A/N: hmmm... My first multi chapter fanfiction... Hopefully it's good ;D
Well, anyway, thank you for my beta i-swear-we-were-sufinite, you rock!
And now, the story:
Once upon time far far away from here there was a small kingdom. Kingdom was ruled by great and kind king. Everyone were happy and there was no lack of food.
There was a huge manor in the countryside of the kingdom. A family lived there, one man and one boy. Boy has a smiling face and carefree attitude. He has a blond, nearly white hair and pale skin. He wasn't really tall, quite short for his age and his body was slender, almost feminine. But the most gorgeys thing in this boy was his eyes. Beautiful, big eyes with rich purple orbs made him look like fairy from that bedtime story that his dad's had read to him when he was little. Boy's name was Tino.
He had live together with his dad since his mom had died. Their family had been wonderful, complete. His parents had always time for Tino. To play with him, to eat with him, comfort him when he felt low. Just be with him. It would last for ever.
Dad was short like Tino, he had a dark, thick hair with a mustard. he was a bit plump, and his laugh was loud and kind. Mom, in the other hand, was taller and her hair was the same color as Tino's. All days the family played together in the garden while maids made the ice tea and cleaned. Mom's hands were warm when Tino touched them. The fingers curled around Tino's as the run and laughed and dad scooped him up onto his arms. At rainy days they would sit inside curled into blanked and reading stories in candle light.
Then mom had fell ill. Her arms were tight and bony. They weren't warm anymore. She had shiver at the most smallest blow of wind. She lied on her bed, deliriousing in her fever.
Tino was scared about this. He was afraid to go meet his mother. One day his father came over him, told him to go to his mother. Something in his voice had changed.
Tino went to bedroom. Mom lied on the center of the huge bed, her chest rising at pained breath. But it was different. Mom stared Tino, her eyes sane. She lifted her hand up, oblivious saying Tino to come over.
Now sitting on the bed, Tino noticed that mom's health had got lover than last time. Her bony fingers searched Tino's hand, shaking.
"Tino, you know that mom will always love you", she said, a lonely tear rolling down her eye corner. Tino nodded and bite his lip.
"Good, do you remember that time when I was hanging the laundry and you tie a sheet on your neck and said that you are a pigeon?" mom asked. She continued to tell Tino stories about when she and Tino's dad had met, about Tino when he was small. And Tino sat there, hours listening his mom sudden bright voice.
"Mom will watch you from heaven", she said, giving a last squeeze for Tino's hand. Then her chest didn't rise anymore.
Dad came to room, crying. Why he cried? He took Tino out of the room, still crying.
Mother's funerals were two days later. The dig her ashes to back of their garden. Dad stood behind Tino, who sat on the grave. Soon he realized that his cheeks were also wet.
Spring came, and so did new spouse to dad. This time, however, spouse was man, duke Tremaine. At first, this black wearing, thick faced man seemed nice when Tino didn't disturbed or be noisy. He didn't like Tino very much, but that's maybe because Tino wasn't his own son. He tried to be nice to him, but it didn't bear fruit.
Step-Father has also two boys, Alexander and Drike. They were fat and they hide their faces behind their dirty hair. They both have little pig eyes and flat noses. They wear thick, itchy clothes and ate sweets and delicacies.
But Tino managed, because dad seemed to like them. He didn't tell him that his new brothers stole some of his toys and clothes, messed up his book with crayons and teased his small frame. Every time when Tino fight back, they went crying to them dad, who would punish him. It was nothing more than hair pulling or clip on the ear. And Tino's dad support this, supposing that Tino was naughty. Once he himself gave him trashing because had Drike said that Tino throw him with book.
They lived like this for years, and Tino's optimist attitude for life kept him sane.
Then dad died. Almost immediately lawyers had stepped out of the door, step-father had fired all the servants. He took Tino by his neck and showed him into closet. Tino had cried, banged the door, but no one hadn't come.
At night, an exhausted and puffy eyed Tino released there. He climbed to upstairs, opened his door. For a moment he thought that he had came to wrong room, but it was his. Or had been.
His bed was nowhere, no toys, no books no anything. At the middle of room there was huge table, and walls was covered with book shells. He heard sound behind him. Duke Tremaine stood there, no facial expression was showed on his face.
"What are you doing here?" he asked uncharitable tone. Tino saw Alexander and Drake grinning behind one pillar. He gulped.
"I-I was just going to my room", he said at little voice. Something in Tremaine's face jerked, and he chanced slightly red.
"You ungrateful prad don't deserve a room. You can sleep in kitchen. I put there some blankets."
Tino was stunned. What had he done?
"B-but I can't sleep in kitchen! There is-"
His voice was cut by SLAP, when Tremaine's hand hit his cheek.
"You sleep in the kitchen, don't obey me, or you are staying outside."
As those words, he go, leaving Tino alone in the hallway, gently massaging his cheek. After one last look at his former room, Tino left to go downstairs. He could hear his step brothers giggling as they went to play withTino's toys.
