Thanks to a string of part-time jobs (and a mildly successful bootleg business) Leo Harris entered the summer before his eighth year at Rocky Mountain International with significant savings.
For the first time Leo felt what it was like to be flush with cash and it was awesome. Being rich wasn’t like chai lattes or clubbing, it the first thing in life that hadn't been over hyped, and Leo was reluctant to return to poverty. Money made you a better person because you couldn't be generous if you had nothing to give away. He’d been surprised to find the flush of satisfaction that came when you offered to settle the bill or left a decent tip was just as addictive as splashing out on some new trainers without the heart palpitations that usually accompanied a luxury purchase.
The problem was that when you enjoyed having as much money as Leo did (and that money was self-made) you often didn’t have it very long. By the end of the summer his supply was dwindling and any thoughts he’d had about ditching RMI and rolling out onto the plains of adulthood withered away. His summer job in a warehouse wasn’t going to keep him going for long. He was already slipping his mom a portion of his earnings and if he wanted to get his own place he was going to need a second job. Jeb had already hinted that Leo might like to work for him which was probably the daftest thought the old man had ever had. RMI at least came with food and board. All he had to do was attend the odd class and maybe after eight torturous years he would graduate with enough scraps of a plan to tape together a future for himself.
It was at this point in his vacation that Leo thought it might be a good idea to connect with some of his school acquaintances - let them know he was still alive, and in desperate need of some companionship that wasn’t five foot two and spouting conspiracy theories. He’d written to Petra first, and then to Remington, because even if she cringed at the thought of hanging out with him she was too nice to ever say it. He’d considered sending a letter to Nolan but quickly ruled against it. Nolan wasn’t Nolan during school vacations; he was the heir to a pureblood dynasty, and Leo preferred not to be confronted with that sordid aspect of his friend’s life. Instead he decided to pen a letter to Myffi, checking up on her and letting her know that thanks to her patient tutelage he might actually graduate from RMI next year. During this process it occurred to him, that when rattling his brain for friends to reach out to, his mind had thrown back at him a list almost exclusively made up of girls he’d (unsuccessfully) made out with. He resolved to break the cycle.
Term time crept up on him and before Leo had time to blink he getting ready to return to RMI. Leo entered the diner without grace, largely thanks to the thirteen year old boy tugging on his arm, loudly proclaiming his intention to “Make sure no one choked on a pancake”, before sprinting off, and leaving Leo in peace. But this was RMI so Leo’s state of tranquillity did not last long. Leo had never paid a lot of attention to the opening feast speeches, it was the same boring jargon every year and it was only upon registering his own ear shuddering name, "Leopold Harris" alongside Marley’s, and the swivelling heads now facing him from every corner, that helped Leo put two and two together. RMI had delivered one last blow and declared him Head Boy. Leo felt his face burn up as it turned beet red and was overwhelmed by a sudden desire to disappear. This was obviously some bored faculty member’s idea of a joke and if Leo hadn’t been so taken aback he might have said so. He ducked his head and let off a stream of nervous laughter. Surely, they didn’t expect him to go up and accept this empty title?
It was hardly fair to Marley - who had spent her time at RMI being a productive member of the student body pursuing some cause or another and would make an exceptional Head Girl - to rank her contributions alongside Leo’s - who had attended less than half his classes, ran an illicit business selling overpriced vodka to minors, and had recently been involved in a brawl, and wasn’t even sure what the job entailed. He could feel eyes boring into him, but despite his immense discomfort, Leo decided to man-up, and get the damn badge. It was no use making a scene now that it had already been announced. “Whoa. Thanks Toby.” The words tumble forth steeped in sarcasm. “What an honour.”
With long leaping steps he hurried back to the Lyra bonfire and sat himself down. Face still flushed he turned to the person beside him and gave a small shrug. ”Hang around long enough to become part of the furniture and they just start giving you titles.” He shuffled the pin from hand to hand. He supposed he ought to put it on but his fingers hadn't stopped shaking and he didn't think flaunting his new position was going to help him sell any vodka after dinner. He shoved it into his pocket with a lopsided grin. "Shame it doesn't really match my aesthetic."