Mrs Meyer, her short blond locks bobbing while she turned her head, was looking at her students encouragingly.
Ezra knew it was a trap. He was staring blankly ahead, eyes down on his paper, trying not to move.
“Mr Maher?”
Too late. She spotted him. He looked up and right into her giant blue eyes.
“I, uhm, I.”
“Why don't you just give it a go, hm?”, she said with her coaxing smile, but it wasn't a question.
“I...”, Ezra started again. He looked down on his paper. The numbers and letters didn't make any sense to him. He had studied this chapter last weekend, but now the lines of text went blurry before his eyes. He was not going to cry in front of the entire class, he thought to himself, feeling his face go red and warm. He cleared his throat.

math competition book image blonde, dark, and dark academia image

Behind him someone coughs silently and starts talking in a small voice. It's Corey. The white haired girl he had been collecting herbs and flowers with for the pharmacist who recently had almost poisoned them both. You should think that nearly dying gave you an excuse for not answering a question in math, but Mrs Meyer was relentless.

She thanks Corey for her answer and so does Ezra internally and with a quick glance back, but she simply asks him to do the next exercise, when Mr Austen bursts through the door.
“I'm sorry, may I disturb you for a second?”
“You already did.”, Mrs Meyer responds jokingly. He laughs curtly and proceeds to explain that two students are being called to the headmistresses' office. Ezra frantically tries to solves the next exercise in his book, when he hears his name.
“...and Mr Ezra Maher.” He looks around uncertainly, until he sees that Corey has already stood up and started packing her things. They follow Mr Austen outside who sends them in the direction of the office and assures them he'll join them later.
Ezra turns around to Corey and holds up his hands, “I can't believe it. Heaven must have sent him.”
But the blonde girl doesn't seem as at ease.
“You know”, she says, “you could kind of use the time in Maths class, even if it's hard.”
“Hard?”, he shoots back, “It's fucking horrible is what it is. I just want to curl up and die whenever I get asked a question. Scratch that, whenever I have to enter that room.”
“Oh, come on.”, Corey answers soothingly, “It's not that bad. Mrs Meyer likes you and besides stop being so dramatic, Ophelia is rubbing off on you.”, the last bit she said in a slightly different tone and with a giggle, but the brunette boy doesn't notice anything and instead slowly starts to worry about the reason they would have to go see Miss Braelynn.

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On the other side of Hearthstone Theo is in an almost-fight with Mr Diedrich. It's an almost fight in German and all of her classmates have long stopped trying to follow what they're saying.
“Are you sure that's the correct inflection though Mr Diedrich, I know you just feel it, but as you told us yourself, “Der Dativ ist dem Genetiv sein Tod, nicht wahr*?”, she says, still in German, when Mr Diedrich lets out a small sigh of defeat and the door is once again torn open by Mr Austen.
Theo gets up and turns to Mr Diedrich, “Saved by the bell, I guess.”, before she leaves behind Mr Austen who is slightly concerned about her knowing he was going to ask her to come and her lack of school utensils. After he asks her what's up with that, she just says “I like to travel lightly sometimes.” clarifying absolutely nothing and smiling at the teacher's frustration at her being overly enigmatic. She, too, is sent to Braeylnn's office while Mr Austen runs off.

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Mrs Schmidt is talking about virtue ethics. A feminist approach to philosophy, where morality isn't independent of one's situation in life but in fact, what is virtuous depends exactly on the person's circumstances. But Ophelia doesn't know that. She's been staring out the window for the last thirty minutes before shifting her gaze to Mrs Schmidt and imagining her as a spider. Her long grey hair floating in the air like spider legs, her bony fingers extending. She gets out her pen to start drawing the mental image, when Mr Austen storms through the door finally breaking her boredom. She sits up in her chair to better see what's going on, when he calls her name. Oh damn, she thinks,_what on earth have they found?_, as the many deeds she's done over the years and specifically recently cross through her mind. She contemplates for a second, whether she could make a run for it, but there's no escaping Braelynn, better to get it over with.

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Amélie is sitting in economics class, carefully copying the equations on the board, starts raising her hand and smiles at Mr Anker when he turns around from writing an exercise under it. He smiles back and is about to ask her to talk the class through solving it, when someone rattles the door. Mr Anker goes over to open it and tells the person at the door that said door can be difficult sometimes. To Amélie's surprise someone actually enters shortly after their exchange.
“Excuse me, Miss.”, Mr Austen says, slightly embarrassed, while looking at her and tilting his head towards the door. She looks at Mr Anker who nods and leaves the room accompanied by the whistles and mocking shouts of her classmates, “what did you do, miss perfect, huh?”, they scream lightheartedly until Mr Anker and the closing of the door after her put a stop to it.
“So, you wouldn't by any chance know, where Adélaïde de Broglie is, or her friend Judith?”
“Oh, Addie, uhm, I'm not sure, Mr Austen, but I think she writes for the newspaper, so she might be in their quarters.”
“Do you know, where that is?” The brunette girl nods and he sends her to go check without hesitation, while he will check their house.

