Blackberry Tart. 4 (fin)

Cronan pulled his hoodie tighter around his shivering body as the train chugged forward at a rapid pace. The rain fell no less harder then it had before, but he could tell them were slowly pulling away from the grip of the storm. Pulling away to a safe haven.

Finally, a breath of real air for once away from the eye. Cronan averted his gaze to check on his little brother. Artel was nose deep in a book he had packed in his parcel while clutching his blanket. Emotionally, to want Cronan could tell, he was calm and happy to see his grandparents. He seemed pretty excited for the surprise when he said goodbyes to Herne and Assane.

Cronan smiled a bit while shaking his head. They had left in the wee hours of the morn’ and it took about an hour of driving to the train station. Now it was going to be about 2 hours of train riding and then about 25 minutes of driving again before reaching their grandparents farm. Cronan almost groaned at how long the day would be, but it was better then sitting amidst a storm.

“Hey Cronan,” Artk raised his head to see his older brother, “Do you think Grandpops and Grandmum know about the monsters that make Mum and Daddy fight?” Cronan bit his lip before rubbed his brother’s head. “I don’t know, but I’ll ask. So don’t you worry ya wee laddie. You’re big brother will take care of it for good and you crack on have fun.”

Artek shivered a bit, unsure if it was from the draft or Cronan’s voice, but he nodded anyway. “Ok! I bet they’ll be super surprised to see us.” He flashed a huge grin. Cronan nodded. “They sure will.” He sighed a bit before his mind wandered backwards in time to when they were leaving…

”Master Cronan.” Herne caught Cronan’s attention with his sudden concerned tone. In his white gloved hands he held two parchment envelopes. Cronan frowned before silently asking what they were. “The Head Masters wished for you have these, I believe they are letters of apology. However, that is not my business to know.” he said that, but Cronan noticed a worried twinkle in the butler’s eyes.

Assene handed Artek a big basket that the small boy almost couldn’t carry. “Now this parcel should last ‘ou both t’il you get their cottage. So be careful how much ye eat.” Assene shook her finger at both boys in a warning manner, to which they both nodded fervently.

Artek tugged on his brother’s pant legs. “We should go! I don’t wanna miss the train and have them expect us!” Conan nodded absentmindedly. They wouldn’t know we were coming anyway Artek. “Fine fine, says ye’r goodbyes then.” Artel nodded with shining eyes and hugged Assene’s legs and then Herne. “We’ll be back!”

Cronan was not one for goodbyes so he merely nodded to them both. Herne and Assene smiled and waved as they jumped in the buggy. “Hyah!” The horses nickered at the jolt and trotted off. Artel giggled, delira and excira about the trip, bouncing in the buggy’s back while Cronan drove. He could feel the sudden weight of those letters in his pocket.

Later… them later. They didn’t see us off. Does not surprise me, them dossers. Tryin’ to change me and keep Artek up in their fantasy world. That ain’t happenin’, not with me ‘round. He griped the reins tighter and urged the horses faster. He didn’t even give a gander, he just kept his face forward….

“Cronan!” He turned away from is memories to see Artek pulled on his sleeve. “We’ve arrived! Come on lets go!” Artek kept pulling on him even after they had got off and enter a truck that their father often left there. Artel bounced in his seat, clutching his blanket and gazing eagerly out the dusty windows to see their grandparent’s home.

The ride was silent, besides Artek randoms noises as he went off in his fantasy adventures in his child’s mind. Cronan kept his mind forward, on his own journey only his was cold and dark. he hoped he would be able to speak with Grandpops once they arrived.

A time later on, they both spotted the little country cottage, which sat in the middle of a honest farm.There were fields stretching over great distances, their mosaic marked further by the picket fences around them. All around horses and deer slept and loitered in the isolated pastures, and right in the center of the fields ran a dusty, gravel road. The road ended at a quiet cottage covered in vines and wall shrubs.

The cottage was very old, and it showed to the boys’ eyes. A chicken coop stood next to the house, farm machinery was scattered all around the courtyard, and a small shed with all sorts of small projects and inventions stood lost in a corner. The farm had a comfy feel to it, much of this was thanks to the smells of ripe fruits carried by the wind, and the sounds of birds chirping in the trees.

