Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

More Important

Winston wakes up early in the morning, about an hour before breakfast, like he always does.

Still half sleeping, he trudges towards the fields to start the tasks he has to do every day; getting the animals out of their stables, feeding Bark, sharpening some knives.

He is just filling Bark's bowl with dog food – the black Labrador is standing against his arm, wagging his tail – when he hears a girl's voice behind him.

"Good morning, Winston."

Winston turns around, as far as possible with Bark leaning on his arm, and sees Flore sitting on the windowsill. She is smiling; apparently her bad mood has disappeared a little.

He holds one hand up as a greet.

"Hey," he shouts back. "Slept well?"

"Yeah, great," Flore replies, starting to climb down the ladder. Her straight, red hair waves every time she steps down, and Winston forgets the heavy Labrador next to him for a moment, looking at Flore like he's in a trance.

Bark follows his look, whining quietly, as if he wants to say: "Do you really think that she's more important than I am?"

Winston grins and puts the dog's bowl down on the ground. Bark immediately starts to gobble up his food.

Looking up, Winston sees that Flore is standing next to him, looking at the eating dog. He hadn't even noticed that she was so close to him. Her green eyes sparkle brightly in the early sunlight.

It is silent for a while – except for the unappetizing sounds Bark is making – before Flore looks up.

"Can... Can I pet him?" she asks, giggling a little.

Winston's eyebrows shoot up, and he chuckles.

"Yeah, of course," he says. "Go ahead."

He watches her slender hand stroke over the Labrador's black fur.

"Winston?" she asks.

"Yes?"

"Do you know why I've been sent here? Why I can't remember anything?" Flore asks, still not looking him in the eyes.

Winston shakes his head.

"No," he says gloomily. "I don't know anything. You should ask Newt about it."

Flore opens her mouth, probably to ask who Newt is, but Winston cuts her off before she can say anything.

"I need to get Alby to lead you around, before I forget about it," he says, already walking away. He stops when he sees that Flore follows him.

"I think you'd better stay here," he tells her, "Alby might freak out when he sees that there's another girl here. It's better if I explain it to him first."

Flore doesn't seem so happy about it, but then she shrugs and replies: "Okay. I'll stay here with your dog, then."

Winston nods and walks away, towards the Homestead, where Alby usually sleeps. Nearly nobody is awake yet; only the Cooks are busy preparing breakfast for everyone.

Frypan waves at Winston when he walks past the kitchen. Waving back, Winston goes into the Homestead and walks upstairs, towards Alby's room. He walks into the room after politely knocking on the door.

Alby is standing in the middle of the area, with a toothbrush in his mouth.

Winston sighs, relieved that he doesn't have to wake Alby up; the last time someone tried that, Tim ended up having a black eye because Alby had hit him.

"G'mongin'," the dark-skinned boy greets him. He takes the toothbrush out of his mouth. "Came to ask me something?"

"Eh... Yeah," Winston replies, wondering how he is going to explain the whole situation. "Well... Eh... There is... There's another girl in the Glade."

Alby chokes on his toothpaste, and Winston quickly continues: "I found her last night, lying in the Box. Her memory has been wiped, and, eh... I came to ask you to lead her around."

Alby frowns, and Winston involuntarily notices how incredibly stupid he must have sounded. Then the leader shrugs.

"All right, then," he says.

Winston exhales, relieved. For a small moment, he had thought that Alby was going to yell at him.

"Let's go."

They start to walk towards the Bloodhouse.

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