Flowers, Books, and Hope
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! This is a little something I wrote for Rhapsody14 for Christmas. I hope she likes it! There are a few references to some events in previous fics, but I think I've explained them in the context so they will hopefully not be confusing.
Though it was common to see Freya tending to and dancing among her beloved flowers, it was not a strange thing to see her in the library, poring over gardening and flower books. The ones she liked best she checked out repeatedly or eventually bought from a bookstore. The ones she did not care for she made a mental note of, both to remind herself in the future and to warn other amateur florists.
It was also not unusual for her to encounter Autor somewhere along the way. He was generally at his favorite table, reading or writing, or checking out at the counter. She always made an effort to greet him, to which he responded politely yet reserved. Everyone knew he was aloof and wanted to be left alone, though after the way he had been treated by other students Freya could understand why.
Sometimes, if he happened to be on a particular aisle and saw books out of place, he would regard the sloppy displacement in disgust and fix it himself. The librarians discouraged patrons from re-shelving books, but that was because they often did it wrong, as Autor repeatedly discovered. He understood the organization to a fault and was very efficient at re-shelving.
He took pride in what he did, but he was often jeered at for being a "student librarian" and had been asked more than once if he believed he was the true head of the building. To Freya, it seemed that some of the crueler students would find any silly thing to latch onto and play up if it would involve them being unkind to Autor. She had observed it enough times that she had lost count.
She always made an effort to step in when she saw someone defenseless being bullied. But she had quickly learned that one thing Autor was not, was defenseless. He could throw out replies just as cutting as what he was given, yet rather than stoop to their level and shoot off insults, what he said was unfortunately, bluntly true and probably needed to be said. (Although Freya herself did not like saying such things and likely never would have.) He had called more than one student immature, asinine, and uncultured. And he only said such things when he was being tormented, or on the few occasions when he came upon a scene where someone else was being unfairly treated and he felt compelled to step in. Generally, if he was left alone, he left everyone else alone—unless he was trying to get someone to be quiet in the library.
Freya was angry at the treatment he often received. But there were other things she saw that made her feel happy and encouraged.
Ahiru was Autor's devoted friend. Freya saw them together often, sometimes with Fakir, sometimes just the two of them. It was not always easy to see Autor's eyes behind the reflective lenses of his glasses, but sometimes she had and she saw a softness there that was not present at any other time.
Ahiru's incessant chatter could definitely exasperate Autor. But he loved her all the same and he enjoyed spending time with her. It certainly gave way to a flurry of scandalous rumors. Autor was not sociable. Some wondered, or claimed to wonder, if he was just with Ahiru to spite Fakir. But anyone who took a close look could easily see that not only did Autor care deeply about Ahiru, he cared about Fakir as well.
His and Fakir's interaction was a great deal different, filled with sarcasm and snark, yet underneath it all they were trusting friends. Perhaps even the banter attested to that, when Freya thought about it. And the fact that Fakir did not seem to worry about Ahiru spending time with Autor. He trusted that they would not betray him.
It was rare to find one person who could be thoroughly relied on. Autor had two. And he himself was another. They were loyal to each other. Of course they had come through rough spots, but they seemed to be able to repair the damage and keep going.
Freya was thinking on all these things as she watched Autor selecting two books to take to the table for study. It did not take much more and she was crossing the floor to catch up with him.
"Hello," she greeted with a smile.
"Good afternoon," he answered—polite yet distant as usual.
"Are you doing well?" she asked.
"Considering that my heart is beating, which it was not for some time, I would say I'm doing quite well indeed," Autor said. He glanced her up and down with some impatience, not sure what to make of her.
Freya calmly met his gaze. His slight tenseness was understandable; the latest rumors were causing a stir unlike anything the school had ever seen. Freya herself had been, and really still was, reeling.
He had been killed weeks ago while saving a child from a runaway carriage. Yet, apparently thanks to the legend that one worthy soul in Kinkan was revived every hundred years, he had returned to life. Today was his first day back at school and the students had not been able to stop talking. There was nothing wrong in that alone—of course, how could anyone help but talk with something so beyond incredible happening?—but the speculation over whether he was actually a reanimated corpse without a soul was annoying him and Freya both. It was obvious that he was back, body and spirit, if one just looked at him.
"I'm glad you're with us again," she said now.
"Most could not care less," Autor said as he reached the table and sat down. "Even those who cried at my funeral."
"Well, I care," Freya said, so emphatic in her declaration that Autor looked up at her. "I missed seeing you here in the library. You really have such a presence here."
"So much so that rumors circulated concerning my ghost haunting the premises," Autor said. "Which I was not."
"I was sure it was just students making up stories," Freya said.
Autor looked back to his books, conscious of the color creeping into his face and not wanting her to see it. ". . . You stood up for me when several girls were mocking me after my death," he said at last. "Why?"
Freya sat in the next chair over. "Because they were being unfair," she said, pushing back her surprise that he knew about that incident. "I wanted to defend you many times, but you never seemed to need it before. You always had an answer ready for anyone who treated you wrong, when you didn't ignore them altogether.
"After the accident, though . . . you weren't able to defend yourself any more. Those girls were having a lot of fun at your expense and it . . . it made me upset. They didn't even seem to care about the reason why you died. They almost seemed . . . glad that you were gone." She looked away. "I never thought anyone would be like that. I was hoping that at least people would start to realize how horrible they'd acted with you and would feel bad that they hadn't been kind."
Autor sniffed. "You have a naïve and idealistic viewpoint," he said.
"Maybe I do," Freya said, "but it's much nicer to look at the world and have hope for it instead of feeling like there isn't any."
"The fall is much worse when you believe and nothing happens to fulfill it," Autor said. He opened a book, signaling that he wanted the conversation to end.
"Some people never do change, it's true," Freya agreed as she stood. "But some people do." She smiled. "So there's always reason to have hope."
Autor glanced up at her again. "I can see why Ahiru likes you," he said. "Make no mistake, I do believe in hope. But I don't believe in foolish hope that will never come to pass."
"But that kind of hope is the kind that can surprise you," Freya smiled. "You came back to life. Surely that was something that people would have said would never come to pass, at least not now."
Autor's eyes widened slightly before returning to normal. "I suppose," he said, his voice somewhat stiff.
Satisfied that she had given him something to think about, Freya stepped back. "Enjoy your books," she said.
Autor gave a curt nod. "Thank you," he said.
"I hope to see you coming to the library every day, as usual," Freya said.
"That hope," Autor said, "is one you can expect to see achieved."
Freya smiled. "Good," she said, and glided off to find the latest plant books.