(A/n): I decided to re-make the fanfic, because I rushed the plot too quickly. My sincerest apologies... :(

A good story in my opinion needs characters that develop gradually, but the setting's still the same.

Anyway, onto "Prelude"!

DISCLAIMER: THE BOOK AND ITS CHARACTERS BELONG TO KATHERINE PATERSON. THE 2007 FILM BELONGS TO WALT DISNEY PICTURES AND WALDEN MEDIA.


Prelude Chapter 1: "One More Month to Go…"

Leslie said to herself by the staircase while gently and carefully tying her long, messy hair into a bun. It wasn't exactly in good terms with the straightener Judy bought, so she often tied it into a bun. From doing this every weekday before going to school, she sometimes wished her hair would flow beautifully in the breeze without being messy and not remain in a single spot… or have none at all, both would've worked for her. Then she wouldn't have to worry about waking up as early as 5 AM.

Sweet aromas of toast, bacon and hash browns coming from the kitchen allured her downstairs. She took a peek on the room to see Bill preparing two peanut butter and jelly toasts.

"Morning Leslie!" Bill jubilantly waved at her.

"Morning Bill. The toast looks really good," Leslie complimented while breathing in the tempting smell of her father's cooking.

"Why thank you."

"Are you making Judy her breakfast," Leslie asked.

"Actually, this toaster's for you, dear…" Bill said with his bright, youthful smile. After digging two holes and scribbling a crooked smile ( :} ) on both breads, finalizing his masterpiece, he properly stored them in a brown paper bag and handed them to Leslie, "Here you go. I hope you enjoy your recess."

"Thank you Bill…" Leslie gladly accepted the heartwarming gift, and showed appreciation by hugging him.

"You're welcome," Bill wrapped Leslie lovingly in his arms in turn, stroking her hair with his fingernails. The smooth metal from his silver ring tingled her a bit, but the feeling was still warm.

"Maybe…" Leslie muttered.

"Hmm…" Bill slowly released her.

Leslie stepped back and turned to the wall clock, which snapped her out of that momentary bliss, "Oh, no! It's seven o'clock!" The bus is going to-" she was about to dash out of the kitchen when Bill's firm grip on her shoulder abruptly stopped her.

"I'm driving you this time, sweetie. Don't worry."

"Wait- you mean, I'm not taking the bus today?"

"No, not today, so don't get too hyper; only your mother and I are allowed to do that," he chuckled after reminding Leslie their undying love for coffee.

"Yeah, and I'm allowed to call you by your first names, unlike most kids," Leslie said, turning back to him.

Bill sighed as he lifted a mug of espresso. "It's just that we feel old if you call us 'Dad' and 'Mom'…" He took a sip.

"Well, are you," Leslie grinned deviously.

"Maybe, but you'll be thankful we'd rather feel young anyways, Les," Bill winked, "Trust me." Another sip.

He then called his adoring wife, who probably was still looking outside the master's window upstairs for a pop-up inspiration, "Oh, Honey, breakfast is coming!"

"I'll be right there!" Judy's echoes can be heard throughout half of the mansion.


After Judy revealed presented downstairs in her sleeping garments Bill couldn't resist staring at, the Burke family ate a serving worthy of a breakfast: tender, juicy bacon, eggs, and hash browns. Leslie thought of Bill more of a chef than a novelist whenever they eat like people living in the White House; his cooking was quite better than Judy, which she surprisingly admitted, too.

How bloated are we, she thought; she could barely stand up after all that blessing on the lavished round table.

"Perhaps a round of applause for our wonderful chef here, Bill!" Judy suggested, and she and Leslie did so gladly.

"…who just recently transformed into-" Bill continued as he put on his black, long-sleeve, buttoned shirt and his driving hat, "Leslie's honorable chauffeur!" He paced joyfully to the car keys by the counter, "Is the star-pupil ready for school?"

"Always more than ready, my good man!" Leslie formally responded. She nearly forgot that she was stuffed and walked slowly towards him after recklessly leaping halfway.

"All right. Let's hit the road then!" Bill playfully jumped the car keys from his hand twice while heading into to the garage after her.

"Come back soon, dear-," Judy cried but her voice quickly faded when Leslie opened the garage door.


On the way to school, Bill noticed Leslie somewhat vibrating on the passenger's seat.

"Someone's excited," Bill said.

"You bet I am! Oh, tune to Elvis, I haven't heard from him for a while!" Leslie pointed to the car's radio.

Bill laughed, though his hand wasn't even reaching for it. "Anything special going on at school?"

"Ah, the same."

"Meaning…"

"You know…" Leslie stopped shaking and faced him, "…my teacher, Mr. Thomas- you've met him before right?"

Bill looked at his window briefly before giving her an answer, "I think I did... That guy with glossy fashion sense?"

Leslie giggled, "Yeah, that guy. He's always like that…" Her father rarely saw him, but, without a doubt, she knew exactly what kind of person he was: fancy, always glittering everywhere like a gem, and who could forget his bright, unchanging expression; not even once did she caught the middle-aged man anywhere without a smile between those rosy cheeks.

"Anyway," she continued, "he keeps the class pretty active; we learn something new everyday, we often do classroom activities; he constantly challenges us."

"That's good, that's good…" Bill nodded, "What about your classmates?"

"Same."

"Again?"

"Yup…"

An unexpected silence came, which felt quite awkward for Leslie. Words usually and endlessly flowed between her and Bill whenever they converse, banter, or interact at all. However, this conversation today seemed to have overcome it.

"Enlighten me, Les…" Bill eventually and fortunately broke the short silence between them.

Leslie was feeling uncomfortable doing him this favor, "Well… they're nice and…"

"Go on…"

"Nice, like-," She had the words to describe them, but has a very difficult time putting them together to make sense, "They… mind themselves, I guess," she chuckled nervously.

"No one bullying you right?"

"Of course not," Leslie answered hastily, gazing him with unbelieving eyes, "no one is bullying me, I guarantee you that."

"You sounded quite uneasy there…"

"I.."

Just as Leslie thought she'll have to go through another awkward silence with Bill, the car thankfully stopped; they were at school now.

"I'll tell you everything later." Leslie hurriedly removed her seatbelt and jumped out of the car.

"Wait!" Bill cried hoarsely, flinching her.

"Y-yeah?"

"Have a great day at school."

"Oh… thanks!" Leslie went back inside to let him sweetly kiss her forehead. Before entering the enormous campus through the golden gate, she turned back and waved at Bill, exchanging goodbyes once more.

She brushed aside her worry about what happened earlier for now; she was certain no one here would ever help, or even bother ask, her, as they, even Mr. Thomas sometimes, only do mind themselves… Oh how she wished this school year and others before it would fly fast and graduate from college at eighteen years old; she felt like a lone stallion who got separated from her fellows and sent into a field full of spoiled, stout ponies.


(A/n): Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Updates vary from weekly to monthly, but I'll do my best to update. :)

Reviews are welcome.

- Ser-A-Man