Completed And Then There Was Some More

Leander Urahil

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S’mores,” the woman corrected Leander, raising a eyebrow at him continually saying “some mores.” The smile on her dry lips told him that she didn’t find it obnoxious as much as she probably found it endearing. She gestured to the chocolate on display, jerking her head to motion the two initiates to come closer. “You two deserve a treat, I don’t know how we would have corralled all those blue-spotted python-rabbits if you two hadn’t shown up when you had. You said you were coming back from a mission?” Leander glanced to his partner, his pale gold eyes lingering on her hood and the triangular tip of her nose— the only thing he could currently see of her face.

That stupid cloak. What was it, her security blanket?

Yes. Confidential, I’m afraid.” He replied with a easy-going smile, although anyone with a pair of seeing eyes could make out mud and dirt and blood splattered along their boots and attire. His fingernails were dirty with a brown crust of dried blood. Leander leaned in to the woman as if he were about to divulge her curiosity. “You said we could have as much as we wanted for free?” Shock and disappointment flickered through her brown eyes, but soon enough she was grinning at both of them.

“Sure, think of it as payment for a job well-done.” She laughed, brushing a strand a brown hair back and over the crook of her ear. “Remember that it’s like a sandwich. Claim a fire pit or… if you want, join me and my sister. We’d love to hear about what it’s like in the city or the academy or—“

Shitty.” Leander replied, his eyes curving up like a mischievous fox. “A bunch of proctors took our upperclassmen and had them slaughter each other like a wild cock fight. I heard it was a bloodbath.” There was tension and uncomfortable silence, the woman staring at Leander. Another second passed and then Leander laughed, causing the woman to shut her gaping mouth. “I’m just kidding. I’ll join you two later, maybe. Vel Anir is lovely this time of year.” Her face brightened.

C’mon, Zinnia, let’s get cooking.”

Zinnia
 
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Why was Zinnia always getting paired with abrasive noble boys? Oh well. The mission was done and the pair of them were on their way back. Plus they'd managed to help some of their countrymen (countrywomen?) in need. With snake-bunnies, no less! This world continued to surprise and intrigue Zinnia with each passing day. So much to see and learn about.

S'mores, for instance. Chocolate and crackers were familiar things to Zinnia, but not these fluffy, white things. March mellows, they were called? That's what it sounded like.

Zinnia glanced over. Leander was flirting with the girls they'd helped. Of course he was. Not to mention saying things about the Academy he definitely was not supposed to be saying. Zinnia winced as he called for her, but she followed, albeit reluctantly.

She waited for the two of them to be beyond earshot, glancing over her shoulder as they walked towards a fire pit.
"Leander...y-you know the p-proctors told us not to t-talk about that. Even if you p-play it off as a joke, we c-could still cause problems, y-you know?" She reminded him quietly.
 
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Leander didn’t even look over at Zinnia as she spoke. Without missing a beat, he stepped closer to the food and said—haughty as ever— without humor, “What are they going to do? Punish me? Kill me?

Focused on the plates of cracker, chocolate and marshmallows. He realized, perhaps a second or two too late, that some of the chocolate was much darker than the others. He picked up the dark chocolate and took a bite.

It was bitter.

He swallowed but he didn’t look pleased, his tongue clicking along the roof of his mouth in displeasure. With ease and precision, he tossed the rest of it into the lone fire pit that seemed reserved for him and Zinnia.

More importantly, it’s not like they’ll find out, right? Unless,” he turned to look at her with a smile that didn’t match his wild eyes. “You’ll tell on me. But you wouldn’t do that, right, Zinnia?

Zinnia
 
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Zinnia blinked, then furrowed her brow. Yup. Abrasive noble boys.
"N-no, they won't k-kill you. B-but I'm certain you won't be having f-fun." She warned.

She followed suit collecting ingredients. Golden cracker, march mellows, and some of the lighter chocolate. Then a stick to cook the mellow with. She'd been told they were supposed to let them sit over the fire until they turned a golden-brown color. Apparently they were quite tasty, in spite of being made from bone, somehow.

Then she watched as Leander chucked a whole bar of darker chocolate into the fire.
"Th-that's awfully wasteful..." She mumbled.

Zinnia's vibrant gold irises landed on Leander's much paler ones. This was coming off awfully like a threat. She squinted at him as she skewered a mellow onto the end of her stick.
"...I might."
 
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With his own ingredients collected, Leander went to the fire pit. He had opted for the normal chocolate he had seen in stores and maybe had a taste of once before. There were logs around the fire pits and he sat down on one. With his wooden stick in hand, he began to spear two marshmallows. He paused, holding one in his hand as he inspected his stick.

Then tell on me.” Leander said, shrugging as if he were unbothered. He stuffed the the marshmallow in his mouth, chewing quickly to only find that this was a sort of food that couldn’t be chewed and swallowed quickly. Not that he wanted to rush the experience: it was sweet but not overwhelming. Such a strange texture on top of it. He was tempted to put another raw one in his mouth but thought better of it.

