Hello, my lovely readers. So, this story has been a long time coming. I wrote it back in July and could not stop writing 'til I finished a draft. There are a number of OCs, who are the kids of our favorite characters and you'll have to wait to meet some of them. I hope you enjoy this. On with the show…
Prologue: Long Ago
Blonde curls bouncing as she strode to her rocking chair—at the front of the room—Caroline smiled at all the small faces that turned upward. The children smiled back at her. Their trust and excitement were clear in the glimmer of their eyes. Caroline sat down, placing the large book on her lap and leaning forward. "Is everyone ready for Story Time?" she asked the tiny children, ranging from three to six.
"Yes, Ms. Forbes!" the kids cheered.
Laughing, Caroline opened the book to begin the story for the day. "Story Time" became a tradition that Lizzie and Josie suggested—when they were little—for the other kids to enjoy. It became a tradition at the Salvatore Boarding School.
"Once upon a time," Caroline began, her eyes wide as she moved the book in a circle for the kids to "oh" and "ah" over Jeremy Gilbert's illustrations, "there was a magical kingdom called Mystic Falls."
"Like here!" a little girl named Audrey cried, her dark hair flying as she bounced around on the floor.
"Yes! Just like here," Caroline called to her student. "And in this kingdom lived a queen and a knight. And they ran an enchanted school, for special boys and girls." The kids looked as she turned the page to show Jeremy's fairy tale version of the boarding school. "There were two princesses who lived at this school, with the queen and the knight. But they were waiting for someone else to arrive."
Turning another page, Caroline showed a little girl, with red hair, arriving with her mother. "They were waiting for a third princess and a new queen. Now this queen and the queen who was already there; they did not always like each other. But the queen of Mystic Falls would do anything to protect the new princess—for her father—a friend of the queen of Mystic Falls, from a time long ago."
"And then what?" another student cried, watching her closely.
"And then the three princesses became 'fast friends,' as the king from long ago would say," Caroline chuckled. "The three little girls were inseparable. They did everything together, including magic. Well, one day the oldest little girl had an idea. She said, 'Let's make this into a frozen castle,' because it was their Winter Break, and the girls were bored."
"Unbeknownst to the queens, or the knight, the girls performed a spell which sealed the school off—so no one could enter and no one could leave," Caroline inhaled deeply for effect.
"And then what?" the children cried.
"Then they stayed in the school for seven, long years until a friend of the knight and the queen of the kingdom broke the spell. Well, that was a loooong seven years, and a lot happened," Caroline told them, flipping a page.
"Like what?" William, a child warlock, called to her.
Caroline grinned. "Like the queen from the land far, far away fell in love with the knight. It didn't happen overnight. It took five, long years, but during the fifth—the queen from this land—locked them in a room; until they confessed their feelings for each other." She turned a page to show a queen in a long, white dress and a knight in a suit; being wed by the queen of Mystic Falls. "And the first queen married the queen from far, far away to the knight and the three princesses became a family."
"Yay!" the kids cried.
"And then what?" William asked, scratching his left elbow.
"And then they left the kingdom, after the spell was lifted, to be reunited with their friends," Caroline told them. "But…"
"What?" the kids yelled at her.
"But the queens, the knight, and princesses did not realize that they had been gone for MORE than a day," Caroline cried, her eyes wide, a smile on her face. "So they were shocked to find that the world they knew and had been gone from for these long, seven years had changed. The queen from here and the knight's friends now had children who were their children's age!"
"Wow!" the kids looked astonished.
"And today, we are celebrating, because two of the princesses are to leave us again, to rejoin the kingdom!" Caroline waved her hands at the doors like she, too, could perform magic and the doors opened.
Two teenage girls walked into the room, in a pair of ball gowns. The brunette wore a green gown. The blonde were a pink one. They smiled at the children, coming down the middle of the room. "And they have a special surprise for you!" Caroline told the kids.
Another brunette haired girl walked into the room, wearing a long, red gown. She smiled at the children before she raised her hands and the other girls did the same. Snow began to rain from the ceiling and Caroline lifted her face to smile as the snow touched her cheeks and nose. The kids got up and began to laugh and dance around in the flakes.
