Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Lily and her children earn their keep by tending to Howard’s farm.  However, things become complicated when Howard
makes a discovery about Quatre.


Part Four

Lily dragged the back of her hand over her sweaty forehead, letting out a long breath as she paused in her work.  She was
weeding a small garden on Howard’s property, one that had apparently been ignored for what looked like years.  Shaking her
head, she turned her attention to her children.  They were pleasantly doing chores around the farm.  

Une and Duo were picking vegetables from another garden for tonight’s dinner, picking just what Howard had told them to.  
And Solo and Quatre were feeding the chickens.  It was quite adorable actually.  Solo lowered the bowl of feed so that Quatre
could reach in and grab some, then Quatre would all but throw it right at the chickens.  The little blonde giggled and clapped as
he watched the chickens, apparently having grown fond of them.

They had been here for two days now.  The first day they had done nothing but sleep, and when they had awakened the next
morning, they had been put to work as soon as breakfast was done with.  Lily wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Actually,
she would rather have worked on that first day as well, if only to repay Howard for all of his generosity.

She looked around again, smirking when she saw that all of their hard work was paying off.  The area was looking more like a
farm now, and that was good.  She went back to work, not stopping for several more hours.  The children didn’t work as long
as she did though.  They weren’t expected to either.

Une and Duo gave the vegetables over to Howard so that he could cook, and then all four of the children went off to play.  They
didn’t trail far away, staying within Lily’s sight, but they appeared to be having fun.  Quatre, still wearing his cloak . . . Lily
feared Howard’s reaction to finding out what the boy really was . . . laughed and chased Duo during a game of tag.  He even
caught Duo sometimes, although Lily was certain that Duo had let himself be caught without making it look that way.

It was late in the day when Lily finally stopped working.  She rose to her feet, wiping her hands off on her skirt.  “Children,
come along!”  She called out.  “Time to go inside!”

“Aw, but we’re having fun!”  Duo pouted.

“And you can have fun again tomorrow.  But now it’s time to get inside and wash up.  Dinner should be ready soon.”  Lily
replied, sweeping Quatre into her arms as soon as she had gotten over to him.  “My, you need a bath, Quatre.”

Quatre giggled, shaking his head.  “No baf.”

Lily smiled, ruffling his hair lightly.  “Yes, a nice, warm bath.”  She said, then turned to look at the others.  “While Quatre's
having his bath, I suppose you three can play.  But after dinner you are taking your baths and going to bed.”

“Thanks, Mama!”  Duo smiled.

“But first, I want you three to each get a pail of water from the well out back and bring it into the house for me.  I’ll need to
heat some water.”

“Yes, Mama.”  Solo nodded, then the three of them ran off toward the well.

Lily bounced Quatre in her arms and walked to the house.  She greeted Howard in the kitchen, smiling kindly to him.  “Quatre
needs a bath . . . do you have someplace I can wash him?”

Howard nodded.  “Sure do.”  He said.  He turned away from his cooking and walked over to a closet.  “I’ve been wondering
when you were going to get around asking me that.  You have been here a couple days.”

Lily sighed.  She had been trying to avoid this.  Quatre’s safety was very important to Lily.  The less that Howard saw of his
body, the better off Quatre would be.  “We weren’t really planning on staying . . . but Quatre really needs a good washing

“No baf!”  Quatre squealed, trying to wriggle out of Lily’s arms.  Howard smiled at the child, then carried the tub that he had
retrieved from the closet into one of the bedrooms.

Une walked in then, struggling to carry a pail of water.  She set it on the floor near the stove, then looked up at her mother.  
“Can I go back out and play now, Mama?”  She asked.

Lily nodded.  “Go on, but come in when you’re called for dinner.”

Une nodded, then strode out of the house, passing by Solo and Duo as they both made their way into the house.  Solo was
obviously trying to help Duo carry the bucket, along with the one he carried himself.  They set the buckets next to Une’s, then
followed their sister out of the house.

Lily got a large pot from the closet, deciding to use that to heat the water.  She had to wrestle to keep a hold of Quatre as she
filled the pot with water from one of the buckets, but she managed to get it filled and on the stove.  She didn’t understand why
Quatre was being so difficult.  He usually loved getting baths.

Frowning, Lily sat on one of the chairs by the kitchen table.  “Quatre?  What's wrong?”  She asked, noticing out of the corner
of her eye as Howard returned and walked back over to the stove.

“No baf!”  Quatre shouted, pushing at Lily in an attempt to get away.

“But, Quatre . . . you’ve always loved bath time.”

“No baf.”  He repeated, rubbing his eyes.  “S’eepy.”

Lily smirked.  “Ah, I see.  You’re tired and cranky, hm?”  She brushed her fingers over his cheek.  “Just a short bath, Quatre?  
After you get all nice and clean, you can have dinner and then you can get some sleep . . . okay?”

“‘Kay.”  Quatre nodded.

They had to wait for the water to get warm, but as soon as Howard said it was ready, Lily took Quatre into the bedroom.  She
smiled as she saw that there was soap and a cloth waiting for her to wash Quatre with, as well as a rather large drying cloth.  
Leaving Quatre sitting on the bed, she returned to the kitchen for the water, closing the bedroom door behind herself once she
was back inside.

