This is the new story-my birthday fic, (HAPPY BIRTHDAY,EM!) Hope you all like it, and I want reviews!

Conal was the third son of Piers and Ilane of Mindelan. He had two older brothers, Inness and Anders. Anders was a squire, and Inness was a third year page. He had a baby brother, Avinar, but he didn't count. He also had four sisters. Patricine, Adalia, and Oranie were all much older than him-Patricine was courting, and Adie and Orie were in the Convent. They had gone at age nine, though, so he didn't know them well.

Then there was Kel, his four year old sister.

Conal hated Keladry. From the way she walked to the way she talked, from her wispy brown hair to her pretty hazel eyes, he hated her.

He hated her because their Father loved her best. Better than him.


Conal sat in his room, swinging his feet. He tried to review his work, but it was pointless. He knew it already. Conal was an excellent student, the head of his class.

He was best at everything, except in his father's eyes.

His father only had eyes for Kel.

For his little girl.


Keladry was walking through the halls, holding a small cookie. She was about to take a bite, when Conal stepped out from a doorway.

"Hey," he said, jealously, "where'd you get the cookie?"

"The kitchen," Kel replied, biting into it.

"Give it to me," he said, reaching for it, "I want it."

"No!" she shrieked, "It's my cookie!"

"Give it to me."


"Give it to me."

Kel quailed under the cold look that her brother was giving her. "I-I don't wanna," she whimpered, "I don't wanna give it."

"Now," Conal said, "I want it now."


Conal reached for the cookie. It crumbled a little in his hand. He glared at her triumphantly, and gave her a kick in the shins for good measure. "Little brat."

Kel sat on the floor and wailed. He hurried around the corner, knowing that she wouldn't squeal on him. She was too scared.


Keladry was sitting in the small swing that her father had built for her. It was a sweet little thing, more of a chair than a swing, really, painted white and elaborately carved.

Baron Piers did not usually give things like that to his children, but then, it was his Kelley.

And Conal knew that.

It burned him, that his Papa liked his bratty little sister better than him, a new page.

"Hey, Kelley," he said, sarcastically. "Having fun?"

Kel frowned a little bit-she had never liked him, either. "Yes."

"Can I swing?"


"Why not?" Conal asked, sulkily, "I won't break it."

"But I'm swinging."


Kel shook her head. Conal was overwhelmed by a sudden, irrational desire to swing. He hadn't played on a swing in years-but he wanted to.

He shoved her roughly off the swing. "I just want to use it for a minute."

He sat down on the swing. He got no satisfaction from it.

Kel's lower lip trembled a little.

He swung back and forth. The swing creaked a little bit, then crumpled under him. He stood up and looked at the little broken pieces of wood.

Guilt rose up in him, turning his insides.

She looked at the broken swing and started to cry. He shoved her a little.

"You did it on purpose, to get me in trouble!" he shouted.

"N-no I d-didn't," she sobbed, miserably. "You broke it. You said you wouldn't."

"You're lying!" he shouted, and shoved her hard. She ran to their home, their manor. He ran after her. She ran and ran all the way up to the tower. The tallest tower.

Conal was stronger than his little sister, and she was scared. He kicked her. "You did it on purpose! You liar! You little brat!"

She screamed, and he was filled with rage. He picked her up and shook her. She screamed again. He held her up in the air. "Why are you screaming?" he said, hating himself, "Are you scared?"

She nodded, white faced.

He held her up over the balcony, possessed. He knew that it was stupid, he knew that he was wrong, and he knew that it was cruel. But he did it. She screamed. And screamed.

Then someone else screamed, too.

"CONAL!"It was Anders, their older brother.

"Put her down! Put her down, now!"

Conal put her down. Anders rushed up the steps. He picked up little Kel, and glared at Conal. "Go, before I make you."

He ran away, where nobody would see him cry.

This time she would tell.

And he would pay.


Conal sat in his father's study, waiting for punishment.

His father wouldn't yell. Baron Piers of Mindelan never yelled. He would just look at him, through that Yamani blank face, and hand down the punishment. And make him feel like a worm.

Baron Piers had his head in his hands, ink staining his fingers and elbows. He looked at his young son, and said, "Conal,"

Conal looked up at him, fear in his green eyes.

"I want to understand. I want to help you with this. Why do you bully your sister?"

"I-I…" Conal stammered. His throat and mouth were dry. "I don't mean to."

His father stared at him. He was an imposing man, even with an inky smudge over his left eyebrow. "I believe you."

That was all it took. Conal started to cry. Tears poured silently down his cheeks.

Piers stood and walked around his desk. He hugged Conal to him, rocking him back and forth, letting him cry, and listening to him.

"You always liked her the best, and I…I…w-want you t-to like me, and you d-don't and I don't know w-why."

Piers bit his lips. If that's what Conal thought, then he had failed him as a father.

"I love you.."

Conal stopped crying. "Wha-what?"

"I love you."

There was hope in those large, green eyes. "I lo-love you, too."


"I'm sorry."

Keladry looked at her brother in surprise. "What?"

"I'm sorry."

Conal looked at her, truly sorry, and really wanting her to forgive him. But in her four year old stubbornness and obstinacy, she stuck out her tongue, and just said, "No, you're not."

Conal was crushed. It did not register that she was a little girl, that she was just silly, and angry, he felt that he had failed his father and failed himself.

Even when he grew older, that feeling would never leave him, that feeling of rejection and hopelessness.

But he tried again.

And again.

And again.