As I'm following canon set up of chapters, it starts with set up still. I am trying to show a slightly different dynamic between the siblings, while keeping the spirit of it. There will be bigger changes later on, but obviously the beginning is hard to change majorly, especially just arriving lol.
Hope you enjoy the chapter :D
Come yell at me on tumblr: FairyPrincessOfTheDragons
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Kendra had been sitting in the car for hours.
She and Seth had done just about everything they could think of to handle the boredom, but she'd finished her two books, they'd played a dozen rounds of tic-tac-toe, and he'd moved onto trying to beat her at chopsticks (that game with your fingers). Seth had had a few comics, but he'd gone through them faster then she had her books. Even his handheld video game couldn't hold his attention anymore.
"I thought you said that Grandpa Sorenson lived in Connecticut, not India," Seth grumbled.
Mom sighed, having listened to Seth's complaints for the last hour, "It won't be much longer. Enjoy the scenery."
She'd said that the last six times.
"It's boring! I'm hungry, can we stop for food?"
Kendra was on Seth's side here; the scenery was boring.
Mom pulled up the grocery bag full of snacks, "How about some Peanut butter and crackers instead?"
Seth shot Kendra a pained look but reached for the crackers regardless.
"Ooh, I want some Almond Roca," Dad said without taking his eyes from the road.
He's still managed to keep to his New Year's resolution of keeping Almond Roca on hand at all times.
"Do you want anything Kendra?"
"No, I'm fine."
Kendra turned her gaze outside as Seth munched on his snack. When was this drive going to be over? At least Grandfathers house can't be as boring as this drive.
Honestly, Kendra wasn't happy they were being sent off to stay with their grandparents just because of some cruise. She wished her family would just let them come with… or maybe just her, Seth might be too young (and too annoying).
They would be gone for seventeen days! Kendra couldn't believe they'd just leave them like this.
They're getting it for free, them and all the aunts and uncles on her mom's side. They didn't win a contest or anything to get it, they got the cruise because Kendra's grandparents had asphyxiated.
Grandma and Grandpa Larsen had been visiting relatives in South Carolina. Unfortunately, the trailer they lived in had some gas leak and they'd all died in their sleep. The grandparents had specified a long time ago that when they died all their kids and spouses were to use an allocated sum of money to go on a Scandinavian cruise.
Grandchildren were not invited.
"We're almost there kids!" Kendra's dad said cheerfully.
"Yay," Seth grumbled. "Then you guys can abandon us for your fancy cruise."
"Won't you get bored stuck on a boat for seventeen days?" Kendra asked hopefully.
Dad caught her eye in the rearview mirror. "The food is supposed to be incredible, top reviews. Snails, fish eggs, the works. It's gonna be great."
Mom wacked his arm.
"We're not all that excited about the trip kids," Mom said sadly. "I doubt your grandparents envisioned an accidental death when they made the request. The cruise is to honor their memory more than for fun."
"What kind of death did they plan then?" Seth muttered.
Kendra couldn't help but agree, who planned their death?
The ship stops in ports as you go," Dad said, deliberately redirecting the conversation. "You get to disembark for part of the time."
"Are you at least going to get us something?" Kendra asked. "If you're just going to leave us at your parent's house."
"Of course we will dear," Mom reassured. "We'll get you some chocolates, maybe some books, maybe there will be cool jewelry!"
"I want a sword," Seth said. "A sharp one."
"I think it's great for you kids that you get to stay with my parents," Dad added. "I mean, they never invite anyone to stay with them. It's definitely better than some cruise."
Kendra shared a look with Seth, their parents were full of it.
"They're hermits," Seth argued. "We barely know them!"
"They're my parents," Dad said. "I survived, you'll have fun."
The car passed through a small town, only a few buildings lined the road, many seeming old a run down. There didn't appear to be anything more interesting than a small library at the corner.
"It's very exciting," Dad continued. "Like I said, they never invite anyone. You'll have a blast."
Kendra tried hard not to roll her eyes. She knew for a fact that they hadn't been invited. Kendra had overheard their mom when she approached Grandpa Sorenson about letting the kids stay with him at the funeral.
