Week of Hell: Day 4, Departure Day
Location: Stark Academy, Drop and Pickup, Dining Hall
Timeline: 11.19.2011, 0945AM
Departure Day came early at Stark as the guilty payers were led outside, forced to carry their own trunks and bags and loaded them into the vans that would carry then to the ferry, then across the inlet to the mainland and then from there to the bus hotel where most of their families had either arranged to be, or sent someone to meet them and bring them home in disgrace.
While none of them were starved to death, diseased or damaged too badly, there were bandages here and there, swelling, discolorations and of course, miserable sullen closed off expressions. The faculty were present, all of them in fact, to make sure that the hired vans were able to get all of the forty-three offenders in along with their luggage and get them where they needed to be. The orphans were forbidden to be presents but that didn’t keep them from lining the windows, along with the few payers that were left, in a certain camaraderie neither side was quite sure of.
The thirteen payers, not counting The Trio as they were coming to be called, had struck a sort of unspoken accord. They were the outsiders of the Payers and had been excluded from the attack on the Residentials. But not merely from social standing but also because it was decided they most likely would rat out the others for the bullying they received at the hands of their “betters”, the larger, stronger and better looking members of the Payer Elite.
Draco, it seemed, was one of these despite being a reasonable athlete and a “dude” he hadn’t succumbed to Residential bashing.
Breakfast had been gruel for those departing and, having been innocent of the crimes, the dozen and the Trio were excluded from their meal, though they hadn’t really had anything to eat yet. They’d each gotten a half-muffin and some coffee or tea and the promise of a “decent tuck” by Betsy “once the trash has been taken”.
Now, as the vans drove off, it seemed the castle itself sighed in relief and the mood lifted a bit. Still spooky, the castle seemed warmer and more inviting. Of course, that was likely due to the thermostat being turned back up and more lights put on and reflecting off of the brass and glass and the polished wood that was just about everywhere.
The faculty filed back in and headed to the dining hall where, as they entered and began to spread out around the large dining table, it was found set with plates and bowls and simple utensils, mugs and glasses and seating for everyone and the adults. A buffet had been set up against the kitchen in front of the normal cafeteria line, the other heating tables rolled back and these brought forward with huge kettles of warm oatmeal and cream of wheat. Toppings of all sorts were available for those, waffles and fried eggs, scrambled eggs and poached, toasted bread, toasted English muffin and bagels with lox and fresh vegetables, shrimp and lobster and an array of warmed meats and cuts of meats prepared to be made into various other dishes.
And there was milk and juices and coffee and tea, hot chocolate, cider and mulled wine.
Several of the “Kitchen Mob” had stayed and made all of this while everyone else was watching and helping the guilty depart and they stood behind the line wearing their cadet-style kitchen coats in black with sleeve rolled up and caps on, waiting to serve and help people get what they wanted for breakfast.
The Payers stopped and stared and then looked to Jericho. She gestured to the buffet and table with a hand each, “Come and eat with us as our guests.”
They were all, without exception, very shy and several of them were blushing furiously.
Donnal lopped his arms through two of them, a boy named Christien and a shy little goth named Beatrice and all but dragged them forward to the buffet as Theodore sighed, bowed to a young woman and offered his arm, a gorgeous young woman who was all peaches and cream (and a jealousy magnet from her female peers) and frilly dresses named Aris who blushed bright crimson and hesitantly took his arm with her hand and allowed herself to be gently led to breakfast,
“Watch and learn,” Maus chuckled and seizing his opportunity, marched right over to a similarly smaller young man, dark haired and pale with black eyes named Timothy and said something to him. The young man blushed to the roots of his hair but Maus continued to speak, his posture and attitude friendly as he smiled and offered his hand, palm up.
Timothy seemed to consider and then took the hand, lacing his fingers with Maus’ and turned to look at two girls who had been hanging with him, offering his hand to one of them. The brunette, Lacey, took his hand and grabbed her more shy friend Lizbet and dragged her along as Maus dragged them all over to the food and to the orphans.
Cat walked over to Draco. "Come on hero, breakfast time." She looped an arm through his and smiled at the young girl beside him. "Walk on the dark side. We don't bite much."
