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Weather Girls

The Chrysanthemum

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a part of Weather Girls, by The_Queen.

None

The_Queen holds sovereignty over The Chrysanthemum, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

5,575 readers have been here.

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Default Location for Weather Girls
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The Chrysanthemum is a part of Weather Girls.

2 Characters Here

Elise von Hresvelg [625] "Hide away from the light, the rain is the only refuge."
Winter Matsuri [625] As gentle as the falling snow.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter poked her head into Elise's workspace, seeing that Elise was testing the portal generator. She turned it off as soon as Winter and Yuuki arrived, no doubt so that they could not somehow mess it up. "Elise, you don't have to bow," Winter felt like a broken record. "We're friends, remember? No need for the formalities." It wasn't like anyone was around to tell on them, anyhow. Unless Kore was a gossip and even then, Winter didn't really care. Elise was her sister, not just some servant. "I'm glad to hear it, it looks like it's working well." Winter leaned on the doorway while Yuuki ventured inside to look at the portal generator, not that he knew what was going on. "It looks the same," he admired. "But if it ain't broke, don't fix it, you know?" He laughed, sounding oddly human. "Hey, Elise and Kore worked hard on that!" She protested, not wanting him to offend them.

"Wedding planning is going well," Winter replied, attempting to remain respectful to Kore, who seemed to be here to start trouble. She understood that it was generous of Kore to take Elise underneath her wing, but Winter was still miffed that she had overstepped her boundaries this morning and set Zed off. "It almost sounds like you're saying I don't deserve it," Elise stepped in, shushing her Master. "Yeah, I can have everything arranged. I'll let Iris know I'll be gone for a few days," she wasn't going to be happy, but Winter was fine with that. Zed wanted to come, Winter knew, but that wasn't realistic. "Thank you Kore, but we should be alright." Winter didn't want to take Kore away from her job on Olympia and in the Underworld. "Thank you Elise, I couldn't have returned without you." She gave Elise a hug, embracing her friend.

Elise was cold, Winter realized. There was no warmth coming from her body. Was it because she was dead? Winter took a step back, "I want you to have as much time as possible to do the things you want to do." She took Elise's hands in her own. "So make sure you have plenty of time to spend with Claude and finish up any business you might have on earth." In case they could never returned. Winter wanted to give Elise the opportunity to wrap up whatever business she had remaining there. Which in truth, was probably much more than anything Winter needed to do. "Zed is here," one of the maids said, passing by the room. "Alright," Winter pushed off of the door frame. "I'm going to let him know now, wish me luck." Yuuki opted to remain with Elise and Iris this time, giving Winter a bit of privacy.

"Welcome home," Winter greeted him at the door. "I'm back," he kissed her, his embrace warm. "What's wrong?" He asked, sensing something amiss. "Elise finished the portal generator. I'll be able to go and retrieve my body tomorrow," Zed stiffened. "I'm coming," he insisted. Winter shook her head, "That is completely unrealistic. You don't have a body on earth, you would just be a helpless ghost." He seemed miffed by this. "You can't just go alone," he began. "I won't be alone, Elise will be there." Winter clarified. "I'm just going to get my body and coming right back, don't worry. I won't be gone long, three days maximum." He held her hands in his own, "I don't want you to go." She nodded, "I know, but when I come back, I'll never have to go again."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Working with Kore was very distracting. It was not the same as working with Svarog, who had been very helpful the whole time. While Svarog was excited to work with someone who understood advanced scientific principles for creation and invention, Kore was drastically different. For example, when Elise told her how to operate the particle transistor, Kore rubbed her horns with cheer. "It's so cute that you know all of this! You're such an adorable bird!" Kore was very hands-on in giving affection and Elise shied away from that, not really understanding it. It was different from how the men in her life tried to obsess over her, but it was still definitely weird. Thankfully Elise knew that her benefactor was not malicious... just very strange. "You're so adorable! I can't believe your perfect posture!" Really, Elise chose to ignore it as best as she could.

Winter and Yuuki came to check on them and Elise was proud to announce that they were almost finished. Kore had helped a lot, four hands was definitely faster than two, even when two of those four were half the time trying to touch her the way one would a cute dog or cat. Elise stood up straight, smiling slyly. "Sorry, it is a bad habit." She was raised to respect status, so it was inborn to bow to Winter as a greeting. "She's so wonderful! You both are very adorable." Kore was beaming, almost completely sidestepping Winter's attempt to dismiss her. "And the wedding will be a good celebration after retrieving your body."

It was strange seeing Winter recoil abruptly from her. Was there something wrong? The black eagle hid the confusion of course, she would not worry about it for now. "If I could, I'd love to watch you two at work!" Kore grinned, her pale skin almost glowing. Yuuki made a slight face. "Heirs can't truly materialize on Earth." Yuuki explained, since he had been there. "We can't really do anything without Servants." Only certain few, like Zeus, were able to materializing, but even then, only for short periods of time. Surely Zed knew this as well, deep down? Elise would make sure to finish her business fast. Really she just wanted to see Claude one last time and to ensure the Hresvelg name lived on into the future as a name of pride.

"We will continue working until dinner. Good luck." Winter made her exit, to go and talk to Zed now. "I'll go and read. There's a really large library here." Yuuki sauntered off on his own, happy to spend time as he pleased. "You might want to return to the Underworld, Kore, but thank you for helping me." Elise began the second test, wanting to make sure everything was in working order. Kore hugged her close, almost getting in the way of the tests. "The faster we do this, the sooner you can return and be safe." The Heir of Mercy said softly. "You and Winter are very important to the future of Olympia, and you're both so cute I'd hate if anything bad happened."

Still, even Kore had to maintain her duties and she vanished without another word after Elise finished the tests and calibrations. Nemia took her to the dinner table, as food had been called. "Ah, where's Kore? She's quite the colorful one." Nemia's ear twitched, looking puzzled. "She was needed back at the Underworld." Elise explained calmly, her ruby eyes sparkling. "Should... I have prepared a goodbye?" Elise smiled a little. "No... she is a very unorthodox Heir." Even stranger than Svarog, really.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




They walked to the garden together, spending a bit of time alone. Most days, it felt like Winter was surrounded by people. It was like she barely had a moment to breathe. Not that she minded being with others, but sometimes, Winter missed the silence. "When are you going to play that new viola for me?" Zed joked as they sat in the grass, Winter's head on his lap. "Whenever you want me to," she smiled. It was close to sunset, the golden hour tinging everything a pleasant yellow. "Why did you hide it from me?" He asked, "the viola I mean?" Winter giggled, "because I wanted to surprise you, you told me that the viola made your favorite music. So I went to get one so I could play it for you," she looked up at him as he played with her hair, a sensation she would never get tired of. "You did all of that for me?"

"Of course, because I love you." She reached up to kiss him, her peck landing on the chin. She lay her head back down, the two of them sitting there in silence for a moment or two. "I can ask Nemia to go and retrieve it?" Since Nemia was constantly watching them in order to report back to Iris. This was to make sure that they did not do anything untoward before the wedding. "If you'd like," Zed replied. "She's already listening in. Nemia, can you go fetch my viola please?" Nemia scurried off, cheeks pink, considering she had been caught eavesdropping. The maid servant returned a moment later, viola case in hand. Winter plucked the instrument from its bed and gave it a quick test to make certain that it was still tuned.

She played for him until dinner, the two of them sitting in the grove, between the trees. She had lost her shoes somewhere along the way, someone eventually calling them in for dinner. Winter packed her instrument up for the night, the two of them having needed the time together. It was only Yuuki and Elise at the table. "Where did Kore go?" Winter inquired, taking her normal seat. Zed sat beside her, at the head of the table. "Ah, it's a shame she left without saying goodbye," Winter looked down at her plate. The food smelled delicious, of course. She would miss Olympian food while on earth, but what yould she do? This had to be done. Her stomach was already filled with nervous butterflies. She would see everyone again. Would they hate her for leaving them? Winter could only hope not.

That night, it was hard for her to fall asleep. She took breakfast with Zed in the morning, and Elise, and Yuuki of course. They ate together in the dining room and then, she kissed Zed goodbye. "I'll be waiting for you eagerly to return," he kissed her fingertips before leaving for work. "Alright Elise, ready?" Winter asked, following her to the room with the portal generator. Yuuki walked with them, since he would have to be the one to open and close the portal. She was dressed simply, knowing that her outfit in Olympia would not matter once she had returned to her body. "Let's do this."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







"Are you sure that you do not want to come?' After dinner, Elise found Yuuki browsing through the collection in the library. Why was he still at the Palace? Surely Elise noticed his moon eyes towards Zed, but even Zoku managed to get her own home within Olympia, like most Major Heirs did. Perhaps since Yuuki was just approved he still did not decide on a home yet. "Yes, I'm sure." Yuuki had a faint smile as he flipped through the pages. Elise could not blame him - the library here was one of the most extensive in all of Olympia, almost as tall as the Golden Hall of Records, Olympia's own state-designed library, for the public of the city. "This isn't my fight, and I wouldn't be much help anyways. You two are more than enough to deal with anything that Earth has to offer."

He had a lot of confidence in them. He certainly seemed to believe in them after seeing what they were capable of. "I am sure Winter may like having you around... but it makes sense to not come along too." Yuuki had his own affairs now that he was considered a Major Heir. He nodded, glad that Elise understood his point. "Plus, Winter's the msot tenacious person I know, and you're able to quickly think through any problem. You two make a great team." It felt a little nice to hear that out loud like this. Winter was incredibly tough and stubborn, and Elise was certainly a prodigy in her ability to think. "What are you going to do now that you're a Major Heir?" Yuuki sipped his steaming tea, as if thinking. "I might take in a few Servants and see about making a city of ice to house them." He flipped to a page, showing an image to Elise. They looked a little bit like seals, with female features. "Silkies?" He nodded, a snarky grin on his mien. "They remind me a little of Winter, tough and resilient, but they don't like warmer temperatures."

It was odd still, even now, hearing Heirs talk about their own dreams and ambitions. About their lives beyond having a Vassal and stopping the apocalypse. Still, deep down, the black eagle knew that it was just one mission that they were on. Despite the apocalypse just being a mission, to Elise, it felt like more than that. It felt like a bond grew between the Heirs and former Vassals. Or maybe Elise was just getting soft. Once it was time Yuuki and Elise made their way together to the portal generator, where Winter was waiting. "Here is how you operate it." Elise showed Yuuki all the ins and outs of working it, in case something went wrong. He nodded in thought. "Yeah, I can do this." He remembered a little from the last one, so that made it easier to demonstrate.

Elise nodded, her hood falling off her head, revealing her shiny white horns, small and almost stubby on her head. "Ready." Elise, since her body was dead and she was now a Servant, would appear as she was dressed now, in her uniform as she was supposed to. "Remember what to do if I do not appear where your body is." There was a good chance they would be separated initially. But all Winter had to do was call her name and Elise would be able to travel instantly to her. Otherwise, she would have to go the long way of manual travel. The portal opened, buzzing with energy, the rift trembling in anticipation. Without looking back, Elise stepped into the portal, back to Earth and her homeland, for one last time.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"I'll remember, don't worry." Winter reassured her. Yuuki waved goodbye as they stepped through. Winter did not miss this sensation, the feeling that she was falling. It made her physically ill as her spirit was pulled back and into her body. For a moment, it felt like she could not breathe and she wanted to scream.

