(1939-02-14) Partners and Valentines
Details for Partners and Valentines
Summary: Ulysses and Dora discuss, life, their ailing mother and the holiday.
Date: 1939-02-14
Location: Balcony

Weekend again. It was mid-day, and the light was perfect for a little reading. Or something. Whatever kept Ulysses away from the packs of hunting girls, or having to see the couples making their way to Hogsmeade. Thus, balcony it was.
He sits on one of the chairs, legs propped up on the fence so he can at least pretend to recline. The novel is open before him, but currently facing downward on his lap while he looks out at the cloudy, yet currently friendly sky.

It was Valentine's Day! What was there not to love about Valentine's Day? There'd been golden boxes with delicious treats at breakfast and streamers and candy and chocolates and so…Dora ignored tradition and convention and wore pink in honor of it. Not because there was anyone she was trying to impress, but because it was Valentine's Day and Dora always wore pink on Valentine's Day.
It took some work to find her brother though, because he simply wasn't anywhere she thought he'd be and…in a few places she didn't want him to be. So when she found him, alone? The smile on the girl's face broken into an absolutely beaming bit of sunshine and she took off at a bouncing run. "Uly!" Arms open, though there appeared to be some kind of package in her hand and a pair of pink glasses atop her head, to give him an absolutely squishy hug. "Happy Valentine's Day!" Popping wet kiss to the cheek.

When one wanted to be alone… the best places to go were where no one would look to find you. Of course, some people were still allowed to. He, unlike his sister, hadn't dressed for the day, sticking to the crimson and golds of his house along with the rest of his uniform.
The voice, however, got his attention, and a smile crossed his face as he pauses from his personal reverie, looking at her with a bit of a grin, taking in the outfit, before getting smothered by hugs. And that, dear boys and girls, seemed to be something he well needed, because he returns it with gusto, the smile widening at the innocent kiss.
And even when she's done, he doesn't immediately let the hug go, as if intent to keep her there, in that position, a bit longer, as he replies with a laugh, "Happy Valentine's Day, Doe…"

"Happy Valentine's, Uly," Dora echoed, her smile warm as she lingered and after a moment, turned so that she could claim a space in his lap as if she intended to take him completely from his book in the most innocent and non-contrived way possible.
"You should close your eyes and hold out your hands though," his sister sing-songed in an all too giddy tone; slim legs swinging back and forth against the outside of his thigh. For all that she still seemed close enough and more to recline against his chest. She'd missed him and more, she'd been worried since he'd stayed with that horrible potion mess that was just begging to get people in trouble.

He doesn't seem to mind. Indeed, he's never seemed to mind… even in those times where one would expect him to. There were certain things that were simply Dora's, which it came to him… and anyone else who thought differently usually didn't continue doing so for long. As it stands, he grunts at her, giving her a half-glare, even as he eyes the spectacles, narrowing his eyes just a touch more. Then his eyes close with a dramatic eyeroll underneath and a matching sigh, and his arms slide from around her to be held out in front of her.
But heaven help him… there was a bit of a smile there, too.

"What?" Biting her lip between her teeth, Dora canted her head to the side to look at her brother when he looked at those spectacles. "There were lots of people getting them at breakfast. Aren't they cute! It's so everyone can see pink for Valentine's day! Only…I think I might keep mine to wear on the weekends. It's given me an idea for my camera too, because what if I made the lense a different color?" The girl babbled on, chipper as a magpie.
"I got a pair for you, too!"

His eyes closed and hands outstretched, Ulysses holds there a moment longer, while Dora asks her question. A single eye cracks open. "Oh! I thought it was one of those ones the Divinations class was handing out. I've seen /packs/ of girls, our cousin Sybil included, stalking the halls with those on." If it wasn't for /that/ reason, he could relax a bit.

"Is that where they came from?" His sister sounded curious and looked well, confused. "What're they supposed to Divine? The locations of all the hidden chocolate because I know for a fact that…," Dora plopped the glasses into Uly's hand along with another smaller parcel that had a little more weight to it. She didn't say a word, either. Just grinned. An absolutely adorable little grin that seemed to give away the secret of just exactly where the chocolate was.

