[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]][google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel The silver coupe was deathly silent between the two people; with the driver single-mindedly focused on the road and the passenger sulking and pointedly attempting to exude the most indignant vibe they could muster. The driver was Lilia Taylor, a mildly popular author, and stunning beauty. Her tanned wheat colored hair was swept up in a ponytail with her curtain bangs framing her slender and soft face. She had a classic look to her with droopy eyes and full lips. She was dressed both fashionably and comfortably for the chilly fall air of Maine with a cobalt blue trench coat and black boots so tall they acted like pants.
The passenger was Lilia’s son, Poppy Montgomery-Taylor, who had both his mother’s and father’s last names. Poppy’s facial shape was similar to his mothers in its slender yet soft appearance but his features were slightly sharper; especially his large, clear, blue eyes that held none of Lilia’s clam essence despite having a similar, slightly sleepy droop. His hair was a darker shade than Lilia’s as well but also paler in hue, resembling his father’s ash brown. Poppy had a face that seemed to promise mischief when he was pleased, and the way his lips would curl was Cheshire cat like, making his eyes crescent ever so slightly. He had small beauty mark beneath his left eye’s corner that felt both elegant and seductive and his pale skin was like milk. The back of his neck hosted a bluing bruise, one of many on his body, that didn’t seem to take away from his appeal.
Having had to buy more autumn and winter clothing in the past month and a half than he’d probably ever had to in his entire life, Poppy now had an appropriate wardrobe for Main weather. He was dressed in plain black trousers and a color block white sweater which had two sort of squares of beige on the shoulders and black trim on the hems.
On his lap was a grey cat carrier which was unzipped so his manicured hands could gently scratch and comfort the large mass of fluff that was Boba. Boba was a tri-colored long haired calico with splotches of black and stripped orange on a base of white and pale green eyes. Poppy had the cat years now and pampered him endlessly. As for the name it just sounded cute. Boba wasn’t particularly affectionate to other people but he seemed to adore Poppy and would often curl up in the boy’s lap or in the crook of his arms, sometimes even by his neck, all while purring loudly. Of course, the cat was nearly as pouty as its owner currently having just spend the whole day on planes flying from California to Maine and then having to sit for nearly three hours in a car on top of it.
Lilia leaned forward a bit as she drove, clearly looking at the signs of the street and familiar markers as she drove into a more residential area of the town. After a few more minutes the silver car pulled up into the driveway of a house, [#0091EA [b “This is it.”]] Lilia said this rather matter-of-factly before turning off the car and stepping out. Poppy followed suit, getting out of the car while appraising the house. All things considered, the house was pretty normal, a traditional New England style that Poppy could see as the setting of some holiday movie or one of those weird independent films where a person goes home to their dysfunctional family for a funeral. It was built with neutral grey tones and the singling on the walls of the house were practically the same shade as the singles on the roof. He supposed he ought to be grateful that it was regular house and not some murder cabin in the woods given the genre of novels his mother wrote but he still felt annoyed. While he was taking in the house a loud croaking noise made him jolt.
Setting down the cat carrier the boy turned his head towards the croaking sound and saw a large black bird, he couldn’t remember the difference between a crow and raven but it looked pretty big so maybe the later? The bird was perched on a tree branch in the front yard of the house which had already lost a good number of its leaves. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one who caught sight of the bird, the cat sitting inside the unzipped carrier had also seen it. With a powerful and graceful leap that Poppy never would have guessed would come from the usually lazy and loafing cat, Boba left the carrier and began sprinting towards the tree. The bird let out a serious of croaks that almost sounded like laughter before it few off. The bird didn’t fly quickly and almost seemed to be circling back like it was playing with Boba. But the bird was so big that Poppy was filled with a little bit of fear that it might try to pick the cat up and fly off with it like food.
[#58CBC4 [b “Ohmygod, Boba why?”]] Poppy said as he chased after the duo of bird and cat leaving Lilia staring dazedly after her son with no intention of following after him. [#58CBC4 [b “You are the fluffiest, most spoiled, lazy, pampered housecat to ever housecat. You can’t even catch [i dead] birds let alone this giant one!”]] He groaned already regretting the fact he didn’t remember to zip the carrier back up before getting out of the car, or at least putting the carrier down [i inside] the house. The cat ran longer than Poppy would have liked and was probably off the property line by now, and hadn’t seemed to care the least bit that Poppy was having to run after him. However, the boy was finally able to catch up, scooping the bundle of meowing fur into arms and tightly gripping him there.
Poppy tried to keep his grip on the fluffy cat while it struggled in his arms trying to reach the bird. To his surprise the raven didn’t fly away instead landing on the shoulder of a girl who looked like she might be the same age as Poppy. The girl had dark purple, almost eggplant, colored hair with roots that looked black and was black lace up shorts and white crop top with a stylish black lace choker the raven was picking at while softly croaking. [#58CBC4 [b “Sorry about that,”]] Poppy called out, realizing that the bird must have been the girl’s pet. He approached her while still keeping a firm grip on the cat, [#58CBC4 [b “Seriously I don’t know what he was thinking chasing after that bird. He’s normally an indoor cat,”]] Poppy rambled slightly trying to explain that Boba was definitely not a threat.
[#58CBC4 [b “Anyways,”]] Poppy drew out the word, changing the subject before it had hardly started, [#58CBC4 [b “pet bird, huh? Very aesthetic. I can appreciate that.”]] While shifting his hold on Boba he held out his hand to the girl, his black triangle French tip manicure shining. [#58CBC4 [b “I’m Poppy, I just moved to this lovely Hallmark Movie Hellscape,”]] He simultaneous joked and introduced himself. [#58CBC4 [b “You seem,”]] Poppy mulled over how to describe the girl, [#58CBC4 [b “cool. You should be my friend.”]] It may have been an abrupt offer but Poppy didn’t stop talking there, [#58CBC4 [b “Because I have none here and it will only be a few weeks till my Cali friends completely forget about my entire existence, save for when something of mine pops up in their feed and they go [i ‘ohmygod, he looks so sad and pale now that he lives on the East coast’]. I mean, I’m already pale [i and] I’m totally miserable from the move but you get what I mean?”]]
It was practically word vomit and there was a definite chance the girl would think Poppy was weird or annoying but the brunette really didn’t mind. He wasn’t the type to mince words and he was totally serious but the fact his friends would eventually forget about him so he needed new friends or this nightmare would only get worse.]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/FasTI1r.jpg]][center [abel [size15 It had been almost two months since Alcombright started her junior year and she was already counting down the minutes until graduation. She had spent the morning reading her fortune and she was not happy with the results. No matter how many times she’d dealt her hand, the Grim Reaper stared back at her unchanging. The Death card wasn’t an inherently bad read but it usually signified a great change in the reader’s life and Rosie wasn’t in the mood for change.
Letting at a sigh, she pursed her lips and reshuffled the cards. She flipped the top card over and her heart skipped a beat. On the card was a hand holding a silver goblet overflowing with water. It read Ace of Cups and she knew what that meant. New love. Biting her lip, she threw the card down and stood up from the table. The jostling startled the black bird nesting in the wadded-up table cloth. He squawked in protested. Rosie patted his head apologetically.
[b [#524078 “I need some fresh air,”]] she huffed.
Outside, Rosie took her time watering the plants on the porch and hummed to herself. She knew music had magic and the flora loved to listen. When she was done with her chores, she decided to check on her father in the barn.
[b [#626262 "Hey jellybean!"]]A voice echoed in the barn.
Rosie could hear an Irish tune being hummed from inside. Stepping over the white wolf napping in the opened door, the girl headed towards the noise. The canine opened one amber eye to stare at the girl. Rosie stared back. After a beat, the wolf blinked and shifted his weight away from her. Narrowing her eyes, Rosie lifted her nose at the animal and stalked further inside.
Leaned up against a stall door was a tall, burly fellow. His greying midnight hair was pulled into a small pony and glowed silver in the early morning sunlight. Cradled in his arms was small lamb. The man held a bottle steady as the lamb suckled on its teat.
[b [#524078 "What's up dad?"]] Rosie asked, reaching out a hand and placing it on the animal’s head. She tussled the soft tuft of fur gently. [b [#626262 "Could you go see your mother in town for me? I need some yarrow to add to my salve."]] He replied. [b [#626262 "This little guy's momma has a cut on her hock and needs some ointment. Yes, she does~"]] He cooed in the lamb's ear.
Rosie raised an eyebrow at her father. He had always been a big softy especially with the animals, but it was still surprising sometimes how much he babied them. [b [#524078 "Yeah of course. I need to pick up some stuff for school anyway."]]
Her father's eyes lit up with delight. [b [#626262 "Perfect! Let me get you some money. Here hold him for a second."]] The man passed the creature off to his daughter. It squirmed in her arms only for a moment before settling. Rosie adjusted the animal on her hip as she watched her father disappear into the small equipment room.
He returned with a thick wad of cash and went to hand it to her before realizing her hands were full. Rosie cocked her hip out and the man tucked the money into her pocket. Retrieving the lamb from her, he smiled. [b [#626262 "You could invite Graves if you want. I bet he needs some stuff too."]]
Rosie let out a snort and rolled her eyes. [b [#524078 "That boy hates civilization more than Mom does."]] The thought of bringing her older brother to town sent shivers up her spine. Her feral sibling was already regretting signing up for public school. She didn't think shopping would make things any better.
Her father shrugged, [b [#626262 "hmm you're right. It can't hurt to ask though."]]
Rosie knew her father was right. She knew she should be trying harder to get her brother acclimated to things but working with him on socialization was like pulling teeth. [i Pulling a wolf's teeth.]
It had been four years since Everrett Graves moved from Europe to Maine. The disbanding of his pack had been devastating for the boy and he was still experiencing the aftermath. He'd spent the first two years with his new family in his wolf form and refused to say a word. Rosie wasn't sure if he didn't want to speak or couldn't. With time though, he warmed up to the Alcombright’s. After a while he started spending more time as a human and more time with Rosie. She had to admit she loved him more and more each day, hut his hot temper and sharp tongue got to her sometimes.
Sighing, Rosie said goodbye to her father and headed towards the door. She scanned the ground for the white mass of fur she'd seen upon entering. He was still bathing in the sun and appeared to be sleeping despite his flickering ears. She knew he had been listening. The fact that he was in the same spot was a good sign. [b [#524078 "Hey G, want to come into town with me?"]]
The wolf lifted his head and met her gaze. His golden eyes glinted in the sunlight. Blinking, he rose to his feet and nodded his head. Rosie couldn't hide her smile. It was a step in the right direction. [b [#524078 "Okay let me get the leash."]] At that statement, the wolf’s body shivered, and he shot the human a look of reluctance. The Alcombright’s learned the hard way that bringing a loose wolf into town was [i not socially acceptable.] Adding a leash and collar did the trick though; people just assumed they'd adopted a wolf dog. Who'd expect the white wolf to be a century old fae creature hiding in a teenager's body?
Rosie made her towards the farmhouse with Graves padding closely behind. The building was an old New England homestead with a dozen room. It had several new additions the family added on over the years, but the bones were still the same. A few minutes later Rosie returned with two donuts in one hand and a red collar and leash in the other. Her brother waited for her on the porch, his expression uninterested. The girl tossed him a donut and his jaw snapped open, consuming the pastry in one bite. Rosie carefully looped the collar around his neck and lead him down the stairs.
Scanning the sky, the girl was obviously searching for something. She inserted her index finger and thumb between her lips and let out a high pitch whistle. It echoed through the trees. After a beat, a large dark bird circled overhead before landing on her shoulder. It was a raven with iridescent black wings and intense eyes. The girl scratched the beast under its chin and nuzzled it's face gently. [b [#524078 “Hey Atlas, want to go into town?”]] Rosie questioned the bird. The raven bobbed his head in agreement.
[b [#cc6600 [i "You look like a freak with the two of us."]]] A gravelly voice sounded in her mind.
Rosie shot a look at the wolf beside her. He didn’t meet her gaze. [b [#524078 "You could change into a human if you want."]] Rosie suggested with a taunting smile. The canine wrinkled his nose and didn't say another word as the group headed towards town. [pic https://imgur.com/F642Xka.png] The trio leisurely strolled through the small town known as Rosault Bay. Rosie admired the old houses and the trees changing colors. The witch knew she’d have to bundle up sooner rather than later and took the opportunity to reveal as much skin as possible. Atlas flew in organic patterns above the girl. Occasionally he’d land on her shoulder for a few minutes before weaving in and out of the trees again. Graves stuck close to her side. Rosie could tell he was enjoying himself by the slight wag to his tail. Rosie was surprised to see a car outside of the old grey house on the corner. It had lay empty for nearly half a decade and Rosault Bay wasn’t exactly a popular town to live in. The vehicle parked in the driveway looked new and expensive. Rosie didn’t know much about cars but she could tell It was nice. Atlas flew up and around the house to scope out the new neighbors.
Glancing at Graves, Rosie hesitated to follow the raven. The wolf tilted his head to one side and took his leash in his mouth. [b [#524078 “Good idea, don’t want to scare them. Meet you at the shop?”]] Graves nodded and parted ways.
The girl followed the track Atlas had taken and spotted the bird perched in a tree. He was tormenting a small fluffy creature Rosie assumed was a cat. She tried to stifle a laugh as a tawny haired boy chased after the feline. After watching the ordeal for a few moments, she whistled for her companion. The replied with a caw and returned to her shoulder. She massaged the feathers underneath his chin with affection. Atlas plucked at the piece of lace tied around her neck in response.
The boy apologized for the trouble and introduced himself as Poppy. Rosie beamed at the name. She was excited to bond over nature names. “You should be my friend you seem,” Poppy paused, “cool.” He decided on his assessment carefully. Rosie snorted. No one had ever described her as cool. She tried to keep up with his rambling but he talked much faster that the majority of the people she hung out with. Which happened to be a raven, a shapeshifting boy who spoke only when he had too, and her wild parents. She was definitely not cool. [b [#524078 “I’m Rosemary and this is Atlas,”]] Rosie replied with a small smile. [b [#524078 “Everyone calls me Rosie. This place practically moves in slow motion compared to California. Hopefully you don’t get too bored her.”]] Rosie laughed, tucking a stray purple strand of hair behind her ear.
She wasn’t wrong though. Rosault Bay was so quiet at night the only sounds that could be heard were the waves breaking against the rock shore. She couldn’t complain. She happened to like her sleepy town filled with magic. [b [#524078 “I was just headed into town to pick up some stuff for school. Did you want to come? I can show you around. RB isn’t much but it’s definitely the posterchild for your typical indie town.”]] Rosie said. She wasn’t sure how she was going to explain her mothers and their magick or the moody wolf without giving too much away but she would have to figure it out one way or another.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]][google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Fortunately, it didn’t seem that the rush of conversation from Poppy had made the girl feel off putted, [#524078 [b “I’m Rosemary and this Atlas.”]] The girl introduced herself as well as the large bird who was peeking up at Poppy like it was observing him. [#524078 [b “Everyone calls me Rosie. This place practically moves in slow motion compared to California. Hopefully you don’t get too bored here,”]] Poppy smiled in a way that seemed to convey ‘unlikely’.
It wasn’t that he had anything against this place. Okay, that was a bold faced lie the very existence of this place was practically felt like an affront to him at this point in time but still, that was only because he would much rather be back in his sunny home going celebrity spotting and shopping at places that bragged that the Kardashians loved their products. This place was just too different from the life he’d had so far. So, he couldn’t help but feel being bored with this place was an inevitable occurrence.
[#524078 [b “I was just headed into town to pick up some stuff for school. Did you want to come?”]] The girl offered, with a smile. [#524078 [b “I can show you around. RB isn’t much but it’s definitely the posterchild for your typical indie town.”]] Poppy found himself returning her smile at the way she referred to the town.
[#58CBC4 [b “Wish I could but I need to finish unpacking. My mother has unrealistic perceptions of time and ability so I’m supposed to start school [i tomorrow] despite the fact we are moving in [i today],”]] The ashy brunette said with a roll of his eyes. [#58CBC4 [b “Not only do I need to get Boba settled in,”]] He said slightly lifting the cat in his arms, [#58CBC4 [b “but I still need to arrange and decorate my room, [i and] set up my closet using the fashion equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System.”]] He joked, though only halfway.
Poppy hoisted Boba onto his shoulder like he was carrying a toddler and then fished his phone out from his pocket. He quickly unlocked the smartphone and opened his contacts, his fingers moving fast to create a new contact for ‘Rosie’ before handing the device off to her, [#58CBC4 [b “Here, put in your number and I can text you later,”]] He flashed a confident and cat-like smile while the girl entered her number. [#58CBC4 [b “I heard this town only has one school so I’ll be seeing you there tomorrow, yeah?”]]
[size18 [#58CBC4 [b ✿]]]
The young man collapsed backwards onto his soft bed, groaning loudly in an exaggerated sound. Poppy really hadn’t been joking too much with Rosemary when he’d said he needed to unpack, it was already dark out but he’d only just managed to finish up unpacking his closet and getting his furniture all set up how he liked. Honestly the room wasn’t totally unpacked, there was still plenty of things to be done but there was no way he would manage it that night and still have time to shower and sleep. He still needed to unpack his bookshelf and some of the miscellaneous stuff he’d collected over the years, and finish unpacking the stuff for his desk that weren’t his electronics which had immediately been put out and plugged in. And he had plenty of decorating still to do; the walls of the room were pointedly bare. At least he had been able to have them painted before he’d moved in so instead of bright white walls, he had a pastel blue with a sort of mint hue to it and an accent wall of an off white wallpaper with gold lines creating geometric patterns. Most of the colors in his room was done in pale greys with white and black and few accent colors in in pastel blue or gold.
Poppy had made sure to do unpack his bed, electronics and a good majority of his closet. Oh and of course, Boba’s stuff. Boba kinda had things everywhere but he also had a tall white and wood cat tower to play and rest in with plenty of padded bedding for the spoiled thing. Boba was currently lying down at the tallest area watching the room with a look that seemed displeased while his tail swished back and forth in annoyance. Poppy cast his blue eyes towards his bed and laughed lightly, [#58CBC4 [b “I agree Boba, Beverly Hills was so much better.”]] Boba chirped out a meow in response to his owner’s words.
Despite how comfy his new black and white stripped comforter was and how exhausted Poppy felt he forced himself to get up and quickly take a shower before putting on comfy lounge pants and a baggy white shirt so that he could crawl under the covers. The brunette turned off the lights in the room and used his phone screen to illuminate the path to his bed which was slightly cluttered with the remaining unpacked boxes. As soon as he was beneath the covers, he reached out to find his charger cable and connected his phone to it while he opened up his message app. He responded to a few texts he’d gotten from his friends in Cali and told them about the move or that he got in safely all with a bitter smile on his face before he started a new message to the girl he’d met earlier.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58CBC4 Heeeeeeey. It’s Poppy. Y’know. the pretty boy from earlier who propositioned you and practically forced you to give him your number?]]]]
The boy laughed at himself for his own description of events.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58CBC4 Whacha up to?]]]] ]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/FasTI1r.jpg]][center [abel [size15 Rosie fell face first onto her bed with a huff. Atlas leapt from her should before she landed on the mattress. The bird circled the room a few times before landing on the perch in the window. A blonde male padded into the room and slumped into the beanbag chair in the corner. He swung one leg over the other and pulled out his phone to scroll through social media.
[b [#524078 “I cawnt wai fur huh eekend,”]] Rosie said into her pillow.
[b [#cc6600 “I can’t understand you when you talk like that, idiot,”]] Graves replied not looking up from his phone.
Rosie rolled over onto her back and stared at her ceiling. She opened her arms and patted her chest. Atlas abandoned his perch for the girls open arms. He nested on her chest and picked at her splayed hair with his beak. Rosie stroked the birds back absently. [b [#524078 “I said I can’t wait for the weekend,”]] she repeated. She turned to face Graves where he was sitting. Her bangs fell across her face blocking her vision.
[b [#cc6600 “You could just skip tomorrow,”]] Graves suggested with a raised eyebrow. The boy was notorious for skipping school and he wasn’t against the idea of convincing others to join him.
[b [#524078 “Hmm,”]] Rosie thought for a moment before remembering the energetic city boy she’d met earlier in the day. [b [#524078 “No, tomorrow’s Poppy’s first day and I want to be there to show him around.”]]
Graves rearranged himself in the beanbag so he was on his back. He plopped his phone on the ground beside him and closed his eyes. [b [#cc6600 “Oh yeah I forgot about him,”]] he mumbled. [b [#cc6600 “Surprisingly enough. He sure was loud,”]] Graves snorted. The wolf preferred to keep quieter company. His sister was excitable but for the most part he enjoyed her company.
