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

Notes:  The final part of this fic.  O speaks with Lily and Mrs. Chang . . . and are not happy with what they are told.  Wufei
makes a startling discovery.



Secrets



Part Thirteen


Lily smiled as she finished fixing lunch for Duo and Heero.  “Boys!  Lunch is ready!”  She chuckled as the two teenagers ran
into the kitchen and handed each of them a plate.  “Duo, you and Heero can eat in your room, but you must bring the plates
back down.  Understand?”

Duo nodded, a smile crossing his happy face.  “Yes, Mama!  C’mon, Heero.”  With that, he took Heero’s hand and ran out of
the kitchen with his friend in tow.

Lily chuckled again and turned to watch as Une poured two cups of tea and served two slices of apple pie.  “Thank you, Une.  
You are a wonderful hostess.”  Lily said as she sat down.

Une smiled and bent to kiss Lily’s cheek.  “Thank you, Mama.”

Lily watched as Une went to the sink to wash the dishes, before she turned to her guest.  “You are so lucky that you only have
to go through a boy’s teenage years once.  I have found Une’s teenage years so much easier.  I guess it is because I was her
age once and I can understand her better than I do my sons.”

Mrs. Chang laughed lightly before she sipped at her unsweetened tea.  “Still . . . you probably would not trade your boys for
anything.  You are so good with all of your children . . . especially with Duo.  I must commend you on his punishment for his
behavior yesterday.”

Lily nodded as she sweetened her tea.  “I couldn’t punish Heero, and that’s what it would have been had I denied him Duo’s
company.  The boy is here so seldom and I can tell that he hates leaving Duo behind just as much as Duo hates it when Heero
leaves.”  She shook her head, sighing.  “Poor Duo . . . I have the feeling that he was going to ask me to let Heero stay with us.  
He’s been hinting at it ever since that awful man died . . . though I am sorry that Heero is now without a father.”

Mrs. Chang nodded in agreement.  “He will probably think that it’s his fault Heero cannot stay.”

Lily sipped her tea and shook her head.  “And I won’t discourage that thought . . . not after the fight yesterday.”  She took a sip
of her tea, pausing for a moment.  “Although, I did bring up the matter with Heero’s mother the other day.”  She put her cup
down and sighed sadly.  “She said that she still had some things to teach Heero about the family business . . . whatever it may be
. . . and that leaving him behind is not an option.  However, she did say that maybe the next time she returned . . .”  She looked
over to watch as Une did her chores.  “I do hope so.  It pains me to see Duo so unhappy when Heero leaves.”

Lily frowned when someone knocked on the front door.  “Whoever could that be?”

Une set her broom in a corner.  “I’ll answer the door, Mama.”

“Thank you, Une.”  Lily smiled in gratitude.  She returned her attention to Mrs. Chang, easily returning to the conversation they
had been having.  It was barely a minute later that Une returned in hurry, her eyes wide.

“Mama, there’s a strange man at the door with Quatre and Wufei . . . says he wants to talk with you and Mrs. Chang.”  Une
gulped a little, her hands trembling.  “He . . . He looks like a mage, Mama.”

Lily was out of her seat in less than a second.  She went to her daughter, wrapping a comforting arm about Une’s shoulders.  
“It’s all right, daughter.  Come, let us greet our guest.  A mage is just a man like any other.”  She nodded.

“Quite right, my good woman.”  The mage said, bowing slightly to Lily.  “Forgive me . . . I could not help but overhear.”

“No harm done.”  Lily said, forcing a smile onto her face.  Quatre ran over to her, all but hiding himself behind her skirts, Wufei
doing the same with his own mother who had entered the front room along with Lily.  The boys were frightened and rightly so .
. . it wasn’t often that a mage came to such a small village.

“What is it that you wish to talk with us about, my lord?”  Mrs. Chang asked, lowering her head in a sign of respect.  “Have our
children wronged you in some manner?”

Lily kept her head held high.  She wasn’t about to bow to any man, mage or not.  This was her home and any respect should be
given to her, not the other way around.

“No, quite the opposite actually.”  The man said.  “My name is O . . . I have come to this village because I sensed a strong
power growing within it.  Quite to my surprise I have found so many in this village gifted with talents.  Your own daughter for
instance . . .”  He said, gesturing to Une with a graceful wave of his hand.  “She has the makings of a fine midwife . . . a skilled
healer.  Her magicks are stunning.”

