Outside the homely apartment, chilled winds guide falling snowflakes onto the ice-coated surfaces. Inside, Rosé stands in the kitchen, watching the snowfall as she stirs sugar into her cup of tea. She gently blows on it and attempts to take a sip, careful the still-hot liquid doesn’t burn her.
The drink warms her immediately. It’s hardly close to tasting as good as the tea Dr. Susan Fontain made her at Crescent Hill, but the mug shares its’ heat with her numbing hands, so she doesn’t quite mind. Plus, it’s good tea.
The snow began its light sprinkle in the early afternoon. Weather forecasts had stated it won’t stop until the following morning. They were right. Rosé, York and Grendan had been walking home from a grocery shopping trip when the cold flakes had begun to fall. The three hastily make their way back to their little apartment once it was clear that the weather had no intention in slowing.
While technically this is Grendan’s apartment, York and Rosé visit often and have deemed it their own too.
"York, the lower case letters aren’t pronounced different to the uppercase ones.” Speaking of her friends, Grendans voice travels the short distance from around the corner and she smiles to herself.
Carefully picking up a snack plate she’d made while the water was boiling, complete with fruits and Yorkie Snacks, Rosé makes her way to the loungeroom.
Grendan and York are sitting next to each other on the three-person couch, lined papers and pencils are sprawled all over the coffee table and a pile of student spelling and reading books are sitting on the floor in a neat pile. They’ve been at this for almost two whole hours now, taking a few breaks for food and drawing in between, of course.
Rosé spots a section of table that is free of papers and places the snack plate down before she sits on the other side of York. He grunts softly in acknowledgement of her presence, gently bumping her shoulder with his own. Meanwhile, Grendan points out another sentence for York who looks closely at the paper before reading in the softest voice Rosé has ever heard the Orkish Prince speak in.
“You don’t need to whisper the lower case letters, though I see where that can be confusing, bud.” Grendan chuckles before adding, “I’m not making fun of you either.”
“I know. But why do they look different, then?” York exclaims, though his arms are crossed and his expression is blank as always. “Grandma, you’re confusing me.”
“I can only think of them as the same, but the bigger ones are for the beginnings of sentences, after a period, when we write someone’s name-” Grendan begins listing ways to use upper and lowercase letters on their fingers.
One glance up at York tells Rosé that he is becoming more and more lost by the second. His expression resting in his usual angry-seeming face, one that any outsider may deem scary, though Rosé and Grendan have long since learnt that his body language shows them that he’s nothing more than a little confused.
“Don’t worry about it too much, York.” Rosé leans her head on his shoulder, patting his back with her free hand. “Practice the upper case ones first, they’re the ones most commonly used on signs. We can help you with the difficult smaller ones when we come around to it and then you’ll be able to read more than the name ‘Sneppy’ in the Cashews comics.”
Though Rosé can tell that Yorks face has yet to reflect his excitement, she knows that when he looks less angry than usual, he is feeling a very positive emotion.
York hasn’t been learning the alphabet for long. Both Grendan and Rosé have told him that it may take a while for him to begin reading bigger words and sentences, but they can tell he’s excited to be able to read soon. Besides, they’re enjoying the time spent together outside of Rosé mentoring Ogalvy and working as an intern for Jancy, Grendan walking many dogs owned by people who are totally not wealthy thieves, and York working in the modelling industry.
Ten minutes of revising what Grendan had taught York today, a small drawing break, and an empty snack plate later; Grendan declares that learning is not a battle, it’s a process, and York more than deserves to be done for the day.
“Well, if learning was another Ork, I would win that fight immediately.” York says, placing his pencil back into a pencil case.
“We know you would, big guy.” Rosé says through a yawn. “Nothing could defeat our York.”
“You could say that again.” Grendan chimes in, fixing up the papers on the coffee table.
Rosé giggles before repeating. “Nothing could defeat our York."
Grendan fixes their neat pile on the table. “You could say that again.”
“Nothing could defeat our York.”
“You could say-”
“No need to say it again,” York interrupts, no tone indicating any annoyance in his voice. “because I know it’s true.”
Rosé watches York as he stands up and as his cheeks darken. “Well,” Rosé starts. “I guess we can defeat our York. As a treat.”
“You haven’t defeated me.” York says, unaware of Rosé insinuating that him blushing at his friends’ praise had meant he lost. “I’m more than capable to win a fight in my current state."
“As lovely as it is to listen to you two talk all night,” Grendan interjects, knowing the two can go on for literal hours. It's happened before. “We’d better get to bed then, hey?”
Easier said than done.
The three have figured the best way for them to all get the best nights sleep is a cuddle pile. This started with some comforting after nightmares and then next thing you know, they all save up for a big bed and sleep in it. There is another room with a bed, and the couch in the lounge in case one or all of them decide to sleep on their own whenever they want or need to, but a cuddle pile has been the best sleeping system they’ve had.
The big question is: who gets the middle tonight?
After a light-hearted argument, Grandma decides what they need to do. “There’s only one way for us to solve this. Rosé, will you get your phone and search for an online dice website on Boogle?”
“Okay!” Rosé does just that, Boogling a website called jewel.ia for the online dice. “Oh! highest roll gets to sleep in the middle!”
“Wait. To decide who rolls the dice first, do we need to roll the dice?” York asks.
“You know what? You can roll first, York.” Rosé hands him the phone.
York and Rosé rolled an eight and a three respectively, and Grendan rolled an eleven, the highest roll. “You two will get so much leg room!”
“Oh hey! You’re right, Grandma.” York says, lying on one side of Grendan, swinging his feet a little bit to demonstrate to Rosé, who turns off the light before jumping in after them.
“So much leg room!” She giggles and tucks herself in, cuddling onto Grendans arm. “Hey? You two think we’ll be able to build some snowcreatures tomorrow?”
When York and Grendan answer “I hope so,” and “Me too,” they are already half asleep inside their homely apartment.
No, their home.
Outside their home, the weather still makes no effort in slowing the light coating of snowflakes. Inside, Rosé is cuddled against her family. The ones who love her for who she is and who she will learn to be, much like how she loves them the same. Rosé doesn’t know where she’d be without them, though she doesn’t like thinking about that too often. Here she is safe. Here is where she belongs. Her home is where she has been the most of herself than she has ever been before.