Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

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Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Ninian Frost on Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:21 am



Ninian Frost could not swim, but then it seemed like many of Highgrove's Residents were not overly interested in swimming either. Over the last few days, he'd found that the pool house was almost always deserted, save for a particularly bored and preoccupied warden who had to remain there at all hours to oversee nothing whatsoever. Ninian had watched him eat through chapters of a heavy paperback for some time now, and they each seemed content to leave the other be, which suited Ninian perfectly. There was something soothing about the quiet of that building, and the faint, alien scent of the chlorine. It did not remind him of anywhere else that he'd been or anything else that he'd done. He could simply sit on a bench at the back, perched between two large, tropical ferns, and watch the sunlight play on the water's surface. There was light and air about this place, and then, when the rain came, it shimmered over the glass panes of the roof like a thousand diamonds in motion, and the cacophony of it drowned out the rest of the world. An equatorial paradise in the middle of England. To Ninian, who knew no better, this was what Spain or Florida might be like. In reality, of course, this was 1920s England epitomised. Cool, clean, and tiled, with a hint of art-deco artistic flair about it all. It was more the domain of fine English ladies in old fashioned bathing costumes and caps than it was the world of tanned skin, exotic sorts. But a boy with little real worldliness could pretend.

He came here to be alone, because too frequently the rooms of the house were noisy, boisterous. Even hidden behind armchairs or under tables, the hustle and bustle eventually drove him away to seek solitude elsewhere. And there was no time that he had particularly longed for solitude more than when he'd left his first individual therapy with the crisp-faced female psychiatrist. Her questions had all been so direct, so drilling, so demanding. She had reminded him of Mrs. Slater with her primness and her coolness. Even her smiles had made him uncomfortable. They were the sorts of smiles Mrs. Slater wore when she asked probing questions to which she already knew the answers. They were the sorts of smiles that came before the storm, and Ninian did not want to weather any more storms. Perhaps if he just kept his head down and stayed quiet, he would not have to go back, and would not get into trouble through answering incorrectly or otherwise screwing it up.

So he came out to the pool house, to be away from it all, to lay low, and to think of other things. Better things. Things like Lizzy's smiles on the rare days they were left alone. Because his time at the house hadn't all been dark and bleak. There was a pervasive ray of sunshine in that house, and that had been Elizabeth Rush. The only person in whom he could confide. The only person he'd perhaps ever truly cared about, and whom, he suspected, had cared about him. Family. A family neither of them had ever had. But were they brother and sister, or just friends? Or, considering what they had been made to do, were they considered lovers? The very thought of that made Ninian squirm in his own skin, and he pushed it away quickly. He'd always been ashamed of what he'd done, and terrified that he had hurt Lizzy. But what choice did they have..?

Fending off these parts of his memories of the golden-haired girl, he sat quietly on the white, painted bench at the back of the pool house, and watched the sun begin to dip down to kiss the far horizon. He thought that this place was so very different from anywhere else he'd been. The Lake District. It was the sort of place he'd only seen in books before, or on glossy postcards tacked to the staff corkboards at Maidstone House. And now, here he was. The quiet and the solitude was almost blissful after the chaos of the children's home and the bustle of Highgrove House. Here, he could breathe. Here, he could think. And here, he could imagine Lizzy slipping in through the modest glass doorway of the pool house, as if they'd never been parted. He could watch her move about as if she hadn't yet noticed him half hidden behind tropical ferns. It had to just be his imagination, because she couldn't be here now. Could she? Could she? With a soft intake of breath, he rose from the bench, unable to keep from staring at the vision of that girl standing just down at the other edge of the pool. Transfixed, he stepped away from the ferns, out into the open, and stood motionless, frozen in all of his toweringly tall awkwardness. Lizzy? Is that really you? And try as he might to make a sound, he found he couldn't. It was as if a single murmur might shatter the illusion and send her ghost fleeing into the gathering dusk. But the light from the pool beneath them caught her hair, illuminating it just as he'd remembered the light from the kitchen window to, when he had snuck to the doorway to offer her a sneaky smile during her chores. What was left of it anyway. If you're just a vision... Please don't go anyway...

