The nicest thing about graduation, Bea thinks, is that in the brief window after breakfast and before the flames burn through, most of the mals are migrating down to the graduation hall. So it's possible to let one's guard down slightly more than usual and not feel too bad about it. And if you go two to a room instead of separately to wait for the cleansing to finish... it's not like curfew's being enforced.
She's one of the best girls in the Scholomance.
Certainly in the top four.
Along with the rest of their alliance.
As is only right and proper.
Shall they make their way to Induction?
Time to go meet the new friends.
Luthien's good at helping flush mals from the cafeteria and freshman hallway ahead of the actual arrival of the new students - and she's inclined to, where most people will just join the cluster waiting for the new students to arrive with mail.
Shinta's even better at it - and her family doesn't exactly know to send her anything. She's taken to monitoring the halls instead; over the years she's caught a few mundane-born freshman - who usually die soon after Induction, often that same day - or kids who were unexpectedly hit hard or who were sick or injured, or who were at the far end of the halls and got ambushed before they could get their feet under them, and shepherded them to join the others in the cafeteria. This time she goes straight to the freshman halls, and rounds up her stragglers while everyone else is getting mail. She carries her guns with her.
Dani does usually get mail, and she's got responsibilities as a New York senior besides.
El can escort her to the cafeteria.
Seniors - especially a New York senior, accompanied by a senior famous for her involvement both in killing a mawmouth and in the mad gambit to fix the cleansing machinery - get pride of place closest to where the new freshmen are pulled together into their huddle. They're given drinks - water and hot cocoa - and a few bracing pats on the shoulder, and enclavers find each other -
And then those freshmen carrying mail for the older students start calling out names.
Dani usually gets at least a newsletter keeping her up to date with the gossip and such.
El's not expecting anything.
Daniella gets her expected message, from a scrawny stick of a freshman who's the daughter of one of New York's non-enclave workers.
And a reedy boy, voice unsure, calls out - "I have something for Tinuviel and Luthien Higgins?" His head is swinging around, scanning the crowd with bemusement. "Daughters of Gwen Higgins - ?"
...The crowd around El falls silent, and several people turn to stare at her.
Oh fuck. Sigh.
She raises her hand to beckon the boy over. "Over here, kid. And it's El."
He scurries over as the whispers start up and more people turn to stare! He hands El a tiny folded scrap of onionskin paper - it can't weigh even a gram, and it's folded so tightly it looks more like a hazelnut than paper. "I'm Aaron?" He sounds unsure somehow. "From Manchester."
"Nice to meet you, Aaron from Manchester. There's going to be a lot of fallout from this, so you might want to go find your friends now."
"Don't have any," he mumbles, shoulders creeping up near his ears. "'m indie."
Of course he is. Thanks mum, she always appreciates getting fed minions offered the chance to do a good turn.
"Then a word of advice? Take this chance to make some. You can sit at our table for dinner, that might give you enough shine that an enclave sends someone to feel you out. But you're not the only indie kid, and the others need a group too."
"...Alright..." he sounds unsure, still, but he's rescued by Daniella's freshman - who'd been hovering, getting increasingly uncomfortable with their group being stared at, and now grabs his hand like a lifeline.
"Let's go," she says, tugging him away from the spotlight.
Ah, the seeds of friendship.
"Gonna open that, then?"