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Contemporary Romance Happy

In the weeks that followed Fionn’s visit to his father, he became oddly distant from his friends. Seraphina and Maegan tried to talk to him, but he pushed them away the hardest of all. The final straw came when Seraphina’s phone ran one afternoon, about three weeks after Fionn’s visit to his father. 

“Hello?” 

“Sera, it’s Chris, from Fionn’s karate class?” said a male voice on the other end.

“Oh, yeah, hi Chris.” 

“Hi, um, listen, I don’t want to worry you, but has Fionn been acting… weird lately?” 

“How do you mean?”

“Like, distant. He’s not talking much and he looks like heck.” Chris stammered. “I-I-I know he doesn’t talk too much anyway, quiet guy like him but this is less than usual. And he looks like he hasn’t been sleeping.” 

“I don’t think he has been, to be honest with you. I’ve been hearing somebody prowling around the house at night-” 

“Holy crap!” Chris shouted. 

“Chris?” 

“Fionn just passed clean out! Jeff, elevate his feet- You’d better get down here, Sera.” 

Sera hung up the phone and ran to the stairs. “Llew, Harry! Come quick!” 

The doors upstairs slammed open then closed again as two men made their way down the stairs. One, a tall, broad, muscular fellow vaulted the railing to arrive the sooner. His companion was another tall, thin guy with long, curly hair. The first was named Llew Madoc, the other Henry “Nerdy Harry” Lesher, more friends of Strandsbury’s who lived at the boarding house. 

“Fionn’s fainted at karate, Harry, we need the van.” explained Seraphina. 

“Let me go get it warmed up!” Harry disappeared out the door. 

“Llew, you’re friends with him-” 

“We’re not that close, Sera, you know that.” 

“I know, but the more familiar people around the better.” 

Seraphina’s brother Fred came galloping down the stairs at that moment. “What’s going on?” 

“Fionn fainted at karate, I need you to call the Meridians and tell them what’s going on.” 

Fred saluted and went for his phone. 

“C’mon, Llew, let’s hope Harry got The Heap running.” 

“The Heap” was the name given to Harry’s vintage 1983 GMC van. He had purchased it from a scrapyard for the sum of $250 and a Creedence Clearwater Revival record. Everyone agreed that Harry had been taken, as the thing was barely functional, but it was the only car owned by anyone at the boarding house. Seraphina and Llew climbed into the shaking van and headed to Fionn’s dojo. 

At the dojo, they found Fionn’s friends clustered around him as he held a bag of frozen peas on his elbow.

“Fionn!” 

He looked up as the crowd parted for her to approach, the petite dancer dwarfed by nearly everyone in the room. She forced him to look at her by pushing his head up. She winced, seeing the bruise on his forehead near his hairline. 

“Fionn, you look terrible! Look at that bruise, what happened?” 

“It’s nothing, Sera,” he said forcefully. “I fell asleep in my chair and slipped out, you know what those plastic things are like-” 

“Fell asleep? That’s not normal, Fionn!” 

“I’m fine.” 

“You’re not fine, you haven’t been fine since you saw your Dad. Now, Harry and Llew and I are going to take you home-” 

“Don’t treat me like a child!” 

“I’m not! You’re clearly sick or stressed or something, just come home and we’ll take care of you.” 

“I don’t need your help, I need to be alone. Just leave me alone.” 

Seraphina put her arms around him, only for him to push her away. She glared at him, hurt and betrayed. He looked away. “Believe me it’s better this way.” 

“Llew!” she called. “Get him into the van.” 

Llew approached slowly. “Sera’s right Fionn, you’re not yourself-” As he put out his hands, Fionn moved like lightning, dropping Llew in a heartbeat. 

Harry stared, aghast. “He took out Worf!” 

“Not the time for a Star Trek reference, Harry.” growled Seraphina. She stepped up to Fionn as the Karate class helped Llew up. The Sensei, a man named Mike Lawrence, came to stand behind Seraphina. 

“Whatever I’ve done, whatever you’re going through, I know you won’t lay a hand on me to hurt me. Come home, Fionn.” 

“Go with her, Fionn,” said the Sensei. “You’re done for the day, and it’s a good thing I’m not taking your belt. That was unprovoked, you’re going to go home and get your head on straight, right now. Out.” 

Fionn stalked into the house “There was no need for this nonsense!” 

“Fionn, you look like the devil-” 

Fionn stopped dead when he saw the Meridians, Maegan, her father- Aelius, and her mother- Betsan, in the parlor. He turned on Seraphina. “You’ve gone too far.” 

