Spring Romance

May 6, 2010

 The blonde boy’s path to school took him through the park, which was surrounded by a fairly decorative fence with sturdy wooden gates. During parts of the year, someone or other let their flock of sheep graze there, and the fence and gates were there to make sure the sheep stayed. He’d walked that way seven days a week since he and his mothers had first moved to the medium-sized town, and returned the same path just as often, once the school day was done.

Never before had he ran into someone else from his school, however, and especially not the wyvern girl he’d been shyly studying from behind his long bangs for the last few months. She dangled her tail leisurely, sitting securely on the top of the gate and leaning just a little bit on one hand.

“Hi. You’ve been looking at me.” She smiled at him; she was stating fact, not attempting to confront him.

“I-I-I…” He found himself unable to reply, just stood there staring dumbly at her and trying way too hard to force something intelligible across his lips.

She giggled — was that how laughing angels might sound? — and leaned forward, reached out and traced the line of his jaw with a clawtip. “You’re cute.”

He felt his cheeks and ears heat up, had to count slowly to ten to himself before he started to come to.

“Would you like to carry my bag?”

He nodded, took the book bag she handed to him, and hung it from his shoulder. It was at least as heavy as his own, and he was not particularly strong, so it took a bit of willpower to stay straight under their combined weight. She opened the gate for him, and they walked together through the park in silence. The boy could hardly believe his luck; the girl he’d been looking at was walking with him, he was carrying her bag, and she’d called him cute!

It might not be at the top of the list of things he’d have liked to be called, but it still felt nice.

When they reached the other end of the park, she opened the gate again, and once they were both through it and it was closed behind them, she stood there looking at him. Seconds passed, his cheeks heated up again. Then she leaned over and took her bag, giving him a small peck on the cheek, and skipped across the street and in between a pair of buildings to the schoolyard.

For a few moments he remained where he was, stunned, then he followed her. When he spotted her again she was standing with her friends in a corner, talking about something or other.

Well, if he was lucky, he might meet her again on his way to school. He touched his cheek. Maybe… Maybe she’d even let him kiss her back?

The next day, he made himself ready for school in such a hurry his mothers could hardly believe their eyes. While he did always get himself out of bed and off to school on time, it tended to be slow progress. Not so this morning; he was standing at the front door with his bag on his back at least half an hour early, keeping a wary eye on the doorway to the kitchen as he kissed his Bonded goodbye. If his mothers caught them, they’d both get an earful.

Then, with his hand on the door handle, he called out. “I’m off to school now! Bye!” Without waiting for an answer he slunk out onto the porch, and then jogged towards the park.

She wasn’t by the gate yet, but he hadn’t expected her to be. He felt jittery as he sat down on the pavement, back leaning against a fencepost, waiting for the girl to show up.

Few people were out on the streets this early. A couple of old people walking their dogs, a stressed businessman on a bicycle, and an ircaan with a pair of packs slung across its narrow shoulders passed by first going to, then from, the small 24-hour corner store further down the street.

He waited at the gate until he was almost certainly going to be late, then ran to school with a heavy lump in his stomach. He didn’t have time to look for her in the schoolyard, hurrying to his morning class in the hopes of beating the teacher there.

She didn’t show up the next day, or the next, either. On the fourth day, he was no longer quite so eager to get dressed in the morning, nor was he terribly surprised when the girl didn’t show. Disappointed, certainly. But not surprised.

The lump in his stomach was cold and heavy as he reluctantly wandered through the park alone, kicking a rock in front of him. When he arrived at school the yard was empty, and he felt his heart speed up — not from excitement, but out of dread — as he realized he was late and would have to enter the classroom, interrupting the lesson, in front of all of his classmates. Clutching tightly onto the shoulder straps of his bag, he entered the school building, dragging his feet until he stood outside the classroom door and could no longer put off the inevitable.

His hand shook as he knocked on the door.

A short while passed as he waited for someone to open it, growing more nervous with each passing moment. By the time his teacher — a short woman with round glasses who just smiled and waved him in when she saw him — opened the door, he was already starting to feel faint, the floor no longer seeming quite steady. When he entered, the sound of his classmates’ hushed voices seemed to drown out all else. He knew they weren’t really all talking about him, but he couldn’t seem to convince himself. Vertigo. He gasped and clutched the doorframe, trying to will himself not to faint. He’d done so well since they’d moved here, kept attention off himself to stave off these panicked reactions.

“Soeman?” his teacher asked, laying a hand on his shoulder. “Are you feeling quite well?”

