"Where have you two been? I've been worried sick!" A short chubby woman stood with her hands on her hips, a dish cloth clutched in one hand and a foot tapping in annoyance.
We both bowed our heads in shame. "We're sorry Raisa." I began, being the one who always stood up for the both of us when we were in trouble. "We were having so much fun that we forgot about supper." I looked up with the most innocent face I could muster, adding in a slight lip quiver to top it all off.
Raisa sighed heavily and shook her head, smiling at the two of us like she couldn't be angry at us ever. "Look at you two! Been to the river again I see. Rylan you better hurry home, your mother is worried sick about you! And you little missy." She turned her attention to me. "It's time for your bath before you catch a cold."
I turned to Rylan, a grin plastered on my face. "So when do we start work on our..." I leaned in and whispered so Raisa couldn't hear me, "f-o-r-t?''
He grinned back, already being shooed out of the door by Raisa. "Tomorrow! As soon as we can-" His voice being cut off by the door being shut behind him. I laughed at the puffing face of Raisa at her extra effort for the night. "Come on little miss," She smiled sweetly, enjoying having a presence around the house again, "Let's get you warm and dry."
I sat before my dresser, Raisa behind me trying to work through all the knots in my hair with a brush. She noticed that I wasn't my usual chirpy self, "What's the matter Laila?" I looked up into the mirror to the concerned face behind me, and just shrugged and let my head drop again. "Nothing."
Raisa was having none of it. "Come now Laila, you know you can't lie to me. What's bothering you?"
"I miss Mama and Papa." I tried my best to be nonchalant, trying to keep the tears away that burned the back of my throat.
She stopped her mission on my hair and held my shoulders, waiting for me to look up again into the mirror and at her. "You know they'll be back soon enough."
I sighed, tired of the same conversation this topic brought but enjoying the comfort Raisa was always willing to offer me. "I know. I just wish they didn't have to travel so much."
Raisa smiled sadly, feeling sorry for the child before her. "It's their duties as Nobles, they don't have a choice, you know that." and with that she finished the braid she had begun in my hair, tying it off at the point. "There we go. Now you're ready for bed." And she moved towards the bed to shift the sheets ready for me.
I got up with slugged shoulders and crawled under the crisp sheets, letting myself be tucked into a safe haven. I snuggled up to my pillow, enjoying the smell of home that surrounded me. I could feel sleep creeping in on my mind, welcoming it in graciously after such a draining day.
"Hey, Raisa?" My speech slurred as sleep started getting the better of me.
"Yes my dear?" She stopped, half-way out the door already.
"Promise you'll wake me up when Mama and Papa get here?"
"I promise. Like always."
I was already fast asleep before she closed the door behind her.
I woke up to the cockerel's crow, just as the sun was peaking over the hills surrounding our village. I was still too tired to greet the day so I covered my head with the sheets, wishing the cockerel would scream into a different window other than mine. I eventually rolled over, squinting against the rays of sunshine leaking in through my window, and rummaged through my side drawer for the pebbles I had collected for days like these. I decided to go with the biggest one I could find, taking aim with a tongue stuck out in concentration, and I threw as hard as I could.
Amongst the squawking I could hear a very audible oof just outside my window, watching wide eyed at the feathers pluming near my window. I was actually quite scared I had killed the poor cockerel in my efforts to scare it away. I rushed over to the window sill and looked over, stretching onto the tips of my toes to see what I had done.
I was greeted with the sight of Rylan sprawled on the ground rubbing his head with the cockerel marching over him. I couldn't help but burst into laughter, "Are you okay? What happened?"
Rylan sat up slowly, still rubbing his head and moaning, staring at the feathered fiend on his lap. "I have no idea. I was just about to see if you were awake when something hit me on the head, and I think I startled the chicken."
"How did you do that?" Trying to get off the topic of who threw the stone at him.
"I don't know, it just flew into my face. Evil little beastie." And with that he picked the cockerel up and tossed it to a nearby hay bail, causing another frenzy of flapping wings and squawking.
I stood there and laughed, somewhat enjoying the little bonanza scene that had just played out.
