[fanfic] Moving On

The house that runs out of sugar is never a pretty thing. It is sadly a horrible thing to have happen on a rainy day when all there is to do is to bake cookies. It was a lovely way to pass the time as it filled the house with the smell of melting chocolate. The children gathered at the scrubbed butcher block they used as a table. Glasses of milk were sitting in anticipation of the warm cookies about to eaten alongside their coolness.

“Are they done yet Matron?” a little brunette girl asked. Her hair was styled in an odd fashion but the girl refused to change it.

That little girl was a younger version of Selphie Tilmitt who truly loved the chocolate chip cookies that were baked especially on rainy days. It brought a sparkle to her eyes that were usually dimmed on sour days such as these.

“The last thing you need is sugar, it’d be like putting you in front of a train,” the eldest, a surly blonde boy retorted only to receive a series of raspberries.

“Seifer why don’t you pick someone your own shoe size,” the other blonde boy with an equally odd hairstyle to Selphie’s interjected hotly.

“Why don’t you make me chicken wuss?”

“WHAT’D YOU CALL ME SEIFER?”

“Really y’all,” a boy with long auburn hair drawled, “do ya both have to carry on like a couple of hyenas?”

“Now, now, all you quiet down,” Matron called out in a soothing voice. She disliked it muchly when they started bickering like this but knew it would always happen. Particularly between Seifer and Zell it seemed as if those two would continue fighting for the rest of their lives.

The only one seemed content to not get involved in the festivities of the cookies was little Squall who sat in the corner of the kitchen. Even the clearest of days, the small brunette would usually stay inside. Ever since Ellone had left, he’d been sullen, preferring to be left alone rather than interacting with his friends. The older girl had encouraged the young brunette to interact with the other children. Perhaps he was simply shy had been the Matron’s first guess before the young lady had left. The atmosphere of the house was subdued at first but that changed after a loud session of war between the children.

Squall had refused to join. Quistis had been pestering him about it but had quickly dropped the subject after being snapped at.

“Matron?”

“Yes Sefie?”

“Where’s Quisty?”

“I think she went to the store for more sugar.”

“Why?”

“Because Irvine,” Matron said with a tap of her fingers on his nose. A spot of cookie dough was left behind on the tip of his nose. “We ran out of sugar before I could make another batch of cookies for you all.”

“In the rain?” Selphie asked with concern in her voice.

“Why do you think stoopid?” Seifer mocked. “You can’t bake cookies without sugar, they don’t taste the same.”

“Alright, that’s enough out of all of you,” Matron reiterated sternly. “The sugar will be here. Until then, why don’t you all go play a game?”

“WAR!” came the joyful shout from Selphie before she leapt forward and dashed out of sight.

“Let’s go,” Irvine exclaimed, giving chase to his little war buddy.

Zell and Seifer both gave into the urge to play leaving Squall and Matron alone in the kitchen for a few minutes.

“Squall, go play with your friends. They worry about you too,” Matron chided gently.

“They never want to play with me any other time, why would they start now?”

“Oh my poor little Lion. They don’t think that at all.”

Squall had opened his mouth to argue with their caretaker when the door slammed open. A little person in a dripping yellow slicker came dashing into the kitchen. Their lungs were heaving in deep mouthfuls of air as a plastic bag was slammed onto the countertop. Hands that dribbled water onto the floor pulled the hood back to reveal a head of blonde hair. There was a victorious grin on the girls face as she looked up at Matron for some type of approval.

“Ah, thank you Quistis,” she said approvingly. “Now my dear, put that raincoat away and take Squall with you when you go to play with the others.”

“Yes ma’am!”

The bossy girl went over to Squall whose gaze had fallen to the table. He preferred to read books over playing a silly game. The only reason why he’d joined the earlier games was because of Ellone. Now that she was gone, there was no point in him playing with anybody. There was nobody to make happy by seeing him playing with the others. Quistis grabbed his wrist and began to tug him toward the others who were busy shouting at each other.

“Let me go…” he muttered, “I don’t wanna play.”

“Well too bad,” Quistis shot back quickly, “you’re coming to play with me and the others and that’s that.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

The argument kept on for a few minutes before the younger child fell silent. The boy had no intention of relenting in the argument, he just didn’t know how to get bossy little Quisty away from him without getting into trouble.

“Quistis,” Matron intervened much to Squall’s relief, “why don’t you go play with the others. Squall isn’t feeling well right now.”

“But Matr -” the girl began to protest but quickly subdued herself with a quick withering glance. “Okay, fine…” she mumbled before shuffling her feet away. “But you’re playing with us all next time Squall!”

“But I don’t want too,” came the broken reply.

“Are you still not feeling well from the other day?” Matron asked softly.

“It’s not that…”

“Then what is it?”

“I…I…”

“Go play with the others Squall, please?”

The stool dragged against the floor as a pair of feet landed gently. The steps were slow at first before a pair of arms wrapped around the Matron’s waist. A head of brown hair was buried in her dress, shoulders were shaking in tiny waves as the motherly figure stroked her fingers through Squall’s hair. “Alright little one, you can stay in the kitchen with me okay?”

“Okay…” came the reply.

“Good,” came the cheery response. “I need someone to help me finish these cookies, would you like to help?”

Squall nodded, smiling a little in the process as a wave of relief swept through Matron.

It was the first time he’d smiled in weeks.

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