Maus made it a point to point out things to Tim, Lizbet and Lacey and to explain some things as they went. The three non-residentials clustered close to him, careful not to brush up against anyone and give offense until Maus said something that even had the girls giggling at themselves. Maus asked questions, drawing them out of their shells bit by bit and then helped facilitate communications between the super-shy young women and some of the more handsome "Pan-Dawgs" behind the line. Oh yes, there was flirting going on and there was charming and young women all aswoon with delight at such friendly and attractive young men who seemed so confident.
Emberline and Betsy however made sure the orphans remembered whose spoons better not be found in whose batter but soon Maus had the three of them, the girls with many backward gazes at the cooks who winked and flirted with them as they returned to the table to nestle in next to orphans and payers alike.
Angel found a payer for each arm, smiling and charming them as she took them through the buffet line and sat them on either side of her.
Drake took his sister's hand and brought her with them as he let Cat lead him away.
Brann panned his gaze across the remaining Payers and took a moment to really look at them. This small group caught hell from both sides during the conflict. Their peers shut them out and the Orphans condemned them along with the others. Now that the guilty parties left, it seemed time to make amends. He spotted one youth that stood in the back apparently lost in thought. Brann noticed him most because of his height. He towered over his fellows and Brann estimated him to be somewhere between 6'2" and 6'4" tall. Like most teenage boys the Payer appeared lanky, like his bones grew faster than his muscles. Regardless, he had arms like pythons betraying regular weight training. His hands and feet were large, as were ears tucked carefully behind longer hair. He wore his black hair cropped in an unremarkable style and his eyebrows struck Brann as heavy. They gave the thoughtful frown on his face a dramatic quality. The thing that caught Brann's attention most where his eyes. They reminded him of the color of creamy jade and he hid them behind small round spectacles. From the bloodshot eyes and the light scruff of facial hair Brann estimated he had gone at least two days without sleep and did not care who knew. He loomed over another youngster, a dusky-skinned, black-haired girl who flicked her gaze suspiciously at the people around her. Brann approached them calmly, smiling.
The tall boy, Ellery started as if surprised by the attention. He placed a hand on the shorter girl Parvati's shoulder and listened as Brann welcomed them to breakfast. They obviously saw hell and deserved a break. He offered his hand to the taller boy, who took it, hesitantly at first and then with a smile of sincerity. Ellery nudged his glasses up on his nose and took Parvati's hand as Brann led them to the line with the others.
Zach followed suit of his fellow orphans and walked up to a group of students that he had trained in Aikido. Having been in midst of his Grand Master Belt testing and his achieving level 6 in Krav Maga he had missed most the last several days. He looked at five boys who looked particularly confused. "The time of separation is done. It is time to share a meal as brothers." He walked away without looking but looked over his shoulder and growled "Now". Quickly they followed him and joined him in line.
Cat filled her plate with seafood, bacon, vegetables, and biscuits. Once she got to the end of the line she added a bowl of gravy to the mix and gave them a grin. "Dig in. I promise the food won't attack you." She looked down at Bennie her smile genuine and not the forced thing that she usually wore around Payers. "Anything in particular you want kiddo?" She asked the younger girl.
Drake helped his sister with her plate making sure she had what she wanted along with a few healthy items while he did the same for himself, popping a piece of bacon in his mouth as he followed the two girls back to the tables.
Angel loaded a waffle with strawberries and fresh whipped cream and stacked a pile of bacon next to it. She almost put back one or two pieces then decided, screw it, she'd eat what she liked and worry about the calories after the new year.
Zach grabbed a warm plate and piled it high with vegetables, biscuits and cheeses. The the students he escorted followed suit and one of them thought it was strange how a student known for his mastery of martial arts and love of fighting was a vegetarian. Zach himself never understood it but he stopped fighting it years ago since every time he had meet, whether on purpose or accident, it resulted in him becoming sick in the most explosive way imaginable.
Brann pointed at the sausage links and whispered something to Ellery. He grinned as Ellery rewarded him with a hearty laugh and rosy cheeks. Parvati arched an eyebrow between the two and stabbed a link with her fork as if visualizing a particular boy. Brann and Ellery cleared their throats and moved along to the hash browns, eggs, and waffles.
As the orphans and the outcast Payers settled for breakfast, Jericho smiled slightly and began to dig into her steak which a generous person would call "tar-tare" and anyone else would have said "raw". She ate slowly but with obvious delight and covertly watched the students mix and mingle and the joy return to her home. She shared glances with the other faculty, the secret smiles they shared about what other secrets they were hiding and yet to reveal made everything all the better.