World War Burst S2: Part 9

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[13:29:27] * Oxford changes topic to 'Weekly Classwork Packet - Get well soon, Henriette! Mr. Fortaw'
[13:36:09] <~Oxford> As every Monday since the start of their comrade's supposed illness, Loewin is held afterschool for a moment while Mr. Fortaw puts together a folder of the assignments Henriette will be missing this week. This time, Marina has waited along with her, and in turn Maggie is hovering somewhere by the gate. Three's a crowd, after all.
[13:49:03] <Henriette> Bored as hell (get it?) from sitting around the mansion, Henriette has actually snuck out to hide in a tree. Try as she might to get her wings to work outside her transformation, though, she is inevitably forced to clamber into a tree with lower branches near the gate. She's waiting in the denser regions just as the school let's out.
[13:52:58] <Marina> During the wait, Marina gives Loewin more than a few glances. She looks oddly distracted all the while, as though it may be an aftereffect of her illness, and isn't very attentive today unlike the norm. Just waiting and watching.
[13:55:59] <Loewin> Loewin continuously fidgets with what would appear to be her waistline, looks of mild discomfort cropping up periodically. Regardless, she gives Fortaw one of the many pointless yet socially standardized words of thanks for doing something he's not only obligated to do as a teacher but that doesn't even aid her.
[13:57:10] <Marina> In that case she gets stared at even MORE. As soon as she's finished with her business, the albino wipes a worried look off her face and returns to stoic staring.
[13:58:44] <~Oxford> After a few moments, their teacher returns from the classroom, a thin folder tucked under his arm. Mr. Fortaw has been looking a bit more haggard lately, and his chin shows stubble from more than one missed shave. Nevertheless, he smiles as he passes the papers to Loewin. "Here you are, then. Take care on the way home."
[14:00:05] <Loewin> "Thank you, sir! You too!" She frowns after realizing what she did but it does not last long before the smile returns with a vengeance.
[14:00:21] <~Oxford> "Oh, one more thing," he asks quickly, and his voice lowers as he glances over her shoulder.
[14:01:18] <Loewin> "Hm?" She perks up with a pensive look.
[14:01:52] <~Oxford> "Has your governess left permanently, or will she be back later, or…?" He trails off as if the question were entirely casual, and he hadn't been wondering about it for weeks at all.
[14:04:57] <Loewin> Her eyes seem to dim somewhat before she responds. "For the foreseeable future, she shan't be returning. Though if she were to return for any length of time, I shall be sure to inform you." Comforting smile of comfort. Or actually it's pretty sad.
[14:07:19] <~Oxford> "Oh. I see," he says, smile dimming in turn. "Well, thank you. Just curious." He waves her off distractedly. "Tell Henriette I hope she feels better."
[14:10:42] <Loewin> Catching herself briefly as she turns to depart, Loewin nods at Fortaw. "Of course…oh…sir…I believe that should our governess be here or not, she would like you to look your best!" She taps at her own little girl stubble, or lackthereof, with a grin and heads back toward home.
[14:12:16] <~Oxford> He blinks, and continues to wave distractedly as they head away from the school. As they pass out through the gate, Maggie detaches herself from the corner and scurries up to Marina, following her a half-step behind.
[14:14:25] <Marina> Marina stopped staring and followed Loewin wordlessly, but notices whom she'd made wait a moment later. "Oh, I'm sorry- I thought you would've went on without me."
[14:18:03] <Loewin> Too busy fidgeting with what Marina can surely tell by now is something about rope-thick wrapped around her waist, the tiniest Sachsen glances back toward Marina with a puzzled look only to yelp in surprise and rigidly drops her arms to her side upon noticing the girl tailing them.
[14:18:50] <~Oxford> "Oh! Uh, no…" says the mousy girl with the brown hair. Today she's wearing a white ribbon in her braids, though it looks a bit yellowed and stained. "Actually, I…wanted to ask you something," she continues, more hesitently than usual for their after-school walks.
[14:21:15] <Marina> The ghostly maiden doesn't look like she's fully-recovered or well-rested at all, giving off an appearance like she could burst into a coughing fit any second. But she hasn't yet, and supposedly that's enough to not keep her from going to school. From her glances, she was about to say something to the midget as well, but decides to be patient and look Maggie in the eyes. (By the way it's 'hesitantly.') "Hmm? Sure, what is it?"
