Although Annabelle had been tired after exploring with Eylion, she found it hard to sleep. She tossed and turned, her head full of questions, her chest tensing with worry of how she would escape this place and find Andromeda all alone. It was agony. She had been looking forward to getting out of the school, but now, knowing that she would have to leave Eylion behind and continue on her own, what was going to be an exciting adventure had become something she dreaded.
“Annabelle, are you sleeping in my class?”
“Huh?” Annabelle raised her head as somebody tapped her on her shoulder. She looked up to Lydia’s stern face.
“Care to explain yourself?”
“I’m tired,” Annabelle mumbled.
“That I can see,” Lydia said frowning. “The question is, why would you be tired when lights out is at 10.30 ?”
“I… I couldn’t sleep,” Annabelle replied which was partly true. She had also been out after midnight with Eylion exploring the secret passages, but she didn’t feel the need to give Lydia that information. It was top secret.
“Annabelle, everyone else are half way through their potion, you haven’t even started? There is no time for you to do it now, the lesson is almost over.” Lydia gave her a stern look. “I’m afraid I will have to ask you to come to my office after lessons today to you do your potion.”
Annabelle groaned. She was looking forward to lessons ending so she could sleep.
“And where is your homework for today?”
Annabelle scratched her nose. She had totally forgotten about her homework in her excitement to go exploring.
“A bat ate it?” She looked nervously up at Lydia.
“Annabelle!” Lydia gave her a warning look. “Do not talk back like that. This is not acceptable.”
“I’m sorry, Lydia but… but… I’m not feeling well… not well at all. I think I’m sick.” She pouted.
“I suppose I should take you to the nurse then?” She folded her arms and tapped her foot.
“Eh… can’t I just go up to bed and rest?”
“Oh no, Annabelle, if you are ill the school nurse must see you. Those are the rules. She will determine if you really are sick. If she says you are ill, then of course, you can rest. If she says you’re just playing sick…”
“I’m not,” Annabelle lied. “I feel awful.” The last part was not a lie, she really did feel awful. She was having trouble keeping her eyes open. “I think I should go see her… I feel so… weak.” He held two fingers to her temple for dramatic effects. “I’ll find her myself, you should stay here and help the others. It’s not fair that they should be without you because I have to go to the nurse.”
She got up from her desk. She held her hand up covering her face from the light that shone through the window. She felt groggy. All the other girls looked at her as she made her way out of the classroom.
“Go straight to the nurse, young lady. No detours.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Annabelle said giving her a salute.
She did not go straight to the nurse. Instead she made her way to the hidden passages. She made sure that she was entirely alone in the corridor as she went into the little cupboard with cleaning supplies, and crawled through the tiny hole behind the tapestry. She brushed dust off her uniform. She would go to the nurse’s office later, she could say that she didn’t go straight away because she had been sick in the bathroom or something. Right now she just wanted a little nap in peace, and she knew she couldn’t go back to her bedroom because that’s where they would go look for her first.
Making her way through the passages, she took the same route she and Eylion had the night before, to the library. There, she knew, was a leather couch with her name on it, and nobody would know to look for her there, except Eylion. She put her locked into the mark in the wall and the wall into the library opened for her. She brushed dust off her napping couch and as she laid down she had just enough time to remind herself she needed to learn a cleaning spell to make this space cozier before she fell asleep.
Someone was tapping her shoulder. Again? Why? What did she have to do to get some sleep around here?
“Annabelle! Wake up, dammit.”
“What?” Annabelle opened her eyes and looked up. It took some time for her eyes to adjust, and for her to realize where she was. She saw Eylion looking at her annoyed.
“Eylion? What are you doing here, shouldn’t you be in class?”
“No, dummy. Classes are over.”
“What?!” Annabelle sat up.
“What the hell, Annabelle? Why did you come here? Everyone is looking for you. You shouldn’t have used this place, now everyone is going to wonder how you managed to hide all day.”
“I wasn’t hiding, I was just…”
“What? Going to the nurse’s office? You knew Lydia would go there straight after her class, and she was told that no students had been in that day. I was there, and right after she pulled me to the side to ask if I had seen you.”
