The Lee family did not often say the words “I love you” out loud. Mahzer made sure to say it it Edea as often as possible when she was young, as if to make up for how little she heard it from her father. Braev was a man of few words and preferred to show his feelings through his actions, Mahzer knew what to look for, but their young daughter did not.
So when one morning while she was sat in bed with Edea snuggled up beside her, the both of them holding a mug of cocoa in their hands, it made her heart break to hear her daughter ask why her father never said those particular words to her. Mahzer thought on how best to explain this, before deciding on what was to her the obvious truth.
“We tell people we love them all the time Edea. We might not say it out loud but we tell them with our actions. Your father tells you he loves you every time he carries you up to bed when you fall asleep on the sofa, every time he skips a meeting when you're poorly or when you've hurt yourself while playing. There are other ways he shows it too.” She gives her baby a smile, watching her little face scrunch up as she processes the new information presented to her “I think that those little things are the most important ways to show love and are usually the most often missed.”
Edea had not forgotten that conversation. Though she was brash and headstrong and tended to rush into things without a great deal of thought beforehand, she had made a point from then on to sit back and notice the little shows of love and think of ways she could show her own.
The first thing she did was learn how to make cocoa. She did it all by herself (while her Nanny watched and made sure she didn't get burned by the milk, or burn the milk itself.) She then used to carry the little tray with two mugs on through to her mother in bed, place the tray on the side next to Mahzer and then run round and clamber up into the bed on her father's side before cuddling in close. Her mother handing the smaller mug over and thanking her for making her such a treat. She wasn't allowed it in the healing tower after all.
Figuring out what to do for her father had been harder as he was so often working. She decided that she would do her best to learn how to protect the country he loved, but maybe until she was big enough to do that, she would just give him pretty flowers she found and let him try her dessert when they were able to all eat as a family.
When her father returned home one day with a quiet boy in tow and told her that he had found him in Florem and that he was to be living with them from now on she showed her understanding and offered the boy, Alternis, a hand and announced to him that they we're going to have “the best fun ever together”. Her face fell when he didn't take that hand, or say anything in response, but she felt her mother's gentle hand on her shoulder and allowed her father to guide the boy elsewhere and continue with the tour and introductions. Once the boys were out of earshot Mahzer knelt down and wiped the tears that had begun to fall from Edea’s eyes away and reassured her that they would be friends. Alternis just needed some time.
Time, however, is exceptionally boring when you're a young child. She did her best to be a little less pushy, but it just wasn't in her nature. She lasted 2 days before she cornered him in the library, loudly telling her new captive playmate all about her favourite toys, handing him each one individually and she explained their names and favourite colours. Alternis had looked like a deer caught in headlights as she handed him the first one and then the second, but by the third he seemed to accept that she had no intention of stopping anytime soon and dutifully placed each one down on the floor between them, for lack of knowing what else to do.
Sometimes the little things have to be more forceful at first she decided, because while it did take time, it wasn't long before Alternis was interjecting the occasional stumbled word into her playtime monologues. She had almost missed it the first time, he'd barely whispered the addition about Sir Iggles of the Chocolate Lagoon liking eggs but she had caught it and smiled brightly at him, watching his cheeks colour as she included it on the list.
As they grew older and the list of games she wanted to play grew shorter and, in her mind, more grown up, Alternis still sat and listened to her speeches, replying when he was supposed to with the right words. This was his little show of love she realised. He was older than her, like Victor, but unlike Victor he didn't tell her to stop annoying him. Alternis indulged her, even if he was too old to be playing silly games and was tired from training and the crash course schooling he'd been receiving, he always found time for her.
She promised herself that she would do the same for him, if he ever needed it. Until then, though, she would make a cup of black coffee and make sure it was ready on the table for him coming downstairs in the morning, while she carried a cup of cocoa up to her mother's room and a flower to add to the vase that had appeared on her father's desk. Even when she started her own training, she made sure to wake up that little bit earlier. Even when everyone became so busy she rarely saw them anymore, she made sure she kept that little bit of routine, because the little things are important.
During her training there were more things added onto her list, her master's tea leaves prepared the night before as “the second use always tastes better”, sharing tips with Einheria about a junk shop that received a new box of maps, coming in a little bit earlier so that she could say good morning to her fellow students. She sometimes wondered if her actions would be missed once she was deployed overseas.
In all honesty, she hadn't really stayed with the Sky Knights long enough to learn the little things. She had fought with Ominas in the town and in the keep, siding with the people who would soon become her traveling companions and closest friends.
Learning the little things for them would be made the utmost priority she decided, she had joined later after all and had some catching up to do.