She picked her way across the street and entered the alley. She carefully picked her way over the numerous orphans, draped on the cold, stone ground. Her shoes clunked on the cobblestone as she walked.
The bell tower in the town square rang four times, the loud, harsh sound echoed off the walls. Genevieve began to run, she was late for dinner and her mother would be furious.
In her carelessness, she tripped over a mans leg. She landed hard on the stone and heard her dress rip. Her hands were scraped and bloody. Her mother would be livid.
Genevieve pushed herself up on her hands and knees and looked at the man she tripped on. Her heart stopped. His skin was tight over his cheekbones, and he was extremely pale. He was dead. But that wasn't what made her scream. It was the white, translucent figure hovering above him.
She stood up quickly and began sprinting down the alley.
"Stop!" She heard the voice yell. She looked over her shoulder and saw the figure following her.
She shrieked and turned a corner. Her dress hooked on a piece of metal from a gate that once guarded the passageway, but had been taken down for many years.
She grabbed her dress and pulled as hard as she could. She looked up to see the figure only ten meters away. With another shriek, she gave her dress one last yank before collapsing in fear on the ground.
Nicolai found the girl on his way back to the Academy. Usually he ignored the people in the alleyways, but it was hard to ignore this girl. Her platinum blonde hair, pale face, and quality clothing stood out against the dirt covered orphans who roamed the alleyways.
As he got closer, Nicolai could hear a soft whimpering sound. It was coming from the girl, he realized.
"Miss." He said, touching her shoulder. She shot up into a standing position and flattened herself against the wall. Her eyes darted around to every corner and crevice.
"Is it gone? Oh it must be gone. Maybe it was never here?" The girl muttered under her breath.
"What?" Nicolai asked. Her eyes snapped to his and the depth he saw there was almost heart stopping. He knew what she saw, or at least had a suspicion, before she said it.
Nicolai took her to the Academy. For all he knew, she could just have been crazy, or a drunk. He took a chance. He couldn't just leave her, she was terrified, anyone could see that.
The entire walk to the Academy she stayed huddled next to Nicolai, glued to his side. On more than one occasion, she would see something, a ghost he assumed, and would shriek and jump closer to him. He kept his arm around her and comforted her.
The Academy was something to be admired. Many assumed that it was a school for the rich, and never questioned the fact that many wealthy children got turned away. Only the special ones were admitted.
The building was extremely large. It had four separate buildings, each of them over five stories. The dorm buildings had balconies for each room. It had no true name, but was known by all as the Academy.
It was more than that though. It had become a home, a sanctuary. All the students were unique and had no other place to go, no place that would understand them.
Nicolai walked up the the large wooden entryway and knocked. There was no answer.
"Come on Geoffrey! It's Nic!" Nicolai shouted.
"And who's the lady?" Came the reply. The doors opened to reveal a middle aged man with all the facial hair you can imagine and a potbelly to go with it. Geoffrey was a former student, who now manned the door. He claimed it was his payment to the school.
"A potential student." Nicolai responded, as he walked in, the girl beside him.
"Potential?" Geoffrey raised and eyebrow.
"Found her in one of the alleys. You can never be sure of those ones."
" I see. Well you can guarantee headmistress will be furious if she's not one of us."
"Do you know where she is?"
"Her office?" Geoffrey suggested. Both men laughed. It was an ongoing joke at the school, for no one knew where her office was. She would announce that she was going to her office and disappear for ages before turning up in one of the classes. Many had tried following her, to no avail.
"Well, with students like you two running around, can you blame me?" Came a soft voice from behind Nicolai. He spun around to see the headmistress standing in front of him. He bowed his head in greeting. She curtsied back.
"I suppose not." Nicolai responded to her earlier statement.
To say that the headmistress was beautiful was an understatement. Anyone who saw her, man or woman, usually stopped whatever they were doing to stare.
Often, people would avoid her, though. The first turn off was her hair. It was gorgeous, soft, and flowed in light curls down to her waist. But no one saw that, all they saw was the colour; red. She never put powder on it and many were unaccustomed to its bold colour.
The second turn off was her position. Woman were rarely headmistresses, and if they were, it was for an all girls school.
Though many feared her, all respected her. She had a loving spirit and radiated happiness. You couldn't help but feel better after talking to her.