“Oh crap. Well… I was going to go later and say I was late because I had been sick in the bathroom.”
“Right, but instead you missed lunch and all of your lessons, it’s almost dinner and now everyone is looking for you and you are nowhere to be found.”
Annabelle bit her lip. She had messed up.
“What am I going to do?”
“Well you’ll be in trouble.”
“Of course, I’ll be in trouble! What can I do to get out of it?” She had known she might get in trouble, but earlier she hadn’t cared. Now, however, she did care… very much. It was one thing to miss one lesson before lunch, but to miss the entire day?
“I don’t think getting out of trouble is an option at this point,” Eylion said giving her a look. “What we need to do now is find a way to minimize the trouble you’ll be in.”
“You need to hand yourself in to Lydia and hope that she deals with you herself.”
Eylion patted her shoulder. “It could be worse. You could be taken to the headmistress’ office or Ms. Spryt.”
“No! I can’t… I’ll find Lydia. She’s on our side… I think. I mean her family ties are questionable, but I get the impression that she is looking out for us. And I think if I go to her and explain myself, then…”
“Then you’ll still be in trouble.”
“Yes, but I don’t think she wants to hand me over to the evil hags. I think she likes me.”
“But she might have to take you to the headmistress, if you’re really unlucky.”
“And if everyone knows I’ve been missing all day, the headmistress will probably want to see me. And then… I’m dead.”
Eylion looked at her with sympathy. Then she smirked a little.
“Not if… not if she’s distracted.”
“What do you mean?”
“If Lydia takes you to the headmistress then we need to make sure the headmistress don’t have time to deal with you. I’ll go find the others, and we’ll come up with a distraction in case we need it. But we need many people, and we can’t get caught. But it will be enough to distract the headmistress and Spryt. Then nobody can blame you, because you have an alibi, and Lydia will have to take care of it herself which is what we want.”
They left the library and went out to the passages. Annabelle closed the opening with her locket.
“One thing though,” Annabelle said as they stood in the dark passage. Eylion had lit a flame that she was holding in her hand. “What is my excuse? I can’t tell them I’ve been here the entire time. And they must have been in my room.”
“We’ll tell them I found you outside. You can say you went outside for some fresh air before you went to the nurse, and then you fell asleep under a tree.”
“That’s not a bad excuse. Do you think they’ll believe I was really sick and decide that I shouldn’t be in trouble?”
Eylion laughed at this. “Not a chance.”
“Hey, since we’re already here. Let’s see if we can find another way out of this place. We might as well do some exploring. It’s not as you could get in more trouble than you already are.”
This time they continued down the passage from the library. Just a little further down they found a long and steep staircase that took them down what must have been two floors. They followed the dark passage looking for anything that would indicate that there was an entrance to another room or to a way out of the passage. The followed the passage around a corner and found more stairs. Now they could hear voices nearby, but they couldn’t make out what they were saying. It didn’t sound like a normal corridor though because the corridors were usually filled with students laughing and chatting. These voices seemed more serious and there weren’t as many.
“Where do you think we are?” Annabelle whispered.
“Not sure,” Eylion whispered back. “We’re probably on the fourth or third floor, but I don’t think we’re near the kitchen because the passage we took there the first time went the other way.”
They walked a little further and the voices became clearer. They kept quiet, not daring to speak in case they could be heard.
“Well? Have you found her?”
A loud and angry voice rang out nearby, and it was almost as if the person was in the room. They must be very close to the headmistress.
“No, headmistress,” Lydia replied.
“This is your fault, Lydia. You shouldn’t have let her leave your class,” the headmistress scolded.
“But she was feeling ill and…”
“And she was obviously lying.”
“She looked terrible. She might really be sick.”
There was a snort. “The only thing that is terrible is your inner lying detector. Maybe the family was wrong to trust you with this teaching job.”
“Why? I’m good at teaching, the girls seem to like my classes and they work hard.”
“The girls don’t respect you,” the headmistress said sharply. “And why would they? You don’t have any control.”
