The day has barely broken as the cool breeze caresses her skin. Chloe gives a slight shiver as her eyes continue to sway across the text. It was a story she has read a thousand times before, the prince saves the captured princess who was put under a sleeping spell and they live happily ever after. She has plenty of books with different variations. The book she held had pages that were stained, bent, and torn. Even the spine has seen better days. Pages that were torn out she already knew by heart.
A hand suddenly smacked the pages. She was swiftly torn away from the story's world. Chloe flinched and lifted her head to find a mischievous smile.
"How long have you had that book? Isn't it about time you have it to the sanitarians?"
Chloe frowns and closes the book with a slam. She had hoped to crush the boy's hand but he was too fast.
"You know why, we've been over this!"
Chloe has had the book since her father came across it and read it to her. Her father would read many stories to her whether it be fantasy or history books. She would lie beside him in her bed as she was lulled to sleep by his voice. This was her favorite book she liked him to read. From primary to final school she would carry books he read to her. It was to the point where teachers would scold her and confiscate her books to pay attention. She would get bullied constantly for having her nose in a book. She was be labeled a stuck up snob. Octavius was the forefront of it for a while. He would hide, deface, or simply destroy her books for laughs. For many years she has despised him.
"Calm down, I'm just teasing you," he attempted to soothe. "Twelve years and I'd think you'd know when I'm teasing you by now."
He takes a spot next to Chloe and slides down the trunk, reaching her level.
"I don't like it when you tease me, how did we become friends again?"
"I was afraid you guys wouldn't show," a new voice announced.
Another boy appears from behind the trees. He is paler than Octavius and his mesmerizing blue eyes held kindness and charm.
"Speak of the devil," Octavius pointed.
The other boy gives Chloe a warm, loving smile that instantly calms her nerves. She could not help but return the smile. One of the few other thing that could soothe her was James Kennedy.
Their eyes disconnected when Octavius playfully pushes him.
"Not a good leader now are you Jimmy, being late to your own group!"
Jimmy chuckles and softly pushes him back.
"I'm not the last one, we're still waiting on Cass!"
Their pushing ends with a faux wrestling match as they await for their final friend. Chloe sighs at their antics and takes to opening her book.
It was true that she and Octavius would have never been friends had it not been for Jimmy. At birth, both he and Chloe were betrothed to one another. Jimmy's family ruling the community for as long as anyone can remember and with her family being one of the elite, it seemed only natural to pair them together. In the past Chloe and Jimmy loathed the idea and would avoid each other but when teachers would purposely pair them for projects, they became good friends. Chloe admired him greatly to the point a liking to him formed. Octavius was also good friends with Jimmy. Once she and Jimmy were in good terms, both were reluctant to spend time with each other when Jimmy was around, but they slowly became friends.
There is a soft tap on her shoulder. Chloe is once again pulled from her story. She turns her head in annoyance but the irritation quickly dies down upon finding Cassidy. Chloe grins softly at her as the girl finds a spot next to her. The other two, still in their wrestling match fail to notice the newcomer. Cassidy rests her head on Chloe's shoulder as she eyes the words on the page.
"Twelve years, I can't believe it's finally over," Cassidy mumbles.
Chloe and Cassidy have been friends long before the other two. When Chloe was four, she fell from a tree. Her spine was disfigured and she could not move. Chloe was rushed to the best healers of the community, the McLeans. She resided at their home playing with the McLean's child Cassidy until she got better. There was not much playing at first, Chloe would reward books to her and Cassidy would do the same. Soon she was able to lift her upper body and play cards. The more fun she had with Cassidy, the more she was able to move. A year passed until she could finally leave and part of her did not want to go. It was luck that placed them in the same school. The only time they were inseparable was when they were in different classes.
Chloe closed the book and ran her fingers through Cassidy's straight and unusually silver hair. It constructed greatly with Chloe's dark curls.
"What took you so long?"
"I was taking care of a bird with an injured leg, I had to make sure he was eating okay."
Chloe snorted. How could she forget the girl liked taking care of feeble, broken things. She was the same once.
Chloe wanted to keep the peace longer, but she knew they had to hurry.
"Guys! Cass is here!" she called.
The boys wrestled for a few more moments before Jimmy stood. Octavius tugged his shirt a few more times before stopping. Jimmy straightened himself and cleared his throat.
"Good to see you Cass."
Cassidy nodded in response as she lifted herself from the ground. Chloe felt an emptiness but quickly pushed it away as she followed her friend.
"This may be the last time we get to talk to each other alone like this in a while. We have the graduation party, but it just won't be the same as this. We'll all have mentors to please and soon jobs we need to do to keep the regime going and thriving. I just want to walk you guys to school one last time."
"You didn't need to make a whole lavish speech about it." Octavius retorted, "Let's just go!"
With that in mind, Chloe packed her book and followed the others.
She feels a strange warmth from her hand and discovered Jimmy intertwining his fingers with hers.
Confident smiled appear on both of their faces as they walk with the others. Nearly all her nerves were gone for now at least.