Charlotte stared as a boy walked into her home, ushered in by her parents. He was older than her and his hair was kind of floppy, like a girl's. Why would a boy let his hair fly around like that? Her own hair was annoying, and she had it braided all the time. "Mom, why-" Her sentence was interrupted by a cough. The air scraped her throat on its way out of her body, bending her over with its force.
"Shh, it's alright, sweetie," her dad murmured, kneeling next to her and petting her hair. "We've got something to make you better."
The boy smiled tentatively at her, but didn't say anything. Charlotte would have introduced herself, it was only polite, but her dad had told her to be quite. She stared at him, waiting for him to say something.
His smile faded and he glanced away, shuffling nervously. He looked at Charlotte's mom, who was looking at a little bottle. "Mrs. Orchard, I would love to stick around, but, uh..."
Her mom spun around, lowering the bottle. "Of course, Finn dear," she replied, eyes glistening. "It's a very brave thing you did today. We'll never forget it."
Just then the door burst open and people in black clothes wielding batons flooded into their home. Charlotte whimpered and pushed herself back into the wall, and her dad stood in front of her, protecting her with his body if nothing else.
"Mrs. and Mr. Orchard, you are under arrest for breaking the rationing of medicine. Please step out into the hall and cooperate peacefully."
"How could you?" Charlotte's dad growled, throwing himself at the wide-eyed Finn. "She's a little girl. She needs that medicine and you know it. What did they offer you, huh? A little extra food? A nice job when you're of age? Whatever it was, I hope it's worth our lives, you piece of shit."
Finn stumbled back, recoiling from the assault even though the guards had stopped any physical harm. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean for this to happen, I swear. They would have locked me up, and there's someone who needs me. Th-they said Charlotte can still have the medicine, though. She'll be okay."
Charlotte didn't know what was going on, but one thing she did know was that this boy was making the people in black be mean to her parents. That was unacceptable. She charged at the woman holding her mother, her fists swinging. "Let my mom go," she screeched.
Then she was lifted off the ground, little arms swinging at air. "Kid, don't get yourself in trouble, you hear?"
She squirmed in the guards arms, concentrated solely on getting loose while her parents were being taken out of the room. Finally she managed to turn herself around and dig her teeth into the man's arm, not opening her mouth even when he dropped her with a little yelp. Blood coated mouth and was smeared on her nose, but she didn't have time to worry about it because her parents were still being taken away. She sprinted out the door, too focused to hear when the guard she had bitten called out, "Someone catch that girl, she damn near tore my arm off!"
Hands scrabbled at her, but Charlotte was small and fast. She circled legs turned corners, screaming for her parents despite the attention she was gathering from the other homes in the hallway. She slid desperately through a closing door, but when she looked up, her parents were out of sight. Charlotte slumped to the ground, wheezing.
The guards filed in behind her, passive now that she was staying still. "Hey," one man said, squatting in front of her. "I know it's hard, but if you behave it'll be easier to find you a new family, okay?"
If he was trying to be comforting, it wasn't working. Charlotte didn't want a new family, she wanted her parents back.
The man sighed as he stood. "Alright," he commanded, turning his attention back to his squad. "Someone bring this girl to the prison wing, she'll have to stay there until we find a family to take her. Make sure she gets that medicine though, her breathing doesn't sound very good. And you," The guard pointed at Finn, "don't let us catch you again. I know you were just trying to help the kid, but these rules are for a reason."
Finn nodded and scrambled off, but Charlotte was too busy seething to notice. Her body was weak right now, but once she was healthy and strong that boy would realize the mistake he made by turning in her parents. Even if it got her floated too.