Areida is pretty much the only cool girl at school. Hattie's friends are just the worst.
Like Blossom, niece and sole heir to an unmarried duke, who can't stop worrying about him marrying someone who pops out a kid and displacing her.
Or a duke's daughter, Delicia, who only opens her big mouth to complain about something.
Ella's teachers like her at first because she improves so quickly, but they stop liking her when she figures out tiny ways to rebel.
Well, Ella doesn't like these minor rebellions, either, but it's her only way of not feeling like a tool, you know?
Hattie occasionally orders Ella to meet her in the garden so she can secretly issue orders.
On the first of these occasions, Hattie commands Ella to gather her a bouquet. Turn out, it's useful to have hung out with a fairy cook. Ella picks beautiful blossoms and a sprig of bogweed (very carefully).
As soon as Hattie inhales the bogweed's scent, she goes blank and Ella can ask her any question she wishes. Guess it's like a truth spell.
First, why is Hattie so meal to Ella? Turns out, she's jealous of her.
Unfortunately, this doesn't really help Ella figure out how to get Hattie to stop bossing her around, and Hattie nastily pulls Ella's hair after this little incident.
Hattie mostly makes Ella do chores, but Ella has her revenge by sneaking spiders and mice into her bed (having learned under the influence of bogweed that Hattie's afraid of them).
Mostly, Ella hangs out with Areida. They talk about their lives; Areida's not from a rich family, which is one reason the other girls are mean to her.
But Areida is also kind. When one of the mean girls gets sick from gorging on grapes (really, that can happen?), Areida takes care of her all night.
One day Ella tells Areida about her mother. Areida sings a mourning song from Ayortha, which comforts Ella even though it also makes her cry.
They're late for Manners class because Ella doesn't want to go in looking like she's just cried. You know, that'd be like voluntarily bleeding in front of sharks.
Manners Mistress, of course, tells them that the king would disapprove, which makes them crack up. They pass Hattie, who tells Ella to meet her in the garden the next day.
Hattie says that Ella should stop associating with Areida because she's low class. When Ella refuses, Hattie orders her to end their friendship.