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dusty knees

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Brady crouched outside a room with lots of raised voices coming from inside it.

He waited by the closed wooden door for his parents to finish talking with the rest of their friends, crouching on the floor the way his mother hated. He knew he was supposed to be with the nursemaid, but he hated sitting with her. She didn’t kiss him on his forehead the way his ma did, or hold his hand like his pa, just sit him on her lap and try to get him to read boring books about arranging cravats and pouring tea.

He wrinkled his nose and sniffed. The hallway was really dusty and he just wanted to go back home.

A part of him wondered if he should go and find the other kids, then he decided against it and shook his head vigorously even though there was no-one watching him.

The other kids were loud and ran around a lot, and he was quiet and liked sitting down. Sometimes they would chase each other and try to get him to play with them too, but Brady didn’t like doing that. His legs would always end up tripping him over and making him fall down.

None of the kids laughed at him when he did, but he still didn’t like it at all. “My goodness, Brady, you are awfully tall for your age, aren’t you?” His mom would say, then pull his cheek so it stretched painfully as he squirmed in her lap.

Brady sniffed, and rubbed his nose with the back of his hand. If being tall meant everyone staring at him when he arrived, then he’d prefer to be short.

Then he felt someone staring at him, and he scrambled to his feet and hurriedly hid his hand behind his back. Brady looked around, worried that his mother had left the room and seen him doing something like that, but realised the door was still closed.

Instead, around the corner at the far edge of the hallway, he saw a bit of red hair and narrowed eyes.

“Hello?” He said hesitantly. “Who’re you?”

The person reluctantly appeared from behind the corner, frowning. Brady saw that she was around his age, and her long red hair came down to her ankles. “… Severa. Who’re you?” She retorted, both curious and seemingly annoyed.

Brady frowned too, but replied, “My name’s Brady, and I’m waitin’ for my Ma. She’s busy.”

“So’s mine.” Severa glanced at the door and bit her lower lip. “She and my dad are in there.”

Brady blinked, then looked at the door and back to her. “Your ma and pa are friends with my ma pa?”

“Who’re your parents?” She asked him, and crept a little closer.

Brady puffed up his chest and lifted his head high. “My Ma’s Lady Maribelle, and my Pa’s Gaius!” He proclaimed proudly, then scratched his head. “Er, my pa ain’t a Lord. They’re real good friends with a buncha people, like Aunt Lissa and Uncle Chrom.”

The other kid snorted, and Brady frowned, taking a step towards her. “Hey! They’re real important, ya know! I betcha they’re more important than your ma and pa!”

“No they’re not!” She took a step towards him and pointed at his chest, pouting. “My dad’s Robin, the royal tactician, and my mom’s Cordelia, the leader of the pegasus knights! They’re way more important than a lady and just some guy!”

Brady scowled and sat down on the floor, not caring if they got dusty. “W-well… My ma heals people! Tons!” He declared. “That’s way cooler than flyin’ on a horse, and I’m gonna be just like her and help sick people too!”

Severa followed suit and sat down so that they were glaring at each other. “Being a pegasus knight is cooler than being a cleric, duh! You get to have a pegasus and fly around with a buncha people! And I’m gonna be like my mom first before you!”

They glared at each other for a while, before both of them sighing and looking away.

“My ma’s real busy now,” Brady said dejectedly, hugging his knees and drawing in the plush carpet. “She and my pa keep ridin’ out with Aunt Lissa to where all the people are dying and leaving me behind.”

Severa crossed her legs and looked down at the ground. In a small voice, she said, “Mine too. I don’t know if they’ll come back sometimes. It’s lonely with just me and my little sister.”

Brady scratched his chin and got an idea. “Where d’ya live?” He asked, turning to her. “I go over to my pal Owain’s and his cousins a lot. Maybe you and your sis could come play with us when your ma and pa go away.”

She looked at him, not really believing him. “I live here in the capital, but I dunno if my mom’ll agee,” Severa said doubtfully. Then she rolled her eyes and pulled up her knees. “She’ll probably say I’m better off studying or something so I can be like my dad.”
He paused here, not really sure what to say. He wasn’t good at dealing with other people.