There was a silence, and Annabelle felt really bad for Lydia. The headmistress was her family, but she treated her really badly, and now she was blamed for Annabelle’s mistake.
“They do respect me,” Lydia finally said. She sounded angry. “They like me.”
“I don’t need them to like you, young lady.”
“No, that’s enough from you. When you find the girl, take her to my office.”
“I can deal with her myself.”
“Can you, indeed? Well right now I don’t trust you to deal with anything as important as discipline. If you can’t control the little brat, I will see to her. I will make sure she won’t do anything like this again.”
Annabelle swallowed nervously and looked terrified at Eylion who looked equally scared.
But Lydia protested. “Please, I can do it myse…”
SLAP! The sound of the headmistress hand slapping Lydia’s cheek rang through the passage and stabbed Annabelle’s heart like a knife.
“Enough! I know what you are trying to do, you want to spare her the punishment that she has coming. I can see it was a mistake to let you work for me. Go back to your office, and when the girl comes to find you, which she will because she thinks you will let her get away with a little love pat, you take her here to see me. Now out of my sight!”
They heard a door slam shut. And then they both hurried away from there.
They following the passage and went down another set of stairs before either dared to speak, and even then, it was just a whisper.
“She hit her!” Annabelle managed to say shocked. “She bloody hit her! In the face!”
“That’s not on,” Eylion said looking sad. “Poor Lydia.”
“Yeah… I had no idea it was this bad. What is all that bull about nobody respecting her. She’s the one teacher in here who deserves any. She tried to help me.”
“We need to find a distraction or you are so doomed.”
“I can’t go to her office.”
“I know! She’ll beat the crap out of you!”
“Who are you talking about?”
“The headmistress, who are you talking about?”
“Lydia! I can’t go there now.”
“Because she’s been given orders to hand me over to the headmistress, and she doesn’t want to. But she has to, so either she’ll hand me over and feel terrible about it even if it’s all my fault to begin with, or she’ll get into a lot of trouble. If I just go straight to the headmistress, then she won’t have to feel bad.”
“Annabelle, that is suicide.”
“No… it will just really suck.”
They suddenly came to a stop. They were at a dead end. They looked around for while, distracted. Then Annabelle saw a familiar symbol carved into the wall and put her locket there.
“Wait…” Eylion said too late because the wall in front of them made an opening.
They stepped out into a long corridor with windows. Now it was dark outside. They were alone.
“Annabelle!” Eylion gave her a glare. “What if there were people here?”
“Sorry,” Annabelle said biting her lip.
“Close that opening. Quick.”
Annabelle did and they made their way down the corridor.
“I think dinner is over,” Eylion said pouting. “And I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” Annabelle mumbled. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault.”
“Well no time to worry about that. ”
They hurried down the corridor. When they got to the grand staircase they stopped.
“I need to find the others.”
“The distraction. We need to do something big to get you out of trouble. What if we…”
“Young lady!” A voice froze them both before they slowly turned around to see the school nurse.
Annabelle had seen her around, but she had never talked to her. She didn’t even know her name. She stood still, terrified, as the older woman came over.
She was not very tall, for a witch, a little shorter than Annabelle. She was plump with shortish hair, and unlike the teachers, she didn’t wear a witch’s hat. Annabelle approved of this, she never understood why the teacher’s wore hats inside. The only teacher that didn’t wear a hat to class was Lydia, which was good because she had lovely hair.
“Umh… hi.” Annabelle smiled nervously at the woman standing in front of her.
“Don’t hi me, young lady,” she said sternly. “If you are sick I need to take you to the infirmary. Let me feel your forehead.”
She pulled Annabelle forward rather forcefully and put her hand on her forehead.
“Oh dear, not good at all. Did you pass out? Is that why you’ve been missing?”
Annabelle was lost for words.
“I found her outside, ma’am,” Eylion said quickly before Annabelle could ruin anything. “She was asleep under a tree. She went out for some fresh air because she had been sick. I think she must have sat down there and passed out. When she came to, she was very confused.”
“And you are?”
