"In all the years that 21's been here she's only ever had three visitors. Most folk only want adopt babes or tots, though there on some who are willing to adopted a fifteen year old. She's one of the oldest here, the children are very attached to her."
The headmistress explained as she held up the ends of her dirty dress and walked up a flight of stairs and into a small office. A woman in red followed her, grimacing at the her dirty surroundings. "21?" She questioned.
"Oh, yeah... well, we give numbers to each of the children that are brought to the orphanage. It's barbaric, but it's the easiest way to keep track of them all."
"Have you ever tried learning there names?" The woman in red retaliated, causing the headmistress to flush slightly under all her thick layers of make-up. She was a heavy-set woman with thick and curly hair that was tied in a knot atop her head; with her dirty dress and heavy make up, she resembled a prostitute rather then a headmistress.
"Only the newer ones are ever dropped off with names, the older children never had names and they never wanted to name themselves. Now, about 21... We think she's around fifteen years old now, she was dropped off on January 17th, so we classify that date as her date of birth, though we don't really know for sure."
"I'd like to speak with her." The woman in red said, standing up so abruptly that the headmistress jumped. "Ahh, yes, of course." She paused as she walked out the door to grab a brass key from the key ring labeled "21" and led the woman in red up a few flights of stairs until they reached a door where a plate beside said "21".
The headmistress knocked first before she stuck the key into the lock, turned it to the left and it clicked as the door swung open. The child the orphanage barbarically called "21" was a rather small girl with dirty blonde hair that was knotted and tangled, her skin was also rather dirty and her green eyes looked wide with curiosity.
"Is it time for lunch already?" She asked in a slightly high-pitched voice, her head tilting to the side and her wide green eyes blinking twice. The woman in red smile and placed a hand on her swollen stomach. Right away, she could tell that this girl would be the perfect big sister for her unborn child.
"Not yet dear, this is Mrs. Angelina Durless, she'd like to chat with you for a bit." The headmistress stepped aside and allowed Angelina into the room, where she carefully sat down on the creaking, old bed where 21 sat. "I'll just leave you two alone."
The door swung shut with a loud click. Things were silent for a few minutes, in which 21 would occasionally glance down at Angelina's stomach. "I'm about four months along now. Would you like to feel?" She smiled brightly when 21 nodded eagerly and took her hand and placed it where she felt the babe moving, just above her navel.
"It's such a miraculous event." 21 smiled.
"Do you like children?" Angelina asked.
"Oh I love them!" 21 suddenly gushed, she went on four about fifteen minutes talking about how she would spend most of her time in the infant ward, her hand never once leaving from Angelina's stomach, though Angelina didn't mind.
She was right about her thoughts earlier. This girl would make a wonderful big sister to her unborn child. After about an hour talking with 21, Angelina stood up from the bed, 21 immediately stood up to help her, and she said that she would be back in a few minutes.
After visiting the bathroom quickly, Angelina made her way down all the stairs until she finally found her way back to the headmistress' office. She knocked on the door and waited impatiently until it swung open and revealed the headmistress' heavily painted face.
"I'd love to adopted her. She is an absolute dream and I'd love it if she could become my daughter." The headmistress practically beamed as she began browsing through her desk, pulling out a sheet of parchment.
She wrote down the date and other important things such as the name of the orphanage before she looked up at Angelina's her quill hovering above the parchment. "She'll need a name, do you have any ideas?"
"Just a moment." Angelina said, and she took off again up the stairs until she reached 21's room and pushed the door open. 21 looked up from her worn-out old book with a gasp. "My dear, I'm adopting you, and I need you down stairs for a moment, alright? Come! Come!"
21 followed Angelina down the stairs and into the headmistress' office. "What would you like your name to be, my dear?" Angelina asked.
"Oh!" 21 suddenly flushed. "I... I'm not sure, whatever you wish will be fine with me..."
"Nonsense!" Angelina waved her hand impatiently and repeated her question.
"Well... what would my surname be?"
"Durless, or Barnett." Angelina responded with a smile.
"Okay... how about Lila... Lily Durless?"
"Lila Lily Durless." Angelina repeated and smiled, liking the way the name rolled off her tongue. "It's a beautiful name, my dear. So you are now known as Lila Lily Durless, not "21"." Lila nodded and smiled at her new mother. The headmistress wrote down Lila's new name and gave the piece of parchment to Angelina to sign, and then to Lila.
She found it awkward, yet amazing to sign her signature on the parchment. "Now, go pack your belongings, Lila and you can leave with Mrs. Durless." Lila smiled at her new mother and ran up to her room, she quickly gathered her book and the small tattered pink blanket with bunnies and heats that was found with her when she was dropped off.
She brought this down to the headmistress' office and gave it to Angelina while she went to say goodbye to all the other children in the orphanage. Several of them, who were old enough to understand what was happening, cried and Lila couldn't help but cry with them, but she assured them that one day they would all get adopted into loving families like she had.
After many hugs and kisses later, Lila was inside a carriage with Angelina and she was looking out the window as the orphanage disappeared behind them. "So... do I have a father?" Lila asked.
"Yes. His name is Baron, but you may call him whatever you wish, just as you may call me whatever you wish, whatever you're comfortable with, my dear. He couldn't be here today, but he will meet us at home later."
"Do I have any other siblings?" Lila asked, looking pointedly at Angelina's stomach. She laughed a little and caressed her stomach. "Nope, just this little one."
"Do you have a name? Do you know the gender yet?" She asked feeling excited.
"No and no, I want it to be a surprise."
