"Move."Two younger students practically lept out the way as Oriana strutted past them, scrambling to get out of the way of the bag swinging loosely on her forearm, clearly scared to brush their shoulders against the expensive black leather, lest they face her wrath. She didn't find any pleasure in the way she could send them scattering just by giving them a harsh look, no, they were just an irritant, slowing her down, mere ants before a goddess.When she finally left the repugnant crowd behind, her step slowed to a more leisurely pace, her heels clicking against the stone pathway as she dug into her bag, pulling out her phone and pressing the button to check the time. 10:47. That gave her plenty of time. Her eyes flicked down to the message on her screen, and she smiled when she saw the name: 'Princess'. With a quick swipe of her finger, she opened it, smiling when she saw the snarky caption accompanying the image of another student's shoes. Her fingers flew over the screen, typing up a response, 'She should apologise for even making you sit in the same room as those- can you even call those shoes? God, they're hideous.' She adjusted the strap of her bag on her arm, her fingers briefly touching against the gold bracelet around her wrist, adjusting the way the charms lay against her skin, then focused her attention back on her phone, typing another quick message before dumping it back in her bag, 'I'll see you in five, Princess.' He appeared out of nowhere, like always, leaning down to whisper, "Good morning Countess," in her ear like he'd done a thousand times before. It had happened too many times for her to be surprised by him, and even if he did startle her from time to time, she would never give him the satisfaction of her surprise. "Duke. Fancy seeing you here." The young man settled into step beside her, "So, what did you bring for me this time?" Oriana rolled her eyes, though the slightest of smiles touched her lips as she did so, "I swear to God, if these M&Ms spill and ruin my bag, you're buying me two new ones." He laughed, "How exactly do you imagine I do that?" She shrugged, "You'll think of something." The walk to the graveyard felt far shorter with him by her side, he had always been her perfect companion, the light that contrasted so perfectly with her darkness, the playfulness that countered her seriousness. The rusted gates were soon before them, and she pushed them open with one hand, wrinkling her nose at the specks of rust now on her fingers. She fished a small bottle of hand sanitiser out her bag, rubbing the strawberry-scented liquid into her hands, much to the amusement of her companion. "Aw, Princess Ori can't stand to have dirt on her hands?" Oriana scoffed and walked over to the same grave as always, sitting on the marble and crossing her legs as she waited for their third to show up, readjusting her red dress so it sat more evenly across her thighs, "Bite me." He snapped his teeth together close to her ear, "I'd very much like to." She laughed and waved him away with her hand, "Not yet, Mimi would be outraged if we started without him."
He was late, and there were few things Mihail loathed more than tardiness. His brothers, perhaps (although they often seemed perpetrators of such a crime). His 10 o'clock Latin class had overrun, the professor inexplicably keen to keep his students present for an additional few minutes to rant about the importance of finishing their latest assignment on time. His golden nails had drummed impatiently on the wooden desk, counting down the seconds before he had finally been offered the opportunity to leave until almost ten minutes to eleven, and he had been forced to tug on his fur jacket and rush to the cemetery at a speed which did not suit his typically leisurely nature.Pushing open the rusted iron gate with the minimal contact possible, he had arrived just in time to hear the last of his friends' words."And yet it seems you are attempting to get rid of me before I have even arrived," Mihail joked in response as he made his way up the stone path, the bright-red soles of his ankle boots click-clacking dramatically on the ground beneath him, resisting the urge to cringe at the fact that some stray clod of dirt might have attached itself to the base of the expensive shoe. "Strawberry, Ori, really?" He wrinkled his nose in distaste, although the smell of the sweet berry had never bothered his allergy so much as his taste, and he tended to exaggerate the typically mild effects anyhow.He leaned in to place gentle greeting kisses on each of their cheeks, the action unnaturally warm for the Toussaint. Then, perching himself on a marble tombstone beside Oriana's, crossing one leather-clad leg over the other, he pushed the phone he had been browsing on his route over to the graveyard into his pocket, resting his hands on his lap. "Duke. Countess." Mihail greeted either of his closest friends in turn, the smile now hovering on his lips far more genuine than any he expressed to another. "I apologise for my tardiness, but you would not believe how ludicrously late I was kept. As if my assignment were not already complete - it is not my fault if others continued to prove drastically incompetent." It seemed thoroughly counter-intuitive, but appearances were often deceiving, and he had always been particularly speedy when it came to ensuring his work was completed far before the due date. "Now..."He sighed in his melodramatic manner, running fingers through his hair to push back a strand which threatened to cover his dark-rimmed eyes, then reached down into the messenger bag he had set on the ground beside him. "I have wine, though as I had to have it fetched from the kitchen, I cannot be assured it is of the greatest quality. I hadn't the time to go out properly, so we shall have to make do." He also removed a small set of miniature plastic wine glasses, usually reserved for tacky garden parties and yet the best he could procure at present, holding them out for his companions. Once they were taken, he poured each a glass of the possibly horrendous wine, then took the chance to light up a hideously long-awaited cigarette. "Do spill the tea, darlings. I'm practically dying for some gossip."
