She was a small girl - small and tanned, with quick brown eyes that flicked towards every movement, the color of a rabbit's but the quickness of a cat's. Her light brown hair, almost blond, was tied into an uncombed explosion of curls, stray hairs shining almost golden in the dim sunlight around her dirty but very beautiful face like a halo. She sneezed, rubbed her little button nose with one dirty hand, and sat, pondering, onto a nearby crate.
The man had told her to wait here, she remembered with a childish sigh. Stupid adults, always thinking they could tell her what to do just because they were bigger. Well, she was faster, and smarter, and didn't need to be bigger, because she could outsmart any big person. She yawned, stretching wiry-muscled arms, and lay back against the stone of the building behind her, shifting as it's cold chilled her through her thin shirt. Shutting her eyes, she dozed in the morning sunlight.
She was hungry, and the emptiness in her stomach kept her from relaxing completely. The man had promised to bring food, she kept telling herself; perhaps, she thought, that was the only reason that she was waiting for him. He had promised food, and even more food after that, if she was lucky, if... what had the man said? If what he saw in her was really there, whatever that meant. The girl laughed in spite of herself, wondering what he was looking for. There was nothing to her except for what she was, an orphan trying to stay alive, a wiry little seven year old. She was a little stronger perhaps, a little smarter... No, she corrected herself, a lot stronger and smarter, far above all the others she competed with every day. Maybe someone had finally noticed her superiority. A smirk appeared on her face at the possibility, crinkling up her freckle-covered nose. Yes, she decided, that must be it.
She heard a noise, a slight shuffle, and opened one eye just enough to catch a blurred image of it's source, not quite enough so that anyone watching her would notice. It was the man she was waiting for, and she frowned and opened her eyes, more than a little annoyed that he had ruined her nap. There was nothing she enjoyed more than sleeping in the sunlight as it shown through her eyelids, turning them into a molted pattern of red and pink.
"Hello." she said coldly.
The man smiled at her and the girl sat up, scratching at the dry skin on her bony elbows. "Hello there." he said in a strong, quiet voice that rose from his smiling lips. "Hungry?" She nodded, quick and eager, and sat forward a bit. "Well, here you are." He handed her a small loaf of bread, which she snatched from his hand without a word.
Sitting cross-legged, the girl ripped the loaf in half, sniffed it cautiously, then took a bite, eating in the fast, efficient manner of someone used to having their meals stolen. It only took her five minutes to eat, and afterwards she picked all the crumbs off of her small ripped shirt and ate them, too, pausing for a moment to look up at the man and say "Thank you..." in the cutest voice she could muster. He smiled in return and brushed her soft chick with his fingers.
As she finished, she looked up at the man with an insolent smirk on her face. He was surprised to see the little waif look him in the face so boldly, meeting his gaze with a challenging glint in her eyes. She carried herself with a quiet arrogance that he had never seen before among the children of the streets, and it intrigued him to no end. He sat quietly and allowed her to look him over.
The old man's eyes were grey, a shade she'd never seen before, and bright. They stared into her with the intensity of a wolf's, neither challenging or threatening, but missing nothing. She found herself smirking in response as she inspected him. His face was wrinkled and leathery, with small pink scars crisscrossing his chin, cheeks, and forehead. He wore a close-cut beard, which had holes in it where the scars marked his chin. It was apparent to the little girl that he knew how to take care of himself by the way he carried himself, and she could tell by the way he moved that he was a man to be reckoned with and not an easy mark. He seemed reasonably intelligent and even rather quick on his feet, for an adult.
"Well?" she asked.
"Well what, little one?"
"Well? Do I have what you were looking for?" The little girl seemed annoyed.
"Eager to get off the streets, are we, my little orphan? Hah, I can't say I blame you." He stood smoothly, sliding to his feet like a cat, and the girl reached under her shirt, touching the worn handle of the dagger strapped around her waist. The old man laughed. "Smart girl. But I don't intend to hurt you. Leave the knife under your shirt where it belongs." As he approached her, she began to draw the weapon, narrowing her eyes.
"You don't believe me, do you?." he said, still approaching her until he could touch her little weary face and calm her down. The girl decided he wasn't a threat.
"Now, I want to test you," the man said evenly, "defend yourself."
