In the afternoon, he learned how to make candy.
His mother and Lotte were crowded in the kitchen downstairs, piling wood in the furnace, sauce pans boiling.
" It's so hot in here, I feel like a dog in summer," he complained, coming downstairs. " What are you doing-?"
" Oh! Henry! Come help me and Lotte," his mother called out.
He wasn't entirely sure why Lotte was hanging around, but went down to the kitchen nonetheless.
He had a pan thrust in his face.
" Keep stirring this while I make the praline," his mother said.
He took it and stirred.
He'd been a passable cook before, since he spent so much time on the road, but this sort of thing was beyond him. And even Mariposa never really learned to cook or make sweets; she was a princess, after all, and they had servants for that.
This was something new.
He watched Lotte pour some kind of caramel onto baking sheets with a degree of fascination.
" Do we really need to be making so much candy? There's only about what, seven, ten kids in this town?" he asked.
His mother whacked his forehead with a spatula she'd just gotten out.
" Henry Merrow! This is the only candy these children will be getting til the next time Mr. Bill comes by from the city! Be more considerate!" she scolded.
" Ms. Merrow, where's the everthe?" Lotte asked, looking stressed.
" I've got it right here, I'm shaving it down right now- keep stirring, Henry!"
" Right, alright..."
She took the edge of the spatula and scraped it down the underside of a large hunk of bark.
" You know, Henry, that little tailor's daughter, you remember her? She always went crazy for the milk candies with everthe. That's what I think of every time I sit down to make it. Ms. Merrow, Ms. Merrow, I have a five cent coin, how many can I get with that? And I always gave her extra because you stole half of her candy! Don't think I didn't know- you were so crazy about her, every festival we had, it was always the same, out til God knows when just running around with her-"
...In truth, Henry never even liked everthe candies that much.
They were too strong, always, and his mother never put enough sugar to balance out the strong spice. They weren't as bad as licorice, but he'd rather have the praline clusters.
But Legacia loved them, and she loved his mother's most of all, and so she'd buy as many she could and then they'd sneak off somewhere that grown ups couldn't find them and watch the fireflowers the travelling mages cast in the sky.
He hadn't thought about that in a very long time.
He wished, selfishly, that he had gone back further, that he could've sat with her and watched the lights again.
In his innocent, childhood days, he had never once considered a world where she was gone. Where his mother was gone. Where the village was smoldering ashes.
" Henry, Henry, it's done, quick, pour it here over this sheet of almonds-"