“Eylion, ma’am. I helped looking for her.”
“Inform the headmistress that I’ve taken her to the infirmary.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Eylion nodded importantly.
“And tell her that the girl is very sick, and might possibly be contagious.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Eylion said not able to hide her grin now.
They watched her run up the stairs to the headmistress’ office. Then the nurse took her by the arm.
“It’s the infirmary and bed for you, my dear. You’ll have to stay for a couple of days until you’re better. Do you think you can force down something to eat?”
“I’ll do my best, ma’am.”
“What do you mean she is sick?”
Annabelle could hear the headmistress’s angry voice outside the infirmary.
“She’s very ill, headmistress. Vomiting, fever… she passed out, for heaven’s sake. Lydia was right all along, though she shouldn’t have let her go alone, she should have made sure she made it to the infirmary.”
“I want to talk to her.”
“She’s sleeping, headmistress. And it would not be wise to wake her now. But whatever she’s got, she better stay put because these things spread fast and before you know it half the girls and staff will be in here.”
“That bad, is it? Then keep her here until you are sure she’s well again. I’m not getting… I mean I don’t want… my girls to get sick.”
“Of course, you don’t.”
Annabelle heard the headmistress leave and finished her meal. The nurse, whatever her name was, came back in.
“Was there no dessert tonight?” Annabelle asked, licking her lips.
“So… where is mine?”
The nurse raised an eyebrow.
“Do you think you deserve dessert, young lady?”
Annabelle rolled her eyes.
“I only fell asleep, I didn’t kill a man.”
“You fell asleep after you decided to lie to your concerned teacher and skip class. That doesn’t sound like a girl who deserves pudding, does it? You deserve something entirely different, miss.”
Once she had been taken into the infirmary the nurse had quit the act and scolded her thoroughly for all the trouble she had caused, but Annabelle was just so relieved that she had been saved from the headmistress’ wrath. She it was nice knowing there was another person at this school she could trust.
“I said I was sorry,” she mumbled.
“Good, you can tell Lydia that when she comes by later. Though getting her forgiveness might sting a little.”
It was a little before lights out when Lydia showed up. She hadn’t been able to come straight away because she didn’t want the headmistress to see her. She had waited until after curfew and after most of the staff had gone to their own rooms.
She came into the infirmary and hugged the nurse.
“Thank you, Dorota!”
“You’re welcome, dear. She believed me, but the girl has to stay here for a couple of days.”
“That’s okay,” Annabelle said sitting up. “Anything to get out of Spryt’s crap history lessons.” She smiled at Lydia who suddenly looked stern.
“You!” She came towards Annabelle with a thunderous expression. “Have you any idea how much trouble you’ve caused?”
Annabelle knew, but she couldn’t tell Lydia she had heard the conversation between her and the headmistress, because then she’d have to tell her about the passages and she wasn’t ready to do that. For now, it was only she and Eylion who knew.
“I’m sorry?” Annabelle said looking up at her from her bed.
“You will be sorry once I’m done with you!”
“But… but I thought we agreed,” Annabelle argued. “That I am very ill. Contagious even.” She coughed and put her hand to her forehead dramatically. “I have a fever.”
“The only thing that will have a fever once I’m through with you is you bottom!”
“Lydia! You can’t be serious!”
“Oh, I am very serious, missy.”
“But… but…” Annabelle looked over at the Dorota for help. “Aren’t you going to do something?”
“Of course,” the nurse said. “I’m going to go outside and stand guard in the hallway, so that nobody hears my patient,” she stressed the word ‘patient’ “getting spanked!”
With that the nurse left the infirmary to stand in the corridor, keeping lookout.
“But… Lydia, I’m sorry. I was just tired and I needed a little nap in peace.”
“That’s not good enough, Annabelle. You could have gone to see Dorota and she might have let you take a nap if she felt you really needed it.”
“How was I supposed to know she was nice?” Annabelle felt that was a good point. “You’re pretty cool, I’ll give you that, but the rest of the teachers are horrible! And your grandmother… or your… great great great…whatever. Point is… she’s pretty horrible too! No offence.”
