A/N: might be slightly inaccurate. the title comes from richard iii by shakespeare; i made a slight alteration. drabble.

so wise, so young (do never live long)

When he takes the time to think about it, Vito is not surprised that Sonny had been the first to go.

Sonny, with his wild antics and violent temper, his heavy Cupid's face and easy smile -

"Look how they massacred my son," he weeps.

Look how young he is.

"This is Tom, and he's going to be living with us from now on," Sonny says, with all the self-assured authority of an eleven year-old. He pats the arm of the boy standing next to him, a scrawny urchin with wispy brown hair and curious eyes. Vito sits in his armchair, thoughtful.

"Where are your parents, Tom?" he asks.

The boy's jaw tightens, almost imperceptibly, and he shoots a glance at Sonny.

"You can talk to him later," Sonny announces. "Tom's hungry; let's give him something to eat."

The Godfather smiles, amused. Sonny is commanding and imperious and confident; all the characteristics needed for a Don. But he will never be great, no, he is not wary, not cunning enough.

(His heart has always been too big.)

Vito nods, looks at his boy and his new friend, and thinks that just this once, he will give in to the whims of his son.

Fredo is thin and sickly, the pneumonia having robbed him of the robust vigor of most children. Carmela coddles him, calls him her bambino, her darling middle child who more often than not is stuck in bed with that dreadful cough, chest shaking as he sucks in achy breaths.

He does not appreciate this, Vito can easily see. Fredo is still a Corleone, and looks on with bitter jealousy whenever Sonny comes home, knees scraped and a bruise blooming on his face, laughing with Tom about the day's adventures. Fredo waits, and thinks, and longs for a future.

My poor boy, Vito thinks. My poor Frederico. Will you be an invalid for life?

His fears are unfounded. Fredo grows, in height and aggression. He is surly, with loud bravado and false pride, in an almost desperate attempt to prove himself.

Vito shakes his head, clucks in disappointment.

Michael is cold and unforgiving, even in his youth. He is intelligent, the teachers say; he is not an easy one to cross, the gossip on the street goes. Unlike Santino, Michael does not involve himself in the brawls and fights the boys participate in to prove themselves, but no one calls him a coward. The boy is cunning and ruthless, knows when to back down and when to speak up; when to engage with words and when to use his fists.

The Godfather listens to these things, but does not say anything.

His youngest boy will be a great man one day, Vito is sure of it. This is the boy most like himself, with all of Sonny's determination and none of his impulsiveness, with Fredo's thoughtful sensitivity but none of his falsity, and with his own ruthlessness.

He will let this son forge out his own path.