The last night of the year- December 31st- were pitch-dark. At the feet of the buildings of Centum City, Busan, Korea, the snow lay across the grounds like a white uneven sheet covering the ground.
Then three people then turned a corner and emerged into the street.
One was a boy with blonde hair and mesmerizing blue eyes. The other one was a girl with short, mousy brown-blonde hair and beautiful amber eyes that seemed to have the ability to look through anything. The third was another girl, with eyes as blue as the skies and coal-black hair. They looked normal and were like the ordinary teenagers.
But there was something strange about them all.
Each of them floated a few centimeters above ground, and their eyes shone with starlight, reflecting the night sky above. And even more strangely, when the teen girl with amber eyes passed a tree-house, she went right through the plants and the bushes around it.
“Charlotte,” sighed her companion. “You’re not supposed to do that. What if some mortals see us?”
“It’s the middle of the night,” retorted the so-called girl. “Anyway, Swan, the Veils would hide us.”
“Even they have a limit of power,” the teen boy hissed this time. “We must be careful.”
“That didn’t help you to protect Andrew, did it, Luke?”
At Charlotte’s hurled words, Luke’s eyes blazed.
It blazed not just with the anger of his companion’s words- it blazed with the knowledge that she was right in a way, with a strange phantom pain of the name that had so failed him.
He stayed silent, but Charlotte could sense his insides fuming. “Look,” she added more gently after a moment of complete silence. “I’m sorry about that. But being anxious won’t help us protect the new one we have chosen.”
Luke did not reply.
“Luke?” Swan murmured this time.
“Let’s just go,” he sighed. “Please, for once, all of you, listen to me.”
Neither of them did not answer this time.
Their eyes glowed, Charlotte’s amber eyes dancing with concern, and Swan’s full of anxiety.
The three walked on in silence, without any more conversations to distract them from their purpose, soon stopping at the Building-C.
Luke casually flicked his hand, aimed it at the lobby doors. It opened with a swoosh, and they said nothing then too, just waiting.
With a flash of starlight, a small bundle of blankets appeared on the sofa of the lobby.
Luke took it without a single word to the other two and walked over to the elevator. He then boarded it with Charlotte, pushed the twenty-seventh floor, and sighed as the gears of the elevator began to turn.
Creaking once, creaking twice.
The three of them stepped out onto the black, glittering stone, and turned right. Without a single word exchanged between them, they paused on the door that read 2702.
Charlotte reached out a hand, and her pale, ghostly fingers did not go through the door handle this time as she typed in the password. The door soon opened with a small click.
A woman in nightclothes rushed to the door, her hands blazing with blue power.
“State your name and purpose,” she hissed.
“It’s us, Libre,” said Charlotte irritatedly.
“State your name and purpose,” Libre repeated.
“Luke Celeste, Charlotte November, Swan Quevesail, here to report of news that your sister died tonight, and also to-” Luke hesitated. “To give you a burden.”
“Give me a burden?” Libre glared at them all, the blue power in her hands deafening to only a small ball. “What do you mean? I know that Madeleine died. We have the bond.”
Her green eyes were hardened against grief. “What, did you think I would break down and cry? I’ve known loss, Luke, Charlotte. Swan. I can handle much more.”
“We aren’t here to talk about-” Swan nudged her shoulder before Charlotte finished her agitated reply, who looked at Swan’s blue gaze and shut her mouth with a snap.
Then Luke handed the older woman the bundle.
“What in the name of-” Libre Bellerose riveted at the bundle, then broke off as she began to unwrap it.
Inside lay the unlikeliest thing to be in a small bundle in the world.
“Are you serious, Luke?” the older woman gazed at the teenager. “You know I refused to be a part of this-” she gestured her hand all around them. “All part of this madness. Ghosts and phantom voices, and most of all, magic. And you are giving me this?”
“Our safest option is you,” Luke sighed. “Take care of her well, Libre.”
“I haven’t even accepted the offer!”
“I don’t need your word because I’m sure that you will take care of your sister’s only child well.”
Silence fell as all of their gazes met, Charlotte and Swan’s included.
There was no sound but the rain starting to fall. Drip, drip, they all heard. Drip, drip.
“Very well,” Libre sighed at last.
The three nodded at her.
“Then our job here is done,” said Luke.
“Any words of warning?” Libre spat at them, bitterly. “You always did, when you visited my sister.”
For a moment, Luke, Swan, and Charlotte hesitated, half-faded already.
“Any words?” she inquired.
“Toss a pebble in a river, the current stays the same,” Finally, the three phantoms chorused together. “Remember, Libre Bellerose. Toss a pebble in a river, the current stays the same. There has always been no time for this child.”
Their voices echoed as they disappeared. “Toss a pebble in a river, the current stays the same . . . toss a pebble in a river, the current stays the same . . . No time . . . No time. . .”
And leaving a stunned Libre, they were gone.
Slowly, Libre Bellerose opened the windows and gazed up at the deep blue night sky.
HIdden by the city lights, most stars were hidden. Only at the countryside was when she could see all the stars in the sky.
Yet tonight, the young woman saw three stars twinkling, twinkling brighter than even the moon.
One was the Sirius, the brightest star in the evening sky; he other was Canopus, the second brightest star; the third was Rigil Kentaurus, the third brightest star.
And for a moment- just for a moment, but still- around her, Libre Bellerose thought that the whole milky-way, the whole galaxy, had spun around her. She had thought that all the stars in the sky had come down and joined her on the ground.
Then the sensation was gone.