Wow, chapter nine already? Never had I written that quick before, not even in French. I thank all my readers, reviewers, and especially Angelicakes/Angela for making this fic more readable and awesome! Thank you! :'D

Also, curse the website for cutting those super plot breakers in the middle ;_; And for refusing to keep the underline under some words.

Disclaimer: I do not own Fire Emblem and its characters. Intelligent Systems and Nintendo own them.

Chapter 9: Coming home

Slowly, the young boy rose his head up and turned to this mysterious yet strangely recognizable voice. He opened his eyes wide as soon as he realized who was behind him. Despite the sun blinding him from the sight of the young man standing in front of him, he immediately recognized the silhouette of the one he had grown up with since the very day he was born.

"Oscar?" the child exclaimed, shaky with joy as he tried to contain his thrill. "Is it really you?" He scrambled to his feet and could now see the full front of this person, elegantly poised in shining armor that gave him the look of a strong man who had seen harsh battles, though his face still exuded the same serenity he was so familiar with before.

"Boyd, it's good to see you again!" the older brother replied while welcoming the younger one warmly in his arms.

"Brother! I missed you!" Boyd exclaimed, squashing him as tightly as he could between his smaller arms. He almost had tears in his eyes, but he wanted to be tough before him, so he tried to hide them with the best boyish strength he could muster. Even so, the oldest brother didn't fail to notice, but continued to play along like he had seen nothing of it.

After a long moment of hugging, Oscar knelt down until he and his brother were at eye level and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. Boyd felt a twinge of excitement as soon as his hand made contact with Oscar's grand costume. It was his first time touching authentic royal armor. The sensation was surprisingly comforting. "I missed you too, Boyd. I'm happy to see you again." His mood changed slightly. "But tell me, what were you doing all alone over here? What happened?"

The younger brother could only let out a "Bah!" He didn't want Oscar to know about what just happened: this would give him a bad impression of how the family got along while he wasn't here, and his problems were his last worries at this point. He didn't want to imply there was any kind of problem that wasn't even Oscar's to deal with in the first place. "It's nothing! I just needed to be alone, that's all!" Boyd added with a faked laugh.

Oscar obviously didn't doubt there was a real problem behind this façade, since he had seen Mina and Rolf only a few minutes ago. As expected, Mina had given an answer similar to Boyd's. Nonetheless, he understood his family didn't want to disclose any of these issues, having fear of ruining his little vacation, and he decided to respect their choice. "All right, if you say so…"

The smile returned to the kid's face in the dash of an instant. "Hey, Oscar, I don't know if it's just me, but… did you grow up a little?"

Oscar started to laugh. "Well, maybe!"

"And your voice, it changed a little as well!"

"That's possible… It's what happens when you get older. Look at you! You're much bigger than the last time I laid eyes on you, too. And what about Rolf? His changes are even more obvious! Before I went to the capital, he was a tiny, weak bundle that could barely utter a word, and now, he's grown so much that he can walk on his own two feet! Imagine that…"

"Pah! In my opinion, he's going to stay small all his life!" Boyd joked with a wide, impish grin.

Before these words, even though they weren't actually set factually, the older one became lost in his thoughts. How could Boyd have such little respect for his own sibling?

On a happier note, he turned back to where he came from previously. He told the younger one to follow him. "So, little brother, are you coming? I have a gift for you!"

Boyd jumped ecstatically. Their family wasn't very wealthy, so getting a present was always a rare treat. The day had started out awful, but it kept getting better and better. He followed his brother but couldn't contain every shred of excitement. He beheld the most stunning sight when before him stood a striking and beautiful horse, not too far out of reach. "Woah!" he exclaimed, highly impressed. "Is that your horse?"

While Oscar was searching in one of the big bags hung to his mare's saddle, he replied, "Yes, her name is Lass. She's been my partner for a few months. We're quite good friends, actually!"

Glimmering stars appeared in the younger one's eyes. "Wow! Can I get on her?"

"Before you do, I want to give you this."