Une blushed a deep crimson, ducking behind her mother shyly.  “T-Thank you.”  The girl said timidly, peeking out from behind
Lily.

“I could give you the name of a skilled trainer if you should wish to pursue honing your skills.  There is a talented midwife no
more than an hour from here.  She lives in a forest just beyond the edge of this village.”  O offered, producing a parchment with
a flourish.

Une smiled a little, moving out from behind Lily.  She was slow to moving, no doubt a little frightened of the tall man before her,
yet she took the parchment from him.  “Thank you, sir.  I . . . I would like that very much.”  Une said, moving hastily behind
her mother again.

Lily set her hand on Une’s arm, trying to calm the girl.  “Une, why don’t you go tend to the washing?  I am certain that the
linens need a good scrubbing.”

“Yes, Mama.”  Une said quickly, all but running from the room.  Lily didn’t remember ever seeing her daughter move so swiftly
before, at least not when heading to do her chores.

“Please, have a seat, sir.”  Lily bade, gesturing to the seats arranged in the front room.  “And tell us of your business here.”

O smiled a little, bowing as he waited for Lily and Mrs. Chang to take their seats first.  At least the man was a gentleman, Lily
thought, taking stock of this man through his actions.  As intimidating as he seemed, he did appear to be kind.  He did not boss
Lily around, so Lily found she had a general sort of respect for him.  Still, she had to wonder what he wanted to talk about.

“I have come to talk of your sons, ladies . . . young Quatre here and Wufei.”  O said, gesturing to the boys who had so far
refused to leave their mothers’ sides.  “I have sensed that these two have extraordinary gifts . . . powers that they will need to
be taught how to control.  I would like to take them to my home with me . . . to teach them.  Wufei will benefit from my
guidance, as I see that my skills are more close to his own . . . but Quatre . . . he will have to train with an associate of mine, a
man by the name of H.  I am afraid that my mental abilities are not as far progressed as your son’s already are.  H is more
equipped to handle the task of his training.”

Lily blinked.  This man was quite forward.  She wrapped an arm about Quatre’s shoulders, pulling him closer to herself even as
he held onto her.  No doubt he was terrified of leaving, just as she was afraid of allowing him out of her sight.  What would
happen if someone discovered the truth of him?  She wouldn’t be able to protect him.  Then again . . . she wouldn’t be around
forever, maybe this was the Gods’ way of telling her to prepare Quatre for the eventuality of her death.  Lily would not live
forever . . . Quatre would someday have to rely on himself.

“And how long would he be away?”  Lily asked.

“Seven years.”  O stated simply.  “Mages are trained until their eighteenth year and are then given employment in the home of
the nearest Lord to their own home.  We try not to separate families for too long.”

“W-Would we be able to visit him?”  Lily questioned, her heart breaking.  She would not see her baby for seven years?  She did
not think she could part with him for so long.

O shook his head sadly.  “I am afraid not.  To preserve concentration, no contact is allowed between family members and the
apprentice.  They need a strict learning environment . . . a place to train their minds and bodies to deal with the immense power
building within them.”  He smiled then, amending his words.  “However, letters may be exchanged . . . news passed along
through their instructors.  We have to preserve the learning environment, but to be parted from your family disrupts the mind
and soul, so we try to help in small ways.”

Lily choked back a cry.  This man wanted to take Quatre away from her.  She did not think that she could do this, even if it
meant that he would be more powerful.  It was Mrs. Chang who spoke next, asking a question that Lily herself wondered about.

“What if we say no?”

O rose to his feet, a sigh passing his lips.  “I cannot force you to hand over your sons.  But know this, my offer of help is
sincere.  If they should remain untrained, their powers will continue to grow, and the little mishaps that I am sure have been
occurring around here, will become more severe as time progresses . . . to the point when one day, one of them may
unintentionally hurt someone.  And then, all of the wonderful things that they could do to benefit mankind with such powers
would be forever tainted.”

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, Mama!”  Quatre whimpered, clutching to his mother’s body.