“I’d say I haven’t gone far enough.” 

“You had no business calling them.” 

“I beg to differ, Fionn,” said Betsan, primly. She took a closer look at Fionn. “You look like Hades! Have you been sleeping?” Fionn backed away and made for the stairs. “Where are you going?” 

“To my room, to change.” 

“I’m not done talking to you!” 

“You’re not my mother! Leave me be!” 

Betsan huffed in irritation. “That was out of character.” she considered Seraphina, who stood a little way off, hugging herself. “Are you alright, dear?” 

“No. He’s been so confusing lately. Like he’s trying to push us away.” 

“Perhaps he’s grieving. Seeing his father again might have sent him into a dark place.” 

Seraphina shook her head. “He’s been in dark places and never acted like this before. There’s something wrong here.” 

Fionn leaned against his door looking at his hands. It was better this way, he told himself. Better to make Oran think he had no loved ones, that way if he sent someone after him, it would only be his life at risk. Something in him fought that notion, though, something that brought up the memory of meeting Seraphina and Fred that first time. What a pair, one a Goth, the other dressed in a cacophony of bright colors, newly come to live in the city to take their inheritance of the restored house. Though in their 20s they were very much Babes in the Woods, and, though cared for by the wise Miss Lucy, they needed someone to protect them. Father Samuel had told him to find a purpose, something that would alleviate the survivor’s guilt he felt, and it seemed that God had dropped these two in his lap, essentially saying for him to take care of them. And he loved them. 

“I am taking care of them,” he argued. “The further they are from me, the safer they are.” 

They would understand. He hoped they would come to understand. 

There was a knock at the door. 

“Fionn?” came Seraphina’s voice. “I know you’re in there. Just... talk to me. Whatever it is, let me help you, okay? Let me help you.” 

“Sera, let me be.” 

He heard her slide down the door and sit against it. “You’re not yourself. I know you’ve been having insomnia.” 

“How?” 

“You get to be hypervigilant living in the big city. I’ve never slept deeply since you’ve known us. I’ve heard you, walking around at night.”

Fionn let his head thunk against the door. “It’s better this way.” 

“Bull-twinkies!” 

“You’ll understand someday.” 

“Fine!” she cried, her voice cracking with emotion. “Is it something I did? Do you not love me anymore?” 

Fionn couldn't lie and say he didn’t, nor could he tell the truth.

“Fine! You can’t talk to me, fine!” There was a tap as something hit the door and she ran off. 

Fionn opened the door and found Seraphina's favorite choker on the ground, the one with the heart pendant.  He bought it for her for Valentine’s Day when they first started dating. He squeezed it in his fist as tears slipped past his guard.

"My Angel, forgive me."

Things between Fionn and Seraphina were decidedly chilly for days afterward. Fred, whose room was just next door to his sister's, got the brunt of it. Hearing her crying and playing “What About Love” by Heart on a loop, was getting on his fraying nerves. He decided to take Llew and Harry, as well as a mutual friend named Jimmy O’Neil into his confidence over their weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. Jimmy was one of Llew’s friends, a small time actor in the theater where he worked security. He was also the friend of Llew’s girlfriend, Isabella. 

Jimmy, being the Dungeon Master, rolled up to Fred’s house around seven. Seraphina got the door as Fred was in the kitchen getting the snacks. 

“Hey, Jim!” 

“Hey Sera!” Jimmy stopped to take in his friend’s sister’s face. “Golly, are you okay? You don’t look good.” 

“I’m fine, thanks. Just allergies.” 

Jimmy nodded, but didn’t quite believe it. Fred came in carrying the platter of munchies and jerked his head in the direction of the “billiard room” as Lucy called it, though was just basically the former servant’s quarters transformed into a game and storage room. 

“A night of adventure and mayhem awaits!” he cheered. 

“Right behind you, Fred the Magnificent!” 

Fred set up the card table for the snacks while Jimmy set up the game board. Fred finished up as Harry and Llew entered. 

“You guys ready?” 

“Born ready!” said Harry, plunking himself in the chair to Jimmy’s left. 

“Of course!” Llew sat at the end of the table. 

Fred checked to make sure the door was secure then got in the chair to Jimmy’s right. “Listen, guys, D-n-D is gonna have to wait for a bit, I need your help.”

The three other men turned to look at Fred, concerned. “What’s the matter Fred?” 

“It’s Sera and Fionn. They’ve been on the outs lately-” 

“Is that why Sera’s eyes were all puffy?” mused Jimmy. 