He leaped out to grab her, catching her in a common hold by both arms, but she twisted her way free and made a break for it. Something tripped her, and she fell on her face, panicking as she felt a strong chord tighten around her ankle. She kicked her way free and scrambled to her feet just in time to feel a strong hand clamp over her mouth, while two arms and one leg held her immobile against the wall. She struggled and tried to move and felt him adjust easily to hold her.
"I'm not impressed, girl." he muttered. He felt the girl relax in his hold and prepared to release her when she suddenly pulled one leg free, twisted, and kneed him in the crotch.
The little girl scrambled a safe distance away before turning back to laugh at him.
"Stupid stupid man, you can't catch me! You're too big and slow and dumb!" she giggled. "Oh, is that a pouch full of money? And I think I'll take this knife too!" she sang as she helped herself to his belongings, as he lay in pain on the ground.
His hand shot out to catch her wrist, and the man whispered, smiling, "You passed."
"Passed what? Let go of my arm!" the little girl yelled as she prepared to kick him in the face.
"Hold on, damn it!" he snarled, taking her wrist in two places as he struggled to stand. The girl shouted as he tried to stop her. "I'm not going to hurt you! Calm down!"
"Then let go of me!"
"Fine," he said, and did so, "but don't run away."
She stood, massaging her arm, poised to run, and waited for him to get up. "You passed." he finally said again.
"Passed what? You damn moron." She began flexing her arm slightly, trying to bring the feeling back.
"If you'll listen to me instead of being smart, I'll tell you."
"Hmph, I can't help it if I'm smart..." she muttered.
Ignoring her, he continued, "You passed my test. You'll do."
"For what?" the girl snapped.
The man stood up straight, and told her solemnly, "I'm going to train you."
The girl scowled at him and snorted rudely. "I'm not a dog. I don't need to be trained."
He smiled at her, his eyes laughing. "I'm going to teach you a trade."
"What trade?" she asked, skeptical.
"You mean killing people? For money?" He nodded. "Who says I want to?"
His eyebrows shot up at the question, but he didn't answer. "Come with me." he said as he began to walk away.
"Why should I? Where are we going?" He didn't answer. "Tell me or I'll kick you again!" she smirked, laughing.
"That" he said, turning around, "was a cheap shot."
"You're just mad because you lost! There was nothing unfair about it. I don't know what rules you assassinators have..."
"Assassins." he corrected.
"...but when you fight ME, anything goes! Remember that." She smirked at him.
He laughed out loud, unable to help himself. "That's a good attitude to have, little girl. Now come on, we're going to my house. We're going to live together for a while."
She looked as if she didn't believe him. "I'm going to live in a house? And you'll feed me?" He nodded. "What do I have to do?"
"Just learn my trade, that's all."
The little girl smiled broadly and fell into step beside him.
* * *
The rest of the day had passed, and the girl had done nothing but wander around the man's small house, looking for food and things that she might want to steal. It was a pretty house, with a blooming cherry tree in the front and a creek that ran behind it, about a mile away from the city's edge. Looking out the window, she could see the deep green edges of Darkdusk about a mile to the west, and the sea on the eastern horizon. "This place must've cost a king's fortune..." she said to no one in particular. Her voice echoed off of the hardwood walls.
The old man had left shortly after bringing her here, saying that he had "business in the city." He had also locked all of the doors. The little girl had amused herself as best she could all afternoon, but was swiftly running out of things to do. She had taken all of the knives out of the kitchen and practiced throwing them at a knot of wood in the wall, but that was much too easy, so she left all of his silverware sticking out of the wall and began to search the house for food. Finding nothing especially good, she drank a jug of milk and fell asleep in a puddle of sunlight. When the sun set she woke up, her stomach growling, and decided to catch herself a mouse and cook it in the fireplace for dinner. After a thorough search, however, she was forced to conclude that the man's house HAD no mice. She'd then pulled the smallest knife out of the wall and tried to pick the lock on the back door, but instead only managed to snap the blade and jam the lock shut.
"You stupid old man! I'm bored!" she shouted. She heard the front door shut quietly and jumped, terrified at the unexpected break in the silence. "Who's there?" she demanded.
"Just me." the man replied. "Come down here, girl. I need to talk to you."
She obeyed, trotting down the stairs, still shocked that she was in a house that HAD stairs. "Where did you go?"
He was holding an armful of packages, which he placed on the table. "I told you, to the city. I got you some new clothes, and a present." He handed her a heavy object wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string.
