A Fateful Meeting Beneath An Icy Sky

[19:45] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> [April 4th, 1975.-
[20:21] <Mortimer`Mazarin> [The rain was torrential, and had been such for the last ten minutes. The grey clouds had threatened such for hours- and Mortimer Mazarin, a ten-year old student at Saint de La Selle Primary School, had been watching the sky, dreading the inevitable downpour which would, he knew, come down during his trip home. And so it did.-
[20:23] * Mortimer`Mazarin kept his eyes on the pavement ahead of him, now, trying to see through the unimaginably heavy sheets of rain. He was chilled to the bone, and had to continually wipe away his fringe, which had become plastered to his face.-
[20:25] <Mortimer`Mazarin> All the while he pedalled as quickly as he could, trying to get home, trying to get out of this damnable rain. So, it was no surprise that, in his haste and amidst the poor circumstances, he didn’t see a particularly deep puddle ahead of him.-
[20:25] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> He felt it, though. The first wheel slid in, his bicycle jarring to a stop whilst simultaneously lurching forward. "U-uagh-"-
[20:26] <Mortimer`Mazarin> The next thing he knew, he was on the ground, staring at the cobble below him, an agonising pain shooting through his kneecaps. "G-God’s blood." Swore the boy, trying to get to his feet. He hissed as he did so- his knees, they hurt so much…!-
[20:27] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> Then, he noticed: the air above him had changed slightly, and the sound of endless downpour had suddenly been mixed in with the sound of rain hitting… Plastic?
[20:29] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "H-Hey, excuse me… Hey, you alright…?" Came the voice of a girl, speaking in between large, gasping breaths.
[20:31] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "…?" Mortimer blinked, looking up at the voice.
[20:36] * Ginevre`Fontaine was a girl- looked about six years old, by her height. She was wearing a Saint de La Salle uniform, and was holding a black umbrella over his head. She was shivering from the cold, and her dark brown hair- pulled back into a pony tail- was sopping wet.
[20:37] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Er-" Mortimer stared for a moment, before clumsily getting to his feet. He patted at his knees, which had been scraped and bloodied by the fall. "I’m fine." He said hastily, pulling his bike up onto its wheels.
[20:38] * Ginevre‘Fontaine reached up on her tiptoes to keep Mortimer covered, but it was hard going. He was a tall boy for his age. "Ah, um." She stared up at him with big blue eyes. "I-I saw you didn’t have an umbrella with you." She said softly. "S-So…"
[20:45] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "…" He stared back at her flatly. "… You chased after me. All the way from school…" Damnit. Now he was going to have to take her home… He climbed back onto his bike. "Come on. There’s a bus stop up ahead."
[20:49] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Ah-" The girl took a hesitating step forward, then backwards. "I-I don’t know how."
[20:50] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Huh?" He turned towards her, frowning. "You… Geez." He rubbed his forehead, and, keeping a foot on the ground, held out his arms. "Sit in front of me. I’ll hold on to you, and you keep the umbrella up. Not that it'll do much good." He said, glowering darkly (as best he could with his squinting eyes) at the rain, which was being pushed horizontally into his face by the howling wind.
[20:52] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Ah…" She took another step forward, and- with Mortimer’s help- clambered up on top of the bicycle seat. It was an awkward fit- everything was wet and slippery, after all. She held onto the handlebar middle with one hand and the umbrella with the other.
[20:53] * Mortimer‘Mazarin put an arm around her, securing her as firmly as he could. It’d really suck if she were to slip off and fall- she was pretty frail-looking, after all! "Alright. We good?"
[20:54] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Yes…"
[20:55] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Right." And with that, they were off. He started peddling once more, keeping his eyes on the path, and proceeding more cautiously this time. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but notice how -cold- the little girl was. Her body was like ice, and she was shivering madly. He'd never hear the end of it if she got sick because of him…!-
[20:57] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> Of course, the bus stop wasn’t too far away. It offered only a little shelter, but it was shelter nevertheless- the rain was weakened and sparser beneath its metal roof. It was a good chance to pause and properly assess the situation.-
[20:57] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Alright, off you get." Said Mortimer, helping the girl off the bicycle. "Now then. What’s your name?"
