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Plum Blossom (Blue/Green)

[Prince of Tennis] Et Cetera: Chapter 2

Posted on 2013.11.20 at 10:44
Current Mood: rushedrushed
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Today is Cetera's 9-year anniversary.

Et Cetera was born 11.20.2004, six months after I first got into the Prince of Tennis, third TeniPuri epic-length fanfic I started, and the second to finish (7.18.2006). I'm still playing desperate catch-up for the NaNoWriMo 2013, but no matter what I had to do an update for Cetera today. So here's the second chapter of Et Cetera.

“...Although the War of Adamant lasted only four years, the loss of life and damage to the ecosphere were staggering across the world. The ancient forests surrounding the White Mountains were all but destroyed, and the rich fields around Irida (1) were left barren, devoid of life. Among the Sprites, Earth-Dragons and Ice-Dragons became extinct, and other Dragon-kinds were nearly depleted in number; Unicorns and Elementals likewise suffered devastating losses, especially Light, the rarest of the Elementals even before the war, of which only a handful remained. Therefore, although Cetera’s own pain and loss were great, the High Council declared a state of emergency and took the endangered Sprites under protection.”

----- History of Cetera, vol. XXVII

(1) Old name for Irodea, the current capital of Ketys.

Et Cetera

Chapter 2

Castor and Ryoma need not have worried; Tezuka was not at Cassidna Mansion when they arrived. On the other hand, Fuji was deathly ill with high fever, and nothing, no medicine or herbs, could improve his condition. As he watched over Fuji all night, Ryoma fought down unnamed terror with each labored breath, each faint sound -- never too loud, as if the pain was too great to cry out any louder. Ryoma did not remember when he fell asleep.

When he awoke, Ryoma was greeted by the sight of Fuji lying pale and still against the sheets, his fever broken. He looked for Castor from the window, but the Ice-Dragon was nowhere to be seen. Shrugging, Ryoma went to fetch a basin of water and washcloth; Castor never came or went without reason, and would come back in due time. As he set about wiping the damp skin of Fuji’s face, as he had done so many times during the night, something caught his eyes. Actually, two things struck him: one was that Fuji did not have any bruises from yesterday’s fight, and in fact had no other scars than the ones left by the Vanuk on his right shoulder and left forearm. Fuji had told him no healing spell would work on the wounds received from Vanuk, yet the two wounds were closed, and judging from the looks of them, already healing. The other was a red mark on the back of Fuji’s left hand, too vividly red to be a bruise.

Curious, Ryoma leaned to take a closer look, and realized the faint, apricot-sized mark was made of thin red lines forming a complex pattern, too regular and symmetrical to be an accidental shape. Though it was fading, the mark stood out starkly red against Fuji’s pale skin. After a few minutes, Ryoma continued his task, but couldn’t help stealing glances at the strange mark.

It was near nightfall when Castor returned. Ryoma was grateful, because although Fuji seemed to be merely sleeping, he still had not regained consciousness. After a look at Fuji, Castor reassured Ryoma he would be fine.

“Where did you go?” Ryoma was annoyed that his voice sounded more petulant than he had intended.

Castor chuckled, and answered his real question. “I left when I was sure Fuji was out of danger, little one. I wanted to make sure there were no Vanuk left. You were already asleep, so I did not wake you.”

“Fuji would have known if there were any left,” Ryoma said with a slight frown.

“And I should have known about the Vanuk lurking so near my lair,” Castor replied, a hint of steel in his tone. “It never hurts to be sure, little one.”

“Spoken like a true Dragon,” Ryoma muttered, but Castor merely let out a low rumble, which, for him, passed for a chuckle. “You never knew?” His voice was serious, and Castor bowed his head minutely, thoughtful.

“I never noticed them,” Castor admitted. “However, the Vanuk are difficult to detect.” Seeing Ryoma’s confusion, Castor explained. “The Vanuk are an ancient breed of hunters. They hunt down the beings of Magic,” Castor paused, eyes narrowing, “The unauthorized kind of Magic. They have the ability to either negate Magic or turn it against the user. They cloak themselves quite well, and at one time had been the greatest threat against Human Mages and Sprites.”

“And Dragons,” Ryoma hazarded a guess, and Castor stiffened.

