The little garden was half hidden behind the house, consisting mostly of vining plants that could twist around the thick underbrush. It wasn't much of a variety,
but Trowa had never felt the lack. And from what Quatre said, he doubted the boy would complain with anything he decided to give him. The blonde was still
seated inside when he came back in and Trowa nodded to him, going through the living area to the small cooking nook. While he didn't know who'd lived in
the house before him, Trowa found that it suited him, most of the time. A glance over his shoulder found his 'guest' watching from the chair near the fire and
Trowa caught his eye. "This place was deserted when I moved in," he commented. "I never added anything to it."
"I think it's nice," Quatre said, watching him. He wanted to go and look over Trowa's shoulder to see what he was doing, but thought better of it. Instead, he
shifted on the soft chair, folding his legs and leaning his elbows on his knees. "It's dark, but...as long as it has everything you need."
The boy's expression seemed solemn, but Trowa had an idea he was trying to be polite. It had been years since he'd lived with 'people,' but he remembered
what their homes had been like. Compared to the warm, cheery houses, he was well aware that the dark walls around them were bare and stark. He'd simply
never had the urge to do anything about it. Now, he couldn't help but note how out of place the pale blonde looked, and he frowned. "What did your home
"The woman's house?" Quatre blinked, shaking his head. "It was much smaller, and she had...things...hanging all over the walls, baskets, and shelves full of
her herbs. That was the big room, and then she had a curtain that separated it from the back. I never really spent much time in the main room, but it was very
crowded. There wasn't space to move in there."
Trowa looked back again, raising an eyebrow at Quatre's slight frown. "I've never seen a witch," he said, content to let the boy talk, "what was she like? And
what was her name?" The boy had yet to refer to the woman by anything, and Trowa thought there was something odd about that.
Blinking for a moment, Quatre shook his head, glancing over the tall boy's dark wings where they were folded at Trowa's back. "I don't know." Green eyes
snapped back to him and he dropped his eyes, shaking his head again. "I really don't know *what* her name was. She never told me."
"But she had visitors," Trowa said, leaving the pot to simmer as he took the seat to the other side of the small table. "Surely one of them referred to her?"
"I stayed in the back when people came, but I *did* hear them. They called her witch." Green eyes frowned at him, and Quatre thought about it for a moment
before letting out a little sigh. "That's all I ever remember hearing, witch. But I don't think that was her name."
As far as Trowa had ever heard about 'witches,' they were simply people, most often humans, who used magic and potions for evil or healing purposes. If the
woman Quatre had lived with was human, then he didn't see why she wouldn't have told him her name. It was odd. "And you never asked her?"
"Why would I?" Quatre blinked, his eyes widening in surprise. "I knew her. She was always there, as far back as I can remember. She was just...herself. I
never needed to *call* her anything."
"And she's the only person you ever saw?" The blonde boy nodded slowly, a hint of wariness creeping into his face. Trowa frowned darker. "How could she
keep you hidden for so long? How old *are* you?" This was a point that suddenly seemed very important to him, and his eyes swept over the seated boy. He
looked younger than him, but he really didn't know enough about sirens to be sure. The ones he'd seen were all adults.
"I...don't know." Those dark green eyes looked intense as they moved over him again and Quatre averted his eyes, suddenly very uncomfortable. He didn't
mind being asked questions, and if he'd known it was all right, he would have liked to ask some of his own, but Trowa was starting to make him nervous. It
reminded him of what he was, and the reason he was here in the first place. Suddenly, he thought it might have been better if the silence had held.
"If you were human," Trowa said slowly, noting that the boy didn't look back at him, "I'd say you weren't older than fifteen. I don't see how she could have kept
someone hidden for that many years."
"I stayed in the back," Quatre nodded, his gaze focused on the fireplace. "No one ever went near the curtain, and she told me never to make a sound when a
customer came in. I was very good." He heard the boy move, an odd ruffling sound as those long black wings shifted, and his shoulders tensed as he
glanced over. The chair was empty. He'd been leaning a bit on the arm of the chair, and he jumped when hands fell onto his arm.
The boy's head whipped around when he touched him, and Trowa lightened his grip on that slender arm, sinking down to crouch beside the chair. Wide eyes
flew to him and he frowned at them, shaking his head slowly as he held the boy's panicky gaze. "Calm down," he said slowly, soft voice making Quatre blink. "I
said I wasn't going to hurt you. I just want to know more about you. You don't have to tell anything you don't want to."