-Three months earlier-

"Another one," Mercedes waved to the man at the bar. She swished her soda around in her cup, taking a sip. It was lonely, these nights without Serenity, but she had made her choice. Mercedes slipped off of the bar stool, leaving a tip. She shoved her hands into her pockets, the frigid fall air making her breath fog up the space in front of her. "I should head back to the barracks," she passed by another holo screen, flickering that same missing persons sign. Mercedes stopped in front of it, staring into the image she had burned into the back of her mind. Winter. The red words offered a reward for whoever had found her. It had been nearly six months and no one had been able to find hide nor hair of the girl. Mercedes knew that it wasn't likely they would find her. She turned away, trying to wipe the image from her mind. Dead in a ditch somewhere, she thought. A shame, so much potential, wasted.

Mercedes turned the corner, narrowing her eyes. Those cultists were on the side of the street again. For the most part, they were ignored, but today, something caught Mercede's eye. She stopped in front of their table, looking at their flyer. "Excuse me, are you looking to be saved?" What looked like a child asked her. "What is this?" Mercedes asked, their holo screen flickering with an image of what almost looked like a sleeping skeleton. "We are the Vassals of Snow," the child said eagerly, glad to have captured someone's interest. "We worship the most powerful Heir, the one that protected us during the apocalypse." Mercedes picked up the holo, looking at the image a bit closer. "If I join you, can I meet your benefactor?" She asked, her heart thumping in her chest. The image was unmistakable. The beige hair, that deceptively helpless look, even in sleep. Winter.

It took Mercedes three days with the Vassals of Snow before she could even get close to their alter. She had to go through "training," which was some strange orientation. It didn't matter, each day, Mercedes felt a little more desperate. When she finally got close enough, Mercedes was aghast. Winter was skin and bones, encased in a glass coffin, surrounded by flowers. They played music by the alter, from Winter's final performance at the Opal. Was she dead? Mercedes was almost certain of it until she saw a very shallow rise and fall in her chest. "F it," Mercedes murmured. She looked around, still alone in the alter room. She was supposed to be cleaning, but had, had the opportunity to slip away.

Mercedes grabbed a fire extinguisher and bashed it against the glass. She hit it six times before it cracked, an alarm sounding. "Great," she worked faster, knowing she was moving against the clock now. At last, there was a hole big enough to squeeze Winter through, her body far too light. How were they keeping her alive? Mercedes had no time to wonder. "Sorry," she whispered, pulling Winter through, but cutting her arm in the process. She bundled Winter up quickly, bolting for the exit. "It's alright, I've got you," Mercedes whispered, certain that Winter could not hear her. "You're safe now," she slowed to a walk once she was a mile away, the chilly fall air making her shiver. "Mercedes!" Someone yelled, she would recognize that voice anywhere. The Commanding Officer. She turned, standing at attention as best she could. "We thought you went AWOL, where were you?"

"I was busy, Sir." Mercedes replied as he approaced, feeling tense. "What's that in your hands? We've been scouring the city for you." He paused in front of her, the holo next to her turning on at the worst moment possible. Mercedes cursed her wretched luck with a string of swear words beneath her breath. "Where did you find her?"

"At the Vassals of Snow."

"I'm going to take it from here Mercedes. You can head back to the barracks." Mercedes jerked away from him. "With all due respect Sir, I'm not going to hand over my friend."

"Friend? I thought she abandoned you. Didn't she take all of your friends from you? Isn't she the reason you're all alone?" Mercedes swallowed hard. He was right. He was also wrong, but Mercedes felt conflicted. She had always struggled with disobeying authority figures, growing up in a military household. The next thing she knew, the Commander was prying Winter from her arms. "Go back to the barracks Mercedes, we will take it from here."

It took a month before Mercedes could convince the Commander to give her access to the place Winter was being kept. It was essentially a sealed compression chamber. She was putting weight on, still asleep, looking pitiful as ever. "Oh how the mighty have fallen," Mercedes murmured, standing guard in front of the chamber. "This never would have happened if you hadn't run away to play Heir."

-Present Day-

Winter jerked, arching her back. She was warm, bubbles occasionally rising to the surface whatever she was in. She moved in slow motion, attempting to get someone's attention, banging on the glass. She could call Elise here, she thought, to get her out. Then Winter remembered, her promise. No, she needed to give Elise as much time as possible to say goodbye to her brother and do whatever she needed to do. Besides, Winter did not have the whole story yet, she did not know where she was, or why she was here. It took several minutes of banging before someone rushed forward, their outline blurry. Winter did not recognize them. The top of whatever she was in was unscrewed and Winter was pulled out by two men in lab coats. "Wow, I didn't think she would actually wake up!" One of them seemed giddy. Where was she? Her head was spinning, she felt tired from the few minutes she had been hitting glass. The helmet was removed from her head and she could see at last. She was carried down a ladder and placed on a stretcher, falling asleep quickly after.

When Winter awoke again, it was in what looked like a hospital room. The lights were flourescent, there were no windows, but one large glass wall. The bed she was laying in was uncomfortable compared to her bed in Olympia. "Where am I?" Winter murmured, her body feeling awfully weak. "You're awake," someone stood on the opposite side of the glass, looking surprised. "Mercedes!" Winter rose, flinging off the blankets. She fell almost immediately, her legs like jelly. Legs. Plural. Mercedes leaned against an iris scanner, the door popping open. She lifted Winter up, placing her gingerly back in bed. "Where am I? How did I get here?" Winter questioned, realizing that she was shaking.

"You're safe, don't worry. You're at a military base, still in the Chrysanthemum." She sighed with relief. "I brought you here, after I found your body. I didn't think you were ever going to wake up."

"I'm here," Winter half-joked. She suddenly felt a sting across her cheek. "I deserve that," she whispered, touching the spot. "Do you have any idea how worried all of us were when Julian told us what you'd done? Do you know how horrible we all felt when Elise died?!" Mercedes yelled. Two people in white coats came to pull her out of the room. "Stop that, you're going to stress her out," one of them whispered. Winter's hands balled into fists. She deserved every word of it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







"Those horns are real. And you're really dead."

When Elise emerged from the portal she arrived at the destination she put in - in the middle of the Slithers' base just like last time. With luck, it was Oliver who had taken Winter's body and was simply hiding her away in safety so no one else could take it. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. Searching the complex, Winter was nowhere to be found.She may have guessed wrong, but it did not matter. As the black eagle hid behind a box, she waited for Winter to call her to her side. Five minutes. Ten. Eventually it became evident that either Winter did not want to call her, or she was unable to. Whatever was happening, the objcetive was clear. Elise was going to have to play detective again, was she? She left before Oliver could find her, wrapping herself in the mist of the early morning. Snow was falling, it was a beautiful winter day.

Hresvelg Enterprises, a company that held shares in many other companies, including the Happy Smile Farm, run officially in Winter's name but Claude and Oliver shared responsibility for it in her absense, still waiting for her return. Because Claude considered Winter to be his sister, maybe he knew where Winter was. So she entered the office building through the window on the top floor and made her way to where she knew Claude would be waiting. "Claude-" She pushed through the doors, lowering her cloak's hood, only to see the room empty. She blinked, looking around until someone tapped her shoulder. "Miss? You are unauthorized. How did you enter the building?" A well built guard was blocking the way, his eyes serious and trained.

Elise sighed, what else was she supposed to do? Kore would have to find this funny then, wouldn't she? "I am the Heir of Mercy, doing a mission from the Boundary. You will take me to Sir Hresvelg, as I require information from him." It was against the rules but did she really care at this point? She made a show of mist spreading from her feet, clawing at his polished shoes. He blinked, frowning. "Well... the Heirs saved us before, so I'll trust your words. The boss isn't here today, his child is taking her first steps, and he wanted to go home to see." A child already? Ezra did not tell her that. "Same address as always?" The guard nodded, perplexed. The Hresvelg Estates, except a new family was being forged.

And that was how Elise ended up face to face with Claude, while a pretty brown-skinned woman helped the baby walk around, the infant clearly excited about the feat. "That is right. I am dead. But it seems you are doing well." She sighed, rolling her eyes. Claude seemed happy, living a good life for himself. It sure felt rotten for some reason, however. "Are you sure you don't want any food? I make a great Kuku Sabzi!" She beamed, her bronze skin contrasting with Elise's own alabaster hue. Elise tilted her head and Claude grinned. "It's like a herb fritata. Jasmine's a really good cook, you should try it." Claude was smart, but he certainly liked food. Was Jasmine after his money? Was the child born of greed and trickery? How would Elise ever know?

She needed to find Winter. Was it really her place to worry about this? "I cannot eat." There was no need to further explain. Claude nodded, as if understanding. "What are you doing here? How are you back?" Elise sighed, rolling her ruby eyes again. "I am an Heir now. And I was tasked to ensuring Winter's body was returned safe." The lies rolled off her tongue with ease. Natural for an actress. "Zeus requested that his daughter's body be protected." Claude looked at Jasmine, who shook her head and smiled. "At least stay for a few days. Claude really missed you." Did he? Now Elise was not so sure. Her voice was soft, but she could be acting just like Elise once did.

"No, it's okay, Jasmine. I'm sure she takes her mission seriously. Winter's been missing a long time, but it's good that Zeus is sending the smartest girl to take care of it." He grinned despite himself. "You really look exactly the same. Did you meet Ezra yet? He went into the Boundary after you." She did not really want to talk about Ezra and her own lukewarm emotions. "If you do not know where Winter is, I must keep looking." Claude paused for a moment, her dear brother, but then he nodded. "Okay. Then you do what you have to do. I know you'll save her."

But Jasmine of all people looked troubled. "I thought you two were supposed to be close." Her eyebrows creased together with concern. A perfect deceptive act? "Elise, it's only right that Soraya gets to meet her aunt, at least once." Elise spared the child a glance. Was this really the heir to the Hresvelg name? This mindless tottering child? "Elise, Oliver and Carter are coming for dinner tonight to watch the game. We'd really love for you to at least stay for dinner." There was a hopeful light in her eyes. Elise shook her head. "I have a task to complete." A cold tone. She turned, ready to leave but Jasmine held out her arm in invitation. "You won't even say goodbye?" An old, far too familiar, mask was coming back onto her face. "Why? It is clear that Claude never needed one in the first place." With that she floated through a window, wondering what lead she could follow to take her to Winter.

She only had three days. That was not enough time to play around watching a football game.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Drip, drip, drip it was a constant noise that took her back to her hospital days. Winter closed her eyes, her hands folded on the bed. She waited, knowing that if she bided her time, she would not need to stage a mission-impossible breakout. Mercedes had made it clear that she did not like Winter. She stood guard in front of the door, but provided no further interaction. At least someone came, the man that was clearly in charge of everything. He wore green fatigues, just like Mercedes, but he had several more decorations on his uniform. Trinkets, Winter thought. She sat upright as he entered, pulling up a chair to sit across from her. "Miss Matsuri, it is an honor to finally get to meet you," he seemed giddy, for some reason. "Who are you?" Winter asked, he cleared his throat. "My name is Commander Wilkonson. I am the current head of the Chrysanthemum Military."

"Does Oliver know I'm here?" He blinked in surprise, "Who is Oliver?" So it seemed Oliver no longer had a hand in military affairs. That was a shame. "What am I doing here?" Winter asked, wanting to get this over with. "Leutenant Mercades recovered your body, we thought it apt to keep it here, under guard, considering your body is-" he did not need to finish that sentence. A weapon. "Tell me, have you preserved your vassal functions in your sleep?" Could he make his intentions anymore obvious? "No, I'm no longer a vassal, just like the others. I'm an Heir now." His eyes widened, she could see Mercedes reaction out of the corner of her eyes, turning to stare at Winter. "An Heir?" He seemed even more eager. "Of what?" He leaned forward, she could see they were all waiting for her answer. "The Heir of Music," Winter supplied.

