Time passed in a haze to you. You felt wrung out and exhausted and like your core was simmering with a barely-there flame. You had cried all the tears that you could possibly manage and now had a splitting headache and sore eyes left over. You wanted to sleep for a very long time, but you could still hear the cracking of your burning garden in the quiet night. Even the sound of the waves could not wash the memory from you.
Dawn was breaking over the horizon, and that was what brought you out of your stupor. You thought for sure you hadn’t cried for twelve hours. You all must be in a different country, you thought. It would explain just how cold it was.
In the dawnlight you gazed down at Saeran and Saeyoung both curled and sleeping against you. Their faces were a mess sticky with their tears and red from crying. They had exhausted themselves and had fallen asleep with hands still curled into your cloak. It was the only thing keeping you warm in the wind.
Midhir stepped carefully over their bodies to appear between the tall grass to watch you. His pity and sorrow could barely leave droplets in the vast body of loss that had pooled in your chest and heart. You blinked another tear out of you eye as you stared at him. Silently he went to the bags that Saeyoung had grabbed from the house and dug around through the pocket of one. He came out with your cell phone and dropped it near your hand.
You understood. You all were homeless now and left with nothing. Justice had done as she had warned and karma had stripped you of nearly everything. You had ruined a woman’s life, and so your life and the lives of the two you were caring for were destroyed in turn. Your cards had warned you of this. You hadn’t realized just how terrible it all would be.
You would grieve this for a long time yet, but you had to start moving forward. Dawn had approached and you all would need to find shelter in the land you were in. You could grieve more later in a safer location.
You picked up your cell phone and checked your service. You had none, but you knew that was probably to be expected. You all needed to find a house or a town or something. You had some money in your bag, although you didn’t know how much good the currency would do where you were at. Your head hurt more just thinking about it.
Midhir caught your attention and dropped one more item at your hand. It was V’s card, you recognized and understood what Midhir meant. Would V be able to help you with something like this? The man had offered to help you in any way that he could, but the circumstances had been quite different. You picked up the card and pocketed it.
The wind picked up around you, brushing curiously against your cheek. You realized that the world around you had been examining you while you had wept, the local spirits and Fae having taken notice of your sudden presences. You shook your head and touched the boys’ shoulders to wake them both. Saeyoung jolted into awareness much faster than his brother and sat up in a bit of a daze as he looked around you all. His surprise fell into despairing realization before he closed his eyes to contain himself and rub his eyes. You felt Saeran press his face to your thigh, his hand trembling before he sat up fully. Both brothers looked at you without a sound.
You reached out and cupped their cheeks in each hand. Your thumb skated across their skin before lowering back to their shoulders. “Come.” You whispered, your voice raw with emotion and torn from your sorrow. “We need to find a telephone.” Your hands fell away from their faces and you stood up.
“Who are we gonna call?” Saeyoung asked miserably. “We don’t even know where we are.”
“We’ll figure it out.” You promised. You needed to be productive anyway before you could fully allow your loss to encompass you. A distraction was better than sitting there all day. “But first, we need to start walking.”
“Emshii…” Saeran grabbed your hand and met your gaze as he stood as well. He didn’t continue for a long moment, his mouth moving with words he wanted to say but kept aborting before they could form. Your shoulders tensed waiting to hear platitudes about your garden and home, but Saeran did not deliver. Instead something seemed to harden a bit inside of him and he said, “I packed a bunch of seeds. In case we ever needed to leave the garden because of our dad.”
It was an apology and a promise all at once. You hadn’t realized how scared you had been of losing the two boys in front of you until Saeran had confirmed their continuing presence in your life. You felt weak-kneed with the emotion that attempted to bubble inside of you but couldn’t due to your despair. Your pain lightened just a little bit.
You smiled and huffed a small laugh, squeezing his hand. “Thank you.” You whispered. Hyacinths and violets found their way into Saeran’s hair and down his neck. He took no mind to them.
Saeyoung reluctantly stood. He didn’t look at you as he picked up the bags and shouldered them. Darkness clung to his shoulders and the early morning sunlight seemed to bend toward him and disappear. You could feel the pull of his black hole of feelings and resisted getting closer. His guilt was obvious to anyone who could read body language. You waited for him to say something, but when he didn’t the four of you began your trek to find other human beings.
