile. "Sure."

We walked into the feeding room, which sat adjacent to the cafeteria. It was set up with small cubicles, dividing the room's space in an effort to offer privacy. A dark-haired Moroi woman greeted us at the entrance and glanced down at her clipboard, flipping through the pages. Finding what she needed, she made a few notes and then gestured for Lissa to follow. Me she gave a puzzled look, but she didn't stop me from entering.

She led us to one of the cubicles where a plump, middle-aged woman sat leafing through a magazine. She looked up at our approach and smiled. In her eyes, I could see the dreamy, glazed-over look most feeders had. She'd probably neared her quota for the day, judging from how high she appeared to be.

Recognizing Lissa, her smile grew. "Welcome back, Princess."

The greeter left us, and Lissa sat down in the chair beside the woman. I sensed a feeling of discomfort in her, a little different from my own. This was weird for her too; it had been a long time. The feeder, however, had no such reservations. An eager look crossed her face - the look of a junkie about to get her next fix.

Disgust poured into me. It was an old instinct, one that had been drilled in over the years. Feeders were essential to Moroi life. They were humans who willingly volunteered to be a regular blood source, humans from the fringes of society who gave their lives over to the secret world of the Moroi. They were well cared for and given all the comforts they could need. But at the heart of it, they were drug users, addicts to Moroi saliva and the rush it offered with each bite. The Moroi - and guardians - looked down on this dependency, even though the Moroi couldn't have survived otherwise unless they took victims by force. Hypocrisy at its finest.

The feeder tilted her head, giving Lissa full access to her neck. Her skin there was marked with scars from years of daily bites. The infrequent feedings Lissa and I had done had kept my neck clear; my bite marks never lasted more than a day or so.

Lissa leaned forward, fangs biting into the feeder's yielding flesh. The woman closed her eyes, making a soft sound of pleasure. I swallowed, watching Lissa drink. I couldn't see any blood, but I could imagine it. A surge of emotion grew in my chest: longing. Jealousy. I averted my eyes, staring at the floor. Mentally, I scolded myself.

What's wrong with you? Why should you miss it? You only did it once every day. You aren't addicted, not like this. And you don't want to be.

But I couldn't help myself, couldn't help the way I felt as I recalled the bliss and rush of a vampire's bite.

Lissa finished and we returned to the commons, moving toward the lunch line. It was short, since we only had fifteen minutes left, and I strolled up and began to load my plate with french fries and some rounded, bite-size objects that looked vaguely like chicken nuggets. Lissa only grabbed a yogurt. Moroi needed food, as dhampirs and humans did, but rarely had an appetite after drinking blood.

"So how'd classes go?" I asked.

She shrugged. Her face was bright with color and life now. "Okay. Lots of stares. A lot of stares. Lots of questions about where we were. Whispering."

"Same here," I said. The attendant checked us out, and we walked toward the tables. I gave Lissa a sidelong glance. "You okay with that? They aren't bothering you, are they?"

"No - it's fine." The emotions coming through the bond contradicted her words. Knowing I could feel that, she tried to change the subject by handing me her class schedule. I looked it over.

1st Period Russian 2

2nd Period American Colonial Literature

3rd Period Basics of Elemental Control

4th Period Ancient Poetry

-Lunch -

5th Period Animal Behavior and Physiology

6th Period Advanced Calculus

7th Period Moroi Culture 4

8th Period Slavic Art

"Nerd," I said. "If you were in Stupid Math like me, we'd have the same afternoon schedule." I stopped walking. "Why are you in elemental basics? That's a sophomore class."

She eyed me. "Because seniors take specialized classes."

We fell silent at that. All Moroi wielded elemental magic. It was one of the things that differentiated living vampires from Strigoi, the dead vampires. Moroi viewed magic as a gift. It was part of their souls and connected them to the world.

A long time ago, they had used their magic openly - averting natural disasters and helping with things like food and water production. They didn't need to do that as much anymore, but the magic was still in their blood. It burned in them and made them want to reach out to the earth and wield their power. Academies like this existed to help Moroi control the magic and learn how to do increasingly complex things with it. Students also had to learn the rules that surrounded magic, rules that had been in place for centuries and were strictly enforced.

All Moroi had a small ability in each element. When they got to be around our age, students "specialized" when one element grew stronger than the others: earth, water, fire, or air. Not specializing was like not going through puberty.

And Lissa...well, Lissa hadn't specialized yet.

"Is Ms. Carmack still teaching that? What she'd say?"

"She says she's not worried. She thinks it'll come."

"Did you - did you tell her about - "

Lissa shook her head. "No. Of course not."

We let the subject drop. It was one we thought about a lot but rarely spoke of.

We started moving again, scanning the tables as we decided where to sit. A few pairs of eyes looked up at us with blatant curiosity.

"Lissa!" came a nearby voice. Glancing over, we saw Natalie waving at us. Lissa and I exchanged looks. Natalie was sort of Lissa's cousin in the way Victor was sort of her uncle, but we'd never hung out with her all that much.

Lissa shrugged and headed in that direction. "Why not?"

I followed reluctantly. Natalie was nice but also one of the most uninteresting people I knew. Most royals at the school enjoyed a kind of celebrity status, but Natalie had never fit in with that crowd. She was too plain, too uninterested in the politics of the Academy, and too clueless to really navigate them anyway.

Natalie's friends eyed us with a quiet curiosity, but she didn't hold back. She threw her arms around us. Like Lissa, she had jade-green eyes, but her hair was jet black, like Victor's had been before his disease grayed it.

"You're back! I knew you would be! Everyone said you were gone forever, but I never believed that. I knew you couldn't stay away. Why'd you go? There are so many stories about why you left!" Lissa and I exchanged glances as Natalie prattled on. "Camille said one of you got pregnant and went off to have an abortion, but I knew that couldn't be true. Someone else said you went off to hang out with Rose's mom, but I figured Ms. Kirova and Daddy wouldn't have been so upset if you'd turned up there. Did you know we might get to be roommates? I was talking to..."

On and on she chatted, flashing her fangs as she spoke. I smiled politely, letting Lissa deal with the onslaught until Natalie asked a dangerous question.

"What'd you do for blood, Lissa?"

The table regarded us questioningly. Lissa froze, but I immediately jumped in, the lie coming effortlessly to my lips.

"Oh, it's easy. There are a lot of humans who want to do it."

"Really?" asked one of Natalie's friends, wide-eyed.

"Yup. You find 'em at parties and stuff. They're all looking for a fix from something, and they don't really get that a vampire's doing it: most are already so wasted they don't remember anyway." My already vague details dried up, so I simply shrugged in as cool and confident a way as I could manage. It wasn't like any of them knew any better. "Like I said, it's easy. Almost easier than with our own feeders."

     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)