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Wish for Salvation

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Wish for Salvation

Post by Sibylla Aaeru on Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:07 pm

So many of you saw the doujinshi post I made last night. I was really intrigued by the Within the Tangled Webs doujin and the images that were a different take on Aaeru's past. I have no idea what says, though I'd greatly love to (and would gladly compensate anyone who would translate it). By now, many of you know I can't resist a good character torture. I decided to do an alternate take on Aaeru's past that is different from the one I've already done. Please note that this story does not belong in the Life and Times of Young Aaeru series. It's merely an alternate take that does fit in canon as far as that goes. There will be 3 parts to this. It sort of...grew. I'm almost finished chapter 2 and about ready to begin chapter 3 so I shall post this a chapter a day.

Title: Wish for Salvation
Author: DigiExpert
Rating: PG
Summary: She hid quietly against the stacked crates. If she was quiet enough, perhaps she’d be left alone for some time. She pulled the blanket tighter around her neck. It was scruffy and holey, but it kept her warm...
Author's Notes: Please keep in mind that I will add end notes after chapter 3 so hopefully if you have any questions, I'll be able to answer them.

Chapter 1

She hid quietly against the stacked crates. If she was quiet enough, perhaps she’d be left alone for some time. She pulled the blanket tighter around her neck. It was scruffy and holey, but it kept her warm. If she had known the words for it, she would have considered it to be her security blanket. She wouldn’t know what security was; she had been alone for so long, for as long as her small mind could remember. She didn’t know what it was to have a mother or father. She didn’t know what those names meant.

A chill breeze blew and she curled into herself. She felt her stomach rumble, but she didn’t have any food. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten; it was probably yesterday. She’d had pieces of stale bread and then drank water from a puddle. It’d made her stomach nauseous afterward, but she hadn’t been thirsty after that. Dull green eyes chanced to peek out from behind her makeshift shelter. A loud cackle of laughter sent her pressing back against the crates again. She knew she shouldn’t go out, but she was so hungry. Perhaps if she waited—

“What are you doing back here, kid?” snarled someone.

Aaeru glanced up. She couldn’t see the face of the man, but she could smell the reek. She started shaking; confrontation would never go well. She chose not to reply. He might go away if he thought she wouldn’t reply.

“Hey kid, I asked you a question.” He snatched her by her arm and pulled her up. She wasn’t very heavy and so he easily lifted her high into the air. She held tightly to the blanket. It was all she had and she wouldn’t lose it.

“L-lemme go…” she tried to say, but it came out as a string of mumbles.

“What’s that kid? I didn’t hear you.” She heard the laughter. He was by himself. He didn’t seem really old, but what made things worse. If they weren’t old, they wouldn’t leave you alone.

“Put her down,” called a gruff voice. It wasn’t a voice she had heard around here before.

Apparently, the man accosting her hadn’t either. He turned quickly, and she felt her back hit against the tall crates. She bit her lip to keep from crying out; she wouldn’t draw attention like that. Silent tears streaked down her face, and she tasted something in her mouth. Blood. That coppery metallic taste she had no words for.

“Go away old man,” retorted the one who held her.

“Let the child go.” It was a stern command, and she could hear the anger in his voice. Fear clinched around her heart. Was he trying to get rid of the person who had her, so he could take her? She began looking for ways to escape. As soon as he put her down, she’d make a run for it. There had to be a place where she’d be safe for the night.

“No I—“ The sound of hitting. Anger. Caught by surprise, he dropped her and she hit the ground. It stung and this time she couldn’t help but cry out. It hurt. It hurt so bad and yet she stood anyway because it was her only chance to get away. She pumped her tiny legs, pushing forward. She felt the other man reach for her, but she dodged around his legs, her blanket flapping around her. They wouldn’t catch her. She wouldn’t be caught. She—

She felt herself fall forward. Her sandal had caught on a stick in the path. She got up quickly and began running again. Immediately, she could tell that her sandal had finally broken, but she didn’t have any time to think about that. On she ran, leaving the broken shoe behind.

She found herself a spot in one of the empty market stalls. Crawling inside, she listened carefully for either of the men, but heard nothing. Her heart was pounding and her mouth was dry. Still, her stomach rumbled, wanting food. She had nothing to give it. If she slept, maybe the feelings would go away. She pulled the blanket tighter around her as a colder wind blew through. Soon it would be time to find a new place before the really cold wind blew.

The next morning, she was awoken by the sounds of the market place awakening. She could hear people setting up their booths, and some were already calling out their wares. Perhaps she could find a kind seller who would give her some scraps of food. It didn’t need to be much, just enough to settle her rumbling stomach. The stall she had hidden in was still empty and she stood, stretching cramped limbs.

