They Have to Notice Eventually

[personal profile] anke commissioned this continuation of By the Time Anyone Noticed, a story of a former-Addergoole-student mother from the February Giraffe Call.

The Addergoole setting has a landing page here, although Cleone is a new character.
Short summary of the setting: there is magic and people who can use magic (modern fantasy, and then post-apoc fantasy after, well, the apoc) The school, Addergoole, has a long-standing contract by which students tend to graduate with two children who then go to Addergoole themselves in their late teens.

This is placed somewhere after the apocalypse… since I haven’t determined the year, the year notations are x’d out

By the time anyone noticed, it was far too late for them to stop her.

Or so she hoped.

The letter arrived via courier, the way they did these days.

Dagmar, child of Cleone, it is our pleasure to admit you to the [xxty-xth] year of the Addergoole school. Classes will begin on the [xth] of September [xxxx].

Should you require transportation…

Cleone burned the letter and locked Dagmar, along with her younger son, in the panic room in the center back of her house. She whispered words here and shouted words there and above all she kept things going on as normally as possible – except that her children were now locked in a tower. Which, because this was Cleone’s town and Cleone’s settlement, her tower and her children, nobody thought was that abnormal, and nobody asked a single question about.

It was, wholly and entirely, Cleone’s town and Cleone’s settlement. Her home and the surrounding buildings had tidy walls that kept out marauders. Her collection of humans who worked in the fields were drilled in weapons, so that they could fend off wild animals or fae-born monsters. The Addergoole students who had come and never left, they had continued to train in all those skills their alma mater was so good at instilling. It had all made so much sense when she explained it to her townspeople. Nobody had ever questioned it.

Another letter came for Dagmar. Cleone shredded this one and fed it to the pigs. She made sure the gates were sound; she made sure the ballistas were in good repair.

She made sure everything was as normal and innocent and benign as she could make it, that her routines were routine, even as she braced for the impact that was coming.

One of her Addergoole grads tried to leave, a week after the second letter’s arrival. They did try, from time to time; they snuck out at night or they slipped out while working or, sometimes, they just walked out the gate as if they were allowed to leave. Gilana had always been trouble, from the day she and her three children showed up at Cleone’s halfway house.

Cleone did what she had to. She locked those three children in the tower with her own two, locked Gilana in the hawthorn-and-rowan-lined basement dungeon, and kept on pretending nothing was wrong. When Dustin, the probably-human serving as de facto Mayor of Cleoneville, began to ask questions, she gave him the same line she always did.

“I do what is needful to keep us safe. Right now, this is what is needful to keep us safe.”

Dustin clearly considered asking more questions, and then just as clearly thought about the people who had, in the past, asked too many questions. Safe, in this day and age, was a motivator for most people, at least those still alive to be motivated.

Nobody else asked any questions. Knowing where Gilana was – and where her children were – made certain nobody else tried to leave, either. Everything was fine, everything was normal, and everyone was armed to the teeth.

They were waiting when the people from Addergoole came to take Dagmar off to school.

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