"Marc!" their father's voice cut through the silence which had only lasted a minute or so.
"Don't worry, Kat. I'll be back in a moment. I promise you." Grantaire murmured, placing a gently kiss on her forehead. He walked out of their shared room and into the living room.
"Yes, father?" he inquired sardonically.
"Don't use that tone with me, boy!" Claude snapped, backhanding him. Grantaire stumbled back. "Have you finished the painting? We don't send you to art lessons for nothing."
"No? You mean to say you have not finished the painting?"
"Are you almost finished?"
Claude backhanded him again.
"Finish it! Go!" he growled.
"Yes, father." Grantaire replied cheekily before returning to his and Kat's room.
"Are you alright, Marc?" Kat asked quietly.
"I'm just fine." He promised her. "I have to go to the art room now to finish my painting."
"Can I come?" Kat asked. Grantaire smiled,
"Of course! I can't paint without my muse."
Kat giggled and followed her brother to the room whose only purpose was for Grantaire's artwork. Naturally his parents just had to boast that their son was a talented artist. Naturally.
He went straight to his easel, which had a blank canvas resting upon it; he had not even started. He put several different colours on his palette and began his 'masterpiece' as his parents would have called it.
Kat watched him so intently that she seemed not to notice that he was painting her until his painting was nearly finished– several hours later.
After applying the finishing touches, he turned to grin at Kat,
"Do you like it?"
"It… It's me!"
His grin widened,
"I thought you'd like it."
Unable to find words, she hugged him. He returned her embrace, planting a gentle kiss atop her head.
Three Years Later
"Kat, come on!" Grantaire called, his voice breaking again, causing his now nine year-old sister to giggle.
"I'm coming, Squeaky!" she replied, causing him to make a face. "Are you sure Mother and Father are okay with it?"
"On the contrary, I'm positive that they won't be; but you let me worry about that. I'm not about to leave you alone with Mother. Hurry up!"
Kat ran up the hill to catch up with him,
"But… But they'll hurt you again…"
"Which is better than them hurting you. Besides, it's not that bad now that I'm taking boxing classes."
"I can't wait to see!"
"Well we'd better hurry up or I'll be late."
The two ran down the hill, Kat laughing as the wind blew through her hair. They managed to arrive on time, much to the surprise of everyone else there– Grantaire was in the habit of showing up late.
Kat watched as her brother boxed several of his fellow classmates in awe. He excelled at it! He was shorter, thinner, and younger than any of the other boys, yet he won all of his matches. It seemed almost as if a carefully choreographed dance–dancing, as well as gymnastics, being something with which he had a certain skill–which Grantaire had mastered. He took several blows, yet never went down– though, as it has been noted, he had much experience with taking blows.
Afterwards, she rushed up to him,
"Marc, that was amazing! I wish Mother and Father would let me learn…" she sighed. She so wanted to be like her big brother. "Ladies don't box." She mimicked their mother, "Well maybe I don't wanna be a lady."
Grantaire ruffled her hair affectionately,
"I know; but maybe, someday, girls will be able to box. It's possible; things could change."
"Doubt it…" she mumbled.
"Hey, chin up, kid. Things can always get better."
"I guess so…" she sighed again. Grantaire smiled at her,
"You'll see. Now, let's go home."
"Race you!" and she took off running. Grantaire laughed before chasing after her. Of course, he could easily outrun her; but he feigned exhaustion.
"Oh! How will I ever catch up!?" he sighed dramatically. Kat giggled as she started running up the hill. He ran up after her. Naturally, she sped up and, at the very top of the hill, caught her foot on a rock and tumbled all the way down. "Kat!" Grantaire cried, hurrying down to the bottom where Kat lay. "Kat, my God! Are you okay?" when she didn't respond, he started to panic. He panicked even more when he saw the blood on the grass. "Kat!"
He carefully scooped her up and ran back to their house. As per usual, their father was out and their mother was passed out on the couch.
"Mother! Wake up!" he cried, hurrying over. She mumbled something and did not get up. "WAKE UP!" he shouted.
Juliette Grantaire sat up blearily,
"What do you want?"
"Kat's hurt. She's bleeding! Please! You have to help her…"
She blinked a few times and then glared at him,
"What are you doing waking me up? Stupid boy!"
"Let me see."
Grantaire set Kat down on the couch.
"She'll need stitches. Come on, let's get her to a doctor."
"What?" asked Grantaire, stunned, "You mean… you'll help?"
She gave him a strange look,
"Of course I'll help, she's my daughter. Let's go."
And with the grace of a prima ballerina, she abruptly stood and lifted Kat. Fortunately, she was not drunk this time. She headed toward the door.
Grantaire seemed glued to the spot. He regarded his mother with complete and total surprise. Never before had she given the slightest indication that she cared and now… now she seemed to at least somewhat be a mother. Perhaps he had been wrong about her, at least, to some degree. She certainly wasn't mother of the year, but maybe she wasn't as terrible as he had initially thought. Maybe, deep down, she did care a little for her two children.
"Well, are you coming?" his mother's voice drew him out of his thoughts.
"Oh… Yes…" Grantaire said, blinking.
He followed his mother out the door.