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Elizabeth Rush on Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:50 pm

After only one day at Highgrove Lizzy was feeling overwhelmed. There had been the tour, unpacking and other people, who made a lot of noise, even when they didn’t. It felt so crowded, like people’s thoughts were taking up space, squashed against each other. Then there’d been the night, which was so silent and dark without even the soft breathing of other people to disturb it and help her snatch her mind back from memories, thoughts, what had happened to her to turn the darkness into something to be afraid of. Despite constantly reminding herself that they weren’t lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce she’d stared into the blackness for hours, too scared to close her eyes, only falling asleep when the first signs of watery winter sunlight made an appearance. Even then she’d only been able to do so by pulling and had woken with strands wound between her fingers and a flash of panic. Then picking up a pen and feel bile rise in her throat as she tried to find something, anything to say to Nin, reflected how she stood even less chance now of finding out where he was, bit back her tears and got on with things. Then everything got chaotic all over again, making Lizzy feel like she was on some kind of rollercoaster. She hadn’t said so, of course, but she needed a break.

She knew she felt tired. She’d tried to behave normally, but it was more of a deep weariness that was wearing on her. Ever since they’d left she’d had trouble with people. Not in the way she had before, when she was still twelve and couldn’t imagine staying at the home, always planning to run away and start a life somewhere that didn’t have kids who pointed the finger at her. Always coming back, sneaking in the back door and quietly putting things away, pretending she’d never meant to leave. Living with the Slaters, if you could call it living, had given a whole new dimension to her idea of freedom, which had been broken again once they’d been taken away. She wasn’t sure what she wanted any more. She didn’t miss the Slaters, not even for a split second when everyone was loud and her brain couldn’t cope with any more, but she missed Nin. She missed having someone she could count on, who’d help.

Maybe she should have insisted they went together, although they’d said there was nothing they could do. She’d tried to write but all her messages summoned up images of Mrs Slater correcting handwriting and grammar and the correct way to write a letter. And the inevitable trouble when someone made a mistake. What could you say after that? ‘Hi, how are you, sorry we’re now opposite sides of the country’? She should have done something. Never mind that she hadn't known where to send it, even if she'd written it. It always hurt. That she hadn't written. She'd wanted to, desperately, worried endlessly what Nin would think of her for not sending him a letter but... she couldn't. The very thought made her stomach flip over. Nin couldn’t have done, he was dealing with his leg, the pain, the doctors and all their questions and she’d just… let it happen. Let all of it happen.

Looking for a refuge she’d tried the library and the stables and found them both with more people than she’d like. Not really busy, but still with too many people to be really peaceful. She decided to try the pool house. Lizzy knew swimming was out of the question for her, if only because she couldn’t really remember how. Although, come to think of it, she wasn’t sure she’d learned in the first place. She’d sat on the side, resisting all attempts to get her in anything beyond waist-deep. Strange for a person who’d lived near the sea, but there you were. She’d been too worried about people laughing. She braced herself for more people and pulled the door open.

To her relief the place seemed to be almost deserted. A security guard reading a book, who looked up briefly, presumably to check she wasn’t carrying an axe, then went back to his book. Closing the door as quietly as possible, it suddenly struck her as odd that last night all she’d wanted was company and now all she wanted was to be alone. Well… except for one person. He’d be somewhere else though, probably making friends and things, though. Good for him. She walked to the edge and peered in, deciding that it would probably be better not to fall in. It was relatively warm in here at least, and she watched the ripples for a moment, finding it oddly relaxing. Maybe it was something about the way the light –

Something, no, someone caught her eye and she jumped. It wasn’t the bored security person who made her jump though. She could have sworn she’d seen someone familiar. Very familiar. “N-” They aren’t here, idiot, you can call him that. “Nin?” Her voice sounded pale and thin. How… Lizzy decided not to question it. If that was Nin, and Nin had never mentioned a brother much less one who looked exactly like him, then… he’d been here? How long? She glanced at the security guard again, hoping she wasn’t talking to thin air, or worse, a person who looked just like Nin but wasn’t. She was suddenly very conscious of the fact her hair was… Well, a good chunk had gone at least, even if you were a master of understatement. That didn’t matter though. What mattered was that Nin was there, and he was staring which probably meant he was Nin and she hadn’t just sprouted a tulip from her ear. "I'm sorry... I tried to write, but everything... I couldn't. I'm sorry. I tried, I really did I just couldn't I kept thinking about... all those lessons and her and... I didn't know where you'd gone and... I'm so sorry." She could feel tears pricking the back of her eyes, one hand at the nape of her neck, unnoticed. Plucking at her hair, trying to make that feeling go away. Guilt that had been festering in her chest since the day they'd been split up and doubling every time she'd tried to sit down with a pen seemed to bubble out of her mouth. Would he still want to talk to her? After all of that? No. He'd hate her. Who wouldn't? Who'd care when you couldn't even pick up a pen for them?

