A/N: Here it is, the last chapter. I was going to break it up into two, but decided that since it took me longer than usual to post, that I'd give you the whole thing. Sorry for the delay!
Nights at Saint Anselm's Academy were curious affairs. A human would say that the corridors and grounds were eerily silent and dark. They couldn't hear the rats scurrying in the attics overhead, or the drip of the leaky faucet in the girls' lavatory on the first floor. The thoughts of sleeping humans alone could be overwhelming. Nonsensical images, weird disjointed dialogue, and frankly disturbing fantasies had to be blocked out. Exploring adolescents' dreams was a daunting prospect on the best of days, but the day after they'd heard one of their own had been murdered? There were more than a few nightmares going on as I walked down the corridors.
The trouble was, I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I found the newly repaired lock at the top of the girls' dormitory. It didn't seem worth breaking to go out on the roof, since Clara hadn't jumped from it. I moved restlessly down the narrow stairs leading to the roof and found myself in front of Clara's door.
Dorothy was dreaming inside. Something was following her down the hallways of her family home. She was opening doors, trying to find somewhere to hide, but the doors all led back to the same hallway. She was whimpering.
I turned away. There was nothing I could do to help her. I could only read her dreams; I couldn't influence them.
Why was I here? What exactly did I think I could accomplish? Clara's murder was, after all, a human problem.
Frustrated, I came to the third floor landing, opened a window, and dropped to the lawn outside. Had Clara actually jumped from the fourth floor and landed in the fountain, she would have split like a ripe tomato. The thought of it sent me flying over hedges and wall to the forest outside the school grounds. I wanted blood.
A raccoon fell victim to my need. He was a large one, feisty too. He put up a short-lived fight, hissing and clawing as I lifted him to my mouth. I wasn't hungry, I just wanted the taste of blood in my mouth, hot, salty, and pulsing with life I no longer had.
I was pathetic.
Letting the drained corpse drop to the ground, I regarded it dispassionately. I'd have to bury it. There was no sense in leaving a bloodless animal corpse to be discovered by the humans. Using my hands, I dug deeply into the soil and dropped the lifeless body into the hole, kicking the dirt back over it and tamping it down with my feet.
I took a breath in through my nose. The scent of blood and death came only faintly. Hopefully another animal wouldn't dig up the raccoon, but even if they did, they'd likely devour it, which was a different solution to hiding the animal's corpse, but just as good.
Another scent came to me. Coffee. Who could be brewing themselves a cup of the acrid smelling liquid at this hour? I followed my nose to the married teachers' cottages and lurked outside until I found the right one.
It was Monsieur Sieyes' house, and the lights were on in the kitchen. He was thinking that they were low on milk, and wondering if he'd be able to get some more tomorrow.
"But why, Henri? Why do the police need you in the city tomorrow? Don't they know you have classes to teach?"
The woman's voice was querulous, her preoccupation with her aching back warring with her fears for her husband. With a jolt, I realized I could hear the thoughts of a third person. They were more sensations than thought, sensations of warmth, movement, and nourishment. It was the baby growing within Mrs. Sieyes.
I leaned back against a tree, flabbergasted. Babies in the womb could think?
"We've been over this before, Emily."
Sieyes' voice was strained. He dropped the spoon he'd been using to stir his coffee, and swore in French softly under his breath, so his wife wouldn't hear.
"The girl wrote love poems to me and to Pitcairn. He's being called in as well. We're both innocent, so there's nothing to worry about. The police will clear the whole thing up, and I'll be home before you know it."
"How do you know he's innocent?" Emily's voice and thoughts brightened with the hope that the police would arrest Mr. Pitcairn. She'd never liked him or his wife.
A chair creaked as Monsieur Sieyes sank down onto it heavily.
"Because he's no killer."
His voice was certain. It silenced her for a moment.
In his mind's eye he was remembering the faces of killers, the men he'd served with, and the men he'd killed in the war. He saw again the dead eyes, the soullessness of still living men who slaughtered for their country. Sieyes had seen young men like Pitcairn, newly assigned to the Western Front. They changed after their first kill. He didn't think that Pitcairn could hide a change like that.
"Neither are you."
