"Mother, let me help with the cutting!"
Within the kitchen, Lucatiel was focusing on the chopping board as she diced, chopped and filleted everything with complete ease. Beside her, was a hyperactive Yuzhen who was jumping at her side as he curiously watched her.
Wiping her forehead with her wrist, Lucatiel gently coddled her child, "When you are older dear."
Happily leaning his head towards his mother's soft hand as she patted him, Yuzhen softly whined, "But I want to help mother!"
Lucatiel chuckled at her cute child's answer, until she glanced at Dimitri whose hands were shaking visibly as he tightly grasped the newspaper in his hands, "What are you looking at, little Mitri?" Lucatiel curiously asked.
Turning his head, Dimitri anxiously answered, "Julius... He's been gravely injured..."
Lucatiel raised her eyebrow, as she shot Valentine a glare, before slowly iterating each word, "Read. The. Newspaper."
Letting out a sigh, Valentine held onto his coffee mug as he kneeled next to Dimitri and began reading the newspaper by his side, "'Is the Pope of Death finally dead? Has Aetherius punished 'his' servant?'"
Lucatiel frowned slightly, before continuing to question Valentine, "Did you not say you were with Julius early in the morning inspecting settlements? Since when did his simple actions become the headline of the newspaper?"
Valentine frowned slightly as he corrected his wife, "I arrived at one of the rural settlements with Julius and Heathcliff, but returned with neither because I couldn't find any of the two." Valentine then grinned and winked at his wife as he further elaborated, "But my true reason is because I had a family to return to."
Lucatiel feigned disappointment as she shook her head slowly, "Ah, my husband is such an irresponsible man!" before glancing at Yuzhen.
With a grin on his face, Yuzhen copied his mother, "Ah, my father is such an irresponsible man!" before glancing at Dimitri, who had a look of utter bewilderment on his face.
Valentine could not help but tap his forehead slightly as he exasperatedly remarked, "Just what are you teaching our child to do..."
Lucatiel smirked at her defeated husband, as she gallantly explained, "I am only passing down my grand knowledge down to my kin, is that not right dear?"
Yuzhen cheerfully nodded, "Father said, 'Mother is always right!'"
Valentine could not help but feel mortified, as he placed his hands over his face, "Little mischievous devils, the both of you!"
Yuzhen burst out laughing as he abruptly ran towards his father and tightly attached himself to his chest, before nuzzling against his cheeks against his father's, "Nuh-ah! We are your little mischievous devils that will haunt you till the end of time!"
A cold drop of sweat ran down Valentine's forehead, as he glanced towards Dimitri before nervously pleading, "Mitri... Help your dear father and grab your brother!"
Dimitri frowned slightly, unsure how exactly he was meant to 'grab' Yuzhen. Walking closer to them, Dimitri pondered over what he should do, that was until Yuzhen took notice of his presence as he eyed his next target.
Without a warning, Yuzhen excitedly jumped off his father and towards Dimitri, as if he were a monkey jumping from vine to vine, as he latched onto Dimitri's chest, "Big brother!"
Dimitri could not help but feel regretful as he readied his body for the impact.
Slowly but silently, Valentine moved closer to Lucatiel who was pondering over something, as he whispered into her ear, "Is there something wrong darling?"
Lucatiel let out a sigh, "I am just worried."
Valentine gently kissed her neck as he consoled his wife, "As long as I exist, I will not allow any harm to touch you, or our children."
Lucatiel could not help but feel her face go hot, just as she was open to open her mouth, someone began knocking on the door.
Valentine turned his head towards the door in confusion, before yelling towards it, "It's unlocked!"
The cheerful turbulence of laughter within the room had suddenly calm to a halt, as the door was slowly pushed over, revealing a bloodied Heathcliff. Beside his leg, was a limping golden wolf that had already been all patched up.
Glancing at the lock in frustration, Heathcliff glanced at Valentine as he scolded him, "You really should stop forgetting to lock your front door, Vale."
Valentine smirked slightly as he snidely shot back, "You really should stop forgetting to keep up with your appearances, Cliff."
Heathcliff mouth widened in exasperation, as he grumbled, "You really should stop forgetting to make sure if your companions are safe!"
Valentine could not help but snicker. Just as he was about to continue the friendly exchange of words, he could not help but cringe at the sharp pain coming from his poor hips. Looking down towards where the pain was coming from, Valentine could not help but go pale in horror as he fearfully observed his wife's sharp nails.
Lucatiel softly whispered a sharp threat into his ear, "Behave, or else." before walking towards Heathcliff and greeting him cordially, "Cliff! I have not seen you in a week at least, have you found a wife yet?"
Noticing the wide grin on Lucatiel's face as she asked whether he had a wife yet, Heathcliff could not help but feel scared of this woman. He could never understand how her thought processes worked, she was always the wild, unpredictable, yet eloquent and regal, she seemed to know everything.
