At the end, Cina sat back, eyes bright with the racing of her brain. “Ejaculations, my dear! I’m going to the Head. Coming?”

“No, Cina—no!” Nellie protested. “I’m terrified!”

“Of what?”

Nellie frowned. “Just don’t go, Cina; please.”

“Don’t you want to be free of all this burden?”

“You think Miss Timber can force feelings in my classmates? It won’t do any good.”

“But don’t you want to say sucks to them?”

“Not at all! They’ll get what they deserve in due course. I’m not the one to merit out punishment, and nor are you.”

“Not doing anything won’t do any good.”

“Nor will doing anything.”

“Nellie! Sometimes you have to be really brave. Sometimes it’s you who has to be the miracle.”

Nellie compressed her lips.

“I’m going anyway,” Cina said, unlocking the door with a flourish.

“Oh, Cina!”

“You know you’ll have to eventually. It’s the only thing to do in the circumstances. Don’t be silly, Nellie! And stop clutching me like that. You’re a prefect: act like one and have a bit of dignity.”

“I never wanted to be a prefect! And I don’t do any good by being one!”

“Of course you do. If not for you, all the prefects would be useless. At least you try to uphold honour, even if most of the school are too blind and fickle to follow you.”

“Don’t go,” Nellie whispered.

“Alright, I won’t. But you should. I’ll leave it to your conscience. Don’t make things worse by turning down your chance to improve things. You can’t always do everything alone. At least you’d know if the highest power is behind you or not, and then you’d know whether you were in the right or the wrong. The offer’s always open that I’ll come with you if you decide to go to Miss Timber. That’s a promise.”

The door was open now, and Cina prepared to leave, but all of a sudden she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned, and met the resolute cloud-blue of Nellie’s eyes.

“Come on, then.”

The End

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