AN~ This is a Valentine's Day companion to TLWR, set in the middle of Chapter 92. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE LONG WINDING ROAD, THIS WILL NOT MAKE SENSE. Proceed with caution. I apologize for the ending, I got bored and just wanted to post.
Disclaimer: Psh. You think it's mine. That's a good one...
"It's Valentine's Day!" Bella told Sabrina cheerfully, depositing her things on desk next to Sabrina's at school.
"Uh-huh..." Sabrina said, not looking up from her history work.
"Sabrina." Bella leaned over Sabrina's desk, shoving her elbows onto the papers so that Sabrina had to look at her. "Valentine's Day."
"What about it?" Sabrina asked. "It's not like it means anything to me. I'm single, and we're a little past the 'everyone gives everyone else a card' phase."
"But most of the rest of us aren't single," Bella reminded her. "We're all going to want to do stuff with our significant others."
"That's nice," Sabrina said, pulling her work back out from under Bella's arms. "So go do stuff."
"That's what I want to talk to you about," Bella said, putting a hand on Sabrina's paper and standing up straighter. "We want to do stuff before it gets dark. That means we'd have to skip study group."
"So skip," Sabrina said, "You can catch up tomorrow. I seriously don't see what this has to do with me."
"Um..." Bella hedged, "By 'a bunch of us,' I pretty much mean 'all'."
"So what you're trying to tell me is that you want us to cancel," Sabrina said, finally looking up at Bella.
"Yeah, pretty much." Bella nodded. "It's just that it's... well, we're all going out to eat, 'cause most of the restaurants are having buy one get one free deals, and we barely ever get to do anything fun anymore, so..."
"Fine," Sabrina said, "I'll just sit at home by myself and be bored to death while you all go do couple things."
"Well, I've been thinking about that, actually, and I thought maybe you could meet up with Puck," Bella suggested.
Sabrina snorted. "Like that's ever gonna happen."
"No, no, listen!" Bella said, "You wouldn't have to ask him or anything, you'd just have to go to The Blue Plate Special with us after school, and we'd take care of the rest. It'd be like a complete accident, but not really."
"I have to okay it with the parents first," Sabrina pointed out.
"Already asked your mom and Granny this morning for all of us, they're cool with it," Bella said, smiling a little.
Sabrina made a face, searching for an excuse. Finding none, she sighed and said, "All right. But this will not end well."
Daphne joined them after school, too, along with Art. Bella and Wendell were there, obviously, as were Renee and Mustardseed, Peter and Jane, Tim and Alice (Sabrina hadn't seen that coming), and several others from the study group. On the way to The Blue Plate Special, they passed Toby and Natalie holding hands, on their way to Old King Cole's. Sabrina stood there awkwardly as everyone else partnered up.
Finally, it was just Sabrina and Puck, standing there alone as the others all went up to order.
"So..." she said, sidling a bit closer to him.
"Hey," Puck said at the same time, his hands in his pockets, arms locked straight so his shoulders rose to his elbows.
They both stopped, awkwardly.
"It looks like we're the only single people here." Sabrina chuckled a bit. "If I'd have known that, I'd have stayed home."
"I know, right?" Puck snorted. "But... I was thinking about that. Since we're here and all... wanna be here together? Not in a lovey-dovey awkward gross way or anything, but just to, like, I dunno, get the free food and stuff, you know?"
"Sure," Sabrina said, fingering the necklace he'd given her. Inside she was dancing up and down with glee, but on the outside she just shrugged. "Like... fake Valentines."
"Exactly." Puck nodded. "Not real Valentines, of course."
"Of course not," Sabrina agreed, walking to the back of the line. "So... what do you want to eat?"
Puck shrugged. "Food. You pick something."
"Works for me." Sabrina shrugged.
When they finally got to the front of the line, Sabrina was surprised for a minute to see that Buzzflower was taking orders instead of Briar. She blinked, then said, "Two Humpty Dumpties, please. And I'd like a Mallowbarb."
"Two Mallowbarbs, actually," Puck corrected.
"Coming right up." Buzzflower nodded, punching something into the cash register. "That'll be $15.25."
Sabrina and Puck both looked at each other expectantly.
"You want me to pay?" Puck gave Sabrina an incredulous look. "I'm a prince! And even if I weren't, it's not like this is a real date! I don't have to pay unless it is."
"I don't want you to pay," Sabrina said impatiently, "I want you to chip in half. 'Cause if I wasn't here, you'd be paying that much for half as much food. So fork over seven bucks and seventy-five cents, buddy."
Puck made a face but rummaged in his pockets, coming up with two filthy ones, a crumpled five, a pair of quarters, a dime, and three pennies. "That's all I've got." He shrugged.
Sabrina sighed but pulled out her wallet- an odd thing made of duct tape that had been a present from Uncle Jake- and, claiming the pennies and dime for herself, paid the rest of the bill.
"Where's Briar?" Puck asked, leaning on the counter to wait for their food.