The understanding that you all were finally safe from Saejoong was something that wouldn’t come to you for over a month. You three were distracted what with contacting V, finding a way back to South Korea, and finding a temporary home for living arrangements until something else could be decided. Saejoong and his men probably thought the three of you had died, perhaps. Or if they thought that you all had escaped, they had no way of knowing where you three could’ve went. You were all lost in a proverbial crowd where he wouldn’t be able to find you unless you all did something to stand out.
Some good really had come out of the tragedy, you thought, and you were glad to realize it so. You hadn’t lost everything considering you still had the boys and Midhir and some of your stuff, but it was a heavy burden to bear the weight of everything you no longer had. Saeyoung and Saeran were back to having nothing. You had all but adopted them officially. While before they had been under your care and living in your house, they’d had the means to leave and find other ways to live. Now they were basically your wards and were determined to stick with you no matter what. You were glad to have them.
There was nothing to do but start over, you decided. You would build from the ground up. It might take a while, but it wasn’t like you didn’t have time on your hands. Living in the city would do the boys some good considering they had finally healed enough from their trauma from their mother to not be so terrified. It was the best that V could do for you anyway for the meantime. You all would make do.
“Here, here?” Saeyoung called playfully, balancing stack of some new books for your collection. He carried them effortlessly, which kind of bothered you considering you had struggled with both the height of the stack and the weight of them. That boy had grown so tall over the last couple of years.
“Yes, right over there. Oh, wait,” You quickly snatched a book from the pile, smiling as Saeyoung stumbled a bit from the sudden disruption. He shot you a mock pout before a grin pulled his features that you matched. “This is for Saeran.” You waved the book and then made a shooing motion to the boy. Or, rather, man considering he was an adult by legal standards now.
“Going~” Saeyoung sang as he moved. You turned to Saeran as he murmured to the leaves of the potted plant still sitting on the wooden stands of your garden. They would be planted today with the rest of the small garden you all were growing and you knew he was encouraging them to grow healthy. He looked up at your approach and you held out the book for him.
“For you.” You informed him. He took the plant bible and flipped through the pages briefly with a soft smile.
“Thank you.” He said, grateful. Saeyoung returned to join you two, hopping down from the last stone step to land beside you both.
“Planting time?” He asked.
“In a bit. We should at least have lunch first.” You said. You took in the sight of your tiny backyard. Most of it was still dirt with bits of rock pathways. The area you were in was absolutely small, but it was a home you were quickly becoming accustomed to. The few plants that had grown nicely soaked up the sun’s rays and waved at you all. You gave them a tiny wave back before moving to go inside.
“Is V coming?” Saeran asked as he followed you. He and Saeyoung had to both duck under one of your windchimes as you entered the door. That’s what they got for being taller than you, you thought.
“Yeah.” Saeyoung answered, pushing the door shut with his foot. “He said he wanted to talk to us about some kind of organization that he and Rika are making.”
“You should show them some of your new powers.” You suggested, glowing with the pride you felt for both of them. You didn’t bother to tramp down your energy as you moved through the house on silent and bare feet.
“Witches in an organization. Can you believe it? Watch it be, like, some kind of religious organization!” Saeyoung laughed. “The irony of it!”
“I’ll get started on lunch.” Saeran was quick to inform. He and his brother entered the kitchen while you hung back to watch them continue their talk about the guests you all would be having soon. Midhir wound between your legs no doubt sensing your strange but calm emotions.
It was funny, you thought as you watched the men and remembered the frail, scared children they had been to the now strong and freely-smiling men they now were. You couldn’t stop the love the literally radiated off of you and saturating the air. It was funny how when you had made your wish to your garden, you hadn’t expected it to come true. All of this time you had been helping others, and secretly it had been bringing you to this moment all along. It felt like something out of a dream just like how most of your magic felt. But it was all real and you were awake and you were happy despite the tragedy. The weight on your shoulders didn’t feel so heavy and your heart didn’t ache as much as it used to. You were never bored anymore. You were happy, and Saeran and Saeyoung were too. That was all that mattered.