Her thoughts were happy again. He'd placed his hand over hers. Then he destroyed her happiness.
"But I am my dear, I was a soldier. I've killed. And they know this."
Mrs. Sieyes began to cry.
"I don't want to lose you. What if you don't come back from the city? What if the baby comes while you're gone? What if they think you killed that silly girl? What if…?"
"Shh, nothing will happen."
Sieyes' chair scraped the kitchen floor as he pushed it back to stand and place his arms around his wife. He cursed himself for not realizing the affect his words would have on her. Pregnancy made her emotions a mercurial business.
She began crying harder, her thoughts a mass of fears and what ifs.
When her husband decided to use his mouth to distract her in ways other than talking, I fled. Being able to read minds was more a curse than a blessing at times.
The students began leaving the next day. Cars would pull up in the drive; parents would disembark, enter the school, and leave with their son or daughter. Not all of them, of course, but enough that the teachers began to worry if their jobs would last the semester.
Hartley and I were sharing a library table by the window when Steven's parents pulled up. They were terrified that their baby was going to be killed next. They also somehow knew that two teachers were being investigated for Clara's murder, and were determined to shelter Steven from possible harm.
It only took them twenty minutes to get Mr. Clarence to pull Steven from class, pack up his things and bundle him into their automobile. They didn't give him a chance to say goodbye.
He was regretting that as he looked up at the school one last time as his father hefted his suitcase into the car. He saw me in the library window.
'It figures, the one person I don't want to say goodbye to is the only one I see,' he thought as he waved a hand dispiritedly.
I waved back. I didn't care what he thought of me. Even if I did, I couldn't let on that I knew by not responding in the expected way.
Steven limped over to the car and got in. Gravel sprayed as his father switched gears and sped down the drive.
Hartley glanced out the window. He'd seen me wave.
"A friend of yours?" he asked quietly.
Friend? I'd eaten lunch with him almost every day since arriving at Saint Anselm's Academy. I'd read his innermost thoughts. I knew his secret dreams, his fantasies about being able to walk without a limp, to explore jungles and deserts, to play baseball the way he wanted to, to run around the bases fast. It wasn't reciprocal. He knew nothing really personal about me. He'd thought me stuck up, standoffish.
The librarian was glaring at us. Hartley noticed and dropped his gaze back to the pages of the book spread out on the table in front of him.
'Everyone leaves,' he thought. 'Mother is dead. Father left me here. I wish I were dead too.'
Sighing inwardly, I braced myself for another onslaught of Hartley's memories of his mother's death; thankful yet again that she'd hung herself rather than using a more bloody method.
Miss Wentworth couldn't keep her mind on the piano lesson. I started making egregious errors just to get her attention back on the music. It backfired, of course.
"Edward dear, would you rather talk about what's happened? Has one of your friends left school?"
She'd seen the exodus. She'd spoken with Mrs. Clarence, the Headmistress, and noticed the strain on her friend's face. This was Miss Wentworth's third boarding school job, and she knew that a school was only as steady as its student body. She was old now, had grown old teaching, and wasn't likely to be hired again at her age. She needed several more years of salary to pay for a little retirement cottage with a piano where she could teach private lessons. It was her dream.
"Just one," I said, thinking of Steven. "But I'm sure he'll be back once everything calms down," I lied.
"I hope so," she stared worriedly at the sheet music. "Shall we try again?"
Knowing that she wasn't really listening, I dropped the pretense and executed it perfectly.
"That was very nice dear," she said distractedly. "Why don't you practice your scales for the rest of the lesson?"
And so I did. It allowed both our minds to wander since neither of us had to concentrate on the movements my fingers had memorized on the keys.
Monsieur Sieyes didn't believe Mr. Pitcairn murdered Clara. Either Pitcairn was a better actor than he imagined, or I'd have to take Sieyes' professional soldierly opinion as truth.
Monsieur Sieyes could have done it to silence Clara's love poems. He had a pregnant wife he loved dearly, and if she thought he was having an affair with a student he'd lose her. Just because he hadn't thought 'I'm guilty' when I was reading his mind didn't mean he wasn't guilty.