Lydia looked shocked.
“How… how did you know that she was…”
Annabelle could have hit herself.
“How? Who told you?”
“I can’t remember. Probably one of the girls. I’m not sure.”
Lydia gave her a suspicious look as if she didn’t believe that explanation. However, Annabelle couldn’t tell her that she and Eylion had overheard her conversation with Spryt that time they were hiding from them.
“Never mind. Get out of bed.”
“Now!” Her voice was sharp.
Annabelle got out of the bed. She stood barefoot on the cold floor in her nightgown and looked up her potion teacher. She pouted. She knew she should feel grateful that she hadn’t been turned over to the headmistress, but after she had been taken to the infirmary she had thought she had gotten away with punishment.
Lydia pulled up a chair, sat down and pulled Annabelle over her knee.
“I tried to warn you, Annabelle.” Her left arm held Annabelle in place and her right hand rested on her bottom.
“You need to be careful. You can’t get expelled from this place.”
“I wasn’t trying to get expelled,” Annabelle argued.
SMACK! Lydia’s hand landed hard on her bottom. Annabelle whimpered.
“Be quiet.” Lydia’s voice was quite firm. “You need to be more careful, Annabelle. Do not let the headmistress notice you too much. You’ve already been labeled a trouble maker. You think I’m tough? This is nothing to the punishment that she would have given you!”
“Ow… I’m sorry.” Annabelle winced as she felt Lydia’s hand for the second time, knowing they hadn’t even started yet. “I know I messed up.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Buuuut…. I didn’t mean to! I mean… okay… I meant to a little. But I didn’t mean to sleep so long. I was only gonna sleep a little and then say I had been sick in the bathroom and that was why I was late to the nurse. I didn’t think I’d be out of it all day.”
“You shouldn’t have lied and skipped class,” Lydia scolded.
“I know… I just felt grumpy and I wanted to be alone. I felt like…”
“Like being bad?” SMACK!
“Giving your teacher cheek when she asked for your homework that you hadn’t done?” SMACK!
“Lying to get out of class?” SMACK!
“Ow… yes… okay okay… yes. I felt like being bad. I’m sorry… and I’m really grateful that you and Dorota got me out of trouble. Well… not out of trouble because… I’m over your knee, but out of trouble with that…” she sighed “that woman!”
She had wanted to call the headmistress a hag, but she really didn’t think it would help her in this situation, and she was related to Lydia. Even if she treated Lydia horribly she didn’t know how Lydia felt about her own family.
“And you know… it’s not like I’m getting away with it. Even if you hadn’t decided to spank me, I’d still have to stay here… for days!”
“I thought you said you were pleased you got out of history class.”
“Yes… well… that’s a positive, you know how I feel about that Spryt woman, but now that I have thought about it, I think it will be pretty boring. I mean, none of my friends can come in here and keep me company. I’m supposed to be contagious, remember? It will be like being confined to my room all over again, except this time there’s a nurse around.”
“Well it’s nothing less than you deserve, young lady.”
Without saying anything else, Lydia started spanking her for real. First over her nightgown, but even with that protection it still hurt. Lydia wasn’t sparing her backside, and even if this hurt a lot, it was still much better than being handed over to the headmistress who had a big wooden paddle in her office.
Annabelle tried not to squirm and take her punishment, but it wasn’t easy as Lydia’s hand came down rapidly on her bottom. She had barely given one stinging swat before there was another.
“Are you starting to understand the seriousness of your actions, young lady?” Lydia had paused the spanking and was rubbing Annabelle’s bottom.
“Yes… I know that…umh…” Annabelle hesitated because it wasn’t easy to say.
“You know what?”
“I know I shouldn’t get on the wrong side of the headmistress,” Annabelle said. It wasn’t what she had meant to say but it was so hard to say what she wanted to. “She could make my life very difficult.”
“She could,” Lydia agreed. “And I don’t want that for you, or any of the witchlings in here. You shouldn’t give her any reason to punish you. I am trying to keep you out of trouble, to protect you, and I will gladly spank you if it keeps you in line and out of her reach. Don’t think I won’t, because when I spank you, you know it’s because I care. You do know that, don’t you?”