Oriana heard the click-clacking of Mihail's heels long before she heard his voice, but she didn't turn just yet, knowing that he just loved to make a dramatic entrance. His words were perfectly theatrical as always, and she smiled as she turned her attention away from her lover, "My darling, you know I would never-" "It's true, Princess!" The playful voice cut across her sweet words, and she felt a cold hand on hers, "Countess and I are in love, and we're going to run away to Paris together and live on all-butter croissants! This strawberry hand-sanitiser was just our cunning ploy to get you out the way!" Oriana laughed and swatted at the man behind her, "Do shut up, Duke."As Mihail drew closer, she turned her head so he could present his usual kiss to her cheek, unwilling to risk him smudging the perfect shade of red painted across her lips. He was delicate, yet she still dug into her bag to pull out her mirror, pouting and checking her contour in her reflection, using the tip of one finger to brush away some imagined dirt on her cheek. She snapped it shut and dropped it back in her bag, ignoring the snort of amusement from the man behind her. Perhaps she should have expected the messy kiss soon pressed to her cheek afterwards, or the hand messing up her hair, but somehow she was always caught unawares, "You dick!" The overly evil laughter emanating behind her was a sound she had heard a thousand times before, and she let out an overly dramatic sigh in return, pulling out her hairbrush and getting to work on her now ruffled hair, turning her attention back to Mihail, "Pas de problème, mon amour, this school," she gave a pointed look behind her, "is full of buffoons." Her beloved laughed and moved from behind her, taking his place on the gravestone opposite them, "Don't act like you don't love my touch, Countess." He then turned to Mihail, impish smile on his face, "I see you went for a simple look today, Princess. Very subtle." Oriana regarded Mihail more closely, a clear look of approval flicking across her face, "You look gorgeous today Mimi darling, don't listen to that green-eyed ghoul."With her hair back to its usual illustrious self, she dropped the hairbrush back in her bag, just in time to take one of the glasses that Mihail offered, holding it out so he could fill it with wine, "Merci." Their companion smirked at the glasses, regarding them with obvious amusement, "Cheap wine, plastic glasses, and a graveyard. Classy." Oriana looked at the wine curiously, swirling it in the glass before taking a small sip. "Not too bad, actually." The moment gossip was mentioned, Oriana's eyes lit up, and she leant forward, "Elizabeth, so-called 'fashion mogul' and 'it girl', I saw her wearing such a cheap bag today. You should have seen it, darling, not only was it hideous, but it couldn't have been more than a hundred pounds." She laughed and sipped at her wine, "I don't understand what possessed her to buy it." "Really, a cheap handbag, that's all you got?" Oriana pursed her lips, "Do you have anything better, Duke?" Clearly, he had been waiting for her to say those words, and he grinned at them, eyes lit up with delight, "You'll never guess who saw two teachers hooking up in the Gymnasium after hours."