She sat down on the floor and began to unwrap it. Her thin hand clenched around the handle of a fine child sized dagger, in a black leather sheath with straps for her thin little waist. She broke into a grin and held it up.
"Thank you thank you!" She removed her old one, rusty and dull, tied around her waist with a length of rope, and strapped on her new gift, then gave the man a big hug, laughing.
He returned her hug and kissed her cheek.
"I expect you to learn how to use it." He sat down and unwrapped another few packages. "Little girl, what's your name?"
She unsheathed the dagger and looked at it in the candle light.
"Elanie. What's yours?"
"Klyne." He took out a loaf of bread and handed her half, which she immediately began to devour with her little pink mouth. He chewed his slowly and watched her, thoughtful, then lit a small fire in the fire place.
She looked up, her mouth full. "What?"
"How many people have you killed?"
She swallowed, with some difficulty. "What? Why? I..." She looked away. "I don't know. A few."
"How many is a few?"
She shrugged. "Four. But they attacked me! They tried to steal my food! They would've killed me!"
She put the loaf of bread on the floor, half eaten. "Five. Six. The sixth one was an accident." She shut her eyes. "Seven. The seventh one I did on purpose." She swallowed a sob. "I slit his stomach open, with this." She poked at her old dagger, on the floor. "It took him all afternoon to die. There was a lot of blood."
"Only seven?" he asked.
"How many adults?" His eyes stared into her, and she couldn't ignore him.
She shrugged. "I don't know. A few."
"How many is a few?" She shrugged again.
"Not many." She picked up her rusty dagger and strapped it around her chest, under her shirt. "Why does it matter?"
"Because I can't teach someone who's squeamish about killing." he told her. "But I can't teach a psychopath either."
"I am a psychopath." she said. She picked up her bread and started eating again. "Even the gangs say so."
"No you're not." He stood. "The tears on your face prove it. Now come on, I'll show you your bead."
Elanie's face brightened. "I get a bed?"
* * *
The next morning she awoke again to an empty house. There was a stack of black clothing piled up beside her bed, and, curious, she unfolded it to find a shirt and pants of soft black cotton, about her size. Smiling, she undressed and stepped into the clothes. They were crisp and clean and smelled like the tailor's shop. Smiling broadly, and smelling breakfast, she jumped down the stairs. On the table sat an empty bowl, and over the lit fireplace hung a bowl of stew. She helped herself to most of it, then noticed a note sitting on the table. Unable to read it, she used it as a napkin, then folded it into a paper airplane and threw it around the house.
Klyne burst through the front door shortly before noon, carrying something rather large and wrapped in bloodstained black fabric under one arm. He set it straight on the floor and turned to Elanie, his eyes wild.
"What did you do, steal a pig?" the little girl laughed.
"No, I did not steal a god damned pig! Go get me some water!"
Elanie looked at him blankly. "Water? Why? What is that?"
"Not what," he snarled, "who." The cloth, which she now saw to be a cloak, fell away to reveal a young child, about her age, terrified, shivering, and covered with blood.
"Where did you find that?" she asked in disgust. "It's just a kid."
"So are you. Go get me some damn water."
When she returned with a jug of it she looked the child over, while Klyne tried to get some of the blood off of her. The girl held clenched in her left hand a small silver dagger - or at least, Elanie decided, she thought it was silver, underneath all of that blood. Her left arm up to her shoulder was soaked in it, as was her right up to her elbow, and it appeared to the girl that it was not her own. Her face was spattered with red and a little bit scratched, and there was also quite a bit of blood caked in her midnight-black hair. She looked over at her with fearful steel-blue eyes.
"So?" she asked. "Who is it, then?"
"Calsey!" the little girl spoke up. "I'm Calsey. I won't let you kill me." Her voice shook a little, and she glanced up at Klyne. "Either of you. I'll kill you first."
The man poured half of the water over the little girl's head. "I wouldn't have taken you out of there just to kill you." He began to scrub at the girl's face. "Now clean off that fine dagger of yours and put it away so that I can see if you're hurt."
"I'm not hurt." she said softly. "I'm fine. Don't touch me!" She swiped at the man's face with her weapon. Klyne just caught her hand, disarmed her, and picked her up over one shoulder. Elanie was surprised to see that the little girl went limp in the man's arms.
"Come on, you need a bath and rest." the man grumbled. "Elanie, grab some soap."
Curious, the little girl did so, and followed.
