Lead singer Holly writes songs based on her twin sister Hebe’s love of geek culture though she doesn’t really understand it.
Drummer Sage is an explosive sorcerous genius obsessing over whether Holly’s about to quit the band to go mainstream.
Shy Juniper only just worked up the nerve to sing her own song in public and keeps a Jane Austen themed diary chronicling the lives and loves of her friends.
When the mysterious, privileged Ferd joins their share house, everything starts to unravel…
I’d never heard of a single transfer between Real and Unreal. A couple, yes, going the other way – because studying magic and its related disciplines was always a safe job-friendly choice and the romance of specialising in magic-free arts or politics or literature often wore off once the careers fair destroyed everyone’s hopes and dreams.
But who would give up studying magic once it had its hooks into you? And why would a boy who looked like an illustrated chapter in the history of pampered legacy kids make that choice?
Maybe it really was advice for a friend.
“We also have counsellors,” I found myself blurting out. “General feelings counsellors. If that’s something you think would be useful.”
Phoenix Boy smiled at that point, though it wasn’t a happy or relieved smile. It was a ‘you can’t make my day worse than it was before I saw you’ kind of smile.’ “I’m good. I’ll take a printed copy of that transfer form. And do you know where I can go to look for accommodation options?”
I waved at the general direction of the bulletin board. “It’s probably too late to register for a room in one of the residential halls, but there’s a bunch of flatmate and share-house requests over there.”
I was going to make up for my previous utter lack of professionalism by leaving it at that, and I totally wasn’t going to draw attention to one flatshare flyer in particular, but Phoenix Boy found it anyway. Unsurprising, since Sage and Dec had been up half the night decorating the flyers with fierce fluoro pens, and had insisted I use pins shaped like tiny battle-axes to attach it to the board.
“Join the Manic Pixie Dream House,” Phoenix Boy read aloud with a bemused tone in his voice. “Must be able to endure one flatmate’s long drumming sessions, and the other flatmate’s constant smell of wet art materials (mostly clay). Brace yourself for meals made mostly of dead animal, and weekend gaming marathons in which the flat fills up with angry nerdboys and rattling dice.”
“They’re friends of mine,” I admitted.
“Do they have mixed feelings about letting someone else share the flat with them?”
I laughed, the weird tension of the help desk finally leaving the conversation. “They’re not quite hauling up a drawbridge, but they don’t want another disaster – that’s pretty much a list of reasons why their last flatmate flipped out and stuck them with his share of the rent with no notice.”
“Ouch,” said Phoenix Boy, still staring at the flyer. “Are they – students of the Real or the Unreal?”
“One of each.”
That surprised him. He spun around and stared at me, as if the idea of a mixed household was completely off the chart crazy. “Seriously?”
“It’s not that unusual,” I said, blinking. Just how sheltered was this boy? Had he never had a friend from the College of the Unreal before? I wasn’t sure whether to throw him at Sage and Dec for his own sake, or warn him off their chaos.
“Huh,” was all he said, and when he walked away with the transfer forms, he took a tab from the Manic Pixie Dream House with him.