He seemed to deflate a bit, good. "I'm sorry, I really have to get going. If you're not going to let me out, then I'm just going to leave." Winter rose, feeling suddenly dizzy. "Now settle down," one of the white coats reached out to steady her. "You just woke up, you can't just go running off after being asleep for two years. Why don't you answer some more of my questions, then we'll get you some food?" Winter grit her jaw, knowing these games. The Doctor had played them with her for years. Her shoulders were tense, her hands were shaking. "Commander, maybe you should give her a break?" Mercedes interjected. "Like you said, she just woke up." He turned to her, frowning. "Are you getting soft Leutenant?" Mercedes took a step back. "No Sir, I just thought showing some mercy to an Heir whose Father is Zeus might be a good idea."

"I'm nearly done, go back to your position Mercedes, before I write you up for insubordination." He peppered her with questions, wanting to know how her power worked, how she became an Heir, if her Father really was Zeus. Her answers were all none-starters, evading the premise. "Alright, that's all of them for now," he rose. Winter didn't feel like eating. She was presented with watery looking broth and a cup of juice. It tasted just as bad as it looked. She drank the juice, thankful for some sugar. Winter feigned sleep, watching the clock. Eventually, most of the staff went home and it was just a skeleton crew left to guard the white box. "Star dress," Winter murmured. She could feel the warmth of the change and creeped out from underneath the blanket. "Mercedes," Winter warned as she pulled the IV out. "Duck," Mercedes's eyes widened.

Winter drew her hands back and clapped them together, a thunder clap so loud, it broke the sound barrier. The glass wall shattered, raining down like snowflakes. Mercedes jumped out of the way, tucking and rolling. Winter stepped over where she lay, clutching her ears. "Thanks for nothing. If your Commander needs me, I'll be at Oliver's." She doubted Mercedes could hear what she said, but it didn't matter. Winter summoned a staff, which looked like a long quaver, with two sharp ends. "Out of my way," Winter warned as the hallway began to flood with soldiers. She sighed, "You're not going to like this." Winter dodged a bullet. "Oh, now you're really not going to like this." She swung her quaver in a circle, emitting a high-pitched whistle that sounded like an incoming train. It paralyzed most of the soldiers and caused the others to fall to the ground, begging for the noise to stop.

A rocket was launched at her. Winter manipulated the sound barrier, the rocket exploding above her. "Anyone else want to try?" She asked as she walked across the gate, but no one else dare try to attack. She was about two miles away before her stamina finally ran out. She was panting, her head spinning, absolutely exhausted. "Cr*p," Winter muttered, realizing she needed to find somewhere to crash, and fast. The snow was falling, it was freezing. She located an alleyway, a warm box that could be closed against the wind. Winter crawled into it, using the cardboard as a blanket. She slept there, knowing that if she was found, she would be dragged right back.

Winter awoke in the box the next morning, undisturbed. It was freezing and her fingers were numb. She crawled out of the box, her stomach growling. "Sh*t," there were soldiers stationed on every corner. She was still wearing the hospital gown from that place, unmistakable. "Hey, are you alright?" Winter stiffened, ready to attack. It was a man wearing a business suit. "P-please," Winter stuttered, recalling that she still looked like a child. She could use this to her advantage. "Come with me, let's get you warmed up." He gestured to her, draping his coat over her thin shoulders. She pulled the hood up over her head, smirking beneath its safety as they walked straight past two soldiers, both wearing earmuffs.

They went into a cafe, the interior warm. "Hey, can I get some help?" He guided Winter to a table. "Sit here, do you have parents? A phone number I can call?" A barista rushed forward, "is everything okay?" She asked, Winter putting on the sad-pitiful face she knew so well. "I found her sleeping in an alleyway. Can we get something to warm her up?"

"Hey, isn't that the girl from the missing poster?" Another barista asked. Missing poster? Sure enough, an ad popped up on a holo advert, a missing poster with Winter's face. "Here, drink this, it should warm you right up." Hot coco with whipped cream and mini marshmallows. Ah, this was the life. Winter took a sip, holding the mug in her trembling hands, allowing the warmth to leech into them. "You poor thing, just wait here, we'll call your guardian." Winter didn't even have to say a word. A car pulled up around thirty minutes later. A boy, no, he was no longer a boy. A man with brown hair emerging. He entered the cafe, removing his sunglasses and pulling down his coat hood. He probably thought he looked so cool. He turned to the barista at the door. "Hello, I was called to this location? I heard there was news about the missing girl." The barista pointed to the table where Winter was sitting, the kind stranger who had given her his coat still there, waiting with her as she sipped her second hot chocolate.

"Winter," Oliver's expression was one of baffled disbelief and joy. He ran towards her, sweeping her up in his arms. "Hello Oliver," he placed her down as he pat her shoulders, arms, and taking in both of her legs, as though to make sure they were real. "You're here, you're really here. And you're awake!" He hugged her, squeezing her for good measure. "Thank you," he said to the barista. "You will all be compensated for this, I promise." She returned the kind stranger's jacket and followed Oliver to his car.

They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes, then, "So do you want to tell me what the f*ck you were thinking?" He asked, Winter half-expecting another slap.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Elise did not have much time, but she knew she needed to act. Where was Winter? That was what Elise needed to find out. Her chest did not hurt after leaving her old home, and she did not want to return to make sure everything was as it should be. She did not long for her old room and toys, for Claude's kindness and love that she once had. She did not want any of that, obviously, so she needed to continue the search out in the cold. "Where is Winter?" She muttered to herself, her breath coming out like mist in the cold air. "Looks like winter is all around us." The Chrysanthemum had recovered a lot from the apocalypse, but there was still decay. As she walked through the streets, covering her horns with the ever-present white cloak, she saw new buildings over what was once battlefields of death and glory.

"Merlin died here." Now what used to be the old junkyard was a shelter for the homeless, built and maintained by the Green and Hresvelg families. It looked like Timothy was doing well for himself then, if he had the funds to accomplish this. "Was it fun, Merlin? Did you achieve what you hoped for?" What was he fighting for? A voice called out to her. "Hey, lady. It's awfully cold, do you want to come in?" Someone opened the door as the snow fell into the hallway. Would they know about Winter? What could these homeless people know? They had no power, they were simply pitiful. "No." Was she cold? No, of course not. It was just that the hot chocolate mug in the woman's hands was very enticing.

She did not turn away fast enough and a hand on her shoulder pulled her indoors, the entrance shut, the window nearly impossible to see through. "You're shaking like a leaf! And that isn't a good winter coat at all!" The woman tried to take off her cloak for her but Elise clung to it. She was a Servant, she needed to wear the uniform while on official business. "I - I do not have time, there is someone I have to find before it is too late." How could she possibly know if Winter was safe or not? "Well, you'll never find them if you freeze to death on the street. At least wait for the blizzard to end?" The mug was put into her hands and she was lead to an uncomfortable sofa where many other people, smelly, unpriveleged, and unfortunate, were, scrambling to survive the winter.

It was warm. Too bad it was not smores though. "Do you like smores?" Elise asked as she tried to down the cup quickly. "We do! We have a toaster, should we make some?" The lady definitely seemed to be in charge of the staff, holding down the fort agains the storm. The fireplace was lit and people huddled around it for protection, glass of course blocking the smoke. At the mention of smores the other homeless - one shaking so bad he looked almost like a drug addict - cheered in anticipation. Really, what was the black eagle doing here? This was no place for her. She was different. And really, she was alone. "Thank you for the drink. I must continue searching." She said after sitting in silence for hours, watching the homeless interact with each other, some of the children playing games. There was only one working shower, but still they were happy to wait and take turns to hygienize.

Elise had n otime to be sitting around. "Are you sure? It's still freezing out there, yknow?" She did not answer, of course. These living people would not remember her either, two years from now. Back into the storm, Elise continued the search. There was one place she knew she could get to. And that was how Elise found herself at the Government Building, rebuilt and refurnished and given a new paint job to be more inviting. The President would definitely have the resources to look for Winter. All Elise had to do was lie about being an Heir and the new President would obey. That was one of the conditions Olver created when helping her come to office, after all.

So Elise stormed the government building. "I am an Heir. I have business with the President." She said after she finished chattering because of the cold. The guards glanced at each other, at her horns and red eyes, and shrugged. "Then come this way, the President is waiting." Up the elevator, up to the top floor. Dark hair, tall slender figure, Oliver was grinning. "Wow, twins really do think alike. Hello Elise, it has really been a long time." Oliver was here. Why was he here? "I must speak to-" She was about to force her way through when Oliver shook his head. "Claude knew you'd be here, so I waited for you. We have Winter. You'd best come with us." He had Winter?

Oliver did not seem the type to be a traitor. But Elise was never one to hold back against an enemy. "Now that I know where she is, I hardly need to keep you alive. If you are holding her against her-" He looked surprised, and coughed for some reason. "No, no, not like that. I found her, and I've been taking care of her. Do you want to come back with us?" An almost soft smile. What happened to the grumpy Oliver? Why had everyone changed so much? "I hope for your sake you are not trying to trick me." She took his hand, wondering exactly how Claude managed to outsmart her like this. Sometimes it was easy to forget that her brother was just as intelligent as she was. "Don't worry." Oliver's hand was warm. "And welcome back."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"Stars Winter," Oliver muttered. She leaned back in her seat, the warmth of the leather seat warmers leeching into her skin, warming her better than hot chocolate. "I went to look for my Dad," she replied. "And did you find him?" Oliver asked, trying to focus on the road through the blizzard. "Yes, I-we found him. It's Zeus," Oliver screeched to a halt on the freeway. "Zeus? The King of Heirs? The Heir of lightning?" He asked, moving the car once again as someone behind them honked. "You could have killed us just now! Yes, that Zeus! He's my Dad!" Oliver gave the finger to the person that sped in front of them. Such an adult, she thought, smiling to herself. "And what about after? Why didn't you come back?" He asked, glowering at the road. "I couldn't, with Elise gone and the portal generator nonoperable, I couldn't come back. I was stuck there," it was the truth. "I wanted to come back." She recalled softly, looking at her lap.

"But then something changed?" Oliver asked as they pulled off of the freeway and onto a local road. "I'm an Heir now, too." He nearly stopped the car again. "Stars, Oliver! Can you just drive?!" She leaned back, crossing her arms. They drove in silence for a while. "What are you the Heir of?" He asked at last. "Music, what do you think?" He laughed, they pulled into a driveway. It was a fancy looking apartment, she thought. They walked inside, the interior even fancier. It was decorated for the holidays, she realized. "That's tomorrow, isn't it? All Heir's Day?" Oliver nodded in confirmation, hanging up his coat. "Yeah, it is. I'm glad you'll get to spend it with us." She looked away guiltily. "What is it?" Oliver asked, grabbing her shoulder. "You're not thinking of running away again, are you?"

