Seph would never be grateful for what her father had done to her, giving her these wings, but she had to admit that the freedom of flying was one that couldn't really compare to anything else. Soaring with the wind, no limit to where she could go...it was like a dream.
On another level, flying was also handy for doing a quick lookout wherever she was. Which was what she was doing now, although there was an actual goal in mind. She hadn't seen much of her sister lately and felt bad for not spending more time with her. They had been apart for over ten years...she should definitely be more attentive to her dear sister...now that she could finally protect her and take care of her again...She saw the familiar shadow of Diana's wheelchair sitting under one of the bigger tress in the garden. That was typical of her sister, she loved to be outside...
Shaking her head, Seph swooped down to get a closer look at what her sister was doing, probably drawing, only to freeze and feel panic rise up inside her as she saw that Diana's wheelchair was empty. She looked around, but saw no sign of her sister at all. Had she been taken?! She knew something like this was going to happen while she wasn't looking, how could she have been so--
Her panicked and miserable thoughts were cut off as she heard voices nearby...very nearby...above her. In the tree? She listened closely and picked out her sister's familiar voice in the conversation, relief filling her at the sound. At least Diana was still here, safe and sound...but how had she gotten in the tree?
Her eyes narrowed as she heard the other voice that was apparently speaking with her sister. That cat. What the hell was HE doing with Diana? He was about the LAST person she wanted to be near her sister...
With a growl, she took off again, flying around the tree to find where they were and quickly lighting on a ( )anch near them. "What the hell is going on here?" she asked, her tone both angry and not at all impressed. Diana jumped about a mile and nearly fell off of her ( )anch.
"Sephie! Good Lord, you scared me!"
"Sorry, Di. I am curious as to why you are in this tree though..." With him, she wanted to add.
Astor looked over to Seph with a stoic expression, smiling after a moment. "Hello there Seph. Di just wanted to get some fresh air for her drawing ideas."
"So you thought a tree would be a good idea?" she crossed her arms. "My sister is in a WHEELCHAIR, Hargreaves..."
"Seph, I asked him to ( )ing me up here." Di managed to sound both timid and firm at once. "I've done it before, and he won't let me fall."
Seph wasn't sure what to answer first. "You still shouldn't be up here, Di...You know Tearju would pitch a fit."
Astor nodded and held the girl a little tighter to prove her point. "I can see your point Seph, but you know I won't let any harm come to her. She's as safe with me as she would be with anyone else. If not more so."
Seph's expression hardened considerably and a sharp glare came into her eyes at his closeness to her sister. "Forgive me if I find that hard to believe." she replied coldly.
"Persephone! That was uncalled for." Diana scolded. "I know he infuriates you, but that doesn't give you an excuse to be so unreasonable."
The older girl's eyes narrowed. You have no idea how much he deserves 'unreasonable'...she wanted to say, so very badly. Unfortunately, she still hadn't quite figured out how to tell her sister about their father's death, much less the reason, now that she was so close to said reason...how quickly could things go to hell in a hand basket? Faster than the speed of light... "Of course...My apologies...But I'd like to talk to you later, Hargreaves, when you can spare the time..." and get your paws off of my sister... She barely kept the tone and words civil, and ONLY for Diana's sake.
Astor still kept his stoic face, understanding perfectly what Seph was getting at. With a small sigh, he turned back to Diana and patted her shoulder. "Hey Angel, I think your sister should get that talk with me. It's important."
Angel? What the hell was that about? Sure, it was an accurate nickname for her sister, but Seph wasn't sure that she liked HIM using it...
Diana seemed to though, seeing the smile she gave him along with the light blush on her cheeks. "That's all right, I'm done drawing for now any way...besides, Seph is right in that Momma Tearju would throw a royal fit if she saw me up here, safe with you or not...probably best if I get down before she decides to come looking for me."
"Want a hand dear?"
"That probably would be best--"
"I can help her." Seph cut in, really not liking the closeness of the two. She didn't trust the cat as far as she could throw him, and even less so with her precious little sister.
Astor gave her a small look before looking to Diana. "Up to you Angel."
Diana looked between the two of them for a moment before replying. "Sephie, let Astor do it. He can get me down faster than you, your wings will make it difficult."
Seph frowned, but couldn't really argue as her sister was correct in that comment. "Very well. I'll meet you down there."
