“Shall we leave?” Julia placed a hand over her clenched fist, prying it open and interlacing her fingers in her hand. Eliza looked up at the taller woman, her eyes stung and there was a large lump in her throat, unable to say anything she nodded her head.
Julia wordlessly guided the small teenager out of the party whilst holding her hand the entire way. Eliza liked how the wizard’s hand felt on her own. They walked side by side in silence for about a mile before she spoke.
“I’m sorry I made you leave the party.” Eliza said.
“I was looking to leave so don’t be sorry. I was getting tired of all the talking and I would’ve left hours ago had people not been so interested in hearing about divination magic!” Julia responded excitedly.
“Oh okay... where are we going?” Eliza asked, they had been walking for a while and this was not in the direction of either of their homes. She looked up at the taller woman; still not used to her new hair colour and how it shimmered in the moonlight.
“There is a dessert place that is open until the early hours of the morning around here.” Julia said.
“Dessert at this hour?” Eliza asked, surprised.
“Yes, you’ll share a cake with me?” Julia asked. Eliza responded with a nod of her head. They walked the cobbled streets in silence, Julia’s hand still in her own.
“Ah, here it is.” Julia said proudly. Eliza was beginning to wonder if they had become lost along the way. It was a well known fact that the wizard had a poor sense of direction. She was led into a shop filled with mahogany furniture, it was surprisingly quiet inside. They were seated in a dimly lit booth and Julia finally released her hand as she ordered them two drinks and a vanilla cheesecake to share.
Julia nervously fidgeted with her hair, her fingers twirled around her curls as she thought about what to say.
“I have this little ritual that tends to make me feel better after a breakup.” The wizard said. Eliza looked at her, finding herself blushing at how vulnerable Julia looked.
“I treat myself to a decadent hot cocoa and a cheesecake. If mamma is available she tends to join me, which she always is.” Julia said, she looked down at her lap feeling self-conscious.
“Have you had a lot of breakups?” Eliza asked her. Julia looked up at her, placing her hands on the table, her fingers tapping on the hard wooden surface as she continued.
“Oh... did you do the dumping?” Eliza asked. Julia shook her head, her soft curls swaying as she did. Her voice was small as she scratched her sternum as she recalled the details. The teenager glanced at the welts Julia was leaving on her skin and made a mental note to keep an eye on that. The wizard had a habit of breaking skin without realising it.
“No... ah, I was the one being dumped.” The tall woman said. A waiter bought their drinks and placed it on the table before each of them, the cheesecake in the centre. Julia’s hands instantly went around her hot cup of cocoa, her fingers tapped the porcelain mug. Eliza did not understand it as she looked over at Julia.
“But... why?” Eliza asked. Julia looked at the smaller woman in confusion before the teenager quickly added. “I mean have you seen yourself? You're gorgeous, kind and possibly the smartest person I know. Oh and lets not forget your great sense of humour. Who’d be stupid enough to dump you?” Eliza scratched the back of neck as she looked down at her mug of cocoa, the whipped cream and marshmallows looked delicious. Her cheeks coloured thinking she may have been too obvious.
Julia chuckled and took a sip of her hot chocolate, she licked the whipped cream from her top lip.
“That's kind of you to say Eliza, but it’s not always enough. People are strange and really confusing.” Julia scooped some of the cream up with her finger and licked it before she continued “One moment they seem to really like you and then suddenly a moment later they’re treating you completely differently and you have no clue as to what has happened or what you’ve done wrong.” Julia’s shoulders sank as she told Eliza this, she looked directly into her azure eyes.
“They clearly don't deserve you.” Eliza said, she took a sip of her hot chocolate, her eyes going wide; it was really good. She licked her lips, sure there was cream on them.
“This is really delicious, thank you.”
“Don’t tell anyone but I do have a soft spot for sweets.” Julia said as her fingers drummed on her mug.
“Do you not worry about getting fat?” Eliza asked her curiously.
“No. Do you?”
Eliza pulled her mug closer to herself and looked out of the window, suddenly feeling self conscious.
“Yeah... It's something I constantly worry about.” Eliza said. Julia took a forkful of cheesecake as she looked at Eliza.
“People will always tell you how to look and comment on how much you're eating, especially if you're half-elvish.” Julia paused, helping herself to another mouthful. “I’m sorry Eliza, but I cannot imagine what it is like having a full elvish parent. Elves are partially sustained by magic and their bodies are so slight, having them apply their standards of beauty to a half-human offspring is simply not viable.” She steepled her fingers, trying to get her thoughts in order before continuing.
“You know both my parents,” she said, “Mama loves to eat and is happy that she can with mother, and mother is a paladin and trains a lot. She needs to eat more protein to maintain her muscle mass. It is honestly an unfair expectation that has been forced on our community and with you being first generation I can’t imagine how hard it is.” Julia placed her fork done and reached her hand across and squeezed Eliza’s hand. Her umber eyes looked at her with a softness.
“You should eat more.” Julia said with a reassuring smile, she pushed the cheesecake towards Eliza. “You said you'd share with me.”
“I'll have a bite.” Eliza picked up the fork and broke off a very small portion, the taste was very delicate, the hints of vanilla and lemon not overpowering the creamy topping or the crumbly base with just the right level of sweetness. She quickly took another bite, and then another. “I can really taste the lemon in this, it's amazing.” The teenager murmured as she looked at Julia, her eyes sparkled as a carriage passed outside the shop, illuminating them both.
She stared at the last bite of the cheesecake not wanting to take it because to her it felt like she had more of the cake than Julia. She went to put down her fork, when Julia's soft voice carried over. “I think the last bite is yours, I've had my share of cheesecake.” The wizard’s elegant hand delicately pulled her hair behind her ear as the corners of her mouth upturned ever so slightly.
Eliza deliberated whether she should take the last bite and quietly spoke to herself, “I really shouldn't… but it's not like mama is around to tell me I'm fat, so maybe I will.”
Julia's eyebrow twitched. Eliza suddenly remembered that Julia had incredibly sensitive hearing and had almost certainly heard her in this quiet room, but the wizard didn’t say anything and simply waved down a waitress awkwardly and asked her for the bill, which she settled.
“This is my treat, shall we leave?” Asked Julia. Eliza nodded as she finished off the last of her lukewarm drink and got up.
“Yeah, let's go.”
“I'll walk you home.” Julia said. As they exited the store, Eliza turned to the sturdy wizard, a cheeky smile on her face as she took Julia’s hands between her own. “Julia I'm feeling sooooo tired, can you carry me home? Pleeeeease?” Eliza did her best pouting expression.
Julia scratched under her earlobe as she contemplated the request. For whatever reason, she agreed.
“Okay, carry my scarf.” Julia said, she handed Eliza the embroidered silk scarf and knelt down in front of the teenager. Eliza wrapped her arms around Julia’s broad shoulders, her head resting on her neck. Julia hoisted her up and began to walk in a direction.
“Remind me which direction your house is? I feel like I will end up wandering around in the wrong direction and getting lost or just end up at my house by mistake without guidance.”
“We could have a sleep over at yours, that sounds like more fun than going home.” Eliza said excitedly.
Julia chuckled. “I'm afraid all you find at my home is a very small space and me wanting to go to sleep. I don't think that will be very fun at all. Besides is your father not waiting up for you?”
“Probably is. What time is it?” Eliza said.
“I suspect it is nearing one in the morning.”
“I was meant to be home hours ago.”
“And I forgot my sending stone to talk with him.”
“He likes you; we can just say I was with you. Which is technically true.”
Julia looked like she was about to protest then stopped. “I suppose you are right there.”