"I..." Those intense green eyes didn't lighten a bit, but the hold on his arm wasn't tight. Forcing his hands to uncurl, Quatre glanced away. "I don't mind telling
you," he admitted. That wasn't the problem.
Watching the pale boy's averted eyes, Trowa sighed and sank onto his knees, shifting his wings more comfortably behind his back. "How did she die?" The
question made Quatre jerk and turn back to him, but this time those pale blue-green eyes were wide with something besides fear. "She was the only person
you ever knew," he commented softly, "you must have been lost without her."
"I knew she was dying," Quatre said, blinking when his eyes burned a little. His gaze fell to the dark feathers curving over Trowa's back and he stared at
them. "She told me it was going to happen, months before she died. It was a curse, that's what she said. She hadn't fulfilled her part of something, so the
curse killed her."
"Do you know what the curse was?" Trowa asked, his palms shifting a little higher on the boy's arm. Quatre shook his head, not seeming to notice the
contact. "But she warned you about it."
"She...took care of me. I never knew why, but she did. She used to talk to me when she wasn't working. She liked to tell me about her customers, their
requests, their lives. I think she was lonely before she got me. She liked to have someone to talk to her. When she told me she was dying, she took me
outside." The winged boy nodded slowly, encouraging him, and Quatre's lips curved into a tentative smile. "I'd never been outside at night before that. But
she wanted me to describe the stars for her. That's how she knew she was going to die. The stars told her it was starting."
Trowa had heard a little about that, using the stars to make predictions, but something caught his attention and he frowned at the boy. "Quatre, why did she
have *you* describe the stars to her?" He thought he knew, and his guess was nearly proven when the boy turned surprised eyes on him.
"She couldn't see them," Quatre said, his head tilting to the side. "She couldn't see anything."
"She was blind." The blonde boy nodded and Trowa sighed, shaking his head. "That explains a lot. I should have wondered how she could keep you
without-" He bit down on the word, but it was obviously unnecessary. Quatre dropped his eyes.
"Yes. I didn't know about that, though, not then. None of her clients were sirens, not the ones she brought into the house. I never thought to ask what I was.
She'd told me I wasn't her child, but beyond that I just...never thought about it." Silence met him and he shook his head, instinctively curling tighter on the
chair. "After that night she told me what I was, and that she'd gotten me from the sirens at birth. She wouldn't tell much about that, but she warned me about
my weakness, that she'd hidden me with her magic."
"And after she died," Trowa prodded gently, his avid eyes watching the boy's downcast expression. The topic was hurting the boy, he could see that, and
while it caused a twinge of something in his own chest, he didn't care. This was what he needed to know, exactly what had happened to make Quatre so afraid
of him. If the witch had warned him, then it was possible the boy was adverse to any sort of sexual contact, not because he'd had bad encounters, but
because of her. Though it had been years ago, Trowa knew there were humans who denounced anything related to carnal desires. If that was the cause of
Quatre's fear, then it made things easier.
"She told me to leave the moment she died," Quatre whispered, his throat trying to close on him. He could remember that last order very well, and it was the
only order he'd ever disobeyed. "Her clients would come to take her things, that's what she said. And they would see me. She told me to hide at night, and
find somewhere to the north, some place where no one was. I didn't know why, but she warned me not to be seen. And then she died. But...I didn't do what
she said." A warm hand brushed his shoulder and he leaned into Trowa's arm without thinking, his eyes burning again. "I just couldn't leave her there. Her
clients...I never saw them, but she *told* me they ate people. I was afraid they'd..."
A tingle lit up over his nerves when the boy turned into his arm, but Trowa crushed it mercilessly, pulling Quatre's head against his chest. The blonde's
shoulders hitched, and he watched the boy calm slowly. This wasn't what he'd hoped to hear. Now, he almost regretted prodding into Quatre's past.
Obviously the witch had been more to the boy than just his owner. He remembered what Quatre had said, the night before. The sirens had sold him, thinking
the baby would be killed. But the witch had kept him, and raised him as a son, whether she allowed the boy to claim that tie or not. "Quatre."
"I had to bury her," Quatre mumbled, shaking his head. "I *had* to. But she was so heavy...I couldn't carry her." His cheeks burned in shame and he pressed
his face against Trowa's chest, muffling his voice. "She wasn't *that* heavy, but I just couldn't hold her. I had to-to wrap her in her blanket and...drag her
outside..." Fingers brushed through his hair and he closed his eyes, leaning harder against Trowa. "She'd never forgive me if she knew I *treated* her like
The boy's voice shook, and Trowa pulled him off the chair and into his lap. Damp eyes blinked up at him when he wrapped his arms around Quatre, but there
was no wariness there. The pale blonde was too deep in the memory to remember his fear of him. "It was the best you could do," he whispered, his voice soft.
