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Flash Fiction – Sisterhood July 15, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

Arella thanked the coachman as he helped her down from the carriage.  It was getting more difficult to get around as her pregnancy progressed, and she was always grateful for a helping hand.  She paused to study the exterior of her soon-to-be-sister-in-law’s workshop. It was an unassuming two story building made of heavy brownstone, with another, similar building to the right and an alleyway on the left.  There was nothing to tell anyone that the daughter of oldest and most powerful of the Winter Kings lived there.  Which, she supposed, was the way Nox liked it.

She stepped up to the plain metal door and rung the bell. She knew so little about Nox.  Arella’s fiancée, Kel, had described her as iron encased in ice, but on the two brief occasions they met, Nox had seemed nice enough. Eccentric, but nice.

The door opened, and Arella was surprised again at how small Nox was.  She was dressed in scorched overalls and a loose shirt that made her look even smaller.  A smell of ozone wafted out past her, and she had smudges of soot on her face.

“Oh…hello!  I thought you were one of the neighbors. Um, come in.” Nox said, and stepped aside.  “Sorry about the mess, I wasn’t expecting company.  Here, let me do something about the smell.”  She shut the door, pushed aside a smoking wooden stand and dove under a workbench.  She came up with a small chunk of charcoal which she crushed between her fingers. She blew it across the pedestal and the air cleared immediately.  “There, much better.  Ooh, where are my manners, let me get you something to sit on.  Do you drink coffee or tea?”

Arella found herself briskly, but carefully seated on the only chair that did not show signs of damage.  She had to think before replying, somewhat overwhelmed by the torrent of activity from her host.  This wasn’t going at all as she had imagined.  “No caffeine for me, please.  It makes the baby do jumping jacks.”

Nox laughed and brushed her hair out of her face.  “I hadn’t thought of that.” She looked at the soot and charcoal on her hands.  “Crud. Do I still have eyebrows?”

Arella nodded, not sure if she was ever going to get to the reason for her visit. “Yes, though you have a few smudges on your face.”   Understatement of the year, Nox had just blackened half of her face with charcoal.  “Here, have a handkerchief.”

Nox waved her off. “No, I’ll only ruin it. Serves me right for using a flammable pedestal to hold my prototype. But then, I hadn’t planned on spontaneous combustion.”  She gave Arella a sheepish grin.  “I’m sure you didn’t come here to listen to me babble about my hobbies though. What can I do for you?”  She perched herself on a wobbly stool, and reached back to fish out a clean towel from a cabinet to wipe her face.

Arella clasped her hands together in her lap. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but we’ll be sisters soon. Kel and I owe you so much, and I wanted you know that if you ever need anything, anything at all, you only have to ask.”

Nox stopped in mid-swipe and raised an eyebrow. “Well, thank you? I think?”

“We’re worried about you.  Kel thinks you’re in trouble because you stepped aside to allow us to be wed.  Your father, well, he’s always an intense sort of person, but he’s been even more so lately.  And I know you’ve been at odds with your parents since you arranged for them to adopt Kel.  I don’t want to be the cause of bad blood between you and your family.  I honestly meant it when I said I wanted to help. I feel terrible about how all of this turned out.”

There was an amused twinkle in Nox’s dark blue eyes.  “If I’m in any trouble, it’s of my own doing and I walked into it with eyes wide open.  Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with you two.”

“But you are in trouble?”

“Always!” Nox said, obviously still amused. “Just ask Grimm.”  The stool creaked as she leaned back on it. She looked at her charcoal covered fingers and started wiping them. “I do appreciate the offer, but it’s probably best if you keep your distance from me.”

“Oh,” Arella said, somewhat crestfallen.  “I had hoped we might be friends.”

Nox’s smile turned a bit wistful.  “I’d like that, but this is for your own safety. The House of Ice can’t let the recent attacks go unanswered. We’re about to go on the offensive, and I’ll be in the middle of everything.  Anyone close to me is going to be a target. Right now, no one is paying any attention to you and the baby. I’d prefer to keep it that way.”

Arella put a protective hand on her belly. “They would stoop so low?”

“Welcome to inter-House politics. It only comes in two flavors, ugly and brutal. If you want my advice, stay out of it as long as you can.”

Arella thought about that for a long minute.  She was due any time now. Still, it did not feel right to turn away.  “I know I can’t do much, but family should stick together.  Especially when things get tough.”

An odd look crossed Nox’s face. “Yeah, I guess they should.”

Maybe it was a mother’s instinct kicking in early, but Arella suddenly understood her sister-in-law.  She could just imagine how hard it must have been growing up with Lucien and Serenna for parents. She decided right then and there that she was going to make sure that Nox had at least one family member she could count on.  “It’s settled then,” she said, and reached out to squeeze Nox’s hand. “I’ve been looking forward to having a sister.”

Nox gave her a wry smile. “I’ll try not to make you regret it.”


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next–>



1. Julie (O-kami) - July 15, 2011

I so love this story, it just get’s better and better. Oh, and I am so glad that we now have more background on my fav character, Grimm

techtigger - July 15, 2011

thank you! it feels great to be back to the weekly writing gig, and I always appreciate the feedback 🙂

2. Sam Adamsonm Adamson - July 15, 2011

Heavens, but I’ve missed these stories! Wonderful, absolutely wonderful episode, the interplay between Nox and Arella was beautifully written, I could almost smell the ozone hanging in the air of Nox’ workshop. Can’t wait to read more.

techtigger - July 15, 2011

heehee, yes, I wanted to get a good feel for the chaos that often ensues in her workshop. Thanks for all the encouragement, it is much appreciated!

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