“Well… My ma asks me to study a bunch too, and play the violin. I ain’t too good at the first part, but she wants me to keep trying anyway,” Brady said eventually. “I dunno. It’s kinda the same. Maybe your ma wants you to be like her or somethin’.”

Then Severa punched his arm.

“Ow!” Brady yelped, and struggled away. “What the hey? That hurt!”

“It’s complicated, alright?” Severa had buried her face into her arms. “I… don’t wanna talk about it.”

Brady watched her a for a second, then cautiously returned so that he was sitting next to her. “Okay,” he said carefully, “We won’t talk about your ma. …Sorry.”
She punched him again, but it was much softer. He being who he was, however, still felt it sting, and Brady winced. “Ow…” he mumbled. “It’s sore now…”

“Don’t apologise for nothing, you butt,” she muttered. Brady frowned, eyes wide. “You shouldn’t say that! That’s a bad word.”

Looking up at him now, Severa snorted. “Fine. You don’t talk about my mom, and I don’t call you a butt.”

“Stop sayin’ it!” Brady said, panicked. “Really, my ma says that it’s a real bad word! She says a big dragon the size of the castle’ll eat you if you do!”

“Butt. Butt butt butt. Buuuuutt.”

“Stop it!”

The door flung open.

“What on earth- Brady?”

Maribelle stood in the doorway, staring down at her son and Severa. Brady froze.

“So you were the source of that racket! Young man, what are you doing here? Where’s your nanny?” Maribelle came over to them, and peered down at Severa, who was currently sticking her tongue out and pulling a face at her. “Oh, that hair… you must be-“

“Severa!” It was Cordelia’s turn to leave the room now. She went right over to her daughter and scooped Severa up in her arms, looking her in the eyes. “Did you leave Morgan behind? Why aren’t you with her?”

Brady looked down at the ground sheepishly as Maribelle crouched slightly to try and look at him. “Come now, answer your mother.”

He wiggled his toes in his shoes, then gathered the courage to look up at her. “She was boring,” he complained, “And I was lonely and I wanted to come and see you and pa.” His mother corrected him gently, saying “Father,” but he kept going. “Then I met Severa who was waitin’ for her ma too, and she kept sayin’ a bad word.”

“Did she now?” Cordelia turned to Severa. She still had her tongue out and her eyes closed. “Just what did you say, hm?”


Maribelle was still focused on Brady, but her eyes were soft now. “You were feeling lonely?” She picked Brady up and he buried his head into the comfortable space between her chin and chest. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, the meeting just ended. Your mother and father are just very busy at the moment. We were going to spend time with you after the meeting, remember?”

Brady pouted. “I wanted to spend time with you now.” Tears were starting to prick the edges of his vision.

“Maribelle, Cordelia, what’s happen- Ah.” Chrom peeked his head out the door and saw the two children and their mothers, and he chuckled. “They missed you, huh? Well, we are done, so the two of you could go on ahead.”
“Then I’d best take this little one to the carriage first, hm?” Maribelle hefted Brady so he was in a more comfortable position, then angled her head so she could see her husband. “Gaius?” She called. “I’ll be going with Brady first.”

“Aye,” he responded. “I’ll see you two after my meeting with the pastry chef.”

Brady felt Maribelle taking him away, and was almost going to close his eyes, then he remembered something and tugged on his mother’s blouse. “What is it, dear?”


She turned her head to see the ginger boy, eyes half-closed and one hand around his mouth. “Don’t forget to ask your ma if you and your sis can come and play with me an’ Owain an’ Lucy an’ Cynthia!” Brady shouted. “See ya!” The sudden raise in volume nearly made her jump and his mother quickly shushed him and took him away after bidding hasty goodbyes. Cordelia looked down at her daughter.

“Play with Lissa’s boy and Lord Chrom’s daughters? That’s new for you, you usually hate playing with the other children. What brought this on?”

Severa huffed, her shoulders raised, but she wasn’t angry at all. “My new friend.”

