Remember me? Yeah, it's been a while... I"ll try to update more frequently! Anyways, these characters don't belong to me. Happy reading!

Flynn, age 16 minus a day

My head is pounding and I feel like I'm going to puke. I don't think I've ever been so scared. I raise my first and give the door three quick knocks before standing back.

"Come in." The voice from inside the room snarls.

Swallowing my fear, I open the door and step inside. The room was stifling- a fire burning in the large fireplace even though there's only frost at nights. Ms. Maitren, seated at her large desk, doesn't look up from her work. I have no idea what she's writing on those official looking papers, but it terrifies me. I'm trying not to shift around too much but the heat is getting to me- suddenly I feel trapped.


When she says my name, I nearly jump. Partly because I haven't heard that name in more than 4 years and partly because I wasn't expecting her to sound so... Nice. I didn't think it was possible for the witch to show compassion.

I clear my throat. "It's Flynn."

That makes her look up. "Pardon me?"

I swallow, hoping that my voice won't squeak. "I go by Flynn." It does.

She gives a weak smile and takes off her spectacles. She suddenly looks so much younger. "Yes, I heard about that. The name suits you at least. But to me, in here, you are Eugene. Is that clear?" She barks the last part, the almost motherly tone gone in an instant.

I snap to attention. "Yes Ma'am." I mutter. I hate when people call me Eugene.

"Now, as you know, you're turning 16 tomorrow."

I nod. The fear washes over me in a wave.

"As such, you must leave the orphanage and find work."

I swallow; trying not to shudder at the stories some kids have come back with. The orphanage is bound by law to help all the kids who make it to 16 find work and a place to eat. It may sound flawless but there have too many times where the kids weren't making enough to survive and had to turn to darker pursuits. Lieutenant, who left last year, turned to the Grafters, the adult half of the group we worked with to deliver Lyme thistle powder. Bruiser, after coming back once to tell us he was going to do armed robbery, hasn't been heard from since.

She stands up from her desk holds up two scrolls. "As you can see, I have two different forms here. One," She shakes the one in her left hand," Says you were a wonderful child and recommends you to the Apprenticeship Union."

I gasp. That is the highest of all the honors. With an entrance letter to the Union, you are promised a job and a good one at that. I have always liked working with my hands and to work as carpenter or a stone mason for my life would almost be a dream come true.

"In my other hand, I have a letter condemning you to life as a Nobel's servant."

"What?" I whisper, horrified. "Why do you have both?"

"Because Eugene," Her voice became motherly again. Fear, different from the one I had been feeling before, runs like electricity through my arms and down my leg, setting my fingers tingling. "You have a choice. You can choose which future you want."

"There's a catch, there has to be." I blurt. I know she would never give away something for free.

"Very good." She purrs. Putting the two letters back on the desk, she comes around to stand in front of me. I can smell a light perfume, like dying flowers and the musty scent of old clothes. I try to take a step back, but she grabs my wrist.

"What do you want?" I ask slowly. I think I know, but I hope I'm wrong.

She doesn't answer, simply grabs my chin and tilts it upward slightly. I had never noticed, but she isn't as old as she looks. The creases in her face seem more caused by stress than age.

"You certainly have an appealing face Eugene." She mutters, her grip tightening.

I say nothing. I heard rumors of this, but everyone dismissed them out of sheer ridiculousness. Apparently, they weren't so impossible after all. I lock my gaze onto the paper on her desk.

"Look at me." She hisses and I know I don't have a choice. This in exchange for a life I've always wanted. It could be worse, I repeat in my head, It could be worse.

I rip my gaze off the desk and look her in the eyes. They're brown, plain and simple, shimmering with desire.

"Now," She murmurs in the softest voice I've ever heard, "Convince me you want it."

I take a shuttering breath. And go for it.

Her lips are like sandpaper, tasting like dust and the smell of dried roses. They move in unison to mine, though I barely have any pressure on them. I'm not sure how much she wants, the distance she wants to go, but I hope this is enough.

Then I hear it. The small, disappointed tsk that every kid knows here. Everyone know that if you hear it, you'd better smarten up or else. I shutter for a moment, but the desire to fulfill my dreams are too strong. I slowly raise my hand to the back of her neck and pull her in closer. I lock eyes with her and I know she won't let me leave until she's satisfied.

Do it! I scream to myself. Just do it and you'll never have to do anything like this again!

My lips crush against hers, almost against my will. I try to seem as desperate for her as she is for me. I press my tongue against her mouth and it opens to the pressure. She's missing a tooth. The fact revolts me more than it should, but I shove away the disgust and force myself to keep going.

The time until she leans back goes by fast. I just hope I can forget it just as quickly.

"Well Eugene." She's out of breath slightly and her face is flushed. "I think I'm almost convinced."

Almost. I repress a shutter. What do you want me to do? I scream in my head. I know I have done some things I'm not proud of, but this is fast becoming unbearable. It's the look in her eyes, that confidence and raging desire that is so contrary to how Ms. Maitren had always been before.

"Well?" She asks, placing her hand on my chest. "Are you going to- "

I cut her off with another kiss. Her hand slides down my front, until it's on my belt. My hands stay on her neck. The thought of putting them anywhere else paralyzes me. Her hand drops lower.

That's it. I spin us around and slam her into the door. It wasn't what I meant to do, but she gives out a moan and moves her hand. I relax and lean away.

"Alright Eugene." She gasps for air, "You'll have your apprenticeship. Now go!"

I am all too happy to oblige. Rushing out that room is the only thing on my mind, other than getting to the showers. I don't care if the water will be freezing cold, I just want to scrub off any mention of her touch.

It's not until after my lips are blue and I can't feel my fingers that I comprehend my prize. I will never have to worry about work, I won't be plagued by poverty. I will love my job and even rise to a good standing.

"It was worth it." I murmur to myself.

"Was it?" Rupunzale asked quietly.

I immediately regretted telling her this chapter of my history. There was no need for her to hear about that, though it does play into what happens next.

"No." I sighed. "Nothing really worked out, as you can see. If it had, I wouldn't be talking you right now. I'd have my own masonry, maybe even a family."

That's the part that gets me. How my life took such a drastic flip. I can't ever tell where the flip took place, which choice it was that turned me into a high profile thief instead of a skilled stone mason but I know it was around this time.

"Eugene?" She whispered and grabbed my hand, lacing her fingers into mine.

Whoa, what is she doing?

"For what it's worth, I'm glad you're here with me."

The world stopped for a sec there, I'm sure of it. A moment has never been so perfect, a girl never so beautiful, the sky so dark, as this. I gave her hand a squeeze and smile as much as I can without looking like the love-struck fool I am.

"Then that does make it worth it." I managed to only stumble once. And by the look in her eyes, she doesn't care about my stuttering. "That makes everything worth it."

Her breath hitched and I could feel her heart beat through her hand- it was going to fast, it was more of a hum. She turned away, though she didn't let go of my hand.

We were both silent for a bit. I think she was freaked out by what was happening. I still am.

"What happened after that?" Rupunzale asked. She sounded like she was about to cry.

Pick something light you idiot. I repeated the phrase in my head as I tried to find a time when my life wasn't tragic.

" Ah-ha! Got it!" I grinned and gave her hand another squeeze. "Get ready!"

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