He sat in front of the fire, wrapping himself in a worn-out rug. He buried his head into his knees, hugging himself. He cried again, for his burning cheek, for the Tremaine's spite, for his dead parents. He cried so long that there was no tears anymore. His throat was dry, but he didn't have a strength to stood up to get a glass of water.
Years went on, Tino grew to age seventeen. He was still short, his hair was still blond, and his eyes were still purple. But something had changed. He wore his dad's old shirt with capri pants, both of them dark colored. He was skinny and dirty. He had made friends.
The first months in this new household had been miserable, but one time when he had to milk the cows, he had seen two little mice. At first he had panicked and chased them with a brush.
The mice, however, ran behind some bucket, and when Tino had raised it up, they were gone. Panting slightly and leering around Tino went back to cow, sitting down on the milking bench. A voice from the ceiling bream made him almost pour the milk on the floor.
"Don't be afraid of us, silly", came a small and cool sound. Tino looked up, clearly afraid.
"Yeah, we are only big, scary rats, who want to eat you!" another voice said; this one was rattling. Something thumped and an "oww" came.
"No, we don't want to eat you, and we aren't rats", the first voice said. Tino sat, his mouth opened wide. No, he wasn't afraid of mice or rats, but these spoke.
"Shut your mouth or it's going to end up like that", the second one advised. Tino closed it.
"Can we come down, or are you going to chase us with that broom again?" first voice asked. Tino only nodded. He wasn't sure at all what to said. No mouse had really spoke to him before. That was why what he saw surprised him.
The first one had grayish fur and a curl on its head. It had a blank face and it was much smaller than the second one, who was not only tall, but also muscular, if mice can be muscular. Its fur was spicy-looking and it smiled a wide smile.
"Hi, my name is Lukas, and this one here in Matthias", the gray one said. Matthias waved, and Tino waved back. He was stunned.
Two mice had come to speak to him, talking like anyone could. Maybe he had eaten something rotten at breakfast. He shook his head, confused. Lukas noticed this.
"We are not at your imagination's work," he said, clearly annoyed.
"Yeah, we've been watching you for days! That family of yours is a bit nasty", Matthias said. He was a bit restless. Even now, he was more interested in the cow than his friend and Tino. Mansikki, the cow, wasn't very pleasant about that fact. At finally Tino opened his mouth to speak, not express his discomfort.
"They aren't my family, my mum and dad are dead, and those are my step-father and step-brothers!"
Lukas looked for understanding. Matthias fell down from Mansikki's back, and soon they talked about everything, from Tino's life to what Matthias had eaten past week.
Then Tremaine shouted at Tino from inside. He looked out and to his horror, he noticed that the sun had risen high, which means that the other family had woken up - without breakfast.
"Oh no, I have to go!" he said. His two new friends noticed the fright in his voice.
"Where is your room? We can come at night again", Lukas said as Tino raced around the barn.
"Really? Promise? I live in the kitchen", Tino asked, amazed.
"Yeah, see you at night!" Matthias said as Tino ran to house.
"That poor kid, those "brothers" of him are horrible! How can people be like that?" Matthias asked Lukas. The smaller mouse shook his head.
"I don't know."
The following night, when Matthias and Lukas went to Tino's "room", they found a sobbing kid curled up to his rag, his right eye black. It became clear that Tremaine and his sons weren't as good temptress at mornings as they were at days. And no breakfast ready meant harm to Tino. But when he saw his two new friends, a cheerful smile came back to his face.
That's how he had meet them.
Tino was making breakfast, when Lukas and Matthias showed up. They came over to Tino carefully, because of Alexander's and Drike's new cat, Germouser. It liked to hunt everything that moved.
Tino had made them clothes. Matthias was wearing a black coat and Lukas had a sailor suit. Secretly, in his mind Tino thought that they looked cute, but he didn't admit it out loud. He knew that it wouldn't raise their self-esteem; being mouse wasn't very motivational.
They chatted happily, and mice helped him make breakfast as well they could. The ringing of a bell, however, interrupted them, which meant that rest of the household had woken up. The bells indicated who had risen by little signs underneath each bell. When Tino turned around, the little bell with a little sign under it said that Drike had risen. A moment later, Alexander's bell started to ring as well.
Tino sighed, packing the breakfast on the silver platter and moved to the hall. Lukas and Matthias followed him, looking for Germouser, but the cat was probably chasing some innocent little birds.
He went first to Drike's room. The curtains were closed and lights were off, and it made it hard for Tino to make the journey to the bed. The boy lied on his huge bed, his greasy hair spread out on the pillow. Tino put the tray on the nightstand and went to open the curtains. As the daylight came the room, a moan was heard from the bed. Drike had pulled himself up and he massaged his eyes. He made a sour look up to Tino, and then he turned to his breakfast, not saying a word. Tino hadn't expected any. He picked Drike's dirty clothes from the floor and then went out.
