"Once upon a time, a boy actually walked the girl to the door after a date instead of hurling her through a window like she was so much shredded wheat. Apparently no one had informed you of this before?"

Persephanie Skadington did not listen to her sister's jibe, though there was much she could have said in reply to it. For instance, Galdon had not hurled her anywhere; the only part he'd played in the whole thing was bracing the latter as she climbed. And even if he had tried to throw her through the window- shouldn't Winnie be more concerned with finding out her little sister's condition after the ordeal than making catty remarks about it? And what in hades did shredded wheat have to do with anything?

Usually she would have bombarded Winnie with all these questions and a dozen more, but she had more pressing matters to deal with at the present moment. While Galdon had kept the latter steady like any good gentleman would do when his beau was trying to burgle her own house, she'd only managed to crawl inside halfway before her abdomen had gotten caught against the frame. It wasn't that she was fat (make no mistake, Persephanie Skadington was NOT fat) but she was very fashionable and the fashion of the day was to wear as many skirts and petticoats as possible without tipping like a cow if due force were applied. This was rather unfortunate, as now her bottom half still dangling perilously over the ground, though the lower end of the dress itself was so wide it was highly unlikely she'd be able to fall backwards. This was hardly consoling, however; she was anchored, but nonetheless trapped.

Winifred Skadington seemed to take great amusement in situation, which Persephanie did not appreciate one whit. Trying her best to ignore the other girl's smirking, Sephie took a breath and tried to force herself forward by digging her fingers into the mantle and pushing with all her might. One might say that her face slightly resembled a puffer fish as she did this, but a more accurate description would be as if she'd swallowed a puffer fish. Most likely in one gulp, without so much as a glass of herbal tea to wash it down with. In any event, she did not move forward at all.

This struggle continued for several more minutes, and Winnie quickly grew bored. A better person might have intervened once the initial absurdity of the situation had worn off, but Winnie had been told so frequently that she was not a descent person this didn't trouble her much, and instead walked across the room back to her writing desk, where she had been positioned before the start of this ridiculous little incident.

Brushing some loose papers aside carelessly, Winnie picked up her quill and tapped it against her teeth, leering unpleasantly down at the assignment she was supposed to be working on. The assignment that, actually, she should have been working on since the previous fortnight when, predictably, Mr. Harper had given her class a paper to write over the winter holidays. What a pompous old arse. Now, instead of spending time with her friends and acting mentally incompetent in public like a proper teenager should she was stuck writing some insipid faerie tale. Granted… Winnie didn't have many friends, and tended to scorn intentional idiocy, public or otherwise, and no one had forced her to put the stupid faerie tale off so long. Still, surely none of the other students were spending the last night of their vacation writing some fable while their vastly annoying sisters did various life-risking things in the background.

What, Winnie wondered as she began doodling in the margins, did writing a faerie tale have to do with World History anyway? True, nearly every country in the world had one, but stories that were told to young children were surely too remedial for a class of sixteen year olds- even a group of sixteen-year-olds as moronic as the assorted creatures that made up Winifred's class. And even on the off chance such an assignment was sophisticated enough for the little beasts, it wasn't as if any of them were actually going to work on it during their winter holiday; the lazy oafs barely did anything in class, and would consider themselves above such matters and focus on more important things, like getting their fat arses stuck in windows.

As if to illustrate her sister's point, Persephanie let out a loud groan of exertion as she tried to thrust herself forward again. Sighing inwardly, Winnie idly coiled a lock of hair around her finger and scanned the assignment sheet again:

In ancient times as well as today, faerie tales have been used as devices to pass down moral advice from generation to generation. On a separate sheet of parchment, write your own faerie tale that conveys a clear message or warning to the reader. Then answer the questions provided below. Be sure to identify the moral and symbolic features of your fable.

The whole thing was a pile of useless, irritating swill; or at least, Winnie thought so. Then again, she was also of the opinion that Mr. Harper was a pile of useless, irritating swill, and informed him as such so frequently that, as previously stated, she really could not afford to miss this assignment. This load of garbage was very important to her overall grade, and yet she could not find the motivation to so much as start it. The whole thing was just so...so...

"-So much trouble if you do not get me out of here, Win, I swear to Maj if you do not come over here and help me-"

Winnie turned. Yes, that idiot was still in the window and yes, it appeared that she wasn't going to maneuver her way out anytime soon without assistance. Urgh. Usually she wouldn't have bothered, but after all the little twit was stuck in her window, and the more time she spent wedged inside of it the more she'd have to listen to her younger sister's whining. Placing her quill carefully back inside its inkwell, Winnie pushed back her chair and turned towards her sister, saying sharply, "For Maj's sake, just unfasten the hoop and crawl through!"

