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Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo IV takes after his mother.

His eyes are hazel, and distinctly his, but everything else is her. The same thick dark hair, worn long and pulled back. The same sharp nose, the same smile (sometimes sly, sometimes big and beaming). The same narrow frame and quiet way of walking. Sometimes when he braids his hair, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two from behind.

You can see touches of his father here and there. Freddy’s ears are rounder, jaw slightly more square. He’s long and lanky, but a bit broader, and he’s going to be taller than his mother by the time he finishes growing.

Pike sits on a bench in one of the gardens of Whitestone, Freddy sitting in front of her as she works on his hair. Vex is sitting across from them on the grass, leaning up against Trinket, smiling as Freddy tells Pike about what he’s been up to since the last time she came to visit.

Pike puts the finishing touches on Freddy’s funbuns and leans back.

“There you go, all done, Stringbean!”

She freezes. She senses a sudden stillness from Vex and feels, more than hears, the sharp intake of breath.

“Thank you, Aunt Pike!” Time lurches forward again as Freddy throws his arms around her exuberantly. Pike belatedly reaches up to hug him back but he’s already pulling away. “Mother, how do I look?” He turns and strikes a pose.

“You look wonderful, darling,” Vex praises, and Pike is certain only she could hear the waver in Vex’s voice.

“I’m going to go show Father and Uncle Scanlan! Come along, Trinket!” Freddy races off into the castle. Vex stands as Trinket heaves himself up with a groan and follows.

Vex stares after them for a moment then turns to her. Pike sees the shine of unshed tears.

“I think I’d like funbuns too, if you don’t mind,” Vex says quietly.

“Of course.”

Vex gives her a watery smile and walks over to take a seat in front of her.

Pike rests her hand on Vex’s shoulder for a moment. And then she gets to work.