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Chapter Two

Ice Prince
Aries ate his lunch alone. It was a matter of personal preference that the other students
were happy to oblige him in. He was content in the quiet of solitude and found himself grimacing
at the presence of another.
The Grand Hall was marvelous. Its spectacular ceiling, decorated in splendid paintings of
champagne pink and sunset orange, rested above the beige stone walls. Draperies in soft purples
clung to them. Everything sparkled with gentle golden kisses. Everyone ate their meals there,
because everyone loved the extravagance of it… except for Aries.
He rarely ventured into the revolting, pompous room, because he hated it. It was crowded
with jeering boys and flirty girls. Everyone mocked him with the name “Ice Prince” and, though
he would never say it aloud, it hurt his feelings.
So, Aries sat down to eat his lunch alone. The weather was surprisingly nice. The golden
sun graced the delicate pink petals clutched on the flowering tree above him. He relished the way
the dark trunk and near-black branches contrasted the petite blushing flowers. He loved the
honey sweet smell that came with every breeze. Birds chirped out happy melodies around him.
An old stone bench, that had been there for as long as Aries could remember, rested under
the blossoming tree and a storm weathered bird bath sprouted from the earth nearby. Aries loved
sneaking away to his secret garden when he could.
Maintaining his straight posture, Aries pulled a black calligraphy pen from his jacket
pocket. After checking to make sure it had enough ink, he turned his attention to the books
resting in his lap. One was a dictionary, the other A Breath of Lightning.
Flipping open his journal and grasping his pen, Aries focused his attention to the task at
hand. He didn’t mind translating the book for Professor Caligari, it was the kind of busy work
Aries did in his free time anyway.
Just as he started the process of marking unfamiliar words that he could later look up, a
scent drifting with the wind caught his attention. The aroma was different from the smell of
nectar that usually clung to the breeze. It was musky, with an essence of mint and rain, and Aries
swore he recognized it, only barely.
He ignored it. It wasn’t like Aries to succumb to his curiosity. Besides, he found himself
rather enjoying the scent that was so uniquely different from anything he was used too.
Aries worked for a long while before he was interrupted again, this time by a voice over
his shoulder. “Hello again Aries,” Vincent said, his voice unusually relaxed.
The boy jumped in his chair and let out a surprised yelp. His cheeks instantly blushed and
he lifted a slender hand to his mouth. A low chuckle fell from Vincent’s lips at the act and Aries
cleared his throat, trying to cough away his embarrassment.
“And you Professor,” he replied with forced ease.
Vincent peered down at the notes scribbled in Aries’ journal, not nosily but as an
objective observation. “I see you are working,” the teacher commented, somewhat off-hand,
“Don’t you ever take a break?”
“No,” Aries replied earnestly, “I calculated when I am free and allotted those times for
my work on this translation.”
Vincent quirked a surprised brow at the younger man. “I’m sure your friends appreciate
your efforts to spend time with them,” he said dryly, though sarcasm coated his words.
For a long moment Aries said nothing. He looked back at the teacher slowly, waiting
desperately for him to change the subject. Vincent’s long black hair flitted in the soft breeze,
even tied back as it was. The teacher’s tense face looked the most relaxed it would ever be and
his thin, normally frowning lips were tugged into a comfortable smile. His golden eyes were
admiring the petals dancing in the wind above them.
“I…have no friends,” Aries started awkwardly, unsure of why he was even telling a man
he’d only met once something so personal, “My peers call me ‘Ice Prince’ and exclude me from
their leisurely activities.” He spoke in an analytical tone hoping it would mask the hurt he truly
felt. Judging by the stern, assessing look on Vincent’s face, it didn’t.
“Isn’t that flattering,” the teacher replied, “I would much rather be called a ‘prince’ than a
‘tail chasing booby hater’.”
A small snicker slipped past Aries’ lips as he tried desperately to choke back his laughter,
but he couldn’t. Vincent scowled as Aries laughed so hard his eyes watered and he clutched his
aching sides.
“Excuse me professor,” Aries tried to regain his composure, but he was still giggling, “It
was rude of me to laugh at a cruel name your peers mocked you with.”
“My peers?” Vincent chuckled, “I gave myself that nickname!” Aries shot the teacher a
dumbfounded look of inquiry, and Vincent explained simply with a shrug, “I was a rebellious
youth.”
Aries turned his attention back to his books after a quiet moment, but found himself
uninterested in his work. He sighed begrudgingly and peeled open the dictionary anyway.