[b [#524078 “I like his energy. Everyone at school is so boring. I finally have someone besides you to talk shit with.”]] Rosie grinned at the thought. As if on cue, Rosie’s phone buzzed at her side. Without disturbing her avian companion, the witch brought her phone up to her face. [b [#58CBC4 Heeeeeeey. It’s Poppy. Y’know. the pretty boy from earlier who propositioned you and practically forced you to give him your number? Whacha up to?]]
Rosie’s smile widened as she read the text messages.
[b [#524078 Nothin just laying in bed. I was just telling my brother how excited I was to have someone to gossip with. What’s your schedule? I have Maxine for English Lit, then her again for Creative writing, and then a free period before lunch. Then I have Studio Art and Chemistry with Bernards.]]
A knock at the door startled the girl. Atlas shifted his weight on her chest letting out a frustrated coo. The door opened revealing her mother Heather. She balanced a tray in one hand and rested the other on the doorknob. Two mugs filled with a steaming liquid occupied the tray. Rosie sniffed the air and was assaulted by the scent of chai.
[b [#7575a3 "Do you two want tea? Your momma made a pot of chai and insisted I bring you guys some."]] She said in a singsong voice.
[b [#524078 "Ooo yes please,"]] Rosie hummed. Sitting up, she cradled Atlas against her chest and reached for one of the glasses.
Graves crawled towards the woman, too lazy to stand. He retrieved the mug and retreated to his spot on the beanbag. Taking a sip, he made a pained face surprised at the heat of the liquid. He took extra care to blow on the drink before attempting another taste. [b [#cc6600 "Thanks Mom,"]] he said before returning his attention to his phone.
[b [#524078 "Yeah, thanks mom. This is just what I needed."]] Rosie echoed her gratitude before the trio said their good nights. The pair stayed up a little longer bickering and chattering about everything and nothing. Graves ended up falling asleep in the chair a little before eleven. Rosie sent one last text to Poppy before following suit.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]][google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel [font "courier new" [size13 [b [#524078 Nothin just laying in bed. I was just telling my brother how excited I was to have someone to gossip with.
What’s your schedule?]]]]
Poppy flinched at her question it wasn’t hard but he honestly had no idea what his classes were. He’d gotten a schedule of course but it wasn’t like he’d memorized it in advance and after a little distracted mistake he no longer had the schedule to look at.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#524078 I have Maxine for English Lit, then her again for Creative Writing, and then a free period before lunch. Then I have Studio Art and Chemistry with Bernards.]]]]
Poppy thought about how to explain to her his dilemma but he also supposed if he didn’t tell her now, she’d find out tomorrow.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58CBC4 My schedule? I have classes with people…]]]]
He then sent in succession, three shifty eyes.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58CBC4 Cuz I definitely didn’t delete that email on accident while thinking it wasn’t important.
And then later realize it was important cuz this school doesn’t have a website with student accounts where you can look stuff up whenever you need.
I DEF didn’t do that.
After, sort of, confessing what happened to Rosemary the two teenagers spent the better part of two hours which was way later than they should. Honestly, he only went to sleep after he realized Rosemary had probably fallen asleep since she wasn’t responding back and after he watched way too many TikToks of cute pets.
[size18 [#58CBC4 [b ✿]]]
The next morning Poppy woke up with a terrible groan when his alarm broke through his sleep. Poppy rarely slept well when he was emotional and this whole move was affecting his mental state so understandably, he felt awful when waking up. The fact that the east coast was three hours ahead of the west coast didn’t make matters any better. The brunette swore internally and buried his face into his pillow while secretly hoping that if he pretended to still be sleeping the phone would shut up. He knew that wouldn’t happen but he could still hope.
It only took a few seconds for him to give up this hope. With a large sigh he propped himself up and reached for his phone, unlocking it so the alarm would stop yelling at him. Looking at his side he saw Boba’s angry looking face. His cat had a serious case of resting bitch face. [#58CBC4 [b “Good morning, Boba,”]] The cat meowed back a greeting and rolled over, stretching out his legs and paws while showing off his tummy, [#58CBC4 [b “Shall we go get breakfast?”]] The cat meowed again, louder this time. [#58CBC4 [b “Alrighty then.”]] Poppy scooped the cat up in his arms, much to the cat’s delight who purred happily while rubbing its furry fact against Poppy’s collarbone.
Down in the kitchen Poppy turned on his mother’s coffee machine out of habit before walking to the fridge and getting out a box of human-grade raw cat food, he chose a fish flavor for Boba since it was his favorite. The teenager prepped Boba’s bowl and set it down on the counter for Boba to eat while Poppy made some oatmeal with blueberries for himself. Back home he rarely made himself breakfast and would instead just stop by on his way to class with friends to get something from like a coffee shop or café. He didn’t bother to sit down at the table or even on one of the barstools in the kitchen and instead just opted to lean against it and wolf down the food so he could go back upstairs and get ready.
After eating only half the bowl he decided that was enough and plopped it in the sink and filled it with water and leaving it for his mother to deal with later when she finally got up. Meanwhile he left Boba to eat while he went back to his room. He popped into the bathroom to wash his face, brush his teeth, and to apply some lotion before putting on some light makeup. He quickly gave himself a subtle cat eye eyeliner, which he definitely didn’t fuck up the first time and have to redo before brushing his long, almost blonde eyelashes with black mascara. Poppy brushed and then fluffed his hair to make it look especially soft and tussled and pinned the left side of his hair back with two thin rhinestone barrettes which served no real purpose except looking cute.
Poppy went to his closet next and agonized over what would look good for his first day. Finally, he settled on a pair of stylized ripped pale blue jeans with a white button up shirt and a pale latte colored sweater over it. After rummaging around his shoe collection, he decided on a pair of black platform loafers to really complete the academia aesthetic he had. Giving himself a once over in the mirror he decided he was appropriately attractive and grabbed his Kate Spade black leather backpack.
Returning to the kitchen he found his mother still in her pajamas drinking a freshly, steaming cup of coffee. [#58CBC4 [b “Morning,”]] Poppy greeted as he leaned against the doorframe with his backpack slung over one shoulder.
Lilia turned while sipping at her coffee, regarding her son with confusion, [#0091EA [b “Good morning?”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “You need to take me to school, I don’t have a car yet,”]] He reminded her, previously he had barely driven as it was back in Beverly Hills instead mooching off his friends like the gay best friend and accessory he was.
His mother took another long sip while staring at her son. [#0091EA [b “We’ll need to fix that soon,”]] She finally said before leaving the kitchen to throw on clothes. It only took her a few minutes to return in leggings and a simple long sleeved shirt with Uggs. Picking up her keys from the table next to the garage door while motioning with the hand holding her coffee mug, [#0091EA [b “Let’s go.”]]
Poppy followed after his mother and got in the car, pulling out his phone to text Rosemary.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58CBC4 I’m on my way to school, meet me by the office after I get my schedule?]]]]
The brunette was just early enough that there were hardly any other kids or cars being dropped off. His eyes were drawn to the red Porsche that looked like it had just pulled up into the parking lot, its windows were so darkly tinted that he couldn’t see who was driving it, not that he would recognize the driver unless it was Rosemary and honestly red Porsche didn’t seem her vibe. Once the coupe came to a stop Poppy popped out of the car, [#58CBC4 [b “School gets out at 3:30, I’ll text you at 3 so don’t forget.”]]
[#0091EA [b “Alright, have a good first day. Do you have your schedule?”]] Rather than being upset that her son was giving her a reminder she was grateful for it, since Lilia had a tendency to forget about those types of things.
[#58CBC4 [b “Yep,”]] He lied without missing a beat and closed the door before strutting up to the school. Although there were only a few kids there several of them turned to look at the unfamiliar, yet confident boy. Poppy smiled dazzlingly at anyone whose eye he met before hurrying to the office to sweettalk the secretary into printing him a new schedule. Poppy lied to the woman and said that he didn’t see any emailed schedule and suggested that maybe it had gone to his spam and he accidentally cleaned it out without realizing it. His plausible lie and big, fluttering eyes seemed to sell the whole thing and the woman gladly printed out a new sheet for him while playfully telling him not to lose this one. He laughed good naturedly and left the office.
Waiting outside was the only familiar face Poppy knew in town, dressed all in black Rosemary was clearly waiting for Poppy. The boy starting speaking before she could even greet him, [#58CBC4 [b “I got my schedule, didn’t look at it but I got it. And I’m not gonna lie, the lack of trendy artisanal coffee shops manned by a handlebar moustache touting hipster who introduced himself as [i Francois] even though you low-key, high-key know it’s [i Frank] that tells you all about how the beans they use are so exotic and exclusive and, like, handpicked by some critically endangered monkey species but also, like, ethically sourced so I guess the monkeys get dental or whatever, is totally getting to me already,”]] Poppy rambled as he unfolded the schedule he had literally just folded a minute ago to show Rosemary his class list.
Finally glancing at the class list he was pleasantly surprised, [#58CBC4 [b “Oh, looks like we have first period together, you said English Literature with Maxine?”]] He confirmed, remembering the text of her schedule she’d given him yesterday. [#58CBC4 [b “But second and third periods are different. I’d complain and say I should change my schedule but I’d really rather shave my eyebrows off than have creative writing,”]] He explained looking at his second period which was Home Economics, a class he definitely preferred to any writing class. Poppy wasn’t particularly bad at writing; in fact, he was above average given his continuous exposure to his mother and her career but that was also why he disliked it so much. So given the option between a subject he actively hated and class that would probably amount to making snacks, it was an easy choice. Poppy did, however, envy her free period since he had Precalculus before lunch instead. [#58CBC4 [b “And it looks like we have afternoon classes together as well. Studio Art and Chemistry.”]] ]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/FasTI1r.jpg]][center [abel [size15 Rosie woke with the sunrise. Its golden rays called for her through her window, setting the room ablaze. Everything the light touched bloom with warmth. The two bodies that occupied the bed in the middle of the room stirred. A large canine had claimed the foot of the bed at some point in the night. Rosie rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands. She was regretting staying up so late chatting with her new friend. The late night was coxing her back to the comforts that came with sleep and [i skipping class.]
The witch fought the war and won. Sitting up, she stretched her arms towards the ceiling and yawned. Her midnight hair fell in a matted nest around her shoulders. Careful not to disturb the sleeping wolf, Rosie escaped the clutches of her warm bed. The old hardwood floor was cool against her bare feet. Cursing, she furiously searched for slippers. After a few minutes, she gave up and settled with a pair of socks. Pulling an oversized sweater on over her head, she slipped out of her room.
A tall woman with long ebony hair stood in the kitchen. She was chattering happily while tending to the stove. Birds perched in the open window before her and sang back. Two figures sat at the dining table. Plates of fried eggs, homemade breads, and an array of delicious treats littered the table. Rosie emerged from the doorway unable to ignore her rumbling stomach. She took a seat next to a curly-haired woman with a russet brown complexion. Her father sat across from them and began filling a plate for his child. [b [#626262 “Good morning my little herb garden,”]] her father as he slathered jam on a piece of toast. Rosie tried to pretend she was embarrassed by the affection but should couldn’t help smile as she took the plate of food from the man beaming at her. “Did you sleep well darling?” the woman to her left asked. Her charcoal eyes gazed at her over a pair of circle lens glasses. [b [#524078 “Yes Mama,”]] Rosie said, stuffing her mouth with food.[b [#524078 “-hanks fer te m-eal Mom,”]] she added between chews.
Rosie’s mom, Heather, was a goddess amongst men. Unlike her husband Oberon, she wasn’t actually a celestial being, but she had the looks to trick any person into believing her royalty. With her long midnight hair and starlight complexion, she was a mirror image of her daughter Rosie.
Heather finished up the cooking and joined the three at the table with a large plate of bacon in hand. She searched for a space on the table between all of the various plates and settled for a free spot to her left. [b [#660033 “Of course, my dear, where’s your brother?”]] She replied filling her own plate with food. [b [#524078 “Asleep still,”]] Rosie answered already going in for a second helping. [b [#660033 “Oh, that won’t do. You know how grumpy he gets when he doesn’t eat.”]] Heather picked up her fork and tapped in gently against her coffee mug. A loud thud sounded from upstairs. Within a moment, Graves was standing in the doorway groggy with sleep. His blond hair, unruly as he was, stuck up in every direction. The white tee shirt he’d pulled on after waking was on backwards with the tag sticking out. His honey eyes seemed to glow against the purple bags that lived permanently on his face. He took a seat next to Oberon and began to pile food onto his plate.
[b [#ffcc66 “Nice of you to join us G,”]] the dark-skinned woman said with a smile. She took a sip from her mug of coffee and eyed the boy with adoration. [b [#ffcc66 “Are you going to school today or would you like to come with me to work?”]] Graves was quiet for a moment before meeting her gaze. He glanced from her to Rosie. His sister was staring at him also wondering what his plan was. Tapping his tongue on his teeth, he mulled over his answer. [b [#cc6600 “I guess I’ll go to school. Thanks for the offer though, Lyla.”]]
Lyla had married Heather and Oberon nearly ten years before Rosie was born. The three raised the young witch together and eventually Graves after he’d joined the family. Rosie had grown used to calling their parents by familial terms of endearment but Graves preferred to call them by name. They were an interesting looking family, but they loved each other just the same.
[b [#524078 “There’s a new boy at school. His name’s Poppy. He has a plant name just like me. Isn’t that neat?”]] Rosie babbled. Her plate was empty besides a few pieces of ham that she’d left behind. She torn them apart with her fingers and fed them to Atlas who’d perched on her shoulder. Graves hadn’t noticed the bird’s arrival but that wasn’t uncommon. [b [#524078 “Graves and I are going to show him around school today!”]]
Graves wrinkled his nose at the idea of spending time with the new kid. That was a recipe for unwanted attention and he know it. [b [#cc6600 “You are going to show him around,”]] Graves corrected dryly.
[b [#524078 “We.”]] Rosie shot back.
Graves rolled his eyes. [b [#660033 “Oh, doesn’t that sound just wonderful!”]] Heather cheered. [b [#660033 “We’ll have to pay his family a visit, won’t we?”]] She added looking between her husband and wife.
[b [#ffcc66 “Yes, splendid idea. I will make them a bouquet of something fresh today.”]] Lyla agreed as she got up from the table. She gathered the dirty dishes and carried them to the sink. [b [#626262 “I will make them a protection and good fortune charm. Maybe we could invite them for dinner?”]] Oberon suggested joining Lyla at the sink. [b [#626262 “You should run it by Poppy today, Rosemary. Let us know what he thinks,”]] he called over his shoulder.
[b [#524078 “M’kay, that sounds nice. I think it’s just him and his mom. I will ask him,”]] Rosie replied. She fed Atlas her last piece of ham and cleared her plate. [b [#524078 “Want a ride to school?”]] She asked Graves.
[b [#cc6600 “Hmm, yeah I guess.”]] The two kids helped their parents clean the kitchen before heading upstairs to get ready for the day. [pic https://i.imgur.com/1rCZc0c.png] [right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ACR3zVF.jpg]] After parking the old Volkswagen, Rosie climbed out of the driver’s seat and popped the trunk. Graves followed her to the back and retrieved his bag alongside her. He didn’t mind being seen with her as much as he used to. Her all black ensemble made his sister stand out compared to the quiet of their sleepy town’s high school. Today she was clad in torn black skinny jeans, a pair of scuffed Doc Martins’, and an acid washed sweater that cropped at the naval. He knew his sister was pretty with her gemstone eyes and thick eyelashes but her fashion choices often repelled outsiders. Although she was hard to approach, that didn’t mean that people didn’t [i stare.]
Graves ran his fingers though his tawny hair giving away his nerves. It was his first year at Rosault Bay High School and they were already halfway through the semester. His shoddy attendance and bad attitude left him struggling to get used to being a student again. He missed school more often than he attended but with the help of his parents, he was able to get by just fine. The wolf wasn’t exactly sure what they said to the principle but he wasn’t penalized for missing class as long as he turned in his work.
Tugging at his black sweatshirt, he eyed his reflection in the car window. He wasn’t much to look at. His lawless blond locks refused to sit down regardless of how many times he brushed it. There wasn’t anything he could do about his sunken eyes or cooked nose. The only thing he [i did like] were the metal rings that lined both earlobes and the notch in his eyebrow he’d earned in a pack fight a few years back.
The sound of Rosie’s voice pulled Graves’s his amber eyes from the window. [b [#524078 “I think we’re meeting Poppy outside of the front office. Does that work for you?”]] Rosie asked. She knew the crowded hallways often made her brother anxious. He used to hate how much she checked on it but now he’d grown to appreciate her care although he’d never admit it.
Graves placed a hand-rolled clove cigarette between his lips and shrugged. [b [#cc6600 “It’s fine.”]] Rosie beamed.
The hallway was almost empty when Rosie and Graves entered the building. Most students didn’t arrive as early as the siblings did. Rosie had learned early on it was easier for Graves to go to school if it was quiet when they arrived. The two waited by the front office for Poppy. After a few minutes, the fawn haired boy came bounding out of the office. Graves eyed him up and down. He wore a soft button up and pale ripped jeans. He platform shoes had him closer to Grave’s eyelevel. Poppy was the pastel version of Rosie. There was no way Graves was blending in at this point with these two at his side.
Poppy rambled on about his schedule and Rosie hung onto his every word. Graves gave up trying to keep up with the conversation. It sounded like the three of them shared first period together as well as chemistry. Graves shared a nearly identical schedule to his sister thanks to the finessing of his guidance counselor and his parents. They all agreed it would be good to have someone at home who could help him with his studies when he missed class. It wasn’t that he was a bad student, but rather he didn’t really care for school. He’d rather be in the woods or at the magic shop with Lyla. Humans were far too complicated for him to keep up with.
[b [#524078 “Oh, by the way, this is my brother Graves,”]] Rosie introduced gesturing towards her wallflower. Graves snapped to attention at the sound of his name. He tried to form a smile but failed. [b [#cc6600 “Er. Hello,”]] he greeted. His thick accent clung to his words. He hoped the boy wouldn’t ask him about where he was from. Small talk was his worst subject.
Rosie glanced at the clock above the office door. They had about ten minutes before the usual rush of students would start arriving. She eyed her brother for a moment before turning her attention back to Poppy. [b [#524078 “Shall we head toward class? I’ll point out bathrooms and makeout spots along the way.”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Poppy had been so busy talking that he hardly noticed the boy standing next to Rosemary until the gothic girl had a moment to introduce him, [#524078 [b “Oh, by the way, this is my brother Graves.”]] Immediately Poppy’s clear blue eyes zoned in on the boy, like he was drinking him in. It wasn’t as if Poppy was ogling him or eyeing him up but the way his eyes looked whenever he focused on people directly had a magnetic appeal.
The boy seemed awkward under Poppy’s eyes but not merely because of the brunette’s look; no, this was more of a generally awkward feeling. [#CC6600 [b “Er. Hello,”]] The boy said with a faltering smile. His body language seemed to read that he wasn’t particularly used to people nor did he seem to like others being too close to him. His looks were wild but his demeaner made him more approachable than he probably realized, sort of like a stray that looks like if you approach it carefully enough it’ll be happy for the attention. Graves was certainly cute, with his puppy-like looks and the slightly soft looking features mixed with his sharpness made him striking enough to the eyes to be desirable but Rosemary was Poppy’s new friend and he knew well enough that dating a friend’s brother, especially with Poppy’s tendency to toss away boyfriends at the first sign of disinterest, never ended well.
[#58CBC4 [b “Probably could have figured that out, you guys have similar vibes,”]] Poppy teased lightly. While Graves didn’t have the same all out goth look, he was sporting a vaguely alternative-slouchy look that meshed well with Rosemary. Poppy was used to piercings and various styles but he’d been observing the other kids around them and none of them had the same boldness that he saw in Rosemary. Of course, it wasn’t lost on him that the way he had chosen to dress today made him look like the prep version of Rosemary, if he’d worn a crop top, they’d be total outfit twins. He wasn’t sure if that made him glad he didn’t or if wished he had. In a way Poppy fit in more with the students around them than Rosemary and Graves did, his bright looks and neutral tones brought attention to him and many of the arriving students openly looked at him curiously.