"I have to go back." Winter admitted, "I'm... engaged." He released her shoulder, taking a step back. It seemed that even after all this time, Oliver had harbored that crush. "Show Winter to the guest room please," Oliver stepped away. "Oliver, wait!" She rushed after him, but he held out a hand. "No Winter, just... just go get changed. We can talk after." She followed Oliver's staff to the guest room, taking a hot shower and getting changed into the clothes provided. A turtle neck, warm and fuzzy, and leggings. She wandered the house for a bit, looking for any personal photos to see if Oliver had a significant other, but no, his only photos were of his late Father and him and the gang. Eventually, she found herself sitting in the living room silently across from Oliver. "What's his name?" He asked, looking up from his holo pad as Winter stared at him, waiting for him to ask.

"Zed, he's the Heir of gardens." Oliver scrubbed a hand across his face. The doorbell rang, "I'll be right back." He rose, sighing deeply. Winter heard someone at the door. He rushed inside, nearly knocking over a framed photo of Oliver shaking some official's hand. "Winter!" It was Carter, who swept her up into his arms, looking relieved. Tears pricked his eyes and Winter realized he was shaking. "Hold down the fort Carter, I have to go into the office for a bit." Oliver put his jacket on, Winter watching him leave. Was he mad? She wondered. His rage was justified, she thought. Carter eventually released her, the two of them sitting across from each other on the couch. Winter was beginning to grow tired again, having spent too much energy after just waking up. She found herself repeating the same information to Carter, but his reactions were much less volatile.

"How can you trust that guy?" He asked when she was done. "What do you mean?" Winter asked, taken aback. "I mean, how can you trust Zed? You don't even know him! A year? That's not long enough to date before getting engaged!" Was Carter being... protective? "I love him, he helped me through what no one else could." He crossed his arms and leaned back against the couch. "I guess, as long as you love him and he loves you, then I give it my blessing." Winter rolled her eyes, but laughed. Oliver returned a few hours later, while Carter was teaching Winter an All Heir's Day song.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







With A/C on the car was relatively comfortable to sit in. They would be going to his home now. It had been twenty-four hours since Elise and Winter stepped through the portal and the weather was only worsening out there. "Looks like it is true. You and Claude are close." She rolled her eyes trying to imagine it. How did that ever happen? "All of us guys stayed close after the war." Oliver's voice was quiet. "We helped each other a lot through hard times." It was clear what he meant by hard times. "Me and Winter disappearing. My death. Mercedes's falling out with the rest." Oliver sighed, almost as if he were tired as he drove. A weary old man who fought a war no child should have. "I wasn't blaming you, Elise. Winter already explained everything to me." About Zed. About Zeus.

"Do you still harbor romantic feelings for her?" For some reason Oliver began to laugh as the black eagle posed the question. "Oh, I missed this. You're so awkwardly wordy, El. It'd be so much easier to just ask "do you still like her" but you went the long way." Was he poking fun at her words? Was this really the time? "As a Hresvelg, I must remain proper." She was trained to be perfect, or as close to, as possible. "Claude speaks normally, you know." Oliver winked at her for some reason. It almost felt like mockery. "I held a torch for her for a long time. Unlike before, I'm not ashamed to admit it anymore. I'm an adult, it's what it is." Was he sad about it? It was difficult to tell. "She will leave permanently. After two more days..." Oliver nodded, agreeing. "It's good she came back. Now that I know she found someone, I can have closure and move on." He grinned sardonically. "Lots of women seem to think the brooding man at the President's right hand is worth pursuing."

It made sense. Oliver was now a man of power and influence. Elise could easily see many females flocking to him for a taste of that power themselves. Like a flock of lemmings with no thought or self respect. Elise would never throw herself at someone else like that. She was above that, the same way she was above those people at the shelter. "You really should've been at the dinner that night. Jasmine's cooking really is delicious." For some reason that annoyed her. "How can we be sure she is not after his money?" Oliver was quiet for a moment as he thought. "You know she doesn't take money from Claude, right?" So he was going to defend this Jasmine then. "She only dresses modestly within her means. She has dozens of discount coupons. She's worked really hard to stay afloat."

"A woman like Jasmine has too much self respect to be a gold digger." Oliver's smile was a little bit cruel. "You know, El, you have a bad habit of judging people really quickly. You should work through that if you can." She rolled her eyes again, crossing her arms. "Judging people is how to survive. It is how we survived the war." Knowing friend from foe, enemy from ally. It was basic survival. "But the war is over now. It isn't about enemies and allies, about us against others." His tone went oddly gentle then. "Try to be more openminded." Elise frowned distinctly, glaring hard at the driver's seat. "I am dead. It is too late to change anything now." After that Oliver was very quiet.

When arriving at Oliver's home Winter and Carter were singing a song the commoner's often sang. Winter was here, alive and well. Elise glared, feeling almost betrayed. Why did this happen? "You were safe this whole time? I thought - was afraid that - you were in danger and unable to call me to your side. Why did you not..." She paused, grimacing. No, she had a feeling she knew the answer. "...There is no need. Claude did not miss me. He is happy with his life." She sighed, wondering what to do now. At least Winter was alive. At least her body was safe now. "Claude missed you a lot, actually." A taller, stronger, and oddly sensitive-looking Carter helped her to a seat. "Your death was really awful. But no one wants to mourn forever."

It was odd. Certainly Elise did not want anyone to mourn or be sad about her passing. She did not want those she cared about to suffer, as small as her heart was. But why was she not happy that Claude was doing perfectly fine now?

"So, can you explain the horns?" Carter grinned, a cheeky look in his eyes, curiosity burning in his question. Elise sighed, the black eagle figuring this would happen. "An Heir decided I was cute and made me her Servant." There was a long pause as Carter and Oliver looked at each other, suppressing their chuckles. "Yes, laugh at how high and mighty Elise is a Servant now, very funny, incredibly humerous." She muttered crossly, narrowing her eyes into slits.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Oliver and Elise walked through the door, Winter was confused why Elise was here. "Of course I was safe," Winter said in confusion. "Why do you think I didn't call you?" Had Elise been searching for her the whole time? Winter shook her head. There was a reason she hadn't called for Elise. "I had everything under control," she crossed her arms. Elise suddenly grimaced, looking away. It seemed that something had happened between her and Claude. "I'm sure he missed you Elise, he was probably just surprised." Elise, in some ways, was more emotionally stunted than Winter. Carter let Elise in on the fact that Claude had missed her. "It's my fault Elise died," Winter said softly. "If I hadn't let her come, she would still be alive." She would possibly have a familiy with Ezra, or some other guy, and be running a successful movie company.

Carter and Oliver looked as though they wanted to laugh when Elise explained to them that she was a servant now. "Better than a bird," Winter sat back against the couch, sipping her tea. "I guess we should be more respectful, we're in the presence of royalty," Carter mocked. Winter nudged him in the ribs, "so when is the wedding?" Oliver asked, taking a seat. "It's in a month, I'd like for you all to be there, if possible." Oliver seemed to think to himself. "If you'll stay through the end of the holiday, maybe." Winter threw a pillow at his head. "Elise, how much time do you have until you have to return?" Winter could stay longer than Elise, after all. Still, she could not remain here forever. Even after being gone for two years, already Winter felt things had returned to their normal pace.

"Elise has to stay connected to the Underworld, so she can't be here as long." Winter explained to them. She hoped that Elise didn't mind her telling them. Winter didn't think it was an embarrassing thing, considering she was working for someone as important as Kore. Winter finished her tea, placing her mug back down the coaster. "So now that we've caught you up, catch us up on what's happening here. Serenity tells me that you're a model Carter? And Oliver, you work for the President?" Winter asked, hugging a pillow. She wanted to hear about everything she had missed, but first-hand. Carter scratched his head, a bit embarrassed. "I kind of started to feel down on the farm. Without you there, it didn't seem like there was a point in staying. So I left, I got scouted by some woman when I was in a rough spot and well, here I am." She had seen his face in a few holo ads while she was running from Mercedes.

"Who would have thought? You? A model?" Carter laughed. "I'm not that bad looking!" He protested, striking a pose. Winter threw a pillow at him. "And you? Oliver?" WInter asked, waiting to hear what had become of him. "What's Olympia like?" Oliver asked when he was done catching them up. "And Elise, what's the Underworld like?" He wanted to know. Carter waved Oliver's worker over, asking for a refill on their drinks and for a plate of snacks. "Olympia is wonderful," Winter admitted. "There's no technology though, so it is a bit cut off and old fashioned, but that's fine, we don't really need it since everyone's pretty much an Heir." She reached for holiday cookies that had been placed on a plate in front of them.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Did Winter not see it? Did she not know the stakes? While it was good that she had been safe, Elise had no way of knowing. "I could not have known if you were safe, if you were in danger, if you were locked up and had your mouth restricted so you could not call out to me." She was bristling. This whole trip to Earth had been a miserable experience so far. "We only have three days. There was not time to sit around chatting to family when the top priority is ensuring your safety." She sat down, frustrated. "...Zed would have personally made sure that I died. If not him, then Zeus, for not sticking with you." Winter was safe, but Elise had no way of knowing. "But it is good you were able to take care of yourself." She did not want Winter thinking the black eagle was upset that she was not in danger after all.

"Sorry I did not trust you... but with the stakes, I hope you know the stakes and why I had to make sure before doing anything else." It was not because Winter was weak, just that Elise was given a task, and she as honor bound to complete it no matter what. Winter seemed to blame herself for Winter's death but the black eagle shook her head. It was not Winter's fault, not really. "You were not my killer. It was..." She fell silent, not really wanting the others to know. "You were innocent." Not once did Elise resent Winter for her circumstances. How could she? It was Elise's own mistake that she died. The boys were visibly confused at the bird comment and Elise looked the other way, for some reasong feeling skittish. That was even more humiliating, was it not?

She nodded at Winter's words. "Winter can stay longer, but the Heirs kept me as a Servant using a loophole. It is... a long story, but for the most part, I can only be on Earth for three days." Or else? Well, she would be real dead instead of this odd in between. "We'd sure like to have you both around for as long as we can. We were like a family, so you two are always welcome." Carter said magnimaniously until Winter almost seemed to question his new career as a model. He was indignant and Oliver laughed with ease at the statment. "You don't know how surprised I was." Oliver chortled. "A guy with that kind of face as a model? Girls are crazy." Winter seemed to want to know about Oliver's career at the President's side. "As the leader of the Slithers, I was able to help the new President into office. In exchange, I made sure she was someone I could trust not to betray or hurt us, especially with our powers gone."

Oliver worked as her advisor, and in exchange, they had a special operatives team in the background to make sure the former Vassals were protected, as the heroes that saved the Chrysanthemum. "The Underworld is nice if you stay out of the Sinner's pit. But most humans that go to the Underworld are sentenced there." There was an odd smile on her face. "I sort of help judge which humans are given the right to escape the Sinner's pit and atone, and reincarnate." That dropped both Oliver and Carter's jaw greatly. Then Carter laughed, seemingly joyous. "Great news!" He cracked a big smile. "Then you'll forgive me for all the hearts I've stolen, and I won't have to burn!" He ran a hand slowly through his hair, making a weird face that made Elise think he was even weirder than before.

Elise made a face at the cookies. "What, you don't like cookies? You haven't touched any of the snacks yet." Carter glanced at her curiously. "It is complicated." She frowned. "Do you have any bad tasting nutritious drinks?"

