Chapter One; The Letter

Kate's hands were shaking as she watched her mother open The Letter. It contained Kate's future education, and a lot was riding on it. Her mother slid her thumb underneath the sticky glue seal, and ripped it open, pulling out an old piece of paper – almost like parchment – and began to skim the contents for words such as 'accepted'. She was grinning like a Cheshire cat for one moment, and then her face clouded over as she read the rest, and finally, relief spreading across her face once more as she reached the end of The Letter.

"So, am I in?" Kate asked anxiously.

"What? Oh, um, yes, of course you are." Her mother responded a little too hastily, and Kate was immediately suspicious.

"Mum, what's wrong?"

And suddenly, Mrs Sanders burst into tears. She let The Letter fall to her feet as she held her head in her hands, and didn't see when Kate retrieved it from her mother's feet.

She wasn't sure whether to read it or not, and then decided against it. But then the temptation of finding out what had upset her mother so much was enough for Kate to read The Letter.

She skipped the first few paragraphs, deciding that they weren't important.

Not now, anyway.

'…As you will be aware of, your daughter's tuition fees are nothing – the Academy will cater for that. However, the fact that your loving husband and your loving daughter were lost in a tragic accident here at the Academy, I do not want this to rest as a burden on young Kate's shoulders. As a scholarship, it gives me great pleasure to teach the last of this family's offspring. I do not want the grief to be on Kate's shoulders for the rest of her educational life, but to be a comfort when thinking of home. I look forward to teaching young Kate Sanders in my Academy, and I hope she will cherish the many happy memories she will have here.

Yours Sincerely,

Sir Alric Darke,

Headmaster, The Darke Academy….'

"Mum, its okay – I'm going to have a great time at the Academy. And I promise to come home every holiday in one piece, anyway!"

Kate and her mother giggled softly.

"Don't worry about me, Katy, I'll be safe and sound here at home, don't you worry."

"I wasn't worrying, Mum! And anyway, I won't be gone for long."

Well, six weeks.

"We're going to be just fine, you and me, Katy, you'll see."

'I certainly hope so.' Kate thought, as she gently hugged her sobbing mother.