Chapter 1: Part One

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 124
Comments: 1

Hidden in plain sight

 

Her first memory was of her eating her own hair, it was so blue and looked so yummy she had to try it to see if it was.

When her mom noticed she merely laughed, her brown curls bouncing on her shoulders as she reached forward and tugged it out of her mouth gently

“That's not food!” she smiled playfully

 


 

It was always just her and her mom. Her dad was barely home, always off doing work, not that she minded. She was happy with the way things were, they could stay in their own bubble of a world

Until it popped

 

Shouts rattled through the walls of her bedroom as she wrung her hands together. Were Mommy and Daddy okay? They sounded upset 

“How could you do this to us?!”

“You're never here anymore. I can't love someone i never see”

“So you go and decide to have a baby with another man?!”

“I never meant for this to happen you know?”

“So you just wanted to lie to us forever”

“I-I-”

“Get out of my house.”

“What?”

“You heard me GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

There was a moment of silence before heavy footsteps rattled through the house. What was happening, where was Mommy going? She quickly crept up to the frame of her open door, clinging to it protectively

Peeking out the door she was just in time to see her mother as she slammed the door behind her, leaving the house, her dad pacing out of his room to watch

“Daddy?”

He turned around quickly, surprised to hear her “Alicia! Go back to your room.”

“Where's Mommy going?”

“Your mother abandoned you. She's having a new family with another man.” his face morphed into a bitter scowl, his dark blue hair falling into his face as he whipped his head around again to look away from her.

“But-”

“Go, NOW” her father screamed and she felt tears well up in her eyes as she turned away quickly, running back to her room to hide under her blankets

 

That was the first time she had heard her mother yell. She would have many firsts in her life but that would be the last one with her mother.

 

It could have been one day after that when she met him, or it could have been a week after, time seemed to blur together and all she remembered was hideing under her blankets and waiting for brown curls to come and peek under the blankets, giving her a warm smile as she scooped her up but the moment never came

 

“Alicia! Come here.” her father called loudly from downstairs. She pulled herself out from underneath the blankets, squinting as her eyes adjusted to the lights after the darkness of the blankets. Was mommy back now? She questioned hopefully, Crawling out of her blanket pile she made her way down the stairs as quickly as she could without falling which wasn't very fast at all as she pulled herself down the stairs one at a time, too small to go much faster. When she finally got down she wasn't greeted by the sight she had expected. she looked up at a man with deep brown eyes and brown hair that was slicked back stiffly. He was dressed in a tailcoat and stood beside her father

“This is Sebastian, he will take care of you from now on”

She felt her brows furrow “but what about Mommy?” she had been waiting for her to come home.

“I told you she dosent want you!” her father spat angrily but his eyes didn't look angry like he sounded

Alicia just flinched back and nodded, grabbing on tightly to the hem of her dress

Her father took a quick breath “i have to go to work now, goodbye.” he turned and left swiftly, slamming the door a bit behind him when he left, leaving them alone in the house

They stood there for a while in silence, time ticked on and she could feel small tears gather in the corner of her eyes, that wasn't her Mommy. He looked down at her with an expression she didn't understand, it felt like minutes had passed before the man finally spoke up

“Miss...?”

 

And with that, her world that had once been brown Curls and soft touches became one of black tailcoats and cold glances.

 


 

Nothing was the same anymore. She missed her mother and hugs and getting to play and read books together all day. Sebastian was cold and harsh, nothing like the soft warmth she was used to.

She wandered into the kitchen where Sebastian was cooking her food. Her balled up fist pressed in her mouth as she sucked on it. Coming to stand next to Sebastian she looked up at the pot he was stirring on the stove. It smelled like soup.

Turning his head to glance down at her he paused his brows furrowing as he set aside his spoon after knocking off the excess liquid and knelt down in front of her, gently pulling her hand from her mouth

“Don't chew that Miss, it's dirty” he wiped off her wet hand on his pants leg and Alicia felt her lip quiver a bit. Why couldn't her Mommy come home yet?

He stood up briskly and picked up his spoon again, dipping it back into the pot to stir. Alicia just looked at her hand. What was she supposed to do with this now? She wanted to stick it back in her mouth but Sebastian would just get annoyed and pull it out again, instead she looked around, eyes narrowing in on one of the ends of his tailcoat.

Reaching up she latched her hand onto it, giving it a small tug as she did so. Sebastian gave a small jolt in surprise. He glanced down to the side  at her but didn't say anything before turning back to the pot but Alicia could see a small curve to his lips

 

That was the first time she saw him smile.

 

Maybe this wouldn't be so bad... she lamented pulling big smile on her lips as she beamed up at Sebastian who had gone back to stirring the pot

And with that she started to let her small world be filled with only Sebastian. Their own world within the walls where they would share more firsts together.

 


 

Her hand wrapped tightly around one one of the ends of Sebastian's tailcoat as she followed him around the house as he did chores. He was carrying linen through the Main room when he finally acknowledged her.

“Miss, do you have anything better to do than follow me around?”

“No”

“Why don't you go read a book” he suggested, shifting the sheets in his arms

“Don't want to”

“Then what do you want to do?”

“Play”

“Then why don't you go upstairs and play with your toys”

“No”

“Then what do you want to play with” he asked exasperatedly

“You”

“I already told you Miss, I’m very busy cleaning”

She just stood there unmoving. Sebastian looked from her to the linen still held in his arms then back again before he let out a sigh and set down the sheets on the table next to them.

“Fine. but only for a bit.”

 

That was the first time he agreed to played with her

 

She felt a smile spread across her face as she threw her hands in the air giggling “Yay!” Sebastian only let out another soft sigh as he crouched down to her level

“What do you want to play Miss?”

“Mmmm” she hummed, pressing her fingers against her mouth as she thought. “Hide and go seek!” 

She remembered playing that with her mom. She would always tell her how she could never find her and that one of these days she was going to lose her if she kept hiding this well. She wanted to play that with Sebastian

“Okay then, do you want to hide or seek?”

“Hide!”

Without a pause Sebastian closed his eyes and started to count as she scampered off to find somewhere to hide. Placing herself under a table she crouched down to the floor a small giggle escaping her as she heard Sebastian finish counting.

She felt anxious excitement fill her as the succinct click of Sebastian's black shoes cut through the quiet of the house. She heard them get louder and softer as he searched. It was only a few seconds before she could see his shoes in front of her hiding spot and she held her breath. He paused in front of the table for a moment before he dropped down quickly to look at her, one eyebrow raised as he looked at her. 

Alicia fell back onto her butt with a squeal.

“You know I can still see you under the table Miss.”

Alicia only pouted, that had lasted no time at all.

Sebastian looked at her with a pause before finally sighing in resignation

“Do you want to try again?”

A smile bright spread across her face as she crawled out from under the table with a happy squeal.

 


 

Sebastian looked down at her, mouth slightly agape. A few strands of his brown hair falling into his face, away from their slicked back form

He was Frozen in place, half bent over from when he had went to check on her before he stopped in place, his wide eyes staring at her in shock

What? Why was he looking at her like that? Was there something wrong with her? She took a few gaspy breaths, feeling tears well up in her eyes. And why did her face hurt so much? -Oh Right.

 

That was the first time her father hit her.

 

She had asked her Dad when Mommy was coming back again. It wasn't that she didn't like Sebastian but-

Sputtering sobs escaped her as she choked on hiccups, fat tears rolling down her cheeks as she cried loudly

She expected a sarcastic comment from Sebastian before he told her to ‘Stop this tantrum now.’ but instead she felt his arms around her as he picked her up and bounced her gently, probably to get her to stop but she only cried louder, tears blurring her vision.

Her Father had gotten really mad, shouting words she didn't understand, then he slapped her

She could feel snot run down her nose as she gasped for air, more sobs forcing their way up her throat. She cried until her tears ran dry and she was left with sporadic hiccups and she was struggling to keep her eyes open, all the energy already sapped out of her. Giving in to sleep she let her head lul forward onto Sebastian's chest as her eyes fell shut.

 


 

Sebastian was slower than normal. He was still cleaning like always but his movements seemed long and lethargic like he had chains weighing down on his arms, and sometimes he would pause and stare in front of him, a foggy daze clouding his normally sharp eyes. Alicia was sure that if they played hide and seek right now he wouldn't be able to find her, which never happened when they played.

His voice was hoarse and scratchy and it sounded like he had cotten in his throat every time he spoke to her. His nose looked red and she could hear him sniffing when he thought she couldn't hear. Something was wrong.

She let out a disgruntled grumble as her hands gripped the book she held in front of her harder, Sebastian had sent her up to read while he cleaned so that she wouldn't get in his way. The inky animals on the page stared up at her mockingly. 

Tossing down the book she stuck her tongue out at the black text. She was going to figure out what was wrong with Sebastian no matter what, his cleaning could wait.

She made her way down the stairs slowly and started to look for the suited man but she couldn't find him anywhere, it was like he had disappeared. She was starting to get scared when she made her way into the living room

 

That was the first time she saw him asleep.

