Yvette stretched out in the small bit of grass that grew relentlessly through the cobblestone just outside the house with a few select dandelions poking up here and there. She always tried to keep this spot clear and bring them whatever they wanted. Yvette loved them dearly with their soft, little yellow heads, that would one day become wishes!
They helped keep her company now that Wulfric was gone. She had plenty of other friends, but they couldn’t always play, since some had jobs, and others had to help their parents at home a lot or even school. Besides, the plants helped remind her of Wulfric, because she remembered being taught how to water and feed them.
She hadn’t been awake long. It was payday again, and soon Yvette would have to go inside and hide in the wardrobe. She disliked being in it, and with Wulfric’s help, momma hadn’t been beaten by Oda, which had been fantastic. She still hated that dark wardrobe, though.
“Oh! Wulfric should be here tomorrow,” Yvette explained to her little plant friends, “and he’ll probably bring treats again. I hope he brings more apples, those are yummy.” At the mention of apples, the dandelions seemed to perk. “Oh, you want more compost? I can probably find something,” Yvette assured as she sat up to look around hopefully for any sights of garbage in the street.
She jumped, jerking away from a man she hadn’t noticed had been crouched next to her.
“Hello!” He beamed, tilting his head. “Were you talking to the plants there?”
Yvette hesitated, glancing back at her little friends before back up to the man. He was smiling, and his eyes-
Yvette gasped, “Your eyes are glowing!”
The man chuckled and gently shushed her. “They are, yes. So are yours.”
Yvette stared up at the man, stunned.
“You didn’t know that?”
Yvette shook her head quickly.
“Well, that’s a shame. You know, only special people’s eyes glow, and it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve met anyone with eyes like mine,” he sat down next to her. His clothing was fancy, things Yvette had seen on people in the market, or how she imagined people like Oda dressed. “So, do you always talk to your plants?”
“I-I try,” Yvette hesitated, glancing back towards her home. She wasn’t supposed to be talking to strangers, especially strange men unless momma cleared it.
“Do they talk back?”
“Sometimes,” Yvette whispered as she began to pick at her hair.
“So do mine,” the man smiled. “They’re always thirsty though, or hungry.” He chuckled. “I have so many pretty flowers in my garden, of all sorts of types.”
Yvette looked back up to the man after a moment. “…what kind of flowers?”
He seemed amused. “You like roses?”
“Yeah?” She had seen some at the florist’s stall, and they smelled so sweet. She remembered being able to get a petal that had fallen, but it didn’t last very long without the rest of the flower.
“We have 3 different colored roses. Red, yellow, and orange.”
Yvette sat up on her knees, “Roses come in different colors?!”
The man laughed, “Yes, they do. Would you like to see them one day?”
“Yes, please! Oh, are you here for momma?” Maybe he was one of momma’s visitors.
“I suppose that depends. I’m looking for the Drasa residence; have you heard of it?”
“That’s momma!” Yvette announced happily. He seemed nice, too! Momma let her talk to the friendly visitors- oh, she hoped they could go see the special colored roses!
“Oh, your mother is Melissa?” His eyes narrowed a second before closing. “I see! Such a wonderful coincidence. So I’m at the right place?”
“Yep!” Yvette moved to climb to her feet.
“So, you know Wulfric?”
“Yes, he’s my brother!” Yvette beamed happily. “Oh, could he come to see the roses too? He doesn’t live with us right now, but he visits.”
“I would be honored if you all would visit.” He moved to rise, dusting off his pants. “What’s your name?”
“Yvette, what’s yours?”
“Florence. Yvette, it’s a pleasure. You have such… a darling name.”
Yvette giggled as she attempted to curtsy, losing her balance after grabbing her skirt ends. Florence caught her shoulder to help keep her steady. “Thanks!”
“You’re most welcome. Now, will you show me the way in? I’d love to speak to your mother.”
Yvette took his hand and quickly led the way. There was only one door in or out, and it was around the other side. Once they were at the door, she felt a slight jerk as Florence stopped her walking.
“Why don’t you stay out here? Your mother may be a bit surprised at seeing me. I have some friends who would be happy to meet you,” and he gestured back to the backside of the street.
Leaning around him, Yvette could see a carriage a bit up the way with some men in armor milling about. “Them?” She pointed.
Florence glanced back to check. “Yes, them. Go introduce yourself and tell the one named Marco that I would like to speak with him, please.”
“Okay! But-” Yvette hesitated, as they were strangers, “Momma said-”
“I’ll explain to your mother it was my idea. Now, go on.”
Florence’s hand to her back encouraged her the way they had come, and she relented, heading back towards the carriage. It was beautiful! The wood was polished beneath the metal trimmings, and the horses were so decorated.
“Stay back from the carriage,” one of the guards spoke up in warning, so Yvette stopped approaching.
“Mr. Florence said he wanted to speak to a Marco?”
One of the other guards hesitated, glancing at the first who had spoken before walking between the tightly packed homes.
Should she stay here or should she go with Marco? Momma should have had plenty of time to be surprised that Florence was here, right? Oh, what if they were busy ?
Yvette hesitated before she began back towards the house anyway. Maybe at least stick by-
“ Please stop! ” Yvette heard momma shriek. Yvette felt her feet run before she had the chance to process what was going on around the yelling.