A few hours later, all she had to show for her begging was some pieces of overripe citrus fruit. She sucked the pieces until there was no more juice, and popped the rest in her mouth. She chewed slowly, savoring each bite; she had no idea where she’d get more food later on. As she looked up, she caught sight of an old man, dressed in khaki. She didn’t know him, but his outfit caused him to stand out with the darker colors of the villagers. He seemed to spot her. Not only that, he looked at her like he knew her. She hadn’t stolen anything from anyone in some time, but no he was coming after her.

Quickly, she turned and ran, weaving through the throng of people. She got angry remarks tossed in her direction, but it didn’t matter. Every time she glanced behind her, that man was still following. She didn’t know him. What did he want with her? She turned down the nearest street, continuing to push past. She finally chanced glancing back and didn’t see the man anymore. Her running slowed, and she leaned against the side of a building, trying to catch her breath. She would stay here for awhile until she could go back to the market. She would—

“There you are,” called a voice gently. Masculine.

She looked up, knowing it was him. She shrank back against the wall, fear creeping up her spine. She began to shake. Not again. Not again. Not again. She repeated the mantra over and over in her mind.

Shadows surrounded her. It was dark, but she could still see their outlines and she knew she was in trouble. She just didn’t know what she’d done wrong. They were supposed to be kind to her here. She was supposed to have a home here. They had been nice at first. She’d been treated well, given new clothes, and fed until she felt like her belly would burst at every meal. And then, one day, that had all changed.

“I didn’t do anything!” She shrank into the corner, holding tighter to the plush toy in her hand. She winced as it was smacked away. One of the shadows picked it up, and she heard the ripping of fabric mixed with laughter.

“Get over here. You didn’t do as you were told, did you kid?”

“I cleaned the room up. I did what you said.”

“It’s not clean enough! There’s dirt smeared everywhere.”

Slap! She felt the hot sting of the hand and burst into tears. The pain was sharp. Slap! Again. Over and over again, until she could hardly feel her face. But she stood still.

“Get out of here. What good are you? Not even worth the name you were given. Apparently your mother thought it funny to name you that, didn’t she? Look where it’s gotten you! She’s dead!”

She’d run away then to her room, if it could be called that. She shared a mattress on the floor with some of the other younger girls. It was always crowded, and uncomfortable, but up until tonight, she’d always had her plush toy to sleep with. Now, she was alone.

For hours she’d sat up, staring into the darkness while the others slept all around her. She didn’t want to stay with these people anymore. She had no idea what it was like to be on the streets, but she thought it would be better than living here and being hurt all the time. She reached for her blanket and pulled it around her. She soon slipped into the cool night, never to return.


She realized that maybe this man wanted to take her back there. Was he with them? She didn’t want to go back. She’d never go back.

“It’s all right, little one. I’m not going to hurt you. I want to help you.’

She shook her head. She wouldn’t let herself be helped like that. Those other people had wanted to help her too and then they hurt her. They wanted to hurt her. “N-no!” she called out. He reached out to take her hand, but she dodged and dashed away again.

“Wait, kid! Stop!”

It was harder to run now. She was tired of running. She’d already run from him once. She couldn’t keep it up and she noticed that he was still behind her. He still chased her. She wanted to get away from him, but she wasn’t sure how much longer she could dodge him. As she looked up, she spotted a small alley heading away from the main street.

She turned here, finding that it led back to the market place. Maybe she could lose him there again. She had to stop running. She wanted to stop running and rest, but one glance behind her told her she couldn’t. He still followed after her, and knew he could probably run for a long time.

Out into the market place she shot once more, skidding on the dirt. She pushed her way through the crowds, ignoring the people who yelled at her. She had to get away. She had to hide. She tried to remember if there were any empty buildings nearby that she could duck into just long enough to lose him.

As she pushed past another group of people, she felt someone smack against her. The force of the blow knocked her forward, and she landed hard on the packed dirt. The air was knocked out of her, but she still pulled herself off to the side, to get out of the path of those browsing. It took all the energy she had. By the time she felt safe, her eyes were heavy and she couldn’t stay awake. The last thing she thought of was the man chasing her. She hoped he didn’t find her. She hoped—

Her head slumped over as she passed out. No one paid attention to the child with the ratty brown blanket laying against the side of the building. No one rushed to help her or give her medical aid. She was a street kid, and no one bothered with street kids. Street kids only brought trouble on those who dared bother with them.

In her unconscious state, she dreamed. She dreamed of a life she didn’t have, the kind she saw other kids have. Girls like her were dressed in frilly dresses made from expensive fabric. They laughed and ate snacks on dishes. All she could do was watch from the sidelines with her tattered blanket pulled about her. Her belly rumbled at the thought of food, but she could only cover it with her hands.

