Title: A Place Called Home
Series: FE9 precanon
Character/pairing: Greil/Elena, little!Ike, little!Soren, little!Mist
Rating: G to the max
Author's note: au gencutefluffness. A General Winter Holiday gift for Evan! Gauntlet challenge: 4. I am all uncombed.


The boy Ike had brought home with him was horribly thin. His head looked too large for his body, and through the ripped shirt, he could see marks which he hoped was only from the briar patch. There were burs in his matted hair, and what looked like bloodstains.

The boy looked at the food in wonder. His eyes were wide with unspoken yearning. Greil even saw a bit of drool at the corner of his mouth.

"You're late for dinner, Ike," Greil said.

"I know! I thought I was dying!" He slipped into his chair and dug in for the plate Elena had already prepared for him. The boy stayed back, watching, wanting and yet fearful. His blood red eyes had a creepy, inhuman quality, yet Ike didn't seem to notice at all. Ah, for a child's sense, or lack thereof.

"Ike, you should invite your guest in. It's only good manners."

"You can haf sum," Ike said between mouthfuls.

"Ike, don't talk with your mouth full," Elena admonished.

"Sowy," he said, his mouth still quite full.

Elena sighed, a longsuffering and affectionate surrender.

The boy slipped into an empty chair. Elena rose and made him a plate, and put down one filled with warm bread and mashed potatoes and cooked roast that was still hot from the hearth.

She stayed by Greil's side, having already eaten. He took her hand and kissed it, while his eyes never left the children. The boy, now given full permission, was nearly beating Ike in terms of devouring. He was shoveling food down so fast that Greil thought he must not even be tasting it. How long had it been since the poor thing had gotten a decent meal? A very long time, it seemed.

When he had finished the bowl, Soren looked bewildered. He scraped at the bottom, as if to uncover some secret store of food.

Ike looked pained. On one hand, his food. On the other hand, his new friend was hungry. He looked from the boy to bowl, until finally with the air of a martyr, he placed some of his food in his friend's bowl.

The boy looked up at his, still silent. His eyes said a question though, in their wide, wanting and pleading way.

"It's ok, I'm not that hungry anyways," Ike said. It was an obvious lie.

The boy took it with something nearing awe. He bobbed his head, something that must have meant thanks, yet still said nothing.

"We have enough for seconds," Elena said. She smiled and ruffled her son's hair.

"Although with children like you two, I don't think there will be any left for us adults," Greil said.

"We need it! We're growning!" Mist piped up.

"Yes, Mist. You are growing up to be a big girl."

"Not as big as I will be," Ike said.

"Nu-uh! I be big and stwong! I'll be bigger 'tan Ike. So ther!" Mist stuck out her tongue.

"Be good, you too. No fighting in front of guests," Elena said. Greil could hear laughter on the edge of her voice. It was hard for her to be stern even when it was needed.

"We can't let him go, you know," Elena said in an undertone to Greil.

"No, you're right. We can't. Still, there's the issue of someone asking where he came from."

"Then we will say he is our child," Elena said.

"Maybe we should say he's a far off cousin who's come to live with us," Greil said. "If we say that he's our child, people will talk of you having lovers."

"Lovers? Me? How unlikely. A sweet little nun like myself." She grinned, most impure, most wicked and suggestive. "It's been a long time since we broke the law. Especially an unfair one."

"I believe we are still breaking a certain law that made us leave Daein?"

"Then it's been a long time since we broke the law anew," she said. "Stealing artifacts and now children. We're like outlaws. It's quite romantic."

"And next, we might even go as far as to bring in a mangy dog. Imagine the laws we'll break then," Greil said dryly.

She laughed and laid her head against his. "Aren't we a daring pair."

The boy and Ike had now eaten so much that they sat back in their chairs and gave satisfied sighs.

After dinner, it was the dreaded bathtime. Dreaded only to Ike, of course. Mist loved it. The new boy was somewhat adverse to this, but mostly as it seemed he believed they were attempting to drown him.

"Baths are icky, but we gotta take em," Ike said. He patted the boy on the shoulder. After that, the boy was a little less adverse to the water. His clothes had to be burned, there was no other option. His hair was so filled with burrs and lice that she'd had to cut it all off and burn the locks as well. The boy looked at Ike, desperate, while she sheared.

"It's ok. Haircut time isn't bad. It's just boring," Ike said. And a little while later, when the boy seemed on the verge of trembling: "I'll get it cut too! Then we'll be just alike!"

Though as far as Greil could tell, he didn't need it. Still, Ike begged so much that finally he took the shears to his hair as well.

The boy was too small for Ike's current clothes, too large for Mist's, but Elena was able to dig out some of Ike's older things which she had been saving for when her next child was born. It had just come around quicker than she thought it would.

And later that night, when the boy had stole beneath Ike's cover and refused to budge from the bed they had prepared for him, and Greil had returned with the news, to which she laughed behind her hand. They had been three, but now they were four. Who knew how many others they might bring home? Though, Greil hoped they would be actual mercenaries for his new business. He loved children, but an army of children didn't quite have the same effect.

(Though Elena disagreed. An army of children could be quite terrifying. They could tickle their enemies to death, beg for candy, and then starve them from the attempt of feeding them. Greil thought she just might be right.)