[14:22:27] * Henriette leans in close as the group passes beneath the tree she is up in. She's doing her best not to glimmer like a lightning bug on a warm summer eve, but residual magic doesn't follow one's wishes often. Still, maybe she can drop in step behind them and surprise Marina and Loewin! If only that Maggie girl would leave…
[14:25:11] <~Oxford> "Well, uh…you live with Henriette, right?" Maggie asks, fidgeting. "Now that she's sick, do you know if her and Dirk are still…"
[14:25:47] <Henriette> STARING.
[14:28:10] <Marina> She has to struggle not to laugh. And does sort of terribly, letting out a small giggle before composing herself. "I'm afraid I don't know much in detail. Have you tried asking him yourself?" She says almost teasingly, but good-naturedly. Apparently.
[14:29:53] <Loewin> With a strong flavor of irritation, Loewin grumbles curtly to the pair without turning her head. "They're together."
[14:31:06] <Marina> A sigh. "That's a harsher way to put it."
[14:31:47] <Henriette> Moving carefully from tree trunk to tree trunk, Henriette continues to stay just out of sight but still in earshot of the trio, being the Gaulian spy is probably is.
[14:31:48] <~Oxford> "Ask him-" she begins, before the shorter girl cuts in. Maggie squeaks involuntarily and hops behind Marina. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean…"
[14:33:31] <~Oxford> The brown-haired girl folds her hands and stares at the dirt road beneath her feet. "They're together. I see…"
[14:33:53] <Marina> "It's alright," she rolls her eyes at the Sachsen, looking a bit too-sick-for-this-shit but tries to fake a smile anyway. "What she said is all we know, but I haven't pried much."
[14:35:43] <Marina> After trying to be reassuring, it hits Marina like a brick house that there isn't anything particularly uplifting she can follow up with, and at the idea of relationships in general she begins to do much the same as Maggie does, distracted by the road beneath them.
[14:39:50] <Loewin> Realizing her rudeness, Loewin sighs as her body calms into a more natural posture. "I did not mean to calm across so…cruelly. My apologies…hm…Maggie, was it? But…I have seen the love letters."
[15:48:44] <~Oxford> "L-love letters?!" Maggie asks, with alarm. Her upper lip quivers, and her clenched hands go up to her mouth.
[15:51:03] <Marina> "Are there really…?" Clearly somebody hasn't been as involved in the snooping.
[15:53:32] <Loewin> Solemn nod, though she'd be lying if she said she wasn't feeling a little schadenfreude. "I'm afraid so. And given that…hm…nevermind." Maggie receives a rather suspicious glance. Anyone could be a spy!
[15:54:51] <Marina> "Are you sure you're not exaggerating?" Marina manages a sigh while walking forward on autopilot.
[15:55:37] <Henriette> "Ah! Un rival en amour!" Henriette whispers from her hiding spot, a delicate hand sweeping across her brow. A grand story, indeed!
[15:57:13] <~Oxford> Maggie stops walking to listen while Loewin speaks, only to have to trot to catch back up. "Given that…?" she says softly, waiting intently for the Sachsen girl to continue.
[15:59:15] <Loewin> Irritated that she was careless enough to nearly touch up on more sensitive information, Loewin fills in the gap. "Given that the tone of the letters I've seen was quite…personal, they seem quite smitten with one another."
[16:02:40] <~Oxford> "…oh…" says Maggie flattly, and this time she stops walking entirely. With her head down, her eyes are hidden from view, but soft sniffling sounds come from behind her bangs.
[16:04:11] <Henriette> A sudden outburst of sobbing echoes from the trees nearby. This is just too sad to bear watching.
[16:06:25] <Marina> "Nngh…" The albino prepares to speak but finds herself caught off guard by sudden noise. "Who's there?"
[16:07:10] <Loewin> "Really, my-" The richest of little girls manages to keep her tail under wraps as she's distracted by ghost sobbing. And Marina's right here! There can't be TWO ghosts!
[16:10:13] <Henriette> Gasping as she's been unwittingly caught in the act of voyeurism, Henriette attempts to make for another bush to hide in, but her magical glow is like a lighthouse for wayward sailors. It says, "This way, girls!"
