When Valter thinks of his childhood, he thinks of a corner room, of screaming and the sharp sting of a rough hand against bare skin. He hears crying, soft wails of regret, and for a fleeting moment, he feels helplessness.
He still dreams of those days, sometimes.
Her wavy hair falling to one side, obstructing his view of the door. Like a curtain, he says, and she gives him a familiar almost-smile. He wants to see her eyes, but finds he can't; they're shadowed by her hair. He reaches up to brush it away, and she is staring at him with dead eyes.
His vision swirls and he hears shouting, crying. Now he's peeking through the rails at the top of the staircase, and even in his sleep he feels deep shame and cowardice. All those years she had protected him, and he'd believed, so foolishly, that children had no power.
He watched it happen once, twice, a hundred times, and he regrets it, now. He'd let it happen. It was his fault.
Suddenly he's looking into those dead eyes again, and he's filled with an unexplainable rage. He can't claim to remember much of that night, the night he changed from a child to an adult, but the next afternoon, he wakes to find himself surrounded by death.
He buries her. Flowers for the only one who had ever loved him.
He doesn't bury him. Nothing for the man who didn't care.
Valter wakes at dawn and finds his nightclothes damp with sweat. Fists clenched, he leans back and closes his eyes. He speaks a mantra in a voice that belongs to neither a man nor a boy: "Only the strong survive. Only the strong survive. Only the strong survive."
Hopefully this fits well enough within FE8 canon that I would get (sacred) stoned by the fandom. Critique is always welcome of course. I've never written Valter before, really.