It had been two and a half weeks, and Harv had seen Finnily all of twice and spoken to her all of once—not even once. It had only been half of a conversation. If such a thing existed, that run in with Finnily had been it.
It was a couple minutes after he'd escaped Warrior U; he had walked to school that morning because his mother had needed the horse for one reason or another, so he supposed he had to walk back. Not before he stopped at the teeny café and had a nice tall glace of ice water, though; the server was always kind, always giving out cold water on hot days as though she didn't want to see the warriors-to-be suffering. Harv was eternally grateful for it.
He sat at an outdoor table, facing the street and sipping his water. He had to write another paper, joy, and without Finn's held, he was in trouble. He was just considering running and catching Trevor to see if the mountainous boy could offer him any assistance when he'd casually glanced down the road and caught sight of her.
Or rather, her and her mother, walking down the street as though they owned the place (which, Harv reflected, they practically did) and he'd jumped up, knocking down his glass with a clatter. Finnly tossed over a casual glance, locked eyes with Harv and froze.
She turned slowly around back the way she came and took two deliberate steps.
"Finnily!" he yelled after an incredibly frustrating moment in which his throat wouldn't work. He vaulted over a chair and dashed across the road. "Wait—"
She ignored him, continuing stiffly the other way. Her mom had conveniently disappeared from sight.
He grabbed her upper arm, jerking her back to face him. "I—"
"What do you want, Harv?" She snapped out his name between clenched teeth. "I don't have time."
"Finn, whatever I said last week that upset you—"
Something flared in her eyes and when she yanked her arm away from him, Harv let her go. (Stupid, stupid he should have gone after her again damn it!)
Yes, though, when he thought back, that had to qualify as a half-conversation, or even less. A quarter? Really, it had only been about three sentences long in total. How long did a back and forth have to be before it was a conversation?
Anyway, the paper was due tomorrow and he didn't have a single thing written. But Finn was mad at him—he just had to let it run its course. Like last time she'd been mad at him and had been kidnapped by a certain psycho unicorn in human form while shopping—
He was worried about her; he really did not want a repeat of that episode. If she got in trouble and he wasn't there—
But, then again, she had survived fourteen years without him, hadn't she?
Yeah, said a part of his mind bitterly. With a hole through her stomach. And by staying indoors playing the harp and singing.
In short, he was miserable with worry and his grade was dropping, in classes, and would only go down further if Finnily stayed mad at him. It was idiotic, how much effect she had on his mood; Harv hated it, right now, that she could have this effect on him—still—after not speaking to her properly for nearly a month.
He just wanted things to go back to normal, damn it, but what was normal, now, anyway?
He'd tried calling her, he'd tried sending messages through Emet and through Rhodri and through to her mother. He'd even been desperate enough to try and get Hevvin to deliver his apology to her! But nothing was working. Her mother was mad at him, so when he'd showed up at their house—twice—she'd immediately kicked him away, hadn't even allowed him to step through the front door. It was almost as though she had orders not to hurt him, though—the memories of what she'd done to him before and what she'd done to others were fresh in his mind.
If any of his three brothers had noticed his change in mood, none mentioned it. Harv had caught his mom giving him worried looks, lips pressed thin, but she never said anything about it to him and he never approached the topic himself; his dad seemed to be the last to catch on, but he was the first to do anything about it.
His dad found him sitting out with the goats, stroking the oldest one on the top of its grey head. Roland settled down beside his oldest son with a grunt—"These bones just aren't what they used to be, Harvey"—and there was silence for a long drawn out minute.
Then Roland cleared his throat; "Ah, son…are you alright?"
Startled, Harv glanced up to his dad. "Yeah, fine," he said slowly.
Roland gave him a long, hard look. Harv frowned up at his father. "I think that's a lie," Declared the man, settling backwards and crossing his arms. Harv managed a snort to cover up his the unhappy expression that graced his features.
Why did dads have to know absolutely everything all the time? It wasn't fair. He wondered what it'd be like to gain that power himself, when he had his own children.
"Really," a large, calloused hand patted Harv gently on his shoulder. "You can talk to me, son."
Harv leaned his head backwards, against the wooden post of the fence and watched the clouds; his fingers made absent patterns around the goat's ears, and eventually the goat made a complaining bleat and wandered off. Eventually he gave a tired sigh. "It's Finn."
"The girl you hang out with?"
Harv made a face. "We…got into a fight," he said it hesitantly, because he didn't know if 'fight' was the right word or not. Fighting usually entailed anger on both sides, and swords—or like, in his fight with Emet, lots of rolling around and punching. None of that had gone down with Finn.
Roland was silent, waiting for Harv to continue on his own time. Eventually, Harv spilled the entire story haltingly, starting from the cloud-watching day which had gone wrong. By the end of it, Roland's eyebrows had climbed all the way upwards and had become rather smitten with his hairline.
"Quite the girl," He stated then, nodding to himself and unfolding his arms so that he could absently pat a passing goat on the back. "Well, do you plan on still becoming a knight like your dear old dad?"
"And do you plan on marrying her?"
Harv spluttered. "Well—I—that's—we—"
Roland took this as a yes, chuckling and patting Harv on the head. "At least now I know why you were acting so strange that first week you knew her," he said. "You were in love!"