The funeral itself hadn't been fun at all, it was creepy seeing her grandparents all dressed up fancy with lots of makeup. It didn't look like them at all.
Those grandparents, the Larsen's, they were the ones that they'd known. They'd come to lots of holidays and done many long visits with Kendra's family. But Kendra couldn't remember seeing the Sorenson's much since Seth had started second grade.
Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson had inherited an estate in Connecticut around the time her parents were married. All the stories she'd heard were fantastical, filled with fairies and demons and witches. They were obviously fake, it made her think the place was something very boring.
Honestly, everyone was shocked when grandpa Sorenson had shown up at the funeral. It'd been more than eighteen months since either grandparent had visited anywhere.
He'd apologized that Grandma Ruth hadn't been able to come, she'd fallen ill, but it really was the norm for only one to show up.
But at the end Kendra had overheard Mom talking to Grandpa Sorenson, cajoling him into watching her and Seth. She'd been heading to the bathroom but paused when she'd overheard them at the corner.
"Why can't they stay with Marci?"
"Normally they would, but Marci is coming on the cruise."
Kendra had risked a peek and seen Grandpa Sorenson standing across from her mom.
"Where are Marci's kids going?"
"To her in-laws."
"What about a baby-sitter?"
Grandpa had seemed almost pleading then, his expression tight.
"Two and a half weeks is a long time for a sitter. You've mentioned before something about having them over…"
"Yes, I do recall… But does it have to be late June? What about July?"
"The cruise is on a time frame. What's the difference?"
He'd rubbed his face with a sigh.
"Things are extra busy then… I don't know, Marla. I'm not that good with kids. Is there no where else they could go?"
"I'm sorry Stan," Mom said, sounding on the verge of tears. "I know things are busy for you, and I don't want to go on this cruise. You did so good with them when they were younger, I know you don't see them often but… This cruise was important to my parents, so I want to go for them. If you can't take care of the kids we can stay behind-"
"No," Grandpa Sorenson interrupted with a sigh. "It's fine. I'm sure we can find some place to lock them up."
So, no, Grandpa Sorenson did not invite them.
Seth finished his crackers and pulled his game back out, flipping through the cartridges.
"Which game should I play?"
Kendra leaned over, "The fashion one."
He rolled his eyes, "That one is just for character design."
"Then make an elf."
"I don't want to!"
"You asked which you should do."
"Nevermind, your suggestion is dumb."
Seth ended up picking a fighting game and started it up.
Kendra got bored of watching quickly and turned to look out the windows. The trees were large and dark, little light slipping through the branches.
She jolted when they turned onto a gravel driveway.
"Look at that sign," Seth said.
She followed his finger to see signs hanging on the side of the road.
Trespassers Will Be Persecuted
Please respect our privacy
"What are all these signs?" Kendra muttered.
"Oh, you know Grandpa Sorenson," her dad said cheerfully. "Such a sense of humor."
"I think they're funny," Seth declared. "Can we get some for our house?"
Kendra frowned at them as the car continued up the long driveway, no house anywhere in sight.
There were more signs as they went.
Beware of the Dog
We do not call 911
Beware of .12 Gauge
No Public Access at any Time
Kendra leaned back. This seems so… pleasant.
"I like that one," Seth said pointing at the Owner Shoots sign.
Kendra shook her head as they finally reached the end of the driveway. Before them was a wrought-iron fence topped with fleurs-de-lis. Open in their path was a large double gate. She peered around but couldn't see the end of the fence through the trees.
Even after passing through the gates there was still no sign of the house through the trees, until suddenly the trees cut off.
A large house came into view suddenly. It wasn't quite a mansion, but was definitely larger than most houses Kendra had seen.
It was constructed out of dark wood and stone, old looking but solid and in good shape. The grounds around it were much more impressive though. There was a massive flower garden blooming in front of the house, with manicured hedges and a fish pond. It seemed to wrap around the side of the house too. Kendra wondered what flowers there were, and if there was a vegetable garden as well.