[20:58] * Ginevre‘Fontaine climbed off, as directed- turning back to Mortimer and offering him a smile. "Ginevre. Ginevre Fontaine! But people just call me Ginnie…"
[20:59] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Ginevre… Fontaine…" Mortimer frowned. Why did that name…! Wait! "Fontaine?! The people who live in that big house down on d’Olonnes Avenue?!" He gasped out.
[21:00] * Ginevre‘Fontaine nodded. "T-that’s right…"
[21:00] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "…" Mortimer sighed. "But… That’s in the opposite direction from where I'm going…" He said wearily. "You- you had to have known that, right? You go left at the gate, I go right!"
[21:01] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "But you didn’t have an umbrella…"
[21:02] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Yes- no- Urgh, I mean. That doesn’t matter." Said Mortimer firmly. "Look. An umbrella wouldn't have done much good in this weather anyway. You should've gone straight home! Now I'm going to have to take you back…" He sighed. "This is really dumb…"
[21:03] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "B-But…" She stared at him sadly. "I-I w-wanted to help…"
[21:12] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "…" Mortimer ran his hand through his hair. "I… Urgh. I dunno what to do!" He grumbled.
[21:12] * Ginevre`Fontaine didn’t know what to do either. She just stood there, trembling and shaking and staring at her neat black shoes.
[21:14] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "…" Mortimer felt a little guilty. He reached for his black school jacket, quickly pulling it off and putting it around her shoulders. "Here you go. Sorry. I’m just dunno what to do. Do I take you back home? Or do I take you with me?" He shook his head.
[21:15] * Ginevre‘Fontaine pulled the edges of the jacket closer together gratefully. "W-why don’t you take me with you? You can ring papa and mama then, right? They have a car!"
[21:16] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "… Hm." Mortimer considered that. It seemed like a good idea. "Alright, we can do that. You ready to go again?"
[21:16] * Ginevre`Fontaine nodded, stepping forward and preparing to climb up onto the bike once again.
[21:16] * Mortimer`Mazarin helped her back on, and then- they were off.-
[21:17] <Mortimer`Mazarin> The rain was, much to Mortimer’s mortification, only becoming stronger with time. The rain hit him like a stream of bullets, and he found himself shivering uncontrollably for the whole fifteen minutes it took for him to reach home.-
[21:18] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> It didn’t help that he was now bereft a jacket, and what little of his white shirt remained dry quickly lost such qualities.-
[21:19] * Mortimer‘Mazarin pulled into his parents’ driveway. He'd never, ever been so happy to be home. He grabbed Ginevre, helping her off once again, before pulling his bicycle over to the large garage that held his father's car. Inside, he stacked the bike against a wall and rushed back to the front door of the house.
[21:20] * Ginevre‘Fontaine followed, closing up the umbrella as they reached the protective shelter of the outdoor roof that enclosed the door.-
[21:20] * Mortimer`Mazarin knocked. Hard. Three times.
[21:22] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Coming! I’m coming!" Came a woman's voice. The door opened, revealing a petite woman in her late thirties, her black hair tied up into a bun. She was wearing a thick sweater over a blue dress. "Morty! Oh, it's about time you came home." She said with relief, grabbing the boy by the shoulders and ushering him inside.]
[21:23] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Guh." Mortimer let himself be steered inside, basking in the sudden increase in temperature. The living room of his house was warm, crisp and ever so snug, and it felt incredible after the endless ice-rain that he’d been subjected to. "Mama, someone came with me-" He began.
[21:24] * Ginevre‘Fontaine placed her umbrella against the outside of the wall, waiting on the threshold patiently and properly, despite the endless shivers that wracked her body.
[21:26] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Hm-?" Mrs. Mazarin blinked wonderingly at her son, before looking over at the doorway. "… Ah, oh dear." She began. "Hello, little sweetheart. Did you follow Morty home?" She asked kindly.]
[21:26] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "Y-Yeah." Began Ginevre through blue lips. "H-He didn’t have an umbrella…"
[21:27] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> [Mrs. Mazarin gave her son a cool look out of the corner of her eye, before ushering the girl inside. "Come on, little sweetheart. We need to get you into a hot bath before you catch your death of cold!" She said warmly, all the while giving Mortimer a solid ’you have explaining to do' glares.]