Persephanie gawked at her as if she had suggested stuffing a venomous snake down her basque would rectify the situation. "You mean," she said slowly, "in my undergarments?"

"Unless you're wearing a pair of overalls beneath those skirts, yes," said Winnie, crisp as a winter beeze.

"B-but-" Persephanie swallowed, her skin so pale one might have thought she had coated herself with chalk dust instead of her usual face powder, "Galdon is still out there!"

With a shrug, Winnie offered with disinterest, "I'll tell him to look out below, I'm not competely useless."

"But he'll still see me," Persephanie insisted, twisting on her side and trying in vain to lift the pane one more time, as if her embarrassment would slick the sides enough for her to move. She gave a grunt, then added tersely, "and don't tell me he won't look, he's a boy and he can't help but look at a girl in her pantlets, even if he is a gentleman. It's, like, programmed into them at birth."

Winnie, who seriously doubted if Galdon could see much more than shadows that late at night, much less her little sister's strip show, blinked. "At least you're wearing pantlets this time," she said coldly, knowing that Sephie had never so much as removed her socks in the presence of a boy. Still, virginal or not, the girl could be so stupid sometimes! Claiming boys were programmed from birth to be perverts, that they couldn't be blamed for it- what ridiculous, sexist swill! Winnie was positive one of the Ps-Persephanie's Pack of Pompous, Prissy, Physically Perfect Princesses- was behind this brainwashing. Usually she would have blamed it on Galdon himself, but the boy had been so incomprehensibly flexible already even Winnie couldn't find fault with him. Honestly, what sort of self respecting boy actually kept a vow to keep a relationship secret, agreed upon an incognito spot, arrived at said spot at the appointed time and agreed to hold the latter as his date scaled up to her own attic so she could sneak inside without her mother's notice? Honestly, it was almost enough to make her think true gentlemen still existed.

Sephie and Galdon had been on three dates so far, and Winnie certainly hoped there wasn't going to be a fourth; it's not that she didn't like Galdon- she barely knew him, only saw him fleetingly in class, and even then he seemed tolerable. Besides, anyone who willingly punted his girlfriend through a window when she assured him it was for her own safety couldn't be that bad. No, Winnie did not have a problem with Galdon but she did have a problem with Sephie's foolishness. She was taking such a terrible risk...

"Um, Win?" she called hesitantly from the window plane. "Are you sure there's no way out of here that doesn't involve me in my underwear?"

At last, reason was getting through to her. It always did, after a certain amount of discomfort. Winnie turned, frowning thoughtfully.

"Fine," she sighed after a few moments, eyes exasperated, "Suck in your breath and brace yourself against the ceil."

Sephie obeyed, shoulders rigid as she leaned as far in as she could. Digging her fingers into the gap between her sister's back and the basque she was wearing (with all the stays still fastened, thank Maj) Winnie pulled her forward with all her strength.

The lining of the hoop skirt clattered against the shutters, shaking them slightly, but Persephanie was now far enough in that instead of balancing in a straight line by way of her stomach her entire body drooped over the wall, her nose just inches from the wooden floor.

"Um, yeah, Sephie," Winnie said awkwardly, "Pretty sure the only way out is in your bloomers."

Persephanie seemed to aim a dirty look in Winnie's direction, but it was hard to tell when she was flopped over like a beached whale hung up by its finny ankles. "You got the hoop halfway inside," she argued, "why not finish the job?"

Winnie glowered at her. "Because," she said impatiently, "the wiring on the stupid thing has scratched the hades out of the wall already, anymore pulling and it might make enough noise for Mother to hear."

"I thought she was patching Madame Dreelin's curtains tonight!" she exclaimed, trying to swing herself up into a slightly more dignified position.

The other girl rolled her eyes. "She is fixing the Dreelin's curtains, you twit," she said distainfully. "Downstairs."

Already whitened face now twinged with green, Persephanie stammered, "Winnie- Galdon, he's still down there, I told him to leave once I got back inside but the latter's still there- I kicked against it when I was trying to crawl through-oh thank Maj it didn't fall over-but he wouldn't just leave it there which means he's still down there and if Mother sees him I-"

Winnie hushed her little sister's panicking with a cool head and told her in a voice of stony calm, "I'll take care of it." Mother had wanted her to take out the trash anyway, but she'd neglected it to work on Harper's paper. She'd do it now, sneak out to the front lawn after she'd done so, warn Galdon to leave, remove the latter after he'd gone, run back up stairs to tell her it was safe to drop her skirt, and after she'd collected it from the garden nothing would seem amiss.

Predictably, Persephanie's reaction to this was, "Harper gave us a paper?"