Further back Kendra could see a massive barn, at least five stories tall and topped with a large weather vane that she couldn't quite make out but seemed shaped like an animal, but not a rooster.
"Oh, it's lovely," Mom said. "I wish we were all staying."
Kendra blinked, "You've never been here?"
"No," Mom said sadly. "Your father came here a few times before we were married."
Dad nodded, "Yeah. There are some wild stories about this place, haha, I've told you a few of them."
Seth yawned, "Yeah, like the evil witch in a shack."
"Or the demon in the chapel."
"Aren't there trolls over one hill?"
Their dad laughed, "Yeah, my dad used to tell some wild stories. You should hear the ones Aunt Sophie would tell sometimes. She swears she met satyrs one time."
The two shared an exasperated look.
"Anyways, you'll have a blast. We never stayed long, but it was always entertaining. Worst comes to worst you can just hang out in the pool."
Kendra rolled her eyes. Honestly, they were too old to believe all those fairy tales.
The car pulled to a stop just outside the garage as the front door open.
Grandpa Sorenson stepped out, followed by a tall, lanky man and a thin, older woman. Mom, Dad, Seth, and Kendra hopped out of the car.
The older woman was unfamiliar to Kendra, and so was the man. The woman had white hair streaked with black strands, and yet her face seemed ageless, her age impossible to place. Her skin was a tawny olive tone that appeared completely flawless, her black hair was pin-straight and framed her face.
The man had messy brown hair to go with matching brown eyes that studied them intently. He came over to the van, helping Dad open the back and begin removing suitcases.
"Just place the things inside," Grandpa told Dad. "Dale will take them up to the bedroom."
"Where's Mom?" Dad asked looking around.
"She's visiting your Aunt Edna."
Dad looked surprised. "In Missouri?"
"Edna's dying," Grandpa said grimly.
Kendra had barely heard of Aunt Edna, and never met her, so she wasn't that affected by it. Dad seemed upset thought.
She shifted awkwardly, studying the house to distract herself from their conversation.
The windows were cool, with bubbly glass. And there were bird nests under the eaves. She also noticed a lot of butterflies fluttering around.
Mom suddenly drew their attention and Seth and her scrambled to gather their things from the car and shove it all in their backpacks to bring in.
"I'll grab the pillows if you grab the blankets?" Seth offered.
"Sure," Kendra agreed, reaching for the blanket Seth had brought for napping on the car ride while he snagged her pillow.
Seth also snagged his 'emergency kit', a cereal box filled with odds and ends he thought would come in handy.
The two hurried after their parents, reaching them at the front door.
"Oh, there you are," Mom said. "Got everything?"
"Yeah," Seth huffed. "Except a ticket to go on the cruise."
Mom sighed, ruffling Seth's hair. "We'll miss you too."
He groaned, swiping at her hand as she turned to Kendra.
"Watch out for your brother, and both of you stay out of trouble, okay?"
Kendra nodded, "We'll do our best."
"So who's this?" Dad was asking Grandpa.
"This is Lena, our housekeeper," Grandpa said. "She helps around the house while Dale helps me tend to the grounds."
"Nice to meet you," Dad said.
"A pleasure," Lena agreed with a soft accent. Kendra couldn't quite place it, yet it reminded her of the ocean.
Lena opened the door, beckoning them inside.
"Oh, the home is beautiful," Mom said. "I wish we had time for a tour."
"Maybe when you get back," Grandpa offered.
Kendra looked around. The house really was beautiful.
The glossy wood floors shone in the light and a low table in the entry hall held a beautifully painted ceramic vase with wilting flowers placed in it. There was a tall, brass coatrack off to one side beside a black bench with a high, carved back. It looked old and very interesting.
"Thank you again for letting the kids stay with you," Dad said. "I don't know what we would've done without you."
Grandpa nodded, looking a bit awkward.
"It's our pleasure."
"I wish we could visit some," Dad said. "But we're on a really tight schedule."
Grandpa pat his shoulder, "I understand, another time. Don't let us keep you from your trip."
Dad turned to Kendra and Seth, ruffling Seth's hair.
"Have fun kids, we'll be back before you know it."