"Out with that man," Buzzflower said, wrinkling her nose. "Oh, I do hope they're not getting up to anything... inappropriate."
Sabrina and Puck both blinked at her a few times and Sabrina said, "They're married."
"Which just gives him an excuse to take advantage of her!" Buzzflower said adamantly.
Thankfully, Mallowbarb came out with their food before Sabrina and Puck had a chance to respond. As soon as they'd found seats, though, they burst out laughing.
"I can't believe her." Sabrina snickered, wiping tears out of her eyes.
"I know." Puck grinned. He didn't say anything else, just set upon his food.
That was about when it got awkward, partly because Sabrina realized that this was Valentine's Day, and she was eating with Puck, and that they were the only people in the room who weren't either a couple or going to be a couple. She started eating, too, but more slowly, looking around the room.
Bella, who was heading over to the condiments bar, noticed Sabrina and grinned, giving her two thumbs up.
Sabrina gave Bella an uncomfortable lipless smile and returned the gesture.
Puck noticed and turned to look behind him, but Bella had already moved on. "What was that about?" He asked.
"Don't worry about it," Sabrina said hastily.
Puck shrugged. "All right," he said, going back to his food.
He'd finished by the time he started to talk to her again. Sabrina had put up with it, but she was kind of annoyed. She'd known this was a bad idea. They weren't like this.
"So..." Puck said, swallowing a last bite of his food and wiping his mouth off. "What do we do now?"
Sabrina shrugged. "We could go home. Or we could find everyone else and see what they're doing. Or we could go for a fly."
"Let's do that," Puck said, jumping up.
Sabrina shrugged but followed him, looking back a little apologetically at the mess they'd left on their table.
Outside it was cold and gray, the wind blowing through the bare trees. Sabrina was reminded more of November than February, even if most of the stores were decked out in pink and red. She shivered, wrapping her sweatshirt- Puck's, technically, but he'd loaned it to her years ago and still hadn't asked for it back- tighter around herself, taking off to join the fairy boy in the sky and wishing she could still control the weather.
They flew to the top of the mountain, where the wind was even worse and she almost wondered if she could touch the clouds if she stretched another few feet. Puck touched down with a loop and a toe-pointed landing, smirking at Sabrina as she landed with a thump.
"Shut it," she muttered, pulling her sweatshirt around herself again and shivering.
Puck grinned but turned to look at the town, spread out below them like a far-spread scattered set of blocks. "It looks tiny, doesn't it?"
"Yeah." Sabrina nodded. "It is, if you think about it. We've got maybe ten miles wide inside the town."
"And everything's so breakable," Puck added, "A giant could crush everything, if he wanted to."
"Not everything," Sabrina said, pointing to the oily sheen of color that surrounded their house. "Home'll stay safe."
Puck nodded silently.
The wind whistled around them.
"It's a bit beautiful, isn't it?" Sabrina asked. "I mean, down there it just looks dead, but up here... the woods looks like something gorgeous."
"Funny, I was thinking it looked hairy." Puck quirked a smile at her. "But yeah, it isn't that ugly."
"You don't like beauty, do you?" Sabrina accused. "It makes you uncomfortable."
"Maybe a little bit." Puck shrugged.
"Why?" Sabrina asked. "It's something we're all conditioned to recognize. Why can't you just admit it when you see it?"
"I dunno." Puck shrugged. "It goes against my manly grain, I guess."
Sabrina snorted. "What manliness?"
Puck drew himself up. "I'm very manly."
"Sure," Sabrina said, shivering.
Puck yanked her closer to him, pulling her by the wings, which he wrapped around her. With the combined insulation of her feathers and his body heat, she soon stopped shivering.
"See?" he said, "It takes a man to think up something like that."
Sabrina decided it was best to keep her mouth shut, in case he decided that making her be cold again would prove he was manly.
"Seriously, though," she said, "Name one thing you think is beautiful."
"You do it!" Puck snapped.
"Fine," Sabrina said, "Daphne's smile. The way my parents look at each other. Bella's hair. The sky, on those days when the clouds are just little wisps, and you think it couldn't get any bluer. Graveyards. Skyscrapers made of all glass and steel. The way people move around each other in the city, and the music of it. Your turn."
Puck blinked at her.
"You can't do it, can you?" Sabrina taunted.
Puck glared at her and took off into the sky.
Sabrina smiled a bit and shook her head, following him. He was not getting away from this question.
She bugged him the rest of the day, without getting an answer.
Once she'd caught up to him while flying:
"So... something beautiful?"
He shook his head.
"You have to know something you like to look at."
Doing their homework that evening:
"Come on, Puck, think of something beautiful!"
"Nothing is beautiful!" Puck snapped, "The entire friggin' world is ugly, especially this question! Now shut up!"
Heading for bed, she decided to give it one last try:
"Think of something you think is beautiful yet?" she asked as they headed their separate ways, him for his room and her for the stairs.
She wasn't sure, but she thought she heard him whisper, "You."