Originally posted on tumblr, for the prompt: "the things you said when we were young."
"Stop squirming," Elijah says in his best imitation of Mother's firm tone. "You're too close to the fire. You'll burn yourself."
Niklaus ignores him and continues to strain against his arms, reaching for the warm flames. He babbles a stream of unintelligible syllables into Elijah's sleeve.
Niklaus talks all day long without saying a word. Elijah can only imagine the meaning behind his chatter.
Someday, he knows, someday he and his baby brother will talk all day long.
"Likely he's cold," Mother offers sagely. "Winter is nearly upon us." She stirs the pot in the fire, preparing what will be their supper. "Perhaps another blanket will calm him." Casting a glance around the room, she steps out, no doubt in search of one.
Elijah wraps his arms more firmly around his little brother, pulling him closer into his chest. He presses a kiss to his golden hair. Niklaus burbles gratefully, burrowing his head into the warmth of Elijah's shoulder. Elijah grunts in surprise as Nik's head collides with his chin.
"You used to reach for the fire, too," Finn muses thoughtfully. In Mother's absence, he pokes at her cooking pot gingerly. "Once, Father let you get too close. Burned your hand. You cried over it for days." Finn's tone edges toward the familiar impatience he now displays when Niklaus cries through the night. "But you didn't try it again."
Elijah's chest seizes up. Panic wells at the thought of allowing Niklaus out of his arms, allowing him to reach for those dancing flames, beckoning to his infant mind like a bright, cheerful plaything. His pained cries, his reddened fingers that no amount of soothing will heal quickly. Not even Mother's poultices can erase the lingering sting of a burn.
Father might be willing to teach a lesson like that, but Elijah isn't. Father isn't here tonight, and Elijah will hold his baby brother away from the fire all night if he has to.
"Dah," Niklaus says. He lifts his tiny, chubby hands above his head. His fingers graze Elijah's chin, the tops of his arms. "Dah. Dah." His wordless voice speaks earnestly, seriously.
"Yes," Elijah answers with equal seriousness. "I know. That's right."
"Dah!" Niklaus buries his face in Elijah's arm in what Elijah assumes is his version of a kiss.
In a few years, his dah will morph into 'jah. Later, 'Lijah.
Through it all, Elijah never lets go of him.
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