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Elizabeth Rush

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Ninian Frost on Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:32 pm



"Shhhhh, shhhhh." The blond boy by the potted ferns held up his hands and shook his head, finally finding his voice it seemed. He didn't want to see Lizzy upset, not on his account. There had been enough of that at the Slaters' house, and this was supposed to be a sublime moment, wasn't it? He could even try to pretend, right now, that none of the nightmare had ever happened. Not alone... Or was he? What if Lizzy had moved on by now? What if she wanted nothing to do with him, if only because he'd been a part of that house. Perhaps he was being too ambitious, but at least she really was there. He hadn't imagined that could happen. Fate wasn't that kind. But there she was, and as he edged a few steps toward her, he considered her appearance and wrestled with two distinct and conflicting urges. At once he wanted to hug her close to him and warn off anyone else who dared disturb them, but in the same breath, he was afraid to touch her after all that had happened. She had every right to hate him, he told himself. Yet, his feet drew him ever nearer to the place where she stood, looking upset and a little more threadbare than he remembered. He managed to stop at a respectable distance and rake his gaze through her hair.

"Don't be sorry. I didn't write either. They didn't say where you'd gone, and I've been so... so..." So fucked up. "So, don't be upset. Please. Not here." For the barest of moments, his hand lifted from his side as if he might reach out and touch her, to be certain she was real and not an illusion spawned from the mind of a madman. But the hand fell short when he thought better of it, and he gave her a sad little look. "Oh, Lizzy... Your hair..." She clearly hadn't stopped pulling it. It was worse now, far worse than when he'd last seen her sitting in the back of an ambulance before they closed the doors and took her away. He wanted to grasp the meddling hand at the nape of her neck in his own, still it, keep it from hurting her more, but he didn't quite dare. He used to do it, back when they had been at that house. He'd take her hands in his when no-one was looking and give her a faint, conspiratorial smile that said I won't tell. And he never did. In fact, he tried to keep her from discovery, knowing how much trouble she would get into. The Slaters didn't want crazy, damaged children. They wanted perfect little androids. Yes, Sir, no, Sir, three bags full, sir.

"I've... thought about you. Since we left. Not in that way. Well, yes, in that way sometimes but not like you think. Only... Only to think how sorry I am for everything. For what happened." Even with how awkward they both were, standing there in the reflective ripples of light from the pool, he found it easier to talk to Lizzy. Far easier than it was to talk to anyone else. Almost as if they'd never been parted, as if they could still share whispered secrets at the end of the hall, and talk about how fucked up the Slaters were, when they were certain they couldn't be heard. Lizzy understood him like no-one else could or would, because she'd been there too. They had shared a few years of their lives, captive in that hell. How could anyone else possibly relate in the same way she could? He didn't need a therapist, he just needed Lizzy. If they wanted him to talk about what had happened, then it must be with her. "I wasn't sure if you'd want to see me again. I thought... I thought you might just want to forget. Sometimes I want to forget, but not about you. Just them. The house." Again his eyes tracked to her hair, to how thin it seemed now, and he winced. He couldn't understand the need to hurt oneself. He'd never understood really why she did it. He supposed it wasn't a conscious need to hurt herself, but it still seemed so strange to him, impossible to grasp. They'd endured so much pain of various sorts at the house that he couldn't stomach the idea of any more, and it was torment to see Lizzy in this state.

"Do you... Do you want to sit? With me? Or... Or we could go for a walk. Or... You don't have to if you don't want to. I mean, I'll understand if you don't want to. It feels like it's been so long, and no time at all." His hands flapped a little uselessly at his sides, and he gave her that sad little smile again.

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Elizabeth Rush on Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:28 pm

She wanted to hug him. After everything, the window, the ambulance, being sent back to Cornwall, then here, any familiar face would have been welcome. Well… except two. That Nin was there was an impossible stroke of luck, as if whoever handed it out had suddenly noticed that Lizzy was a little… short of it. His being here brought back the feeling that maybe something good could happen. Well, he was the good thing that happened, but just maybe she wouldn’t spend the rest of her life trapped somewhere she didn’t want to be. That it was even a possibility made her mind reel in confusion, but in a good way.

