A Horse of a Different Color
The Matron was allowing the seed of an idea she'd had to germinate. She thought there might be something there, but was willing to wait and see. Meanwhile, things at St. Trinian's trundled along as usual.
One event stood out, although the Matron didn't actually find out about it until weeks after it occurred. She was having tea with Miss Fritton and several of the girls; Tabitha who was one of the Chavs, an Eco named Amanda, Angel and Delilah, as well as Chloe, the Head Girl.
There was the informal update to Miss Fritton, and the then the inevitable gossip. There was talk about Flash, and the torch he was still carrying for Kelly. Then a bit about two of the girls who had been caught in flagrante, which happened more rarely than one might expect.
Then to the juiciest bit of gossip. "I heard," Angel started, "that our Mr. Loki might fancy someone."
"All right, there, Grace, dear?" Miss Fritton asked the choking Matron.
"Yes, Camilla, I'm fine."
With an amused quirk to her lips, Miss Fritton asked Angel to continue.
"Well, that's all I heard really. That someone," she cut her eyes to Delilah, "offered to do for him, and well, came away with the impression that he fancied someone."
Matron stared in surprise at Delilah. "Oh, no Miss, not I. Glendys." Delilah named another Posh Totty. She debated for a few seconds and then spoke. "Glendys decided to take your instruction to keep Mr. Loki happy here at St. Trinian's a step further, Miss Fritton. She went to his room, and offered to take proper care of him. He sent her away with a pat on the head, and a warning about Matron finding out and not being pleased about it."
Matron snorted. "That just means that I would find his taking advantage of such an offer inappropriate." And if she felt the tiniest bit disappointed that this appeared to be the sum of it, that was no one's business but her own.
But Delilah's expression said that there was more. "Perhaps, Miss. But, when she went in, she was wearing an itty bitty nightie, and sat ever so provocative on his lap. He lifted her straight up," Delilah's eyes were wide. "Sat her on her feet, wrapped her in one of his own blankets, and asked her why she was doing this. Glendys answered that Miss F. wanted him to feel welcome, and so did we girls. He told her 'you're barely weaned, child,' and tried to send her away. Being Glendys…she pushed the matter, telling him all of the naughty things she would willingly do for him. "
"She said he was quite shocked, and asked if Matron were aware of all this. When Glendys said not… he said it would be better for both of them if Matron never found out about it, as she'd not be particularly pleased that one of her little chicks was so advanced, and might well poke both his eyes out for seeing her in that bit of scrap." She went on to add that Glendys had asked him if he were afraid of Matron, to which he answered, "Absolutely. Any rational man would be." Which all of the girls who had heard the full story found surprising. Matron was quite the nicest person that any of them knew, and certainly no one to fear.
Angel sat quietly sipping her tea, listening, observing, her green eyes alight with mischief. She had heard one more piece of the story, even more than Delilah. From Mr. Loki himself. He had asked her and Haley just how much trouble they thought he'd be in with Matron when it reached her ears. "Dunno," Haley had said. "Guess it depends on how personally she takes it." He had stilled at her words, his eyes frozen on her. His eyebrows rose in question, and Angel had answered him. "Is it just protecting us, or her hurt feelings." She said plainly. A tiny smile quirked his lips. "I suppose we'll find out, then." Angel was meant to report Matron's reaction to him.
She thought that he'd be pleased with the report.
"Regardless," the Matron began, "it was highly inappropriate. Miss Fritton, surely it was not your intention…"
Miss Fritton knew her cue, "oh, certainly not, my dear. Girls, I'm quite certain that Mr. Loki can find his own," she paused delicately, "entertainment, should he wish it. Let us not make our esteemed guest uncomfortable, shall we." It was not a question.
As soon as tea was over, Angel scurried off to make her report. She found Loki out on the grounds, watching the girls take their target practice. He turned his attention immediately to Angel. As she spoke to him, his lips turned up in a smile.
A few days later, Matron Murgatroyd took herself to Loki's quarters. He opened the door and smiled down at her. "Matron, what an unexpected surprise."
"Mr. Loki, may I have a few minutes of your time?"
"Please," he said opening the door completely and gesturing expansively. "May I offer you something to drink? Tea, wine?" He wondered if she was finally here for the showdown about the silly child who had come to his room.
"No, thank you." She hesitated in the door, seeing for the first time what he had done with the space. Instead of making a doorway between the two rooms, Loki had gotten rid of the wall between them. One was still filled with the bed, but the new addition had a pair of comfortable chairs and a desk with rolling chair. "It looks rather cozy." She offered at last.
A smile lit his face, "yes, it turned out quite well. Thank you again for the suggestion." He offered her a chair.
He took the other seat, and cocked his head to the side, inviting her to speak.
"I had a bit of an idea, and wanted to run it past you before presenting it to the others." She cleared her throat. "Would you consider transforming yourself into a horse, and entering a race or two?"
"What would be the benefit of that?" He was puzzled.
"We could place a bet on you; as an unknown, the odds would be quite favorable. Money is always useful."
