If the walls of St. Mathilda’s could talk, they would tell of many things. Many secrets. Of late night parties hosted by the girls, confessions told under the moonlight, and of love… a love so intense the world wasn’t ready for it.
You’d always thought yourself beautiful, though never desirable. The thought of being desirable to someone you wanted felt impossible. Though a woman held fair eyes and soft lips, the world wanted you to desire rough hands and scruff.
St. Mathilda’s had meant to be an escape from the expectations. How could you possibly marry a man while working for an all girls academy? You couldn’t, that is what made it all so perfect.
Eyes had followed your arrival, but only one pair of lips had spoken to you. A pair belonging to the most beautiful woman you’d ever seen before. Her confidence made your cheeks redden pleasantly, which only seemed to make her more confident.
“How are you settling in? Has anyone taken you around the school yet?” She asked kindly.
“Oh, no. Not yet. I’ve only just arrived.” You said.
“How fortunate that I asked, then. Allow me to show you around, say… this afternoon?” She said, looking especially pleased by the idea. When you looked hesitant, she jumped to reassure you, “Nobody knows the halls of this school like I do. I promise you’ll be in good hands.”
“I… I think I’d like that.”
You watched as her eyes lit up, the corner of her mouth quirked in a small smile. It widened when your gaze lingered on her lips for a moment too long. Thoroughly flustered, you looked down and grabbed your bags, moving to your rooms quickly.
Closing the door, you leant against it heavily. You scolded yourself for not hiding your interest. Miss G was a beautiful woman, of course, but you couldn’t be so obvious. It would get you in a heap of trouble.
From your place against the door, you caught sight of your reflection in the mirror across the room. Your cheeks were flushed in a pleasant way, your eyes twinkling with glee. Something about so much joy in your own face startled you. Had it really been so long since you’d felt happy?
Brushing a lock of hair from your eyes, you tracked your expression in the mirror. The exhaustion you felt inside seemed to shine through as you smiled. How long had you allowed stress to dull your smiles, how long would it continue to dull them?
You shook those thoughts away. Down that trail lies madness. It wasn’t about the past, but about the future you would have here. The friendships you would have; starting with the beautiful Miss Gribben.
Your bags were unpacked with haste, as you threw your clothing into the closet haphazardly. The organization was the least of your worries. It could be fixed later, when you weren’t expecting someone.
At five minutes past two, there was a confident knock on your door. You rushed to it before stopping yourself. With no small amount of effort, you inhaled a deep breath, fixing your hair around you. Then you pulled the door open.
Miss G stood on the other side, a charming smile on her lips. It made your heart flutter.
“Are you ready?” She asked.
All you could do was nod, not trusting your voice. You were ashamed of how taken you were by her. The last thing you wanted was to make a fool of yourself.
Unexpectedly, she looped her arm through your own, pulling you along with her. There was a bright blush spreading on your cheeks that you hoped she wouldn’t notice. Whether or not she did, you couldn’t tell; she was facing forward and walking with intention. She didn’t spare too many glances that you noticed.
The grounds and school were beautiful, but you were too focused on Miss G to take it in fully. Her eyes would light up when she spoke, words like poems spilling from her lips, and you were gone. Lost in the way she smiled and used her hands to express emotion.
Then her gaze would turn to you and you’d nod along, as if you heard a word of what she’d explained. But there was so much brightness there that you couldn’t let her down.
It was nearly time for dinner when the two of you returned to the school, arm in arm, smiling pleasantly while she talked. A few of the other teachers made a move to speak with you, before pulling back when they saw Miss G on your arm. It made you frown.
“Come, we don’t have time to wash up,” Miss G said, pulling you to the staff table, “You’ll sit with me.”
“Oh, I couldn’t. I haven’t spoken with the headmistress yet and-” You said, stopping when her hand suddenly clasped itself around your wrist.
“You’ll sit with me. I insist.”
Miss G offered a smile, but her eyes were much darker than before. Something in the way she looked at you felt dangerous. So you nodded, rather than press the issue.
You also tried to ignore how long it took for her to release your arm.
“Good morning, Miss Y/N.” All the girls said in unison, as you entered your classroom with a smile.
“Good morning girls! How have your mornings been?” You asked with a bright smile.
Leaning against the edge of your desk, you watched their faces with a pleasant smile. All of them began to speak at once. They were eager to share the record of their day, talking over one another quickly.
“One at a time please.” You laughed, before pointing to one of the girls, “Marie, why don’t you start?”
Marie beamed and did as you requested, telling the class that she spent the whole morning outside when she wasn’t in class. You were a bit jealous. The beautiful weather had you longing for the outdoors, but you’d been caught up inside working.