Just to make sure he was real, she glanced at the security guard, who seemed to be uninterested in them, unless they planned on drowning any time soon. That was a relief. “You had your leg and… everything.” She smiled at him, trying to dry her tears on her sleeve. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to, I’ve just been trying to write and feeling bad about it and I couldn’t really stop. You know.” Nin knew what she was like with worrying, which hadn’t been strange at all at the Slater’s. If she wasn’t worrying about the exact temperature of the iron, she should have been. It was only out in the world things like that didn’t make sense, and you couldn’t break a habit of four years overnight. Not to mention it wasn’t as if she’d been carefree in the first place…

Suddenly aware, Lizzie removed her hand from the back of her neck and stared at the strands there, which suddenly seemed almost luminous, staring accusatorially at her. “I know… I’m sorry. I just… I can’t stop. I don’t know how. Things got a lot worse after they sent me back. Which is weird, I suppose. I mean… nobody really knew what to do. With me, I mean. And… this” She stared at the strands for a second, then shoved them into her pocket. Hiding what she’d pulled was another habit she’d developed, or developed more, she’d never exactly shouted about it. Hiding it somewhere until she could get rid of it. One of the fantastic things about jeans were the pockets. She didn’t wear dresses (or, as she liked to call them fabric torture chambers of doom,) any more if she could possibly avoid it, and so far she had. Hopefully her luck would continue on that front, the world did not need to see her melt down over ruffles.

“There’s supposed to be a name for… this. You know, with my hair...” She gestured. She’d never known. She just thought it was her, being weird again. The hard to spell condition she apparently had didn’t really matter, she just… She’d told him everything over time in whispered seconds in corners, a precious few minutes while the Slaters had been distracted far enough away to feel almost safe. Talking when they could, he’d helped her when she’d first arrived, betrayed and frantic, to keep her out of trouble as much as he could. She couldn’t imagine what it was like for him that first year, without anyone who had any idea of the many rules, much less any way to live around them.

She reached for his hand, wanting to squeeze it if he’d let her. “It wasn’t …” She struggled for the words to explain. “You didn’t choose to. It was them. And if… if we’d refused they would have done… I don’t know. Something.” She swallowed hard, not wanting to think what that thing might have been. “It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t… want to.” That’s what it boiled down to. She hated the things they’d made them do, but it was both of them. She’d just been too scared and upset and mixed up to tell him at the time. She wished she had, seeing him now. “I thought about you a lot too. People don’t… they think… I don’t know what they think. Either way they don’t understand… I mean..” More scrambling for words. “I mean I missed you. So much.” She could never seem to find what she wanted to say. It was simpler to lapse back into the regimented pattern of manners and politeness that seemed to have seeped into her brain as the default setting. Actually saying something was so much harder.

Nodding, Lizzy wondered how to put it. “I always wanted to see you again… I didn’t know they were going to split us up and… I thought I’d see you again. Or we’d be together.” It had been hard to understand when they’d told her she was going back and wanting to argue but being too anxious and exhausted and confused by everything to realise they meant right then until it was too late. Only seeing three other people and a glimpse of the postman every once in a while did not set you up for doctors, social workers and people from the police swarming round you. Especially when you knew the one person who’d actually understand and be able to help explain was somewhere in the building but where exactly was a mystery.

Talking to Nin wasn’t easy. But it was such a relief, and so much easier, than talking to other people and minding what you said and did and working out what they wanted you to say and how to say it best and quick enough that nobody got upset. And she was just so glad she could talk to him again. No more worrying about the amount of margin you should leave on a letter. No more worrying about whether to use those rules or if he’d think she was stupid for doing it. In spite of all the emotions wrapped up in her chest, whatever they were, she felt lighter than she had in months. Nodding, Lizzy smiled shakily. She didn’t even know what she felt, but she was definitely glad to have Nin around. Nodding more, she swallowed hard again. Why was she still tearing up? She was glad to see him again. She’d never cried when she was relieved or happy before. That was weird. But then she was more relieved than she’d ever been. “I want to. It… I’m so glad you’re with me. I couldn’t… I mean, last night was… pretty bad.” It was an understatement, but it’d do. Returning his sad smile with one if her own, she reached out to hold his hand. Things were awkward now. But before they’d been so close, and she was sure it wasn’t just because they only had each other. Whatever Nin might think, he was a good friend. “I don’t mind if we walk or… sit or something. How’s your leg? Did you… was it bad? I mean I know it was bad, but…” She’d seen the pain he’d been in, so it was clear, even to her, it wasn’t something that would go away with a good night’s sleep and two paracetamol.
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Elizabeth Rush

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Ninian Frost on Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:21 pm



Things were different with Lizzy than they were with other people. Everyone else on the planet was a stranger to him, and he a stranger to them. He was even a stranger to himself, not knowing who the real person he was supposed to be was any more. Was he Ninian Frost, or was he Nicholas Slater now? Was he ever Ninian Frost? It was just a name that was given to him by strangers. Who was he really supposed to be? What had he been called? Where did he belong? But with Lizzy, none of that seemed to matter. She didn't question who he was, only accepted that he was there, and understood why he was the way he was. Because of this, he felt a kinship he was incapable of fostering with anyone else. Attachment issues, Dr. Penfield had said, and Ninian hadn't understood in the least. How could he trust and be close to anyone else when he, himself, didn't really exist. How could they know him when he didn't know him? But Lizzy knew him, he thought. Maybe she knew him better than he did. Or maybe she didn't know him at all. Even if that was the case, then he really didn't care. She was the closest thing to family and friend that he'd ever had, and it was that fact alone that allowed him to squeeze her hand back when she grasped his. He felt the impulse to hug her again, but with it came that flutter of anxiety in his stomach. What if she didn't want him to? What if she pushed him away?