Heathcliff avoided Lucatiel's eyes as he iterated, "I. Am. Not. Getting. One."
Lucatiel smirked mischievously as she shot back, "I. Want. You. To. Have. A. Child. For. My. Yuzhen. To. Make. Friends. With."
Heathcliff could not help but take a step back as he gently rubbed his forehead. If there was one thing he feared, it would be this woman.
Yuzhen, a tiger gazing at it's prey, silently stared at Heathcliff hungrily as he whispered into Dimitri's ears cheekily, "Move closer to Uncle Cliff."
Unable to refuse the cute, adorable Yuzhen, Dimitri began moving closer to Heathcliff as he wondered what Yuzhen had wanted, yet once he had come close to Heathcliff, he had suddenly realised Yuzhen's plan. He wanted to migrate to another victim.
Just like the mischievous boy he is, the instant Heathcliff was in range, Yuzhen pounced towards him like a tiger, before latching tightly onto his bloodied chest as he giggled, "Good day Uncle Cliff!"
Heathcliff good not help but smile wearily as he looked down at Yuzhen's sparkling smile, he could not help but softly scold him, "Yuzhen... Your mother is going to have a hard time cleaning your bloodstained clothes."
Yuzhen could not help but shudder at Heathcliff's words, before looking down at both their clothes. He had only just now realised the fact that Heathcliff was wearing bloodied clothes. Yuzhen fearfully glanced towards his mother, who had the same soft smile on her face, yet he could not help but feel a storm brewing from her expression, even though it was the same.
Yuzhen silently climbed down from Heathcliff's chest, as he quietly muttered, "I'm going to go change..."
Heathcliff waited for Yuzhen to be out of sight, before solemnly explaining, "Father will be in recovery for a week, according to Cardinal Raphael."
Valentine raised an eyebrow in vexation, "And?"
Heathcliff looked at Valentine in confusion, "What do you mean?"
Valentine shook his head, as he glared at Heathcliff, "Who was it that was able to leave our Pope bedridden for a whole week?!"
Heathcliff avoided his glare as he explained, "I only arrived during the last moments of the battle... He... He initiated a Conceptual Backlash for forcing the laws of space to bend to his will... That was how Raphael explained it."
Valentine tilted his head in confusion, "Why would Julius go so far?"
Heathcliff mumbled, "I think he was only trying to make time for the forest's inhabitants to escape, it was raining thousands of shards but then... A single golden wolf just would not leave his side..."
Valentine still shook his head once more, "A week of recovery for the Pope, simply means a week-long holiday for my family." Grinning at Heathcliff, Valentine continued, "What will you be doing with your week-long holiday, Cliff?"
Heathcliff smiled slightly as he shook his head, "I will be staying within the Citadel of Aetherius, at my father's side."
Valentine raised both his hands in pity, as he wrapped at around Heathcliff's neck, "Ah... What a pity Cliff, was looking forward to keeping you in my house for a day or two, for drinking and reminiscing the good ole times."
Heathcliff slowly separated himself from Valentine's arms as he weakly apologised, "Maybe another time Valentine."
Valentine with a slight smirk, he consoled Heathcliff, "I'm sure your father will be as good as new in a weeks time, but don't forget that there is someone else that needs to be cared for." Valentine waited a few moments to give Heathcliff time to think, seeing that Heathcliff had a look of confusion strewn across his face, Valentine added with a grin, "Yourself."
Heathcliff's eyes widened open in realisation as a slight grin appeared on the corners of his mouth, "Of course."
Catching a glimpse of Dimitri's blonde hair and eye-catching aquamarine iris', Heathcliff recalled the cryptic words of his father. Feeling that his father had mistaken Dimitri for Francis, Heathcliff handed the golden wolf to Dimitri, as he explained, "Julius would have wanted you to take care of this wolf, but if-"
"Let's call her Iris!" Yuzhen who had abruptly entered the room wearing new clothes, rushed towards the golden wolf and had been gently scratching the back of it's ears, cheerfully thought out loud.
Dimitri looked towards the golden wolf in confusion, before asking Yuzhen, "It's a she?"
Yuzhen hurriedly nodded his head, as he began nuzzling his cheeks against the wolf's face.
"You are going to get hairs all over your clothes!" Lucatiel could not help but feel a slight headache coming her way, as she thought about the young golden wolf that will be living with them.
Yuzhen grinned as he consoled his mother, "There's nothing to worry about! She grooms herself well for her age."
As if able to understand Yuzhen's compliment, the golden wolf nuzzled back against his face.
Lucatiel let out a sigh as she watched this scene, "Whatever you say dear," before facing Dimitri, "You can keep the wolf, as long as you make sure to clean after her if she does make a mess of things."
Yuzhen giggled in excitement, as he once more asked Dimitri, "So we'll be naming her Iris, right!?"
Unable to refuse, Dimitri nodded his head to Yuzhen's glee.