Light as snow

If there was one way to describe Summer, it was determined. Determined to annoy her, Winter decided, rubbing her eyes.

“Hey, Winter. What’s up?”

She turned toward the Baroness’ son. She envied his long hair, always bound back. It was just like his mother’s and it was beautiful. No wonder neither of them cut it. “Summer.”

Winter didn’t have to say anymore. He nodded. “Summer. Where have you looked already? Want any help?”

If there was one way to describe him, it could only be determined. His hand toward her, which she took, previous irritation gone. Oh, Summer would still have it when she found her. Her and her flaxen hair, smooth as silk.

His hair flared out with all of the curls and waves, darker than his dark skin. It contrasted so strongly with her hand in his, so light as though she was snow.

They went to find Summer.

Train your face

The Baron’s son had a way of almost looking like he wasn’t present in the room. Golden could have hit him. However, he knew enough to know that hitting the Baroness’ heir would be a very bad idea. He was suspicious enough of the people around him to not want to deliberately make any enemies. He would leave this place on his own decision, not because of anyone else.

“Are you all there?” Golden asked. Hitting him was beneath him (because of his position, because of how much younger he was), but Golden didn’t have a problem asking about him all out.

The younger boy frowned. “I… take it you aren’t talking about a physical injury?”

Golden rolled his eyes.

The boy sighed. “Ma’mer says that too. When I’m not interested in something I look dumb.”

That was not what he expected. “Really?”

“Not what she said, but sort of. I can’t help that.”

“Yeah you can.”

That got the Baron’s son’s attention. “You can?”

“Expressions are something you can train,” Golden pointed out. “You’ve just got to pay attention to what you’re doing?”

“Pay attention to my face?”

Golden left him to return with a bowl of water. He placed it in front of him. “Look.”

The Baroness’ heir did. Then he bit his lower lip. “Do you think I can figure it out?”

“Anyone can figure it out. Just do it.”

“Thanks, Golden.”

“Whatever.”

It was only later, much later, when Golden thought about it, that he realized how he really felt about that word. The concept. Thanks.

It didn’t feel so bad. He smiled.

Hand out (part two)

“Why don’t you talk?” Summer asked, blunt as ever. Winter scowled, swatting after her. But Summer had already run off to look at Dahlia.

Dahlia stared back blankly. “I talk.”

Summer gasped, like it was some big shock. Maybe it was to her, Winter barely understood it. She was certain Dahlia was closer in age to Summer than to her, but Dahlia didn’t act like Summer at all.

“Summer, stop bothering her.” Winter got to her feet, slowly walking over to Summer to be able to grab her hand. If she ran, then Summer would run. Chasing her wasn’t where she wanted to spend her energy today. She looked over at Dahlia. “The Baroness says there are apple trees behind the castle. They pick them occasionally. She wants to know if we want to try to get some before other people do. Apparently they’re ripe now.”

Dahlia shuffled in place, then looked up at her. “Apples?”

Winter held out her hand. “Apples. They’ll taste really good, I think. First ones of the season. What do you say?”

Dahlia didn’t take her hand, but when Winter took Summer to go, she noted that Dahlia followed after.

Hand out (without being literal)

There was a reason that Dahlia didn’t want to go anywhere.

Her head swam. There were people, people everywhere. And that was okay, it really was. But between how many of them there were and the fact that they were moving and she was not… Dahlia didn’t remember where she was. Where she had come from. Where was the orphanage? Where had she thought she was going?

The desire to curl up in a corner was overwhelming, but Dahlia knew that wouldn’t get her back home. She took a few steps forward and tried not to veer into the darkness.

“What are you doing?”

She gasped, wheeling about. There he was, Golden. The boy who pretended he didn’t want to be around them. That didn’t stop him from always being around.

He stared down at her with those sharp eyes. “You’ll be late for dinner if you keep going that way. Suit yourself.”

Golden walked away, likely back to the orphanage. Dahlia trailed after. Part of her wanted to reach out and grab his sleeve. Part of her never wanted to do that, because it reminded her of the travels to get here.

Despite his gruffness, despite not caring, he led her home.

Dahlia could breathe.

Science projects aren’t what they used to be

When he promised his sister he would help her with her science project, he’d been expecting something different.

“I’ve collected all of these crystals to power my snow machine,” she told him, matter-of-fact.

“Snow machine?” She showed him the passage in her textbook that covered the runes required. He frowned, picking it up to look it over. Elementary school had really changed since he was there.

“Where’d you get all the crystals?”

“In the bat fields.”

He sighed. “You know mum will be upset to know you were in the bat fields.”

“It’s why there’re so many crystals there!”

Well, while he wasn’t magically minded, he was okay with engineering. “Okay then. I’ll help you put the shell together, but I’ll leave the runes and crystals to you. Most important.”

“Okay!”

The real question was why she wanted to make a snow machine, but he would ask her about that later.

True, but give an inch and he’ll take a yard

“No.”

I should have looked at him, considering how serious he sounded. He never sounded serious. He was too lighthearted to sound serious in this way. I did not, though, as I was too busy positioning the ficus’ pot. “Sorry, my friend, but yes. Go have-”

Go have fun. That was what I wanted to say. The sound that escaped me, instead of the word ‘fun’, was more of an undignified squawk than anything else. He grabbed me from behind, hands under my arms and lifted me straight off the ground. It was a good thing I’d put the ceramic down.

“What are you doing?”

“You are not staying here another day. We are going out.”

I hated when he used his height advantage against me. Or width. Mass. I didn’t mind being small, just him being large. My protests came out as a series of small pushes against his hands, which did not loosen. “I am not. I don’t want to. I’m busy gardening!”

“You are busy rearranging things you rearranged yesterday. You’re making up more work for yourself now. We are going out. I won’t let you stay holed up for an entire week again.”

The fact I liked being “holed up” did not seem to hold any weight in this argument, so I didn’t bother bringing it up. In vain, I tried to think of something else. “We can do something. Here.”

My suggestion changed nothing. “No. We’re going out.”

Eventually I had to give up, because there would be nothing more embarrassing than him bodily seating me in the passenger seat of his car. Contritely, I got in the car when he set me down and put on my seat belt.

There would be other ways of escaping my friend’s socializing tendencies.