Hello and welcome to my new story. I will after this week be posting 3 times a week, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays until I start running low on prewritten material. At the minute that's a while away. This is going to be a long one.A huge thanks to my beta, at times my cowriter and more importantly my friend. Kelly, this wouldn't be here without her.In Omnia Paratus isn't mine, nor are any other recognisable characters.
Rory Gilmore had put on one of her Friday night approved dresses, teaming it with a pair of heels that she'd regret before the day was done.
She was supposed to have been spending the Saturday catching up and shopping for a ball gown with her mother. However, her great gran, Trix, had surprised the Gilmore's with a visit, so first she would be having a luncheon as Gran had not so much requested, as demanded.
Leaving the dorm and heading for her car, already wishing she'd put on flats, Rory thought about why she was shopping for a ball gown of all things.
Last week, Thursday evening to be specific, Rory had gone back to her dorm after a hugely busy day, it had been shopping week and she had stuffed every class she possibly could into her schedule. It was awesome and tiring, her back hurt by the end of every day from the weight of so many books, her feet hurt from walking miles, her eyes ached from reading so much, but her brain? Her brain was well fed, was content and excited to be learning so much. She had so many classes that she had wanted to take, she had even enjoyed Russian Economics, not that she'd take it, but still. Opening her door she had stepped on an envelope, a fancy one like the ones her grandma used, her name was printed on the front. Interested, Rory opened the envelope and read what was written on the very expensive cream paper that was so thick that it was almost card, so smooth it was almost like velvet in her fingers.
It had been an invitation for her to apply for a 'prestigious' and 'sacred' group, called the LDB, the acronym wasn't explained at all. If she wanted to accept the interview, she had to be outside the Bass Library a week on Saturday early in the morning in 'formal dress' ready for a trial and initiation.
Rory had scoffed at the letter, surprised that a secret society had chosen her, but very much not interested. She was at school to learn and study, not get embroiled in a group of precocious society kids.
Going into her room and flopping down on the bed, she had, of course, called her mom.
"Hey, what's up, my little college girl?" Her mom asked, answering the phone on the first ring, as though she'd been anticipating the call.
"So, I've just received an invitation to join a secret society," Rory told her mom, picking the paper back up and then putting it back down again.
"What! Really? Who invited you, were they cute? Tell me everything!" Her mom said excitedly.
"I don't know, it was by letter, slid under the door," Rory explained.
"Of course, it was, it's a secret society, you can't know who's in it till you're in it, I should have thought. Oh, it's like Ninth House, though hopefully less deadly and gross," her mom said. She could imagine her mom jumping up and down while she was talking. Could almost see her facial expressions. "So, when's this meeting?"
"I'm not going," Rory said firmly, this was not her thing.
"Eh, why would you not go? This is so cool, like there is no situation ever where being in a secret society isn't cool!" Her mom replied.
"Being in the Skull and Bones society would be cool?" Rory responded.
"Well... yes? Saying you were in a secret society would be cool, plus that isn't it, is it?" Her mom said.
"No, this is the... LDB whatever that stands for," Rory said, picking up the letter once more. There was still no new information on it.
"Okay, then do it!"
"I do not have the greatest experience with secret societies. Remember last time you got me to join one? Huh? The puffs, I almost got suspended," Rory said passionately. That wasn't something she wanted to repeat.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that, it was for the bell ringing right Quasimodo?" Her mom laughed; Rory fought not to giggle as well. Looking back, it was funny now, at the time, not so much.
"Yes, and that was so I could get into college, I'm already here, I don't need to join stupid clubs anymore," Rory said.
"Okay, but you have to do it. Please. Please. Please. Please! Plus think about all the life experience you'd gain and all the stories you'd have. All the stories you could tell mommy. I'm living vicariously through you, so go, live!" Her mom ranted impressively. She might have had a point. A little point. Maybe. "At least go to this trial thingy, so you can tell mommy about it. Then you don't have to join, right?"
"No, this is not my thing. I don't want to join a society, a sorority, clubs, parties. That's not me," she replied to her mom.
"You know that at least one president was in the Skull and Bones club, right?" Her mom cajoled.
"So, surely there are going to be loads of contacts you could make in this thing, right?" Her mom said.
"Ah, nepotism," Rory sighed, she was against it in principle. The haves got more while the have nots got spurned in favour of a less qualified person.
"No, just contacts. And I mean think about it, don't you think Christina Amirpour would join a super-secret society, for the stories if for nothing else? I mean, if you're going to be hobnobbing with society, darling, then there's got to be more juicy stories than who's boffing Buffy, right?" Her mom said slyly.
