Warlock blinked and shrugged at the rain running down the dormitory window. It was all so stupid! As if it mattered that it was raining. Most of the other boys were spending the day with their parents but his mom and dad were away on a trip and couldn't come and see him on his first Parents' Day in his boarding school. That didn't mean he was going to cry like a baby though; he was eleven and practically a grown up.
He'd known in advance they weren't coming, of course, and he'd planned on spending the day in the school's gardens, just like he used to spend days in his own garden when he was a little kid. Warlock blinked again, furiously driving back the threatened tears at the memories.
Brother Francis was no longer in the garden, waiting to entertain 'young Master Warlock' with his tales of Brother Snail and Sister Slug. He'd gone to Yorkshire to live with his daughter. Warlock had wondered if he'd left because Nanny Ashtoreth no longer had a job now Warlock was too old for a nanny and had been sent to this stupid boarding school with its stupid Parents' Day. But it was probably just a coincidence they'd left at the same time.
Looking back, Warlock couldn't decide if Nanny Ashtoreth and Brother Francis had been friends or rivals. Growing up, he'd thought they were enemies, with their "don't listen to him/her, listen to me", though Nanny's talk about Warlock ruling the Earth and crushing his enemies beneath his heels was starting to seem a little bit strange. But there'd always seemed to be a strange connection between the two of them. As though they were the best of friends and they were just pretending to be enemies.
Warlock stared out of the window and felt very alone. He couldn't tell anyone but he missed Nanny Ashtoreth and Brother Francis as much as he missed his parents. At least he knew he'd see his parents again but Nanny Ashtoreth and Brother Francis had no obligations to Warlock Dowling. They'd simply been his parents' employees, for all Warlock had grown up thinking himself the centre of their world. He didn't even know where they were now.
The sound of voices came through the slightly open door and Warlock pulled a face. Mr. Green was explaining (again) how it helped 'the younger boys' if they had Parents' Day to look forward to when term-time started - as though they were babies and needed reassurance, Warlock thought, instead of being almost grown up.
A voice with a soft Scottish accent answered and Warlock found himself bolting for the door with a shout of, "Nanny!" in his throat.
Not just Nanny. The door swung fully open to show Brother Francis too, and Warlock flung himself on the pair of them as Mr. Green went off down the corridor, leaving them alone.
"I didn't think I'd see you again!"
"You don't get rid of us that easily, young Master Warlock."
"We've come to take you out for the day," Nanny explained. "Fetch your coat; it's starting to rain and you don't want to get wet."
"It's good for the gardens though," Brother Francis said. "And Sister Duck. Water off a duck's back, and all that."
Warlock turned in time to catch the raised eyebrow Nanny aimed at Brother Francis.
"We're not ducks."
"And thank Heaven for that."
Warlock couldn't help it, it just blurted out. "You're married, aren't you?"
The look of astonishment from Brother Francis told Warlock he was wrong but Nanny gave him the look that said he was too clever by half.
"No, dear," was her answer to that. "Now, let's go."