I'd searched Mr. Clarence's office thoroughly the first night I'd stayed at Saint Anselm's. Nothing in the documents indicated guilt. Frankly, they were dull as dirt to read. He kept no personal letters or diaries, just student records, staff evaluations, accounting records, and the nurse's reports. Would he kill to protect his school? Maybe, but were Clara's love poems that scandalous? The police seemed to think so. If Sieyes or Pitcairn had reported the love poems to Mr. Clarence, what would he have done?
If Clara had been having an affair with a teacher, I'd eat my hat. I read her mind. She was a silly girl, but she was still a girl, not a woman.
What about Mr. Chen? I couldn't read his mind at times, which was worrisome. He'd had an altercation with Mrs. Tuttle too. I could understand anyone wanting to kill Mrs. Tuttle, but what of Clara? And the postmistress? Why her? Assuming all three murders were related.
There were other male teachers in the school as well, ones whose thoughts I rarely bothered to read. My history teacher, Mr. Mathews, had a stolid mind. Whatever he said or read out loud to the class was exactly what he was thinking at the time. Apart from Mathews, Sieyes, and Pitcairn, all my other teachers were women. I rarely saw the teachers of the first, second, or fourth year classes. Then there were the groundskeepers, stable crew, and kitchen staff, not to mention the janitorial staff. The list of suspects kept growing and growing. If I was willing to accept that someone from town could have snuck onto the campus to kill Clara as well, then the list became even longer.
My fingers stilled on the keys.
"Do you mind if we stop here today?" I asked, giving Miss Wentworth my most blinding smile.
"Oh, yes, of course."
I'd made her heart palpitate, and she blinked. She was chiding herself for noticing that I was handsome. I smiled again and she practically fell off the piano bench as she moved away to the window. I might not be able to solve crimes, but I could still affect humans.
"My goodness, it looks like rain, doesn't it?" she asked, staring pointedly out the window and away from me.
The sky was grey, and storm clouds were gathering, darkening the room. From the sense of electricity in the air, it would probably involve lightning. Perhaps I could slip out for once instead of spending the night roaming the halls investigating and guarding. The lure of being out in the midst of nature's blast and fury where everything was open and crashing around you was nearly overwhelming.
I didn't want to be stuck inside walls with fragile humans. I wanted to be outside, hunting, running, with my own kind.
With a shock I realized I was homesick.
The wind whipped at my clothing, rippling my school uniform shirt like the sail of a tacking boat. The storm was nearly upon me.
I turned back to look at the school from my perch on the back wall as the first fat drops began to fall. There were a few lights still on in the windows, despite the fact that the ten o'clock curfew had passed. With the rain came thunder, booming across the sky. A few more lights came on and a couple of windows in the boys' dormitory opened so that the inhabitants could enjoy the sight of the lightning that was sure to follow.
Judging by the scent and feel of the electricity in the air, they were in for quite a show. I jumped down from the wall as the sky lit up. I was just in time too, because if I'd stayed on the wall another second, I would've been exposed by the unforgiving illumination of the lightning.
Leaning against a tree so as to blend in with my surroundings, I regarded the back expanse of the school's main building, a solid four storey edifice connected by the backs of the girls' dorm to the right and the boys' dorm to the left. Directly in front of me was the baseball diamond. Further to my left were the stables, and the faintly alluring scent of horses. I'd never drunk from a horse before. Deer, bear, and mountain lions could be killed and not missed, but pampered animals owned by the school or the students who attended it? Not a chance.
The storm continued with more cracks of lightning and booming thunder. Even under a tree I was getting drenched. It was time to go inside and dry off. I was just starting back when a ball of lightning formed over the boys' dormitory. It was incredible. It looked to be about the size of a basketball, a glowing, incandescent mass that smelt of sulfur and energy. It swirled in the air, then plunged down the side of the building and through one of the open windows.
Someone shrieked inside the room. I leapt up to the top of the tree and peered in across the baseball diamond just as the electric light was extinguished. I didn't need it to see what was happening. One boy was on the floor, face white and terrified, the other was curled up, arms around his knees, on the bed, both fixated on the glowing ball that hovered over their desk lamp. The ball moved toward the boy on the bed, roving back and forth like a tennis ball along the curved iron rails of the bed's baseboard.
