Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Dandelion Crowns

Flore's brain is calm, that night. No dreams, no new missions.

A small part of her is happy about it, but a big part isn't. It feels like calm before the storm; a moment to catch your breath before you need to run even faster.

It makes her feel like her nerves are working twice as hard, and that's also the reason why Winston nearly scared her to death, even though he was just standing against the wall, next to the ladder to the attic.

"Whoa, relax," the black-haired Keepers says with a small smile. "It's just me."

"Yeah, I'm sorry," Flore replies, rubbing her hand over her face.

She is feeling tired already, even though she has slept better than the past couple of nights.

"So... had any more dreams?" Winston asks her.

She looks up, a little surprised; she had nearly forgotten that she had told Winston about the dreams.

"No," she responds, shaking her head. "And I'm not happy about it. It feels like something bad is going to happen. It's driving me crazy."

Winston shrugs.

"Well, at least nothing bad's going to happen today, I guess," he says. "We've brought the Cooks enough meat for two days, so we only have to feed the animals and then we're done for today."

Flore feels a smile play on her lips. A free day is, actually, exactly what she needs today. She thinks that she can't bear to be in a room filled with people with knives, now that her nerves are overreacting.

"Well, that's nice," she says, grinning.

"I know, right?" Winston responds, grinning back. "And it's even nicer that I've already fed the animals."

Flore's smile grows wider. A whole free day...

"That's awesome," she replies.

Winston nods. "You're welcome. So... how about having breakfast?"

The two of them end up sitting in the Deadheads, their backs against the trees. It is silent while they sit there, but it is a pleasant silence. Winston could be sitting there forever, next to Flore.

The redheaded girl has been fidgeting with something for a while, but Winston is too sleepy to look what it is; he is too busy enjoying the morning sun on his face. He gets pulled out of his slumbering state by cool fingers touching his forehead and putting something in his hair.

His eyes shoot open.

"Hey! What..." he begins, but he stops when he sees Flore's face.

She is smiling, an absent-minded but focused smile. She is very close, close enough to kiss her if he would want to – where did that thought come from? – and the bright sunlight makes golden flocks in her green eyes.

She looks pretty, Winston realizes, but not pretty enough to distract him from the fact that she has just put something in his hair.

"What did you put in my hair?" he asks, knowing that he sounds a little distrusting.

Flore smiles, showing her white teeth.

"A flower crown," she says, and her innocent smile seems to become a frolic smirk. "A dandelion crown. Those little fluffs are all over your hair, now."

Winston jerks the thing off his head and rubs the white fluffs out of his hair. The tiny parachute-like seeds fly through the air and land on his clothes.

Some of them also land in Flore's hair; a nearly satisfying result, Winston thinks.


He picks the flower crown up – which is, he hates to admit it, beautifully made – and puts it in Flore's hair.

Then he stops.

He hadn't expected that the dandelion crown would have that effect on her. It makes her look wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous. He could write a poem about it.

Flore looks him in the eyes, puzzled.

"What?" she asks, sounding innocent. "What's going on? Why are you looking at me like that?"

Winston closes his mouth – he didn't even know that it had dropped open – and quietly replies: "Well... Flore... you're beautiful."

Her mouth drops a bit open, but then she says: "You know, I didn't expect you to say that."

"Why not?" Winston asks, surprised. He isn't that heartless, is he?

"Well, you know, you're more the 'tough silent Slicer' instead of the 'sweet complimentary softie'," she says, shrugging. "I like the first one more, though."

Winston feels a smile play on his lips. He knows that he must look incredibly stupid, but he still says: "Believe it or not, but I can be a softie, too."

At least, that's what he wanted to say before a new voice interrupts their conversation.

The 'believe it or not' has barely left his mouth before it gets cut off by an amused "You guys are so cute together, you know."

Winston's head whips to the side and he sees Minho, leaning against a tree, inspecting his nails.

"How... How long have you been standing there?" Winston asks him, feeling that his cheeks grow red.

The Asian looks up.

"Long enough," he replies drily, giving the Slicer a knowing look. "I'm bored."

"Don't you have to run today?" Flore asks. There is confusion and a little irritation in her voice; apparently she feels exactly the same as Winston. "You're a Runner, right?"

"Yeah, I am," Minho replies, "but the others don't want to go running. They say that there are too less of them, and they don't trust each other after the thing with George and Josiah. To be honest, I don't really feel like running, too, so I gave them a day off."

"Does Alby agree with that?" Winston asks.

Minho shrugs. "It doesn't matter as long as we don't get caught." He frowns, then smiles. "Talking about getting caught... How about playing a game with me?"

Winston rolls his eyes. Did their conversation really have to be interrupted for something that childish?

He sighs, knowing that Minho's temper explodes if he doesn't get what he wants, and replies: "All right, then. One game."

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