Hope was on edge.
Everyone from the food fight had been taken to the headmistress's office, regardless of their role. But even though her guardians were called, that wasn't what had Hope on edge. She had used two big time miracles to cover Star and to keep her from killing someone on her behalf. Slowing time and creating something out of nothing were two miracles that only Principalities and upward could perform.
No doubt the documentation had just reached Heaven's lower office, and would quickly make its way up the chain.
Hope feared that every moment still at school would put every human here in danger. From Angelic and Demonic Power both.
No telling who would be coming for her first.
Her heart pounded as she willed her Angelic and Demonic protectors to show.
"Hey." Hope glanced beside her to see that boy she had talked to before all of this had gone down. He was holding her book. "You, uh, left this. At the cafeteria area."
Hope took it silently and clutched it close to her chest. There was a comfort in holding the early nineteenth century collection of poetry. She started to nibble at her lower lip, unsure if she was going to cry or not.
"So…...what's that book about?"
Hope didn't answer. She didn't even hear the question.
However, she did hear the seat next to her scrape as the boy was chased off by Michelle, who placed her hand comfortingly on her shoulder. Hope gave her friend a smile of gratefulness before going back and clenching the book like a lifeline. Her heart didn't stop pounding so hard in her chest until Mr. Fell and Mr. Crowley walked through the door to the headmistress's office.
Well, Mr. Aziraphale walked through while Mr. Crowley sauntered in in his usual 'I'm-trying-to-look-so-cool' swaggering way.
Regardless of how they walked, both beings had traces of worry on their faces.
"Hope!" Mr. Aziraphale exclaimed as she all but threw herself onto the Principality.
"Mr. Fell! Mr. Crowley!" Hope cried out.
"What's wrong, Little Dove? You look like your about to be spooked."
Lowering her voice so no one could listen in on her conversation, Hope explained the reason why they were called, describing the fight that she helped turn into a food fight. With some horrible consequences.
"I'm worried about my Miracles attracting the wrong attention." Hope finished softly.
Not to her surprise at all, Aziraphale and Crowley looked worried. But before they could do anything, Headmistress Lureth stepped out of her office.
"Ah. Mr. Fell. Mr. Crowley. Thank you for coming so quickly." She stepped to the side and gestured inside her office. "Please. Come in."
The three beings entered the office. Hope quickly glanced over at the two popular kids, Sasha and Joshua, both still wearing their ruined clothes. If looks could discorporate, Hope's very being would be destroyed.
Star looked sullen in between her parents, two very wealthy looking people.
The headmistress gestured to the three empty chairs.
"Now that you are all here, we have some issues to discuss." Headmistress Lureth stated unnecessarily. She folded her hands on top of her desk, making sure to glance at each of the parents. "Today, your children were involved in food-fight that disrupted lunch period. It was about to escalate to a full-on fist fight if Professor Woodel didn't intervene."
Hope knew that was true but she kept her mouth shut, with her head hung down in shame.
"This is preposterous!" Sasha's mother, a woman that was very much looked like an older and more stuck up version of the cheerleader. "My Sasha is innocent! These filthy children attacked her for no reason!"
"Actually, there was a reason why I threw a pie at her. Though I wanted to put my fist through her face instead." Star muttered. Her mother hushed her harshly.
"Regardless of who started it and the reason why, you were still involved. So, as punishment, each of you is to serve three weeks detention."
"This is so unfair!" Star shouted. She stood, pointing to herself angrily, "I started the fight because Sasha and Joshua were spreading rumors about Hope. I only stood up for her."
"We were not." Joshua shot back. "It's not our fault Hope's a freak that hasn't been able to make any friends."
Hope tensed her shoulders as she felt rather than heard Mr. Crowley let a growl, deep and guttural, rumble through his chest. She placed a hand on his shoulder, silently asking him to restrain himself. Mr. Crowley returned to gesture, patting her hands with his bony one.
I'll restrain myself, he seemed to say, but if they say any more ill words against you, I'll rip their throats out with my teeth.
"Be that as it may, whoever was responsible for starting the fight is of no regards to me." Headmistress Lureth. Hope didn't see how the woman's eyes went over to her. "Hope? Have you anything to say for yourself?"
