Everybody's heard his name. Even Meissa Ralph, the awkward nobody who's never done anything notable.
"Foster texted me last night!" she'd heard one girl bragging in the bathroom, before Meissa opened the stall door and they shut up. She only used his first name, but everyone knew who she was talking about. Nonetheless, as Meissa left the bathroom she heard one of the other girls go- "Foster Adaunt? The Sun boy?"
As if she knew multiple boys named Foster.
Fortunately for Meissa, Foster had never looked her direction, let alone took her to bed, as he seemed to have done with most of the school. She didn't even know how averse to the idea of being with the renowned asshole she'd be, and that's what scared her the most.
Unfortunately for Meissa, he's actually smart- must've finally been coersced into the higher classes, for now he sat in the back of her English class.
In her seat.
It was the seat all the way in the back, halfway between the window and the door. And it was perfect. It was everything. And now this prick sat in it, despite there being empty chairs on either side.
"You're in my seat," She stood at the desk, crossing her arms and scowling. He had his legs on the top, shiny shoes dangling off the edge as he leaned back casually on the chair, tossing a little ball of light from hand to hand. He looked at her, surprised, then looked down, surveying her.
"And you're not wearing shoes."
No. Of course she wasn't.
"So? Could you move?"
His eyebrows raised, disappearing into a nest of tightly wound curls. He was hot. No pun intended. he threw the little ball of light back into his palm and it disappeared. She kept staring.
"I'm sorry, who are you?" He asked, still not moving. the other students had begun filing in. a few threw disapproving glances when they saw Foster, and looks of surprise, and even resignment when they saw Meissa. She tried not to think about it.
"None of your business. You've plenty of other seats, and I've sat here the whole year. I would like to continue sitting here," Meissa softened, hoping that she wasn't being too confrontational. "Please?"
"I don't know. I quite like it here."
Meissa frowned. Okay, forget being nice. She really wanted to sit there, and this boy was being an ass.
"I'm gonna kick you." She pouted, not really knowing what to say.
At this is eyes widened in mock terror. She rolled her eyes.
"Oh, well, in that case..." He laughed, but tapered off when he saw her serious expression.
"Fine. How about you tell me your name, and I'll move."
"You don't need to know my name."
Too many had made fun of her already.
"Meissa Faunch, I know you're excited to meet our new student, but please sit down!" Her English teacher snapped from the front of the classroom. The bell rang the moment she started.
She huffed, shooting a murderous glare at the infuriating boy. His stupid brows were raised once again, this time in triumph. Whatever, she thought. She'll just get here extra early tomorrow. She would've stomped to the seat in the back, closest to the window, if not for the cold tiling they had on the floor. Her bare feet wouldn't do too much stomping.
She had fought to break dress code. You wanted to force her inside- you're gonna shove her massive, calloused feet into shoes, too? And socks? No way. At least her pants- well, shorts really, at this point- reached her knees. Wearing such short skirts would be a crime with her curves.
She didn't really have an ability- Meissa was chosen by the natural spirits as their little plaything, and through them, she had a sort of magic. Where as most would fear a storm, she'd never needed to. If Mother Nature wanted to punish Man, her adopted daughter would run safe among the destruction.
None of that was any of Foster Adaunt's business. And for some reason that was really hard for him to understand.
As soon as their teacher released them to work on their journalism projects, Foster got up, swinging his shoes off of her desk and sauntering over, like a stag with horns to heavy for its head.
"So, Miss Faunch-,"
"Don't talk to me." she muttered, scribbling notes in the margins of the article she was reading.
"Oh well- my apology, Miss Faunch."
She could feel him staring at her as she scribbled, his golden eyes burning a hole in the side of her head.
"Miss Faunch, you've got something in your hair-," He half stood, reaching to tug something out of her mane.
"What the hell?" Meissa jerked back, slapping his hand away. He froze, half standing, bemused expression on his face.
"I'm sorry, was that a family member of yours?"
One of the kids in the row in front of them heard, sniggering.
"No, Mr. Adaunt, that was a twig. Welcome to Honors English." She shot back.
"You know my name," he smirked.