[21:28] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Wasn’t my fault." Mumbled Mortimer.
[21:28] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "A hot bath! Is it alright-?"
[21:29] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Of course it is. You’re shivering! Come on…" She looked over at Mortimer. "You, too. Then after that…"]
[21:29] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Right, right." Agreed Mortimer. Right now, all he cared about was that hot bath.
[21:33] <Mortimer`Mazarin> [The hot baths did wonders for Mortimer and Ginevre both. The water was at first unbearably hot for such chilled bodies- but by the time Mortimer was slipping into a blue sweater and white trousers, he actually felt nice and comfortable. He felt -alive- again.-
[21:35] <Mortimer`Mazarin> After that, it was waiting in the kitchen. His mother’s voice carried through the air- she was on the phone to Ginevre's parents.-
[21:35] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["Understood. That’s fine. Yes, we have the space. Not a problem, Mr. Fontaine. Goodbye! God bless." A click, and then- the woman was sweeping back into the kitchen.]
[21:39] * Ginevre‘Fontaine was behind her! She gave Mortimer a bright smile. She was wearing a pair of Mortimer’s old winter pyjamas, with a dressing gown. It was too big for her, her arms vanishing into the sleeves.
[21:40] * Mortimer‘Mazarin gave her a little smile. Those were his pyjamas…! It felt embarrassing.-
[21:40] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["So, Mortimer. What happened?" Asked Mr. Mazarin.-
[21:41] <Mortimer`Mazarin> «Mrs*»
[21:41] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Ah…" Mortimer rubbed the back of his neck. "I was riding home. I slipped a little at one point, and that’s when Ginevre here showed up. She chased me because I didn't have an umbrella, and she said, she could come home with me and we could ring her parents? So…"
[21:43] * Ginevre‘Fontaine nodded fervently.
[21:44] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Well." Mrs. Mazarin looked around at Ginevre and smiled sweetly. "That was a very kind thing you did, Ginevre." She looked up at Mortimer. "Isn’t she?"]
[21:45] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Er, yeah." Said Mortimer. "Yeah, really kind. Thanks, Ginevre."
[21:46] * Ginevre`Fontaine blushed, fidgetting with her collar. "It’s alright…"
[21:46] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> Well, that was that taken care of. Mortimer looked back up at his mother. "So, what’s happening?"
[21:47] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["Well, the Fontaines said that there’s been flooding down their end, and it's too dangerous to head over here right now. They asked us if we can keep Ginevre for the weekend, and I said that was fine. So she'll be sleeping in the spare bed."]
[21:47] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "… The spare bed? In my room?"
[21:47] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Yes. Problem?"]
[21:48] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "…" Mortimer didn’t like it when people used the spare bed. It felt as though his privacy was… Weakened, somehow. "No, that's fine." He mumbled.
[21:49] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Thank you for letting me stay, Mortimer." Said Ginevre happily. "I don’t mean to be a nuisance."
[21:50] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Don’t be silly. You're not a nuisance." Said Mortimer, waving his hand idly. "Hey mama? What's for dinner?"
[21:51] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> [Dinner proved to be a hearty affair- beef and chicken stew with vegetables. Ginevre shyly admitted that it was the best she’d ever eaten, but only if they didn't tell her mother.-
[21:53] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> [All things considered, it could’ve turned out worse. By the time Mrs. Mazarin ordered the two of them off to bed, Mortimer felt rather happy, full and satisfied. (Although he did protest somewhat to the fact that he had to sleep earlier -just because- Ginevre was there.]
[21:55] * Ginevre‘Fontaine was staring up at the roof as she lay in the spare bed, blankets pulled right up to her neck. "H-Hey, Mortimer?"
[21:55] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Yeah…?"
[21:55] * Mortimer`Mazarin was also staring up at the roof, but he was atop of the blankets, legs crossed, book on his chest.
[21:56] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "… Oh, no, it’s alright."