"It's not funny." He began sulking, standing up and dusting himself off. His hands immediately went to his head. "Oh no! It probably messed up my hair didn't it?"
I took one look at him and burst into laughter again, the tears running down my cheeks. I had a glare in response to my laughter, "It's not funny! How bad is it?"
I got my laughter somewhat under control, beckoning him to come closer to the window. "Come here, let me help you."
I began combing through his hair, removing a feather amongst other debris on his head, fixing his hair in the way he always wore it. "There we go, all fixed." I stood back, admiring my handy working.
He stood a little taller now, obviously feeling a lot better now that his hair was proper. It took him a while to remember what his original mission was. "Quick!" He started, excitement taking hold of him again. "Get dressed!" He stood there grinning, hopping from one leg to the other.
I suddenly got a start, remembering our plans for the day. "Okay, meet me out front, I'll be as quick as I can!" And I shut the window before he could say anything else.
I rushed over to the folding screen and put on some comfortable clothes, opting for pants like I always did, and rushed out to freshen up a bit before opening the door to the grinning face on the other side.
My face mirrored Rylan's grin. "Ready to go?" I asked while grabbing the food pack Raisa had left by the door so we wouldn't miss it or forget it in our rush.
"Not just yet." I frowned but he placed a finger to his lips. I kept quiet as he placed the feather I had dug out of his hair and placed it in mine, fitting it snug between my braids. "Now we can go."
We ran, taking turns chasing one another, dodging and diving each other. We finally made it to the river, panting and laughing at all our hard work. "After you, milady." Rylan said, taking a bow and pointing the way ahead for me.
I nodded towards him, smiling at his courteous gesture, and proceeded to step carefully over the stones in the river to keep dry. After taking the first step, Rylan decided that it was time to spring his trap using his outward pointing hand to push me into the cold water.
Unfortunately for him I was already expecting this, easily side stepping and watching him lose his balance, and he took my place in the cold water. I stood there on the stone, crossed arms and shaking my head at his feeble attempt at getting me at the same old trick he tried every time we crossed the river.
"When will you learn Ray?" Chuckling at the soaked boy in front of me.
"When I get my way." He said with a sly smile, suddenly shooting up and grabbing my elbow, promptly pulling me into the water with him.
We sat and splashed each other for a while until I called a truce, dragging myself out of the river, clothes and all soaked through, followed shortly after by Rylan looking worse for wear than I probably was.
"We really need to stop this, I don't think your mother or Raisa enjoys washing our constant stream of muddy clothes every day." I said, trying to ring as much of the water out of my clothes as possible.
"We'll stop when you start wearing dresses like you're supposed to." He eyed me wearily, wondering if he had offended me, but grinned regardless at his retort.
"I'll start wearing dresses the day you turn king." I said effortlessly, flipping my hair over my shoulder flicking the excess water in his direction.
"Fair enough. I will see you in a dress one day!" He said, pretty confident in his statement.
"Good luck with that." I said lazily, catching a smile playing on his lips, and we dashed for the tree that would soon be our tree house.
We started gathering little things for our construction. I was in charge of finding a few branches and Rylan decided he had the job of finding a few small logs. We picked up a few strands of vines and the intertwined them with each other, hoping it would be strong enough for tying the small logs to the tree trunk.
We worked hard all day gathering what we thought we needed and trying to find solutions to some of our issues we came across with all the ideas we had planned to do. With our little breaks in between we snacked on raspberries and blueberries we had discovered while foraging for resources, amongst the bread and cheese we had brought with in the pack Raisa had sent with us.
Finally after we had gathered what we could we decided to head back home, realising that we needed a few tools to complete our treehouse mission. It was almost dark again by the time we started our trek back.
We started wondering back slowly, enjoying the short walk back home, talking about all the plans we had. We finally got back home and said our goodbyes, each going our separate ways. We had promised each other again that we would have another bright and early start the next day.
I was so exhausted when I got home that I just collapsed on my bed and passed out, still in the clothes I had worn the day.ns 220.127.116.11da2