"Hard not to when you've screwed half the school."
At this the kid who'd laughed earlier dropped his pen, and the kid beside him turned around to see the show. Meissa stared hard at him until he turned away. Didn't take long.
"Not quite half," His smirk didn't leave, and she heard him lean back in his seat, propping his feet back on the table.
The leaves in the tree outside the window jittered as the breeze dance through them.
"Shut up," she mumbled, and it danced even harder before prancing away.
"I'm sorry, did you say something?" He quipped. How daft did this guy have to be?
"Not to you," She mumbled, because apparently he had good hearing.
"Oh. were you-," he stifled a laugh, "Were you talking to a tree?"
She didn't answer. She'd been through this all of her life. She shouldn't have been in this damned school, but the wind led her here, opening the locked doors. And as teachers were preparing for the coming year, and she chased butterflies right into their office. They decided that the small child must have some magic, no family, and accepted her immediately.
She still fights with the wind about it.
"Okay, Miss. can I go home with you after school? I really need help with this assignment."
She rolled her eyes. "You're not funny, assho-,"
"Mr. Adaunt, I think that's a lovely idea. Meissa, you'll be welcoming to our new student?" Their English teacher piped up, conveniently.
"Thank you, Professor Wilkerson!" Foster beamed, almost glowing.
The school bell rang as he hopped up from his seat, and Meissa slumped in her seat, glowering at the boy's head as he pranced out of the room.
School ended, fiinally. Foster slid through his classes with ease, as usual, but this time there was nobody to talk to. Now that school had ended, he had many people to talk to.
"OMG, Foster, today was soooo boring without you!" Kristie believed that because she was a water nymph, and he was a Sun Child, they were like, destined to be together, or something. But Foster just saw her as some sort of leech.
As she chattered on with some of the other kids in their friend group, Foster zoned out, catching sight of Mateo.
Foster found most people in Hildegard entertaining, but so far, Mateo had been his favorite. The boy was slightly telepathic, wore polo shirts, and always styled his hair perfectly.
Foster knew that the boy could hear him thinking about him, and he continued to stare. Mateo ignored him.
You know you love me, Foster thought loudly in Mateo's direction as he passed, leading his little group of chattering friends out into the sunny afternoon of Hildegard.
Hildegard was a boring little town, and Foster couldn't wait to get out. The only thing keeping him here was his age... and his magic.
Hildegard was the last village on Earth where magic could run free- the most forgotten place. The safest place. And if he left, he'd have to give up his little light, and the memory of Hildegard, for forever.
So the cobblestone streets and the looming forests would have to do, for now.
"I was thinking we could all go to the movie in the park? I heard it's some old 80's movie," Kristie bumped into one of the guys playfully.
"Nah Kristie, I got rehearsal. You know this," He sighed. Foster's best friend, Keenan, had one of the worst diseases Foster could imagine- he was a theater kid.
"Oh no! First Gus and Kayla, now you? looks like it'll be just you and me, Foster," Kristie peered at him from behind her silky curls. She was pretty, and Foster hooked up with her enough times to know that he wouldn't get to watch most of the movie. But most of his hookups left him alone after.
Lucky, lucky Foster then he spied his escape. His savior, really, slinking out of the castle-turned-school.
"Actually, Kristie, looks like it's just you- I got tutoring," He stopped, gesturing apologetically as Kristie shot him a look.
"Tutoring? With who?" Instantly jealous. God, he felt good.
"Miss Faunch," he pointed a thumb at the girl, who shouldered her way around a group of very loud werewolves.
"Meissa Faunch? You're getting tutored by the troll girl?" Kristie looked disgusted. Foster was getting closer and closer to freedom, he could feel it. He began backpedalling away from her, grinning as he felt his escape working.
"Is that what she is?" He quipped giddily. He turned, following Meissa, who'd barely managed to make it through the wolf pack, leaving Kristie and the Academy behind.
"Miss Faunch!" He called after her, making it to the dirt path. As they grew ever so slightly farther from the cobblestones, the breeze picked up, rifling his curls and exposing his forehead. "Miss Faunch you almost forgot me!"
