"PSSST! Misha!" he whisper-yelled. "Misha, please, save me!"
The older girl lifted her head groggily. "Haden?"
"Save me!" he repeated.
"What time is it?"
"Real helpful, Hay. Go back to sleep." Misha covered her head with her pillow.
"Misha, please. Hide me! Ed's doing experimenting again."
"And why is that bad?" came from the pillow.
"...Because Ed was experimenting outside and we accidentally set a bush on fire?"
"Mmm, bush..." There was a two-second delay while Haden flailed helplessly, then Misha sat bolt upright. "Fire?! You set a bush on fire?"
Haden nodded very seriously. "We put it out, but Ed wants to experiment more to see if I can do it again."
Another second. "...It's out. You're absolutely sure you put it out? Completely?"
He nodded again.
Misha flopped back on the bed and covered her face with her arm. "You set. A bush. On fire."
"It was an accident!" He hadn't meant to! It was all Edward's fault, getting frustrated when Haden hadn't been able to do the place-changing thing. All the yelling and arguing and then pushing him into the bush- which was actually really prickly and scratchy and hurty and- and then whoosh, fire everywhere!
He'd thought the windstorm in the nursery had been bad, but it had nothing on the fire! Weird, green fire!
After a moment, Misha winced. "The bush, it wasn't one of Matron's magnolia bushes, was it?"
"No. I think it was Mrs. Smith's begonias."
She pulled her blankets up over her head again with a heartfelt groan.
"Misha. Misha!" She wasn't just going to leave him and go back to sleep, was she?!
She lifted the covers only enough to peek out at him with narrowed eyes. "You're lucky you're cute. You know that, right?" She lifted the blankets and Haden crawled up onto the bed with her. He shivered at the change in temperature and she pulled him close- then shifted back and looked down at him. "...Why are you wet?"
Had he mentioned yet that he'd been on fire? "Bush. Fire," Haden explained. Again.
"Right." Misha yawned and rubbed at her eyes, looking toward the window. Grey pre-dawn light was just beginning to peek through the curtains. "You guys got up in the middle of the night, to experiment with things you have no idea how to control, with no supervision whatsoever?"
Well, it'd seemed like a good idea when Edward first said it.
He buried his face against Misha's chest. "You don't understand." There were so many reasons to try and figure out the things they could do. They were the only ones they'd ever met who could do them, there was no one else to teach them, so they had to figure it out on their own. And beside that, they were alone. They had always been alone, but this connected them. No matter where they went or what they did with their lives, they would always share this- burnt shrubbery and all.
Even more, though, if they could master the things they could do... Haden could go places. He could go anywhere. Edward could call things. He wanted them (well, if he wanted them bad enough) and they appeared. But more than both of them, Edwin could heal. If he could master that, if he could figure out a way for it to work on other people...
Misha could have her leg back. All the people that picked on her, that called her names, they wouldn't mean anything anymore. She would never have to hear them ever again. She'd be able to do anything she wanted without being forced to use a crutch.
So when Edward had appeared at his bedside in the middle of the night with the idea to experiment, Haden had jumped at the chance, had been the one to help convince Win that it was a good idea. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for Misha. She was the closest thing he had to a sister.
He'd still be out there now if it hadn't gone wrong. If he hadn't-
"Hey. Hey, now, what's wrong?" Misha pet him and Haden realized he was shaking.
He shook his head. "Am I bad?"
"No." Misha didn't hesitate at all. Didn't sound the least bit doubtful. "The flowers will grow back, and you guys are safe."
"I hurt people," he whispered, afraid. He was always messing things up. He'd hurt Tim when he'd gotten upset about having his dragon taken. And when Ed had pushed him into that bush, he'd been so mad, so powerfully angry and he'd, he'd almost-
"Shhh. It's okay." Misha shushed and rocked him while he cried and sobbed.
"I alm-most h-hurt them!" He'd been angry and the green fire had just been there. It hadn't set the bush on fire, he had. It had been him that was on fire, him that the green fire clung to, and the bush had just been in the wrong place, had been touching him. His best friends, and he had almost burned them up like that bush!
Haden shook in her arms. It hadn't seemed so bad at first. The brothers had run and gotten a bucket of water and poured it over him and the bush both. Edward had seen it as a success. They'd managed to do something (not what they'd intended, but still, something!) and he'd been more than willing to keep going, but-
"Win's afraid of me." It hadn't been long, really, but he'd seen it, the look in his eyes, the flinch when Haden turned toward him, as unthreatening as a soaking wet and cold child could be. And Edwin had flinched.
So no, Haden didn't want to experiment any more right then.
Misha sighed and sat up, pulling him fully onto her lap. "I'll bet you two nights' desserts that you're wrong. I don't know if you know this or not, but you aren't exactly the most intimidating person in the world. Or the house. You're not even the scariest person in this bed right now."
He let out a hiccuping, sniffly laugh. Haden cried until he couldn't. Until his nose was too stuffed up to breathe through and Misha's shirt was almost as damp as he was. "Sorry."
He didn't struggle when Misha shifted them to the edge of the bed. "Come on. You're still all wet and you'll get a cold if we don't take care of you. Up now. Go sit at the desk and I'll be right back."
Haden bit the inside of his cheek and nodded, shivering in the cold. He felt cold in his chest, too. He shouldn't have bugged Misha in the first place. He was being a baby. Worse, he was being weak. He sat at the desk and covered his head with his arms, hiding himself in the darkness there. His cheeks hurt and his eyes hurt and his nose was sore and his head thumped and made him dig his fingers into the painful spot.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! You're ruining things again! Tim's right, all you ever do is mess things up.