Rosemary seemed to notice the other kids around them as well and noticeably cast a look at her brother, making Poppy feel surer of his assessment that Graves wasn’t good with people, [#524078 [b “Shall we head towards class? I’ll point out bathrooms and makeout spots along the way.”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “Sounds good, but you can leave out the bathroom spotting I have an irrational aversion to public restrooms and guys rooms are the [i worst]. Question, do you think your school is open minded enough that I could use the girls’ room to touch up my makeup without getting expelled or do I need to act, like, 10% more gay for that?”]] Poppy natural started taking the lead while talking before he had to paused mid-step, he puffed his cheeks and turned on his heel, [#58CBC4 [b “Sooooo, yeah. I should let [i you] lead since I have no idea where anything is.”]] ]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/nrDGCC2.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel The forest was quiet as it slowly woke with Keiren. Wildlife began to rustle in the undergrowth which sent the two black and white huskies into a frenzy. They zigged and zagged in and out of the narrow trail disappearing into the dense tree line only to reappear momentarily. Keiren watching them with a gentle expression. Hiking with Blanc and Noire was his favorite way to start the day. He felt most at home in the woods with nothing but the wildlife.
Maybe it was because he was wild? Or because it stilled the wildness he fought with inside? His mother told him not to dwell on the past but he was struggling to pretend.
Gazing up between the thick canopy of leaves, Keiren searched for the azure sky. The morning sun cast intricate shadows on the earth below. It ignited the pale boy in a warm glow. He wanted nothing more than to lay in the thicket of green for the rest of the day but he knew he was running out of time.
His parents thought school would be a nice change for him but he still wasn’t convinced. It wasn’t that he needed an education. He already spoke and understood a dozen languages. Mathematics was as easy as breathing and he had the science textbook memorized. But he still was lacking when it came to socializing. He preferred his life of solitude but deep down he knew it wasn’t enough. He buried his loneliness alongside his desire to run. He promised his mother he’d try. He could try.
Glancing at his watch, he sighed. With a sharp whistle for his companions, he raced off towards his home. The wind against his face urged him to go faster. Faster, faster, he pushed his limit. Within seconds he had crossed the hundred acres it took to get to his house. A moment later Blanc appeared at his side. Noire apparated a second later. Keiren praised his familiars and lead them into the house.
[b [#d84d54 “Good morning,”]] Keiren greeted as he entered the kitchen. His mother sat at the dining room table reading something on her computer screen. She glanced up at him over the rim of her ruby red reading glasses.
[b [#73264d “Good morning Keir, how was your hike?”]] She asked. Two wet noses nudged at her knees under the table demanding her attention. [b [#73264d “Good morning Noire and Blanc,”]] she laughed and buried her hands in the canine’s thick fur. Blanc climb on top of his sister and lapped at the woman frantically with his tongue. Noire wriggled beneath him and fought for attention.
[b [#d84d54 “It was nice. Quiet,”]] he replied thoughtfully. The tall boy shook off his coat and hung it on the hook beside the door. He unlaced his shoes and added them to the rack. Striding over to the refrigerator, he let out a short whistle. The two huskies immediately turned their attention to the sound. Keiren met their gaze and nodded. With noticeable constraint, they padded slowly towards him and sat before him.
With a pleased smile, Keiren retrieved several tupperwares and placed them on the marble island. He portioned out various fresh vegetables, meats, and grains into two metal bowls. Once he was finished, he looked at the pair to make sure they were where he left them. They stood like statues but the thumping of their tails against the hardwood floor gave their eagerness away.
[#d84d54 [b “Wait,”]] their master commanded. The thumping stopped.
Placing the bows in front of each dog, he patted them gently before releasing them. Without hesitation, the canines devoured their food. Leaving them to their breakfast, Keiren joined his mother at the kitchen table. He plucked the daily new paper from the center of the table and thumbed through it. His mother didn’t try to make small talk with him. The silences were often but never awkward. Keiren was thankful for that.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/aICLXSY.jpeg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Bending over at the slightly messy stone counter, Viktor grimaced as he used a blow dryer to dry his hair. The loud whirling noise was unbearable to his heightened, inhuman senses but his own vanity outweighed the discomfort. Long blonde hair swayed with the combination of blasted air and the motions of the young man’s long, thin fingers running through the strands and tousling them so they would dry fully. Once he felt it was dry, he stood up, turning off the hair dryer and relishing the brief feeling of silence before the sounds throughout the house began to filter towards his ears. He could hear the sounds of his mother in the kitchen making a human breakfast for her kids to eat if it pleased them, then there were the sounds of his father dressing for work, the voices of Kai and Juliet being passed back and forth with the little girl sounding rather upset and Kai sounding both stressed and desperate came from just down the hall louder than anything else, and further out than all the others was the sound of Keiren running back home followed by his familiars, crunching leaves beneath him as he sprinted.
Looking in the mirror Viktor watched the slight pinkish tone fade from his eyes, leaving them a warm honey color framed by his pale white lashes. The telltale sign that he had been using his ghoulish powers to an extreme in order to garner the locations of his family. Out of his family only Keiren had hearing and enhanced physical abilities that could combat his own. Even Kai, who had achieved above average strength upon his turning couldn’t pin his two brothers down. Normally a turned ghoul like Viktor wouldn’t be able to compare to Keiren who had been born into the species.
Shaking off his thoughts Viktor brushed through his long hair until it was silky and alluring; he then drew the strands back up into a ponytail so it wouldn’t bother him during the day. His simple look was quite elegant, of course that could just be due to his outstanding features, with a cream turtleneck, black jeans, and simple black leather shoes that made his already tall frame look taller and leaner. Out of his siblings Viktor was the least suited to playing the role of a highschooler with his mature fashion sense and cold personality, despite having been seventeen when he’d been turned, he’d likely draw less attention as a college student but it was easier to control the records and identities for a high school than it was for a college thus, they continued this charade. Besides he’d only been doing the role for a few decades, prior to that he’d been able to live as he liked throughout the world. Besides it was only one more year for him then he could take a break while his ability to hypnotize slowly erased the traces of their identities in the minds of the townspeople. Thus, he resolved himself to simply getting through the year. This year would be particularly more stressful as it was the first time Keiren was attending school with Viktor and Kai, and to say that he was struggling to fit in would be putting it nicely.
Exiting his room, he ignored the clear struggle he heard between his younger siblings down the hall and instead headed towards the kitchen where he could hear the sounds of his mother and younger brother who had just gotten home. In the dinning room he saw his mother, Nikola the matriarch of the Hemlock family daintily reading something on her computer while Keiren had just sat down to look at a newspaper. Viktor bent down and gave Nikola a kiss on the cheek before side stepping and entering the kitchen intent on making a cup of coffee, [#901C3A [b “Good morning, Momma.”]] Nikola was the one who turned Viktor nearly two centuries ago and he’d had a close relationship to her ever since. He nodded to his first brother before going to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. He could see some food sitting on the counter, the breakfast that Nikola had made for them. Viktor rarely ate human food but Kai and Juliet were both fond of it and Keiren wasn’t averse to it either.
Once the cup was made, he returned to join the two in the dining room. Viktor’s eyes focused on Keiren as he leaned in the doorway and sipped his coffee, it only took a few moments before his brother turned to look at him with a clear question in his eyes. An almost cruel smile broke across Viktor’s lips making them look thin, [#901C3A [b “The principal stopped me in the hall the other day, Keiren.”]] It was rare for anyone to call Keiren by his full name instead of by ‘Keir’, even Viktor who wasn’t particularly fond of using nicknames tended to call him that. Thus, the younger ghoul was caught slightly off guard. [#901C3A [b “Yes, he stopped me to ask how you’re doing, he’s very worried about your health seeing as how your teachers haven’t seen you in class for almost two weeks.”]] Judging by Keiren’s expression he hadn’t expected to be outed by the principal nor did he expect Viktor to bring this up in front of their mother who was now looking at her biological son with clear concern written in her eyes. [#901C3A [b “I used my powers so you don’t have to worry about spending your weekend in detention, and I [i assured] him that once you were feeling better that I would personally bring you to school. And seeing as how you ran, God only knows how many, miles today, I think you’re feeling much, [i much] better. Don’t you agree?”]] As he had spoken Viktor had left his spot in the doorway and now leaned stood by Keiren’s chair, his free hand resting on the back of his brother’s neck.
Immediately Nikola pulled a worried faced and reached out to touch her son’s hand that was still holding the newspaper, [#73264D [b “I know it hasn’t been easy for you Keir but I really think this is the best way to help you adjust. And you have your brothers there with you if you have any problems,”]] Their mother gave a sweet and sympathetic smile. [#73264D [b “So just try your best.”]]
As Keiren sunk into a feeling of guilt the atmosphere of the three was broken as Juliet scurried into the room, harrumphing as she came. Their little sister saw the three of them and immediately changed her target of complaining from her mother to her eldest brother, trudging up to him and pulling on his jeans in a demand to be held. [#F46CB3 [b “VICKY! Look at my hair!”]] Only Juliet and Nikola were usually permitted to call Viktor by that name, with everyone else calling him either by his full name or by ‘Vik’. At her demand Viktor took in the sight of her tangled and messy twin buns that were already falling apart. Viktor picked her up and held her in his lap as he sat down next to Keir.
Kai, who had quickly followed after Juliet into the dinning room looked incredibly sorry and on the verge of tears, [#EA7E53 [b “I tried my best princess! I really did!”]] Clearly Juliet had demanded for Kai to do her hair for her. Likely he had been the target because Keir was out running with his familiars and Viktor wasn’t as easy to get to do things as Kai was. Kai was the easy target. The tanned boy was still holding the brush in one hand while the other had several bobby pins and his wrists had hair ties and even ribbon. Kai was the shortest and youngest of the boys. He was originally from Hawaii and had a much darker shade of skin than either of his brothers, or anyone in their family, which was a sharp contrast to his white hair which marked him as a turned ghoul. Despite being a turned ghoul himself Viktor dyed his hair from stark white to a blonde tone to hide the immediate identifier. Kai was wearing worn out jeans and a t-shirt which said “Free Hugs” which Viktor could only hope was picked out by Juliet and not the choice of a someone who was mentally fifty.
[#F46CB3 [b “IT’S UGLY!”]] She countered to her brother’s claims.
[#901C3A [b “Very,”]] Viktor agreed without hesitation. Juliet’s head whipped around to look at Kai accusatorily and Kai looked at Viktor like he was Caesar getting stabbed. Viktor could practically hear the [i ‘et tu Brute?’] in his gaze. Instead of making any sign of apology he merely held out his hand for Kai to hand out the brush, a silent agreement that he would fix the mess his brother made and make their sister happy. Their brother merely sighed and handed over the brush while placing all the other thing on the table so Viktor would be able to do her hair. Juliet immediately seemed pleased, wearing a smile like the cat who ate the canary as if she had gotten exactly what she wanted. Kai grumbled a bit before going to pet Noire and Blanc, complaining that he really had done his best.
The blonde carefully undid the already collapsing buns Kai had made, taking out the stray bobby pins and ties before gently brushing out any tangles to his sister’s soft black hair. This kind of treatment was something he reserved only for her, even Nikola didn’t receive quite the same affection from him not that she minded as she felt Viktor was more than lovable as he was. As he pulled her hair up into pigtails before turning them into buns, he pretended not to feel Keiren’s eyes on him. Out of their siblings Viktor was the closest to Juliet and the furthest from Keiren but that wasn’t something they discussed.
Instead, Viktor merely said, [#901C3A [b “I’ll drive you to school today.”]] It was half to ensure that his hypnosis on the principal stuck, following through on his words exactly made the effect stronger, and half to make sure his brother didn’t suddenly bolt when he got to the parking lot out of whatever fear or apprehension he was dealing with.
Juliet immediately moved her head to look up at Viktor, [#F46CB3 [b “I want to go to school too!”]] She pleaded; it had been a regular request ever since Keiren had started that year. Before she had been somewhat placated by the fact only two of her brothers when to school but now that all three were attending, she felt very left out.
Nikola flinched a bit, a brief flash of fear and concern that she couldn’t mask flittered across her face. And if Viktor had seen it then he knew Keiren had too. Kai who had just sat down with a plate of food and was scarfing it down in a manner even messier than the two huskies had didn’t notice the issue but then again, he hadn’t been around to know. Of course, neither Keiren nor Viktor wore a reaction on their face each completely impassive. Viktor felt Keiren’s apathetic look was more forced than his own however. Picking up a white ribbon Viktor carefully tied it around one of the newly styled buns, tying it into a ribbon before speaking, [#901C3A [b “You can go to school once you’re as tall as Kai, Jewel.”]]
[#F46CB3 [b “But that will take forever!”]] She complained, looking towards her mother to try and find support but Nikola only smiled her face so gentle the earlier expression seemed to have been imagined. Not getting what she had hoped for Juliet could only sit in her eldest brother’s lap grumbling in a way that clearly mimicked Kai.
Kai, who didn’t realize he was being copied but did realize how upset his sister was due to his empathetic abilities immediately smiled at Juliet, [#EA7E53 [b “Hey princess, mom made pancakes. Want me to make you a plate?”]]
Juliet forgot about school and her sour mood instantly and perked up, [#F46CB3 [b “Momma’s pancakes? I want!”]] The black haired girl bounded up from Viktor’s lap and obediently followed Kai to the kitchen.
Watching the two go Viktor picked up his coffee cup and took a few more sips before standing. [#901C3A [b “Grab your bag, we’re going,”]] The blonde said, reaching out and touching the top of Keiren’s head, it wasn’t a pat or playful action and he moved his hand after only a second barely even mussing the hair. If they waited too long Juliet would realize she’d forgotten about trying to go to school with them and get upset that she’d been duped. ]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/nrDGCC2.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel American Literature was Keiren’s first class of the day. He shared the block with his two brothers. Their teacher was a stout man balding man with a Roman nose by the name of Curt Leggatt. He was droning on about their next reading assignment, [i ‘the Catcher in the Rye,’] by J. D. Salinger. It was a novel Keiren was already more than familiar with and knew it wasn’t something he’d already heard. Turning his gaze to the window, he watched the birds chase each other through the limbs of the birch tree. He couldn’t help but feel jealous. The confines of school were chipping away at his reserve. His parents meant well and he knew they were probably right about his need to socialize, but he wasn’t sure being human was something he’d ever get the hang of. Vik played the part so effortlessly and Kai was a golden retriever when it came to making friends. With those to around, he felt like he was lacking something essential, like he was defected. He promised his mother a year. He could do anything for a year.
First period rolled into second period. Creative writing had shown to be more of Keiren’s speed. He’d found that writing was as boundless as he felt. It also helped he shared his class with Rosemary Alcombright, a mysterious girl who liked to armor herself in dark fabric and a fierce gaze. She seemed to know exactly who she was and it was something Keiren envied. He recognized her and her brother as the kids of the magic folk who ran the apothecary in town. Even without that information, Keiren could tell they were more like him by scent alone. As if she could hear his thoughts, the midnight haired girl flicked her violet eyes to his. They stared at each other for a long moment, waiting for the other to dare to look away. Finally, Rosie smirked in satisfaction and turned her attention back to the board. Keiren watched her for a minute more before returning his attention to the window.
After his advanced studio class, it was finally time for lunch. Keiren gathered his art supplies and placed them gingerly in his cubby before making his way towards the lunch room. In the halls, he attempted to locate his siblings but the sea of bodies muddled his senses. He knew with concentration he could pinpoint their whereabouts but he decided just to meet them in the lunch room.
The cafeteria was stuffed to the brim with students. A soft roar of their idle conversations filled Keiren’s mind. Between the smell of human flesh and cafeteria food, the ghoul thought he was going to vomit. He caught sight of his two brothers at the back of the room at an empty table. Holding his breath, Keiren crossed the warzone. He took the spot next to Kai and rested his face in his hands. Rubbing his eyes, he pushed his fingers through his charcoal hair. [#d84d54 [b “It’s too much in here,”]] Keir murmured just low enough for his siblings to hear.
[pic https://i.imgur.com/1rCZc0c.png] [right [pic https://i.imgur.com/FasTI1r.jpg]] Rosie spent her free period in the library. It was her second choice and was paler compared to the art room, but it was good enough. She filled the hour before lunch researching wild animals that were legal to keep in the state of Maine. Foxes, Emus, and Serval Cats were at the top of her list. She wasn’t sure Atlas would like sharing a room with another creature beside her and Graves.
Her brother sat across from her at the desk. He had his head buried in his arms and appeared to be sleeping. By the rise and fall of his chest, she could tell he was awake. Whenever he was still and docile, Rosie liked to watch the boy. He was a feral animal who was beginning to warm up to her and she felt special, special because a broken creature would choose her as a safe place to rest. She knew school was laboring and drained him of his energy. But she wanted him to graduate and never have to worry again. Closing her laptop, she lightly kicked the beast under the table. He raised one eye to glower at her. [b [#cc6600 “What?”]] He grumbled. [#524078 [b “Food?”]] She asked, crossing her arms over her chest. Graves looked at the table and shrugged, [b [#cc6600 “I guess.”]] [#524078 [b “Great! We’re meeting Poppy outside the lunch room.”]]
Rolling his eyes, Graves reluctantly sat up. He stretched his arms above his head, the fabric of his sweater drifted above his naval exposing several long-healed scars. Raising to his feet, he followed Rosie out of the Library.
The two idled by the cafeteria door waiting for their new friend. Rosie chattered about her current hyperfixations to her sibling and rocked back and forth on her heels. She was currently interested in oil paintings and had a new technique she wanted to try. Graves did his best to tune the girl out. [#524078 [b “Hey!”]] Rosie called when she spotted Poppy. She motioned for the boy to join them before pushing the door open. [#524078 [b “How were your other two classes? Were you bored without me?”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Leaving his third period pre-calculus class Poppy followed the general flow of students while being lightly escorted by a preppy brunette girl who he’d sat next to in class named Jennifer. Jennifer had a great smile and was vaguely athletic and judging by her backpack contents, a cheerleader. She wasn’t as stunning and pretentious as the cheerleaders Poppy had known back in California, in fact, she was delightfully average. Nice and pretty but not exceptional; which was just fine. The brunette had zoned in on him as soon as he sat down in class, clearly, he was someone who stood out. He doubted he was the only queer student in school but his openly feminine appearance and style likely made him more approachable to girls who dreamed of having a ‘gbf’. Poppy didn’t mind that kind of thinking so he was welcoming towards her even if she wasn’t as fun or interesting as Rosemary.
Speaking of Rosemary Poppy found her stationed outside the cafeteria like a sentry with her brother Graves standing next to her looking less than interested and more tired than he had in the morning. As soon as Rosemary spotted Poppy she called out, [#524078 [b “Hey!”]] The ashy haired boy immediately picked up his pace in a sort of skip, [#524078 [b “How were your other two classes? Were you bored without me?”]]
Poppy playfully scoffed, [#58CBC4 [b “What like I can’t be a strong independent woman? I mean I can’t, ‘cause one I’m not a woman and two I’m super dependent but still,”]] He followed the girl towards the lunch line to get a tray of food, grimacing as he looked at the way too processed meal that made him vow, he’d pack his own lunch while simultaneously thinking about how spoiled he’d been previously to be able to get pretty much whatever he had wanted for lunch by going off campus at his last school. [#58CBC4 [b “And yes, I missed you. But I made friends,”]] He gestured to the Jennifer. [#58CBC4 [b “Jen this is Rosie; Rosie, Jen. I know [i I’m] the new kid but I get the feeling you two have probably never spoken to each other before. Because, and forgive me for saying it, but Jen you clearly don’t hate your parents enough that you would purposefully make friends with goths. No offense.”]]
[#799FC9 [b “Mildly offended but also scarily accurate so I will forgive it, I guess,”]] Jennifer said with a small laugh and a slightly awkward smile directed at Rosemary. Rosemary and Graves picked the table and Poppy convinced Jennifer to sit with them by being excessively charming.
Un-appetized by the food, Poppy picked at it while looking over the cafeteria. Most of the tables were pretty textbook organized, it wasn’t like some 2000’s teen movie where everyone sat in their cliques but he could tell that everyone who sat together had similar vibes and probably similar interests, he could even guess by the constant looks about which table and group Jennifer usually sat at. His pale blue eyes caught on a table in the back, a good distance from the table Rosemary and Graves had picked and had his curiosity peaked. [#58CBC4 [b “Hey, so what’s up with the hot table?”]]
[#799FC9 [b “Hot table?”]] Jennifer immediately looked towards where his gaze was while Poppy kicked at Rosemary’s leg gently with a nod of his head to get her to look as well.