 

He was lying on his side on the couch, the brown strands of his hair falling away from their place on his head as they splayed across his forehead. She could see the steady rise and fall of his chest as his eyebrows creased together uncomfortably. He was asleep but he didn't look at all peaceful.

Walking forward a bit she looked at him unsure of what to do before she pressed her hand to his forehead. It was hot, too hot

He’s sick. Alicia registers, pulling her hand away quickly. What does she do now? Should she wake him up? She remembered when she had last gotten sick. He had put her in her bed with her blankets and stuffies and told her she needed to rest. He had put a cold towel on her forehead and made her soup for lunch, he hadn't even gotten mad when she wouldn't stop crying cause her throat hurt. He needs to rest then. 

She gave a small nod to the air. He doesn't look very comfortable there though… she felt her eyebrows scrunched together as she pouted a bit, cocking her head to the side as she looked at his scrunched up form on the couch. She couldn't move him without waking him up but-

A smile spread across her face as she scampered out of the living room again, crawling up the stairs she grabbed her brown blanket and favorite bunny plush. He was old and his fur was getting rough in places and his ear even had a chunk missing from where it had torn on a nail and Sebastain had to fix him, but she still loved him more than any of the other cute bears or fluffy puppies that were always replaced as they got old or torn, cause her mother had given it to her, telling her that they should be friends since they were both so cute and ever since then he's been her best and only friend, well other than Sebastian of course.

Tossing the brown blanket onto him she settled her bunny carefully against his chest so that it wouldn't fall over. Stepping back to look at her work she quickly noticed that the blanket was too small on him, only covering a part of his torso. Alicia thought about running upstairs to get more blankets but the others were too big for her to carry down the stairs, she had almost tripped just carrying bunny and the blanket.

Looking at him he still seemed uncomfortable despite the blanket. Stepping forward she pressed her hand to his forehead, smushing out the crease between his eyebrows manually. He looked peaceful for a second before he shifted in his sleep and was back to his discomfort.

What was she forgetting, she had the stuffies, and the blanket- the cold towel! She smacked her head lightly as she spun around in the room looking for something to use. Spotting the linen on the table Sebastain had been no doubt folding before he fell asleep she made her way over to one of the chairs. Grabbing onto one of the chairs she heaved with all her might to pull her top half onto the seat. After a few failed attempts she finally succeeded, flailing her legs behind her in the air to help inch her the rest of the way up.

Pushing herself to her feet on the chair she quickly grabbed one of the smaller washcloths that was near the edge of the table. Now to get down. Pushing herself back down to her butt she dangled her legs over the edge of the chair. Washcloth still held tightly in hand she pressed the rest of herself off the chair, falling to the floor with a soft ‘Uuf’ before she immediately falling to her butt again.

Righting herself quickly she brushed the dust off her dress. Running to the bathroom she pushed herself onto a wooden box Sebastian had gotten her so that she could reach the sink. Turning the tap she shoved the towel under the cold water, shivering a bit as it splashed over her hands. Squishing the now wet towel in her hands she let the excess water drip away until it was no longer dripping wet in her hands.

Making her way back to the living room she pressed the cold towel to Sebastian's forehead, making sure it was stuck before she pulled her hand away. She could see him visibly shiver for a moment before his face finally relaxed and he looked much more comfortable

Alicia threw her hands up in the air in brief celebration, a small giggle escaping her before she remembered that she had to be quiet.

Now the soup. She pressed her hands together in a clapping motion.

Making her way into the kitchen she quickly ran into a problem. She couldn't reach the stove. She looked up dumbly at the tall counter for a while. She couldn't cook anything is she couldn't reach the counter

After standing there for a while an idea finally popped into her head and she let out a soft ‘Aah’ as she ran off. Her step stool in the bathroom was too short but a chair wasn't. Wrapping her arms around one of the legs of a chair she gave to a strong tugg. The chair shifted forward an inch in response. Maybe this would be harder than she thought.

Painstakingly she tugged the chair over to the kitchen inch by inch. , switching between tugging and pushing and even trying to drag it by its seat. Her arms were aching by the time she had got it to the kitchen but she made it.

She let out a soft mumble as she shook out her arms uncomfortably in front of her. Why couldn't she be big like Sebastian already?

Heaving herself onto the chair again she took a look across the countertop. An empty pot was already set out on the stove and she could see the ingredients Sebastian had set out for lunch next to a small stack of bowls on the counter to the right of the stove. It looked like he was going to make soup for lunch anyways

Standing on her tippy toes she could just barely see over the rim of the pot. Good. she was ready.

Grabbing onto the rim of the pot she dragged it over to the sink, wincing when it fell in with a loud clatter. She jolted a bit waiting for a noise telling she had woken Sebastian up but when no such noise came from the living room she let out her breath. She had to be more careful.

Turning the faucet she  watched as the pot filled up, stopping when the pot was a third filled with the clear liquid. Taking a deep breath she braced her hands on the sides of the pot, she let out a low keen as she pulled the pot from the sink, setting it down on the counter with a clank.

The pot scraped along the counter as she pulled it onto the stove, turning on the fire so that it could start to heat up.

Stepping to the edge of her chair she leaned over the counter to grab the ingredients that Sebastian had set out, some tomatoes, lettuce, onion, and a carrot. She had to graze her fingers over the edge of the last tomato to get it to roll into her grasp but she managed to get all of the vegetables.

Holding all the vegetables in her cupped arms she looked around her for a moment. What now? Looking at the sink she remembered Sebastian cleaning everything before he put it in the pot when she had watched him make soup before. Yeah, she should do that.

Dumping the vegetables in the sink she let the water run over them. Rolling them around with her hand she deemed them clean enough and turned off the water with a nodd. Leaving the vegetables stored in the sink she turned back to the pot again

Grabbing onto the edge of the pot she intended to look over the rim to see if the water was hot enough but the metal seared into her hand as she grabbed onto it. Ripping her hand off she stumbled back, almost falling off the edge of her chair as she flailed her arms to stay up.

She felt tears well up in her eyes as she nursed her burned hand, pulling it close to her chest. It felt like hundreds of needles were stabbing into her skin. She felt a sob build in her chest but she swallowed it shakily, if she started crying now she would surely wake up Sebastian.

Instead she opted to press the burn up against her mouth, hoping her cool saliva would sooth it. It helped somewhat but her hand still felt twitchy and tingly when she pulled it away. Looking down at it she could see the crescent burn stretch across her hand from where she had grabbed the pot. Wiping her hand off on her dress she whined as the burn ached at the movement. 

Rubbing the tears out of her eyes with her uninjured hand she turned back to the vegetables still sitting in the sink. She grabbed the tomato closest to her, bringing it to hold in front of her. She surely wasn't supposed to put this in whole was she? The soup Sebastian always gave her had small slices of carrots and other vegetables that he had put in there. She should do that

Pulling at the tomato in her hand she let out a small squeak as juice started to dribble down it, splattering onto her dress. She quickly held the food away from her before more damage could be done. She should do this over the pot.

Squishing the tomato again she watched as the red liquid dribbled down into the water, she ripped at the red circle more, tearing away small pieces of the skin and tossing them into the pot as well. Once there was nothing left she dropped what was left of the food into the pot as well, reaching over to the sink to repeat the process with another tomato.

She came across a problem when she tried to break up the carrot, the squishing and pulling doing nothing to the orange food. moving the orange stick closer to her she pulled down roughly on both ends, letting out a small noise of struggle till it snapped, sending her stumbling back a step. She looked at the two ends of the carrot with satisfaction as she dropped them into the pot. The lettuce was much easier as she ripped the green leaves to small shreds before she dropped them into the pot and she tore apart the onion after a moment of struggle.

She heated the water and put all the food in, what did Sebastian do after that? Stir, right; She looked around for the wooden spoon Sebastian always cooked with, humming when it was next to the wooden bowls on the counter, pulling them both closer to her she dunked the end of the spoon into the pot, turning it around a few times. Standing on her tippy toes she was careful to to touch the metal of the pot as she looked over the edge at her soup.

It was a patchy red and she could see the bits of lettuce and onion floating along the surface along with a half of the carrot that she had put in, the other half must have sunk to the bottom she reasoned, giving the spoon a few more turns.

After a while her hand got sore and tired and she took that as a sign that it was done, grabbing the bowls she spooned the red fluid into them carefully, though she was sure that some escaped her and splattered onto the floor beneath her. She made sure that Sebastian’s was extra full since he was bigger, and that he got the larger carrot half.

Dropping the wooden spoon onto the counter she came across her next problem, getting down from the chair. If she jumped she would just fall and spill the soup everywhere. Setting the soup down on the counter again she jumped down from the chair by herself, falling to the ground with a small thud as she ran off to the bathroom.

Placing her step stool next to the chair she took a step back to look at her makeshift staircase. Climbing up again she grabbed the two bowls again as she made her way tediously down, trying her best not to spill any off the soup.

