“I wouldn’t be so confident about that,” Kolb mused, stroking his rough chin. “I’ve been surprised before.”
“Quite often, I’d imagine,” Tunansia grumbled. “If you want to waste your time with that worm, than be my guest. I’ll keep my focus on Matron.”
Edmund sat up a little straighter in his chair. A worm, was he? Now might be a good time to show them that he still had a few tricks up his sleeve; maybe then they’d treat him a little kinder.
Taking a deep breath, Edmund coughed in a disapproving manner. He had heard Mrs. Mapleberry use the exact same cough multiple times before; it was quite effective at quelling any fights that were brewing among the children.
“So that’s that. Well done, Wislydale,” Tricknee sneered. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more elaborate way of doing nothing in my life.”
“Not me,” Tunansia smirked. “Though I’ve spent more time with Pinsnip than you have.”
Edmund tried coughing again. Maybe they just hadn’t heard him over the storm that was still raging outside?
“If we’re discussing doing nothing,” Pinsnip said, his eyes narrow, “Then I have to ask how well you are faring at Grimm’s, Tunansia. I’ve heard tell that you’re not much for impressing the teachers, are you?”
“They don’t know anything!” Tunansia snapped. “And I didn’t go there to impress anyone.”
“A wise move, darling,” Kolb smiled. “Best to set reasonable goals for ones self.”
“Excuse me,” Edmund said, foregoing the cough entirely. Surely they had heard that, but they kept arguing, sniping back and forth like angry crows, pecking and snapping at each other.
“Don’t make me laugh,” Pinsnip interjected. “I’ve never seen you set a reasonable goal in your life. You just bumble around making mistakes.”
“Don’t bring me into this, you petulant pup!” Kolb’s voice boomed. “Or need I bring up the trouble we had last year, hiding your little mishap? I can only imagine the scandal if one of us decided to send an anonymous letter to the police.”
“Bringing up scandals, Kolb? We’ll be here for hours recounting yours,” Tricknee rolled his eyes back in his head as he leaned back in his chair.
“At least Kolb is productive,” Tunansia muttered. “All you care about is your damned laboratory.”
“Defending me against my decrepit daddy? Now there’s an alliance I never thought I’d see,” Kolb grinned, stepping through the room. “Tricknee and Tunansia, teaming up to topple the terrible tyrant of Moulde Hall. Tremendously tantalizing.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tunansia snapped her mouth shut, crossing her arms. “I wouldn’t ally myself with Tricknee if my life depended on it.”
“Come now, dear,” Junapa rolled her head gently around her neck to look incredulously at her younger cousin. “You’re fifteen now, you’re old enough to know your own tells. The only time I’ve ever heard you defend anyone in this family is if you’re trying to ally with the offender. It’s clumsy double-bluffs like that that make working with you so difficult.”
“Among other things,” Tricknee grumbled, glaring at Tunansia. She sneered, tossing her hair as she pointedly turned away from him.
Edmund licked his lips. Something was wrong. He took a large lungful of air, and coughed as loudly as he could. There was no avoiding it…they had to have heard him.