(1938-12-15) Back from the Dead
Details for Back from the Dead
Summary: When Zack reveals that he has been gone and presumed dead for nearly half a year, Rhyeline suggests he should stop stalling and go to his younger brother at once.
Date: Sunday, December 15, 1938
Location: Sweet Temptations
Related:
Characters
RhyelineZack

It's so cold this evening, it's a wonder it isn't snowing. Instead, rain falls in an freezing drizzle, ensuring that the bite in the air is one that sinks right into your bones.

The combined malt shop, bakery, and sweet shop is warm and toasty compared to the bitter evening air. A delicate, dark-haired creature sits at the counter, savoring a warm, chocolate beverage topped with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon and cocoa. Hands pressed against the mug's sides, she brings the beverage to her lips for a slow, careful sip. The sip has left a dot of whipped cream on the tip of her nose.

A witch in her mid-thirties stands against the wall, not far from the girl. With a keen, steel-grey gaze, she keeps an eye on the girl sitting at the counter.

Zack enters the sweet shop along with a blast of cold air. His hair is damp and so are the worn brown robes he's wearing. Looking around as though he's never been in the place before, he ambles over to the counter, his arms folded across his chest for warmth. He shivers as his body adjusts to the temperature inside and comes to stand next to the girl at the counter, though he doesn't pay her much attention. His eyes scan the menu above and he frowns. "Do you know if they sell chocolate frogs here?" he asks, looking at her all of a sudden.

Rhyeline tenses with a soft squeak at the chill that follows Zack into the shop. She peeks over her shoulder at the wizard until he approaches. Quickly, she lowers her gaze and brings her mug to her lips once more. With a dot of white cream still on the delicate tip of her nose, she looks up at him when he addresses her. "Mmm… I- I think so…" she murmurs. Her British accent is clear and delicate, with a subtle hint of French.

"Okay, good," Zack says, taking a quick look around the shop as if he expects them to jump out at him. "So they've got to be around here somewhere. Oh, there they are. No, those are - I don't even know what those are." He scrunches his face up for a moment before giving up. "Do you know where I can find them?" he asks her, and then immediately goes on to say, "You have something on your nose. It's white."

Rhyeline blinks and flushes bright pink as a hand flies to cover her nose. "Oh- thank you…" she murmurs, lowering her gaze with a sudden deepening shyness. "They have- all manner of sweets here. The chocolate frogs should be…" But when she looks to try to point them out to him, she hesitates and bites her lower lip. "Oh… they aren't there right now…"

"What's that?" Zack asks, still looking around the shop. "Oh, yes. Not a problem. It looked a bit odd there on your nose, so it probably wasn't meant to be there." He doesn't seem to notice her discomfort. "So you don't know- Hmm?" He blinks at her. "Oh, they're not? Well where have they gone then? I know they're supposed to hop around, but that's only after you've opened them, isn't it? They're not supposed to hop off the shelves." With a frown, he checks the floor around them for any sign of frog. "Do you come here often?" he asks abruptly.

Listening to Zack is like watching a finch flitting from branch to branch. Head tilted slightly to the side, little Rhyeline watches him with a quiet curiosity. The abrupt question catches her a bit by surprise, but after a slight hesitation, she shakes her head. "No… not so often. Just sometimes. And… I- I think that… the frogs have sold out. But… there are other chocolate treats… unless it was the cards you wanted."

"I haven't been here before." Zack continues as if she hadn't spoken at all. "I've seen it before, though. That's how I knew it was here. I usually go to the place in Hogsmeade, but I was already in Diagon Alley so I came here instead. What do you mean they've sold out?" he asks, frowning at her. "Aren't they supposed to be very popular? Why wouldn't they have a large supply of them? I did want the cards. Well, I didn't, but I know he likes to collect them." He doesn't say who 'he' is. "What other kinds of chocolate would you recommend?"

"Their- their chocolate bark with toffee is quite good. So are their truffles…" Tucking a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear, Rhyeline watches him a bit self-consciously for a moment before adding, "He might also like the white chocolate mint snowflakes." The girl points at a tray of them laid out upon a plate near the rest of the pastries. Each one is the size of a sugar cookie.

Zack stares at her for several seconds without saying anything and then looks in the direction she points. "Snowflakes," he mutters to himself. "I don't know, I don't really like snow. But then they aren't for me…" He considers this a moment longer before spinning back around to face the girl. "Did you say bark? What do you mean, like a tree? Or the sound a dog makes. I don't know how you can have a chocolate sound, so it must be the tree."