"Was not!" yelped Harv. He hadn't fallen in love with her immediately, why did his dad talk like that? But all that Roland did was laugh again, as though Harv's entire situation was incredibly humorous. "Dad!"
"Could have been worse," he said as he stood, grunting. "Now go and do your chores, or Rhodri's going to get to them." Like it was a threat.
Instead of going off immediately, Harv waited until his father reached the well before burying his red-glowing face into his hands.
It was by luck that he caught up with her, just the day after that awfully awkward conversation with his dad.
Something told him this was his last chance to find out what on earth—out of everything he'd said that day—got to her so badly, to find out if he could fix it.
(Their roles were reversed, how ironic, not that Harv knew it. He'd have had to go bang his head against the first brick wall he saw, if he knew.)
Something in the glint of her eyes told him that this was his last chance. He gulped and tightened his fingers around her wrist; she didn't move. She was frozen, staring him down. Both had fallen still in running positions, but it didn't matter. Around them, the forest was next to silent.
Harv opened his mouth to say something intelligent and fitting, but all that came out was a gulping, "—um."
Finnily's expression pinched slightly, but otherwise the girl stayed still, waiting, almost poised to continue the running which had been interrupted by Harv's grabbing of her arm.
They started at the same time, and then both fell quickly silent. Harv heard Finnily's teeth clack together. Harv paused then nodded slightly to her, as if telling her to continue.
"What do you want?" She asked.
"To…apologize, for whatever I said that upset you." He narrowed his eyes and loosened his fingers on her wrist slightly, as though trusting that she wasn't about to bolt anymore. "And I think you owe me an apology, too."
She snorted. "For what? I wasn't the one that was trying to end our friendship."
Harv stared blankly, flatly at her and she faltered, just slightly, her face falling just a bit.
"I wasn't trying to end our friendship," said Harv slowly, not quite understanding what she was getting at.
There was silence between them; Harv felt incredibly awkward. Finnily was looking at him in an accusing way, like she couldn't believe that he was denying the truth (but it wasn't the truth!) He bit at his lip and glanced away, then back to Finnily. He tried to plead with her:
"Look, I'm really confused. I don't understand what I did wrong and why it upset you so much, and I don't think you understand why you upset me in the first place. Can you—can you just explain it to me?"
Something in her eyes changed and wavered; she was uncertain about something—what to say next, perhaps? Or how to tell him nicely? Harv wasn't sure if he wanted to know at all.
It wouldn't make a difference, if things took much longer.
Her lips became a thin line. Suddenly, Harv was nervous. It wouldn't make a difference, sooner or later, because this was his last chance—he knew it, in the pit of his stomach. He knew that if he didn't get some answer from her and didn't give some, right then, it wouldn't matter any more, because Finnily would walk out of his life.
His tightened his grip on her wrist once more. If he let her go, he was afraid he'd never see her again—and at this point, that was the worst possible thing that Harv could even think of.
Finnily didn't speak, and neither did Harv. Long moments passed in which Harv kept his eyes steadily on the ground and Finnily kept her lavender ones on Harv.
"I—" she said finally, causing Harv to jump. He looked up at her, eyebrows creasing with anticipation. She faltered when their eyes met, and licked her lips nervously before looking away. "I really messed up, I guess. I shouldn't have ever said anything, that day—it didn't come out how I meant it to. And then…things just went down hill."
Harv blurted out, "What do you mean?" but she kept him from saying anything further with a steady glare.
"The…last time we spoke," she said softly, muttering it. "I thought you were going to say were couldn't be friends anymore, so I ran away."
Harv gaped at her. Silence mounted for two heartbeats, and then Harv protested, "I was never going to say that!"
She glanced back at him, a look in her eyes like a frightened mouse might have. "You weren't?" she gasped out, and then quickly rearranged her features into anger. "You're just saying that!" Finnily tugged furiously to free her wrist.
"No!" he argued. "I was just trying to tell you that you were playing with my feelings—"
"I don't know how I was doing that—"
"—and I was kinda mad but I was never going to say that—"
"—because I like you, Finnily, a lot—!"
"—don't…even…what?" she blinked at him. Harv's face lit up instantly in response. He resisted the urge to look away.
"…which was why I was so upset when I thought you were playing when you…said…suggested…that one day…" he tried to form a coherent sentence.
"…oh," said Finnily.
"Yeah. Oh." Harv snorted.
"Oh." Repeated Finnily. Harv wondered what she was getting at.
Her cheeks were dusted pink.
Harv wondered what in the world he'd just done.
"I…didn't know," said Finnily carefully. "I really like you, too, Harv."
"That's not what you said to Rhod—" He cut himself off short.
Finnily's eyes went round. "You saw that?" Her expression clearly stated 'No wonder!' and Harv nodded to confirm it, hesitantly. She snorted. "You're an idiot," Finnily told him confidently. "That was a lie."
"Why would I admit to your little brother that I'm in love with you? That's…stupid…" she clapped a hand over her mouth and regarded Harv with eyebrows raised higher then should have been physically possible.
She squeaked from through her fingers. "—that was not how I wanted that to come out!"
Harv grinned shyly and slipped his hand from her wrist to her hand, twining his fingers in his. He squeezed her hand and she squeezed back after a moment."…I think we can work things out," he told her.