“If you should decide to allow me to train them, I will be leaving tomorrow at sunset.  I will await you in the town square.  If
you are late, then your sons will remain.”  O said.  “I will leave as soon as the sun has disappeared from the afternoon sky, not a
moment sooner or later.”  With that, he was gone, disappeared in a wisp of white smoke.

“I . . . I must go talk with my husband.”  Mrs. Chang said quickly, all but jumping to her feet.  She took Wufei’s hand, leading
him quickly from Lily’s house.

Lily turned to Quatre who had silently begun to sob, taking him in her arms as if he had become an infant again.  She did not
want to let him go.  But how could she keep him here when he was only going to become more powerful . . . he needed to be
trained, to learn how to control his powers.

“I . . . I’m gonna go with him, Mama.”  Quatre sniffled.  “I don’t wanna hurt anybody.”

“It’s okay, Quatre.”  Lily hushed, running her hands along Quatre’s back.  “This will be a good thing, you’ll see.  You’re going
to be a strong mage, a powerful man . . . just like I always dreamed you would be.”

Quatre nodded, sniffling sadly.  “I’ll come back to you, Mama.  I . . . I’ll protect you . . . just like you protected me.”

Lily clucked her tongue, holding Quatre tight against her body as she set her face against his small shoulder.  Her baby was
growing up so fast.


*****


Quatre wiped at his eyes as he stood at the edge of the lake behind his home.  He liked coming here when he was sad . . . to
look out at the water and watch the gentle ripples that moved across the surface.  It always calmed him.  At least . . . it always
had until today.

Tonight, he would have to leave.  He was going to go away and train . . . to be a mage.  He was going to get stronger . . . he
was going to have power.  But still . . . he didn’t want to leave his home, to leave his family.  He had lost his family once, he
didn’t want to lose this one as well.

It was a warm day, the sun washing over him and heating his skin.  He felt sweat dripping along the sides of his face and
decided that the lake was too tempting a sight to only watch.  He might as well take one last dip in the cool water while he was
able to.

Taking a quick glance around, Quatre made sure that there was no one in eyesight.  Even if he was leaving, he couldn’t be seen .
. . if he was, then Mother and his brothers and sister would be in danger, and that was one thing he couldn’t allow.  However,
seeing that there was no one around, Quatre stripped off his clothes and headband, untying the string that kept his tail wrapped
about his waist.  He left everything behind on the dry ground, then leapt into the water, enjoying the refreshing cold that
surrounded him for a moment before his body grew accustomed to it.

He smiled in contentment, ducking his head under the water and bringing it out again, shaking his head briskly before he slicked
his hands through his wet hair.  He swam around for a few minutes, enjoying his last day in his hometown.  Then he got out of
the water and laid down on the grass, his back to the sky as he let the warm rays of the sun dry his body.

“By the Gods.”  A soft voice whispered, sending a lance of terror through Quatre’s body.

Quatre reached over to his clothes, pulling his cloak around his body hastily as he raised his gaze to see who had found him.  He
shuddered, his heart pounding in fear as he saw that it was his friend, Wufei.

“Y-You’re a Feles!”  Wufei stated, his eyes wide with shock.

Quatre jumped to his feet, holding his cloak closed around his body.  “Please . . . are you going to tell on me?”

“I . . . I don’t know.”  Wufei blinked, shaking his head, taking a step back as Quatre moved toward him.  Quatre frowned, not
liking that his friend was staying the same distance from him.

“If I tell . . . what will you do?”  Wufei questioned.  “What would happen to you?”

Quatre thought about that for a moment.  He returned to his clothing, pulling his breeches on underneath his cloak, then he set
the cloak aside and put on his tunic.  All the while, his tail stayed visible, his ears uncovered since his headband still lay in the
grass.

“It depends I guess . . . on how fast you are and who you tell . . . how quickly the villagers react.”  The little blonde said, biting
his lip as he watched Wufei.  “If you go straight home to your parents . . . the village may not hear for a few minutes, perhaps
hours . . . I’d go home and tell Mama.  She’d make us pack and we’d move . . . just like we did before.”  He frowned,
wrapping his arms around himself.  “If the villagers come quickly . . . then we won’t have time.  I-I'll be taken to the town
square . . . they’ll stone me to death . . . or they’ll lock me away.  And my family . . . who knows what would happen to
them.”  He looked down, tears coming to his eyes.  “Please . . . please don’t tell anyone.  I didn’t mean to be this way . . . I didn’
t have a choice.”

