"What do you mean you're sick?!"

Ivy shook Ginny by the shoulders, which was the last thing her poor sister needed. Ginny had woken up with a nasty cough and her energy at an all time low, and Ivy wasn't having it. Ginny wasn't supposed to get colds. She was supposed to be standing a few steps ahead of Ivy at all times, so Ivy had someone to follow. Ginny shrugged Ivy's hands off her shoulders and flopped back against the silk pillows on her bed, blowing her nose into a handkerchief.

"I mean I'm sick," she grumbled, sniffing. "Go find someone else to bother."

"I don't have anyone else," Ivy pouted, sitting on the edge of Ginny's bed.

"Then make yourself useful and bring me some tea," Ginny said. "I'm the one who has a cold and you're only concerned with yourself."

Ivy gave her wide puppy eyes and a pout. "But what about the gala?"

"You already have an escort to the gala," Ginny said. "You don't need me when you have the 'dreamboy' on your arm."

"He's not a dreamboy, he's just a boy," Ivy protested. "But... do you think it's more than just an escort?"

"I don't know," Ginny sighed. "Please let me sleep."

"But who's going to keep me in check when I start slouching or talking too much?"

"You never cared before, why do you care now?"

"I just do," Ivy said. "Can you at least help me get dressed again? And can you do my hair?"

Ginny gave her a cold look and Ivy gave her the puppy eyes again. Ginny stared her down for a moment, then kicked a leg up to push Ivy off her bed with her foot. Ivy yelped and hit the ground with a thud, causing their father to run up the stairs and see what was going on.

"Did someone fall?" he asked frantically.

"Ginny pushed me!" Ivy snitched.

"Ginny can barely carry her own weight right now," Herman said.

Ivy caught Ginny's gaze just as she gave a dramatic, smug little cough. Ivy stood and straightened herself out.

"Well if she's stuck in bed, then what about me?" Ivy asked. "I'm supposed to stay cooped up because she can't chaperone me outside?"

Herman held Ivy's face in his hands with a chuckle and kissed her forehead.

"My dear Vivvie," he said. "There are people out there who are starving. There are much worse things than having to spend an afternoon indoors. Now what's this about a dreamboy?"

"Flynn is escorting her to the gala," Ginny said.

"Flynn?" Herman frowned. "Just the two of you? Alone?"

"The rest of the party will be there too," Ivy said, turning bright red. "You two are so embarrassing."

Herman gave her a confused look while Ginny laughed and Ivy stomped out, hiding back in her room and sitting on the cushions by her window. She settled down quietly and worked on some of her embroidery for a little while.


She turned as she heard something hit her window.

Plink, plink.

Someone was tossing pebbles at her window. It had just gotten dark out, and she couldn't imagine who it would be. Flynn, maybe? She set aside the embroidery and opened the window, peering out into the garden. Maybe Flynn had figured out another lead in their investigation. She wouldn't blame him for not coming to the door at that hour, but when she looked around she didn't spot anyone there. She heard a rustle. Was he hiding in the hedges?

She checked the door over her shoulder, then climbed out the window and down the drain pipe to get outside.

"Flynn?" she whispered. "It's okay, everyone is in their rooms. No one is going to see you."

There was a shadow moving nearby, moving behind the tall rose bushes. Ivy felt an uneasy churning in her stomach. Something was wrong. She tucked her hair behind her ears and held her skirts up as she cautiously followed the shadow. Suddenly she wasn't feeling so safe in their maze-like garden. She felt like she was being lured out, away from the house. The maze moved down a hill. Far enough that they wouldn't hear her if she yelled.

"Who's there?" Ivy called out. "Come out, or I'm getting my father."

Nothing. She noticed another dark shadow move by the fountain and slowly moved towards it. Suddenly, the movement was behind her. She spun around and only caught a glimpse of something shiny in the moonlight and a dark figure. She didn't get a chance to see who it was or even scream before the figure grabbed the back of her head and shoved her into the fountain, holding her down under the water. She felt the cold water wash over her and kicked her leg up in panicked defense. Her foot made contact with something soft, and she wasn't sure if it was the attacker's face or throat. Either way, he released her long enough to get up and gasp for air. He reached out to grab her again, until they heard another shout.


The attacker let go of Ivy and took off running. And he was fast. She sputtered and coughed as she sat up in the fountain, seeing Flynn there. He chased the attacker for a moment, then seemed to decide against trying to catch him and running back to Ivy instead. He lifted her up out of the fountain and set her down on the ground while she gasped and tried to pull herself together.

"Are you okay?!" he asked, checking her over. "Hey, look at me. Are you hurt?"

"I'm okay," she stammered. "W-what are you doing here?"

"I saw that guy walking around at night and he looked suspicious," he said. "I thought he might have been that man we saw outside the pub, and when he hopped over your fence I followed him over. Goodness, Ivy, I'm so glad I did."

"H-he was throwing pebbles at my window," she said. "I thought it was you. But then he... just grabbed me and-"

"I know what he did," Flynn interrupted, taking off his jacket and wrapping it around her. "I'm grateful for what he didn't do."

Ivy blushed as he sat next to her and put an arm around her to warm her up.

"Thank you," she said softly.

"Don't thank me yet," he said. "He knows we're looking for him. You can't be places alone anymore, Ivy. Not even your own garden. We might even have to hand over our clues to the authorities and leave it. This was too close."

"No," Ivy said firmly. "We have to catch him. Now it's personal."

Flynn sighed deeply, but nodded.

"We should tell you father-"

"No," Ivy repeated, cutting him off. "No, he can't know about this. He'll try and take matters into his own hands, and that's the last thing we need. Not to mention he'll ban me from leaving the house again. Or going to the gala."

"You're still worried about the gala?"

"We had plans..."

He gave her a look of disbelief, then chuckled.

"Ivy Brownwell, you need to get your priorities straight," he said. "Fine. I won't tell, but you have to promise you won't go anywhere alone until this killer is caught. Alright?"


She looked up at him and turned red again, suddenly realizing how cuddled up against him she was to shield herself from the chilly night air.

"Let me walk you back then," he said quietly.

They stood and quietly went back to the house, careful not to attract any more attention to themselves. Especially from Ivy's family. She was careful as she climbed back up the drain pipe and through her window, giving Flynn one last little wave before going inside and locking the window so no one could sneak in sometime in the night. Scary as the moment may have been, she didn't feel afraid. Determined, mostly. She changed into dry clothing and flopped back into bed, falling asleep with Flynn's jacket around her.