A/N: Well, I should be writing a fic for SuzetteFarlington right now, but it's really not going well, so...I decided to spend some time on this, my very favourite of fandoms. This'll be a series of oneshot drabbles about Hem and Zelika's childhoods. This first one is from Hem's time in Edinur. I guess he's about 6 in this fic. Enjoy!

Hem: Hope

"Are you sure?" Hem looked down at the toddler gravely. "It's almost nice today. You should eat." The black-haired little boy stared back, and jabbed Hem's leg with his right thumb.

"Don't wanna. Dunn like pota'o!" Mor's once-plump face, now starting to lose fat in various places as a result of the harsh conditions at the orphanage, clouded and he kicked Hem in the shin. "Really don't wanna!"

"That's fine," said Hem, understanding wordlessly the feelings of this tiny bundle of bewildered belligerence with a wisdom far beyond his minimal years. "Eat next time, please? For brother Hem. Promise me!"

The toddler's face twisted in thought, and he turned away for a moment, gazing across a few paces of dirt-ground on which children of all ages attempted to while away the pointless days, fighting and playing in equal measure, making light of a despair which remained unspoken, which they all shared. Then Mor looked up again, and nodded, managing a little smile of pure happiness. "For Hem!" Then he ran off across what ground there was, calling half-heartedly to another boy about his age.

Hem watched hopelessly as Mor was knocked flying by the boy, veiling his distress at the mistreatment. It did not do to display affection at the orphanage; weaknesses were seized and attacked by the other inhabitants immediately. It was always an attempt to work off the hot feelings of despair and rage raised by life in the orphanage, and in some detached way, he understood perfectly why everyone there behaved like that. It was even true of the adults. Hem likened the orphanage to a hole; for once you got in, it was hard to get out, and it was dark. Very dark. Mor was the only other child Hem had ever talked to much, despite the fact that it was somewhat hard to hold a conversation with him. The first day he had arrived, he had stepped into the house with a radiant smile, showing his dimples and flashing his happiness to the world. Hem had loved the boy instantly...how could such beautiful hope be crushed underfoot in this harsh world? He had to help Mor become accustomed to life there.

But Hem's love was to no avail. Mor didn't smile any more for anyone but him, and even then it was not that fragile, bright thing of love it had been when he landed in this horrible mess of a place. His hope was being put out, slowly, painfully, by this cursed, corrosive cruelty.

Three months later, Mor died, suffocated to death by the child he slept beside, slowly dying, struggling against corruption to the last.

A/N: Nysh. Depressing, but this is the kind of thing I can write when I have writers' block. Anything else sounds like crap. PLEASE review, people. If you read something, review it!