I’ll make a long story short and just say that it’s been complicated lately. I’ll post more about it monday, maybe sooner. Until then, enjoy Chapter Seven (7).
Oh, and about that. It was sort of wrong, for me, when I wrote it. It’s not that I think it goes too far, just that the way it was originally written did not quite fit the characters. I’ve since gone through and messed and tweaked and snipped at it to my satisfaction, and in some places it’s been completely rewritten. But that’s fine, because I do like the end result better than the original.
While not necessarily more concise, it gets the point across less clumsily than before. And believe me, it’s possible- I was fevered when I first wrote the chapter.
Anyway, enjoy, again,
“Do come in!” Spring says cheerfully, nearly dragging Summer bodily into the interior of the shrine. “We have so much to discuss. How long have you been with child?”
What? “What?” Summer asks, bewildered. “I’m with-“
“Child! Is it a boy, a girl? Did the doctors tell you a bunch of nasty lies? Don’t listen to them, you know, can’t trust doctors. They’re all bastards, take it from me- I used to be a doctor.”
Memories come back to Summer in a trickle. “You used to be a policeman, too,” She says warily, trying to focus. There’s a crunching noise and Spring lets go of her hand. She shakes it absentmindedly, and stares at the man. There’s a nagging voice in her head that won’t go away. Her belly feels peculiar, too, though she’d never admit it aloud.
“Yes, yes!” Spring shouts, hopping on one foot for a moment and rubbing his toe. It would appear he rammed it into the last stone step on the way up. “I was once an officer of the law as well! It’s fortunate I ran into you before you met up with the gate guards, but how on earth did you get in?”
Here is a long hallway, lined with torches and lit by candles. The torches are not even aflame, which strikes Summer as odd. Still, Spring hops down the hall and into the room beyond, circular by what shape of it is visible. When Summer steps in after him, she affirms this for herself. Yes. It is circular.
She pauses in the doorway, unwilling to continue in. It’s not that she doesn’t trust him, of course. She just doesn’t trust him.
“Oh, you know,” She replies vaguely. “I gave them what they wanted.”
“What did they want then?” Spring asks brightly. “Coin? A dinner date?”
“A show,” Summer says flatly. His attitude is actually starting to wear on her nerves, and she’s just now begun to remember why she never liked him in the first place. She gazes around again.
All around the walls curve- she’d always been fascinated by that sort of wavy element to Spring’s shrines. There Spring is, massaging his foot, sitting on the mat in the middle of the floor, still beaming and smiling so wide his mouth endangers the sides of his face. He’s short- the size difference outside was due to him standing on an upraised stone step- barely an inch taller than Summer. His strange hair waves a little as he looks up at her.
Though his hair is short, sticking straight up it looks long and extends a good foot upward from his head. His body is long and lanky, and very thin, like sticks held together by spit and sheer brightness. Summer can only stare.
She realizes she has so many questions and she’s not at all sure she can ask them of this man. She knows so little about who he is, despite being related to him as one of the Seasons. She opens her mouth to speak, to accuse or shout or something, when it happens.
It is by no means gentle- it’s a squeezing, as if every muscle in her belly and thighs tightened up at once, painfully so.
Summer’s belly feels heavy all of a sudden. There’s a jolt, and suddenly she’s leaning against the doorway for support. “What?” She whispers. Her free hand drops down to her belly, strokes it incredulously through the impromptu woven garment. Is she pregnant? There’s a kick, from inside, and it frightens the life out of her for a moment.
You can’t remember? Well I have no idea. It’s not part of my memory. All I can do is watch when you do something stupid.
Spring’s face is still cheerful. “So when is it due?” He asks bluntly. His piercing blue gaze locks onto Summer’s. “The baby.”
“I don’t know,” Summer mumbles.
Why are we even here? Why are we talking to this man, we don’t even know who he is! Or at least, I don’t. I think. Have we met him before?
“Really? How long have you been carrying it?”
“Carrying…?” Summer’s head is ringing, her arms and legs feel far too heavy. Lead. In her body. In her blood, weighing her down. And there’s another frightful contraction, thighs burning, head spinning again. It hurts. Is it supposed to hurt?
“The baby!” Spring says sharply. “Summer?”
“I….” There’s a gripping, sharp pain in her stomach for a moment. It recedes slowly, ebbing away. She takes a deep breath, and then shakes herself to clear her fogging mind. Her body feels so heavy. “What’s going on?”
Then her voice again, answering herself, free from the pain. “You’ve lost your memory, Summer.”
Spring stands up abruptly, expression blank. “Who are you?”
“I am Winter. I remember meeting you now, at least a little,” Summer feels herself answer. “Do you remember me?”
“Winter was shorter,” Spring says sharply. “So you’re in Summer’s body.”
“I am currently bound within Summer, yes.”
“How are you talking?” Spring asks.
“I don’t know,” Winter admits through Summer’s voice. “But the important thing is that I remember some of what I didn’t before, and now Summer is the one who has forgotten, and-“
Summer feels her whole body tighten, tense up again, burning agony now in her belly and her blood, like fire, like a star in her womb. It tears at her, and for a few moments she’s blind, her eyes are shut tight. Her limbs lock up and her fingers suddenly clench with pain. It eats at her, tearing her up from the inside. What’s happening?
Blood, something slippery, inside of her. She can feel it running down her arms and legs, though when she looks, panicked, they’re bare.
And pain hits again, in a wave, in a stream, gripping her waist and her abdomen all at once and shaking her, twisting her like a fist, though she can feel her feet on the floor. Her legs shake for a moment, and her mind snaps out like a candle.
Her head smacks the floor with a thud.
Spring stares, pausing for a heartbeat, then curses loudly, striding to the desk on the far wall, then turning and staring at Summer again, shaking his head.
While no true expert in medical science, Spring feels as if the situation has turned more than a little dire. This is no time to be going through his notes. It is written: Hesitation is failure, failure is death. He’d said that himself, some time or another.
Spring takes three steps and kneels next to Summer. He snaps his fingers, and a tendril of wood grows up from the floor, like a new sapling, tiny and thin, and he snaps it loose quickly. It takes a new shape in his hand, forming a long wand. He mutters to himself for a moment.
“No, it’s complicated now,” He murmurs quietly. “It won’t do to lose them both, whatever it is that’s happening is not normal. The nearest doctor is… nonexistent, in this time. Damn. Not just Summer, but Winter too? Unacceptable. And in her condition she wouldn’t survive that kind of magic.”
He draws the new wand down across Summer’s garments, cutting it all loose in a flash. With a businesslike flick of its tip, he marks her bronze skin- below her navel. A word drops into the air, flashing, smoking, and where the smoke collects on Summer’s body, lines appear. Her vital lines, her life lines, the place where a cut would mean death. Spring’s spell hums in his mind.
Carefully, lips pressed together, Spring taps the tip of his instrument to Summer’s belly. Yes. He can feel the baby, twisted around, unable to move, wanting out too soon, exercising power it shouldn’t have. Some strange lifeforce, hot and cold at once, burning with the power of a nova and yet frozen in her as a chunk of pure winter. No wonder the poor girl passed out. The baby doesn’t feel quite developed, but there are ways to… speed things along, for which Spring is profoundly thankful.
“I’m sorry, Summer,” He says, and there’s not hint of a tremor in his voice, though his hand shakes. “I’m sure, were you yourself, you’d want me to stay out of this, but Fate is a fickle mistress.”
He takes a deep breath, steadies himself, and makes his first incision.