His eyes now both open, he takes the packs and chuckles, leaning forward to give Dora a light peck on the chin. "You know me too well," he says, shaking the box lightly. "And yes. It's… well… it's valentine's day, Doe. And they fit the theme. Supposedly, they're supposed to reveal your 'true love' to you." Why lie to her? It might actually scare her away from using them. He twirls the pair she gave him in his fingers, "Although that impact they'd have when used with your camera…"

"Well that's silly," the girl replied, wriggling her nose with a giggle when he kisses her chin and in response, kisses the very tip of his nose. "I don't have one. I'm going to live with you, forever and always. So that I can help take care of you and the house and the twins. Besides, if it was true love, wouldn't…grown ups use them all the time so that no one was ever unhappy?" The girl questioned, plucking a piece of chocolate from her pocket to unwrap and munch on.
"If I used it on my camera, then you'd look a lot less grouchy in those pictures of you sprawled on your sheets and I bet, they'd probably look girlie." Grin.

Ulysses laughs, "I didn't say it was true! Just that's what they've been advertising them as. And you make me proud. Logic wins out. Of course someone would have made the real thing well before now. But still… I just hated to think of you following all that folderol." His own eyes crinkle at her kiss back, and after stashing the spectacles she gave him into a pocket, he uses the now free arm to pull her up closer, before moving to slowly unwrap the package she gave him. He wasn't going to deny himself chocolate, after all.
"And that's why you're my best girl, Doe. I don't need a Valentine." A slight grin crosses his face. And then the last bit registers, and he pauses, "Wait. On my what?"

"I just think they're cute," Dora murmured, reaching up to tug them down off her head and let them slide onto her nose. The world turned a brilliant shade of pink then, as she settled in a little closer against him and fully onto his lap when he drew her closer; the wings of her shoulderblades pressing lightly against his chest as she looked out over the view. "And the world is pink. I like it that way. It looks..happier."
Though her head tilted back so that she could look up at him, "And bubblier. I love bubbles!" At which point the poor thing tried to paw at one that was drifting near his head. Until a pout threatened. "Awww. Wait, does that mean you won't be my Valentine?"

Playful pinches go at her side next, the box of chocolates forgotten for a moment as Uly presses, "Answer for an answer, Doe." Pinch. Pinch. "What's this about my sheets?"
As her hand paws at imaginary bubbles, he lays off the pinching and bats at her hand instead. "Bubbles? That's what they designed them to show?" That gets a laugh out of him, although not an unkind one.

"Eep!" Dora squeaked when Uly pinches and the result is an awful lot of squirming and wriggling about, as she attempts to deflect his fingers with her elbows not to hit him, but to protect her. "Nothing! Nothing I promise!" Though there was a hint of a giggle hiding in it.
Her hand falls away too, when he swats at it, only to chase another one. "Well, they look like hearts. Little bubbly ones. I bet I could make bubbly hearts. I bet I could make a whole dress out of them." Food for thought and something to try later.
"Wait, why're you laughing? Don't you see the world in bubbles? Try yours on!"

Ulysses glares at her, a bit of playfulness there, but even without it, there's an undertone of consideration, "You're fibbing. My perfect, beautiful, Adorabella is /fibbing/. To me. This… this is untenable." Because it means she's growing up. And that's… scary as hell.
"How could I have a fibber as a Valentine? Here I was gonna say that of course, I'd be your Valentine… I'd do anything for my Darling Doe… but now I find she's…FIBBING." His voice raises a bit, but despite it all he laughs. And then, reaches back for the blasted glasses. Opening themup and slipping them on, grunting as he looks at her.

"Uly," the littlest Selwyn's brows knotted together, "What does untenable mean?" Because the vocabulary that her oldest brother possessed far exceeded her own. And the word sounded fun, even if it'd tangled a bit off her tongue when she'd said it. "And I wasn't fibbing!"
"I wasn't! I was just…omitting things, and replacing them with the word nothing," she nodded sagely, before her lips cracked a smile as something else he said caught up with her. "You really think I'm beautiful? Really? And you're not just saying it because you're my broth—Ohmy." Straight face, straight face…Dora failed and at the sight of Ulysses in rose colored glasses…broke into a fit of uncontrollable giggles.