Once down she scurried back to the living room again, the two wooden bowls held tightly in hand. Placing Sebastian's bowl on the coffee table for when he woke up she climbed into the plush chair on the other side of the table, letting her legs lay out in front of her as she put her bowl down on her lap.

It didn't look nearly as good as what Sebastian would make her but she was getting really hungry so he just picked up her spoon. Her hand reminded her painfully of the burn she was nursing as her hand curled around the cool metal and she could feel her hand trembling a bit as she lifted a bite of the soup. It was really bitter, did she do something wrong? She did everything Sebastian did. Lifting another bite to her lips she stopped as she heard a soft groan.

Leaving the spoon hovering in the air she turned to look at Sebastian as he woke up, pressing himself up on his elbow. Bunny was knocked to the ground as he lifted a hand to his forehead, feeling the cloth before he looked over at her sitting in her seat with surprised eyes.

 


 

It was one of the rare days that Sebastian would indulge her in playing hide and seek. She pressed her hand to her mouth, trying to stifle her giggles. She was sure he wouldn't find her this time. She had hid in the same spot as last time, behind the curtain, where Sebastian had bluntly pointed out that her feet were showing and to try harder if she didn't want to be found. He would never expect that she would use the same hiding spot twice.

A few more giggles escaped as she pressed her hands across her mouth messily, a silly smile stretching across her face.

The click of Sebastian's shoes hurried towards her and the curtain was yanked away quickly. She frowned. Okay, so maybe not the best hiding spot. She waited for Sebastian’s sarcastic comment about how easy it was to find her but when it didn't come she finally looked up.

Sebastian was kneeling in front of her with wide eyes, his breath heaving softly from running. She felt her eyebrows furrow, had she scared him? She hadn't been hiding for long. In a flurry of motion he grabbed her and started running again, holding her against his chest as he ran, his shoes clicking quickly under them as they went.

He quickly shut them in a closet that was hidden along the wall, the wooden door that was inset in the wall blending in with all the other wood accents. She opened her mouth to ask him what was wrong when he shushed her before she could. His hands were shaking around her as he braced her head and back, holding her tightly against him. She could hear his heart rattling quickly in his chest as he drew shaky rapid breaths.

That was when she heard it,

“Alicia~ where are you?” it was her father's voice but it sounded slurred and sloppy. There was a thud like something was knocked over then a string of loud curses.

 

That was the first time she feared her father.

 

Not because she felt personally scared or threatened but because that was the first time she saw Sebastian scared. She had seen him annoyed, bored, angry and even content but not scared. Not until now. 

She's not sure how long they stayed in there, Sebastian holding her tightly as he stood quietly in the small dark closet but eventually he loosened his grip on her slightly as he dipped his head down to whisper to her

“Miss?”

She twisted her head to look at him. He seemed to be almost surprised at her as he blinked at her before regaining his composure

“Your father is very… tired right now, so I need you to be quiet so that we dont wake him up, okay?”

Alicia nodded silently and Sebastian righted himself quickly. He pressed her head to his chest tightly as he left the closet so that she couldn't see anything. Despite her curiosity she didn't challenge it, closing her eyes as his grip once again tightened on her. Moving quickly through the house he only paused for a moment, grabbing something off a counter before she could feel them moving again.

Alicia only lifted her head when he came to a stop and she heard the soft click of a door behind them. Looking up she was greeted with the soft white walls of her room. Moving over to her bed Sebastian placed her down on it softly, her legs splaying messily under her.

She watched him as he moved down to the end of the bed and placed down two jars and some bread

“What are you doing?” she asked hesitantly, setting down her hands between her legs on the soft blanket to balance herself.

“Making dinner.” he responded quickly

She only cocked her head to the side a bit. They had only had lunch a bit ago. Sebastian seemed to sense her confusion as he looked up at her again

“Your father was very tired today and he's already gone to bed so you should too.”

He said that he was only tired but Alicia couldn't help but t?h?i?n?k?  know that it wasn't true. Sebastian wasn't telling her so that meant it was something that she couldn't know about, at least for now, so she just nodded quietly and watched as he finished quickly, shoving the bread towards her.

Looking down at the white bread sitting on the bed in front of her she cocked her head curiously

“What is it?” she asked him, looking up to where he was watching her intently

“Bread with butter and honey.”

“It looks like a bunny.” she pointed out, looking at the sloppy glob of honey that resembled the creature slightly.

His eyebrows scrunched together as he leaned over to see what she was looking at. “It seems that you're right, miss.” he agreed, looking at the crooked bunny.

Briefly she felt a small smile tug at her lips weakly as she grabbed the bread off the covers of her bed and took a bite. It was squishy and sweet and she loved it, taking another bite quickly. 

Looking up again she caught one of Sebastian's fleeting smiles but it seemed almost weighted as he looked at her, she felt something tight lodge itself in her throat but she tried to wash it away by taking another bite. She didn't like how he looked just then- it was like he thought it was the last time he would see her happy. That wasn't right, cause he was going to come tomorrow and they were going to play again and have fun. She would just have to make sure to smile even more tomorrow. She took the last bite of her bread and shot him a wide sloppy smile.

Sebastian got her ready for bed, helping her change and tucking her into bed just like everyday despite the fact that today was nothing like other days. Handing her a new teddy bear he tucked her into the bed, pulling her blankets closer to her before he stepped back, casting her one last glance before he reached for the door.

Alicia nuzzled her head into her stuffie as her room was shrouded in darkness and when she heard a second click after Sebastian left the room she knew that she wouldn't get out till the morning. Closing her eyes she tried to fall asleep, it took awhile but eventually she drifted off to sleep, however strange it might have felt.

It was still dark when she woke. Everything was still asleep, except her. Sitting up in her bed she looked across her room, everything was so dark and quiet. She wasn't scared, why should she be scared, she's been in this room her whole life. she knows it like the back of her hand if a monster was hiding here then it would have come to her years ago, that's what Sebastian had told her, but still she felt something heavy pull in her stomach as she looked at the same furniture that was always there, unmoving, unchanging, her dresser and bookcase and desk with her lamp on top. Besides her toys and plushies as they were replaced and new ones arrived everything was the same.

She looked down at the bear still held in her arms, pulling at its pristine fur as she looked at its deep black eyes. She didn't know how long she’d had it, or how much longer she would, how long before her father replaced them all again. She didn't know if he thought that she wanted them or if it was to make up for not being there or everything else but it just quickly became another reality of her life.

She felt her throat tighten as her eyes started to burn- Oh, she was sad. 

Why? She shouldn't feel sad, she didn't have any reason to. She was supposed to smile for Sebastian today. She rubbed weakly at her eyes, trying to shy away the unshed tears. She wasn't sure how long she sat there in the dark, staring at the wall in front of her, just waiting for the weight in her stomach to lift but it never did, only twisting into something almost painful.

She turned her head when she heard the door click, looking over to where Sebastian’s brown hair was peeking through the door and she felt her stomach unknot itself, even if just a bit. She didn't try to understand it, she knew her head would just hurt when she tried to. She had everything in her little world, she should be happy.

“Good morning Miss. You must be hungry, what do you want for breakfast? ” Sebastian’s voice snapped her out of her head

Oh, hungry, she must just be hungry. She let a big smile pull at her lips as she looked up at Sebastian

“Bunny bread!”

 


 

Her head was spinning, nothing seemed right and everything felt shrouded in pain, all from her ankle. It felt like someone had crushed her foot under a shelf. She cried out into Sebastian’s shoulder, she could hear him speaking to her distantly but everything felt clouded in pain as he picked up his pace. They were going somewhere but she didn't know where

All the bouncing hurt, she tried to tell him but it came out garbled and unintelligible between her cries. That only seemed to make him pick up his frantic pace even more. She tried to open her eyes but everything was blurry with tears as she looked at an unfamiliar world around her.

Finally all the bouncing stopped and she felt she could cry all over again, she could hear words being exchanged but she couldn't understand them, the words sounding warped and strange. She could hear Sebastian's voice and then someone else's, a voice she knew but couldn't recognize

They were moving again and she gripped Sebastian's coat, more tears filling her eyes. Why did everything hurt so much?

It wasn't long before she was placed in a chair, her legs laying flat in front of her as she was pulled from Sebastian’s warmth. She took it back, she wanted Sebastian again. She cried loudly, only calming a bit when she felt hand rubbing her head, Sebastian running his fingers through locks of her hair as he tried in desperation to soothe her.

She tried to turn in the chair to grab onto him but Pain lashed up her leg when she tried rolling around to reach him and another round of screams were at the tip of her tongue when a much softer hand grabbed onto her shoulder and pulled her back into place gently, a hand she only felt in her dreams now.

Mom?

All her cries softened to hiccups almost instantaneously as she opened her eyes, rubbing wildly at them so she could see through the tears.

Her head might be spinning and she might be a few breaths from passing out but when she looked at the woman in front of her, brown curls cascading down her shoulders as she looked up over her at Sebastian, presumably speaking to him but Alicia couldn't hear a word over the ringing in her ears, she knew it was her mom, she came back! She didn't abandon her!

