Dimitri felt like his life was truly worth living. Though guarding his Master was not as exciting as going out to war, being able to be near his Master, protecting him in the shadows… it would always be worth it.
Now that Master had an heir, it was doubly so. In fact, he could no long fathom being on the battlefield, where he toiled day and night, sweat, tears and blood.
There were so many who had been lost to wars with other, senseless nations. He no longer wished for such a life.
Being able to protect, without having to do it through staining his hands with black blood, he felt almost… fulfilled in a way.
The gratitude he had for his Master only grew by the day.
The first time he had been saved, he was a mere soldier, but his Master had hacked at the opponent, sending him away with a blast of magic. As Dimitri tumbled, he witnessed the near end he just barely missed because of his Master.
No matter how his Master had acted in public following that, Dimitri never changed in his steadfast stance.
Dimitri was reminiscing when he felt a tug on his hand. He looked down.
"Dimitri, are you going to play with me today?"
Raphael, his Master's son, had brought such life into his Master that Dimitri couldn't help but feel fond of him as well. He looked exactly like a miniature version of his Master, which made him feel like gushing sometimes, like he saw Master's friends do.
"Raphael. Manners," Deltan said absently, patting his son on the head.
Raphael pouted. "Dimitri will you play with me today, please?"
Dimitri was very still. He held himself so still that Deltan eyed him, wondering if he was still breathing. He had to be still to prevent himself from doing something inexcusable like grab the small child and protect him from the world forever.
"What's this about playing?" Nine said, walking hand in hand with Nocturne.
The loving couple exchanged sickeningly sweet looks, which made Dimitri resist the urge to flush and look away.
"Uncle Nine! Uncle Nocturne!" Raphael cheered, bouncing around.
Nine grabbed the tyke before he could crash or fall flat on his face, which was a rather common occurrence. She couldn't help but wonder where he got all this energy from. It certainly wasn't from her, nor was it from Deltan.
The little boy was so cheerful and innocent that she sometimes felt like it was a wonder such a person existed in this world. Her elder brother's son, no less. She squinted. Genes were truly miraculous.
Nine placed him on the ground. "Go ask your big brother Dimitri," she said teasingly, smirking as Dimitri flailed.
Though the man's appearance resembled an ice block, and he looked tough and stern, she could see the way his emotions fluctuated whenever he so much as laid eyes on the boy.
If she had to describe it, it was something akin to how Nocturne sometimes gushed over puppies, and how she gushed over Mephisto and Rainier.
The man was the one who doted on little Raphael the most, and Raphael knew it too, that little brat. Definitely working the Destan family charm there, sneaky brat.
Raphael clung onto his favourite person's leg, gazing up with hopeful, shining eyes. He loved playing with Dimitri, mainly because when they played, the man gave him more hugs and felt more indulgent.
Nine and Nocturne sat down underneath the shade of a tree. As Nocturne sat, Nine lay down, placing her head in her wife's lap. Nocturne smiled down indulgently at his husband, feeling very serene today.
Deltan ruffled his son's hair, leaving with a backward wave. There were things he needed to do today.
Left alone in the field with Dimitri, Raphael stared up with wide, unblinking eyes.
Dimitri visibly hesitated, nodding.
In the end, Dimitri suddenly felt a strong urge to begin his Young Master's training. What would he do if one day, he wasn't able to be at his Young Master's side to protect him?
No, this wouldn't do.
"Young Master, do you want to try training?"
"Training?" Raphael said, tilting his head curiously.
Dimitri explained to Raphael what they were going to do.
"Pretend I am the enemy. Then, how will you attack me?"
Raphael looked at him with wide eyes. "Uhm… attack you? I don't want to attack you!"
Dimitri was struck with a soundless arrow, feeling the pangs of cuteness.
He coughed. "Yes. But in this case, I am the enemy."
Raphael hesitantly nodded.
Dimitri spread his arms out, commanding, "Now, go for the neck!"
"Go for the neck?" Raphael repeated. "Go for the neck…"
Raphael, possessing the Vampiric speed, sprung forward, and Dimitri readied himself to defend, only for Raphael to fling his arms around his neck, hugging him.
Reflexively stabilising the boy with a hand, Dimitri slowly covered his eyes with one hand, about to die from the cuteness overload his Young Master just subjected him to.
By the side, Nocturne snorted, laughing. Similarly, Nine had turned her head away from the sight of the two playing around, her shoulders shaking with laughter.
Dimitri trying to train Raphael was clearly a lost cause. He looked like he was tough, but he was completely mellow with the small child. She had never once seen him deny the child anything. In fact, it reached such a point where even Deltan had to step into prevent Raphael possibly getting spoiled.
Not that he would, but it was the principle of the matter.
Nine, on the other hand, did not mind at all. After all, it was actually pretty funny to see the composed Hidden Guard lose his cool in such a spectacular manner.
Even a blind person would be able to see the barely hidden doting and adoration in the older man's eyes. He clearly treated him like a son.
"Should we go save him?"
Nine laughed. "Of course not. He's enjoying it even while he pretends he's exasperated."
Hehe. Here's the scene I imagined after seeing one of those Pixie and Brutus' comics.
It was that scene that sparked the creation of Dimitri and Raphael in the first place xD
As always, do make sure to check out my new book "Curse the Mainframe!"
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