“Don’t throw so hard!” Zora’s warning is sharp as she looks between her brothers, a frown to her lips. She sits back in the shade, watching them play but keeping a very worried eye on her youngest brother. He might have said his arm and ribs no longer hurt but she doesn’t want to chance anything if she can have just the hint of a chance at not chancing it at all. Worrying about her brothers is all she can do for them at this point in their lives.

“I’m hardly throwing it with any strength!” “I’m fine, Zora.” Both boys answer at once and laugh. Mira looks at the small ball in his hand and he curls his fingers about it. He flexes his arm. He feels the muscles work, he feels he strength in his bones and he smiles softly. He really can’t feel the break at all and he’s thankful.

“I’m all right, I swear Zora. I need to keep working my muscles if I want to be sure it all healed right and proper. You can go back to your book and stop worrying about me or about Agni manhandling me.” He laughs again, the sound is bright and happy. His sister huffs softly but does turn her gaze back to her book though she’s nowhere near anywhere in its reading. She hasn’t even really started it.

“Don’t hog the ball, Mira!” Agni calls out to his brother, his eyes bright. His attention briefly shifts to the right-side patio door sliding open and he waves to the crutched man as he steps out and then settles into the comfortable swing with a book of his own. Agni isn’t even sure if he’s ever seen Armin without a book near his person. He doesn’t mind, he likes Armin, he learns with the man, it’s a wonderful situation as far as he’s concerned.

“Agni!” He turns back just in time as his brother calls his name and he catches—just barely—the ball as it comes his way. He shakes his head and moves away from the building. Better to throw it off into the fields to the sides of the building instead of towards their home, after all.

“He seems to be doing better.” Armin’s voice is gentle, a soft apologetic undertone in case his comment is not welcome.

Zora frowns as she puts her book down with a sigh though she turns to the man and manages the hint of a smile. “He’s much better, I still worry that he might do something wrong and it’ll be the hill all over again. I feel so guilty it happened.”

Never having had the opportunity to actually discuss with her, Armin takes his chance, it isn’t so much that he wishes to pry, he’s only wanting to know his neighbours a bit better, in the end. He knows he’s not like them but it doesn’t hurt to try to befriend others, after all.

“Agni told me that it was an accident, Mira slipped on the way up. There was nothing you really could have done to prevent the accident. I know you’ve probably heard this a lot already. I just know how you’re feeling. The guilt might never fade away but you can’t really let it eat away at you.”

She quirks a brow at him, her head canting somewhat to the side in curiosity. There is an unasked question in her eyes and he smiles just barely. He shrugs and briefly looks off towards the two boys as they throw the baseball back and forth. “When I lost Andoni, the man I had spent a few years with, I blamed myself for it despite that it was an accident. It took me years to stop really blaming myself though it still hurts when I think about it.”

“Oh.” Her soft answer, though short, is full of little things that he can easily pull apart and that without even needing to look into her mind. He’s gotten better at controlling his gift. She’s sorry for his loss, she knows the pain doesn’t really compare but she’s thankful that someone else might know the burden of the guilt.

He smiles at her lightly and motions to her book. “This is an original version, if you’re not well versed in the old languages you won’t really get anywhere. There’s a newer print of that book that’s all in French if you’d rather? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it in Alexis’s private collection, I assume that’s where you got this one?”

She shrugs and looks at the book cover again. “I don’t know why I took it. I just went in and picked the first thing my hand reached for.”

“You’re worried for your brother, you’re just trying to distract yourself. If you tell me what kind of books you like to read I might be able to find something for you. If not in Alexis’s library then in the city one and the boys can bring it back to you after our work day in two days.”

Her eyes become unreadable, as if he just uttered something that made no sense to her at all. Perhaps because he’s different, he’s unsure but he doesn’t push.

“I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read since I’ve had to leave the family and look over them but it would be nice to get back into the habit of having a book handy.” There she finally smiles again and it is a genuine sort of smile.

After nearly an hour spent exchanging book ideas and old favourites, Armin has a fair idea of what kind of books he can try to find for her and their first stop is Alexis’s private little library. He has told them that they can step in, so long as they are careful and don’t touch anything behind the glass cases.

Zora looks mildly uncomfortable as she watches Armin wander slowly up to the second floor but she keeps her mouth shut. She knows that he was born this way, it is one of the details Eoghan has let slip so she understands that he knows his own limits. It still makes her uncomfortable to watch him walk with the crutch, she knows she has to get used to it and gives it her best on a daily basis. She puts the book back where she found it before following him up to the second floor.

On the second floor, Armin walks nearly to the end of the trailer and looks the books over. He talks to himself for a moment before he picks up a book that looks as if it had better days but it still is in fair condition. She steps closer to lightly take it from his fingers and looks the cover over. She turns the book to be able to read the back briefly.

Her smile warms and she nods with a soft chuckle. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, you know your books well and you seem to be able to read and understand what a person might actually want in a book after talking to them for just a little while, it’s actually sort of nice. I think I’ll like this book.”

“You’re welcome.” He merely is pleased that she seems to have, at least temporarily, forgotten that her brothers were playing catch out in the yard. Not that this is what he was aiming for but he’s pleased to realize that he can be useful when not in the library, though essentially he just did his librarian job by finding her that book, in the end.

“Let’s head back down, I think I could do with some iced tea and who knows, others might like some as well.”


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