"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall"
"Katrina Isabella Natalie Decorous, I want your complete, honest and truthful opinion."
"Okay," I assured her.
"No lies now."
"Nope, never any lies."
"Better not be."
"Just ask me—I won't lie, I promise."
"Okay…do I wear too much black?"
"Hell, you're like the devil reincarnated!" Kyle had appeared out of nowhere.
Mina's fist came into contact with Kyle's arm, as she glared at him. It probably hurt, but Kyle would never admit that it did.
"I was asking my best friend, not some stupid jock."
"Hey! I resent being called that!" Kyle protested.
"Why?" Mina asked boredly, "It's what you are, isn't it?"
"I'll bet Kitten doesn't think that!" Kyle said, looking over at me. Of course I didn't think that—and he knew it.
Mina crossed her arms over her chest. "You're such an idiot, bringing Kitten into this. She doesn't think badly of anyone—even Ashes—I on the other hand, can see right through the player-jock that you are."
Kyle put a hand over his chest in mock-hurt, "You wound me."
"It's to deflate your monstrous ego," Mina smirked at him.
"Who has a monstrous ego?" Aaron had just joined us, along with Nathan. It was lunch and we were all sitting in the cafeteria.
"Kyle," I offered.
"Hah!" Mina grinned. "I guess I was wrong. Kitten agrees!"
Kyle pretended to look hurt, which I often thought was real. I don't know why because I was as much a part of the Decorous family as my siblings and cousins. We learned, apparently, that I had not been given any of the power that was supposed to be passed down. I couldn't sense anything, or lift anything heavier than a chair. I couldn't move a chocolate bar with mere thought.
No one in my family could explain it. They thought maybe the power had not been passed down to me because I was a girl; although my brothers and cousins tried to assure me that I was still important to them—this which I was grateful for. I mean, don't you think you would feel like an outsider in my position?
So I couldn't be blamed if I always thought that Kyle was hurt, when he wasn't. They keep forgetting how innocent I can be. "No!" I cried out. "I don't agree, it's just Mina said that, so I thought they were asking who said that so I—"
"Relax Kitten," Aaron put a hand on my shoulder, "Kyle's not really mad at you, right?" He gave Kyle a look.
"No," Kyle agreed, "you know that Mina and I are just joking around anyway."
"Joking?" Mina raised an eyebrow.
I laughed. I loved lunch times because I spent them with all my friends.
Mina usually didn't sit with us every lunch. Sometimes she sat with her other Goth friends who were equally as scary—although I never thought they were. Mina was on the verge of Gothood when I met her, but I don't judge people by the way they look—more by their actions and words towards me.
I usually spent lunch Mina, Kyle, Aaron and sometimes Olivia. She sat with us on most days, but today she had a dance rehearsal. She was different from a cheerleader though—the dancers were elevated cheerleaders, more popular and way more intelligent. The way it was in our school was, the cheerleaders ruled when the dancers were out and then the dancers ruled all the time.
I looked over to where Alex was sitting with Mike, Matt, Ryan and some other people. Usually they ate with us, but today they had decided to sit with some other jocks. They were all the most popular in school. They were known as 'The Divine Boys'.
I had a theory that the power must have given them all perfect looks too.
"So how catastrophic was gym today?" Mina asked, fishing out some cookies from her bag.
"It wasn't catastrophic!" Kyle grinned. "It was awesome."
Mina shook her head, offering him a cookie—to which he accepted—at the same time. "It was horrible, nauseating and destructive. I mean, the stupid supply teacher couldn't think of a better game than Volley ball, Girls-Against-Boys?"
"Yeah, you loved that, didn't you, you little slut?" No one had noticed that airHead cheerleader/Bimbo/Real-life Barbie (all adjectives that I have heard used by Mina and others, none my own—although I might agree but never admit) and gang had snuck up on us. But this wasn't unusual since they made an appearance at least every lunch time; especially when any of my cousins of brothers were single. Even though Mina was a Goth and very scary to other people that didn't know her the cheerleaders didn't get the bit of not messing around with her—to them, Mina appeared to be hanging around their fish.
Yeah, they'd insulted me too in the beginning, but it didn't turn out quite like they expected. Let's just say that Kyle and Aaron almost (and I mean, very, very close) hit them—and with supper strength that could be really bad.
Mina gave the airHead one—Ashley—the Look.
"Um, like Ashley?" One of the smarter gangsters, tugged on Ashley's shirt.
"What?" She hissed.
"I think you'd like better apologise."
