Louisa gasped and recoiled as she felt something wet and slimy poke into her ear. She turned to pout at her grinning girlfriend.
“Why?” said Louisa flatly.
“There was ice cream on your face,” said Lisa, still grinning like an idiot.
“In my ear?” asked Louisa, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes,” said Lisa.
“Sure,” said Louisa.
“No, really, there was,” said Lisa. “Or it might’ve been Nesquik.”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses,” said Louisa, folding her arms over her chest. “You can’t just give me wet willies.” Lisa snorted, resting her head on Louisa’s shoulder.
“Sorry,” said Lisa, not sounding sorry in the slightest.
“Nope,” said Louisa, turning her head away and very much enjoying this act. “You have brought back years of repressed childhood fears of getting a Yeerk in my head. Now you need to make it up to me.”
“Sorry,” said Lisa, continuing the act. She kissed her girlfriend’s neck, and Louisa laughed and wiped the slobber off.
“You can go and get me a slice of cake to make it up to me,” said Louisa. “And give me the bigger slice.”
“Alright,” said Lisa. “Or I could kiss your feet?”
“No,” said Louisa, tucking her feet under her. “Only cake can help me recover from the trauma.”
“Sure thing, babe,” said Lisa. She kissed her on the cheek, and Louisa pulled her shirt up and began to attempt to wipe the spit out of her ear. It was in the process of doing this that her phone rang.
“Hey, Z,” said Louisa, answering the phone with her shirt still in her other ear.
“Hey, Burgs,” said Z. “Are you busy?”
“Not really,” said Louisa. “I’m just watching The Bachelor with Lisa.”
“That seems like a weird show for two lesbians to watch,” said Z. “No offense.”
“You forget all the attractive women in it,” said Louisa.
“Ah, right, that’s true,” said Z. “Don’t either of you get jealous though?”
“I dunno, does Ydris get jealous of Jack being obsessed with Robbie Rotten? Wait, never mind, yes he does,” said Louisa. “But nah, we don’t get jealous. It’s like watching porn together.”
“I did not need to know that,” said Z. Louisa laughed, imagining her friend blushing.
“Sorry,” said Louisa. “So, what are you up to this fine evening?”
“Just staying in with Justin,” said Z. “Y’know, usual boyfriend things.”
“Aww, that’s adorable,” said Louisa. “So why are you calling me instead of spending time with him?”
“Because he’s been doing something outside for a while now,” said Z. “He’s been acting weird.”
“Ooh,” said Louisa. “Lasagne boy can be romantic. Oh, Lisa’s back.” She watched her girlfriend walk back into the lounge room carrying two slices of cake, and nodded her approval when Lisa set the larger one down on the coffee table in front of her.
“Should I go?” asked Z. “Do you know what Justin might be doing?”
“I have an idea,” said Louisa. “And no, he didn’t tell me anything. Lisa, what are you doing?” Lisa had sat down in front of her, and was resting her cheek against Louisa’s knee.
“Trying to get your attention,” said Lisa.
“What is she doing?” asked Z.
“Sitting in front of me with her head on my knee,” said Louisa.
“Oh, wow. Okay then. I’ll leave you two to it,” said Z.
“No, not like that,” said Louisa, giggling. “She gave me a wet willie and I think she’s trying to make up for it.”
“Why did you make that sound so dirty?” asked Z.
“Because I said it,” said Louisa. “Alright, you should probably go so I can eat this cake before Lisa does.”
“Oh no, not the cake,” said Z. “I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow.”
“Please do,” said Louisa. When she ended the call, Lisa sat on the couch beside her and kissed up her cheek.
“Am I forgiven now?” asked Lisa, giving her the puppy dog eyes.
“Yes,” said Louisa, taking a bite of her cake. “You’re forgiven. Don’t do it again.”
“I won’t,” said Lisa, turning her eyes back to the TV. “Have I missed any cat fights?”
“Nope, just general cattiness,” said Louisa.
“Aww, that’s my favourite part,” said Lisa. Louisa giggled.
Zelda tucked her feet under her on the couch in the Moorland house. The TV flickered in the dim room, and she felt very alone. Louisa was spending time with her girlfriend, Jack was ‘busy’ with Ydris, and Justin was doing something outside. Sighing, Zelda untucked her feet, turned the TV off, and walked outside.
“Justin, what are you doing?” asked Zelda, seeing her boyfriend fiddling with the car door.
“I locked the keys in the car,” said Justin, looking sheepish.
“Why?” asked Z. “And why does that matter? This is Jorvik, we ride everywhere.”
“I was going to take you to the city,” said Justin. “I had a whole romantic evening planned out, I had reservations at a fancy restaurant and everything.”
“Aww, you didn’t have to do all that,” said Z.
“I did for tonight,” said Justin, running a hand through his hair. “It was supposed to be special.” Zelda now realised that he was wearing a suit, and here she was in tracksuit pants and a singlet top.
“And when were you going to tell me to get dressed?” asked Z.
“When I fixed this up,” said Justin. “I’m sorry, this was supposed to be a romantic evening.”