She stopped in her tracks, then turned on her heel, which had to hurt. Maybe not those calloused feet, but whatever.
"For the last time, it's Meissa, and you possibly can't be serious," She scowled at him. She was probably a head shorter than he was, and her legs about a head wider. He was beginning to see the troll.
"I need tutoring, Miss Faunch," he shrugged, and grinned. He wished for a second that he had Mateo's telepathy so he could figure out why she could possibly hate him so much. I mean, everybody loved Foster Adaunt. Until he broke their heart. Then they hated that they loved him.
"Fine the I guess we'll just-," She'd begun to stalk back towards the school when she stopped abruptly, an Idea interrupting the scowl on her face. The wind picked up, blowing her tangled hair around. If he reached out, he might even be able to catch some of it in his fingers.
He almost did, too, when suddenly Meissa grinned.
"Okay then, sure. You can come to my house." She peered at him slyly before turning and walking back towards the forest.
Foster was ever-so-slightly frightened by her grin, but he would never admit that to anyone. Instead, he let his curiousity guide him toward her, and he followed just a pace behind, into the woods.
If Nature was her mother, than the wind was her babysitter. And it was very excited about Foster. Unlike Meissa.
She didn't know what she did to deserve his torment, but there he was, strutting a pace behind her like a prince entering a court.
But he wasn't entering court. He would soon be entering Vergessene forest.
The moment he recignized the boundary line, his steps faltered. Most in Hildegard feared the forest- well, most feared the druids, and the Druids wouldn't go near Vergessene. Good for the forest, and good for Meissa. She didn't bother to hide her smile as she leaped over the fallen tree that ended Hildegard's path.
"You don't-," Foster frowned, his uniform sloppily hanging untucked, "You can't possibly live in there."
Meissa shrugged, the wind blowing her hair around. Now that she was home, it began its ritual of untangling her mess. She liked the way the breeze felt, playing through her hair, the locks falling gently around her face once they'd been preened.
Foster stared incredulously at the girl glancing back at the school house. Meissa just shrugged and turned, dumping her schoolbag on the ground, pulling off her jacket.
Once she was free, Meissa began to job, hoping to find Tawna, or Sage, maybe Beorn. Any of the wolves. She might go swimming later, in this weather-
"Whoa!" she shouted, as the wind took her feet from underneath her. She flipped, almost hitting the floor before the wind caught her, throwing her back towards the tree where Foster sat.
"What the heck!" she shouted at the wind, as it danced through the laughing leaves.
"What was that?" Foster remarked from his spot on the tree, sounding almost impressed.
"It was nothing." Meissa grumbled, standing up and brushig the dirt off her butt. "It's not my fault your too scared to come in the forest."
No. It wasn't her fault. But maybe she'd help keep it that way.
"Scared?" Foster scoffed, slding down from the tree, landing of Veressene ground for the frst time. "Who said I was scared?"
Meissa rolled her eyes at his stupid ego, but she had to admit, she was impressed.
"My mistake," she shrugged. "So you'll be able to make it to the lagoon?"
She watched his face as he tried to imagine a lagoon, or where it might be, before he responded.
"Yeah, why not?"
She knew the forest would make it easy for him to get to the lagoon, as it usually only did for Meissa. She would tell them later that he wasn't a friend, and that they should banish him as they would any other person.
"So... do you live in, like, a tree house? maybe a cave? Do you have parents?" The boy continued to pry as he scrambled over fallen trees and little streams.
She didn't respond.
"You know, if you don't like me, you don't have to keep doing that." He grumbled, walking under a branch the wind had blown out of the way for him.
"Doing what?"Meissa frowned, jumping over stones that quickly dried and aligned for Foster's arrival.
"That," He gestured at the rocks, which sat in a perfect, stable line beneath his feet.
"Oh," Meissa frowned. "That's not me."
"Yeah, right. then what's your ability? what's your thing?"
"My thing?" Meissa couldn't help but be amused. The birds were watching the new boy curiously from the branches, and she could sense the wolves drawing nearer.
"Yeah," he went to pull a twing from his hair, but the breeze tugged it out before he could. He stuck out his lip, clearly frustrated by the wind's excitement. Meissa nearly laughed.
