Thursday 12/19/2250 – By Rebecca Green

Gwen knocked two times, her heart in her throat as she did so. In her hands she held a small felt bag, light blue with a flowered pattern on the front. She didn’t know what she was going to say when the door opened, but she also tried not to think too much on it, or she might not do it at all.

To say she felt bad was an understatement; Gwen knew that lashing out against her sister had been uncalled for and unfair. She couldn’t even explain herself, not really. There was no rational explanation other than that she had been upset and the only way she could express that was through anger, and Aelita had been the only one around she could be angry with. And her sister had paid the price for it.

She was tired of being angry. It had been lonely, she’d never had very many friends in the first place and the couple she had gained over the past few years at the academy hadn’t bothered to keep contact as she became bitter. Art hadn’t made her feel any better, it was too close to Dad, but Blackhall hadn’t let her burn those stupid pictures like she’d wanted to. Though, while she would never admit it, she was kind of relieved that she still had the book stuffed in the depths under her bed, despite its missing pages.

In the midst of her thoughts, the door opened and Gwen froze. A flicker of worry that it would be Dora who answered instead shot through her. God, that would be horrible and awkward, she could only imagine the selkie’s excitement to see her around, her insistence that this was what Aelita had been waiting for, however right she was.

Instead, it was Aelita herself. The tall swan maiden was holding a needle and thread, the beginnings of an eye mask held between her teeth. Her eyes fell on her younger sister and the mask slipped from her lips to the ground as she squealed, “Gwen!”

Gwen tensed as the girl lurched forward to hug her sister, giving an ‘Ow!’ as the end of her needle jabbed into her arm.

“Sorry!” Aelita apologized, pulling back with a grin on her face as she danced backward to set her supplies on her side table. “I’m so happy to see you! What’s up?”

Gwen shifted between her feet, her face burning. “Um- nothing. I just wanted to make sure you were… okay.” That was a lame excuse, but Aelita had taken a tumble from the stage less than a week before. It was a bit of a late visit, but Gwen couldn’t bring herself to come any earlier.

Aelita waved a hand dismissively, “Peachy. I wasn’t even bleeding or anything, J’Dvouir stuffed me full of crackers and confined me to a bed for the night. I’m still kind of tired, but the semester is almost over and then I have all of winter break to hibernate.” She tilted her head in curiosity, pointedly looking toward the bag, “What’s in there?”

Shrugging it off her shoulder, Gwen held it with one hand, her other digging inside and pulling out the wooden scroll, a piece of Aelita’s violin. “I, uh, got this after it fell.”

Eyes wide, Aelita lurched forward, grabbing the scroll and rocking back on her feet to hold it delicately between her hands. Her fingers light to the touch and Gwen caught the look in Aelita’s eyes.

“I’m sorry I don’t have all of it.” She glanced back into the bag- all it held was the fingerboard and four metal strings. “That dragon bitch threw the rest into the fireplace. I don’t know why, she just grabbed it out of my hands and threw it in- I was trying to figure out how to fix it-”

Aelita’s eyes had narrowed minisculey as she mentioned Rayden, but instead she briefly glanced up, interrupting gently, “Dora told me all about it, there was nothing you could do. It was my own fault I collapsed. Thank you for bringing this to me.” She reached out and carefully took the bag from her sister, peering inside to take inventory, “Maybe I can do something with these.” She mused, taking the strings. Gwen only nodded and Aelita glanced up to glare at the door, “I swear I’m going to kill Rayden, though, she thinks she can do whatever the hell she wants and it’s pissing me off.”

“I’m sorry.” Gwen blurted out, interrupting what seemed to be the beginnings of a rant. Aelita blinked, looking up and watching her sister carefully. “I shouldn’t have blamed you. I was being a bitch.”

Aelita placed the violin parts on her bed, the bag laying on her pillow. Approaching her sister, she ignored the way Gwen was stiff and wrapped her arms around her once more in a tight hug.

“It’s okay.” She assured, “We both fell apart and I don’t blame you. Mom didn’t exactly give us any warning and it’s not your fault.”

After a moment, Gwen leaned into the hug, burrowing her face against her sister’s chest. “Is there not going to be a funeral?” She asked and Aelita’s lips formed into a thin line as she placed a hand against the back of Gwen’s head.

“Mom’s been slow about doing it, Grandma took over the planning. It’ll probably be after Christmas, but it’ll happen.” Gwen nodded into her and Aelita gently pulled back, smiling down at her sister. “It’s okay to be upset about it, you know.”

“Not in front of others.” Gwen mumbled, “They pity me. Blackhall tried to give me a talk.”

Aelita snorted, “Of course he did. Teachers can be so nosey. I know you want to hold yourself together in front of other people, but you can always fall apart with me. I tried to stay together too long, and you saw what happened at the concert.” It was a teaching of their mother’s that Aelita was sad to say she couldn’t kick. Not for herself, and not for Gwen. Rede’s needed to be strong and on one hand it made sense. They were a highly prolific family, the media watched them like hawks and any break down would be marked off as the downfall of their whole lineage. They couldn’t afford anything.

But it wasn’t healthy. Aelita had paid the price with a drop from the stage and a shattered violin. Gwen nodded and Aelita felt her take a shuddering breath.

“Okay.” There was a rare moment of silence between the two talkative sisters. After a good minute, Gwen cut into the quiet with a question, “Are you going to the masquerade tomorrow?”

Aelita’s smile grew into a cheshire grin. “Of course. I have plans after all.”

Gwen raised an eyebrow, stepping back from their hug, “Plans? You don’t have a date, do you?”

“No, not a date. Can you keep a secret?”

“Ha, of course I can!”

“Alright, then sit down and I’ll tell you about it.” Gwen returned the grin, instantly moving to sit cross legged on Dora’s bed, Aelita took the spot on her own and soon the two dissolved into gossip as Aelita gave up her plans for the following evening, Gwen approving of every detail.


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