"Be good," Mom said, hugging Kendra then Seth. "Do whatever Grandpa Sorenson tells you."
Kendra sniffed, tears welling up. She swallowed hard and nodded, "Have a fun cruise."
"Bring us back souvenirs," Seth reminded.
Mom laughed, "The best ones."
"We love you kids," Dad said as he headed to the door.
Mom hugged them both one last time then went after him.
Kendra hurried after them, watching as they climbed into the SUV and start it up. Dad honked the horn as he pulled out, turning around and driving away. Kendra watched until the SUV vanished into the trees.
She tried not to think that her parents were probably relieved to be off without Seth and her. They were probably delighted for the vacation, not caring that they'd abandoned their two kids alone in a pretty, but creepy home with a grandparent they barely know.
Seth was poking around the entrance room, poking at one of the cabinets and picking up one of the intricate pieces of a decorative chess set.
Grandpa stood awkwardly, watching Seth and wincing when Seth put down a piece too hard.
"Leave the chess pieces alone," Kendra told Seth. "They look expensive and breakable."
"It's fine," Grandpa said, looking relieved when Seth put them down. He cleared his throat, "Shall I show you to your room?"
"Okay," Seth said. "When's lunch?"
Grandpa coughed, "It's a bit past lunch but we can make you a snack to hold you till dinner."
Seth nodded eagerly, "I'm starving."
Kendra followed silently as Grandpa went up the stairs and down a carpeted hall to the foot of a narrow wooden staircase leading up to a white door.
"We don't often have guests, especially children," Grandpa explained. "I think you'll be the most comfortable in the attic."
Kendra was expecting something dark and musty, like the attic back home, but when he opened the door she saw it was actually very nice.
It was set up like a cheerful playroom. Spacious, clean, and bright, the long room had two beds at the far end, one wall covered in bookshelves and a couple of dressers, and the other held two wardrobes and some toy chests. There was a unicorn rocking horse sitting to the side, and a full dollhouse in one corner with a small piano in the other. Sitting beside of one of the dressers was a hen in a cage.
Seth went straight for the chicken. "Cool!" He poked a finger through the slender bars, trying to pet the soft looking feathers.
"Be careful, Seth," Kendra warned. "Be gentle."
"He'll be fine," Grandpa soothed. "Goldilocks is more a house pet than a barnyard hen. Your grandmother usually takes care of her, but since she's gone I thought you kids might enjoy taking care of her for now. You'll need to feed her, clean her cage, and collect her eggs."
Seth looked delighted, "She lays eggs?"
"An egg or two a day if you keep her well fed," Grandpa confirmed, motioning to a white plastic bucket full of kernels. "One scoop in the morning and in the evening should be good. I'll show you how to change the lining of her cage in a few days. Make sure she has plenty of water and a tiny bowl of milk each morning."
He smiled mysteriously, "That's the secret behind the eggs."
"Can we take her out?" Seth asked, now stroking her feathers.
"Be gentle," Grandpa said. "And put her back after."
"Is it okay for us to play with the toys?" Kendra asked, studying the dollhouse. "Some of these look expensive."
"Toys should be played with," Grandpa said. "Just try to take care of them and that will be enough."
"Awesome," Seth said, going over to the piano and banging on the keys.
Kendra blinked, the notes sounded different than a piano. She couldn't quite place what was off.
"While you stay here, this room is your space," Grandpa said. "Within reason of course. I won't pick up this space, nor bother you about it, as long as you treat the rest of the house with respect."
"Alright," Kendra agreed.
"Sounds good," Seth nodded.
"I also have some unfortunate news. We're in the height of tick season, have you heard of Lyme disease?"
Seth shook his head, but Kendra considered for a moment.
"I think so, but I can't remember what it is."
"It was originally discovered in the town of Lyme, Connecticut, not too far from here. You can catch it from tick bites, and during tick season the woods here are full of ticks."
"What's it do?" Seth asked.
"It starts out as a rash," Grandpa said. "But it leads to arthritis, paralysis, and heart failure. And on top of that, ticks in general are bad to have. If you try to pull them off the heads detach, makes them hard to remove."
