Fresh snow

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The first snow came on a quiet evening, with a bright and clear sky. But the signs had been announced earlier as Lavender had observed. The sparrows were looking for shelter near the house's eaves, chirping loudly. The sky's been lit a few days before and even a few lightning bolts had crossed it without even a drop of rain. It was a sign that the snow was coming, she had announced with joy in her voice. The owl had sung in the grove near the cottage and many crows had gathered in black flocks, breaking the silence of the sky with their mournful grief. It was a sign that winter was going to be heavy, with a lot of snow and sharp blizzards.

When Ferry set off to Lavender's house, after a day of work, the first snowflakes began to fall light, soft and moist, melting as they touched the frozen ground. The hills had begun to turn white already. Ferry wrapped his mother's knitted scarf around his neck, and its softness made him warm up almost immediately as if a room with a fireplace would have been built around him to keep him out of the cold. And winter didn't seem so threatening all of a sudden.

But instead of heading to Lavender's house, the steps led him to his old house. He knew Andrew wasn't home. He had seen him at the mansion, in the game room, in the basement. His laughter and Billy's resonated throughout the house and in the surroundings. Ferry he was surprised that Billy's old friends were coming to the mansion ever more seldom. Instead, Andrew had become a permanent guest at the mansion. Sometimes, he stayed even overnight, in one of the many guest rooms. Ferry met him many times. Billy and Andrew were joking, laughing and seemed to be having a great time together. Andrew was always behaving just as a boy of his age should. Billy didn't seem to suspect anything about his dual nature. Or maybe it was just a well-kept secret. Their friendship seemed normal compared to the many strange things happening at the manor.

His thoughts scattered when he reached the front of the house. The front garden looked frozen and hidden under the snow that fell over the dead flowers. Ferry just wanted to get a twig from the jasmine bush in the back garden. He wanted to plant it in Lavender's garden, under his mother's window. Lately, her mother seemed sad, though she tried not to show it. But her eyes could not hide the sorrow in her soul.

Fortunately, the jasmine bush had resisted the cold and especially the digging in the garden. The twigs looked young. Ferry broke one of them, and carefully wrapped it in his handkerchief, then slipped it into his pocket.

He wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. That place was breaking his heart every time he visited. But then, he saw the back door open, inviting him in. He carefully went inside. If he didn't know what house he was in, he would have thought it was a foreign one. All the furniture was turned over, and a thick layer of dust covered everything. Ferry heard a noise coming from the kitchen, and his heart skipped a beat. He went on at an uncertain pace. There, among the dirty dishes, among the crumbs and stains that covered the floor and the table, he discovered his father. He had a troubled look on his face, his sight blurred by the steam of alcohol that surrounded him. Several empty bottles were thrown on the floor. In front of him was another one, half empty.

"Oh, it's you," he said in a husky voice when he saw Ferry. "I thought it was Andrew. He hasn't been home for days. And I don't blame him," he said, drinking up from the bottle. "Look at this place..."

Ferry felt his left side of the head pulsing. "What happened here?" he asked.

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