"We sat on a hill of hemlock when I told her about the stars," Quatre said, his eyes wide. "I thought that would be nice for her, to be buried there. She seemed
so...happy there. We went out every night after the first time and I thought...I thought she could rest there." Trowa nodded and he blinked back dampness,
staring at the boy's dark shirt. "I buried her on that hill under the stars."
Brushing pale blonde hair off the boy's forehead, Trowa stared into wells of sadness. He didn't want to take advantage of this. That thought tore at his
conscience even as he pulled Quatre closer, feeling the boy curl against his chest. Those wide eyes shimmered with unshed tears and he closed his own
eyes, bending down to press his lips to the boy's soft forehead. He felt Quatre take a shaky breath and pulled back, his gaze dropping just as the boy's dark
lashes fell. Silver trails etched pale cheeks and Trowa moved without thinking, tasting the salty tears. Quatre's lovely face was tilted up to him and his hands
curled on the boy's back as he tore his eyes away from those tempting lips. The pain written over that pale visage was too blatant. Holding the slender boy
close, Trowa pressed his face down against Quatre's neck, feeling the warmth. And slowly, his control was rewarded as arms edged around him and tightened
The warmth surrounding him felt so good that Quatre didn't think about it, not at all. His cheek was resting on smooth cloth, and he inhaled the faint scent of
pines, sighing softly. A moment later his breath carried another scent, though, and his brows knitted slowly, blurred eyes blinking open. A slow heat rose to
his cheeks, and he stared at the dark feathers visible over Trowa's shoulders, feeling the hands on his back, warm breaths against his neck. His back tensed,
but he didn't move immediately. The boy certainly wasn't hurting him, and he felt no fear from the strong arms holding him close. Besides that, Trowa's
breathing was slow and calm, not the least bit frenzied. Thinking of that, his face flushed hotter, remembering how the boy had grabbed him last night. Trowa
claimed to be able to resist him, but Quatre didn't want to do anything to make it harder for him. With a deep breath, he licked his lips. "Trowa?"
Frustration coiled in his stomach, but Trowa held it down, not wanting to growl and scare the boy. He wasn't doing *anything*. He didn't think the blonde would
ever understand how hard it was to simply hold him like this, but obviously even this was too much. With dark eyes, Trowa frowned against the half-siren's soft
neck. It took a moment before he could soften his voice, and he refused to look up when he spoke. "I won't hurt you. I don't know how to prove that to you,
but I won't hurt you, Quatre." The slender boy tensed in his arms and he glared for a second before clearing his face and releasing his tight hold. Pale
blue-green eyes met him and he looked at them, forcing himself to calm even more. "Are you all right?"
"Yes," Quatre said quickly, his blush fading just a bit as he leaned away from the boy. "But...I think your food is burning." Trowa blinked at him, green eyes
Startled, Trowa glanced over his shoulder, smelling the rich scent that pervaded the room. He'd completely forgotten about that. Not sure why he suddenly
felt relieved, he slowly released Quatre. The boy stood when he did, and he turned to the cooking space. "It's not burnt yet," Trowa commented, still feeling
odd. "I never end up cooking it long enough, so it might actually be perfect this time."
The boy's tone sounded off somehow, but Quatre sidled a little closer, peaking around Trowa to see the dark soup filling the pot. "It smells delicious," he said
tentatively. Green eyes flicked to him and he managed a slight smile, wrapping his arms over his chest.
For a long minute, Trowa continued to feel confused, but the boy's expression clued him into what was wrong. Quatre had broken their embrace, but it didn't
necessarily mean the boy was afraid he'd been about to try something. He was hungry. Trowa's lips twitched into a slow smile and he nodded, turning back to
the pot. "I think you'll like this." The boy's soft smile widened a bit, making his eyes seem to glow, and Trowa blinked, caught in their depths. But Quatre
moved away and the hold was broken when the boy resumed his seat near the fire. Preparing two bowls, Trowa reminded himself not to take that power for
granted. As sweet as Quatre was, the boy had the ability to undo all of his plans, with a single look. If Quatre was no longer quite so wary about meeting his
gaze, then he'd have to be extra careful not to give in. Otherwise, he'd undo what progress he'd obviously made.
* * *