[16:11:45] <~Oxford> Maggie doesn't call out, but the noise does make her look up from her feet and glance around frantically.
[16:13:01] <Marina> "… Someone's been listening to us," as cooly as possible. "Should we follow them?"
[16:14:31] <Loewin> A very angry girl dons the masquerade of a sly smile. "Or perhaps they might realize they glow like the sun."
[16:15:59] <Marina> Marina folds her arms and sighs once more. "Let's keep going."
[16:16:06] <Henriette> Nope. She's dumb. Stopping just up the path in another patch of trees, Henriette attempts to nonchalantly lean against a tree while waiting for the group to disperse. If only that Maggie girl would go home already!
[16:17:58] <Loewin> Whatever, as long as Maggie is more scared than intrigued, they might at least be able to preserve the illusion.
[16:19:51] <~Oxford> At a certain point, however, even a distraught Maggie has to notice that one of the trees along the path is emitting a rather unusual glow. "Who…is someone there?" she calls out.
[16:21:14] <Loewin> Groan. "Henriette, I dearly hope not even you are fooled into thinking yourself hidden."
[16:22:53] <Marina> Perfect time for a follow-up. "Did you have something to say, LeClair?"
[16:24:22] <Henriette> A girl dressed in a pragmatic light blouse appears sullenly from behind a tree, eyes red and cheeks stained with tears. "N-non… I… Oh, Margarette, I am so sorry!" Dashing forward, her arms wrap around the smaller girl. "Mais I cannot let you have him!"
[16:25:43] <Marina> "Well…" She scratches her head. "This explains things better than I was able to." .. And then notices that Henri's wings are probably exposed, aren't they?
[16:25:55] <Loewin> Loewin prepares to pry Henriette off before realizing that she is not in fact strangling Maggie.
[16:27:09] <Henriette> Her wings are not only exposed, but atop her head floats a golden ring of magical light, and a soft glow of the same color emanates from her form. She's probably got Maggie pressed against her chest though, so who knows if she's noticed yet!
[16:27:34] <~Oxford> The smaller girl barely manages to let out a gasp and take a half-step back before being enveloped by the Gaulian. "What are…" she says quietly, her arms hanging limply at her sides.
[16:28:48] <Loewin> "Please do not be alarmed, she means you no harm. She is simply…" She mulls over the correct way to phrase it, "…stupid."
[16:29:56] <Henriette> "I did not mean entendre la conversation! I was simply bored in la maison and wanted to greet you both as you returned! I… I had not expected Margarette to come with you." Of course Maggie and Marina walk home together. She is pretty stupid!
[16:29:56] <Marina> Well that's enough to make the cryomancer facepalm. She closes her eyes to pretend it's a dream for as long as she can, but begrudgingly opens them and pretends not to be annoyed at how easily everything they've done to maintain a cover was just ruined.
[16:31:14] <Marina> "Margarette and I have been walking home together since I came here." Yep, pretty stupid.
[16:31:29] <Henriette> "Oh! Oh I knew that!"
[16:33:15] <~Oxford> Maggie is still entrapped in Henriette's arms as the latter carries on. "Get…" she says quietly, still sniffling, "get off me."
[16:34:39] <Marina> "But, what's done is done." With even another sigh. "I'll trust you to be able to explain yourself."
[16:34:54] <Henriette> Releasing her like a mollusk releases a sea urchin it has accidentally latched onto, Henriette stares apologetically at the girl, tears welling at her eyes. "I… Margarette, please do not be angry!"
[16:35:06] <Loewin> "Why…why would you trust her with that…"
[16:35:41] <Marina> "Because I'd rather not explain somebody else's personal affairs myself."
[16:37:31] <~Oxford> "You…you're horrible," Maggie says in the same flat voice. "You come into our town and just take whatever you want, like it doesn't matter." She seems oblivious to Marina and Loewin's presence, and she doesn't make eye contact with Henriette, but her tone is suddenly possessed of a dreadful firmness.
[16:38:55] <Marina> She whispers within Loewin's earshot, "On second thought… maybe I should've."
[16:39:01] <~Oxford> "I've wanted Dirk to notice me since elementary school. And you just come in…You won't even be here much longer. You'll just leave, and move on, and forget about how you ruined everything."
