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Four weeks before the apocalypse

"Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mommy!" Amory punctuated each 'mom' by banging his fists on the table.

"Can you not?" Zelda glared at her little brother.

The plates she'd set out rattled with each thump of his hands, but it was Amory's water glass she worried about. It was getting closer and closer to the edge with each vibration, and she would be the one cleaning it up if it met its demise.

Amory stuck out his tongue at her before resuming his pounding.

"Not now, sweetie. Mommy is busy," their mother said as she bent down to pull out tonight's casserole from the oven.

She lifted the lid to inspect the dish, letting a puff of steam escape. The smell of melted cheese and a spice Zelda couldn't place filled the room. If there was one thing their mother loved more than everything F. Scott Fitzgerald related—it was a good casserole. In this house, anything was fair game to be turned into one.

"Did you finish setting the table, Zelda?" Mom dumped the steamed broccoli into a serving bowl before handing it off to her.

"Yes, and maybe it will stay that way if Amory stops being annoying." Zelda placed the bowl on the table while sending another glare at her brother. He, of course, ignored her.

"Amory, stop bothering your sister. Zelda, be nice to your brother." It was their mom's automatic response when either of them complained about the other.

"I wasn't!" Amory whined. "I was trying to tell you about the dragons, but you weren't listening to me."

Zelda rolled her eyes and pulled out a chair. "There is no such thing as dragons. Just because you saw it on that show about thrones or whatever, doesn't mean it's real."

She still couldn't believe her parents let him watch it. He'd always been prone to thinking imaginary creatures were real. One time, he had been convinced gremlins lived under his bed, and he'd slept on the couch for a month until he forgot about it. She would've figured by twelve years old that Amory had grasped the difference between fiction and reality, but apparently not. And if he believed the dragons were real, he was clearly not old enough to be seeing the other content in the show.

"Yes, huh. They were on TV, but it wasn't on the show. I know that's not real, Zelly. I'm not stupid."

Zelda raised one eyebrow at him, and he retaliated by copying her.

"That's nice, honey," Mom said, not noticing the faces they were pulling at each other. She placed the casserole on the table, setting it on top of one of their grandma's knitted potholders. "Be careful. It's hot."

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