She looked up at the girls once more, and knew she couldn’t go play with them. She didn’t even look like them. She looked down at her tattered red shirt and shorts, full of holes, dirty, and stained. She didn’t have any kind of clothing like theirs. She sighed.

“Come play with us!”

Looking up, she noticed one of the girls looking at her. She wasn’t talking to her. Nobody wanted to play with her before. She looked down at her hands instead.

“Can’t you hear? Come play!”

The same girl was still talking and looking at her. “Me?” she asked.

“Yes, come play with us.” The girl held out her hand.

She looked down at her own hand again, covered in dust and dirt. Then she looked back up at the girl, whose hand was clean by comparison. Hesitantly, she reached out, and took the offered hand. The girl pulled her to her feet, and dragged her back to her group of friends.

The amount of food they had been between them was amazing. She hadn’t seen so much food in front of her for a long time. Greedily she reached out and grabbed anything she could reach- cookies, cakes, and candies. She drank down cup after cup of the warm tea, but no one seemed to mind. No one told her to stop eating so much or that she was just a street kid.

“You’ll get a tummy ache if you eat so much,” giggled the one girl.

“I don’t care. I’m really hungry and it’s really good food. Can I have some more of these cookies?” she asked, speaking with her mouth open. A plate was passed in her direction. She reached out and took more.

“You’re a funny girl,” giggled the girl who had brought her over.

“I am not!” she protested.

“No it’s not a bad thing. You’re just fun to watch. I can’t eat so many snacks,” replied the girl.

“Ohhh…” She still didn’t quite get it. However, there was food, and so she was happy.

“Will you play with us again?”

“Maybe.”

“But it’s fun! Haven’t you played games before?”

“No… no one plays with me.”

The girl offered her a smile. “You can play with us. Want to play tag?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a game. Someone is ‘it’ and they try to tag everyone else. The last person tagged gets to be ‘it’ the next time.”

“I dunno…”

It wasn’t long before the girl had convinced her otherwise. For the first time, she let go of her blanket and took the girl’s hand, joining the rest of her friends. She was chased and then got to chase. The air rang with laughter and she knew that she’d want to play with them again.

Soon the girls and the game began to become blurry and it was as though her eyes weren’t working correctly. She rubbed them, but found that it made no difference. The scene before her was completely blurry, and then it became black. She found herself making the switch from sleep to being awake. In the darkness, she knew it wasn’t real. The girl hadn’t been real. The game hadn’t been real. Most of all, the food hadn’t been real. She would still be hungry. Dream food never satisfied an empty belly. She tried to sleep again, wanting to go back to that girl and her friends and the food. She drifted into an uneasy slumber, and this time, there was no girl and no game. All she found was the quiet darkness.
[/b]

_________________


And it's in your dreams that you might find the sky is limitless, an open range...
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Sibylla Aaeru
Sibylla Aurea of Simoun Fanfic
Sibylla Aurea of Simoun Fanfic

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Re: Wish for Salvation

Post by Sibylla Aaeru on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:33 am

Chapter 2

He kept an eye on the young child as she slept uneasily. She had done nothing but toss and turn since he’d laid her on the bed. He didn’t mind giving up his space. He wanted to help this child. He’d seen her on the streets a lot during his visit, and she had intrigued him. There was something about this girl that touched him, though she hid in her blanket and was filthy from head to toe. He’d caught a glimpse of those green eyes beneath the tangled mess of blonde hair and knew there had to be something about her.

Of course, no one could answer his questions. He’d asked many of the market peddlers, but they could only say she’d showed up in the area a few months ago. She had been alone and no one knew what she did. She was just another street kid, and her affairs weren’t something they worried over.

There wasn’t even a name attached to her. He wondered if she had a name. Everyone should have a name, something they always could own and that no one could truly take from them. He would ask her when she woke up. He glanced over at her when he heard her making a sound, but it was only her stirring in her sleep. She settled in once more and he turned back to the meal he was making with the simple cook stove provided with his quarters.

He hadn’t been in this country very long. He was getting older, and had yearned to see more of the world. Having no family of his own, it had been easy for him to pack a bag and head off. It wasn’t hard to cross country borders; all was peaceful now. Through towns and cities and villages he’d wandered, observing the local customs and cultures, and sampling the range of cuisine that wasn’t too unlike what he was used to. He had learned much in a sort time period, and now he was faced with this child, someone who had no home or family it appeared, and who was forced to eke out a method of survival by herself.

She looked to be five or so, he estimated. She was small and skinny, which was to be expected if she had no source of food. He brought a spoon to his lips, tasting the stew he had concocted. It would be enough to give her nourishment, but not too rich so as to make her sick. In all his seventy years, he had never known what it was like to be without food. There had been times of famine when he had gone with less, but his stomach had never been empty. Yet, this young child experienced it often. It was heartbreaking to think of.