He would have responded. Really. He would have. In a few minutes, he'd likely have all the response in the world. But he doesn't. Instead Uly is incredibly quiet. Just for a few moments. His face doesn't change, really, other than a smile that ignores her statements, her questions, and even her giggles. However, eventually he just sticks his tongue out at her, and calmly takes off the glasses, slipping them into his breast pocket, patting it.
He takes a few minutes more, letting her giggles pass. "No bubbles." But he grins at her. "Untenable. Means you were putting me a place that couldn't be defended. I have no defense against a fibbing Doe. Which means," he flops back, "I'm done for."
Then a smile, "Of course I do. Doe. And not just because you're family. You're like Mother, in a ways. She's beautiful too…even with her problems. But you… you're my Doe. And of course you're beautiful. Even more so." And heaven help anyone who tries to convince her differently.

It's the silence, for all that she giggled, that got to her. Whether it was the fact that he was quiet or simply that his expression didn't change, the girl's giggles tapered off sooner than they might have otherwise. "Did I do something…wrong, Ulysses?" His name grew, when she thought she was in trouble and his silence made her nervous. He could feel it in her tension and the slight way she squirmed.
"I didn't mean to make you feel untenable." And it didn't matter so much just then, that he thought she was beautiful, when she was afraid she'd made him made. "It was just one picture. Uly, I promise. You were sleeping and you looked so peaceful and so relaxed and not stressed and…I just…I wanted to be able to remember you that way."

In response, at first, he laughs, shaking his head. "Absolutely not, Doe. You did nothing at all." And indeed, he looks back at her with a grin, soft now, as a hand goes out to cup her chin, his thumb lightly dimpling the center. "Not at all. Just didn't see the bubbles." Which was the truth.
And for all that, he smiles. "One picture? Well… I guess I can forgive that, and accept you as my valentine. I /guess/. Since you told me the truth."

"D'you think it's because they weren't made for you?" His sister's nose wrinkled. "I noticed that not everyone got them but…if they were made for specific people…doesn't that sort of seem like..things are picked, doesn't it?" The words had slowed towards the end, as she came to the conclusion that the Divination group was mocking…everyone there was a ghost of a frown on her face because it seemed so morally wrong.
"Well, they're pink and I like them. And they match my dress. Sort of." And that was that. For glasses, but not pictures. Instead, the girl beamed when he said he'd accept her and flung her arms around his neck, cuddling in. "If I'm your valentine, that means you have to share your chocolate though. And tell me what you were doing down there with all of those…people and those potions. I've just been waiting on someone to announce that everyone was expelled for it."

If he saw anything, he's saying nothing about it. Instead, he simply grins, and as she gets close lands a soft kiss wherever on her head it might be handy. "Like I wouldn't share with you. I'm of half a mind to assume you likely over-purchased purely with the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to deny sharing with you, Rascally Doe."
And so the box comes back out, and he opens it, tipping it towards her before he even looks in. "Nothing has happened yet… aside from some rather annoying notes and a sinking suspicion that someone's getting a right laugh out of it all."

His kiss and the bump of his chin against her hair threatened to knock her ribbon askew, so the girl spent a moment reaching up to straighten it. "I would not!" Came the defense, but there was a smile in the tone and good humor in it. "You frown on being wasteful." Lesson duly learned and well remembered.
"One day, I'm going to learn to be an Animangus and when I do," Dora murmurs, I shall be a doe." Or a rabbit.
Though she opened a hand for him, so that some of the little chocolate hearts could tumble into it; each pressed with a different Valentine sappy theme.
"They're lucky they didn't get in trouble. I don't want you to get in trouble, Uly. Ever."