He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to answer, what would be the correct answer. Was Anli in his head, could she give him a hint?


:No.: she replied, simply. :You’re not feeling well.: She waited for him to follow her prompting, to parrot the answer she’d supplied him with, but his voice wasn’t cooperating, getting stuck on the first syllable. Someone laughed — were they laughing at him? :Just shake your hea–:

He couldn’t hear Anli anymore, couldn’t see anything, couldn’t–

When he came to, he was lying down. It felt odd, his feet were higher than his head, and he didn’t seem to have a pillow. He opened his eyes, blinking against the light in the room, and rose on one elbow. White walls, a poster with black block letters on it for testing eyesight, another poster about the importance of brushing one’s teeth. Someone must’ve carried him to the school nurse, who walked over when she noticed he had moved.

“Are you feeling better now? You gave your teacher quite a scare, you know.”

He nodded, slowly.

“Has this happened before?”

He nodded again.

The nurse, a dark-haired woman with a horse-like face and kind eyes, smiled. “Don’t talk much, do you?”

He shook his head, sat up. No dizziness. “C-c-can I g-go b-b-b-back…?”

“We called your mother and she should be here shortly. You just rest while we wait for her.”

He wanted to protest, tell her that he was fine, but he knew better than to try. He probably wouldn’t have believed himself, the way he stuttered. Even though, really, he was fine now.

When Malena Fir arrived maybe ten minutes later, her son was sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest on the stuffed chair that stood in one corner of the nurse’s office. He looked up at her, then quickly hid behind his bangs again. “Hi m-mum.”

She touched his forehead, brushing his bangs out of his face, then turned to the nurse, her palm resting on his upper back. “Sorry for the trouble; we should have made it more clear to Ms. Fletcher that these things happen sometimes; Soeman is a very shy boy. Walking into the classroom late in front of all of his classmates must have been too much for him.”

He was standing in line in the cafeteria, just ahead of one of his few friends, waiting for his turn to show his lunch card and be given a serving of whatever passed for the day’s meal. He and Brynn didn’t speak — while he didn’t do too badly when it was just the two of them, his stuttering more than got in the way when they were among so many others.

Someone tapped his shoulder, and he turned around, expecting anything but the sight that met him. That girl from the park gate was standing there, smiling at him.

“Hi! I heard you fainted this morning. Are you alright?”

He nodded, grateful that she’d picked a yes-or-no question to ask him, saving him from making a fool of himself.

“Umm… This is so embarrassing to ask, but… I forgot my lunch card. Do you think you could loan me some cash to get something at the corner store?”

Once again he nodded, dug deep in his pocket and found a few wrinkled notes. His face had long since turned red when he handed them over to her, shaking his head when she said something about paying him back the next day. She was worth buying a lunch for. If only he’d been a bit less shy, he might have dared ask her to eat something with him, then. The thought was oddly exciting.

“Who was that?”

He looked at his friend and shrugged. He didn’t really know who she was, after all, just that she was on his mind a lot of the time lately. They continued into the lunch room as the line moved, got their food, and sat down to eat it. Try as he might, Soeman didn’t manage to spot the wyvern girl any more that day. It was as though she vanished into thin air whenever he consciously tried looking for her.

The next morning the girl did show up at the gate, and once again he carried her bag through the park. This time he didn’t get a kiss, but she ruffled his hair affectionately before hurrying off to meet her friends. There was nothing disappointing about that — he was glad to have her attention, and that was all that mattered.

Once again he displayed newfound enthusiasm for getting ready in the morning, and when the weekend arrived he was short-tempered and restless, only stopping his pacing for Anli. The two of them spent many hours in his room, and each time they went in there he made sure the door was carefully locked. They didn’t need his mothers walking in on them and throwing a fit again.

Over the course of the next several weeks, he would wait at the park gate for the girl, who’d since told him her name was Re!ia, and she started showing up more often, and every so often, earlier. He gladly carried her bag for her, pretending like the weight didn’t bother him, and even managed to give her a few monosyllabic answers to questions. Any more than that and he’d still lock up, stuttering so badly even he himself lost track of what he was saying. When they reached the gate at the other end of the park she’d caress his cheek, ruffle his hair, or give him a quick peck like she had that first day, before going off on her own.

He lived for those moments, started dreading the approach of each weekend, while he could feel his Bonded longing for them. She was still acting her normal cheerful self during the weeks, but he could sense that part of her was just going through the motions. Whatever Anli’s doubts were, though, they seemed to disappear when the two of them snuck off to spend private time together.

