Alicia stood outside the principal’s door, fidgeting and feeling faint with worry. Kiva had given her a quick smile and then run back to the cafeteria to finish lunch. Not that it would have helped much if she had stayed, for Alicia was too deep in her thoughts for something like that to matter.

Did I do something wrong? she thought frantically. Am I in trouble? I-I don’t think I broke any rules. . . did I break any rules?

She pulled out her student handbook and flipped to the rules page, scanning them.

No, not according to this. . .

A movement caught her eye, and she glanced at the two girls approaching and edged over slightly to give them more room, all without really seeing them.

What if I did something awful without realizing it? she fretted. What if I get expelled?!? What if–

Her thoughts were interrupted when the principal’s secretary opened the door.

“Alicia Engla?”

“Y-yes, ma’am?” she said.

“Principal Delaney will see you now.”

Alicia gulped, giving her blouse a tug to straighten it, and walked through the door with a growing sense of doom.

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The end of lunch was punctuated by a hand descending on Stephanie’s shoulder.

She jumped, then glanced over her shoulder.  Ms. Delaney smiled at her.  “Stephanie, I’m sorry to startle you.  Principal Delaney would like to speak with you after class.”

“Yes, of course,” Stephanie said.  She watched, a little warily, as Ms. Delaney shifted her gaze to another student and began to walk away, saying, “David, a quick word. . . . ”

Why didn’t she wait until the end of the day? Stephanie wondered.  Ms. Delaney continued to circulate around the lunchroom, speaking to students.

“Does she always do that?” she asked Aurelia.  “Deliver messages at lunchtime, I mean.”  It seemed highly irregular; Ms. Delaney, and indeed the other teachers she had met, went out of their way to befriend and communicate with students.  At her old school, they would have just done the minimum–unless–

Ah, but this isn’t my old school.  She tried to relax and listen to Aurelia’s response.  It wasn’t her old school, and old suspicions weren’t necessary.

Right?