They needed to be cooked, didn’t they? Did this mean he was going to get food poisoning?

He held the marshmallows over the fire and began roasting them, staring hard at them.

Zinnia
 
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Ugh. He made it sound so childish. Zinnia's shoulders slumped, but she held the fluffy, white cylinder out over the fire to start cooking.

It wasn't like she wanted to rat on him for anything. That wasn't the kind of person she generally was.
"It was j-just a gentle reminder..." She replied with a sigh, staring into the flame as she rotated her stick.

Irritating as he was, she had to remind herself that he was one of her brothers, just like any of the other initiates. He was family. Family wasn't meant to bicker or fight.
 
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I don’t need a reminder.” Leander said, but his tone was level and his face looked quite unbothered. He kept his sight on the flames, rotating just a little at a time. How long were they supposed to cook these things again? Fragile little sugar-pillows, weren’t there? His were already a deep brown with one part looking black and having the texture of coal or charcoal.

Maybe it added in flavor?

You don’t tell me to tie my boots in the morning or how to hold a sword. You don’t need to tell me how to speak, especially when I sound like a dreadlord and you… well, at best you sound like an initiate.” No signs of anger or frustration, as if Leander believed he was just stating a fact or telling Zinnia that the sky was blue.

Not just you, but the Academy can’t tell me how to speak, either. I won’t lie for them.” And with that final sentence, his two marshmallows burst into flames.

Zinnia
 
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Lords and ladies, he was so much worse than Caeso. At least Caeso wasn't actively a jerk. Leander had gotten high off his own fumes, and gods was he grating. Zinnia breathed deeply. No use getting mad, it wasn't anything she hadn't heard before.

"If you d-didn't need one, th-then you should have k-kept your mouth sh-shut about it. A D-Dreadlord would know b-better than to t-talk so openly about c-confidential information." She replied, doing her best to hold her own calm. They both had eyes on them, she was sure of that. She was also certain that he was trying to provoke her.

"Y-you sound like a sp-spoiled, rich kid." She stated flatly, eyes not leaving her treat as it began to brown. "N-no one is asking you to l-lie, Leander, j-just s-stop talking."

Zinnia withdrew her stick from the fire, the mellow-thing at the top now a perfect, caramelly, golden-brown. She looked to her side to see the bulbous, blackened messes that sat at the end of Leander's stick. Zinnia wasn't a smirker, but gods did she smirk at that.
 
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The blonde initiate scowled, partly due to Zinnia’s words but mostly because his torched marshmallows dripped onto the blazing wood. Smoke shot up, the acidic smell causing him to wrinkle his nose in disgust. He pulled out the stick, seeing the hardened goo. He had let Zinnia distract him— and the worst part was that her marshmallows looked good.

Leander waited for the stick to cool and somehow, perhaps because he had fucked up on his marshmallows, refrained from making further fun on her stutter. I s-sound l-like a n-noble rich k-kid? W-well y-y-you s-s-sound like a-uh-uh idiot.

Omitting the truth is lying.” Leander said flatly. “As far as I am concerned, I don’t owe them a damn thing.” He was glowering at his stick as he began the process of placing the marshmallows on his stick for his second attempt at roasting them. “You keep quiet about it now and the same thing is going to happen to our class.

Zinnia
 
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The march mellow went on to the cracker, then a piece of chocolate went on top of that. Gooey goodness squished from the sides of its golden shell as she pressed another cracker down atop the mess. She could feel herself salivating despite her annoyance with Leander.

"All the p-proctors who would d-do what they did already did. Th-they're all d-dead or fugitives now. We're n-not at any r-risk anymore." She replied as she lifted the messy treat that was the s'more to her mouth. She took a bite, careful not to let the whole thing explode out of the back of the sugary sandwich she'd made. It was impossibly rich, but just as tasty as she'd hoped it would be.

After a minute of chewing, she wiped her mouth with a sleeve. She never broke eye contact with the fire in front of her.
"As f-far as I'm c-concerned, the only o-ones putting we initiates in d-danger are people l-like you."
 
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You’re dumber than you look.” Leander scoffed, and brought his gaze straight to Zinnia. Openly glaring at her now and forgetting about the marshmallow. At least this time it wasn’t as close to the flames as the last time and so it had more time to stay in one place. “Believing everything you hear is dangerous. Damn, must be nice to be you though: probably not a single worry in your head as long as you have your security blanket wrapped around you.

Zinnia
 
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Zinnia sighed, a loose blob of sickly sweetness dripping from her s'more.

"I'm n-not stupid, Leander, and f-for the record I d-don't think you are, either. I th-think you're n-not seeing the b-bigger picture." She breathed, still looking ahead.