[#58CBC4 [b “Obvi I’m talking about the table with the three paragons of sexiness sitting over there like they’re about to shoot some movie about high school or possibly a magazine centerfold. What other table would I be talking about?”]] Poppy’s eyesight didn’t leave the three figures sat at the aforementioned hot table, they were all exceptional gorgeous guys. He was pretty sure he recognized one of them from his second period class, as he couldn’t imagine that there were too many stunning guys with rich tans and brightly bleached hair. The tanned one was rather muscular but seemed a bit shorter than the other two, and after seeing the “Free Hugs” print on his shirt Poppy was sure he was the kid from Home Economics class. He’d spent the majority of class looking at him so it was hard not to make the connection.
The other two at the table lacked the tan but somehow seemed to fit in with the other boy with ease. The one he could see the least of was the blonde who had long silky hair pulled up into sleek ponytail. He had a cold feeling even across the room and way he was dressed coupled with his mannerisms made Poppy feel like he was more likely to be a teacher’s assistant than a student.
The last of the three was the one Poppy’s eyes traced over the most. He had messy, ink black hair which made him skin seem almost luminescent in color. He looked like a track and field kid with his build and subtle musculature. Unlike the other two he seemed almost uncomfortable and with a sort of distressed feel to him. Poppy could have sworn he saw the boy shift his head towards their table.
Having already followed Poppy’s gaze Jennifer immediately made an ‘o’ shape with her mouth. [#799FC9 [b “Those are the Hemlocks,”]] Jennifer said almost like that would explain everything but quickly realized that as a new kid Poppy likely wouldn’t know anything about the Hemlocks. [#799FC9 [b “They’re brothers, adopted I’m pretty sure. They’re family has been here a while. And I can’t say you’re wrong about them being hot.”]] Poppy was a little surprised they were brothers, even if they were adopted, they were all incredibly attractive and something about it felt weird but clearly Jennifer didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. Jennifer’s gaze towards them almost felt unfocused to Poppy and he felt a small chill run up his spine for a second before Jennifer spoke and distracted him, [#799FC9 [b “I know a lot of the girls are into them. Especially Kai and Viktor,”]] Jennifer continued. [#799FC9 [b “So, which one is, y’know, your [i type]?”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “Is ‘all of the above’ an appropriate answer?”]] Jennifer laughed at Poppy’s joke. Poppy pursed his lips and quickly scanned the boys again, maybe it was his imagination but he felt like the black haired and the tanned ones were angled more towards their table than a moment ago. Jennifer poked his side as if urging him to answer, [#58CBC4 [b “Fine, fine. If you’re [i making me] answer… I’d go with the one with black hair.”]]
[#799FC9 [b “Oh, Keiren?”]] Jenifer asked while Poppy stored it in his mind that the attractive boy was named Keiren. [#799FC9 [b “Really?”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “Um, yes. Honestly, he could choke me and I’d say thank you,”]] Poppy turned his head when he heard Graves coughing as he seemingly choked on his drink and couldn’t help the smile on his face. “Oh, like you wouldn’t get on your knees if he asked?” Poppy challenged ignoring the blush the girls were sporting at his words. [#58CBC4 [b “Now then, what about you guys?”]] His eyes swept over the three, [#58CBC4 [b “Which of the brothers would you most like in your bed? And don’t tell me you don’t want one Graves; you reek of bi energy and that is a hill I am willing to die on.”]]
Immediately Jennifer seemed uncomfortable despite clearly enjoying hearing Poppy’s commentary earlier, [#799FC9 [b “Oh no. I have a guy I like so I’m not…”]]
Poppy cut her off, [#58CBC4 [b “You don’t have to date them, just objectify and fantasize about them. So, who do you pick?”]] ]]] [center [size13 [abel Jennifer [#799FC9 [b #799FC9]]]]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/ACR3zVF.jpg]][center [abel [size15 [b [#58CBC4 “Um, yes. Honestly, he could hurt me and I’d say thank you,”]]
The sheer honesty caught the wolf off-guard; he nearly choked on the soda he’d been sipping on. The fizzy liquid burned as it slid down his nose and filled his nostrils. Coughing, he tried to regain his composure. Rosie patted him on the back like a child. He shot a glare at her and she backed off clearly offended.
[b [#58CBC4 “Oh, like you wouldn’t do what he asked?”]] Poppy questioned. His ash blonde eyebrow quirked as if to challenge the boy.
Graves lifted his palms in defeat and shrugged. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have eyes. He knew a pretty face when he saw one. The youngest of the three Hemlocks was too peachy for Graves. His playful demeanor and innocence revolted the wolf. Graves was made of scars and shadows. A boy like that would cut himself on someone like him. He thought the middle child wasn’t too bad to look at but Keiren wasn’t his type. It wasn’t something he’d shared with his family, but he already knew the darkhaired Hemlock. They’d met many times in the North Forest and shared in comfortable silence. Keiren was more like Graves than anyone he’d met in a long time. The third and final Hemlock boy was something unattainable for Graves. He brought up desires the orphaned wolf couldn’t afford to feel. Graves was a forest fire and those around him were his victims. He wouldn’t burn the beautiful creature.
The sound of Poppy’s voice pulled Graves from his thoughts.
[b [#58CBC4 “Now then, what about you guys?”]]
Poppy’s doe eyes searched between his three companions. Under the boy’s graze, Graves crossed his arms across his chest and furrowed dark brows.
[b [#58CBC4 “Which of the brothers would you like? And don’t tell me you don’t want one Graves; you reek of bi energy and that is a hill I am willing to die on.”]]
The statement shocked Graves; he forgot to look pissed off. His jaw hung open revealing a silver ball pierced in the center of his tongue. [b [#cc6600 “What did you just say to me?”]] He snarled although it lost its bite due to the blush that bloomed on his cheeks. Graves wouldn’t consider himself to be closeted but that was because there wasn’t a closet for him. He liked what he liked and it was no one’s business.
[b [#524078 “G, he’s just playing,”]] Rosie said to her brother. She bumped him with her knee gently. The words came out more as a soothing coo the way a mother would comfort her child than a 17-year-old sister.
Graves visibly relaxed his shoulders. At this rate, the whole world would know he’d do anything for Rosemary Alcombright and that wasn’t something he wanted to broadcast. The girl was a beast tamer and he almost resented her for it. Almost.
With a sigh, Graves finally gave in. He glanced at the ‘hot table’ and let his eyes finally rest on Viktor. Pursing his lips, he mulled on his words for a moment.
[b [#cc6600 “Whatever,”]] Graves huffed. [b [#cc6600 “If I had to choose, I’d pick the pretty face Kurt Cobain looking guy. I’d like to see him try to break me.”]] The words hung in the air for a moment. Between his thick English accent and his gravelly voice, it sounded like he was sharing a naughty secret.
Jen’s face flushed in surprise. She hadn’t noticed the dangerous appeal Graves was hiding under his sharp exterior.
Unlike Jennifer, Rosie stared at her brother in horror. This was information she did not want to know about her brother. Burying her face in her hands she mumbled, [b [#524078 “Thank Poppy, I really wanted to know that about my brother.”]]
Poppy grinned his angelic smile and clasped his hands together. It was obvious he was eating the energy up. [b [#58CBC4 “Don’t be like that Rosie, it’s your turn.”]]
Rosie’s pale face instantly burned. All eyes were on her, [b [#524078 “Um, I don’t know.”]]
[b [#cc6600 “Yes you do,”]] Graves started with a smirk. [b [#cc6600 “Last year you went on and on about how cute Ka-“]]
Rosie slapped a hand across Graves’s mouth stopping him midsentence. Flashing his amber eyes at her, he slid his tongue across her palm. Pulling away, his sister shrieked with disgust. She wiped her hand on his sweater and glowered.
[b [#524078 “Okay okay,”]] she said, [b [#524078 “Kai seems like the type would carry my books while I shopped at Barnes and Noble.”]]
Jennifer chuckled at her innocent response. Blushing an even deeper red, Rosie bit her lower lip. [b [#524078 “What? I’m just being honest?”]] She tried not to whine.
[b [#cc6600 “Virgin,”]] Graves mocked.
[b [#58CBC4 "Boring. I know you've been through puberty despite that flat chest of yours. Give me something SPICY,"]] Poppy demanded.
[b [#524078 "I am very mature I’ll have you know.”]] She shot back. [b [#524078 “Fine. You've ever tried x and y? That stuff is hot. I'd cuff him.”]]
[b [#cc6600 “I’m going to vomit,”]] Graves groaned.
[b [#524078 “What? You’re the one who said you wanted to be broken,”]] she retorted. [b [#524078 “And what about you miss perfect?”]] Rosie barked at Jennifer; embarrassment added an unnecessary bite to her words.
[b [#799FC9 “Oh no. I have a guy I like so I’m not…”]] Jen said, shifting in her seat uncomfortably. She eyed another group of boys a few tables away. Graves followed her glance. He spotted a muscular boy with mahogany hair laughing with a group of athletes. By the looks of their uniforms, Graves guessed he was a football player.
[b [#58CBC4 “You don’t have to date them, just objectify and fantasize about them. So, who do you pick?”]] Poppy replied, still undressing the middle son with his eyes.
Jen looked at the football player for a second longer before sighing. Averting her attention, she surveyed the Hemlocks before delivering her final answer, [b [#799FC9 “hmm I think Kai would be the sweetest boyfriend but Vik would be the best lover. Keir is mysterious so I get the appeal. I think I’d go with Vik.”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Graves hadn’t taken too kindly to Poppy’s bisexual comment but the ashy brunette didn’t care much about how he took it. Mainly because he felt like it was obvious and second because Graves didn’t seem like the type that would hide or be ashamed of that sort of thing but then again Poppy did have a tendency to be brash and unapologetic so maybe that was what had upset him. As Rosemary calmed the feral child Poppy’s brain was preoccupied with what he thought he saw in Graves mouth, a brief flash of reflected light that told him Graves had a tongue piercing just like him. Poppy had actually removed his for the school day since most schools had dress code policies against piercings but if Graves was wearing his maybe Poppy could put his back in for school tomorrow.
Before he could ask about the piercing his thoughts were shook by someone actually answering his question from earlier and quite to his shock it was Graves who took the initiative to answer before either of the girls, [#CC6600 [b “Whatever. If I had to choose, I’d pick the pretty face Kurt Cobain looking guy,”]] A color description to be sure but Poppy knew exactly which boy he was referring to and honestly he was not expecting it; he figured that maybe Graves would choose the tanned boy or the black haired boy that Poppy was eyeing. But Graves next words made Poppy’s signature cat like grin break across his face, [#CC6600 [b “I’d like to see him try to break me.”]]
Jennifer’s face flushed an almost bloody red in an instant while Rosemary looked slightly horrified at Graves words and all the while Poppy’s ice colored eyes sparkled with delight as he held in his pearls of laughter. Rosemary was the first to react verbally as she buried her head in her hands, [#524078 [b “Thank you Poppy, I really wanted to know that about my brother.”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “You are so welcome,”]] Poppy purred, [#58CBC4 [b “Now, don’t be like that Rosie, it’s your turn.”]] The boy had no intent of letting his fun end so soon.
With his words Rosemary’s face turned as red as Jennifer’s had been a moment ago, [#524078 [b “Um, I don’t know.”]]
[#CC6600 [b “Yes, you do,”]] Grave interrupted before Poppy could even try to weasel it out of her, his smirk looking like a wolfish version of the cat-grin Poppy had. [#CC6600 [b “Last year you went on and on about how cute Ka…”]]
Rosemary quickly put one of her hands over her brother’s mouth trying to stop the sounds from escaping but Poppy could already guess by the half uttered name that Rosemary liked Kai, which apparently wasn’t the blonde ‘pretty face Kurt Cobain’ or the black haired boy he had learned was named Keiren so that only left the tanned boy with white hair who on a quick peak had his face on the table like he was in agony. In truth all the postures of the boys at the table seemed to have changed, even the blonde was learning forward like he was suddenly speaking to his brothers and Keiren’s face had turned enough that Poppy could make out his features much better now.
A girl’s shriek pulled his eyes back to his own table before he could stare anymore at Keiren and he saw Rosemary wiping her hand off and could guess what had happened. [#524078 [b “Okay, okay,”]] Rosemary finally relented to the group of curious and amused eyes, [#524078 [b “Kai seems like the type that would carry my books while I shopped at Barnes and Noble.”]] Poppy rolled his eyes at the answer which would barely pass in middle school these days and Jennifer laughed. Immediately Rosemary defended her answer, [#524078 [b “What? I’m just being honest?”]]
[#CC6600 [b “Virgin,”]] Graves was the first to mock his sister, looking more playful and energized than Poppy had seen him all day.
[#58CBC4 [b “Boring. I know despite your petite frame that you are old enough to have been through puberty, give me something better. Even [i vanilla] is spicier than you’re being right now,”]] Poppy taunted trying to get something more fun like Graves had provided.
It seemed to work as Rosemary upped the ante. [#524078 [b “I am very mature I’ll have you know. And fine. Have you ever tried X and Y? That stuff is hot. I’d cuff him.”]] Poppy was actually pretty familiar with that stuff; both using and have had it used on. He wouldn’t have pegged Rosemary as the type to be into it though but live and learn.
Despite having egged his sister on Graves made a face at her words, [#CC6600 [b “I’m going to vomit.”]]
[#524078 [b “What? You’re the one who said you wanted to be broken,”]] Rosemary retorted fiercely before wheeling her gaze towards Jennifer who was the only one to not answer the question yet, [#524078 [b “And what about you miss perfect?”]]
After breaking Jennifer down, she finally sighed and gave her own answer, [#799FC9 [b “Hmm, I guess I think Kai would make for the sweetest boyfriend but Viktor would be the best lover, probably. But Keiren is pretty mysterious so I get the appeal there,”]] It was as if she was trying to get the Miss Congeniality vote by praising all the boys. [#799FC9 [b “I think I’d have to go with Viktor.”]]
He gently clapped his hands together and look at everyone amused, [#58CBC4 [b “Hasn’t this been fun? I think this has been the [i most] fun. I feel so much closer to you all now.”]] Poppy finally let out the soft pearls of laughter he’d been holding in before.
Remembering something from earlier he stretched out his legs and rested his feet on Graves shins, not kicking them but instead pressing against them to get his attention, [#58CBC4 [b “Hey, hey. Graves do you have a tongue piercing?”]] Poppy pointed at his own mouth and stuck out his tongue, wiggling the muscle a bit and showing off his own indent on his tongue which indicated he’d also gotten his pierced but wasn’t wearing it. [#58CBC4 [b “I didn’t think the school would be cool with students wearing their piercings so I took mine out today. I mean, not like I actually read the dress code rules, I figure at a guy I can get away with wearing a crop top if I want while girls would have the Spanish inquisition brought down on them for the same. But if they’re cool with student piercings, I’m totally putting mine back in tonight. My piercing heals way too fast so if I don’t wear it most of the time, I’ll have to get it redone and that was not a pleasant experience.”]] ]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/FasTI1r.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel At the end of studio art, Rosie took extra care to scrub the bits of paint off of her arms. Saying she was a messy artist was an understatement. She always seemed to paint herself just as much as her canvas. Tossing a goodbye over her shoulder to her teacher, she met Graves in at the door. His thick brows were furrowed in thought. Or it was his resting face, sometimes his sister couldn’t tell if he was in a foul mood or he always looked pissed. Pressing a finger into the wrinkle his eyebrows were creating, she grinned.
[b [#524078 “Careful, your face might get stuck like that,”]] she teased.
[b [#cc6600 “Bite me,”]] he grumbled, pulling away from her touch.
[b [#524078 “You’d like that wouldn’t you?”]]
Graves flashed his teeth at her in warning. His fangs were as sharp as he was. Ignoring his threat, Rosie tousled his hair before skipping on ahead of him.
Rounding the corner, Rosie took the long way to chemistry. The fastest way from the art room to the science wing was through the Freshman hall, but the witch had led them through the upperclassman wing.
[b [#cc6600 “What are you doing?"]] Graves stopped in his tracks.
Tucking a loose strand of midnight hair behind her ear, Rosie shrugged. [b [#524078 “I was delivering this package to Kai for his mom,”]] she said, not meeting her brother’s gaze.
[b [#cc6600 “Why not give it to Keir? He’s in our class,”]] he mused even though he knew the answer.
[b [#524078 “Oh, uh, Mom said to give it to Kai,”]] she lied.
[b [#cc6600 “Uh huh,”]] he left it at that.
Rosie spotted the tawny skinned boy by his locker. Her pulse quickened, betraying her nerves. After the conversation at lunch, Rosie was painfully aware of the younger Hemlock son. Retrieving the package from her bag, she braved her way over to him.
[b [#524078 “Hey, Kai,”]] Rosie greeted as airy as she could, [b [#524078 “I have a package for your mom.”]] She gently handed the parcel over to him. It was a medium sized box wrapped in brown paper tied neatly with twine. Several dried lavender sprigs had been attached to the middle of the bow with a glob of ruby wax stamped with a pyramid emblem.
When their hands brushed, Rosie nearly dropped the package. Visions of palm and the smell of the ocean flooded her mind. Suddenly, the memory of drowning assaulted her body. It took everything in her power not to gasp for air. Taking a step back, she braced herself against the cement wall. Kai stared at her in horror.
Psychometry was one of her more unpredictable abilities as a witch. She could touch an object or a person and learn its origins, thoughts, and places they’d been. It had only manifested in the last few years and it rocked her to her core whenever it happened.
Attempting to take control of the situation in hopes the boy she was crushing on didn’t think she was crazy, she smiled weakly and waved her hand. [b [#524078 “Sorry, I’m feeling a bit light headed. I’ll see you later.”]]
Returning to Graves’s side, tears were beginning to escape the corners of her eyes. She quickly wiped them as they fell. Once they were out of ear shot, Rosie whispered only so her brother could hear. [b [#524078 “I think Kai drowned. Before he changed,”]] she speculated, sorting through the memories she’d received from Kai’s quick touch.
[b [#cc6600 “Yeah, Keir told me a little about it. He was the one who changed Kai.”]] Graves said, placing a hand carefully on Rosie’s shoulder.
[b [#524078 “Really?”]] she asked, meeting his eyes. She knew Graves and Keir spent time together in the woods, but she wasn’t sure the extent of their friendship. [b [#524078 “I knew that bad stuff had to happen for the Hemlocks to change someone, but when you see them laughing together, you forget.”]]
Graves nodded somberly. [b [#cc6600 “Want to skip?"]]
Rosie tilted her head from side to side as she weighed her options. They had chemistry next and she’d purposefully forgotten to do her homework. But it was Poppy’s first day and she felt bad abandoning him in such a boring class. Finally, she shrugged.
[b [#524078 “Fuck it, yeah lets get out of here. Let’s get high and make empanadas.”]]
[b [#cc6600 “I like the way you think.”]]
As the two headed to the car, Rosie shot Poppy a text.
[b [#524078 ‘Headache. Skipping chem. Meet at Sugar & Bean at 4:30? They have the best chai.’]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Keiren waved to his siblings and headed to class. He took the long route to the chemistry wing, passing the art room and the upperclassmen lockers. Students were beginning to disperse and enter their respective classrooms. The ghoul kept close to the lockers to keep out of the humans’ paths. He was taller than the majority of them and between his height and dark demeanor, mortals tend to steer clear of him.
He liked taking this way to class because he had to go outside to get to the chemistry room. The sidewalk was covered by a metal roof to keep the students dry, but it wasn’t enclosed. Even the few moments of fresh air made the last ninety minutes of class worth it. Almost worth it.
Once inside, Keiren took his seat towards the back of the class. The black counter sat two students, but Keir was the only one without a partner. He thought he preferred it that way. Just as the last few students filed in, he realized Graves and his sister Rosie were missing. Furrowing his brow, he wondered where they went off to. He’d seen them at lunch, but the wolf was notorious for skipping class. But the young witch rarely missed a day. It was odd to see both of them out.
While he was lost in thought, he missed the energetic strawberry blonde asking if he could take the seat next to him. Startling, Keiren looked at the boy like he was speaking gibberish. [#d84d54 [b “Could you repeat that?”]] Keir asked, his accent clung to each word. [#58cbc4 [b “I said, is this seat taken?”]] The boy asked. [#d84d54 [b “Sure,”]] Keiren responded slowly. He eyed the male a moment too long. Recognition washed over him. It was the boy who’d been sitting in the lunchroom objectifying him and his siblings. His face felt hot as he replayed the conversation. [#d84d54 [b “You’re-”]] Before he could finish his thought, the teacher addressed the class. [b “Alright, today we’re going to be covering atomic structures. Take out your textbooks. I’ll be sending around a worksheet. You can use your book and your partner but no cell phones.”]]
