Chapter two: My secret demon friend
"Why do I always get stuck with these crappy chores…" Rosette grumbled, as she slammed the mop into it's bucket, and sloshed it back out once more as she scrubbed the floor. "Dust the cabinets, wash the floor… I'm a regular Cinderella…"
She sighed, as she finished, and deposited the empty bucket and soggy mop back in the cabinet with another grumble, before she yawned wide, and glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost ten pm, but she was still wide awake, though she was tired from doing her work.
Her mind rushed back over the week's events, and a smile flashed over her face.
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Her thrill at discovering a friend whom she could relate to was more than enough to get her through the day. She had bounced into classes, and even stayed quiet for a few which was a blessing for the nuns, and happily done her chores, whistling. Everyone was confounded, and amazed at the change of pace.
Rosette had been a moody, quiet, furious girl whose temper had been something no one wanted to cross…but now, she was completely transformed, and seemed to have brightened right up.
Of course, no one knew it was because she had a secret.
The first few nights, she hadn't been able to sneak out, but on the third, she had slipped down the ivy crawling up the side of the building, and made her way to the Elder's cottage.
The Elder laughed seeing her knock upon his door. "Rosette. Sneaking out late might get you in trouble!"
"Aww come on old man…I came all the way out here!" she whined with cute wide eyes.
The old man couldn't resist, and just let her in with a chuckle. "Yes yes, come on in. I'll go get Chrno." He shut the door, and shook his head amused, and opened the door in the back. "Chrno! Rosette's here, come on down."
The soft footsteps of the young boy sounded not long after, and he poked his head curiously out of the doorway, hair falling loosely around his shoulders as he blinked. "Ah!" He smiled brightly, and took the last couple steps down as he spotted Rosette. "Rosette!"
"Hi!" She bounded over and grabbed his hand, pulling him enthusiastically after her. "Come on, let's go for a walk!"
"Ah.." The elder started to say with a frown.
Rosette fixed him with a stare. "Why not?"
Chrno blinked, raising his eyebrows at the Elder, in question.
The Elder frowned a bit, but shook his head. "Ok… very well. But stay within sight, and don't let anyone ELSE see you." He shook his head. "Goodness I hope Sister Kate doesn't find out about this…"
"Don't worry! Who's gonna tell her!" Rosette shot back, throwing the door open, and pulling him after her, out onto the grounds.
The air was crisp and cool, but not too chilly, and the moon and stars shone brightly in the dark sky above them. Rosette grinned and fought the urge not to giggle aloud, as she spun about in the moonlight, skirt flaring around her.
A light laugh from behind her caused her to stop, turning her smiling face over towards the dark-haired boy who stood there, hands behind his back, looking amused at her. "What's so funny!? Hey, come try it." She grabbed his hands, and refused to let go, promptly spinning him around, until he laughed out loud with her, and they both fell down onto the cool damp grass with soft laughter. They tried desperately to hide their voices from the night air, since they didn't wish to wake anyone.
Rosette rolled over, propping her fists under her chin as she glanced over at her companion, who was laying on his back, staring up at the sky, arms under his head as he smiled. "Ne, Chrno?" His eyes ripped away from the heavens to meet hers. "What do you suppose is up there?"
He blinked a little, and turned his head to the side, watching the moon. "Memories…Life…Aspects of the past for which we can only dream about."
"Ouch! What was that for?!" Chrno rubbed his face, as Rosette pulled her sweater back from thwapping him.
"You're weird. Definitely." She said firmly, peering over at him with glittering blue eyes. "You must believe in UFO's too?"
"You know, aliens… who live in the stars, far away?"
"That's silly!" He laughed at that. "Wherever did you hear that?"
"Ah, read it in some of Joshua's books when I was younger." She said with a shrug. "I guess they did seem kinda silly if you think about it." Her eyes studied the stars. "But it's something to dream about…you know?"
"Sure." He replied easily, closing his eyes and enjoying the cool air as it drifted over them, rustling the grass against their faces. "Dreams are the things that keep us going through life."
She glanced over at him. Such a strange boy. He seemed to know more than he let on, yet he looked no older than she. What had he seen that she hadn't, that gave him such mature insight of the world? Why was he living in secret above the Elder, locked up like some kind of prisoner? It had to be something important, or she was certain there wouldn't be a reason to have such wards all over the place. Of course, Elder COULD just be paranoid too.
Whatever the reason…She was glad to have a friend.
Even if it was small things, such as waving to him through his window on her way to class, or finding an unexpected 'good luck' note scribbled and left in her shoe while weeding. For several months, it was as simple as that. He was a secret friend, whom she alone could go to with any of her problems, woes, and lonely concerns. He never judged, he just listened, then encouraged her to keep her chin up, and not let anything keep her down.
It was addictive, and they became close friends almost instantly.
So it went for six months. It had already reached the point where she couldn't bear a day not spent at least seeing his smiling face. Luckily, she'd mastered the stealthy ability of climbing out of her room, and escaping without a single person being the wiser.
And so, it was late one night, when she snuck inside the Elders' having smelled the sweet alluring scent of chocolate chip cookies, that things took a turn towards another direction.
"OI! You started without me!?" she poked her head over the violet haired boy's shoulder, now a good few inches taller than him. She'd had a sudden growth spurt the last several months, and the nuns were already complaining that she'd outgrown her socks and undergarments.