“Yes,” Castor confirmed, his eyes cold as his element. “It was a long time ago, however, since the last of them had been sighted.” He left it unsaid that it was more than a little strange that the Vanuk never came hunting for him in his lair, even though they had been so close.

“Do you think it’s possible that more have survived?”

Castor shook his immense head. “I do not know, little one. It is not impossible.”

“But who created them?” Ryoma asked, half curious and half frustrated. “Why do they hunt those with Magic?”

Castor looked at him with ageless wisdom, sharpened with experience and tempered with time, and Ryoma instantly guessed it was not a subject Castor wished to discuss with him. “Those are not questions unfitting from one like you,” Castor answered finally, “but their answers are not yet fitting for you to hear. Nor can I give you the full and truthful answers, for I do not know if there is any alive now who has them.” Castor paused for a long moment. “But I will tell you this: Vanuk were created to destroy life. No matter who created them or for what purpose, what they do defines what they are.”

Ryoma frowned. “But do they choose what they do?” Castor looked startled for a moment, then smiled.

“You bring up a very good point, little one. No wonder Fuji thinks so highly of you.”

Ryoma ducked his head to hide a pleased flush, knowing that Castor never lied, and missed the knowing look on the ancient Dragon’s face. It wasn’t like he cared what Fuji thought... Okay, he did care, but Fuji made a lifestyle out of not saying anything clearly, and damned if Ryoma was going to admit something before Fuji did.

Early next morning, Fuji finally awoke, weak and exhausted, but unchanged, himself, and Castor returned to his lair after he was satisfied that Fuji would be all right. Although Ryoma said nothing, he was sure his relief was palpable, which probably explained why Fuji gave in with good graces when he offered to help with Fuji’s bath. The main bath in Cassidna Mansion was the most elaborate part of the house, as well as the most modern; the bathroom had gone through a series of extensive renovations and featured an innovative new plumbing system and a large marble bathtub sunk into the floor. As he applied fire spell to help warm the bathwater faster, Ryoma stole furtive glances at Fuji, concerned by the pallor that still lingered. Fuji sat by the bathtub, hands resting lightly on the edge, his skin as white as the marble underneath.

Ryoma frowned. The red mark on Fuji’s left hand was missing.

“Something the matter, Echizen?”

Ryoma snapped his gaze back to his mentor’s face. Fuji seemed like his usual self, veiled and layered, never giving away even the slightest weakness. Usually he was frustrated with Fuji for being who he was -- guarded and secretive -- but today it was reassuring, that Fuji felt strong enough to act like his normal self. So Ryoma shook his head.

“I’m surprised Castor stayed here for so long,” Fuji murmured, in his usual way of questioning without actually asking.

“I told him about Tezuka,” Ryoma answered. After ten years with him, Fuji’s line of thoughts was no longer such a great mystery, at least some of the times.

“And he still came,” Fuji said quietly.

“I told him I trust Tezuka,” Ryoma replied, becoming a little uneasy; Castor was important to Fuji, and Fuji guarded him as jealously as Castor guarded his lair, and Tezuka was, strictly speaking, an outsider.

Fuji was quiet for a moment. “I see.”

Ryoma let out an annoyed sigh. “Tezuka wouldn’t ask you for explanations. Or betray your secrets.”

“I suppose he wouldn’t,” Fuji replied evenly. “Thank you,” he added in a softer voice, stepping closer to the bath.

Ryoma stared at him, surprised by the easy capitulation. “You’re welcome,” Ryoma answered, and turned his back to the rustle of Fuji’s clothes sliding to the floor. When he heard the quiet splash of Fuji settling in the bathwater, Ryoma gathered the discarded clothing and left, feeling Fuji’s gaze on his back.


A little after midnight, in the northernmost peak of the Pia Mountains, a distant rumble sounded from deep underground, shattering the silence of the night around the Lake Genetra. The next instant, a pillar of blinding light surged from the Pia Mountains and touched the sky, like a white-hot blade piercing the heaven. Then, a few minutes later, the beam of light disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, leaving no trace of what transpired just moments ago.

Many leagues away from the Pia Mountains, in the fields sleeping under the Seven Mountains, a figure stumbled and fell, just out of sight from a nearby village. The figure lay on the ground where it had fallen, unmoving save for the long strands of dark brown hair stirring in the spring night breeze.


Mist twined its tendrils over the iridescent water of the Lake Aeterna, deep in the heart of Heda. The lake surface was calm, windless, yet the mist moved and twirled on its own accord.

