hafl: (Karin)
[personal profile] hafl
Title: A Tale of Two Schools, Chapter Four
Original Work: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Pairing: Various
Rating: PG

Calm down. Calm down. That was all that was going through Vanessa’s mind. She had seen Syrene talk to the entire school so many times, but now that she had to do it herself, the task seemed even more impossible. As the girls filled the main assembly hall, Vanessa quickly looked to her left and right, checking if Lute and L’Arachel were still there. While L’Arachel was just smiling enigmatically, no doubt thinking about some madcap scheme – honestly, why did Miss Ismaire made her a prefect – Lute actually smiled at Vanessa in her ‘I know you can do it, so I’m not necessary here’ way. It wasn’t very reassuring.
 
The empty seats were rapidly disappearing, as even the laziest of girls found their way to the hall, and Vanessa’s nervousness increased. The din of the more than hundred girls waiting impatiently for Vanessa to begin was wearing Vanessa down even further. She almost jumped in surprise when Lute suddenly squeezed her hand under the table. Again, it did not do much to reassure her, but the thought was appreciated.
 
Finally, the last tardy girl arrived at her seat and Vanessa had to start. She took the small bell from top of the table and shook it strongly until everyone started to pay attention to her.
 
Silence reigned for a little moment, but then Vanessa gathered her courage and began to speak. The words came haltingly and first, until Vanessa mastered herself enough to turn her speech into a stream of words that were both what she had prepared beforehand and something better. She was still nervous, but the nervousness could no longer affect her words. She explained everything: Cormag, his attacks, and the match they had arranged. Vanessa was sure that every girl understood the need to step up the lacrosse practice.
 
“Any questions?” she finished.
 
“How are we going to win without Felicity?” asked of the girl’s form mates, Gwen.
 
“We’ll have to find a replacement, of course,” said Vanessa, “And luckily, she has already arrived. Eirika shows a lot of promise and I’m sure she’ll manage to be great in no time.”
 
“What? No, I couldn’t possibly do that,” said Eirika upon hearing her name, “I know nothing about lacrosse.”
 
“It can’t hurt to try,” said Vanessa, “I’ll ask Syr-Miss Syrene to give you some extra coaching.”
 
“I-I suppose so,” said Eirika, “Though I don’t know if there’s enough time.”
 
“If Vanessa says you’ll be good, then you’ll be good,” said Lute.
 
“I’ll try,” said Eirika, “But don’t expect me to do that well”
 
“I’m sure that you’ll be a great player,” said Vanessa, giving Eirika a reassuring smile, though it probably couldn’t be seen over the distance.
 
“If Eirika’s fine with the plan,” continued Vanessa, “I’d like to announce the others nominated for the team. We still need eleven players, so if there are no objections, I’d take one of the places. As for the others: Marisa, Amelia, Neimi, Ilse, Pat, Raymonde, Daphne, Gwen and Lute.”
 
A murmur ran through the girls upon hearing the last name, but it was Lute herself who voiced the complaints. “You can’t be serious,” she said, “I can’t possibly play, you know that.”
 
“You can,” said Vanessa, “I’ll explain everything when we start training.”
 
“That’s another thing,” said Lute, “I don’t have enough time for that, there are my studies to consider.”
 
“Now, Lute,” said L’Arachel, “Miss Ismaire herself said that you can’t spend all your time studying. You may as well give it a chance.”
 
“Fine then!” said Lute and her expression clearly said that she had much more to say. Vanessa was glad that she did not press the issue. It would never do to show conflict between prefects in front of the entire school. What was already said was more than enough.
 
“Now then,” she said, “We won’t have any replacement players this way, so don’t stop practicing just because you weren’t nominated. You may be needed. I don’t want to keep you longer than needed, so if nobody has any questions, we can end the meeting. The first practice is on Wednesday morning and I’ll see you there.”
 
Luckily, it seemed that everyone was distracted by the promise of ending the meeting and they did not notice the short argument much. Vanessa, Lute and L’Arachel waited until everyone left the assembly room, then they looked at each other.
 
“How could you do this to me?” said Lute, “You know I hate games.”
 
“I need you on the team,” said Vanessa, “I talked it over with Syrene and she agrees with me.”
 
“Why?” asked Lute, “Did someone put you up to it?”
 
“No,” said Vanessa, “I thought it up myself. I promise, it’ll be fine.”
 
Lute sighed. “I can’t do anything about it, can I?”
 