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter looked away sheepishly, she had tried to give Elise more time with her brother, but Elise had instead, spent the entirety of it worrying about Winter. "I would have just signaled you in my mind if I was in trouble, if that was the case." Elise had told her before that she could just think of her name, unless she did not think that method was going to work? Winter wasn't sure. "I know you were worried, I should have sent out a signal somehow that I was okay." Winter sipped her tea as the boys caught them up on everything that had happened in the last two years. Oliver wa an important man and Carter was a model with girls swooning over him left and right. Winter was glad to hear that they had moved on, that the hole had been filled, but at the same time, her heart hurt.

She felt like an outsider looking in. They had both matured, physically and mentally, while Winter looked physically the same. "Dinner is ready," one of Oliver's staff announced. "Don't worry Elise, we'll find you something." Oliver assured her, "and I'll make sure it tastes great." Carter was trying to put the moves on Elise to get a favorable judgement for the day he died. Winter rolled her eyes. Yes, two years had passed, but some things hadn't changed. She followed the boys to the dining room, wondering if Elise felt the same way she did. Elise had always isolated herself from the others before and now, it almost felt as though she might be attempting to do that again. Was it because of Claude? "Everyone's going to be coming over tomorrow," Oliver said as he sat down. He gestured to the large table, "pick any seat you'd like."

Dinner was full of traditional foods that Winter hadn't gotten to eat since she was a kid. After all, they did not celebrate All Heir's Day in the Chrysanthemum Government Building. "Sorry Elise," Oliver apologized as they moved on to dessert. "Are you at least enjoying your drink?" He had managed to get her a nutrition shake from the kitchen. Did Elise like it? Winter hoped so. She dug into her piece of cake, reminded of her Grandmother's spice cake. She should viait their graves before she returned to Olympia, she thought. After dinner, they moved back to the living room, where there was plenty of talking. Winter was beginning to feel sleepy, her physical body having grown used to an endless sleep. Her eyes fluttered shut and soon, she was fast asleep, curled up on the couch. "You guys realized it too, didn't you?" Carter asked, playing with Winter's hair as she slept. It was long now, down past her chest.

"Realized what?" Oliver asked, glancing at Elise to see if she had an answer for Carter's ridiculous puzzles. "That Winter is our center. The center of the group, I mean. We all kind of... rallied around her." Oliver nodded, "it only made sense, she was the strongest. We all relied on her and then she was just... gone. And Elise was the brains of the operation," he nudged her with an elbow. "When you two left, it was harder on all of us then any of us would probably admit." Oliver looked out the window, at the gently falling snow. "I'm glad I got to see you guys again, even if it's just to say goodbye," it was clear that this was hard on Oliver. He was finally beginning to move on, to accept that he would never see Winter again, or get to say goodbye to Elise, when they had just popped up and back into their lives.

A knock came from the door. "That's strange," Oliver rose from the couch. "I'll go see who it is," it was late for guests, even on All Heir's Eve. He looked at the holo security, surprised to see a guest. "Mercedes? What are you doing here?" Oliver asked as he opened up the door. "She's here isn't she?" Mercedes asked. Oliver blinked in surprise. "Who is?" Something about this set off alarm bells in his mind. "Don't play dumb with me, you have Winter, don't you?" She asked, whipping out a gun. She aimed it right between his eyes. Oliver furrowed his brow, visibly upset. "Are you f*cking kidding me Mercedes? No, I don't have Winter. No one has her. She's gone because Julian made a stupid mistake." Carter came to see what was wrong, "Mercedes?" He asked, surprised to see her.

"She thinks Winter is here." Oliver said, steeling himself. Carter laughed, "Right and Elise is just walking around, back from the grave. Wow, you must be lonely if you came all this way just to point a gun at his head." Carter said, leaning an elbow on Oliver's shoulder, since he was an inch taller now.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Did Winter remember wrongly? "You need to say my name out loud." It was useless if Winter was restricted from speaking or something of that nature. "The connection only opens when you speak my name." It was the best she could do with the abilities that she had, but it certainly was not a perfect connection. Still, the important matter was that Winter was safe and that was enough. After catching up on everything, the boys had dinner made and readied. Elise requested something she could actually ingest and Carter had that prepared as well. "Good luck. The Olympians still have not figured out a way to make it good." It all tasted like far-too-rich sludge that stuck to the inside of her throat. She was used to gourmet human food, something she could not have again.

Carter seemed to care a lot about the taste of the drink, giving her many glances to guage her reaction. She frowned, looking at him. "You know I have to be an unbiased judge. No favors allowed, even for friends." It was against the rules to treat anyone with more favor than anyone else. She had to judge fairly. "I only judge appeals anyways." Hades decided the initial punishment, but should the Sinner feel they can try to appeal, Elise reads their life. Those being punished can also try and appeal, hoping that they paid for their crimes already. Kore was trying to build a fairer, more forgiving system. Hades was happy with it since it meant they would have more space as sinners began filtering out thanks to the new appeal system created. Elise already pardoned her father, whose sins were greed and pride, but not to a degree that he needed to suffer any longer.

The boys were talking again about Winter, who had fallen asleep. The black eagle was not really talking - what was there for her to really say? The boys had grown into men, strong and assured in their lives. Naturally she was the brains. "We all had a role. Winter was the one we all loved. I was the prodigy who studied too hard." And the one who kept on brushing against death. Twice now, really, what else could be expected at this point? She scowled sourly, too tired to dodge the nudge. "Winter can stay for longer if she really wished." She spoke up suddenly when the topic of goodbyes came up. Oliver's ears almost perked up at the words. "I am the only one bound to the three day rule. Certainly you two are able to keep her safe if needed." And in an emergency, Winter could call Elise back to rescue her. "Then I'll ask if she's up to it. It's a shame you can't stay longer, though." Oliver seemed genuinely saddened about that - he wanted them both around for longer.

The door bell rang then. Elise tucked Winter in, out of sight of the front door. No one could know they were here. Still, did Elise really want to stay? She was only going to be in the way. Even in life, she had been bad at socializing with others. With Ame gone, she was even worse about it now. Winter could always be the life of the party, but the black eagle was better at watching from afar. What good was there for little Soraya to see her aunt who would never get the chance to return to Earth? For Claude to see her and what? Feel guilt about moving on? Or have a wound reopen and start grieving again? As much as Kore fawned over Elise and showed affection, Elise was wise enough to know that her state was not natural. Not normal. Kore and Hades had to almost cheat the system to allow this.

How long until it could no longer last? That, Elise had no idea. Elise would let the boys handle Mercedes and allow Winter to sleep, keeping her hawkish eyes and ears trained on any sound that might threaten them. She kept her watch for a little, but even she knew that voice. Mercedes. What was she doing here? With a grimace, the black eagle made a cloud of mist to transport Winter onto a bed without waking her, hopefully, then watched the camera feed carefully. Mercedes had a gun. She looked different. Older. Tougher than before, if that was possible. Was Elise going to have to reveal herself to protect Winter? Or would doing that only raise suspicions?

But maybe something else was possible.

Elise shrouded her face with mist to hide her identity, and wore old heels one of Oliver's female friends left by accident, to make herself look taller on the stilleto heels. Then, she moved herself outside by opening a window, and landed on top of the three former Vassals, putting her hands at Oliver's collar. "Human." She growled, her voice deeper than her normal alto soprano. "I searched this house. But Winter is not here. I, the Heir of Mercy, was tasked to retrieve her." Mercedes hissed, her gun aimed at Elise, who laughed mockingly. "D'you really think your human weapons can hurt an Heir? Winter's body was stolen, and I have to find it." She stumbled, trying to change her mode of speech.

"W-well you already searched the place!" Carter was very glib, playing along easily. "She's not here. Just leave us alone, we had enough with your Heir stuff already." Elise turned to Mercedes then, an intimidating air about her. "And she is not with you either. Perhaps a cult has taken her?" Mercedes did not shoot, but still held tight to her gun. It was clear she was thinking hard about what the best decision to make now was. "You seem to know something, human. The smell of Heir is on you. Tell me all that you know." Oliver's eyes widened. "You can smell Winter on her?" Elise nodded, a lie, a gamble, but one she had to make.

What if the military's capture of Winter was why Mercedes grew distant? But if her guess was wrong, then Elise would no doubt look the fool. "Yes. But she disappeared." Mercedes was a tough soldier. She did not scare easy. Still... "Tell me everything, or I won't be so nice."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"What did you do, you basta*d?" Oliver suddenly grabbed Mercedes by the collar of her uniform, slamming her against the wall. The gun fell from her hands and Carter scrambled to retrieve it. "I don't have to tell you anything," she spat. Oliver punched her in the face, right in the teeth. Mercedes spit out blood as he hauled her inside, the cold air following them in. "Tell us everything," he demanded, Carter pointing the gun at Mercedes. "I'm under a gag order," she replied, gritting her teeth, blood spilling from her nose and onto the welcome mat. Oliver slammed the door behind him after ushering Elise inside, locking it behind him. "Thanks for your help," he muttered to her, although he and Carter had it mostly under control. Carter winked at Elise, turning back to Mercedes. "And I'm the President's assistant, so you best believe I can circumvent a gag order." He knelt down, grabbing Mercedes by her hair.

"What did you do?"

Mercedes looked away, "I found her! Okay? I found Winter! A while ago. She was in awful shape, there iwas this cult, they called themselves the Vassals of Snow. They had her body in a glass cage so I broke in and I took her. I tried to take her to Julian, but Commander Wilks was there and he ordered me to hand her over. She woke up yesterday and broke out and the entire military is looking for her. It's all my fault, if I hadn't looked away for two seconds, she wouldn't have broken out." Oliver lunged, Carter grabbing him to keep him from striking Mercedes again. "Trust me, I want to hit her too," hard to believe that Carter was the rational one in this situation. "Even after knowing everything they've done to her, you just handed her over." Oliver said in disgust, sitting back down on the couch.

"I was under an oath."

"Yeah, so were the Chrysanthemum soldiers." He was shaking in rage, attempting to calm himself down. It was lucky none of them still have their powers. "It doesn't matter," Mercedes looked away, rubbing her sore jaw. "I lost her and it's clear she isn't here. We can't just have an Heir running around the Chrysanthemum, even if it is Winter. She's a giant military threat, an unknown. It's been two years, why did she suddenly come back now? Don't you think it's a little suspicious?" She glanced at Elise, whom she did not know was Elise. "The Heirs aren't exactly on our side. Winter is one of them now. She abandoned her humanity to become one. You can't seriously be siding with her." Was this Mercedes's attempt to justify her actions?

"What's all the commotion?" Winter asked, rubbing one eye. She had heard a screaming match from the other room that had roused her from sleep. "Oh Mercedes, what are you doing here?" Winter asked as Mercedes rose. "You two-" Carter cursed under his breath, leveling the gun. Mercedes lunged at Winter, freezing right in front of her, finding herself unable to move. "Don't worry," Winter yawned, she had not lifted a finger. "The air around you is vibrating so quickly, that gravity is actually keeping you in place." The sound waves, she was pulsating them at a rate that the human body could not withstand. "In a few seconds, your ears will start bleeding, in a minute, your heart will beat out of your chest." She reached one hand forward, flicking Mercede's in the forehead.

