The walk back home was silent. They had quickly checked back in with Uncle Mimic, who had been beside himself with worry, and unbelievably apologetic for not paying more attention. Meanwhile, Sky and Bolo had opted to leave, being able to see that Shantae needed time alone with the child.
Harry was still feeling like an idiot for what he did back there... "M-Miss Shantae...?" He said softly.
"Hmm? What's up?" Shantae asked, tilting her head down at the boy in her arms.
"I'm really sorry I made you worried..." Harry says softly. "Um... You can hit me if you want..." Shantae stopped in her tracks and looked down at him sadly.
"Harry... I would never do that to you. Ever." Harry looked down.
"Sorry... I'm just used to it..."
"That's a horrible thing to be used to..." Shantae said as she opened the door to her home. She began to think. Did she really dare ask...? ...Yes...She felt this was something she should know... Carefully, she held Harry up to eye level and gave him her most serious look.
"Harry, sweetie... I want you to tell me exactly what they did to you, okay?" Harry's eyes widened, and he began to wring his hands nervously.
"Do...do I have too?" He asked timidly, afraid that if he told her everything, she would throw him away, thinking he was trash.
Shantae sighs and puts a hand on his shoulder. "Harry, please... This is something I feel I should know. You're used to being in pain. I need to know why."
Harry looked up at her, his fears on full display on his face. He bit his lip and looked away, taking a shuddering breath, accepting his fate, and told her everything. From the beatings, the names, the chores, every little bit of pain he endured that he could remember, he told her everything, leaving nothing out. Like being forced to drink the stuff from under the sink, to sleeping outside for not finishing the chores on time, to being placed inside the oven by his cousin and his friends. He told her everything.
Shantae stared at him as he told his story, her expression unreadable. Slowly, she began to get up, her hair covering up her eyes as she slowly approached the timid boy, who was shaking uncontrollably and fighting back tears.
And then, he found himself in a tight, warm, protective embrace. Harry stiffened, expecting to feel pain but when nothing happened and he felt himself shake, he was confused. He's not shaking..,then his eyes went wide as he looked up at the shaking form of Shantae with confusion and slight fear. "M-Miss Shantae?" He asked tentatively before feeling the arms around him tighten and wet drops fall onto his face.
They were monsters...They were PURE F**KING EVIL! The half genie hero was struggling to find the right words for how she felt right now. There was an incredible amount of rage, yes, but also a ton of sadness...
"Oh my God I'm so sorry..." She breathed. "I...I just...I'm so, SO sorry... Harry, you're...you're amazing... Please remember that, okay...?"
Harry was confused and shook his head. "I...I'm Not amazing. You're amazing! I'm...i'm just a freak. A freak that no one wants. A freek who doesn't deserve love." He spoke it as a motto, as it was the words he had heard and the words he was beaten into all his life.
"You're wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG." Shantae said gently yet firmly. "Your...EVIL uncle is the freak. Not you."
Harry started to shake slightly, now confused. "H...he's a freak?" He asked softly before shaking his head, confusion evident. "B-but he's normal...normal people can't be freaks..."
"He's not normal. Normal people don't beat kids. Ever. It's wrong... You didn't deserve it..." She rocks him back and forth gently.
Harry WAS trembling now, and doing everything he could to hold himself together. He couldn't...He just couldn't...But... But he wanted to...He wanted to so bad... Maybe... Maybe if he asked first...
"M-Miss Shantae...? C-Can I p-please c-cry...?" He asked, his voice quaking.
Shantae looked down at his face, her own eyes teary seeing him barely holding his back. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, then on both his cheeks, before pulling him close. "Cry as much as you want sweetheart." She whispered gently.
And cry he did. Harry broke down and buried his face into her chest. She felt his tears staining her skin and bit her lip, rocking him back and forth.
She tried to think of something. Anything to help him, as hearing him cry was tearing her heart apart. She closed her eyes tight and started to hum a soft song, a song that, though she may not remember, was the same song her own mother sang to her when she was a baby.
Harry's sobs began to slowly die down as the energy to stay awake left him. His eyes felt heavy, and he closed them slowly. Just before falling asleep, he whispered one thing to Shantae. "Mama..."