Hope kept herself hunched over until Mr. Aziraphale gently put a hand her shoulder. For a fleeting moment, she took in the groups of parents staring her down and suddenly she couldn't breathe. Their eyes, judging her silently and harshly, reminded her far too much of Heaven.
Her eyes glanced to Headmistress Lureth.
"Have you anything to say, dear?"
"I-" the words caught in her throat. "I…..uh-"
Joshua's mother scoffed. "Just spit it out, you little floozy. We don't got all day."
"THAT'S IT!" Mr. Crowley growled loudly. He stood quickly and marched himself over to where the well-dress woman was sitting and stared her down. "You want to say that again to my face? Because no one talks about my daughter like that in front of me. Do you hear me? No one, not even some has-been Queen Bee with a superiority complex."
Hope would've laughed at how quickly the woman's face turned red if it hadn't been for the fact that the adults were now going at each other.
"HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT?!"
Mr. Crowley's face contorted in a scary, wolfish grin, one that showed he was taking pleasure in the unintentional discourse he was sowing. It was here and gone in a heartbeat but she caught it, and when she turned towards Mr. Aziraphale, and she saw his face scrunched up in worry, she knew that the Principality saw it too.
They were about to lose their friend to Demonic Rage if they didn't do something quickly.
"You're one to talk, strutting around here like you're some sex god when you're nothing but a poser!"
"Alright, everyone!" Mr. Aziraphale butted in suddenly. The Principality placed himself quickly between Mr. Crowley and Joshua's mother. Whether it was to keep Mr. Crowley from attacking in his anger or to protect him from a very angry mortal woman with claw-like acrylic nails, Hope didn't know. But she could feel an Angelic and Heavenly Peace wash over the group and knew that Mr. Aziraphale was doing his best to keep the anger down.
Once everyone was calmed to a minimum degree, Mr. Aziraphale said softly, "Why don't we talk about this in a mature manner? We are adults, after all."
"Thank you, Mr. Fell." The headmistress said with an exhaled breath. "Now. Since everyone in this room is at fault, I think the perfect punishment is that each of you will be required to stay after school for two weeks."
Hope felt tears prick into her eyes.
"Detention?" she asked timidly.
There was pity in Headmistress Lureth's eyes. "No. Not detention. You all will be helping with the preparation of prom. Gathering supplies, helping decorate once the theme and location have been chosen. Luckily, the Prom Committee won't be deliberating much longer on that as they will be voting on it tomorrow morning. During study period, each of you is to report to the Student Council office and meet with the head of the Committee to get your duties. Mr. Montag will be reporting back to me on the progress, so don't think you can skip out and I won't be none the wiser. Any questions?"
"But—but I'll miss practice!" Joshua protested. Sasha nodded her head, looking like a Barbie doll bobble head.
"Your coaches will be informed of your sudden shift in schedule." She eyed the two popular kids. "If you miss even one of these and not have a valid excuse, you will immediately be put into detention for the remainder of your punishment and your prom privileges will be revoked. Do I make myself clear?"
Both, looking thoroughly chastised, looked down and muttered, "Yes, Headmistress."
"Good." She nodded primly, her eyes darting up to the clock. Her mouth tightened into a thin line. "Well, since the school day is all but over, I'll let you get your books and assignments from your teachers. Then you can be on your way."
The meeting over, everyone moved into the hallways outside the main office. The parents that knew each other continued to speak with familiarity and probably hatred for the Headmistress. Mr. Aziraphale and Mr. Crowley were talking with Star's parents happily, who were very clearly not like Sasha's or Joshua's parents by any stretch of the imagination, while Star and Hope went to their lockers to grab their belongings.
Hope was…...forlorn walking back to her locker.
She acted rashly when she threw those mash potatoes at Joshua. She acted with hatred and anger, something an Angelic Messenger was not supposed to be.
Angelic Messengers didn't take sadistic pleasure in seeing their mortal tormenters covered in mash potatoes.
She was supposed to be level-headed, kind and forgiving.
"Penny for your thoughts." Star's voice knocked her well out of her thoughts.
"You looked a little depressed." The human teen's voice lowered into a softer note. "What's up?"
