rocks

“How is that even possible?” I don’t know if I should be amused or not to not be the one asking all the questions for once. Of course I could be asking the same question he is but what’s the point when we’re watching a documentary and there’s no one to really answer those questions?

“Those rocks are even bigger.” I snicker as I point them out to him, actually reaching for the remote to pause the documentary where it was. I’ve seen that kind of thing before, in souvenir boutiques but never in real life and never quite of this size. Rock balancing seems to be something of an art.

“That can’t be real, you have got to be joking.” I’m definitely amused. I suppose we could head out there to gather some rocks to try to balance them but I don’t know how well we’d manage and I suppose it doesn’t really matter that much. It’s beautiful to look at but it seems as though it might just take some time to get it right and not get our toes broken in the process. I press the pause button to get the documentary going again so we can at least watch it to the end.

I’m sure I can find a few pebbles and set something small up, it’d be a start and it might get him to see and understand that none of this is staged, that the rocks aren’t glue together or held together by wire or anything else. At times he has a hard time believing in what he sees but I suppose I shouldn’t blame him for it, we all have our little quirks and he’s perfect the way he is.

By the time we’re done with the documentary, he still doesn’t really believe it is possible at all to have that kind of setup with the rocks, balancing them right and proper so they don’t tip and fall over. I’m not going to argue with him about that that’s more or less the end of that. “Oh, I knew I’d forgotten to tell you something.”

He blinks up at me from his spot on the couch, one cat on his lap, one near his shoulders. I don’t even know why it came back up to mind just now, I wasn’t even thinking about that. I suppose I was thinking rock and rock gardens and decorations and just gardens in general, that’s one of the thing I spend most of my time thinking about when I’m not focused on other things, in the other. “The twins asked if they could bring a friend to see the garden eventually and I told them they could come any time they wanted. They also asked if I could go with them just once over the weekend to see their friend’s garden and have a look to know if I could fix it up in some way because it seems as though his mother watered it too much and it’s more or less dying. I told them I’d give it a thought.”

He tilts his head somewhat to the side but nods. It is my garden after all but it is his house and I know how he feels about strangers. Not that he hasn’t met Cyrille already, we all spent some time together at the beach almost a month ago. Time flies so quickly lately, it’s like we’re not seeing it tick on by.

“Want to go find a few rocks out in the yard and see if we can’t build us up something surprisingly amazing?” I grin at him and he rolls his eyes at me. He’s grinning right back though and with an easy, almost practised motion he’s up on his feet and the cat that had been on his lap is settled cozily in his now emptied but warm spot. I really need to learn to do that. Whenever I get up the cats scatter off, Quentin has that sort of lift the cat with and drop smoothly sort of motion for his getting up and cat-free without any scampering.

“After that, we can have ourselves a bit of a swim and then just some lounging up with the flowers.” That sounds like a wonderful plan, really. I head off, towards the back though I know we’re closer to the front, we could head out that way and round to the back but it seems simpler to cut across the house and step outside from the back.

In the catio, three of the cats are lounging on their padded bed areas and I still have to smile at the sight. It’s nice to know we can figure out things for them that make them happy. I know how much Areli and Lavi wanted to discover the outside and now they’ve managed to convince the other kittens of joining them in spending time out in the warmth of the early September days. Soon enough the temperature will begin to cool down, the leaves will fall, the snow will come again and I don’t know how much time the cats will spend outside when that’ll happen so now is best.

We walk around the yard, each finding slight rocks and bringing them back to a small pile that eventually grows to include about a dozen or so rocks of mismatched size. Now I know this is going to be the most difficult part and it’s what I’m looking forward the most, I don’t know why. We split the pile in two, each settling down to try to make something of them. Balancing them is something of a challenge but it’s fun because every time we manage to get two or three going but the next one makes them all tumble, we just laugh and start over again.