It sent Mercedes flying across the room and into the couch, toppling the furniture over. "Did you really think you could force me to go back with something as weak as that flimsy gun?" She stood over Mercedes, who groaned, passing out. Winter yawned again, "I'm tired, I'm going back to bed." She stepped over the fallen couch, "Elise, let's have a sleep over in my room tonight, since Iris isn't here to stop us." Oliver and Carter seemed at a loss as to what had just happened.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Mercdes was no threat now. As she was distracted by Oliver charging her and punching her, Elise clogged up the gun with mist, sending the gunpowder in the gun back to her room for safe keeping. Even if she tried, she would not be able to shoot. After a scuffle Oliver invited both Mercedes and Elise into the house, the door locked securely behind him. It was then Mercedes gave out all the details. "Hah." Elise scoffed, turning her nose up at Mercedes. Playing the role of a haughty Heir. "You think your human rules apply to us Heirs? What right do you have to restrain us?" Mercedes growled, chewing her cheek. "It's exactly that attitude that pisses me off. Looking down on us. Kaze did it all the time." Her eyes were simmering with anger.

The Vassals of Snow. A cult, right? Elise would have to investigate them later. If she had time to do so, there was still two more days before she had to go. There was more shouting and then Winter was finally woken from her slumber, taking out Mercedes in one quick action. Winter, proving that even without Yuuki's ice powers flowing through her body, was more than capable of handling herself with full access to her abilities. Elise was invited up, so she removed the extra mist obscuring her face. "Then I shall." She gave a sly, almost smug smile to the boys, almost as if she were saying 'look at Winter, she's still so strong, right?' with pride at how the little Heir grew.

As Elise settled in, she sighed. "We will have to keep Mercedes locked up here, I believe. If we let her leave, she will tell the military where you are." No doubt Winter woiuld be hunted down. Not that they could not fight, but she did not want to start another incident and drag their friends back into conflict. "Tomorrow the boys are going to ask if you would like to stay longer after I go. Between you and them, you should be able to handle yourselves." They probably would never get to sleep in the same room again. A very rare moment for the two of them. "It is your choice. So do not feel bad if you wish to spend a little more time with everyone."

Morning greeted Elise with a very unappealing drink waiting for her, while everyone else had a typical breakfast of actual food. "I added more sugar and banana, maybe this time it'll taste better." Carter grinned, as he seared the breakfast meat over the stove. He seemed to enjoy cooking, even though this was not even his home. "Winter will be down soon." The black eagle sad glumly at the table, glancing around. "What did you two decide to do with Mercedes?" Carter smiled, wiggling an eyebrow. "Well, we'll probably persuade her nicely to stick around for the family get together. Claude and his family are coming, and Ezra and Serenity will come too, if they're back from the Boundary yet."

To that he raised his eyes at Elise. "How are they doing, by the way? You met them, right?" Elise nodded to confirm that yes, she has. "They made it to Olympia. They are on a mission right now, but perhaps they can find their way here for the get together." She hoped so. Those two had lives to live, not to waste away in the Boundary, the way Elise had. They deserved a chance to live in the world they fought and created peace for. "There's the sad look in your eyes again." Carter said, surprisingly perceptive. "Is this because of Ezra? Because you're dead now... you and him can't..." Elise looked away, annoyed that Carter had become so good at reading people. "You're not as sociable as Winter, El." Carter gave her a grin as he finished cooking, readying the five plates. "But you were always still part of our family. And we'll miss you a whole lot." Elise could not meet his gaze as she lowered her head and drank in silence.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter crawled into bed, wearing one of Oliver's shirts. It was too big on her, hanging off of her shoulder. It was fine though, Winter thought, since she was only going to be here a few more days. She went under the covers beside Elise, turning on the blanket heater to make it nice and toasty. "Stay longer..." Winter trailed off, drumming a finger against her stomach in thought. "Zed would probably get mad if I stayed longer," she rolled over to look at Elise. "This might be my last chance though," she whispered in thought. "I don't know, I'll have to think about it." She would like to, but Winter also didn't want to interfere in their lives. They had moved on and reopening that hole would be too much to bear. "What about you?" Winter asked, "I know you have to go back, but... what do you want to do with your life? Or death? I know you're a servant to Kore and all... but she's given you a lot of freedom."

Winter fell asleep soon after that, curling up cutely, seeming at peace as she rested. In the morning, by the time she awoke, Elise was already up and moving. Winter slid out of bed, running a hot bath. Ever since she had been released from vassal-ship, the cold bothered her once more and the winter air was no exception. In Olympia, Winter lived nowhere near the mountains, so the weather was always perfect. "Winter?" Oliver knocked on the door. "I had my staff run out and get you some clothes, I'm leaving them in a bag on the door." He didn't want to invade her privacy, of course. "Thanks!" Winter called through the door, wrapping herself up in a towel from the towel warmer. Oliver's staff had picked out a cute dress with a skirt that looked like piano keys. It was pretty, she thought as she ran a brush through her hair. Iris would probably enjoy how long her human body's hair was now.

She emerged from the bathroom, finding herself to be the last to arrive at breakfast. "Morning everyone," Winter took a seat and served herself pancakes. "So everyone's coming today?" She asked, eager to see them all. "Yeah," Oliver confirmed, drinking coffee. Gross, Winter thought, turning to her own hot chocolate. Carter dragged Mercedes to the table when he was done, feeding her breakfast. She had a black eye from yesterday, as well as a bunch of bruises around where her wrists were tied behind her back. Winter didn't feel bad of course, Mercedes had practically been asking for it. "My Commander is going to question where I am," she muttered between bites of pancake. "Then when he calls, you'll tell him you're taking the day off to be with friends." Oliver replied simply, "just like everyone else."

"I didn't request time off," she grit her jaw. "Then tell him you're on your cycle. Men hate talking about that," Winter said keenly. Mercede's cheeks turning pink in embarrassment. "Hey Winter, Oliver and I were talking," Carter started, shutting Mercedes up with another bite of pancake. "We know Elise, unfortunately, has to go back tomorrow, but what about you? Do you want to stay longer?" There it was, the officer. "It's kind of awkward," Winter admitted. "I'm engaged and I want to stay, I really do, but I don't think my fiancee would like me to stay alone with two men he doesn't know." She scratched the back of her head, "well, it's not like he can just come here and smite us." Carter said mischeviously, "You can just tell him you stayed with Serenity." That was true, if Serenity got back here in time for the celebration tonight.

"Elise, would you cover for me?" Winter asked, "It'll just be an extra day or two."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







When morning broke and Winter still dozed, Elise created a new cloak for herself and turned the other one back into mist. Who needed to do laundry when you could do this instead? Admittedly it really was convenient. Her mind was still reeling with the question that was asked of her. What did she want to do? "For now, I will do as Kore needs." She said at the time, but now she had more time to think about it. Did she really have the freedom to do as she pleased? Kore was well intentioned, yes, but considering her language and how touchy she was, the Heir of Mercy was no doubt very possessive too. Elise was on a leash, but wider than what most Servants had.

Mercedes was glaring hard at her while pancakes were steaming and ready for consumption. "I really should have known that was you." She was tied up, being forced to attend the family reunion now. "Hmm? I am not sure what you are referring to." She lowered her head to reveal the horns, a tiny smile on her face. "But I would be careful if I were you, Mercedes." Oliver was munching on the pancakes, nodding his head. "You really outdid yourself, Carter. It's like you're trying to impress someone." Carter snickered, a wide grin on his face. "Who, me? Maybe Winter can put in a good word to Elise for me so I won't suffer too long in punish land." Elise scowled, grimacing. "I suggest you do not get sent there in the first place." Mercedes gave her a hard, unbelieving stare. "Really? You're a judge? How fitting, that's all you did in life as well." Elise's smile was silky smooth. "Perhaps you should stay on my good side then, Mercy, before it is too late to save your soul."

Winter came down then, eager for everyone else to arrive. "The plan was for them to be back by All Heir's Day." Oliver explained, looking at his watch. "Zoku said she knew someone who had a time-converter watch to keep track of time on Earth while they were there." An item like that could only have been made by one person. The jolly forger bull, Svarog, was no doubt the mastermind. "Then they will be here." Elise was certain of that as she boldly stated her thoughts. "I wonder if they will be surprised to see us?" Yuuki would be able to operate the portal generator to send them back, at least for All Heir's Day.

They finally did it, they asked Winter the big question. Elise remained quiet, knowing she had no say in the matter. It was Winter's choice and Winter's happiness. But it seemed Winter came to her decision. "Then I will explain to Zed before I return to the Sentinel Tower that you are staying a little longer with Serenity." She grimaced as she finished her drink, making Carter rub his head. "I'll find a way to make it taste good, just you wait." He really seemed to believe in himself, did he not? It was against the rules to lie to an Heir. But this once, Elise figured she could make an exception to the rules. Suddenly Oliver's holo lit up. "They're coming. Ezra and Serenity are on the way over." He grinned in excitement. "We'll almost all be back together."

Elise gulped, knowing to steel her self. The black eagle knew that today was when she would have to talk with Ezra, and finalize their relationship. With him alive and her dead, no matter their feelings, it would never work. He deserved to find someone else and be happy. Dead people could not love. That was the rule. She was not ready to face Claude either. To see how happy he was now. To see how he did not need her. Her heart burned and for some reason she felt an urge to flap her wings and escape. Carter looked awkwardly at Mercedes. "We probably shouldn't have a tied up soldier in front of the kid." Soraya was Claude and Jasmine's daughter. Apparently she was coming too. "I won't escape. I have a feeling the Heirs won't let me anyhow." Mercedes growled, glaring hard at him. Carter shrugged, then went to the ropes to release her.

Then the doorbell rang. "We're here, we picked up two Boundary adventurers!" It was Claude's cheerful voice from the other side of the door. Elise turned away, glancing out the window, a pained expression. Should she escape? Would that be the easiest way to handle this?

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter smiled, excited to stay a bit longer. It had been so long since she had been on earth, she was eager to visit what she had missed. She giggled like an excited child, causing Mercedes to glare at her. "She's up to something," Mercedes said distrustfully. "I'm telling you, there's a reason she came back now," Mercedes growled. "I'm not up to anything, I just came to get my body." Winter replied, "Is it so wrong that I'm excited to see everyone again?" Winter looked at her lap, Elise promptly threatened Mercedes. Oliver reached out to touch Winter's hand. "Of course not, I'm sure they're all going to be excited to see the two of you again." His words lifted up Winter's spirits a bit and she finished her hot chocolate with gusto. "How was your drink this morning?" Winter asked Elise, who had made a face. Carter swore he was going to find a way to make it taste good.

"I think the problem is that Elise has tasted the Underworld's food, so all other food probably tastes like ashes." It was a theory, but Winter had come to the coclusion based on old faerie tales. "Can you tolerate food in the Underworld?" Winter asked, wondering if they even ate down there. Elise wanted to know if the others would be surprised to see them. "I think they will," she smiled. Elise promised to cover for Winter when she returned without her, "Thank you Elise. Hopefully Zed won't be too upset with me," Carter frowned. "Why would he be mad at you? Shouldn't he be glad you get to see your friends again?" Winter scratched the back of her head, avoiding his gaze. "He's... a bit protective. Rightfully so, though."

"Why? You're so strong!" He slammed his palms on the table, startling Mercedes. "Not in Olympia, I'm probably the one of the weakest Heirs." She admitted, scratching her cheek. Mercedes's eyes widened, no doubt she was trying to imagine it. If Winter was one of the weakest, then what were the strongest like? "If anything happened to me here, I'm pretty sure he would start a war with the human race." Oliver laughed, surprisingly. "I think that's just the sign of a good boyfriend," the doorbell rang, the others had arrived. Winter could her their voices at the door. She looked at her reflection in the window, quickly adjusting anything out of place out of habit. This wasn't Olympia, she didn't need to put on heirs. Winter rose, excited to see everyone. She could tell that Elise was nervous, judging from the way she was sitting. "Hey, head up. They're your friends too, remember? They all love and missed you."