He did feel easier though, holding her hand, easy enough that when she talked about her hair and the fact that they had a name for what she did, he could lift his free hand to just barely brush a thin lock of it back behind her ear. It was barely a touch, just fleeting fingertips, but it was something. He felt terrible for her, for her hair. Did it make her sad? Did it hurt? he wished he knew a way to stop it for her, but he couldn't imagine what he could do. Perhaps if he somehow got her a hat to tuck all her hair under, she wouldn't wind up pulling it out. He wasn't sure how to get one though. He didn't have any money. "Maybe they can help. The doctors here, I mean. Maybe they know how to stop it. Except..." He glanced briefly towards the uninterested warden, as if they were back in the Slaters' house again and whispering terrible things about them. As if he was afraid they'd get caught. he leaned in a little closer, lowering his voice to a conspiritorial murmur. "Except Dr. Zvarich. You don't have her, do you I don't like her. She's so cold. Like Mumm- Like Mrs. Slater." He hated that he still slipped. He hated that he'd been conditioned to refer to her as Mummy. She was no mother. She was Medusa.

Ninian was relived and glad when Lizzy didn't run away but agreed to sit or walk with him wherever they wound up going. it would be novel indeed to get to walk outside with her, hand in hand, but the night was turning cold, and the warm humidity and quiet of the pool house was lulling, calming. So it was toward the bench he headed, urging her along with him. Like any gentleman ought, he waited for her to sit first before he perched next to her. Old habits died hard. He kept a hold of her hand though, and reached for the other one too, hoping to grasp both of them between his own. "It's not so bad now," he murmured, replying to her worry for the state of his leg. It had been bad, very bad. All that day it had happened and all the night that had followed, he'd screamed and cried like an infant, unable to stop himself. The pain was an entity in and of itself, consuming him. He'd been in agony, and no amount of pleading for a hospital or even just a visiting doctor had prompted Mr. or Mrs. Slater to do anything about it. Instead, they had retreated to their room to talk about what they were going to do with Nicholas now, unbeknownst to the two children. What if it didn't heal? What if he was a cripple? What if he didn't stop crying and moaning? "It still hurts sometimes, like when it's raining and cold. I had to have crutches for months, but I don't need them now. They said I should have a cane for a while, but I never used it."

Scooting himself a little closer to Lizzy on the bench, he managed a small and genuine smile now. It seemed to strike him all at once that she was really here, and that they were no longer at that house. They were free, for the most part. They where were they'd always dreamed they would be. Allowed just just sit and talk, alone, without getting into trouble for it or encouraging The Slaters to urge them to take it further than talking. There was no pressure to do more, here. They could just... Be. And it was all down to Lizzy. It had been Lizzy who had had the courage to run the moment she could. Ninian often wondered and cursed himself over why he had never done it sooner. he could have saved them both if he had. But he'd been so cowed by fear of capture and what would happen afterwards... Lizzy had been the saviour in the end, and all for a want of helping Ninian, from being worried for him, concerned for his agony. "Can I... Can I... hug you?" He eventually murmured. It was an awkward and worried sounding little question, but there was still a glimpse of that more genuine light about his face, hopeful and mild. "I wanted to but I wasn't sure if you'd.... You know. After what happened."

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Elizabeth Rush on Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:58 pm

His brushing her hair back made her feel a sudden rush of normal. At least, that’s what it felt like. The parts in between things. Where Mr and Mrs Slater were too busy to make every waking second a misery and they finally got to behave like human beings for a minute or two. Well… two human beings in a strange situation. It was odd how she remembered the parts in between things far better than the things themselves. She supposed that was a blessing, somehow. Besides, the parts in between had been infinitely better, not to mention precious.

