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When we heard Corney’s idea, I wasn’t the only one who thought it was crazy. The others shook their heads doubtfully and made all sorts of dire predictions about the trouble she’d be likely to get into if she went ahead with it. She didn’t listen – even if they wanted nothing to do with it, she wanted some fun, and would deal with the consequences later. So I volunteered to help her.

In the dead of night, we snuck around together carrying out her plan. I thought it was stupid and pointless, but normal schoolgirls played pranks and got into trouble and had fun. Corney was impressed by the way I could move noiselessly in the night, not to mention be wide awake while everyone was sleeping.

The following morning, the daily routine was disrupted by cries of surprise coming from the cubicles, and one by one the curtains went back to display girls having trouble with their uniforms...

“This is not my tunic!” someone cried, brandishing the item in question by the neck where the name tag was sewn.

A tall girl struggling into a small tunic looked at a petite girl swamped in a skirt down to her ankles. I looked at Cornelia, who was wearing my uniform, while I was wearing hers. It was very short on her. She looked ridiculous. I started laughing. So did she. By now, girls from the dormitory next door were arriving, having discovered the name tags on their clothes. The fit of giggles started to spread.

“Hurry up, you people! We’re going to be late,” came a cry from next door, to no avail.

Clothes were exchanged, but slowly, as everyone was still giggling, as well as berating Cornelia. Nobody doubted for a moment that it had been her doing. And then disaster struck – a prefect arrived, looking into our late arrival at Fruhstuck.

“What’s going on up...” She stopped, seeing everyone in various states of undress and mostly laughing too much to do anything about it. “But what has happened?” she gasped.

“Sorry, Frieda,” Cornelia spoke up at once. “It was a joke.”

Frieda took control of the situation immediately. “Quickly – sort yourselves, and hurry downstairs. I will speak to you after Fruhstuck, Cornelia.” As she spoke, she started seizing tunics from random girls and checking the name tags on them.

“I helped,” I said, because I couldn’t leave Cornelia to be told off alone.

“Then you may report to me also,” said Frieda without looking round.

Cornelia mouthed thanks to me, and we hastily put on our own clothes.

People were still inclined to giggle over Cornelia’s trick while we breakfasted, but Cornelia herself was quiet, wondering what Frieda would do. I didn’t worry about that so much. I wondered instead if a report on this would make its way to my “uncle”, and what he would think of it.

After Fruhstuck we reported as ordered. Frieda was alone. Cornelia had said that she didn’t think the prefect would hand the matter to a mistress to deal with, but that the mistresses probably knew what had happened, as they would certainly have asked why so many people were late to Fruhstuck. She asked for an explanation.

“Well, I guess I just wanted to make people laugh,” Corney began. “The weather’s been so foul – I mean awful, and everyone’s miserable, so I just thought...”

That was all I heard. Outside, there was an Immortal. I could feel it. It’s probably just Adam, I tried to tell myself, but my heart started pounding all the same.

I tried to concentrate on Frieda’s lecture. I learned that we were to take meals and prep in solitude that day, and that we had to mend some small tears that had resulted from girls trying to squeeze into clothes several sizes too small for them. All I wanted was for her to stop talking and let us leave so that I could look outside and see who was there. At last we were able to leave.

Corney took hold of my hand. “You’ve gone awful pale,” she said, staring at me with concern on her face. “Frieda’s not that bad, really. She’ll forget about it now that she’s had her say. You’ll see.”

The sensation faded away; whoever was there was leaving.

“Come on,” said Corney, “we’d better do our dorm duties.”



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