Winter was immediately smothered in a hug from Serenity. "Come here Elise, you too!" She pulled Elise into the hug, the two of them stuck in Serenity's grip. Eventually, she released them. "I'm so glad," Serenity began to tear up. "That you could be with us today," she started to sob. "I'm glad I could be here too," Winter smiled, trying not to cry. It wasn't proper, Iris would say. In a way, Winter was still being controlled by everyone in her life. She had very little freedom. Sometimes it felt as though she couldn't breath. "Winter!" Claude said in surprise. He hugged her quickly, not wanting to disrespect Jasmine. "This must be Jasmine! I've heard so much about her!" Winter smiled, "Ah, what a beautiful couple you two are." Jasmine smiled, she was beautiful, Winter thought. She could tell that she had a big heart, the kind of woman that Claude needed.

"Winter, Elise!" Ezra went right for Elise first, being surprisingly gentle with her. Was it Winter's imagination, or did he whisper something in her ear? Before she could react, her swept her up into a bear hug, lifting Winter off of her feet. "Careful, or she might launch you into a couch," Mercedes muttered. Serenity turned, surprised to see her there. "Mercy," she whispered in disbelief. "You're here!"

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







"The Underworld is the place in the Boundary most connected to life." It was an odd statement, but it was the truth. Dead people went there, and they found new life and were reincarnated there as well. "Our bodies are naturally replenished and nourished from the life energy, so I do not normally need to eat." Well, not that she could ever eat again at this rate. "Hmm, I dunno if I can beat that, but I'll sure give it my best." Carter seemed determined now. "What kind of host would I be if a guest went home unhappy?" He winked and grinned, flashing a thumbs up. Oliver rolled his eye, as if Carter were an idiot. "This is my house, I hope you remember. I'm the host here." Carter laughed, sounding joyous as he did. "Come on, Ollie, I'm here so often you're probably getting sick of me!" Oliver smiled patiently but did not answer.

When Winter called herself one of the weakest Heirs Elise was happy to shoot a threatening stare Mercedes's way, her ruby eyes gleaming in the morning light. Mercedes flinched, anger simmering in her eyes as Carter released her from her bonds. Today was All Heir's Day, and Mercedes was once a friend, even if she might no longer be one. Elise really was not an Heir, but it was rather entertaining acting as if she was one. There was not much time until the others came, but Winter was trying to raise her mood. "I... well..." What could she say? For once, Elise was unable to think of anything so she made an uncommittal expression and continued gazing out the window, wondering if it was too late to try and escape. Would Winter just try and stop her anyways? Probably. Escape was not going to be an option.

Serenity was very touchy, and Jasmine helped baby Soraya find a comfortable corner for her baby carrier to sit down in. Soraya was staring with wide brown eyes, trying to touch everything with those grubby stubby fingers, unable to leave the carrier. "It's just so great you're both here." Serenity was almost clinging to them, as if she knew this might be the last time, but did not want to believe it. Jasmine wore a very patient, very warm smile. Was it practiced? Was it an act as she hugged Winter, a few tears brimming in the corners of her eyes? "One of the heroes who stopped the apocalypse. But you look like a normal woman, like, like me." She looked over to Elise then, giving her a welcoming smile. The black eagle shot her a withering look but Jasmine's expression did not change.

Before Elise could exchange scathing words with Jasmine, or find an excuse to not talk to Claude who had been exchanging some sort of collecting card game with Carter, Ezra swept her up into his arms as if she weighed nothing at all. "You're not getting away from me this time." Elise rolled her eyes, still unable to come up with words to say. "Welcome back to Earth, you silly bird." Her heart fluttered, and that made the pain worse. "We can talk later. For now, let's enjoy the miracle that allowed all seven of us to meet again." He was confident for some reason. Or maybe he had become a good actor too. He went to Winter then, giving her an affectionate pat on the back. "I like that look in your eyes. Tough. Powerful. It's a good luck, Winter." He grinned approvingly.

Mercedes shot Serenity a smouldering look. "You're the one who left first. You don't get to act like we're all friendly again, Siri." Her tone was scathing and full of irritability. Mercedes narrowed her eyes. Before, she was the type to let someone walk over her, but over the years, she had matured. Serenity was not a doormat anymore. "You don't get to talk to me like that. Let's just have a pleasant All Heir's Day, okay?" That moment Serenity chose to go work on the farms seemed to create a rift between the former best friends, even from childhood. It was clear that in this ragtag group, there were a lot of scars and pain from the war. Only Oliver and Carter, two mortal enemies, seemed to have been able to really mend the gap so far, being almost like brothers in how they acted now.

"Those four spend a lot of time together." Jasmine nodded approvingly as Ezra made some sort of crude joke about dogs and girls and even Claude laughed, while Carter simply nodded. "I've got an even better one! You know that girl that sent me her nudes the other day? Well-" Elise frowned, wondering why Jasmine was sitting with her and Winter while the boys prepared lunches and Soraya tried to pick up a block, wondering why her two aunts - Mercedes and Serenity - were glaring at each other instead of helping her. "That sounds like a crude conversation." Elise's tone was cold and indifferent. "I want to get to know you both. You're both Soraya's aunts, and my husband's sisters." Even if Winter barely lasted a week before it ended. In the end, Jeralt died to save her, so she was as good as blood. Winter was an honorary Hresvelg, no matter what the birth certificates said. "I want her to be proud one day, to know her relation to two of the heroes that saved all of our lives."

"You can create a lie. You could say that I am very nice." Elise looked away, wondering why she felt so uncomfortable. Jasmine shook her head with a sad look in her eyes. "But that wouldn't be the truth. I wouldn't want you both to be remembered with lies." Before Elise could say anything there was a sudden giggle. "Gross." Mercedes murmured while Serenity laughed happily. "Jasmine, Soraya's sucking on my finger! What do I do?" She gestured to her finger helplessly. "I was trying to help her with the blocks!"

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Mercedes was trying to start something, but Serenity quickly shut it down, standing up for herself. Winter was proud of her, it was clear that their time apart had been good for one another. Maybe two they could repair their broken bond? Mercedes glared at Winter, as if this rift was somehow her fault. Winter turned back to Claude, who greeted her. "I never thought I would see you again," it was clear Elise was ignoring him and for the time being, he was respecting her decision, whatever decision that may be. "I never thought I would return to earth," Winter admitted. Carter called Claude over and Jasmine stepped in, hugging Winter. She smelled like cloves and Winter's Grandmother's fruit cake. It was a nice smell, a safe smell. Jasmine began tearing up, calling Winter a hero. Winter waved her hands in front of her, cheeks turning pink. "I'm not a hero," Winter tried to clarify quickly.

"I didn't save the Chrysanthemum because I wanted to," had Winter the choice, she probably would have run away the first chance she had. "I was just a naive girl," who was manipulated into doing whatever anyone else wanted. She smiled a bit awkwardly when Jasmine said she looked like a normal human girl, just like her. That was the one thing Winter was not anymore. Ezra complimented her, saying he liked the look in her eye, that it was tough. "Well, that's what being an Heir does to you," she laughed. "It gives you access to power you never knew you had." She could spend days at the piano, ferverntly composing her own music. Her playing was described by other Heirs as the melody of an angel that could evoke every and any emotion to the listener. The secret was the manipulation of sound and how it was delivered to the ear.

Winter was the Heir of music, yes, but her ability had to do with sound in particular. It was why she could manipulate sound waves and create thunder claps. They moved to the living room while the boys made lunch. Serenity and Mercedes played with Soraya, who had Claude's eyes and Jasmine's complexion. "What a cute baby," Winter admired. She wondered if she and Zed would ever have a baby, but then was immediately grossed out by the thought of carrying a child. Still, Winter was at the age where most girls began to think of pregnancy. Unlike everyone else (excluding Elise) her body had never gone through puberty. She was not fully matured, but that was fine. Jasmine wanted to get to know them both, but Winter would have been more interested in learning about Jasmine. "Why don't you tell us more about you? I heard you work in a really cool field?"

Elise was being annoying. Winter flicked her in the forehead, not hard enough to send her flying across the room, but enough to get the point across. "You're being annoying, Jasmine is our sister in law." Couldn't Elise at least pretend to play nice? Mercedes suddenly squealed, Serenity laughing happily. Winter turned to see what had happened, that Soraya had gripped Mercedes's hand and was sucking whole-heartedly on a finger. Winter blinked, immediately retracting any thoughts about having a baby of her own. Gross, she thought. Still, Winter laughed at Mercedes's expression while Jasmine rushed over to give Soraya a pacifier. Jasmine returned, she wanted to know about them so that she could carry the torch, in case they never returned to earth.

What to tell her? Well, Winter wasn't sure. "My human life was pretty pathetic to be honest," she admitted, running a hand through her hair. "You probably know most of it, to be honest, since I was kind of infamous as a kid," Winter laughed. Her entire life was public knowledge. "My greatest accomplishment was my music," it was the one thing she had been proud of as a human. She looked forward to every performance at the Opal. She could never perform there again, as the Opal no longer existed, but it had been nice while it lasted.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







"We had no choice but to fight." Elise said bluntly, remembering the events of the apocalypse. "It was either fight or die." There were no real heroics about it. If they did not fight, a horrible fate was waiting for all of them at the Doctor's hands. His plan to put all of the Heir's powers into Winter and use her as his puppet to control the world. It was very good for all of them that his plan could not come to frution. "I think so too." Jasmine said with a modest smile. "Soraya really is going to be quite the beauty." Elise was curious. "Was she gene modded?" A lot of rich children were getting genetic modification in the womb these days. Jasmine shook he rhead. "Except for genetic illnesses, no. Claude and I wanted her to be born naturally."

So Claude must have known how being gene modded affected Elise. It made her feel almost illegitimate - as if she did not earn her right to be a prodigy. Claude was the same, he too had been modified. They were more skilled and more attractive than their peers because of the money sunk into them. Winter was curious about Jasmine, wanting to learn more about her. Jasmine looked a little bit surprised at the request. "I'm a perfumer." She said, fidgeting. "I work for Petalco. I help create new perfume blends and scents in the research division. It's nothing too fancy." Petalco. If Elise remembered right, they were one of the companies that wanted to focus purely on natural blends rather than synthetic with chemicals and the like. They also are happy on the donation front for causes to help the lesser people, those who could not afford to support themselves. The less worthy people, in a way.

Winter was perceptive and noticed Elise's attempts to snub Jasmine, so she was flicked on the head. She frowned, wondering if there was a way to express what she meant. "How do we know she does not just want his money?" Jasmine blinked, then took Elise's hand. "I never ask him for money." She said with quiet patience. "I only ever buy things with the money I earn myself. I'm a proud woman, who works hard for what I have." Then her cheerful smile came back. "But it's good to know you care about Claude. He'd be happy to know his sister was so protective of him." Elise's eyes gleamed with annoyance at her words. "If you would get angry with me it would be a lot easier to keep hating you." That made Jasmine laugh for some odd reason.

Winter was giving a mini autobiography of herself now. "I never had the chance to listen." Jasmine said a little sadly. "Would it be possible to hear your music? I'd love to have that honor." A cynical look was in Elise's eyes. "Are there even any instruments here?" At her words, Oliver bounded over, the lunch food nearly finished cooking. "Who needs that when I have recordings of all of Winter's performances at the Opal on my holo?" He grinned, but it was a little sad. "I sometimes listen to it when I want to sleep at night." So he had nightmares, troubles sleeping. But Winter's music gave him peace of mind. "Then I'd love to. Do you mind?" Jasmine looked almost like an excited child as Oliver put his holo on speaker mode, Winter's piano wafting through the house.

