Foto bij 820 - Emma

No matter how long I've had the time to mentally prepare myself for this day, it still feels like no amount of time could have been enough the moment I step into the room.
Lucien is there with me, though the university argued long and hard about it considering he's a student that has no ties to the official case.
I'm glad we finally got them to agree, though, because without him I wouldn't even have set foot in the building. I would have sent in my letter of resignation, accepting my fate just like I did when Jacques wanted to fire me, to avoid the horrible consquences this hearing could have.
But now he's here, holding my hand whilst people are staring at me - colleagues, students, and the Douglas family, all ready to see me go down entirely.
To my frustration, tearing away the last bit of hope I had for this day to end well, William isn't here. As the person who recommended me for the job, I had hoped he could shed a positive light on me. Without him there, it simply feels like a lost cause.
I get put at an empty table, two empty chairs beside me as Lucien sits a little further down, with all of the people ready to call me a horrible person across from me and three important people from the university in my line of sight.
At exactly eleven, the doors close. My heart is pounding out of its chest like it has been doing nearly non-stop for weeks, and I fold my hands in my lap as to not feel how sweaty they are.
"We are gathered here today in the case of Maximillian Douglas against miss Middleton," the head of the faculty, known to me as John but now professor Walker, speaks. From the way he merely calls me miss in stead of professor I can tell their mind is already made up, and this case is just to entertain the students and show them what happens in cases like these. "Please state your name."
"Emmeline Middleton," I manage to say.
"Alright, miss Middleton," Walker says. "Considering you know how hearings like these often take place, I'd like to just proceed."
I just nod, wishing I had gotten a glass of water before sitting down, my throat awfully dry. When I look at Lucien, he nods at me encouragingly.
"We are here today because one of your students, Maximillian Douglas, has accused you of assault, correct?"
"Correct." I state. Like Walker said, I know how these hearings work, and they don't expect me to say more than that. I'm not here to defend myself, or to let my voice to be heard. I'm just here because that's how these things work, almost as if it's a big play in which we're all just following a script. Only this time, I have no clue what the script is.
"Mister Douglas and his family have been shocked and appalled by the assault suffered, and I must say so do we. Mister Douglas also claims the assault followed a string of targeted attacks. We have interviewed multiple students who validate these claims. They confirm you have been cutting mister Douglas' answers short in class, ignore his questions or verbally attack him for the answers he gives you. In our system, we also find multiple complaints about an assignment you have failed him on twice without good reasoning."
It takes everything I have in me to bite my tongue. I know what they say might sound true, but only because they don't know the reasoning behind it.
I have cut his answers short, because he made them personal or offensive each times. I have argued with him because he wanted me to, because he always went far enough to try and push my buttons. And it all leads back to Callum, because of course it does.
There hasn't been a night since picking Lucien up from the office that I haven't dreamt about him in one way or another. It has been exhausting and painful and I want nothing more than for it to stop. If that means getting fired, I'll take it. More is said, but it all speeds by me like traffic in the middle of rush hour.
"Claims like these, when proven correct, lead to an immediate termination of contract. Though we did not want to believe them, the assault claim has turned out to be true. We'll spare you the images, but we've seen the video footage, and so has the Douglas family. Now, following the interviews conducted with other students, we have come to the conclusion that all of the other claims made by mister Douglas and his family have been proven correct."
When I glance over at Maximillian, he's grinning wide. It looks just like Callum's and it frightens me, knowing the image will possibly come to haunt me in my dreams as well.
"Do you understand, miss Middleton?"
I nod. "I do."
"Now, is there anything you'd like to say to Maximillian Douglas and his family?"
I could. I could beg for their forgiveness, or do the opposite and scream at them. That they're horrible people, that Callum has them under his spell, and that their son and their son in law are manipulative bastards. But I do neither. "No."
"Are you sure, miss Middleton?"
"I am sure," I nod. "There is nothing I can say but that I understand."
Walker almost seems disappointed. They are ready to fire me, maybe even take away my license even though I haven't heard that mentioned, but I'm sure he would have loved a little more of spectacle. It would've been a great example in lectures for years to come.
"Now, before we come to the final conclusion, we leave this space for any witnesses to come forward that we have or have not yet heard. Is there anyone who would like to say something?"
Silence. You could hear a pin drop if you held your breath. Of course no one will speak, because they're all under the Douglas' spell.
Then, just as Walker is about to open his mouth, a voice sounds.
"I would."

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