Title: Longbourn High (1/?)
Author: Purple Sunset
A modern retelling of "Pride and Prejudice."
For the sake of this story, the Bennet sisters are Jane (age 17, in the 12th grade), Lizzie (16, 11th grade), Mary (15, 10th grade), Katie (14, 9th grade), and Lynn (13, 8th grade). All five girls attend Longbourn High. Some high schools do include eighth graders, so I don't think it's too odd to have Lynn at the same school as her sisters.
I don't own the original plot or characters. They were created by the wonderful Jane Austen.
Lynn Bennet could not, would not, stop screaming.
"Mother!" She cried, for the tenth time in under a minute. "Are you listening?"
"How can she not?" was her father's response. "Would you mind keeping it down, dear? I'm trying to read the paper."
"I wasn't talking to you," Lynn sniffed, snapping her fingers in front of her mother's face. "Mother!"
"I think we've all gotten that point, Lynn," Lizzie Bennet laughed as she helped herself to a glass of orange juice.
"I wasn't talking to you either!" Lynn shouted.
"What is it, Lynnie?" Jane Bennet patiently inquired.
"Shut up, Jane! Mind your own business for once!"
"If you don't want us in your business, then take it elsewhere," Mary Bennet spoke up from her spot at the end of the table. "We can't help listening when you parade it in front of us like this."
"You would do well to shut up too, Mary!"
"Lynn!" Their father's newspaper crumbled onto the table instantly. "Apologize to your sisters, at once."
"What for?" Lynn's arms crossed over her chest. "They're the ones butting in on my conversation with Mother."
"Since when do we call her 'Mother' anyway?" Katie Bennet wondered. "Yesterday, you were calling her 'Mom.'"
"'Mom' is so middle school," Lynn's eyes rolled as if it were obvious. "Now, where was I?"
"You were about to apologize for being a brat," Lizzie reminded her.
"Lizzie!" Jane hissed at her sister.
"Don't even try denying it, Jane," Lizzie whispered back. "I saw your face when she snapped at you."
"Maybe, it's her time of the month," Jane reasoned.
"She might want to see a doctor, then," Lizzie snickered. "She's been this way for the past thirteen years."
"I can hear you, you know," Lynn turned on her older sisters.
"Sorry, Lynnie," Lizzie beamed innocently. "I thought you were talking to Mother."
With a toss of her hair, Lynn spun around to face her parents again. This was one battle she wasn't going to win. "Mother! Aren't you off the phone yet?"
"Do we need to get your eyes checked again, Lynn?" Mr. Bennet chuckled. "You'll hear when she's done. I know that expression of hers all too well."
"Oh, goody!" Lynn squealed, clapping her hands twice. "I was right! I thought there must be news."
"Of course, there's news." It was Lizzie's turn to roll her eyes. "There always is when Aunt Phillips calls."
Satisfied, for the moment, Lynn reclaimed her seat next to Katie. "It must be juicy. They've been talking forever."
"If by forever, you mean five minutes, then you're right," Mary plainly stated.
"How's your book, Mary?" Jane spoke up quickly before Lynn had a chance to respond.
"Quite good," Mary smiled faintly. "It's a collection of poems by Cowper. Have you heard of him?"
"Er, no, I haven't," Jane shifted slightly in her seat. "I'm sure he's brilliant though."
"You haven't heard of Cowper?" Mr. Bennet's newspaper hit the table again. "What are they teaching in high schools today?"
"Maybe, we'll study him this year," Jane replied, staring down at her eggs.
"It's a disgrace, Father," Lynn said sweetly. "A senior in high school and she hasn't heard of the brilliant poet, er-" She glanced to Mary for support.
"Cowper," Mary filled in automatically.
"Right, him," Lynn nodded. "I bet the students at Pemberley would laugh if they heard."
"That, they would," Katie nodded eagerly. "I can hear them now. 'Those Longbourn losers! They wouldn't know a good book if it hit them on the head!'"
"When have you ever heard anyone say that?" Lizzie demanded.
