A/N: Chapter 14!
Thank you to my readers, as always. Sorry I made you wait...
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.
Chapter 14 - Revenge
15th June 2009
My father and I had been sitting in my room for well over an hour now. Neither of us knew what was going on, and Esme still hadn't turned up. For the most part, we sat in complete silence. The fact Esme was making us wait was causing havoc to my insides, and I honestly felt as if I was going to go mad if I didn't get out the room anytime soon.
Unlike my father, who had taken up residence in the chair nearest my bed, I found myself unable to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. I kept walking passed the window just to get some fresh air. At one point, I merely stood looking out towards town, wondering what Jasper was doing now.
I was standing at the window with Jasper's contact details in my hand, when Esme finally came in. Her eyes lingered on my father for a moment before she turned to address me directly.
"I'm really sorry for making you wait," she said, sounding genuinely apologetic. "There was something I needed to get to the bottom of before I talked to the both of you."
I frowned, not really making much sense of her cryptic response. "Was it something to do with me?"
She hesitated, her gaze flickering to my father. "We'll talk about it once we get back to my office."
I was on high alert as I shared a glance with my father. Whatever it was, it had something to do with me, I was sure of it. If it wasn't, she'd have said. As we walked, I kept wishing she would pick up the pace. The tension was ever present, and the anticipation was damn near killing me.
Finally, we arrived at the office, and after telling her secretary not to let anyone in, she told us to take a seat in front of her desk. I sat down, my hands shaking slightly now we were here. This was it; this was where everything came to a head.
Before Esme could begin, my father cleared his throat. "Mrs Platt, before we begin, Alice has something to tell you regarding her whereabouts on the night of the incident."
My eyes nearly bugged out as I sharply turned to look at him. Was he for real? I wanted to ask him if it was impossible for him to keep quiet until Esme told us whatever she needed to. When I slowly turned back to look at Esme, she was looking at me, as if surprised by my father's announce.
However, my throat was completely dry with the words I couldn't form, and after a few seconds, Esme shook her head and clasped her hands in front of her.
"Actually, I don't think we'll necessarily need to know where you were that night, Alice," Esme informed us, her comment taking me by surprise.
I sat forward in my chair. "What do you mean?"
She looked almost hesitant as she glanced between us. "Some new evidence has arisen. Two people came forward and gave me reason to believe someone else was the culprit. I went to talk to the person accused – that was where I was before coming to talk to you. She eventually owned up to the crime."
Relief washed over me so quickly I felt a little lightheaded. Gripping the armrest, I tried to compose myself enough to speak.
"Who was it?"
Esme shook her head. "I'm sorry, Alice, I can't tell you that right now."
Her response irritated me, but I tried not to show it as my father asked the next question I had in mind. The authoritative tone of his voice made pride flare in my chest; he wasn't happy about this, I could see that immediately in the way he addressed her.
"So, what about this spray paint can you supposedly found in my daughter's room?"
"Well, that was explained, too," Esme replied, her usually composed demeanour looking slightly flustered. "The morning after the incident, she planted the evidence in Alice's room, intended Alice to get the blame."
"What?" I shrieked, anger bubbling through me quicker than the relief had, earlier. "I was set up? This is fucking outrageous!"
"Language, Alice," my father admonished quietly, making me settle down. "But I agree; this is outrageous. Why would someone do that?"
She met my eye briefly, before replying. "There were a few…reasons, of which I can't inform you of yet without telling who it was. For now, I hope you'll accept my apology, Alice, for ever doubting you."
I nodded, knowing it wasn't her fault. If the roles had been reversed, I probably wouldn't have believed myself, either. All the evidence had pointed towards me; the deal was almost signed, sealed and delivered. But now…now everything was different.
"What happens now?" I asked, knowing I'd repeated the exact same question Jasper had asked me earlier.
I discreetly shook my head, not wanting to think about him right now. Not when my complete attention had to be on Esme.
She smiled to herself. "Sadly, you'll have to put up with the English weather for another few weeks."
