Chapter 2: So This Is What Love Feels Like
Eva left at dawn with a note on her bed.
She’d already packed her necessities in one suitcase and her dresses and accessories in three bags. In the last one were fabrics and beads, just in case if she’d have to tailor anything. Surprisingly, she didn’t have to pack so many things. She did everything very quietly, of course. She didn’t want to wake her mother, who would make a fuss and cry like yesterday.
She stared at the small castle where she grew up before she started her journey. She remembered the times she worked out in the gym her mother had made for her. ‘A woman must know how to protect her family,’ her mother would always say, ‘Not just cower until death comes to collect her soul.’ Eva kept this in mind and participated in her mother’s morning exercises every day. Sure, she wasn’t as muscular as the bodybuilder men in Jaunt Jolie. But Eva had more muscles than any women in town since they were all skeletons. She wasn’t as professional with weapons as the knights protecting Jaunt Jolie, but she could handle knives, bows, and grenades.
Her house servants offered to carry her cases, but Eva politely declined.
“But how are you going to carry five bags, miss? They all look exceptionally heavy!”
Eva kindly smiled her signature grin. It was the type of smile that told anyone that it wasn’t their business to mind and that she could do it by herself. “I’ll carry two of them in my two arms. And the other on my head. It isn’t impossible.”
“But miss, it’ll be much easier if we do the work-”
“No. I’ll do it. Your job is to help do the housework. After all, my arms are for me to carry my things. What are they there for if they’re to just hang around all day?”
When she arrived at the so-called ‘the entrance to the Flowerground,’ there was only a stump. Eva looked around for help until a caterpillar dressed in a tuxedo and a top hat appeared.
“Tickets!” It yelled. Eva was too surprised to say anything about the rudeness it was expressing and presented her ticket. The dressed caterpillar took one look at it, chewed it up, and pulled a lever. Instantly, purple vines grabbed around her waist and ****** her down to earth. She didn’t even have enough time to scream.
‘So this is what the Flowerground looks like,’ Eva thought as she wondered at the underground tunnel with quickly moving colored vines. ‘It looks… beautiful.’ There was a tap on her right shoulder, and Eva turned.
Next to her was a cocoa-skinned boy with lavender hair that reached his shoulders. He had gleaming black eyes, but the most defining part of his appearance was the long sparkling silver horn on his forehead.
“Hi! Are you headed towards the School for Good too?” he asked eagerly.
Eva took her time before answering. Was she supposed to say something? Was this person one of the strange and dangerous people her mother would warn her about? Eventually, she opened her mouth to give a reply. “Yes. Pleased to meet you. My name is Lady Eva of Jaunt Jolie. And you?”
The boy took her hand and shook it quite violently. “My name’s Jasper of Foxwood! I know we’ll have different classes when we get to school but do you wanna be friends? I really need someone to sit with during lunch!”
Eva retrieved her hand from him. It smelled of freshly cut lemons. “…Of course.” She looked at the silver horn. “What’s up with the horn on your head?”
Jasper stroked his horn. Eva could see sparkles flicker on the tip of his fingers when he did that. “Oh, this? I’ve had this since I was born.” When he saw his new friend’s baffled face, he frantically tried to explain. “No, I wasn’t born with a horn this long and sharp! It started as a little bump, and as I got older, it grew. Of course, I have to sharpen it every now and then. Think of it like a trip to the hair salon. If I didn’t take care of it for my entire life, it would be bumpy, extremely long, and so forth.”
Eva shivered at the thought. Thank god, Jasper sharpened it so far.
“What’s your ability? I told you mine!” he asked. Eva flinched. Should she tell him? She only just met this person. Was it okay for her to be so opening?
She carefully thought about it, then turned to see him. “My singing can mesermize people.”
Jasper stared at her in disbelief. “Just for you to keep in mind, I can tell if someone’s lying or not with my horn. Everyone thinks they’re a good liar, but they aren’t.”