"Say good-bye to Princesses Elizabeth, Princess Josette and Princess Hope!" Caroline told the children who waved at them frantically as Hope held out her hands to Li and Jos. The three left the room while Caroline wiped away tears, she would miss her girls, but it was time for them to join the rest of Mystic Falls, and that would start with high school.
"How was it?" Bonnie asked, sitting down across from Caroline, with a cup of coffee.
"The part where the girls almost ditched me today, or reading the watered-down version of our-frozen-in-time-spell-hell?" Caroline asked, wryly, sipping her own cup of coffee.
"It wasn't that bad," Hayley cried, glancing at Caroline from her seat opposite Caroline's.
Elena began to laugh, but stopped at Caroline's dark look. "Sorry. Damon's having a hard time babysitting Sandy and the boys. Look at what they did to him!" she cried, showing the group a pic of Damon's rolling his eyes while wiping blueberry pie off of his face.
Bonnie sighed. "I knew he wouldn't be able to handle them on his own," she said, grabbing her purse. "Let's go, Lena."
"Wait!" Caroline cried.
"What?" Bonnie glanced back at Caroline. "Look, I want to go collect my kids, before Damon goes nuclear."
"It's your turn to pay for the drinks," Caroline reminded Bonnie. This had been their tradition, every week, since Caroline, Ric and Hayley returned from their isolation.
Bonnie eyed Caroline. "Why don't you compel the waiter?"
"Because, I'm trying to set a good example for the kids. And using compulsion for minor things—like paying a bill for coffee—is violating those rules," Caroline informed Bonnie with a smile.
Hayley rolled her eyes. The waiter came over to them and Hayley placed her hand lightly on his wrist. "We already paid," she told him.
Caroline's eyes rounded. "Hayley!"
"They overcharge and my drink was supposed to have been a double-shot of espresso. I only got a one-shot," Hayley retorted, getting up and pushing her chair in.
Sighing, Caroline got to her feet. "I'll see you later," she called to Elena and Bonnie. "Tell Jeremy that we're having a meeting this weekend, and to not be late, again."
"I will," Bonnie called back, already on her way to save Damon from the clutches of his kids, Samuel and Stefanie, and her kids Sandra, J. J. and Robert. Just the thoughts of trying to handle two fifteen-year-olds, a fourteen-year-old, a thirteen-year-old and a ten-year-old as a human made Caroline shiver.
"So, I was thinking about throwing a party for Li and Jos; before they go to the high school this fall," Hayley was saying as they walked through the town's square.
"I think that our daughters do enough partying? Don't you?" Caroline questioned Hayley, her eyes on the town's folk who smiled at them and then began to whisper like she couldn't hear them talking about her and Hayley.
"I know Ric thinks so, but don't you think it's better that we're the ones supervising whatever they're doing?" Hayley pointed out.
Caroline thought about that. "That's true. I guess we could have one at my place."
"Why your place? Our place is bigger," Hayley retorted.
"This is just like all those years in the Boarding School," Caroline complained.
Hayley turned to glare at Caroline and then she let out a laugh. "Yeah. Okay. I'm sorry. We'll use your place. But next time, it's going to be at ours."
"Fine," Caroline conceded. "I'll see you later." She hugged Hayley before they split off, going in different directions.
On her way home, Caroline stopped at a street corner as her phone beeped with a message. "You have a new alert!" her phone chirped at her.
Caroline opened her alerts, and frowned; her eyes widened.
Two more bodies have been found near Mystic Falls, the headline read. Caroline had been working on this story just before she decided to take a two-week vacation. The murders had begun in Richmond; now they had traveled eastward. It left Caroline with a sense of déjà vu, and not in a good way. No known suspects. Just victims who were drained of blood.
It was beginning, again, and Caroline hurried home to her girls. She would have to warn the others, but today she wanted to tell them about the party. Today, they had a right to cling to the façade of a normal, happy life, right before it was ripped away from them.
I hope all of you have a Happy New Year's!
So, let me know what you think and I hope you look forward to more and meeting some of the new cast members in Chapter 1.
Thank you for reading, faving, following and reviewing.