[16:39:02] <Henriette> "Quoi? T-take… Non! I do not… Margarette!" At a loss for words, the taller girl begins to bawl uncontrollably, knees wobbling.
[16:41:11] <~Oxford> "What gives you the right to…just because you're so pretty… you…" Maggie's voice finally starts to waver, and the sight of the crying girl in front of her finally breaks into her monotone. All at once, she starts crying too.
[16:44:30] <Henriette> "Je suis désolé, Margarette!" Henriette sniffles out through the rivulets flowing from her eyes. She sinks to her knees, though that probably still leaves her almost eye level with the other girl. "I… I needed someone to lean on! And… I can see why you like him…"
[16:45:56] <Henriette> She looks helplessly at Marina. She's friends with Maggie, right? Do something!
[16:46:54] <Marina> Nearby the crybabies is a muffled groan that still manages to be far too loud. "This… shouldn't be happening in such a public place. The two of you need time to yourselves to talk out your differences."
[16:47:07] <Marina> "That's the most painless solution."
[16:48:03] <~Oxford> "It's selfish…" Maggie says quietly, gasping to stop her sobbing. "For me, too. I know I don't just get to…to claim him, or something. But still…"
[16:50:30] <Loewin> "Well now that that cat's out of the bag…" Loewin reaches under her uniform and unties a few knots, letting her tail loose as she grins with a sigh of satisfaction.
[16:51:10] <Marina> "I was taking care not to mention it directly so that it wouldn't turn into an issue like this…" Might as well just be perpetually facepalming at this point.
[16:52:26] <Henriette> There's no obvious attempt from Henriette to stop crying. She's just letting herself go. Of course Marina is right, but where do they go now? The anxiety just exacerbates her crying. "Je suis… I d-didn't mean to… steal…" An idea! "Listen, Margarette, why don't you come with us home? We can talk… I want to be friends… dans ma chambre."
[16:54:08] <~Oxford> "Uh, okay…" the girl replies meekly. With her minor tirade having let the steam out of her, Maggie seems to be returning to her usual self.
[16:55:47] <Marina> "I'm not sure if…" … "Nevermind. I'd rather that than lingering hostilities. How about I make some tea for you both?"
[17:00:34] <Henriette> Unable to respond through her tears, Henriette rises to her feet and stumbles awkwardly towards the mansion, hoping Maggie isn't too angry with her.
[17:00:53] <~Oxford> Maggie starts to agree, but trails off before she's even started. Now that she's free from Henriette's arms, the plain girl is shuffling back toward the protection of Marina's shadow.
[17:01:38] <Loewin> With a groan, Loewin offers a shoulder to Henri.
[17:01:49] <Henriette> "Marina could… talk with us? There are some things… she should hear too, I think."
[17:03:09] <Marina> "There were some things I wanted to ask about, but… this deserves to be settled for now." Wearing an oh-so-fake smile, she extends a hand to Maggie to lead her to their magical land of Wightshead, knowing fully well how they'll probably get yelled at for bringing an uninvited guest in.
[17:04:38] <Henriette> Henriette shrugs off Loewin's help and leads the way back to Wightshead, her longer legs and quicker pace leading her far ahead of her companions.
[17:07:13] <Loewin> Loewin smiles. The sun shines. The grass grows. These are all things that are always happening.
[17:10:45] <~Oxford> There's no sight of Col. Vaughn as they approach the mansion, but as soon as they open the front door the smell of bleach and polish hits them. The floor and banister look particularly shiny today, and from upstairs they can hear the sound of somebody scrubbing in the bathroom.
[17:13:03] <Henriette> Looking solemnly at her companions, Henriette gestures to follow her around the somebody towards the bedrooms. Best not to alert the head honcho that guests were brought to your SECRET MILITARY WITCH DORMITORY.
[17:14:41] <Marina> The tea-lover groans that she didn't get to ask about the operation, but gets to work preparing exactly what they promised as soon as they arrive. Might as well do it quietly.
[17:15:52] <Loewin> Arriving last, her pace apparently beleaguered by more than her short stature, Loewin follows.
[17:21:09] <~Oxford> Through the bathroom door, the Colonel calls out as he hears them on the stairs, but doesn't look up. "Back from school, then? Good, good. Don't mind me, just keeping up with the upkeep!" He sighs. "How did the Major get all this done herself?" he asks, mostly to himself.