The older brother took out a big bronze axe from the bag. More shining lights multiplied by the gleam of the virgin weapon could be seen reflected in Boyd's eyes. Finally, a real axe, and not another wooden training one that was almost in splinters! Seeing the anticipation of the little one, he smiled a little more. "This is a bronze axe. It's not the best kind in term of quality, but it's still nice, isn't it? I know you like axes, so I hope you like this one."

"If I like it? Of course I like it! I'll make sure to use it all the time!" The young boy took it with his tiny hands, but awkwardly made it fall on the ground. For a weapon, it was quite heavy- not what he was expecting.

The older one started to laugh. "Boyd, only use this weapon when you need it, and at this moment, I don't think you can use it. You know how bad it hurts to receive a blow from a real weapon, right?"

"Really?" Obviously, Boyd still had a long way to learn the concept of a weapon's ability to cause serious injury.

While the boy was having fun swinging his new gift around, Mina came out from the shadows, holding her little green-haired baby in her arms. The young woman approached the two brothers. Seeing Boyd's big happy grin gave her her smile back, despite what happened earlier on in the day. As soon as Oscar noticed the mother and her son, he couldn't resist the need to take his youngest brother in his arms and give him a few cuddles. Baby Rolf started to giggle joyfully with the young man he couldn't quite yet recognize, but how he could feel such ease around him remained a mystery to him.

"So, how long are you staying with us, Oscar?" the stepmother asked, feeling like she wanted to melt upon witnessing the cute scene of a young man hugging a little baby.

Oscar stopped a moment and turned to the young mother. "Four days."

Mina jolted with a surprising grimace. "Four days? Didn't you write seven days in your letter?"

Reassuringly, the young man kept his serene smile within his answer. "Yes, seven days; two days for the road from Melior to Nabu, two more days to get back, and four days at home. My captain gave me an extra day for my 'exemplary behavior'."

The stepmother laughed softly. "Exemplary; that sounds just like the old you!" she exclaimed with a pat on his shoulder.


"Is this true? You're going to cook supper today?"

"Yes. If there's anything I can do, then cooking is one of those things. I've had a warm welcome, and in return, I'll cook you something good."

"But aren't you a little tired?"

"Not really. Lass was the one who walked the whole road, not me!"

There was a gentle mocking tone in the oldest brother's voice, mainly to hint to his younger sibling that his mare wasn't just some mount, but his partner as well, a good friend. Needless to say, the two brothers were having fun conversing about everything.

"Haha, really funny, brother…" Boyd spouted out sarcastically with a flimsy laugh, though he soon returned to his doubt. "But seriously, you look tired…"

"Well, if you really think so, then help me make supper."

The child shut his mouth immediately. There was something he particularly hated to do, and it was cooking. "Huh… but… but…"

The smile went wider on Oscar. "You only have to cut some vegetables. It isn't much."

Boyd agreed to this simple task; nothing was easier for him than cutting things, from hard logs to small vegetables.

Mina soon came back from the local market and brought some fresh meat along with her. "Here's for your stew, Oscar!"

"Thank you, Mina!" the older brother thanked. "Oh, by the way, Rolf is sleeping in your room. He looked exhausted."

"Ah, of course; it's his sleeping time."

"You could check up on him while Boyd and I are cooking supper. He looked slightly agitated without you, so let's hope he doesn't shift around on the bed too much."

"Oh yes, of course! I can't wait to taste your food, sweetie!"

Mina returned to her room with a skip in her step. Truthfully, she did not want to make supper, especially if she had to feed a chef better than her. Oscar let out a long, relieved sigh and turned to his little brother as he cut the meat into smaller pieces. "So, Boyd, tell me about life here."

For a moment, Boyd stopped with his vegetables. Confusedly, he started to scratch his head. "Huh? What do you mean?" he asked, stunned by this sudden serious demeanor coming from his older brother.

"How is life without me?"

The younger one hesitated, grasping for an answer. There was so much to talk about, but nothing managed to get out of his mouth during that instant. "Hmm… I don't know…"

"Dad, how is he?"

Finally, the conversation could start easier, since Boyd was so talkative about his father. "Well, Dad's working super hard, and recently, his friends and he caught an evil bandit who started attacking an old woman! He's still playing Master Edonio's servant and he's always tired. I think he's working too much!"