“Don’t apologise,” said Z, putting a hand on his arm. “I wasn’t expecting anything, Justin.”
“But I did leave you inside on your own,” said Justin.
“Well, yeah, but you were planning something nice,” said Z. “And even if it didn’t turn out quite right, we can still have a nice evening together.”
“Where, though?” asked Justin. “The buses have stopped running at this hour, and I don’t want to take you to a café. My relative’s restaurant isn’t as fancy as he wants it to be, it’s more like one of the cafes around here.”
“As long as I’m with you, it doesn’t matter,” said Z. “Come on, I know a nice place.”
“And what will we eat?” asked Justin.
“I’m sure Mrs Holdsworth would be willing to give us a pie,” said Z. Justin smiled at her and kissed her.
Half an hour later (Mrs Holdsworth had to heat up the pie, and it took a while to reach the spot Zelda wanted to go to, plus Zelda had changed into a long dark blue silken dress that hugged her body), Zelda helped Justin to ride Maxy over the little rocky mountains and onto the flat platform above the Demascus Mine.
“It is nice here,” said Justin, dismounting Maxy. He walked over to the edge, and Maxy stood close to the mountains so as not to fall. Phantom joined him once Zelda had dismounted.
“Here, you can see your stables,” said Zelda. “Someday, all of this will belong to you.” She gestured her arm out. And then, pointing towards where the barges were on the beach: “Except that. That’s the shadow lands, and you must never go there.” She laughed, and Justin joined her, though he sounded nervous.
“Let’s come away from the edge a little,” said Justin.
“Okay,” said Zelda. They walked to the middle, and she looked around again. “I can still see a lot, though. Your birthright.”
“Yours too,” said Justin, and Zelda turned to him in surprise. Now she knew why he’d asked her to step away from the edge. There he was, down on one knee, holding an open ring box in his hand.
“Oh my god,” said Zelda, putting her hands over her mouth. She was glad, now, that she’d changed, too. “Yes.”
“I haven’t even asked the question yet,” said Justin with a chuckle.
“Do it then,” said Zelda, trembling with excitement.
“Alright then,” said Justin, and laughed. “Zelda Dusknight, will you marry me?”
“Yes,” said Zelda, unable to stop grinning. “Yes, yes, yes, get up and put that ring on my finger.” Justin laughed and got up, sliding the ring onto her finger. It was a perfect fit, a slim gold band with rubies and diamonds intertwining. There was a single onyx in the middle, and Zelda grinned at it as she looked at it glimmering in the starlight. It was so obvious now- why Justin had planned a special evening, why he’d been so worried about it being perfect, why he’d been acting so strangely. Of course he’d been going to propose.
And, as Justin swung her around, Zelda laughed and kissed him. Ever since she’d first arrived to Moorland, this was all that she’d wanted.
Alessa looked up when she heard a noise.
“Are there cats fighting outside again?” she asked, looking at her girlfriend. And then she saw Dunya grinning and looking utterly delighted.
“I wasn’t aware that humans could make that noise,” said Dunya, and hissed again.
“Did… did you just hiss at me?” asked Alessa. Dunya nodded, still grinning.
“I thought that only snakes could make that noise,” said Dunya. “Like that snake out in the Forgotten Fields.”
“Have you been taking lessons from him?” asked Alessa.
“No,” said Dunya. “The idiots around here won’t let me leave. No, I have been taking lessons from those small, furry demons that hiss at me.”
“Cats,” said Alessa. “They’re called cats.”
“Yes, well,” said Dunya. “They are excellent hunters, and yet they have humans under their paws. I admire them.”
“Do… you want me to get you a cat?” asked Alessa.
“They do not like me,” said Dunya. “They see me, and they fear me. As they should.”
“Animals are usually smarter than humans give them credit for,” said Alessa.
“Oh, I know,” said Dunya. “That is why, for many years, I used them.”
“A lot of animals have disappeared lately,” said Alessa. “It’s weird.”
“I remember learning somewhere that animals run away before a major natural disaster,” said Dunya. “The same thing has happened here. They can sense what is coming, and they have rightly fled.”
“You might find a cat that likes you,” said Alessa. “A lot of evil villains in shows have a cat that they pet while giving evil speeches.”
“Did you know that Sabine once stole cats and took them to the base in an attempt to have that look?” asked Dunya.
“No, I did not,” said Alessa. “But that sounds funny.”
“Oh, it was,” said Dunya. “My Generals told me all about it. The cats hated it there, but they hated the water more than they hated the evil that they could sense.”
“Poor kitties,” said Alessa.
“Oh, not to worry, my dear, they were rescued,” said Dunya. “Those cats are safe now.”
“I want to get you a cat now,” said Alessa.
“It can be your cat,” said Dunya. “And if it does not like me, then it will not matter so much. It can live in your stable.”
“You want one, don’t you?” said Alessa, seeing the gleam of excitement in her girlfriend’s eyes.
“Perhaps,” said Dunya. Alessa laughed and gave her a kiss.