He thought back to the previous night, when he’d caught another homeless person holding her up at arm’s length. He didn’t know what the young man had planned to do, but he had certainly had no need of a child. He had defended the girl then, but she had scampered off into the darkness, and he could not follow her. At least he had gotten rid of her attacker, if he could be called that. It hadn’t been hard. His words had only been able to get him so far. Easier to pick on a child than someone of your own size and capability.

He heard a whimpering and looked over at the sleeping child, and realized that she wasn’t sleeping anymore. Scared green eyes peeked at him as she pulled the blanket tighter around her small frame. He realized she was shaking and it was because she was with him. He had had a hard time chasing her, and he could have easily given up on chasing her. She didn’t want to be caught and he wondered why. He wondered who had hurt her in her past to make her that way or if she just thought the streets were better than what she could ever have.

“It’s all right…” he whispered softly. “I’m not going to hurt you…” He slowly rose from his spot and moved toward the bed. He watched as she moved back, until she was against the wall. It was just like their street encounter that day. She still was afraid, which was expected. “I’m not going to hurt you… I want to help you…”

“Go… go away…” she whispered, and he heard that fear in her voice. It was heartbreaking to listen to. All he could see of her now were her eyes. Fear was easily read in them. Stray strands of straw blonde hair poked out from the filthy fabric. With that blanket, she felt safe.

“I want to help you. I’ve made some food I think you might like. I bet you’re hungry, aren’t you?” He gestured to the meal behind him. “Won’t you join me in eating?”

He heard the rumbling of her small stomach and knew her body wanted the food. He needed her to say that, and so turned back to the stove. He would not force her to eat, but would wait for her to speak up. He knew she would. It would just take time. He took a bowl and filled it with the hot stew, adding chunks of meet from another pot for himself. He cut a slice of bread from the loaf he’d bought in the market earlier that afternoon.

Setting the bowl on the table, he took one of the bottles of fresh water and poured a glass. Finally, he began eating, every so often casting a glance toward the young child. She appeared to watch him curiously from the safety of the bed and blanket. Ever so slowly, she began to move closer, inching her way across the bed until her feet dangled over the edge. He noticed she only had one worn sandal and that her other foot was bare.

He still pretended to ignore her, even when she stood and padded across the floor, slowly coming closer and closer. Her blanket was still pulled tightly around her neck, but he saw that she eyed his food. He saw her lick her lips and knew she wanted to eat, but he still wouldn’t speak to her, not just yet. He didn’t want to frighten her when she’d been able to bring herself this far. No, he would wait until she asked. Only then would he fix her a meal to satisfy the hunger he’d never felt.

As he took a bite from the slice of bread, he heard her move next to his chair. He paused in his bite and looked down at her, smiling. She looked ready to speak, but as she noticed him, she looked down at the floor once more. She didn’t retreat. He waited for her to speak.

“Can… can I have some?” Her voice was soft and quiet.

“Of course. Why don’t you climb in the other chair?” He rose from his spot and took down another bowl. The stew was ladled into the bowl and he sliced another piece of bread. He took the meal to her and then poured a glass of water, setting that in front of her as well. He sat back at the table and watched her.

“This is… all for me?” She looked up in wonder.

“All for you. And if you’re still hungry, you can have more.” He watched her dig in, stuffing the bread into her mouth. “Whoa, slow down there, kid. You’ll choke yourself if you eat too fast.”

She looked up at him, mouth stuffed full of bread. At first, she looked as though she’d bolt with the food in hand, but she looked at him and back to the bowl. He smiled as she tried to slurp the stew awkwardly from the bowl, and he chuckled.

“Here, like this.” He picked up his spoon and dipped it into his bowl, pulling it up and then tipping it to his mouth.

She picked up the utensil, large in her hand. Dipping it into the stew, she pulled it up and then slurped noisily. He smiled and laughed softly.

“That’s it, just like that.” He continued to eat his own stew, watching as she continued to copy him.

Asking no questions, the meal was eaten without words, the only sounds being that of slurping and chewing and sipping. He watched her clean her bowl and then sit quietly at the table, watching him. He wondered if she was still hungry. He didn’t want her to go to bed with a stomach ache, but if she was hungry, he wouldn’t stop her either.

“Would you like some more? You can have as much as you want.”

“I want bread.” She shrank back in her chair, and he wondered what was going through her tiny head.

“Let me cut you another piece.” He rose and sliced another thick slice, passing it to her. She munched happily on it.

He cleared the dishes after the meal and she still sat at the table, watching everything, but still did not speak. He took that as a good sign that she wasn’t retreating. Her blanket still was by her side, wrapped around her.

