Ephrim used to have everything under control. Now he couldn't even control the flowers in his garden. He could choose what to plant and where, he could care for it, do his best, but it was beyond him to control what those flowers will do. Will they grow? Will they be as he predicted? Will they bloom or will they die before their time? There was no way of controlling this, he could only hope.
And so he hoped. For days, for months, for years, he hoped. How long has it been since the Frost Shepard arrived?
He was not sure when he started noticing a little bird sitting in the bushes, looking at him. Sometimes it was small, sometimes bigger, usually brown, maybe greenish, maybe a little bit weird, but in this world everything was weird and not-weird at the same time. The bird was watching him but it was also watching others. He saw it once following Hadrian. He was almost sure that when Benjamin and Blue J visited the bird wanted to talk with them.
The bird was there, almost like it wanted to be with people but left alone at the same time.
At first, it was nice. Just a little fellow hanging around, being friendly but not too friendly. But as the days passed by Ephrim started to worry and the worry lead to anger. Was he just imagining that? Was his hope too big? Have it been just… birds?
“Fero?” he asked, voice trembling, looking at the bird. “Fero, please, is that you?”
The bird was there, sitting at a tree, between small pink flowers. It was so close, Ephrim could just reach out and touch it… And he did. And the bird did not fly away. It froze in place, letting Ephrim carefully touch it’s head. And a moment later, there was no bird, but between the flowers was hidden Fero with Ephrim’s hand in his hair.
“Yea, yea, it’s me, are you happy?” snarled Fero, which made Ephrim flinch, but he quickly recognized a softness hidden in Fero’s voice.
Slowly Ephrim moved his hand until he cupped Fero’s face. He couldn’t believe his eyes, but he could feel with his hand the warmth, and the shape, and the whole being of Fero, just standing there, visibly unsure of what he’s doing. But Fero did not step back, he did not change back into a bird, he did not flee. Instead, he embraced Ephrim’s hand, like the touch was everything he ever wanted.
“Yes, I am happy to see you” answered Ephrim, feeling all his anger escape him at once.
And they stood there for a while. Unsure of words and actions Ephrim could not take control over the situation, but it was never an option with Fero anyways. Instead he could hope. So when he asked Fero to stay, just for a little, just for a bit, he could hope that Fero would agree. And this time his hope was even more rewarding than the flowers blooming in his garden.