She hiccuped as she choked on her sobs as she started to cry again

“Mommy! Mommy, mommy!” she cried , reaching out with grabbing hands towards her. The woman looked down at her with startle

“Alicia…?”

She didn't remember her? She watched as her vision started to be covered with small black dots. No, no, her mommy would never forget her, Was her last thought as she slipped out of consciousness, watching as her mother lunged forward to catch her slumping form.

After that all she could feel were the sensations around her, too tired to wake up but in too much pain to fall asleep. Careful hands prodding her leg, a firefly slash along the side of her ankle that thumped and dulled. Scratchy fabric encircling her foot and a hand that rubbed her head comfortingly, trying to be strong and confident but she could feel it trembling as it raked through the very ends of her hair… 

 

When she finally came too she was back in Sebastian’s embrace, cracking her eyes open. She could see the purplish sky clearly as the sun started to rise and the empty stall of a market place. A cold wind whipped over them and she couldn't suppress a shiver that rolled up her spine, despite the fact that she felt incessantly hot and she could already feel herself starting to break out in a cold sweat. 

Yet despite this she pushed past the sickly haze shrouding her mind to look up at Sebastian, her hand coming up to tap at his wet cheeks, his tears almost glistening in the darkness as he looked down at her with wide eyes.

 

That was the first time she saw him cry.

 

Then he did what he rarely did and pulled her into a hug. She looped her arms around his neck as best she could as he clung to her tightly, his arms shaking around her slightly from the strain. She had so many questions about where her mother went or why she was back or even where they were, but those could all wait cause Sebastian was sad and that mattered so much more to her right then.

 


 

It was only a few days later when she sat on her plush bed, mind finally cleared of the haze from her fever. Looking down at her ankle, unwrapped from the scratchy fabric that had been held tight to her ankle as Sebastain rustled through a bag on the floor, looking for a clean bandage for her foot, the old one tossed aside on her bed.

She looked down at the red line on the side of her ankle, held together by 5 neat black stitches. Proof that her mom was still there. That she still wanted to take care of her, why else would she help her.

She smiled down at her new favorite cut before almost immediately after screaming and squirming in pain as Sebastain pressed a burning cloth to it.

 


 

After that time seemed to speed forward with no mercy, memories of laughter and smiles to pain and screaming all seemed to blend together in the mess that was her mind, years passed and she grew older in a house that never changed, stagnant in time. What once was ‘tired’ became drunk and her dad suddenly became her father as what once was a small red mark on her arm every week became the daily black and blue that was hidden under the ruffles of her dress, that the sight of made her want to throw up. But she never did.

Cause she was too busy smiling because Sebastian was here, or frowning cause she just lost at tag again or laughing cause Sebastian just tripped over her toy and fell flat on his face, or squealing cause Sebastian was chasing her around the house to throw her in the bath. Cause she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. Right?

She could feel the realities of her life weigh down in the back of her mind but it was fine cause she had Sebastian, and she didn't wonder about the world outside her walls cause she liked her home, and she isn't sad when she wakes up in the dead of night to the silent walls of the only place she had ever known, and she doesn't still miss her mother, or want to play in the sun, or feel lonely when Sebastian is just in the next room over, or wish for more than her small world could give cause she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy. she was happy- cause she had to be. 

 

She pulled idly at the eye patch Sebastian had given her to cover her black eye, leaning against the kitchen table heavily as she watched Sebastian clean the kitchen.

“Sebastian, how old am I?”

He froze stiff for a moment, probably thinking, before he continued.

“I believe you'll be nine next year”

Looking down at her fingers she tried to remember the numbers Sebastian told her they each represent

“So then i'm eight right now.” she lamented, flipping a few fingers down

“Very good miss” Sebastian praised, wiping his hands off on a rag

Time was like an enigma to her, she knew that it was always passing, even if it didn't feel like it in her small world, but she never knew how to keep track of it, nothing in this house changed with time, always replaced before she could notice them age, she could only watch as she grew bigger, no longer needing the stools and steps around the house and she could move faster as her legs grew longer and she could bound down stairs and hallways without falling, most of the time.

She was sure that neither her nor Sebastian would ever be able to exactly pinpoint her age anymore. She only celebrated her birthday when her mother was still here and Sebastain came after her. Now she only had the barest of memories regarding her birthday, hot candles, a sweet taste, the freezing cold air, something white, and lots of hugs.

The only person who probably knew was her father and she knew better than to ask, she rubbed sorely at her patched eye, letting her gaze wander the walls once again, pausing on Sebastian's jacket that hung on the wall.

“Is it cold outside?”

She had seen him wear the grey coat a lot recently, hanging it on the empty coat hanger by the door, today though it had looked almost wet. Maybe it had been raining.

“Very much so, it's even snowing today”

“Snowing?” she had read about it in her books, its when it gets super cold and the raindrops freeze on their way down making fluffy white stuff you can play in.

“Yes.” he paused, his gaze lingering on her for a few silent moments before he spoke again “Do… do you want to see it?”

Any bored thoughts that had been plaguing her mind were snapped away as she looked at him with stars in her eyes, feeling her head nod fervently before she could even think to move.

Looking up she was met with one of Sebastian's rare smiles, but his eyes didn't seem to match the grin on his face

“Well if you want to go out you better hurry and get dressed before it stops”

With that she quickly jumped down from her chair, hurrying up the stairwell to her room with probably unsafe speed. Sebastian followed soon behind her and helped her get dressed once he got to her room. She didn't have very many winter clothes, or any clothes made for the outside at all but he managed to scrounge up some leggings and a short thick dress with long sleeves and some knee high boots with fur along the rim, topping it off with a short fluffy white shawl that he tied tightly around her shoulders.

She couldn't help but bounce on the tips of her toes as she waited for Sebastian to get ready himself. She rarely left the house, only when Sebastian forgot to purchase food for lunch which was only ever once in a blue moon, and even then it wasn't for long and he always kept her hidden close behind her, saying her father would be mad if he saw her, so she only ever caught glimpses of the loud and busy world from between Sebastian's legs or arms. People passing and talking and all the Noise. It was always so loud, nothing like the domestic silence she was so used to.

She was too enraptured in her own head, trying to remember the small glimpses of all the stands in the market, especially the one she knew sold bread that she didn't notice Sebastian watching her, only snapping out of her head when his hand came down on her shoulder.

“Looking at the door isn't going to make it open Miss.”

She blinked a few times looking at the wooden door she had surely been staring at in her daze. 

She sputtered out an answer that Sebastian only clicked his tongue to and ruffled her hair messily before standing up. Straightening her hair indignantly she felt all her apprehensiveness squashed by excitement as he reached for the doorknob

 

That was the first time she saw the snow.

 

A cold gust of wind knocked the air out of her lungs as she looked out the door in awe, her mouth surely hanging open. It was so white! She looked at the white ground then to the snow covered buildings across the alley with wonder. Focusing in on the small specks of white that seemed to drift down from the sky she felt a smile cross her lips as she let out a squeal, running into the open.

The first thing she noticed was how cold it was, the small puffs of wind sending shivers up her fingers as she held them in front of her watching as the white dots drifted onto her hands with small spikes of cold before disappearing like they had never been there in the first place, it was like magic. Looking over her shoulder a laugh forced its way up her throat as she looked over her shoulder at Sebastian as he leaned against the doorway watching. 

Turning back she stooped down to a crouch, the hem of her dress dusting the top of the snow as she dipped her hands into the white blanket of snow. Immediately cold spread across her hands, tingling like small needles at the tips of her fingers.

An involuntary gasp escaped her at the sensation as she lifted her hands, holding the fluffy white powder as if it could disappear at any moment. Spinning around the snow crunched under her boots as she thrusted her hands forward for Sebastian to see. He merely laughed from his perch against the doorframe, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched her fondly. 

Looking down at her hands again she scrunched her fingers in slowly, watching as the snow scrunched in her hand, tumbling and falling away till there was only a small sheen left on her fingers. An excited garble left her lips when she noticed the plume of steam form in front of her.

Just like the dragons she had read about in her books. She let out a large puff of air, watching as the wispy air seemed to form in front of her, she grabbed at it but she was only left with a receding warmth in her fingers. Magic!

She looked back up at Sebastian with wide eyes. With that he finally stepped out into the alley. Leaning down a bit he collected some snow in his gloved hands, rolling it around till it held together in his hands.

What was he going to do with tha-

Pompf!

The snowball broke apart against her face softly and she squealed as the cold spread across her face. Looking up as she could see was Sebastian's smirking face

Oh heck no! She grabbed some more snow from the ground

-

They seemed to go at each other endlessly, falling over one another in the snow as they dissolved into laughter. He taught her to make snow angels and catch snow on her tongue and she even made her first snowman, naming him snowy as Sebastian gave her a carrot to stick on his face from the kitchen.

They played till their fingers went numb and then played some more, until she found her eyelids drooping as she sat in Sebastians lap, tiredly lifting handfuls of snow and watching as they fell.

