Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the title or developers of Arc Rise Fantasia.
Something I wrote on a whim late at night. I'm not very fond of the end, because while I had the beginning down in my head, I couldn't think of a way to finish the scene and it turned out a little too dramatic for my taste. I'll try to remedy that in the next chapter. Until then, enjoy.
He was eight years old when Alfonse was born.
His father looked his happiest in the past five years, standing in the middle of his office where he held a small bundle that he shamelessly advertised to his son. Weiss, on the other hand, had no enthusiasm to spare for the newborn, and he scrutinized the sleeping creature in his father's arms. There was something about the baby that he didn't like.
"His name is Alfonse," said Mahat. The prideful tone in which he spoke irked Weiss – but his irritation paled in comparison to the rage he felt with the next piece of information: "Your brother."
Alfonse was remarkably small and thin, even for an infant. He had curly blond hair, and a creamy complexion that made him appear more fragile than he probably was. He slept soundly within the bundle that their father had begun to caress, and Weiss wanted nothing more than to pry the baby's eyes open. But he didn't, because he knew he would more than likely be greeted with a pair of deceitful eyes, no doubt from inheritance.
A pair of mere eyelids couldn't keep him from seeing that woman in the baby.
His father waited patiently for a reaction, though Weiss was unable to fathom a positive response to the news. He couldn't. But he had to say something.
"Gruene's," he accused at last, a name he uttered with such forced neutrality that the disdain was still evident in his strained voice.
The result was immediate. A shadow crept up on Mahat's face, and he stopped caressing the bundle. The joy of having another son seeped out of the aged emperor as he looked sternly down at his elder son, his disapproval as clear as the skies on a sunny day. Had it been any other conversation, Weiss would have shrunk back; but when Gruene was concerned, he never budged. "Weiss," his father started. "It matters not who his mother is."
There was a secondary message to his words that caused Weiss to scowl. It was impossible to suppress his anger when his and Alfonse's mothers were being compared. As far as he was concerned, there was no comparison to be made. "It does. She poisoned mo – "
"Weiss! That's enough."
Having been about to retort again, Weiss closed his mouth at his father's outburst. It will never be enough, he wanted to say. There was nothing in Fulheim that could change how he felt about Gruene. He hated her, and he would always hate her for as long as he lived and into the afterlife.
He didn't have long to dwell on his loathing for the woman when he heard the faintest cry from below. Weiss' eyes narrowed as he focused on Alfonse, who had awoken from their father's barking. The baby's eyes were a bright blue, not the verdant green like his or his father. He saw Gruene, not Alfonse.
Mahat started to caress the bundle again, a warm smile gracing his features. Alfonse wasn't particularly startled by his father's earlier outburst, for he simply smiled and reached up with chubby hands. It was not Mahat that he reached for, however; his action was directed towards none other than his elder brother.
Their father looked expectantly at Weiss, and Weiss returned to staring as Alfonse kept his arms raised. Foolish as it sounded, Weiss hadn't an inkling as to what he should do. His mind told him to take the baby and appease him; his heart vehemently objected to the thought, and he felt the immense urge to grab the bundle and throw it onto the cold floor. He didn't wish to hold Alfonse – that would be the same as embracing Gruene.
His dilemma came to a grinding halt when Mahat offered him the bundle. "He is my son, and your brother." When Weiss made no indication of taking the infant, he continued, "You are my son as well. We are all family.
"Forgo your dislike of Gruene, and take Alfonse as your kin."
Weiss stubbornly refused to accept the infant, whom was just as determined to keep his arms in the air. A good minute passed, and their persistence drew a small, almost sad smile from Mahat. He leaned forward, and, taking his elder son's human arm, gently laid Alfonse upon it and whispered a word that made Weiss recoil as though he were struck physically. Alfonse nearly fell, though he wasn't entirely aware of the situation and merely giggled instead of crying.
Mahat turned towards the door, securing a cape to conceal his physical transformation before he turned the knob. "I'll be leaving now. There is much to be done for the Empire." Then the knob turned, and the door closed with a click as he departed for the throne room.
The baby, Weiss thought, was heavier than he anticipated. Alfonse was by no means heavy; however, there was a psychological burden attached to the bundle that now rested on Weiss' right hand. His left claw twitched in both annoyance and awe at the life he held. He could more than likely kill the baby if he so desired – while he was at the tender age of eight, his strength was far superior to that of an average child. One swipe would be enough to take the life of a fragile newborn. He entertained the thought, morbid as it was, until he was interrupted by another sound from the infant.
The frown had long faded, and Weiss found himself staring dumbly. He was his brother, his father had said seriously. For a second, he wanted to believe it, but Alfonse's different features discouraged him from doing so. They looked nothing alike.
"Alfonse . . . "
His brother giggled again.
"I will never fall for your deceit."
With that he left the office, and, seeking the nearest maid, wordlessly left the bundle with her and departed for his quarters.