“Why don’t we get you a bath?” he suggested.

“Bath?” She looked up, and he could see the fear begin to return to her face. He realized she didn’t know what that was.

“Well, sure. I’ll run some warm water and you can clean all that dirt off. I’m sure that can’t feel very good. You can wash your hair too.” He smiled at her. “Would you like that?”

She looked down at the floor and saw her pull the blanket up to her face. “M-maybe…”

“I’ll prepare a bath and then you can see, all right? You won’t have to, but I bet you’ll feel a lot better. I know I do.” He smiled and left the room to draw the bath. He certainly enjoyed the running water here. He didn’t have such a luxury on the farm. Here you didn’t have to heat bucket after bucket of water first. You merely had to adjust the knobs to the proper temperature. He made sure it was warm and not too hot. After all, if she refused him, he still needed to take his own bath.

The child still sat at the table when he returned. She looked at him, but didn’t say a word. “Would you like to try it?” he asked softly.

Sliding off her chair, the girl walked toward him. Her blanket dragged behind her. He led her into the bathroom and helped her to undress and into the tub. “Would you like me to leave you alone to clean up?” She nodded. “All right. I’ll go wash up your clothes. The soap is right there on the edge of the tub.” He pointed it out to her. “I’ll be back to help you with your hair.” With that, he closed the door behind him and took her clothes.

The clothing itself was ratty and old. He could tell that it’d been through a lot. Some of the stains seemed to be set in and there were plenty of holes and tears. It seemed as though she hadn’t had a new pair of clothing in a long time. If she would let him, he’d fix that tomorrow. There were plenty of sellers in the market that sold clothing for children. He rung out the pieces as best he could and hung them up to dry. She could wear one of his shirts and there might be a pair of shorts to belt around her wait.

Returning to the bathroom, he knocked lightly on the door. He wanted to call out her name, but he realized he had never asked for her name. He made a note to change that. “Are you all right?” He didn’t hear a reply and opened the door slowly, so as not to spook her. He found her sitting in the tub, just as he’d left her. He eyed the soap, and realized that she hadn’t even attempted to use it. The thought crossed his mind that she didn’t know how to clean herself up.

His limbs creaked as he knelt by the tub. Reaching for the soap and a wash cloth, he created a soapy lather and began rubbing it on her skin. She didn’t fight him, although she winced at first. He made sure to be gentle and slow. As he cleaned her, the water slowly became dirty and filthy. He ended up draining the tub and refilling it with more clean water. She was still quiet, her eyes observing everything around her.

“I’m going to wash your hair now. I’m going to try not to get it in your eyes. Just close them though just in case.” As he promised, he was gentle and easy and could feel the grim between his fingers as he scrubbed her head. He rinsed his hands in the water and then looked around the room. His eyes lit up a cup that was by the sink. He picked it up, reaching for another wash cloth. “Here, take this and hold it against your eyes. It’ll keep the shampoo from getting into them. Then just tilt your head back for me.”

She took the wash cloth from him and did as asked. He dipped the cup into the water, pouring it slowly over her head. The suds washed out and a flowery scent wafted from her hair, which was now a much brighter straw color. He was careful to make sure that none of it went into her eyes. He wanted to earn her trust.

He set the cup down in the water. “All right. That should do it. Let’s get you dried off and in some clean clothing.”

Helping her out of the tub, he wrapped a large towel around her small body. He smiled at her, helping her to towel off. “Let me go get you some clothes to wear tonight. I’ve washed your other set.”

She stood in the bathroom, waiting while he retrieved the clothing he’d thought of earlier. He placed the overly large shorts and shirt on her, rolling them as best as he could. A belt was placed around her waist to keep the pants up. She looked so small and fragile in the clothing.

“How do you feel now?”

“O-okay.”

He settled her onto a chair and began combing the knots. It was an effort because he’d never had a child of his own and didn’t know how to really comb a child’s hair, but he tried his best. The girl squirmed sometimes when he worked through a particular tangle, but in the end, her hair was clean and untangled. It had taken much longer than he thought. He yawned, and found that the hour was getting late.

“Are you tired?”

She nodded to him and he led her back to the main room. He went to pick her out and place her in the bed, but she scampered across the room, retrieving her blanket. He should have known she’d want that as well. She allowed him to tuck her in and it wasn’t very long before she was asleep. She seemed to be exhausted. He watched her sleep, noting how fragile and young she looked, curled up with her blanket.