"Just last week!" Katie fibbed. "We were at the mall and-"
"At the mall!" Mr. Bennet's eyes glanced up from his paper. "Again! What was that? The third time in one week?"
"Fourth," Mary corrected. "But, who's counting?"
"Certainly not you," Lynn shot a glare in her sister's direction.
"I don't understand how anyone can go shopping so often," Mary countered.
"We don't shop, exactly," Katie shrugged. "We just-"
"Browse," Lynn finished after sending a leg flying into her sister's knee.
"Right," Katie nodded, her eyes darting between her injury and her sister.
"Well, girls," Jane spoke up, interrupting the glaring match between the youngest two. "We better leave. I'd hate to be late for our first day back."
"Oh, no!" Lynn cried, her attention instantly diverted from Katie. "We can't leave now! Mother hasn't told us her news yet!"
"It can wait a few hours, I'm sure," Lizzie remarked, gulping down the last of her juice. "And, if it's that earthshattering, she can always call your cell."
"Fine," Lynn grumbled as she joined her sisters in pulling on their jackets and backpacks. "But, if we're the last ones to hear it, I'm blaming you, Lizzie." After a moment's pause, she added, "And, you too, Jane."
"This is seriously the most exciting day of my entire life!" Lynn cried as she walked up the front steps of Longbourn High.
"For someone so reluctant to leave home, you're certainly happy now, Lynn." Lizzie exchanged a grin with Jane.
"How could I not be?" Lynn gasped, glancing up at the building. "Everything's incredible here. And, look at the boys! They all seem so.. mature. So dashing!"
"Dashing? Are we looking at the same boys?" Mary coughed.
"What do you know about boys?" Lynn snapped. "You don't know anything, unless you've read it!"
"Oh, Lynn!" Katie grabbed her sister's arm. "There they are!"
"Where? Where?" Lynn froze in mid-step, her eyes darting around frantically.
"Over there!" Katie nodded indirectly at a group of jocks lounging near the top of the stairs. "Don't look! They'll laugh if they see you looking!"
"Oh, they are hot! Wicked hot!" Lynn squealed, bouncing up and down to get a better look.
"I told you!" Katie nodded triumphantly.
"Stop that, both of you!" Mary wrinkled her nose at them. "You're making the rest of us look like fools."
"Let them be, Mary," Jane smiled slightly at her sisters. "I think it's cute."
"That's because you don't have any classes with them," Mary pointed out. "Katie and I have Biology together. If she keeps this up, I don't think I'll have her for a lab partner."
"Who said I wanted you for a lab partner anyway?" Katie wondered.
Mary blinked uncertainly for a moment before making a hmphing sound and storming off towards her locker.
"What's her problem?" Katie shrugged, her eyes lingering on Mary's retreating back.
"Do try and be nice to Mary," Jane said softly as the remaining Bennets entered the building.
"Why?" Katie sniffed. "It's not my fault she doesn't have any friends."
"She's your sister," Jane reminded her. "She loves you and she'd do anything for you."
"Anything?" Lynn's eyebrows shot up. "Sophomores can drive, can't they? Think Mary'd introduce us to some boys with cars?"
"Not if she knows what's good for her," Lizzie remarked. "Dad would throw a fit."
"Which is why it'll be so fun," Lynn giggled as she grabbed Katie's arm and hurried off after Mary.
"Please, tell me we were never like that." Lizzie shook her head in her sisters' direction.
"I don't think we were," Jane assured her. "We always had too much sense."
"I don't know about that," Lizzie commented with a smile. "Any amount of common sense seems like too much, when you compare it to theirs."
Lunchtime in the Longbourn cafeteria was always frantic, but it was even worse on the first day of school. Besides the usual lines of hungry students, desperate for a slice of greasy pizza, there were the typical first day antics. On her way to the lunch, Lizzie was stopped nearly a dozen times by an assortment of new students who had lost their way, couldn't figure out how to open their locker, or wanted to know if the rumors were true about a certain teacher. By the time Lizzie got to the cafeteria, her lunch period only had ten minutes left.
"Think of it as a compliment, Lizzie," Jane said, automatically dividing the remainder of her salad in two and giving half to her sister. "You must be doing something right."