[abel Keiren fished out his textbook and placed it in front of him gently. Glancing at the boy next to him, he caught him staring. His skin crawled under his big blue eyes. [#d84d54 [b “Did you need to share a textbook?”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel After lunch Poppy had Studio Art with the siblings, he’d spent the first part of class talking with the art teacher about how they ran class, which pretty much amounted to free reign of activities so long as it was related to art. The teacher said something about not wanted to force students to conform to any singular media or topic so they let everyone use what they liked and do what they liked. Poppy was fine with that, since he wasn’t really prepared for an art class (the whole forgetting his schedule thing) he just did some rough sketches of the students he’d seen that day, putting more effort into their clothes than into their faces. About halfway through he ended up sketching the boys that he and his friends had talked about during lunch. For Viktor and Kai, the sketches were just a rough, with vague features that were only barely recognizable but the figure of Keiren was distinct enough that it would be clear to anyone who knew him that it was the boy.
With Poppy’s personality he didn’t mind if others saw he was drawing the boy, even if the boy himself saw he wouldn’t have cared. After all the boy was attractive and it was normal to draw beautiful things. Besides he could always say he just drew the boy since they were in class together. Poppy had noticed Keiren when he walked in, the boy was tucked away in a corner by himself quietly drawing through the whole period.
When class was over Poppy slipped the pieces of paper he had sketched on into the notebook he’d been using for his classes and briefly separated from the siblings since Rosemary said she had to go do something really quick, she explained how to get to the chemistry classroom so Poppy wouldn’t get lost. He was already at the classroom door when he got Rosemary’s text:
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#524078 Headache. Skipping chem. Meet at Sugar & Bean at 4:30? They have the best chai.]]]]
Poppy smiled as he typed back a response.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58cbc4 Abandoning me already???? I’m so hurt. Also I have no idea where that is. I’m the new kid, remember? Send a pin.]]]]
Obviously, Poppy wasn’t actually hurt but he sent had sent a broken heart emoji and a crying face anyways. Inside the class room Poppy first approached the teacher who looked up his name on the class list and confirmed he was a new student; he also gave a quick lie about Rosemary getting sick after lunch and her brother taking her home. With his sweet smile and concerned tone about the girl the teacher immediately believed him and even thanked him for letting her know. The teacher informed him that the class had already decided partners for the semester so he’d be pairing up with a student who didn’t have a partner yet; Keiren Hemlock. Poppy was immediate surprised that someone as attractive as Keiren hadn’t been immediately picked as a partner, he figured the girls must either be too shy to make a move or Keiren must be absolute shit at science. Turned out it was neither, well, it could still be the first option but the teacher explain that Keiren had been sick recently and missed a lot of school so he hadn’t been assigned a partner due to the uneven numbers and absences.
Once the teacher dismissed him to go take a seat Poppy walked towards the dark haired boy who was once again sitting as far away from other students as it seemed he could manage. He didn’t look up when Poppy approached the table so the brunette asked politely, [#58CBC4 [b “Is this seat taken?”]] Of course, the teacher had already told him that Keiren didn’t have a partner but Poppy was more being playful and opening conversation than asking. The seat was his; whether Keiren knew it yet or not.
It seemed the boy not only hadn’t noticed his approach but had been lost in his own thoughts because his big puppy eyes looked up at Poppy with a lost look like he’d spoken in a different language, [#d84d54 [b “Could you repeat that?”]] His quiet voice was deep and smooth with a twinge of sweetness like the most decadent maple syrup with a surprising accent that sounded French and made his legs feel soft.
Poppy’s lips lifted in a soft smile, [#58CBC4 [b “I said, ‘is this seat taken’?”]]
[#d84d54 [b “Sure,”]] The boy’s head bobbed slightly as he said the word that didn’t actually correctly answer the question. Fortunately for him Poppy knew he was agreeing. Poppy sat down, pulling his notebook and mechanical pencil from his bag for class while feeling the boy’s pale eyes on him. The bold boy didn’t mind in the list if the other looked at him; in fact, he welcomed it. In a way it felt like the other was returning the gaze and objectification Poppy had given him during lunch. Poppy’s head turned suddenly, catching the boy’s linger eyes with his own which were curled in amused crescents as if to say ‘I caught you’. Keiren’s face seemed to flush red under his eyes, [#d84d54 [b “You’re-”]]
Whatever the boy was going to say was cut off by the teacher starting class, [b “Alright, today we’re going to be covering atomic structures. Take out your textbooks. I’ll be sending around a worksheet. You can use your book and your partner but no cell phones.”] The teacher’s voice was clear and carried over the class cutting off all conversations, not just theirs.
She turned to write the page on the board and Poppy watched his new partner pulled out a textbook from his bag, Poppy was a little surprised at how little noise the other made despite everyone else loudly banging their books on the table and flipping them open. Poppy didn’t have his books yet; the teachers had been giving him lists of what he’d need to check out of the library for their classes all day but he was going to swing by when school ended. Before he could even ask to share Keiren’s voice resounded again, [#d84d54 [b “Did you need to share a textbook?”]]
Immediately Poppy gave him a smile like he was rewarding the boy for his behavior, [#58CBC4 [b “Yes, thank you.”]] Following his words, he shifted his chair over closer and leaned his body forward and over, immediately breaching into Keiren’s personal space. Poppy easily could have waited for Keiren to shift the book between them but it was much more fun for Poppy to lightly tease the attractive boy. Besides if Keiren disliked it Poppy would back off immediately.
Poppy directed his gaze up at Keiren, his clear blue eyes the shade of the sky on a sunny summer day peeked up from his thicket of eyelashes. The angle was no accident, he had purposefully tilted his head just a bit so that he could look up at him through his lashes, but without it being obvious he had done so. [#58CBC4 [b “You’re Keiren Hemlock, right? I’m Poppy; Poppy Montgomery-Taylor. But you can just call me Poppy,”]] He kept his thought that with a face like his, Poppy would let him call him baby, or sweetie, or puppy, or any other number of names from innocent to naughty if he wanted. [#58CBC4 [b “The teacher said we’re going to be partners this semester so let’s get along, ‘kay?”]] He gave a dazzling smile, the kind of friendly smile that could disguise the blatant flirting he was doing while simultaneously drawing the other in. [#58CBC4 [b “She also said you had been sick recently,”]] Poppy started, leaning in just a bit closer as he spoke, [#58CBC4 [b “are you feeling better now?”]]]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel The smaller boy beamed at him in response, [#58cbc4 [b “Yes, thank you.”]]
Before Keiren could adjust the book, the boy inched closer, the smell of his shampoo swallowed him whole. He couldn’t think. There was milk and honey and nothing more. Bracing his hand against the table, the ghoul began to feel panic rising in his chest like a tidal wave.
Gazing down at him, Keiren noticed how small the boy was. His frame was thin and feminine. He watched the pulse beating beneath the pale flesh at the nape of his neck. The boy was alive. His heart beating, flesh and blood and bones. In a blink of an eye, Keiren knew he could slaughter the boy and everyone in the room. He wondered if he tasted as good as he smelled.
Suddenly, two azure blue eyes stared up at him and Keiren was in the meadow by his house in Canada. The open sky vast and unending, his mother calling him for supper, the dogs resting at his side. How did this stranger’s gaze look like home?
[#58cbc4 [b “You’re Keiren Hemlock, right? I’m Poppy; Poppy Montgomery-Taylor. But you can just call me Poppy,”]] the boy, Poppy, spoke softly like it was a secret just for Keiren. [#58cbc4 [b “The teacher said we’re going to be partners this semester so let’s get along, ‘kay?”]] He did not shy away from the monster who’d been planning his death. Instead, he turned towards him like the sun, basking in it’s rays. [#58cbc4 [b “She also said you had been sick recently, are you feeling better now?”]] Poppy questioned, leaning towards him ever so slightly.
Keiren watched the boy’s soft lips, mesmerized at their movement. Humans had such pink lips. After a few moments, Keiren realized he’d been staring. This boy was dangerous. He needed air or else he’d do something stupid, something human. In a useless attempt to get ahold of himself, Keiren leaned back a bit to get some space but he didn’t turn away.
[#d84d54 [b “Yes, I’m managing.”]] He said carefully. The ghoul honestly wasn’t sure what it meant to be sick in a mortal way. But it’d been a good enough excuse for him to miss weeks of school at a time. [#d84d54 [b “I have a chronic illness. I don’t want,”]] he searched for his next words carefully, [#d84d54 [b “you to be worried if I miss class.”]] That seemed reasonable enough. There was something about Poppy’s expression that made him want to confess things. Things he didn’t even know himself.
[#d84d54 [b “How are you liking Maine?”]] He asked, wanting to know things about Poppy Montgomery-Taylor. He wouldn't hurt this human.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Keiren seemed caught off guard by Poppy’s closeness and slightly leaned back but didn’t fully break away from Poppy. The brunette took notice of what seemed to the distance of comfortability with Keiren, he might be flirty and bold but never wanted to make people feel uncomfortable and with his observation skills and intuition he was pretty good at understanding others. So, he pulled back just a bit as well, giving the dark hair boy more room to breathe so to speak. [#d84d54 [b “Yes, I’m managing,”]] He seemed to struggle with his words like he wasn’t sure what to say to the boy speaking with him. [#d84d54 [b “I have a chronic illness,”]] Poppy wondered what kind of illness he could have, to be honest the boy looked very healthy despite being pale.
His clear blue eyes seemed to sweep the boy over once and then twice as if looking for any discernable type of illness. He knew, of course, that there were illness that weren’t visible but this person just seemed remarkably fit. His features were sharp and defined like a model, and his skin was clear it looked like he had been photoshop-ed in real life. He wasn’t built heavily like a Baywatch guy that Poppy had seen a lot back in California but instead had a more athletic yet skinny body type. He had broad shoulders like a swimmer and even though he was slouching at their shared desk Poppy could tell he was tall. His black hair was messy but it was also clean and healthy with a shine. The only thing that said he wasn’t in perfect health were the slight bags under his stormy grey eyes like he had missed a night of sleep but it was nothing a little concealer wouldn’t fix.
All in all, Keiren looked fantastic both in the visual sense and in the health sense.
[#d84d54 [b “I don’t want you to be worried if I miss class,”]] Keiren said almost awkwardly serious in his tone. [#d84d54 [b “How are you liking Maine?”]] The brunette was little surprised at the topic change but hummed in thought. Though he was giving a few seconds to think when the teacher came by dropping off the worksheet they needed to fill.
[b “Here’s the work for today’s class, Keiren can show you where to put it when class ends,”] The woman said as she handed both sheets to Poppy. The boy took them with a smile and passed one on to Keiren. [b “Have your other teachers told you about textbooks yet?”]
[#58CBC4 [b “Yes, I was told the library would have all my textbooks ready on either Friday this week or Monday next week.”]]
The teacher nodded before looking over at Keiren, [b “I’ll have to trouble you to share a book with your partner until he gets his own.”] Her smile was polite but also surface level she barely paused for Keiren’s affirmation before returning to her desk.
Poppy looked at the worksheet and found it was pretty straightforward, it was pretty much just fill in the blank either on vocabulary directly from the book or numbers directly from the periodic table. He shifted his paper and body again to make it comfortable as he looked over the book, not missing how the book had been moved closer to his position so it would be easier for him to see. Seemed Keiren was the sneaky gentlemanly type. How cute.
[#58CBC4 [b “Answering your question; I’ll get back to you on my feelings, I’ve only been here two days and my initial impression is still ‘oh god why’ so I’m just hoping it goes up from there,”]] Poppy joked with half-truths. [#58CBC4 [b “And if you don’t want me to worry then you’ll just have to come to school to keep me company, won’t you?”]] He brushed the eraser end of his pencil against Keir’s open palm, making the hand twitch a bit like it was going to reflexively grab on to the item. Poppy pulled the pencil back towards himself and pressed it up against his lips in a way that seemed casual but was quite teasing in reality. After a few exchanges he had a strong feeling that Keiren was probably gay or at least bi since he hadn’t been the least perturbed by Poppy’s behavior. So it was safe to continue flirting and playing around.]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel As class began to progress on, the teacher approached the pair and handed them their worksheets. She was a tall, thin woman with dark hair pulled back in a tight bun at the base of her neck. Keiren suspected she was in her late fifties by the wrinkles etched into the skin around her dark eyes and the wire framed glasses that rested on her hooked nose.
[b “Here’s the work for today’s class. Keiren can show you where to put it when class ends. Have your other teachers told you about textbooks yet?”] [#58cbc4 [b “Yes, I was told the library would have all my textbooks ready either Friday this week or Monday next week.”]] Poppy said, giving the woman a cheeky smile.
Nodding her head, the teacher gave Keiren a pointed look, [b “I’ll have to trouble you to share a book with your partner until he gets his own.”] Although her smile was cordial, it didn’t reach her eyes. Keiren had learned early on that the respect they gave to children was only surface level. He wondered what the woman would do if she found out he was twice her age.
Once the woman was gone, Keiren surveyed the worksheet. It was a basic fill in the blank and an empty periodic table. Usually, he’d fill it out quickly and then pretend to be working on something else; but with a human’s prying eyes so close, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to pass it off as normal. He figured they needed the textbook to fill in the tables. Pushing the book closer to Poppy, he flipped to the page written on the board. The sound of Poppy’s soft voice pulled Keiren from his thoughts. Averting his attention from the desk, he glanced down at the boy. The ghoul couldn’t get over how small he seemed.
[#58cbc4 [b “Answering your question, I’ll get back to you on my feelings. I’ve only been here two days and my initial impression is still, ‘oh my god why,’ so I’m just hoping it goes up from there,”]] he joked sullenly. Keiren noticed the blonde spoke with his whole body. Between his facial expressions and hand movements, the ghoul suspected Poppy had a lot more to say than he was letting on.
It wasn’t that Keiren couldn’t read body language, but it wasn’t his strongest subject. Humans were complicated in their way of communication. In his long life away from civilization, he discovered animals always said what they meant, there was never any passive aggression or unspoken secrets. But humans always hid something and he couldn’t figure out what.
[#58cbc4 [b “And if you don’t want me to worry then you’ll just have to come to school to keep my company, won’t you?”]] He bumped Keiren’s open pal with the end of his pencil. Jolting at the sudden contact, Keiren had to fight the urge to run or take the weapon from the boy. If he wasn’t careful, Poppy would get too close and that was dangerous.
Pressing the pencil to his lips, Poppy went back to his worksheet. It was a casual movement but what had it meant? Keiren furrowed his brows as he tried to unpack the movements. Most mortals shied away from the Hemlocks even if they found them interesting. It was instinct for prey to avoid their predators. What was different about this one?
[#d84d54 [b “I’ll try my best,”]] Keiren answered lightly. And he was even if his family didn’t understand. [#d84d54 [b “Why Rosault Bay then? You don’t seem like the type.”]] He was referring to the boy’s high end taste in fashion. Between the three thrift stores and a handful of handmade boutiques, Rosault Bay wasn’t the most fashion forward place on the coast. He assumed Poppy would prefer a place like New York or even Portland, Maine.
A buzzing in Keiren’s pocket pulled his attention from the conversation. Pulling it out, he examined the screen. He had two messages from Graves. The first was a picture of the werewolf with a joint in his mouth and his sister sitting on the kitchen table, a plate of fried pastries in front of her. Her messy, dark hair fell in a wave around her face and her black shirt was splattered with flour. The second message was several typos that Keiren made out to be: [b [#cc6600 ‘Want some empanadas? Made too many. You should skip class.”]] Followed by several swear words.
Grinning, Keiren pushed the phone back into his pocket. Glancing back at Poppy, he decided to ask about the two Alcombright kids. [#d84d54 [b “You’re friends with Rosie and Graves right?”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel [#d84d54 [b “I’ll try my best,”]] Keiren said softly in response to Poppy, the more the two talked the more the look of ‘little lost puppy’ seemed to grow in the other boy’s stormy eyes. The brunette was seriously wondering why the other students avoided him and why he avoided other students; he seemed starved for social interaction. If they had known each other better he probably would have patted his head and teased him by saying [i ‘good boy’] at his honest answer. Something about the boy really made Poppy think of an adorable dog. [#d84d54 [b “Why Rosault Bay then? You don’t seem like the type,”]] He wasn’t sure what Keiren had meant by type but he also couldn’t help but agree; he really wasn’t the type and this really wasn’t the place he wanted to be.
Poppy wasn’t exactly sure how to explain that his autistic mother had a sudden whim to move to this town to help her write her latest novel and thus he had to pack up his entire life suddenly and move to the East coast without so much a single word of input on the idea because the only other option, since he was only seventeen, would be to go live in Hong Kong with his father and he didn’t speak Chinese. Well, he supposed he could just say that but it was a bit too much to get into and it wasn’t the most flattering picture.
Fortunately for the boy his partner had gotten a text message which he was sneakily looking at. Poppy filled in some answers on the worksheet ready to completely pretend he hadn’t heard the last question. Strangely it seemed that Keiren hadn’t even written his name on his paper let alone started to fill in answers. Poppy was going to say something but Keiren beat him to it when he put his cell phone back in his pocket and looked up, [#d84d54 [b “You’re friends with Rosie and Graves, right?”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “I’m [i best friends] with Rosie. Graves seems to be a buy one, get one deal with her but I think it’ll take some time before we’re friends,”]] Poppy deliberately left out the part where the time it would take to be friends would the be the time in which Poppy wore him down until he gave in and was forced to admit their friendship which was pretty much how Poppy figured the relationship between the two would go. After all the boy hadn’t even liked how Poppy had touched his legs to get his attention at lunch earlier, though he had reluctantly answered Poppy’s questions about piercings. [#58CBC4 [b “I did only meet her yesterday but I’m not good at being alone so I can at least be glad the first person I met and declared friendship with was cool. I mean, she has a pet raven, how Wednesday.”]] Poppy tilted his head, tapping his pencil against his cheek, the siblings had vaguely mentioned they knew the Hemlocks, maybe Keiren had seen them together at lunch? [#58CBC4 [b “Are you friends with them too?”]]]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel [#58cbc4 [b “I’m best friends with Rosie,”]] Poppy corrected. [#58cbc4 [b “Graves seems to be a buy one, get one deal with her but I think it’ll take some time before we’re friends,”]] he guessed. Keiren knew what he meant by that. It was obvious the siblings were thick as thieves. From what Keiren understood from his conversations with the werewolf, his sister was the first person to truly see him when he moved across the sea. He’d wondered many times what Graves was like before he moved, before his trauma. [#58cbc4 [b “I did only meet her yesterday but I’m not good at being alone so I can at least be glad the first person I met and declared friendship with was cool. I mean, she has a pet raven, how Wednesday.”]] Poppy continued. He absently drummed his pencil against his cheek. Keir wondered if that was something the boy did often. [#58cbc4 [b “Are you friends with them too?”]]
Keiren hesitated before answering. He hadn’t stopped to think hard on what he was to the Alcombright family as a whole. They got along with his clan well. More than well enough. Lyla was constantly making new mixtures and samples for his mother to try. Since he was a child, Heather had drinks with his mother every Tuesday. Oberon helped his father fix up their house after the hurricane a few decades back. He wasn’t close to Rosie for no reason other than a lack of common interest. But Graves on the other hand, he considered him more like a brother.
The two spent long nights and abandoned classes together in the woods as wolves together. They’d met by accident but chose to continue their meetings until one day it no longer felt like a choice. They bonded in trauma and shared a similar fear of society most wouldn't understand.
[#d84d54 [b “Yes. Graves more than Rosie but”]] he paused before continuing, [#d84d54 [b “you’re right, they are a package deal.”]] Keir took a minute to fill in some of the blanks on his worksheet. Glancing over Poppy’s, he wanted to make sure the boy was understanding the assignment. [#d84d54 [b “That one’s supposed to be Aluminum. 13, Al,”]] he corrected, pointing to the box on the periodic table.
[#d84d54 [b “My parents are good friends with her parents,”]] he added. [#d84d54 [b “It’s a small town, you know?”]] He didn’t press Poppy on the question about his move. When he thought about the reason he’d moved to Rosault Bay himself, he couldn’t imagine trying to explain that to someone.
[b “Just a reminder class, if you don’t finish the worksheet it will be homework,”] the teacher interrupted.
