Chapter Four – Teach Me Tonight
The Kings Room was a daunting place. Even with the euphoria of Gabriel telling me he liked my hair still running strong I couldn't bring myself to feel comfortable in there. I absently wondered wether it was the place or the people that made it unpleasant. Probably both.
"New student, Bridget Lark. Get your work out, this isn't a classroom; I won't break my back trying to teach you, so do it yourself, and no talking." Manfred said curtly, before sitting down abruptly and glaring at me. I looked down instinctively, staring at my math book for a whole minute before I sighed and reluctantly began work. My math teacher had not been kind. I hate math.
The numbers made my head fuzzy. I felt a painful thud develop at my temple. I hated math so much. What other subject could bring me to a migraine?
A scrunched up ball of paper hit me in the head. I looked up. That was a mistake; the next object to fly at me nearly hit me in the eye. It was a pen too.
It was those twins. They were creepy identical dolls, and they were glaring at me like I was some kind of disgusting vermin. I frowned at them in what I imagined to be a questioning way, which clearly was a mistake, seeing as the next object to zoom at me was a Heinemann Atlas, closely followed by an encyclopaedia as big as my head. I did the only logical thing, I ducked.
Well, it was more like a dive to safety, and I fell off my chair to avoid the giant objects. That made quite a bit of noise, and everyone turned to look at me, the "Good" endowed looked sympathetic, or were glaring at the twins, the others looked amused. Manfred looked irritated. I took this to be a bad sign.
Emma, who was sitting on my other side, helped me up. I felt like an idiot, and my knees were grazed.
"I suppose your common school found it amusing when students crashed off chairs," Manfred drawled loathingly, "but this is not a common school, so I suggest that you grow accustomed to our proper rules or you will find yourself in a very unamusing position."
"They were throwing things at me," I said argumentatively, feeling that this had been too aggravating a day for me to handle, "with their minds, they could have taken my eye out!"
"Excuse me?" Manfred's voice was deadly quiet.
"They-" I started, but then re assessed Manfred's facial expression, "Nothing," I corrected myself meekly, "sir."
"Sit down, you idiotic girl."
I obeyed, feeling stupid, but muttering something under my breath.
The next half an hour passed in silence, only another hour and a half to go, I thought bitterly. I was nearing the end of my math homework, and was not looking forward to the extended response question about Scotland in 1314 (I had accidentally told my History teacher William Wallace had been the king of England at the time, and had been called an abysmally stupid girl in response to this answer). I wasn't bad at history, I just hadn't been listening.
"Gabriel Silk, are you hoping to find the answer to your homework on Bridget Lark's face?" Manfred's voice cut through the silence. I looked up, alarmed at being mentioned again, and saw Gabriel looking away from me hurriedly. I blushed.
"Then keep your eyes down and get back to work."
Gabriel did not look up again.
Emma glanced at me, "still think he doesn't like you?" she whispered. I did not respond, other than blushing rather noticeably.
She didn't give up, "he totally does."
"Would you two care to share your conversation with the rest of us? Tolly? Lark?" Manfred's voice cut through the relative silence for what felt like the umpteenth time. He looked livid.
"Nothing sir." Emma was quick to respond. I nodded vigorously.
"Oh, no. You two seemed to be having such fun," hardly, I thought, "and I want to know what keeps kids entertained these days." I swear, he acted like he was in his thirties and like there was something large and obtrusive stuck up his backside…
"Um, just telling Bridget that I…" Emma was obviously under pressure.
"Um… That I needed her to be my science partner! Yeah, we can choose, and me, her, Gabe and Bruce Leverman are the only ones without partners yet." Emma finished lamely. I winced internally.
"Well, clearly you two need not work together, you have proven yourselves incapable," Manfred said nastily, "guess you'll have to go with Bruce, eh, Tolly? Leaving Silk and Lark to work together, shouldn't be hard if Silk can muster the brain strength." I blushed to the highest degree, and Gabriel looked like he was torn between feeling incensed and humiliated.
Zelda laughed scathingly, and Asa sniggered unpleasantly. The twins cracked identical evil smiles and Manfred looked like he had told a very good joke.
"Do I have an understanding?"
"Yes, sir." We replied weakly. I frowned, shoving my math homework aside and getting started on history. Q1. What was Piers Gaveston's role in the 1314 Bannockburn Campaign?
I couldn't really think of much to write other than that he kept Edward II busy in the bedroom while Robert Bruce recovered his empire, so I tried my best to word things as delicately as possible. I think I may have done alright, but it's hard to tell with these things. Bloors is meant for geniuses, people who know everything there is to know about everything. And while I may be clever I am certainly not a genius (in fact, in the matter of math I am about as useful as a fishbowl) and I could not be expected to work at this pace and be able to sleep the night through simultaneously.
Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally Manfred dismissed us. At which point I nearly died of shock. Letting us out before Christmas? Well, blow me down.
I sighed, hurrying up the stairs of the music tower. My playing had been so perfunctory that Mr. Pilgrim had allowed me to practice after homework every night. Of course, he had not yelled at me, he was a rather patient, albeit quiet teacher.
Beautiful music drifted down to meet my ears.
I recognised it as Moonlit Sonata, my favourite of all Beethoven's music.
I knew who must be playing; Gabriel had been practicing the piece today.
"Hey there," I said softly. The music ceased.
"Hello," he replied, a light smile on his usually downcast face, "I take it you're here to practice?"
I nodded. He patted the stool next to him. I sat down obediently.
"You don't have to-"
"Don't take this personally, but you need the tutoring more than I do." Gabriel smiled gently, flicking through sheets of music, "try this."
I obeyed, bravely attempting the uncomplicated piece of music. I knew my ability to play on any level of acceptable was greatly compromised by his presence, I'd be to nervous to try and try to play properly. The sound that came forth was muddled and unpleasant, not really flowing like it was supposed to.
Gabriel winced, and stopped my hands moving. I grimaced.
"Bad, huh?" I guessed, peering at his expression.
He smiled diplomatically, "there's nothing wrong with needing a little practice," he said lightly.
"So," I drawled, watching Gabriel as he flicked through the sheets to find a simpler piece, "we're science partners."
"Yeah," he replied, "I guess so."
"Sorry you got dragged into that thing with me and Manfred."
"You got pulled into that thing with me and Manfred too," Gabriel shrugged, blushing, "it's no big deal. He was just trying to intimidate you."
"It worked really well." I nodded.
He laughed, indicating another page, "try this first, it's a little easier."
It was still bad, I knew, but it was ever so slightly better than before. However, Gabriel did stop me.
"You're going too fast," he said softly, "relax, slow down."
I nodded. He suddenly placed his hands on top of mine, aligning our fingers.
"Let me show you," he murmured, guiding my fingers to the right keys, I breathed in.
Time slipped by as music echoed through the tower. Eventually we stopped, alerted by the hour. My playing had slightly improved by this point.
Gabriel seemed slightly flustered, he kept on knocking things over and blushing. I was baffled, usually that was my job.
"Well, um, bye." He stuttered, almost toppling over a violin resting on a stool as he rushed out of the room.
He actually switched the lights off behind him as he left.
I stood there, alone, in the dark for a moment.
I am such a loser.
"Well… bye," I muttered, followed by "that was weird…"
A/N – We've got some Gabe/Bridget action coming up, so review to speedy up the process!