Copyright 2001 to <mijita@thetreehouse.net>. Please respect this copyright. Don't distribute or archive this story in any way except for personal use without explicit permission. No, it's not in the public domain. Ask first, okay? Thanks.

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Thanks to Kent Stoneking, who helped plot this one. :)

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[Image of Little Miss Naughty] Overdue
by Mija

"Another overdue notice, Veronica? Will you never learn?"

"Hilary, I'm sorry. I honestly thought I'd returned it last week."

"But you hadn't, obviously."

"No, I received the overdue notice at prep, found the book in my room, and went immediately to the library and returned it." Veronica blushed furiously. "I've, um, paid the fine."

"To the library. You owe double that amount to Gare House for the disgrace. What is this, your fifth overdue this term? How many overall?"

Veronica hesitated, not because she didn't know, but because a feeling of doom chilled her. Whatever was wrong with her? Why, after four years, couldn't she remember to return books on time?

"It's ten."

"Goodness! So many as that? And did Miss Thorton exact your fine?"

"No, the library girl, Angelica, took my payment."

"Which was?"

"Fifty with the hairbrush followed by a dozen with the slipper. The most, she said, that she'd ever had to give."

Hilary nodded gravely.

"You'd better be careful. Next time you'll get the cane."

Veronica shuddered, dismay draining her fine features, making the slim, fair girl paler still. She had felt the cane but once in her years at St. Clare. Late return of library books was such a small crime. Still, any offense, repeated frequently enough, would eventually merit the tawse or cane.

Veronica nodded slowly, cheeks now pinkening.

"I'm afraid as your house prefect I'll have to give you double what Angelica did. Or, if you prefer, you can report your fine to the housemistress tonight."

"I-I'll take my punishment now, Hilary." The smaller blonde girl looked up at Hilary as though pleading for mercy.

Veronica knew it was her only choice, really. Miss Harris would give at least as much and might record her repeated offenses on her term report home. Veronica suspected Hilary knew she could only agree to be punished.

"Fine, then. I'll meet you in my study in half an hour. I promise you, Veronica, you'll remember this punishment next time your books come due."

Veronica paled again and left the room, already nearly in tears. Hilary's face turned from one of solemn concern to evil glee. How she loved any chance to punish that scatty girl!

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"She marks so beautifully. I wish I could lay the first ones on."

"Well, Hilary, I wish I got to lay them on double, watch her cry from the start. Such lovely blue eyes!" Angelica gave a cruel laugh. "I reminded her next time was the cane. That threw a scare into her, let me tell you."

"I reminded her too." Hilary smiled darkly. "I'm almost embarrassed at how excited the idea of caning her makes me."

"Me too. I'm not sure I can bear to wait a month. Still, I suppose we've got to try. I'll be watching for her returns though."

"Whenever. I already know where I'm hiding her next overdue," Hilary said, reaching out to touch the excited library girl.

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