He jerked when something soft and fluffy was thrown over his head. "Your hair is a mess," Misha said from above, gently pulling him upright so she could properly dry it.
"It's always a mess," Haden mumble-protested as she put strength into the effort, the entire world made of flashes of white and gray as she tried to drown him with the towel.
Misha pulled him back and lifted the towel for just long enough to give him a stern look that didn't look stern at all. "No excuses!" Rub-rub-rub.
"Mi- Mish- Misha! Misha, you're smoff-smotehr- Misha!"
She paused again and let him breathe. "I'm what?"
Haden spit out the towel that kept creeping into his mouth. "Smothering me!"
She let the towel settle down around his shoulders and leaned over him, wrapping him in a hug and resting her chin on his head. "You look cute smothered. And in a dress. And soaking wet begging for help at my bedside. Probably look cute setting fire to helpless plants, too."
Misha quieted him by wiping off his face with the ends of the towel and kissing his forehead. "You're my Haden. No matter what happens or what you do, you'll always be my Haden."
"I-" His voice broke and he felt like crying again. He didn't have anything he could say to that.
With one last kiss, Misha pulled away, grabbed her hairbrush -the dark-wood one that Matron had given her for her birthday- and set to work on untangling his hair. Haden crossed his arms on the desk and rested his chin on them, leaning into the gentle brushing. Misha was the best at brushing hair, she never pulled ever and she didn't rush. She'd done it for the other, younger girls when they'd been there. (Haden was glad they were gone now and he didn't have to share her anymore.)
The sun was just beginning to color the sky pink through the curtains when Misha finished with his hair. She went to pull it back into a tail and Haden stopped her. "No- I don't-"
"My bangs. I like them down." He hated people staring at his scar. And they always did unless he hid it with his hair.
Misha hummed in thought. Slowly, she spoke. "I still have that purple ribbon from yesterday. Would you like me to pull your hair back with a bow like I did then?" She'd only pulled back the sides of his hair and the back to keep it from falling forward into his face, leaving his bangs free to cover his forehead.
A little bit of tugging and it was done. "It'll be okay," she promised him. Haden nodded helplessly and Misha patted his shoulders. "Well, that's your hair taken care of, but I don't know what we're going to do about clothes for you. Nothing of mine would fit. Even my smallest shirt would probably fall right off you."
Clothes meant going back down to the nursery. Meant probably facing Edwin again.
"Do you... still have the dress? From before?"
"I thought you didn't like wearing girls' clothes." He hadn't said that, exactly. He just didn't like being picked on for wearing girls' clothes.
Haden didn't complain as she helped him get out of his wet clothes and dressed him. The dress still felt awkward, but it was... better. It didn't bother him when there was no one around to make fun of him, and Misha would never do that- well, she wouldn't make fun of his clothes, especially when they were originally her idea. The black leggings were changed for white stockings, and he liked those better, too.
"Do I look weird?"
"I don't think so, but then, I'm not in the same situation. You tell me." She leaned on Haden to help get them both in front of the antique standing mirror.
The wooden frame was old but intricate and well cared-for. It had been Matron's, once upon a time, before she'd gotten married. Misha'd found it in the attic and gotten Matron's permission to use it. It was beautiful, and more than large enough to fit both their reflections comfortably within the frame.
Haden's heart thumped painfully at the image.
Two pairs of eyes, one green and one blue, from faces not so different- the childish roundness of Haden's face mimicking the feminine fullness of Misha's. Their hair was uniformly dark in the predawn light, their skin tones close in color. Even their clothing looked like it'd come from the same closet, black with frilled edges. They looked-
"We look like sisters," Misha murmured, arms crossing in front of Haden's collarbones and pulling him back against her affectionately.
It hurt to hear. It hurt so much because he wanted that so badly- more than anything. "I wish you were my real sister." The words came out broken and hoarse.
He envied Ed and Win. They had no idea how lucky they were to be here together. It wasn't fair, and it probably wasn't right since they'd lost their mom, but- But they had each other. That was more than Haden had. More than he'd ever had. Maybe they didn't have parents anymore, but they were still a family.
Family. All of them in the orphanage spent their time wishing for that, for family to love them. Someplace to belong. Somewhere they would always be welcome. A home.
"Who says I'm not your sister?"
He looked away from the mirror. It hurt to look into her bright blue eyes too long. "You know what I mean."
Misha raised her head slightly and held a finger against her chin. "Hmm..." Then she shook her head. "Nope. I was there when you first came in. I watched your first steps. Your first word was 'Mish'. If we're not siblings, then no one anywhere is. You're my Haden and I'm your Misha. I love you."
Haden covered his face with his hands and pressed hard on his eyes so he wouldn't start crying again. "Love you," he choked out.
She was right about one thing, she was his Misha. Misha had always been special.
Like Matron. There was Matron and Misha and the Eds and- that was it, really. Haden didn't like people, but they were special. Maybe Sid, too, but Matron's husband wasn't around often enough to really count. He was nice, though. The biggest person Haden had ever seen, and yet probably the quietest, but quiet didn't bother him much. Edwin was quiet, too.
"...You really don't think Win is afraid of me?"
"I think all three of you had a close call and are probably a little upset and trigger-shy at the moment."
"Ed is too oblivious to be bothered by something so trivial as potentially setting the house on fire."
Haden's snort caught him by surprise and he covered his mouth to keep from laughing too loud. That sounded exactly like Edward.