Keiren considered his worksheet again. He’d finished the majority of it while the two were talking. Filling in the last few blanks, he tilted his head towards Poppy. [#d84d54 [b “Do you need any help? With the work I mean?”]] He didn’t want to insult Poppy’s intelligence.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel [#d84d54 [b “Yes, Graves more than Rosie but, you’re right, they are a package deal,”]] Poppy laughed lightly, trying not to make the teacher take notice of how much of their conversation was unrelated to chemistry. It seemed each of them had made friends with one of the siblings with the other coming along for the ride. But Poppy thought it was strange, Graves hadn’t mentioned that he knew or was friends with Keiren at lunch. The ass, he withheld gossip. [#d84d54 [b “That one’s supposed to be Aluminum. 13, Al,”]] Keiren said, pointing at Poppy’s worksheet where he had written Ag for silver. Since he’d known he was guessing at what the element was based on the clues (a grey toned, metallic metal) and not on the numbers provided he trusted Keiren and quickly erased the answer and replaced it with what the dark haired boy told him.
As Poppy changed his answer Keiren kept talking, seeming to have finally relaxed a little about speaking with the smaller boy, [#d84d54 [b “My parents are good friends with her parents. It’s a small town you know?”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “Oh yes, I do know,”]] Poppy grumbled.
The teacher spoke up from the front of the class room after she had walked by a few tables and peered at the worksheets, seemingly unhappy with the progress of the students. She informed them that if they didn’t finish the work in class, it would be assigned as homework. The brunette pursed his lips, he really didn’t want to have to do this at home especially since he didn’t even have a textbook. Maybe they had spent too much time talking. [#d84d54 [b “Do you need any help? With the work I mean?”]] His partner offered; it didn’t seem he was worried about not being able to finish the assignment.
[#58CBC4 [b “If you don’t mind,”]] Poppy agreed immediately, normally he’d do a half-assed job and wouldn’t care about taking it home and doing it there but he really didn’t have time for that tonight, [#58CBC4 [b “I definitely don’t have time for homework tonight, I still need to unpack and I’m supposed to go to some coffee shop in town, I forget the name,”]] Keiren really didn’t need to know all this but Poppy was a chatty person and had more than a little bit of a tendency to overshare. [#58CBC4 [b “I don’t actually know where the coffee shop is but I told Rosie to send a pin so I guess I’ll figure it out. Oh, speaking, do you want to come with? Since Rosie invited me, Graves will be there and since you’re friends I’m sure they’d be cool with it. Food’s always better with company,”]] [i And scenery], he thought to himself, thinking of the boy as the latter more than the former.]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel [#58cbc4 [b “If you don’t mind,”]] the boy seemed eager to get the worksheet done. [abel [#58cbc4 [b “I definitely don’t have time for homework tonight, I still need to unpack and I’m supposed to go to some coffee shop in town, I forget the name. I don’t actually know where the coffee shop is but I told Rosie to send a pin so I guess I’ll figure it out. Oh, speaking, do you want to come with? Since Rosie invited me, Graves will be there and since you’re friends I’m sure they’d be cool with it. Food’s always better with company,”]] Poppy rambled on. Keir appreciated the blonde filled the silence. He wasn’t good at small talk especially with humans, but with Poppy it was different. Poppy didn’t seem to shy away from Keiren’s quietness.
He contemplated the invitation. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe that Poppy was inviting him, he just wasn’t used to being included in plans. There was nothing stopping him from going. He’d finished all of homework and even if he hadn’t, it’d only take him a few minutes to figure it out. The thought of riding home in the awkward silence with Vik was unappealing. Tilting his head, he nodded. “Sure, let me text my brothers. Are you okay with walking? I didn’t drive separately today.” The walk from the school into town wasn’t too far but he wanted to make sure the exercise wasn’t too strenuous for Poppy.
[#d84d54 [b “Here,”]] he pushed his paper towards Poppy. [#d84d54 [b “You can copy mine. I suggest memorizing the periodic table early in this class, it will make the later units easier.”]] He suggested. [#d84d54 [b “I,”]] he wavered, [#d84d54 [b “can help you if you ever get stuck though.”]]
Keiren winced at the sound of the bell indicating the school day was over. The ear splitting noise lingered in his mind for several minutes after the fact. He had to brace himself against the desk to keep his balance. Once the nausea passed, he pulled out his phone to text his siblings. He clicked on a group chat titled, “my monsters.” Kai had come up with the title and Keiren couldn’t say no to him.
[#d84d54 [b ‘Going to Sugar & Bean. Don’t wait up. You can come if you can behave.’]]
Stuffing his phone back into his pocket, he turned his attention back to Poppy. [#d84d54 [b “Ready?”]]
He led the boy through the back exit and into the courtyard. They weaved in and out of several groups of students getting ready to leave. Keiren could feel their eyes on him. The freaky quiet guy and the new kid.
He slowed on the steps to the main road so Poppy could catch up. Keiren noticed when they stood together how much taller he actually was. Between the height difference and species difference, Keiren knew he had to adjust his pace. [#d84d54 [b “The coffee shop is just up the street. We actually pass Rosie’s family business.”]]
As the two strolled down the sidewalk in silence, Keiren was careful not to push Poppy too hard. The distance seemed to wind the small boy. If he were a different kind of person, ghoul, he’d offer to carry him the rest of the way. When they rounded the corner, Keiren pointed at the sage colored building with a dozen windows. It had a large sign in block letters that read ‘Pyramid.’ The A in the word was a triangle symbol. Keiren always thought the logo was clever. [#d84d54 [b “This is Rosie’s shop. The cafe is just up ahead.”]] He pointed passed the shop to another old brick building that had been refurbished.
Once they arrived at the coffee shop, Keiren waited out front for Poppy to catch his breath. He checked his phone to see if either of his siblings responded. Kai had sent several emojis and said he’d meet them there. Glancing around, the ghoul didn’t see his younger brother but decided not to wait but instead get a table inside. He pushed the door open, a small chime rung over head. It vibrated in Keiren’s chest but he held it together. Stepping to the side, he held the door open for the boy.
Graves and Rosie spotted them first. The werewolf looked up from his phone, his expression bored but happy. He nodded slightly at the ghoul. Rosie on the other hand, was wildly excited to see Poppy entering with Keiren. She glanced between them rapidly before bounding over to them. Her large, amethyst eyes met his unflinching like she was asking a question. He wanted to look away from her intense gaze but he couldn’t; it was electric. Finally, she released him and chattered happily to Poppy.
[#524078 [b “I got us a seat. Here, get whatever you want, my treat!”]] She handed Poppy a handful of cash. [#524078 [b “You too Keir,”]] she smiled at him, [#524078 [b “if you want.”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel [#58CBC4 [b “Yeah, so, remember when I said I’d be fine walking? I am not. I based that on LA distance where you can’t go five feet without reaching a coffee shop, salad place, smoothie bar, and popup boba location. Apparently, Maine distance is a totally different thing. Ohmygod. I’m do not exercise enough for this,”]] Poppy complained to the other boy who was showing no difficulty in walking the distance. If anything, the other boy seemed to be concerned about Poppy if the worried look in his eyes was anything to go by. The taller boy checked his phone, probably to see if his siblings were coming. Once Poppy had regained his breath and energy Keiren held open the door for him and the two walked in. Immediately Rosemary grinned and started to motion for him to come over and join her and her brother. After seeing Keiren follow Poppy into the café the girl suddenly bounded up from her seat like she’d gotten an electrical shock.
As she approached, he could tell she was excited about whatever had happened between the two since they’d last seen each other at the end of Art Studio. [#524078 [b “I got us a seat. Here, get whatever you want, my treat!”]] The goth practically shoved some cash into Poppy’s hands with a face breaking smile on her lips. [#524078 [b “You too Keir, if you want.”]] Poppy heard the nickname that Rosemary called him and smiled; somehow, he felt it would be fun to call him that way too.
[#58CBC4 [b “I like the costume change,”]] He said poking her exposed stomach and ignoring the questions in her big eyes, [#58CBC4 [b “the fishnets are cute. Oh, and Graves, that red lipstick is especially cute on you. [i So] your color!”]] Poppy pointed up at his own forehead to mime the location of the lipstick mark on the blonde boy, with a teasing smile before he reached out and tugged at Keiren’s wrist. [#58CBC4 [b “Come on [i Keir], it’s Rosie’s treat apparently,”]] He gave Rosie a wink as he dragged the boy towards the counter to order. He really didn’t need Rosie to offer to treat him, he had more credit cards than any teenager his age should but it was a sweet gesture that almost felt like she was both bribing him for gossip later on and simultaneously cheering him on for dragging Keiren to the shop with him after only one day. It only took a quick glance at the menu on the wall for him to decide what he wanted to order. [#58CBC4 [b “I’ll have a large Iced Brown Sugar Caramel Latte, no whipped cream please! What about you [i Keir]?”]] Once again Poppy emphasized the nickname he’d just discovered in a slightly soft voice.]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Poppy teased Rosie affectionately. He poked at her exposed flesh and complimented her outfit. Keiren looked her up and down. He had to admit she had style. The fishnets were stark against her thin, pale legs. Her black pleated skirt sat at her natural waist falling several inches above her knees. He noticed silver chains looping endlessly from one end of the waistband to the other. It clinked lightly with her with her every move. Her tee shirt was cropped above the navel exposing the top of an intricate tattoo. Keiren hadn’t realized the witch must have gotten a new tattoo over the summer. He hadn’t recalled any tattoos on her midriff from the summer before when they went swimming in the ocean. His favorite thing about her outfit was a lace ribbon she wore around her neck. She paired it with everything she wore. He’d always wondered about the story behind it.
[#58cbc4 [b “Oh, and Graves, that red lipstick is especially cute on you. So your color!”]] Poppy said to Graves, gesturing to the red mark on his forehead. The werewolf bared his teeth at his sister for not saying something sooner. He quickly rubbed his forehead with the back of his head before returning to his brooding.
Tugging on Keiren’s wrist, he led the ghoul to the front counter. The ghoul tried not to shy away from the touch. [#58cbc4 [b “Come on Keir, it’s Rosie’s treat apparently,”]] the boy quickly glanced over the menu before ordering. [#58cbc4 [b “I’ll have a large Iced Brown Sugar Caramel Latte, no whipped cream please! What about you Keir?”]] He nearly sang Keiren’s name. Keir had been a nickname his mother gave him and it stuck. Most people called him by his full name, but those who were close like to shorten it affectionately. He wondered if there was a deeper meaning to Poppy’s choice in words.
Taking a moment to survey the chalkboard menu, he settled on something simple. Although caffeine didn’t affect him the way it did humans, coffee in the afternoon sometimes gave him indigestion. He assumed it had to do with the acid and lack of iron by the end of the day. He knew he'd have to feed soon. [#d84d54 [b “I’ll have a hot chocolate. Can I have extra marshmallows?”]] He added thoughtfully. Marshmallows were one of his favorite treats.
Once they got their drinks, the pair joined their friends on the couches. Keiren chose the seat next to Graves and sat close enough to him that if Poppy decided to join them on the couch, there’d be enough room. Rosie perched in the armchair across from them sipping on her iced beverage. She glanced between the two, her eyes settling on Graves. He squinted at her and shook his head. Keiren had picked up their weird sibling code language early on in their friendship. He didn’t speak it, but he’d gotten used to it.
[#d84d54 [b “Thanks for treating us Rosie,"]] Keir said softly. The witch smiled at him in response. It was subtle but genuine. He carefully blew on his hot chocolate before taking a sip. "Kai should be joining us,” He added.
Rosie noticeably sat up straighter in her seat. Her face flushed and Keiren could hear her pulse quicken. The smell of rain wafted from her skin. He imagined the fae girl would taste even better than she smelled. But the ghoul would never admit that, not even to his brothers. Keiren wondered if his brother made the girl uncomfortable, that would explain her reaction every time he entered a room. He didn’t dwell on the thought too long.
Just as Poppy settled in the seat next to Keiren, the door rang overhead. Looking up, Keiren spotted the tanned Hemlock. Waving, he gestured for the boy to join them.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/HQoG6L4.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Kai wiped the barely formed sweat from his tanned skin using the bottom edge of his white shirt; he was glad he had changed when class started as the fabric was now damp and smelled slightly of his body odor; a cold scent with a hint of salt like the oceans of the north. The handheld torch was already turned off and he properly locked it up with the other tools so no one would get hurt with it. Despite having been welding for quite a while he was less sweat stained than his classmates were, due to his naturally cooler body temperature and inhuman stamina the heat didn’t affect him as much.
According to the teacher Kai was the ‘most talented student’ he’d had ‘in years’, which was a little funny to him seeing as this teacher had had Kai as a student for years but simply couldn’t remember it, and pretty much gave the ghoul free reign of tools and projects. Currently Keir was working on an old car from around the time he had been born; a Shelby Cobra. It was a racing car that had been in such bad shape it was barely more than scrap when Kai got his hands on it a few years ago but now he was pretty much finished. Once it was done, he planned on painting it orange. After it was fixed, he wasn’t sure what he’d do with it though. Keep it? Drive it? Sell it? He hadn’t thought that far, it was just nice to have something to fix up.
As he was putting away his tools, he heard the quite vibration of his phone from inside his bag. Kai had made custom programs for all the ghoul’s phones to further lower volume and reduce intensity of the vibration features to make it easier for them. Regular humans wouldn’t be able to hear their phones go off and would barely be able to feel the vibrations but they could still hear it fine. Keiren had been especially thankful since he was the most sensitive to that sort of thing. He pulled his phone out and checked the screen, seeing a message from Keiren.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#d84d54 Going to Sugar & Bean. Don’t wait up. You can come if you can behave.]]]]
Kai couldn’t help but pause. In all the decades he’d been with the Hemlocks and living in this town he was pretty sure Keiren had never gone to hang out anywhere or with anyone, ever. It was hard even for the brothers to get Keiren to go out with them on little errands. Hell, Viktor had to essentially guilt trip him this morning in front of Momma to even get Keiren to go to school. Did something happen? Was there some kind of event happening at the coffee shop? Did some terrible monster invade the school and kidnap his brother and this was some kind of code asking for help?
Okay, so it [i probably] wasn’t the last one but it was still weird. But, like, a good weird. Kai tapped at the side of his phone still thinking things through but clearly Vik had already responded.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#901C3A No.]]]]
The no was probably referring to joining Keir but somehow Kai thought it looked funny, ‘cause it kind of seemed like he was saying Keiren wasn’t allowed to go out; like a parent scolding their kid. Distracted by his thoughts Kai forgot to respond back to the text with his answer and instead followed some of the other guys from shop to go shower and change back into his clothes from earlier. He shoved his shop clothes in his gym bag with the intention of washing them that night so they’d be clean for tomorrow. It was part of his regular routine. During his quick shower under the shitty water pressure of the school he kept thinking of the text Keiren sent. There was no way that Keiren was going to a coffee shop all by himself, right? Like, if he was going to be alone, he was going to be alone in the woods. So, was he going to the coffee shop with someone else? Did Keiren make friends?
Suddenly excited Kai finished up even faster and finally sent a reply to his brother.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#EA7E53 I can behave! I’ll be there!]]]]
The message was sent along with a marathon of emojis that were smiles and hearts and sparkles and a cup of coffee and maybe a coffee bean, he forgot all the ones he typed. Grabbing his stuff, he head back to his jeep and tossed everything in the back only pulling out his wallet. The coffee shop wasn’t far but Kai figured he’d drive Keiren home afterwards since Viktor had driven the boy to school and probably already left and it wasn’t like Keiren could just run home. Well, he could but that would be weird.
Kai had been to the coffee shop plenty of times and parked easily just down the street before heading inside. Before he’d even walked in, he’d spotted his brother; ghouls had much slower heartbeats than humans so Kai could pick up the irregular rhythm of Keiren among the humans. Inside he found that Keiren was not only with the two Alcombright siblings, Rosemary and Graves, but also with the new student who’d been with them at lunch. In particular Kai noticed that the new student was sitting next to Keiren, his positioning was at an angle that made it seem like he was squeezed into the spot and had no choice but to close to and even touch Keiren but really, he had more than enough room if he sat straight.
The white haired ghoul approached the couch as his brother waved him over. Kai leaned over the back of the couch and wrapped his arms around his brother’s shoulders giving him a hug while greeting the group, [#EA7E53 [b “Hey!”]] Looking up at the group he felt just a bit awkward when he saw Rosemary but tried not to let it show. [#EA7E53 [b “I’m starving so I’m gonna order, be back in a jiff.”]]
The awkward feeling wasn’t about how they’d talked about the brothers at lunch, though that didn’t help. Instead, he felt awkward because of their brief exchange after his computer science class; Rosemary had stopped him in the hall to pass off a package for his Momma from her family store. But when he’d accepted it he’d briefly made contact with her skin and in a brief second he felt her emotional state go from pleasant to a crushing depression of fear and helplessness. He couldn’t help but feel he’d done something wrong. He wasn’t sure what it was he could have done that would have made her feel that way but people didn’t suddenly change moods like that normally so he must have done something wrong. He may have been better with people than Keiren but he still struggled with interactions since becoming a ghoul.
At the counter Kai ordered a blended dragonfruit lemonade and several snacks, he figured everyone could eat together and it wasn’t like Keiren hung out with people a lot so maybe he was just a tad bit excited. It only took a minute for him to get his drink and the man behind the counter said he’d bring the snacks over once they were ready. Kai went back to the sitting area his brother and the others were occupying and sat down in a free armchair.
He was sipping on the refreshing drink when the light haired brunette spoke up, his blue eyes sparkling with a mischievous grin, [#58CBC4 [b “So is the [i ‘pretty boy Kurt Cobain’] Hemlock not joining us?”]]
Kai nearly choked as he suddenly remembered the conversation, they’d overheard the group have at lunch. His face flushing which he hoped could be passed off as him just lacking oxygen. After a few coughs he was able to get his voice out, [#EA7E53 [b “Uh, no, Vik… Vik went home, I think.”]] Kai very pointedly did not look up from the floor when he spoke, God forbid he make eye contact with Poppy or Graves. Even Rosie. Suddenly he was regretting coming here.
[#58CBC4 [b “Too bad,”]] Poppy said with an almost wistful sigh as he stirred his ice coffee with his straw, [#58CBC4 [b “that would have made this more fun.”]] Kai wasn’t sure he wanted to understand this boy’s definition of fun.]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/zJ2hXCH.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Rosie’s bright eyes followed the tan boy as he approached the group. He looped his arms around his brother’s neck and squeezed gently. Keiren noticeably relaxed into the affectionate embrace. For some reason, that surprised the witch. She hadn’t imagined the Hemlocks as the most physical family but it seemed in character for Kai to be a hugger.
[#EA7E53 [b “Hey,”]] he greeted warmly. [#524078 [b "Hi,"]] Rosie smiled. Graves nodded in acknowledgement to the boy. His eyes darted around the group and lingered on Rosie for a moment too long before he looked away quickly. “I’m starving, be back in a jiff.”
Once he was gone, Rosie shot a look at Poppy like she needed advice and to be murdered at the same time. She couldn’t believe how weird she’d been acting. He was just a boy. Rosie had been friends with lots of guys in her life. Currently, her two best friends were boys and she had no problem talking to them.
But she had to admit this specific boy was rather handsome. When the witch had gotten to high school, she started noticing things about Kai that she hadn’t before. She liked the way he smiled with his friends, like he was the luckiest person in the world to be surrounded by the people in his life. It also helped that he filled out his tee shirts nicely and had a contagious smile. She had it bad.
A few minutes later, Kai returned to the party with a magenta drink in hand and fell into the empty armchair. Rosie was painfully aware of her actions. She was careful not to stare too long or sit too rigid. Kicking herself internally, she wished she could relax.
As if sensing her nerves, Poppy spoke up first. [#58cbc4 [b “So, is the ‘pretty boy Kurt Cobain’ not joining us?”]] he mused.
Graves leaned forward in his seat and stabbed the smaller boy with his amber eyes. Grumbling under his breath, he slumped back and crossed one leg over the other and took an angry sip of his drink.
Choking on his lemonade, Kai’s face flooded a hot pink. [#EA7E53 [b “Uh, no, Vik… Vik went home, I think,”]] he sputtered out.
Rosie exchanged a wide eyed expression with Graves. Her brother shrugged one shoulder and smirked. The young witch was mortified knowing Kai had heard their conversation. She’d wondered what Poppy would do if he knew. Probably own up and flirt with Keiren even more out rightly. She wished for a fraction of his courage.
[#58cbc4 [b “Too bad,”]] Poppy exhaled. [#58cbc4 [b “That would have made this more fun.”]] He bid the boy with a sideways glance at the werewolf to his right. Graves caught his gaze and held it, daring the boy to look away.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/XehCTk0.jpg]] [#d84d54 [b “I’d say two Hemlocks in one establishment is enough,”]] Keiren said lightly. He took a sip of his hot chocolate and adjusted in his seat. It didn’t seem like he minded being sandwiched between the two boys.