"I don't have an ability. And I don't have a thing. I'm completely human." It was the truth, but Foster clearly wasn't satisfied. He let out a huff of angry air, and didn't press the subject, shouldering his bag.
"Okay, here we are. set your bag down over there, and we can start." She pointed to the platform boulder lying on the side of the lagoon, the tamest of the rocks in the alcove. It wasn't really a lagoon, just a still pool of water at the bottom of a waterfall. It fed most of the rivers in Hildegard. And it was Meissa's favorite place in the forest. The wind tugged at her hair, at her clothes.
"Oh, are you... hungry?"
Foster considered it, without hiding the disgust on his face at the thought of what she might eat.
"Um, no. Thanks," He tottered awkwardly on the rocks, climbing towards the platform she'd pointed to.
Meissa looked back towards the forest, where she cought a glimpse of Sage, peering out at her from the shadows.
It's okay, she shrugged, giving him a reassuring smile, and rolling her eyes. she turned, eaping from rock to rock to get to the platform. Her feet found the spots where she'd pounded the rock smooth, flattened moss marking their place. She'd have jumped into the lagoon already, if it weren't for the boy she had to babysit.
"So, what exactly are you... what are you doing?" Foster had tossed his bag to the side, precariously close to the river. he'd pulled off his shoes and lay back, stretching out in the sun.
"What? I'm a Child of the Sun. I can't enjoy it a bit?"
She huffed, rolling her eyes. It was just like the chair. Why was he so stubborn about the stupidest things?
In truth, he was glowing. The sun reflected off of his skin, and brought out the unusual blonde accents in his hair. He'd relaxed plenty since their entrance into Vergessene. Meissa didn't know how she felt about that.
"Um, Foster?" she asked quietly, but the boy didn't respond.
Of course he fell asleep.
She turned, addressing the wind and the water.
"Protect him, will you?" the water bristled, but the wind danced before her, curiously.
Because this was the most popular kid in all of Hildegard, that's why. But that's not the answer the breeze was looking for, and the wind wouldn't care anyway. Instead of answering, she turned, hopping out of the lagoon and galloping into the forest.
Foster woke up slowly.
At first, he was aware of how cool it was outside. He liked it warm, of course, but he knew better than anyone that the heat could be brutal.
Then he was aware of the sound of rushing water. That must be why it's cool. That and the breeze. It was certainly peaceful here. He should come back. Where was he again? Oh, right. Vergessene.
"What time is it?" he whined, his eyes still closed. When he didn't recieve a response, he groaned loudly, rolling on his side.
Which, consequently, landed him in a pool of ice-cold water.
Now Foster Adaunt was awake.
He spluttered, kicking to get back to the surface, but it wasn't any use. Before he knew it, the water took him in a hug and he was flying through the air, dumped back on the flat rock he'd began on.
It took him a minute to react. I mean, the water had grabbed him. And put him on a rock.
"Miss!?" he yelled. No response.
He was alone. In Vergessene Forest.
Why did he follow the troll girl into Vergessene Forest?
Foster felt a sudden gust of wind in his face. The darn wind wouldn't leave him alone here, and while Meissa wouldn't admit that she had the power of wind, Foster wasn't stupid. Which meant she was probably hiding somewhere, watching him, and laughing.
Foster hit the wind, which in hindsight, was very un-productive, and leaped to his feet. A siple shrug of his shoulders and the fire in his veins leapt with him, blasting the chill of the water away.
"Meissa! I think I get the concep now! I-I've gotta get home before my brother gets mad- schoolnight and all," He yelled, to absolutely no one.
Again he got no response. He wished he'd never spoken to that cursed Faunch girl. What was a fun little joke before was now suddenly not so funny. Not to him.
The Sun had set not long ago, and while Foster obviously didn't need the Sun, he felt a whole lot better when it was here.
"Oh, c'mon! You got my bag wet!" he groaned, grabbing his sopping backpack. he hugged it close to dry it off, but stuck his tongue out at the water. It just felt right.
To his shock, the water laughed back.