He screamed just as the ball disappeared through the floor. I dropped down a couple of branches in the tree and saw the ball continue down the wall near a desk, waking both boys sleeping in the twin beds along the wall opposite. By now other boys were waking up and lights were going on further down the dormitory.
The ball whizzed around the room, went back to the desk and slid down the wall to the floor below, leaving the stench of melted wiring in its wake. I could smell it, all the way across the grassy expanse in front of me. I dropped down with it. It was now on the floor below. The window of that room was shut and the curtains drawn.
Hissing in frustration, I dropped to the ground, hoping the ball would follow its previous trajectory. Shouts and the sound of overturned furniture came from the room above, and then just as I'd hoped, a glow appeared in bottom floor room. Through the window I could see two first year boys staring at the mass from their beds as it whirled agitatedly about the room. One got out of bed, despite the shouts of the other to stay back.
He should have listened. He was too close when the ball exploded. The boy, tallish and blond, was thrown back against the door as the lightning ball dissipated over the desk lamp, causing it to spark and begin to smolder.
The boy who'd stayed in bed began to scream "Fire" at the top of his lungs.
Doors slammed open and the sound of feet pounding down the halls came from all four floors. I started toward the dormitory then stopped, looking down at my sodden clothes.
If I returned to the dormitory, I'd be noticed and asked what I'd been doing outside. I couldn't risk attracting attention.
Lightning spread across the sky again, slightly further away this time. I shrank back under the tree. Electrical phenomenon and balls of lightning were all very interesting, but it wasn't helping me to slip back inside unnoticed. I slid down the tree and sat on its exposed roots and waited.
Headmaster Clarence's voice boomed, irritated at the uproar. He'd come to take charge, but he was on the wrong floor. I grinned, imagining his face as he stomped down the second floor stairs. The smell of smoke was growing stronger.
Standing up, I saw that the two boys were now in the doorway of their room calling for water. Sparks from the fried lamp had ignited papers on the desk. Someone's homework was in ashes. The Headmaster ran into Mr. Matthews, the science teacher and their voices rose in questions.
It was Matthews who managed to get the pail of water from the end of the hall and throw it on the desk while Headmaster Clarence proceeded to question then ridicule the answers of the boys who swore to what they'd seen and heard.
Folding my arms I watched and heard the drama through the open windows.
The storm was lessening as the thunder and lightning moved off, though the rain still fell. With the crowds of boys in the corridors and the few heads that kept popping out of windows to see if the lightning ball was coming back, it would be a while before I could retreat back to my room.
I glanced over at the girls' dormitory. Several more lights than usual were on. Evidently word had traveled of the furor in the boys' dorm. Then I saw it, movement on the rooftop. Focusing my attention, I made out a voice, a male adult, and the whimpering of a female. I got to my feet as more lights came on in the girls dormitory. Cursing, I made my way quickly around the perimeter of the baseball diamond and tennis courts, careful to stay out of the many square patches of light cast from the dormitory windows.
As I drew near to the girls' dormitory, it became easier to hear and sense the thoughts of the two people on the roof. With a shock I realized the whimpering woman was Mrs. Clarence. She kept whispering, "please, oh please," over and over again so softly that only I and the man on the roof could hear her.
Her thoughts were tangled images of the roof, the sky, and the pressure of the knife against her neck as her slippered feet scored the surface beneath her. She wasn't a particularly tall woman, but her adversary was shorter than she was and his arm around her torso and arms was like iron. It kept her off balance and slumped against him as he dragged her toward the edge of the roof.
One of Marjorie Van Houten's sycophants popped her head out the window directly below and craned out toward the boys' dormitory.
"I don't see any smoke, Marjorie. I don't think the boys' dorm is on fire at all," she stated.
"Get back inside at once," came Marjorie's voice from inside. "Close that window. It's cold."
I wondered if her tone would be so snappish if she knew I could hear her. Marjorie was one way with the people she wanted to impress, and completely different with people under her control.
Mrs. Clarence heard the exchange and whimpered louder.
"Quiet!" hissed a male voice from the roof.
I frowned. The voice didn't match the thought patterns of the adult male so focused on dragging Mrs. Clarence away from the stairway door that he wasn't thinking of anything else besides quiet and stealth.