"If you figure out what it is, let me know," Charlotte Lucas, Lizzie's best friend, sighed.
"How have your mornings been?" Lizzie asked quickly, her discomfort obvious.
"My classes have all been interesting," Jane smiled. "I think I'll like this term."
"No surprise, there," Lizzie smirked, helping herself to one of Charlotte's french fries. "You've never encountered a class you didn't like."
"I don't know how you talked me into taking Creative Writing, Liz," Charlotte swatted her friend's hand away before another fry was stolen.
"You didn't like it?" Lizzie asked, an astonished look on her face.
"You know, I'm not the imaginative type."
"But, it's going to be such a fun class! Mrs. Gardiner's a fantastic teacher!"
"Now, you sound like Jane," Charlotte laughed.
"I'm sorry, Charlotte," Lizzie sighed. "If you dislike it that much, go ahead and drop it."
"I'll give it another try," Charlotte decided. "If I can't handle tonight's assignment, then I'll switch."
"Fair enough," Lizzie nodded.
"What's going on over there?" Charlotte's eyes wandered to a point behind Lizzie.
"What?" Lizzie turned around in time to see Katie and Lynn push their way through the pizza line as they dashed toward their sisters' table.
"Jane! Lizzie! Oh, Jane, Lizzie!" Lynn cried, crashing into the table as she came to a sudden stop. "You'll never believe what just happened!"
"Lynn got a call from Mom and-"
"Shut up, Katie!" Lynn snapped. "It's my story!"
"It ought to be mine too. I'm cutting English for this!"
"You're cutting English?" Jane gasped. "Oh, Katie-"
"Just for a little bit," Katie shrugged sheepishly. "I saw Lynn out in the hallway and asked if I could go to the-"
"Enough," Lynn interrupted dramatically. "There isn't time. They'll send search parties out for us before we can finish."
"Well, go to it, then," Lizzie urged, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Mother called me during study hall and said-" Lynn paused briefly, her eyes twinkling. "Get this, they're having a city-wide dance next weekend. All of the high schools are invited. All of them! Longbourn, Norland, even Pemberley! It's going to be wicked cool! Mother said she'll take all of us shopping Saturday. Father says we can only have fifty dollars each, but, the way I see it, we can get a little extra. Mary won't want to go, so Katie and I should have her share."
"Since we broke the news," Katie added quickly.
"Exactly," Lynn nodded, practically leaping with joy. "Well, that's it, I think. We better go before they think we've died or something." Giggling, Lynn grabbed Katie's arm and dragged her back out the way they'd come.
"Do you suppose you'll go?" Charlotte asked the remaining Bennets.
"I think we'll have to," Lizzie stared after her sisters. "They won't be allowed to go alone. And, I doubt they'll take no for an answer."
"I think it'll be fun," Jane said, pushing her lettuce around the plate a bit. "We haven't had anything like this in awhile."
"My parents will expect me to attend," Charlotte sighed. "Mom keeps bugging me about finding a boyfriend. She thinks it's disgraceful to be sixteen and single."
"There's nothing wrong with that," Lizzie patted her friend's arm.
"My heart knows that, but my mind.. Sometimes, I think it'd be easier to have one, just for the sake of having one," Charlotte admitted. "That way, when my parents, or any of their friends, asked, I could beam and honestly declare that I had a boyfriend. Maybe, then, they wouldn't look at me like I was some sort of factory reject."
"Oh, Charlotte! Don't talk like that!" Lizzie gasped. "You make it sound like there's something wrong with being single! Look at me. I'm the same age you are and I don't need a boyfriend. Do you really think that you'll feel better about yourself if you cling onto the first boy to look your way?"
"Sometimes, I do," Charlotte shrugged.
Lizzie opened her mouth to protest, but a gentle nudge from Jane stopped her. This wasn't the time or place to get into something like this. After making a mental note to herself, Lizzie decided to direct the conversation towards a safer topic.
Next time on Longbourn High:
The Bennets (and Charlotte) attend the city-wide dance and meet several boys from Pemberley Prep.