After a little while, the carriage finally slowed down until it came to a complete stop. Lila moved from her seat to open the door but Angelina pulled her back and shook her head. "You are Lady Lila Lily Durless, my dear. Carriage doors are opened for you."
And sure enough a few seconds later, the driver opened the carriage door and took Lila's small hand in his and helped her out of the carriage. They both helped Angelina out and Lila held her hand as they walked toward the lovely manor.
Servants welcomed they as the walked through the front doors, Lila flushed slightly but continued walking when one of the butlers brought her the stairs and down some hallways before finally arriving at a door where he stopped and pulled it open.
Lila had never seen a grander room. There was a large double bed that looked very inviting and much more comfortable then her old bed, and a wardrobe that was empty (the butler, who introduced himself as Frank) said that Angelina would be stocking it with clothes when she brought back a child), a writing desk, complete with an oil-lamp, a stack of fresh parchment and quills and ink, and a vanity with a looking glass.
Frank bowed as he left the room for Lila to settle in, closing the door behind him after her announced that lunch would be ready in half an hour or less. With nobody in the room with her, Lila put her worn-out book on the writing desk and laid down on her new bed, inhaling the sweet scent of the sheets.
How did she get so lucky as to be adopted by Angelina, when she already had a babe on the way? Lila would never understand, but she was here now and that was all that mattered. Angelina wouldn't have adopted her if she didn't want her.
While Lila explored every little space of her new bedroom, a knock on the door made her jump. She stood silently for a moment, wondering why someone wasn't unlocking the door, before she realized that she had not been locked in.
A maid with light brown hair and matching brown eyes was standing outside the door. "Lunch is ready, my Lady. If you will please follow me." Lila followed the maid down the hallways and down the stairs until they reached a large dinning room.
Angelina was already tucking into her meal with a man sitting beside her, Lila figured this was Angelina's husband, her new father, but when she heard the door open she smiled when she saw Lila and motioned for her to take the seat opposite to Angelina's. Lila didn't recognize what the maid placed down on the table before her, but she picked up her fork and broke a piece of and placed it in her mouth.
To her instant surprise, she loved it, whatever it was. She continued eating her meal and drinking her hot tea, which was peppermint, her favorite, and answered whatever questions Angelina and Baron had. It felt nice the way they smiled at her, Lila felt truly loved and she hoped this feeling would never go away. "I think tomorrow we'll be going to buy you some clothes, my dear."
"There's no need, Missus." Lila suddenly flushed. "I can make my own dresses, all I need is material."
"That's lovely my dear. We shall get you material, but we'll also get you some dresses and shoes. Oh! And perhaps a lovely ring or a few hair pins..." She played with Lila's hair as they sat down on an outdoor garden swing, imagining all the things she would be able to do with a daughter.
"I think you need a bath, my dear." She called for Frank and told him to draw a bath for Lila, he bowed again and went off. "I think one of my old dresses will fit you well..." Angelina took Lila upstairs to her own bed room and she pulled a small dress that would no longer fit Angelina and she held it up to Lila.
It was a deep red color, with a high collared neck, and extremely long sleeves with lace and ribbons. She got out a corset and leggings and she and Lila went to Lila's new room. The maid with light brown hair helped Lila undress and get into the bathtub, though Lila insisted she could bathe herself.
She scrubbed furiously at her dirty skin until it turned bright red with effort and she worked on her long blonde hair, messaging soap into her tresses, combing through it with her fingers to take out knots and tangles here and there.
When Lila stepped out of the bathtub and wrapped herself in a warm bathrobe, she walked back to her bedroom and shut the door behind her. Laying on the bed was the dress that was once Angelina's. Before changing into her new dress (well, new to her), Lila sat down at the vanity and stared at her reflection in the looking glass. Her skin was no longer dirty, but clean and pale and creamy. Her hair was also pale blonde.
She ran a brush through her hair to get rid of any knots and tangled she may have missed, wincing occasionally when she reached a tough knot. After her hair was brushed and slightly damp, she went to change into the dress, pulling on the leggings, petticoat and corset, though she needed to call for a maids help to lace it.
The maid with light brown hair that introduced herself as Katherine came to her and helped lace the corset, tight but not tight enough where she couldn't breath. She helped her pull on the dress and though it was a little tight in the chest area, it fit snugly everywhere else.
Lila stepped to the side to look in the full-length looking glass and gasped when she saw that the dress hugged her every curve. "You look beautiful, My Lady." Katherine smiled. Lila didn't mean to sound vain, but she had to agree with Katherine. This dress, though a little old, was beautiful and it made Lila feel beautiful.
Katherine led Lila down to the library where Angelina was, reading in a important looking medical journal. She looked up at the sound of the door opening and squealed when her eyes rested on Lila. "You look beautiful, my dear! You hardly look like the same person! Your hair is much paler then I though, saw with your skin tone. We'll have lots of fun shopping tomorrow, I promise!"
Lila's bath lasted a little over an hour and even though it was only around three o'clock, she was feeling incredibly tired and even though she tried to stifle a yawn, Angelina noticed and told Katherine and Frank to bring Lila to her room to sleep.
"We will wake you for dinner, My Lady." Katherine said as she pulled the blankets up to Lila's chin after helping her change into a pale yellow night dress. Frank and Katherine left the room, shutting the door behind them.
Lila snuggled into her feather-stuffed pillow and smiled at the though of her new family. Both Angelina and Baron were wonderful and Lila was very happy to hear that she also had a new aunt, uncle and cousin, though Angelina failed to mention their names or where they lived.
She promised to bring Lila to meet them eventually. Lila fell asleep a little while later with a happy squirming feeling in her stomach.