Artek giggled in excitement as Cronan allowed a small grin crawl onto his lips. He drove the truck up further the gravel road until he stopped it just outside the front picket gate. Artek practically jumped out of the car and dived between the wooden beams of the gate. Cronan rolled his eyes in annoyance once Artek barely got through. “Don’t try anything weird al’ight?”

His little brother nodded, his fluffy reddish-brown hair floppy with the motion. Cronan put dow his hood and walked with his brother to the little wooden door. He raised his hand to knock, but the sound of a deadbolt unlatching stopped him. The door creaked open and deep green orbs meet with kindly, weathered light brown eyes.

Artek ran past the older man and into a room just beyond the end of the entryway. “Grandmum! Surprise!” laughter ensued from the kitchen while Cronan and his grandfather looked at each other quietly. “Well, come on in. I’ll hear what ye hav’ to say.”

Cronan, like a phantom, followed his grandpop in the common room just to the left of the door and leaned on the wall while his grandpop sat down, a bit stiffly, on his chair. “So,” he started as he gazed upon his oldest grandson, “why ye here? not forewarning or letter came. So what happened?”

Conan felt something break inside. Somehow, his grandpop and grandmum were able to see through his dark veil into what he thought. It was one of two times he was vulnerable and now, he could not hold back. He looked out the pale glass window, out into the fields. “A hurricane,” his cold voice cracked out, “It came upon us. Artel could see the monsters around o’r parents.”

Cronan felt his anger resurface, but along with his sadness. He didn’t yell or hit the hall, he merely spoke as he let the tears form. “I told ‘em….we won’t go back…until they fix it. I can’t stand it.” His eyes were watery, but stone cold as he turned his gaze to his elder. His grandpop was watching him while stroking his chin. He knew what was happening and waited patiently for Cronan to finish.

“So….Artek and I came here. I’m not taking him back. It’s not-“ “Not safe anymore eh?” Grandpop rose and walked over to Cronan. “I suppose wi’h how me child had been talkin’ lately I saw this coming.” He laid a steady hand on his grandchild. “You did good, I’ll write to them and you’ll stay here until I receive solid word that the storm has passed.”

Cronan felt the hot tears slip. His expressionless visage change into a grateful smile, lined with respect for his elder. Grandpop merely nodded and urged him to follow him. “Cronan! Grandmum made hagas and her fall pie!!!!” the two entered the happy kitchen where Artek was hugging his ample and smiling grandmum. ‘Come now, sit and eat.”

Cronan and Artek both grinned and sat down eagerly. After Grandpop blessed the food, the boys dug into the food as conversation and laughing ensued. The sky was clearing showing the glories of the setting sun upon them all. Artek felt courage and hope renew themselves as Cronan felt the light shine brighter then before as the brothers were surrounded by loving arms.



Blackberry Tart. 3

Assane stopped at Master Cronan’s door and softly knocked. “They bo’th must be tired due to this storm. Herne did say Artek wus a’sleepin’. Poor little child, having to hear the masters like that.” Assane sighed with the tray of their meals in her strong hands. Her long dark brown hair was tied back neatly in tight bun to reveal caring brown eyes. The door slowly opened to reveal Cronan, who apparently just woke up.

“Oh master Cronan, did I wake ye too early?” Assane asked a bit flustered. Conan shook his head and groaned. “Nay, I was just pokin’ the fire to keep it alive when you knocked. Artek is just now waking up.” He nodded at the little boy sitting atop on the bed, rubbing his eyes and clutching his blanket.

Assane smiled. “I brought your supper. I figured you would want to stay in here for…” She looked over at Artek slipping off the bed. Conan nodded and opened the door further for her to enter. She walked in and gently placed the tray on a coffee table close to the hearth. “Now it’s some turkey, spuds, green beans and some tarts for dessert.” Artel lit up at the mention of food and plopped down.

Cronan grinned slightly as Artek blessed the food and began to eat. “Must ‘ave been hungry after your nap.” Assange chuckled, but then gave Cronan a slight serious gaze. “Master Cronan, I’m only going to give my opinion. I don’t believe this home is safe for Artek now. I think you both should take shelter until the storm passes over the master and mistress of this house.”