Rhyeline stares over at the peculiar wizard for a moment, not quite sure what to make of him. At last, a soft little smile appears upon her lips. "I think it's meant to be like the tree… thin sheets of chocolate, chipped as if they came off a tree… I'm rather sure that the chocolate flutes make sounds though…"

"Yes, a tree makes sense," Zack agrees with a firm nod. "They make sounds? Oh, the flutes do. Yes, I suppose they would. I wonder if he'd like a chocolate flute. I can't remember if he's interested in playing music or not. I never was - but then, he's not like me." He wrings his hands in front of himself, slightly distressed. "I don't know," he tells the girl. "What would you buy for a ten-year-old boy who thinks you've been dead for five and a half months?"

Rhyeline blinks, a bit startled. "He- he thinks you've been dead?" Her brow furrows in hesitant puzzlement. "What do you mean?"

"Probably," Zack says with another nod. "Most likely, actually. Unless news has reached… But I haven't heard anything from them, so I suppose it hasn't. Though they might not have wanted to contact me…" He frowns at the thought and then seems to remember that he's talking to someone. "I mean that he probably still thinks I died in that accident five and a half months ago. But I didn't, I'm alive and I have to tell them sometime. So what would you buy?"

"I… I'm not sure it would be the right time for chocolates… You- you aren't returning from holiday or something. Instead, it- it might be better perhaps… after he's gotten over the shock, you should bring him here. Then- you can let him choose whatever he wants." Having said so much, the subtle warmth in the girl's cheeks deepens. She brings her cup to her lips to take a long, slow sip.

"What?" Zack says blankly, stunned by this news. "Not the right time? Well, it was sort of a holiday. Not a planned holiday, but it turned out that way. Of course, I still got a lot of work done while I was gone, but it was definitely like a vacation. So I shouldn't give him anything? Not even a card, or a book, or a new quill?" He pauses. "You think I should bring him here. Wait, that sounds like a great idea. Yes, I'll do that. Thank you! What do you mean 'after he's gotten over the shock?'"

"If my brother were to disappear without a trace and I thought him dead, it would be very much a shock for him to suddenly return," murmurs Rhyeline, biting her lower lip. "I'm sure that- that your disappearance would have been quite painful for him…"

"Oh, yes," Zack says, his face now lined with concern. "Yes, I hadn't thought of that. But I'm not dead, right? So he should be happy to see me alive, shouldn't he?" He gives the girl a hopeful look, but starts wringing his hands again. "This is why I haven't told them yet. I mean, I only got back a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do."

"You should go to him… Go right away. If he finds out you were here, but didn't go to see him, it will only hurt more. You have missed him, no?" Rhyeline pauses, watching him a bit hesitantly. Then with a soft, encouraging little smile, she adds, "Don't worry. He will be happy to see you… If he cries, those will be tears of relief. It will be as if he had just waken up from a horrible nightmare and realized that it hadn't been real."

"What, right now?" Zack says, his eyebrows shooting up in alarm. "No, I can't go right now! I'm not ready. I haven't figured out what to say. And I'd have to see my parents too. I don't know what to say to them either. Of course I've missed him! He's the main reason I came back. Well, I had to come back to get some of my notes too, I suppose. Those were important as well. Are you sure he'll be happy? What if he isn't?"

"The more you wait, the less ready you'll be… it will be harder and harder to explain. So… go now. It would be best no to wait any longer. Make sure he knows you love him and missed him… Tell him what happened. But it- it might be best if- if you don't mention that it took you so long to return to him once you were able…" Rhyeline hides once more behind her cup of cocoa.

"Right now?" Zack repeats weakly. "Yes… Yes, I suppose I'd better. I won't tell him - but if I don't tell him then I have to lie to him, don't I? That doesn't seem right. I don't like lying. So I'm supposed to actually tell him that I love him and missed him? That should be obvious already! Oh, but you said I should go right now." He turns and walks off in a hurry, but he stops at the door. Then he walks all the way back to the girl and says, "Oh, and thank you."

"Don't tell lies. If he asks, you should give truth. But- if the doesn't ask, you shouldn't mention what might cause pain. And- and even though- even though it should be obvious… say it anyway…" says Rhyeline quickly as he starts to head off. She blinks when he doubles back to thank her. With a small, hesitant nod, she murmurs, "You're welcome. And- and my name- it's Rhyeline…"

"Rhyeline," Zack says. "Rhyeline. Okay. Thank you, Rhyeline." He turns to leave again, but hesitates. "Oh, yes. My name… Almost forgot. I'm Zack. No last names then? Good, I prefer it that way. Makes things much easier. Never have to choose which name to call someone or remember which first name goes with which last name. So I should definitely say that I missed him? And I'm supposed to hug him too, right?"

"If- if you think that- that hugging him would help… if it would make him feel loved, then- then yes, you should," murmurs Rhyeline with a nod. "And… and good luck, Zack…"

"Yes," Zack says, "of course. Yes, thank you. I've never been dead before so I hope it goes well. I mean, I've never been not-dead before. Or thought dead and then turned out to be not dead. Well, whatever it is, I haven't been it before. So, thank you. Goodbye then." He turns on the spot, braces himself, and then walks out of the shop.

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