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.

Chapter Two; Packing

Kate ascended slowly up the staircase as she apprehended the situation – she, Kate Amelia Sanders, was going to the glorious Darke Academy.

Unless they made a big mistake.

As she entered her cream – walled bedroom she came across another problem. What was she supposed to pack? The uniform was not mentioned in the letter that Kate and her mother had received, so she guessed that there wasn't one.

Oh God, what am I supposed to do? It's not as if I can ask the Head if there is a uniform – I don't know where he lives. And even I did, it would be downright embarrassing!

In the end, she decided that there wasn't any point in worrying – she just made a list of all the things that she thought she would need, and then consulted her mum to look over the list.

"Uh…Mum?" Kate asked nervously.

"Yeah?" She replied in a sing – song voice, for she had been singing along to the radio whilst making their dinner.

"Um... Can you have a look at this? It's a list of the stuff I think I'll need, but I'm not so sure." Kate stuttered.

"Sure, honey, could you take Willow for a walk?"

"Um, sure. Where'd the lead disappear to?"

"Probably under her bed."

Willow was Kate's ten year old collie. She wasn't really excited by the prospect of walking – in fact she would rather have stayed in bed, beside the cooker, but was ushered out of the house before she could argue.

Kate didn't walk far for two reasons – She didn't want to spend any more of her time (that she could be spending on packing) just meandering around the dreary, boring lanes of Somerset. She didn't want to think about leaving Croome High, her current school, as then Abigail would have no friends when Kate left. She sighed. She had not option except to go. Of course, she could beg the Head of the Academy to ask Abigail to the school as well, but then she may not want to come. Kate sighed again, and then turned for home, with Willow happily following her lead.