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What Makes the Roses Red

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Ruby hardly speaks the first year.

Well...

In fact she doesn't speak at all.

Qrow tries everything to get a word out of her and without any success. She answers only 'yes' or 'no' questions, and even then only with a nod or shake of her head. He thinks she must be depressed - he KNOWS she's depressed, but knowing hardly helps him take care of her. Somehow it feels like getting the six-year-old to talk about the death of her mother, or just talk at ALL, is healthy and proper and she doesn't waste away exactly but.

She breaks the silence the first time in a year for Yang.

Qrow has never seen his sister gaze at something so soft, so adoring as she does upon her tow-headed babe. And he can tell in the way her miniscule, not-quite-a-smile looks very much like it hurts her that she is too attached. It's there, in the way she cradles the child, shoots frosty glares at him or Taiyang whenever they wander too close to touch or coo or do anything remotely affectionate with the little bundle of joy.

It's when little Ruby approaches where his sister lounges in repose in the nursery that he expects Raven will finally snap, sick of being annoyed and all for the sake of allowing her family to meet her child. Harmless silent Ruby whose eyes are dim and gray and lifeless until they fall upon the blanket-swathed little bean that is Yang. And then, Ah, wonder, amazement, exaltation-

Ruby audibly gasps.

Raven considers her. This girl staring with absolute astonishment at her child, as though it were something great and valuable and precious - all of these being very true, of course (It's a Branwen, duh) - but not daring to demean it with faces and senseless baby-babble. She offers,

"If you drop her, I'll be reuniting you with your mother sooner than you'd ever dreamed possible." Which is the nicest way she can ever offer to allow another person the chance to hold her child. Ruby's eyes, wide and gleaming and bright, bright silver flash up to meet her stern, studying gaze. She glances back to the child in Raven's arms. She nods.

If asked later, though she never is, she'd say that she shoved Yang into Ruby's outstretched arms. Because babies are delicate but nothing that's related to her is(because it'd already be dead if it were)... She gives Yang unto Ruby as gently as she can. Almost hesitant to hand her ilk over. Ruby takes the child, absolutely hesitant to handle the tiny human.

And it's got nothing to do with threats of bodily harm or death and everything to do with the way Yang shifts restlessly. She's dozing but. She's. She's so wonderful. She's beautiful and lovely and.

It's then Yang blinks open lilac eyes and, upon catching sight of misty silver, smiles up at Ruby. She squirms in her burrito'd blankets once more, enough to unravel the burrito just a bit. Enough to reach out for Ruby. And it's when her clumsy fingers touch Ruby's cheek that, for the first time since before the death of Summer Rose, Ruby begins to cry.


No-one is surprised when Raven leaves. It's within the week directly following weaning Yang off of her breast milk and she makes it no secret that she'll be leaving. Taiyang is absolutely distraught but in the most quiet way he can be. Qrow had expected it, knowing her as well as any one person can know their twin sister. And Ruby, well he gets back to fretting over her.

The greatest slight paid unto him by his charge is that she talks, but mostly to Yang and Raven. Despite his sister's prickly nature or the fact that her child still can't speak beyond wordless babble, she speaks to them and all he gets are one word replies. Two or three if she's feeling generous or, Oum blessed, if she's curious about something he'll squeeze whole sentences out of her!

So he frets and fears a relapse in that week leading to Raven's departure. And Raven, perhaps sensing this and for the first time in forever proving herself sensitive to it, indulges the children with nearly all of her attention. He catches her, on the last day, he catches her singing lowly to a Yang cradled in her arms.

"Where will you go?" He only approaches her when she's finished her song and lulled Yang into a deep slumber, putting her down for her afternoon nap.

"You know where," if he were anyone else he might not realize the glare she levels on him isn't nearly as angry and accusing as she'd like it to be. This is sad and disappointed. "You won't be coming." It's not a question. He answers anyway,

"No. I. I can't. Ruby-"

"She's not weak," Ruby and Taiyang are outside. He's trying to chase her around but her Semblance makes that difficult on him. Whatever game they're playing, Ruby is going to be the winner. "She doesn't annoy me as much as Summer."

She might as well admit she loves Ruby as much as Yang. Might as well scream it from the nearest mountaintop. Might as well snatch her away in the night and give her a long lifetime as part of the Tribe. The look she spares him tries to be neutral but it's heavy and pained and.

"We can't, Raven," All the emotion drains from her except for that hurt. "If I took her from Yang she-"

"It's alright," she doesn't call him a traitor. She doesn't have to. "I understand. Summer asked you to play daddy for her kid. I get it." She turns away, back to the window and the very one sided game of tag happening beyond. "Don't come back."