She turned her head to return his gaze, looking weary rather than angry. Usually she'd be so much more withdrawn, more willing to just quietly concede the point, but right now she was simply exhausted. Somehow that weariness overtook the anxiety.
"Of c-course I'm worried. I'm worried ab-bout all my brothers and s-sisters. What do th-think will happen to all of us if a n-noble like you goes around telling everyone he m-meets about the G-graduation massacre?"
 
Brothers and sisters? What was Zinnia on about? Wasn’t she a orphan like plenty of others at the academy?

I have sisters already, I have brothers already. They’re back home.” He retorted and only then did he remember his marshmallow on the stick. He rotated it to a fresh side, careful still to not shove it too close into the flames. “And as far as I’m concerned, they’ll be just fine even if I decide to shout the truth to everyone with ears. Even Odessa. The strong don’t need to worry about what the weak care about.

Zinnia
 
Zinnia sighed deeply. Clearly Leander didn't get it. Maybe he never would. Why was he even here? Whatever...
A few moments of pregnant silence and a thought occurred to Zinnia.
"So th-that's it then? Strength is the only th-thing that m-matters to you?"
 
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Leander opened his mouth, clearly ready to throw a insult Zinnia’s way. Maybe this time he’d actually make fun of her stutter, or instead comment about how easily he could beat her into the ground without breaking a sweat. He did neither, instead thinking of her last question.

Of course not. I’m not simple-minded.” Other things clearly mattered to him, and he scowled further at Zinnia. “But strength is important. How many people can you trust in the academy, Zinnia? You call them your brothers and sisters, but can you trust them as such?

Zinnia
 
A surprising response. Zinnia had expected him to answer "yes, of course!" She'd kind of wanted him to, if for no other reason than to have an excuse to swing her hammer at him. If strength was the only thing he respected, then she'd show him that her opinion mattered. She didn't care if he could negate her magic. her magic was nothing special anyways. It was always her martial skill that let her keep pace with her classmates.

"...There are a f-few that I t-trust very deeply. M-most I would at least t-trust to have my back if we w-were to come under attack. B-but it's my own f-fault there aren't more. I've been h-hidden away f-for so long. Th-that's why I'm making up for l-lost time. Earning th-their trust, and g-giving mine." She stated honestly and matter-of-factly. "S-something tells me you c-can't say the same."
 
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A cruel smile formed it’s way on Leander’s lips, marring his angelic features. Right now, he had the eyes of a devil.

Oh, I trust everyone around me,” he said, his voice getting lower and more snide than before. “I trust no one will be stupid enough to attack me in my sleep because they know I’ll kill them before they even get a chance. I trust no one will try and close in distance at the training rings because they know I’ll make them regret that decision. I trust people think twice when it comes to upsetting me. And because I am stronger than those around me, I know when I ask them for help, they do so with vigor because they want to earn my trust. I trust no one will stab me in the back because they know the consequences of their actions, and they know of my and my real family’s rage.

He pulled his marshmallow off his stick, inspecting it. It was perfect. The most perfect roasted marshmallow he had ever seen.

Something tells me you can’t guarantee not being stabbed in the back, Zinnia. What. A. Damn. Shame.” Leander began the process of making the s’more, taking his time.

Zinnia
 
"You're far too overc-confident, Leander." Zinnia warned, rolling her eyes. With that attitude it was a wonder he hadn't been murdered in his sleep by some disgruntled servant already. She couldn't imagine being so spoiled. She supposed that was the difference between them: he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, and Zinnia came from the dregs of nothing.

She began to slowly heat a mallow between her fingers.
"I'm p-pretty sure the noble f-families have been stabbing each other in the b-backs for as long as there's been a Vel Anir, f-first of all. S-second, if you're s-such an unapologetic j-jerk all the time, you're doing nothing but putting a huge t-target on yourself. B-but by all means, k-keep acting this way towards the other initiates, towards m-my brothers and sisters. See where it g-gets you when you really need h-help. I'm sure they'll d-definitely, totally want to help, and not leave you to some k-karmic fate you've earned."

She hated that she'd let herself sink to his level of petty, but gods did it feel good to tell him what she felt. Assuredly he would take none of this to heart. He was so darn frustrating.

"And yeah, I d-don't have to worry and grandstand about how apparently unt-touchable I am, because I'm not an insufferable, self-righteous ass."

Zinnia stood from her seat by the fire, briefly turning to face Leander.

"J-just be careful, Leander. T-take it from me: it only takes one little unfors-seen event for all your p-plans to turn to ash." She barely poked the s'more Leander had in progress, and the whole thing turned to cinder. With that, Zinnia walked off. She'd get herself home alone if she had to. Anything to be away from Leander.
 
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Zinnia walked away. Leander didn’t look at her as she did, keeping his gaze on the fire.

J-j-just b-b-be c-c-careful, Le-le-Leander.” He mimicked in a nasally high voice.

And good riddance.” Finally, Leander could take a bite of his s’more. It wasn’t bad.

Zinnia
 
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