A tear ran down Annabelle’s cheek. She quickly wiped it away hoping Lydia didn’t notice. There was no way Lydia could possibly know how much it meant to her to hear her say that, for Annabelle to know that there was a person in this school who cared and looked out for her. It made being away from Gwen and Aisling much more bearable.
“Yeah… I know. And I’m really glad you got me out of… umh… that little situation.”
“Owwww…. okay okay. I mean… thank you, Lydia for saving me from that mess. Before I came here I was told to stay out of Onbush’s way. I don’t think it’s a secret where I come from and who my family is.”
It felt good calling the ones at home for family, but they were. She smiled to herself. But not for long as she felt Lydia pulling up her nightgown.
“Yes, Annabelle. I know who’s waiting for you at home, and how they feel about my great grandmother. I take it Alexis is not happy with her?”
“No, she’s not. Nor should she be.”
“No, she shouldn’t. And living with Gwen, Aisling and Alexis you surely know, don’t you, that my great grandmother is a dangerous woman? That the order is dangerous?”
Annabelle gasped. She had, by now, realized that Lydia was looking out for her and the other witchlings, that Lydia did not agree with the headmistress about everything, but this was pretty much a confession that she was not siding with the order. Within this castle that was being a traitor to the “cause”. If Kendra Onbush knew that one of her own teacher’s, that her own great great great grandaughter told students this, she would get rid of Lydia. But from what she had overheard of their conversation earlier, it sounded like she was already considering getting rid of her. Where would she go? Would the headmistress just let her walk out of her and go back home? She wasn’t a student, she was a teacher. She was a witch, not a witchling. But having been on the inside and seen what the teachers taught the students, would she just allow her to leave and spread the word? Maybe not. Maybe this was dangerous for Lydia too.
“Yes, I know that she is dangerous. I was warned not to cause trouble on the inside. Alexis told me the order did not have our best interest at heart.”
“And she’s quite right.” Lydia pulled down Annabelle’s panties. “So the questions is? Why can’t you stay out of trouble?”
She continued to spank Annabelle’s bare bottom, and she did so thoroughly. This time it did not take long for her to squirm over her knee. It hurt! It seemed that Lydia was determined to make sure Annabelle’s entire bottom was red and sore.
“Owww! Lydia, I’m sorry! I promise I won’t get in trouble again!” She mostly said this to get Lydia to stop spanking her, because as she said it she reminded herself that they were planning to organize a mischief group to make the headmistress’ life hell.
“I don’t know if I believe that, Annabelle, but I’m at least trying to make sure you will be good for a good while! The headmistress is already suspicious of you, and it’s best if you don’t let her notice you in near future. Both she and Octavia are watching you like a hawk.”
SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!
“I will stay out of trouble! I promise! I’ll be good!”
“Good, because if I catch you even so much thinking about making trouble, I will put you over my knee and make you think better thoughts!”
She helped Annabelle stand up. For a second she was relieved thinking the punishment was over, but then Lydia spoke again sounding stern.
“Bend over and touch the chair.”
Annabelle looked at her as Lydia put her hand into the pocket of her black witch’s robe. When she removed her hand it was holding a strap.
“You have got to be kidding!”
“Bend over, Annabelle.”
“Do not make this worse for yourself. I am giving you ten, do you want more?”
Annabelle shook her head.
She bent over. She felt Lydia pull up her nightgown that had slipped down. She closed her eyes as she felt Lydia rest her left hand on her lower back and tapped her already red bottom with the strap. Then Lydia removed the strap and it came back with a WHACK!
“Ow!” Already from the first lick, the strap stung like hell.
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
Annabelle almost got up. It wasn’t on purpose, it was like an unconscious protective instinct.
“Stay in position, young lady.”
“Yes,” Annabelle whimpered.
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
“Do I have your word, that you will stay low and try your best not to get the headmistress’ attention?”
“Yes,” Annabelle said, tears running down her cheek.
