(Okay, I know most people don't like the mini-series books. But I hope you will give my little story a chance anyway.)

Disclaimer: Summary, characters, and chant are copyrighted to V.C. Andrews and Simon & Schuster Inc.

A.N.: A short story from Butterfly's POV. Takes place before the book, Runaways.

Suggested Listening- "Can't Take That Away" by Mariah Carey

The school bus pulled up and dropped me and the other orphans off at Lakewood House. After I had gotten off, I stopped and looked up at our so called home. In it's heyday, it had been a great place to house tourists.

'It certainly doesn't look that way now.' I thought to myself. Now, it was only fit for us. The orphans. The unwanted.

It was then that Raven nudged me. "Hey. Are you coming? We're going to sneak off to the lake."

"But we're not supposed to go down there. Remember when Gordon caught Sloan Johnson there with his friends? He got fifty demerits. What if he catches us?"

"Eh. What Gordon doesn't know won't hurt us. So, you coming or what?"

I was terrified of disobeying the Tooeys, but it did sound like fun. "Okay. Just let me put my books away and I'll meet you out here."

I hurried upstairs as fast as I could, then suddenly I ran into another person, Megan Callaway. She was the bully on our floor. She picked on the weaker, more defenseless orphans, and that included Crystal and myself.

Our collision had caused her to drop her school books. "Watch where you're going, Goldilocks!" she snapped. Her friend, Patty Orsini, giggled.

"Sorry. Excuse me." I said in my usual quiet voice. I put my head down and tried to make it to my room, but Megan followed me.

"Ain't no excuse for you." she barked in my ear. "No wonder the Delorices didn't want you. A dwarf could never be a dancer." I heard several of the other kids laugh.

"At least I was adopted." I managed to mumble under my breath.

"Ohh…" some of the others said, probably shocked that I dared to say more than three words to anyone.

"What did you say to me, smart mouth?" Megan came up from behind me. "Answer me, dwarf!" She tried to swing me around. In doing so, my body bumped into a stand, and sent a potted plant crashing to the floor.

Everyone went quiet, and then we heard it. Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound of Gordon Tooey's heavy footsteps made its way up the stairs. The other children scrambled to get out of the way. Suddenly, he appeared, looking meaner than a vicious rattlesnake that had just been stepped on.

"What the hell was that crash?" He turned and saw the plant on the floor. "Who did that?"

Megan wasted no time in placing the blame. "She did it." she said, pointing at me. "It was Janet. She was running, and the klutz wasn't looking where she was going. I tried to tell her to slow down, but she wouldn't listen."

Gordon turned to me. "That true?"

I hesitated. I was shy enough as it was, and Gordon was someone you didn't want to cross.

"Answer me, girl!"

I jumped. "Yes, I was running, but…"

"What have I told you kids? You think I got time to waste on trouble makers? Huh? That's twenty demerits. Now, get to the utility room, get the mop and clean this mess up. And you're restricted to your room for the weekend. Damn stupid kids." he muttered under his breath as he headed down the stairs.

I did as instructed and started to clean the mess. Megan and Patty watched me and smiled. "Poor Goldilocks." Patty said, sarcastically.

"Nah." said Megan. "We're going to call her Cinderella now." The two girls laughed as I went to go put the cleaning supplies away.

I headed back to my room and plopped down on my bed. Hot tears stung my eyes and rolled down the sides of my face. Nothing Megan had said had hurt more than being reminded of the Delorices. The memory of my former family still haunted me.

At first, life with the Delorices had seemed like a fairy tale come true, but it wasn't meant to last. Celine had worked me like a horse, day and night, to become the prima ballerina she had once been, until a car accident had taken away her precious gift, as well as her sanity. I had thought if I did everything she wanted, she would love me like the mother I never had. Instead, through me, she was trying to regain a life that would never be hers again. Even her husband, Sanford, couldn't stop her controlling ways. Then, finally, my small body couldn't take it anymore, and gave out on me. That was when Celine completely lost it, and Sanford brought me here so he could take care of her.

I turned on my side and curled up into a small ball the best that I could. I then slipped into my secret world.

It was a world full of silence and where darkness didn't seem so overpowering. It was a place where the monsters in my imagination couldn't hurt me, where no one could hurt me. I could be anyone, anything there. I felt my body begin to float, to soar. All I knew, was that a wonderful feeling of comfort overcame me in this special world.

And I'd show them all. I'd show Louise, Gordon, Megan, all those who ever picked on me. Even Celine. I was worthy of love. And someday, when I found it, I was going to fly away.

The sound of voices brought me back to myself. The other Orphanteers were above me, their arms linked, and their heads bent forward, reciting our special chant.

We're sisters.
We'll always be sisters.
One for all, and all for one.
When one is sad, we're all sad.
We all must be happy for one to be happy.
We're sisters.
We'll always be sisters.

I opened my eyes and joined in. By now, the sun had set, and it was dark. When it was over, I picked my head up. "It happened again, didn't it?"

"Yeah." said Brooke. "We got worried when you didn't show. We heard about what Megan did."

Raven looked disgusted. "I hate her. Why does she think she's better than everyone else? Why does she have to pick on poor Butterfly?"

"Survival of the fittest. Remember what we learned in school, Raven?" asked Crystal. "The strong always picks on the weaker of the species."

"Give me two minutes alone with her, and I'll make her weak."

"You can't do that, Raven. Under New York State Law, if a juvenile in the foster system commits a crime…"

"Oh, spare me, Encyclopedia Brown. You'll make me lose my appetite." Raven said, jokingly. She reached over and snatched the glasses off Crystal's face that she sometimes wore. "Look at me, I'm Crystal. Blah, blah, blah…" She began to head downstairs for dinner.

"Raven! You come back here with those. That's my only pair. Raven!" Crystal ran after her.

Brooke laughed. "Well, come on. Better get some slop before it runs out."

I reached out for her. "Brooke?"


"Can you just sit with me a second? I'm not really ready to go downstairs yet."

She smiled. "Sure." She sat down on the edge of the bed as we looked up at the stars through the small window. The universe was such a large place, and I felt so small within it. So insignificant.

"It won't always be like this, will it, Brooke? I'd hate to live like this for the rest of my life."

Brooke put her hand on my shoulder. "Don't worry, Butterfly. We won't be here forever. There's a better life out there for us, somewhere. You'll see."

'I hope you're right, Brooke.' I said in my secret heart. 'I really hope you're right.'

The End