Nora had made her way outside, the day still beautiful. She was still really sad about her mom and dad, but she was starting to think that maybe things really would get better. She smiled softly up at the clouds, hugging Maggie before she began to look for a place to sit. There weren't any other kids in the yard, but she could hear playing a block down the street, so she assumed there was a playground or something over there. Still, she said she wouldn't leave the yard, so she went over to the yard's sole tree, sitting at its base.
She stared up at the pretty blue sky, wondering if her parents could see her room all the way up there. Her attention was drawn back to earth by dash of pink out of the corner of her eye. Across the street there was another kid leaving a house with, Nora guessed, was their mom. Nora's attention was focused on the kid though, a single question dominating her thoughts, '…is that a boy, or a girl?' She was honestly puzzled, because the face was kinda boyish, but also looked really soft instead of all rough. That, and there was the fact the kid had long, black hair in a ponytail, but with a clump of pink in the bangs… and he/she was wearing some weird dress/bathrobe looking thing, both of them were.
Nora stared at the girl, because she was pretty certain that it was a girl, until she turned and looked right at her. Nora let out a little 'eep', quickly using Maggie to hide her face and her light blush, hearing her mother's voice in her head saying, "Don't stare princess, not only is it rude, but it's kinda creepy." She kept Maggie hiding her face for at least a minute before lowering it, seeing that the girl and her mom were gone.
She let out a breath of relief before she heard an already familiar, unpleasant voice shout, "HEY!"
Nora let out a little shout of surprise, jumping up and holding Maggie over her head like a hammer before frowning at the source of the voice. It was Honey with her two friends, one of whom was standing behind their leader while the third was working on climbing down a rope made of sheets. Nora let out a huff, asking, "What do you want, Honey?"
Honey put on a rather unpleasant smile, paying no attention as Verty fell on her butt the last few feet, Fuschia sighing and helping her up. Instead she took a step closer to Nora, saying, "Nora, sweetie, didn't we just apologize to each other? Shouldn't we let bygones be bygones?"
Nora's eyes narrowed, gripping Maggie more firmly as she said, "I dunno, that depends on what a bygone is?"
Honey resisted the urge to mock the little girl's lack of knowledge, saying, "It just means that we should leave the past in the past, and be friends!" Nora blinked, still looking a bit wary, but she lowered Maggie some. Honey's smile got wider as she said, "In fact, I wanted to do something for you as a way of saying sorry for being so mean before."
Nora's expression became less cautious and more curious as she asked, "You… you do? What?"
Honey grinned, saying, "Well, it's probably boring just being here in the yard, so we were thinking of taking you to the park so you can really play."
Nora smiled a bit at the thought of going to a playground, but frowned some as she said, "But… Ms. Neon said she wanted me to stay in the yard."
The older girl waved a hand dismissively, saying, "She just said that because it's dangerous for a kid to walk around alone, but you wouldn't be alone with us, would you?" Nora still looked a bit unsure, so Honey went with the deal-maker, saying, "Ya know, there's an ice cream truck that drives around there fairly regularly, I'll buy you a cone, okay?"
Nora smiled a bit at that, saying, "Well… okay… yeah, that sounds fun." She lowered Maggie to her side, smiling as she thought, 'Maybe Honey really isn't that bad after all?'
Honey beamed, her voice extra sugary as she said, "That's great! Now, let's get going!" With that, she began to walk off, Nora and the other girls following after her. Nora expected to go left, in the direction of the sounds of kids playing, but instead they went right.
Nora frowned a bit, asking, "Isn't the playground the other way?"
Honey nodded, saying, "One of them is, the closer one, but it's gonna be soooo crowded over there. The one we're going to will have less kids, so you won't have to wait forever to get on the swings and all that crap."
Nora frowned a bit more, mumbling, "Bad word," as Honey said 'crap', which the older girl ignored, but she began to smile as she thought about being able to play without waiting, just running around and stuff. She was really starting to like Honey, sure that she'd misjudged the older girl.
It was a few blocks with quite a few turns and shortcuts that the other girls led her on, and Nora was starting to feel a bit uneasy again and complain about her feet, until finally she saw the playground. It wasn't that big, and it was almost empty, but it still looked nice. She grinned, Honey giving her a nudge as she said, "Go ahead and play, I just saw the Ice cream truck turn the corner. We'll run after it and get your cone, then be right back, okay?"
Nora nodded, smiling as she said, "Okay, thanks Honey!" With that, she turned and ran towards the playground, giggling in excitement, feeling happy about being able to play.
Honey grinned far too sweetly, wiggling her fingers at her as she said, "Ta ta!" Once Nora was far enough off, her smile turned into more of a smirk, the older girl turning to the other two as she said, "Gullible little twerp!" With that, the three turned and started back home, giggling wickedly.
Nora happily ran around the playground, playing with Maggie while giving the few other kids some distance, still having a lot of fun. After about ten minutes of playing, she noticed that Honey and the other two hadn't returned. She kept playing though, just figuring they were getting their own ice cream as well. Ten minutes after that and she figured they'd had to chase the truck down first, she remembered doing that with her parents if the driver wasn't paying attention.
Fifteen minutes after that, and she was swinging on the swing, hoping that it was just taking so long because they'd had to run back to the orphanage for their money. Surely they'd be coming up any minute now. Half an hour later, and she just sat there on the swings, clutching Maggie, hoping they'd be coming along any time now and confess that they'd been messing with her. She was mad, but she would deal with it. Surely they weren't just going to leave her there, right?
An hour later, she was sniffling, tears running down her face as she drew in the sand. It was three stick figures made to look like Honey and her friends. She stood up, wiping at her tears before she began to scream in anger, jumping up and down on the sand figures, stomping them into sweet oblivion. After stomping away the rest of her energy, she gave the sand a hearty kick, slipping and landing on her butt with a little cry.