Oscar laughed a little before turning his attention on the meat. "That's really the same father I knew; always hardworking and strong. What about Mina?"

A slightly irritated expression drew up onto Boyd's face. "Mm, Mina… well, she's always the same, but she won't stop spoiling Rolf! She's ticking me off!"

The older brother kept his smile. "C'mon, I hope you realize you are nine now. Rolf's only one and half. It's normal for Mina to put more effort into taking care of someone as young as he, because Rolf can't take care of himself just yet. You can, Boyd." At that moment, Oscar took another long breath. "Well, you're still young, but you are old enough to do more and take on more responsibilities: you can speak, run, do housework, and take care of Rolf, to name a few."

"Hmph. But she won't let me do anything! Why can't I do anything without her yelling at me? It's been like that ever since Rolf got here!"

A little exhausted, Oscar scratched his head and set free another sigh. "You have to understand her. Mina always wanted to have her own child, and at long last, she finally has one." Even he could sometimes feel a bit of envy towards the small child, as he himself never had any kind of real mother, and the one he remembered was not even a caring one. As for Boyd, he was a little too young to remember that awful mother of his, but had always wanted to have one of his own. That was why he loved his father so much, to have such a loving and proud dad. Because he was his sole true parent, the boy decided to give him all the additional love he would have also given to his mother. Too bad he was always working…

"All right, finish chopping the vegetables. The water is boiling, and we must let them stew in it for a while." Oscar decided it was time to change the subject, even though he was the one to bring it up originally. Thinking of cooking never failed to reassure his own spirit, as it was one of his favorite past-times.

Boyd obeyed and cut the last onion in quarters. Oscar put everything in the hot pot and added his delicious spices while mixing everything frequently. After lowering the fire's intensity, he finally sat down around the table with his brother. "Say, it smells so great! When are we going to eat?" the boy asked impatiently, sniffing the air.

"In about an hour, I'd say. We must leave it on a low fire, or else everything will get stuck in the pot and burn."

The hour passed slowly, with Mina staying in her room to watch Rolf, who still slept deeply, and with the two brothers discussing their separate lives. Soon enough, a new call would cut their conversation. The older brother could feel a warm relief in his heart when he recognized this familiar voice. He got up quickly with open arms to the direction of the voice. "Dad!" he exclaimed, all up in emotion to see the best father he could ever have again, after so long.

Upon seeing the son he hadn't seen for a little over a year, the man suddenly forgot about his tiredness from work and warmly accepted his child in his arms. "Oscar! You're back!" After another hug, Nova gently pulled out his son away from him while keeping his hands on his shoulders. "Hey, you grew up a lot! You're becoming a fine man! I'm proud of you!"

"Thanks, Dad. It's so good to see you here again with everyone else!"

For one moment, his excitement went a little wild. Nova started to look around frenetically before turning to his eldest son. "Your horse? Your armor? Where are they? I must see them!"

Decidedly, his father's enthusiasm was a little strange to him; he never seen him that way before, especially not after a long day of work. Because he was so dumbfounded by this, his mouth stayed shut. Boyd answered for him instead. "Oh, Lass! She's in the backyard and Oscar put his armor in our room!"

The father's eyebrow rose up in confusion. "Lass?"

"It's Brother's mare!"

It was at this very moment that the man started laughing hysterically. "Haha! Lass, that's a good name for a young woman!" Soon, the smell of the marvelous stew invaded his nostrils. "Ah, it smells so good in here! Did you cook supper for tonight?"

The feeling of embarrassment overwhelmed Oscar a little before his father's overreacted enthusiasm. "Yeah, that's me…"

While the whole family rejoiced the return of their oldest child, Mina, on her side of things as she listened to all the merriment, felt a bit put aside from the rest, all forgotten…


"So, darling, are you ready for a wild night?"

"I don't know. I'm a little tired, you know…"

"But you're always tired!"

"Listen, Mina, working isn't easy…"

They were lying together on their bed. Mina was trying to get some 'alone' time with her husband, but Nova didn't seem to appreciate the idea quite as much as she. It wasn't uncommon to see such a scene between the two, but this night, mysteriously, Mina couldn't understand, or rather, refused to, very much like a child.