He wasn’t sure what to do with her. All he had done so far had been what he felt was right, what Tempus Spatium expected him to do. He would let Tempus Spatium guide him once more. He knelt on the floor and crossed his arms across his chest. He prayed for the small girl that was with him and he prayed for guidance. Surely Tempus Spatium would know what he should now. He rose when he heard whimpering coming from the bed. He looked over to see the girl, tossing and turning fearfully.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a small round object. He pushed the brass button that would spring it open, and then blew gently. Immediately, a tune drifted out, one he’d grown up hearing. He knew it used to help him sleep when he was just a boy and now, it might help her sleep as well. He placed it by the bedside, letting it play through its course. Every so often, he would blow again, making sure the music was playing continuously. All he wanted was her to settle in.

The girl slowly relaxed, and the whimpered died away. Soon she was back into a deep sleep, the sound her of breathing even. By now the night hour was much later than he was used to. He finished cleaning up the room and then prepared himself for bed. Since he’d given the bed to the girl, he took the small couch. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to sleep, but it would do. He was sure that she needed the bed more than he did. He had never known what it was like to be without.

_________________


And it's in your dreams that you might find the sky is limitless, an open range...
avatar
Sibylla Aaeru
Sibylla Aurea of Simoun Fanfic
Sibylla Aurea of Simoun Fanfic

Posts : 192
Ri Mājon Points : 291
Join date : 2010-07-02
Age : 31
Location : WV

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Re: Wish for Salvation

Post by Sibylla Aaeru on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:36 am

And here's the final chapter to tie it all together. I look forward to seeing what you think!

Chapter 3

Over the next few days, he kept an eye on the girl, caring for her and making her feel like she belonged. He wasn’t sure if it was making any difference, but the girl hadn’t run away yet. He figured that was a sign that she was comfortable around him. In the days that had passed, he’d made sure she’d gotten new clothing and he’d cleaned up her blanket for her as well. It was something she wasn’t going to let go of. Still, he hadn’t learned her name just yet.

Tempus Spatium seemed to be telling him that this girl was someone special. He couldn’t help but enjoy her company, even if it was mostly one-sided. She didn’t speak much, except to ask for more food or to answer one of his questions tersely. He could tell that she was still scared and leery at times. He did his best to show her that someone could care for her without trying to hurt her. When she would give him a smile, her face would light up, and he could even see the small dimple on the right side of her face.

He was always curious about her name. One day they were sitting at the dinner table, eating another silent meal. He looked over at her, munching on a piece of corn. Pieces were all over her face and he couldn’t help but smile. He tried to figure out how best to ask her, but it seemed best to be straightforward with her. Perhaps she would trust him enough now to tell him.

“Tell me… do you have a name?”

She paused in her chewing and looked up at him. She nodded and went back to eating her corn. She didn’t make any move to offer her name to him.

“What is your name?” he asked gently, trying again.

She looked up at this man who had taken her in. She’d stayed with him because he’d been nice to her. He’d given her food and she’d learned about taking baths. She even had new clothes because he had bought them for her. They felt much better than the other ones she had worn. Her eyes drifted to the floor next to her chair where her blanket rested. It was cleaned up too, and was very soft.

“My name…” she began. She hadn’t spoken her name in a long time. Every time she did, she ended up hurting or hearing laughter. She didn’t think her name was very funny, but others did. Maybe he wouldn’t laugh at her. He’d been really nice to her so far. No one had done all those things for her in a long time. “… is Aaeru.” She waited for the laughter, but it never came. She looked up at this man, who only smiled at her.

“Aaeru… that’s a pretty name for a girl like you.” He offered her surprised face a smile. The name seemed familiar to him and all at once he realized why. It was a name he’d heard spoken in the temples he’d visited. It was a name that held a holy meaning and she had been blessed with it. He took it as a sign. This child was meant to be in his life. He was certain that Tempus Spatium had deemed it to be so.

“It’s not funny?” She looked up at him curiously, her corn forgotten.

“Why would it be funny? It’s your name.” He was surprised that she’d asked him a question. This was more than he’d heard her talk since the day he’d first met her. The question also concerned him.

“Everybody laughs at my name. No one likes my name.” She spoke softly, looking down at her lap. Memories of reactions floated to the top of her mind, the reasons why she never spoke her name until he asked. However, he wasn’t laughing at her. He wasn’t making fun of her name, or telling her that she didn’t deserve such a name.

“Aaeru.”

She had never heard someone speak her name like that. He was nice. The thought repeated over and over in her head and she looked up at him.

“Aaeru, others made fun of your name?” He only got a nod in reply. “I won’t make fun of your name. I like your name.” She nodded again.

“Do you have a name?”

“I do have a name, but you shouldn’t call me by it. Children don’t call adults by their names.”

“What do I call you then? You look like an old man.”

He chuckled and thought about it. He was getting up there in years, and she had easily noticed. He’d never had any sort of endearment attached to him and perhaps it would be nice. It was strange to have her call him “father.” He felt that he was too old to be considered that. No, it would never do.