Breath gushed out of me as I clutched onto my father's arm. "Really? I really get to stay?"
"Yes, Alice, you get to stay," she said gently, the smile still on her face. "However, you did break the rules that night, and so I'll have to issue you with a detention and write a formal warning on your report."
I nodded quickly, not being able to stop the elated feeling spread through me. "Of course, God, yes, I'll take that."
My father moved so he could squeeze my hand. I held onto it tightly, letting my mind run away with itself. I was allowed to stay…I could spend more time with Angela, Bella, Jessica and Rosalie. But, most of all, I got to spend more time with Jasper.
I had to tell him.
"If it's okay with you, Mr Cullen, I'd like to talk to Alice on her own for a moment," Esme said, breaking me from my musings. My father nodded and departed the room, leaving me and Esme alone to talk. For a moment, she didn't say anything as she clasped her hands once again.
"So, are you going to tell me where exactly you were Saturday evening?"
I gulped. I knew full well I could lie to her, I could say anything just to settle her mind. But, after everything, I couldn't lie to her, not after what she'd told me about respecting me for telling the truth.
My lap suddenly became very interesting to stare at. I didn't want to see her reaction as I told her. "I was with Jasper…"
It was silent for a long while, and I winced, wondering how she was going to react. Her response, however, was something I hadn't expected.
"Thank you, Alice," she said softly, making me look up and study her expression. She was thanking me?
"What?" I asked, my brow furrowing in confusion. "You're not angry at me?"
She sighed, the corners of her mouth turning upwards. "Honestly, Alice, if you'd told me you were with him when we first talked, I probably would have been. But…just after nine this morning, I got a call from a rather distraught Jasper telling me you were with him, and that there was no way in the world you could have ever done it."
I looked down once again, but this time, it wasn't to escape her gaze. Jasper had told her, probably minutes after he'd left me this morning. I'd made him promise me he wouldn't tell her, but he'd gone and told her, anyway, in a last bid to get me to stay.
I was relieved. Esme knew about us now, and even though we weren't going to be completely obvious about our relationship in front of her, we didn't have to hide and distance ourselves whenever she was near.
"Alice, as his mother, I'm not going to pretend I'm overly happy to hear about the two of you," she continued. My heart sank at her words. "But…I'm not going to stop you from seeing each other. I can tell he really likes you, and it's pretty obvious you feel the same about him."
It was slightly awkward to talk to her about this, being the headmistress of the school and everything, but I nodded, nonetheless, wanting her to know just how serious I was about to Jasper. When I looked back up to meet her eye, she was smiling at me slightly, the kind of smile you wouldn't expect someone of her position to give.
"I think you should get out of here before I cross over the line between being your headmistress and Jasper's mother," she said, shooing me away with her hand.
I grinned. "Thanks, Esme."
I was halfway to the door when she stopped me. "Can you tell you father to come back in here, please," she said in a strangely nervous voice. "Oh, one more thing…Jasper said to tell you he'll see you on Saturday."
I looked back over my shoulder, a stupidly wide smile threatening to burst off my face. To save my embarrassment, I kept moving towards the door. My father came towards me the moment I stepped out and cocked his eyebrow when he saw my expression.
"Esme wants to see you," I told him, my voice still full of disbelief and happiness. He looked at the door behind me, but didn't go inside.
"Where are you going to go?" he asked a moment later.
"To see my friends…I want to let them know I'm staying," I replied, frowning as I thought about what he was going to do. "Are you going back home later today?"
Once again, he looked at the door behind me before shaking his head. "I'm not leaving until Thursday. I thought you'd be coming back with me, so I booked the return flight for a few days later, just so you had time to say goodbye to everyone properly."
Admiration washed over me as I stepped closer, having the sudden urge to embrace him. Even if I had been expelled today, we wouldn't have gone home for a few more days. He knew I'd need time to fully say goodbye.
"Thank you, Dad," I mumbled, my face against his chest. "I'm sorry for all the problems I've caused you over these past few months."