It looked like Mina's look was scaring her. It scared me sometimes too.
"Like, no way in like hell."
"But you'd know hell, wouldn't you Ashes? You've been there and back, how many time is it now…?" Mina pretended to count. She was referring to Ashley's rather, not so secretive anorexia.
Kyle spit out his water, trying to hold in a laugh.
Ashley put her hands on her hips. "Well, you're like the one who's been to hell, you Goth! But then, you're like, not a Goth. You're like a slut, since you hang out with the guys and their stupid little Scaredy cat." Her eyes opened wide as she said the last bit, realising her mistake.
Every time someone said that about me, I felt a little sadder; because I knew it was true. I was shy, quiet and scared, all the time. I was a kitten hiding behind my protectors. But nothing that happened ever made me stronger—all because of that one summer. But that's a topic for another day.
"What…did you just say?" Mina asked, angry now. Her black hair was spread around her face, her black outlined eyes flashing. They were narrowing in on Ashley. Mina looked quite scary. She stood up, and was joined with Kyle, Aaron and Nate.
Ashley backed away, "Nothing! Like, I didn't say anything about Katrina! Like jeez." Then she and her gang scurried away, back to their table.
Mina slowly sat down, along with everyone else. "That little bitch," she said.
Aaron nodded, poking at his chicken wings, "Cheers to that.' He suddenly looked at me. "Are you okay, Kitten?"
I nodded, "Yeah. I don't let her get to me anymore." But I was feeling a little down. It was because of my sensitive side—it tends to make me sad whenever anyone even says something remotely mean to me. It's hard for me to take it at the beginning, but then I go home, cry and then get over it.
Aaron and Kyle could sense it. "Hey, Kitten, how about we all go to the mall after school?" Aaron asked me.
That lifted my spirits. I always loved going to the mall—especially the book store. "Sure!" I smiled. "Can we go to the bookstore?"
"Yeah," Mina agreed. She loved the dark poetry section.
Kyle and Nate had a grim expression on their faces since they really did not like the mall. But they smiled and said it was a good idea.
Later, after school I was at my locker. It was the second week of grade eleven and I hadn't gotten too much homework. That might be debatable with most people, but with me, I liked homework. It was something that I did well and made me feel strong and confident. I knew I was smart and it was fuel for me.
This year I was taking Advance Physics, Advance Chemistry, English, Art, Piano (being in a prestige private academy allowed for many different classes—mostly influenced by very rich parents), Advanced Functions and Introduction to Calculus, World History and Home Economics.
That's another thing about me. I am passionate about baking. I can bake a wide variety of sweets, from cookies to chocolate éclairs.
As I was trying to jam my Physics and Chemistry and Math books in my bag, I didn't notice someone sneak up on me.
"So I see you're trying to shove your life in your bag, again Kitten."
"Hey Aaron," I said, not even bothering to look up. I'd gotten the textbooks in at this point but now the challenge would be trying to fit my binders in as well.
"Need some help? You know I am on the basketball and soccer team…"
I looked up at him—which is quite a far distance. I'm a petit girl at 5'1 and he's a tall muscular guy, at 6'2. In fact, everyone in my group of friends was that height or higher. I smiled, "No it's okay. I think I can fit them in." But I realised that even if I did I probably wouldn't be able to carry it all on my back. That might be a problem.
Aaron sighed, "Look," he lowered his voice, "I know you don't have the power and all, but I really don't think that you should break your back over it."
I nodded. "Fine." I took my books out and handed them to him, and then refilled my bag with binders.
"Whoa!" Aaron exclaimed, reading the titles of my textbooks. "These are hardcore subjects." He looked at me admiringly. "Now I know why you always study so hard."
I smiled, "Thanks."
Aaron ruffled my dark red hair a little—a gesture that went way back with us—fingering the violet ribbon I usually used to tie it back with. "You always wear this ribbon in your hair," he murmured.
His voice made me shiver inside—I couldn't explain it, it was the way he'd said those words. "I know," I agreed, "you gave it to me, remember?"
"Of course I remember." He smiled down at me, "I'm glad you always wear it. It means you'll always have a part of me with you, everywhere you go."
I sighed happily, "That makes me feel protected."
He looked at me then—and there was something in his eyes that I couldn't quite read.
Me and Aaron turned around and were met with Nicole—another cheerleader who was Aaron's current girlfriend. I always wondered why all my brothers and family dated these girls. They didn't care about my family—they wanted them for image and body, not for mind and heart.