[17:22:29] <Henriette> She used her feminine charms on the dirt. Henriette is dead silent as she walks by, trying her best to stay out of Vaughn's attention beams. Vweeeom. Vweeom.
[17:23:06] <~Oxford> While he's distracted, Maggie follows Henriette into the bedroom, shifting awkwardly from one leg to the other until she's invited to sit.
[17:27:21] <Henriette> The bedroom is a mess of half-finished designs and stacks of books and spools of thread and yarn everywhere. The bed is immaculately made, even though it's also covered by the massive array of supplies. In the corner of the room are three manikins draped with two mostly complete dresses and one swimsuit design in need of heavy redesign. Henriette works dilligently to remove her mess from
[17:27:22] <Henriette> a softer armchair next to her bedside table for Maggie. "Excusez-moi, Margarette. I have… not been allowed to leave much, and… it is easy to get… what is it called? 'Cabin fever'?"
[17:29:02] <Marina> Rina tries not to let the girl get TOO uncomfortable and hurries to get each of them a cup. It's probably mint or something today, considering that was popular at Wightshead to begin with.
[17:31:22] <Henriette> There… MIGHT be another chair in Henriette's room, but they don't get many visitors, so it's likely being used as a shelf next to the bed. Marina will have to work out a place to sit. I recommend Angie's lap.
[17:31:39] <Loewin> Loewin would bring in chairs from other rooms if they were needed and sits on hers in the corner, at first on her tail before changing positions with a yelp.
[17:35:30] <~Oxford> Maggie takes the offered cup and touches it to her lips, but the tea is still too hot, and she moves it back quickly. The shelves within arm's reach are all covered in sowing supplies, forcing her to hold the cup uncomfortably in her lap while she waits for it to cool.
[17:37:38] <Henriette> "Ah!" Henriette shuffles more of her supplies from the shelf to the floor. "Margarette… I… I have not actually been sick." BOY, WHAT A FOOT TO LEAD ON. GO GET 'EM TIGER.
[17:40:26] <~Oxford> "Oh…" the girl replies distantly. She glances down into her reflection in the teacup, not sure whether she should say more.
[17:42:39] <Henriette> "I…" Leaning back on her bed suddenly reminds her that her wings exist and she sits upright with sudden pain of moving joints that do not exist. "Oh, ouch! Margarette… do… do these not bother you? Y-you have been very… accepting."
[17:45:06] <Marina> If Loewin is still nearby Marina gives her subtle glances implying 'it's hopeless' and such. The most reasonable thing she could do at this stage is ask the Sachsmidget for details on the operation while Henri ruins everything, but this trainwreck is too compelling to ignore.
[17:45:55] <~Oxford> "Well, um…" Maggie begins, pausing to take another experimental sip at her tea. Still too warm. "You're with the military, so…" It comes to mind that Angie is, incidentally, the town's lead up-and-coming gossip queen.
[17:46:32] <Loewin> She's probably nearby, but she's quite busy in her own little world and is really only in the room should she be needed.
[17:48:24] <Henriette> "S-so everyone knows… That's what Angie said. Oui." Henriette fidgets in her lap. "Then… you must understand how… difficile et dangereux what it is we do is, non?"
[17:49:39] <Loewin> Loewin snaps to attention. "Wait, how did ever- Angela! Should have known she was snooping…" Mad midget.
[17:50:37] <Henriette> A sniffle from Henriette precedes a giggle. "We aren't very good at secrecy, Loewin…"
[17:50:50] <Marina> "Are you serious?" Comes a grumble. A grunt? It's not even a question to anybody, just muttered with a twitch.
[17:51:42] <Marina> "How did SHE of all people even… Ergh, never mind."
[17:53:41] <Henriette> "Don't hate her! She… she told me who might be the real spy! The spy Vaughn thought I was…" She looks despairingly at Maggie, hoping the girl's reactions reveal some level of sympathy.
[17:54:19] <Henriette> "A Nov!"
[17:54:32] <~Oxford> "It's dangerous…?" Maggie says, the question in her voice tied more to the relevance of the statement than its truth. "Yes, of course…." she mumbles as the side conversation overtakes her own small voice.
