Disclaimer: The Ishtars belong to Kazuki Takahashi and other respective owners.
Summary: Traditionally, it was the mother's duty to care for the son and scrub the blood off the floors once the ritual was over. But Malik had no mother, so the task fell to his older sister. Isis-centric.
Notes: Written because...I love the Ishtars. This is going to be somewhat centered on Isis, because I've always been fond of her. I feel a kinship to her in a really dorky sort of way; I'm an overprotective big sister myself, and I shudder to think of my younger siblings (be they biological or not) going through something as horrific as what happened to Malik on his tenth birthday. Yay, run-on sentences...?
Traditionally, it was the mother's duty to care for the son and scrub the blood off the floors once the ritual was over. But Malik had no mother, so the task fell to his older sister.
'Surely it must be time now,' she thought over and over again, until finally her father appeared at the door.
"It is finished," he growled, and walked away again.
Isis leapt to her feet, reaching into the trunk at the foot of her bed. She'd been gathering supplies all week, preparing for this exact moment.
She fled down the corridor to the room, trying her best to brace herself for whatever would be waiting for her beyond the door. She pushed the door open, arms full of bandages, and nearly dropped her bundle when she saw him.
"Malik," she whispered breathlessly. She was at his side in an instant, kneeling next to him. There was blood on the floor – his blood – and she disregarded it even as she felt it, warm and sticky, soaking through her dress.
"Neesan," came the hoarse reply. "Where are you?" Malik asked, looking around with wild violet eyes.
"I'm here," answered his sister, stricken. "I'm right here." She reached out and ran her fingers through his hair, and he seemed to relax slightly at the touch. "I'm going to help you," she told him quietly. She'd brought her old shawl with her, the one Malik used to wrap himself in after a bad dream. Because it smells like Neesan, he would say. And then the shawl would disappear, and sometimes Isis would lose her patience and snap at Malik to give it back. She'd always feel bad afterward, though, and so she'd explain to him that it wasn't right to take other people's things without permission.
She wrapped him in the shawl then, wincing at the way he gave a choked cry as the cloth touched the marred flesh on his back.
"Can you walk?" she asked, but she received no answer; the new wave of pain had apparently jarred Malik's senses somewhat.
"I can't leave," he said desperately, clutching at Isis's arm. "He's out there..."
"Malik, it's alright," Isis told him, panic rising in her throat. "It's over now. The ritual is over."
Malik shook his head, tears spilling over. "I-It doesn't matter," he sobbed. "He's going to hurt us all."
"W-who?" Isis asked in alarm. "...Father?"
"Not Father," Malik said in panic. "H-Him! He wants t-to kill us!"
"It's alright, Malik," she said desperately, willing to say anything to get him to his feet and out of this room. Where was Rishid? He would do so much better at calming the child. She knew it was terribly selfish of her, but she couldn't help but feel angry with her older brother. Didn't he know they needed him? She took a deep breath; she was on her own. "I'll protect you," she promised.
'But you couldn't protect him from this, could you?' she thought, before she could stop herself. She swallowed the lump in her throat and banished such thoughts from her mind. Slowly she lifted Malik to his feet, softly singing the old lullaby she had used to calm him when he was younger. He shuddered, clinging to her with every ounce of strength he had left.
She sang as she cleaned and bandaged the wounds as best as he could; when it was all over he laid his head in her lap and continued to sob, and she stroked his hair and sang him to sleep. Her favorite shawl lie discarded on the floor, now covered in blood.
They had been like that for only a little while when Rishid entered the room, and Isis saw the bloody bandages on his face. She could only stare, understanding exactly what had happened.
"Are you alright?" he asked then, his voice hoarse.
She nodded wordlessly, overcome with guilt – she'd been angry with him for not being there, when all that time, he had been...
Rishid turned to leave, and Isis looked up. "Don't go," she said suddenly, her eyes pleading. He blinked in surprise, before smiling slightly and coming to sit next to her on the bed.
Silently, he took one of her hands in his own, and, seizing the cloth she'd been using to clean the wounds on Malik's back, began wiping the blood off her hand.
It was Malik's blood...
She looked down at her other hand and noticed there was blood beneath her fingernails, as well, and that would take ages to come off. Tears suddenly sprang to her eyes and she closed them tightly, trying desperately not to cry.
Rishid continued to clean her hands, and when he was finished, he drew her into his arms. She let out a choked sob, and he smiled. His little siblings...He loved them so much. Here was his beautiful strong little sister, who had followed him around like a shadow since the time she could walk. And she cared so much for her little brother, lying so deathly still and in such pain across her lap.
"He is lucky to have you," Rishid murmured. "Mother would be so proud of you, Isis."
She shuddered in his arms and shook her head. "N-no...I'm not strong like her at all, I..."
Rishid smiled slightly and held her a little tighter. "You don't understand," he said quietly. "When it was all over, she would have cried too." And after a pause, he felt her bury herself in his arms and sob...
More notes: Abrupt ending, I know, but I couldn't think of what else to do...
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