After a while, Quentin stops, deciding he’s had more than enough and telling himself that he was right, that it wasn’t possible to actually possible to balance rocks without some sort of outside help. I’m not quite of the same mindset and I keep going for a little while longer. Peace and patience seem to lead to a pretty stable structure with five rocks balancing smoothly, not showing any sign of wanting to tumble.

He looks surprised but wiling to accept that it is possible to a point though he mostly states that this is just a lucky setup and that come tomorrow morning it will more than likely no longer be standing. I’m not going to bet on him being right or wrong, it won’t change much but I do believe that it still will be standing in the morning, I want to believe it.

We move the unused rocks off to the side so we won’t trip on them next we step outside and we head back inside. We had decided on a swim after the rock balancing act after all and this is what we were going to do. Swimming in the pool was a wonderful sort of thing, it helped us relax and made sure we pretty much forgot the world even existed for a little while, at least while we were alone and we knew we weren’t expecting visitors.

Though we’d somewhat lost the habit of swimming bare since we’d have visitors before who had come in without knocking—not that they did anymore—we figured it was easier to at least be wearing something to cover ourselves with and be surprised that way over being seen completely naked, something we tried to keep for one another’s eyes only. It seemed only right. At least, until one of us in our growing family decides that maybe we should visit a nude beach somewhere before the summer is completely over though I don’t expect it for any time this year if ever but who knows with those who surround us, really.

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the confrontation

The day had gone by in a blur, unlike yesterday where it had been so quiet that I had spent the better part of my day almost lounging along one of the windows, just following the patches of sun, today was a rush, there were people coming around left and right, most of them not looking much older than Cyrille.

Armin said something about how the next few days would be a rush of the sort as students who were missing particular books to their studies, mostly the collegial or university kind, were coming in to try to see if there weren’t some copies that could be taken out on long-term. He did that, rent long-term though they had to deposit a fee and once the book came back in good condition at the end of the term or the year or whatever, the deposit was paid back. That whole thing confused me a bit but I figure that’s just the way life happens.

Cyrille dropped by with lunch but we couldn’t all eat together. The place was still so jam-packed that I ate with him during the first half-hour and Mira used the second half-hour of the break to eat with Armin, we said that if it still was this way tomorrow we’d just switch and he’d get to eat with Cyrille, I don’t mind.

After lunch, he stayed and helped, it made things just a little bit easier and the afternoon isn’t quite as much a blur as this morning was though not by much.

When the rush finally died down and Armin was able to close the doors for the night, to the dismay of a couple of people who had come in just barely five minutes before the usual closing time—Armin noted down the books they needed and said he’d set them aside for tomorrow to be picked up—we all stepped outside to breathe a quiet sigh of relief. I can freely admit that this was one of the hardest days of work I’d had to handle to that day. It had been worth it though, I felt worn but not in a bad way, as if I’d done my part for today.

We were about to cross the street to head to the bus stops when Armin was bumped into and you could almost imagine a bomb had gone off for what happened over the next little while.

Armin stumbled, of course but with Mira at his side, there was no real harm done, I turned to face the bumper and I’d been moments from giving them a piece of my mind when the words died in my throat. There was Zora, standing tall, her nose slightly upturned as if the sight of us wasn’t good enough for her.

“I see you boys still work in this place. That’s a shame, if you’d moved in with us, you’d have much better jobs and you wouldn’t be around this monster.” I don’t think it so much was her comments about the job as it was the comments about Armin that set me off. He was good to us, he took care of us and taught us new things, they all did. I almost lashed out at her but Cyrille’s arm across my chest kept me from going anywhere.

“Look at you two, hanging around this half-man and this-” her eyes swept over Cyrille and now even his arm couldn’t really keep me back, “this whatever he is, it’s pathetic, I didn’t raise you to be like this.”

“You didn’t raise us!” I was in her face, just barely an inch away, neck craned to be able to look up at her and I was silently cursing the damned inches she had on me. “You dragged us around, from one place to another, begging for money, trying to find us food, not even teaching us this one language as if you could keep us to yourself well that’s bullshit. We’d probably have been better off if you’d dropped us off at some orphanage!”