"You're late." She chastised. Her gaze then shifted to the girl. "What's her story?"
"I found her in an alley. I do not know her name, but she was muttering about a man, or figure. I believe she is a Spirit Seer, though I can't be sure." Headmistress did not gasp, she never did, but he heard a light intake of breath
Genevieve knew that they were talking about her, the boy and the beautiful lady, but their voices were distant. Neither spoke directly to her, so she figured it would be alright to look around the room.
She drifted from table to table, taking time to look at every object. They were all so magnificent and well crafted.
"I loved that." A voice said from behind me. Genevieve turned around to see a small child, a girl, pointing to the teacup she held in her hands.
Genevieve crouched down so that she was eye level with the girl. She held the cup out to her.
"Here." Genevieve offered.
The kittle girls shook her head rapidly. Longing and sadness was evident in her face. It hurt Genevieve to see such negative feelings on such an innocent face, but she didn't persist
" My name is Genevieve." She said, with a small smile. The girl smiled
"My name is Lucy." She responded.
"It's nice to meet you, Lucy." This time, the Headmistress did gasp. The boy, Nicolai, gave a small shout, and Geoffrey fainted, hitting the wood floor with a clunk.
"And your absolutely positive this girl called herself Lucy?" The Headmistress drilled again. Genevieve wasn't completely sure what was happening.
"Yes." She responded. Headmistress leaned back in her chair and clasped her hands together.
"Genevieve, there is a lot we need to talk about. This school, The Academy, doesn't let just anybody in. We are a school for the gifted. A school for those with abilities. Magical abilities." The headmistress was used to this speech. "We have reason to believe that you are a Spirit Seer, that you have the ability to see a deceased person. Their ghost."
Genevieve only stared. It was hard to tell if she truly understood, but she did, all too well.
"We -I- would like you to begin training here. Training to control your power, as well as continue your regular studies." The headmistress leaned closer, anxious to hear Genevieve's response. She sensed that this girl had a lot of unlocked power.
"What of my parents and family? I cannot just leave." Genevieve asked, eyes level and hands clasped.
"Your family will be taken care of. We have had to convince many parents to let their children come here." In other words, they had Mind Alterers to do it.
Genevieve looked down at the flier for a few moments, before looking up and meeting the headmistresses gaze, evenly.
"If I am to be staying here, I should find calling you headmistress all the time very tiresome."
"You may call me Ms. Madeleine." She responded smiling. Madeleine seemed like to feminine a name for such a powerful lady.
"Nicolai will be showing you around. He is waiting outside the doorway." Ms. Madeleine informed. Genevieve rose from the chair and turned to the door.
" Oh, and Genevieve? Stay away from Lucy." Ms. Madeleine warned.
"And this is the cafeteria." Nicolai presented. Genevieve looked around at the dozens of wooden tables, hanging chandelier, and impressive buffet table. This was like no school she'd ever heard of.
"May I see where I'm going to stay?" Genevieve asked. "I'd like to clean up a bit."
Nicolai laughed his light laugh. His laughter was infectious to most, if not making them laugh, making them smile, but Genevieve showed no reaction.
"Well, I did find you huddled in a filthy alleyway. I figure you can at least have a bath." Nicolai responded. Genevieve couldn't help but envy the way his eyes were always twinkling. It was as though everything had a hidden joke, that only he knew.
They walked side by side down the hallway, though Nicolai was slightly in front, leading the way. Genevieve took a chance and asked a question that had been bugging her.
"Who was Lucy?"
Nicolai stopped and turned to look at Genevieve.
"You don't need to concern yourself with Lucy." He responded, shortly.
"Ms. Madeleine said I shouldn't talk to her. I think I have the right to know why."
Nicolai was silent. Then he turned to face her. His laughing eyes turned serious, for once.
" Lucy was Ms. Madeleine's sister. Her older sister. Lucy had the same gift you do. She could see and talk to ghosts.'' He stated.
''It was all a game to Lucy. She didn't really understand. She had no control, she would have conversations with ghosts in the middle of the street. When she was young, the ghosts were all friendly, for she was only a girl.
However, as she got older, stronger, she attracted less...friendly, ghosts. They all wanted something from her and Lucy never truly had a strong spirit." Nicolai's eyes pierced through Genevieve as his expression turned warning.
" Lucy killed herself."