Astor smiled at her and nodded, quickly picking the girl up. He smiled gently at her before hopping down, taking a few large ( )anches detour. He landed silently on each, giving a small grunt at each before stepping lightly to the ground.
Diana watched him with a decidedly concerned look on her face. "Are you sure it's not difficult for you to keep doing this? I may only have use of one side, but both are still heavy..."
Seph made it out of the tree fairly quickly, though not as quickly as the cat, she admitted with chagrin. She listened as her sister spoke, a small smile appearing at her words. Seemed like Diana never changed...always worrying about troubling others.
Astor shook his head. "Nah, of course not Angel. It's perfectly fine. Why don't you run off and find Mama Tearju before she has that conniption fit?"
She gave him a bit of a look, but the smile was still there. "You mean roll off."
Ugh, he certainly wasn't very tactful, but Seph supposed she knew that already. She landed near them. "I'll help you get into the house if you want, Di."
Astor smiled and stepped back. "Of course. Go ahead Di, I think your sister would enjoy some time with you."
"Oh, but I wouldn't want you to be left out here by yourself..." Diana replied, looking at her sister.
"Nono, Di's right, do come with us. We still need to have that chat, after all." again, Seph was only being civil for her sister's sake.
Astor nodded. "It's alright."
It didn't take long for them to get Diana inside and safe in the li( )ary. "I'll be back in a little while, okay, Di?" Seph bent down and kissed her sister's head.
The younger girl looked at the two worriedly, definitely not quite as...unobservant as her sister hoped she was, but wise enough not to say anything at the moment. Wild assumptions were never a good idea.
Astor bowed politely, turning out and motioning Seph to follow him. "Until later Angel."
She giggled slightly and waved to him.
Seph tried not to growl as she followed the cat out into the hall. "What in the HELL do you think you're doing, Hargreaves?!" she hissed once they were out of earshot of the li( )ary.
He didn't even bat an eye as he continued walking. "I am enjoying time with a dear friend. I didn't know that was such a crime."
"Don't give me that crap, I'm not an idiot." she spat.
He turned to face her, still keeping a straight face. "Aren't you? You mean you can't actually believe for once that once again, I have no ulterior motive? I've been so honest about everything I've done I'd have think it was embedded in you by now."
"Hmph. Honest. Look, cat, I may tolerate you now, and mostly because of Ris, but don't think for a SECOND that means you can mess with my sister, my only living family left."
His eyes narrowed, hands finally showing some hint of emotion as they clenched. "Mess? You think I am trying to mess with your sister?"
“The last time I saw you with one of my family members, you ended up putting a bullet into their head.” She met his expression with a glare. “So forgive me if I’m not too keen on you cozying up to my little sister, the only family I have left.”
Astor kept his narrowed eyes and relatively calm disposition. While yes that was true, it was certainly missing something in the arguement. "I don't see your sister doing horrible experiments on my father in front of my face then turning on me when he became a failure. So sorry if I'm not one who believes in guilt by association but there is no reason I have to hurt your sister."
"And there is not much reason for me to trust you with her, either." she replied, crossing her arms. "You also electrocuted me and temporarily paralysed my wings..."
He smirked. "Oh you can handle it. I know a good fighter when I see one. And I also know when something must be protected. And I will do all I can to ensure that."
She rolled her eyes, but he did see a very slight blush at his compliment. "Look...you don't know my sister, okay? You only know this side of her. And that's the side you like..."
Astor let his golden rimmed eyes flash as his tail swished gently. "I know your sister has other sides to her. I know that. But don't think me so shallow that I won't accept all of it. You showed me every side of you and I have never judged you for it. What makes you think I will do that to her?"
Seph's hands clenched into fists at her sides. "Because you know nothing about her!"
"And what's wrong with wanting to learn huh?!"
Seph opened her mouth to reply, probably not kindly, when there was a yelp from the li( )ary. Her expression changed completely as she whirled around and ran back to where they had left her sister. “Diana!” she hurried over to where the girl was sitting, next to her tipped over chair that had fallen slightly on her. “Sweet, are you okay?!”
“I’m fine, Sephie…” she said, wincing slightly.
Astor knelt beside her and looked her square in the face. "Come on Angel, she is your sister, no need to put on a ( )ave face"
"N-No, I'm really fine. I was just trying to reach a book and lost my balance..."
