"Excuse me. Oh, sorry. Pardon." A young mare was weaving her way through the overcrowded corridor.
She winced when someone stepped on her hoof, backpedalling slightly, only to get smashed by a saddlebag in the face. She tried to plant her hooves firmly on the ground, the students streaming around her, tossing her from side to side.
"Can I help you, miss?" a slightly balding stallion slowly approached her. A small circle of free space formed between the two of them.
The mare straightened up, a warm smile spreading over her lips. "Thank Celestia! Yes, I was looking for--"
"Changing rooms, right? Even new students of the final grade have to clean their hooves. And if possible, remove their wet hoof wraps." The stallion motioned to the purple stretches of fabric coating the mare’s legs, water dripping from them.
"But--" She looked at him, wide-eyed, ears pressed against the back of her head.
"That way." He pointed his hoof. "Have a nice day." He made a leave through the crowd, the students parting respectfully before him with muttered 'Good mornings'.
The mare's ears raised a little. "These are the newest model of woollen overshoes," she spat after him, her many metallic accessories clinking madly and her braces nearly falling from her teeth. With a sigh, she took a look at the letter in her hooves and set on a new quest to find her destination.
"Excuse me, can I--" The earth pony mare trotted to another teacher, a stallion cantering down the hall.
"If you aren't dyin', don't ask me!" The large pony rushed past her, a hailstorm of papers flying behind him.
"Okaaay?" She stared blankly after his disappearing tail. She had to say, his flanks looked quite nice.
A tap to her shoulder brought her out of her reverie. "Ah-hem, do you want something?" The earth pony turned, her cheeks burning slightly. Behind her stood a unicorn mare with fiery orange mane and a stern, yet curious expression.
"Yes, I'm looking for the headmaster. I'm Cheerilee, the new intern." The younger mare extended a hoof.
"Brassy Heron, Chemistry and Biology teacher." The mare shook the offered hoof. "I'm afraid that the headmaster is not here today. And when our deputy head gets like this," she motioned in the direction where the stallion in hurry disappeared, "it's better to get out of his way.”
Cheerilee pouted a little and rubbed her head, clearly unsure what to do.
"But come in the staffroom. Do you want coffee?" Brassy continued, motioning down the corridor.
Cheerilee followed her reluctantly. "No, thank you. I don't drink coffee."
"Say that at the end of your intership here..." Heron chuckled as they entered the room.
The few teachers sat at the table raised her heads, watching the duo with various states of interest.
"Wait, wait, wait. What's she doing here?!" The balding stallion from before slapped the table, pointing an accusing hoof at the intern once he spotted her.
"Rubicon, that's the new apprentice," Heron said flatly, stepping between the two.
"Ah, pardon me, miss." The stallion didn't even stand up, he just propelled himself on a swivel chair near Cheerilee and gently took her hoof. Then he brought his head nearer. "Rubicon, History and Equestrian language."
Cheerilee wasn't the type of a mare that got easily swayed by stallions' courtesy, at least not by those far older than her. Still a kiss to her hoof was a nice way of apologizing for the mishap earlier.
But Rubicon had no such act in mind. Instead he took a hoofkerchief out of his pocket and forcefully polished the hoof.
Cheerilee jumped up with a shriek, a few metallic bracelets nearly leaving her foreleg. "I already told you I hate when young, beautiful and clever mares trot around with filthy hooves. Students and interns alike." His eyes narrowed and he rolled away with his chair again.
"Don't be that harsh on her!" A mare with multi-colored and multi-styled tail--Last years fashion, but at least somepony with a little taste of style, Cheerilee thought--rose from her seat, eyes behind thick glasses glaring daggers at her colleague. She stood up, trotting up to the intern. "Just look at her. First day here and judging by her mane, it seems that she already had an encounter with one of the physicists."
"You are saying it like it's my fault Spark and Constant are leaving charged crystals lying everywhere!" Rubicon snapped back. He kicked at the ground, turning himself around on the swivel chair.
"Do I sense somepony talking about me, Ruby?" Spark Gauge called from the doorframe. He dragged himself into the room, his plaid shirt dripping with sweat.
Everypony watched in silence as he pushed past Heron and Cheerilee without a glance. Falling into his chair at the head of the table, he continued, "First some troubles in the transfiguration class, then I found that the new silly wannabe teacher still hasn't arrived, in the meantime I got approximately one hundred complaints about the lack of mirrors on the filly toilets--Seriously, are they really that necessary?" After receiving a few stares from the mares in the room, he quickly continued, "And now you want to tell me there was another fool playin' around with my zap crystals?!"
"Deputy headmaster..." Cheerilee raised her eyes.
"Gauge," Heron whispered to her.
"Ah, good mornin', miss... Yeah, I can see that on you. It had to be quite a charge to frazzle your mane like this. Still, I have seen worse--"
"Frazzle? That's the newest hairstyle of Young Mares' magazine! And I'm the new silly wannabe teacher." The wires of her braces trembled with anger. She looked at the stallion, expecting him to throw her out immediately after this outburst.
"That... explains a lot." Gauge's jaw dropped, the stallion pressing a hoof to his forehead.
"You're telling me..." Rubicon rode back and forth on the swivel chair, circling the table in the centre of the room.
An awkward, pregnant silence hung in the room, disturbed only by the occasional creak of the swivel chair’s wheels.
"So... which subject are you going to teach?" Heron rubbed the bridge of her nose.
"I wanted to try... all of them?"
"Tender creature seems to be brave." Rubicon chuckled, finishing another lap around the room.
"Ruby... it's great that you seized Globe-Trotter's chair, but I reckon it's time for third grade's History now." Gauge grabbed the wheels of the swivel chair with his magic, the momentum sending his colleague flying out the door. A few colourful curses could be heard, followed by the ceasing sound of hoofsteps.
"Please pardon him. Rubicon's a great company when he's in the right mood..." The deputy head gave Cheerilee an apologetic nod. She returned the gesture, sheepishly looking around. Her hoof pawed at the ground.
Spotting the intern’s unease, the mare with the fashionable tail turned to her. "If you want, you can go with me now and have a sitting-in on my class of Equestrian language. And you can meet the others later if the ruffian discouraged you now. Oh, I almost forgot, I'm Fluffy Cotton." The mare dragged Cheerilee out of the room, the intern still a little shaken, but with a smile now on her features. The door clicked shut behind them.
"Spark, do we really need the internship programme? Rubicon seems to get more and more determined to make a living Tartarus of it for the newbies..." Heron collapsed on a chair next to Gauge.
"I kinda understand him. How could a mare that looks like an ironmonger's store catalogue ever be a good teacher? I don't think a school in the smallest of villages would want somepony with that visage... And 'bout the internship, you know it was boss' idea."
Heron sighed, pouring herself a cup of coffee from the nearby kettle. "Another ‘brilliant’ idea. What was that in the transfiguration class?"
"Somepony turned all the canteen cutlery to coal. Which led to cooks quarrellin' again about us stealin' the tableware..." He laughed bitterly, playing with a small teaspoon on the table.