Like clockwork, the woman would arrive in the orphanage to play.
There was something about her that lessened the burden on Winter’s heart. Not the physical one, always there. That burden was lessened by the terrible tasting medicine she took every day. The woman made Summer smile and suddenly it didn’t matter where all of the children had come from. It didn’t matter what they had run away from. She had that reaction on just about all of them.
There were a few who remained wary. A girl about Summer’s age, who froze whenever anyone neared her, watched the woman with a distant form of curiosity. She replied, quiet yet firm, when the woman spoke to her. She did as any of the adults asked. Summer wanted to play with her and Winter wasn’t sure, because the girl named Dahlia was guarded by an aspect that was probably created by whatever made her face slightly crooked.
Then there was the boy she had dragged to Castlehaven in the first place. He spoke to no one, glaring at all attempts at conversation or even a nice gesture. If he hadn’t been so hungry, Winter was certain he would have snubbed the food as well, for spite’s sake.
With everyone that had come, everyone who had survived up until this point… These children didn’t have anything but what the people here gave them.
And then this woman would come.