Emery looked around the entrance of his new flat. They’d arranged to rent it through an agency almost a month before they’d planned to graduate – about two weeks before the school officials had called Miles to the office to inform him that they would keep him for another year. It was meant to be shared by the two of them – not house him alone.

He walked slowly down the corridor. Flamel chirped inside the carrying case. Miles had insisted he take their cat. Flamel would be more comfortable with more space to roam than a small dormitory room could provide. He put the case on the floor and let her out. She padded out and around a corner, already exploring her new home.

The first room was furnished as a bedroom. It was meant to be Miles’s room. There were no personal touches but the colors were all his favorites. The soft blues and brilliant violets spoke strongly of the younger Ballard brother. The agency had done well with their decorating.

The next room was also a bedroom – his own. Again blue was a predominate color. However, instead of violet a flaring red accented the décor. He set his bags on the floor and continued down the hallway.

The last three rooms lay at the end of the hallway. To the right was the kitchen. He knew it was already outfitted with pots and pans. The pantry and cooler were probably even already stocked. Just as their kitchen at the old house had been, the walls were a soft yellow color, accented in green. This room reminded him of his mother and he pushed away, toward the left side of the corridor.

Here was the living room. It was cozy. A pair of desks along the wall once more reminded him that his brother was absent. There was also a soft couch and a matching arm chair. A table with a lamp joined to it set between them. He stepped fully into the room and flicked on the radio absently. A soft bluesy jazz tune was playing. It went well with his mood and he left it on.

He flopped into the chair and closed his eyes. Tomorrow he’d be interviewed for his new position. He had no doubt that he’d get it. There weren’t a lot of people qualified for the post of forensic magician. He should get some sleep. He should make dinner. However, he couldn’t find the energy to move.

Flamel hopped into his lap and nuzzled his hand, insisting on being petted. “You miss him too?” Emery asked. “Or you want food.”

The cat bounded down and out of the room, answering the question with a chirp. Emery smirked and followed her. “Right,” he said. “We should both eat. Let’s see what we’ve got.” He peeked into the pantry and pulled out bread. In the cooler he found lettuce, tomatoes and bacon. “Excellent,” he said.

He set his findings on the table, poured kibble in a bowl for Flamel and then started cooking his bacon. Once the meat was sizzling merrily, he tore leaves off the head of lettuce and cut up a tomato and the bread. He flipped the bacon over then toasted the bread. When the meat was cooked, he slathered some mayonnaise on the toast. He swallowed heavily as he noted that his brother’s favorite dressing was also there, as if waiting for him. Then he made up his sandwich and sat at the table to eat.

He ate heartily enough, if not happily. “Let’s go to bed, Flamel,” he said, not bothering to clear the dishes. He’d wash them after his interview. He thrust the greasy pan in the sink and ran water in it so the cat wouldn’t get herself sick on bacon fat then padded down the corridor.

He kicked off his shoes, pushed off his pants and unbuttoned his shirt, leaving a trail on the floor as he headed to the bed. He pulled his light nightshirt out of his bag and tugged it on over his head before settling under the sheets. “G’night Mi,” he whispered to the dark sky outside the window.

Though the hour was early for him, he lay down, sniffling softly. He stifled a sob and shook his head. Crying wouldn’t help. It wouldn’t get the school officials to send him his brother. He’d just have to stand on his own for once – ready or not.

He sat up again and drew a book out of his bag with enough force that he sent some papers flying. Reading might get his mind off his worries and at least he wouldn’t lay in bed half the night not able to sleep. He could do this. He’d just have to take things one day – one moment – at a time.