She looked up across the mess that they had made, from the dual sized snow angels to the trampled foot prints of their snow battle to the rows of scooped snow that had used to make their snowman, then gazing down to their snow covered legs and wet patchy clothes.

“Why can't-” she paused as a yawn found itself in her mouth “...everyday be like this” she mumbled tiredly to no one in particular, letting one last handful of snow drop to the ground as she finally gave into sleep, letting her eyes flutter shut as she slumped back against Sebastian's chest.

 


 

Blinking herself awake Alicia waited for her eyes to adjust to  the darkness of her room. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes she hopped of her bed, not that she got much sleep, she was much too tired for that

She felt her stomach bubble with excitement as she padded quietly over to her closet. She could still hear her father moving around the house loudly outside her door but she didn't pay it any mind, he would leave for work soon.

Opening her closet she pulled out her sleekest dress, a simple white skirt with white trim on the sleeves and hem. It was still quite frilly and poofed up with its underskirt but it was much better than her other dresses with layers of fabric that restricted her motion.

Pulling on the garment she did her best to dress herself. Struggling on the buttons she admitted it was much easier with Sebastian’s help but she pulled through on her own in the end. Falling back on her butt she laced up her boots messily, not the quietest for running but they worked for what she needed them for.

Grabbing some stuffies of her bed she got to work. She probably had thirty minutes until Sebastian arrived so she knew she had to work fast.

She had just finished setting up and was debating going back upstairs to pretend to be asleep when she heard the door click

She could feel the underlying tension tighten the room's air when she locked eyes with Sebastain, barely even a foot in the door yet. Feigning innocence she blinked up at him as he took off his coat, hanging it on the metal hanger by the door.

Stepping out of the entryway he silently walked over to her, kneeling down on one knee as he reached forward for her dress.

“Miss, please don't try to dress yourself, you’ve gotten the buttons all wrong.” he sight, fixing the mis-matched buttons quickly

Standing up again he looked down at her coldly

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Cereal.”

He gave a small nod as he turned on his heels, pacing off to the kitchen with Alicia close behind him. She briefly entertained the idea of grabbing onto his tailcoat like she normal did but decided against it. Things were already tense and she’d rather not make it worse.

Sebastian already knew something was up, acting normal wasn't going to fix that. She was never up before he was here, not unless she had things she needed to do without him knowing.

She could feel his eyes on her as she ate, studying her outfit. His gaze lingered on her boots curiously but she paid him no mind, only stuffing another spoonful of cereal into her mouth as Sebastian finally turned away, leaving the kitchen, presumably to go clean for a bit, she glanced over at the clock. 

One hour.

She finished her breakfast quickly after that, jumping down from her stool to run upstairs. She tried her best to pass the time from there, playing with her blocks or stuffies, even trying in vain to read but her attention span seemed to be getting shorter by the minute. She lanced at the clock again

Forty minutes.

She squished the puppy plush in her hands, trying to calm her nerves with a few breaths but it only served to kick up more anticipation in her stomach. Groaning she rolled off her bed with a thump

Thirty minutes.

She bounced on her bed, rolling along the floor, seeing how far she could jump across the plush carpeting of her room, anything to try and drain the excess energy she seemed to be harboring endlessly

Ten minutes.

She resigned herself to the floor in front of her clock, watching as the minutes seemed to tick by painfully slow. She watched as the small hand of the clock finally ticked over to the ten, jumping up to her feet with boundless energy, practically jumping down the stairs in her rush, the heels of her boots clicking loudly against the steps.

Sebastian was waiting where he always was, silver stopwatch lain plainly in his hand as he looked down at it, silver chain hanging over the tips of his fingers. His head lifted to look at her as she came to a stop in front of him

Hide and Seek.

30 seconds to hide, 20 minutes to seek, one week of prep time. They played every week on Wednesday at 10 o’clock, no exceptions.

Things had slowly escalated as Alicia had gotten better at hiding and Senastain had gotten more serious in seeking, neither side willing to back down.

They had instituted the 20 minute seek time when Alicia had thrown a fit realizing she essentially couldn't win and with that came their own rules. Alicia couldn't barricade off rooms or set any traps that would physically harm or affect Sebastain, a trap that made noise in a certain room to distract him was fine. In exchange, Sebastian couldn't actively attempt to foil or ruin any hiding attempts, if he happened to stumble upon an aspect and remove it from play before the game started it was fair game, but that rule quickly became obsolete as she learned to hide the things she needed to use away from his normal paths.

No words were exchanged between the two as Sebastain wound the clock, setting it to twenty minutes before it would ring. He looked back up at her with a blank look.

3…

He knelt down so he was on one knee

2…

He closed his eyes

1.

She spun around on her heel, running through the house, allowing the heels of her boots to click semi softly along the wood. She knew where she needed to go. She grabbed the kitchen chair, dragging it to the counter before she went to the closet, grabbing her noted papers and scattering them on the floor quickly before she booked it across the house.

20 seconds left

When she was in front of the wooden engraved closet she stopped. She let a precious second tick by before she pivoted on her toes again and with all her practiced care she started to tread all the way across the house again. The boots were loud, Sebastian could easily track her path in the house but she needed them.

Which was why she had spent late nights tip-toeing across the house in these boots, timing and planning everything to a T, she had to be quiet and quick if she wanted to make it. Even a noise and her plan was void. She had done it over and over again till she knew the route like the back of her hand.

Along the carpet of the hallway, along the side of the kitchen to avoid the tile and across the rug of the living room. She had counted in her head till she knew exactly how much time was left, but even with all that she felt as though she wouldn't make it in time.

15 seconds left

She held her breath for the hardest part, passing Sebastian. He would be listening for even the slightest squeak in the boards. She looked at his crouched form, eyebrows knit together in concentration. Her lungs longed for air, reminding her painfully but she didn't give, slipping by him as fast as she could before she drew another quiet breath

10 seconds left

She crossed the living room carpet, locking her eyes on the dark purple curtain that  hung parallel to the side of the couch. Spinning around it her hands sifted through the fabric till she found it. 

A ripp, about a foot above the hem of the curtains, a few inches long at most but it was all she needed. A smile broke across her lips when she found what she already knew was there.

Lifting her foot she saddled the rip along the raised heel of her boot. Grabbing high on the purple fabric she lifted her other foot up, standing solely on her right foot. She had tested it for hours, making sure that it would hold her weight, standing there for hours in the dead of night was a bit awkward but worth it for the fun. She held her breath like she thought it would ripp, refusing to hold her weight now of all times but the curtain held strong and she let out a thin breath of relief

0 seconds left

The two succinct taps of Sebastian's Shoes sounded across the house, marking that they had begun then all she heard was silence.

Sebastian had long stopped making noise when he seeked, not after he realized she was using it to track where he was, now she could only hear him when he was close.

She instinctively shallowed her breath, making herself as quiet as she could. Her plan was risky, more risky than anything she had tried before and if it didn't work then she had ruined a perfectly good hiding spot.

It wasn't long before she heard the near silent pad of Sebastian's shoes enter the room, he always started with a sweep of the house, no matter what distractions she had in place to lure him to the other side of the house immediately, he would investigate any hints or traps she might have left after he made a broad sweep and illuminated any obvious spots.

That was when she heard it, the jerk of a curtain. The curtain next to her. She held her breath. She heard nothing as he looked down at the decoy she had set, a bear she had stuffed into a similar pair of boots, before he stalked away

Her eyes widened comically as she realized he didn't find her. He would never think to come back here now. Why would she hide so close to her decoy? There were so many things that could have gone wrong, should have gone wrong. What if he pulled back both curtains or hit her with his elbow but by some miracle he hasn't found her.

She didn't know how much time had passed as she stayed there, only moving to adjust her grip carefully as not to ruffle the curtain visibly. She knew that time must be drawing close as Sebastian's steps had become loud and sloppy as he searched frantically for her, surely panicking that he had missed her somewhere.

That was when disaster struck, she had just moved her hand to re-grip the curtain when she heard it.

Riiiiippp….

She watched as all her tests and planning went to waste and the fabric ripped under her. She didn't have any time to recover when the heels of her boots slammed into the ground loudly, sending her stumbling back into the wall. If Sebastian hadn’t heard the rip he had surely heard her landing

Nononono.

She heard his steps increase in volume as he ran across the house. She had nowhere to go, she didn't have any back up plan for this, she didn't even think she would make it this far to begin with. She couldn't give up now, but what options did she have?

Leaving her hiding spot she jumped in front of the couch, hitting the plush caret roughly and just in time as Sebastain rushed in, immediately running to the curtain and jerking it back to reveal nothing but air.

She scrambled up to her forearms, what now, he's going to turn around and see her but she didn't have anywhere to go. She watched as he started to turn back around. 

Maybe if she could dive behind the chair- would she be quick enough-

Riiiiiiiing!

They both jolted at the loud chime of the stopwatch

 

That was the first time she beat Sebastian.

 

They both stood stock still for a moment, Sebastains eyes now trained on her as she layed on the floor. All at once she felt a smile peel across her lips as she threw her arms in the air with a squeal, letting herself fall back onto the carpet happily.

 


 

“My stomach hurts...” she moaned, her shoulder slumping a bit before she winced back upright. Her father had come back particularly drunk last night and pulled her from bed in a fit of anger, when Sebastian had found her in the morning she could barely move. 

“They’ll be here soon, miss” Sebastian chimed from his spot across the kitchen, wiping down the counters.

She mumbled an answer. She still wasn't sure why or how but her father had supposedly found someone who could fix her injuries and they were supposed to come here today. An uneasy feeling settled in her stomach along with the tight pain. She hadn't ever spoken with anyone other than Sebastain or her Mother and now a bunch of strangers were supposed to be coming here. To help her or not, she couldn't help but feel anxious.

“Eat your food.” Sebastian scolded her softly, snapping her out of her daze. She looked down at the pale mush in her bowl with disgust, breathing hurt yet Sebastian was making her eat food. She grimaced as she forced down another bite. She wanted to vomit again.

 

She was busy trying to see if she could fit under the couch as a hiding spot for next wednesday when she heard it, three loud knocks on the door. They were both downstairs in the office area of the house her father often used for meetings to await their arrival but she couldn't help but jolt at the loud noise.

She rarely ever came down here, only when they were playing hide and seek, she never had any reason to be down here. The room was majorly used as a meeting room for her fathers business partners but it was also where the front door was, she never left so she never needed to be down here, unless she was waiting for Sebastian to come in for the day of course.

Sebastian wasted no time pacing over to the door and pulling open the eye shutter

“Who goes there?”

“Regan and Fletcher.” an angry voice answers, she shuddered from her spot on the floor

“And?” Sebastian questions

There was another? Her eyes widened a bit as she swallowed roughly.

“Where is she? We present her to her.” the angry voice snapped again

“NAME” Sebastian retorted sharply and Alicia finched back at his tone

“NO.” another voice barked back, this one more low and almost earthy

Sebastian snapped the eye hole shut at that, taking a breath before he turned to her

“Do you want me to let them in?” looking at him she could already tell that he didn't like them, his face was pinched into a tight scowl that she was sure it wasn't directed at her but she couldn't help but cower back a bit, it was never fun when Sebastian was mad.

She bit her lip, did she even have a choice? She didn't want to see the face that went with those voices, would the third be like that too?

Crawling up to her feet she darted over to the black curtain that divided the two rooms, hiding behind it, this way if she didnt like them she could hide while Sebastian made them go away

“You can let them in now!”

Turning back to the door Sebastian hesitated for a moment before undoing the lock as he yanked the door open.

“You may come in. She’s this way.” Sebastian greeted them stepping to the side of the door.

Peeking out from behind her curtain she watches as two men and a girl file in, she immediately feels herself stiffen, the girl is older than her but surely only by a few years. She’s never been around other children, why was she here? Was she supposed to be? Sebastian never told her another child was coming over.

She jumped when she noticed the girl staring at her, what now? Does she say something?

“We’ve brought her.” the man with the angry voice announced, shoving the girl forward roughly. Was that her cue? She crept out of her hiding spot slowly, eyeing the girl carefully. She didn't seem like she would hurt her.

Sebastian told her that she would having something on her neck if she as the person her father sent for, showing her pictures in a book of what some looked like, but hers wasent supposed to look like the sharp ones she had seen

She waves her hand a bit to get the girl to move her hair. Obliging the raven haired girl pulled her hair to the side and bent her head down.

Sebastian was right, the black fragments that painted the back of her neck didn't look like the ones she had been shown on paper 

“Y-your right. It doesn't look like anything from the books” She glanced over at Sebastian from where he stood by the door, he gave her a small nod before her attention was pulled away by one of the men

“Her twin had one too- but we couldn't see it to check” the earthy man jumped in. “We’re not sure about the rest of the family though, but we suspect…”

If her sister had one too then where was she. She felt her eyebrows knit together as she glanced around. Did she miss her?

“And the other one is where?” she questioned tentatively

The man shrugged “We only needed this one, so we brought this one.”

Oh- what was she supposed to say to that? She panicked a bit before just turning to the girl again. Maybe she should just take the girl to the back? 

She anxiously steered the girl past the black curtain, leaving the two men in her dust “This way.” 

When they started to follow she felt herself jump again “You two can stay here, thank you.” she stuttered quickly, pulling on the black curtain sharply. She didn't like them, they were mean and loud. She pulled anxiously at the lace on her sleeve, watching as the raven haired girl looked around the room. When the girl looked back at her for instruction Alicia pointed to the chair and table Sebastain had set out for her, obediently the girl stalked over to the table, a bit of hesitation evident in her step.

The curtain swooshed open and Sebastian stepped through, immediately she felt more at ease, following him closely as he gathered things across the room. She even started to feel excited, feeling herself bounce a bit as she watched him pull things from the cabinets.

Walking over to the girl again Sebastain held out a try with a metal pot and a silver dagger. Looking at the tray, fear passed over the girl's face before dark realization. She reached out and gripped the dagger with shaking hands.

Cocking her head to the side in confusion she looked at the girl again. Did she not want to do this? Isn't she here so she could be paid? Maybe it just hurt to cut herself? She watched in curiosity as the girl pressed the sharp blade to her wrist, a small whimper passing her lips as red blood welled up along her arm.

Acting fast Sebastain lunged forward, grabbing her wrist and pulling it over the pot before it could splatter on her dress. He red liquid quickly encompassed her wrist in a large red band, dripping into the pot with metallic patters. She peered down at the scarlet blood skeptically, it didn't look any different than normal blood, how did they know that it actually worked, were they just lying to them.

“How do I know if it works?” she questioned, turning to look back up at Sebastian, as he watched with an unreadable expression. As she spoke to him he seemed to snap out of his daze, turning his head to look down at her

“Why don't you try it then Miss?” He raised an eyebrow, gesturing to the pot.

“Okay!” she chimed, sticking a finger forward and under the girl's bleeding wrist. It was warm and thick as it coated her fingers, making her shudder uncomfortably. 

Licking her fingers she suppressed a grimace as the metallic taste coated her tongue strangely. Lifting her dress she turned her gaze down to the black mass covering her side, she watched in wonder as it crept back off her pale skin, feeling the tight knot of pain in her stomach dissipate as she could breathe freely again, the last black stains receding off her skin in seconds. She could feel the girl watching her but she didn't pay it any mind, instead taking a gaspy breath now that she felt she could breath once again

“It works!” she squealed, looking down at her un-marked stomach. Looking back up at Sebastian she beamed happily, feeling a weight lifted off her shoulders, Sebastian was looking down at her with something not unlike bewilderment. It seems he had not believed it either. It was so cool, just like in all her favorite story books.

Looking back down her eyes locked back onto the girl as she now clutched her still bleeding wrist close to her chest, looking around the room desperately.

“Hmm?” it was still bleeding. They needed to fix that. “That doesn’t look good.” she echoed her mind in a soft mumble. Who could fix that? Her Mom! She didn't waste any time reaching forward to grab the girls other wrist, tugging her out of the chair. Her Mom always helped her, she would help the girl. And she could finally get to see her again! “Come on. I know where you can get this stitched up.” she bit her lip, would she even be allowed to go? Her father would be furious but he left for a business trip this morning, he wouldn't find out, would he? She hadn't ever left the house on her own either, would Sebastain come with her? No, he had to stay with the guests. 

She shouldn't, she should just let Sebastian figure out what to do, but- she wanted to see her mom again, she missed her even with Sebastian here, maybe if she could go see her, she would come back home. She knew she shouldn't go but she longed to see her again, everything she had worked so hard to suppress seemed to come bubbling back up to the surface without mercy.

“Wait!” she froze as Sebastian called out to her. She knew it was coming, she knew he would try and stop her. But she couldn't help but feel torn as his voice cut through her muddled thoughts.

Pivoting on her feet she looked back at him, hand extended towards them as he lurched forward to stop them, concern written plainly all over his face.

“I-I- he's not here- and she’s- p-please?” she stuttered out, her voice betraying her as she pleaded to him, everything felt so blended together and she didn't know what she wanted anymore- no, she wanted to see her Mother, Right? She hadn't left her, she was still here her father was wrong, he didn't know. His words echoed in her head

“That good for nothing witch left you!” Smack. “She hates you, she doest ever want to see you again” Smack “so why do you keep asking about her! She left but you won't, you won't ever leave me you understand!” He screamed down at her.

No! She came back, she took care of her. She looked at Sebastian as he firmed his posture looking at her blankly, she felt herself tremble as she stared back at him, she had to go, she had to see her. 

She held her breath, she had to, she couldn't stop now. After what seemed like an eternity Sebastian's shoulders slumped in defeat

“Fine. But be careful.”

She felt her eyes widen in shock, she could-

“Mhmm mhmm,” she hummed in response, nodding excitedly as she shocked back to life, tugging the girl again.

The two men were still out in the waiting room, one sitting on the edge of the sofa while the other leaned against a wall, they both jumped as they emerged, lunging forward a bit to grab her. No! She still needed her. She felt bad for using her but she couldn't let this go.