Dont be stupid, he chided himself, A stick or something just fell in. The water can't laugh at you.
Suddenly, his memory decided it was the perfect time to remind him of all the people who went missing in Vergessene. All the stories, all the whispers...
His bag dry (but the papers inside undoubtedly ruined) he threw it over his shoulders and started climbing. First he'd make it to the forest. Then he'd try to find his way out from there. Hopefully, if the troll girl saw him going the wrong way, she'll come out of hiding and help him. She probably won't let him die.
"And I coulda been screwing Kristie," he grumbled, hopping to another rock. "Watching some 80's movie in the park." He grabbed onto another rock to pull himself onto land.
"Ow, Shit!" He swore, falling back onto the rock beneath him. He'd sliced his hand open, his very hot blood now running down his arm.
he cringed, immediately putting his mouth on the wound, cause that was logical.
He heard the water hitting the rock he was standing on quite noisily. Turning, he saw long bands of seaweed lying there. For... him?
Why on Earth would a random lake in the middle of Vergessene care for a Sun child?
"Uh... Thanks?" he picked up the seaweed. It was dry. He began wrapping it around his hand, but the wind helped, swirling around his palm in a little tornado as he tried not to freak out. The water leapt up and clung, sealing the little bandage in place.
Of course. Everybody and, well, everything loved Foster Adaunt.
He scrambled onto the rock, and climbed carefully the rest of the way, finally making it onto actual dirt. The forest was already dark, and mist had begun to gather, clinging to the trunks of trees and blades of grass. stretching out his palm, Foster felt the tingle of the sun i his veins and focused it- suddenly, there was light.
Just a little glowing orb, very gentle looking. It looked almost as though if you poked it, it would bounce off of your finger, and if you tore it open, it'd look like jello.
Foster knew though, that if you poked it, or tore it open, it'd burst into flames.
He dropped his arm, letting it hover just over his shoulder. he couldn't see much in the ever darkening forest, the golden light only illuminated but a few feet ahead of him.
And Foster Adaunt was lost.
"Um, wind? I-uh, could you show me-," But the wind was already on it. The little glowing orb was suddenly taken from his hold over the shoulder, and it flew through the woods, a bit slowly, tossed to and fro by the breeze.
"Wait-," He stuttered, but without a choice, he followed the little ball of light, stumbling blindly into the Forgotten Forest of Hildegard.
Meissa hadn't forgotten about Foster, she just wanted to let him sleep longer, that's all. Plus, she needed to find something to eat.
At least, that's what she told herself.
She sprinted through the forest, launching herself off of boulders and vaulting over dead trees. She wasn't as fast as the wolves, but she wasn't about to ask them to take her to a human.
She just hoped she'd get to Foster before they did.
The wind was at her back, dancing along for the ride. Not her wind. That particular breeze was hopefully still watching over Foster.
I swear, if I killed Foster Adaunt...
She dove off of the cliff, falling with the water as she plunged headfirst into the lagoon.
Swimming to the plateau, the spirits of the lake sensed her urgency, propelling her foward and launching her into the air. She landed on the plateau, crouching slightly to keep her balance.
The rock was empty.
"Foster!?" She called, swearing. The most popular boy in all of Hildegard was now stumbling around the forest somewhere, with nothing but the wind to keep him safe.
And this boy had fire.
She leapt on the rocks and flew through the forest, calling out his name. She was so distracted, she almost didn't see the little cardinal plop down in her path.
The mist was heavy, and only the cardinal's red crest poked above the ever growing fog. It seemed to realize this and it fluttered up, flapping in her face.
"You saw a boy? One like me? I need to find him."
She hated comparing herself to Foster Adaunt, but she had very little choice. She just hoped she'd stop him before he got mauled, or worse, he set the forest a flame.
the bird fluttered, soaring dwn the path. Meissa's eyes were adjusted to the dark by now, but it was still hard to see the little red bird. She did her best to keep up, running after the little bird.
Foster heard her before he saw her. Turning, he saw her leap into the clearing just in time to put up his hands to brace himself for impact.
"Crap-," she swore as she collided with him, knocking the both of them to the floor.