"Oh, well, do send my best regards to Greta, then. I hear she has business in Paris this week, though she could not apparently find the courtesy to invite me." Mihail pouted, even if he did not exactly wish to end up following his sister around on her countless work outings. He had done so a couple of times in childhood, and, despite the inherent amusement of a small child sitting in the corner of the room and twiddling his thumbs while she went about her dark dealings, it was dull. He had learned maleficence and cruelty from the woman, but he was not hugely keen on studying the intricacies of the family business just yet, even if they did come with the potential benefit of a trip abroad.The wine was embarrassingly cheap, that much was for sure, and the glasses were not of greater calibre, but it had been the best Mihail could manage given the school's limited resources and tedious regulations against such things. He ignored Oriana's comment, offering her no more than a raised eyebrow as she savoured the drink, nodding when she agreed that it was not as awful as had been expected. "Cheap but functional," he decided, sipping from his own glass and finding he did not recoil from the taste as much as he had initially expected he might. "Rather fitting with our dear school's apparently favoured aesthetic, one might say."At last, however, they were getting around to the main event. These rendezvous were entertaining, after all, but they were little without the accompaniment of rumour. After all, there were few things which greased the palms of others at Farrow Academy as efficiently as well-learned gossip, and Mihail made a habit of knowing all which went on behind every masked face. His sessions with Oriana and Duke were marginally less dramatic, but he enjoyed them regardless. Not everyone conversation could be designed with ulterior motives in mind, after all, and Mihail thought he deserved the frequent right to some snarky communications with his closest friends. "Perhaps she has fallen upon hard times. I imagine that is why she has developed such an amicable relationship with the strange new girl - have you seen her? Dresses as if we have fallen into some time warp; it's pitiful." He sniggered maliciously at his own words, pleased with the insult as Duke began his own tale of scandal, the pause in the older one's words added for a noticeable effect. Teachers hooking up. The idea in itself did not seem all that shameful, but the fact they had done it in such a public location added a degree of unadulterated drama to the tale, as well as the type of illicitness the Toussaint enjoyed hearing in his daily intake of gossip."Who?" he demanded, naturally impatient when matters of such importance were at stake. "Not Further Maths with Physics?" They were a well-known couple among the school's professors, and their particular union was not the strangest."Further Maths and English Lit," the other responded, the scandal behind these words evident in the way his tone shifted and Mihail's eyes widened in rare excitement. An affair, and with one of his own teachers, no less. Oh, the prospective use of such news was endless. Eager to outdo both his friends, however, Mihail leaned back where he sat, almost swinging on the precariously balanced grave, his lips twitched into an amused expression. "I suppose 'tis only fair to save the best until last, and Princess always provides. I was overseeing detention the other night and, darlings, you would not believe the things these idiots let slip." He chuckled at the thought, for one had to be truly stupid to earn themselves detention in the first place, then continued: "I hear one of our student body has daddy issues galore, and, oh, it goes far beyond the normal, though I didn't quite catch who they meant...a job for you then, Duke. Oh, and speaking of Elizabeth's financial troubles, I hear there's a girl in her inner circle - as she calls them - who has wracked up quite the fine debt, and is still trying to hide it with last season's Versace." Mihail swung the remaining wine around in his glass, swallowing down the last few dregs and then turning pointedly towards Oriana. "I heard word of snacks, did I not?"