In the center of the lake, underneath the shifting colors of the water, a light flickered weakly. But it was soon muffled under the wisps of the mist, and when the waters were visible again, the light was nowhere to be seen.


The next morning, Tezuka returned from Morgiana’s lair in the Northern Vales. Though he seemed surprised to see both of them home, Tezuka made no comment upon seeing how pale Fuji was.

“Were you ill?” Tezuka asked, and Fuji nodded, with a barely perceptible smile. Tezuka did not ask anything further, and Fuji allowed a moment to reflect that Ryoma might have been right. Before he could ask how Tezuka’s research went, Tezuka spoke again. “Did you see what happened last night, shortly after midnight?”

Fuji shook his head, puzzled. “I’ve been ill the last few days, so I went to bed early.”

“You missed it?” Tezuka sounded mildly surprised. “A pillar of light was seen, rising from the Pia Mountains region, enough to turn the night sky bright for a few minutes.”

“I did,” Fuji admitted, surprised himself that he had not. He made a note to ask Ryoma whether he had seen the light; it would be just like his pupil to neglect mentioning something like that. Ryoma had a natural abundance of talent and near-photographic memory when it came to Magic, but tended to ignore most things that didn’t concern him directly.

Tezuka looked thoughtful. “Heda will most likely send a team to investigate the Pia Mountains soon. I would prefer to have a better idea what it might have been before they get to the place. But I don’t have enough time to examine the grounds myself.”

Fuji studied Tezuka’s face, noting the slight hints of frustration. Then, an alarm went off in his mind. “Pia Mountains, did you say?”

Tezuka blinked, surprised. “Yes,” he replied. Fuji looked away, troubled. Heda had alliances with the Water-Dragon clans. If they used the Water-Dragons, Heda’s investigative team would arrive in matter of hours, if not less. If Heda sent a team now, right into Castor’s lair... Dragon Magic was tricky, and Castor had several layers of weaves protecting his lair, but Heda’s investigators nonetheless might stumble into the hidden cave, catching Castor unaware.

“Can you delay the team from getting there?” Fuji asked suddenly. Tezuka looked at Fuji, surprise in his eyes. In all the years they’d known each other, Fuji had never once asked anything like this from him. Or anything at all, really. Tezuka leveled a questioning look at him, asking without words. “There is something I need to do,” Fuji said after a moment of consideration. “But the Council won’t like it very much.” The calm, penetrating gaze was difficult to meet, but Fuji met it head-on, knowing Tezuka required his honesty, as much as he was able to give, before considering his request.

After a moment of pause, Tezuka nodded. “How long do you need?”

“A day. No more than that.”

Tezuka considered this. “Can I borrow your Book?” Fuji did not think to question, and led Tezuka his study. “I may not be able to convince them to stay away for a whole day,” Tezuka warned, before turning his attention to the copper basin where Fuji’s inactive Book rested in the form of water-mirror. As Tezuka began to speak to Atobe, Fuji quietly retreated from the room, giving the two of them privacy. Out in the hallway, he looked up to see Ryoma walking towards him.

“Is Tezuka still here?” Ryoma asked, and Fuji nodded.

“Don’t go in yet.” Ryoma nodded in response, and walked back with Fuji to the sitting room, waiting for Tezuka to finish and join them. In little less than ten minutes, Tezuka returned and rejoined them.

“The Council’s action regarding the last night’s incident has been postponed until after a meeting has been held,” Tezuka announced. “The meeting will take place midday.” Fuji nodded, relieved. The Council meetings tended to take hours and hours; any action of the Council would be delayed a full day. “You might want to take less time than they do,” Tezuka added, his glance significant. A fleeting frown crossed Fuji’s brows, then he nodded.

“Then, we don’t have time to waste,” Fuji said quietly. Ryoma glanced at him, worry in his eyes.

“You’re not strong enough.”

Tezuka’s frown was hint enough that he was restraining himself from asking questions.

“No,” Fuji agreed, and closed his eyes, focusing. His bond with Castor was strong, forged over many centuries, Dragon’s possessive Magic wound together with his own. He gave a sharp tug on that connection, weaving the call together with a sense of urgency, and felt Castor stir in response, alert and focused. “He’ll be here shortly,” Fuji announced. Ryoma nodded, ignoring Tezuka’s questioning gaze, knowing Tezuka would get his answers very soon.