A gentle hand fell on his shoulder and Quatre looked up, only to see Wufei smiling down at him.  “I wouldn’t hurt you.  You’re
my only friend.  Besides, if I tell on you, then I gotta go with that mage all by myself.”

“You mean it?”  Quatre asked, his tail twitching a little.  “You . . . you aren’t mad that I’m a Feles?”

Wufei shrugged.  “I can’t say I’m not upset about being lied to . . . I mean you coulda said something before . . . I know how
to keep secrets.  Besides, I kinda knew you were hiding something all these years anyway . . . didn’t know you’re a Feles.  But
there was always something about you that seemed a little different from everybody else.  But I liked that about you.”  Wufei
said, a smile creeping onto his face.  “You’re my friend.  Even if you were an ogre in disguise, I wouldn’t feel any different.  
Just promise that you won’t keep any more secrets from me?”

Quatre nodded.  “I promise.”  He said solemnly, crossing his fingers over his heart.  Then he ducked his head.  “Sorry about not
tellin’ you.  Mama . . . well, Mama never wanted anyone to know.  It . . . it’s safer for us.”

“Is this why you left your old home?”  Wufei asked, sitting on the ground beside Quatre.

“Yeah.”  Quatre said sadly, his eyes losing focus as he remembered the past.  “My mother . . . my real mother . . . she was a
Feles.  My father was a human king . . . King Ashraf.  I had twenty-nine elder half sisters, all of them human.  Mother died, I
don’t know how.  But I remember things being happy with Father.  I was kept inside all of the time.  Father was afraid if I was
seen that I’d be hurt.  He hired a nursemaid . . . Lily Maxwell . . . to take care of me.”  Quatre smiled a little, thinking about the
happy times.  “Duo used to play with me ‘cause no other kids were allowed to see me.  He was my first friend.”

The happiness was swept away as more painful memories resurfaced in his mind.  “Things are kinda fuzzy.  I was so young
when it happened . . . I don’t remember much.  But one night . . . it was dark and I woke up hearing screaming.  My sisters
were crying and there were men shouting.”

He shivered, wrapping his arms around himself, not truly wanting to remember.  “Father came to my room and lifted me from
my crib . . . and I remember him falling, holding me in a way so that I wouldn’t be hurt, the sounds of my sisters’ cries fading.  
The next thing I know, Lily is taking me, holding me, telling me that everything will be okay.  Everything was burning . . . there
was smoke everywhere.  But Lily took care of me.  I remember that.  Lily was there for me.  She saved me, took me from the
castle and away from the soldiers that were attacking it.”

“And Mr. Howard isn’t your uncle then?”  Wufei asked.

“No . . . we met Uncle Howard shortly after leaving my home.  He was a nice man . . . he had chickens . . . he took us in, gave
us beds to sleep in and food to eat.  Then when we left, he came with us . . . he wanted to protect us.  We’ve been a family
ever since.  They’re all I have left.”

“That’s not true.”  Wufei said, laying his hand on Quatre’s shoulder, a smile on his face.  “You got me.”

Quatre felt a smile tugging at his lips and let it happen.  He was glad that Wufei didn’t hate him.  “Thank you for being my
friend, Wufei.”  He said.

“No problem.”  Wufei grinned.  Then his eyes trailed off to the side, a nervous smile on his face.  “Um, do you think it would be
all right if . . . well . . . if I touched your tail?”

Quatre’s smile brightened and he nodded.  “Sure, go ahead.”

Wufei timidly reached out, poking at Quatre’s tail with one finger.  Then he wrapped his fingers around it, stroking the wet hairs
lightly.  Quatre bit his lip, trying to hold back the urge to purr, but he’d never had anyone other than his mother touch his tail
before and it felt kinda nice.  In the end, he found that he couldn't fight it and blushed as the first rumble began in his chest.

“Neat!”  Wufei grinned.  “You can purr?”

Quatre nodded, his cheeks aflame.  “I just started doin’ it the other night.”  He admitted.  “And my tail grew too . . . it wasn’t
this long the day before yesterday.”

“And your ears?”  Wufei asked, reaching up and brushing a single finger along the curve of Quatre’s ear.