“Grandpa. You can call me grandpa if you like.”

“Okay.”

The dinner still ended quietly, but progress had been made. He knew her name and a bit of the history behind it, at least, as much as she could tell him from her perspective. It was enough. Her actions had said more than her words.

The day came when it was time for him to return home. He couldn’t stay any longer, and knew it was almost time for the planting season. It would have been easy to pack up his bags and head across the border once more, but now there was the question of Aaeru. He didn’t want to leave her behind to live on the streets once more, yet, he also didn’t want to force her to go with him. That wouldn’t do any good. He decided that he would tell her that night before bed. It was to be his last night in the country. He simply hadn’t had the heart to tell this little girl that he had to go home. Part of him feared hearing that she wouldn’t want to return with him either.

That night she sat in bed holding tight to her blanket. He had pulled out the music box, the one thing she enjoyed hearing before bed. It was a soothing lullaby for her, and often she would fall asleep quickly. However, he didn’t open it right away. “Aaeru, I’d like to tell you something.”

She looked up at him, and saw the look on his face. It wasn’t a good look. She wondered what he would tell her, but she didn’t think it could be good news. She looked down at her blanket. Maybe he was going to put her on the streets again. She would have to live on her own again. No more meals where her belly was full. No more baths. No more clean clothes. “Okay…” she mumbled.

“Aaeru, I have to go back home. I can’t stay here any longer. You see, I live on a farm and I plant crops for a living. It’s almost time to plant again, and I need to get ready for it.” He watched for reactions from the girl, but she wouldn’t even look at him. He saw her hands fiddling with the fabric of her blanket. “I have enjoyed the time we spent together, but—“

“You don’t want me anymore, right? I’m gonna have to go live on the street again.” She interrupted him, starting to cry. It had been too good to be true. She wasn’t wanted anymore. No one wanted her.

He was startled by her reaction and remark. “Aaeru, no. No, I’m not going to make you do that if you don’t want to. I wanted to ask if you wanted to come live with me.”

“L-live with you?” She sniffled, wiping her nose on the sleeve of her nightgown.

“Yes, Aaeru. I want you to come live with me, if you want to. You wouldn’t have to live on the streets anymore. You’d have food and clothing. Nothing would change.”

“Really?”

He smiled. “Of course. It’s up to you. If you want to come with me, you can.”

She couldn’t believe what he was offering her. She wouldn’t have to live on the streets anymore. No cold nights. No strangers coming after her. Food. She cried harder. No one had offered that to her. They had never wanted her. But this man… he wanted her. She leapt forward and threw her small arms about his neck. She sobbed into his shirt, too happy for words.

He held her close, surprised at her reaction. He took it as her way of saying yes. She couldn’t seem to stop crying, and soon cried herself to sleep. He laid her gently on the bed and covered her with her favorite blanket. He would prepare his travel bags and make sure she would have everything she wanted.

The first day they crossed the border into his home country, he looked at the girl who held his hand with one head and her blanket with the other. “Aaeru, this will be your home. This is where you’ll grow up.” He smiled at her.

“No more streets?” She still was unsure about that part.

“Never. No more streets.” He reached down and hoisted the girl onto his shoulders. “Look up, Aaeru. Do you see the sky?”

“Uh huh.”

“If you always look to the sky, you’ll find you can do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have a dream.”

Aaeru peered at the clear blue sky. She saw something fly quickly across. “What was that, grandpa? Bird?”

He chuckled. “No, Aaeru. That was a Simoun. Our priestesses fly them and pray to Tempus Spatium.”

It was all very confusing to her. She didn’t know what Tempus Spatium was or what a priestess was, but she wanted to fly like that. It would mean she could be in the sky too. “Oooh…”

“Let’s continue. We want to be home before nightfall. Perhaps I can show you around my farm.” He put her back on the ground and took her hand again. The last leg of the journey would involve taking the helical train to the village nearest his farm. He was uncertain of what the schedule would be like, but hoped that it wouldn’t be too hard to catch a train before evening.

“Home…” Aaeru let the words roll over her tongue. She wasn’t familiar with the word, but he had explained to her that home is where you are comfortable, where you belong. Home is you are happy. She had been happy with him. To her, that was home.

Wide-eyed, she observed all the people on the crowded helical train car. He had told her it would be a few hours before their stop and that it was best if she tried to sleep. She was too excited to sleep. There was too much to see here. All the people in their brightly colored clothes. She looked down at her own clothes, which had been a present before they’d left the village. She’d gotten to pick it out herself- A bright orange shirt with a khaki skirt and new sandals with a red strap. Her hair had been done in pigtails and she enjoyed giggling at herself in the mirror. She wasn’t used to seeing her hair done up.

