The House of the Seventh Minuet LXX

Vietnamese: Ngôi nhà của Minuet thứ bảy

Killian seemed pleased that Stefan had found something for Larsa to burn his energy on. It’s not that he didn’t find his boyfriend’s energy refreshing or adorable; it was more that if Larsa had a lot of pent-up energy, he tended to act silly, and sometimes got into mischief. For his part, Larsa actually took the chore seriously. He and Killian sawed some of the fallen trees into more manageable pieces, and Stefan got to work chopping them down into pieces suitable for the firewood pile.

I wasn’t that much of a fan of chopping wood, so when they said they had it under control, I was content to let them focus. I located a circle of stones in about the middle of the yard, a little further away from the house but still far from the tree-line. The earth inside the circle was bare, and it had probably once been filled with ash. Having a fire pit seemed like a great way to keep the boys warm while they worked, so I started gathering up the twigs and smaller branches to get a small bonfire going. Killian brought over a bucket of water and a garden hoe so they’d be ready when it was time to put the fire out, or if it got unruly.

Once we got the fire going, Killian stayed nearby to tend it so that I could go inside and get a pitcher of lemonade and some cups for everyone. Stefan look glad for the break, and while he and the others quenched their thirst, I headed back inside to get a jacket for Stefan. When I stepped out of his room, jacket in hand, I heard chatter coming from my room and realized I’d left the window open. I had it mostly closed when I caught wind of something Stefan was saying; something that made me pause.

“Shut up, Larsa!” he’d shouted. Stefan doesn’t talk to anyone like that unless they’ve really gotten under his skin, and it was even weirder since Larsa was family and he knew his personality.

“Come on, Stefan,” Larsa went on. I saw him follow Stefan down from the deck and back to the wood-chopping stump. “This is the perfect weekend for it!”

“What part of ‘drop it’ was hard to understand?” Stefan pulled his gloves back on, hefted the axe, and put another chunk of wood in place.

Larsa stayed back a little. “The part where it’s obvious what you’re missing out on!”

Stefan brought the axe down with a grunt, but didn’t say anything else.

“Lad, we talked about this in the car,” Killian called over to him. “Leave ‘im alone and come sit with me.”

“Not until he agrees to talk to her about–”

“I told you–” Stefan all but growled. Then he switched to Swedish. “Jag säger inte ett dugg till henne, så håll käften om det!”

“Men hon måste veta! Och om du inte får hålla i henne kommer du att spricka.”

Stefan brought the axe down on another log. “Larsa, if you keep interfering, I’m going to leave.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” Larsa snapped back. “That would make her sad, and you can’t do anything that would make her sad. So you’re stuck here until she asks you to leave.”

“Larsa!” Killian called to him again.

“You should just get it over with,” Larsa went on. “You either get to spend all week making her really happy or– woah!”

Killian had gotten up and pulled Larsa into his arms. He kissed him, then dragged him by the hand to sit next to the fire.

“I’ve had enough o’ ye makin’ my friend angry,” Killian told him. “His mind is made up. Pressurin’ him isnae how we show him our support.”

“But Killian–” Larsa whined.

“Larsa,” Killian sighed, sounding a lot more disappointed than I’d ever heard him before. “Lad, I love ye, and I know ye wan’ Stefan tae be happy, but ye’re havin’ the opposite effect right now. I’m nae goin’ tae let ye keep doin’ this tae my friend.”

“But–”

“No, love. He’s my best friend, too, and if ye cannae stop the naggin’, we can go back home. He shouldnae ha’ tae be the one tae go.”

I could already imagine the puppy dog eyes Larsa was giving him.

“I love how your accent gets thicker when you’re upset,” Larsa told him.

I couldn’t hear what Killian said to him after that, as they were now murmuring softly to one another. That’s not to say that Killian hadn’t meant what he’d said about leaving if Larsa didn’t drop whatever subject he’d been going on about. It just meant that Killian had the emotional maturity to separate his irritation about that subject from his affections for the young man. Stefan, meanwhile, was chopping wood as though nothing else was more important.