"You may have a point," Rory said grudgingly.
"I do and if you do this, I will never ask you for anything, ever again," she could hear the smile and lie, in her mom's voice.
"You mean it?" Rory asked, knowing when she was defeated.
"Yes, totally," her mom said and she could practically hear her mom crossing her fingers.
And that was the reason that, after meeting with her Great Gran and grandparents, she was going to be buying a ball gown. And going to this stupid trial thing. Her mom took lessons off Emily Gilmore in manipulation, she was a master at it. Who knew though, maybe it would even be fun?
An hour later Rory was pulling into the restaurant parking lot and touching up her lipstick. Ready as she could be for the Gilmore luncheon.
"Rory! You look wonderful!" Her grandfather said standing as she was led to the table where everyone was waiting for her.
"Thanks Grandpa, you look very fancy too," she smiled at her grandfather, the closest thing she had to a steady male role model in her life.
"Rory, you look well, are you well?" Trix said as she sat down in-between Trix and her mother.
"I'm very well thank you Gran," Rory said with a smile. Her great-grandmother intimidated her slightly, despite always being nothing but nice to her. She had such a strong air about her, firm, tough, unyielding, it would be hard not to be impressed by the old woman.
"And how are you finding Yale?" Trix asked her.
"I'm really enjoying it. There's just so much to do, I've just started my first classes which were really good. They're all really interesting," Rory cut herself off before she started babbling some more. She could go on and on about Yale all day.
"That's excellent to hear," her Gran nodded firmly.
"Tell Gran about the fancy club thing," her mom said after they'd ordered and as Trix started in on her grandmother. Again.
"Erm... okay... I got an invitation to try out for a club," she said, awkwardly. Vaguely she realised her grandpa sat up slightly straighter at that.
"A club? Which club is that?" Her grandma asked, reaching for her wine glass.
"It's a super-secret society," her mom said happily. Her mom was much more excited about this than she was.
"Really? Oh, that's very interesting, do you know anything about it at all?" Her grandma asked with a smile on her face, despite being sat at the same table as Trix. A picture should be taken as proof.
"I just know that the acronym is LDB," Rory shrugged while playing with her peas. She didn't like peas, or vegetables in general, much, but her grandma would scold her if she didn't eat them of course.
"LDB?" Her grandma asked, hands stilling, cutlery still in them. She traded glances with her husband, who had also frozen in the act of reaching for his water.
"Is there something here we're missing?" Her mom asked, gesturing her hand between Rory and herself.
"The Life and Death Brigade was established many years ago, by your Great grandfather Charles. It was where the two of us met properly, without chaperons, or family surrounding us. Charles originally was a part of a different society, but he didn't like how it was run, the exclusivity. He wanted something where anyone could have a chance to join, where as well as pranks and parties the society could do some good. Where the members were close, where they were family," Trix explained. Her eyes hard and impassioned, her hands clasped together under her chin.
"So that is what Charles did. The members that came up with me are still my closest friends to this day. They are my confidants, they are the ones who were there when Charles passed, when I was lonely, when the world just seemed bleak. The Life and Death Brigade is more than a club, more than a secret society, they are the best friends you could ever make. They are the family you didn't know you needed," Gran continued fondly. Her words no less passionate, her eyes shining with happiness as she spoke.
"As a legacy of course, you got an invitation that was a necessity. However, that does not mean you will get in," Her Gran said her voice hard now.
"No, indeed it doesn't. Twillinger's great-grandson got an invitation two years ago, but he however was not asked to stay. I'm not saying I'm surprised though; he is an utter buffoon," her grandpa said.
"If you are going, you need to try hard to get in, work hard. You need to uphold the Gilmore name," Trix said, her head high, nose practically in the air.
Rory, hadn't been looking forward to the trial or initiation or whatever this thing was... now though, learning that it was a legacy for her, that the Gilmores had always been a part of it... established it even? That changed things a little. More than anything she wanted to make her grandpa proud of her. This was certainly a way to do that. She wondered if her mom would be more for it now, or less. She was weird about society things and anything to do with her parents.
"Now, seeing as this has come up. I would like to talk, briefly, about your trust fund, the one I have set up for you. Of course, you are due to come into it on your twenty-fifth birthday. However... considering this... if you were to be accepted, there would be parties, events, holidays, trips. And these things cost money. I would like to give you your trust fund now. You are a Gilmore, you will be representing the Gilmore name, I would not like you to seem less so. So, think about it. Have a talk with your mother and then, tonight have dinner with us and let me know your answer," Trix said.