"Oh. Nothing. Just…. reminiscing and regretting how I acted in the cafeteria." Hope muttered, clutching her chest tightly as though she was cold. "I bet Mr. Fell and Mr. Crowley are….disappointed in me."
"Hey. Don't be like that. Sure, you may've acted a bit rashly-"
"I'm the one who acted rashly?"
"My point is, you're the only one who sorta restrained yourself. Besides, seeing Joshua covered in pie and mash potatoes was so cathartic to see."
Despite herself, Hope laughed. "I do agree that it was very much a sight to see."
"I only wish I had my phone. It would've blown up on Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram. Especially considering I don't know how the pie got in my hand in the first place. " Her expression twisted in confusion before it softened. "But your dads won't be mad at you, at least not too much. Mr. Fell doesn't seem like the type to get angry."
"And Mr. Crowley?"
Star rolled her eyes and smirked. "Well, I would say that if he was DTF, let him know my number. But despite his…interesting personality, he seems really sweet."
"Don't let him hear you say that." Hope half-joked.
"He wouldn't hurt you, is what I'm trying to say. He loves you too much, they both do."
What Star said made her feel a bit better. And while what she said was the truth, the two beings did indeed love her with every fiber of their being, she was still a Messenger, way below the Principality on the totem pole of Heaven.
And the Principalities were known for their brutality when it came to punishment.
The two girls gathered their books and since their last few classes were basically study hall classes, they didn't need to pick up any make up work. They quickly made their way back to the front offices, bidding each other goodbye until Monday as they separated.
Whatever mood Hope found herself in quickly plummeted when she got situated in the Bentley. They drove the speed limit, which Hope took as a sign of her caretaker's displeasure with her. She resigned herself to the eventual punishment she was convinced she would receive once when they arrived back at the bookshop.
No one made a sound as they got closer and then eventually arrived in SoHo. Crowley even parked perfectly and the three silently entered the bookshop. Hope sat down on the couch, her eyes lowered as Mr. Crowley and Mr. Aziraphale took the two tartan-patterned armchairs, though Mr. Crowley's chair changed to a black and red velvet as he sprawled in the chair.
The messenger didn't say anything. Her shoulders were tense as she continued to stare at her shoes with great interest.
"Hope. Look at me."
Somehow, she managed to find her voice. "Are you disappointed in me?"
"No, Dove. Never." Mr. Crowley stated, sitting forward.
Her heart tightened in her chest. "Angry, then?"
"No." Mr. Aziraphale's whisper had her fighting back tears. "No, dearest. Why would you think that we were upset with you?"
"Because I did not act as an Angel should have." Hope's lips trembled. She couldn't stand her guardians' pitiful looks. A few tears escaped her eyes. "I acted rashly, and on feelings that were not what I'm supposed to feel. I'm supposed to be caring, kind and forgiving. Unwaveringly so. But I couldn't forgive Joshua nor Sasha. I am so sorry I am such a failure as an Angel."
She sobbed, the dam finally breaking. But she was quickly embraced by both Mr. Aziraphale and Mr. Crowley. Hope leaned into the embraces, soaking in the conflicting auras of an Angel and Demon, becoming the middle grey area of Eternal Light and Dark.
Two beings of two complete opposite sides.
And her, someone that was created for the servitude of Higher Angelic beings, was treated equally among a Principality and loved and protected by a Demon, the First Tempter.
How did she get so lucky?
"The weather isn't supposed to be favorable the next few days. But when it is, and it is supposed to coincide with your school holiday, I propose we all go on a picnic in Tadfield." Mr. Aziraphale whispered. "You'll get to meet Ms. Anathema Device, Mr. Newt Pulsifer and the Them. They are quite lovely people."
Hope smiled through watery eyes. "I look forward to meeting them."
She dipped forward a bit, feeling exhausted to the bone.
"Why don't you go and get some rest, Dove?" Crowley suggested softly. "It's been quite the day for you."
Hope nodded in agreement and started to make her way up the stairs, strangely stiff and sore throughout her body.
She was so out if it that she didn't hear Mr. Crowley speaking with Mr. Aziraphale.
"Angel…...we need to talk. Hope told me what happened at the party."
Hope had been barely able to miracle her bedclothes onto her body before she collapsed into bed, asleep.