Exactly why Eric was taking so many classes at the University, Lloyd could never figure out. He pondered it as he caught the train home that evening: Eric was doing Potions, Fighting, Magic, Language and Astrology. Eric was terrible at Potions, had only basic Magical ability, couldn't pronounce most of the words in his native language and...well, Lloyd had no idea how good Eric was at Astrology. The stars were a mystery to Lloyd. He'd done a term of Astrology in high school, and that was enough for him.
Lloyd himself was only doing Potions, Language and Business. His dream was to open a Potion shop one day, and being fluent in the main language of each race would definitely help with that.
He sighed inwardly, thinking of how he'd caved in to Eric. Eric would be able to find a fourth room-mate easily, so Lloyd's tea-drinking mornings were coming to a close.
Lloyd transferred trains when he reached London, deciding to go visit his parents and let them know what was happening. He got off at King's Cross, which was packed, as always, and began the short walk to his parents town house.
“Lloyd!” squealed his mother, when she opened the door. She flung her tiny arms around his midriff. “So good to see you!”
“Hi mum,” Lloyd replied, bending down to give his pixie-mother a hug. “Is dad home?”
“I am at that, son,” Lloyd’s human father replied, stepping out of the living room. “Welcome home.”
“Thanks dad. Mind if I stay for dinner, mum?”
Lloyd's mother frowned at him. “You should never ask me that, young man. You are always welcome for dinner. Goodness, you make it sound like I say no half the time,” she huffed, hurrying off to the kitchen. Lloyd's father smiled, rolling his eyes and clapping his son on the shoulder.
The house was large and well-appointed, without being over-the-top. Lloyd and his father entered the living room, sitting in two of the comfy armchairs by the television.
“What brings you out here, son?” asked Lloyd's father.
“I'm thinking of moving on-campus, dad.”
Lloyd's father, who himself had graduated from the Parisian University, nodded. “Smart move. So you were coming to tell us? Or advice?”
“It's only a move to the campus. I just came to tell you.”
“That's my boy. Keep it in perspective.”
The sounds of cooking came from the kitchen, and Lloyd and his father lapsed into comfortable silence. Three and a half Dwarves was on, Lloyd's favourite, and the comfortable silence was soon broken by chuckles.
Lloyd told his mother about his plans over dinner. With the typical motherly-interest, she demanded he come for dinner at least once a month, not trusting French cooking, and asked if there was a lady involved. Lloyd's father just rolled his eyes, bemused.
“Yes, mum, I'll come and visit for dinner still and no, there is no lady involved,” Lloyd explained patiently. “It's cheaper and will save me time. That's all.”
“Good,” she squeaked. “I don't want my son's heart getting broken by some Paris harlot!”
“Miranda!” gasped Lloyd's father, amused. “I've never heard you say that word before in my life,” he chuckled. “Don't get involved with a Parisian, son,” he added, winking at Lloyd. “I think your mother would have a heart-attack by the sound of it.”
Lloyd chuckled as well. “There is nothing wrong with elves, mum,” he said. “You always said it'd have to be a pixie or an elf, because dwarf women are too meaty and human women 'just aren't good enough'.”
“That's quite right,” Lloyd's mother sniffed. But a twinkle in her eye betrayed her amusement.
“Well, since almost all French are elves, my hands are tied.”
“No they're not. Why not a nice Dutch elf?”
Lloyd just rolled his eyes.
After dinner, Lloyd's father summoned two crystal glasses and poured himself and Lloyd a measure of port.
“To Paris,” Lloyd's father toasted. Lloyd raised his own glass as well and echoed the toast.
“So how is school going?” Lloyd's mother asked as she entered the living room.
“Well enough, mum. Potions is still too easy for me.”
“That's my boy,” Lloyd's father said proudly. “Potion-master since the age of four.”
“Five, dad,” Lloyd corrected with a smile. “I was five when I made my first potion.”
“Yes, but you were four when you made your first tea,” Lloyd's father countered. “And that's close enough for me.”
“Of course it is,” Lloyd's mother squeaked. “You can't tell the difference between tea and coffee.”
Lloyd's father laughed. “True enough, Miranda. We all have our skills.”
“Too true,” agreed Lloyd, thinking of Eric.
Lloyd left soon after, heading home before it got too late. His mother insisted on sending him home with a box of treacle tarts, to his fathers amusement, and so Lloyd snacked on one as he walked down his street.
The street was quiet and dark, as always, but Lloyd still had the strangest feeling that he was being watched...
Lloyd paused, the hairs rising on the back of his neck. His pointed ears, legacy of his mother, tingled, a pixie sign of trouble. Lloyd casually dropped a hand in his pocket, fingering the vial of Flame-sick he'd made. It was the only weapon he had.
A shuffle sounded behind him and Lloyd spun around, spotting a dirty, ragged thief charging at him with a knife.
The pixie blood kicked in, firing up Lloyd's reflexes, and in one smooth motion he'd thrown the Flame-sick at his assailant. The vial shattered and splashed the liquid all over the thief, who grimaced but kept coming. Lloyd snapped out a short verse and a spark of light flew from his fingertip and into the Flame-sick, igniting it.
The assailant was blasted backwards a full thirty feet, slamming into the ground. He groaned, but managed to get up and hobble around the corner and out of sight.
Lloyd's heart slowed down, his pixie blood calming. He fumbled with the lock and hurried inside, fearing a second attack. He calmed down in his room, leaning against the door.
Maybe Paris wasn't as bad an idea as he thought.