Scarce fifteen minutes later, Castor landed in the backyard of Cassidna Mansion. Ryoma looked rather smug at Tezuka’s speechless surprise. “An Ice-Dragon,” Tezuka murmured, disbelief and wonder in his voice. “I thought the War of Adamant had seen the last of the Ice-Dragons.”

“I am most likely the last of my kind,” Castor confirmed. Tezuka, apparently recalling his manners, bowed to Castor, which Castor returned formally. “You must be Tezuka of Cetera. I am Castor of the Ice-Dragons.”

“I am honored to meet you,” Tezuka said, and the sincerity of his tone was impossible to misconstrue.

“Likewise. The little one here,” Castor indicated Ryoma with a toss of his head, “has told me about you.” Tezuka raised an eyebrow in inquiry, and Ryoma merely shrugged in return. Fuji traded an amused glance with Castor.

“Cetera’s High Council will want to investigate the Pia Mountains,” Fuji said, turning all their attention back to the matter at hand; peripherally he was aware of the dawning understanding in Tezuka’s eyes. “Will your lair be all right?”

“There is nothing there that would attract the Council’s attention,” Castor replied slowly. “A masking spell with Dragon-Magic, and no one will be the wiser.” After a pause, Castor added, almost an afterthought, “I can stay in the Crystal Forest in the meantime.”

“You don’t trust the Council.” Tezuka’s tone made it clear it was not a question.

“I do not,” Castor replied, distaste thinly veiled. Tezuka regarded him for a moment, then nodded.

“You are wise not to.”

It was spoken with typical Tezuka-like simplicity, and Castor blinked for a moment, before chuckling heartily. “Cetera have changed much in the past five millennia,” Castor said finally, his voice a deep, pleased rumble, “if they’ve managed to raise one like you in their midst.”

Tezuka inclined his head, brief but formal, acknowledging the praise without arrogance or subservience. Castor’s approving look turned a shade warmer, and Fuji was startled by his own relief. In the periphery of his vision, Ryoma ducked his head, but not quickly enough to hide a smile.

Fuji felt his own lips tugged into a smile in response, sparkling with relief and warmth.


Tezuka found Atobe waiting his sitting room, when he briefly returned to his own mansion to change before attending the Council meeting. Atobe looked displeased, his lips pulled into a tight line. Well accustomed with his friend’s moods, Tezuka sat down, gesturing for Atobe to do the same, and waited.

“The Council is all astir,” Atobe said without preamble, which showed how concerned he was about the situation. “You,” Atobe jabbed a finger towards Tezuka, “are lucky that they won’t connect you to my suggesting a Council meeting.” Tezuka did not deny it. He had been grating on the Council’s nerves, and especially those of the Primi, for a long time. And he had been in the area at the time the light appeared. The Council would have become highly suspicious of him -- possibly enough to place him under observation -- if he had been the one to suggest a meeting which was sure to pose a significant delay in the investigation.

“Have they sent out a team yet?” Tezuka asked instead; neither of them had been much for gratitude or apology between them.

“Oh, they sent out a small team to, and I quote, ‘contain the situation,’ and to keep Humans away from the spot until Council decides what to do.” Atobe’s eyes sharpened, reading the question in Tezuka’s. “If they found anything worthwhile, I would know.”

“They don’t have a guess, then, what it might have been?” Tezuka asked. Atobe shook his head once.

“No, I don’t think they do. That much light should have left more residue of power, or some kind of Magic.” Atobe eyed Tezuka, thoughtful. “You were in the area. Did you feel something?”

“Yes,” Tezuka confirmed, a slight frown creasing his brows. “But as you said, not anything particular that matches something of that scale.”

“I have Light, the rarest of all Elementals.” There was no pride in Atobe’s voice. “But even with Elemental Light, it’s difficult to generate that much light. It would take far greater Magic than I am capable of supplying. And there is no one else who commands Elemental Light at our level.” Atobe did not bother mentioning a level higher than theirs. Both knew no such level existed. “Furthermore, Elementals draw from their environment; there doesn’t seem to be any sign of Magical drain around the Pia Mountains.”

“The Council must be rather nervous,” Tezuka remarked quietly.

“Yes,” Atobe agreed. His lips were still drawn to a tight line, and Tezuka turned his eyes away.