"Sorry!" Chrno peered back up at her, wide ruby eyes innocent, with a glint of mischief deep beneath as he held out the spoon, covered in sticky cookie dough goodness. "The Elder threatened to evict me to the closet if I didn't provide him a plate soon."
"Huh. Still you coulda waited by stuffing the old pervert's face with sugar." She plopped down on the couch, kicking her feet up as she munched the dough on the spoon, watching him as he bustled about the kitchen, wearing a goofy apron that was too large for him, and dangled around his ankles, upon which was the ever present strange metal anklet he always wore. It was something she'd tried to ask him about once, but he'd avoided the question, and the Elder had popped up interrupting, getting a tidbit of a view before she'd pummeled him to the ground, the topic forgotten quickly. But ever since that day, she'd wondered. Why did he wear it? It was so large and clunky, it couldn't be comfortable….
Every time she wondered about small nuances about him, she'd forced herself to shove them aside. She probably knew the truth deep down inside, had she admitted it to herself… but their friendship was so strong, that she couldn't bring herself to give in to those instinctual inhibitions. After all…he was sweet, kind, and a decent cook.
"So you're off the hook for the week, eh?" He asked, plopping down on the couch next to her, sitting cross legged, apron crooked across his chest as he grinned cheerfully over at her.
"Yeah, Sister Kate and Remington are gone for ten days." She yawned and grinned wider. "I would have been over earlier, but they insisted on all of us new recruits helping carry luggage. I don't get it, why does HE need to go with her to go inspect this Apostle person?" It was a long standing relationship that had developed over the past long months between Rosette and the older priest. At first, she had hated his guts…but then slowly, his kindness had won her over, and she'd started developing a crush on the blonde man.
Chrno had watched it all, and listened patiently with a smile, humoring her childish blushes, and embarrassed denials. "On the plus side, no one will catch you if you sneak out."
"Yup! That's the good part." She grinned. "Hey, maybe we could even camp out under the tree or something."
"I doubt the Elder would allow that." He laughed lightly. "He's in charge after all, which in and of itself is a dangerous thing."
"Damn straight. He just waltzed into the girl's locker room this morning! Do you believe that! As if he OWNS the place!"
"Hah! I hope you taught him a good lesson."
"OH yes… I doubt he'll be hearing straight for a week, with the amount of soap thrown into his ears."
Chrno just laughed at that. "Good. It's about time someone cleaned SOME part of him."
"Honestly, HOW do you manage to live with that old coot!? I mean, sheesh, he's impossible to live with for a DAY and here you've been here, what, years?"
He just grinned, shaking his head, and stealing a wad of cookie dough from the bowl. "Well, the good thing is, he's not interested in boys…otherwise I think I'd have been in trouble a long time ago." He put his hands behind his head and leaned back. "He's not that bad, when there's no temptation in sight."
"Ugh, don't you dare go there." She closed her eyes a bit, staring up at the ceiling, where a couple odd demon fetishes hung. ."Gah… is there nothing kooky in this place? Even the kitchen is tainted with demon filth."
To the side, she missed a slight cringe from her dark haired companion, but it wasn't because she was busy staring at the ceiling.
No, it was because abruptly, the whole cottage plunged into pitch blackness.
Now ordinarily, one might think that such a situation would be any young teen's dream-like fantasy. And certainly the brief thought of excitement did cross Rosette's mind.
Just before the explosion came.
An enormous flash of light followed by a shuddering boom that was like something straight out of the war threw the two flat to the ground, couch toppling over on top of them, thankfully protecting them as the back of the couch and the seat kept the heavy beams of the cottage from striking them flat on the head. The whole cottage shook, buckled, and shuddered, as a fierce blast of wind swept around them, blowing debris and dust into their eyes, and forcing them to cough.
Within minutes, all was still, save the distant sounds of wailing and frightened screams.
Rosette opened her eyes, feeling her lungs choking up as she coughed roughly. "What the hell…?" She peered around, but it was nearly pitch black. All she could see was the faint glow of moonlight from the upturned end of the couch. A brush of movement at her cheek told her that she was laying almost on top of the smaller boy. "Ugh. You ok? In one piece?"
"I think so." He replied, turning his head so that she could barely see his eyes in the dim light. "You?"
"Uhn, aside from cramped as all hell…" she muttered irritated. "What the HELL happened."
"Nothing good." He replied, and the tone in his voice dark and rather foreboding, startling her a little. "Come on, let's get out of here." He pushed out from beneath her, squirming his way to the edge of the couch, and shoving some debris away, enough for him to squeeze out. With some growling and muttered cursing, Rosette emerged, hair astray and dirt smudged on her face. "Stupid couch…"
Her words were abruptly cut off however, by the sight before them.
Whatever had hit the Order, there wasn't much of the main building left standing. It had been completely reduced to a pile of rubble, with only a few main portions standing, one of which thankfully, Rosette noted, as her hands rose to her mouth in shock, was the chapel. "Oh my god…." She whispered, unable to fathom what lay before them. "What…what happened?"
A low growl at her side startled her. "Demons." Her eyes snapped over to look at Chrno, seeing his fists clenched tightly, and his eyes intense on the rubble.
"Demons…." She muttered her own tone slowly starting to match his. "Why? Why would they attack here?!"
"The Order trains demon exorcists." He replied in a low voice. "And it has a history of being unfriendly with demons…" His voice lowered more, and she had to strain to hear him. "But I think there's more to it than that."
"We have to help them." She said firmly, grabbing his arm and pulling him after her. Surprisingly, he didn't protest. "We have to help the wounded…God…please spare them…"