That one might have been pushing too far but I was tired of the bullshit that came from her. It was unlike her, she hadn’t been this way before. She still was calm as she looked down at me, she even smiled and it was a pleased, winning sort of smile. “I don’t miss you boys a whole lot. Niall takes care of me just fine and I don’t need you two punks in my life to hold me back anymore.”

I felt Cyrille shudder slightly besides me and I had to assume it was the name, I can’t imagine there are a lot of folks with that name in this particular city and I felt bile try to rise in my throat. It was Mira who finally stepped forward, he pulled me back though I suppose Cyrille might have helped him. When I was a few paces away, he stepped up to her, his voice was low and calm, peaceful almost and I think I envied him the ability to keep his cool. I felt like I was going to be ill or that I was going to start crying, I couldn’t decide.

“I don’t think you’re wicked, Zora, but I think you’re too easily swayed by the person you believe to be in love with. Personally I think you’re in love with the idea of being in love. If Niall is who we think he is and I’m pretty sure he is, he came to threaten us, he was the one who took us into the station that one time with the incident and if he knew you were related to us, he might not let you stay around much, I’m sure.” He shook his head, a sad look on his face as he turned away.

“We have better things to do than stay here and be spoken to this way. If you ever decide that you’ve had enough of your current love life, the apartment is still open though I can’t guarantee settling back into a kind of peaceful lifestyle will be easy. ” I really do envy his ability to stay calm. He moved past me, gently touching my arm as he went and he settled at Armin’s side once more. We walked to the street corner and crossed.

I don’t know how I managed to keep myself from crying until we were home. I don’t know how I felt either, betrayed, hurt, confused, the emotions were swarming when we finally stepped into the apartment and I broke down. I cried and I did so hard. At times I understand that I’m not really the one who’s all that strong. I put up a strong front for Mira and I protect him best I can but in situations like these, he’s better at controlling his emotions than I am.

He hugged me, it’s all I needed. He hugged me and held me until I calmed down and until the need to cry had passed. Her words hurt. It’s one thing to act as if they meant nothing but when you stopped being all hyped up and stopped being angry, it all comes crashing down and it hurts so bad.

Armin was hesitant to let us go upstairs to our apartment but eventually Mira managed to persuade him to let us go. That he was all right and he’d take care of me. I suppose he was only half convinced because after a while, there was a gentle sort of knock on the door, it was while I was soaking in the tub, trying to calm myself down but I heard talking and eventually, Mira came join me in the bathroom, just sitting down next to the tub. He said Eoghan had dropped by to make sure we were okay. We might not have our older sister with us anymore but we have a bigger family now than we’ve had for years, I want to believe we’ll be okay.

a dreadful __________

It seemed easiest to ask Armin. He was different, he was human at least in some ways, he was more than likely a little more prone to human sicknesses than any of us. I could have asked Eoghan or Alexis, they’ve both been alive so long that they must have known too but I thought Armin might have the more human answer to the question.

Cyrille had talked about chemotherapy and I didn’t know what it was. He hadn’t seemed to want to go in details about it and it seemed honestly bad in its own way but I didn’t ask. I could have looked online but there are so many different things out there that I don’t always know which one I’m supposed to believe. Armin really was my best option.

It was quiet in the library, a calm Monday morning. Usually Mondays did have a tendency for being a little rushed when people seemed to realize that they’d forgotten to get something or other during the week. I know a lot of libraries are opened during the weekends, at least that’s what I read online and I know this isn’t the case for ours so I guess it makes sense that we have small rush hours.

Today was different and it was quiet, might have been because summer wasn’t over quiet yet but school was freshly back in session. There had been more people over the summer.

“Armin?” He looks up from the book he’s been reading, it’s so quiet in here and most books have already been put away that reading doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I know Agni is somewhere out there, probably just somewhat lazing in the patches of sun and Cyrille said he had to work this morning.