Matthias, who had looked the scene about thousands time now, jumped to the clothes basket. They heard whispered conversation, and they knew that the others were awake.
"They are morons! Why don't you put something like rat poison in their breakfast?"
Tino chuckled to Matthias. He was always furious when he spoke about the Tremaines.
"No I wouldn't do that. They at least give me to place to live."
Matthias rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, in kitchen with an old rag. Beside, you were here first," he muttered. Tino didn't say anything to this. He knew that it was true.
Next in the line was Alexander's room. It was located to other side of the floor. It was hard enough to walk with a tray and a basket, but he found Germouser's cat toys on the floor. Tino didn't get why he had toys; he never played with anything.
Alexander's room was as messy as Drike's room, maybe even more messy. Alexander himself sat on the edge of his bed. As Tino came closer, he didn't even look at him. Tino put the tray in front of him. Alexander looked it skeptically, then to Tino and began to eat like it was a bucket of dirt.
Matthias's and Tino's gazes met. The next moment, there was dirty underwear on his face.
It was Tino's morning routine. He woke up, milked the cow and fed the animals. Then he made breakfast and washed clothes, dusted ornaments, and twice a month he washed floors. He ate his own breakfast, if he had time for that. In the afternoon he made more food. It all seemed to be too much for one human, but Matthias and Lukas made a good company. Tino was a boy who find a silver lining of every cloud.
But this day would be different.
It was midday, when Tino was retrieving the mail, and a beautifully decorated letter caught his attention. There was a royal sign in it. Curiosity was about to take a victory, but Tino knew that Tremaine would give him trashing if he opened that letter. So, as a good kid, he went inside, gave the mail to his step-father and went to continue his cleaning, the mystery letter in his mind.
He was sweeping the the hall when Alexander and Drike began to scream in the living room. Lukas and Matthias tucked their faces from his pocket, wondering about the noise.
"I wonder what it is this time", Lukas said, keeping his cool expression.
"I don't know, maybe it's new clothes or something", Matthias lost his interest about it almost immediately.
"No, it was a letter from the palace", Tino answered, slightly sad about it. Everything always happened to them.
Lukas, however, rose his little nose and looked to Tino.
"What are you waiting for? Go listen!"
Tino hurried to the living room's door, not sure if he should go inside. Tremaine was standing at the middle of the room, his sons around him. He had risen the letter to his face and read it in a clear voice.
"'...and I want to every young man from the kingdom to celebrate my son, prince Berwald, on his eighteenth birthday this night in the royal palace. The party also aims to find a spouse to prince'. This is wonderful! Now my son can also be a prince!" Tremaine ended the letter. He looked down at his boys, but there was no happiness in his look. Greed was dominant instead.
"Oh, the prince is so handsome! And rich!" Alexander said.
"I want to be a prince, too!" Drike said.
"And you will be, and I can live in a castle!" Everyone was thinking about the riches and the fame that marrying the prince would bring them. Tino felt a little jerk on his hem of the shirt, and when he looked down he saw Lukas and Matthias nodding to way of living room. Tino gathered all of his courage and stepped further.
"The letter says every young man, right? I'm a young man too," he said. The glare, which came from his siblings, however, blew his self-esteem down like a house of cards.
"Don't make me laugh! Why would the prince like to marry you?" Tremaine asked, clearly amused about the whole idea. Drike and Alexander, who had been very envious about Tino's pretty looks, took this as a threat.
"No! You can't let him come!"
"Yes, he get always everything!"
"Enough boys! Of course he isn't coming," Tremaine eyed Tino maliciously. Tino felt low after his brothers comments. He knew that they weren't true, it was just that they had lived together for a long time, and the milk man was only other person he had been contact in years. He began to believe family's speeches were true.
If Tino's self-esteem had been weak already, then it was gone forever now. Without Matthias or Lukas poking him furiously to keep his ground he would probably run down to the kitchens to cry like a three-year-old. That was what he was like.
"B-but it says-"
"I know what is says, you idiot", then Tremaine seemed to get an idea. "Okay, here is the deal. You clean every room in this house, weed the garden and get the carriage ready. Then you help Alexander and Drike dress. And if you have time and a suit, you can come."
His sons were something to obey, but look in Tremaine's eyes was so horrid that even those two didn't dare to complain. Tino, in the other hand was in seventh heaven. Tremaine didn't know about his little friends, who would be glad to help him. He thanked him and left the room. He managed to keep a neutral expression until he was in his "room"; his face broke into the largest smile they had ever seen. He gently took his little friends away from his pocket and placed them on table.
"We don't have much time", Lukas said seriously. "Matthias, go gather all who can come."
Matthias nodded, and then run inside the little hole at the wall. Lukas looked up to Tino.
"We do everything little, but it must be you who finish the chores, otherwise Tremaine might think that you didn't do anything."
"Thank you really much, you don't have no idea what this is meaning to me", Tino said quickly and then took the bucket and mop. Lukas disappearance from table.
Maybe, just maybe they could do this.