A/N: All readers should know, at this point in time, that I am crap.
I start hundreds of stories all at once and attempt to finish them/write them, and most of the time, I am very lucky. I have one sitting on my mac that is finished, but I can't post it just yet because it's waiting for Strong Start to be finished. Which it isn't.
I am a horrible writer. I freely admit it. I never finish anything and I never edit anything.
Okay, that's a lie, I do edit things, but I mostly never edit. Like this? Purely unedited. I can promise you that it gets WAY good later though, even if I haven't edited that either- I just know it gets better. See, I used to be really amazing at beginnings and really crap at the rest of the story... Now it's swapped...
Disclaimer: I do not have rights to this game. It was made by Hanako Games, and by posting the link to this story on Hanako's forum I hereby say "These are my ideas, but you can have em if you like!"
Also, is Hanako a girl? Eir avatar is (see what I did there? Eh? Eh?), but that doesn't always give answers and I'm too lazy to go check.
One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back
"Aw man, Kix… You sure you have to go away?"
"Y-yes. I'm positive."
"But who's going to look out for you when we're not there?"
"I can take care of myself… Besides, I'll be back to visit during the normal holidays."
"Yeah, but… Kitty, why? Do you not want to go to school with us anymore?"
Kitiara Kix sighed, wrapping her arms around her mid section as she stared pensively into the pure blue, crystalline water of the pool. She stared at her reflection for a moment, disliking what she saw: a pale, frail girl with thin brown hair, milky brown doe-eyes, and a nearly flat chest that almost made it impossible for her to wear a bikini… Not that she thought she looked good in one, but she figured it didn't hurt her, either.
She looked away from the reflection, choosing instead to picture herself how she felt, inside. Strong, calm, and wise, powerful and smart, and ever beautiful… The Ktiaiara that had luscious, beautiful hair. She rarely looked into mirrors so that this image was stronger in her mind than the true image of herself.
Around her sat her childhood friends, her only friends, few as they were. Rachel, a beautiful red haired girl already filling out at the age of thirteen, she had never ever been cruel to Kitiara. She had long said that Kitiara kept her grounded and humble.
George was another of Kitiara's friends, and he was and had always been obsessed with Rachel. Kitiara had introduced them, and while George had yet to tell Rachel how he felt he had never forgotten that it was because of Kitiara's kindness and quiet charm that he had been inducted into the same space and group as the beautiful redhead.
Alex was Kitiara's closest friend. They had known each other from birth, having lived just a mile apart on neighboring farms, and their families had always been close. Alex had helped with chores, Kitiara had helped with chores- they were partners, though they were opposites. Even now, while Kitiara was wearing a two piece bathing suit, trying to pretend she could, Alex wore a one piece and swim shorts. She had short black hair, dark eyes, freckles, and tanned skin. She had a cocky, troublesome grin that spoke volumes of trouble, and she was healthy as a horse. She'd spent most of her life making sure that Kitiara wasn't going to hurt herself doing something, a task that Kitiara was deeply ashamed of and wished that her best friend wouldn't have to do.
"C'mon Kix," George said, shaking his head in slight disbelief. "You can't seriously be saying that you're planning on leaving us in three years. We're a quartet… A clan. A family!"
"Do you really want this?" Rachel said, leaning toward Kitiara.
The 13-year-old girl closed her eyes, trying to fight back the completely overwhelming surge of loneliness. She couldn't even explain why she wanted to go, why she had to go. She couldn't tell them how tired she was of being so frail, so small, so fragile and burdensome.
"Yes," Kitiara said, closing her eyes and looking down briefly.
"Why?" Alex demanded. She'd been quiet. "Why are you leaving us?"
"It's not for three more years, Ally," Kitiara said quietly. "I still have three years here before I go to the Academy."
"And you desert us."
"Alex!" Rachel hissed, moving to hit the dark-haired girl's shoulder. Alex didn't react; she stared, hard, at Kitiara.
"You're leaving," Alex said bitterly. "You're tired of us." She stood, removing herself from the pool and looking away from her friends. "You said we'd always be friends."
"M-my leaving doesn't mean we won't be friends!" Kitiara said, trying to stand with Alex. She stumbled slightly, and fell back down to the concrete, gasping in pain as she did so.
"Hey!" George shouted, but Alex was already beside Kitiara, silent and commanding as she helped the girl up. Kitiara's eyes closed, pain flaring through her as she trembled slightly, and everyone was silent as they watched her apprehensively.
Kitiara had always been weak. The slightest injury that another child could walk away from left her crying and paralyzed in pain. She got sick from scratches, and a fever was as good as cancer. She missed a lot of school, because of it, and yet she somehow kept up her grades. Because of how studious she was, her schools had always been lenient on her absences.
"I'm okay," Kitiara said, after another moment. Her friends all relaxed, and Alex pulled away, sitting on the ground in front of her.
"What are you going to do without me?" Alex demanded. "I'm going to be worried sick!"
"I need this," Kitiara said, looking at the ground as she squeezed her fists. "I need… I n-need to go and do this."
