Beyond The Flowers
“Arthur—“, Leonardo spoke as he stepped off the wooden stairs of his small, wooden house.
“Yes?”, was the response he got from the boy he had called out to. Leonardo looked at the boy named Arthur. Arthur was no taller than him, but his hair certainly was longer. Despite being a male, Arthur’s blonde, lank hair flowed all the way down to his waist. Arthur’s swept-back hair revealed his clear, hazel eyes and his turned up nose.
Leonardo was far more different. He had black, shoulder-length shaggy hair, which had been cut by Arthur in layers. His hair covered his dark blue eyes ever so slightly.
“Let’s go outside”, Leonardo spoke once more, proceeding to walk down the rough, wooden steps. Arthur followed.
The both of them exited the small house, pausing as they looked at the dark, cloudy sky above.
“The weather’s bad”, Leonardo sighed as his wind-blown, black hair flowed along with the winds direction.
“I find it quite pleasant.”, said Arthur, as he gave a soft grin to Leonardo.
“You’re odd.”, Leonardo replied. He turned to the side to face Arthur as he grabbed the other boys hand. “Let’s go to the market, our parents should be there.”
After hearing this, the grin on Arthur’s face was gone. Arthur muttered something under his breath, looking sad.
“Sorry, what was that?”, Leonardo asked, even though he had heard Arthur’s words perfectly.
“…Nothing—“, Arthur quickly said as he removed the rubber band on his wrist, tying his long hair in a simple ponytail.
Leonardo shrugged it off, walking across the small street which led to the market, Arthur staying behind him.
The town was almost empty, Leonardo had figured it was because of the unbearable wind.
It seems like it’s going to rain today, Leonardo thought.
“Good evening, boys.”, a female voice interrupted Leonardo’s thoughts.
“Mary!”, Leonardo chuckled as he looked up at the tall, slender lady. Her tousled black hair reaching her shoulders.
“What are you boys doing outside?”, she said as she glanced at Arthur with a somewhat concerned look.
“Finding our parents.” Leonardo responded, considering Arthur wouldn’t respond. Although Arthur tried to make it seem not too obvious, Leonardo could tell that he didn’t like her.
“Ah, I saw them at the cemetery earlier. They might still be there?”, Mary spoke, her light brown eyes glistening.
“The cemetery? Why would they be there?”, Leonardo inquired, not expecting an answer from Mary.
“I’m not too sure either—“, answered Mary, “—but anyways, you both have fun. I’m heading off!”
Leonardo nodded. Mary patted Leonardo’s head and then looked at Arthur, giving him a soft smile.
“Why don’t you like her?”, Leonardo asked, rather curious.
“I don’t hate her.”, Arthur responded
“Okay, then you like her?”, Leonardo asked once more.
“No”, Arthur answered
“Why?”, asked Leonardo
Arthur disregarded his question, “Let’s go.”
Leonardo looked dissatisfied but nodded. He moved forward while Arthur followed him.
It was dark now. Small snowflakes fell from the sky as the two boys arrived at the cemetery. It was empty and the air around them seemed eerie.
In the distance the backs of two figures could be seen, a woman and a man. The man had short brown hair whereas the woman had short, dishevelled hair, possibly from the wind.
“They’re over there.”, Leonardo spoke.
Arthur responded with a nod, but tugged on Leonardos sleeve.
“We should go back, Leo.” He said as he noticed the bright moon in the vast sky, slightly covered by the clouds.
The boy nodded, speaking, “Alright.”
Before Arthur could pull Leonardo away from the cemetery, Leonardo shook Arthur’s hand off of his, stepping closer.
“What are you doing?!—“, Arthur asked, with a nervous look on his face.
“Calm down. I’m checking which grave they’re at.”, Leonardo said, as he stood on his toes, counting.
“Row 6 and it looks like it’s the 4th grave, I think. Let’s check it out tomorrow”, Leonardo grinned at the blonde boy as he began to walk.
Arthur just nodded, walking behind Leonardo.
The somber clouds following behind them.
The snow continued to fall as both the boys warmed themselves in front of the fireplace in their house. The wooden table behind them had two plates of goat meat on it. Leonardo’s family wasn’t extremely wealthy, his father worked as a blacksmith while his mother worked at a small pub, but they could afford meat on some occasions. The two boys began to fill their mouths with the tender goat meat, their taste-buds savouring the deliciousness of the meat.
Arthur yawned, speaking, “Well, I’ll be off then. Thank you for the food and—“
“No.”, Leonardo interrupted him.
Arthur looked puzzled at first but then understood, “It’s fine. I don’t want to intrude in your house all the time.”
“It’s your house as well. Mother even said so.” Leonardo said, furrowing his brows.
“It’s not my house.”, Arthur responded.
“Alright, whatever, but just stay the night. It’s cold outside”, Leonardo sighed, letting out a small yawn as well.
“Okay…”, Arthur said, “…thank you for your hospitality.”
Leonardo nodded as he put out the fire in the fireplace.
The both of them walked up the wooden steps, to Leonardos room. There was a small bed, with two blankets laid on top, with a single wardrobe and a two seater couch.
“I’ll sleep on the couch, Leo”, Arthur insisted.
Leonardo nodded his head, grabbing one of the blankets and throwing it to Arthur.
Leonardo placed himself down on his bed as Arthur did the same on the couch.
“Goodnight.”, Arthur spoke softly.
Leonardo didn’t respond. Leonardo stared up at his ceiling, closing his eyes.
After a few seconds of keeping his eyes closed, he opened them, sitting upwards on the bed.
“Arthur?”, said Leo.
“Yes?”, responded Arthur
“It’s getting late.”, continued Leo.