She kept an eye on the security guard behind him, more out of habit than anything. They had to be prepared if someone had come in while they were whispering before, so they had to keep their eyes peeled, making sure nobody was sneaking up behind them. She felt a little paler. Someone like her? Her free hand had risen to her neck without her knowledge, as she tried to deal with whatever that meant, anxiety flaring in her chest. She barely noticed that he nearly called her that. She still did, sometimes. There was nobody else in her life that title should belong to. Maybe it would be easier to stop if there had been. “Maybe...” She didn’t sound convinced. “I have doctor… Savage? I think.” She squeezed Nin’s hand again. “What about you?” If this doctor was like her she couldn’t think how Nin must feel. Nin had coped with enough, how could they send someone like her here? How could she help? She was fairly sure simply not going to the appointments wasn’t an option, and besides, it would be rude. There had to be something they could do.

Sitting down, she looked at the way everything in here was so bright. It even smelled bright, if that was possible. Even though the sun was going down. Her first full day hadn’t been bad after all. She gave him her other hand and noticed another strand of hair wrapped around her finger. How was it possible to not notice? Instead she watched him, thinking. Maybe if she’d run out of the house sooner he wouldn’t have broken his leg at all… She’d just been so scared of what would happen when they dragged her back. The lies they’d tell anyone who heard her, meaning if she managed to get out again nobody would help. There was no ‘if’ about it. They would have caught them.

She’d never been used to that kind of scrutiny, knowing that the second she got out, even if it was only her and Nin stayed behind, (although she wouldn’t have left him if she had any choice at all in the matter,) at best it would be a matter of minutes before they noticed her absence. Before there had always been lots of kids, all needing attention and although they all knew adults tried there was no way to pay that much attention to any one child at one time. People suddenly noticing her leaving her knife and fork on the wrong side of the plate once she was finished eating had been a shock to the system. “I’m glad it’s better than it was. Do you think it’ll stop doing that eventually?” She hoped so. Being in pain when it was cold or wet didn’t seem very fair in their weather.

She didn’t want him to be in pain. She never had, but she was still ashamed it had taken her so long to get help. She should have gone sooner, but… being afraid was something she couldn’t quite describe. Not that kind of fear anyway. She’d done it in the end, squeezed his hand, whispered that she’d be back soon and tiptoed down to break the kitchen window. But it had taken her at least half a day and all night to pluck up the courage to do it. And all that time he’d been in agony. Maybe if she’d got help when it happened instead of a day later he wouldn’t still feel it. “I’d… I think I could really do with a hug.” Lizzy closed her eyes, leaning against him. She was so tired.

“Nin?” It was almost unbelievable, that she could call him that out loud and nobody cared. “What’s this place like?” She was still worried. It seemed too good to be true, like a dream she’d wake up from soon. There had to be some kind of catch. “I really missed you.” She knew she’d probably said it before, but this was just something she had to say, even if it was mumbled into his shoulder and sounded weird. It was hardly the weirdest thing he’d ever heard from her, being the only person she told anything to from that awful first night at the Slater’s when he’d managed to convince her that telling them to go die in a hole would be a catastrophically bad idea in every conceivable way. Explained as best he could why everything was weird and how to survive without being punished every twelve seconds. There weren’t any guarantees, but Lizzy was positive he’d saved her a lot of pain and confusion.

Was there anyone here to avoid, apart from that lady? Probably. That was the way life worked as far as Lizzy knew. But she had Nin with her again, they could help each other. Hopefully not in the same sorts of ways that they’d had to before, but still. Friends. Sort of. In the closest sense. She wondered what had happened to the Slaters sometimes. What kind of thing happened if you did what they had done? Given that it had taken so long for them to get themselves found Lizzy didn’t trust the system implicitly. But the half-concealed looks on the faces of the people who they’d told… maybe they’d be safe. Or not. “Do you think…” Should she really talk about this now? Should she just let things be now they’d found each other again? She shook her head. Later. Later would do, with any luck they could wait a while to talk about it. It just felt like it was chewing her heart in the mean time.

She smiled at him, moving on to a different thing. “We could actually go outside together now.” It made her smile, it was funny what made her happy now they weren’t trapped any more. “What was… What happened to you? After they split us up, I mean.” She hoped it had been good, but you only knew if you asked. You weren’t supposed to ask personal questions, but this was Nin. Very few of the rules they’d been so adamant about applied between them. It had been a sort of comfort, a silent resistance when the rest of her world had involved warming teapots and lessons on everything from singing to what not to mention in front of men. That particular list had turned out to be pretty extensive. She wondered if there had been a similar list of things Nin wasn’t supposed to mention in front of girls.
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Elizabeth Rush

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Ninian Frost on Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:02 am



Nin? The blond boy's blue eyes rose from where they'd settled on their hands, on wispy lock of hair twined around Lizzy's delicate finger. Sometimes he felt old when he looked at her, older somehow. Was this what it felt like to be an older brother? Even though they were the same age, he'd felt that way the moment the Slaters had brought Elizabeth home. He never thought they would be able to sit like this though, uninterrupted and almost fearless, but never fully. What's this place like?