"What ever you became," Uly offers with a grin as he snags a few hears of his own, popping them into his mouth and chewing a moment before continuing, "it'll be absolutely worthy of your name, Doe. I'm sure of it."
He nods, "Sometimes you have to take chances, Doe. I know I try to shield you from a lot of that… but there's a lot to experience. And I have to be willing to do it… to do what I need to, to take care of all of us. We're not going to be able to live off of Pa's money forever… and I'm determined you will never want for anything. And so… I take chances." A smile, aimed at her.

"A butterfly!" To the whatever she becomes. Which, perhaps goes to show just how serious she is about the…, "If I was butterfly, I could fly, Uly! Without a broom! I'd have actual wings!" The idea should not be so exciting, regardless of just how far fetched the entire thing is. The odds of Dora actually managing her goal are…small. Very, very small.
"But Uly, we're fine. You kep talking as if we're going to be beggers, but that's not the case. Papa was smart. The finances feed into themselves. I've been studying," and she has, is the sad part. His sweet sister, always looking for ways to try and help. "And there are ways to diversify the base funds, if we manage them carefully enough and with the talk of possible war, with all of the muggle stuff…it's possible that we could actually come out ahead and have a hand in the developing of them."

Those words, coming out of Dora's mouth, come as a bit of a shock to Ulysses. Partly because the concepts are just about enough to make his eyes glaze over… and partly because Dora is saying things that are making his eyes glaze over. "Pa never taught me any of those things, Doe. I've… just been doing it on my own. Hell.. I ended up spending what little I give to myself just to hire some help from Gringott's.. since I was completely botching the numbers for weeks." A gaze goes over to her, "Where did /you/ learn all of that?"

"I…," he'd embarassed her. Dora went pink all the way up to her ears and let her eyes fall down to the chocolates in her hand, poking them about with her finger until she could read all the messages on each one. "Just..it's in books, you know. And I like to read and well…I want to run a sort of business, you know. I don't want to..I don't want to work at St. Mungo's and it just..," her words were trailing together as her head slumped forward and the lower it fell, the more she mumbled, "it just, I had to know, so I'd know what to do and just, I'm sorry."

"Sorry for being smarter than me?" Ulysses reaches out to stroke Dor'a chin a bit, "Don't be. We've always known that was the case. You just surprised me. I never even knew you thought in that direction, Doe. Money, finances, all of that." As her head fell, he moved his hand to draw it up, to have her look at him again.
"Talk to me, Doe. You don't want Mungo's? This is the first I've heard of this. And a business?" Where would they get the money to fund that? "I clearly haven't been paying enough attention to you."

"That's not true," Dora argued, her head lifting even if it took her gaze longer to join his. But when it finally did, "You think about it," was th only defense and argument that she had. "All the time and it worries me. I wanted to be able to help you." It seemed so…very simple really, in her head. That was the long and short of it.
Yet when he asked about her future.. That just brought a guilty flush again. "You all always talked about taking me with you…and I'll go," she hastened to add. "If you want me too. I will! But..," her voice turned small again. "That..that isn't..it wasn't what I wanted. I just wanted…a home. A home with doors I could open to any one, where it didn't matter if you could afford to pay because someone's there to care for you and help you get back up. A place for strays, two legs and four. Where people and animals can be healed. I'm hoping, hoping to find a way to set it up as a charity, because I'm hoping that other people will want to see people helped too and I think, if I do it just right, it'll work."

His initial response isn't exactly verbal. Instead, he sets the candies to the side, looks again st Dora, and then envelops her in a crushing hug. "You. Worried about me. Isn't that a bit of a role-reversal," Uly finally offers a moment later, before loosening the hug. "I do because someone has to. But… it's nice to know you want to help. I could use it… even if the process might be boring." And… it was a way to keep her close, as well. Any opportunity given.
"I know Tarquin and I always joked about it… but really, Doe… did you think I would just drag you into potentially dangerous assignments? I would love to have you with me… but I would much rather you be safe… someplace I could come back to." He then grins, and reaches a hand up again to touch her face. "I don't know how we'll do it… but if that's what my Doe wants…"

With her bottom lip tucked between her teeth, Dora looked at her brother, before returning his hug with one of her own that was squishy tight. "…why do you think I wanted to be a healer, Uly? I wanted to always be able to take care of you. You and El and Leo. That's…why I do..what I do." The shrug was a tiny thing, as if it were nothing and she didn't sound as embarassed as she felt.
But, when he says it was a joke. "I'd go with you and never think twice, Uly. Because I know you'd keep me safe. I'd…just rather be home."

