A solar system

He was almost disappointed to know that Fletcher wasn’t going to show him anything with his rainbow coloured magic. He tried his best not to show it.

“If you enjoy this lesson, you should ask your friend to join you again.” Fletcher said, right before they started.

The Baroness’ son cocked his head to the side. “Which one?”

“The surly older boy.”

“Golden?” He was never certain what to say about the boy called Golden. Though, despite saying he didn’t want to do anything with anyone, Golden did spend a great deal of time trailing along after them anyway. So he nodded. “Sure! You think he’d like this?”

Fletcher’s lips twitched upwards. “I have a funny feeling. But I will let you be the judge of that.”

Then Fletcher took the cover off of the solar system and he was utterly distracted from the thought of anything else.

Don’t need permission, but

Maybe Summer was tired, or maybe it was his help that meant Winter didn’t spend another hour looking for her. Summer giggled when he opened up the closet. All Winter could think was that she couldn’t have been here the entire time, because that was the way to bore Summer.

“You found me!” she exclaimed, as though this had been a deliberate game.

“I found you all right,” Winter groused, yanking her sister out of the closet. It didn’t put a damper on Summer’s mood, but Winter had a cure for that. “I’m going to tell Khauhelo how much trouble you were.”

Summer’s mouth shaped into an O, long before she said anything. “No!”

“Yes. I told you not to go far!”

“But I didn’t!”

Winter nearly said more, only to remember it wasn’t just the two of them. She looked over at the Baroness’ son apologetically.

He shrugged it off. “Don’t mind me. Take your family in hand, Winter.”

It wasn’t as if she needed permission or anything, but for some reason the acceptance of her seniority over Summer, the only family she had left, was cathartic. “To Khauhelo it is!”


Summer’s protests aside, they returned to the orphanage.

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.”


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.

Growing up means change

It came to be that his favourite part of the day was going down to the orphanage. Or when some of the kids came up to see him. It made him feel a little bad, because his favourite part of the day used to be the time he spent with Fletcher. And he used to feel guilty when that had superseded how much he liked spending time with his mother.

Unlike with his mother though, he could tell Fletcher this without feeling too bad about being honest.

Fletcher laughed. “Don’t feel bad about that. It is good that you have found other children your age to spend time with.”

“But that means I’m spending less time with you.”

“I still see you every day.” Fletcher spread out an arm, gesturing at the map covering the table. “We still discuss. You still learn. One must balance what they do. You still do enjoy our time together?”


“Then what is the problem?” He laughed again. “Though next time you invite them to one of our lessons, let me know beforehand. Preparing for more than just you requires a bit more thought on my part.”

In that moment, he couldn’t be more content with life. “Okay, Fletcher. Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

He went to go see Winter.

A man of many hobbies

“Look what I’ve found!”

The Baron’s son held up some sort of insect. Dahlia wasn’t bothered by it, though it didn’t interest her too much. Winter looked disturbed, though all she did was frown. Summer gasped, gripping at her sister’s skirts. The gasp was high pitched though. That was more likely to make Dahlia wince.

Golden looked outwardly disturbed. “That’s gross. Put that down.”

“I’m not hurting it.”

“But I will if you don’t get it away from me.”

“I think it would be happier on the ground,” Winter added, pushing some of her hair out of her eyes.

The Baron’s son frowned, but then walked off with it to put it somewhere else. Dahlia got up and followed after, to watch as he put it back on a plant. “Why do you like bugs so much?” Dahlia asked.

“I like a lot of things. But showing people fish is harder to do.”


“This is the fishing capital of… well, everywhere.”

That was true. “Could you show me fish?”

She wasn’t sure what made her ask, but he smiled and Dahlia decided she didn’t really mind having asked.

Going up to see him

The day he got sick was the day neither the Baroness or her son came down to the orphanage. Winter, with Summer in hand, went up to the castle.

Castlehaven might have been called Castlehaven and the place the Baroness lived might have been the castle, but she was fairly certain, though the place was massive and made of stone, that this was not a castle. Nevertheless, she waited at the front.

“Do you need something, child?”

Winter was certain this man’s name was Tumelo. The Baroness’ son had talked about him. “Um… I was just wondering…” It was hard to say.

“Is he going to play with us?” Summer asked.

Tumelo didn’t smile, but Winter had a kind feeling from the man. “The young master is not feeling well today. Would you like me to pass on a message?”

Summer pouted, but Winter managed to keep her quiet with a few pats on the head. “Get well soon. We miss you.”

Fortunately, not for long.

To be one of them

What Golden should have done was say no.

“Here we are!” the heir to the barony exclaimed, throwing the doors open. Or trying to. He didn’t have enough strength to make it impressive, but the large door still creaked open enough for the five of them to get in.

Winter kept her sister under the most amount of control that seemed possible. Why was Golden here? He would leave as soon as the others entered the room. Winter bit her lower lip. Summer followed suit. “This is…?”

“Where we have our lessons.” The Baroness’ son moved in. “Or do other things. If I wait for him here, he usually shows up before long.”

He gestured for them to come in. Or, mostly, Dahlia to come in. Dahlia skittered forward, eyes big (as normal). Winter and Summer followed.

“Coming, Golden?”

He could leave now. But there was something about being called Golden and knowing that no one knew to call him otherwise that made him think he could stay a little bit longer.

And so Golden did.

Not understanding lies, truth is easy to accept

“Your mother’s the Baroness?” Winter tried to sound unaffected by the knowledge. She didn’t know why. She simply felt as though she should keep her concern to herself. Because if she let it out, Summer could be upset.

The boy looked at her with confusion. “Yes?” He nodded a few times. “Yes, she is.”

For some reason, he didn’t strike her as the Baroness’ heir. He was obviously her son- that wasn’t what she questioned. But while that woman had the air of control and power, much like her position entailed, her son simply seemed like another child. Like he could have been any of them.

“Why do you both come here?”

He laughed a little, looking at her with even more confusion. Confusion, yet happy.

“Because you are all here. Why else?”

It came as easy to him as breathing. Winter couldn’t help but believe him.

When he doesn’t know better

Dahlia hugged her legs to her chest and buried her face into her knees. She stayed like that, hoping no one would find her today. There was nowhere else to go, not that she wanted to go anywhere. She didn’t know what to do anymore.


Her fingers pressed into her arms, almost to the point where it hurt. Then she peered up in the darkness. The boy that stood before her looked like that woman who was always coming to the orphanage. The woman seemed nice, but adults were like that. Adults always seemed nice. Then you got to know them.

She swallowed. “‘lo.”

“What are you doing?”

The way he spoke made her feel like he came from an entirely different world. Like he was an adult. She didn’t like it. “Sitting.”

The boy nodded. “Oh. Okay.”

Just like that, he sat down next to her. She wanted to tell him to go, but she wouldn’t. She never did anything like that. Because that was always the opportunity others took in order to tell her what she was or wasn’t allowed to do.

For a while, all was quiet but for the sounds of the children outside of the closet. The thin light that came into their crevasse lit upon the string wrapped around his fingers. It was made of rainbows. He held out his fingers and the string attached to them.

“Pinch the x’s.”

She couldn’t stop herself. She reached out to play with the string.