Kat quickly got up, glancing slightly over to her desk searching for her clock. *5:30, ok I have time.* Sitting up and walking through her sparsely populated bedroom to the closet she picked out a clean version of her school uniform before sneaking down the hallway. Careful not to wake the other children, she snuck into the shower.
*Ok, quick shower before waking the others and then try to catch the old man making breakfast for everyone for once. The old codger never lets us thank him.*
A short five minutes later, a still drying Kat glances at herself in the mirror, barely out of frame due to her slightly tall build and considering the bathroom had been designed for children much younger than her, she was lucky she could see herself at all. Her startling red hair draped just past her shoulders as she found a hairband to tie it up. Quickly fixing the rest of her appearance she walked outside returning her pyjamas to her room before bracing herself.
*Time to wake the kids I guess, at least it isn't my responsibility anymore to make sure they stay up.* Knocking on the sets of doors, she ran down the hall yelling
"Breakfast, get up now while it's hot or miss out, you all have to be showered and ready for school". Reaching the end of the corridor Kat slowed down to tackle the stairs still taking them decently quickly before repeating her act through the ground floor hallway.
*Ok hopefully that's all the kids, let's see if I can catch the old man.* Turning back towards the stairs Kat noticed that Sylvie was already awake and clearly waiting for her. A tiny blonde haired girl waited by the dining hall door in her nightgown. Sylvie was nine years old, about average for the orphanage kids if you discounted Kat and the old man but for some reason, she had taken a particular liking to her, making sure to wake up in time to eat breakfast together. *At least she is easy to get up in the morning, unlike some of the others.* Walking past and grabbing Sylvie's hand they walked together into the Dining room.
The pair walked into a huge room with three large tables, two across the middle of the room and one against the wall containing what would be the children's breakfast. A veritable feast was laid out, but no sign of the old man could be found. *That scoundrel, I even woke up early because it's my birthday and I still couldn't catch him. Would it kill him to accept a little thanks from us?*
"Come on Sylvie let's grab our food, don't want the others to take the good stuff" Kat said.
The little girl just nodded slightly. Kat sighed, *I really wish Sylvie spoke a bit more, I don't think she has any issues with the others, but I worry about her some times.* Quickly filling herself two plates of food she found a seat on the edge with Sylvie before the sound of feet could be heard echoing down the hallway. And here comes the rest of them. A mess of around twenty kids burst through the door and straight over to the food, with three older looking ones following behind.
*Those three… is it really that hard to keep the little ones in line, you're supposed to keep the kids calm before handing food out to them all. I did it by myself for years and they can't even make half an attempt with three of them. At least Gramps would set them straight if it ever really became a problem like someone not getting enough food but come on guys you're teens now, put in some effort.* Contrary to Kat's internal musing she simply sat quietly and ate her meal with Sylvie, they were a strange bastion of calm amidst the rowdy group, seemingly paying it no mind.
Finishing the food and washing off her own plate as well as Sylvie's, Kat began walking back upstairs to grab her bag and head towards school when she felt a slight tugging on her skirt. Turning back she saw Sylvie looking up at her with big eyes.
"Um, um I couldn't get you anything but, um happy birthday Kat, thanks for always having breakfast with me" Sylvie said.
Bending down and giving the girl a quick hug Kat replied "Anytime, come and find me anytime" before straitening up and heading back upstairs.
Quickly running upstairs and grabbing her pens and schoolbooks Kat started heading for the front door. *Do I go looking for Gramps before I leave? Nah, he's probably hiding away somewhere. I doubt I'll find him unless he wanted to be found and I have no plans to be late for school.* And so Kat took off, heading for the centre of her small town.
An hour later Kat found herself staring up at All Saints regional school, a rather strange name for the somewhat unique position the school had found itself in. It was a public school despite being privately owned and the only school in the town, in fact many believe the school to be older than the town itself. Despite this, it was impeccably maintained regularly gaining new buildings and retiring older ones as needed. Despite the school's central nature it owned a good chunk of the land around it and never failed to expand when necessary.
Walking off towards the area where all the senior classes are held on the far side of campus Kat stopped to go rummaging through her locker when she heard three voices laughing. *Welp, I guess it's that time of the week again. Looks like dumb, dumber and bore are on their way.* Quickly sliding into her locker and shutting the door she waited with boredom as the voices stopped in front of the locker.
"Oh, girls look, we can't have our dear friend Katarina's locker unlocked. Who knows what they could do, and look the lock has been left out how convenient" said one of the voices.
*Yeah yeah, play it up come on I have things to do.* The lock snapped shut with a clank and the three proceeded to continue down the hall. *And now we just send off a quick text to Lily… Kat pulled out her old Nokia phone and hit send. And now, we wait. I do wish there was a bit more room in here so I could sit down, aw well.*
After a short wait a small figure appeared outside and began fiddling with the lock, and then it was but a moment before the door swung open to reveal a short wiry girl. She had a mess of brown hair cut short but still covering her eyes if not for the glasses she had on.
"Thanks Lily, you're a lifesaver" Kat said stepping out of the locker
"Why do you keep letting them do this Kat? You can stand up to those three I know you can." said Lily
"Yeah but it's not that bad really, and we have an understanding, they can pull small pranks and I'll just let it go, we all know the bottom line here Lily" Kat replied.
"It's not right though, this is the second time this month they pulled the locker stunt."
"And you are always there to get me out so it's fine-"
"Well what about the time they threw water on you, you were soaked."
"It was the middle of summer it took like five minutes to dry and it was just before PE I didn't even need to keep the clothes on."
Lily seemed to struggle at that,
"I just, you helped me when they were after me instead, why won't you do something to help yourself or let me help you." Lily said quietly
"It's fine Lily, no one gets hurt when they go after me, I don't care, and they get to feel better about themselves" Kat smiled down at the smaller girl but she didn't seem convinced *It really is fine, they know their words do nothing to me and that if things got too rampant I'd sort the lot of them out myself. I don't need them going after Lily again. I just wish she could understand that I'm not just doing this for her, I really don't mind.* The pair stopped talking as they neared the classroom, giving a brief nod to each other they stepped inside and sat down.