Seeing your students so happy with their morning brightened your spirits, though. Lifting the corners of your mouth into a lovely smile.
You allowed a few of the others to speak, sharing various events. Your favorite had been from one of the more quiet girls, who had spent her morning near the lake beneath a tree, with a book. If there had been time, you would have done the same; immersing yourself within the printed pages as the wind swept past your face, the sound of the lake buzzing pleasantly in your ears.
But the moment had passed and now you were graced with a classroom full of girls, eager to learn. You were eager to teach them.
“Now, girls, who did their reading last night?” You asked pleasantly.
All of them raised their hands into the air. You probably should have expected that. If they hadn’t done the reading, it was unlikely they’d admit to it. Not without coercion. But from the conversation and the way they all jumped in, you guessed they had all been honest.
Your class was reading Dracula. And though you had worried they would shy away from it, they took to it easily. Given that your students were older, mature subjects didn’t frighten them like it’d frighten the younger girls.
The conversation about the book quickly evolved into something significantly less academic, but you couldn’t discourage them. Seeing their passion to discuss even part of it was enough.
“Miss Y/N, who do you think you’d be more similar to?” One of the girls piped up, “Miss Mina or Miss Lucy?”
“A wonderful question. Miss Mina, I think. I like to think I’d be of help, whether the situation was supernatural or not.” You said slowly, thinking it through as you spoke.
The girls burst into noise and conversation, making you laugh. Your answer had prompted their own, each of them debating over who they’d be most similar to.
“You would be far more intrigued by the supernatural than any of the protagonists, Miss Y/N.” A voice chimed in over the noise, coming from the back of the room.
You looked up quickly into the eyes of Miss G. She was leaning against the wall, directly next to the classroom door, with arms crossed over her chest. A small smile was tugging at her mouth. You stood up a little straighter, a blush crawling over your cheeks. How long had she been standing there?
“Is that so?” You asked her, trying to regain some of your normal confidence.
Without you realizing, the room had gone quiet. All eyes were darting between you and Miss G. It was rare that the swimming teacher ever ventured into another classroom. She was typically seen in the common spaces. But lately, she’d been around more, going into areas she wouldn’t before.
“It is. You’re drawn in by what’s forbidden, almost to a fault,” Miss G responded, “Mina and Lucy were too afraid of it.”
“Well then, if I’m not Mina or Lucy, then you couldn’t be one of them either. Where does that leave you?”
“Mm. I’d likely be Dracula.”
She said it so casually that you nearly missed the implications of her choice. Anyone in the entire novel could have been her choice and yet she chose the villain; the dark evil lurking in shadows. You could’ve sworn that she looked proud of her answer, but it must have been a trick of the light, since she looked normal when you blinked again.
“Interesting,” You said softly, before seeming to remember where you were and the audience you had, “If you’d like to join us, you’re more than welcome to.”
Miss G seemed to be interested in the idea, but shook her head. The students all looked disappointed. You felt what they did, trying not to make it too obvious.
“I’ll see you after class.” Was all she offered before leaving, throwing a long glance over her shoulder.
And she was. As soon as your time with the girls had ended, she found her way into your classroom. You didn’t hear the classroom door shut behind them. Until a hand touched your waist, you had no idea someone was still in the room.
A gasp left your mouth as you spun, only to see that it was Miss G who’d come into the room. She was remarkably close, though she didn’t seem to notice. Her eyes were looking at you intently and you said the first thing that came to mind.
“Did you mean what you said?” You blurted out.
“You’ll have to be more specific.”
“About being Dracula.”
“Do you want me to mean it?”
“What… What is that supposed to mean?” You whispered, eyes focused completely on her.
For a moment, there had been something unreadable on her face. A twisted form of interest, maybe. But when you didn’t understand, it wiped the expression off of her face. She carefully reconstructed her indifferent smugness.
You felt like you missed something very important.
It seemed to show on your face. She let out a soft sigh, brushing a piece of hair away from your face, “Don’t look so lost, I was only teasing.”
Though it felt like a lie, you just nodded. She gave you a pleased smile. It inspired a warmth in your heart and the worry faded away. Her gaze, normally so overbearing, felt gentle for once. In the past you worried you misjudged her, pinning her as something worse than she was. But maybe she wasn’t what you thought.
Her hand slipped to your shoulder, gripping tightly. It was the same way her hand would grab your arm or waist. And you realized that you were right, she was something dark, but you didn’t mind it; the long looks, the way she held you in an iron grip, like she was scared of you slipping away.