I had to do something. I started forward to jump up onto the roof.
Harriet's head emerged from a third floor window, her dishwater blonde hair silvery looking from the light inside her room. She was looking towards the boys' dorm, but she was right in my path. I moved through the bushes to the other side of the girls' dorm, but even more girls were opening windows to gaze out at the storm, searching for more lightning. I was fast, but not fast enough to get by them without being seen. I returned to the back of the girls' dorm, narrowing in on the thoughts of the two people on the roof.
Mrs. Clarence was near hysterical with fear. I blocked her out. The other one, the male, was looking around the roof, seeing and not seeing it.
Memories were flooding his mind. He'd see the rooftop one moment, and a grubby hotel room the next. The image was fuzzy. I saw through his mind's eye a bed, bureau, desk and chair with an old fashioned tin hipbath set out on the floor with towels. On the desk were shaving implements, a brush, strop, and razor.
Then there was a man in his bathrobe. He was yelling.
"Are you crazy bringing that kid here?"
"But I had to, I couldn't leave him behind."
The voice in the memory was pleading, and female, a soft alto that went along with the light brown hair and eyes and the fawn colored skirt and coat she was wearing.
"He's not coming with me because you're not coming with me," the man said flatly.
"What?" the woman was shocked.
"I'm married. Go back to your husband," he said baldly, and began to turn away to the suitcase on the bed to rummage in it.
From the perspective of the memory, the man's backside appeared huge. The whole room seemed elongated. It was the memory of a child so everything appeared bigger. A hand tightened and then released the hand of the child, whose perspective changed again to focus on the desk. It got larger as the child drew nearer. He reached and knocked the shaving brush to the floor. It rolled under the desk so he went after it and sat down, touching the bristles.
From under the desk, the child had a perfect view, set to be etched indelibly in his memory forever.
The man continued to argue with the woman, the words blurring as the child put his hands over his ears to block out the hateful sounds of his mama hurling insults and accusations and the man returning with his own insults.
Then the woman said something that stopped the man dead. His face suffused with red, as rage contorted his features. To the child, he looked like a monster.
The man drew back his fist and punched the woman's face. The force of the blow knocked her hat off and her hair askew. She fell to the floor and he dropped to his knees, grabbed her shoulder to hold her down and punched her again.
She clawed at his arm, drawing blood. He swore and put both hands around her neck, choking her. She clawed at him again, frantic now.
He loosened his grip around her neck and buried his right hand in her hair, using his grip to drag her over to the hipbath where he plunged her head under water and held it, yelling something once, twice, three times before lifting her and throwing her to the floor.
The woman was barely conscious, hat long gone, hair loose and wet against her face. She opened her eyes, saw the child looking straight at her, and immediately glanced away to the man who stood by the desk. The child could see his bathrobe and the hairy legs protruding beneath it. Then the man moved, shaving razor in hand. He dropped down by the woman, grabbed the back of her head, tilting it to expose the throat, and drew the razor across it.
Blood gushed out in a wave. He lifted her again by her hair and shoved her head and torso into the water of the hipbath so the blood would go into the water.
He staggered back, his head snapping towards the door, reacting to a loud pounding that penetrated even the child's hand covered ears.
The memory stopped abruptly. The roof came into focus again.
I realized the man whose memories I'd seen was looking for the right spot to throw the body off into the fountain on the far side. He meant to slit Mrs. Clarence's throat and toss her into the water.
The same water he'd used to drown Clara. The man was recreating his mother's death. It all made sense now. The bludgeoning of the postmistress, the strangling of Mrs. Tuttle, the laundry mistress, drowning Clara, and now slitting Mrs. Clarence's throat and leaving her in the water.
One thing didn't fit though. Clara. All the other victims were adult females. Clara was still just a girl.
"It's your turn now, mother. Bad mother. You deserve it," came the snarling voice from the roof.
It caught at my memory. The voice was somehow familiar, yet none of the adults at the school fit it, though the rage in it was a mature one, honed by years of hatred.
I couldn't wait any longer. I surged forward and jumped, landing easily on the ledge of the roof, then dropped quickly to the rooftop floor.