“Okay, bath time, Quatre.”  She smiled, helping Quatre out of his clothes.  She removed the strip of cloth from around his head,
took off his cloak, and stripped off his nightshirt - which were still his only articles of clothing.

Lily set Quatre on the floor next to the metal tub.  She poured some water into it, not wanting Quatre to start off with a chill.  
Then she got Quatre to sit down in the water.  He giggled, immediately beginning to splash around.  Lily smiled, glad that he was
enjoying himself despite the fact that it left her drenched.  At least he wasn’t fighting her anymore, so that made washing him

She had just rinsed off Quatre’s hair with the last of the water when she heard a soft knock to the door.  Before she had a
chance to reply, she heard as the door creaked open.  Lily grabbed the drying cloth, picking Quatre up and wrapping him in it,
trying to cover Quatre as quickly as possible.  When she turned, Howard was standing in the open doorway, looking at Quatre
with an unreadable expression on his face.

Quatre whimpered fearfully, grabbing an edge of the cloth with one of his small hands and pulling it up over his head.  Lily was
afraid, not only for herself but for Quatre as well.  Now that Howard knew what Quatre was, would he cause him harm?  Lily
certainly hoped not, but there was no telling.  She opened her mouth, knowing that she had to at least try and explain, but before
she could utter a sound, Howard spoke.

“We have to talk.”  He said, his tone serious.  

Lily found herself nodding before she could make a conscious thought to do so.  Then she just watched as Howard turned and
left the room, closing the door behind himself.  Her heart was throbbing in her chest.  This could turn out very badly for all of

“I sorry.”  Quatre sniffled, hiding his face against Lily’s body.

“Sshh . . . it’s not your fault, Quatre.”  Lily hushed, rubbing her hand along his back in a soothing manner.  “You didn’t do
anything wrong.”

Taking a deep breath, Lily opened the door and stepped out of the bedroom.  Howard was sitting at the table, his hands clasped
and set on the wooden surface.  Nervously, Lily sat across from him, wrapping her arms around Quatre in a protective manner
that she hoped wouldn’t be necessary.  In her arms, Quatre clung to her, his body trembling as he softly cried.  No doubt he
was afraid that Howard would be like those men that had killed his family.

“Howard, please let me explain . . . They would have killed him if I had left him.  I couldn’t let him die.  He’s only a baby.”

Howard held up his hand.  “No, don’t speak.”  He whispered.  He sighed deeply, then raised his gaze to meet Lily’s eyes.  “You
don’t have to justify your reasons.  I understand why you hid his appearance from me.  Most people aren’t too tolerant of folks
like Quatre.”  He reached out, pulling the cloth from off of Quatre’s head.  He smiled gently at the child, sweeping his fingers
through the blonde’s damp hair, the tips of his fingers just brushing Quatre’s pointed ears before he pulled his hand away.

“Y-You aren’t angry?”  Lily asked in disbelief.

“I said that I understood your reasons . . . I didn’t say I liked being deceived.”  Howard replied.  He rose from his seat, only to
begin pacing back and forth in front of the table.  “I know you only met me a couple days ago, but you could have mentioned
this.  Do you know how much danger I’m in now?  If he’s found here by anyone less than friendly, my farm could be burned
to the ground just like Ashraf’s lands.”

Lily stood.  “I’m sorry.  But I had to do what I thought best for Quatre.”  She wiped a few tears from her eyes.  “We’ll leave at
dawn.  I don’t want to cause you any trouble.”

She moved to head back into the bedroom, but Howard’s hand fell on her shoulder.  “No . . . I won’t have you wandering
around out there.”  He sighed.  “But it’s not safe for you to stay here either.  Those men that burned down Ashraf’s lands were
probably looking for Quatre.  If they find him, they’ll kill him.”  He took a breath and let it out slowly.  “Best we can do is move
on to a neighboring land, one which hopefully has a large army to protect it from marauders.”

“We?”  Lily asked, confused.

“Well, I can’t let you travel alone.  Roads aren’t safe for a pretty young woman such as yourself, Miss Lily.  And you’ll need
some help taking care of the children.”  Howard replied, smiling softly.

“Oh, I can’t ask you to leave your home for us.”  Lily replied.  “You've done so much already.”

Howard only smiled.  “No, I’d like to be moving on.  I never was good at farming.  Perhaps it’s time for me to make a new
start.  You and your kids would be nice company, plus it would be safer for us to travel together.”

Lily smiled in return.  “You are a very good man, Howard.”

“Enough of all that flattery.”  Howard said, a pink tinge to his cheeks.  “Go and call those kids in for dinner.  Tomorrow we’ll
work on loading what we can into my cart and head off.  We’ll stop in the next town and buy clothes for you and the kids . . .
And don’t go worrying about me spending all my money on you.  I have quite a bit saved up . . . never did need much myself.  I’
ve just been waiting for something worthwhile to spend it on.  That something just arrived.”

Lily smiled.  “Thank you.”  She said once more, before heading to the door and calling her children in for dinner.  Duo was
shocked at seeing that Quatre was uncovered and chided his mother for letting him be seen.  Lily laughed, then explained that all
was well, that Howard knew what Quatre was now.  

They sat down to dinner together, Lily and Howard explaining that they would be leaving the farm in the morning.  The children
took the news very well, hardly any complaining at all.  Things were looking good for them now.  Hopefully, their new life
would turn out better than the last.

To Be Continued . . .