Nicole latched herself onto Aaron's arm, and looked suspiciously at me, although I don't know why she would be. She looked up at him with puppy-dog eyes (although she looked like a puppy with a litre of make-up on). "Are we going on our date now?"
My heart fell at those words. I really wanted Aaron to come with us to the mall—it wouldn't be right without him, just like it wouldn't be right without any of my friends. But I knew it wasn't right of me to hold him hostage, just because I'd been upset today. Aaron was looking confused, like he was trying to decide what decision to make.
"It's okay Aaron," I assured, "You don't have to come with us to the mall. I mean, you always come and it's not like we're going anywhere important." I smiled reassuringly, although it was not what I felt inside. I don't know why I was even making this such a big deal. It was just a trip to the mall.
Aaron looked at me closely. "Are you sure?"
Realization finally dawned on Nicole, "Aary! Are you telling me that you're trying to decide whether to go on a date with me or to the mall with your family?"
Aaron sighed, "Yes Nicky, that's exactly it."
Nicky gripped his arm harder, "But Aary!!" She whined, "You promised me this date! You can't go back on your word. You can always take your little friend to the mall. But I'm super special! I'm your like, girlfriend!"
"Fine. Get your stuff and meet me at the car."
Nicole flew away giggling, but Aaron didn't look too happy. I wondered why. I just did him a favour.
"Aaron?" I asked timidly.
I decided against asking him what was wrong. He seemed normal now, so it had probably been my imagination. "Never mind," I said quickly. "I guess I'd better go find Mina and Kyle and everyone." I turned to start walking when I felt his hand on my shoulder.
I turned, my heart thumping a little—although I don't know why; probably just because he'd scared me. "Yeah?"
Aaron smiled, "I still have your books, remember?"
"Oh yeah!" I laughed. "I guess I'd better take those," I said reaching for them.
"Oh no you don't," Aaron said, holding them out of reach which was quite easy for him to do. "Even if I'm not coming with you, I'm bringing these to Kyle so he can carry them for you."
I crossed my arms, "Fine. Geez, next you're going to be carrying me!"
Aaron got a mischievous looking his eyes and started to grin. I realised what was happening. "Oh no you don't!" I said backing away. "There is no need—no need at—ahh!" Aaron had grabbed my arms and lifted me into his arms. He began walking down the somewhat busy hallway, earning a lot of interested looks from people.
"Aaron!" I whined, "You're really embarrassing me."
"I am not. A hot guy is carrying you in his arms. That's embarrassing?"
I thought about it. "I suppose not…but what if people start rumours?"
"They won't," he said simply.
"They won't because they know what I can do if they do."
I nodded, "That's true."
"Oi! Look at the newly-weds!" Kyle joked from down the hallway. I never thought that I'd ever hear one of my brothers—or friends ever utter that phrase so casually. But Aaron was one of us, and it wasn't like we're going out or anything.
Aaron finally put me down when we were in front of them. I knew my face must have been the colour of a tomato at that point. Anytime I was put on the spot like that, I knew that my face was set aflame. Even though I did enjoy what Aaron did, I was scared to be pointed out by other people—to be put in the light.
Aaron handed my books from his backpack to Kyle. "You'd better take these. They could kill Kitten."
"They could not!"
Mina patted my back, "They might."
"Let's just go to the mall," I said changing the subject.
"Fine by me," Mina took my arm and steered me towards Kyle's car. Mina usually rode with me and my brother and friends everyday. Even though it was a little out of our way, I assumed Kyle went to the trouble because she was my friend.
Kyle and Nate waved to Aaron and followed us. As I looked back I saw Aaron standing in the hallway, and it might have been my imagination, but he looked sort of…sad.
"A long, long time ago—a time where people still believed witches controlled the night— there lived a small family. They started out as a poor family, but were often called 'The Decorous Nobles' for their kindness.
"But in the beginning there was only one Decorous, because no one really knew who came before him. In fact, the information of the family was so jumbled and lost that no one even knew where Edmund Decorous had emigrated from—only the reason. His twin sister Isabella had died—this causing him so much grief that he moved to the 'new country'—right here. He had taken up residence on a huge lot in a broken down wooden house. There he began the tedious task of working the land, eventually marrying a beautiful wife by the name of Alice.
"The Decorous family legend begins where one day Edmund had been farming when he discovered a small secluded cave. It was hidden from view because the tall trees of the forest had not yet been destroyed, and towered over the area. Edmund had heard singing from the cave and was drawn in. He walked no farther than ten steps when he saw a small tree with the greenest leaves, standing beside a tiny river of the bluest water. The water was said to have sparkled. There Edmund had stood in wonder when the singing voice turned into an image of a half-woman, half-cat.
