Thanks SweetFangs. I will try to keep up the standard. I find it easier to write in the first person, though the most recent piece i wrote was in 2 person. /s/8571814/1/In-The-Darkness (add fan fiction to the beginning followed by . net and it should work) if you're interested lol. (Shameless plug)

Anyway, I hope this is a good enough follow up.

x*****x

I inhaled sharply as I stepped out the door and the bitter autumn wind cut straight through the thick layers covering me. A gentle push in the lower back propelled me into the open square and I turned to seek out the culprit. Catelyn stood in the doorway, apologetic smile curving her thin lips up as her blue eyes focused on my chin. I shook my head, forcing a mock frown onto my face and placed my hands on my hips. Annabel and Claire appeared behind Catelyn and coughed loudly, feigning annoyance at being held up. The three girls stepped from the building and, as I turned around, fell into step with me.

"What do you think Rosalie?" I glanced at Annabel, unaware of the conversation I'd been included in. At my look she huffed and repeated the original conversation. "I heard my father talking to Mayor Gallamore in the church a few days ago. They were talking about some strange goings-on over in Rowley Village. The teacher's son has gone missing and some other children are acting very peculiar. Claire and I think that is why Miss Bellock was late and flustered this morning. She is worried about her daughter." I nodded at the obvious logic and bit my bottom lip.

"That's awful," Catelyn added in a sympathetic tone. "Is the Mayor of Rowley doing anything about it?"

"They have no idea what's happening." She stopped walking and gestured for us to gather around her, and her voice lowered to a loud whisper. "Father thinks it's the work of the Devil." She stood back with a slightly smug look at the shocked expressions on our faces. I felt Claire tremble next to me and I reached out to grip her hand without looking at her. My mind was busy working over Annabel's words.

"He said that to you?"

As her eyes met mine, a guilty look quickly flickered across her sharp features and she tucked a strand of her straw-blond hair behind her ear. "Yes," she tried but her voice cracked at the end. Her eyes stayed locked onto mine, daring me to question her.

"Why would he think that? Unless someone has said it." Catelyn's words cut between us, forcing Annabel's hazel eyes away from my gaze. Claire squeezed my hand briefly before clearing her throat. I shot a quick look at her, wondering if she'd caught the look in Annabel's eyes as well, but her focus was past me. I turned my head quickly at the sound of approaching footsteps and plastered a smile on my face as the Reverend Pitt strode up to us.

He smiled gently before he rested a hand carefully on my shoulder. "Dear girl, how is your mother coming along?" Do you really care? I bit back the nasty words, choosing instead to tell him what he wanted to hear. I gritted my teeth.

"Finding comfort in the Lord."

That seemed to satisfy him and he patted my shoulder then quickly turned away and took Annabel by her wrist. "Have a good day." He nodded to each of us before pulling at his daughter until she started walking with him. I wondered if he had heard us talking about the private conversation and now Annabel would be punished for her lack of discretion. Rev Pitt prided himself on his ability to gain and keep people's confidences. He knew that if he smiled gently, placed a comforting hand over yours, said certain words you would open up to him and trust him. I wondered how it was possible for a seven year old child to see through the act when an adult could not.

Catelyn, Claire and I continued on our way. We reached Catelyn's house just as the family maid was leaving. I dimly recalled her name was Anastasia. She walked with her head down and shoulders sloped, as if avoiding any attention. Her straight black hair, cut to her chin, bounced with each step though she didn't seem to walk particularly fast. Her skin was a warm bronze colour, distinctive in our small village, kissed by the sun. I briefly wondered if her heritage was that colour, or one similar to my own. I glanced wistfully at my milky white skin, mentally connecting the freckles in some sort of pattern. This ritual had become the method I used to calm myself. The little brown dots were so numerous that you could create any number of patterns, each different from the last.

I heard one of the girls mutter something and my attention snapped back to the present. Claire giggled, her smile hidden behind her hand, deep brown eyes glinting in the waning afternoon sun. I smiled quickly, lips pulled tight as I tried to recall what had been said. I didn't have to worry too much, Catelyn hadn't really stopped speaking.

"What do you think she is saying? And who is she saying it to?" I looked back to Anastasia and saw that her lips were moving quickly, the words barely loud enough for me to hear. It seemed a one sided conversation, the movements not stopping long enough for an answer to be provided. I shook my head, unable to grasp what was happening. "Well, I don't think she should still be working in my house. If father knew she talks to invisible things, she would be straight out."

"Where would she go?" The words escaped my mouth before I could think about them. Claire averted her eyes to the ground and shuffled her feet as Catelyn stared intently at me. I held her gaze, unsure of her mood.

"I don't know. I don't care." She folded her arms across her chest and stood defiantly. I was saved from the argument when Anastasia walked past us.

"Good afternoon Miss Battles." She nodded her head in respect and carried on walking before she quickly raised her eyes to my shoulder, her striking blue gaze not getting high enough to meet my face. I acknowledged the small show of respect with a soft smile and a nod of my own.

"Who were you talking to before? When you left my house?" Catelyn took a step towards Anastasia, her hands clenched into fists. Claire's hands latched onto my arm and gripped it tightly as she stood just off my shoulder, her breaths coming out in shallow hisses as her eyes stayed glued to the confrontation in front of us. I opened my mouth to warn Catelyn not to get involved; it would undermine her father's authority, but before I could get the words out Anastasia had turned in a small circle, not quite facing the young girl fully and narrowed her eyes.

"Pardon?" She questioned with a raised eyebrow. It wasn't unusual for the children of a house to speak this way to the staff; however it was uncommon for it to happen so publicly. Catelyn was putting herself in a precarious position, attacking the maid in like this.

"Who were you talking to before? We all saw it. Are you unwell?" There was no trace of concern in her voice, only bitterness and malice. I wondered what the foreign girl had done to deserve this treatment. Now Anastasia turned to face Catelyn full on, her shimmering ebony hair flicking around to fall over her cheeks.

"No. I am perfectly well, thank you. And it might serve you well to show a little respect." The words came out as a growl; the melodic lilt of her accent drew all the other sounds from the air around us. Everyone's eyes turned not to Anastasia, but to Catelyn, trying to gauge her reaction. Her cheeks burned red and her pale blue eyes brimmed with tears of humiliation. Anastasia's gaze roamed quickly over the surrounding witnesses before she shot a final glare towards Catelyn and continued to walk away.

I took a peek at Catelyn and I knew this argument wasn't over. I wasn't sure who I was more scared for. If Catelyn won, Anastasia would be relieved of her duties and her working reputation tarnished. If Anastasia won, Catelyn would be humiliated and her father would be seen as unable to control his daughter. Either way it didn't look good for Anastasia, she would surely lose her job. A frown creased my forehead as I said my goodbyes to Claire and Catelyn and continued on my journey home. I couldn't understand why it bothered me so much, that a maid could lose her job. And why that particular maid? The mayor had gone through two different maids in the last month and I wasn't at all bothered about that.

As I went about my normal evening routine, Anastasia and her situation remained on my mind all the while, and as I lay in bed I decided that while there wasn't a lot I could do to help her, I would do the little amount I could when I had the chance. My sleep was fitful that night. My dreams were filled with strange images, which upon waking completely evaporated and left me confused and unable to recall them.