“She still needs stitches.” she shoots out defensively, still tugging the girl to the door

“Well then, we’ll take care of it.” the man with the angry voice offers firmly

“N-no!” she tugs roughly on the girl before she realizes she won't make it out of the house before the two stop her. Dropping the girl's arm, her hands fumble around her skirt. She knew they were somewhere. Yanking a few credits out of her pocket she tossed them at the man before grabbing the girl again.The man seemed satisfied as he stepped back, letting her pull the girl away. 

Stepping outside it seemed to dawn on her what she was doing, looking around the darkened alley way she couldn't help but feel helpless. For the briefest moment she wanted to turn back, run back to Sebastian and bury her head in the familiar satin of his suit, begging him to read her a book surrounded by the comfort of her pillows and blankets and stay like that forever.

No! She was doing this she had too, she already came this far. She started tugging the girl forward again, albeit a small bit slower. Slowly they made their way through the back alleys, clinging close to the shadows. She had memorized the way to the bakery from the small glimpses of the world she got, pressing them into her memory like a tattoo for when she finally went to see her Mother again, and that day was today.

They seemed to arrive at the back door all too quickly yet to slow at the same time. Standing in front of the wooden door she didn't know why she was hesitating, she should be bursting through the door to run into her mother's arms again but something felt lacking

“I-” the girl next to her started to speak but Alicia cut in quickly

“Sorry!- I- uh nevermind” she stuttered out nervously, right, she was here for a reason, enough waiting. She held her breath as she pressed the door open.

Looking into the bakery her eyes quickly fell on her mom, as she bent over some dough on a cutting board. She always loved baking. Alicia remembers how the house always smelled like sweets or like fresh flour.

At the sound of their entrance she jumped a bit, turning to look at them with surprise. She watched as her mother's eyes settled on her heavily, her expression morphing into something uncomfortable. 

No, that wasn't right, wasen’t she happy so see her? Maybe she was just surprised to see her?

“Alicia, what are you doing here?! What if your father sees you?” her mother questioned quickly. Oh, she was just worried about her, she should have known better. She tried to brush of the stiffness in her chest but she couldn't quite shut up the small voice in the back of her mind whispering lies but she adamantly ignored it as she tried to stutter out her answer

“I-I, he's not here, he's on a business trip and no one saw us,” she pushed the girl forward, she was here for a reason first, she could spend time with her mom after she helped the girl. She chastaized herself for her selfishness “This girl needs stitches.”

“Oh- uh, sure,” her mother turned on her foot, moving to the cabinets to grab things. Was the girl making her mother anxious? Should she tell her that there wasn't anything to worry about? That the girl was here to help her?

It wasn't long till her mom turned back again, a needle and thread in her hand as she extended a hand to the girl. Her mother moved quickly, wiping away the blood from her arm before pushing the needle into the cut and the girl let out a soft hiss under her breath as Alicia tried not to shy away.

“Alicia, go back to the office with Sebastian. I'll make sure she gets it all taken care of,” her mother turned to her again

Was she still worried about that? It didn't matter if her father got mad- she could take it. it would be worth it. “I-I know but I never get to see you mom, I-I just thought that if I was careful then I could come see you and maybe we could play together again! I don't care if I get in trouble if I can be with you!” she finished with a smile, thinking about the games that they could play later. Her mom still didn't seem convinced as she started to rebuttal her staying again.

“I know dear but-” she was cut off quickly as a high pitched squeal punctuated the air, making Alicia jolt a bit in surprise as a small girl with short brown hair rushed into the room, coated head to toe in white flour

“Oh, Alis.” her mother drawled fondly, turning her head to watch as the girl skirted around the countertops and Alicia felt herself freeze up, a brittle crack settling painfully in her chest as she looked down at her sister.

She already replaced you…. Her father's words echoed in her head again, rattling in the hollow cold. 

Her eyes were drawn to her brown hair, small dots of white flour stuck between the messy strands then to the blue strands of her own hair poking along the edges of her vision, brown hair that looked so much like her mothers, she would always look more like her mother than alicia would, looking at her she knew instantly that she was her daughter.

She was cut off by her thoughts as the girl leaned around the counter with a playful shriek as she pointed at she pointed at the raven haired girl

“That's the girl from the market!” the raven haired girl’s spine jolted stiffly at the accusation. Had they met before? She didn't have long to think about it till the small girl turned her gaze to her, small dots of four falling from her hair as she cocked her head curiously

“Who's she? Does she know the Market girl?” Alicia felt her throat tighten, she doesn't  know her?- well of course she doesn't recognise her, she probably doesn't know what she looks like. Her mind rambled nervously, like nit was trying to put two pieces of a puzzle together that didn't quite fit

“Oh~” Her mothers voice was tight as Alicia waited for her to tell her that she was her sister, a response that never came “she’s no one you should know dear, you don't need to worry about it.”

The small girl’s ‘okay’ sounded distant as she responded as Alicia watched the puzzle she had spent so long trying to hold together break apart leaving a morbid image behind in her head. She could hear more words but her brain didn’t process them. She didn't even know she followed the raven haired girl out till she was already outside.

She could still hear her mother through the door, calling after her ‘sister’. Now you get over here you little rascal, she could hear muffled through the door before high pitched squealing.

She remembered so vividly when that used to be her, running from the kitchen into the dining room where she clung to the leg of a chair before her mom caught up and tickled her til tears sprung up in her eyes and she could barely breathe through the laughter.

He was right. Every curse and scream that fell from her fathers mouth came back to all at once. She had been so sure, she had been so sure her father was wrong but now she didn't know who was right.

“You done here? cause we need to go.” an angry voice snapped her back and she jolted, drawing a tight breath but her chest felt impossibly tight now, even now that she didn't have a bruise, was that a side effect? It had to be.

The two men were in front of her now and she felt even smaller as they towered over her.

“Sebastian paid you, r-right?” she tried to ask them but her voice came out hoarse and quiet.

“Yep.” the second one answered happily, tossing a few coins in his hand.

With nothing left to say she nodded stiffly at him and turned to make her escape back into the alley, all of a sudden way too aware of being out in the open. Her feet carried her into the darkness of the alley quickly before she slowed down, walking tightly against the wall of the alley. She wrung her hands together as she took a few shaky breaths, the air burning in her lungs slightly as she took slow steps forward.

Her mind was blank, all thoughts of anything at all had vanished leaving only an anxious uneasy sensation underneath her skin. 

It made her feel so weird, that her mind was so blank, everytime she tried to grasp on a thought or feeling it receded before she could

It wasn't long till she was back in front of the same door she came from. She reached forward with shaking hands to pull the door open, her arms straining tensely under the weight as she stepped through. The door clicked shut behind her as she was enveloped in the familiar walls

Still nothing. 

“Miss, Lunch is almost ready” Sebastian called from the other room and his voice was like the last puzzle piece slotting into place as it all came crashing down to her.

Sobs wracked her shoulders as tears blurred her vision, leaving cold tracks down her face. Stumbling back she hit the door she came in from, sliding down it as her knees gave in. her chest burned as she choked on air. Everything was gone, every memory of her mother she held onto was gone. Every hope or dream of her mother coming back to be with her was shattered and she was all alone.

The house was silent other than her cries echoing in the rooms. Quiet, empty, alone. Then she could hear the click of Sebastian's shoes against the floor as he came to a crouch in front of her. Her sobs softened for a second as she watched him reach forward to her.

“You're going to look like a goldfish if you keep crying like that” tells her as he scrubs at her cheek lightly. A line he would always use when she was crying over something and he couldn't get her to stop. Looking up at him she could see his features drawn tightly together in something that looked like remorse. 

Any clarity of vision was soon gone as more tears gathered in her eyes and her sobs picked up painfully, lurching forward she grabbed onto him, burying her head in the familiar tailcoat as another sob wracked her body.

Wrapping his arms around her Sebastian picks her up, holding her tightly as he stands up and Alicia feels like she can breathe again, even if just a bit as she gasps for air. She was wrong, she wasn't alone, she had Sebastian, and she liked him more anyways.

She feels her sobs slowly subside as Sebastian carries her around the house until it's only the occasional hiccup. She rubs at her eyes as they enter the kitchen, trying to wipe away the messy tear tracks as she sniffs through her runny nose.

Placing her down in a chair Sebastian pushes a plate in front of her. Looking down at the plate Alicia gives a watery giggle as a small smile grazed her lips. Sebastian only silently turns away to finish making lunch and Alicia promises she doesn't see the small glance he cast over his shoulder as she picks up her bunny bread and takes a bite.

Yea, she definitely likes Sebastian better.

 

That was the last time she ever wanted to see her mother

 


 

Six days, that was all she had. She didn't know it but that was all she had. She spent them like she always did, grabbing Sebastian tailcoats and skipping after him, planning hide and seek spots, begging Sebastian to play with her, reading books, joking, laughing. She didn't even think about her mom. She didn't wonder where she was or when she would get to see her again. But all good things end and so did her six days.