“Do you understand what can happen if she gets fed up with you?”
“I think so…”Annabelle mumbled. “I’m not sure…”
“What do you think she is capable of?” Lydia asked seriously.
“Can she… umh… can she get rid of us? Like… lock us up somewhere? Or…kill us?”
There was a silence. Lydia took her time to think.
“Yes, I think that is a possibility. She’s not letting you go back home like this Annabelle.”
“I know… ”
“Now… you’ve got three more. Then we’re done, and I want to see you try harder to stay out of trouble. Because you just got out of house arrest yesterday, and you were almost sent to her office today. Stay out of her way, you hear me?”
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
Lydia gave Annabelle the last with the strap, and put it to the side. Then she took Annabelle in her arms and cuddled her close while Annabelle rubbed her bottom. Lydia stroked her hair and kissed her forehead.
“Get into bed, I’ll tell Dorota we’re done. And I’ll be back.”
Annabelle nodded and climbed back into her bed. She was pulling over her cover when Lydia came back, Dorota following her. Annabelle was just now reminded that the nurse had been outside, and she had probably heard her getting spanked. She blushed.
“Are you going to be a good girl now,” Dorota asked her. “Because you know… we’ll be seeing a lot of each other these next couple of days, and I don’t let anyone get away with being naughty.”
“I’ll be good,” Annabelle promised her. “You just make sure I get my desert next time.”
Dorota chucked as she went into her office.
Lydia sat down next to her on the bed. She wiped Annabelle’s tears away and continued to stroke her hair.
“Are you… are you on the other side? Like… are you and Dorota not supportive of the order?”
Lydia gave her a smile.
“Will you tell on me?”
Annabelle shook her head.
“Then… yes, I guess I am on… the other side. My family ordered me to come here, and I accepted the offer, not that I had a choice in the matter, but I acceped because… well… I didn’t have anything else to do, and I thought I could protect the students from those who didn’t care about them.”
“Thank you.” Annabelle took her and and kissed it. Lydia smiled.
“Will you be able to stay? It’s just… if you’re so nice to the students, maybe the order will get suspicious.”
Lydia looked at her suspiciously. Almost as if she could tell that Annabelle had heard the conversation she had with the headmistress earlier, but how could she know?
“You are very perceptive, you know that?”
Annabelle didn’t answer. She only looked at her expectantly.
“I don’t want to upset you, but…” She hesitated. She looked so sad.
Lydia’s eyes filled with tears. Annabelle sat up. She put her arms around her. Lydia didn’t resist, instead she gave a sob and leaned her head against Annabelle’s shoulder. Annabelle had never done this before, but she had some experience from having been comforted by Gwen or Aisling.
“What’s wrong, Lydia?”
“I… I think… my great grandmother is going to ask me to leave this school.”
“And you don’t want to leave this hell hole?”
“No… yes, part of me, but no. I want to stay and protect the students, if I have to leave I failed you all. Who’s going to be nice to you with all these evil hags around.”
Annabelle gave a laugh. It was quite refreshing to hear a teacher call her colleagues evil hags.
“Dorota will be here.”
“Yes, but she’s a nurse. It’ll look weird if she sees them all the time. I’m the potion teacher, you have classes with the every day. I feel like I’m important here. Like people need me.”
“They do,” Annabelle agreed. “You’re the person they come to if they’re in trouble…”
“Exactly. I support them.”
“And you don’t have a big wooden paddle.”
“You should sleep.”
“I’m not tired, I slept all day.”
“And who’s fault is that?”
“Well… I fell asleep in your lesson first soo….”
Lydia raised an eye brow, but she was only pretending to be stern.
“Do you need more spankings, young lady?”
Annabelle laid back down on the bed. “No, ma’am. I’m gonna be good.”
“I’ll come back to see you tomorrow when I can. But I can’t be seen.
“Okay.” Annabelle smiled at her.
Lydia tucked Annabelle in and kissed her forehead.
“Is there anything you need before I go?”
Annabelle rubbed her bottom under the covers.
“Can you ask Dorota if she has a potion for pain relief?