A/N: This is my first fic for Wildwood Dancing. Woot! Takes place shortly before the book picks up. For anyone who is reading this and hasn't read the book (it could happen), this fic is from Jenica's POV and Gogu's thoughts/voice is in italics. Read and review? Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Wildwood Dancing or any of the characters.
Pay attention to the pancakes. We don't want them burning!
"Oh!" I said, bringing my gaze away from the Deadwash to the frying pan I had sitting over a small fire. Hastily, I shook it back and forth slightly before flicking my wrist, letting the pancakes flip over in the air before landing safely back in the pan. Perfecting that move took years of picnics out in the forest, and just as many spoiled treats.
"Is that better, Gogu?" I asked, seeking his approval.
He was silent, sitting on my propped up knee, his big black eyes boring into mine. My advisor. My prince. It seemed that over the past few days he had grown far more silent than ever before, speaking only when our conversation turned toward happier thoughts. Mostly, he kept out secret spilling until I was safely tucked into bed, with the covers drawn up to my neck. He would settle himself down beside my cheek on our pillow; Tati, oblivious to everything that went on after the lights went out and the rest of our sister's shut their eyes.
The past few nights, however, he took to snuggling up as close as he could get to me, his thin, green skin pressed tight against my face. He would do nothing more than lick my face and wish me sweet dreams, before closing his eyes himself, blocking him out of our comfortable state. He has never been so quiet before. In the nine years I had my best friend, he had not once shut me out of his thoughts so completely. A word of advice here, a tiny compliment there- he seemed so distracted lately. Lucky for me, today was one of his better days, his more talkative days.
"I feel so distracted today, Gogu." I muttered, scooping him up in my hand. "I don't know what's gotten into me. Ever since I heard news of Father getting ready to go away in a month, I've been really…"
Upset? He finished for me.
"No. At least, I don't think so." I sighed, setting him on my shoulder. "I've seen Father go away many times before. He's a merchant- I'm used to having Piscul Dracului to just my sister's and I for short periods of time."
Short. Not long.
"I know. But Gogu, I know we will be able to get through it. Between my business skills and Paula's keen mind for organization and strategy, we can run the castle while Father's gone. I have no doubt in my mind that we'll be alright." I paused, letting my eyes roam freely over Taul Ielelor, knowing that if I continued my thoughts, my voice would surely betray me.
You know that you and your sister's will be fine, but you're not so sure that your father will be.
I only nodded in response. I could feel Gogu turning himself around on my shoulder, his tiny tongue flicking out to lick the place right below my ear. For some reason, that gesture always comforted me.
It's going to be alright, Jena.
"And how would you know?"
"I mean, I know all will be well for the household," I continued on, knowing I may have offended him with my snappy remark. "After all, if there is any trouble at all, Uncle Nicolae and Aunt Bogdana are only about a mile up the hill. And Cezar is there too. I'm sure that he and Uncle Nicolae will come about every once in awhile to make sure we are doing okay."
The pancakes are burning.
Snapping out of my reverie, I noticed that, indeed, the pancakes were getting a little on the dark side. I quickly took the pan off of the tiny fire and slid the tiny snacks onto a plate I had brought with me in my bag. Adding a quick garnish of pondweed, I folded my legs and set the plate in my lap. Gogu quickly hopped down from my shoulder and began lapping up the freshly picked greenery.
When we had both had our fill, I laid back in the grass, taking a hold of Gogu and settling him onto my breast. Crickets chirped around us as leaves of bright reds and oranges fell from the trees overhead in a fresh autumn breeze. I could feel my frog's tiny heart beating in perfect rhythm with mine. The perfect team. The perfect pair.
Jena, I'll always be here for you.
"I know that, Gogu."
Look towards the future, smiles at the triumphs and the good times past. We'll work past the hard times- just you wait and see.
If only I could believe him.
"Thanks, Gogu. You're the best friend a girl could ask for." I smiled, knowing that he was only trying to make me feel better at the fast impending situation.
The word sounded foreign coming from his mind.
More than friends. You're far more special to me than a friend, Jena.
"As you are to me, my friend; my advisor, my prince."
He released a small croak before making his way up to my neck and settling in the pale hollow between my collarbone.
Jena. Soft. Gentle. Friend. Smooth. Princess. Love.