It starts, Ivy thought. She opened her mouth to decline, but Tavy got in the way.

"I think that's a good idea. I'll leave you two girls alone." He left the room, but not before saying, "Ivy, there are tricks Lee doesn't know. How do you think I get any peace and quiet?"

Crafty old…

"My brothers used to hide all the time," she offered. "I'm good at hide and seek." She shrugged. "Trying to find two twelve-year-olds who don't want to take out the trash should be good practice for a professor."

"Have you got some time now?" Ivy asked.

"Two hours. Lunch first?" she offered. Ivy nodded.

xxx

After Natalie had been caught up with Tavy's shenanigans, she surprised Ivy with some good ideas. "The professor likes his comfort," Nat said. "So don't bother looking anywhere that he can't sun himself or get coffee."

Natalie had a class, Ivy had a paper to work on, and they agreed to meet for breakfast tomorrow. Ivy went to the library, then to her dorm room.

She had two notes under the door, asking for a study group.

xxx

A week later, Ivy had a breakfast study group.

The boy who had spoken up in class, Natalie, and two more from her afternoon class. They'd all made time to play 'catch the professor'.

Natalie frowned and tapped the list of what Ivy knew Tavy had done. "He does like that book," she murmured.

"Yeah, but we still don't know how he keeps avoiding her on these days," Rad said, pointing at the other list on the table.

Suru nodded. "We need to keep compiling a list of known concealments.."

Marek agreed with her. "We'll hit it eventually." He checked his watch. "Got to go. Ladies, been a pleasure. Rad, see you later."

It was fascinating to Ivy. Rad and Marek were sparring partners in a class the year before. Marek had dated Suru's first roommate, but after Suru had gotten a room change. Natalie and Rad were from the same large state, but different ends.

And they were all reasonably intelligent and willing to help her. They liked Tavy's class.

Well, he was one of the more interesting professors. But so disorganized.

xxx

"She has a study group now."

Lee nodded and put his drink down on Tavy's kitchen table. "That's good."

"This is changing her life," Tavy said, penciling things he wanted to remember onto his calendar. "I'm teaching her something useful, she's getting some friends… And I get a coffee fetcher." He frowned. "Doesn't seem even."

"Tavy…"

"It doesn't." He tapped his pencil against the table. "Now what can I do to even that out?"

"Tavy, you agreed to the game. You can't change it now."

"Depends on what changes."

xxx

"I'll be on time for classes for a week. But only your classes."

Ivy stared at him, then frowned. "Why?"

"For a favor from you."

Her eyes narrowed. Lee wasn't here yet. Should she leave or trust that her professor wasn't propositioning her?

"You don't want to know what has me in such dire straits that I would show up for class? On time?" he stressed.

"What?" she asked, grudgingly.

Tavy puffed out his chest. "I'm having a party!"

"Sir, if you say you want me to be your date or the entertainment, I will have a word with Lee."

Tavy tilted his head, his eyes confused. "Lee?"

"He said if you did anything inappropriate in his absence, he'd turn you into a platypus for me."

Tavy grinned at the thought of his friend protecting the student who could fast become a friend. "I need a hostess."

"I see. Who would be at this party?"

"It's the annual fall get-together for the teachers. We pick names out of a hat for those that agree to host one."

She blanched. "I won't know anyone except the teachers I've seen in class."

"One thing you have to remember," Tavy said quietly. His serious voice made her listen. "They were all students. Professor Boom got thrown out of his dorm in his second year and had to live in the spare room of a mage's house. Lee had scholarship problems. I didn't take my classes seriously until my third year."

"They're not students now."

"And because of that, I don't mind if you invite a few of your friends. The other mages will bring a guest, so I don't see why you can't."

xxx

It was all so simple when he said it, Ivy fumed. Who was she supposed to invite and who would want to go? Yes, let's all go to a mage party where the majority of the people are at least fifteen years older than we are. It'd be like sitting at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving.

But she'd gotten two weeks out of him.

He'd explained the hostess job to her. Greet the guests at the door, check on the kitchen once in a while, and direct people to the bathroom.

She sighed and mentioned it to her roommate. She declined.

So when she went to see her study group, she expected the same reaction.

"Tavy's having one of the faculty parties and we're invited?" Marek said. "When?"

"Tomorrow night."

Suru whistled low. "He didn't give you much time, did he?"

Ivy shrugged. "He's providing the snacks and it's everyday clothes. I just need to show up a half hour early so he can show me around."

"Still," Natalie said. She opened her planner and found the right page. "I can go."

Planners and minds were checked before all of them said they could go to the party. They agreed to meet outside Ivy's dorm a little after six. The party started at seven.

xxx

Tavy opened the front door and smiled. "Come in, come in," he said, moving aside. "Ivy, good to see you. Suru, Marek, Natalie, Rad."

"Hi, professor," Suru said. The others nodded, smiled, or raised a hand in a wave.

Tavy kept smiling. "I'll give you the tour."

He showed them the living room, ground floor bathroom, and the kitchen. "Ivy, my dear hostess, would you mind looking over the food? I wanted to make sure I had enough."

Ivy opened the refrigerator and her eyebrows flew up. There were stacks and stacks of trays and the bottom was filled with drinks. "I think so," she said dryly. "I can always run out for more."

"Good." A bell rang and Tavy ducked out of the kitchen. "More guests! Make yourselves at home."