"But why? About an hour ago, you were ready to take all your time to see your son in his armor, and now, you're resisting me? I don't understand! Am I not as important in your eyes, or what?"

Nova sighed slowly, trying to keep his calm before lowering his head. He spoke again, a little more lively this time. "Mina, please understand. I loved the life I had as a knight, protecting the country I love. It was, for me, the greatest life I could have ever wanted. I was searching for glory, and I got it. To see my son on his way to glory like that is like a great beam of energy, you know? Maybe we'll find that glory once again, the same one I lost…"

Even though the woman could understand his sentiments, she continued to sulk. Nova felt uneasy. For a while, any kind of discussion about the two sons that weren't hers brought skirmish between them. "Oh, so I really don't count, then!" That was when she brought back the subject the man didn't want to hear at all, again. "It's that woman, isn't it? What was her name? Era… Eryne…?"


The woman continued with spiked rage. "That's it; Eryl!"

In fact, there was some truth in what the young woman was saying. Nova never openly spoke of Oscar's true mother, sans with his wife and a select few of the townsfolk who had once known her. He had indeed mentioned her name before his sons, but none of them guessed who she really was. To them, she was nothing more than an old partner and a good friend of his during his time with the Crimean army. Deep within him, the love he gave to her was still very strong. How his oldest son was starting to grasp at success in the kind of life he had always wanted to persevere in himself was giving him back his… life.

Wondering to himself, he wasn't sure if it was a good idea to have spoken about that woman from the past, after all.

"You keep loving that dead woman, and I don't count anymore, that's it?"

The father cradled his head between his hands in exasperation. He still denied, in a sense, the death of his old wife, and hearing the combination of the words "dead" and "Eryl" could only deal great harm to his heart. "Yes, I still love her, but… I love you too, Mina, just as much as I once loved her…"

Unfortunately for him and for her, the woman could still notice a tinge of lies in his statement. She turned to the opposite direction of her husband, selfishly taking cover for herself. "Good night, Nova." She said simply with a dry voice.

For a moment, Nova could only stare into the emptiness, void of thought. Passing his hand through his tousled hair, he thought, "I'm sorry, Mina… Everything is my fault… That is why… I'm not mad at you…"


Tomorrow, early morning, the three brothers were playing with the mare in front of the house. Oscar was wearing the armor and sitting on the mount per Boyd's request so everyone could see his awesomeness (even though there weren't many people up in town at this time of the day). How embarrassed the young knight in training was, but the younger brother was so proud to have such a sibling that he could crow about to others. Rolf didn't pay much attention to the whole scene save for the sake of the huge beast. He loved animals, and horses definitely didn't scare him at all.

Soon enough, an old couple noticed the three brothers in their little game. Curiously, both of the elderly citizens came to them with an enthusiastic eye. "Well, well, what a surprise, Boyd and Rolf!" the old man exclaimed with a gentle yet frightening smile, of which slightly spooked the young Rolf. They seemed to know the family, but could not recognize that mysterious young man in shining armor.

Boyd turned to them and returned the happy grin while Rolf stayed behind him, gripping his older brother's hands. Oscar let out a small laugh at the idea of his youngest brother having a fear of elders, but having absolutely no problem with gigantic beasts like his mare. "Hey! It's Mister Mathias and Miss Kinni!" Boyd greeted.

"So, would our little Boyd like to introduce us to this handsome young man in shining armor?" the old woman asked with humor playing in her tone. Truthfully, she would normally get shy in front of a true knight. It was quite rare to see people like him around here, far from the capital.

"Sure!" Boyd replied with a pretentious air, successfully raising his older brother's shyness a little more. "That's my big brother, Oscar! You don't know him 'cuz you moved in that house while he was training in the capital!"

So that was it- the old couple were their new neighbors. That was why Boyd seemed to know them. Oscar heard the short story of their neighbor's house before. Apparently, it became empty when its sole inhabitant, an old woman, died peacefully inside the home when he was still very small (he was so young he did not remember her).

To greet them back, the older brother sent them a smile. "Greetings, mister and milady!" he responded. "I am honored to meet you! As my brother already introduced me to you, I am Oscar. I am a knight in training from Melior."