Nora sat just sat there, crying and holding Maggie. By now the sun had started going down and the street lamps had turned on. She'd never been out this late, and she had no idea where she was, or how to get back to Ms. Neon. Without the abundant sunlight, the breeze coming off the lake was less cooling and more just cold.
Shuddering and crying still, she curled up, pushing her face against Maggie as she said, "D-don't worry Maggie… I… I'll keep us warm."
Nora sniffed, hugging Maggie for a moment, shaking and crying until she was interrupted by a voice, a soft, boy's one, asking, "Are you okay?"
Nora looked up, sniffling, only to see the girl from earlier… well, now she was starting to think that it was actually a boy who just happened to be wearing a dress bathrobe thingy. Up close though, his face looked more boyish. She only looked at him for a moment before sniffling, burying her face against Maggie as she nodded 'no'.
The boy frowned a bit, looking around before asking, "Are you cold?"
Again, Nora didn't answer, just cried as she nodded this time, not looking up. She heard shuffling, assuming he was walking away, only to jump a bit in surprise when she felt him sit next to her, putting one of those big sleeves around her shoulders. She sniffled, wiping at her teary eyes as she asked, "What… what are you doing?"
The boy smiled at her, saying, "I'm keeping you warm."
Nora blinked, looking into those eyes… they were pink, like that bit of hair on his bangs. She blushed a bit, looking down as she said, "I… thanks… umm, what's your name?"
The boy brought his other hand up, saying, "My name is Lie Ren."
Nora smiled, gently shaking that hand as she said, "Hi Lie, my name is Nora."
Ren blushed some, shaking his head as he said, "Uh, no, it's Ren, not Lie."
Nora raised a brow, asking, "But you said your first name is Lie?"
He shook his head, saying, "No, it doesn't work like that, not where I come from."
Nora nodded, smiling as she said, "Okay, Ren… thanks… it got all cold out of nowhere."
He nodded, hugging her closer as he said, "Yeah, it does that here… were you outside the orphanage earlier?" Nora frowned a bit, nodding, causing Ren to ask, "How did you get all the way here?"
Nora's sad expression turned to one of anger as she said, "Honey… this big bully and her stupid meanie friends! They were acting nice and brought me here, and then they ditched me! They did it a while ago, and now it's dark, and… and I don't know how to get back."
Ren frowned, knowing of the troublesome trio. They'd given him some trouble too, but he didn't let them bother him. He smiled though, saying, "Well, my mom is gonna be done in the book store soon. We can take you back there, so you don't get lost, okay?"
Nora blushed a bit, smiling as she leaned against him, saying, "Thank you, Ren.
Ren blushed a little as well, hugging her close, wanting to keep her warm as he said, "No problem, Nora." He looked down at her bunny, asking, "What's his name?"
Nora giggled a bit, pulling Maggie away from herself just enough for him to see her fully, saying, "It's a girl, not a boy. Her name is Magnhild, but I usually just call her Maggie. It's easier to say than Magnhild."
Ren smiled at that, nodding as he said, "Either way, that's a pretty name. Well, Nora, Maggie, it's very nice to meet you both."
Nora smiled, looking to him as she said, "Yeah, you too Ren… umm… are we friends now?"
Ren's widening smile caused Nora's little heart to beat faster, the pink-eyed boy nodding as he said, "Yes Nora… and I'm happy to be your friend."
Nora's face turned an even brighter shade of red as her eyes widened. She felt… oh, she felt funny! She felt like she did when she ate a whole bunch of candy, but before the tummy ache, and she had no idea what to say.
Instead of saying anything, she lifted Maggie up, aiming her little paw, and gave Ren's nose a little poke, saying, "Boop."
Ren blinked in surprise before he started to laugh, causing Nora to giggle as well, still blushing brightly. Their laughter was interrupted by the sound of a woman across the playground calling out. They both looked over and Nora recognized the woman as the same one Ren had left his house with earlier.
He smiled, standing up and offering his hand to her, saying, "That's my mom. Come on, let's get you home."
Nora smiled, reaching up and taking his hand in her own, saying, "Yeah!"
Her blush returned some as he held her hand while they both ran over to his mother, pausing at the street to look both ways, of course. When they got across the street, he smiled up at his mother and said… well, Nora had no idea what he said. He was speaking quickly in a language she didn't understand.
Ren's mother was clearly trying to get him to slow down and let her speak, which he finally did. She had a little smile on her face, speaking clearly with words Nora did understand, "Ren, what have I told you about not using a language everyone can understand?"
Ren frowned some, looking down as he said, "That it's rude," he turned to Nora, saying, "Sorry Nora."
Nora smiled, saying, "It's fine, it sounded cool."
He smiled a bit at that while his mother asked, "So, Ms. Valkyrie, you're from Ms. Neon's orphanage?"
Nora's smile faded a bit as she said, "I… yeah. I just got there today… my parents-"
Nora was cut off as Ren's mom knelt down, smiling warmly while giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze, saying, "It's fine, dear. Ren also mentioned you were left here by that Honey girl?"
At Nora's nod, Mrs. Ren's Mom, as Nora was beginning to think of her as, said, "Well, let's get you back there, and I'll be sure to have a word with Ms. Neon about this. That girl is nothing but trouble!"
Nora smiled, nodding as she said, "Thank you very much."
Mrs. Ren's Mom smiled, nodding as she stood back up, saying, "No problem at all, dear." Ren reached up and his mom took his hand, his other still holding Nora's as they began to walk down the streets, Ren giving a reassuring smile to the girl, one that she returned happily.
(Shout out to Challos on Reddit, where I'm known as Graxdon, for his mad editing skills on this chapter!)