Disclaimer:Don't own anything.

Author's Note: Gonna go see Blue Man Group tomorrow for a work thing. I've heard it's a damn good show, so I'm kind of excited. Turning nineteen in two weeks and I'm nearly done with ACIII.

The first book in my brother and I's original alternate history/fantasy series is up on authonomy. I would appreciate it if you guys would head over there, take a look.

authonomy / books / 47917 / sanctum - files - the - dragon - scroll /

"Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes to make it possible."
-TH Lawrence

Phillipa grew up with ghosts.

Well, ghosts and her little brother James, but sometimes, she wondered if he even remembered the few years after maman died. If he remembered their mother at all.

She remembered the years that she lived with her grandparents—both sets of them, though mostly it was maman's. Dad's dad was still sick and his mom was…different—and she remembered Uncle Arthur.

Uncle Arthur who always dressed in neat clothes, who listened to old rock n' roll on the radio and who couldn't cook. Seriously. He had difficulty putting together things more complicated than a sandwich or anything that came out of a box or can. But he tried.

Uncle Arthur who was the only one in the family who read as much as she did—even more than Uncle Eames—and who would take her out to lunch sometimes, just the two of them, and they would talk about their latest reads and their favorite books and did you hear about that new series? before they went to the library or the bookstore. (Uncle Arthur believes in bookstores more than he does libraries. He likes the ownership of books, likes to write notes in the margins on his thoughts and likes to keep his books organized every way but alphabetically)

Uncle Eames was something very different. He liked to scoop them up in hugs, even when they insisted they were too old for such things. He made the best beef stew and sometimes, they managed to convince him to have dessert before dinner. (Those days are usually the few that he and Uncle Arthur aren't both in the house because Uncle Arthur is a man who believes in eating things in the proper order)

He taught Phillipa to dance, waltzing a little clumsily through the living room, all the furniture pushed to the sides and a cassette tape of classical music playing.

(It isn't until she goes to school that she learns that no one has cassettes anymore and even CDs are starting to fade and she thinks of her maman's old record player that she learned how to use before she learned how to turn on a TV)

Of course, she didn't know anything real about her uncles. She didn't know where they were from, though she could guess about Uncle Eames. Uncle Arthur was harder though. There was no accent in his voice, nothing to tell her about where he was born, who taught him to speak. But she did hear him say one word on occasion—pop instead of soda or Coke—and that gave her a smaller area to work with.

(Once, she mentions it to Uncle Eames while she's sitting in the kitchen. Uncle Arthur is helping James with his math homework—and she laughs when she sees that her uncle doesn't like math any more than they do. Her uncle—who isn't really her uncle, she knows this—turns from the stove and blinks at her for a moment before the corner of his lip turns up in a smirk-smile. Years later, she will think that her real education came from her uncles, who taught her to be observant and read people and to think outside the box)

She could guess about the dog tags that she saw slip out from the collar of Uncle Arthur's shirt once. She could speculate on their silences about their work—she doubted they were actual lawyers. She didn't know the stories behind the tattoos on Uncle Eames' shoulders, the ones that crept down his chest a bit and spilled towards his shoulder blades.

She didn't know about how they met her parents. She knew that her maman loved them though, that they were her mother's brothers. She remembered, vaguely, about Uncle Eames and her in the kitchen, arguing over what should go in the stew and how Uncle Arthur always seemed to be smiling around her.

She didn't know about the silver briefcase they always brought with them. She saw it in the rental car, saw it by the door, by their bedsides. She tried to get it open once or twice but there was a combination look on it that she never found the combination for.

But they were her uncles, for better or worse, and she loved them. She loved that, sometimes, when her dad called from wherever he was working those years after maman died, that sometimes, Arthur would take the phone a little bit afterwards and talk to them, make them laugh and listen about school.

Phillipa had a wall of postcards from Uncle Eames. The pictures were always bright and exotic and beautiful and she had a map of the world with push pins in the places on those postcards, places that she wanted to go. When Uncle Eames saw the map, he kissed the top of her head and told her that, when she finished high school, he would take her.

(She never knows about the little girl that she reminds Eames of, the little girl with his eyes and his talent. She never knows that she reminds Arthur of a little sister, intelligent and sweet, that he hasn't seen in years. She never knows any of that, but she loves them)

Her dad was more of a ghost than either of her uncles. In her memories and in old photos, he was a smiling man, laughing and looking absolutely in love with his wife.

This was not the man she grew up with. The man she remembered and knew had shadows in eyes that were too old for a young face. (The first time she mentions that to Uncle Arthur, he stiffens and doesn't look at her. It's as good as a confirmation) He loved them, she had no doubt of that, but there was a part of his spirit gone.

Sometimes, she found him sitting at the kitchen table in the mornings, spinning a little bronze top and just watching it.

She sat beside him those times, folding her arms on the table and resting her chin on them. She didn't say anything, just watched.

"I could teach you," he said once, almost to himself. "How to do it. You'd be good at it, I think."

Phillipa didn't know what he was talking about, but she had a feeling it had something to do with the silver briefcase. "You could. There's a whole two weeks 'til I start summer camp."

There was a moment's indecision before he shook his head and closed his hand around the top. Something in him looked horribly, infinitely sad and yet with a strange measure of fondness. "No. No, it wouldn't be worth it."

The look on his face made her want to shrink into her blankets, eyes stinging with tears like she had when she was little and she wasn't sure if she was sad for her dad or for the things he would never tell her.