"I-"

"You won't be welcomed."

"Understood."

"... An' take care of my girls, will ya?"


Of all the ways he'd envisioned his life might turn out as a young man, never had he ever even dreamed it possible he might end up in a very platonic family unit with two paternal guardians acting as 'Uncle Qrow'. He'd truly believed it impossible for his sister to find the patience to let anyone in long enough to end up pregnant. And beyond patience, in the realm of mistakes, he'd fully expected she'd never be interested in keeping a child.

After all, nine months of vulnerability and weakness isn't quite lucrative to any lifestyle she's ever kept. But alas, Yang lives and breathes and were it not for her he'd still have a mute child on his hands and no way to help her. In that sense he doesn't mind so much the stab at his pride as a YOUNG MAN(thank you kindly) still VERY MUCH in the prime of his YOUTH when little Yang looks up at him one day and calls him uncle.

It doesn't lessen the agony of hearing Ruby call him that, however. No amount of preparation and willpower could have given him the fortitude to deal with the absolute betrayal. He wants to curl up in a ball and cry. Hadn't he loved her? Hadn't he cared for her for the past three years? To be left in the ranks of Uncle...

"Am I a cool uncle?"

"No," she'd clearly spent the first year of Yang's existence in the worst company. Oum damn her, Raven had ruined his dear, sweet Ruby! "Not until you'll teach me."

"Kid..." They'd had this particular conversation before. A thousand times over. She'd watched her mother die in this profession, clearly it wasn't very safe. Her lips purse, a brow quirks. She looks very much like an unimpressed Raven, so much so that it knocks him off kilter, stalling the regurgitate of conversations past.

"Uncle..." Ah! Agony, true pain! Like poison seeping through the skin, tearing him down from the inside. Even just plain old 'Qrow' would be better than this accursed moniker!

And. Ok, so it wouldn't be completely asinine. She had her Semblance unlocked and her mastery of it was almost as impressive as her massive reserves of Aura. It was positively oppressive when she was particularly upset. She was sharp as a whip and stronger than she should be - and if that had anything at all to do with her heritage, well... Weren't silver eyes things of legend? Would he be doing a disservice to her, her mother, by refusing?

"Yes," he decided. "Ok fine. Just stop with the Uncle business will ya?"


He remembers this agreement on the last mission. Blood spilling over her lips, eyes blazing and flashing like he'd never seen before. He remembers telling her he'd make her strong. He remembers telling her he'd make her invincible. Untouchable.

He remembers lying to a child.

She's still one now, shrieking and roaring as she tears through waves of Grimm like a hot knife through butter. Like a High-Caliber Sniper-Scythe through...

It's after the mission, after getting patched up, on the long, near-silent ride home that Ruby speaks to him without looking in his direction,

"At first I wanted to understand her. I wanted that first-hand experience, that 'Ah Ha!' that-that eureka moment where I finally understood why she'd take up something like Hunting. Something so dangerous you'd give up your life, abandon your family for the call..."

He says nothing, letting her find her words, work through her thoughts.

"I realized a few years back that no matter what I did I'd never understand her reasoning. She's dead and what I think is not what she thought. I'll never know why she chose it... But I do know it's an honorable thing. Selfless. Brave..."

He watches her. The way her face twists, sours as she spits out,

"Foolish!" But it must drain her for she slumps in her seat. Like a lifeless, boneless thing. Very much like what he'd almost been a few hours ago. What he would be without her intervention. Weary, she breathes, "You were right, Uncle. You and Raven both." She chuckles but it's entirely humorless. Then she sighs. Falls silent.

Eventually,

"Thank you, for... Everything. You went above and beyond for a bargain I never even held up my end of. Thank you, and... And I'm done. I can't do this. Won't do it. I'm not her. I'm no Summer."

This feels familiar. This feels like Raven but. But a few thousand times worse. It feels like he's losing her. He isn't he can't be he won't but-

"Where will you go?" His throat is dry and this comes out as a croak. The smile she spares him reminds him of himself, and of Tai, and of his sister, and of Summer. A smile decidedly too old and tired and watery for the scarred fifteen-year-old. More words tumble out, graceless and fretful, "It's not exactly safe out there."

She laughs and it's all Raven. A condescending, surprised sound that's much kinder than it could be. Where Crescent Rose rests in her lap, she runs fond fingers across its surface. Though she has eyes only for her second most cherished thing in existence - the first, naturally, being Yang - she speaks only to him when she mutters around a grin,

"I'm not exactly a heartbroken six-year-old now am I?"