Please, Be Strong.

Raine wakes up startled and frightened, with her mother's hands on her shoulders, shaking her awake, disoriented until she can see mother's pale blue eyes on her.

"M-mom?" she asks around a yawn, scared. Raine rubs her eyes and pushes herself up. "Is dad..?"

"I'm right here, Rainy," Raine feels instantly better the moment that her father leans around for her to see him as he feeds Genis his bottle. He looks tired and Raine thinks that he's still sick, but he's there so it can't be bad. "Breakfast's ready, dear."

"Mom, what..." she starts, looking around. The windows are still closed, the windows covering them, but there is no light peeking through them at all, and she still can hear the steady thrum of rain against the trees and against the roof; she can't even hear the windmill going on, so it can't be close to sunrise.

But her mother just leaves her clothes by her side, moving fast and focused, barely pausing a moment to touch her face, gently.

"Please, Raine, dress up. And hurry."

There's something in the way that her mother says that that scares Raine, making her change into her traveling clothes without another question. She peeks through the door and sees the way his father and mother talk in harsh whispers, how the moment when Kloitz hands Genis to Virginia they linger for a moment, how mother's arms hold on tightly to a still yawning Genis. She can just hear her mother's whispers: 'my fault', 'we never should have', 'if they catch them' and Kloitz promise to protect the three of them, his fierce whisper that they are a family, and that the Academy would never get Genis and Raine.

She steps outside once she's dressed, tugging at her shoes to make them fit properly, and her parents break apart. Her dad smiles at her, even as Virginia turns around, moving a hand through her face, and although usually Raine tells her father that she's already too old for him to carry her this time she allows it, curling her arms tight around her father's neck before he sits her at the table.

"It's your favorite," Kloitz whispers, giving her a wink before he raises. "I'll go and ready the dragon."

"Mom?" Raine starts, but she doesn't know how to voice her question, if she'll even be able to handle the answer.

Virginia, who has left Genis in his crib, shakes her head. "Just hurry up, Raine. We don't have much time."

Even if she hadn't heard her father's whisper, it doesn't take long for her to realize that they are running away: her parents are packing, and just the indispensable. Blankets, some of the food they were supposed to save for winter, clothes, the spear that father never uses anymore, mother's rod. Her mom looks at her for a moment, biting her lip before she slips one book inside her back and her doll.

Raine barely manage to eat past the knot in her throat, but she manages to finish her oatmeal, washing the dishes, glancing towards her parents as her dad puts everything they need in the cart.

It's still raining when they step outside, and Kloitz tries to cover her as much as possible with a blanket, but Raine is still shivering once she gets inside.

"You can go back to sleep now," her dad tells her once he helps her onto the cart, handing her a blanket, and he's smiling but Raine can't really smile back. She does lean against her father's hand when he caresses her wet hair, but then he's moving away to help her mom as well.

Her mom cradles Genis against her, but after a moment she hands the sleeping baby to Raine, who holds him tightly. Genis gurgles in his sleep for a moment, even as he snuggles deeper inside his blankets.

"That's my good girl," mother tells her in a whisper. She smiles at her, but it doesn't make her feel less scared, and she just holds unto Genis' tiny body with all her might. Her mom looks sad, but the only thing she does is comb her hair with her fingers for a moment.

"Hold on to your brother, alright? And remember to keep your ears covered," mother says, before she turns around as father makes the dragon start walking, pulling the cart.

Raine makes sure that her hair is covering her ears, and then she looks back towards the home she is sure she won't ever see again.