That was when I closed the window and headed back downstairs. I stopped by the kitchen on my way to check on the contents of the fridge and pantry, then grabbed a pitcher of ice water to take outside and place next to the lemonade.

“Wow, you’ve gotten a lot done!” I exclaimed as I descended the steps, jacket and glass of water in hand.

Stefan set the axe down and took the glass I offered him. “Thank you,” he said once he’d drunk all of it.

“I’m not so sure you need the jacket anymore,” I said, noticing the way he was breathing hard. “You’re looking kind of flushed.”

He sighed and looked over at where Killian and Larsa sat, then over at the deck. “Yeah, I guess I should take a break. I was really on a roll there.”

He walked up the steps of the deck and was about to sit on the top one when I invited him to sit on the porch swing with me.

“Eh, I don’t want to get it all sweaty,” he said.

“Oh, Stefan!” I feigned annoyance, then fished a towel out of the storage bench to toss to him. “Now come sit with me.”

I stayed quiet and just sat with him even after he’d settled down and his breathing was more even. He seemed to be enjoying the quiet of the mountains and the crackling of the fire. It was getting to be late in the afternoon, and the sun would set fairly quickly once it was past the mountains. Then it would get cold fast; it may only be autumn, but our location made all the difference. The fire would really be useful then.

Stefan and I chatted for a while, letting Killian and Larsa have their own time together. We decided that we could eat outside and cook by campfire that evening. I wasn’t sure if there was a suitable grill in the shed, and I didn’t feel like checking, or cleaning it, or any of that. We had hot dogs and sausages, vegetables that did well on skewers, and potatoes that would cook well under the embers. There were even the right ingredients for making s’mores.

“Umm… Stefan?” I pointed over at the fire, where Larsa was kneeling over Killian, who was now lying in the grass– a safe distance from the fire, thankfully. “I don’t really mind if they continue along that trajectory, but maybe we should give them some privacy?”

Stefan got up from the swing with a grumble. “No, you don’t want to indulge him in that. Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.” I think he was trying to act like he didn’t want to laugh at them, though. “Hey, Larsa! You guys have a room for that kind of stuff!”

Larsa started giggling while trying to continue kissing Killian. Then he sat up a little. “Fine, fine. We’ll just take a quick little–“

“No, I can’t have you two wandering off on a so-called hike,” Stefan called back to them. “We’re going to make dinner a cook-out, so Leila and I are going inside to get things together. I need you two to keep that fire going and help stack up the firewood.”

“Oooh, we get to cook in the fire?” Larsa was on his feet in an instant and running over to the deck. Apparently he loved flame-broiled food; I think Kilian had mentioned how he always wanted to use the grills at the apartment complex. “Can I go wrap my fish in foil so it can cook, too?”

“No,” Stefan said as he handed him the thick leather work gloves. “I’ll do it for you, but you have to focus on getting the firewood stacked.”

Larsa looked doubtful at first, but ultimately accepted the gloves and dashed over to Killian, who’d already gotten up to put on another pair of work gloves. Satisfied that they would help with the firewood and not devolve into making out on the grass again– not unless the task was complete, that is– Stefan headed inside. I followed him to the kitchen, and together we washed potatoes and skewered vegetables, talking about how life was going and making plans for a week of fun and friendship.

About Legends of Lorata

Eleanor Willow is the author of the high fantasy series Legends of Lorata, which takes place on a medieval-style world filled with elves, dragons, and faeries. There is also a fourth race, one that is rare and magical: the angelic Starr. Lorata is a distant planet watched over by four deities: good, evil, elemental, and celestial-- and there are plenty of legends about them all! One of the most important ones is the prophecy of Jenh's champion, Loracaz, who is promised to return to the realm whenever evil threatens to take hold. There are currently three books completed, and the first one can be read online. Book four is currently being written, and a fifth will most likely be in the future.
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