She exchanged glances with her mom. Her mom's eyebrows were raised, her face set in a polite smile. That wasn't a good face.
"Thank you, Gran," Rory said, what else could she say?
"So?" Her mom asked once they got to the mall, meeting up in the food hall for coffee first of course. The different cuisines mingling in the air to create a tantalising smell that enticed shoppers.
"I don't know, what do you think?" Rory asked, taking her coffee from the cart with a small thanks. It was okay coffee, not great, but it worked in a pinch and was the best served here.
"Well... I'm upset that I'm not joining this super-secret society, but I still think you should go for it, and hon, maybe you should consider the trust fund, it would sure make Yale easier," her mom said as they walked slowly towards the actual shops.
"Really?" Rory asked surprised, she thought her mom would change her mind.
"Yes, as long as you promise not to forget about mommy with your new family," her mom replied, steering her towards a dress shop. Mannequins stood in the window in sweeping dresses of purple and green.
"I make no promises," Rory joked.
"Hey, I birthed you!" Her mom protested as they walked into the shop where there was way too much tulle on display. Rory was having debutante flashbacks. At least she was pretty sure she wasn't going to have to do a fan dance at this thing. Though a ball gown meant ballroom dancing, right? And she sucked at that, just ask poor Dean's feet. He'd said it had taken him weeks to get the feeling back in them, Rory was sure he hadn't been joking.
"I'm sorry," Rory said unrepentant. Her eyes sliding firmly over the white dresses, not happening.
"So, what are we going for?" Her mom asked pulling out a red dress that looked very pretty.
"Anything that doesn't make me look stupid," Rory replied. Her eyes drawn to a deep blue dress with embellishments in black and silver, it was sleeveless and dipped at the back more than she would be comfortable with, but it was stunning.
"Ooh, good eye. That would look fantastic on you," her mom said, picking up the dress. "Oh! And it's in your size! Here, you have to try this on."
The blue dress did look really good on, Rory thought, though the back did dip a bit low, not as low as she'd feared but too low for a bra. She stepped out of the changing room to show her mom.
"Wow sweets, you look stunning," her mom said, smiling fondly.
"It's not too 'the King and I'?" Rory asked, it had a bigger skirt than she'd usually feel comfortable with, but it was supposed to be a ball gown after all.
"No, much more 'To Catch a Thief', very classy and slightly sexy. It's perfect," her mom declared, motioning with her hand for Rory to turn. Dutifully she spun on the spot, the skirt might have been poofy but it moved with her easily enough.
"It's perfect! Hey, why aren't you always this easy to shop for?" Her mom joked with a big smile on her face.
"Oh, because you're one to talk, how long did we spend shopping for the 'Lorelai look' before we went backpacking?" Rory replied heading back into the changing room where she carefully peeled the dress off and hung it back up, her hands tracing the simple but elegant designs on it with her finger, before getting dressed back into her street clothes.
They paid for the dress and next went shoe shopping. This was much harder. Heels or flats? Kitten heel or stiletto, fancy or plain, strappy or full coverage. In the end they picked a shoe with a small kitten heel, that was comfortable to wear in a blue that matched the dress and covered her foot fully. As her mom said they had no idea where she'd be going or what she'd be doing.
A small silver clutch was brought too for her to put some cash in, her keys and her phone, it was basic but would compliment her dress.
Outfit bought, they headed for the food court once more, ate way too much, as usual, then made their way back to the Gilmore house for the second dinner this week. A fact that her mom had bemoaned multiple times quite loudly.
Rory accepted the trust fund from Gran, and dutifully showed off the ball gown to her grandma who had been insistent on seeing it. It was proclaimed 'serviceable'. Not quite what Rory had been going for, but close enough. At least she hadn't said it was dreadful.
Rory stood outside the Bass Library in her ball gown at eight the next Saturday morning feeling ridiculous and a bit cold. She'd wished she had thought to buy a little shawl or something. She was encouraged by the other three people stood with her wearing formal clothing. None of them spoke to the others, just exchanged shy smiles. There were two guys in tuxedos, one with long dark hair that was tied back, he wasn't much taller than her but quite handsome, in a rugged way. The other was a very skinny guy with spiked hair and an earring. A girl in a pink ball gown, who was wearing a shrug stood with them. She had long blonde hair that had been artfully curled and was wearing earrings that looked like real diamonds. Or really good knock offs.
