c. 1940


He shivered, pulling the few blankets he had left tightly around him. His sodden clothes had soaked through the thin mattress and the blankets, but he couldn't change them. The one other outfit he had left had to last until washing day – and he would hardly go without lest he have to leave suddenly. Closing his eyes against the pounding in his head, he pulled the blanket over his head and frowned when the pounding actually lowered in volume.

"Maria. Cease pounding on the door immediately."

Of course it would be the child and her creature. The reason he was stuck in his sodden clothes. The reason he was soaked to begin with.

He sighed, pulling the blanket down slightly. He couldn't stay angry at her – she refused to let it affect her and what was the purpose then? She was too young to do anything but trust and live – too innocent. Painfully so, indeed; only a reminder of what was always ruined.

The other children were too. As long as there was innocence still in a person, he could not help but see them as children. As people to be shielded and protected. And he was in the middle of a war that would massacre more than he could ever hope to protect.

"Eilam? I brought some biscuits over for you."

His stomach turned at the thought of eating anything, and he was glad that there was no food in his cupboards anymore. It would be eaten with the children at least, rather than spoil.

He shivered again, letting his eyes fall shut in exhaustion. Perhaps he should have returned the heat to his rooms when he returned from finding Haddassah – if just long enough to dry himself before returning it again to Maria's rooms. Perhaps he should have let the strays and the other children scour the streets for the kitten and remained inside when it began the deluge – but he could never have let them do the work he would not do himself.

"No – I could not eat them today. Were they yours?"

"Yes. I am sharing!"

He sighed. There was little enough food for them – and she shared with her creature already. The foolishness of children...

"Not today. You must eat them for me – they are not any use stale."

"...will you let me in if I put Haddassah back?"

He was quiet, thinking; remembering. Cæli had always sat by him when he was ill – when anyone was ill. She would test his fever, and then rest the damp rag over his forehead. Adriadne had always had to find her pans when the day was over, but He had never been able to scold the girl for wishing to help and had spoke for her with her mother.

Mencius had never understood why anyone would lie abed all day, inheriting his father's energy and curiosity. While his sister would play nurse, he would sit and exhaust the ill one with questions about what they felt, and when they felt, and why they felt.

"No, child – I am tired. Your creature led me across half of Germany, I feel – I only need sleep."

"...maybe later today?"

Later that day? He would not be well by then. He would be quite fortunate were he to recover at all. He was underfed himself, and he barely took care of himself. Immortality merely lended itself to his natural habit of forgoing himself in favour of another.

"Perhaps. Now let me sleep. Please take your creature elsewhere and bother another."

He could feel darkness creeping up on him, stealing his sight and hearing. Without a miracle, he very much doubted that he would be alive in a few days.

She smiled. "Good night, Eilam!"


AN: Companion of sorts to Ave Maria and Gratia Plena, as indicated by the title. Again. Translates to 'in hour of death'. This sort of turned out better... Not really, but it's as close as it's going to be. 11-27-2015