Her world stopped for a brief moment. She stared down at the half asleep child with wide eyes. That one word...that one word had her entire being filled with a warmth that she had never felt before. A warmth that magic wished it could be. She gave him the warmest loving smile and kissed him on the forehead again, whispering softly. "Mama's here. Mama's never letting go."
She smiled at him some more, enjoying the moment. Nothing can spoil this for her. Except perhaps Rottytops barging in unannounced again, but what are the odds of- "Hey there, snack cakes!
Shantae snapped her head up and saw her undead...friend? walk up to her with a large smile before pausing as she saw the red eyes of her friend and the sleeping form of the child in her arms. "Uh...is this a bad time?" She asked.
Shantae just rolled her eyes. "Hello, Rottytops... What brings you here?" Rottytops shrugged.
"I dunno. Just bored, really."
Shantae sighed deeply and shook her head. "You just missed Risky Boots' latest attack on the town." She said, gently rocking the sleeping child in her arms.
"Ah. Well that's a shame. I missed my favourite show." Rottytops took a seat on the couch and Shantae frowned.
"How did you even get in? I locked the door."
Rottytops smirked cheeklily at her. "Your window was open." She explained taking her head off and bouncing it in her hand.
Shantae blushed slightly at that. "Oh...right...forgot you could do that." She muttered.
Rottytops chuckled. "Heh, so you're the kid's mom now, huh?" Shantae blushed.
"Ah...You uh...heard that, huh?" Rottytops nodded.
"Mama's here. Mama's never letting you go." She said in her best impression of Shantae's voice. Then she laughed.
The poor girl was blushing a bit, but looked away only to snap her head back to the child seeing him stir in her hold. She gently rocked him again, humming softly, and he went right back to sleep. She smiled down tenderly at him, then at a slightly surprised Rottytops. "Yeah I guess I am his mom." She said softly and tenderly.
"Heh... Never thought you of all people would be a mom. And before Sky, too. Weird world we live in, am I right?"
"Yeah, poor Sky... Still hasn't even had a date..." Shantae said with slight mirth.
Rottytops looked at the child in her arms and grinned at the cute boy. "Can I hold him?" Shantae gave her a look and Rottytops pouted. "Oh come on I won't hurt him. Honest!" She swore.
Shantae sighed and reluctantly handed Harry over. "Just...gently, okay? I don't want him hurt anymore..." Rottytops frowned, but decided not to ask.
She held the little boy tenderly and gazed down at him with a warm grin. "Well hello little cutie." She gushed. As she held him, her expression turned wistful and a tad forlorn. Shantae noticed this and grew comcerned.
"You okay?" Rottytops nodded slowly,
"Yeah...I just...I can never have one..." she muttered softly.
Shantae frowned. "Well, you know very well Harry isn't biologically mine. You could easily adopt one too. ...Okay, maybe not EASILY, but still... I'm surprised though. You wanna be a mom?"
Rottytops sighed softly. "I always did. I think..." she muttered, shaking her head. "I don't really remember much from when I was alive...but I do remember always liking kids." She ruffled the child's hair gently. Her smile was surprisingly tender.
Shantae looked at her friend with a small smile. "Well...Maybe you should look into adoption. It won't be easy, but you may get lucky."
"Yeah. Maybe I will." She muttered, then shook her head giving the child back to the former genie. "You take care of that little brain." She said softly but seriously. Shantae giggled softly and nodded.
"I will. Still, I wonder what Risky ment by him having magic."
Rottytops shrugs. "Well, not like magic's not common around here. But yeah, he's not half genie. Doesn't have the elf ears, after all."
Blushing, Shantae hid her ears under her hair and hummed in thought. "Honestly though, I don't care if he has magic or not. He's still my little guy and I love him no matter what." She said sternly.
Rottytops gives her a toothy grin. "Yep, I knew you would, snack cakes. ...I'm gonna spend the night, you cool with that?"
Shantae shook her head with a frown. "Okay. BUT you are not eating me out of house and Home. Understood? Harry needs to eat too!"