Chapter Five

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Of all the things Harlow exceeded at doing poorly, walking while surprised ranked just as high as cleaning or studying

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Of all the things Harlow exceeded at doing poorly, walking while surprised ranked just as high as cleaning or studying. When Takashi had told her he believed her father owned an ancient treasure map, her right foot smacked directly into her left. She lurched forward, slipping from his grasp and landing on her side.

The pain that somewhat subsided since the crash flared up in a flash. She inhaled sharp and quick through her teeth. "Ssss!"

Takashi dropped down beside her. "That's it. You need to get looked at. This school have an infirmary?"

She nodded.

"Where is it?"

"Through there." She pointed toward two towering oak doors several feet away.

"Let's go." He swung her satchel across his chest and helped her to her feet. Pushing the massive door open, he led her down Featherington's winding halls. Classmates rushed around like mad before the tardy bell chimed.

"Where to now?"

"Two doors down, on the left."

When they entered the infirmary, a row of students lined the waiting benches. They sat packed together shoulder to shoulder. The skin across her brow tightened.

Of course, the place is stuffed with sick people. Just my luck.

The infirmary door's hinge squealed shut behind them. With it, all eyes landed on her, wide and horrified. She followed their gazes to her filthy clothes. Dirt and leaves caked on her from corset top to trousers tips. She sniffed.

Like to see one of them crash into a hedge and come up pressed and polished.

Gripping onto Takashi's arm, she hobbled up to the nurse's station at the far end of the room. A thick browed woman, who either smelled something die under her desk, or had been the victim of a rather painful smash to the nose, thrust a clipboard across the desk.

"Write your name on the list and what's wrong with you." Her curled sneer matched the gritty grunt that trailed her words.

Harlow scribbled a brief story of her injury on the paper and handed it back to the woman.

Eyes fixed on the desk, she waved her away "It's going to be at least fifteen minutes before the nurse can see you, Harlow. Have a seat."

"Can I stay with her?" asked Takashi.

"This isn't social time, young man. Healthy people can get back to class."

Harlow let go of his arm in favor of the desk between her and the woman. "It's okay. I'll be fine. Oh, when you go back out the door, make a left and go up the staircase to the first floor. Your class will be three doors down on the left."

"Thank you," he said, walking her toward the bench. "And feel better." He helped her sit in the only empty space, by the exit. Then, removing her satchel from his shoulder, he gave it back and left the room.

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