He sighed and pulled back, nudging my chin with his hand. "Don't worry about it, honey. You wouldn't be you if you weren't causing some kind of trouble. Now go on, you should go before I take that back."
We grinned before parting ways. I watched him knock and enter Esme's office before going off to find my roommates. When I checked the time, I knew they'd just be finishing their second class.
I sped up, hoping to catch them when they came out. Luckily, I got there just as I heard our teacher dismissing the class. I stood back, watching as the students stepped out. A couple looked at me, as if they knew what happened. Others totally ignored me until Angela stepped out, followed by Jessica, Bella and Rosalie.
"Alice!" Jessica exclaimed. They came rushing over, looking taken aback as they took in my obvious elation.
"What happened?" Bella continued.
I took a deep breath to stop from jumbling my words. "Someone came forward…I'm not being expelled. I'm staying!"
They showed different stages of pure shock as I finished. But after a moment, they all looked as ecstatic as I felt. I was staying…I didn't have to say goodbye yet. God, it was such a good feeling to let it fully sink in.
"What do you mean, someone came forward?" Rosalie asked, being the first to sober from the happy high.
I looked around; there were still a lot of people in the corridor, and I didn't want to risk anyone overhearing me. So I signalled for them to follow me, and soon enough we were making our way outside. It was a good thing we had a break time, or else I'd have to wait until the next class was over…and I really didn't want to wait for this.
"When my father and I went to see Esme, she told me us to wait in my room because she had to go see someone urgently," I told them, rushing over the words. "She came back about an hour later, and that's when she told us two people came forward and that she got a confession out of the girl who really did it."
They all shared a quick glance, before Bella asked, "What time did you go to see her?"
"It was a little after nine, I think. Why?"
Bella bit her lip, looking almost hesitant to tell me. "I think I know who did it…"
"What?" I gasped. "Who was it? Esme wouldn't tell me."
"I think…I think it was Maria," she finally whispered. Anger flared the second her response sank in. Maria? Part of me couldn't believe she had it in her to do something as audacious as that, but the other part of me could see it quite clearly. She hated me, and made it quite clear since day one; she wanted me out…and no one would have ever suspected her of doing such a crime. Me, on the other hand? I was the perfect suspect.
"That little bitch!" I ground out, clenching my hands into tight balls. "Who the hell does she think she is? That's taking things too fucking far! If I ever get my hands on her…"
My voice trailed away, being too livid to continue my threat. I let out a low growl and kicked at some stones around me. The girls just watched me, allowing me to let it out. After a few minutes, I took a deep breath, forcing the sensible side of me to show its face once again.
"So, how do you know it was her?" I asked, knowing I needed to be sure. Even if it wasn't Maria, I'd never be able to see eye-to-eye with her. Right now, though, I had to be sure. If I saw her, I'd most likely live to regret my actions.
"About half an hour into our first lesson, Esme came out looking Maria," Angela told me in her matter of fact voice. "She didn't come back to lesson after that, although…about ten minutes after Maria left, Nettie and Lucy joined the class."
It dawned on me what she was getting at. "Do you think it was Nettie and Lucy who came forward?"
The thought alone shocked me. Could it possibly be true? Could Nettie and Lucy – Maria's shadows – have been the ones to turn on their friend?
Jessica voiced my inner thoughts. "But why would they turn on their best friend? They pretty much got her expelled; you wouldn't catch me doing that with you guys."
"I'm not so sure they were best friends," Rosalie added, making us all turn to her. "Nettie and Lucy are, sure, but Maria? I don't know. I mean, we all know Maria is a bitch, but even they don't look happy to hang around with her most the time."
It was silent as we contemplated it. I hadn't seen them around often. Hell, I tried to avoid the trio most the time. But if what Rosalie said was true, then that meant they'd done it to save my back, too. Maybe they weren't as bad as I first thought…
I had to find out the truth.
"We need to find them," I told them seriously, already trying to work out where they'd be. "I want to get to the bottom of this."
Within seconds, they readily agreed with me.
It took quite a while to actually find them. We searched all the usual places, like the food hall, the dormitories, even out the front of the school. In the end, we found them sitting on the benches around the side. They actually looked a little apprehensive when we approached, but made no move to leave.
