On the other side of the town, the twins sat in the living room, drinking tea and playing chess on the brown couch. Much could be said about the game of chess, how inspiring, how difficult it is. Áinfean and Mealla had been studying it for years. It was the first toy Neill ahd bought them.
“Yet somehow you always win.” Mealla spoke through her hands that she was holding to her mouth as she stared at the board.
Áinfean grinned, and dramatically held her hands in the air, in the form of celebration. “Bow down to your queen!”
Mealla made a mock bow. “I bow down to thee.” Áinfean held herself royally.
“Thank you, thank you, your Queen deserves this. You should feel honoured” She waved.
“Look at her, so graceful! So humble!”
Áinfean fanned herself “Oh you flatter me darling, do continue.”
They dissolved into a fit of giggles. In amidst their laughter, Mealla kneed the set off the couch.
“Oh shit!” She made to grab it, but only got the edge of the board. Áinfean gasped, and they both waited for the inevitable clatter.
It didn’t come.
Instead, they watched as the chess pieces froze in mid air from the blue ice that had traveled from Mealla’s finger tips. The ice in question, had not stopped at the pieces, but continued to the floor, and was still spreading beyond the room.
“Damnit” Mealla huffed.
“It’s okay, it was an accident. I’m sure it didn’t travel that far -” Áinfean was interrupted by a scream and a thud behind them. They both flinched at the sound, and a look passed between them.
“Crap” They both said. Mealla scrambled to run towards the sound, and Áinfean jumped over the couch’s back to follow her. Her feet leaving puddles of water where they fell. They came to a stop in front of the small office’s door. Naneal lied on the Ice cold floor, books scattered around her.
“nanael I’m so sorry!” Mealla went to help up the nun, while Áinfean started to pick up the books.
“Oof” Nanael breathed, now sitting uprigt with Mealla’s help. “What have I taught you about controlling your magic?”
“It was an accident, something was falling and I was reaching to grab it. I must’ve -” mealla fretted as she helped Nanael to stand
“It’s fine, Mealla” Nanael held her shoulders, looking at the girl who’s eyes were shining. “It’s fine. You just need to practice more alright?”
Mealla blinked a few times, nodding. “You could’ve been seriously - ”
"But I wasn’t” She rubbed the child’s face, giving her a soft smile. “Now go help your sister pick those up.”
“Okay.” Mealla murmured, leaving the Nun’s embrace. The nun in question was just about to pick up a few herself, when -
“Miss Nanael I heard a shout and I just - !”
Three heads snapped up to the door, to see a wild head of red hair huff and puff from exertion.
The head in question had frozen, straring wide eyed at the twins “- had to come see if you were alright.” She finished. She blinked rappindly, and gave nanael an apologetic look.
The twins eaxchanged looks before watching to the nun. Nanael’s shoulders had slumbed, but she composed herself quite quickly. “I’m fine deary. Just a little accident.” She sighed, keeping her eyes on her books. ” Áinfean, Mealla, this is Hera. Hera these are my nieces, they have gome to stay while they’re - ” She froze, stumbling around her head for the right word. “Neill, is off playing detective.”
“Playing?” The twins looked at her in shock, none of them hearing Hera mumble “What’s a Neill?”
“We take offence at that,” Áinfean frowned.
“We thought you supported our line of work.” Mealla’s voice turned soft, and her face pulled into a small pout.
“I doo...” Nanael defended. “I just know what he’s like.”
The girls pondered on that info for a minute before reluctantly agreeing with a nod.
“And a Neill is a person who is very much the word dumbass in human form.”
The twins stifled their giggles. Hera seemed concerned “Right.” She looked around, and her eyes fell to the floor. “Right!” She looked back up at Nanael, as if she remembered something important. Here voivce was so sharp the three girls jumped.
“Right?” Nanael asked, her eyes wide and confused. “Right what?”
“What happened to your floor? Its frozen over.”
nanael blinked. “Right! That was the accident. Uh Mealla - Mealla and Áinfean - they uh - they uh - ”
“Oh Nana it’s not like its a secret. we had to register and everything.” Mealla smiled.
“I told you to never call me that.” She looked at Mealla, her eyes flashing and her voice changing.
The girls jumbed and took a slight step backwards. “I forgot how scary she can be.” Áinfean whispered to her sister, firmly grasping her hand.
“I know." Mealla whispered back.
Nanael turned back to Hera. “They’re weather spirits. Áinfean is partial to the summer, Mealla to the winter. They’re still learning how to control they’re powers especially since it still fluxuates.”
Hera seemed to take deep breath and blinked 3 times. “They’re - they’re - sp - spirits.”