She'd asked him other questions too. He didn't know how to answer. he didn't know if he leg would one day stop hurting. Sometimes it was so bad he almost felt like he was back there, trapped in his bed, trying and failing to stifle tears of pain. Boys don't cry. But he hadn't been able to help it. And now, sometimes, he felt it again like it had been yesterday. Sometimes he simply longed for it to stop, wished that maybe he was that cold and disaffected young man Mr. Slater had tried to turn him into. If he could just feel nothing... Not knowing who he was, he knew one thing at least, and that was that he'd never be that young man. He felt too keenly, right down to his bones. Especially when he was peering at Elizabeth. The only person in the world who'd cared, whom he cared for. He couldn't lie to her.

"I don't know, Lizzy." Untangling a single hand from hers, he plucked the wisp of hair from where it had snared between her fingers, and leaning over quietly, he tucked it into her pocket, staying close once he was there. It was not a sexual contact in the least, no intent behind it but to find some kind of home he'd never had in this creature of gold and autumn leaves. He slipped his free arm around her shoulders and contemplated this place. Highgrove. The pool house. The grounds beyond, sloping down to the steadily darkening woods, inky with intrigue. He didn't much like the dark. He wouldn't go down there at this hour. It seemed as if it wanted to choke him, suffocate him, as if all his long limbs had been crammed back into that tiny space below the stairs.

"I guess it's just another home. I met some nice people. And some bad people. There's always bad people." Again, he flicked azure eyes up to meet hers, not a trace of deceit lurking there. He was nakedly honest, achingly earnest. And in that moment he'd also made a silent vow. Just as at the Slaters' house, he would protect Lizzy here too, in any way he could. She was the only thing he'd ever cared about for this long. Anyone laying a hand on her would be getting more than they bargained for. "My bunkmate is... He's like Him. Something about him... Harry, I think. I don't think you should go anywhere near him." it was true, he thought, that bad people were everywhere, in every setting. he had only been to a few places in his short life, but he'd found that people seemed, for the most part, fundamentally the same. They could be kind and quiet, like Milton had been, or they could be cold and unpleasant, like Harry. He'd known too many boys like that in the home. Thugs who thought they had something to prove to the world because of their disadvantages in life. Being the quiet sort, himself, he'd often been the butt of their jokes, the target of their aggression. They were the ones who snuck outside to smoke, or slipped through the gates into London, to guzzle cheap cider from plastic bottles.

Ninian wished only for peace, and a place where he could actually belong. he was quickly learning that that place wasn't a place at all. Maybe it was a person. Maybe it was Lizzy. Maybe she was the only force on this planet that could grant him some whisper of identity. It didn't matter who he was and who he wasn't so long as she understood him, so long as he had purpose, protecting, nurturing. "I... baked." He eventually murmured, as if this were some sordid secret, some great taboo. And it was, for they two. "Chocolate chip biscuits. Cookies. I saved them in a box, if you want some." It was probably silly, sentimental. But for these two outcasts from the human race, it was a rebellion, a defiance against everything the Slaters' had worked for. Maybe, together, they would find freedom and peace from the nightmare that dogged their heels. He hoped so, but since his terrible session with Dr. Zvarich, he wasn't going to hold his breath. Perhaps they could spend much of their time hiding together. Perhaps then they'd be left alone, in peace, together. The only place they maybe belonged. There was certainly no-one else to care for them at Highgrove. Only employed strangers, whose job it was to speak in sympathetic tones and feign some mimicry of family, artificial parenthood.

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Ninian Frost

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Re: Sister Golden Hair (Lizzy)

Post  Elizabeth Rush on Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:19 pm

Lizzy watched him unwind the hair from her finger and sighed. It felt like two things at once. One part of her wanted to know what was so hard. All she had to do was not pull her hair and she’d be fine. The other part of her knew it wasn’t that simple and doubted she was even capable of leaving her hair alone. Maybe things would calm down a bit now Nin was here, maybe not. She’d try at least, if only because she hated the way he’d looked at her head. She needed to stop this, had done for years. But that didn’t make it easy or even possible. She didn’t mind him tucking the hair away into her pocket. At least it was out of sight, away from people who might be less than happy about what she’d been doing. She never knew how they’d react. The Slaters had been terrifying and awful and still made her feel sick, but she could predict at least a little of what would happen. Normal people in the normal world didn’t have the same reaction. She was glad about it, but it made things infinitely trickier to work out. Nin was still the same though. He wasn’t angry, he didn’t think she was ridiculous or decide that it was easy for her to stop. That made her feel so much better, even though she couldn’t really explain why. He hated what she did. But he helped all the same.

