On re-entering the relative warmth of the school, Kate found she was now exhausted.
She'd gone 18 hours without sleep, and her lids felt like someone had attached ten pound weights on each of them. Worse, she hadn't had time to shower and she was starting look and smell bad. Her face was covered in fairy cake mix, her clothes, leaves and dirt.
"Urgh" said Hesrial, examining the state her clothes were in, “this is not a good look”.
"Yeah", Kate mumbled. “Hesrial, go get cleaned up. I need to wander a bit and come up with a plan.”
She expected some argument, but her new friend, just wandered away, looking at her clothes with an expression of distaste on her face.
Kate knew that her brain starting to slow down. Coming back from the hut, she had smashed her knee into a bench returning along the dark entrance corridor, then she tripped over an upraised flagstone and bruised her knee.
She stood gazing numbly for a while and so her feet, realising that there was no-one in charge up top, took control and led her back to where it all began: - Professor Fluttersquawk's potions lab.
Kate tried hard to think, but the plans in her head just melted away like smoke. She wanted sleep to make the world and her problems go away for just a bit.
Dispirited she made her way to her desk, rested her head on her arms, cried briefly, and with a yawn, fell into a deep sleep.
She woke with a slight start when she heard a familiar voice. She couldn’t tell if it was after 5 minutes or 5 hours.
"So early to class, hey?" Kate opened her eyes to see Fluttersquawk leaning on the opposite desk. “Such an adventuress, and a Fae to boot. Well, I don't believe you'll be finding many answers by hiding behind your eyelids, but kids certainly do things differently these days.”
It was still dark and Kate wasn't stiff, so she couldn't have been asleep too long. She did feel a little refreshed, though.
Impulsively, she decided to talk to Fluttersquawk, as it seemed way too late for secrecy.
"I didn't do it, Professor. I do know how it was done, but I don't know how to catch the thieves to clear my name. Will you, I mean could you listen and help me think? I'm way out of my depth."
Fluttersquawk sighed and sat down on a chair next to Kate's. "Well, I guess being one of my best students affords some privileges. What have you got?"
Kate felt herself relax. "The thieves used telekinesis to lift the sceptre. I found their spell books in an old shed behind the ruined walls."
Fluttersquawk raised a brow. "And, pray tell, how did you know to look for clues out there?"
"Um..." Kate took a deep breath. Could she trust her teacher? Really, at this point, she couldn't do this alone. Fluttersquawk was her last and best option.
"I can talk to the wind.“
"What? I'm sorry, dear, for a moment I thought I heard you say you could talk to the wind."
"Er, yes I did, Professor. Please, listen. I can talk to the wind."
"And I can talk to my dearly departed Aunt Martha after six pints of ale. Pull the other one, girl. Did you get that from reading about one of the prophecies of in our history books?"
"What? No! Look. Wind, please will you blow out all the candles?"
Kate realised her mistake instantly. Never ask a puppy to do subtle--it's just not in their nature.
"Oh no," she said. “Professor, duck!” Kate dove to the floor as a hurricane slammed into the room. It felt like 1000 children scrambling over each other to do her bidding. The candles were all extinguished in a second then hurled to the floor along with half the equipment in the room.
When it stopped seconds later, the room was mostly destroyed. Kate had to pull herself out of a pile of books. Fluttersquawk, however, sat on the same stool, completely untouched, surrounded by a faint shimmering aura. She wore a grave look on her face.
"Well, that was quite an impressive demonstration, child," she said quietly. “BUt don't ever, ever do that again. Do you understand? There are things here beyond your understanding, and we will talk about them someday. But for now, no one must know that you can do this. Do you understand? “
"Yes. Well no. No I don’t. Um - Sorry."
"We'll talk after your current problems are resolved - you do seem to be stacking them up don’t you? Problems that is. For now, that power of yours--keep it hidden."
She paused, seemed to collect herself and then said, "Come my girl, let's catch ourselves a thief."
As they left the room, another book case collapsed. Kate cringed . "Yippee shouted the wind, such fun, can we help again?"
Fortunately the Professor didn't seem to mind as she led Kate to an empty balcony near the East Wing. "So tell me, what's the plan?"
"Ah, don't you have something? “
"This is your show, girl. Take a moment and think it through. How would you catch a thief?"
Kate leaned against the stone railing and lost herself in thought. Then she remembered how her mother dealt with a mouse that had been getting into their pantry. She had built a simple trap made up of a small plank, a counterweight, and some peanut butter. She never bothered to explain to Kate how she did it, but the next morning, there was a tiny mouse inside the bucket.
"To catch a thief you need a trap," Kate said. “Professor we need them to go to the woods and confess. I think I have an idea…”