Nanael pointed her finger at Hera “Don’t. Go back up. You can’t be here, you’re still recovering.”
“Recovering from what?” Mealla asked.
“yeah, you haven’t exactly told us how you know her or why she’s here.” Áinfean added.
Nanael mentally cursed herself. Damn Neill and his subconcious habit of creating protogees. She forced a smile as she turned back to the girls. “She’s just one of the Professor’s patients. She was really sick and the doctors up town couldn’t help her.”
The twins excanged glances “Uh huh.”
God only knows what went on in those girls heads, but she knew it wasn’t good. “Just fix the mess you made. It’ll be good practice for you. Hera, go back to bed. you need to rest or the Professor won’t be able to continue his treatement. He’ll have to start all over again.” She stared intently at Hera as she said the last part.
Hera, in question, swallowed hard, her eyes wide, and nodded before she left.
Mealla looked at the floor, contemplating the mess. She looked up at her sister, who was picking up the last of the books. “Help me?”
“Don’t you dare!” Nanael cut in, just as Áinfean opened her mouth to speak. “If I see one puddle or feel any dampness in this, or any room. You will both, feel the wrath an angel can ensue.”
Áinfean held up her hands in surrender. Mealla looked down sadly.
“You can make it disappear, you know you can.”
Mealla sighed, crouched down and brushed her figers over the ice. it was cold to the touch, but it hardly bothered her. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and flattened her palm on tho the floor. Focusing, she poured all the magic she could feel into the one act of making the ice vanish.
“Don’t try and make it disappear, pull it back in. The ice is a part of you, Mealla.”
Mealla deflated for a minute, before she squared her shoulders, and tried again.
It started slowly, but soon the white blue ice left the floor and flowed into Mealla’s finger tips. Áinfean was leaning against the small bookcase by the door, watching her sister concentrate. Nanael had left, claming she had a few documents to go through for the Doctor. When the last of the ice vanished, Áinfean smiled. Mealla opened her eyes, and grinned widely when she saw the clean floor boards. Her eyes sparkled as she looked at her sister, who returned the grin.
“I did it!”
Áinfean pushed away from the bookcase “Of course you did. Come on, you deserve an awesome high five and a snack.”
Mealla jumped up and they high fived, gigling. “Yeah we really need food. We haven’t had lunch.”
“Riiight... do we even have food at the house?”
“We hooked up the electricity illegally.”
“Yeah we don’t have food at all. We should go ask Nanael.”
Mealla sighed. “She is going to kill Neill.”
“Yeah, but guess what?”
“That is not our problem.”
Mealla laughed. “Oh god, never let him know you said that.”
Áinfean laughed and hooked her arm around her sister’s shoulders as they left the room.
They found Nanael in the study, ouring over old texts on old parchment, her brows furrowed so deeply they formed a v on her forehead. The approached her hesitantly, fingers intertwined, as Áinfean took the lead.
“Nanael?” She asked. They both saw the moment nanael’s mind was braught back to reality. the Angel looked up from her paperwork, the frown dissolving instantly. “Um, we were wondering if we could have some food?”
naneal put down the papers “Didn’t you guys have lunch?”
“We kinda never got around to it. Neill needed to leave before we could even speak about it.” Mealla added.
nanael sighed and rubbed her hand over her face.“That boy. I’m going to kill him.”
“Ah he was just excited for his new case, you know how one minded he gets when he gets a case.” Áinfean smiled. “Usually he takes really good care of us. He always makes sure we have enough food.”
“And he does homeschool us. Which counts in our favor.”
“We finished our schooling remember?”
“Oh yeah... He’s been teaching us extra stuff. I forgot it wasn’t needed for schools.”
Nanael had stood up as they had their little chat. “Yes, well. he needs to do better.” She ordered the pages before putting them down. “Come on, I’m sure we have something in the kitchen.” They walked after her out the door they came, passing the lounge, where Nanael stopped short at the couch.
“Uh, Mealla?” She frowned.
“Yeah?” Mealla and Áinfean stopped behind her. She pointed at the couch, and the girls turned to see the chess set, still frozen in place. Slowly, dripping.
“Oh my god it stayed?!” Mealla’s eyes grew wide.
“Did you only think of the floor when you took the ice away?” Áinfean asked delicately.
“And theres your answer.” Nanael nodded, “Clean it up.” She called before walking on.
Mealla went over to the mess with a sigh. “You can go on to help Nanael, I’ll fix it quick.”
“Alrighty.” Áinfean Turned and walked after Nanael, finding the kitchen behind a blue door, in a very blue room, and old kitchen -ware.