Shoving the door open and shooting in past Marco, Yvette found her mother on the ground, shielding herself from Florence’s blows. Her face was bloodied from her nose misshapen.
“Momma!” Yvette was quick to snake around Florence to cling to her mother’s dress. “Please, stop hurting her!”
Florence’s face was twisted in anger, and it softened a bit at Yvette before he stepped back and took a deep breath.
“Now, see what you’ve caused our child to witness? You shouldn’t have hidden her away,” Florence’s voice was calm, but it was composed in a way Yvette recognized from Oda, and it scared her even more. She swallowed hard and clung to momma tightly, burying her face against her. She needed to find Wulfric, he’d be able to do something. But what about momma?
“Please, I swear I didn’t know-”
“Didn’t know what?” Florence’s words were coming out as if he were picking each word precisely. “That she wasn’t mine?”
Yvette shrieked when she felt her arm grabbed and was forced back away from Melissa. Florence caught her chin and forced her to look at her bloody and crying momma.
“Look at these eyes. You mean to tell me you really doubted who her father was?”
Yvette cried out as Florence’s fingers dug too much into her jaw. “You’re hurting me!”
His grip lessened.
“I’m sorry, honey. Your mother’s just made me so, so angry.” His words weren’t comforting in the least. She tried to pull away from him once, but his tightening grip on her arm made her flinch. She really needed to find Wulfric now, he’d know what to do.
“Momma,” Yvette tried to reach for her mom. She was shaking, and she didn’t like feeling this sick, and her eyes stung because of the tears. Yvette just wanted to hide, her momma would shield her from all this. She didn’t want to leave to find Wulfric yet without momma, and it hurt her heart to consider leaving her like this.
“Marco,” Florence stood up, twisting Yvette’s arm as he rose that forced her up on her toes with a shriek of pain. “Take her to the carriage. I still need to find out where Wulfric’s gone off to.”
Yvette tried to pull away from Florence as Marco approached. “No, don’t! Are you going to hurt momma?” Yvette’s begging drowned out whatever her momma was pleading, but momma had come up to touch Yvette’s shoulder.
“You have no business asking me not to take her,” Florence snapped at Melissa before backhanding her away from Yvette.
“Momma!” Yvette tried to reach for her as she was sharply yanked away. “I’ll tell you where Wulfric is, just stop hurting momma!”
“Yvette, no!” Melissa cried out.
Florence paused, his fist hovering in the air a moment before he dropped it. He turned to Yvette and crouched down to her level. “You know where he is?”
Yvette nodded, trying to swallow her fear back. “He’s with his daddy at the Karolis estate.” They could all go to Wulfric, he could fix this!
Florence’s eyes searched her over as if contemplating something.
Florence caught himself against Marco’s armor, and Yvette looked up past him to her momma, who was shakily holding her broom. She went to swing again, but Florence caught it while moving to stand.
“Marco, take the child. I need to finish things up here.”
Yvette tried to squirm away, and once Marco’s arm was under her and hoisting her up, she began to thrash and scream as loud as she could as she was taken from the house. She needed to get Wulfric! She couldn’t break free of Marco’s hold though, no matter how much she kicked.
After being shoved into the carriage, she noticed the windows were open. Once the door was shut behind her, she scrambled out the window on the opposite side. She landed roughly on the ground and heard her dress rip, but didn’t have the time to try to fix it as one of the other guards looked around the side she was on.
Yvette scrambled to her feet and ran down the nearest alleyway, hearing the guards shouting and the clash of metal on stone as they chased her. She sought every turn she could, even scrambling over some spare debris to get over a fence across another alleyway.
She found an empty, upturned wooden crate. While she was desperate to find Wulfric, she wasn’t going to be able to find him if she was caught. Quickly she flipped the box and crawled under it, making sure to drag her skirts all the way in so nothing poked out. It wasn’t too dark inside the crate, with small beams of light forcing their way inside between the wooden slates.
Yvette closed her eyes tightly and cupped her hands over her ears, rocking gently to try to fight against all the horrifying thoughts. She didn’t want to think of momma all bloodied up and crying, nor of Florence’s face. She really wanted to get to Wulfric, but she didn’t know how to get to the Karolis’ estate. She could ask, but who would listen to her?
What if she ran into Oda while she was out?
It was so hard not to cry her eyes out in that crate. Sometimes she sobbed, but she tried to stifle it with a hand. She heard a few metal steps sometimes coming back and forth in the area, but eventually, it fell quiet.
Yvette didn’t know how long she hid there, but by the time she crawled out, she felt stiff and exhausted. Her eyes stung, and her body ached. She was torn; should she still try to find Wulfric, or go back and ask momma? She was too scared to go back, but she wanted momma pretty badly, but Wulfric could protect her too.
Despite really wanting to find Wulfric, so much her body tried to fight her, she inched her way back towards home. Maybe they were gone, and they wouldn’t need Wulfric? The closer she edged home, the more terrified she was becoming, and the thoughts of fleeing were overwhelming.
The carriage was still there with only a singular guard. It was enough to finally cave and try to find the Karolis estate. Any time she heard metallic steps, she scrambled to find places to hide.
How was she supposed to do this?
She was so scared, she missed her teddy, she missed momma, she missed Wulfric!
It felt like there were just so many guards in the city, and she couldn’t tell the ones apart from the ones Florence had with him.
Oh, what was she to do?