For a moment, Uly just chuckles, his arms tightening around Dora for that moment. The smile he gives her beams, and if the spectacles are still on, likely bubbles. "You and I are so very alike, Doe. I forget it some times. And I should give you more credit than I do. I know you would follow me wherever. But you deserve a home. You do. And that's why I'm going to do what I'm going to do. To make certain you get it." He smiles, "And perhaps… with a bit of help in the finances area… we'll both be able to do it. Valentines… and partners. How does that sound to ya?"

Dora whispers then, her tone one of a conspirators, "I want one on legs, like that school. The one with the chicken legs? Only…maybe not chicken legs. But legs, surely, so it can walk and I can follow you everywhere." Ah, the dreams of youth. So Dora snuggled and rained a shower of kisses down on her brother, from the top of his forehead to his chin and everywhere in between, light as a butterflies kiss.
"Valentines and Parters. And anyway, you won't have to do too much, because you promised you wouldn't leave. So it sounds perfect!""

Each kiss, oddly enough, seems to increase the appearance of the rose-colored bubbles, until the two seem almost covered in them for a few moments. For his own part, Uly, seeing none of this, just laughs through all of it. "I promised I'd always be a carriage ride or a Floo away. And I could never actually /leave/ you. Just… perhaps go on the occasional adventure. And come back with treasures and chocolates." This offered by a hand reaching down to grab a few of the chocolate hearts, popping one in her mouth when she isn't paying attention.

The sheer number of bubbles made the girl giggle and quite likely, double the number of kisses applied until she fell back into his arms, staring up at a world of heart shaped bubblies that only she could see. Carriage ride of Floo, in Dora's mind, one is incredibly short and the other isn't really like leaving. She's not considered, really, just how much distance can be fit in between those. So she nods in agreement and laughs out an, "Aurnammmmph—ento!" So that there's enough bubbles in the world that even Uly can see them, drifting about with all of the zest and glee of a bubble that, likely won't pop until we'll after they're gone. Whilst the chocolate interruption had her lips shaping the very tips of his fingers, as she'd tried to finish her spell. The end result was some slightly odd looking bubbles; a few of them looked more like paint splatters!

It was a cozy feeling. A welcome one. Frankly, it was the sort of thing that punctuated their relationship. Ulysses submits himself to the kisses and to giggling willingly. This was a welcome escape from worry, and she could feel it in the lack of tension in his body, and the easy smile on his face, if nothing more. As the bubble production is partly foiled by the interrupting chocolate, he laughs aloud, reaching a hand out to balance one of the mutant bubbles on the end of his finger.

"I think it looks like a rabbit," Dora announced, when she could finally talk beyond the chocolate. "One sort of all turned in on itself. Like with a leg up," she demonstrates. Unfortunately the position she's in mind is how a cat sprawls, when it grooms the back of its hind leg, or say, it's rump. "And it's head all down, with its ears up. See how that sort of squiggly bit looks like a tail?" Her own leg lowered in the meantime, and she plucked another piece of chocolate from her brother's hand.
"Can…we go see Mamma tomorrow?"

Ulysses blinks at the visual, shaking his head for a bit. "A rabbit," he repeats, shaking his head although he does reach out, and with surprisingly gentle actually grasps the bubble and manipulates it slowly, just slightly, to give it something akin to a fluffy tail. "There. Even better."
Then the suggestion. To go see mother. There was something he'd avoided… and she wasn't even his mother. Even if she had tried to take the place, there'd always been tension and disconnect there. But… this was Dora asking. "Sure, Doe. For you." He looks over at her, though, concerned, "Are you sure you're up to it, though?"