"She told Edmund that he had a great power in him. One that if discovered, he would be called a witch and tortured or killed. This power could destroy anything if threatened—and anything could threaten it. Edmund had the power, and so did the unborn children of his wife, and all the unborn children of his family tree, yet to come.
"She went on to explain that the power would start out small—like his wealth. He would be able to sense when his children were sacred or hurt—or other things; like his children would be able to find their soul mates. He would be able to lift things—many things—that were not possible for man alone to lift. He would be able to move things by only thinking about it. As for his wealth, he would soon leave the farming industry and become a merchant.
"The woman said, 'Your power will be a small case for you, but with each generation, the power will become stronger and stronger. The power can only be passed down my male, so your family shall be all male because you are all eminent.'
"Edmund, who was finding it hard to digest these facts, went away from the cave wondering if it was all a dream. But then, his wife—whom was thought to be barren, produced a healthy baby boy. And sure enough, the boy could lift things that a little boy should not lift. And when his father told him to think about moving an apple, apples moved. They floated in the air, did somersaults, whatever Edmund's child thought they should do. Then Edmund became a merchant and slowly, but surely, he became rich.
"And so the power and wealth flowed through the Decorous family. With each generation, the legends were told to the children and the power became stronger. Edmund's son continued to be a merchant, while his two sons became counts. The sons of the counts—two each—continued in that style. They had three children each and then those three children had one child I believe—"
"I get the point already—they had loads of children."
"Right. So all along they kept continuing the family until they got here—and now we had a big family tree. You know, with Peter, Jack, Matt, Leroy, Nathan, Ryan, Mike, Aaron! Well, they're our family, even though they're not really related to us since by now they're like our 20th cousins or something."
Kyle sighed in anger. "Ed, you said you were gunna tell me and Kitten the story of our family tree, not how many children they had!"
Edmund smiled kindly, but slightly teasingly at his seven-year old brother and sister. "But I did tell you it all!"
Kyle glared at him, "Yeah, but you didn't tell us how Kitten got here. You keep saying that our family is supposed to have only boys. Then how come Kitten was born, huh?"
Edmund stared hard at his brother and sister, pondering if he should create some bubble gum story, or explain the truth— that, although an eleven year-old like him might seem to know everything, he did not know why the legend had been proved wrong. That although it clearly stated only males should be born; one girl had come into the family. "Um…well…see…"
"Am I not supposed to be born?" Kitten—rather Katrina had spoken for the first time, although it was extremely softly.
Edmund smiled reassuringly at her. "Of course you were supposed to be born Kitten!" Now he had to make something up. He didn't want his little sister fearing that she was unimportant. "See, the legend said that only boys were supposed to be born, but I forgot to tell you about the other part."
"There's another part?" Alexander had joined the rest of his family. "I didn't know! Tell me!" He said excitedly, sitting down beside Kyle.
"Well," Edmund continued—warily because he knew he was telling them a lie, "they said that if a girl was born, it was supposed to be cause something real big was gonna happen! Like the power would be so big that, uh, the whole family could now defeat any evil!"
"Whoa! Cool!" Alex said, envisioning his family battling the evil fortress, winning in glory.
Kyle sat dumbstruck by his brother's words.
Kitten was amazed to hear this too. She tugged at Edmund' hand. "Eddie…" she began hesitantly.
Edmund bent down to her level, which was a quite low since she was short for her age. "Yes?"
Kitten played with her shirt button. "Um…does that mean I have to, you know, fight?" She whispered the last word because it scared her.
Her brothers could sense her fear, like the legend said—especially Kyle (he was her twin after all).
"Of course not Kitten!" Kyle said, jumping up. He put a protective arm around her shoulders.
"That's right," Alexander agreed.
"Don't you worry," Edmund said, "if ever there's evil, we'll be here to fight it off for you."
Edmund watched as his sister smiled again, knowing that she was content. He felt bad for lying to his siblings, but knew it was the only way to protect them. But somewhere, deep inside—although he was not aware of it—Edmund knew that he had been a given a new power. It had kept evolving—he knew that from his father. The power had evolved and given him a gift.
The gift to tell the future.
And although he was also not aware of it, the small dread that had been growing in him since the day he discovered his power was something that even he could not guess.
A/N: I just edited the first chapter and the last part is actually the prologue...