Quatre shuddered, finding the action strangely enticing.  “T-They’re quite sensitive.  But they’ve always looked like this.”  He
said.

“This is just so cool.”  Wufei smiled.

Quatre blushed a deeper shade, a tentative smile curling his lips.  “You really don’t mind?”

“Of course I don’t mind.”  Wufei replied.  “You’re my friend . . . don’t matter that you’re only half human.  You’re still a good
person and you’ve never hurt me ever.”  He looked over at the sky, a sigh escaping him.  “I guess we’d better get going.  Looks
like the sun is going down . . . O won’t wait for us.”

Quatre nodded.  “Yeah.”  He said sadly.  With Wufei’s help, Quatre got his tail wrapped around his waist again, tied there with
the bit of ribbon that Lily had given to him.  He put his headband on, then left with his friend, both of them returning to their
own homes to be with their families during their last hours in the village.


*****


Lily was on the verge of crying as she and her children escorted Quatre to where the mage, O, was waiting for them.        In all
their years in this village, none of her children had ever been away from her for more than a single night at most . . . Quatre
himself had never been away except for when he was playing with Wufei or attending school.  This would be the first time
when Lily wouldn’t be able to hold her child, her baby, whenever she wanted to.  He’d be out of her reach for the next seven
years, growing strong, becoming an adult without her.

Quatre clasped her hand as they walked, offering silent support.  Howard was on Lily’s other side, his arm around her
shoulders.  Duo was quiet behind them, helping Solo to carry Quatre’s luggage, while Une cried softly.  They were all unhappy
to see Quatre leaving, even though it was for his own good . . . and for the good of the village.

Ahead of them, Lily saw Wufei and his family.  The Changs were wishing their only son goodbye, hugging and crying over the
fact that he was departing.  Lily was aware of the fact that Wufei knew of Quatre’s secrets . . . Quatre had told her of what had
happened after he had returned from his last look around their home.  While it had at first worried her, Lily was now confident
that Wufei would never allow harm to befall Quatre.  The two of them were good friends, and she could tell by the happy
expression on Wufei’s face when he noticed the little blonde, that Wufei’s feelings toward Quatre had not changed in the least.

They stopped by the carriage that would carry the boys away.  O was there, standing near the door, waiting for the two boys to
enter.  Lily wished that she could have more time for this.  It wasn’t enough to say goodbye so soon . . . it was too quickly.  
With tears in her eyes, Lily pulled Quatre against her, hugging him tightly.

“I will miss you, my son.”  Lily wept.

Quatre hugged back, sniffling against her shoulder.  “I’ll miss you too, Mama.”  He replied quietly.

“You be a good boy now . . . and mind your instructor.”  Lily said, drawing Quatre away from herself and sweeping her hand
through his golden hair.  Then she added in a low whisper, “And be careful.”

Quatre nodded, brushing away the tears that dripped from his eyes.  “I will.”  He answered.

Lily smiled.  “That’s my baby.”

Quatre smiled only barely, sniffling sadly.  He took his arms from around Lily, stepping back.  Duo and the his other siblings
swept forward, each of them wishing Quatre goodbye as well.  Lily stood back, drying her eyes on a handkerchief as even
Howard hugged the little blonde.

A tug on her sleeve, made Lily cast her eyes downward and she smiled, seeing Wufei standing there before her.  Lily knelt so
that she could face the boy, only to be surprised as the child hugged her.  Lily smiled, hugging the boy in return.

Wufei’s breath brushed her ear, his voice a pale whisper.  “I’ll protect him.”  He said simply, and then pulled himself from Lily’s
embrace.  He nodded to her, waving one last time to his family before he turned and climbed into the carriage.

Quatre was crying as he climbed into the carriage after Wufei.  O entered only a moment later.  Quatre and Wufei leaned out of
the window, waving to their families as the carriage began to move.  Lily and the others waved in return, tears falling freely
amongst most of them.

Meiran ran to Solo’s side as the carriage moved out of sight, pressing her face against his chest.  Lily saw that she would have
to have a talk with the girl’s mother . . . Solo and Meiran were becoming quite attached.  But now was not the time for that.  
Today, they would say goodbye to their sons and wish them a good journey.



The End