I always loved the wide-open art style of Clover. This is my attempt to imitate it in prose. The trouble is, of course, that the result would have worked better drawn. Perhaps someday I'll redo it as a doujinshi.
[Cage for one bird]
For a while she contemplated leaving the hard way, but eventually discarded the idea. She despised tragedy.
"I should leave", she told her dolls. They did not know how to answer, and so were silent. "I'm tired of this place. I should have gone long ago. They can't stop me."
She hated being alone again. But there was nobody else. There never had been, really.
[Cage for three birds]
"They're afraid of me," the boy told the mirror. The mirror no longer answered.
He held up his hand, flattened it against its reflection. "They're stupid. I'm not going to hurt them." Pause. "I want to, but I'm not going to. Not now."
In the empty room, his voice echoed oddly.
"They won't even speak to me. Not that they ever spoke to us, unless they had to. It's been a very long time."
He leaned his forehead against the mirror, hands tightening into fists. "I hope you're happy."
After a while it came to her that she was not, even now, entirely alone. There was one other person who knew exactly how she felt.
She told her dolls nothing was amiss, and they had no choice but to believe her.
The transporter was like a great baroque birdcage. It would have to do for a message left behind; she had no inclination to leave anything in writing. Almost as a afterthought she broke an upper window; come morning, when her absence was discovered, the light would stream in unimpeded and make her message clear.
She stepped forward, leaving the door open behind her. It was almost as easy as flying.
When he heard the sound of wings behind him he was so startled he pushed the mirror over, and it shattered across the floor, catching the light of a hundred stars through the glass high above, making it into a thousand. His hands were shaking as he turned to face her, and he stepped forward, making no effort to avoid the glass. His bare feet left boody trails across the floor.
"There's no such thing as a four-leaf Clover," he said.
She shook her head as she drifted to the floor.
"What are you doing here?"
"We're running away," she said. "It's all we can do."
He reached out a hand to her as she alighted, her feet carefully avoiding the broken bits of mirror. It was larger than hers - his whole body was larger than hers, if no heavier; he wavered on the far edge of adolesence, pushed there far too fast. She looked him over. They made a neat pair, the boy all in black, the girl in white.
He smiled to notice her scrutiny. "We don't live long outside the cage."
"You didn't have to get older," she said.
"I wanted to. Otherwise we wouldn't be the same anymore."
[3 + 4]
Her wings folded in, and she fell into his arms. "I don't care where we go," she said. "As long as it's so far away they'll never find us."
"What about my brother?"
"He'll be fine. They'll know he played no part in this." She raised her hand to touch his cheek; hesitantly, he gave an unpracticed smile. "He's happy, isn't he?"
" ... Yes."
"Then there's no reason we shouldn't be. It doesn't matter where."
They cast no shadows; two dark forms folded together and left no evidence. In the wavering starlight, the bars of a cage cast shadows across their shoulders for the last time.
[Feathers left in an empty nest]
The dolls, ever faithful, made no report. It was well past dawn when the empty birdcage was found, and the bloody footprints and broken mirror were not noticed until noon.