“Enough to start another rat-flush?”

Atobe raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been hanging around Fuji too much, if you picked up such a rustic term.” Tezuka merely gave a slight shrug. “I don’t know,” Atobe finally answered after a long pause. “This is supposedly a time of peace. Unlike last time.” Atobe did not elaborate on the events of the last time, which was the direct reason the Human Mages were so rare and strictly controlled nowadays.

“Or rather, they’ve run out of convenient scapegoats,” Tezuka said calmly. There was another stretch of silence.

“That’s why you should be careful.” Atobe’s voice was low, serious. “You already give them too much excuse.”

“I can handle myself,” Tezuka said, not defensive. Atobe snorted.

“Of course you can. Why else would I bother wasting my time with you?” Atobe drawled, and Tezuka couldn’t help a quirk of his mouth at the contradictory reply. He knew Atobe knew this, too. They had always understood each other.

And it was enough for them.


Three figures stood over the waters of Aeterna, cloaked and hooded in white, their outline almost blurring with the everlasting mist curling over the water.

“A disturbance, for the first time in five thousand years,” a cool voice declared. The solemn statement was met with silence.

“The seal under the mountain has been broken. And the Vanuk guarding the sealed gate have all vanished,” a second voice, melodious and soft, intoned. “Too much, perhaps, for a coincidence.” For a long moment, only silence was the answer.

Third voice, raspy and slow. “We shall continue watching, as we have always. Verily our existence depends on our vigil.” Clearing of a throat, and the same voice continued.

“Whatever we must do, we will do, when the time comes. Now -- let us watch.”


Sanada let out a sigh, softly as to not disturb Yukimura, who sat still with his eyes closed, brows drawn together in deep concentration. After a minute or two, Yukimura opened his eyes, looking frustrated.

“I can’t find the source.”

Yanagi close his book with a snap. “If you can’t find it, Seiichi, no one alive can. You don’t have any guesses what might have caused it?”

“No,” Yukimura replied, mouth tightening. “But...”

“Seiichi?” Sanada stepped closer, concerned by the distant look in Yukimura’s eyes.

“It...felt familiar, that surge of power. I felt it so clearly for one moment, then it was gone.”

“No one else in Heda recognized it,” Yanagi remarked neutrally. “Although everyone saw the light. Most likely, what has the Council on the edge is the fact that much light was generated with no corresponding surge of Magical energy. Nor was there any recognizable Magical signature.” Looking at Yukimura, Yanagi continued. “Yet you did. You felt it even before you saw that light.”

“There was only one source the column of light,” Yukimura replied absently. “I am certain of it.”

“Seiichi.” Sanada’s voice was quiet, but Yukimura’s eyes cleared, focusing on him. “Could you have done it if you wished? With nothing else to draw from, using only your own Magic to fuel something of that scale?”

“Yes,” Yukimura answered.

Sanada lowered his voice by another notch. “Is there anyone else who could have done it?”

Yukimura was silent for a long moment. “I don’t know.” Yukimura admitted. “I have been in this world longer than I care to remember. Yet, all this time, I cannot recall meeting another being with power enough to do that. The source of that power doesn’t need to be anything alive, of course, but --”

“In other words, it could be a powerful item of Magic. An artifact,” Yanagi interrupted. Yukimura looked at him, amusement slipping into the edges of his smile; Yanagi’s area of expertise and research was the applications and origin of Magic, with keen interest in Magical objects.

“Yes, but as I was saying,” Yukimura gave Yanagi a quelling look, who help up a placating hand, “Magical artifacts can amplify one’s Magic, or even serve as a temporary source for non-Magical beings, but they can’t act on their own. Someone must trigger them. A living, sentient being.” Yanagi gave a curt nod, his entire attention focused on Yukimura. “Furthermore, Magic cannot violate physical laws of this world.”

“It cannot be created out of nothingness, nor destroyed; merely transformed and reused,” Yanagi recited automatically. “One can’t make Magic work in a vacuum. But the light could hardly have been a natural phenomenon, either. So there must have been something sentient using Magic to summon that light last night, either by itself or with an exceptionally potent power source.”

“But I can’t find it. Not the user, or the source,” Yukimura’s words were accompanied by a slight frown. “It’s possible that the user moved away from that spot, but...”