“Are you hungry?” Vincent stated rather than asked, “I know a little café just off school
grounds.”
“I appreciate the offer, but I’m fine,” Aries’ stomach let out a contradicting growl, and he
added, “Well I suppose I am a little hungry…” As Aries moved to pack up his things, Vincent
caught him by the wrist gently.
“Leave them,” he asked rather than stated, “You don’t need them to eat do you?”
The subtle aroma of after rain and musky mint caressed Aries’ nose and the boy realized
that it was coming from Vincent. At their close proximity, Aries immediately recognized it. The
smell sent a shiver down Aries' spine and the heat radiating from the hand on his wrist sent
sparks through his veins.
“I suppose not,” he replied slowly.
The pair walked together in a comfortable silence. It didn’t take long for them to reach
the small restaurant. The café sat snug against a couple bigger buildings. A wooden sign
decorated with a golden pastry swung above the entrance. As Vincent pushed open the timber
door a small brass bell on the ceiling rang quietly.
Situated inside were four tables, seated for two, and a long wooden ordering counter
covered in an arrangement of silver trays, each with their own assortment of delicious treats.
Exotic fruits of all colors filled the wick baskets placed about the shelving along the walls.
Vincent ordered shock churned coffee, a favorite among thunder elementals for its
stunning aftertaste, and Aries settled on grapes. They had been the first things he found that
weren't overpriced. Since Vincent offered to pay, Aries wanted the least expensive option he
could find. Even if he wasn't overly fond of grapes.
“I thought you wanted something to eat Professor,” Aries commented glancing across the
table at Vincent's drink. He pushed a grape across his tarnished silver plate but made no attempt
to pick it up.
“I already ate,” Vincent replied shortly his eyes narrowing in on the dark purple fruit in
front of Aries. The fruit the younger man wasn't eating.
“You did?” Aries asked, looking up from his grapes in surprise, “Then why did you
suggest we have lunch?”
Vincent hesitated for a moment, seemingly unsure of what to say. “I...” he started, “I felt
like I owed you a favor I suppose.”
Aries was taken aback. In his mind, he thought of nothing he had done that required a
return of any kind. “I- Thank you,” Aries smiled and rolled another purple sphere around his
plate.
Vincent watched Aries for a moment, silently becoming frustrated as the younger man
insisted on playing with his food. Unable to take it any longer Vincent finally spoke up. “Is there
something wrong with them?”his voice was unintentionally cross.
Aries blushed instantly and Vincent's eyes widened at the embarrassment evident on his
companion's face. “N-no,” Aries swallowed down his nervous stutter, “The grapes are fine, I
just...”
“What?” Vincent whispered, leaning closer and hoping it was all some big secret.
“I don't like to eat them when they have skin,” Aries said quietly and made a sour face at
the violet peeling surrounding the fruit.
Vincent's face dead-panned. His eyes stared flatly at the other man. “Really?” he spoke
dryly, “Just peel it off.”
Even more red and flustered, Aries rambled on about manners and being rude, he
stuttered out an apology. Vincent simply stared at him, getting lost in his fast words and lengthy
vocabulary.
“Do you...” Vincent glanced at the grapes and back up to Aries, “Want me to peel them
for you...?”
“I couldn't possibly-there's no way I-I can ask-that would be s-so,” Aries sputtered, before
his eyes fell to the tantalizing fruit and his stomach growled softly, “Yes.”
Vincent shook his head and pulled the plate towards him grumpily, but the smile on his
lips betrayed any thought that he was angry. “Prince,” he snorted to himself, just loud enough so
that Aries could hear him, “They should call you Ice Princess...” That comment might have hurt
had anyone else said it, but Vincent being lighthearted was something Aries suspected didn't
happen very often. It made Aries smile.
One by one the grapes shed there purple skin, turning into globs of light colored goop.
When his task was complete, Vincent pushed the plate back to Aries and he seized the grapes
with great enthusiasm.
Vincent finished off his beverage slowly, watching Aries eat his fruit happily. When they
were finished they talked quietly for a long while, mostly about the books Vincent was studying
and the council's blatantly incorrect decision. After a lengthy moment, Aries stood.
“I have to get to class,” he said with a quick smile, “Excuse me professor.”
Vincent stood to walk with Aries and the younger man welcomed the company. “Please,”
Vincent added, looking at Aries with intense eyes, “call me Vincent.”

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