“Natty, wake up! Natty? NATTY!”
A fair hand blindly began searching outside of the blanket. It felt around before the fingers touched cold metal. They carefully followed the length of the knife until they found the handle. Encircling the handle, the knife was blindly thrown in the direction of the voice. The knife vibrated slightly as it embedded in the closed wooden door.
“Natty, I’m going to keep calling you Natty until you wake up.”
“Go away, Alfred.”
“I could start singing? Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. Up above the-“
The door was forced open, Natalia in her nightgown was illuminated by the gaslamps of the hallway.
“I am tired. Go away.”
“We have the alchemy assignment to do.”
Natalia stared at the bespectacled teen dumbly for a moment. Both of them were students at Terre Academy. He was her lab partner in alchemy. She had forgotten about the stupid assignment.
“I will meet you in the lab.” She slammed the door shut. Natalia would have to kill him for calling her THAT name after the finished the assignment.
Natalia changed into her normal clothing for lab, a pair of durable leather boots, a heavy blue wool work skirt, a white cotton shirt, a leather apron and gloves. She tied her colorless hair back with a ribbon. The last thing she did was grab her tool belt. It had pouches for ingredients, calipers, and a place of knives. It even had a place for paper and a pencil.
She left the student housing and marched over to the gothic building that housed the labs. She could hear the whistle of steam and the turning of gears coming from behind different doors. Natalia jumped when she heard an explosion coming from a room she was pacing. From the other side came Ludwig’s panicked screams at his two partners. It looks like they weren’t the only ones that were working on their assignments today.
Alfred was waiting for her in 435-L. Sitting on the table was a bowl of porridge.
“Is that for the assignment?”
“Naw, that is your breakfast.”
She sat in one of the hard wooden stools and took the bowl. The metal spoon was uncomfortable to touch.
“It is hot.”
“Yeah, I was using the steam heater to keep it warm.”
He had that stupid, happy grin plastered on his face as he watched her eat.
“What is it?”
“Nothing, I just enjoy your company, Natalia.”
“So why are you here for school?”
“I want to help my homeland.”
“That is cool. I want to go on to airship engineering, maybe even become a pilot.”
“I didn’t ask you.”
“I know, but I wanted to tell you anyways.”
Natalia finished off of her institutional food and set aside the bowl. Alfred had already begun laying out everything they needed to begin work.
“I was thinking you could work on the pure oil and I will start working on the ingots.”
“Alright, that is acceptable,” Natalia said as she moved to one of the cauldrons and began her work.
The two worked in silence. It was common for Alfred to wake her up in the morning when they had an assignment coming up. She was more interested in other subjects and did not give much thought to the required class. Forgetting there was an assignment coming up was a common occurrence for her. Yet, even when she initially forgot, she usually remembered with some prompting. No matter how hard she tried, she could not remember what the assignment was.
“Natty, can you come over here and take a look at this?”
“Don’t call me that name,” despite the annoyance in her voice when she spoke, she still walked over. Natalia stood next to Alfred to look into the cauldron.
Alfred was just standing next to her grinning.
“There was not assignment, was there?”
“You lied to get me down here.”
Inside the cauldron, newly made via alchemy, was a chocolate heart that had that stupid nickname written on it in pink frosting.
“I hate that name.”
“I know. The chocolate is for you.”
“That was rather obvious.”
“Will you go out with me?”
“Hmph, I am not interested in whatever sentimental foolishness you have planned.”
“It is the military museum, they are having an exhibit on-“
“I’ll go… as long as you are paying.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Alfred smiled as he left the lab with her.