Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Lovebird

Flore spends the hours after that doing small tasks; doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, repairing a broken picnic table. She doesn't really mind doing it, though sticking to Tim's side – a friendly, funny Slopper – makes the work a lot lighter.

At the end of the afternoon, there are no tasks left anymore; everything is done, and the Cooks had to start preparing dinner, so they have sent everyone out of the kitchen.

Flore and Tim are sitting with their backs against a tree, at the edge of the Deadheads. Flore's hands are fiddling with a flower, plucking the white leaves off the stem. She doesn't know why she does it, but it seems like an old habit.

The silence lasts for minutes, before Tim's voice splits the air.

"So... you and Winston."

Flore nearly drops her flower in surprise.

"What?"

"Don't act like it's nothing," Tim says, his usual chuckle in his voice. "I can see how you two look at each other. There's something between you, that's obvious."

Flore blushes, though she has no idea of what he is talking about. It's not like she is in love with Winston. Or is it?

"No, Tim," she says, shaking her head. "I think you're wrong. There's nothing between me and Winston. We don't even know each other for a day."

Tim frowns, looking lost in his thoughts for a small moment. Then he grins broadly, that funny, crooked grin that makes Flore want to giggle.

"I guess it's nothing, then," he says. "But I'll be watching you."

He makes his eyes grow huge and lets his face float right in front of her.

"I see everything," he says, in a voice that would be mysterious if he wouldn't let his tongue hang out of his mouth.

Flore laughs and throws the flower at his face. "Idiot."

"Weirdo."

"Creep."

"Lovebird."

"Shut up!" Flore laughs, pushing him away. "I am not in love with Winston. Or with anyone else."

Tim holds his hands up in a gesture of peace.

"Okay, okay, you win," he says, still grinning. "Lovebird."

Before Flore can throw a handful of grass at him, a new voice interrupts their conversation.

"Don't you have work to do, Tim and Greenie?"

It is a deep, slightly annoyed voice, which Flore immediately recognizes as Alby's.

Tim clears his throat and stands up. He is a lot longer than the dark-skinned leader, though Tim is thinner, less muscular, and his arms and legs are clumsily long. He makes her think of a stick insect. Alby is more like a wants or so.

She stifles a giggle at that thought.

"We're done working," Tim answers Alby's question. "There's nothing to do left."

Alby folds his arms.

"Why don't you guys go stand next to the Doors and look for the Runners to come back into the Glade?" he asks. "The Doors will close in ten minutes, and there still are two Runners out there."

Tim's face pales.

"Who hasn't come back yet?" he asks, obviously worried.

Alby inspects his nails, like he doesn't care at all about everything what is happening.

"George and... eh... what's that guy's name again... John? Joshua?" he mutters, frowning.

Tim's pale skin seems to become even whiter. "Is it Josiah?"

Alby snaps his fingers.

"That's it, that's his name. Anyway, just look for those two," he says, walking away.

Tim looks at him while he strolls towards the Homestead, with a look in his eyes that could make something spontaneously burst into flames. Flore gets to her feet and lays a hand on his shoulder.

"That guy is such an asshole," she says quietly, trying to make it sound as comforting words. Tim doesn't even seem to notice.

He turns to Flore, suddenly looking really desperate. It startles her, and she wishes that she could do something to help.

"Josiah is the best Runner I can think of, besides Minho," Tim says, his voice sounding smaller than she has ever heard. "If he doesn't come back before sunset, something really bad is going on."

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