Without realizing it, her vice-like grip had become a comfort. You knew that couldn’t be right. It didn’t matter, it was too late to change it now. All you needed to know was Miss G’s motivations and whether you should be wary of them.
After that first moment, Miss G made it a habit of coming to your classroom. Each time she’d stay longer and longer, until she stopped leaving. Then her behavior stopped applying to just your classroom.
You didn’t mind her presence so much as you minded the guessing games. Each moment you felt closer to understanding her, something changed. She would pull away or change her approach to you. It was maddening. You longed for her to be completely open with you for once.
Holding your tongue felt like the only option at present. You hoped that should you play along, one day she’d reveal her intentions. One day you would truly understand her. But things were getting more intense than you’d been prepared for.
It was a brilliant morning at St. Mathilda’s and one of your colleagues had invited you for a morning stroll. Eager to enjoy the weather, you accepted it easily.
The grass was soft, but damp. Drops of dew settled on the ends of each blade, clinging to your skin as you moved through them. Through a haze of fog, the rays of sun reflected in the air, casting a warm glow over the morning. Not even the morning chill could dampen your spirits at the beauty of it all.
“I’ve been hearing very positive reviews of your teaching, Miss Y/N,” Miss Atlen, the woman you were with, said, “You are a popular teacher amongst the girls.”
“I’m very glad to hear it. They’re all brilliant, insightful girls.” You smiled.
“Have you had any problems since beginning with us?”
“Not at all. I’ve gotten lucky, I know how young girls can be at times.”
“That you have. Unfortunately, and you didn’t hear this from me, some of the staff can be troublesome as well. You’ll get less trouble from the students at times.”
“Oh, I can’t believe that,” You laughed, “Surely we’ve all grown past our juvenile ways.”
Miss Atlen was silent for a few moments, before giving you a long look. Her eyes were narrowed at you. You were unsure what to do, so you did nothing, focusing straight ahead on the path before you.
“You would think so.” Was all she offered.
A long, uncomfortable silence followed her words; only broken by the crunching of leaves and grass beneath your feet. You attempted to ignore the tension surrounding you. The morning was beautiful, it’d be a shame to waste it because of awkward conversation.
Following a series of winding paths, the two of you came upon the lakeside. The water sparkled with sunlight, as if winking at you. It filled you with a deep sense of calm. Though your companion began to fidget more.
“I’m going to return to the school, would you join me?” She offered, eyes focused somewhere behind you.
“No, thank you. I’d like to enjoy the morning here, but thank you for the walk.” You said with a bright smile.
She returned a tight smile of her own, before spinning around and walking away quickly. You let out a huff of confused laughter. Why on earth would she be so eager to leave a beautiful place like this?
With a shrug, you resumed your stroll along the water. You were glad to sense no wind, as it would have left you frozen. The warmth of the morning sun warmed you instead. It was mild, enough to keep you from being deterred, though you would have to turn back soon.
Just as you were about to turn back, you noticed a little stone bench a few paces ahead. It was right along one of the more calm shores of the lake. The decision to sit down was a good one, your feet throbbing slightly. You had no idea they were hurting until now.
Looking down at your watch, the hands ticked by rhythmically. You would have to return in less than an hour. None of your classes would start for another hour and a half, but you needed time to prepare your material.
The waves lulled you into a relaxed state of being. Your focus on your surroundings became blurred, sights and sounds passing you without notice. That was, until a shadow passed in front of you, coming to sit at your side.
You turned to see Miss G sitting next to you, a cigarette in hand. Her eyes were focused on the water as yours had been, but she didn’t look calm. Her eyes were glassy and jaw tight.
“Good morning.” You murmured, placing a hand on top of her’s. It was pressed flat against the stone, resting between the two of you.
She offered only a small noise in acknowledgement, before moving her hand into her lap. The move stung. Though you couldn’t figure out why.
With Miss G making no effort at conversation, you let any hopes of it drop. Perhaps she needed some quiet before the day. Though as it stretched longer, it became less comfortable; it was devoid of any fond looks or smiles you’d become used to.
“Have I done something?” You whispered, not feeling brave enough to look up into her eyes.
She didn’t say anything, but she let out a heaving sigh. You watched the smoke drift up from her cigarette and dissipate. The few little embers in the end lighting up, cooling down, just to light up again. The majority of the cigarette had burned to a stub before she stood up.
“Don’t hurt yourself trying to figure it out, pet.” Miss G said hollowly, walking away.
You couldn’t help but stare out after her. The warmth that the sun had supplied left you feeling cold now. Something was wrong. It was like she’d taken the sun into her hands, carrying it away with her. Leaving you alone, frozen to the bone.