Keiren was aware of Poppy’s leg pressed against his. He could feel the human’s pulse thrumming in time. Graves had rested one arm around the back of the couch. (Most likely so he could give Poppy the middle finger.) His crossed knee occasionally bumped Keir whenever he moved. Between the two, he assumed it was normal to have physical contact with friends. Was Poppy his friend already? No one had ever invited him out for coffee before so he assumed it meant something.
Sitting so close to Poppy, he caught wind of his scent. It was different than before. Underneath the smell of soap, he noticed the natural floral aroma to his skin. He felt like he’d stepped out into a field of wildflowers in spring. A hint of magic.
Rosie broke the silence, [#524078 [b “overall, how was your first day of classes?”]] She nibbled on the straw of her beverage absently. Folding her legs under her body, she seemed to visibly relax in her seat.
Before Poppy could respond, the man who’d taken all of their orders delivered a silver tray filled with pastries and treats. He placed it gently on the wooden coffee table in front of them and told them to enjoy before returning to his post behind the counter. Graves plucked up a croissant and pulled it apart. Plopping a piece in his mouth, he moaned.
[b [#cc6600 “Damn, I love croissants,”]] he murmured.
Keiren surveyed the tray trying to decide what treat he wanted. He settled on a chocolate chip cookie and sunk back into his spot on the couch. [#d84d54 [b “He survived chemistry,”]] Keiren noted, taking a bite. The dessert melted in his mouth. He mimicked Graves and moaned as well. Graves’s head snapped in the ghoul’s direction, his jaw hung open in surprise. [#d84d54 [b “What?”]] Keiren cocked his head, his expression innocent. [b [#cc6600 “Nothing, I just didn’t know you could make a sound like that.”]] Graves threw up his hands in defense. Rosie ignored the exchange and turned her attention to Kai, [#524078 [b “thanks for getting us food,"]] She gave him a warm smile before picking out a snack for herself.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel It seemed that Poppy wasn’t the only one who liked sweet drinks, as Keiren ordered an adorable hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. Completely unexpected but cute. When the pair got their drinks, they returned to the area where Rosemary and Graves were waiting. Keiren sat down next to the blonde on the couch but distinctly left enough room for Poppy to join them if he liked. And he did like. Despite there being more than enough room for Poppy to sit without touching the dark haired boy he instead chose to sit at an angle, like he was lounging against the armrest of the couch which allowed for almost his entire leg to press up against Keiren’s thigh. The boy didn’t seem to mind it either.
Not long after sitting the bell chime to the café rang as a tanned, white haired youth walked in. His sea colored eyes swept the group as Keiren waved him over. Kai came up to them from behind the back of the couch giving his brother a hug and directing a smile at the group while speaking in a cheerful voice, [#EA7E53 [b “Hey!”]]
His greeting was immediately reciprocated by Rosemary, [#524078 [b “Hi.”]]
Poppy smirked in her direction, missing Kai’s expression when he spoke, [#EA7E53 [b “I’m starving, be back in a jiff.”]] Thus, missing context of Kai being weird he only saw Rosemary’s desperate gaze and felt she was being weird instead.
It only took a minute for the boy to come back to the group, he seemed to be familiar with the place and had a regular order. Once the other sat down Poppy spoke up, [#58CBC4 [b “So, is the [i ‘pretty boy Kurt Cobain’] Hemlock not joining us?”]]
Immediately after Poppy made his comment Graves leaned forward to look around Keiren at the smaller boy, glaring with eyes sharp as knives. While Kai choked on his drink, Poppy guessed he was surprised by how his brother had been referred to the brunette couldn’t help but keep his cat like grin. [#EA7E53 [b “Uh, no, Vik,”]] Kai continued trying to stop the sensation of choking while also speaking, [#EA7E53 [b “Vik went home, I think.”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “Too bad,”]] Poppy gave a mock sigh, [#58CBC4 [b “that would have made this more fun.”]] He teased a side glance over towards the blonde boy, immediately Graves caught his glance and resumed glaring at him.
[#D84D54 [b “I’d say two Hemlocks in one establishment is enough,”]] Keiren slightly grumbled as he sipped at his hot chocolate while being trapped between the two warring boys.
[#58CBC4 [b “Oh, Graves you must stop looking at me with such a fierce gaze, you’re going to make me blush,”]] Poppy slightly pitched his voice up like a damsel in distress. [#58CBC4 [b “Whatever will you do if I get the wrong idea?”]] The boy leaned in towards Keiren as he spoke as if he was swooning due to Graves.
Rosemary tried to salvage the quickly imploding conversation by changing the topic, [#524078 [b “Overall, how was your first day of classes?”]]
Poppy was pondering how to respond to the question when the server came up with an oversized platter of several types of sweets and snacks. Clearly it must have been Kai who ordered everything as he immediately reached over and picked up a brownie. Following his example Graves grabbed one of the croissants off the tray and started to pull it apart, moaning as he spoke with his mouth full, [#CC6600 [b “Damn, I love croissants.”]]
Keiren also grabbed something off the tray before answering Rosemary’s question, [#D84D54 [b “He survived chemistry.”]] As the boy took a bite, he made a noise that was eerily similar to the moan Graves had let out earlier, like seriously the same sound. Poppy thought he was making fun of Graves at first but the rest of the group didn’t seem to react that way. Graves stared at Keiren incredulously but the dark haired boy only tilted his head, [#D84D54 [b “What?”]]
[#CC6600 [b “Nothing I just didn’t know you could make a sound like that,”]] Graves responded raising his hands like he was surrendering. Poppy chuckled.
[#524078 [b “Thanks for getting us food,”]] Rosemary said, ignoring her brother’s behavior and casting sweet smile at Kai that made Poppy want to tease her.
[#58CBC4 [b “Yes, thank you Kai. And Keir is right, I did survive chem.”]] Poppy started before whipping his head towards Rosemary in accusation, [#58CBC4 [b “Despite being completely [i abandoned] by my [i best friend]. How could you? I am betrayed! I am Caesar,”]] He flopped down sideways like he was fainting on stage, falling into Keiren’s lap, his arms stretched out and accidentally hit Graves lap which he quickly retracted remembering that the boy didn’t like physical contact. [#58CBC4 [b “Sorry,”]] He said giving a quick glance to Graves in apology while simultaneously showing how fact his behavior was. Poppy quickly resumed his agonized expression, [#58CBC4 [b “I AM CAESAR, being stabbed in the senate. Oh, the cruel sting of betrayal.]]” He peek out at Rosemary before extending a hand, his voice still sounding pitifully sad, [#58CBC4 [b “Hand me a cookie.”]] Once the cookie had been given, he sat up slightly; still leaning into Keiren’s lap, [#58CBC4 [b “Oh and the teacher assigned me as Keiren’s partner. Other than that, nothing really happened.”]]]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Poppy shot a glare at the young witch, [#58cbc4 [b “despite being abandoned by my best friend. How could you? I AM betrayed. I AM Caesar,”]] he wailed, pretending to faint into Keiren’s lap. The ghoul lifted his drink above his head so he wouldn’t spill the hot liquid on the boy. Graves bared his teeth as Poppy’s hands slapped his knee.
[#58cbc4 [b “Sorry,”]] Poppy apologized quickly, his big blue eyes searching the werewolf’s face. Graves tried not to let the surprise cloud his face.
[b [#cc6600 “It’s … okay,”]] Graves mumbled, looking away from the blonde boy.
Poppy swift in his recovery and went back to embodying the roll, [#58cbc4 [b “I AM CAESAR, being stabbed in the senate. Oh, the cruel betrayal.”]] He opened an eye to make sure his audience was enthralled. Rosie was shaking with laughter, tears pricking in her eyes. Poppy demanded payment with an outstretched hand, [#58cbc4 [b “hand me a cookie.”]]
Keiren couldn’t help but follow Rosie’s lead. Laughter erupted from Keiren’s chest. It rumbled in his chest like the engine of an expensive car. Graves stared at the ghoul incredulously like it was out of character for him to be so emotional. That’s because it was. Keiren couldn’t remember the last time he’d laughed, truly belly laughed.
“Yes, class was pretty uneventful other than that,” Keiren agreed, wiping the tears queued in his eye. He wondered if this was what it was like to have a group of friends.
As the minutes turned into an hour, the party cleared the tray of any treats, leaving a graveyard of crumbs. Rosie had collected their empty glasses and returned them to the front of the cafe before returning to them. Keir checked the clock on the wall above the counter, it read 5:43. He knew his familiars were getting restless for his return. It was a feeling that bloomed in his chest, like he was a compass always leading north.
[#d84d54 [b “I hate to cut this short, but I need to get home,”]] Keiren said, almost melancholy. [#d84d54 [b “Thanks for the company,”]] he rose to his feet.
[#524078 [b “Yes, this was fun, We should do this more often,”]] Rosie hummed. She climbed to her feet and stretched. Her white shirt lifted over her rib cage exposing the new tattoo Keiren had noticed before. It was an ancient tree in bloom he didn’t recognize. The design snaked and wrapped around her torso, disappearing up her chest and down into her shorts. Roots grew on her thigh reaching all the way to her canvas shoes. He wondered when she’d got the piece done. It was a work of art. [#524078 [b “Anyone need a ride?”]] She asked, twirling her keys around her middle finger.
[#d84d54 [b “No thank you, I was going to walk Poppy home,”]] Keiren waved a hand dismissively. He glanced at Graves without saying anything. The wolf nodded his head ever so slightly. It was their way of confirming plans for later in the woods. Turning his attention to Kai, he asked, [#d84d54 [b “are you okay getting home?”]]
His brother confirmed his ride and they said their goodbyes. Keiren gazed down at Poppy making sure the boy was ready to leave. Before he could say anything, Rosie handed Poppy a brown paper bag.
[#524078 [b “Here are some empanadas to make up for your death, my dear Caesar,”]] she beamed at him. [#524078 [b “Text me?”]]
He watched as the girl waved to them and retreated to her car with Graves. Once they were gone, Keiren returned his gaze to Poppy. [#d84d54 [b “Thanks for inviting me. I,”]] he hesitated, [#d84d54 [b “don’t get out much.”]]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Poppy was surprised by the rich and joyful laughter that Keiren let out, it was so bright and happy that it felt incongruent with what Poppy had seen from him before. And it appeared that he wasn’t the only one who was surprised by the other boy’s laughter, both Graves and Rosemary seemed to have wonderous expressions on their faces as they looked at the black haired boy. Unlike the two siblings Kai had a face splitting smile in place and a soft look in his eyes as he looked at his brother laughing like it was something precious to him. The brunette could feel the vibrations of each belly shaking laugh travel from Keiren’s body into his own, lightly jostling him as he still leaned against the other boy’s lap.
The group spent the next hour lounging and talking while they slowly devoured the tray of snacks that Kai had ordered. They talked about school and their individual interests and Poppy got a lot of questions about his life in California that he was more than happy to answers because he loved talking about himself. At the end Rosie collected their emptied glasses and politely took them to the counter while Poppy finally sat up, having basically laid down in Keiren’s lap as the time progressed and the conversation went on. He stretched out trying to get a semblance of energy back in his body and dreaded having to contact his mother.
The fact his phone hadn’t gone off even once since school ended was a clear sign that his mother had gotten involved in something and completely forgotten her child; which really wasn’t an abnormal occurrence for them. Typically, Poppy welcomed the fact his mother had difficulty perceiving things and people if they weren’t in front of her as it gave him the freedom to go wherever and do whatever he wanted. But since he hadn’t gotten a vehicle of his own yet it was a bit annoying that he had to manager her.
[#D84D54 [b “I hate to cut this short, but I need to get home,”]] Keiren really did sound regretful to need to leave but it was normal, after all they were students on a weekday, they had responsibilities and homework. [#D84D54 [b “Thanks for the company.”]]
[#524078 [b “Yes, this was fun. We should do this more often,”]] Rosie said as she stood, stretching similarly to how Poppy had done a moment ago. Clearly, they’d all been sitting for a long time. The goth girl pulled keys out of her pocket and twirled them around her finger, [#524078 [b “Anyone need a ride?”]]
It would make sense for Keir to go home with Kai and Poppy was about to take Rosie up on her offer when Keiren spoke, [#D84D54 [b “No thank you. I was going to walk Poppy home.”]] Keiren looked over at his brother who had just stood up and was currently dusting the crumbs from snacking off of his jeans. [#D84D54 [b “Are you okay getting home?”]]
[#EA7E53 [b “Yeah, no problem. I drove my jeep over here from school anyways,”]] Kai said with an assuring smile as he waved off his brother’s worries.
Poppy was almost going to protest; he’d already walked to the café and Keiren had seen exactly how athletic the boy was, which was to say completely unathletic. But ultimately, he was persuaded by how cute Keiren was. He really was a sucker for a pretty face. Rosie came over before the two boys left the café and handed him a paper bag, it had been rolled closed at the top and had a few spots from oil that let him know it was food. [#524078 [b “Here are some empanadas to make up for your death, my dear Caesar,”]] He bowed playfully as he accepted the tribute, [#524078 [b “Text me?”]]
[#58CBC4 [b “Promise,”]] He said, giving her a quick one-armed hug while holding the bag.
Poppy watched her leave with Graves, [#D84D54 [b “Thanks for inviting me.”]] The boy turned to Keiren as he spoke, he seemed to hesitate. [#D84D54 [b “I don’t get out much.”]]
He couldn’t help but laugh lightly. [#58CBC4 [b “Is this the part where I’m supposed to politely lie and say something like [i ‘nonsense I never would have guessed’], ‘cause I totally guessed,”]] Poppy teased lightly as the two left the café and started walking in the general direction of his new home. [#58CBC4 [b “No offense or anything, but you are kinda awkward. In a totally adorable and endearing way,”]] He added quickly realizing that most people wouldn’t like to hear from a person they just met that day that they were awkward; even if he did say ‘no offense’.
[#58CBC4 [b “And I’m sure you have your reasons for not hanging out with people much, but still,”]] He paused trying to figure out the right way to word this so he wouldn’t come off as a complete asshole with no boundaries, [#58CBC4 [b “you seem lonely.”]] An awkward silence fell between the two which Poppy was insanely aware of as they walked. [#58CBC4 [b “Sorry, I totally overstepped. I have trouble not saying things sometimes. I usually hide it better,”]] He admitted truthfully. Normally he was able to hide his perceptions of others by inane chatter or flirting but Poppy was feeling out of his element while talking with Keiren, the boy never seemed to react the way he would expect.
[#58CBC4 [b “Anyways,”]] He quickly changed the subject before another suffocating silence could occur or Keiren could even reply, [#58CBC4 [b “this is me.”]] Poppy gestured at the monotone house just up ahead of them. Immediately Poppy opened the door and gave a small shout, [#58CBC4 [b “I’m back!”]] In reply he heard a faint meow followed by a gradually louder meow that shook with the unmistakable sound of Boba prancing towards him. As the cat turned the corner and became visible Poppy crouched down, tossing his bag down to the floor of the doorway. The fluffy cat began purring even before his owner picked him up and cuddled him up in his arms. Poppy littered a few kisses on top of Boba’s head and side of his cute little face as he turned around to see Keiren. [#58CBC4 [b “This is my cat, Boba,”]] He introduced, still cradling the fluff ball like a baby he moved Boba’s paw like he was waving at Keiren, [#58CBC4 [b “Say hi Boba.”]] Poppy lightly pressed on the soft and squishy paw making the claws extend.
The cradled cat gazed at the person suspiciously, his falling down in a relaxed fashion but slightly thrashing the tip like he was annoyed. Keiren held out his hand to let the feline sniff a bit before Boba seemed to accept it and meowed as if to tell Keiren to pet him. Poppy smiled at them both. [#58CBC4 [b “Well, it’s late. And you have to get home and I have to unpack. So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,”]] The brunette said he stepped back towards his house.
Before completely leaving Keiren behind however he turned back. [#58CBC4 [b “And,”]] Poppy paused giving an uncharacteristically sweet smile with no sense of superficiality, [#58CBC4 [b “thanks for walking me home. It was very 1950’s after school special kinda sweet of you.”]] The sweetness of his smile only served to enhance his teasing, [#58CBC4 [b “’Night Keir.”]]
Poppy closed the door. He managed to pick his bag back up while still holding Boba. The cat meowed at him and Poppy looked down at his baby, [#58CBC4 [b “You think he’s cute? Yeah, me too,”]] Poppy said with a smile on his face and in his voice before pecking the top of the cats head as it meowed again.]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/TDs935U.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Poppy let out a laugh, and eyed the boy, [#58cbc4 [b “Is this the part where I’m supposed to politely lie and say something like ‘nonsense, I never would have guessed.’ because I totally guessed. No offense or anything, but you are kinda awkward. In a totally adorable and endearing way,”]] he said gently. Keiren smiled at the sentiment. His expression was somber and thoughtful. He wasn’t used to being called cute but he thought he could get used to it.
The two headed down the street, passing rows of old houses. An elderly woman sat in a rocking chair on the porch of a grey house. She waved to the boys. Keiren waved back. They rounded the corner and took the path through the park towards the residential area.
[#d84d54 [b “That’s fair,”]] he said, his voice low. [#d84d54 [b “I don’t think it helps that I stick with my kind.”]] Blinking slowly, he parted his lips in surprise. He realized how odd the sentence sounded. [#d84d54 [b “I mean my siblings,”]] he added, [#d84d54 [b “And Graves.”]] They were the most understanding of his situation. Although Graves wasn’t a ghoul, he understood Keiren the most.
[#58cbc4 [b “And I’m sure you have your reasons for not hanging out with people, but still,”]] he was quiet for a moment. [#58cbc4 [b “You seem lonely.”]] Poppy said, looking off into the distance.
Silence hung in the air. Keiren was shocked the boy he’d only just met so openly admitted the ghoul seemed more alone than not. He wouldn’t consider himself lonely, only lonesome. There was a difference, but he couldn’t explain what. He was always lonesome. Unknowable. But maybe he was less unknowable than he liked to pretend. This stranger could see the walls around him clear as day.
[#58cbc4 [b “Sorry, I totally overstepped. I have trouble not saying things sometimes. I usually hide it better,”]] He tried to backpedal. Poppy had overstepped but it didn’t bother Keiren. Waving a hand, Keiren smiled gently.
[#d84d54 [b “No no, it’s fine. I like,”]] he considered his words carefully, [#d84d54 [b “that you speak your mind.”]] It was something he found himself admiring Poppy for even if they’d only met that day. The boy appeared to be so sure of himself, something Keiren couldn’t fathom.
A yowl caught Keiren’s attention. As if to clear the air of the awkward fog that hung between them, a plump cat appeared breaking the boys from their spell. Poppy bent down to scoop up the beast and cradle it in his arms. He introduced the cat as Boba. The feline eyed the newcomer a little too skeptical to appear natural. It blinked slowly at the boy as if to let him know he was welcome.
Keiren offered a hand and Boba sniffed it warily before tilting his head to compliance. Patting it gently, he snaked a knuckle under his chin and scratched. A rumbling purr erupted in the cat’s chest. The boys chatted a few moments before saying their goodbyes. [#58cbc4 [b “Well, it’s late. And you have to get home and I have to unpack. So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,”]] Poppy said, padding slowly towards his house. He opened the door and stepped in. Standing in the doorway, he grinned at Keir, [#58cbc4 [b “thanks for walking me home. It was very '1950’s after school special kinda sweet of you, ’Night Keir.”]] [#d84d54 [b “Goodnight, Poppy,”]] Keiren replied, his eyes softening.
Keiren waved goodbye to the ash haired boy and headed back towards the main road. When the house was out of sight, the ghoul slipped into the thick forest and shifted into a dark canine. His midnight fur blended in with the dense wood. Lifting his head towards the canopy of leaves overhead, he let out a long howl. A few moments passed before three echoes sounded from the north. He bounded towards the sound.
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/IZd53sG.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Rosie flopped onto her bed with a thud. The carrion bird that had been perched on her shoulder evacuated before the girl fell and circled overhead squawking loudly. Letting out an exasperated sigh, she rolled over onto her stomach. She retrieved the small remote on her nightstand and filtered through the settings of her colored LED lights that lined the area of her ceiling. Settling on a soft white, she surveyed her room. A large wolf slept soundlessly at the foot of her bed. The white beast was a stark contrast against midnight blue astrology themed comforter.
