Prompt: birds, leaves, prompted by midnightdiddle

Title: Landis Had Been Beautiful In Autumn

"Look, Judge Gabranth! Look!"

It was somewhat dutifully that Noah did as the four-year-old prince asked, and looked. What he saw was enough to make his eyebrows shoot up. "A ruby-throated hummingbird this late in the season? Well spotted, Lord Larsa. Almost all of them have migrated south by now."

Larsa blinked up at his bodyguard, his eyes wide and—Noah almost didn't dare think it—slightly impressed. "I did not know you were knowledgeable of birds, Judge Gabranth."

"I am not," Noah demurred, though he was unable to stop himself from feeling slightly pleased that he had remembered that bit of trivia. "My father was an enthusiast, and I was unable to escape his musings at the dinner table as a youth. It was inevitable that I absorbed some of what he knew."

Larsa nodded in understanding, though his gaze shifted back to the hummingbird flitting among the dying flowers of the fading red columbines, his still-chubby face (though Noah knew he would grow out of it, as all Solidors did) rather more enraptured than Noah had seen it when faced with his textbooks earlier that morning. "Was Landis much like Archades in autumn?"

The question made something within Noah pang, as reminiscing about his father had not. He took his time with answering, letting his gaze linger rather longer than needed on the hummingbird before saying, awkwardly, "Nay, very little like. I find it likely that Landis has already had its first snowfall, at least at the higher elevations." He tried to smile. "I daresay that the hummingbirds there did not extend their stay as this fellow did. Too cold by half, and no flowers left in bloom." Noah stretched his memory a little further, then elaborated, "Most Landis animals either flee to warmer climes or go into hibernation around now. It's practically the only time of year you can hear the wind uninterrupted."

Larsa frowned, his lips pursed. He looked unhappy, his strange Solidor empathy written clearly on his face. "It sounds very lonely."

"It was quiet, yes," Noah agreed. It was only then that he felt his expression, his smile, turn genuine, his eyes crinkling at the corners for what felt like the first time in months. "Quiet, but… I always thought Landis was beautiful in autumn."