A/N: A little one shot that got stuck in my head. Hope you enjoy.
The acrid smoke from the recently lit pyres filled his nostrils and burned his young lungs as he sat on the cold ground, arms hugging his knees, shaking. Ash from the fires floated around him like tainted snow, landing on his ragged clothes. Absently, he brushed them off not allowing his mind to linger on the fact that the flakes were the product of the burning of Magog and of his friends, his family.
Seamus Harper crushed a sob that threatened to rack its way through his small body.
He had to be strong now. With his parents dead and most likely, his aunt and uncle one of the many currently being burned, it was only the children left. Brendan, Declan, himself and Siobahn were all that remained of the once large family he had known a few years ago.
He turned his face upward, searching the sky for the stars and for any hope that the four of them would somehow manage to escape the Nietzschean slaver raids and the ravenous Magog. All he saw was smoke and a sky so polluted that he could only dream of the pinpricks of light called stars.
But he knew they were there from the stories his mother had once told them of people who traveled amongst the glowing suns, and from watching the Nietzschean ships rocket into the atmosphere. In the depths of his soul, he knew that his place was among them.
He heard an unrelenting scream and he quickly turned his head, eyes searching the distance for anymore of the furry shapes that had attacked them only hours before. Shortly, two shots followed and the scream ended. It must have been some poor soul that had become infested during the attack and put out of her misery before the feral beasts could burst from her stomach baptized in blood. They'd be putting her body on the fire now…
He shuddered and tried to push the tragic scene from his mind as a tear streaked from his bright blue eyes, down his dirty face and finally splashed into the fabric of his tattered shirt. But he couldn't. As much as he tried, he couldn't get the brutality around him to disappear and he couldn't help but dwell on his own private losses.
His mother was dead. His father was dead. His aunts and uncles were dead. And as his eyes searched, he found no hope amid the inky black that stretched above him.
Seamus heard his young cousin climbing the hill before he saw her. He could tell by the short steps that it was Siobhan and not one of the older two.
He barely glanced at the six-year old, not wanting to see the thin frame and the unnaturally large expressive blue eyes that looked out of place on her ashen face. He had come up on the hill to escape, not be reminded of the past few hours, and she had come unwelcome, like his recent thoughts, to intrude upon his solitude.
She sat down beside him, and despite trying to ignore her, he allowed her small hand to slip into his and permitted her the comfort of leaning against him.
Without preamble, she spoke. "Declan told me that mum and da weren't ever coming back," she said softly.
Seamus let his shoulders sag when his suspicions were confirmed and allowed his earlier callousness toward his cousin to melt away. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer, trying to offer comfort the only way he knew how.
"I'm sorry." It was really all he could offer.
Her response was to snuggle in closer to him and clutch his shirt. She had climbed the hill looking for her own escape, looking for solace with her dreamer of a cousin instead of staying with her reality based older brother and wallowing in the destruction of the camp and their personal loss.
She watched Seamus watch the sky.
"What are you doing?" she asked curiosity finally grabbing hold of her.
"Star gazing," came his simple reply.
She looked up, brushed some falling ash away from her face and stared at the lightless black.
"I don't see anything."
"You can't see them, but they're there."
"How do you know?"
"Because my mum told me they were."
Siobhan looked up to the sky again squinted her eyes and scrunched her small face, searching for the things her cousin saw. She still saw nothing but was undeterred.
"Can you tell me about them?"
Seamus allowed himself a world weary sigh. He was supposed to be on the hill alone, dreaming, reassuring himself not trying to reassure a small girl who had just lost both her parents. It annoyed him and he was about to tell her to leave him be, when he casually looked down into her face, the far away fires illuminating her large eyes and expectant features.
Instead, he found himself launching into one of the many stories his mother used to tell him. She had used them to calm him when he had been sick with fever or rock him asleep when they had to go another day without food and his poor stomach ached. They inspired him. When others only looked a day ahead or maybe a week, he would look so far into the future that he could almost taste the days when he would live among the stars.
After his tale had finished and an hour had passed, Siobhan had been lulled into the sweet fantasy world where her older cousin frequented.
Afraid to break the spell but dying to know, she spoke. "Can we go there someday? To the stars?"
He gave her an affectionate squeeze. "I hope so."
They heard the heavy steps of someone climbing the hill and Declan's voice broke through the smoky night. "Siobhan? Are you up here?"
"Over here," she called back to him.
He came over the rise; his clothes tattered, stained with blood and soot. Being much older, a teenager, he had been expected to help clean up after the raid. He looked tired and slightly irritated.
"What are you two doing up here?"
"Star gazing," Siobhan answered.
Seamus inwardly grimaced. Declan was not one for living in fantasy worlds and he was one of those practical people that always hated the stories that Seamus' mother told.
Siobhan, being young, didn't understand and continued to elaborate. She pointed toward the sky.
"Look, Declan. Can't you see them? Aren't they pretty?"
Declan's eyes narrowed as he looked down on his cousin. "You been filling her head with those stories, haven't you?"
Seamus stood. There was no sense in denying it. "She was upset. I was trying to get her mind off of…"
The blow came quickly. One minute, he was standing, the next he was on his back, sprawled on the ground, blood running from a split lip. Declan towered over him, a finger wagging in his face.
"You will not fill my sister's head with your fool notions of escaping this rock. We live here and we die here. The sooner she understands that, the better her chances of living are."
Declan grabbed Siobhan's hand and began pulling her away from the hill. She looked back, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open, not able to comprehend what had just transpired but not wanting to leave until all her questions were answered.
She twisted out of her brother's grasp and ran to her fallen cousin. She knelt down beside him as she heard Declan yelling at her in the distance.
"You'll take me with you, won't you? Please?" she pleaded, almost breathless. "Promise me that I'll get to go."
Seamus wiped the blood from his mouth and gingerly sat up. "I promise, Siobhan. Wherever I go, I'll take you with me."
The ensuing smile split her face in two. She jumped up from the ground, ran to the edge of the hill, turned and gave Seamus a small wave before sprinting off to rejoin her yelling brother.
Seamus watched her go, a small smile tugging at his lips. He again, made himself comfortable sitting on the ground, pulled his knees to his chest and turned his face toward the stars.
Seamus Harper, genius extraordinaire, stood on the Observation deck of the Andromeda, staring at the stars and twirling his tin whistle between his fingers. He didn't know why he was suddenly remembering that night. Maybe it was the stars that glowed right outside of his current home. Maybe it was the derogatory mudfoot comment that was made by a visiting delegation earlier. Or maybe it was the gut wrenching loneliness that filled him when he remembered where he was from and that he was one of a very few that actually escaped.
Whatever it was, he was grateful that it triggered a semi-good memory for once and not the brutal, rancid nightmares that plagued him often.
Staring out into the stars, he was fortunate to remember his cousin as a young innocent girl who believed in fairy tales and not the girl, who years later, had them ripped from her by a magog. She didn't escape Earth and unfortunately she never did get to play among the stars.
But Harper knew that as long as he held her in his heart and in his memory, she truly was with him. He couldn't help but smile.
"We made it, Siobhan. We made it."
Hope you liked it!