Light dawned. "I see. By all means, that could be an adventure."
Her lips twitched. "I think a stallion though, not a mare."
His eyes narrowed at her, before softening under her teasing gaze. "Indeed. When did you want to do this?"
"I thought that we could lay a bit of groundwork, a few races here and there, get you a bit of a reputation, before one of the bigger races, or, and this is more likely, we need a bigger payoff."
"Is the school really short of funds so often?"
"Surprisingly so." She sighed.
"Who has the responsibility of keeping track of the..er.. money?"
"Bursar, but he would never… do anything inappropriate."
His expression was skeptical, but he kept his doubts to himself.
"I'll ask the girls to find a suitable race to start with. Thank you." She rose.
He stood hastily "Are you quite sure that I can't tempt you..?" He broke off as her eyes flew to his. "To partake of some tea?"
Her tight expression relaxed slightly. "You could very easily do so, Mr. Loki, but I really wish that you wouldn't."
He blinked in surprise. That had certainly not been anything like what he'd been expecting. "I wouldn't like you to be…uncomfortable." He said at last, painfully aware of the subtext.
She smiled sweetly at him. "Thank you." She moved towards the door. "I really must be off, I'm meant to be presenting a health seminar shortly. I'll see you at dinner."
He nodded and quietly closed his door behind her. He leaned his back against the door, his brows knit in thought.
A few days later, Loki was in front of the school getting ready to change. Matron Murgatroyd, Haley, and Angel were waiting. Angel, however, was keeping her distance. The Matron shot her a quizzical look. Haley replied, "She doesn't care for horses, Miss."
"Ah." The Matron returned her attention to Loki. "Have you decided what kind of horse you'll be transforming into?"
"Not the white stallion of literature, I think," he replied drily.
She grinned at him. "No, I shouldn't think that would suit you at all." She looked at him thoughtfully. "A black stallion, I think."
He nodded in acknowledgment and closed his eyes in concentration. A few long seconds later, a beautiful black stallion stood where Loki had been. The Matron went around to the head and stroked a delicate finger down his nose. "Oh," she cooed. "Aren't you handsome?" Horse-Loki preened before nuzzling her hair. "So this is the fruition of your idea, Grace?" Miss Fritton asked from the school steps.
"Yes, Camilla. We have entered him into a few smallish races." She stroked his nose again. "He's certain to do very well."
"Oh yes," said Miss Fritton. "As long as his rider has strong thighs and a good seat." Her tone could only be described as arch.
Loki whuffed a snort at that, ruffling Matron's hair. For her part, Matron shot Miss Fritton a Look, before returning her attention to Loki. She noted, idly, that his eyes, though brown as horses usually were, had green flecks, and looked far more mischievous than a horse had any right to.
She shook her head at the pair of them before she stroked along his nose once more. He nuzzled his nose against her hair, then down her neck. She gave a carefree laugh and rubbed behind his ears.
Loki was a little bemused by her seeming joy. He was happy to see it, but was uncertain as to its origin. She was still petting him, running her hands over his nose and back, when several of the other girls joined them. It wasn't until he heard one of the recent arrivals make a crude comment about the similarities between certain parts of him now and his bipedal self that he felt the Matron stiffen and begin to withdraw.
Since Loki was rather clever, he figured it out pretty quickly after that clue. She felt safe with him in horse form. She could safely show affection and receive it. Somewhere deep down, Loki began thinking of all of the vindictive things he would do to whomever had made her feel unsafe. Meanwhile, he did his best (which was very good indeed) to appear as horse-like, and thereby safe, as possible.
He pawed the ground, whinnied and generally acted "horsey". And it worked. The Matron slowly began to relax and pet him again.
Until Miss Fritton completely ruined it. "You should mount him, Grace. I'm certain that he wouldn't mind."
As Grace froze, Camilla Fritton could not mistake the glare Loki shot her, even coming from the face of a horse. The Matron spoke into the sudden silence. "I really should get back inside. Haley, would you show Mr. Loki to the stables, please?" And she was gone.
Things went according to Matron Murgatroyd's plan. Horse-Loki, newly christened Mischief, ran in four races, of increasing difficulties. The purses for the races were not large, but the school would never turn down cash.
The only issue came from the first time the race officials tried to take a blood sample to test for illegal substances. As soon as he saw the needle, Loki bared his teeth, and backed the Veterinarian against the wall of the stall.
"Mischief!" Grace Murgatroyd admonished. "He just wants to take a blood sample." She stroked his nose, and murmured, "it's not a weapon, Loki, I promise, he's just going to take a bit of blood." Loki turned an ironic eye to her. Her lips quirked in a smile. "And yes, I am aware that's the purpose of a weapon." He nuzzled against her. "All right, then, Mischief?" Another nuzzle, which she took as an affirmative response. She stepped back and gestured for the vet to carry on. She kept her hand on Loki, stroking around his ears.
Once the vet had finished and the St. Trinian's contingent was alone once more, the Matron addressed Loki. "Thank you for tolerating that. We ought to have warned you, but I'm afraid that it didn't occur to me." One more long stoke down his nose in apology. He rested his head lightly atop hers-apology accepted.