“A new friend?” Cordelia was pleasantly surprised. “That’s rare, too.”

“Yeah.” Severa closed her eyes and put her head down. “His name’s Brady.”

“Oi, big lug. Get up.”

More than ten years into a future full of darkness and despair, Brady jerked awake and hit his head on the frame of the bed. “Ow…” He knew that voice.

Avoiding the hole in the floor from the Risen attack the week before, he got to his feet and shuffled to the door. Eyes bleary, he opened it.

“It’s noon and you were still in bed? Gods, you’re lazy.” Severa rolled her eyes. Her arms were crossed and her hair was already in their characterestic twin-tails. Brady looked down at her and surmised that she’d already been awake for a few hours.

“It ain’t laziness, it’s exhaustion,” he retorted. Running a hand through his hair, he quickly pulled it into its unique spiky style. “I was runnin’ back an’ forth all day makin’ sure you crazy people didn’t bleed out on the battlfield, ya hear? I don’t have a clue how yer so damned sprightly when ya coulda kicked the bucket last night.”

Severa looked at him, then away. “I heard from Owain. …Thanks.”

They were quiet, then he sighed. “Yeah, yeah, I don’t need it.” He shrugged. “I’m real used to pullin’ all-nighters for you guys. Better make sure ya don’t die on me after all my hard work, ya hear?”

“Me? Please.” She punched his arm without too much force and he winced. “I got a permanent bruise there ‘cause’a you,” Brady groaned. “When’re ya gonna learn that punchin’ yer people isn’t how ya should greet ‘em?”

Severa grabbed his amusingly thin arm. “Brady, shut it. I’m here to tell you that it’s tonight.”

That stopped him. He opened one eye, the one that wasn’t under a scar, and looked at her sharply. “Say what now?”

“Last night Lucina had a dream where Naga said tonight is the night.” She let go of his arm and stared at him with nothing but seriousness. “She wants to send us forward in time.”

Brady was dumbfounded, then ran a hand through his hair. “Well… damn. Alright, okay.”

“We’ll be gathering around the tree in the old courtyard tonight,” Severa told him. “All of us.”

Brady nodded. “Gotcha. Well, that means I can move some ‘a the patients into yer rooms. Hell, I can get a bigger room!” He whistled. “Nice. Maybe I can-“

“What’re you on about?” She frowned. “What room?”

He blinked. “I mean, I ain’t goin’ with the rest of y’all, right? Naga’s got no room for cowards.” He said this lightly, but his hand on the door was shaking. “Don’t be ridiculous!”

Severa took a step towards him, and he took one back. “I did not come all this way with you and the rest to just leave you behind, you big lug!” She pointed a finger and it landed on his chest, causing him to stumble a bit. “You’re coming with us whether you like it or not.”

Lost for words, he fumbled, then said eventually, “You know this time-thing’s all wibbly-wobbly. I dunno what Naga’s up to, but Laurent said that chances are we might end up anywhere in the world, or even any time. You ain’t scared ‘a that?”

Severa snorted. “Please, like I’m going to let Naga or time and space get in the way of us stopping this shutty future from ever happening.”

“Those’re kinda big deals,” he muttered, but she steamrolled over his argument. “No, shut it and let me be positive for once.
“You’re important to the team, Brady.” Severa went eye-to-eye with him. “You’re no coward, alright? We’ll definitely find each other after the whole thing. Even if you get lost, I’ll hunt you down somehow.”

Gods, she is forceful. But I don’t mind. He snorted. “Comfortin’ words for sure.”

Brady let go of the door. “Fine, fine. I’ll get my stuff ready.”

“You better. I expect to see you there, you hear me?” Severa left, and Brady watched her go. After a moment, he sat back down on his bed and rubbed the ring on his middle finger. As scared as he was about whatever they were heading towards, he couldn’t deny that he was looking forward to seeing his parents again.

He hid a grin as the memory of a corridor in Ylisstol came to him alongside dusty knees and a new friend who would become an old friend.

Even if they didn’t succeed, at the very least, he’d be with her.