chapter 13

the leader arrives

After three hours sleep and a bath, Kate plucked up the courage and knocked at the door of the Baron's apartment. The guards let her through, and for the first time she properly met with Avicenna as they sat down for tea in the balcony.

"Kate," he said, “is there something you need?”

"I'll be leaving for home soon," she replied, “but I wonder, what will happen now? I mean to me, Gilda, and Nathan?”

"You will go back home and talk to your parents. Things will change, Kate. We can't keep this news quiet. You'll be a celebrity of sorts, and you need to prepare. I’m aware of your mother." He paused.

"Things will be difficult" he almost sighed.

Collecting his thoughts he continued.

"As for the thieves, what would you have me do? We've both been wronged, but you more than I."

"I felt so mad, so betrayed," said Kate. “But now I'm tired. I can't imagine what they went through in their village. I’ve never known war. I guess I just want them to heal. If they're expelled, won't it make their hatred worse?”

"I believe it might," he said simply, then stood up and offered his hand. “Shall we go and see Snowmaine together?”

"Would you? I mean, yes, please."

The Baron took her arm in his and together they went to see the headmaster. They strolled through the gardens talking of anything but the past few days. He asked questions about the gardens they passed through, marvelling at what the school had achieved. She asked how he balanced all the different facets of his life, marvelling that one person could have so many guises.

When finally they arrived at the headmaster’s offices, Nate, Gilda and their guardians were already there.  They had clearly interrupted a heavy conversation, replete with tear-filled eyes and angry voices.

Snowmaine looked both surprised and flustered when Kate appeared. She thought he may have sent her away if the Baron hadn't been with her.

"Professor Snowmaine," said Avicenna as he drew near. “Kate has approached me and claimed aggrieved rights in this case. Given that my sceptre was not stolen for long, and that, usefully,, we’ve learned it is vulnerable to telekinesis, I've consented to afford her privilege in this matter.”  

"Ah, yes." A worried knot appeared on Snowmaine's brow. “Aggrieved rights, Well, of course.”

"And what does she want?" interjected an angry looking woman in a plain but smart business suit. “My nephew is not taking the long dance Professor.”

"Nothing" said Kate. “I want nothing. I don't understand the kind of pain that drove Nathan and Gilda to do what they did, but I do know that if my parents were taken from me I'd be so angry.”

She turned to Nathan and Gilda, who refused to meet her eyes. "I didn't mean to upset you. I'm not here to spy or get ahead of anyone in any way. My parents thought it best if my heritage was kept secret. It's been a secret so long it felt normal to me, but hiding it from you felt like a nasty lie. I'm just glad it's over. Now I want to live as who I am, in my real skin, a normal girl, who just happens to be a part of two worlds."

"Please, headmaster" she said, turning to Snowmaine.  “Expelling them won't help. And if they don't like me, well I guess I have to learn to cope with that.“

The rest of the room was silent, as all eyes gathered at the headmaster.

"Well, Snowmaine, will you accept the proposal?" asked the Baron. Kate realised he was enjoying this and she could see why. Politics was actually a lot of fun.

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