Just him and Anli, behind locked doors, her springy hind legs planted wide and her tail eagerly in the air. He could lose himself in that view if it wasn’t also the start of more physical displays of affection.

But his mind still never quite left Re!ia.

“Soeman,” the wyvern asked one morning when she’d met him early at the gate. They had at least twenty minutes spare before they needed to be at school. “Would you like to kiss me?”

He almost dropped her bag, dumbstruck, and felt his face heat up. His heart was beating hard when he turned to her and nodded, slowly, barely noticeably. Had she not had so much time to learn to read his body language, she might have missed it. As things stood, she pulled him off the path, into a stand of lilac bushes, and pressed her lips to his.

At first, he only hesitantly attempted to return the kiss, but when she didn’t falter, he grew more eager, while still letting her remain in control. And she undoubtedly took control of the situation; without him realizing quite how it happened, she guided one of his hands up under her shirt, onto her flat chest.

His fingers brushed over the almost invisible slit in her skin, and he felt a shudder go through her body as her hot breath washed over his lips. Then, the moment passed, and he withdrew, shy as ever and blushing harder than he had in a long time.

As their trips to the lilacs grew more frequent, so did the instances of her forgetting her lunch card, or any other number of little things Soeman could possibly do for her, and she certainly wasn’t shy of asking. He always declined any kind of repayment, even when he found himself sneaking the key to his money box from his mother’s desk drawer. It was still his money, even if it was supposed to stay in the money bank, wasn’t it?

Later that spring, she guided his shivering hand into her pants there in the stand of strongly-smelling flowery shrubs, and not long after that, she encouraged him to cut classes — just this once — to go further into the park with her. There, out of sight from anyone but the sheep with their lambs, she pressed close to him, kissed him, and asked him to make love to her.

And who was he to say no, really?

Their relationship, such as it was, lasted through the spring. Graduation was approaching quickly, and with it the end-of-year dance. Around that time, Re!ia started showing up in the mornings less frequently, offering no explanation when she did show up — not that he would have asked. It did make the very idea of asking her to the dance with him even more daunting than it had been from the get-go; it took him a week to even work up the courage to try.

“R-r-rekya? D-d-do you-”

“Oh, look, the girls are waiting for me, how sweet of them. I’ll see you later.” And she was off, just like that.

Granted, he’d been speaking slowly, he knew that. He couldn’t help it. It was obvious he needed to get his point across faster. No matter how much he rehearsed he wouldn’t be able to voice the question without stuttering, so he spent his first class period carefully composing a note. His handwriting, some kind of semi-cursive that would by most be labeled as feminine, slanted ever so slightly backwards, with clear space between one word and next, and the lines were thin, almost fragile-looking, as though he was afraid of making a lasting mark on the page.

When he found her in the school yard during lunch break, she was standing together with one of her friends and a male wyvern he didn’t think he’d seen around before. He’d never approached her when she’d not been on her own before, guessing that she wouldn’t appreciate it, but now all he was going to do was hand over a note, and she didn’t seem terribly busy.

His face was red, and he made more of an effort to hide behind his bangs than usual when he held out the neatly folded piece of paper towards her. She took it, as silent as he was, and unfolded it slowly, reading his simple request with a half-smile on her face.

Then, she held the paper out at arm’s length and, slowly, ripped it in half.

He bit his lip, looked at her.

“Oh, you didn’t really think I liked you, did you?” When he hesitantly nodded, her laughter had nothing angelic about it. “That’s precious.”

The male wyvern walked up next to her, laid an arm possessively around her waist. With something best described as a purr, she leaned into him, nuzzling affectionately at his chest. “I just needed you to teach this here dumbass a lesson about cheating on me. I think he’s learned his lesson, so I’m done with you.”

Gravel scratched against pavement, someone came up behind Soeman, nudged his shoulder. “Hey, you coming?” Brynn. He didn’t respond, just stood there chewing on his lip and staring in disbelief. He really had thought she fancied him; she’d acted as though she did. Or so he’d thought.

“What’d you do to Soeman?” the half-faerie growled, standing as tall as he could in front of the pair of wyverns.

“Nothing that’s any of your business, halfbreed,” Re!ia replied, her toe claws flexing.

“He’s my friend, I’m making it my business.”

Somehow, Soeman managed to force himself to move again, seized hold of Brynn’s sleeve, and turned to leave. They could be better than that. His friend resisted a few moments, then fell in next to him, pointed ears still flattened.

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