"Were you the ones to talk to Esme this morning? Was it Maria?" I asked as soon as I was close enough. I didn't see any point of beating around the bush; there wasn't time for that. I needed to know the truth and the sooner the better.
Nettie looked between us all, then at Lucy, before nodding. "How did you work it out? Did Esme tell you?"
I shook my head, but Rosalie answered for me. "You arrived late to lesson, coincidently just after Esme came to escort Maria to her office. It doesn't take a genius to put the pieces together."
"Why did you do it?" I asked when neither of them said anything. They still looked hesitant, and I had a fleeting thought they weren't supposed to talk about this until everything was final. Screw that, I wasn't waiting.
"Can we talk to you alone, Alice? Please?" It was Nettie that spoke again; it seemed Lucy just wanted to remain quiet. I looked at my roommates, and though I could tell they didn't want to, they told me they'd see me later. I waited until they were out of sight before I looked back at them, wanting answers.
I prompted them with my eyes, and Lucy took a deep breath. "We didn't know she was doing it. We would have tried to stop her if we had." Nettie nodded, but didn't input anything more. "In the morning, we saw her with the spray can…so we followed her. We saw her go into your room."
I gritted my teeth but didn't say anything. There were so many obscenities at the tip of my tongue, but I couldn't let them slip, not in their presence.
"We knew whatever she was planning, she was going to pin the blame on you," Nettie went on quietly. "It wasn't fair on you, and honestly? You're not as bad as she tries to make out. She took it too far…all because you rejected her offer when you first arrived…and obviously because of Jasper."
My heart skipped a beat at the mention of his name. "She did this because she's jealous I talk to Jasper? That's pathetic."
Well, more than just talk…
Once again, they both shared a hesitant glance. "There's something else…" This time, I could tell Lucy really didn't know whether or not to say it. I looked at her expectantly, anyway, knowing she had to tell me.
"Maria found out you stole the keys last month…she came to the conclusion that you were the one to put it in her pocket…"
My eyebrows rose; I'd all but forgotten about that incident, given everything that happened afterwards. I didn't say anything to them, what could I say? In a way, she'd done the same thing I'd done the month before…except…this was more serious…right? This wasn't just trying to get expelled; this was getting revenge on someone else.
It was the only way I could justify it.
"Oh." At first, it was all I could say in response. "I'm not all innocent in this…but like you said, Maria went too far."
After a beat, I added, "Thank you…for helping me. You didn't have to, but I'm really grateful you did."
They both nodded, but didn't make a further comment. There was a slight awkwardness in the air, and I honestly couldn't be surprised. They'd been friends with Maria for a long while, and up until today, I would have said they hated me as much as Maria had. To see they'd turned against their friend and helped me out of trouble…I'd never be able to repay them, but that didn't make it any easier to stand here talking to them.
In the end, I decided to leave them to it. I thanked them again, and then said I was going to look for my friends. I didn't search them out straight away, though, needing some time alone to think. Today had brought me a lot to think about.
Not only about Maria, but it also made me think about myself. At the start of term, I'd done some things that I weren't proud of. Looking back, I knew I shouldn't have tried to set Maria up in the first place. Maybe this entire situation still would've happened, but how could I be sure? I didn't know, and I couldn't help but feel that this was as much my fault as it was Maria's for committing the crime in the first place.
That didn't excuse Maria, though, not by a long shot. As I finally started looking for my roommates, I secretly hoped I'd run into Maria. My father didn't condone physical violence, but right now, I didn't give a fuck.
I was still mad enough to say the bitch deserved it.
A/N: What do you think? I tried to keep things in canon with Nettie and Lucy turning on Maria. As for Alice, she's realising what goes around comes around. She definitely learnt her lesson here. But who'd have thought Maria had it in her? Jealously gets to everyone.
I hate when this happens, but this is the last chapter I've written. This is a problem when I'm writing like ten things at the same time…I'll see you guys again soon, hopefully.