She was holed up on her bed scribbling down on some possible hide and seek ideas on some papers. Sebastian had gotten sent home early when her father got back so she was on her own so she was just staying quiet until she could go to bed. The plans weren’t anything detailed, just some random ideas she likely wouldn't even go through with. Hide and seek had gotten more difficult recently as the house started to exhaust of places to hide, so her spots kept getting more and more extravagant. She had even managed to scale the house walls high enough to hide on a small ledge along the ceiling once. 

Each hiding spot seemed to leave Sebastian more exasperated but as long as she followed the rules he couldn't stop her, though her weak body seemed to be the biggest limitation to her hiding. She doodled a small bunny along the side of the parchment, her mind wandering boredly from the short list of ideas.

“Alicia.”

She snapped back from her zoned out stare at the wall, What? Did her father call her? Why? She didn't move

“Alicia!” her father called again much louder. This time she snapped into action, throwing her legs over the side of the bed and pushing herself off to stand quickly. Why was he calling her? If he wanted her he always came and grabbed her. He had come back from his business trip a day ago and hadn't said a thing to her which was strange in itself. He had come home and made quick work storming to his study, sparing her a bare glance before Sebastian managed to whisk her away to the other side of the house.

She had expected to wake in the middle of the night to the sound of breaking wood or slurred words or even a tight grip on her wrist pulling her out of bed but she didn't. She still woke up in the middle of the night but not to anything, the house was dead silent. In the morning she didn't smell any alcohol and she knew something was wrong. It seemed like Sebastian knew it too, keeping a close eye on her and even opting to read to her in her room when he would have normally told her to read on her own, it wasn't like it even mattered as she could barely focus on the story. They were both acting like normal but everything felt anything but, and then Sebastian got sent home early.

She scurried down the hallways quickly to her fathers study, slipping through the door like she had so many times before as she tried not to think about what was likely about to happen. Her father sat at his desk looking down at some papers in his hand, looking as cold as ever. He only ever looked cold or angry now, or on the rare occasion she could catch a vacant look in his eyes. She hadn't seen him smile in years, not since before she left them, but things were much different now, a reality that seemed unsheded above her head since she returned from the bakery.

She has another stuffed animal, not unlike what her bunny was like before she gave it to Sebastian. A fox that she hid in the back of her closet. It wasn't as loved as her bunny was, but the fur was a little rough and a seam along its leg had started to come loose. She never played with it or even took it out of its hiding spot, if you could even call it that, she was sure Sebastian knew it was there but she just couldn't get rid of it. Everytime she tried to put it with the stuffed animals that were being taken away she just couldn't, it felt like giving up her memories, even if she knew the memories that came with the plush were long gone, she couldn't even look at it anymore without stirring up painful feelings yet she still couldn't get rid of it.

She remembers running through the house, latching onto her fathers leg as he clambered through the door, suitcase still in hand.

“Did someone miss me?”

She gave a squeal as he picked her up, bouncing her with a smile as he glanced over at her mother, leaning in the doorway as she watched.

“That's good cause I have a surprise” 

His chest rumbled with a small laugh as he carried her over to one of the plush chairs in the room, resting her on his knee as he grabbed his suitcase making a big show of pulling it up and rummaging through it, she whined impatiently, bouncing herself up and down a bit. Finally giving in her father pulled the plush fox from his suitcase with a grin holding it in front of her. Looking at the toy she named the toy quickly

“Fox.”

With that her father bent over slightly laughing, the fox almost falling out of his grip as she grabbed for it and she could even see her mother laughing from the doorway, her hand held over her mouth in a vain attempt to hide her giggles, she wasn't quite sure what was so funny but she smiled anyway, finally grabbing ahold of the fox and pulling it to her lap to play with.

She blinked out of the familiar memory, trying to focus more. She'd be lying if she said she didn't miss it, miss being able to drag her fox and bunny across the house and seat them together for tea parties and to read books. Maybe in a different life she would have been able to, maybe in a different life things would have turned out differently. Her mind though back to the flour in tangled brown hair, falling like small snowflakes. She remembered how cold the snow was, how chilling and unforgiving it could feel, but she also remembered Sebastian and how happy she was.

She took a deep breath, feeling it hitch a little in her chest as she tried to ground herself, focusing on the wood of her fathers desk, slowly raising her gaze to look up at him. He had put down his paperwork and was staring at her now. She suddenly felt aware of how quiet the room was, tense silence sitting in the air, but not the excited thrilling silence like when she was playing hide and seek but the oppressive suffocating silence. She didn't know how long they stayed like that before her father finally spoke

“You left to find your mother.” it wasn't a question.

Alicia could feel her eyes dilate as panic tightened in her chest, How did he know? Did Sebastian tell him? No he wouldn't ever do something like that, was it the men? Or the girl? Would they even care? Questions surfaced quickly in her head as her mind started to race. She was so sure that she was fine, that he wouldn't find out. 

“I told you time and time again but you still wouldn't believe me. You still tried to leave me, just like that good for nothing hag you have for a mother.”

She flinched back slightly as he rose from his desk, hands slamming down against the scattered papers

“Yet you had to go see for yourself, so did you see it?” she made a small noise as he continued, “did you finally see how little she cares for you, how she left you here at the drop of a dime for something better.”

Alicia felt tears well up in her eyes, he wasn't saying anything he hadn't before, but for once she couldn't disagree with him, tell herself he was wrong and lying, cause she had seen it for herself. 

“She thinks of us as a nuisance, a stain on her past, you know. So much so that she came to tell me that you had come. That she didn't want you ruining what she had now so she told me not to let it happen again” What? Everything seemed to stop for a moment. She had told him? She knew that she didn't want her, that she shouldn't have gone to the bakery, but she had-. She had gone as far as to tell her father? Did she not know what he would do? She couldn't have, she wouldn't have done it if she knew- right?

Her mind only sped up more as she trembled back against the wood of the door. Her father was speaking again but she didn't listen, they were the same words she always heard. He spat the words angrily as he rounded the corner of his desk and Alicia knew what came next. 

She braced herself against the door, squeezing the hem of her dress tight as she closed her eyes and waited. But it never came.

The room fell silent and after a moment she let herself open her eyes again. Her father was standing in front of her, but he wasn't screaming or shouting or gesturing wildly like he normally would, he didn't even look mad anymore. He looked cold, and tired, and had a deep twinge in his eyes that she hadn't seen since the very first night on her own, before she had even met Sebastian, before she knew her mother wasn't coming back. The memory that was so burnt into her mind that she could still picture it perfectly.

They stood in thick silence as seconds ticked on that felt like minutes, this hadn't ever happened before, she didn't know what to do anymore, and somehow it hurt more. She just wanted it to be over, to be able to hide under her covers till Sebastian came and pulled her out.

The air was tense and she wanted to look away but she couldn't, she felt stuck in place.

 

“We’re leaving.”

 

The quiet was broken instantly as her father jerked his head away from her as he spoke

“W-what?” her voice was barely above a whisper as she spoke, her throat feeling tight and unbudging

“We're leaving. We're going away from here so you can't interfere again” he turned back to his desk and started walking towards it so she could only see his back “Sebastian will pack your things tomorrow and say goodbye.”

What? Time seemed to slow again, Say goodbye? 

“W-what about Sebastian?”

“Well find another butler once we get there” he picked up some papers on his desk and shuffled them around seemingly undisturbed. “It's late, go back to your room and go to bed.” he shooed her stiffly and she heard the underlying get out In his words.

Unsure of what else to do she numbly turned around and pulled the heavy door open, letting it close behind her. Lifting her head she looked around the empty hallways slowly

They were leaving. 

Her legs felt numb under her as she stumbled away from the door and down the hallways slowly. Looking at the only walls she had ever known, the walls she would soon never see again. The chair Sebastian would read her books in, the scuff on the wall from where she had run into it while they were playing tag, the stain on the curtain from when she had spilled soup over herself and Sebastian. She would never see it again, she would never see Sebastian again. 

Nononono. She couldn't leave, They couldn't leave, she couldn't do it. She felt her breath stutter as she looked around wildly, the more her eyes roamed the more memories bubbled up to her mind. Sebastian trying to teach her to make soup. Sewing up her dress while she played at his feet. Finding her in hide and seek.  Wrangling her into a bath. Begrudgingly sitting on the floor and playing tea party with her. Before she couldn't remember much but now she could remember everything, ever smile, laugh and smirk and she was supposed to leave it all.

She didn't know what she was thinking but she had to do something, find him, make him come with them, anything, she couldn't just stand bye and let it happen, lose everything again. So she did something she hadn't ever before. She pried the door open and ran.

 
 


Submitted: April 14, 2021

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blank.canvas

Hello and thanks for reading! this is the first part in a 3 part series. this story is connected and has references to our other more proper polished work "A Wilting Flower" so if you interested in more of the world building or story you can find it there. This is a side project to that work and updates might take longer but if you enjoyed and want to see more please leave a comment or suggestion and I can speed things up.
-Paige

Wed, April 14th, 2021 7:23pm

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