The man turned at the sound of my feet landing, his knife nicking Mrs. Clarence's throat. Her eyes squeezed shut with the pain, and she slumped. The man grunted in satisfaction at the sight of the blood.
Only, it wasn't a man.
It was Julius holding the knife to the headmistress's throat.
Swallowing back the instinctive surge of venom in my mouth, I stopped breathing and kept my distance.
"Julius? What are you doing?"
I was surprised at how calm I sounded.
The boy's face contorted, his coal black hair slicked down by the rain.
"Don't call me that. I'm not Julius. I'm Hector. Julius is a baby, a little whiny, weak crybaby. I'm the one who gets things done."
He was right. I'm not sure how it was possible, but the thoughts in Julius' head right now were not his own. The tenor, the patterns, were completely different.
I took a slow step towards him, at human speed. The knife in Julius' hand was resting against the pulsing vein in Mrs. Clarence's neck, and his back was against the ledge. He'd already cut the skin over the vein. It wouldn't take much more pressure to pierce it. She'd be dead before I could stop it.
"Stop there or I cut her now," he growled.
I stopped. It was ironic really. I could rip his head off with my bare hands, but I was helpless against the threat of his killing the woman in his arms.
Checking her thoughts I realized she'd lapsed into unconsciousness.
"Whatever you say."
I had to tread carefully. His thoughts were tinged with rage. He had a job to do, and I was standing in his way. It was the only thing keeping him from doing it.
Keeping his eyes on me, Julius began to drag Mrs. Clarence along the parapet, nearer to the fountain. I remembered now that Julius was on the track team. He was small, but wiry and strong. Strong enough, evidently, to bash out one woman's brains with a baseball bat, and to strangle another from behind. And then there was Clara.
"Why Clara?" I blurted.
Julius, or Hector, as he called himself, frowned.
"She was a bad mother," he said as though it were obvious. "She let her baby doll fall out of the window. Bad mothers need to be punished."
"It was a doll," I pointed out, careful to keep any hint of incredulity from my voice.
"What if it wasn't?" he snapped, backing another foot down the parapet. "What if it was her son, and she took him to her lover's room and let him see...let him see…"
He trailed off, and the memory came flooding back, images of his mother being punched, strangled, and held down in the bath.
"I understand," I said quickly, interrupting his train of thought before he could get to the throat slitting. "I understand that bad things happen, but why to Mrs. Clarence?"
"She's bad," he muttered. "She slapped that girl. I saw it. Mothers shouldn't be bad. Bad mothers should be punished."
I understood then how broken Julius really was. His alter ego, Hector, took it upon himself to punish any woman who wasn't motherly perfection. Clara just had the bad luck to drop her doll in the fountain. He'd never stop. All I could sense from him was absolute certainty that he was right. There would always be another woman who didn't meet his expectations.
What was I supposed to do? I longed desperately for Carlisle's guidance, but Carlisle wasn't here.
There was another far off boom of thunder. Lightning couldn't be far behind. I waited until the frisson of electricity in the air began then pointed over Julius' shoulder and yelled.
He began to turn and look as the sky behind him lit briefly.
That one second of inattention was all I needed. I surged forward, got my hand between the knife blade and Mrs. Clarence's neck, and wrenched her from Julius' arms. His hand flew back and cracked against the parapet, dropping the knife.
Howling with rage, he tried to leap forward, but his foot slipped. His arms flew up as his back hit the parapet and he tipped.
First his head and torso disappeared, then his hips, and finally his feet, and he was gone, leaving me cradling the headmistress in my arms. I let her down gently and laid her on the wet rooftop, then walked over and peered down over the ledge.
Girls were already shrieking and staring down from their windows from all four floors.
Julius lay half in and half out of the fountain. From the red stain growing in the fountain's water, the back of his head must've split on impact. His eyes stared up blankly, unfocussed. He was dead.
I could have saved him, I supposed. I could have dropped Mrs. Clarence, rushed forward and grabbed his leg as he went over. That would've left Mrs. Clarence with a concussion and possibly brain damage, and it would have saved a madman and a killer. And for what? A life in prison? No. He deserved to die. He had to die. I let him. And I was glad for it.