"Gross," Kendra muttered.
Grandpa nodded, "They're very small and hard to see, at least until they fill up on blood, then they get as large as grapes."
"Wow," Seth said. "Can't you just use bug spray?"
Grandpa nodded, "That can help, but isn't a guarantee. The point is, you kids aren't allowed to go into the woods. Stay on the lawn, play in the pool, explore the gardens, but stay away from the woods. I won't be taking you to the hospital for Lyme disease."
They both nodded.
"Good. As long as you follow that rule it'll be fine. Break it and I'll have to take away your outdoor privileges for your own safety."
Seth winced, "Right, got it."
"We understand," Kendra assured him.
Grandpa nodded again, looking satisfied.
"One last thing," he continued. "You'll also need to stay out of the barn. There's a lot of old tools and ladders and rusty pieces of farm equipment. I don't want to risk you getting injured or getting tetanus."
"Okay," Seth agreed easily.
"Sounds reasonable," Kendra said.
"Is there a TV?" Seth asked, poking at a canvas on an easel by one of the toy chests.
"No TV, or radio. We don't get good reception out here, and it's very expensive to run lines out."
"In a few hours, Lena will be bringing up a snack for you soon. On that note, if you need anything, go to Lena. I'm very busy handling the upkeep of the property, so Lena will help with whatever you need." He motioned to a purple cord hanging against the wall near one of the beds. "Tug the cord if you need her."
"Alright, will we eat in one of the dining rooms?"
Grandpa nodded, "When I'm able to join you yes. On the days I'm too busy, like today, you can eat in here, in the kitchen, or anywhere else in the house. As long as you keep everything relatively clean you're free to eat where you're comfortable."
"Wow," said Seth. "Mom and Dad never let us eat in our rooms!"
Grandpa's lips twitched, "Well, if it seems you can't clean up after yourselves I may put a limit on it. But for now, you're free to eat where you please."
"Awesome," Seth muttered.
Kendra's smiled, that did sound nice.
"Now then, I need to go and complete my chores. I'll likely not see you again till tomorrow." He turned to leave but paused, pulling out a tiny key ring from his coat pocket. "Each of these keys fit something in this room. See if you can figure out what each unlocks."
Kendra accepted the keyring curiously and Grandpa headed out, shutting the door gently behind him.
Seth had opened a toy chest now and was examining the contents. The toys were old-fashioned but in excellent condition. Soldiers, dolls, puzzles, stuffed animals, wooden blocks, some blocks shaped like logs, and others.
Kendra went to the window, a telescope put before it. She tried to peer through the eyepiece but couldn't get it to focus right no matter how much she adjusted the knobs.
Pulling away she studied the window, realizing they were made of bubbly glass like the front of the house.
She unfastened the latch, pushing the window open. Even without the telescope she could see far into the forest. She moved the telescope closer and peered through it. After a moment of adjusted the knobs she could see even the leaves of the trees in clear detail.
"Oh, let me see," Seth said, peering over her shoulder.
"Give me a bit, I just started looking."
"But I wanna see."
"Go play with the toys some," Kendra huffed. "I'll let you look after I'm done."
"But sharing is caring," Seth insisted.
"I said you could look, let me use it first though. I was using it already."
Seth squinted, "What are you even looking at?"
"Boring, let me see. I'll look at something more interesting."
Kendra rolled her eyes but stepped away, not wanting to deal with his whining.
"Fine but let me close the window. I don't want bugs to come in."
"Sure, whatever," Seth studied the telescope as she closed the window and went off to study the dressers.
They were carved elegantly with fairies and unicorns and fiery birds.
She ran her fingers over the intricate patterns, she wished she had something like this at home.
She shook her head, going to look at the wardrobes, it reminded her of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She wondered if she stepped in would she find a mystical land on the other side.
"This stupid thing won't even focus," Seth complained.
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Thanks for reading! Don't forget to leave a review, they feed my soul.
What did you think of the room? What changes do you think their foreknowledge will bring? What things did you dislike from the original series that you'd like changed?