Her grey walls were plastered with prints, scraps of paper, and works of art. Every corner was filled with potted plants or a place for her raven to perch. Atlas had found refuge on a long, dried maple branch that hung from the ceiling, bound in twine. He watched his human carefully to make sure she was going to stay in one place before joining her on the bed. Nesting in the blanket in front of her, he picked at her messy hair with his beak. She gently massaged the feathers between his shoulder blades and pulled out her phone.
[#524078 [b “I need updates asap. I am DYING TO KNOW!!!”]] She sent a quick text to Poppy before drafting a message to Kai. She typed several messages all more cringe than the one before. Since finding out Kai could hear their conversation at lunch, she had no idea how to talk to her friend. But she needed to go back to some sort of normal with him even if he knew she was crushing on him. [#524078 [b “Heyy, thanks for buying us snacks today. I had a lot of fun. We need to do it more often.”]] She settled on something simple and sent it. Snapping a picture of Graves fast asleep, she sent it to Kai with another message that read, [#524078 [b “I wonder what those two do in the woods. He always comes back tired af.”]]
Smiling, she set her phone down on the bed next to her and scooped up her raven. He cawed in protest before realizing she wanted to cuddle. She cradled the bird in her arms and cooed compliments to him softly. He was her favorite thing in the world. Graves often made fun of the witch for her weird behavior with her familiar but she didn’t care. Familiars shared a lifeline with their masters. As long as the master lived, the familiar did too. They shared feelings and memories along with their senses. It wasn’t something she could easily explain to her brother. Essentially, her soul had been split into two vessels.
Her phone lit up beside her. Reaching for it with one hand, she read Poppy’s response. Squealing, she felt like she was experiencing the quintessential teenage experience with her new best friend.
[#524078 [b “We should have a slumber party at my house this weekend?? We could invite the boys too and have a game night or something. I have plenty of room at my house,”]] she schemed.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/cMduC1L.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Walking through the house he found his mother meticulously arranging her study, she had clearly spent more time on this area than on the living room which only had a few things unpacked and sorted away. Her long hair was pulled back into a low and messy bun of convenience and she was wearing sweatpants with a tank top that gave a comfortable but attractive appearance to the woman. Like Poppy, Lilia wasn’t excessively tall only standing at 5’4” though she was known to say she was 5’5” so the young man watched his mother stand precariously on a stool to put some of her books up on the tallest shelf. Out of curtesy and concern that the woman might fall and crack her head open like an egg, Poppy waited till she stepped down before clearing his throat.
He'd learned years ago that it was better for him to clearly announce his presence by making some kind of noise before speaking to her, she would get startled otherwise. As Lilia turned around towards the noise, her shoulders tense from the interruption, Poppy spoke, [#58CBC4 [b “I’m back.”]]
[#0091EA [b “Schools out already?”]] She questioned in confusion. He couldn’t help the annoyance he felt as she reached out to a tabletop clock to check to the time; sure, he hadn’t messaged her at three to remind her but it still stung that he had been so completely forgotten.
[#58CBC4 [b “Yeah, it got out nearly two and half hours ago mom,”]] He said, putting Boba down on the ground and crossing his arms. [#58CBC4 [b “I went out with friends and one of them walked me home,”]] He explained before she could ask him any questions. [#58CBC4 [b “Let’s get me a car this weekend, it’ll be better for both of us.”]] He couldn’t hide the edge to his voice.
Fortunately, Lilia was used to her son acting this way so she didn’t seem to take it to heart, [#0091EA [b “Alright. We’ll go into the city on Sunday.”]] She agreed.
Poppy nodded, [#58CBC4 [b “Don’t forget to eat something,”]] he added on as he began departing from the doorway. [#58CBC4 [b “It’s already past six.”]] Having snacked at the café he wasn’t particularly hungry; he’d go down later and make a lunch for school tomorrow but for now he just wanted to lie on his bed and scream into a pillow. He hated having these kinds of talks with his mother, he knew she wasn’t at fault for how she thought and behaved but it didn’t help that she constantly made him feel unimportant and forgotten.
Boba followed him back to the room and immediately jumped onto the bed rolling over to show off his pristine and very pettable belly while Poppy closed the door. Sighing he fell down on the bed next to his adorable, fluffy baby and reached out to gently stroke the soft fur while Boba began to purr loudly. After another sigh Poppy pulled out his cell phone and plugged it in so he could text Rosemary like he promised. Opening up his messenger app he saw she had already texted him.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#524078 I need updates asap. I am DYING TO KNOW!!! ]]]]
He chuckled, feeling his mood improve already as he typed out a reply.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58cbc4 I just got back to my room. Keir walked me home and I introduced him to Boba (the furball you met the other day). He was very cute and very sweet and I really want him to top me. ]]]]
Poppy didn’t even blush or feel remotely bad about what he typed out about the boy since it was all true. And it didn’t take long before Rosemary sent him a reply.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#524078 We should have a slumber party at my house this weekend?? We could invite the boys too and have a game night or something. I have plenty of room at my house.]]]]
Sleeping over and hanging out with Rosemary definitely sounded better than staying at his place and dreading and consistently putting off unpacking his stuff so he agreed easily.
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58cbc4 Inviting the boys. How scandalous. Count me in. Admit it, you just want to invite Kai over so you can ogle his tanned muscles.]]]]
He teased while he continued typing:
[font "courier new" [size13 [b [#58cbc4 Can’t say I blame you tho. He’s a grade A prime roast. And I don’t even eat meat. Except for y’know… MEAT.]]]] ]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/xP13m6A.jpg]] [center [size15 [abel Rosie had propped herself up on her elbows and made a face at her phone. Her raven squawked angrily as he was jostled from his sleep. He circled overhead, the flapping of his wings caused the posters on the wall to cling to their push pins for dear life. The carrion did one last lap for good measure to make sure he got his point across before taking refuge on a perch.
Graves watched the whole show with disinterest. He averted his bored gaze to his sister. [b [#cc6600 “What did the fruit say to get your undies in a twist?”]] He asked dryly. His sister’s eyes snapped to attention, stabbing him like daggers. Graves made a point to pretend to be hurt by her expression.
[b [#524078 “Graves, Fruit is a slur,”]] she scoffed. [b [#cc6600 “No, it’s not. You’re just sensitive. Besides, I’m right. Poppy is a [i fruit].”]] Rosie turned her nose up at him but didn’t argue. [b [#524078 “He said I was inviting Kai over just so I could ogle at his muscles. [i I do not ogle.] I simply look with respect,”]] she clarified, her cheeks slightly pink at the sheer mention of the accusation. Graves laughed through his nose, [b [#cc6600 “You ogle.”]]
His sister armed herself with a pillow and smacked him with it. The motion justified a shriek from Atlas. Graves narrowed his eyes at Rosie, she was declaring war. Knowing what she had done, she began to cower. Graves stole her weapon and began beating her with it [i playfully.] Shrill laughter erupted from the girl as the werewolf tackled her. She tried to clamber away from him, but he was faster and stronger and she knew it.
[b [#524078 “Uncle! Uncle!”]] She cried between laughs.
Graves released the girl and slumped on the bed next to her and let out a sigh. He flipped onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. In moments like this, he found himself forgetting about his life before Rosie. Guilt clutched at his heart like a cage. He was a prisoner of his past and the thought of escaping filled him with shame. What had his father’s face looked like again? His eyes were blue. Or were they amber like his sons? When he looked in the mirror, he thought maybe there were reminiscences of Malcolm Graves in his dastard child.
Shaking his head, he rolled on his side to stare at Rosie. He tucked his arm under his head and nestled his temple into the crook of his elbow. [b [#cc6600 “What do the cards say?”]] He asked quietly.
Rosie lifted her eyes to meet his, [b [#524078 “About you or in general?”]]
[b [#cc6600 “Both I guess,”]] he admitted. He felt like his life was hurtling through time and he was just along for the ride. It couldn’t hurt to ask for help.
Crawling onto her knees, Rosie reached for her tarot cards and handed them to Graves. He took them from her and began to shuffle. He knew the drill. Moving to sit up, he crossed his legs and retrieved three cards from the deck. He splayed them out on the bed sheet and handed Rosie the deck.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/zJ2hXCH.jpg]] Rosie had been surprised Graves asked for a reading. He recognized her abilities and more than believed her, but he was the type to let the future come naturally. He wasn’t one to mess with forces beyond his control. Rosie on the other hand loved magic. She loved how the energy of life pulled and pushed her in every direction in each moment. At one point she’d explained to him that it was like she was surrounded by a million pulsing strings and if she reached out and grabbed one, it opened her mind to endlessness. He’d looked at her like she was crazy.
The witch shuffled the cards and selected three more cards so they had six in total between them. She turned the cards over in her hands before deciding on placement. Flipping the cards over, she arranged them in a diamond shape. Before her sat the Fool, the Six of Cups, and the Lovers in the top triangle. In the bottom triangle was the High Priestess, Death, and the Ace of Cups.
Usually, with psychic readings, most witches didn’t deal in specifics. The rules did not apply to Rosie. Her fae blood amplified her abilities in a way others couldn’t compare. The more she practices, the stronger she would become.
Graves eyed the spread. He’d picked up a little on tarot but he still wasn’t exactly sure how to interpret the images. He knew not to be scared away by the Fool and Death. Not everything was literal when it came to the cards.
[b [#524078 “Ugh, the cards are so rude sometimes,”]] she mumbled. [b [#524078 “Okay, the Six of Cups is telling me you’re still haunted by your past but the Fool is saying you’ve been given a new beginning. Do not waste it Everrett Graves. The Lovers indicate you have some genuine connections in your life. You are worthy of love. Also a lover might be coming your way.”]]
She could tell the last part was hard for Graves to hear. Every time she’d read his cards or interpreted his energy lines, it’d always been a tangled mass of complexity. She wanted desperately to unpack his soul.
[b [#524078 “Also it says you should get therapy,”]] she added. [b [#cc6600 “Shut up, it does not!”]] Graves barked. His sister had been urging him to get professional help for quite some time and he wasn’t sure if he was ready for someone to step into his darkness. [b [#524078 “Yes it does,”]] she flipped over another card and showed it to him. It was the Chariot. A shiver shot up his spine. He never got used to her powers.
[b [#cc6600 “Fine, I’ll think about it.”]] [b [#524078 “Really?”]] She asked, unable to hide her surprise. [b [#cc6600 “Yes, now shut up about it. What do the other cards say?”]] He grumbled.
Rosie frowned at the first card of her pyramid. The High Priestess stared back at her. She swore it wore her face. Paired with death, whom she’d seen twice this week, made her stomach turn. “I think the cards are trying to tell me I’m not reaching my full potential and that I’m childish.”
[b [#cc6600 “Projecting much?”]] Graves asked.
[b [#524078 “No, well maybe. But I mean, this card is me,”]] she pointed to the High Priestess. Graves saw the uncanniness and shivered again. [b [#524078 “And with the Ace of Wands, it’s telling me I need to grow. I’m only in high school though so I feel like I can’t be that far off maturity-wise.”]] She trailed off. She needed to meditate and scry on it.
[b [#cc6600 “I think you're where you’re supposed to be,”]] Graves said gently. He knew she was young as far as immortal beings went. He was several decades older than her but most of the time didn’t feel like it. [b [#cc6600 “Give it time.”]] Rosie met his eyes and nodded. She returned her cards to her deck and put them away. [b [#cc6600 “Want to sneak out?”]] Graves asked. [b [#524078 “We don’t have to sneak out, it’s a Friday,”]] Rosie corrected him. [b [#cc6600 “It’s more fun to pretend we have to.”]] He flicked her forehead with his index finger and thumb. [b [#524078 “Yeah, okay. Where are we going?”]] She rubbed her forehead and scowled at him. [b [#cc6600 “The woods.”]]
Smiling, Rosie sent out a text to the group chat she’d made with the Poppy and the Hemlocks boys. She gave the details of the slumber party and extended the invitations to everyone’s parents for an early dinner party at the farm. When she was finished, she pulled on her shoes, called for her raven, and followed Graves out.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/US1bB4n.jpeg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel It was a quiet Friday night in the Hemlock household. Their father, Bain, was working late that day so it was only Nikola and the children at home. Nikola was curled up in a chair, beneath a knitted blanket reading a novel that Viktor didn’t immediately recognize while the blonde ghoul was sat on the couch absently brushing and braiding his own long hair while Juliet was watching some mind numbing children’s cartoon about a child vampire. At least it wasn’t one that asked the audience questions. Kai was upstairs taking a much needed shower to get off all the residual grease which had been on him when he got home from working on that old car or whatever he was currently wasting his time with after school.
Keiren was in the kitchen pouring water out for his two familiars. The dark haired ghoul had been shockingly well behaved these past few days. Unlike earlier this week Viktor didn’t have to guilt and shame him in front of their mother in order to get him to attend school. Instead, he attended of his own volition and much to the joy of their mother who felt he was really making and effort to adjust to living amongst humans. Even Viktor couldn’t bring himself to burst her rose tinted bubble by mentioned that his reasoning for attending school was hardly for that reason. Who knew that all it would take to get his antisocial younger brother to seriously attend school was a flirty brunette?
The sound of water from upstairs dispersed and after a few minutes Viktor could hear the sound of Kai coming down the stairs, he would have heard it better if Juliet wasn’t singing along to the theme song of the show. Kai was drying of his short white hair with a towel and had changed into a pair of clean blue jeans and a white V-neck. With his tanned skin and wet hair, he looked all the more like someone who should be living near a warm beach instead of the cold damp woods of the northeast. [#EA7E53 [b “Hey, Vik do you have plans?”]]
Viktor squinted suspiciously at his brother as he tied the end of his braid. His eyes showed a clear expression of weighing his options of annoyance between agreeing with whatever it was his little brother was planning or staying at home and watching cartoons with his little sister. [#901C3A [b “Why?”]] He finally relented, not pleased by the immediate brightening of Kai’s expression.
[#EA7E53 [b “Well, I got a text from Rosie-”]]
[#901C3A [b “Congratulations?”]] Viktor interrupted managing to sound both teasing and annoyed at the same time.
[#EA7E53 [b “I got a text from Rosie and Graves asking Keir and I to hand out with them and that new kid, Poppy, in the woods,”]] Kai obviously hadn’t been deterred by Viktor’s interruption and continued on with what he had been trying to say earlier. [#EA7E53 [b “If you’re not doing anything,”]] The older ghoul saw how his brother quickly glanced at Juliet and the television in succession as if to imply that Viktor was not, in fact, doing anything, [#EA7E53 [b “maybe you’d like to come along. She also said something about having a sleepover after so, do you want to come?”]]
[#F46CB3 [b “I want to!”]] Juliet barked, having been listening to her brothers’ conversation.
[#73264D [b “No, no, darling,”]] Nikola soothed, gracefully standing up and walking towards the couch towards her daughter. She sunk down on Juliet’s other side and gently patted her head, [#73264D [b “Let your brothers go out with their friends, you and I can stay and play together.”]] Juliet pouted but seemed to reluctantly accept that she wouldn’t be allowed to go out. Nikola looked up and Viktor almost flinched at her adoring gaze knowing what was about to happen, [#73264D [b “You should go Viktor, you hardly ever go out these days.”]] [i ‘These days’] being whenever he was in Rosault Bay.
Viktor sighed, having been guilted in a similar manner to how they had convinced Keiren to attend school earlier that week, [#901C3A [b “Alright, Momma.”]] He got up and kissed her on the cheek before dipping down and giving a similar kiss to Juliet but on the crown of her head instead of her cheek. He turned to Kai, his brother cheekily leaned forward presenting his cheek as if he was asking for a kiss as well only to receive a scowl, [#901C3A [b “I’ll grab my coat. You grab Keir.”]]
Using his unnatural speed, he was at his room in a flash. He didn’t actually need a coat; he’d be perfectly comfortable without one since he barely felt temperature anymore but there were certain ‘human’ actions which it helped to keep. The ghoul pulled a black blouson jacket out from his closet and slid it on. He was dressed in all dark colors, beneath the jacket was a black turtleneck which made his neck look long and with his pale blonde hair braided and resting over his right shoulder made him look almost illuminated in the dark night. His jeans weren’t black but instead a dark indigo that could almost pass for it and he wore simple black hiking shoes. The shoes, similarly to the jacket, were something he didn’t need to maneuver in the woods with grace but he was more attuned to the things that humans would notice so he preferred to err on the side of caution. Viktor briefly preened in the mirror, combing through the few strands of his pale hair that weren’t tied in his braid and instead framed his face.
Viktor didn’t bother grabbing his car keys since they were going to meet up with Rosemary Alcombright, whose witch heritage meant she was aware of their family’s less than human status and the little dog Graves the witch had adopted as her brother. Thus, it would be fine for them to merely use their supernatural abilities to locate the two for whatever shenanigans the pair had planned for the evening. The last member of the group was, of course, the new resident to their quaint town; Poppy. Viktor wasn’t worried about Poppy catching them using their powers though, as ghouls they could easily spot a human in the woods and would be able to slow their speeds and avoid suspicion. Besides he would bet money the human wouldn’t be the first to wherever it was they were to meet. Not only was he new in town but from what Viktor had briefly seen of the boy at lunch he didn’t seem the type to go exploring woods of his own initiative and likely wouldn’t be too skilled at navigating one, let alone navigating at night.
Going back downstairs he saw his two brother’s waiting by the door, Kai was animated as always while Keiren seemed anxious to leave. Viktor sighed internally as he prepared himself to take his brothers out to meet their respective crushes. If nothing else he could at least garner amusement from watching Keiren be even more awkward than usual and Kai be flustered with his newly acquired knowledge that Rosemary held affection for him.
[center [size18 [#901C3A [b ✘]]]] It wasn’t difficult for the trio to locate the pair of Alcombrights in the woods. Keiren was so familiar with the woods he could practically navigate the whole of it blindfolded and drunk. Kai had given them both an energetic greeting while Keiren mainly greeted Graves whom he seemed more comfortable. Unsurprisingly Keiren had glanced about for Poppy despite knowing well the boy had not yet arrived. In fact, Viktor was surprised that the witch and lycanthrope had left a helpless human to locate them on his own. He could easily get himself hurt trying to reach unfamiliar areas.
Fortunately, it seemed those worried were for naught as Viktor finally heard the sounds of an approaching individual. When the boy finally neared them, Viktor noticed that he was walking quite leisurely. As if he was meeting friends at the mall rather than the reality of having been called the woods by a small group of supernatural beings more than capable of killing him. Of course, the boy didn’t know they were supernatural but the fact he only seemed mildly annoyed at having to walk around in the woods in the dark was still interesting. The brunette was wearing the same outfit he’d been in at school. High waisted black shorts that sat high on his legs and seemed to follow the natural line of where the hip met the leg, showing off the long legs and pale skin of his thighs which weren’t covered by his thigh-high grey socks. His shirt was a basic white t-shirt with short sleeves which he had tucked loosely into the shorts. The interesting thing of the shirt was the print; it had a full passage from Oscar Wilde’s [i “The Picture of Dorian Gray”] and something about the boy made Viktor feel that he wouldn’t wear such a thing without fully understanding its meaning and having read the original. The black lace up, heeled boots on the outfit seemed stylish but a bit impractical for traipsing about the woods at night.
His accessories of a simple black choker and silver chain rings which had ornamental crosses and what appeared to be a small ivory cameo of a saint really made the look feel like modern gothic, in the more traditional use fo the word. The boy’s makeup was smokey with red tinting underneath the eyes making them look almost red rimmed and teary and his lips were a glossy red that made him look pale and doll like. His soft ashy brown hair was especially curly and soft looking as he walked up towards them all.
Viktor didn’t miss the way Keiren’s stormy eyes fell on the boy immediately like a wolf watching a doe as soon as the boy approached. Of course, Poppy was too busy stepping over the roots of a tree to notice the starving glance the ghoul was giving him. Once he was close enough, the boy lowered his phone which he had been using as a flashlight, [#58CBC4 [b “Rosie, when you said sleepover, I was picturing more pillows and gossip, and [i possibly] some unsupervised, underage drinking and less,”]] The brunette paused and gave the environment a passing glance full of judgement, [#58CBC4 [b “[i murder woods]. I swear to God if this is some [i ‘Cabin in the Woods’] shit I’m going to complain.”]]
[#901C3A [b “You’re already complaining,”]] Viktor pointed out with an amused grin.
[#58CBC4 [b “I will complain [i more].”]] Oh, Viktor did like this human. They were rather fun. Like a pleasantly adorable pet. Additionally, the boy didn’t seem at all put off speaking to Viktor for the first time as if they were already familiar. ]]]
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