A baby carriage was placed by them, with Serenity walking over, Mercedes crossing her arms, but following suit. The two sat down where Elise, Winter, and Jasmine were sitting by the pearl couch. "Come on, Mercedes." Serenity's voice was light and friendly. "If the boys can all be one big group, us girls can be too." Mercedes was the most isolated of them, having separated herself from everyone else. Most likely the soldier did not know how to act anymore with the old team. "Fine. I can keep an eye on the Heirs that way." Serenity seemd a bit upset but her tone stayed friendly. "If they were going to do something, they'd have done it already, you know." Serenity beamed, looking between Winter and Elise. "It's a real shame you two can't stay longer. Jasmine's the best cook of Persian cuisine I've ever had." Jasmine blushed, as if not used to the praise. "It's only my grandmother's recipes." She looked away, embarrassed.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




It sounded as though Claude had found himself a real winner. Winter was glad for it, Jasmine seemed genuine and kind. "I'm sure he'd be embarrassed if I said this near himm, but you seem like quite the catch. I'm not surprised someone who wanted to go into fashion ended up with a perfumer." Cloting and scents went hand in hand. "What are you ladies talking about?" Carter asked, placing a plate of cookies on the table. Winter reached for one immediately, having missed earthly flavors. "Just about you and how you would trip over your own sand on the battlefield," Carter's face turned red. Suddenly there was a hand in Winter's hair, giving her a noogie. "Hey!" She cried out, batting his hand away. "I still beat you, didn't I?" He grinned, "I don't think that was beating me Carter, you literally buried me in ten tons of sand."

"Can't you give me one point?" He asked, hands on his hips. "Fine, you can have one." She replied, taking another ginger bite out of her cookie. "I want a rematch then. Mono el mono, we'll see whose the strongest?" He grinned, Ezra laughed from the kitchen, pointing a knife at Carter. Not threateningly of course, "You? You really think you can beat an Heir?!" He grinned, mock wiping tears from his eyes. "Oh that's rich," Carter huffed indignantly at this. "We'll do it fair and square, no powers. Just two people, fighting with their fists." Winter turned away, nose in the air. "No offense Carter, but I don't want to kill you." He mock punched her in the shoulder in response. "Come on, just one fight! I gotta make sure that you can protect yourself."

Winter rose with a sigh. "Fine," she punched him, sending him flying backwards into the wall. Serenity burst out laughing as Winter sat back down, snatching another cookie from the tray. "Now, where were we?" Oh, Elise attacking Jasmine, asking if she just wanted Claude's money. Jasmine immediately defended herself. Good, Winter thought, Claude had picked a real winner. She wasn't going to let Elise just walk all over her. Jasmine seemed sad that she had never Winter's music. "It's not that special," she shook her head. Oliver bound over, wearing an apron, seeming eager. He had all of Winter's recitals recorded. Why? Winter wondered. Had he been there for them? Were they public record? Elise was still being a cynic, but that was one thing that would never change. "I'm not an ameature Oliver, of course I came prepared."

Music was meant to be enjoyed live. "I'm an Heir of Music, you think I didn't come to earth without something?" She dug through the pockets of her dress, pulling out an entire viola case. Elise might recognize it, it was the one Winter had picked up from the town when they were attacked by the Anti-Zeus-Troop. Oliver had put on a recording of one of her piano recitles, it was one Winter recognized well. She had all of her recitles memorized. "Mozart's Requim, excellent taste." Mercedes and Serenity joined them, pushing a baby carriage. It's a shame Mercedes hadn't returned Serenity's feelings. "Heir's?" Winter asked, setting the viola case down beside her, she could play once the recording had ended. She glanced at Elise in confusion, then giggled. Had Elise told the others she was an Heir? Winter wasn't going to give that away.

"Actually, Elise has to go back, but I can stay a little bit longer." Serenity's eyes lit up in delight. Mercedes groaned, as though the idea of it was sickening. "I'd love to taste Jasmine's food."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Carter was curious about them so he came over to talk for a little. It went from teasing back and forth to Winter punching him into a wall, earning a few laughs from mostly everyone. Elise rolled her ruby eyes, as she was apt to do. "He really should have known better." Really, how daft could you be? The conversation went on to a different topic then, to Winter and her music. They wanted to hear and Oliver offered to play her music but Winter was not going to be satisfied with just that. As if out of thin air a very familiar instrument appeared. Recorded music was one thing - the real thing in action was a whole other experience. It was not Elise's first time of course, but even now Winter's abilities were impressive. How could anyone have thought this girl was weak and useless? Elise really must have been a fool.

As the song ended, three visitors came to join them on the sofa. Jasmine's eyes were that of someone struck with stars. She paused for a moment to snap herself back to reality and then clapped her hands. Soraya did not appear to understand what was happening, but the fact that she was fast asleep now instead of trying to make Mercedes play blocks with her was a good sign. "Thank you." Jasmine said after collecting her senses. "That was better than I could have imagined. You're really the best." Claude grinned with an odd sort of pride. "Timothy's going to cry, he was so happy to play the piano in front of you, Jasmine." His wife smiled shyly, but beamed nonetheless. "Timothy is very skilled, but this was a whole other level." The room smelled nauseating - the food was nearly ready. Elise would have to go, but the black eagle knew Winter would be staying, at least for a little bit longer. "Then I would be delighted to have you eat my food." Jasmine sounded thrilled, already thinking of what to serve.Mercedes and Serenity came over with the sleeping baby, wanting to spend more time talking to the rest. Ezra washed his hands and strolled over too, his too-long legs and his far-too-casual gait somewhat distracting for Elise.

The other boys might have grown into men, but even still they were not as tall as Ezra was. He came in time to hear Mercedes call Elise one of the two heirs. He and Serenity exchanged a quick furtive glance and then his grin only grew wider. Of course, they knew the truth. "You two don't really belong here. Heirs have interfered enough with human matters." Mercedes kept a stubborn position on the fact. "Who else would be more welcome than Heirs on All Heirs Day?" Ezra challenged, exchanging a high five from Serenity, who Elise felt oddly threatened by for some strange reason. Why should she? Serenity batted for the other team. "So, Elise. You're an Heir too. We saw Winter's great talent, so what are you supposed to be good at?" Jasmine looked back and forth, then a light seemed to click in her eye as she understood the deception going on. A quick witted woman, Claude would not have married any other kind.

"I think she's the Heir of Mercy." Mercedes's tone was irritable. "But you didn't seem very merciful when almost punching me in the face earlier." Ezra was clearly trying to put her on the spot for lying about her status. But what threat could she be as a mere Servant? "That is true. Because I am a judge who helps decide who is allowed to leave the punishment lands of the Underworld." She murmured quietly. "I grant mercy to those who deser-" Ezra clapped his hands. "Yeah, yeah. We want to know what you can do, not a big speech. Winter showed us, I wanna see what you can do!" Serenity nodded with enthusiasm. Was this bullying? Elise had no way to know.

She sighed. Fine, she would have to put on a show, would she not? "I can do this then." She raised her arm, mist reaching out and coiling with annoyance around Ezra's neck like a threatening vise. But this only made Ezra laugh harder. "Geez, El, you smell! Stop letting out gas!" All this set up, for a joke? Elise did not know if she was impressed or insulted. "I - nevermind, you humans do not deserve to see." Ezra patted her on the head for some reason. "It's okay to fart, everyone does it, even Winter!" She glowered hotly at him, a twitch in her finger. "I was not expelling gas, it was mist from the Un-" A bell rang then, and food was served on the table. Extra chairs were brought in from other rooms to fit them all.

"Food's ready." Oliver announced. Carter was up too, nursing his head, looking oddly satisfied and embarrassed all at once. "Are we all ready to eat? There's a drink for you too, Elise, so don't be shy."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter played them the Second Concerto, an easy piece to impress people with. If you knew music, then you knew it wasn't the hardest piece to perform. She finished with a flourish, returning her viola to its case with some applause. "I'm glad you all enjoyed it," she sat back down. Serenity, Mercedes, and a sleeping Soraya joined them on the couch across from them. Winter was glad that her music had been able to put the baby to sleep. Perhaps now Mercedes would stop complaining. Nope, instead she immediately murmured about how Heir's should not be interferring in the affairs of humans. "Well, we were both human once too. Besides, it's not like we came here with a mission. Like I said, I just wanted to retrieve my body." Which had been a success. "Besides Mercy, if you dislike me so much, then why save my body from that cult?"

Mercedes grit her jaw. "I couldn't just let them kill you," Winter tilted her head innocently. "Why? Aren't I the cause of all of your pain? Don't you blame me for everything that's happened?" Mercedes's hands balled into fists. "If I let you die, the others would never forgive me," of course, it was easiest to pin it on the emotional responses of everyone else. Ezra appeared from the kitchen, along with Serenity. The two had become close, which Winter thought was nice. They teased Elise relentlessly, which made Winter smile. No, Elise was still as clueless as ever. The jokes went right over her head, seemingly frustrating her. They were just fooling around, of course, but Elise acted indignant. Winter didn't blame her; a while ago, she probably would have reacted in a similar manner.

A bell rang, inviting them all into the dining room. Carter picked himself up off the floor, having awoken from being knocked out. He didn't seem upset about it either, which Winter found surprising. Winter sat between Serenity and Elise, the boys putting on a show of serving the first course. It was butternut squash soup with garlic croutons. Winter waited for everyone to be seated before picking up her spoon. "Mmm, it smells so good!" They must have all worked hard to prepare this meal. The flavors danced on her tongue, not too heavy, the soup light and a perfect start to the meal. Next came a salad, which Winter stirred around on her plate to be polite. Even if she was engaged to the Heir of Gardens, salads were not something she could bring herself to actually eat. "How is your drink?" Winter asked Elise, hoping it wasn't too bad since Carter had been experimenting.

The main course was full of all of the traditional fixings. Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, buttered corn pudding, green beans, and Winter's favorite: sweet potato pie topped with tiny marshmallows. "You all really outdid yourselves," she complimented as a plate was placed in front of her. Winter's eyes sparkled, the flavors reminding her of her Grandmother's cooking. She felt tears stinging her eyes and blurring her vision as she ate, wishing that a moment like this could last forever. "What's wrong?" Serenity asked, having noticed as Winter tried to slyly dab at her eyes with her napkin. "It's nostalgic," she admitted. "Being with everyone, getting to eat food that I haven't had since I was a kid. I just... missed this." Serenity frowned, "are you that lonely in Olympia?" She asked, her brow furrowing in worry. Her voice was soft so as not to attract the attention of the others.

"Of course I was," she admitted. "My best friend was dead and I had no way of contacting anyone. I was suddenly cut off from everything and everyone I knew." Her hands balled into fists on her lap. It was just like after the accident at the concert. She had to suffer through loss, but had no idea how to actually grieve. "And I have no one to blame but myself," if she hadn't gone off to find her Father, then Elise would still be alive. If she hadn't run off, she probably would still be a human. Not that Winter resented becoming an Heir, it was a gift from Zeus to be granted full Heir-ship, but she wished that it had been under different circumstances.

"Who's ready for dessert?" Ezra asked, carrying a chocolate cake into the room.