“I don’t know why, though, he’s been acting like a Vulcan for weeks now, but he and Sera basically broke up a few days ago. She’s been crying, and eating ice cream, then doing her barre exercises, blasting “What About Love” on a loop, it’s bad.” 

“We know you’ve been at your wit’s end, Fred, but what can we do?” asked Llew, sympathetically.

Fred put his head down on the table. “Ten points to Gryffindor. I’ve got to do something, though.”

Jimmy patted Fred on the shoulder. “Something will turn up. Let’s take your mind off it and get to the game.” 

Fred’s opportunity to find out what had happened occurred sooner than he figured. As he passed by Fionn’s room, he heard Fionn talking to someone on the phone. 

“Father Samuel, I did what I had to.” 

Fred knew he shouldn’t listen in, but this was probably his only chance to learn the truth. “I love her, I can’t put her in danger- Father- Yes, sir. No, I don’t have any concrete evidence that Oran wants me dead. Of course she knew what I was, I didn’t keep that from her.” Fionn went silent for a few minutes. “I can’t believe you used Sherlock against me. You know what he did to Mother-'' Fionn's voice broke. “What if she doesn’t want me back? What if I’ve hurt her too much?” 

Fred smiled. At least he wanted her back! All he had to do was sit back and watch. 

It took another day or two for Fionn to work up his courage. He put on one of his nicest outfits and put a braid in his hair, Seraphina liked his hair like that, and set out for the nearest florist and selected a bouquet. Red roses, the darkest he could find, for love, pink carnations for apology, and white tulips for forgiveness. He had stopped in the library to consult a book on the language of flowers. Fionn chose his moment carefully, he found Seraphina alone in the parlor, sitting on the sofa reading a book. He came in slowly, leaving the door cracked open, and knelt at her feet, the flowers in his hands. 

“Sera.” She looked up, he was pale as a ghost and shaky, which in spite of herself, made her concerned.

“Fionn, you don’t look well.” 

“I haven’t been myself lately.” 

“Nope.” She glanced at the flowers. “Am I to assume you brought these to apologise?” 

“Yes, and to explain. Hear me out before you throw me out.” 

Seraphina nodded. “It was going to see my father. I rejected him as you know, and the last time I did that…” 

Realization crossed Seraphina’s face. “Your mom. Oh, I should’ve figured. But you were so stupid!” 

Fionn looked surprised. “Stupid?” 

“You should have told me in the first place, not acted like some angsty hero in this fall’s CW lineup! You know how much that irritates me!” 

“That… did not occur to me.” 

“Of course not! This was just a stupid mistake brought on by anxiety and sleep deprivation! I’m still a little mad at you,” Fionn’s shoulders dropped. “But not angry enough not to take you back.” 

Fionn smiled like he hadn’t in quite some time. 

“There he is. There’s my Fionn.”

Fionn pulled the choker from his pocket. “This belongs to you, I think.” 

Seraphina pulled her hair out of the way. “Help me put it on, won’t you?” 

He got up on the sofa beside her and carefully tied the ribbon around her neck. He leaned a bit closer as he did and kissed the top of her head. 

“Angel. I’ve been so afraid of what would happen if the Family were to find us.” 

“Then we’ll make them sorry they ever came for us.” She turned around in her seat. “This house is family, too, not one forged by blood and violence, but by love. That makes us stronger than them!” 

Fionn hugged Seraphina close and settled back onto the sofa. “You’re right of course. My Mother must have sent you to me.” 

He placed a kiss on her lips, jumping in surprise as cheers rang out from behind the door. Fionn got to his feet so quickly it left Seraphina sprawled on the sofa and wrenched open the door. Crouched in the hallway were Fred, Llew, Harry, Jimmy, Maegan, and her parents. Fionn turned red from embarrassment.  

“Oi! How long have you all been watching?!” he demanded, a bit more harshly than he meant to.

“About since “angsty hero in this fall’s CW lineup.”” answered Fred. 

“UGH! Fred!” shrieked Seraphina. “If you taped this at all-” 

“I just wanted Miss Lucy to see when she gets back-”

“You’re dead meat, Fred Strandsbury!” 

“Run for your lives!” Fred burst across the hall, his sister chasing on his heels. 

February 20, 2021 03:42

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2 comments

Mugabe Victor
08:53 Mar 15, 2021

It is well crafted play of words. Liked the glow as well. Only suggestion for future stories would be to make it a bit more focused. Use less characters for the reader to keep track of and explore them

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T.K Wilson
14:39 Mar 15, 2021

Thank you for the suggestions!

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