"Reach a book? Diana, how many times have I told you not to reach higher than you can in your chair? You know you don't have good balance in the first place..."
Astor gave a half smile as she scooped the girl up in one arm and used his other to right the chair. He set her down gently and wheeled to face her to Seph. "Now now arguing about it doesn't solve things. She just wants to do what she can on her own. Isn't that right?"
Diana nodded slightly, gaze down at her hands in her lap. "I also don't like troubling you...it sounded like a serious discussion out there..."
Seph winced. "Di, what did you hear?"
The younger girl shook her head. "I didn't hear anything, it was all muffled. But you definitely sounded angry."
Astor smiled and nodded, paying her shoulder gently. "It's ok, your sister was just expressing how she cares about you."
Diana smiled at her sister. "She rarely does anything else..."
"I know. But she treasures the family she has. And that's good." He stepped away from her, making his way towards the door. As he passed by Seph, he gave a small "she's lucky to have that..." and kept moving without ( )eaking stride. "If anyone needs me you can find new back in the tree. I rather like that spot now, thank you Angel."
"A-Astor, wait!" Diana reached out to stop him and darn near fell out of her chair again.
Seph took one look at her sister's face and groaned inwardly. "...Oh for the love...Hargreaves, get your butt back here." she said, rolling her eyes.
He paused mid-step, turning back around with a genuinely confused look. "Yes ladies?" "My sister wants you here...so...stay."
"I-If you want." Diana added quietly. "I just...I didn't want you to leave yet..."
Seph rolled her eyes, but didn't say anything more. It appeared that she wasn't so quick to yell at and argue with her sister about this...
Astor paused, smiling ( )ightly. For once, Seph could see no teasing, no smirk, nothing of his usual antics that she came to expect. Just a genuine smile as he nodded and made his way back. He grinned at them both, locking eyes with them. "Well...if you are sure. Thank you. Really. "
Diana looked more than a little happy, if not a bit embarrassed for, in her mind, troubling him like that. "I-It's really nothing to thank for..." she mumbled, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.
Diana hummed to herself as she sketched out a picture in her head, another character running around in her mind, but quickly shifting on that same page to another small sketch. It was rare that she finished sketches, especially when there was a lot on her mind, and today was definitely one of those days. For one, her sister was back, a fact that had yet to become old and tiresome. She had missed Seph so much and it was wonderful to have her sister with her again so neither of them had to feel lonely anymore.
Not that such a thing was possible, with the entourage Persephone had ( )ought with her. Nor was it possible for things to be dull around here. Between the faery boy Leyandris clearly fancying her sister, a fact she wasn’t quite sure she entirely liked, the ( )ooding Dimitri who was rarely seen and provided a constant curiosity, and Astor who…well, that was a whole subject in itself, and one that was occupying her mind the most lately, much to Seph’s chagrin and dismay.
She couldn’t quite understand why her sister disliked him so, aside from the fact that he did tend to goad her quite a bit, but that was all in good humour, so she hardly saw the harm…She herself found him…refreshing. He was definitely one of the main reasons things never got dull at the manor anymore. His company was pleasant and in a different way than her sister’s company. A better way, she might even admit, which she didn’t really think was possible. Her and Seph were inseparable, she never thought there would be anyone she enjoyed being around even half as much…not that she got to spend time with anyone but Momma Tearju before, but that was beside the point. The big thing was that, when given the choice of spending time with her sister or Astor, she had quite a difficult time deciding…and that was a tad unnerving, if she was to be honest, although not in an entirely bad way. It was just unexpected, that was all…
As these thoughts swirled in her head, her pencil started to sway in her hand as the warm sun and exhausting inward conversation made her drowsy. A nap couldn’t hurt…She was safe on the ground, sitting against a tree, nothing Tearju or her sister would scold her for…and perhaps she would be able to think clearer if she rested…even as she reasoned with herself about it, she felt herself drifting off, asleep long before she even decided to be.
Astor hummed as he walked, making his way over to the tree he usually found Diana at. Sure enough, the girl was at the base and sleeping. Too serene and cute. He smiled and walked over, sorting her things quietly so as not to wake her.
Diana stirred slightly as he took her pencil and sketchbook from her carefully, but didn't wake, merely shifting over slightly and quickly stilling again.