I returned to Mrs. Clarence. The rain was washing away the blood at her throat. Her eyelids were fluttering. I backed away looked around for a place to hide. She hadn't seen me. Her eyes shut the moment Julius' knife drew blood.
There were feet coming up the stairs, Louisa Maynard's thoughts at the forefront of a slew of girls coming up to see where Julius had fallen. And the scent of blood from both Mrs. Clarence and Julius down below was getting to be too much for me, even with the rain to dampen it.
Running out of options, I leapt up to the roof of the main school building, which was half a storey higher than the two dorms. I flattened myself against the tiles just as the girls emerged.
"Mrs. Clarence?" gasped Louisa, as she stopped in shock, the girls behind her nearly careening into her.
Then Louisa gathered her thoughts and began barking orders.
"Dorothy, you go and get Mr. Clarence."
"Yes, yes, but what do I say to him?" Dorothy's voice was quick and worried.
"Tell him his wife needs him. Go now!" Louisa shot over her shoulder as she strode forward to drop to her knees by the headmistress.
"What can we do?" It was the twins, Sara and Mary, with Harriet's shocked thoughts crowding in with theirs.
"Get the nurse. I don't think she's dead," Louisa muttered uncertainly.
The twins heard and began to cry as they rushed back down the stairs.
Harriet's steps, hesitant, came forward.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Do you have a handkerchief?" Louisa asked crisply. "There's blood on her collar. I think she's hurt."
Harriet produced one from the pocket of her dressing gown, by the sound of cloth on cloth.
Louisa thought to herself that Harriet looked about ready to faint.
"Come here," she ordered.
From the two thumps that followed, Harriet must've obeyed and dropped down to her knees.
"Put your hand here," Louisa said. "We'll hold it over the wound until help arrives."
Mrs. Clarence moaned.
"See, she's waking up already. It's going to be fine, Harriet."
And it was, for them.
Mr. Clarence and Mr. Matthews came up to the roof, followed by a bunch of students. I was able to drop back down from main building and mill around with them as the headmaster carried his wife inside. No one seemed to notice that I was a bit more drenched than the rest of them.
The police came and took charge of the body. After hearing Mrs. Clarence's story, they searched Julius' room and found his diary. According to Peter's uncle, the diary was written in two different styles of handwriting, and one of them detailed the killings so completely that there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Julius was the murderer.
"I could have saved him," I admitted to Carlisle when I was back at the farmhouse. "I just didn't want to."
Esme was outside working in the garden.
"You saved one life, Edward." He said. "That is something to be proud of."
His thoughts were full of pride for me. I couldn't bear to tell him how wrong he was about me. I'd been happy Julius was dead. I was supposed to feel sorry for him; I knew that. Carlisle would've felt sorry for him. All I felt was relief that Julius was gone. Crazy or not, he'd murdered other people, not for food, not because they'd actually deserved it, but for his own selfish need to make others suffer because of what happened to his mother.
"Death is never an easy thing," he continued. "Perhaps one day medical science will be able to help people like Julius. Psychiatry is a rising field. You'll be going to college soon, if you decide to continue your studies. Maybe you should consider getting a degree in it."
I was hard pressed not to snort in derision. It wouldn't have been polite.
"No thank you, Carlisle. Psychiatry isn't for me."
He was disappointed but hopeful.
"There are lots of other fields, Edward. I'm sure you'll find one that interests you."
That was the problem. Our interests were diverging. I was home, yet something had changed. Carlisle was worried that I might be feeling guilty that I hadn't managed to save Julius. My fear was that he'd discover I didn't feel guilty at all.
Esme came in with an armful of flowers.
"Who'd like to help me find a vase?" she asked brightly.
Carlisle's mind leapt immediately to how Esme would look carrying flowers in her wedding gown. He'd asked her to marry him in my absence and they'd set the date for the end of summer to give her a few more months to shed her newborn cravings.
"I'll get it," I answered, leaving Carlisle to his love struck fantasy.
I shoved all thoughts of Julius away. It was over. I was home, and that was all that mattered.
A/N: I'm really interested to know if anyone saw that one coming. Please leave a review and let me know if you guessed that the culprit was a student, and if you liked or hated the story. Any suggestions for improvement are welcome.