In the Dark of Night

Frieda was surprised when Opa not only let them go to the meeting, he insisted on coming along with them.  Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised her so much.  After all, he took his responsibilities towards them very seriously.  However, that was the biggest reason why she hadn’t expected him to let them go at all.

The place where they were invited looked less like a community center and more like an old barn.  Frieda climbed out of the van as Opa drew up in the field with the rest of the vehicles.  As she set her feet on the ground, the sound of singing reached her ears.  She whirled around to look at Johannes.  Her little brother, held in Konrad’s arms, was shaking and hiding his face.

Glaring, she whirled around.  Immediately, she sought out the person singing.  She spotted her target after only a moment.  A young man was standing just outside the barn.  His voice was ringing across the field.  “Hey,” she snapped, stalking forward.  Behind her, Opa and Markus were calling to her, but Frieda ignored them.  “Shut your face, before I shut it for you!”

“Frieda,” Opa said.  His tone was exactly like the one their father used when he was torn between embarrassment at something Liesel said and pride that she’d come up with it.

The young man stopped singing as she reached him.  He looked her over and smiled.  “You’re going to shut my face?” he asked.  He crossed his arms over his chest.  “You’re… what?  Seven years old?  How are you going to shut me up?”

“I’m nine years old,” Frieda said, balling her hands into fists.  Shaking her fist at him, she said, “Having a fat lip makes singing rather difficult.”

“Ryan,” a stern voice said.  “I told you we were expecting guests.  What were you doing to upset them?”

“This little girl just threatened to punch me,” Ryan said, thrusting a thumb at her.

The Thurman Lance chuckled softly and nodded.  “You expected any less from a lance?” he said, arching his brows.  He waved at them to join him and said, “Your lucky you got a warning.”

“He made my little brother cry,” Frieda said, crossing her arms over her chest.  She stood between Ryan and Konrad as he slipped into the barn, still carrying Johannes.  Then, she sprinted ahead of her eldest brother to lead the way.  Markus and Liesel took up position on either side of Konrad, with Opa following just behind.

David Gilbert nodded as they stepped through the gathering crowd to the front of the room.  “I’m glad that you could make it,” he said, his gaze on Konrad.

Konrad smirked.  “There’s one difference between Crosses and Stars,” he said, his voice soft.  He set Johannes on his feet and smoothed his hair gently.

“What’s that?” the Thurman Lance asked, shaking his head.

Shrugging, Konrad said, “You’re talking to me as the one in charge.  Why?  Because I’m the oldest?”  He shook his head.  “That’s not how Crosses work,” he added.

“I’m the Cross,” Johannes said, looking up at David.  “That means I’m the head of our family.”

Ryan chuckled.  “I had you in tears just a moment ago,” he said, shaking his head.  “You’ve got a long way to go before you can be the head of anything.”

Johannes frowned at him and then closed his eyes.  Frieda couldn’t help but smirk.  Ryan and the others probably expected Johannes to begin singing, or humming at the very least.  However, she knew that he didn’t need to actually make sound.  Just thinking of the melody was enough to active his gifts.  Ryan found that out a moment later, as the power of Johannes’s spell song hit him and he sat down, holding his hands over his ears.

Immediately, Johannes’s eyes flew opened.  “That was just from me imagining the melody, Ryan,” he said.  “Imagine if I’d actually been singing.”  He shook his head.  “Then again, it’s probably not fair to judge power based on sneak attacks.”

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