Cronan looked at Assane with piercing cold eyes. It was rare for her to speak like this, much less to him. Assane did fear him a little, but not enough to never speak what she thought or even advise him at times. Conan stood silent for a moment, mulling over what she meant and what he could do.

“Have a good evening Master Cronan.” Assane crusted slightly and walked out of the room, closing the door with a soft click. Conan remained quiet before joining his brother in dining. Not a safe place for him anymore? Well, it’s not like Mum and dad are doing anything to help us. Cronan remained silent as he ate his food, his mind deep in thought.

“Hey Cronan, doesn’t the food remind you of Grandpop and Grandmum’s cooking? It delicious!” Cronan blinked and stared into the fire. Oh…Assane, you’re slyer then I suspected. Cronan chewed on his turkey before rubbing Artek’s smooth hair. “Say, would you like to visit Grandmum and Grandpop?” Artek smiled wide. “Yeah! A surprise visit! Like bears pouncing on them!”

Artek stood up and pretended he was a grizzly sneaking up on his prey while Cronan, secretly amused, watched with a cool stare. It was worth a chance. Cronan almost wanted to just stay here in the darkness with Artek close to him, but he knew that Artek and even he needed some elder to guide them. Grandpops always did have good talks with me without fearing me. It strange how they accept me nature and yet my out fella and mum don’t. He looked at Artek and stood up. “How about you go pack ye’r parcels. We’ll leave in the morn’.”

Artek blinked at Cronan’s subtly cold voice, but he nodded. “Ok! Grandmum and Pops will be so happy! Thank you Cronan!” He hugged his brother’s legs before running out to his room to prepare. Cronan watched him leave then walked out. Locking his door behind him, his turned his cold eyes towards the hurricane. He strode towards the eye, unafraid of what he was about to do.

The hallway seemed cold, lifeless as the lightning pierced the skies beyond with her crackling fingers. It’s short flash of white caused great, big shadows the line Cronan’s path as he made his way to the room. His parent’s room. He understood it was poor thinking to just up and leave without giving them some light as to why. He liked being sly, but he was not cruel in that manner.

Cronan could hear them before he round the corner to their doors. The black maple doors seemed to image the torrent just behind them. Cronan normally would have been VERY reluctant to do this, but he couldn’t stand it this time. I’m going to talk and they’ll listen this time ‘round. They will know what I see and what they are becoming. He knocked, heavy and hard on the doors.

The howling and wailing stopped short. Steps sounded, coming closer to the door. Cronan noted the door handle jiggle before swinging open. His pine green orbs met with his father’s steely gray-blue eyes. Past him near the fireplace, on the grandfather chair was his mother. Her eyes were downcast and he could see the tears streaks on her face.

“Cronan. What is it that you want?” Cronan merely gave his dad a dead look and brushed past him. He walked closer to his mum before leaning against the mantle just next to the cracking wood. “Cronan, you know I won’t ask twice.” His father’s voice was firm, but no anger was clothed in it. Cronan sighed and spoke. “I’m taking Artek away.”

His mum looked up, alarmed. “What?!? Why?” Cronan clenched his fist and snapped back. “Because you two keep acting the maggot and don’t seem to mind your own kids!” CRACK! The air was stilled as his parents watched their older son stare them down.

His mum, bless her trembling heart, was frightened. Her oldest, Cronan, was never the type to sugar coat anything. His dark tone and deep eyes were mysteries neither she nor her husband could even uncover. This was what drove their fear of him along with he could be unpredictable.

Right now, she and her husband kept their shocked silence before Cronan’s father spoke. “Cronan, Artek doesn’t understand what is happening unlike you. He must st-” BOOM! THUD! They jumped at the thunder and Cronan’s fist driving into the wood. “No! he sees you and he hears ye fightin’. True he doesn’t understand why ye fight, but he sees your monsters.”

Cronan would not budge. He would MAKE them see what they both saw. A fractured picture of what they used to be. “If you don’t see why Artek run in fear to me when you wish to run to you, it’s because he fears ye’r monsters more then me strange darkness.” He stood up straight and started towards the door.

“We won’t be gone for’ever. Only until I hear that you’ve both made amends and this home is whole again. God bless you both, Mother, Father.” Cronan nodded at them both, his eyes showing a kindle of a loving light. It pleaded for them to listen to his words and see their actions through the eyes of an innocent chiseler.