Once and Always
Book: Once and Always, Chapter 13
Book 2
Written by SkyGuy
Chapter Guide
Chapter 12: Secret of Secrets
Chapter 14: Gauntlet of the Ring

Chapter 13: A Plot, and a Plan

The next week following the use of the Shape-shifting Potion passed normally without a hitch. Still, the kids were worried very much that the strange woman had somehow gotten a hold of the information on where the Ring of Anderville was, and what was guarding it.

One afternoon is Mrs. Chevreuse's class;

"Suzuka?" Chevreuse called. Suzuka didn't answer "Suzuka?" Suzuka continued to stare off "MISS HIRAGA!" She yelled, finally getting Suzuka's attention.

"Y-y-y-y-yes Mrs. Chevreuse?" Suzuka replied, coming out of her thoughts at last

"If you feel it unnecessary to pay attention, perhaps you would like to perform this Earth Spell, and turn these pebbles into brass."

"But... I can't do Earth Magic."

"I can." said Guiche standing up with his wand ready "Allow me Mrs. Chevreuse."

"Very well mister Gramont. Come on down." said Mrs. Chevreuse

"Show off." Drako said under his breath as Guiche walked down

"Hey, Hiraga." whispered Erlea poking Suzuka in the back from next row "You've been zoning out a lot recently. Anything going on?"

"None of your business Gamo." Suzuka whispered back

"Suzuka, that's the fifth time this week." said Drako as they walked outside after class "Any more and they'll have you in Osmonds office."

"I know." Suzuka replied "I just can't take my mind off the Ring of Anderville."

"But it's safely guarded." said Guiche "I doubt anyone outside those involved know what's guarding it."

"Excuse me if I don't feel at ease." said Suzuka

"(sigh) You work the evening shift tonight, right?" Guiche asked

"Yes." Suzuka replied

"Then go early, and take some time to relax a bit." said Drako

"How can my job relax me at a time like this?" Suzuka asked

"Because you're too tense, you need to relax a bit." said Guiche

"(sigh) Maybe I'll take Ro for a ride before going to work." Suzuka said after a pause

"That's the spirit." said Guiche with a smile, which made Suzuka smile too

Still, Suzuka arrived at work, a couple hours later, still in a bit of a daze.

"Suzuka!" Jessica said loudly to get Suzuka's attention "Where have you been? The place has gotten full already. Go upstairs and change."

"Yes ma'am." Suzuka responded making for the changing room upstairs "Nobody gets it." Suzuka said to herself as she closed the door, got out her uniform, and started pulling off her clothes "The Ring of Anderville's safety is not the only thing that bothers me. It's so we don't cause her any more pain. After all she went through to give us the future we have now. What did Henrietta mean? I wasn't even around back then." She had just pulled off her shirt when the door opened

"Suzuka, we need you down-" Saito said stopping mid-sentence

"Dad! A little privacy!" Suzuka said loudly, covering her chest with her shirt

"Sorry sweetheart." he said closing the door behind him "Just come out soon." he said from behind the door "Six of the girls are out tonight, and things are getting busy."

"Geez, he hasn't changed." Suzuka said to herself, finished undressing, then putting her uniform on. Later, she went to out back to take the trash out and was still in a daze.

"So this is where you work." said a voice. It was Erlea again. "It's common knowledge that you have a job, but I didn't think it was this."

"What do you want?" Suzuka asked sounding annoyed

"Why do you say that every time we meet?"

"At first, it was because you never talked to me unless you wanted something. Now, it's a habit." Suzuka explained

"Whatever. I just can't wait to gossip about this at the academy." Erlea said with a sneer "When everyone knows, they're gonna-"

"I don't give a darn, what anybody thinks about where I work!" Suzuka shouted, shoving Erlea back "Least of all you Gamo! You're vile, and snotty. Not to mention pathetic." Suzuka turned back to go inside

"Pathetic?" Erlea repeated, taking out her wand

"Oh no you don't, Missy." said a male voice behind them. Suzuka turned around to see that, not only did Erlea have her wand pointing at her, a man with different colored eyes had his sword pointed at the small of Erlea's back. It was Julio. "You shouldn't aim you wand at someone when their back is turned. It's not very ladylike behavior."

"I was just leaving." Erlea responded putting her wand back in her pocket. Julio sheathed his sword as well, then Erlea went off

"Julio. Thanks for that." Suzuka said once Erlea was gone "It's been too long."

"Indeed it has miss Hiraga. My goodness, how much you've grown." Julio responded "For a split second, I thought I was looking at your mother."

"She and dad are in, if you want to catch up with them."

Suzuka led Julio inside, where they found that the place had finally quieted down for a while. While Julio wandered off to talk to Saito, Suzuka went over to Louise, who had somehow fallen asleep at a table.

"Mom?" said Suzuka shaking Louise awake "Mom wake up. What happened?"

"Suzuka? Oh... my head." Louise said rubbing her forehead

"What happened?"

"Hung over. Had too much to drink with a stranger earlier."

"May I ask what you were talking about?" Suzuka asked sitting down with her

"This person, and it sounded like a woman no older than I am, asked me a few questions once she believed I was thoroughly drunk, and I think was." Louise explained

"What did she ask you?"

"I vaguely remember, but it was something about underground library guards. I don't think she understood anything I might've said. I was drunk after all." Louise explained.

"Underground library guards? Like the things guarding the Ring of Anderville?" Suzuka said, and Louise gave her a look of surprise

"How do you know about that?" Suzuka just gave her a look that plainly said that she had worked it out "Alright. I should've figure that you'd work it out one way or another. But, I assure you, it's too heavily guarded to be stolen, and I doubt this person understood anything I might've said."

"What did she look like mom?" Suzuka asked

"I don't know. Never saw her face." said Louise

Suzuka understood exactly what Louise had told the person, and concluded that the person was the mysterious woman, and she and intentionally got her mother drunk so she could get the information on the rings defenses easily, and who else would've known everything about it. And she may have put in a truth potion so Louise could be more accurate.

Suzuka manged to get off work early so that she could tell the others what she now knew.

"What did you say?" Guiche asked when Suzuka arrived back at the academy in her uniform again

"That woman managed to trick my mom into telling her all about the rings defenses. We have to tell headmaster Osmond." said Suzuka

"But the headmaster isn't here." said Drako "He received an urgent visit from queen Henrietta and left for Gallia with her just an hour ago."

"This is bad. With Osmond and Henrietta gone, she's gonna have a clear field at the ring."

"What do you suggest?" Hermione asked

"We have to try and get the ring first." Suzuka said after a pause to think

"You mean..." Guiche said with a look of terror in his eyes

"We're going behind Dragnon's door.... Tonight." said Suzuka