"Bunny!" His sister cheers, giggling delightedly when Ulysses reshapes the poor mishapen bubble into something more akin to a proper creature, even if it was a stretch of the imagination to see it. But there was something..else on her mind, for all that she slid the glasses up to settle atop her head, once more nestled against her headband.
"Mamma…wrote me a couple of weeks ago, Uly. And..I went by to see her last weekend. It's not…it's not right, what's with her. There's something that doesn't make sense. She comes…and she goes but it's all here." The girl tapped against the side of her temple, indicating her head.
"Did…did you know I had a trust?"

"A letter?" Well, that was certainly new. Granted, he'd never assumed to receive one himself… but this is odd. She'd said nothing of this to him before… and he'd have expected… but no. He shakes his head again. "I've always assumed her grief just… turned her inward. That she can't get out of it herself. I've always wondered if we should have sent her to Mungo's… but…" At the start, that could have broken up the family, and he'd have none of that.
And then the bombsheel, "A trust? There was nothing about that in Pa's ledgers…" And why only for her?

"No!" It was so quick, that defense. The panicked look in Dora's eyes as she turned on his lap to better face him. "No Uly, we can't! She'd be lost there! I know they try, but there's so many of them and she'd not have her things and it'd just be potion after potion and terrible food and people to come by and poke at her and she wouldn't have her make-up or her music and Uly, please. Please no." Tears threatened in her eyes, those small hands having forgotten the chocolates that spilled from her palm and into her lap so that she could clutch at the front of his shirt as she begged.
"It didn't…," her voice is so small. It's whisper thin. "It didn't come from Papa…"

"I said should have, dear," Uly offers at her sudden upset, arms closing around her, "I didn't then, and I couldn't now. I just… worry that we're letting her simply sit there and waste away… when we should do something." He frowns. "She's our problem, Doe. I know she's not my mother, but she's still family. And that makes her ours. Period. I promise."
For a moment, he just holds her, waiting until her upset dwindles, before he asks. "Who then, Doe? Mother wouldn't have had any way…"

"She likes her music," Dora still defends, but it's in a quieter voice, one more subdued and with less panic as his assurances have time to sink in. They're not sending off their mother. Everything is fine. And it is fine. Yes. She can breath.
"Mamma said it was hers..," the very best and still quite meek, all Dora can reply.

"She does. Perhaps I can see if we can find her more. She must be getting bored with the same things over and over." Uly offers, still holding his sister tight, "Hers?" Interesting. "I don't understand how… but, well… that's great for you, then. Is.. it enough for your house, then? With the legs?" Tentative, that.

"We can look tomorrow in town?" Dora suggests, looking hopeful. "And pick up something to take her for Valentines?" It's a bright eyed question, one that's hopeful while she stares up at him with those big ole brown eyes of hers. "It's enough to help you breathe and to take care of the twins," Dora informs, in a simple tone. "I don't know how much a house on legs would even cost, Uly. But…we could probably get something old and fix it up, if we wanted. Something with lots of outside space and with a yard I can have a sheep in!" She beams at him. "And a goat!"

"And even a weasel, if you want. It would be YOUR house, after all," Uly offers, and if there wasn't some give in that statement, there never would be any understood. "And legs can be added later." A smile, and he reaches behind her to gently ruffle her hair. "We should, too. A proper Valentine's gift… too. Chocolates, ribbons, bows. And hearts."

"No." Dora frowns, just a smidge. "No. Ours." And burrowed in closer with the statement, this time twining her arms in around his neck until she was settled just as close as it was humanily possible to get. "I'm not going anywhere without you. I can't live by myself." Her heart would likely explode in panic. Dora'd never been alone. Not ever. At home she had three brothers, one always underfoot. At school, there were still people everywhere to share a room. But to think, to actually consider spending a night alone, in a house, all by herself with the knowledge that there was no one else there. That no one would be. That it was /hers/ as Uly had said…To think of all the noises it might make and the creaking sounds and the wind and mice in the walls with their chatter and no one, no one at all near to hear her cr..
The symptoms are familiar. He's seen them in her before. The wide paniced all too distant look in her eyes. The breath that was too quick and too shallow. The way she didn't seem to hear, not entirely, what was being said around her because the ringing in her ears was getting louder…Dora'd suffered from anxiety attacks for years.
"Uly…Uly please don't make me go. Please."

