(ch 15) the First Attempt (Molly)
December 22nd - London - 4 am (Time in New Zealand - December 23rd, 5 pm)
Molly checked her watch, trying to forget the fact that they had jumped from London to New Zealand. The process had taken long enough, and flying was something she never wanted to experience again. What a bother!
She smiled, remembering how she had woken up. She was snuggled against Vernon and he was poking her forehead and messing up her hair. If it had been anyone else messing with her hair, she’d probably scream at them. Hadley got away with it a lot too, but they needed to act like siblings, so it worked.
Now she was busy putting away her makeup. It was her first set. Aria had been kind enough to buy it for her. She had seen Molly’s eyes glazed over in adoration at the pretty sparkly set in the store. Molly wondered if it was because Aria didn’t have any daughters, but Aria seemed to enjoy her company. Molly had taken to Aria well too, and felt a loss at knowing Aria would leave them shortly after.
The plane had started descending, and if what the pilot said was true, they would land in an hour. While she was working on her makeup and hair, Hayden knocked on the door and entered. Closing the door quietly behind him, he sat down on the bed, crossing his legs comfortably.
‘There’s something you need to understand.’ Hayden began, when she didn’t bother saying anything upon his arrival.
‘I’m listening.’ Molly replied, harrumphing at his interruption.
‘I’m serious, Molly. This can be a matter for life and death for both of us.’
Molly stopped what she was doing and turned to stare at him incredulously. ‘We’re going to a school.’ She emphasised school with as much sarcasm as she could muster. ‘How is that life or death?’
Hayden looked uncomfortable, which made her even more suspicious. He had been acting strange for the past couple of days, and he had outright refused to say what was wrong. This made her angry, and she had a hard time hiding that. ‘So what do you want to say, then? Hurry, I haven’t all day.’
Hayden didn’t look very pleased at her attitude, but forged on. ‘You don’t have to believe me, Molly. And I will not explain that. I just need you to know that we are in strange circumstances. Some random bloke off the street is sending us to the richest school in the world, and we are going.’
Molly shrugged her shoulders. She knew all of this already, which is part of why she was so suspicious.
‘The two of us? We are used to being homeless. We ran away from home, too young. I will not deny that. But we both had dangerous circumstances, so I’m not saying you made the wrong decision. You haven’t even told me all the reasons you left.’
Molly narrowed her eyes and turned back to her makeup. She never planned on telling anyone why she left.
‘No matter what we went through, or how we were living, we can’t announce that we were not born billionaires.’
Hayden yelled in frustration, but Molly refused to look at him. She hated when anyone brought up her past, and even if it was Hayden, she would ignore him for the rest of the day.
‘Just don’t let people know. That’s it.’
Hayden stormed from the room, slamming the cabin door behind him.
Purely instinctually, Molly leaned her head out of the cabin door to see if Vernon was still there. He was still in the same spot as earlier, but this time, he was playing on his phone. His stuffed animal sat beside him like a person keeping him company.
‘Oi Vernon!’ She called to him, beckoning him to her when he looked up. He jumped up, and she smiled, happy that he was so willing to join her.
‘We’re about to land,’ Vernon squealed as a way of greeting her.
She didn’t tell him she wanted to cry and needed company, but it seemed she didn’t have to. Vernon’s energy was so soft and calm, she felt herself immediately relaxing.
‘How are we getting to school, do you know?’ Molly asked him. Assuming by Molly’s previous insistence on their company, she and Hayden would join them.
‘I think mum will get a van so all of us can just go at one time.’
‘You need to get back to your seats.’ Aria had poked her head into the cabin after a quick knock. ‘They just announced we are about to land, so everyone has to sit and put their seatbelts on.’
‘Sorry, Aria, I didn’t notice.’ Molly told her apologetically, not wanting Vernon to get into trouble. But she just waved her hand and smiled. ‘Don’t worry about it.’
Landing went without a hitch, and soon after everyone had met up in baggage check. Like she predicted, Aria had insisted that she and Hayden tag along, and only Hayden had been reluctant about this setup. Molly ignored him, of course, and followed along with her new best friend.
Aria rented a huge van and all of them clambered in. She put the school’s address into the GPS and then went on her way.
‘I’m sure they don’t expect you to put on a uniform just yet,’ Aria warned them uncertainly. ‘But just in case, be on your best behaviour when you enter onto the property.’
The car was silent as everyone had their own thoughts to mull over, and everyone was eager to stretch their legs and rest. After about forty minutes, Aria slowed down, bringing the car as close to the gate as possible. ‘It seems this is as far as we can go. But see the castle in the distance there?’ She pointed towards the fortress that filled the entire skyline. ‘That’s where we need to go.’
‘It’s weird that we went from dead of the winter to the first day of summer.’ Molly mumbled to Vernon, who was holding her hand and swinging it back and forth. Vernon didn’t have time to answer her.
‘We’ve been expecting you.’ A voice said from behind the locked gates.
‘Yes, we’re the Rossi’s’ Aria informed him, walking with her bags towards the man.
‘I am told to expect the Wilson’s too. Are they amongst your group?’
‘Yes, we’re here.’ Molly waved her hand at the man, pointing to herself and Hayden.
‘Alright then, if you’ll follow me.’ The man opened the gate and the seven of them trooped inside, pulling their trunks behind them.
‘The school is almost a like a small town,’ the man explained to them as he began walking in the school’s direction.
‘Uh. Are we walking all the way up there with our luggages?’ Gabriel spoke up from the back lines, and Molly had to second his question with a nod.’
‘No, there is a small train that takes people up to the fortress. As I was saying before I was interrupted,’ the man gazed over their group with a sneer, and Molly felt an immediate dislike towards him. She glanced over at Vernon and saw the same expression on his face.
‘At nighttime,’ the man continued, ‘you can see the entire area lit up with lights even from a distance.’ He stopped near a set of tracks and walked up the stairs to the platform. There was an area with a ramp, and one by one they went up pulling their trunks behind them with various groans of dismay.
‘We’re taking a train?’ Johnny piped up, his curiosity obvious from his tone.
‘It’s more of a streetcar, but yes. It’s a tradition, though it is helpful for us to get up the hill when people have baggage.’
Molly sat down gingerly, gripping onto the bar with reluctance. There were no doors at all. She didn’t think it was smart for people to be travelling with no doors, especially over water and up a hill. She kept her mouth shut though, her heart pounding as the streetcar went over the tracks and picked up speed.
‘When the full school is coming or going, we have a few of these train cars attached. But now as it is only serving a few people it wasn’t necessary.’
They were going over the lake when it happened.
Gabriel fell out of the train and into the water with a splash. To her horror, the person who had met them at the gate didn’t slow down. Had he not noticed?
Spinning around, she saw Gabriel hadn’t resurfaced. When she screamed, no sound came out. She had grabbed Aria’s sleeve to get her attention and with that pointed towards the lake. But by then the street car had rounded the bend and Gabriel disappeared from sight.