“Something I can help you with, Mira?” He bookmarks his page and closes the book gently, setting it down. I sit not far from him, on the counter since I know it can hold my weight. I don’t much like the chairs behind the counter, they’re uncomfortable.

“We visited Cyrille’s home this weekend and his sister Magali played music for us but she looked tired and he said something about chemotherapy and what’s chemotherapy?” Not my brightest formulation but I suppose it would have to do. The desire to ask more about what it was supposed to be has haunted me until now, I could be forgiven.

He frowned and pushed the book he’d been reading away, turned his chair a bit more so he could face me. His voice was low but calm, he chose his words carefully and I assume he is because other words might just not have made any sense to me since medical terms in French are just one of those things I don’t know a thing about just yet.

When he explained that chemotherapy was usually a treatment for cancer, something in me sort of froze. That wasn’t right, though I wasn’t sure why I’d reacted this way. It was when he told me what cancer could be and what it did to the human body that I think my mind connected with the coldness of my body and I know something must have broken.

We hadn’t talked much to Magali or spent a whole lot of time with her but I could tell how much she meant to Cyrille and how dearly he loved her. That she might be taken away by this cancer only made it all the clearer that humans were fragile, that they weren’t made to last and it made me want to start clinging to Armin. He was human, though Eoghan said that it was likely now his gift had been handed down by his biological father. So maybe he would live longer than most humans but no where near as long as any of us. I don’t want to lose him.

Cyrille stepped into the library just an hour or so before we prepared to close it up for the evening. He was bright eyed, his smile was contagious though I tried to fight it, I didn’t want to fight. I was still thinking about how dreadful it would be if the chemotherapy didn’t know what it was supposed to. Who would he turn to if his sister was no longer with him to support him, with him so they could spend time together?

Eventually I did manage to let it be buried under other memories. It wasn’t buried deep but it was mostly out of my mind so I could appreciate spending time with him and Agni while we had that much. With the memory buried somewhat, I could also stop thinking that maybe befriending someone whose body would rot before too long was a terrible idea. I didn’t want to think that, I wanted to spend time with him. He was my friend, our friend and that was what was important. We had to be there for him if bad things ever were to happen in his family.

As we stepped outside and Armin locked the front door, Cyrille stopped the both of us at the bottom of the steps and he pulled out two packages from the bag he carried. We each were handed one and I know I usually would have torn it open to know what was inside but I was baffled more than anything else. I’d never really received any gift before and this was new. Agni looked at the package a moment himself before he was looking up, absolutely puzzled, to our friend who only laughed. “Go on, open them. I know it’s early in the season but when I saw them I thought they were perfect for the two of you.”

So Agni opened his first while I was still puzzling out this warm sensation I felt in my stomach at the idea of receiving a gift. Out of it, he pulled a long black scarf with a few stripes all on one side, in various shades of red. It was fitting for him, really. With the scarf came some matching gloves, early but sweet. It was when he turned his gaze to me, curious and wanting to see my own reaction that I finally opened my own gift. Much like Agni’s own, a black scarf and gloves though the stripes on mine were blue.

“Thank you, Cyrille. I think this is the first time we’ve ever really been given gifts like this before. They’re beautiful.” Of course they were beautiful, I’d wear them for as long as I could once the weather was cold enough to require them and I know it would be. I’d lived through the last winter and other winters before that, after all.

These would keep us more than warm and the idea warmed me a little more.

“I’m glad you guys like it. I swear, I saw them in the display and I had to buy them. It made me last for work but I don’t care, it was worth it.”

Of course I had to roll my eyes at him though I didn’t say anything about his being late for work. He’s an adult, like we’ll be eventually and we have to keep track of our own lives and make sure we keep our jobs, it wouldn’t do to have no jobs, money can’t be saved without a job and gifts cannot be offered without saved money. I honestly wish there was no money in the world but I can’t imagine things would work out so well with people just being honest and working out exchange of goods. I suppose I’m a bit of a dreamer as far as that’s concerned.