"Why?" Alex knew that there was something missing. "You aren't telling me something, Kitty. Why do you need this?"
This was it. Kitiara knew that this moment would forever drive a wedge between her and her friends, and she knew nothing would ever be able to return to normal. She would lie to them, and at least Alex would know that it was a lie, and while she wouldn't say anything… She would know. It would be obvious to her. And she would never forget. In essence, to receive this gift, Kitiara was giving up much more than her normal life. She was giving up her best friend, her partner... her sister.
"I'm… I need a change of pace," Kitiara said evasively. "Living here… I'm still so weak. I'm getting weaker. Going to the Academy, maybe I could learn h-how to help myself."
It wasn't entirely a lie. Iris Academy was definitely a fantastic school, built to teach things that no other high school would ever teach, things that Kitiara couldn't share with her friends… Or her family.
"I think that's a great idea," Rachel cut in, trying to cool the situation. "I know we'll miss you Kitty, but… This could be super beneficial for you!"
"I agree," George said, willing to agree with anything Rachel said.
Alex stared at Kitiara, who stared back, willing her best friend to understand. If she did, it didn't show on her face, and it was probably as Kitara had known.
"If you say so," Alex said, shrugging. She stood and walked back toward George's house. "I'm going to go home, guys. This news has bummed me out. See you."
"Later." She waved a hand without looking behind her, grabbed her towel, and entered the house amid silent stares. They could her the distant front door slam shut.
There was a wall of silence as Alex left, and it continued well past that.
"She's taking it really hard," Rachel whispered.
"I know," Kitiara said. "I don't think she'll ever forgive me." She stood and smiled weakly at her friends. "I think I'll go home too. I'm… I'm pretty bummed as well."
Iris Academy. Kitiara let her mind drift to the daunting thoughts of going to a whole knew world as she waited for her mother to come pick her up. No one would have believed her had she told them.
Kitiara closed her eyes, squeezing them as she hugged her sides again, remembering the words that the woman- the witch- had said on their doorstep.
"You have a very special daughter." Her hair had been orange with pink tips, and her eyes had been dancing. "Your daughter can do magic."
She was referring to an instance where Kitiara had been trying to catch a filly as it ran around the yard, and when she jumped a stone she'd flown ten feet into the air, landed in a tree, and had been completely unharmed, albeit confused. It had scared everyone silly and had taken over an hour to get her down without any success, and suddenly this strange woman was at their door.
"Allow me to help, dearies," she said, and to their extreme astonishment Kitiara had floated down from the tree completely unharmed.
"As I was saying," she'd continued. "Your daughter is very, very special. In three years, she will be invited to Iris Academy, a place where she can learn to overcome her weaknesses."
"You mean-" It had been too much for Kitiara to hope for.
"Yes, rose bud," the woman- named Petunia Potsdam- had said. "You could cure your fragility, child. You are magical. The energy within you, if cultivated, could heal you and help you."
That had cinched the deal.
Kitiara wasn't a selfish girl. She knew she was hurting Alex… But she also knew how much Alex had given up to protect her friend. Alex had just as few friends as Kitiara did, and when Kitiara was absent due to her illnesses, Alex was often right there beside her, uncaring of her failing grades. Her own parents seemed just as supportive of their daughter as Kitiara's were, and while they detested Alex's falling grades, they claimed that Alex would only be taking over the farm, not becoming a lawyer. Still, Kitiara felt guilty for the years and years of tending that Alex had had to endure.
"Oh, wait till I tell Alex!" was the first thing Kitiara had said, joy and hope flaring through her.
"I'm afraid… You can't."
"Why not?" Kitiara had demanded.
"It is the Choice." Petunia Potsdam walked closer to them, her eyes deadly serious as she regarded them. "Normal people cannot know about our world."
"But we're normal," Kitiara's mother had insisted.
"And you may not know anything about her studies." Her words were like blows.
"No normal human may know what you know," Petunia Potsdam had said. "No one. Your choice is simple. If you choose to come to Iris Academy in three years, you must not tell a soul about this decision or what it entails, not now, not then, not ever. Should you do so, you will lose all of your magic and you will be forever as you are now."
"No!" Kitiara's heart had ached with the thought of losing this one hope.
"Then your test… And your choice… Is as thus. For the next three years," Petunia Potsdam said in a commanding voice, "you will not tell a soul about your magic. When you turn 16, you will attend Iris Academy for four years…. And you will never speak of your magical life to any normal human forever after."
It had been difficult, but an incident where Kitiara had tripped and been sent to the hospital the following day had made up her mind for her.
Every week since, she had been receiving letters, visits, and pamphlets, paperwork, anything from Iris Academy. Nothing had come up from a search on the internet, but it was real. Her parents had driven past it one day, and they had marveled with it. All of them were careful not to mention that it was a magical school.
So now that Kitiara had let loose that in her third year of high school she would be leaving, all she had to do was wait, wait for the school that could change everything.
What she didn't know was that things were already changing for her.