A/N: So this part of the story is set in 1682. It's set in Colonial America. Apologies for any inaccuracies. Please let me know what you think, good or bad
I watched the leaf fall slowly, whirling in a silent dance through the air until it slid gently to join its kin on the brown and amber ground. I sat perfectly still as another orange sheet broke from the safety of the tree and began its elegant twirl to the floor below. I always found autumn enchanting. Even at my young age I could appreciate the beauty of it. I was drawn to colours because they matched my hair. My flame red curls that had to be hidden all the time, wrapped up in a cloth so no one would see it. Mother said red hair was frowned upon. I didn't know what she meant, but I did as I was told and put my hair up. If I ever needed to show it, Mother went to a lady in the village that supplied her with a pigment that turned it brown until it was washed out.
I sighed heavily as I heard movement behind me. My father's gravelly voice drifted to me from the back door of our house. "Rosalie, come in now please."
"Yes Father," I replied as I climbed to my feet. I set my feet to spin around but I was stilled when I saw a bush moving. I took a step towards it carefully, making sure not to disturb the carpet of leaves surrounding me. The bush shook gently again and a rustling noise accompanied the movement. I leaned towards the small shrub, curiosity getting the better of my senses. I reached for the outer twigs, pulling them slowly to the side. I cried out and jumped back as a cat stuck its head around the greenery and quietly meowed a greeting. I clasped my hands over my chest to slow my racing heart. It purred as if satisfied at my fright and stepped cautiously from its hiding place. It was pure black with bright blue eyes and a small scar on its hind leg. "Here boy," I said in a sing-song voice, holding out my hand towards the cat. It dipped its head fast with a loud snort. "Girl?" I tried. My effort was met with a soft meow that I took for a yes. She brought a paw to her mouth, tongue extending to lick across her fur. I stared, entranced by the crystal blue of her eyes. I heard footsteps from the house and the cat's head snapped up. With a hiss she leaped back into the bushes and disappeared.
"Rosalie. I said now."
"Yes Father," I repeated quietly, my eyes glued to the space that the feline had just occupied. A gentle tug on my shoulder from my father jolted me from the daze and I quickly skipped into the house for dinner. By the time I had to go to bed I had forgotten about the blue eyed cat in the garden.
I knelt on my thin mattress, staring out the window at the grey clouds covering the rising sun. I waited for the distinctive crow of the neighbour's cockerel to indicate the start of his master's day. I enjoyed the fact that this young cock stuck with the myth that his breed called to the sunrise. A thump from the next room diverted my attention and with a sigh I withdrew from the window to begin the day.
The cold water shocked the last dregs of sleep from my brain as I splashed it over my face. As much as I enjoyed hot baths, I loved the frosty start that the icy water created. The chill of the water paled next to the atmosphere between my parents. Mother set about breakfast as usual, but made no conversation; she simply focused on the activity at hand. Father made small talk with me and explained his plan for the day. There were crops to see to, and the few animals to tend to. I took an interest in the goats as father animatedly described the one of our kids wasn't well.
I wished him well and kissed mother on the cheek before I left for school. Her pale hazel eyes met mine briefly and a small smile touched her mouth. The air was sharp and I pulled the thin material of the head scarf over my ears, checking that the back stayed tightly bound in the bun mother had fashioned. Few people were around at this time, most had either left already or were still in their houses. I smiled at the quiet village, knowing some would find me strange to appreciate the solitude. Having no siblings, I was used to being alone. As I neared the square the usual noises reached my ears and I said my polite hellos to the people I passed on my way to the school building. There were few children in when I sat down in my chair, but the classroom filled quickly as the minutes ticked by.
We sat as patiently as we could, a few giving way to frustration and I heard the chairs scrape over the hard wooden floor as they shifted in their seats. It was normal for Miss Bellock to arrive later than us. Annabel Pitt and Claire Morley turned their chairs to face each other and began chatting quietly next me. I kept my eyes on the crisp parchment on the desk in front of me. There was a small cough in the doorway and Miss Bellock marched in, unwrapping her shawl from her shoulders before she hung it over the back of her chair. She straightened her plain grey blouse and smoothed her thick brown hair back before picking up her copy of the bible.
I watched the teacher open the small book, flipping a few pages before settling on the chosen starting point. She cleared her throat before looking around the room, making sure she had everyone's attention. When she was ready she took a breath and began. "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14 and 15." She slipped her finger in between the pages, holding the book in one hand and crossed her arms over her chest. My eyes ticked to the window as she began a speech on forgiveness. She explained that no one person is beyond saving, that Christ hates a sin but embraces a sinner.
Recently I had found my Faith wavering. I was beginning to see the world through the skeptical eyes of someone much older than my seven years. Images of my mother, tears streaming down her face as she laid on her side, my father trying his best to calm her, flickered across my mind. Even through the walls I could hear her heart-breaking sobs as she questioned her own faith. For the second time a child had been taken from her at birth. I vividly remembered her anger at my father's unwavering conviction as he said things happen for a reason. She struck out at the useless objects around her, possessions bringing her no comfort, and I cowered in the corner, afraid that I might become one of them.
My fears were soothed; I seemed to be the only thing she found solace in. All the while father kept repeating verses, expecting them to be of reassurance to someone other than himself. I couldn't tell if he was too devoted or too much of a fool. I lowered my eyes, ashamed of that thought. But it was there nonetheless. I moved my attention back to Miss Bellock as she continued. "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44." I rolled my eyes from her back to the window and swallowed a yelp quickly as I stared into the cobalt feline eyes of the same black cat that had appeared in my garden. She was walking along the outside sill of the window, rubbing her head across the streaky glass. She sat down and brought her back leg to her tilted head, claws extending to scratch a spot behind her ear and I caught another glimpse of the silver scar on her leg.
She righted herself and continued staring into my eyes. I felt myself being drawn into her gaze. A strange stirring swirled in my stomach as the world around me began to vanish. A high-pitched shriek broke me from my trance as Annabel pointed at the cat. It hissed at the sudden attention and leaped down from the ledge and tore off across the dry grass. I mused at the second appearance of my mysterious new friend and my fascination with her as Miss Bellock tried to regain order in the room so we could continue with the lesson.