“Gotta head home, Magali is expecting me for supper. I’ll see you two tomorrow, all right? Don’t forget to pack up clothes for Wednesday!” With that he was wandering off, jogging away towards his bus stop. Wednesday couldn’t come quickly enough. Eoghan had accepted the idea of our sleep over and I was looking forward to that more than I realized, I think.

too much water

“So this is the garden.” His words seem to be a mix between amusement and despair. We step inside the garden area, partitioned off by a small, waist-high fence and gate system, and I look around a moment, slowly as if to make sure my eyes are not deceiving me. Everything is dropping, dying from being watered too much. It’s a shame because I’m sure it would be beautiful if this place wasn’t drowned in water. The thought brings a wry smile to me lips, since water is my thing and I can tell when there’s just too much of the stuff.

“Mom is terrible with the plants but the gardener quit about a month ago. She just waters and waters again, I wish it could be prettier, usually it’s gorgeous and you just want to sit back there and enjoy it but now, well it’s in this state.” He motions towards a metal bench at the far end of the little garden area, a rustic sort of arch above it with dying plants hanging from it.

Agni looks at me a moment and I know what question he’s asking without really opening his mouth to ask it since we’re not supposed to discuss our gifts with Cyrille yet, if ever. I look the garden over a moment and I can only nod. I walk away from the pair, just letting my fingers brush over pots, trying to carefully pull the extra water out of it so it might have a chance.

“Mira is great with plants, I bet we could come about at least once a week to check in on the plants to see how they’re doing.” Agni grins while Cyrille seems to consider this offer. We already see one another every weekend as it is, or at least we’ve done so since we’ve met so far.

He tilts his head to the side somewhat. “Well I don’t want to take your weekends away from you and it’s a fair distance off, maybe we could work out a night a week where you could maybe come and sleep over. You look in on the plants then and we all head in to work the following morning. I think Wednesdays would be good. I work not far from the library and I know you guys have to be there at a certain hour, it could be worked out.”

I look back to Agni a moment, considering the offer. It could work out, I know. We’d have to ask Eoghan though, just to be sure. In the long run, we’re still underage and he’s still our legal guardian so he does have to know where we’re at and we wouldn’t want him to worry about it. “We’ll talk it over with Eoghan though I’m sure he’d agree to the idea, so long as it didn’t get in the way of the work we do. It could be neat, really.”

I move toward the bench and archway, crouching down next to the ground where the vines, or at least I think they’re vines, are planted. These, unlike the potted plants, are dry, it’s as if Cyrille’s mother watered on the way and then got tired of the whole thing and didn’t finish her rounds. Or maybe she thought that since it was in the ground and not potted, that it could be just fine without any care. Obviously that’s not the case. I rest my hand against the ground, giving to the vine some of the water it hasn’t had since the gardener has left.

“This place could be beautiful with the right care, I think I could manage it. Of course, it’s nothing like Yael’s garden but that’s something else altogether.”

“We should totally show him Yael’s garden when he visits next.”

“Well, we’ll have to ask Yael first if he’d let us. You don’t have an issue with cats, do you?” I look up to Cyrille as I come back closer to them and he blinks before shaking his head.

“We have Ophé because she’s big and she’s easy to keep track of, I honestly wanted cats while I was growing up but we’ve always had dogs.” He shrugs and chuckles. I nod, that mostly settles that. Of course we’ll ask Yael when we get home if we can visit the garden but I don’t think he’ll mind.

“I’ve been over though and I haven’t seen a garden anywhere in the yard, yours or the neighbours though.”

It’s Agni’s turn to laugh, the grin bright on his face. “That’s because his garden is indoor, I don’t know if you’ve noticed that the top two floors of their building is all glass.”

“I have noticed that, I wondered about it a bit.”

“It’s huge and it has so many things, like fruit trees and rose bushes and vegetables. If Yael agrees to it, we’ll visit up there. They have seven cats though they’re not allowed in the garden itself but I figure it’s best you know about that now so you’re not surprised. Two of them are Bengals, they’re big and they’re balls of energy.”