* * *
Klyne made the little girl strip down to her underwear, then threw her clothes into the stream to be washed. The little girl didn't protest, silently obeying the man and constantly glancing over at Elanie, her cheeks red with blush. Klyne ordered her into the water, and the little girl carefully stepped into the creek, her steel eyes downcast.
Elanie noticed that even the girl's underwear was bloodstained and started laughing, and her face turned bright red. "What did you do, get lost in a butcher's shop?" she asked her.
She didn't answer, and Elanie settled herself down on the grass and watched her. She was her height, with a slight frame, thin and weak looking. Her skin was pale and perfect, her face aristocratic and flawless, despite the dried blood that covered it. Her eyes were huge, and when she reached up to wipe away a few tears from them her fists left rusty stains across her cheeks. Her hair was black, tied into a childish ponytail of a couple of inches, and wisps of it, caked with blood, fell into her face.
She unclenched her small hands in the water and began to scrape at the blood on them, flexing thin, pale fingers. Calsey glanced over at Elanie occasionally, the embarrassment gone from her face, replaced with a bit of curiosity. She seemed to her an entirely different person than she had when Klyne had carried her into the house, covered with gore. She wasn't from the streets, she decided after watching her eyes and her stance, checking her body for cuts or scars. She was thin from not working instead of not eating, pale from being inside rather than from being sick, and she moved with the elegance of a house cat, not the simple grace of a starving hawk.
Elanie closed her eyes against the sunlight, rolling onto her back, and began to doze.
* * *
Calsey looked at her reflection in the pinkish water and decided with an odd detachment that her hair was dirty. She was proud of it, the beautiful straight black hair that shone like a raven's wing after it was combed, that fell like silk against her neck. How had she gotten blood in her hair? She would've expected herself to be more careful than that... on her hair, on her arms, on her shirt and her cloak, all over, but there had been no time to be careful. She hadn't ever guessed that there would be so much blood.
Calsey wanted her dagger back. She felt helpless without it, and it was important. Where was it? On the floor of that man's house, where he had dropped it? She didn't know. She was worried that all that blood would make it rust.
She sat down on a slimy rock and began to scrub at her legs. How had she gotten blood on her legs? She'd been wearing long pants. She felt a sudden twinge of pain and realized that she must've been wounded.
"I'm cut." she called out in her soft, cold voice to the man on the hill.
"Is it bad?" Klyne asked her.
The little girl moved her leg and the pain increased, and she suddenly wished that she hadn't noticed it. It was bleeding a lot, a pink cloud that swirled around in the stream's quick waters.
"Yes." she said.
"I'll come down there and bandage it." the man sighed.
Calsey looked up at him. "But I'm not done washing yet."
"What do you want to do, bleed to death?" Klyne asked.
Calsey heard the man, but barely. She stood mesmerized by her blood as it swirled away elegantly in the swift cold water, and the man's words only tickled the back of her mind. Bleed to death? Could people do that? She'd never seen anyone die of bleeding, and they always bled after they died anyway. The blood was a side effect of death, not a cause of it, like crows around a carcass. She laughed. Even she knew that. And it was just as beautiful as the crows, even if it got all yucky when it dried and she had to wash it off.
She missed her mother. She was dead, though. Calsey missed her father, but he was dead too. Calsey wondered if they had bled to death, but she didn't think so. She thought that people would die without a head even if they didn't bleed at all. She had bled, though, a lot. So had her father.
She wondered if the blood of royalty was any different than normal people's. Her father said that it was, but Calsey didn't believe him, because it smelled the same. Her father thought that everything about royalty was better. Her mother always said that it was because he was a king, and he couldn't help it. She would say that and laugh and crinkle up her eyes, and it always would make Calsey smile. She remembered how her mother had been crying when the man had killed her, and how much it sounded like laughter. When Calsey killed the man - when she killed all of them - they hadn't cried, though. They had only gasped or yelled. None of them had cried like her mother.
Calsey stood in the bloody stream and wished silently that this day had never happened.
* * *
"What's wrong with her?" Elanie asked Klyne in awe.
"There's nothing wrong with me!" Calsey protested, her voice dim and distant.
"Then why are you standing in the water like that?" she asked her. She didn't answer, and she wondered if she had even heard her. She turned to Klyne. "I'll go get her out. Hold on."
She took off her shirt and shoes and jumped in, surprised at how cold the water was, and how red. Most of the blood had drifted downstream, though, because the spot where Calsey stood was clear.