His back skidded against the ground, his spine aching. Shit. She scrambled to her feet before the weight of her body could fully sink in, but he felt her crouch back down, leaning over him.
"Are you alright?" She asked. He winced in pain, but nodded.
"Oh good. Then what in Hildegard are you doing out here!?" she swore, standing. "I swear to- Foster Adaunt I'm gonna kick you!"
Kick him? What did he do!?
"Me?" he scrambled up on to his feet, towering over the girl. He couldn't see much, but what he did see- it wasn't really what he was expecting.
"Me!? You left me in stinkin' Vergessene! Alone!"
He felt a dull pain in his calf, where, true to her word, she'd kicked him.
"Don't blame this on me! You followed me in here and for some reason, they let you in!" the girl whirled, her hair brushing his arm. She gestured the darkness, then yelled again. "Where were you even leading him, anyway!?" she shouted, to no one.
No one Foster could see.
"Who are you-," But he changed his mind, deciding he didn't want to know. "You know what? Nevermind. Just lead me out, and I'll never bother you again. Deal?"
The girl turned back to him, her features outlined by his rbs little light, which had come back to float by them.
"Deal! But- no fire." She added, almost as a warning.
What did the sun in his veins have to do with anything?
She turned and stomped off, straight into the bushes to their left. Irritated, Foster followed.
Eventually, after much tripping and swearing on his part, Meissa and Foster had made it to some other path, covered knee-high in fog. It was pitch black at this point- even with three of his orbs he could barely see Meissa walking just ahead of him.
She was still same old Meissa, just, different. She walked confidently, head tall, shoulders back. She looked up- as though she belonged there. The wind still played in her hair, pulling her tangles apart and throwing them around her face. It would've anoyed Foster to no end, but Meissa barely seemed to notice.
Suddenly, she snorted, her shoulders jumping with the acio. It startled Foster, and he looked somewhere else.
Realizing that was stupid, he looked back ot Meissa.
"What?" He asked.
"Oh, nothing- it's just... they're jealous."
He frowned. Who was this they she kept referring to? Guess that's what happens when you live alone all your life.
"Who's jealous?" He pressed, hoping for the mystery reveal. He didn't have to ask why- he was Foster Adaunt.
Meissa nodded, gesturing at the trees around them.
Foster squinted, but he still couldn't see anything.
"I don't see anything," he informed her, having come to the conclusion.
"Put out a light or two- you only see the stars when the sun's away, you know," She pointed out.
Foster was taken aback. Clearly he'd never thought of it that way before.
As it often does, curiousity overcame his pride and he let two of his orbs fizzle out, careful to avoid flame, for whatever reason.
And then he could see them.
Rising out of the fog and darting between dark leaves, hundreds of lightning bugs sparkled in the forest around them, setting Vergessene aglow in an eerie light.
"Well of course they were jealous," he quipped, but there wasn't much enthusiasm in the insult. His jaw was still slack with wonder as he gazed at the treetops.
The spell was broken when he tripped over a stray root.
"Shit!" he cursed, falling forward, onto Meissa. She stumbled slightly, laughing, but regained her footing, waiting for Foster to right himself.
Foster stood quickly, embarassed. He was Foster Adaunt, the Sun child, the one everyone wanted- and to Meissa, he was beginning to look like a fool.
He felt his eyes flash, something that was super hot during sex, but embarassing elsewhere. He shook his head and ran a hand through his hair, fingers getting tangled in the curls that had apparently frizzed up during his journey into Vergessene.
"you okay?" she checked. God, Meissa Faunch was looking at him with concern.
"Yeah," It sounded salty, even to Foster's ears. "I just wanna get out of here."
She nodded, turning back towards the path. They were silent after that. eventually, the fireflies drifted away, and he relit a few orbs. and then, all at once, they were out of Vergessene.
Foster felt about 80 pounds lighter the moment they stepped foot outside of the treeline, the stars shining overhead. The moon shown brightly over the lit houses of Hildegard, and somewhere behind them, a wolf let loose a howl, to which he recieved a response.
"Thanks," Foster almost spat, turning to Meissa.
But the girl, with the wind in her hair, had gone.