Beauty sat bathing by a spring,
Where fairest shades did hide her;
The winds blew calm, the birds did sing,
The cool streams ran beside her.
My wanton thoughts enticed mine eye
an exert from “A Beauty sat Bathing by a Spring” by Anonymous (1600)
The house was filled with it's usual scent of boiled chicken in a bland broth, which Jizabel liked to call Chicken Soup. Noriko rubbed her eyes and yawned. It would be tough on them all now that she would only be receiving half of what she had been previously. Spices were hard enough to get in Kryona, especially for peasants. Often enough, the shopkeepers felt the need to raise the price on those they loathed. Reluctantly she clambered out of her dismal little bed and heaved herself into the kitchen. Jizabel was dishing up the “soup” , Elizerain was chasing after Jasper who had stolen her make-shift doll, and Hazel was sitting quietly on the rug fiddling with a puzzle Jizabel had brought for him. Things were peaceful, strangely peaceful. She wandered over to the kitchen table and nearly fell over a chair in her zombie-like state while attempting to sit down.
“Hey Jizabel...?” she glanced up at him shyly. Jizabel looked at her with a confused expression, but in his mind he kept picturing her at the masquerade and resisted with all his might not to smile.
“I...” Nori sighed, “Thanks. For earlier.” Jizabel smiled and let out a small chuckle, “No problem.”
Dinner was peaceful, Rain spilled her cup of milk which splattered all over Hazel, starting an argument. Jasper decided to jump in and started a food fight with the bread. With much laughter the children (and Jizabel) all destroyed the gloriously clean kitchen, replacing it with a new coating of soggy bread and chicken. Afterwards, the children all went off to bathe and Jizabel began cleaning the kitchen.
Jizabel smiled to himself as he mopped up the floor. There goes a beautiful dinner. Speaking of beautiful things, where on earth was Noriko? Come to think of it, he hadn't seen her since the fight started. Puzzled, Jizabel set down the mop and began his search.
Jizabel had searched every nook and cranny in the house and the yard. Noriko was nowhere to be found. Slightly frantic, he told Hazel to watch his siblings as Jizabel ran out the door.
“Noriko! Where are you?! Nori!” He yelled as he ran through the field behind the house. There was only one place he could think of that she could possibly be. As he ran on and on, the dark patch of trees came into view. It was a little forest that they used to hide in as children. It was beautiful and intricate, but at night could be a death-trap for someone as clumsy as Noriko.
As he entered the forest, he could remember so clearly the day they had met...
It was a cold winter's day, if I remember correctly, it was around noon. I had run from my parent's scolding, into the glorious sanctuary of woodland creatures and greenery. My face had gotten dirty as it so often had, and I only smeared it more trying to wipe away my own foolish tears. As I descended the steep slope in the middle of the woods, the very closest thing to a heaven on earth had appeared before my eyes. I was very used to seeing the little waterfalls that streamed into the pond. The pond was so clear that you could see the roots of the giant trees that had created it growing at the bottom. The sun shone in rays on the moss that the streams had eroded in places to create the waterfalls. It was a very familiar sight to me, indeed. My hide out. Although I had always thought of it as a “heaven on earth” I had never expected to see the stunning angel who was dipping her feet into the pond that day. She had long, wild, tangly auburn hair that shimmered in the sun with all the colors of the rainbow and more. Her skin so fair, and the look on her face so gentle, she really could have been mistaken for an angel, if it weren't for the rags she wore. Entranced by her, I sneaked down to the waterfalls and watched her for a full minute before I got up the nerve to speak.
“Hey, are you an angel or something?” I had asked earnestly. She jerked her head up, startled.
“N-no...M-My name is Noriko. Noriko F-Fukumori...Is this your pond...?” Her voice was like the sweet nectar my mother put out for the hummingbirds turned into a sound. It seemed that if she were to sing, the forest itself would stop to listen, and possibly turn to gold.
“My pond? No...I don't think it belongs to anybody. Can I sit with you?” I had replied with a nervous smile. She nodded, and as I sat next to her, it felt like all my insides turned into one of those ivy plants my mother grew. They had turned into ivy and they were growing and entwining all about themselves like they never wanted to come apart again.
We sat there for a few moments, enjoying the warmth of the sun rays that fell upon our heads and danced about on the water. After what felt like a few minutes, of us just enjoying each other's wondrous company I could hear my mother calling me in the distance and I knew I had to leave. Yet I sat there, trying with all my might to find my voice to tell her my own name, and that she should come over sometime. It was that stupid ivy again. Didn't my mother once tell me that ivy strangles the trees? Maybe it was strangling my voice. Finally I managed to choke out, “Uhm...My name is Jizabel! Jizabel Yagami! I live over there, beyond the field there. You can come over sometime, I'm sure my parents wont mind. I've got to go now, my mother's calling me. Uhm, well, bye Noriko!”
That must be where she was. The Pond of Memories.