"Ho, ho!" the old woman exclaimed, all pink. "A knight-in-training? But, my goodness, you don't look like one in training! You have the same bearing of a true knight! I am Kinni, and this is my husband, Mathias, the neighbors of your charming little brothers since… I'd say… oh, about a half a year!"

Minutes passed before them, and soon, Nova appeared, passing on his way to his work. His eyes almost glimmered when he saw his oldest son in his majestic costume impressive enough to give him chills. He approached everyone, trying to keep his head high. "Oscar, is it really you?" the father exclaimed, and then everyone turned to him. They could even see a discreet tear coming from his eyes.

Not too far from here, a young mother looked from afar all those happy people with their fun. Even though she was still joyful to see such warm scene, she would rather stay away from all of this, thinking of her last night. She wasn't sure if she would like to live happily with this little family anymore.


Boyd decided to show his brother to his best friend, and, of course, Oscar did not reject the idea. He would be glad to meet this little girl his brother bragged about so much in his letters. Besides his father, he would never talk about someone with such eager pride. That Anna must be a wonderful child, and the fact that she too wanted to become a knight would make this a little more interesting.

"So, where is your famous little girlfriend?" Oscar asked as he was being dragged by his little brother into the city.

"Hey! She's not my girlfriend! Only my friend!" Boyd protested impertinently.

"Haha! You see a difference now? Since when?" the older one mocked.

"Since Mina told me! I saw a guy and a girl kissing in the park! That was disgusting!"

This made Oscar laugh.

Almost there, Boyd stopped in his tracks for a moment, and then returned to a subject that made the other brother sigh inwardly for perhaps the millionth time. "Brother! Why didn't you put your armor on?"

And once again, Oscar answered with the same boring smile. "You see, Boyd, like I told you about two minutes ago, it's embarrassing when you have all the eyes in town cast upon us."

"Bah! But I want everyone to know I have the best big brother in the whole world!"

"Well, I think the neighbors were quite enough…"

Finally, they arrived at their destination: the house of Anna. A young woman and a little girl were sweeping dust in front of the house. Boyd ran quickly to the other child, still dragging his brother with him. "Anna! Anna! Look who I brought!" the boy cried out proudly.

The two girls stopped and turned to the guys. "Boyd?" Confused, Anna took her mother's hand and hid behind her. The young mother stood straight up, and even without knowing the young man who was with her daughter's friend, she could guess immediately that he was indeed the older brother of the boy, easily recognizable by their hair color, which was very similar. "Who's that mister with you?" Anna asked in a small, mousy voice.

The word "mister" stroke Oscar like a frozen chill. It gave him a slightly older feel, but he wasn't that old, obviously. Still, he couldn't stop smiling at the thought of everyone besides his family calling him "mister".

"Miss! Anna! This is my big brother, Oscar!"

"W-Woah!" Anna exclaimed, slowly, leaving her mother's hand, finally. She approached the young man with a lot of admiration. "Is it really you, THE Oscar Boyd told me about? Woah! I'm so happy to finally have the chance to meet you!" Less shy all of a sudden, the girl caught one of Oscar's hands and shook it.

The young mother finally came to them with her lips curled up in a smile. She had never seen her daughter so excited, and it gave much happiness to her heart.

"Greetings, young lady!" Oscar greeted back. "You must be little Anna Boyd told me about. He said you were a really nice girl."

Quickly, the girl felt comfortable with his presence, so much that she began to speak without the slightest bit of tension. It almost seemed as though she had donned a new personality entirely. "Yes, I'm Anna! But are you sure you're a knight?" With these words, Boyd's smile pummeled and turned to make a revolted expression. The girl did not notice it and continued to laugh. "It's so funny how your eyes are pinched shut! You-"

Suddenly, she was cut by a violent whack across the backside of her head. "Anna! Why are you mocking this young knight?"

"Oh no…" the older brother thought. Once again, his slight handicap would become the main conversational topic right now. Unfortunately for him, this was just so.

Boyd started to yell. "What the… Anna! What's your problem? You better stop mocking my brother!" After these harsh words, Anna began to sob. The boy grabbed his brother's hand again to drag him in the opposite direction, towards their house with one furious step. "C'mon, Oscar! Let's go back!"

