A/N: Another flashback chapter. It just worked a little better than switching back to the present quite yet. Thanks so much for all your feedback so far. I really appreciate it :)
Maura arches her back against the hot stream of water spewing from the shower head, relieving the tension in her aching muscles. She is so very tired, and she has difficulty remembering the last time she has had a proper night sleep.
She turns around, closing her eyes as she lets the water pour down her face. A sob tears through her, and she reaches for the shower wall, supporting her body weight with her arm as she tries not to fall. When was the last time she even took a shower? What homework must she complete for tomorrow? She doesn't remember these things either.
It's so hard to take care of herself when she spends all her time worrying about the person she loves most.
She's nodding off against the wall when she hears shuffling footsteps approach her. She rubs her eyes, her throat tightening when she sees Hattie's tear streaked face with a fresh slap mark across her cheek. He always hits her when she cries.
"Maura," Hattie chokes. "You have to stop waiting for me. You have to stop." She begins to cry harder.
Maura rises to her feet, saying nothing as she wraps her arms around Hattie's shaking form. She finds Hattie's hand, leading her toward her room.
"You have to stop taking care of me," Hattie wipes her eyes, her knees quivering. Maura hates to see her in so much pain.
"I love you," Maura says fiercely, the first time Maura has ever uttered the phrase not out of duty, letting Hattie know that she's not going anywhere.
She quietly opens the door to Hattie's room, being careful not to wake the other girls. After helping Hattie into bed, she settles down beside her, stroking Hattie's tangled, sweaty hair until she falls asleep.
"Well, well, well if it isn't Maura Isles," Headmaster Rousseu eyes light up in a way that make Maura's stomach churn as she enters the familiar office. She has not been in here since the night Hattie fervently pleaded with her to stay away, and she is surprised (and a little hurt though her conscious thoughts deny this) that he has not called for her. "And where might Ms. Schultz be that you were able to escape from her watchful eye?"
Maura looks up sharply at the mention of Hattie's name, never hating anyone as much as she does the vile man sitting before her.
"Ah, did she not tell you?" the headmaster says playfully.
"Tell me what?" Maura spits. "What else are you doing to her?" She stands up to her full height, wanting nothing more than to hurt him as much as he has hurt her.
"I've missed seeing you, as you can probably imagine―I enjoy your company, but Ms. Schultz was quite adamant when she told me that she did not want me to see you again. Imagine my disappointment, sweet Maura―but she offered to come twice as often to visit me if I'd let you be," his eyes gleam maniacally, and Maura wonders what she ever saw in him.
"No," Maura's knees buckle. "No―she didn't. No..."
"But that is beside the point, Ms. Isles. What brings you here today?" He brushes off the previous topic as if they were merely discussing the weather.
Maura sits back down, feeling faint. She knows very well why she came down here―to plead with him, to beg him to stop, to ask him to take her instead of Hattie. But the words remain stuck between her dry lips. She looks down at her shoes, licking her lips tentatively.
"Second guessing yourself, Ms. Isles?" he mutters with a faint grin. "Because I know very well why you are here." She looks at him sharply. He rises, circling around his desk, taking a strand of Maura's honey colored hair in his grasp. Maura stops breathing. "You're very pretty―and I cannot wait to see how age will favor you." He drops her curl, moving his pointer finger to her chin, tilting her head toward his. "But if I take you instead, then I'm afraid Ms. Schultz will have to go...you can't pay for her," he mutters thoughtfully, pulling his hand away from Maura's face.
Maura bites her lip.
"Of course, then she would be safe," he adds. Maura bites down harder, tasting blood. "But she would not be here. And we both know you want that, Maura," he concludes, sitting back down behind his desk. "We aren't so very different, now are we?" Maura feels the skin break beneath her teeth. She doesn't dare look at him. "Selfish, even when it comes to what we love."
Maura rises from her seat again, her tiny body quivering with anger. "You don't love her!" she spits. "You don't love her at all."
He responds with only a faint chuckle. She opens her mouth, but a strangled sob only escapes from her lips. She leaves in a frenzy, furiously wiping away her tears, knowing that every word he has said is true.
"Where were you?" Hattie says sharply, finding Maura in her room.
"Must I always tell you everything?" Maura spits back just as sharply, glad her tears have run their course.
"I'm sorry," Hattie's face softens. She sits beside Maura, beginning to gently rub her back. "I'm just scared, Maura. Scared for you...scared for myself. And I hate that you're a part of all this now," Hattie says, her voice heavy with guilt.
"Don't, Hattie. Just...don't," she sighs, falling back against her pillow, beginning to cry again.
"It's hardly fair what I'm doing to you," Hattie's voice cracks as she speaks.
No, Maura fiercely berates herself. It's hardly fair what I am doing to you.
"...and that girl she spends all her time with-"
"The pretty blonde one?"
"Yes, that's the one. I've heard she's Headmaster Rousseu's whore..."
Maura stands in the doorway, aware that Molly and Marguerite are oblivious to her presence.
"You know, people typically close the door before they gossip," Maura says in a huff as she enters the room. She's hardly ever rude or spiteful, but her anger and frustration have been seeping out into her behavior lately.
"Maura!" Molly exclaims in surprise. Marguerite blushes furiously.
"Maura, I'm-" Molly begins, her face soft and apologetic.
"Don't," Maura spits, leaving the room once again, inevitable tears spilling down her face once again, because apparently crying's about the only thing she's good at anymore.
She hasn't seen Hattie in nearly three days now, one of her roommates always informing her that she is not there every time she stops by, and Maura has to wonder if her harsh mannerisms from their last encounter has caused Hattie to avoid her.
She begins to walk toward the library, but she ends up at the door to Hattie's room instead, crossing her arms tightly across her chest after she had knocked.
"Maura..." one of her roommates, Cordelia, a tall, dark-haired girl answers, blocking the door with her body, looking annoyed.
Maura keeps her feet planted firmly on the ground.
"She's not here."
She hears a shuffling from behind the door. "Cor..." the voice is soft and full of pain. Hattie. "Let her in."
Cordelia looks back behind her shoulder. "Are you sure?"
Maura assumes Hattie has nodded, because Cordelia dutifully answers the door, stepping away to let Maura answer. Hattie is curled up in bed, her face pale and clammy. Maura's stomach churns, the wind knocked out of her when notices the sheets are tinted a shade of reddish brown.
"Hattie!" she rushes to her friend's side in a rush of panic, her mind trying to comprehend the cause of Hattie's ailment. Hattie clenches her abdomen, and it doesn't take long for Maura to self diagnose her. "Why," she pauses to gulp in breath. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Hattie winces, and Maura's heart breaks to see her like this. "I didn't even know...until I started bleeding," Hattie whispers. "And then I didn't want to worry you...I've already burdened you with so much."
"How long?" Maura asks, brushing Hattie's hair away from her forehead.
"Just a few days now. It just got bad today...really bad," she motions to the blood on her sheets that have soaked through her clothing and protection. "How long does a miscarriage last?" Hattie asks, finding Maura's eyes.
At age fourteen, Hattie should not be losing a child, and at eleven, Maura should not know the logistics behind it. "A week to two weeks, at the longest," she states, her lips dry. "But the blood flow will vary...and if it gets any worse than this, you should probably see a doctor..."
Hattie's eyes grow wide with fear, and Maura reaches to squeeze her hand. "It's all going to be okay."
Hattie manages a weak smile. "Thank you, Maura. For everything."
"Can I see her again?" Maura asks, knocking impatiently on Hattie's door once again.
Cordelia answers, chewing nervously on her lip. "Maura...it quite bad last night. She fainted from the loss of blood...I had to tell someone," Cordelia's eyes are apologetic. "She's at the hospital right now."
"Which hospital? How long is she going to be there? Has she been admitted?" Maura asks in frenzy, desperate to be by Hattie's side once again and angry that she ever left it.
"Calm down, Maura, she'll be fine," Cordelia tries to assure her, her voice soft and soothing. "You'll see her soon."
Except she does not.