“Alright” nanael said as Áinfean ented. “I got some lunch from burgers I can quickly fry, or I can make you guys some sandwiches?”
“Mm Sanwiches are good.” Áinfean replied.
“Great!” Nanael grabbed all that she needed, and started the process.
Áinfean took a deep breath, before deciding to just bite the bullet. “So who exactly is this Hera?”
Nanael didn’t look at her, but her chopping of the tomatoes got just a little more violent. “I told you, she needed the Professor’s help.”
“Yeah but how did she get here? How did she even know about the Professor? He’s not even registered as a doctor. he’s a Proffessor at a University who likes to study the stars.”
“Oh the doctor has helped a lot of people in the fishing community around here, you know that.” The knife came down with a loud thwack. “Word travels.”
“Okay, yeah, good point, but still, this is a small town outside the second biggest city in this coutry. There are many more who could have helped her.”
“And they couldn’t.” Another whack.
“Did her family bring her?”
“Where are they?”
“Áinfean.” She sighed. “She’s just another patient. What is so strange about it?”
“Usually he sees patients at their home.”
“She’s from overseas.”
“I don’t know I didn’t ask.”
“What does it matter? She’s a little girl, your age, that needed help.”
“We both know the Prof does some strange experiments that could get him in a lot of trouble. She could be faking to get a better look at the Prof’s home.”
Nanael snorted. “Believe me, no one can fake what she had.”
“And what was that?”
Nanael wiped her hands as the first sandwich sizzled, looking straight at Áinfean as she spoke “Doctor patient confidentiality. Can’t tell you.”
“He’s not an actual doctor!”
“Still applies.” Nanael replied, making another sandwich.
Mealla entered the room, squeezing behind Áinfean to sit on one of the counter tops, grabbing a slice of cheese before Nanael could stop her. “What are we talking about?”
“Hera and the fact that she came out of nowhere.” her sister replied.
“She didn’t come out of nowhere!” Nanael interjected.
“So where’s she from?” Mealla looked between the two of them.
“They don’t know” Áinfean answered at the same time as Nanael replied: “Overseas.”
“There you go she said overseas.”
“But where overseas? There’s The Iron Kingdom, The Crowned Islands and even Anthropia!”
Mealla shrugged. “What does it matter?”
“What does it matter?? Mealla. What if she’s someone dangerous?”
“Who’d go after the Prof? Most people think he’s just a whacky professor.”
"Think being the operative word here.”
“Has she eaten?” Mealla directed her question to Nanael.
“Yes.” Nanaeal took out the first sandwich
“Around 12, when a normal person is supposed to have lunch.”
“Great” She jumped off the counter, grabbed a plate and placed the newly made sandwich in it. “Its already 2. She’ll want a snack I’m sure.” With that she nodded to them and left the room.
“You don’t know which room she is in!” Nanael protested, becoming exceedingly worried.
“I’m sure i’ll find it!” Mealla called back.
Áinfean grinned and followed her sister. “It should be upstairs, nanael did tell her to go back up.” She told her sister as she fell into step next to her.
“Bet you twenty its in The Highest Tower” mealla replied dramatically. They giggled.
They found her exactly where they thought they would, behind the last door in the highest tower, on the second highest floor. To be fair it was the only place in the building that held bedrooms, and it only had about 5 of those.
The twins fistbumped behind their backs when Hera called out after they knocked on the door. The room in question, was as dark as the rest of the house, with a big window as the only light source at the opposite wall to the door. Granted, this window brought out quite a bit of light, given that it faced the sun. The bed was old, but sturdy, and a few books were stacked around it and the room. One stack was used as a bedside table, by the looks of the teacup and light it held.
“Hey - Oh god, did the Professor really give you a room he’s been using as an extra storage space?” Mealla’s orginal words flew out of her mouth as she saw the mess.
“Sort of.” Hera replied, “but most of the books I asked for. They’re quite interesting. There’s one about the history of The Iron Kingdom and the Dwarven Wars. its really a shame what happened to them.” She sat up in the bed.
“Thats only one, what about the others?” Áinfean asked.
“Oh um.” Hera blinked, thinking. “Well, most of it is about the starts and the other lands, but there’s a few about the early work in biology and Magical Science that I find quite interesting.”
The twins stared at her in awe. “How long have you been here?” Áinfean finally asked.
“Um... I think... a week? The days are kind of blurry. I was out of it for a while there.”
“and you’ve read how many books?”
“Um” More thinking. After a minute or so she pointed at the books under the window, stacked against the wall. “I haven’t read those.”