He smiled as he watched the girl next to him. He had tried to sleep himself, but it had been pointless. Already Aaeru had tried to get out of her seat and run down the aisle every time she saw something interesting. She suddenly seemed full of energy and life, the way a child should be. Her eyes were no longer dull, but bright once more. They reflected the happiness she exerted on the outside. He had given her a new chance at life and she had eagerly taken it after a slow start.

As he had hoped, they had arrived home before nightfall, by mid-evening. Aaeru had finally fallen asleep just before the train had pulled into the station and now slept soundly on his shoulder. It made carrying his heavy travel bag more difficult, but he managed. He walked up the path that lead to his house and nudged Aaeru awake.

“Aaeru, look. This is going to be your home,” he whispered softly to her. She looked disoriented for a few moments and then laid her head back on his shoulder.

“You live here?” she asked quietly.

“Yes, I live here and now, you do too. This is the place I told you about.”

“It’s big.”

“Perfect for a growing girl like yourself. Room to run and play.” He gestured off into the distance. “And over there is my field. You can help me plant crops for the new season.”

“Can we play, grandpa?”

“Well, let’s get things put away first. It’s getting late.” He offered her a reassuring smile.

“Let’s play now.” She tugged at his pant leg, looking up at him with a sad face. He looked at her, and couldn’t say no.

“All right. What do you want to play?”

“Tag.”

“Tag? I’m not sure if I can run—“ He had wanted to say “for very long”, but she easily cut him off.

“Tag. I like that game. I’ve never played it before, but I watched other girls play. They have fun. You can be it and try to catch me.”

He nodded and watched as she let go of his pants. She took a few steps away and then looked up at him. “Ready?” he asked.

Without another word, Aaeru took off, dashing across the yard. He wasn’t surprised by her speed; he’d seen that put to good use before. He knew now she could keep her endurance up with food and drink in her stomach. He began to give chase, going much slower than he had when chasing her in the streets. He wanted her to feel as though she had the advantage over him. Her giggles and squeals drifted on the wind as he got closer and then would back off. Eventually he scooped her into his arms and she giggled.

“You’re not supposed to pick me up to tag me, grandpa!”

“I did! What are you going to do?” He laughed as she squirmed and wiggled in his arms, limbs flailing. He put her down.

“I’m gonna catch you!” she cried out.

He took off running as she gave chase. Again, he let her get close and then would speed away, keeping the game interesting to her. He eventually felt himself growing tired and slowed down so that she might tag him. She looked up at him, a large grin plastered on her face and a bit of fire in her eyes. So this was the child she really was. Life was going to be interesting having her around.

“All right. Time to unpack and then see about dinner. Come on, Aaeru.”

Together, the two of them crossed the threshold into their home. Aaeru would find that the older man was true to his promises and had never lied to her. She had a home and always a meal on the table. She was never to want for these things again. There were still nights when she would awake in terror over a dream or forget where she was, but he was always there to comfort her on those nights, the music box not far behind. She would grow up to learn the life of a farmer and learn the stories of his past, the ones that she would carry with her long after his passing. His dreams and goals would become her own, for she longed to see what was out there. Most of all, he gave her her passion for flight, flying, and the sky.


Author's Notes

Well, as I've said the entire time, this story was based me being inspired by Within the Tangled Webs. I'm glad I was able to do an alternate version of Aaeru's background, and I've said before that it fits better into canon than my other one because I haven't delved that far into it. Now, I can be specific.

- If you read closely, you'll have discovered that Aaeru was originally a citizen of Plumbum. I won't give away the clues, but they're easy to pick up on.

- Aaeru has no idea why her name provokes the reactions that it does. It's not stated, but she lost her parents at a young age. She was taken in by someone that was family (hence not really wanting another kid) and often had her name laughed at or had anger tossed in her direction. I think this ties in well since in episode 8 she has no idea why Angulas will not say her name. It also helps explain why someone who lives in Simulacrum would have a name of Plumbish origin.

- Some of you questioned the tag bit in her dream the first time around. Now you see why she dreamed of it. She'd seen it played, but never gotten to play it before. She never was allowed to join in.

- Anyone else amused by Grandpa's wanting to travel in his golden years? He got a kid out of it. I chose to use him in his 70's and had his death based around the time that it occurred in my Life and Times series, which Aaeru was 13. We have no canon data on that, so I just decided that I would use that fic for reference.

I think that's everything but if you have any other questions, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!

_________________


And it's in your dreams that you might find the sky is limitless, an open range...
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Sibylla Aaeru
Sibylla Aurea of Simoun Fanfic
Sibylla Aurea of Simoun Fanfic

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