"Come on, Casy." she said, putting a hand on her little shoulder. "You're all clean."
"My name isn't Casy." she told her in a detached, even tone. "And I'm not clean. My hair is dirty."
"Hmmm, so you're right! Well that's okay. Hold your breath." She dunked Calsey's head into the water. When she let her up, her silver eyes were clear and aware. She scrubbed at her hair with the soap and Calsey relaxed instantly, bloody soap bubbles dribbling down her face. She dunked her again to wash the soap out and she didn't struggle at all. Taking her hand, she waded back to the bank.
"Can people really bleed to death?" Calsey asked her.
"Yes, they can." she told her.
"How do you know?"
"Because I made someone bleed to death once. It takes a long time, though, so don't worry."
* * *
While Calsey obediently allowed herself to be bandaged, Elanie lay in the sun and slept, trying to dry off. Klyne carried the little girl home while Elanie walked behind, so quiet that more than once Klyne was afraid that she'd run off. Whenever he checked, though, there she was behind him, her eyes on the little girl in his arms and a pensive look on her face. Water dripped from Calsey's hair onto the man's clothing, a dark stain spreading slowly, and dribbled onto the ground in tiny puddles. Elanie stepped in the tiny bit of water, and it chilled her bare little feet. She didn't bother to wipe them of the mud she had gathered before entering the man's house, and where he placed the girl there soon appeared a puddle of water.
"Elanie, go get me a towel." he asked her.
The little girl sighed. She wouldn't be staying HERE for very long if this kept up. She certainly wouldn't trade her freedom for food, and especially not in the springtime. In the winter, maybe, because times were tough, but definitely not now.
"Yes, master." she grumbled. "Here I go, just like a servant."
"Oh, shut up."
"Yes, SIR! Here I go, sir! Anything else you want, sir?" She gave him a mock-salute.
"I want you to be quiet." the man said, still worried about Calsey.
"Yes SIR! Right away, sir! Here I go! HUP two three, HUP two three!" She got about five steps away before she collapsed into laughter, then ran up the stairs on all fours to find a blanket or something, and returned with a dry rag. They toweled the child off with it, but she squirmed out of the big man's grasp and went looking for her dagger. Finding it, she cleaned it off on the rag and refused to let go, saying that it was important. Relenting with a sigh, Klyne muttered "Well, she might as well keep it."
He wrapped Calsey up in a quilt and put her beside the fireplace, hoping that the little girl would fall asleep. When it didn't work, he gave her some warm soup to eat, watching with a smile as the girl tried to eat it without putting down her dagger, and giving Elanie her dinner when she whined for some too. Eventually, lulled to sleep by the warmth of the fire and the soup in her tummy, she dozed off.
Klyne looked down at the little girl and shook his head. It was hard to believe that this tiny girl sleeping at his fireplace was the same child that he'd found surrounded by the carcasses of nine fully grown, well trained men, all gutted or shredded, in several pieces or with their throats cut... He had stepped into the palace room to see nothing moving, and had assumed immediately that a royal guard with extraordinary skill had held the room, until a slight movement caught his eye. In the center a tiny figure clothed in blue and black and stained in red stood shakily, pulling its arm free from one of the men.
For a long moment, Klyne was too astounded to think. The little girl looked over the carcasses, making sure that they were all dead, and Klyne suddenly realized the significance of the royal insignia that she bore on her tunic - this girl was a princess.
"Who are you?" A voice like ice cut through the silence. It took Klyne a moment to realize that it had come from the little girl. "I won't let you kill me."
"I don't want to kill you, little one." Klyne said. "I'm going to help you."
"Why would you help me? I don't believe you. Who are you?"
"A friend." Klyne stepped through the room, hearing a soggy splash with each footstep. "I'm going to get you out of here. I'll protect you."
The girl sat down on the floor. "They killed my mother." she said.
For the first time Klyne noticed the body of a slight, thin woman in the corner, her raven black hair like spilled ink, the royal insignia on her dress. He knelt down and the little girl hugged him, shivering.
"They killed my mother but I killed them, and they wanted to kill me too, and everyone wants to kill me, and I want my mother..." The little girl seemed about to cry, but didn't. Klyne noticed the fresh blood trickling down the girl's leg, picked her up under one arm and ran. The child went limp in his arms.