The little girl ran forward, but her mother held onto her firmly. "No! Boyd! Mister Oscar! I'm sorry! I didn't want to… I'm so sorry!"

As Boyd made another step, suddenly he couldn't pull the hand he was holding anymore; Oscar refused to budge altogether. The boy turned his head in his brother's direction, only to see an unusual expression on his face: authority. "Boyd…" Oscar started slowly, with a strict and even tone. "Come back here." Surprised by the older one's reaction, Boyd couldn't do anything else but obey with a little hesitation. Then, Oscar turned to the little girl, this time with his usual smile. It calmed the crying girl and surprised her mother.

"That's okay, Anna! I know you didn't want to make fun of me on purpose." He pronounced his last words as he stared strictly at his little brother, mostly for telling him that he was making a big deal over nothing. "I'm glad to have met you, Anna."

Anna sobbed again, this time with a lively grin. "Thank you, Mister Oscar!"

The girl's mother gently put a hand on her shoulder while looking in the young man's direction. She sent him back a smile to thank him from saving them from what could have possibly become a bad rest of the day because of this incident. As for Boyd, he was still indecisive about forgiving his friend, but seeing that everyone had done it already and that they were waiting on him to do so too, he bitterly decided to follow them. He held out his hand to her.

"All right, I'll forgive you…" the green haired child spat out resentfully, but Anna couldn't detect the hint of grudge in his words. This was, in fact, for the best.

The group of four returned to their fun discussing each other's lives and other such subjects, but suddenly, a mysterious man came from out of nowhere to cut their conversation short. Boyd immediately recognized the stepfather of his friend, though he was still unknown to Oscar. Truthfully, Boyd had never mentioned him in the letters. Noticing the sudden sulky attitude his little brother showed toward the man who appeared, the older brother realized the man might not be as good as he thought.

"Hey, hey! What are you up to, guys? Are you starting a party without me?" the man proclaimed with a humoristic tone, though Boyd didn't react at all.

Oscar sighed at his brother and gave a smile and a hand to the other man who seemed to be about the same age as Anna's mother. "Greetings to you, Mister! I presume you are the father of this charming little girl?"

The man started to laugh. "Haha! I wish I was! I'm this lovely mother's husband, and my name is Dan. I'm pleased to meet you… hmm… Mister Mystery?"

It was then that Anna began to jump in excitement. "Yup!" she exclaimed. "This is Dan, my stepdad! Hey, say, Mister Oscar, maybe you could have a duel with Dan, no? Since you are a training knight!"

Both of the brothers were confused, the mother slapped her own forehead at the thought, and Dan sighed. "Listen, Anna, I didn't even get the chance to meet this young sir; give me more time."

Anna started to calm down a little, faking her innocence. She finally added, "Dan was a halberdier in Begnion before! He knows how to fight!"

In fact, Anna's stepfather had worked for Begnion's imperial central army, but decided to leave his post when he noticed the obvious corruption emanating from the senators of the country. To avoid the shame from his family for leaving the army without a word, he settled in Crimea where, as he got told, the society seemed to be much more unrestricted than the rest of the countries. The man smiled, seeing how the daughter of his wife spoke so proudly of him in front of that unknown young man, who he presumed to be named "Mister Oscar", like how Anna called him.

"Yeah, that's true. I do know how to fight!" Dan sniggered, gently patting the girl's head. "But don't forget that I was a true soldier, not a training one like this young man here!"

"There he goes again…" Boyd thought to himself, still sulky.

Without knowing what to do, Oscar simply raised his shoulder with embarrassment. He didn't want to fight at the moment, not during the time he was coming to his hometown for a peaceful break with his family, and especially not against a man who didn't seem to hold much respect. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm on a vacation, so maybe another day…" he revealed shyly.

"Ah! Please!" Anna insisted. It was then Boyd decided to intervene again.

"Shut your mouth, Anna! If he doesn't want to, he doesn't want to, and that's that! Don't force him!"