It all went on as normal after that, but it was never completely normal at all.
She was there, looking as beautiful as she always did. But there was less of her. When you looked at her, she looked away as if your gaze burned her. She smoked more, drank more, and laughed less.
For long, overwhelming periods, you thought you’d lost her. The Miss G that you knew. Then one of the other teachers would smile at you for too long, or you’d get too friendly. Her gaze would finally find you, piercing through your flesh like bullets. An iron grip would close around some part of your body and you welcomed it; welcomed a gesture that felt more comfortable than it should have.
She wouldn’t say much, her touch was more than enough. It never lasted long, though. Just as quickly as she granted it she took it away. Leaving you in the same confused state you had been before, with more frustration than you knew what to do with.
Then it all came to a head.
One night she didn’t leave, sticking close to you, cigarette in hand. You held a stiff drink in your own palm. It was tempting to look at her, to try and decipher her emotions, but you knew it’d leave you unfulfilled. Miss G was completely unreadable when she needed to be.
A single drink evolved into two, two became three, and so on until you found yourself suitably tipsy. Your inhibitions were nowhere to be found. And fed up with the hot and cold treatment, you removed yourself from her grasp entirely, walking into the cool night air.
Barely any time passed before you heard footsteps behind you and let out a growl. You didn’t have the patience for this.
“I’m not in the mood.” You bit out, not turning to look at her.
“How unfortunate. We have much to discuss.” Miss G said from behind you.
“I have nothing to discuss with you,” You said, laughing bitterly, “If you wanted to speak openly, you could have done it earlier. The time has passed now.”
Her voice held nothing but exasperation at your behavior, her hand grabbing your wrist. But you wouldn’t have it this time. You spun to face her, wrenching your arm out of her hold.
For a beat, the two of you stared at each other. Her chest was rising and falling rapidly because of how quickly she tried to catch you, yours because of the anger quickly overwhelming you. Finally, you broke the silence.
“What do you want from me?!” You demanded, a note of fury in your voice.
Miss G’s eyes were cold and impersonal, closing you off from her emotions completely. It didn’t help you feel any better about the situation. She took a drawn-out puff of her cigarette. And then with a sharp watch on you, she advanced into your space without a care for impropriety.
Her advance felt predatory and you took a step back, directly into the wall behind you. You’d been ill-prepared when you began your questioning. In not choosing your placement carefully, you’d led yourself into the jaws of a hunter.
“Don’t you understand what I want?” Miss G asked in a hushed tone. Her eyes were on yours completely, searching for something in them.
“I’m afraid I don’t understand you at all.” You admitted.
“Aren’t you a woman of literature, Y/N, of the classics? Are you so oblivious to when you’re being pursued?”
Miss G laughed a hollow, bitter laugh. It sent a shiver down your spine to hear it. Such a contrast it offered from her normal honey-sweet chuckle. She advanced more this time, tracing a finger down your cheek with interest as you stared directly into her face.
“You compare yourself to Mina, but instead you are Lucy,” She said with a great amount of amusement, “You’re so unaware of the pursuit of a creature that craves you; which means to place their mouth upon your neck and… taste.”
As if pulled by a thread her mouth moved to your neck, mimicking her very words. You felt her hot breath against your skin. You let your eyes slip closed, for if she meant to play Dracula, you were to find yourself consumed. Drained and left a hollow imitation of yourself.
“I want to be what they whisper about. The woman reveling in primordial sin, lured by a young woman who is the picture of innocence. I want to be tempted.”
She pulled back from your neck, looking into your eyes for a long moment. You could almost see the thoughts in her eyes. Uninhibited, the words fell from your mouth.
“Then let me tempt you.” You whispered.
With the hand that had traced your cheek, she slipped it behind your neck and pulled you in. Your lips met hers in a frenzy. Her kiss was clumsy, but it sparked a feeling you’d never felt. A desirable flutter in the pit of your stomach. It was almost like a flame, fanned by her kisses.
You knew that you were in danger of giving yourself over heart and soul. But against your better judgement, you allowed it to happen. Miss G was possessive and jealous, territorial to a fault. And you wanted her to overwhelm you all the same.
You wanted to tempt her and be tempted in return.
Nothing could undo what had been done, not that either of you wished to. The night sounds faded from your ears and all you could hear, see, and feel was her. It was like heaven, but also a bit of hell. Love and lust in a mix of emotion.
And under the moonlight, Miss G overwhelmed you completely, in a way that even the infamous Dracula would be proud of.