I look at the vine a bit, a slight smile finding my lips as I notice that it seems to appreciate the water I’ve given it. It’s minute, the change, the details but I can tell already, maybe because I feel sort of attuned to the plants. Maybe we could convince Yael to come here just once, he’s the one with the magic touch when it comes to plants, he could do miracles.

Standing, I stretch and yawn, rubbing my eyes lightly. It’s not that it’s late in the day but my lack of proper sleep last night is catching up to me. Maybe I could snag a bit of rest here before we get much of anything else done, I’m sure Agni wouldn’t mind and I doubt Cyrille would mind either but this isn’t home so I don’t know how well I’d sleep.

I shake it off as I walk back to them and we step back out of the garden. It really is a shame that something that could be so beautiful is dying at this point. I get that the gardener’s gone and all though I don’t see the point to hiring someone to take care of something that could be seen to by the folks living in the house itself but that’s just part of how I grew up, I guess.

If I can’t take care of it, why have it at all, really?

“You think Yael would agree to letting us show him the garden?” Agni’s voice is thoughtful as we walk the short distance from the bus stop back to our home. I shrug lightly, looking up to the slowly darkening sky. We could have slept over, I’m sure but we thought it best to come back home for the night since we hadn’t told anyone that we might be staying over since it was an idea that had just cropped up. We didn’t have anything to wear either so it helped in the decision to come back.

“Pretty sure he wouldn’t mind. I was more thinking along the lines that we could see about maybe trying to get him to come to the garden and see what he could do or at least tell me so I know what else I might need to do, else than make sure they’re not drowned. These poor plants, it was a sad sight.”

“Bet that in a week or two more, it’ll all be fine.”

“Yeah, but before too long, summer will be over and autumn will be in and it won’t have done a whole lot of good.”

“Think about it this way, next year you can make sure everything flowers beautifully all over again.” It’s warming to think that he believes we’ll still all be friends by then. I’d really love for that to happen though I’m not holding my breath. Still, we never know.

a harp

“Magali, can we come in?” He knocks on the door lightly, listening to whatever is inside. We haven’t really met his older sister yet, we’ve seen her when we were here last but there hadn’t been any introduction, I don’t honestly mind. Strangers still are strangers until you meet them and I meet plenty of folks at the library though I wouldn’t consider them anything else than strangers if I were to meet them on the street.

It’s quiet on the other side of the door he’s knocked on, for a few minutes really before there’s some shuffling and the door clicks open to reveal the slightly worn face of Cyrille’s older sister. He blinks at the sight of her and frowns. “Oh crap, Maggy, I didn’t know you were sleeping, I’m sorry.”

“Not sleeping, I was staring off for a while, to be honest. I’ve been trying to read and I just can’t bring my mind to focus. Touring the house with your new friends?” He blushes and I have to hide a grin behind my hand. He doesn’t blush easily but I think it’s a fine colour on him. He looks sheepish and I can’t help but be amused by the sight of it too.

“Still, I didn’t mean to bother you but yes, I was touring the house and I figured that I’d show them your music room since you spend more time here than anywhere else in the house, is that all right?” He’s usually so certain of himself, he usually lets no one really walks on his toes but I’m imagining that the respect he has for his sister is all there for how he acts right now.

“Sure, you can come in. Maybe music might just be able to sooth away whatever keeps me from focusing. I bet you boys will find that absolutely boring but it might just be worth a try, come in.”

Mira is all over the place. His fascination for all things nature and classical is all there as he flutters from one instrument to the next, not daring to reach out and touch though it’s clear he wants to. I let him, Magali seems to be amused by his behavior but I prefer sticking to Cyrille’s side for the time being.

“So we have the piano and the harp, my two favorites. There’s the cello in the other corner along with the viola. I never could learn to play wind instruments but I guess it’s not much of a loss for how well and easily I learn the rest.” She offers the words quietly, watching Mira with amusement. I think the expression others might have used to describe him right now is a kid in a candy store.