Mealla muttered a swwearword under her breath. It took her a minute before she could square her shoulders and offer the sanwich. “We thought you might be feeling snacky.”
“Oh. Thank you!” She took the plate delicately with her soft, small hands. With the same delicateness, she held it close as she picked up the sandwich and took a bite.
“So,” Mealla sat down on the bed. “Where are you from?”
She semi - choked and started to cough.
“Oh shit are you okay?” mealla leaned forward to pat her back.
“Yeah - “cough “Yeah -” Swallow. “I’m fine - I’m good. You just surprised me that all.”
Mealla’s hand fell to her lap once more.
“Surprised you? How? by asking you where you’re from?” Áinfean asked incredilously, now closer t the bed as well.
Hera’s eyes flitted to her momentarily before going back to the sandwich. “Well, yeah - I mean - Yeah- we um - not a lot of people as me that.”
“We don’t know you. We wanna know you.” Mealla shrugged.
“Yeah, surely Nanael asked you and your parents the same question?” Áinfean asked offhandedly.
“Well - yeah of course, - i mean - my parents - they... they didn’t bring me.”
Mealla and Áinfean exchanged looks. “Really?”
“Yeah .” Hera cleared her throat. “Um - my...my cousins brought me.”
“Oh.” The twins looked down.
Softly, Mealla asked, ” Why didn’t your parents bring you?”
“They... don’t exist.” Hera put down the sanwich and crossed her arms.
“Don’t exist.. as in...?” Áinfean glanced at her sister.
“Don’t know them. Well. Not my dad anyway. Mum disappeared - dunno - four.. maybe five years ago? Dunno where she is.”
There was silence for a little while.
Hera took a deep breath and picked up the sanwich again. “What about yours?”
“Ours?” The twins looked at one another, confused.
“Your family. Where’s your mum and dad?” Hera explained before taking another bite.
“Right.” Áinfean looked down.
“We don’t have parents. We have a Neill.” Mealla grinned at Hera.
“A - what?” Hera looked at her confused. “What’s a Neill?” She looked away. “Why do I feel like I have said that before.”
Áinfean smiled. “The dumbass in human form, remember?”
“Oh yes! Thats right!” She scrunched her face, cursing herself for forgetting. “The guy Sister nanael mentioned.”
Áinfean’s smile turned into a laugh “Yeah, uh he’s kinda like our brother slash father - ”
“Mostly brother” Mealla added.
" - who adopted us after our mother died.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. How did she die?”
Mealla looked down, fidgeting eith thhe bed. “She was murdered.”
“Oh. my gosh, that terrible.” Hera grasped Mealla’s hands. Mealla looked up to see Hera staring directly at her, with a very serious expression. “Did you catch the guy?”
Mealla shook her head, unable to look away “No. He - um. Neill investigated, but - but they don’t know what happened.”
“That’s terrible. I’m really sorry.”
“I - Its okay. We um. We were only six when it happened.”
“Yeah,we don’t remember her.” Áinfean helped.
Hera put the focus of her mossy green eyes on Áinfean. “No but that’s even worse! You have no one to miss, no memories of your mother, no family -”
“No one to dissapoint us either.” Áinfean interrupted, her voice suddenly stern. Hera’s breath caut at the look on Áinfean’s face. “Do not think that we don’t have family. We do. Neill, Nanael and the Professor is our family.”
“Don’t forget Keishima.” mealla whispered, now watching her sister.
“Right yes. Also Keishima.”
“Also, you’re being a bit harsh sis...” Mealla pulled on her sister’s sleeve. Áinfean blinked a couple of times at her sister, a bit confused, until she looked back at Hera.
Hera’s hands had slipped back ont her lap, she seemed quite small as she leaned back and pulled into herself. Her eyes wide “I’m sorry. i didn’t mean to - to - to insult you.”
“It’s fine Hera, we know you didn’t” Mealla gave her a soft smile.
Áinfean looked away. “I just meant. You have your cousins right? They’re still your family. They might not be your mum or dad, but they care for you. They bought you here when you got sick. Its the same with us and Neill, Nanael, Keishima and the doc.”
“Oh” her voice was small, and she became even smaller.
It occured to Áinfean, in that little moment, as Hera tried to disappear into her sweater, that this girl would never be able to hurt any one. let alone be a spy. She’d argue that the girl could just be a very good liar, but she’d seen the girl try to lie with the first question she was asked, and that went horribly. “Eat your sanwich please,” Her voice sounded strangled in her own ears. “I’ll get you some tea.” her head hanging, she left Mealla in the room.
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