After the four smaller races, the girls found a larger one, with a more substantial purse. The night before, he was in his stall, dozing, when he felt something peculiar-something on his penis.
His eyes flew open in shock and he swung his head around to get a look at what was going on. A man was trying to fit some type of metal cylinder on him, while another appeared to be keeping watch.
Loki thought fast, backed both of the men against the wall and then sent a copy of his bipedal self to the Matron's room. She was sitting in a chair reading when his shade appeared to her. She gave a little start but recovered quickly. After he explained that there was a problem she threw on a coat and rushed out.
Loki briefly reflected that working at St Trinian's seemed to cut back on how long it took one to recover from shocks.
Meanwhile the men were struggling and protesting their confinement. Their language had gotten rather rude by the time Matron came rushing in accompanied by Angel and Haley. Each sported a weapon: The Matron had a hockey stick, which she wielded like a staff, Haley had a rounders bat, and Angel had a nice dainty set of brass knuckles and what appeared to be a katana sword.
"What the blazes is going…?" The Matron stopped as the answer to her incomplete question became clear. Angel looked quite confused as to what the metal cylinder was for, but Haley whispered an explanation. Angel's eyes went round in surprise. Loki rather wished he could have heard it, because he was still unclear.
"You dare," Grace Murgatroyd hissed. "You dare come into our stable and attempt to harvest semen from our horse. Do you have any idea …?" She stopped talking and whacked the man closest to her with her hockey stick. The girls got on board the plan quickly, and Haley struck the other man with her bat as Angel put her brass knuckles to good use on the first man.
Loki was still processing what the Matron had said about harvesting semen, while the ladies subdued the men. Angel had given one of the men a black eye, while Haley thumped the other with her bat. Grace pulled zip ties from her pocket, and secured the man that Haley had rendered unconscious. She came up behind the man that Angel was menacing with her sword and wrapped her forearm around his neck. Despite his struggles she was able to cut off his oxygen enough to knock him out. Once he slumped, she zip tied his hands and feet.
The Matron stepped up to Loki, ran her hand down his nose, and asked him if he were all right. In answer he rested his head atop her. She exhaled the breath she'd been holding. "Girls, return to the school, fetch… Mr. Thwaites, I think. He's the most respectable of us." As the girls were leaving, they each gave a spiteful kick to one of the bound, unconscious men.
Several minutes later, just before the would-be thieves began to stir, Geoffrey Thwaites, paramour to Miss Fritton, and former Minister of Education strolled into the stable.
"The girls explained the.. situation. I take it that we*are* notifying the authorities." Not by so much as a twitch of his lips did he show any amusement at the circumstances.
"Too right, we are. If you'd do the honors, sir, I would appreciate it."
Hours later, after the racing officials had sent a deputation to identify the men, and ensure that they were blacklisted, and the police had taken the two men away, everything began to quiet down. Everyone except the Matron had returned to the school.
"You did well, keeping your cover, subduing them and getting me." She ran her hand over his back and flank. "Thank you." She rubbed his ears, gently. "Goodnight."
Loki spent the rest of the night hyper-alert. He'd been attacked by dwarves, Jotun, his brother, and his brother's friends. But in his entire, long life, no one had ever, ever tried what those two imbeciles had tried this night. And quite frankly, he was more than a little disconcerted by the entire thing. On the other hand, the Matron's response was all that one could ask for in a collaborator. And she seemed quite impressed by his response as well. That was…surprisingly gratifying.
He was starting to wonder if he would ever be forced to leave this place, where they appreciated him, and his particular skills. Also, they seemed amused by his sense of mischief. He had never felt so…at home. He rather hoped that Miss Fritton would continue to be amenable to his presence.
He thought that perhaps he should find a way to garner another large amount of funds. One that included more of the girls. He knew the satisfaction one could gain from feeling included.
Loki won his next race, of course, and the substantial purse. Later, he joined Miss Fritton, Mr. Thwaites, Matron, and the Bursar for a quiet toast. After they'd drunk to everyone's health, Bursar spoke up. "The timing on that purse could not have been better. Taxes, again."
Everyone sighed a little, disappointed that the new funds were already earmarked.
Loki said idly, "I had no idea that British citizens paid taxes so frequently."
Geoffrey Thwaites' head snapped up. "They don't." His eyes narrowed at Bursar, who looked confused, but not afraid.
Loki had to admit that the Matron was probably right regarding Loki's suspicions about the Bursar.
"What do you mean?" The Bursar asked blankly.
"I mean," Thwaites began calmly, "that St. Trinian's should not be paying that much in taxes." He turned to Miss Fritton. "Camilla, dear, will you permit me to look into the matter for you?"
"If you'd like to, darling, of course."
And that was how they found out that the Revenue had been sending the school duplicate bills, and Bursar, too frightened of the Revenue, had merely paid them, without daring to question the frequency. Now, they actually had a credit, and had no idea how to deal with such a state of affairs.