Ugh, i feel like I've been in here for hours!
I’ve collapsed from exhaustion twice, and Snatcher’s revived me, thank fuck. But it doesn’t make this easier in the slightest.
Hattie and Bow had signed this dang contract where they had to complete this stupid corn maze while dodging those little crow enemies that are a huge pain in my ass. And the kicker is that it must be completed in seven minutes.
Sometimes these contracts make sense, but all the other times they do not.
This is one of the latter.
The girls were up to 70 attempts, and they were frustrated beyond their wits, begging me to help. I...erm... ”negotiated” with Snatcher, and he agreed to let me complete it for them. I sign, crossing out the girls’ names and replacing them with my own. He looks over me fondly before snapping me over to the maze.
I’ve been running for 30 Minutes.
I pant as I round the corner, looking around in confusion and frustration. I lean on my knees, waiting for the timer to give already as I try and catch my breath.
I’m getting ready to run again when I hear those little crows hopping my way. Startled, I lose my footing, falling backwards and through the corn.
I shout, arms flailing before I land in the dirt, a cloud of dust billowing up and around me, the dirt sticking to my skin, due to the sweat. I feel gross.
I glare at the fading blue of the sky above me, the clouds tinted orange as they blew by.
I’m about to call out for Snatcher to just kill me already when it hits me.
I mentally facepalm.
I CAN JUST RUN THROUGH THE CORN.
I scramble to my feet, pulling the tiny compass that I wear as a necklace out from under my shirt.
I spin and turn until it points north, where I presume the exit is, seeing as I began at the south entrance.
I break out into another sprint.
The cornstalks whip past me, rough against my skin as I run as fast as I can, not stopping for anything.
I’m going so fast I nearly smack right into a tree as I finally, FINALLY exit the maze.
Snatcher is in the tree line, a mixed look of confusion and amusement on his face.
“Hah!” I laugh as I pant, pointing at him triumphantly. “I did it!”
“So you did. How? I was expecting you to die at least four more times,” He muses casually as he looks me over. I’m dirty, sweaty, bleeding, and exhausted. Ugh.
“I ran through!” I put my hands on my hips in victory, beaming at him. “I ran right through all the stalks!”
“You can’t do that! That’s a breach in our agreement.”
“Oh, it is!”
I groan, walking briskly over to him and holding a hand up, palm open in a silent request to see the contract.
I’m about to make said request verbal when I stop dead in my actions.
When I'd quickly raised my hand to take a look at the contract, he’d raised his arm defensively and flinched as if I were going to hit him. The world around us is tinted purple.
I retract my hand, brows knitting in concern.
He realizes quickly how he’d reacted, lowering his arm and simply staring at me, trying to find the right words to say, probably. He casts his eyes to the side, and neither of us move. Is he angry? Embarrassed? Afraid? The guilt seeps through my skin like a cold rain does a thin jacket as I open my mouth.
“Oh- I'm so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” I take a cautious step forward, raising my hand to slowly take his.
“I was just holding out my hand to look at the contract.” I speak softly, reassuring him as the world flicks back to its original colors, a relieved sigh leaving him. He must think I don’t notice.
He shrinks down to my size (save for a few feet,) as he squeezes my hand briefly, shaking his head as he chuckles softly, looking to the treetops as he sighs.
“Of course, yes.” He mutters, snapping his fingers, the contract I'd signed appearing in a purple puff of smoke between us. “There you are.”
He smiles at me, but it’s not genuine.
I take the contact, much slower this time.
It makes sense. His fear, I mean. He’s talked to me about how...she used to treat him.
He told me about how it started small. Little things like getting upset about him liking bacon too much, his piano lessons lasting too long, how she didn’t want him out of town for too long, things like that.
She was...controlling. Obsessive.
Then things escalated. Slowly. It started with small shoves. Then she would slap. Kick. She gave him a black eye once. But then, he said, she got better.
She said it would never happen again, (but she said that every time, followed by gifts and the literal royal treatment) and he believed her.
Then he bought her those flowers.
And she killed him.
I sniffle as I quickly scan the contract, realizing I'd gotten lost in my thoughts when I was supposed to be reading the thing over.
“Hey,” He starts, taking the contract from my hands and making it disappear. “Come back out of that silly, pretty little head of yours, shortcake.”
I look him in the eyes, trying to arrange my thoughts to properly apologize.
“I’m perfectly fine. It’s foolish of me to thi-”
“No, it’s not foolish,” I defend as I pull him into a gentle hug. He stiffens before huffing a sigh, melting into my embrace after a moment.
We’re there for a second in silence before we pull away from one another. His arms remain wrapped around my waist nonetheless.