[21:56] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "…" Mortimer turned, brow furrowed. "I hate it when people do that. Tell me what’s wrong."
[21:57] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Oh, um." Ginevre paused, then looked over at him, blushing. "A-Are you my friend?"
[21:57] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Hm." Mortimer snapped his book shut, putting it aside. "Do you want me to be your friend?"
[21:57] * Ginevre`Fontaine nodded several times.
[21:58] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "… Then I guess that’s alright." Said Mortimer, putting his hands behind his head. "Still, I don't think I'd make a very good friend." he said wryly. "I'm older than you, so I have to do different things."
[21:58] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Why?"
[21:58] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Why? Why what?"
[21:58] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "Why do you have to do different things?"
[21:59] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "I… Well, because I’m older." Said Mortimer helplessly. "I have bigger homework, and… Stuff. And you're a girl. Besides." He said hurriedly, "Wouldn't you rather stay with your own friends?"
[21:59] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I don’t have any."
[22:00] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Huh?" Mortimer blinked. "You don’t? Not one?"
[22:00] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Well, one now." She said with a giggle, holding up one finger.
[22:00] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "…" Mortimer turned back to the roof. "But… Why don’t you have any friends?" He asked.
[22:00] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I don’t know." Whispered Ginevre.
[22:02] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "…" That seemed pretty awful. "Well… You have me now, so things’ll be better." He said with a smile. "I'll try to help you out at school, alright?"
[22:02] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Alright! Thank you."
[22:03] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "…" Mortimer blinked a few times, before reaching for the lamp on his bedside table. "I’m gonna turn out the light now, alright?"
[22:03] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Alright." Said Ginevre.
[22:03] <Mortimer`Mazarin> [Click! The lamp died, and the room was dark.]
[22:04] * Mortimer`Mazarin had just jumped under the covers when he heard what sounded like a muffled sob.
[22:04] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "… Ginevre?"
[22:04] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "A-Aah… Y-Yes?"
[22:04] <Mortimer`Mazarin> Click. Light back on. "Everything alright?"
[22:05] * Ginevre`Fontaine stared at him from her own bed, pale and scared. "I-I want to go home. I-I feel…"
[22:05] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Oh, damn." Muttered Mortimer. "You’re homesick already?" he pulled back the covers, sitting up.
[22:05] * Ginevre‘Fontaine nodded sadly.
[22:05] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "… I’m afraid there's not a lot we can do."
[22:06] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "…" She sniffled. "A-At home, I had a little teddy that I used to snuggle with…"
[22:08] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "… Hm." Mortimer rubbed the back of his neck, before he leaned back across his bed, rummaging in one of the bedside tables. He pulled out a fluffy, warm-looking teddy bear wearing glasses, dressed in a black vest. Teddy secure in his hand, he pulled himself back up and walked over to Ginevre. "Here. This is mine. I don’t use him anymore… So why don't you have him?"
[22:08] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Oh… You’re sure?" She asked hesitantly, but she was staring at the teddy with bright, wide eyes.
[22:09] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Sure, here you go." he put the teddy bear on her stomach. "His name’s Alexandre. You take good care of him, alright?"
[22:10] <Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I promise." She said solemnly, hugging the teddy tight to her, before pulling it under the covers with her. "Thank you, Mortimer."
[22:10] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "That’s alright. You get to sleep now." he said, standing up.
[22:10] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "…" Before he could leave, she reached out, grabbing his hand.
[22:10] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Uh-!" He froze, staring down at the hand, then at her. "What is it?"
[22:11] * Ginevre`Fontaine stared up at him with big eyes.
[22:11] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "… You want me to stay here, huh? Alright. I can do that, for a little while. But you have to sleep." He sat back down on the bed again.
[22:12] <Ginevre`Fontaine> "T-Thank you." Said Ginevre, giving him one last little smile. "Goodnight, Mortimer."
[22:12] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Goodnight, Ginny."
[22:13] <Mortimer`Mazarin> [It took fifteen minutes for the little girl to fall asleep, but Mortimer remained for five minutes more, just in case. Only when he was sure that she was sound asleep did he stand up, sighing quietly, and climb back into his own bed- where he too was fast asleep.]

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