Tea Leaves and Silver Rings

Olive

Match Twenty-Eight: Olive:

Alfred wasn’t prepared for the bad news.

“What?” he asked. Lydia nodded with a sad look on her face.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

The glow started to fade from his eyes. “So… She’s going to die?”

“Yes.”

“When?”

Lydia shuffled her feet. “I can’t be certain. Maybe months or a year from now.” The American man didn’t know how to process this at first. He opened his mouth, but closed it.

“Oh,” he said. The next thing struck him as a hard blow. Lydia quickly bowed.

“Could you please not see Florence anymore?” she asked. “Thank you.” She closed the door in Alfred’s face before he had the chance to say a word. He stood there with a dumb look on his face. Florence was dying? He just thought that she was just tired from working in the garden for most of the summer. The American man never thought to connect the dots.

But he couldn’t stay away.

A certain fondness for the tree spirit was starting to evolve and change shape. Alfred had to know what was possible. But Lydia had turned into a guard dog with her sister. She tried blocking his calls. The young lady wouldn’t even let him into the house. Alfred had to wait and see if Lydia would leave for the day. Too bad for him, that felt rare. Frustrated, he called up Arthur on August first.

“Hello?” the British man asked. Something about his tone showed so nervous.

“Are you feeling okay, dude?” Alfred asked.

“Uh… yeah,” he said. “Why do you ask?”

“Never mind,” the younger brother said. “I have a question.”

“What?”

Alfred rubbed the back of his head. “Can a human and a spirit have a relationship together?”

“Didn’t you already ask me that?”

“Please humor me here.”

“Sure, yes. It is possible.” There was a pause on the other line. “May I ask why?”

“Uh… well…. It’s about Florence and me.”

“Oh.”

Alfred made a strange face. “Why do you say it like that?”

“Alfred, old chap. How is your lady friend?”

“She’s been a little tired. Why?”

“I have seen the cleaners floating around her house.”

“Cleaners?” The American man looked even more puzzled. “Are you feeling okay, dude?”

Arthur nervously chuckled. “Of course I am. Why would you ask something like that?”

“Uh… Okay then. What should I do with Florence?”

“What about her?”

“I think I have a thing for her.”

“Oh, I see.”

“There you go again.”

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t we should be together, do you?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Then what are you saying?”

“Do what you want. If you want to be with her, then do it.”

The American man really looked confused. “Huh?” Alfred looked at his cell phone. Arthur had been sounding so off ever since they began his call.

“I thought you said that it wouldn’t be a good idea for us together,” he said.

“I still don’t think so,” his brother said. “But if you like her that much, then end up together. You don’t have much time to be with her anyway. She’s going to die soon, isn’t she?” The American man about fell off of the sofa with his jaw dropped to the floor.

“Wait… How did…?” he began to ask.

“Go!” Arthur said. “You don’t have much time. We all don’t have much time.”

“What are you talking about?” Alfred asked.

“Listen, we shouldn’t talk to each other for a while. Enjoy what little time you have with Florence and you have a good life,” the Englishman said with a hit of sadness in his voice. “Goodbye, dear little brother.” He hung up before Alfred could say another word. The American man stared at his phone, blinking.

“What was that all about?” he asked. Still, Arthur seemed to have given him the go ahead to try and maybe have a relationship with Florence before she died. The American man began to feel cocky in his plans to woo over the tree spirit. He would have to see how much she knew about romantic human relationships first and then charm her over into being more than friends. But then, Alfred frowned.

There was still Lydia. She wouldn’t even let him around her older sister. Asking for help would be out of the question. Yao and his wife were tied up with their clan and Junjie. Arthur had just “cut him off” over the phone. Ivan was in Ikebukuro at the moment. Maybe, Francis could be some help in this situation. Alfred scrapped the idea after a little more thought. This would take a little more thought to push into sneaking past Lydia and trying to form a relationship with Florence. Still, he would have to act fast before he would lose that chance forever. Speaking of which, the American man had a more pressing sense of drag from Arthur words over the phone.

“Enjoy what little time you have with Florence and you have a good life.”

Alfred shuddered as he shoved his phone into his pocket and walked out of the room.


Arthur sat on the floor, trembling. That should do it. He couldn’t get his younger brother mixed up in the Wasteland already flooding towards the English man. A pair of soft, dainty hands rested on his shoulders.

“Have you finished what you requested?” Hecate whispered in his ear. Arthur slowly nodded. She rested her chin on his shoulder.

“Very good,” she whispered. “Now you are ready to add your part into this game. Come with me.” The Nightcomer pulled him to his feet and dragged him along with her into her own void of a portal.

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