“...How many Magical beings are in this world, except perhaps Dragons, that can travel fast enough to elude detection by Cetera?” Yanagi finished. And Dragons weren’t even a far cry of possibility. While Dragon-Magic was formidable, none of the Dragon-kinds could generate light.

“Exactly.” Yukimura sat back.

Sanada shook his head at them. The two of them could go on like this all day. “What I want to know,” Sanada said firmly, “is if this will cause trouble in the future.”

Yukimura’s eyes turned inward, his expression shuttered. “I don’t know,” Yukimura finally replied. “I do know, however, this may be the key I have been missing for all this time.” He looked down at his hands, his eyes reflective. “There are some things I don’t remember completely. I think...” he glanced up at Sanada, “...I think some parts of my memories might have been affected in the War of Adamant. This power, from last night...I don’t remember it. But I know it.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I can feel it.”

Sanada looked at Yukimura, taking in the distant, almost uncertain expression, one which might have reflected feelings of being lost on someone else. His eyes softened just a little in response. “Well, then, I think it’s time for us to take a short break,” Sanada said suddenly, drawing Yanagi’s attention. Yukimura’s eyes remained fixed on his lap. “I hear Gilean Forest is beautiful this time of the year,” he added. A moment later, as he expected, Yukimura’s eyes snapped back to him, understanding dawning in them. “How soon do you think you can arrange to have some time off from your research, Renji?”

Yanagi’s expression was a mixture of affection and exasperation. Really, Sanada was hopeless where Yukimura was concerned. “Two hours. Meet me at my house.” He rose, gathered his books, and left. Sanada and Yukimura looked at each other in silence.

“Thank you, Genichirou,” Yukimura said quietly, his bright eyes gentle.

“You don’t need to thank me,” Sanada replied. “I will go see to the preparations.”

As Sanada swept out of the room, a soft voice, so quiet that the words were all but lost in the air, whispered.

“Yes, I do.”


The boy paused on his way home. The lady he had seen when he was leaving for his errand was still there, sitting alone in the edge of the barley field. His village was a small one, and everyone knew everyone else. This lady was a stranger. She was very beautiful, but her funny-looking white robe was almost in tatters, her hair spilling over her back in impossibly long brown waves. She looked so lonely sitting all by herself, and the boy forgot his mother’s warning not to speak to strangers.

“Are you lost?”

The lady raised her head, her wide brown eyes lovely and doe-like. “I don’t know.”

“Um...” That was not the standard answer, so the boy tried another tact. “Do you know where you are?”

“No,” she replied, her expression placid and untroubled.

The boy tentatively filed her under ‘lost.’ “Where is your family?” The brown eyes suddenly filled with pain, and the lady suddenly looked very, very anxious.

“Family...” she whispered, and suddenly, closed her eyes tight, holding her head in her hands. “I...don’t know,” she finally answered, and her face was so distraught that the boy was instantly filled with sympathy.

“Come with me. Maybe mum can help you find your family.” The boy held out his hand, and after a moment of hesitation, the lady took it. He nearly tripped over her hair, which trailed over the ground, and after a moment of thought, he gathered the long tresses and twined it around the lady’s arm. She’d probably need to cut her hair; it couldn’t be easy going around with so much hair getting in her way. Maybe his mother could help with that, too. Smiling, the boy led her towards his house. “My name is Taichi. Dan Taichi. What’s yours?”

There was a long silence, and when she answered, her voice was very soft. “I don’t remember.”

The boy tightened his hand around hers, feeling sorry for the lady. “Don’t worry. My mum and dad will help you. We’ll find your family. You’ll see.” The boy continued encouragingly. “I have a little sister. Do you have a little sister, too?”

The lady was quiet for a moment, brows creased. “No,” she decided, “I have little brothers.” After another moment, she said sadly, “I lost them.”

The boy remembered one time when he was little, and went out to play with his baby sister, his sister had gotten lost. Maybe that was what she meant?

“It’s okay. I can be your little brother until you find yours. Would you like that?”

The lady’s eyes focused on the boy’s face, and she finally smiled. “Yes, I would like that.” The boy beamed at her, pulling her along by the hand. Her hand was warm, her hold firm and gentle. Her full, red lips curved into a smile, but her eyes seemed distant somehow, as if looking at something far away.

The boy pulled her into the house and closed the door behind them.


Crossposted at http://shiraume-fic.dreamwidth.org/28236.html.

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