Hikaru looked up at the roof of the tent – which was really more a pavilion – and didn’t sigh. After all, the sound of the rain on the canvas was rather nice – cosy, even, and they were dry, warm enough, and had plenty of nice food to eat. The view out over the rainswept meadow was beautiful, too; the long grass was bowing in graceful arcs as waves of rain blew over it, the flowers brighter colours than ever, the whole looking gloriously healthy. And here she was, with half a dozen of her closest friends and an afternoon free to chat and play all the card games Caldina kept threatening to teach them, and to teach them some of Earth’s games in return.
Umi stood next to the open side of their shelter, looking more confused than upset. “I know it has to rain in Cephiro now there’s no Pillar to cheat the water cycle and keep everything growing, but hasn’t anyone here heard of a rainy season?”
Ferio looked up from where Fuu was explaining sandwiches and how to make them tastier with more than one ingredient. “We have seasons, now. All of them appear to come with rain.”
Pulling a face at him, Umi came back to drop onto the same bench Hikaru was sat on. “I know you know that’s not what I meant. Can’t anyone get it all nicely contained away from summer? I mean, I don’t mind it, but this wasn’t exactly the picnic we had planned! Was it, Hikaru?”
Hikaru smiled back at her. “It’s not so bad. Didn’t you want an excuse to teach Caldina how to play poker anyway, Umi? …There’s only one thing which, well. We can do that another time!”
Leaving the food table with two plates piled slightly haphazardly, Lantis came back to sit on her other side, offering her one of them. “What did you want to do?” He asked, and Hikaru sighed very slightly.
“It’s only – there’s a thing which they do in American movies, when they go camping, with chocolate and biscuits and marshmallow. It looks tasty, so we thought we’d bring the ingredients and try it, only you need a fire to toast the marshmallows. And we can’t really light a large fire in here, it would get really smoky, and that wouldn’t be fun for any of us. It doesn’t matter, we can do it some other time!”
Lantis looked a little confused, but picked what must have seemed the key point to understanding her. “Ma-shumarro? Is that what Umi calls the Creator, sometimes?”
“It’s a sweet.” Hikaru looked for the bag of them. “Here – look, they’re really soft, and you toast them near the fire, then make a kind of sandwich with biscuit and chocolate- I think it’s meant to be gooey, when it’s hot, and melt the chocolate a little. I’ve never tried, though.”
“Perhaps the rain will stop, in a while.” Fuu said, coming over. “I’m sure we could find a way of drying out enough wood to have a campfire if it isn’t getting wet while we’re trying. Right, Umi?”
“Huh?” Umi looked away from the rain again, and blinked as her mind caught up with the conversation. “What – oh! Yeah, that’s easy enough. I set a chair on fire by mistake last month by drying it out too much.” They all blinked at her. “It was the day Fuu nearly blew half the orchard down, so even Clef forgot about it after that.”
Fuu blushed, and Hikaru giggled. Their magic lessons were all going well, overall, but they did have a habit of doing something unexpected once in a while and confusing all their teachers.
Listening to her friends talking, she missed the first quiet nudge of Rayearth’s attention – but the next was rather like getting Hikari’s cold nose against the back of her knee in the morning when she was half asleep and failing to feed him swiftly enough. Only hot, and in her mind.
/You need warmth, to melt these treats?/
/Yes, as hot as a flame. I could make a fire, but I couldn’t keep one going long enough without catching something alight to feed it – and then it would smoke./ She was slightly confused, and then sat bolt upright at his response.
/I am …curious, about this treat. And I can be warm as fire – but I do not smoke./
“Hikaru?” Umi asked, reaching over to catch her plate before she dropped it. “Are you okay? You look like something bit you!”
Beaming round at them, Hikaru tried to work out where Rayearth would fit best. They’d need to move a few benches, but… “I think we can try those smore things after all, Umi! Can we move this bench a bit?”
The marshmallows were delicious, whether with the chocolate and biscuit or just cooked enough to turn golden brown on their own. Rayearth liked the chocolate best – the milk chocolate, not the bitter stuff Umi had brought – and Rayearth’s presence kept the whole pavilion warm all afternoon, his head resting on Hikaru’s leg as they played cards while the rain drummed down.