They weren't waiting long before a limo pulled up and stopped. A guy wearing a gorilla mask got out of the passenger side, he was also formally dressed in a tuxedo with a red cummerbund and bow tie.
"Get in. No talking," Gorilla guy said, opening the door. He sounded annoyed. Probably at the early hour. Rory knew she was, and she was regretting going along with this in the first place. If it hadn't been for the fact her grandpa would have been really disappointed, she thought she'd probably be back at the dorm in bed by now.
The girl in the pink dress got in first, the guy with the long hair they'd been waiting with giving Rory a tiny mock bow and a smirk to indicate she should go next.
Rory got into the limo to find it almost full. There was only one other girl in there, a Black girl wearing a beautiful dress of gold that made her eyes look molten caramel. She was stunning, with riotous curls piled on top of her head and instantly made Rory feel dowdy in comparison. Though she smiled widely at Rory and Rory smiled back, a bit more at ease.
The rest of the limo was taken up by five guys already sat, meaning there would be ten of them. She wondered if that's all there'd be or if more people would be at their destination.
The ride took a long time. Rory wasn't wearing a watch but she was guessing it had to be at least an hour maybe longer. There was no music, no talking, nothing just the shifting of bodies and someone occasionally clearing their throat. She wished she'd stayed in bed.
"So where do you think we're going?" The girl in the pink dress asked, after a while. She looked nervous, exactly how Rory felt.
"Hey! Big mouth! No talking!" A shout came from the front where their host was sitting in the passenger seat, the partition up. There must have been cameras or something, Rory presumed.
Pink dress blushed heavily, her head bowing and she bit her lip. Rory felt bad for her and tried to catch her eye to give her a smile.
It felt like hours had passed when the limo eventually stopped.
Inside they all sat waiting nervously, legs were twitching, hands were being rung and glances were exchanged. Only two of the occupants seemed to be unaffected, the two guys who'd been standing with Rory and Pink dress. They sat back cool as cucumbers, the one with the long dark hair had his head tipped back and his arms spread out along the back of the seats. She wondered if they were quite as cool as they seemed or if they just had good poker faces.
The door was opened by Gorilla guy.
"Out you get then," Gorilla guy said, gesturing them to hurry.
Rory followed the girls out, they were parked up in front of a huge white tent, blocking all view of what might be behind it or in it. Surrounding the tent were trees, and the air smelt heavily of pine. A forest perhaps?
"Inside, stay with this group, do not talk." Gorilla guy said, together they walked into the tent, which was completely empty of furniture, just a tent sat on top of grass. Rory was glad for the kitten heels, she didn't have to work so hard not to sink in them. There were four other groups already inside. All clad in formal wear and all silent.
Four other groups of ten meant fifty people in total had been invited for the trial or test or initiation, whatever this was, Rory wondered how many places they had free and how many members of the society there actually were.
A few minutes later one girl and four guys, all with gorilla masks came into the tent and stood in front of them. In front of those stood another Gorilla masked clad man.
"Welcome! Today we will be putting you through your paces. Everything will be a test. Everything. There are twelve places available. We have accepted more people before; we've also taken less." The man in front said, his voice ringing out confidently despite the mask he wore.
"Names will not be given today, that is real names. Neither ours nor yours. We don't want to know who your dad is, your mom, your little sister. Your brother might have been one of us for three years, he might be our best friend, that doesn't matter, you might be a dick. Today you're judged on nothing more than yourself." The guy carried on saying and Rory thought he was a fantastic auditor. He was certainly captivating everyone there.
"If you get into our little group, we are family. Not will become family, we are family. If you need to move quickly, call us. We've got your back. If you're failing a class, someone here will help you. Broke up with your boyfriend, with your girlfriend, then we'll be there to cheer you up. Need bailing out of jail, it's us you will call. We are family, we are there for each other no matter what... But first you've got to get in," the guy said raising his arms in the air, Rory felt a shiver run through her, starting at the nape of her neck and travelling down her spine.
"Eugene, first group," the guy in charge said to a tall Gorilla behind him and pointed at a group farthest away from Rory's group. "Patrick, next group. Sacha, they're yours. Peter, those lot are yours and Charles you get the leftovers."
The Gorilla who must have been Charles strolled over to them, his gait casual but confident.
"Let the games begin!" The Gorilla who had been speaking said before strolling back out of the tent.
"May the odds be ever in your favour," the girl in the pink dress whispered from next to Rory.