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Sometimes, she thinks, teachers trust her too easily. If they only knew what she had been up to lately...But this time she actually did what she was told and opened the almost hidden -and equally as capricious as the one to the economics class room- door to the
newspaper's tiny but cosy room. On the couch are Addie and Judith, legs entangled and looking through an old newspaper while laughing. To her right, there was a guy, she thought his name was Hank, fighting and arguing under his breath with a coffee machine.
“Hi.”, she says, standing awkwardly in the door-frame, “Uhm. Adélaïde, Judith, you're meant to come to the headmisstresses' office with me.”
Adélaïde looks up at her, “Oh?”, she says, while Judith is visibly upset. She doesn't seem to be too good at hiding her emotions. “It's our free period right now.”, she appeals, but she knows as well as I do that Braelynn doesn't care. So the two of them get up, arrange their school uniforms while leaving the paper scattered over the couch, when Hank turns around and screams “Finally!”.
“What, so eager to get rid of us, huh?”, Addie teases him.
“Oh no! I mean, yes, technically you're not allowed to be here Judith, last time okay”, he says winking at Judith, “But no, I just finally got the machine fixed and you...have to go somewhere?”
He seriously didn't notice any of this, for a reporter, he could be quite easily distracted sometimes, Addie thinks to herself, amused.
“We have to go to Braelynn's office.”, Amélie offers in the way of an explanation.
“Oh..”, he says, pregnant with meaning, “good luck and remember not to look back when you leave again.”

When the three girls arrive at the office, there's already a group of people waiting outside. It's all the members of their little club. Their little secret club. They look at each other with varying degrees of fear and dread, when a loud knock echoes through the hallway. All heads turn towards the door where Theo stands, hand still raised and gives them a nonchalant smile to counter their horrified glances.
Miss Braelynn opens the door and bids them inside with a gesture.
They all stand in a row in front of her desk: Ezra, Corey, Theo, Ophelia, Amélie, Adélaïde and Judith. Barely fitting in the office, they all fumble for a minute until all their limbs have found a place somewhere while Miss Braelynn observes them with disdain.
Then she looks at all of them individually. Gravely.

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All of them are on the verge of collapsing and simply telling what's been going on, when she finally utters: “You're application to open a photography club has been granted.”
A collective sigh of relief can be heard.
“Th..Thank you Miss.”, Ezra says.
“Are we excused now?”, Theo follows up bluntly, thoigh she's saying what everyone's thinking, and Miss Braelynn nods, “You may go now. You're last period will end in a few minutes which would be the time it would take you to get back there, so I trust you spend your time wisely instead.”
“Yes, we will...bond now.”, Ophelia says, “barely keeping a straight face.
Braelynn nods once more and all of them leave the office, once again fumbling until they've all freed themselves from their entangled limbs and the small space.
Once in the hallway and around the corner, they look at each other incredulously before Corey lets out a quiet and shy giggle before she raises a hand to hold in front of her mouth, but she's already infected the whole group. They all burst out laughing and Theo screams “Let's celebrate!”, getting out a silver hip flask from god knows where and taking a sip, before holding it out to the others.
They walk down the corridors of Hearthstone affirming each other of how scared they were and of how many other things they thought they might have been called in for. Theo attempts to count who has done the most naughty things, but they stop after three people because there's too many.
Giggling and happy they break into an empty class room in the unused part of the castle.

house, manor, and the secret history image Image by Natasha

Around the corner, there's a person standing, watching them. A dark figure who has followed them since they left the office.
Back in the room the laughter slowly starts to die away. Though the hip flask, seemingly unending, is still being passed around, they, one by one, become sincere again. The initial adrenaline out of their systems, they all seem a bit exhausted, but still tense, when Corey asks them if they've discovered anything...and several voices answer simultaneously.

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*this is a phrase that's virtually untranslatable since it pertains to grammatical rules that don't exist in English, basically it's a saying used to show that one of the grammatical cases is being used less and less in German and being replaced by a different case which is grammatically false. Often it seems right to a native person though, simply because it's being used in colloquial language a lot and doesn't really make much of a difference meaning wise. “Nicht wahr?” just means something like “Isn't that true?”

the line from the title is from the Jack Kerouac quote "It's all too much and not enough at the same time."

this article was written by @obsidiandust and featured OCs from all the members of the @daclub
check out our story thus far, new chapters every Thursday

part 2 coming soon!