“Miss Ismaire approves,” said Vanessa.
 
“Right,” said Lute.
 
Vanessa turned to L’Arachel. “L’Arachel, I’ll need you to help us both a bit,” she said, “We’re going to be both busy with practice, so you’ll have to do part of our workload as well.”
 
L’Arachel shrugged. “I suppose I can do that, but I expect you to repay me next term,” she said, “Is that fine with you?”
 
“That’s fine,” said Vanessa, “Thanks, L’Arachel.”
 
L’Arachel stood up. “Now if you’ll excuse me,” she said and started walking towards the door.
 
Vanessa and Lute stayed silent until L’Arachel left the assembly hall. “So tell me the truth,” said Lute, “Why did you do that?”
 
“Like I said,” said Vanessa, “I need you on the team.”
 
“I’m not that good at games and you know that,” said Lute, “So why do you need me on the team?”
 
“I want someone on the team who I know well,” said Vanessa, “Others in our form are busy studying for entrance exams, but you’d already pass swimmingly.”
 
“Fine,” said Lute, “I’ll do it for you.”
 
“Thank you,” said Vanessa and smiled at her, “I appreciate that.” She stood up and offered Lute her hand. “Shall we go home?”
 
Lute took the hand and together they went towards their study. When they arrived there, Lute immediately sat down to study, leaving Vanessa to kindle the fire in their stove and put a kettle on it. When the tea was done, Vanessa gave one cup of tea to Lute, who took it and briefly lifted her head to smile at Vanessa in gratitude.
 
“You’re going to study all evening?” said Vanessa.
 
“Yes,” said Lute without looking at her, “I have to make up for the time I’m going to lose.”
 
Vanessa sat down on the chair opposite her and took a sip of the hot tea. “You don’t have to push yourself so hard,” she said, “Say, do you want to go riding with me tomorrow? Titania’s been restless lately and I’m sure Syrene will allow you to take Mab out.”
 
Lute was silent at first, but Vanessa noticed that her eyes stopped flying over the textbook. “I’d like to,” said Lute.
 
“Great,” said Vanessa, “And now, stop studying. You’re already far ahead of everyone else, so you don’t need to waste this evening.”
 
Lute looked up, “Do you have anything in mind for what should I do?”
 
“Relax for once,” said Vanessa, “You take everything too seriously.”
 
“But there’s an English test next week,” said Lute, “And you know that Mr. Saleh’s tests are always difficult.”
 
“Now that’s just an excuse,” said Vanessa, “The last time he gave us a test, you complained that it was too easy.”
 
“You caught me,” said Lute and smiled cheekily, “I just don’t feel like doing much else than studying tonight.”
 
“Is something the matter?” said Vanessa.
 
“Does there have to be something wrong for me to want to study all evening?” said Lute, “But you’re right. I have been feeling terribly tired lately.”
 
“Are you ill?” said Vanessa.
 
Lute shook her head. “No, that’s probably not it,” she said, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”
 
Not quite believing her, Vanessa put her hand on Lute’s forehead. No, she did not have fever or even raised temperature. “You don’t have to worry,” said Lute, “I’m just tired, that’s all.”
 
“If you’re tired,” said Vanessa, “Then you should just go to bed and not tire yourself.”
 
Lute book marked her page and closed the textbook. “You won’t stop bothering me until I agree with you, right?”
 
Vanessa nodded. “You don’t have to say it like that, but yes.”
 
Smiling a little, Lute finished her cup of tea and stood up. She leaned in and gave Vanessa a quick kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be going then,” she said, “Good night.”
 
“Wait, I’ll go with you,” said Vanessa. She felt a short pang of guilt at leaving the dirty cups behind, but she wanted to make sure that Lute was really going to sleep. Not to mention that there must have been something seriously wrong with Lute for her to give up so quietly and Vanessa wanted to keep an eye on her.
 
Leaving the study as it was, only extinguishing the fire in the stove, Vanessa joined Lute who was impatiently waiting for her. Was it just her imagination or was Lute trembling? The weather was still chilly, but that couldn’t have been the reason, since today was unusually warm.
 
“I thought I told you to stop worrying,” said Lute, “I’ll be fine after I have a little rest.”
 
Vanessa didn’t say anything; she only nodded. They were the first to arrive in the Sixth Form dormitory that evening. Vanessa made sure that Lute was tucked in and, since she didn’t want to leave Lute alone, went to bed herself, even though she wasn’t in the least sleepy.
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