Horrified, the girl covered her mouth in shame and hid behind her mother, who decided to stay silent with a remorseful look. Seeing that, Oscar made a long sigh before turning to the family with a small embarrassed smile. To make it end, he said, "All right, well, I'm glad to have met you all. We'll see each other again another time, I guess…" Then, he walked away after sending them a sympathetic hand, humiliated to be the indirect cause of the whole trouble.

Boyd was still with the family. He felt bad for talking so harshly to his friend. As he was about to give her a real forgiveness, Dan cut everyone. "Bah, is that really him, that training knight of Crimea I keep hearing about? He looks like a sissy…"

A sudden rage took over the young boy. "What?" he exclaimed angrily, appalled by these maddening words.

"No, but it's true! Just look at his eyes and that posture!"

Both of the kid's fists were firmly closed and trembling out of fury. Fuming, he whirled around to face the man with a wild cry. "Damn it, Dan, what's your damn problem, you…! Who do you think you are? No one calls my brother a sissy! You make me sick, seriously!" After that, Boyd disappeared too, rejoining his brother.

The young mother and the girl were at a complete loss for words, not expecting such fury to come from the boy. Dan only let out a small, snobby "Pah!"


Mina heard someone knocking at the door. She went to open it and got quite the sad surprise to see Boyd's friend behind it, her head bowed down with an apologetic look marking her features.

"Hey there, Anna!" The young woman greeted the child with a smile, trying in vain to cheer her up.

"H-Hi, Miss Mina…" her voice was so sad that the sound she was making was as audible as a soft wind. "Sniff… I'm coming to see Boyd and Mister Oscar. I… need to apologize..."

The young woman gave her an amiable pat on the head to reassure her. "Oh yeah, I heard about that story. Don't worry about it. You can come in; they are in the backyard with baby Rolf."

In the air, hanging in the hands of his oldest brother, the small baby boy began to laugh hysterically with delight. Lying down on the ground, Oscar and Boyd looked to the great blue sky above, talking a little. The middle brother turned to the older one. "Hey, brother! You still haven't lost touch with Rolf!"

Oscar sent him back that smile. "Well, that's obvious." he replied, jokingly. "You were a very difficult baby! I've had more than enough practice."

The boy gave him an elbow kick to the side. "Hey! That's not true!"

But soon, a little voice stopped their tranquility. "Boyd, Mister Oscar…"

His eyes pointed on the sky, Boyd could see the head of his friend Anna. Immediately, the boy jumped from the ground and faced her with furrowed brows. "What? Anna! What are you doing here? Go home and play with your pathetic dad!" He put much more emphasis on the word "pathetic" than necessary.

Though she was surrounded by her own sadness, Anna raged. "That's not my dad!"

"Then stop calling Mina my mom!"

A hand landed on the boy's shoulder. "Boyd, calm yourself," Oscar told him firmly, and Boyd obeyed promptly. Satisfied with his little brother's move, he turned to the girl, this time with a smile. "C'mon, Anna, I'm sure you have something to tell us."

Once again, all the pressure disappeared as she felt eased around the young man. "Thank you, Mister Oscar! I'm coming to… apologize for what happened with Dan. I know he wasn't nice, and I feel really bad for this…"

While he was replacing Rolf in his arms, Oscar replied "And apologies accepted. You are a very courageous girl to come and apologize for your stepfather." It was then that Boyd lowered his head in shame. He already knew the girl came here to say sorry about the whole mess, but his anger had taken over everything. He was wondering how his brother could so easily keep calm, even though everything seemed to be pitted against him. "You have nothing to do with Dan, so don't feel bad for what he has done; it's not your fault, okay?"

Anna could finally grin, even through her tears. She was relieved now. "Thanks a lot, Mister… It's just that… Dan is a part of my family now…"

Suddenly, Boyd felt a chill run through his veins. Because of those last words, he remembered the first time he saw Dan, the very same day when he explained Anna how Dan could be a part of her family without replacing her late father, though that was before he knew his true nature. He regretted speaking good about who he thought could have been a good man. How wrong he was!

I ended the story here because it was getting long! And the chapter was a little boring to my taste. Mostly cute stuff, anyway. :p So Dan isn't a nice stepfather, after all! And Mina… poor Mina for being emo-ish. Next chapter is going to have little more joy, at last!

Thank you for reading!