At the mention of the new girl, Oriana's grinned, clasping her hands together- she had been dying to talk about the newest addition to Elizabeth's clique. "You're talking about the one with the unpronounceable name? What is it, Myfy Catty Roswy Rihanna Vane?" She snorted and rolled her eyes, "It's like someone just rolled a die to pick the amount of names, then went fumbling through a Welsh dictionary." Mihail's insult made her laugh, and she looked at him fondly, "God, you understand me. I'm half tempted to throw some of my old clothes at that charity case." An almost thoughtful look crossed Oriana's face then, "Maybe she just needs someone to tell her how hideous her outfits are."The moment the identities of the teachers left Leonard's lips, Oriana's mouth dropped open, her constant posing having completely dissipated and been replaced with pure shock. "No." Her voice was hallowed; she knew just how exquisite this piece of information was. "Oh, why would she ever go for English Lit when Physics was available? He's not even that good looking!" She took a sip of her wine, "I guess she's no prize catch either. Though, why Physics would be with her in the first place is anyone's guess."Oriana had expected her lover's little tidbit of information to be the jewel of the evening, but she should have expected Mihail to outdo them all, though he didn't have quite the same talent as Duke, he still had an uncanny ability to ferret out all sorts of information. She laughed, shaking her head and downing the last of her wine, "Honestly, the people we share our school with."When he spoke of snacks, she smiled once again, then pouted, "You make me smile too much, Princess. You'll give me wrinkles." With one hand, she dug into her bag, shaking the bag of M&Ms at her lover much like shaking a bag of treats at a dog, then tossing them over to him. Then, she turned her attention to Mihail, digging in her bag once again and pulling out a pastry bag, "I hope you realise the risk to my bag, mon amour." She passed it to him carefully, "I suppose your happiness is worth it. Just barely." For herself, she drew out a small box of cheese, flipping open the lid and pulling out a small silver rose, the stem sharpened so she could impale the small blocks of cheese upon it. She could feel Duke's judging gaze before he even spoke, and she gave him an amused stare, "Why does my love for expensive cheeses tickle you so much?" He snorted in response, "It's so very on brand of you to snack on that, while us plebians just choose cheap shop-bought treats." "Princess, please educate this peasant on the finer things in life." He scoffed, "Peasant? My title is higher than yours!" "It's a state of mind, darling, tell him Mimi."
It was uncharacteristic for Mihail to show much in the way of gratitude or happiness, but it would have been a lie to pretend he did not feel either emotion whenever he found himself in the company of his two closest friends. They brought about a strange comfort in their likemindedness, and the way they did not mind throwing out any number of insults to those they thought deserving. Oriana had a particular talent for cattiness, and he adored it.The corners of his mouth quirked upwards once more, thoroughly amused by the nonsensical nickname Oriana had placed upon the girl with an equally ridiculous name, and he nodded at the query. "She was frightfully upset when she walked into me the other day - and with due reason, since she utterly destroyed my Aqualacs - and would not stop rabbiting on about how she had been speaking to her uncle and how worried he would get. Let me assure you: that is not normal." Mihail could understand care for one's family, but such dramatics over the opportunity to talk to one's uncle, of all people, that much seemed unnatural. So far as he was concerned, something suspicious was going on there.As snacks were handed out, he took his bag of pastries with a satisfied expression, tearing it open with the kind of enthusiasm most would never have associated with him. "Merci beaucoup," he replied, glancing into the open packaging to investigate the baklava she had selected for him. He had faith in his closest friends, of course, but one could never be too careful, and it was hardly as if Oriana had baked the treats herself. "I do appreciate such risks in my name. Rest assured, if anything had happened to your bag, I would buy you a new one in a moment. Perhaps one of Elizabeth's lovely hundred-pound favourites, hm? After all, you have such cheap taste, darling, I think it would suit you delightfully."Of course, they could never have one of these casual encounters without some fuss or another, and the way Duke and Countess began to bicker over cheese of all things was almost expected. Nonetheless, Mihail would always side with the side of luxury over anything else, and he could not help but chuckle, picking out one of his baklavas and eating it delicately, so as not to cover his fingers with sticky honey. "She is right, Duke. Power and nobility are all in the mind nowadays. Besides, there is little point in arguing with Ori, and you know that. We would be stuck in a nightmarish and endless argument." He stuck his tongue out at the girl sat between them, smug in his words, then added: "I hear there will be a little soirée taking place this Friday evening - shall we deign to grace them with our presence, or have we better things to do?"
Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.