When he opens his mouth, I'm not expecting anything endearing, but I'm not expecting a total subject hop.
“The contract states that you could not hop over or jump above the maze. That counts as cheating!” His teasing tone eases my nerves and I laugh a little.
“Well, Mr. Lawyer sir,” I smile at him, realizing that he must have zapped me with magic or...whatever at some point. I’m no longer dirty or bleeding, thank goodness. “I didn’t hop or jump. I ran straight through. I had no idea where I was going, and therefore, no idea if I would find the exit. I stumbled upon the exit by accident, as the maze intended.”
He rolls his eyes before groaning, a purple puff of smoke materializing from the ground beside us, revealing a deep purple scarf with flecks of gold woven in the soft yarn floating there.
“Fine. There ya go, shortcake. Your prize.”
I untangle my fingers from his fluff, much to his displeasure, taking the scarf and looking it over.
I hum quietly before getting up on my tippy-toes and draping it behind him, wrapping the scarf carefully over his fluff.
He’s silent for a moment before he bursts into laughter, unable to contain himself.
I laugh along with him, glad he seems to be alright.
“What? You’re always cold, you dork.”
He presses his forehead to mine, laughter finally subsiding after a few more chuckles.
“I’m dead. Of course I'm cold.”
Before I know it, the both of us are home – er, on the ship. He's sitting on his usual corner by the pool of pillows, with me sitting in his lap, straddling him.
His arms are still wrapped around me, and our foreheads are still resting together. My fingers toy with the fluff around his neck, and he hums softly, content.
“I’m sorry again.”
He leans into my touch as we lift our heads again, obviously loving how I’m toying with his floof. Not that’s he’d ever admit that.
“Ah, you didn’t mean anything by it. Not that you could bring me harm anyway.” He keeps a single arm at my waist, the other lifting so a single hand could toy with the collar of my button-up shirt.
“Now,” he muses, a button coming undone as he played with it. “While we’re still around the subject of contracts and deals,” he continues fiddling, and another button falls undone. “We’re finally alone!”
His signature wicked grin returns to his face when my face lights up with a flush as my embarrassment is made clear.
We have a deal.
I snicker before leaning forward, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek before moving to his mouth, which he happily leans into.
He cups my face as we pull away from one another, my eyes shut as I try to just enjoy leaning against him.
I bury my face in his fluff as his hands ever so gently-
The noise startles me, making me jump and turn around as best I could, keeping a protective arm in front of...the ghost. He probably doesn’t need protecting, but hey.
He also notices the noise, growing slightly larger in size as he scoops me up to cradle me against his chest.
I cling to his fluff with one hand, about to ask him if he had any clue what that was, when I spot two little faces peeking out from the mountain of pillows.
“Girls, oh my god,” I huff, instantly relaxing against The Snatcher. For a guy who’s always cold on his own, he heats up quick. And it doesn’t help that he’s so comfortable.
Snatcher’s about to chew them out, but I beat him to the punch.
“Guys! I know you want to know how the death wish went, but please, announce yourselves next time. With all that parkour you both do I can barely keep track of you as it is.” I can feel my cheeks burning in embarrassment from my position, but I try to play it cool.
“Now, I finished it. It’s all done, and-” I pause, moving in his lap to whisper a quiet question to him. I ask whether they still get the rewards. He begrudgingly agrees with a huff, two more identical scarfs materialize in front of the both of them in the pile, and they cheerfully pick them up.
“Yup, there we go. But i want you both to take a little break from death wish, okay? I dunno if I can take any more.”
I watch them swim through the pillows and out, throwing on their new scarves. They thank me for completing it, Bow giggling before whispering something to Hattie.
She winks at her before continuing with her questions.
“So...did you beat it fair and square, or did somebody go easy on you?”
Snatcher subconsciously holds me closer to his chest as he stares down at the kids.
“I did no such thing! I d-” He scoffs, muttering something before continuing. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”
The two exchange a glance.
“Go check up on what’s happening on that cruise you love so much!” I pipe up, exhaustion clearly seeping in. Snatcher’s just too comfy.
“Wonderful idea! Or you could play in the manor!”
I hear the pitter-patter of their footsteps as they run excitedly away.
“No!” I call after them, Snatcher’s laughter in my ear as he listens to my frantic shout. “No, go to the cruise!” I groan, head falling gently back against his chest, my heavy eyelids finally shutting.
“You’re so mean, Snatch.”
He laughs again as I snuggle into him, exhaustion washing over me.
“Ah, I know. Isn’t it hilarious?”
I lean up to give him another kiss on the cheek before I finally settle.
“Damn straight, honey.” I kiss his chest, finally letting my energy, drained by the death wish, replenish as my eyes finally fall shut.