She nodded. Some nice people, some not so nice… well, it made sense. And if there had been all nice people she probably would have been very freaked out. She hadn’t met many people yet, but it was a relief that she sort of knew what to expect. Normality, more or less, as strange as that might sound for somewhere like Highgrove where the kids it catered to were specifically chosen for being abnormal. “I’ll try. What about you?” If he couldn’t get away from Harry, whoever that was, what would he do to him? It worried her that Nin would be near this person at all, let alone near him and unconscious. “I’m the only one in my dorm…” She had a feeling that persuading Nin into one of the five empty beds in that room would be frowned upon, even if it did kill two birds with one stone. She wanted to make sure he’d be ok, that nobody would do anything to him. Surely he deserved nothing but happiness for the rest of his life, now that he’d done all the awful parts in one go. At least that was how it’d be if the world was at all fair. “Can I do something? To help, I mean.” She didn’t know what that would be but she wanted to all the same. If Harry was someone she was going to avoid she wanted Nin to be safe at the very least.

Nin had baked? For some reason (that reason being years there) she realised she hadn’t thought of this even as an option for a very long time. Nin being in the kitchen at all hadn’t been encouraged by the Slaters, let alone actually cooking. She was glad though, maybe this meant they really were beginning to be free. “They sound really good.” Her voice was low as well, mostly out of habit. “Did you like it? The cooking?” It didn’t matter that she couldn’t look at a wooden spoon without having some kind of breakdown, especially when Nin had achieved something so impossible. She smiled and hugged him, resting her head on his shoulder. It was an odd feeling but she was sort of happy. Just the two of them, nobody forcing them to do anything… If someone had told her this was even possible a few months ago she’d have thought they were lying. She wasn’t entirely relaxed, there was still a low level sort of murmuring of worries in the background, but the loudest ones had been silenced. Nin was safe, and here and almost in one piece. He didn’t seem to hate her, they didn’t have to panic every time they heard footsteps and even the one adult who was there seemed content to ignore them. Was this what normal felt like?

She sighed, tiredness washing over her again. Here wasn’t perfect, but now she was with Nin she didn’t mind any more. She could cope better at least, which had seemed an impossibility this time yesterday. “I’m really glad you’re here.” Sooner or later they’d need to go in, and she’d have to go back to that room and try to sleep again. But now she thought maybe she could sleep a little easier. Even though it was the same dark silence as last night, Nin would be there somewhere. That had been a comfort, kind of, back at the Slater’s house. She was sure it would be again. And they’d probably be allowed to talk if they weren’t supposed to be anywhere else. Maybe they could just sneak off and… be. Like this. Maybe people would leave them alone, if they stuck together and didn’t make a fuss. It wasn’t as if they were the only ones in this place. The thought made her anxious, but not enough to stop her doing it if Nin agreed. Maybe with Nin there she wouldn’t spend entire lessons pulling her hair and trying to remember how breathing worked.

But what if they somehow didn’t go to prison? Lizzy could feel her heartbeats speed up, and gritted her teeth. Why had it occurred to her just then? Because she was with Nin? Because they’d actually got to sit down and catch their breath from the last few months? She couldn’t go back to that. Lizzy swallowed hard, and tried to remember to breathe deeply. This was good. Why couldn’t she just accept that this was something good and stop thinking about the future? But she couldn’t get the mental image of leaving out of her head. Luckily she realised Nin was holding her hand and didn’t pull at her hair. A few deeper breaths.

She tried to find something to say, to stop her mind racing. It’s fine, everything’s fine, stop panicking before you go and wreck everything. As usual. Oddly enough that didn’t seem to do the trick. “How long have you been here?” Her voice was quiet and shaky, but there. She smiled at Nin again. Just being stupid, don’t mind me… Why just then? She’d thought she was fine. She just didn’t want to go back. Ever. Why did this happen? Why did worries have to leap out of the woodwork and strangle her when she’d just calmed down? Did it have anything to do with the fact that if she’d been calm before something was about to go badly wrong? “When did you bake?” More questions. Hopefully Nin wouldn’t mind. She squeezed his hand again, nervously. Nin had always been more like she imagined a real family to be anyway, and she was glad he was here. He knew she got worried sometimes, like this. Maybe he'd be able to help her, although part of her hoped he didn't notice. She didn't want him to think this was about him. It wasn't. It was just her imagination overreacting. Again. It might have seemed roundabout and random but Lizzy wanted to distract herself. She’d stumble across calm again sooner or later. Probably…
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Elizabeth Rush

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