“Yes, which is why you should go to sleep”, Arthur responded.
“Mother and father aren’t back yet.”, Leo mumbled slowly.
Arthur sighed, looking at Leonardo. “They’ll be back soon, don’t worry,”, Arthur gave him an encouraging smile.
“What are they even doing there though?”, Leonardo said, feeling a bit more reassured.
Arthur didn’t answer, how would he have known.
“I’m going to go get them.”, the naive, black-haired boy mumbled.
“What?!”, Arthur sat upright on the couch, staring at him, “It’s dark outside…and…they might be there.”
“Pfft—, you believe that, Arthur?”, Leo said, letting out a snicker.
Arthur sat cross-legged, looking down, speaking once more, “…I do.”
Leo looked at Arthur, with a smirk, “Well, if they are there, I’ll punch their red-eyed faces to a pulp.”
Arthur’s eyes glared at Leo, “Oh, be pragmatic, will you?”
“I don’t know what that means.”, Leonardo said, grinning.
Arthur didn’t respond, continuing to glare at the other boy.
“Fine. I won’t go.”, Leo said, almost intimidated by Arthur.
The boys had gone to sleep after a few minutes of silence from their conversation.
They felt out of harm’s way, snuggled warmly under the blankets during the enchanting winter night.
The blood red Camellia blooming in the garden of their cozy home.
It was morning. The birds chirping could be heard in the distance.
Arthur was the first one to arise in the morning. He folded his blanket, exiting the room, walking down the wooden stairs.
He paused at the sight he saw at the bottom of the stairs, petrified.
The boy placed his hands on his mouth, resisting the urge to throw up. His body staggered, turning around. What do I do, what do I do, were the only thoughts going through Arthur’s head. Sweat dripped from his forehead despite it being Winter. He felt like he was burning up. Tears swelled in his eyes as he ran back upstairs to Leonardo’s room.
“Leo…Leo…”, Arthur whispered, shaking the black-haired boy whilst letting out uncontrollable tears.
Leonardo woke up, yawning. He looked at Arthur, clearly concerned.
“What?! What’s wrong?!”, the boy asked.
“I-it’s, I don’t know what happened, Mrs Fiera and Mr James…I-I’m sorry—“, Arthur stuttered.
“What? What happened to my parents?”, Leonardo said, springing out of the bed.
Arthur collapsed to the ground, sobbing, pointing to the stairs.
Leo sprinted out of his room, looking at the foot of the stairs.
The two corpses laying down on the floor with their rheumy eyes wide open, froth dripping out of their mouth.
Leonardo stood there, mouth agape, looking at his parents’ dead bodies. He retched at the smell of their corpses. He didn’t cry.
All of a sudden, the entrance door opened. A woman had entered their house, it was Mary.
Mary looked horrified as she entered, stepping over the corpses of Leo’s parents and running upstairs. She gripped Leonardo’s arm, sniffling. Her eyes were red, as if she had cried.
“Im sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”, the girl said continuously.
Leonardo just stood there, unable to process what just happened.
Arthur came running out of Leo’s room at the sound of Mary’s voice, he was still crying. Mary looked scared, but she remained steadfast, grabbing both Arthur and Leo’s arms and running downstairs.
“We have to go, the village has been invaded.”, she muttered to Arthur.
Arthur nodded, letting out a sniffle.
Leonardo didn’t speak, but followed Mary.
They exited the house, corpses everywhere. Leonardo stared at the corpses scattered on the ground, all of them looked like adults.
A baby crying could be heard in the arms of one of the corpses, but Mary didn’t stop running. “Stop.”, said Leonardo.
Mary ignored him, continuing to run.
“Stop”, Leo repeated, shaking Mary off of his arm and walking back to where the cries could be heard. He looked down, an old, wrinkled, grey-haired woman laying on the ground with her arms wrapped around a baby. He looked at the scene, the woman had froth dripping out of her mouth just as his parents had. He pushed the arms of the woman, carefully picking the baby up. The baby looked about a year old, it had a few black hairs on its head. It stopped crying when Leonardo had picked it up.
Leonardo turned around, with the baby in his arms. Mary hadn’t tried to stop him, she just watched.
“Let’s go. They have horses waiting for us.”, Mary said softly.
“We have to wait for my parents”, Leo said.
Mary’s heart sank, tears swelled in Arthur’s eyes.
“They’ll meet us there”, Mary lied, a tear dripping from her eye.
“Okay”, said Leo as he followed Mary when she started to walk ahead while holding Arthur’s hand to comfort him.
The town was silent, every now and then an adult corpse could be seen lying on the floor, saliva bubbles dripping out of their mouth.
The three of them had reached the outskirts of the small town, a few soldiers, wearing plain white shirts and tight black pants, standing with horses next to them.
Mary placed Arthur on one of the horses, then walked over to Leo.
“The baby”, one of the male soldiers said to Leo.
Leo gave the baby in his arms to the soldier.
“What’s your name, son?”, the male soldier asked Leo.
“Leonardo. Leonardo Francis, but Arthur and Mary call me Leo.”, he said to the soldier.
“Thank you, Leo, for saving the child”, the soldier said.
Soon after, the three of them had been placed on horses.
“Where are we going?”, Leonardo asked the soldier.
“To Durnic, this place isn’t safe for you anymore.”, he answered.
“Will my parents be there?”, Leonardo asked once more.
The soldier opened his mouth to speak, but stopped as he saw Mary eye him.
“Yes, they’ll be there.”, he answered.
“You’ll also be there, right, Adam?”, Mary asked the soldier.
The soldier named Adam nodded, giving her a reassuring smile.
And so, they rode off to Durnic, the capital of Fer.