She supposed she should have known better than to press her luck twice.
Hanana sat huddled up on the bed, underneath the covers like they were a tent, feeling miserable. She didn't get it! She'd bundled up better that time--no gloves or hat, but other than that...! At least all it was right now was a slight sniffle and froggy throat. She sniffled again, wiping her nose on her sleeve. "'s awful..." she groaned.
"You're not going to need medicine, are you?"
Hanana yelped in surprise, poking her head out from the blankets. Her host stood in the doorway, an odd look on his face. The way his mouth was twisted slightly and his eyebrows lowered--if she didn't know better, she'd say he looked nervous.
Whether it was about her being sick enough to need medicine or the thought of having to go find some, she didn't know.
"No...no, this is nothing," she reassured him, waving a hand dismissively as she wiped her nose again. "I'll be better again by tomorrow, you'll see!"
Yukiki's expression didn't change. He looked around a little bit, as if expecting to see the spirit of sickness itself lurking around a corner, drumming his fingertips against the door frame. After a long silence, he spoke up again, voice thick with...something Hanana couldn't figure out. "I hope you will. I won't be able to help you if it gets any worse."
"It won't get worse, don't worry," she said, smiling gently. "It's just..just a minor head-cold; my sisters and I get them all the time! After I sleep it off and stay warm, I'll be back to normal."
Stay warm? Yukiki couldn't help glancing down at his hands for a moment, before turning on his heel and walking off.
"H-hey, wait, where're you going?!" Hanana jumped out of bed, ran to the door and poked her head out. "You don't have to leave!"
"You said you had to stay warm. I can't help you there either." He pulled his hood up again, as if even seeing snow would make her colder. "I won't be far, don't worry. And don't try to leave again; you'll make your health even worse."
Before Hanana could protest, he'd gone down the stairs, and she heard a door open and close. He was gone again.
She sighed, smile fading. But she couldn't go back to bed, not yet. Instead, she went downstairs, made her way to the table where the book sat, paper bookmark still in the middle. It wouldn't be fair to read ahead without Yukiki, but at least she could reread the older stories...
Moments later, she was under the covers again, book open on the pillow.
Half an hour later, however, she was asleep.
"Why are you so kind to me?"
Hanana looked up, spotting someone in front of her. They stood in the forest, the one she'd wandered through before. But with all the snow gone, light streaming between the leaves above, it felt like an entirely different place. "What?" she murmured, both in response to the question and the semi-unfamiliarity of their environment.
"No one's...no one's been kind to me in ages. But here you are. Why is that?"
"I'm...I'm sorry, sir," Hanana said again, apologetic. "I'm afraid I don't know who you are, so I can't answer that."
"Don't you now?" The hooded person in front of her lifted his head slightly, not enough for her to see his features through the shadows, but enough so she could actually look at him.
And suddenly she felt a sense of familiarity. She did know this person, didn't she? "A-Ah, wait--!"
--she opened her eyes blearily, lifting her face from the pillow. Blinking a few times, she struggled to remember the finer details of the dream, already fading from memory. It had been in shadows, but she swore she could see some bit of his face. And his eyes...
"What...what color were they?" she mumbled, rubbing her own eyes as she sat up, blanket sliding off her shoulders. Ugh, why could she never remember the important things of her dreams? Especially when she had the nagging feeling that the dream itself was important.
She remembered hearing somewhere that "If you can't remember something, it wasn't important to begin with." That probably didn't apply here.
Hanana put her hand on the pillow, meaning to close the book. But all she felt was the material of the pillow. Suddenly wide-awake, she opened her eyes all the way, noting how dark it was in her room, the sky outside was. Had she been asleep that long? And where was the book?
A quick glance around and she found it on the bureau. "How'd it get over there?" she mumbled, reaching for it--and then she saw what sat beyond it.
A small pink rose, the same color as her hair, with a stubby little stem.
He should not have done.
he should not have done that!
It was the next morning, and Yukiki was still giving himself a hard time for that...stupid action of his.
All he'd meant to do was check on her, make sure she hadn't somehow gotten worse while he was gone. He remembered that it'd happened to him a few times before--though only barely. He couldn't let her get sicker, he just couldn't.
But when he'd peeked in, he couldn't help it...Something just happened in his mind, he supposed, made him quietly cross the room to take the book out from under her face (it couldn't have been very comfortable), and then...
...and then something else had made him want to leave that rose for her. It seemed fitting, they matched, it just...
You're an idiot! he cursed himself, banging his forehead on the table. Idiot, idiot, idiot!
Ugh, he was losing his mind, acting like some...like some...some love-struck fool. Even if it was far too early for that sort of thing, and wouldn't do either of them any good--
"Are you okay?"
Yukiki abruptly sat up, one hand covering his forehead. "I'm fine," he muttered. Ow, that hurt his forehead--
Hanana stepped closer, reaching out as if to touch his forehead and see for herself. He couldn't help notice that the flower was tucked behind her ear now. "There aren't any thorns on that stem," he said, feeling like he had to say something.
She smiled, blushing faintly as her hand moved away from him and up to the tiny rose. "I know...you got rid of them, didn't you?" She'd seen the telltale marks on the stem. "Thank you...How did you know I liked flowers?"
"I didn't---I guessed. Something silly," he said, turning away, fighting back the warmth threatening to fill his face. "It's just--your name, I suppose. You really like flowers?"
Yes. Exactly like a love-struck fool, his mind chastised.
"Oh yes!" Hanana breathed, smile widening. "I...I used to have a little garden back home, before we moved." Her voice took on a more rueful tone just then as she gently stroked the rose's petals. "I had to leave it behind...and this village doesn't have any flowers. Especially not in the middle of winter."
Odd... Yukiki couldn't help think. But she loved flowers, didn't she? And she seemed happy by the rose, so perhaps--"I can show you more, if you like," he said, standing up suddenly. "If you're well enough." Her voice sounded less froggy, but that didn't mean she'd fully recovered. He turned to her, raising an eyebrow questioningly.
Hanana looked to be positively glowing. "I--I'm well enough!" she said, voice louder than she meant it to be. "Just still sniffly a little, but I'm well enough! Let me see!"
Her enthusiasm nearly made him smile, but he forced it back. Despite that, a faint chuckle escaped him as he walked past her. "Over here," he said, leading her to a small door in the back, one that she hadn't tried to open. Perhaps it was just as well, for it had been locked. Hanana could barely contain herself as Yukiki grabbed a ring of keys and unlocked the door. He glanced over his shoulder once, a tiny smile daring to show itself, and he pushed the door open and stood back.
She stepped forward, and couldn't help gasping, hands coming up to her chest. In a fenced-off area with a large gate on one side--that would explain why she hadn't seen it, it was arranged so one couldn't see it from the outside of the fence--was more roses of more colors than she had seen in one place at once. She ran further into the garden, Yukiki walking behind her, rushing to the roses that matched her hair.
Completely missing a frost-coated blue rose with most of its petals missing.