A/N: A bit shorter than the others, but worth the read. And make sure you go all the way to the end. -nod-


Mum is screaming.

The sound scares me more than any other noise ever has. I shout too and slap my hands over my ears so hard that for a moment all I can hear is ringing. But her screams are still there, I know. She's still being hurt. I sink down into my bed, taking my hand away from my ear for just long enough to grab the blanket. I pull it over my head and curl into a little ball, the sounds of my sobs still not enough to block it out. And the even scarier thing is that I knew this day was coming, and I can't stop it now that it has arrived. I had tried before, I had tried to warn her about him, but she hadn't listened. She had smiled and offered me toffees, but she hadn't listened. I wish she had.

He is responsible for hurting her, I know. It is obvious. He has always hurt her, even when he had ignored her. But now he is hurting her again and this time it is worse because his attention is on her. This time she is screaming.

There is a moment that's perfectly quiet in which I can hardly breathe. I'm listening closely now and I can hear her quietly whimpering, his voice commanding her to do things in an angry tone. Mr. Todd is there with her and he is hurting her, he is yelling at her, whispering to her. They're both talking now, but I can't make out the words. The noises they make are muffled by the walls that separate their room from mine. If only the walls were thick enough to mute out everything, because the screaming is back.

This time I can't take it anymore. I spring from my bed, wearing nothing by my nightgown, and make my way slowly out of my room. It's dark and I can't see, but I know the house well and I make it down the hall without a problem. Slowly, I creep towards the room they are in. A pool of light creeps from beneath the door. I can see Mr. Todd's feet through the space. It's so loud in there. He screams something at her again and mum screams even louder in return, though hers is a moan without words. I swallow a sob and press myself to the wall beside the door.

Todd swears, violently, using words even I have never heard before. Seconds later, the door slams open, filing the hallway with light and forcing me to shade my eyes against the glare. When I can see again, he is looming above me. I am too scared to move. There is blood all over him. Specks of it are all the way down to his bare feet, splattered on his pale skin. The floor in there must have been a puddle. His face is filthy too, sweat and streaks of red marring his already terrifyingly harsh features. I stare at his hands 

and his arms. His sleeves are rolled up and there is not an inch of skin from his elbows to his fingertips that is not red.

Without thinking, I throw myself on top of him, the surprise of my attack spilling him to the floor. I beat frantically at his face with my hands. I am winning for now, but I know it won't last long. I am only a boy and he is far bigger and stronger than I am. A split in his lip mingles his blood with my mum's, and I scream at him when he pushes me off of him and I topple hard to the floor. My eyes are shut now and I'm rolled up into a little ball. All my weight suddenly depends on my collar; he grabs me by the shirt and hauls me to my feet. I have not seen him so angry in a long while. I whimper.

His eyes frighten me more than I can manage to say. They have always been empty before, whenever I had looked at them in time passed, but now they are dark pits that are full of raging emotions I have never seen before. There are things I am expecting there, anger, rage, hatred, and yet there is something else. A fear. A fear that in its own way is bigger than my own. Confusion adds to the jumble of feelings bottled up inside of me.

"Get out of my way and mind your own business," he snarls in my ear, shoving me roughly against the wall. "Stop interfering or your mum will pay for it." It will never be my fault; it will always be his... and yet I believe him. Unless I want her to get hurt more, I have no other choice. Even though I am breaking my promise. I had told her that nothing would harm her while I was around, and I stand immobile beside the door as he walks right back in again, having washed up quickly in the other room. I promised her and I do not deserve to be forgiven for breaking such a vow. It hurts to know that I cannot do anything to help.

Minutes pass by like hours. I am still outside the door, but now I am sitting down, leaning against the wall because I am too spent to do anything else. They are still in there; she is still yelling. There has been no change at all. It has not gotten better. It has not gotten worse. It just is, and I wonder if this night will ever end. I have my doubts. Maybe this is hell and it will go on forever.

"TOBY!" Her hoarse scream is now directed to me, whereas before she had called out to everyone else. To God. To her mother. To Mister Todd himself, imploring all of them to help her in her plight. To stop her pain. But now she is calling to me and I know I have to go. I leap to my feet without a second thought and plunge into the light, pushing open the door and running through into the room. But when I get there I freeze. She is down on the bed, gripping the posts with white-knuckled fingers. I have never seen her look more scared, more sick. I can hardly recognize her voice as she cries. She is covered in sweat and blood, and Mister Todd is looming above her, dangerous. His razor is in his hand. I swear like a sailor, not even caring how badly I may be chastised for such language later.

I grab onto the lunatic's arm and try to pull him away before he can cut her, but I am too late. And there is so much blood. Crying fills the silence left by the screams, but it is not mine or mum's. It is not Mister Todd's. This is a high pitched wail, pathetic and tiny, and I know that the entire ordeal is over. I stare at the writing bundle of flesh in Mister Todd's arms, severed so cruelly from its lifeline only moments ago, yet somehow still living. It seems to be at home in the redness, for it is pink and wrinkled and fiercely ugly. Even the sheen of fuzz on its head is red, the same colour as mum's hair. I know when it is clean it 

will have pale skin and dark eyes and it will be hers. Hers and the man responsible for her pain. When it is clean, it will be beautiful.

I had told her that he would hurt her when he had proposed marriage those many months ago, but she had only shook her head said that he'd make her happy. That she loved him, and always would. It seems that we both were right. I can see the happiness and love through the exhaustion in her face as Mister T hands her the little baby, the weak smile overtaking her features. She looks relieved that the end result was worth her suffering. She grabs Mister Todd's bloodied hands and holds him close. I can't stop looking at them. A family. Do I belong? Mum is lost in the moment with her husband and her baby.

"Boy, come here."

I am surprised that I am noticed, especially by Mister Todd. His gruff tone is more of a death sentence than a beckoning. I don't move.

"Toby, come 'ere, love." Now she is calling me and I am beside her in a flash. I can't help but to catch her smile, my lips pulling up into a similar expression. I place trembling fingers on the baby's forehead. "Say hello to your brother," she commands quietly.

"Hello," I murmur. I am awed by how small he is.

"Benjamin," Mum whispers. "His name is Benjamin."

A/N: Surprise! Hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading.