Oboro had hated Nohrians for almost as long as she had remembered.
She didn’t truly hate them, really, but whenever she saw them, she was reminded of what happened to her parents. Her two closest friends, Takumi and Hinata, understood completely, and helped her through all of her pain and trauma.
Which is why she never saw Takumi’s marriage to a Nohrian coming.
When Takumi first told her that he was dating a man, she’d thought nothing of it.
Not until he’d told her who this man was.
She’d admit that she’d acted rashly. She’d screamed. She’d cried. She may have thrown a few things at him. He had, of course, yelled back. Takumi had always been very emotionally driven. They didn’t speak for days afterwards, until they realized they were both being stupid. They’d reconciled, but Oboro was still wary of this “boyfriend”.
They seemed happy together, which was all she could ask for Takumi’s sake.
But it still pained her to see her best friend’s lover. Everytime she saw the blonde hair, the clothes, the accent- it all came back, the night it happened.
She almost didn’t come to the wedding, but she was coerced into going with some pushing from her friends. Besides, she could hardly turn down the offer to design clothes for the entire wedding party- at least for the Hoshidan side of the family, and the Vallite members as well.
She been so happy, watching Takumi’s older siblings take him down the aisle, standing next to her friend Hinata as one of the groomsmen-and-women.
Oboro was still happy, even when she looked at Leo, because she saw the awe in Leo’s face and the love in his eyes when he saw Takumi.
She’d always dreamed Takumi would be married, and she’d get to see him in her pretty clothes, smiling at her before turning to the person he loved most in the world.
She just never thought it would be someone she’d already sworn from a young age to hate.
Oboro didn’t talk much to Leo and Takumi after they got married. Not together; she of course often talked to Takumi alone. However, the newlyweds often moved between Nohr and Hoshido. Every few weeks, Takumi would leave, and every few weeks, he’d return to his home, only to be taken from his family- from his best friend - again.
She knew it was his choice. But it still hurt.
And then there was their children.
They announced months before they even got married that they were planning on having children. Thus, their first child was born in the early months of the new year, just as winter was beginning to turn to spring.
Everything was beginning to turn green and new.
Thus, they named him “Forrest”.
A Nohrian name.
Oboro was reluctant to see the baby in the hospital. She knew that Leo knew she didn’t like him whatsoever. She didn’t want to make things awkward.
But she went.
Takumi was ecstatic when she arrived. He spent every moment chattily explaining everything that his son had done since the moment of his birth- how he’d cried, how he’d fallen asleep, how he was shaping up to be quite the easy baby. Oboro had just nodded along, arms crossed, somewhat distant. Leo made sure to give her space upon arrival.
“Do you want to see him?” Takumi asked finally, smiling warmly.
“I…” Oboro simply nodded.
Leo left the room, leaving the two best friends alone.
“I know you don’t like him,” Takumi began, “but please… he’s my husband. Give him a chance. For my sake. My son’s.” Takumi bit his lip. “For your nephew’s.”
Oboro had never had her heart crushed in fewer words.
Soon, Leo had returned, cradling a small bundle in a blue blanket, bouncing it gently and cooing soothing words.
“He’s very small,” Leo began, looking to Oboro as he spoke to her for the first time in months, “so please be gentle.”
“I’ve held babies before,” Oboro growled.
“I’m sure, but…” Leo clicked his tongue, seemingly unsure of what to say, or possibly lacking the will to speak further to her.
“I understand,” she replied. “He’s your son.”
Leo smiled. It was the first time he’d ever smiled at her.
Carefully, cautiously, Leo slowly lowered Forrest into her arms. Oboro wasn’t sure what she was supposed to feel. This child was Takumi’s, yes, and technically her nephew, but he was also Leo’s child, and half-Nohrian, and many things she’d learned to hate as a child.
But when she looked into his eyes- those deep brown eyes, angled slightly at the corners to denote Hoshidan heritage- she did feel something.
Forrest yawned. He had precious lips to go with precious eyes. Beneath where his blanket covered the top of his head, little grey hairs showed.
He looked like Leo in the face, mostly.
But there was no denying that this was Takumi’s baby.
And as she began to cry, there was no denying that she loved this child.
About a year after Forrest, Leo and Takumi had a son named Kiragi. He was without a doubt Hoshidan, though he had Leo’s blonde hair. And though Oboro loved him just as much as she loved his brother, she always felt that Forrest was special. She didn’t know how; she just did.
She made it her mission to be the best aunt possible- she showed up to every birthday party, every family gathering, every time one of her nephews was sick, she was there. Pictures the boys had drawn for her eventually had their place next to her own son’s drawings on a tackboard in her tailoring shop, which she had made very clear would be a potential second home for Forrest and Kiragi.
Kiragi wasn’t a very big fan of pretty things; Oboro couldn’t count the number of times she’d been sent the rambunctious young boy’s clothes for stitching, which happened often. Forrest, on the other hand, was absolutely enamored; he loved looking around, loved watching as she sewed kimono and showed him the fabrics and stitching on each one, loved telling customers what clothes looked good on them and helping her around the shop whenever he could.
Which was why the day it happened should have come as no surprise.
When Forrest was around seven years old, Oboro had closed the shop early, ready to go home to her loving spouse and child, when she heard crying on her way there.
Curious, she’d followed the sound to a secluded corner near one of the houses on her way back- none other than Sakura’s, Takumi’s youngest sister’s. She’d looked around, trying to find the source, only to discover none other than Forrest, sitting alone in the corner, knees pulled up to his chest and arms crossed over his face as he cried.
Oboro approached him quietly and sat down next to him. “Hello there, love. What’s wrong?”
Forrest looked up with wide eyes, gasping, but his eyes softened back into sadness when he saw that it was simply Oboro and not someone he was hiding from. “Oh. Hello, Aunt Oboro.”
“Are you alright?” she asked, putting a hand on his shoulder. His hair brushed against her arm; it was long, now, though it always had been. Unlike his brother, he took care of his hair, so he was allowed the privilege to grow it out however he wished.
He sniffed. “Yes…”
“Forrest,” she said, adding a bit of threat to her voice.
He detected the tone enough to know that she didn’t want to be lied too. He glanced away. “...It’s my father.”
Oboro nodded, understanding immediately. She’d heard that, while he meant well, Leo was somewhat of an overbearing father. “Do you need me to knock some sense into him, sweety?”
“Oh- no!” Forrest said quickly. She was sure that he knew full well that by “knock some sense into him”, she meant literally . “I just… it’s nothing.”
“I don’t believe you.”
He sighed, looking down. She knew she wasn’t going to get anything out of him like this, so she decided she’d do whatever it took to make him feel better.
“Hey, kiddo,” she said, scooping him up into her arms and picking him up. (He was quite the small child.) “How about I take you to my shop, huh? Would that make you feel better?”
His face instantly lit up. “Yes, ma’am!”
“Ha! I knew that’d cheer you up. Besides, we should change you out of those clothes.” His simple shorts and tunic were grass-stained and dirty; he must have been sitting outside for a while.
“Here,” Oboro said, setting him on the ground and taking his hand before they began walking back to the store. “You look a bit out of shape. Have you been here long?”
Forrest shrugged. “I came here to find Aunt Sakura but she wasn’t home.”
“Ah, I see.” Sakura was quite understanding; Oboro felt a small twinge. Would Forrest tell Sakura, but not her?
“I tried to go to your house, but you weren’t there, either.”
“Oh?” Oboro felt somewhat better. “Well, I’m sorry about that, love. If I know you were upset, I would have rushed home immediately!”
“Feh.” Forrest smiled a bit, looking down. “I would’t want you to do that. You have to work.”
“Aw, I’d take off anytime for my little buddy!” she chuckled.
Forrest tugged on a strand of his hair. “Aunt Oboro, can I ask you something?”
“Would you stop loving me if I was something… bad?”
Oboro stopped and stared at this child, mouth agape, trying to understand what he could possibly mean by this. This beautiful child, that she loved just as much as her own, had just asked her a very serious question, one which deserved a very serious answer, one that she would be reluctant to give for fear of it going ove rhis head- though he would most likely interpret any other answer as condescending.
“Oh, sweetie,” Oboro said, kneeling down to hug him, “there’s nothing you could ever do that could make me stop loving you.”
Forrest hugged her back, sniffling, as he started to cry again.
“And you don’t need to worry. I’m sure your daddies feel the same.”
Forrest didn’t answer.
She didn’t know whether he was thinking about her answer, or if he didn’t believe her.
The sun was starting to go down when they reached Oboro’s shop, painting the Hosidan town a lovely shade of orange.
Forrest stood silently as Oboro unlocked the shop door and turned on the lights, and said nothing still as he walked inside.
“Take a look at whatever you want, sweetie!” she said, motioning around. “I got a new shipment of fabrics from Ylisse and Valm. Valmese silks are really good, y’know?”
He nodded. “I know.”
Oboro frowned as he looked around wordlessly, little emotion showing in his face.
“...Hey, Forrest,” she began.
“Yeah?” He asked.
“I’ve been meaning to stitch a new set of kimono for some of the kids in town,” she began. “Would you mind putting them on and being a model so I can make adjustments?”
Light instantly returned to the boy’s face.
“Y-yeah!” He chirped. “O-okay! I’d love that!”
“Ha ha, I knew it!” Oboro pointed behind her. “They’re in the back. Let’s get to it!”
Oboro led her nephew to the backroom, where several children’s kimonos were on small mannequins, lined up neatly, surrounded by supplies that were strewn about willy-nilly.
“C’mere, you!” she giggled, pulling Forrest along as he tried to stop and stare in awe. “You can try on any of these! Oh, here’s one for Hinata’s son, Hisame! It might be too big for you, but it looks really nice. I worked hard on the blue embroidery here…”
Forrest looked around. “Um…”
“I have Asugi and Midori’s here,” she mumbled, mostly to herself. “Then little Sophie’s… oh, and your cousin Shiro’s…”
“Um… Auntie Oboro?”
Oboro turned on her heel. “Yes, dear?”
Forrest was stopped in front of a pink kimono, adorned with gold and brown trim. She’d made it for Subaki’s daughter (though time and time again she’d insisted that pink wouldn’t match Caeldori’s brilliantly red hair, but both of Caeldori’s parents had insisted it be pretty), and thus it had to be perfect- the very best for the perfectionist’s little girl.
“ This one,” Forrest breathed, a sparkle in his eyes. “I want this one.”
Oboro frowned and put a hand on her hip. “Um, Forrest… you know that’s a girl’s kimono, right?”
But when Forrest turned to her, the look on his face said he knew full well, and didn’t care.
Oboro grinned. “Well, if that’s what you want. I suppose it couldn’t hurt!”
Forrest’s face lit up immediately, a gigantic smile spreading across his face as she walked over to the kimono and removed it from its stand. She let Forrest go into the other room to change.
“Tada!” He announced as he emerged from the shop’s changing room. He did a little twirl, almost tripping over the kimono’s long sleeves. “Oops! Well, how do I look?”
Though the expression on his face was joyous and exuberant, Oboro could tell by the look in her nephew’s eyes that he was anxious and worried. He bit his lower lip nervously, but managed to maintain his smile.
Oboro kneeled down in front of him. “You look beautiful, Forrest.”
His fake smile was replaced by a real one. “Th-thank you! I really like this kimono… b-but I just liked the fabric, and-”
“Forrest, do you want to keep it?”
He paused, frowning.
“Do you like wearing clothes like this?”
He didn’t answer.
Oboro sighed and stood, taking his hand again. “Come over to the mirror, ’kay?”
She led him away to the front, where customers would be when the shop was open. In one corner, there was a large full-body mirror that she had inherited from her parents. Directing Forrest to it, she let him stand, admiring himself and her kimono.
“Well?” She whispered after a long pause.
He turned to her simply, tears in his eyes.
“I love it,” he whispered back.
Oboro leaned down as Forrest wiped his eyes, crying. She smiled tenderly, whispered softly.
“Forrest, do you like girls’ clothes?”
He nodded. “I do. I like pretty clothes, a-and nice dresses, and- and I love the f-fashion you do, Autie Oboro,” he admitted tearfully. He bit his lip. “P-please don’t be made at me…”
Her heart broke in that instant, as it had many instances before. She reached out and embrace this child, the beautiful son of her best friend in the world.
“Forrest,” she sighed, “I would never be angry at you over something like this.”
“B-but I’m n-not normal,” he cried. “I’m weird, a-and I’m not…”
“It’s okay,” she assured him, using her sleeve to wipe his tear-stained face. “It’s alright. Really. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with being different, Forrest.”
He sniffed, looking at her with big, watery brown eyes. “Y-you don’t think so?”
“Of course not, sweetie.” She rubbed the top of his head, hand brushing over his delicate grey curls. “Look at me. I’m not normal by any means. But I’m not a freak. I’m just different.”
Forrest still looked unsure. Oboro sighed and stood, taking his hand. “Come with me, Forrest. I have more clothes and makeup in the back. Would you like to try it on before I take you home?”
Forrest wiped his eyes. “I’d like that…”
Oboro smiled and led him away. Before it was out of sight, she noticed that Forrest took one last look in the mirror and smiled.
Later that night, Oboro held Forrest in her arms. The boy was sleeping, tired out after spending so much time with her. She’d curled his hair, let him put on makeup, and even try on dresses, though the original one was the one he’d decided he had liked most.
She’d just have to tell Subaki that his order was delayed.
Now, she stood holding the sleeping child despite how heavy he was, in front of Leo and Takumi’s door, ready to defend him in the face of the worst. She took a deep breath, and stretched out an arm, knocking on the door loudly and clearly.
Almost instantly, there was a shout and quick footsteps. The door flew open, revealing Takumi’s frantic face. His eyes were wild, long hair disheveled, and his face was stained with tears.
“Oboro!” he shouted immediately, urgency in his voice. “Have you seen-”
His eyes fell on his son, still sleeping soundly despite the noise. Takumi let out a sigh of relief. “ Forrest ,” he breathed. “H-he was with you?”
Oboro nodded. “I found him on my way home. I took him back to my shop.”
“Oh, thank gods!”
Takumi stepped forwards, reaching for his son, but Oboro instinctively took a step back. Takumi frowned, worry returning to his face.
“Oboro,” he said, in a quiet tone that was both concerned and firm. “Please, give me my son.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Do you know what he’s been going through, Takumi?”
“I…” Takumi closed his eyes and sighed. “I think I know what you’re talking about.” He gestured to Forrest. “I should have figured you of all people would be supportive of him, and I thank you for that. He really needs it. Especially since…” He trailed off and bit his lip. “Well. I have no issue with how Forrest is, if it makes him happy. I know how hard it can be to grow up feeling unloved. Leo does, too, but… in a different way. He grew up thinking everyone had to be perfect. And to him, Forrest… isn’t.”
Oboro instantly understood. She was filled with fire and anger- how dare he? How dare that man inflict such pain upon her nephew, even if Forrest were his child?
“I… I understand that he thinks he’s doing what’s best,” Takumi continued, looking down in shame. “We’ve fought about it a lot. I think that’s what drove Forrest to run away- he heard us arguing.” Takumi winced. “I may have gotten a bit too angry.”
“You had every right to be angry,” Oboro assured him, practically seething with anger. “Do you know how much he cried, Takumi?”
Takumi didn’t answer. “I’ll take him, now. Please,” he added firmly.
Oboro nodded and handed Forrest, still sleeping, to his father, who help him tightly and smiled in relief.
“Thank you again, Oboro,” Takumi reiterated. “I could never thank you enough.”
She nodded. “I told him that anytime he needs something, he can come to me.”
“He appreciates that, I know.” Takumi smiled. “Well, it’s getting late. I need to get Forrest back to bed. And… I’ll talk to Leo.”
“ I want to talk to him.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
Oboro wanted to argue, but she figured that anything she could say would only incur Leo’s anger.
She turned. “Well… I have to get home.” A pause. “Goodbye, Takumi.”
Oboro began walking through the warm Hoshido night, knowing Takumi was watching her, and knowing that she needed to be there for Forrest no matter the cost.
Oboro was never informed as to what happened after she left that night, but as months and years went on, Forrest came to her shop almost every day when his family was in Hoshido. He’d show up right before all the customers left and help her around the shop before they’d go into the back and he’d let her do his hair and makeup, and she’d let him try on new clothes.
Whenever he came, he’d pick out a new dress, try it on, and tell her what needed to fixed or added. He was such a great help, and the customers loved him.
For years, she let him come- free of judgement, in a place where he could be safe and understood; where they could talk to each other and not have to worry about other people.
That is, until around five years after she’d first found Forrest alone.
That’s when his father came to visit.
They were just sitting inside the shop together, talking about Forrest’s studies whilst Oboro painted his nails, when she heard the door open.
“Oh, crap,” Oboro sighed. “I could’ve sworn I’d locked that…”
“Isn’t the shop closed?” Forrest wondered aloud.
Oboro blew on his nails to dry them before she stood, capping the bottle of polish. “Yeah; it’s probably just another straggler. I’ll tell them to go before I…”
Oboro spun around. Standing the the doorway was someone she’d barely spoken to in years. His brow was furrowed, arms crossed, his piercing brown eyes staring straight at her.
“F-Father,” Forrest managed.
Leo’s eyes went from Oboro to his son. His expression didn’t soften.
“Forrest,” he said firmly. “Please leave us. I need to have a… chat with your aunt.”
“Outside. Now .”
Forrest looked from Oboro to his father before looking down and complying, walking out without a word.
Oboro turned to Leo, putting her hands on her hips. “What do you want?” she snapped.
Leo raised an eyebrow. “There’s no need to be so hostile, Oboro.”
“Oh, and you’d be one to talk,” she huffed. She glared at him, looking him directly in the eyes. She wasn’t intimidated by him in the slightest.
Eventually, he sighed, looking away. She smirked. As if anyone could be scarier than she.
“I don’t know what you do here every day with Forrest,” he began, “but I-”
“Want me to stop?” Oboro interrupted. “As if I’d ever. He’s my nephew, Leo-”
“He’s my son!” Leo barked. He stopped, then sighed once more. “See here… I don’t want this to be a fight between us.”
“If you continue to hurt him, it will be!”
“I never-” he paused, then lowered his voice. “I never meant to hurt him.”
“Well, you did a really good job,” she retorted.
He glared. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t want what’s best for my son.”
Oboro wanted to make a comment, but she figured that it wouldn’t help her case much; instead, she crossed her arms and reluctantly listened to what he had to say.
“I know that I’ve been… rather hard on Forrest.” He glanced down at the floor. “When he first told us about his… interests, I reacted poorly.”
“That’s an understatement,” she murmured.
Ignoring her, he continued, “Takumi chastised me endlessly for it. ‘You’re being too strict.’ ‘You’re ruining his life.’ Worse things. The like.”
“And you deserved every word of it.”
Leo winced. “I… did, yes. I cannot deny that. I know nothing I say could change anything, but I was simply trying to protect him.”
“ Protect him?!” Oboro laughed humorlessly. “All you’ve done is cause him more pain than he needs!”
“You think I don’t know that?!” Leo yelled, and Oboro was shocked to see that he was beginning to cry. “You think I haven’t be reminded time and time again, by others and by myself ? You think I don’t know I’m a failure as a father?! ”
“You’re not a failure!”
Both of the adults in the room turned towards Forrest, who was standing in the doorway. His eyes widened, and he started to back away, but both Leo and Oboro reached out and said, “Don’t leave.”
They glanced at each other. Leo turned back to his son. “Forrest. I thought I told you to wait outside.”
His voice was softer this time, a tinge of sadness in his voice. His son bit his lip, putting his hands behind his back as he looked away. “I- I heard you guys fighting. I didn’t mean to intrude, I promise-”
“It’s okay, son.”
Forrest frowned at his father. “You’re… you’re not angry with me?”
Leo’s face looked pained. As much as Oboro had hated him in the past… he did look sincere. He walked up to his son and reached out his hand. Forrest flinched away at first, but, slowly, he let his father brush his hair out of his face.
“I’m so, so sorry,” Leo whispered.
Oboro felt that this was her time to bow out. Quietly, so that neither father nor son would notice her, she crept out of the room through the back door. Closing it behind her, she leaned against it and let out a breath of relief.
Sometimes, Oboro was hurt by the fact that she couldn’t be the one to fix Forrest’s relationship with his father. But that wasn’t her place; she knew that the two of them would have to do that together.
She could, however, be there for them when he needed it- his shoulder to cry on, his home to go to when he felt like the real one wouldn’t do. However, as years went on, his relationship with his father got better. Sometimes she’d see them in town, laughing together, as if no conflict between them had ever occurred. It took time, but they healed.
Over the years, he visited Oboro less and less.
Her door was always open to him. Nothing would ever change that. But even when Takumi’s family was in Hoshido, Oboro didn’t see him much.
She gave him his space. She respected his choices.
She didn’t miss her nephew any less.
As she got older, she’d often look back on the times they’d shared. Even though Oboro still missed him, she was glad that she could be a good part of his life when it was dark.
One day, however, the door to her shop opened after hours once again.
Oboro sighed, standing. “I’m afraid the shop is-”
She yelped as she was knocked to the ground.
“Ugh, Kiragi, you’re such a child.”
Surely enough, her nephew Kiragi was sitting with his arms around her. He’d aged into a young boy quite reminiscent of Takumi, albeit with blonde hair that was much shorter and messier. Standing in the doorway behind him was his brother.
Forrest, despite rolling his eyes at his brother, was smiling. Clad in pink, he looked happy. Certainly, happier than he’d been in prior years.
“Hey, boys!” Oboro said, sitting up. “To what do I owe this visit, then, hm?”
“We just wanted to say ‘hi’!” Kiragi chirped.
“Surely there’s more to it than that.”
“Of course there is,” Forrest scoffed. “Kiragi, why don’t you go look at the clothes? Gods know you need something to replace those rags you always wear.”
“Aw, you always say that!” Kiragi sighed as he stood up.
“I’ll buy them this time.” Forrest flicked his little brother’s forehead. “Go knock yourself out.”
Kiragi giggled and ran off, leaving Forrest and Oboro alone.
“It’s been awhile,” Forrest remarked after a moment, chuckling.
Oboro was on her feet, walking over to hug him. “It certainly has.”
She examined her nephew. He was older, a young adult now. His hair was long and tidy, falling over his shoulders and back in neat curls. His smile was warm and pleasant, and in that moment, he reminded her of Takumi- something that rarely struck her when regarding him.
“I, uh…” Forrest twirled a finger in his hair. “My father… the Leo one… and I have been getting along more.”
“Yeah.” He laughed a bit. “You know, when we actually sat down and talked, we started to understand each other a bit more.”
Oboro smiled. “That’s great, Forrest.”
“Papa and Kiragi were always so understanding, but…” Forrest shrugged. “I suppose it meant nothing if Father didn’t, too.”
“And… now?” Oboro asked. “How are things now? What are you doing with your life nowadays, hm?”
“Oh! Actually, that was what I came here for.” Forrest glanced around. “You know, this place could use another worker.”
Oboro crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “And that would be you, I take it?”
Forrest shrugged. “What can I say? I’d make one great tailor.” He grinned. “I learned from the best, you know.”
Reaching out, Oboro put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “Forrest, you should consider yourself as good as hired.”
They turned to see Kiragi, who punched the air. “Good job, Nii-san! I’ll tell our fathers!”
Kiragi rushed past them and out of the shop, leaving Forrest and Oboro once again.
Oboro glanced to Forrest, who was holding back laughter at his little brother’s antics. She beamed, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m glad you’re back, Forrest.”
“I’m happy to be back, Aunt Oboro.”