[17:54:47] <Marina> "You're going to confuse her if you jump into different subjects like that," said with a blink.
[17:56:57] <Marina> "Don't get distracted, LeClair. Say what you were going to."
[17:57:31] <Henriette> "Oh, je suis désolé, Margarette…" She hadn't meant to get off topic. Whoops. "Mais… it is very dangerous… The mag- weapons we use have… side-effects, non?" Gesturing towards the wings and her halo, she continues. "And… it is effrayant, frightening. I… I needed someone to rely on, outside of…" Another gesture, this time at Marina and Loewin.
[18:00:20] <Loewin> "If basically everyone knows, I guess I don't really have to be here to help explain anything…welcome to Wightshead, Maggie." Loewin excuses herself, dragging her chair back to her room with a terribly obnoxious screech as she badmouths Angela the entire way, her tail hanging rigid as a cat stalking its prey.
[18:02:58] <~Oxford> "I, uh, I get it…" Maggie says, "but you have lots of people you can talk to that would understand what you're going through. Does it have to be him…?"
[18:07:14] <Henriette> "Ma belle, I didn't… I didn't know at first… I am not… not very observant or smart, mais once I went out with him, I…" She stares at her feet. "I do not want to be égoïste, mais… I do want to."
[18:14:53] <~Oxford> Her meek classmate finally manages to take a sip of the tea, but her eyes stay at around knee-level as she replies. "Right. That's how it works, after all…" Maggie says, sniffling once. "You're pretty and special, so people give you what you want. Not like me…"
[18:20:21] <Henriette> "Qoui? Margarette, I would give up these…" The venom in her voice regarding her wings is palpable. "If it meant I could live like you… I am not special… I hate this, and…" She smiles. "I am glad you think that I am pretty. I work hard on mon apparence, mais… that does not mean you are not pretty. Everyone has potential, et beauté is subjectif! I…" She falters. What else can
[18:20:21] <Henriette> she say?
[18:29:48] <~Oxford> "Right…" Maggie replies, fiddling with the fuzzy end of her braid. She still hasn't looked Henriette in the eye this entire time, but now she looks at Marina, almost pleadingly.
[18:33:23] <Henriette> "Margarette… I want to be friends, ma belle. I do not want to live her afraid of… everyone, mais… if… if Dirk means that much to you…" she says, fidgeting. "He should be with someone who isn't going to just blow up fighting for Albaea, I suppose… or something…"
[18:34:55] <Henriette> "Mais… but… It is his decision, non? Not… not mine o-or yours."
[18:37:37] <~Oxford> The girl looks up swiftly as Henriette speaks, and finally looks at her directly. Tears sparkle urgently in the corners of her eyes. "Please…! If you agree with me, then it's your decision too!"
[18:41:00] <Henriette> Henriette is shocked to see her stare right at her, and promptly bursts into tears. "But… I do not agree! I am scared, Margarette! I cannot say yes mais I cannot say non either! I-if… if this is something you want, you must make him decide. I cannot…" Racked with sobs, she buries her face in her hands.
[18:43:36] <Henriette> "I am going to quit," she says with finality. "This life hurts too much."
[18:47:34] <~Oxford> "Quit…?" Maggie begins to ask, but senses that a decision has been made. She unsteadily sets down her teacup and glances again at Marina, unsure of what to do next.
[18:51:10] <Henriette> "Quitting the military, oui…" She stands, eyes watering once more. "Margarette, if you want… Dirk… You must make him notice you. I do not want you to, mais I can do nothing. Et… I need to go talk to my… superior. Will you and Marina go? She knows where you live, non?"
[18:56:11] <~Oxford> Maggie's face goes red as she's summarily dismissed from the teaparty. She nods and scuttles to the door. With a shrug, Marina follows behind her, leaving Henriette alone amidst the scattered cloth and porcelain.
[18:59:24] <Henriette> Turning and collecting a red dress from a hook in her closet, she eyes the bodice carefully and lays it on the bed with a mental note to fit it to a smaller build before sniffing and closing the door. She sinks heavily into her armchair, hands pressed against her cheeks, and she sobs before her impending talk with the Colonel. Not all stories have endings, let alone happy ones, and not
[18:59:25] <Henriette> all characters are the protagonist, she thinks.
[19:00:59] <~Oxford> /session