“Do you want to give it a try?” She motions to the harp a moment and Mira’s eyes go wide, as if she’d just told him he could take the forbidden fruit. He shakes his head sharply and Cyrille motions to the few chairs along the wall, I settle and he sits next to me. “How about I play a little then, would you like that?”

Mira’s face lights up and he nods, his eyes wide as he backs away a little to give room and he settles on the floor, right there. I laugh softly, I can’t help myself and he doesn’t even look at me to chastise me for it. I guess he really is absolutely enthralled, it’s a new look for him but I think it’s fitting. Maybe if he wants it really bad, I could use some of my saved up money to buy him a harp for our birthday or maybe for Christmas. I think he’d like that, maybe. We’ll have to see, I’ll take to Eoghan about it, he’d know best.

Magali settles on her little stool then and when her fingers find the string I can willingly admit that most every little thought my mind might have known flees at the first few notes. The sound is so beautiful, it’s breathtaking, the instrument itself is a sight to behold but the sound, oh the sound is beautiful and I close my eyes to better appreciate the beauty.

I don’t know how long she plays or what songs she really plays but it is the settling quiet that makes me open my eyes. She looks a little less worn now, maybe the harp has helped. Mira still looks as if this is the most perfect day of his life.

“That was absolutely beautiful as always, Maggy, thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome.” She smiles warmly, as if a mother to her child though there can’t be more than four or five years between them, I’m sure.

Mira eases to his feet, murmurs a thank you and she touches the top of his head with a chuckle before he’s coming back our way. He still looks awed and it’s an adorable look on his face.

Cyrille leads us out of the music room, closing the door as gently as he can behind his sister. “She’s currently undergoing chemotherapy so not all of her days are good and good days are honestly pretty rare lately but she’s doing her best to be so strong. Music seems to sooth her.”

“She plays beautifully.” Mira’s words low but honest as we walk away from that one particular door. I don’t ask to know what chemotherapy is. It sounds bad but if it’s for her good then that’s all I need to know, I might ask Eoghan when we get home tonight.

So far, this whole place really is a maze for us and I’m glad Cyrille is with us because I’m sure we’d be completely lost without him. We’ve seen bedrooms and almost a ballroom and a breakfast nook and a meal room and just so many rooms I don’t know what they do with it all. Our apartment is large but simple, just the rooms we need and that’s mostly that.

“I think all that’s really left to visit is the garden, there’s the attic but we’re never in that place and I’m pretty sure it’s as dusty as it could be so I’ll spare you guys the visit. Still good to go, Mira?”

My brother nods and I have to stop a moment to look at him, I have no idea why he’d ask that kind of question. I mean, we’re both here and we’re both fine and healthy so why would Mira not be good to go? Though I guess he did look a little tired this morning when we got up to come here. I hadn’t really thought about that. Maybe he’s had some nightmares and he didn’t tell me. It could make sense. It’s not like I force him to tell me about how he’s doing and what’s going on in his life.

“All right, let’s head back down and check in on the gardens then. After that I think we’ll head out. To be honest with you guys, I don’t much like to spend time here but with the parents in and out and Maggy often alone, I spend more time here so I can look after her to a point.” I think it’s kind that he wants to look after his sister.

We head down two sets of stairs and we stop at the large glass doors we’d taken earlier to head out to the yard. Ophé is still out there, just settled under the shade of one of the trees. The weather is nice currently so I guess it’s not much of an issue if she stays outside, I’m sure Cy would have brought her back inside if he’d thought it a better idea, after all. It makes sense.

He opens the doors and we step outside, closing the doors once we’re all out in the warmth of the season. I breathe in deeply, filling my lungs with the surrounding air. It smells different here than it does at home but I suppose that’s because we’re alone where we’re at. He has more neighbours than we do, even if they’re a little far away.

“Garden’s this way.” Mira has already moved ahead and I follow along so as to not be left behind.