They are in the basement.
She has her head in Xan's lap, shaking and crying.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Between every few seconds and every few minutes, the penance she clutches like death in her hand jolts her again, and she curls and cries harder. "'m sorry."
She is also holding a penance, in the hand she isn't trying to use for comfort, but it is quiet. It's not her turn.
"It's-all, it's-all, I'll explain it again, they want us to learn and we'll learn, we will-"
There is a pulse of energy through the room.
(There are cameras in the room. As far as all of them and all their monitors will report, the two child mages in the room suddenly vanish.)
They were taught to swim. They don't have occasion for swimming, but they are (or will be) valuable property, and strange accidents have happened.
She tries to tread water, without letting go of either Jany or the penance.
She notices and tries to do it too. She might have dropped the one she holds but she's learned so very much to keep her hand closed, and her fingers are squeezed around it enough to hurt. It jolts her again. She whimpers and swallows water and coughs and tries to tread water anyway.
There is a boy above them, floating in the air. He looks like an angel filtered through some kind of wingless Cupid, naked and painfully blond. Or maybe that's just the glowing skin.
He isn't wearing a collar. And mages don't do things like that. She didn't think humans did things like that, but they've watched tv, and when humans can do things like that they're still humans and not mages.
She doesn't know what to do when there are humans but they're children. They're not supposed to be around human children. But she can't kneel very good, anyway, because she's in water. She does try to look down.
"Hello, sir." (She isn't sure if you say ma'am and sir to humans when they're children, but it's probably better if you're not supposed to and you do than the other way.)
"hellosir," she gets out, before the penance jolts her again and she chokes and is scared to cling to Xan and is scared not to cling to Xan -
The boy tilts his head. I mean, deference is great, but sadly rarely expected "Sir?"
You're probably not supposed to say sir to humans when they're children. It's probably different. She doesn't know what you are supposed to say.
"I'm sorry." She is doing her best to help hold up Jany.
The penance jolts her again, longer. Enough that she can't tread water while it's doing that.
She drops her own penance. That is more punishment but she needs the hand, she can't without it. It's ok if she's punished more for Jany. (Mages don't drown like humans do, a caretaker told them once, but they can drown.)
"I'm sorry, I don't remember what word is right." (She doesn't think they learned. But it's better if she says she doesn't remember and they didn't learn at all, than the other way.)
And suddenly Jany's penance is hurtling over the horizon, the blond boy in the water between the children, an arm around Jany holding her above the waterline. "Why the hell were you holding that thing? It shocked me!"
cough, cough, "'m sorry" cough.
(Penances don't work on humans like they do on mages. They can do a little shock, she thinks. And the human who is also a child human got hurt and they'll be punished more, but it can't work on him like on them, she doesn't think that can happen at all, the mage who made it shouldn't be punished (maybe)).
"We were being punished. I'm sorry."
"What, did someone dump you in the water? Why?"
"I don't know. I'm sorry. We were in the basement. And then here."
"Why were you being punished?"
"Misbehavior during lessons." (What do you say to humans who are children? Maybe it was on tv and she forgot?)
"Wow, that sucks. Were they trying to make you Manifest or something? Want me to beat them up? Until they die?"
"I'm sorry, I don't understand." And, "At your disposal," and looking down very hard, because everyoneeveryone knows that rule. (No wanting, like that. She can want a book or a game on recess; she cannot want about what humans do. And hurting a human would be badbadbad, but if humans hurt each other and she is not an adult police mage or army mage or like that and they tell her to do things then she does not do things.)
"...What? You keep saying weird things! You're like, human, right? You don't seem like Miracles."