The response is immediate. As she burrows closer, he leans up into a sitting position, rocking her. Uly knows this too well, and in moments he's offering shushing noises directly into her ear, one hand going to her side, another to her shoulder, enveloping her, "No… Doe, Doe. No one's making you go. I said I would be there, didn't I? That I needed someplace to come home to when I went on adventures? Someplace you could be to take care of me?"
His strong hands grip her, massaging now, the touch kind but there, present, to remind her of his strength, "You're my partner, remember? We already agreed to it. My Valentine and my partner. No one's ever going to take you away from me. Or me from you."

The girl clings as he rocks her, breathing in his scent where her head was burrowed in against his neck; breath spilling in warm little tufts of air while he cradled her like a doll and she just, she let him. No fight for his hands, no struggle to escape. He was her safety. Her anchor. The thing that kept the world alright. Clever Uly, too. To repeat the things she needed to hear until they could get through enough to ensure that she heard the rest.
"..yes," came the hesitant agreement at his assurance. That he needed to come home. That she could take care of him. That the world wouldn't change and he wouldn't leave. "I love you, Uly." But she didn't uncurl, didn't let go. Another nagging thought was circling round in her brain.
"Uly…do…you think there's something wrong with me? Is this..," her anxiety, "Is this what happened to Mamma?" Snapping, when their father died?

And so he holds her, hands there to touch, to feel, as she needs. Even after it's clear the anxiety is coming to an end, he continues to rock her, albeit slower now. "And you know I love you with all my heart, Doe. You and Leo and Elric… but especially you." Her question causes him to wince, ever so slightly, though. "No. No. Her's is an entirely different hurt."
Because, frankly? A part of him blamed himself for this part of her. Because he knows a part of him created it. "You're allowed to be scared, Doe. But remember… you'll always have me. No matter what. I know this session I've not been as close… but I'm always here. You can always run to me. And I think that's the difference between you and mother. She… never ran to anyone. She has…" He thinks about it. Does the math in his head. "Four older brothers, a younger sister, and a younger brother. And she's distanced herself from all of them." His hands squeeze again, gently. "You actually come to me. So no. It's not the same thing."

"I don't want to end up like her, Uly," there's another littel tremor of fear in that one, but the steady way he keeps her close, the way he reassures, helps keep the panic from coming back for new reasons. "I don't. I'll come to you, Uly. I promise. From now on, I promise to always to remember to come to you. Always." She kissed his cheek when she said it. A touch of closeness that lingered as her forehead rested against his cheekbone.
"I don't want to end up alone, like Mamma has. I don't…I don't know what..," she began and then couldn't finish. "Let's…I don't know. Can I sit with you? Just for a while, while you read? Until it's time to go to bed? I just…I just want to be here with you."

"Good," Uly responds, a bit of the humor coming back in his tone, as he leans back in the chair, taking her with him. "A brother needs to feel useful. And you know you're welcome any time. ANY time. My side, my arms, even my lap are available." A grin, and then he holds her tight.
But when she asks if she can stay with him, his smile is even warmer. How could he say no to that? Spilt chocolates are gathered up, the box brought up and over to a place where they can both get to them, and he nods, "Of course. I've… missed that. But I don't think I'll read. Not when I have my Doe here. Instead," he points out at the sky, the clouds there, "Let's see how long we can keep those in sight, shall we?" An old game.

Dora stretches back against Uly's chest, when he reclines; her hips shifting against his lap until she's found the perfect cradle for them heedless of any possible repercussions, so when her head falls back now, it's to land against his shoulder so that she can look up and see both the profile of his face and the sky at the same time.
Once he's collected the chocolates and got them sorted, his sister reaches to collect his arms, gently laying her own over his coiled there about her middle. "Your eyesight's better," his sister teases, tickling her fingers against the curve of his thigh.
But unless he broke the silence, it could be a half hour, before she spoke again, content to just watch the lazy drift of clouds.

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