I glared at the door leading into the dining room. Elvira sighed and stood beside me. We could hear Thomas telling Silas everything that happened.

"Why is he telling him?" I asked through clenched teeth.

Elvira put her hand on my shoulder.

"I don't know, Megan," she said. "But trust him, okay? He wouldn't tell someone this story if he didn't have a reason."

I pushed her hand off of me. "The least he could do is ask if we were okay with him telling!"

She bit her lip. "I agree...."

We sighed in unison. I had made a simple cake for dessert and it had been ready two hours ago. I crossed my arms irritably. A few minutes later, Thomas came in, looking tired.

"He's gone," he said, oblivious to my angry face. "He apologizes for not staying for dessert but it has begun to rain ice again and-"

"How dare you!?" I interrupted, stomping my foot and he stared at me.

"Megan," Elvira began but I ignored her.

"Who said you could just tell random strangers!? This is our story, Thomas! We don't even know this Silas! For all we know he could go out there now and tell everyone!"

Thomas sighed. "After all these years and you don't trust me?" he asked.

"This doesn't have to do with trust!" I snapped. "This has to do with-"

"It has everything to do with trust," he interrupted. "I am your brother. I've taken care of you for nearly 17 years. Do you really think I don't know what's best for you? That I don't have a good judge of character?"

I clenched my hands into fists. "You were going to be friends with Daniel," I snapped.

"Megan!" Elvira shouted but Thomas's face had gone impassive and I covered my mouth.

"Thomas, I'm sorry," I gasped. "I don't know where that came from. I-"

"Elvira, could you give us some privacy?" he asked quietly.

"Yes," she mumbled but squeezed his hand as she walked by.

I was crying.

"Tommy," I began.

"That was low, Megan," he said in an angry voice. "I'm very disappointed."

I stomped my foot. "What about when you brought him up because I'm still single?"

"That was different and you know it." He walked over and I backed up. "You should know better. Or did I really fail that much in raising you?"

Now I was sobbing.

"It's not like that, Tommy!" I said. "I'm sorry, okay? I spoke out of anger and-"

He raised his hand and I cringed. I shut my eyes but nothing happened. I opened them. Thomas looked ready to faint. His hand was in his hair.

"Did you think I was about to hit you?" he asked.

I shook. "Yes," I said in a small voice. "Y-You're mad at me. Isn't-Isn't that what men do when they're mad?"

His expression softened. "No, Megan. No. Men do not hit when they're mad and they don't put daggers to women's throats."

I covered my face and he put his arms around me.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I promise that I wouldn't have told Mr. McGregor if I wasn't certain I could trust him. You need to trust me, Megan."

"But you just met him," I said, my voice muffled in his shoulder.

"I can't explain it right now," he whispered. "You have to trust me," he repeated firmly. His arms tightened. "And that includes trusting that I would never lay a hand on you."

I sobbed, my knees giving out.


We both apologized and he sent me to bed early. Elvira walked with me, her arm around my shoulders. I was still crying.

Elvira waited until I was in my nightgown and tucked me into bed. She sighed and sat beside me, taking my hand in hers.

"He loves you, Megan," she said quietly. "He would never hurt you." I looked away and she kissed my hand. "Now, I'm going to go talk to him but there's something I need to do first. Look at me, Megan." Her tone was sharp and I obeyed. "Don't you ever do that again. I don't care how angry you are with Thomas. Daniel will stay out of this family, do you understand me?"

"Yes, Elly," I said in shame.

She nodded and kissed my forehead. "Good night, Megan."

"Good night," I mumbled and turned on my side.

Over the years, Elvira has only had to punish me a few times. Each time she did, I felt like a worm. I felt like a disappointment. I also knew I deserved it, though. I knew better than to speak out of anger.

I shut my eyes but all I could see was Thomas raising his hand and Daniel holding a dagger to Elly's throat. I sighed and got out of bed, putting a robe on.

I walked down the hall quietly. It was dark and I bit my lip. I wasn't fond of the darkness. I passed by their room and stopped when I heard my name. It was Thomas and he sounded like he was crying.

"She thought I was going to hit her, Elvira," he said and I heard Elvira sigh.

"Oh, Thomas," she said. "I've told her you'd never do such a thing."

"No, Elvira," he said. "No. Nothing we say or do is going to make sure she'll believe it."

"That's not true," she said.

"Yes it is, sweetheart," he sighed. "I saw what you've had to endure since Daniel raped you. I've heard your nightmares. There's nothing I can do. I've failed her."

I shut my eyes as more tears fell.

"You haven't failed her, Thomas," she whispered. Then she sighed again. "You both have a lot of healing to do. Spend some more time with her."

"She doesn't want to spend time with me," he mumbled. "Especially after tonight."

"When's your next day off?"

"In two days."

"Sit and draw with her," Elvira said. "Take her down to the forge and teach her how to make something. Do something with her, Thomas. You know how much she loves learning things."

He sighed. "All right."


Two days later, Thomas cleared his throat at the table.

"So, Megan," he said and I looked up, pretending I didn't know what he was about to say. "I was thinking.... I don't have to go into work today. Would you like to... to spend the day doing something? We-We could draw or-or something."

I smiled. "Sure." I thought for a minute. It was hailing out now so going to the forge wasn't an option. "Would you like me to teach you how to draw?"

He smiled back. "You know I'm hopeless. But that sounds like a fantastic idea."

I wrung my hands as we walked into the sitting room where Elvira and I did our crafts. I couldn't remember the last time it was just Thomas and I. Ivan died three years ago so Thomas had to take over as the master blacksmith. Only recently did he find an apprentice: one of my classmates.

"Have you given any thought as to what you'd like to do now that you're no longer in school?" he asked me as I got out the paper and pencils.

I sighed. "I don't know, Thomas. I mean, I guess I could go cook at the inn or be a maid."

He frowned. "Why would you want to do that?"

I laughed. "Because that's all I know to do."

"Not true," he said and gestured at the paper in front of me. "You are an amazing artist."

I blushed. "I don't know if I'd say amazing...."

He leaned forward, smiling. "Talk to Mr. Pink once the weather clears."

I blinked. "About what?"

"Teaching art, duh," he said, reaching over to flick my nose. I laughed and swatted at his hand. "I'm serious, Megan. You love art; it makes you happy. Maybe there are people out there who will find their happiness in art, too."

I stared at him. "You really think I could do that?"

He beamed. "I'm positive."

I looked at the paper and sighed. I put the pencil down and went around to the other side of the table. He was sitting in front of a chair and I cuddled up to him. He hesitated but hugged me.

"What's this for?" he asked as he put his chin on my head.

"I know you don't really want to learn how to draw, Tommy," I whispered and he sighed.

"Eavesdropper," he grumbled and I giggled. "Are you ready to talk about it, though?"

I bit my lip and nodded. "Yes, yes I am."

"All right," he said and got comfortable. "Where do you want to begin?"

I shut my eyes. "When they tried to take me away from you," I whispered.

"I thought this was about Daniel," he said slowly.

"Part of it is," I admitted. "But... if I get married, he'll try to take me away from you."

He laughed breathlessly. "No, Megan. He wouldn't be taking you from me; not like she did. Our neighbor was a nosy brat. The man you choose to marry will not be."

I nodded. "Okay.... If you say so."

"So," he said and I giggled. "What next, Meggie?"

I hugged him tightly. "Daniel."

"Okay," he whispered. "When he hurt Elvira?"

I shook my head. "At school."

He frowned and looked down at me. "He did something to you at school?"

I nodded.

The End

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