Eva sighed. “Fine. I’ll tell you about my talent. Just… promise you won’t call me creepy.” Her new friend nodded, eager to hear what it was. She leaned in closer to make sure no one could overhear her.
“I can feel where corpses lay,” she whispered. Jasper’s eyes widened with wonder. “To be more precise, I can filter corpses out. 10-year-old carcasses or corpses with similar DNA to whatever there is. I haven’t told anyone about it yet, though. Living in an Ever kingdom where everything’s pastel and fluffy with such a weird talent is scary. I feel like everyone’s going to call me a witch.”
“But you’re not!”
Eva’s cheeks warmed with color. These few words comforted her and told her that the world wasn’t full of Evil and that true Good would accept her no matter who she was. She looked at Jasper. “…Thanks. But how do you know? We’ve only talked for a few minutes-”
Jasper smiled warmly. “I don’t have mind-reading abilities, but I am a social butterfly. I know if someone is good enough, even if I just talked to them for a moment. The way you try to open up to strangers like me tells me that you’re willing to make good relationships with people. You did lie to me, but that shows me that you love yourself and that you’re trying to protect yourself by lying. It’s not the best way to defend yourself, but it’s better than not trying. Most people wouldn’t tell me their talent, even if I told them mine. But you’re the kind of person who gives back what they received. In conclusion, Eva of Jaunt Jolie, you’re not a witch.”
She stared at him. “But that can all be seen negatively. The way I try to open up after someone opens up first tells me that I can’t make friends unless someone else tries to be friends. I lied, and that’s bad on its own. I was selfish, and I thought of myself only. The way I told you my power after you told me first is just how I don’t do good for people unless they do good for me first.”
“But that’s the power of seeing the bright side of things. My horn may be magic, but that doesn’t make me optimistic. Being positive is something you have to learn yourself. So don’t be too sad, Eva. I’m your friend.”
Eva blushed. Usually, she’d just smile silently and swear about how this stranger was trying to act like they knew each other before and that they’re friends. But this time, it was different. A warmth she’d never felt after her father’s death sparked inside her. It was the coziness and nice feeling she felt when she was comfortable. Jasper wasn’t romantic, nor did she feel love for him like he was her destined one. The love and affection that was blooming inside of her for this stranger were purely family-like. It was the kind of love you couldn’t feel for a lover, but more of a best friend whom you’ve know since you were toddlers. If affection for a romantic one hyped her up, then the emotion she felt near a friend comforted her.
“Thanks, Jasper. I feel like we can become best friends soon.” Eva smiled, and this time her grin spread warmth and love inside her. It was a real smile, not the kind that she’d give to her neighbors and acquaintances. It felt good smiling again, although it felt unfamiliar to her since Eva couldn’t truly grin for a long time. But this uncomfortableness she felt when she smiled, Eva would endure it for Jasper. For Jasper, who helped her feel happy. For Jasper, who became her friend. For Jasper, who made her smile again.
Her new friend grinned. “Let’s become best friends now, not later.”
Eva nodded and took his hand. His smile looked like it was radiating light. “Of course.”
I personally like this one because it kind of redefines love? So far, when we say love in stories, it was more like romantic affection. But love can be also used for friends, and I wanted to give a sense of that idea.
TMI: Originally, Jasper was supposed to be nonbinary! But I couldn’t guess which classes he was supposed to take, so…
My guess would be a fluid or gender non-conforming person, would take a mix of classes. Designed to help them with their fourth-year ambitions.
For example: If Jasper wanted to be a knight or have a more “prince-like” role in their future stories they would take more of the weapons training and chivalry classes. If they were training to be a ruler, they might take a decent mix of chivalry and etiquette.
Hope this helps in the future! I would love to see more gender non-conforming representation in the fandom!
wow, that’s cool. tag me pls? i can’t wait to see where this is going!
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