For a moment, neither of them moved. Hanana's breath caught in her throat, she almost couldn't breathe as she stared, getting a good look at his face.
He grabbed the fabric of his cloak, part of which was still in her hand, and gave it a sharp tug, freeing himself. Quickly putting the hood back up, he turned to walk off. "Leave me alone," he shot over his shoulder. He took a few steps into the forest, and by extension the snowstorm, and then it was as if he suddenly disappeared.
Hanana's legs buckled as she regained the ability to breathe. She fell to her knees, staring straight ahead into the forest. That...he was...That was a snowman. Not one we used to make in the yard at home, but a real one...
Suddenly, pieces of the story came rushing back again. A long time ago, there'd been an awful winter...Someone walking around the forest, a horrible blue glow....She'd gotten a good look at his eyes; they had been blue...
So the stories were true, then! She swallowed, feeling her heart start beating faster and faster. Okay. No, she shouldn't panic. She should calm down...Nothing had happened to her. Yet. Lifting her hands to rub her arms, suddenly feeling chilled, she tried to think rationally about the situation. It's a bit difficult when something very irrational is right in front of you, she thought with a tiny, nervous laugh. But okay. No, she should think about things.
The story went that if the creature touched you, you would freeze to death in an instant. Well, apparently she'd been chasing him earlier, she'd touched his arm, and nothing had happened. Well, she'd passed out, but that could hardly be blamed on him. And he'd have to have touched her, if he took her here, and she wasn't dead. That begged the question on why she was here anyway, but the point was, she hadn't been frozen.
And okay--okay, there wasn't a glow either. The eyes were blue but there was no glow...
This was working, she was calming down a little bit. She was in a strange place that didn't seem to work by the laws of nature and there was a walking, living, breathing snowperson nearby, but she was calmer. Wait. The strange place--that made her think of something else.
Why she was even here. The still-panicky part of her insisted that he probably brought her here so there wouldn't be a witness when he froze her, but she squashed that down. No. No, that didn't make sense. There wouldn't have been a witness anyway, where she'd gone. She stood, shaking a little, approaching the trees to look out into the forest. It was still snowing, rather heavily at that. It actually looked like it had gotten worse, snow piling up higher than she remembered it being before, wind howling and tossing great flakes and sprays of the stuff left and right. If she'd stayed out there...
And suddenly, things clicked.
Maybe there'd been no other choice. If he lived here, knew where this place was and how close they were to it when she'd black out, then it was a better option. He wouldn't have known where she lived. And it wasn't like he could follow her footprints, she realized as she flickered her gaze down to the snow on the ground.
Her heart was still pounding a bit, and she was still frightened, but...At least things make sense. A little.
She was right. The house was small.
Hanana sat down on at the bottom of the stairs, chin in her hands. Well. So much for killing time by exploring. So far she'd managed to walk around and look in every room with an open door (there were two that were shut. She hadn't even bothered to check if they were locked; closed doors were always closed for a reason, and just because she was here didn't mean she had to be a snoop) and that took a grand total of two minutes. She wasn't about to go around opening closets or bureaus, that was too nosy. She'd found a shelf with books on it, but didn't dare to read any--people could be touchy about their things, and how would she have liked it if someone did that to her?
She couldn't go back outside, didn't dare venture into the forest to try (and likely fail) to find her way back...
So now she was stuck waiting and day-dreaming until whoever this person was came back.
person. She tapped her fingertips against her cheek as she considered this. Surely it was him the villagers had described, but he hadn't seemed particularly evil. No evil person took pity on a complete stranger. And...strange as it sounded, even to her, but when he'd walked off, snapping at her, it hadn't sounded completely angry.
There was an undercurrent to it, a familiar tightness in the voice that she recognized as coming from her own mouth at times.
It was almost...sad.
"You're still here?"
Hanana yelped and jumped, looking up to see her rescuer(?) standing next to where she set. His hands were on his hood again, as if it had been down just a second ago and he'd hastily put it back up. She nodded, twisting her fingers around each other. "U-Uh-huh."
"I would have thought you'd have run off." It didn't sound accusatory, merely like he was stating a fact.
She shook her head, dimly wondering if it was better to not look at him or to make eye-contact. "No."
Beneath the hood, his eyebrows lifted. He briefly wondered if maybe she wasn't all there. Everyone ran from him. They always had before, they always would. It was to be expected; it was a normal reaction when one saw a monster. ...strange.
Neither spoke for a few moments. He shifted--not uncomfortably, absolutely not. "You would have died---"
"I know." She looked up, smiling a little bit, attempting to look friendly. "Thanks."
There was another awkward silence.
"Oh, uhm, I'm sorry I knocked your hood back," she continued, fidgeting again. All these silences were making her feel uncomfortable. "It was an accident, truly. I didn't mean to upset you."
That was what she was worried about? His eyebrows rose again and he turned his head away, scoffing and shaking his head. "Never mind..." After a brief pause, he sighed, a hand over his eyes. This was shaping to be the worst day of his hundred-thirty-something years of life. "Snowstorms around here don't stop for a while. They only calm down a little but they're powerful even then." His tone had a sharp edge to it, as if he were daring her to suggest it was his fault. Though he tried to deny, maybe a tiny part of him thought so too. "And you couldn't even last--If you tried to go too soon--"
"No, I understand," she said, still smiling a little, sounding as if they were discussing something more pleasant. "Thank you again."
Okay! This woman was weird. He wanted to cry out in frustration, ask how she could possibly be so...so nice. But he didn't, instead taking a deep breath and counting to three. No, no, she didn't deserve to be snapped at. She wasn't doing anything. He just wasn't...used to this. "I--I need to go do something. If you don't want to see me, I--" he started, moving to walk away.
"Uhm, wait. if you don't mind--"
"What--?" He froze--metaphorically.
She had suddenly stood up, caught up with him before he could even take two steps from her, and set her hand on his forearm. He swore his face burned a little as he glanced between the fair hand on his sleeve and the slight frown on her face, her tongue peeping out a little. After a moment's pause, she moved her hand down to grab at his own, still making that admittedly-amusing "concentrating face."
"...what are you doing?"
She suddenly smiled, exhaling in what sounded like relief as she finally let go, fixing her gaze on his eyes again. He instinctively pulled his hood down to hide his face better. "Never mind," she said.
"...alright then." Strange girl. He turned again, biting back a groan as she called for him to wait again. "Yes?"
She held a hand out to him. "If we going to be here...my name's Hanana." Flower. "What's yours?"
Good question. I barely remember, myself, he wanted to say. Instead, he turned away from her outstretched hand and continued for the door to the gardens.
It seemed like he wasn't going to answer her. Hanana lowered her hand to her side again, sighing internally as she thought about going to read those books after all, but then he spoke.
"I'm called...I suppose I'll be Yukiki."