Winter couldn’t stop staring. Pink birds! How could such a thing exist?
“They’re called cockatoos,” Spring said, breaking her trance.
She looked at him. He looked proud of himself at knowing something she didn’t.
“I’ve never seen anything like them,” she said. Her eyes strayed back to them.
“The human of this house owns them,” he said, “he collects them, or some such nonsense.” He scowled.
Winter understood why. Her heart was giving in to sadness at seeing them caged up. “They should be free,” she said.
He gave a sharp nod. “Yes.” Then a grin. “Though I would miss collecting their feathers.”
Her mind flashed back to the little walled area covered with feathers where they’d first met Spring.
“Those feathers are yours? Taken from those birds?” Birch asked.
Spring nodded. “They shed them and I pick them up off the ground. I have some friends out in the wild who use them for bedding in the winter.”
“That makes sense,” Winter said. “Have you ever tried freeing them?” She gestured to the birds.
He looked sad. “They wouldn’t survive. They know nothing but food from the human’s hand.”
“Oh.” That was sad. They would never fly free.
“Couldn’t you teach them?” Tango piped up.
Spring shook his head. “How? They would need to stay here and the human would just put them back in the cage. It’s just one of those things. This is part of human life.”
Winter watched the birds for a moment, thinking how awful it must be to be caged up like that. She wanted to go and speak to them, ask them if they were okay. But before she could suggest the idea, Leviathan barked up at them. Maybe impatient at their talk.
Spring smiled down at his friend, then leaped off the wall, saying to the others. “Come on, I’ll show you where I live.”
Winter took off after him, excited to know what his Clan’s home looked like. She saw the others following out of the corner of her eye.
Leviathan bounded after them on the ground below. He pushed his way through bushes and twiggy trees, finally coming to a stop next to the far wall, where a small shed sat next to several flower beds. Layla had something similar in her garden. Spring led them around the back of the shed, and to a small rock. He landed by it, and tapped three times.
Winter watched, amazed, as the rock slid to one side to reveal a hole in the ground.
“You live underground?” Indian asked. She didn’t sound too thrilled about the idea.
“Yep,” Spring said. “It’s much nicer than it sounds.” He grinned again. “Come on. The others will be excited to meet you all.”
Winter caught Birch’s eye. That would be different. Usually they were greeted with scepticism and fear.
Spring dropped down the hole first, and Winter followed. Before she lost sight of the world, she glanced behind her to see where Leviathan had gone. He was laid at the side of the shed, watching, his tongue lolling out. She smiled at him, and she would have sworn he smiled back. He seemed like a dog who was indiscriminate with his love.
After a short fall down the hole, it opened up into a large cavern where fairies flitted about, and lights danced on the walls. Winter landed, and her friends landed beside her. She looked about with amazement. This place was so large. Doors led off the walls at various heights.
“Welcome to the Flower Clan.” Spring grinned.