* * *
"Will she live here?" Elanie asked him suddenly.
Klyne nodded. "She has nowhere else to go. She's sharing your bed from now on."
"Hear that, Calsey? You're living here now, with me." Calsey looked up at her, sleepy, but said nothing. Elanie looked down on her and smiled. She thought that she was interesting, and very pretty. She also thought that she would be very fun to play with.
The sun was streaming in through the thick dusty window as it set, and it danced, golden, across the little girl's black hair, fading the tips to deep brown, and turned Elanie's into a crown of spun gold. Klyne set her to work cleaning the blood off of the floor where he had first brought the little girl home, and she finished the job, grumbling, as the last bit of sunlight disappeared from the sky, while Calsey dozed, not quite asleep, by the fireside.
"Go to sleep girls, both of you." Klyne told them, as the stars came out. "You've had a rough day. I'll talk to you tomorrow, bright and early."
Elanie sighed. SHE hadn't had a rough day, and SHE wasn't tired, but she looked at the little girl by the fireside and realized that she must be.
"Come on, Casy, let's go." she said, taking her slender hand in hers.
"I'm not Casy." she muttered sleepily, following her. "Where are we going?"
Calsey followed her passively, her ebony hair falling limply over her face. Klyne watched little girls, hand in hand, as they walked up the stairs on cat's feet, searching for any signs of himself at that age. He had been so much more like the girl, he mused... So cocky, so sure that he was better, stronger, smarter, faster... He'd lived to improve that, to know that his strength was unmatchable, that no one could ever hurt him again.
* * *
Calsey sat on the very edge of the bed with her feet dangling over the side, her slender toes not quite touching the floor, looking as if she were about to fall off. In one hand she still held her silver dagger, pressing the hilt into her lap, and her other clenched the blanket tightly, as if she were clinging to the edge of the world and not the edge of a bed. She looked at the floor.
Elanie watched her as she slipped out of her thick black shirt and pants until she was completely naked. She didn't seem to notice Elanie's eyes on her. Finally, Elanie sat on the other edge of the bed and began kicking off her shoes. Calsey turned nervously at the sound. When she realized that it was a harmless noise she turned to stare at the floor again. Wordlessly, Elanie blew out the candle and crawled under the blanket.
She felt and heard, rather than saw, the little girl crawl towards the middle of the bed and pull the covers over herself, after a few minutes. When she lifted up the blanket a gust of cold air whooshed in and made her shudder, but the gentle heat from the little girl's body soon warmed it. She inched closer to absorb it, but Calsey shrank away, and she let her lay alone in peace.
Elanie's eyes had adjusted to the darkness and she looked at Calsey in silence. She was curled up into a ball and shivering, her face hidden against her knees, her silver dagger gleaming on the wooden floor beside her. She sighed and settled into the covers, hoping Calsey wasn't the type who kicked in her sleep. At first she was on edge, so that her every uneven breath, every shift, made Elanie jump, but eventually the warmth of little girl's increasingly even breath lulled her into a half-sleep. That was why she was so surprised when Calsey suddenly had her arms around her, and was also why she didn't cry out.
Before she even realized it, Calsey was clinging to her in the darkness, her face hidden by a layer of soft, cold blanket, her body shaking. She went stiff with fear and surprise at first but immediately relaxed. Without thinking, she put her arms around her little friend, held her close, and then she was clinging to her just as helplessly, like a scared kitten. She shuddered, whimpering, and she felt a warm wetness near her shoulder and realized that Calsey was crying. She felt the tears burning at the edges of her eyes - tears from what? Sympathy? Fear?
Calsey's arms around her were thin and weak, with stringy muscles under a layer of baby fat and soft white skin that she could easily feel her bones through. She felt frail and weak and trembled like a leaf in the March wind, whimpering like a kitten. "Mother, mother, I want my mother..." she repeated in a strangled voice, pushing her tiny face up against little girl's shoulder, her hair falling into her eyes. She smelled like stale blood and desperate tears and stream water.
She clung to Elanie who held her tightly in her own little arms until little girl had cried herself to sleep, but even in sleep continued to whimper and gasp unevenly, keeping Elanie awake. Strangely, as she inspected Calsey's face in the moonlight, trying to hold back tears herself, she didn't really mind. She loved Calsey and it brought funny feelings in her tummy. Somehow it felt nice to hold her tiny hand in the dark while little girl's soft black hair warmed her face.
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