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More Precious Than Gold

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The Forbidden Forest had the name forbidden for a reason. His parents or any grown adult he ever met told him to never cross it, and of course Tom was anything but obedient. 

So far, exploring the thick looming trees and shabby bushes, there was no sign of any magical creature. The only living animal Tom had spotted was a deer who scrammed off once it heard him step on a branch and wild butterflies flying.

 Many minutes of scavenging into the depths of nature, he had grown so bored that he even stare at the ground at times as he walk, hazel eyes gazing over different shapes and assorted shapes of leaves, hoping to find some sort of entertainment from them. 

A jaded green butterfly fluttered a bout, Tom quick with his hands after hours of sparring with his father's knights, had seized it with his hand. He crushed the creature in a single squeeze of his hand, the sounds made the roaring power inside of him flare. He opened his palm, the wings of the butterfly was truly a beauty. 

He tore off the wings from it's body, observing the black embellishments decorating it's wings before letting it scatter to the ground again.

He sat on a large stone, his shoulders dropped down in disappoinment. He heard stories that promised of centaurs, unicorns and even werewolves but he found nothing. Was his luck just this bad? Or perhaps his timing was off?

He checked his pocket watch, he still had four hours before evening begins but knowing his worrywart of a mother who treats him as if he was glass, she will most likely be looking for him already. Huffing, he stood up to leave.

As he drifted back home, head clouded in disdain of having being thwarted. His ears caught the sounds of faint sniffles and heavy breathing.

It came behind the bushes, just a few feet away from him. Tom perked up, grinning. Perhaps it was a creature– tales of inhuman monsters tail in the forest, no human with a speck of intelligence would go here, not even children, having told stories to objectively scare them off from being naughty.

He slowly inched closer to the whimpering, making sure to keep his footsteps silent as ever. Once he reach the bushes, he spread the leaves apart to see a–

A child. 

Tom frowned. 

This forest continued to disappoint him. 

The boy with unruly hair– who's probably about the same age as Tom or even younger, blanched. His green eyes widened underneath the thick glasses which hung loosely on his nose, and Tom watched the pathetic thing crawl back in wariness and fear. Fear. Tom loved it. 

He kneeled in front of the boy to meet their eye level. He blinked in confusion, before raising a hand to wipe tear tracks from his face. Tom took his time and observe his appearance. 

His clothes were dirty and ragged, skin smudged with filth, similar to a beggar he finds laying in the street. Tom sneered in disgust, if the boy noticed it, he didn't react. Ugly bruises decorated his skin, more prominently from his feet. Skinny arms. A small frame. The boy was definitely malnourished, he appeared so weak and fragile that Tom almost thought he'd break if he tried touching him. 

"A little boy like you shouldn't be walking in this kind of place." He tilted his head to look closely at him, but he simply squirmed underneath his gaze, clearly uncomfortable, "It's a wonder on its own why you're still alive."

He didn't say anything. 

"What are you doing here? Did you get lost?"

No word. 

The rude silence ticked him off. 

Tom tried a much calmer approach, "I can help you get off this forest."

He didn't say anything, barely even blinked, simply stared at the ground like it was his only hope. Tom's gaze hardened, the brat must have felt it because his body started shaking. 

"Does your ears not work?" He grabbed his chin with force, pulling his face to meet his. The boy grabbed his wrist, desperate to pull away but Tom remained his grip, "Or are you just an idiot?" His tone sharp.

Eyes like emeralds started to glitter in tears, his face was curled into a determined frown, like he was trying not to cry but ultimately failing. His teeth clenched tightly, as his breathing grow faster. 

He tried to push Tom and escape, but he grabbed the boy's forearms first in a tight grip. He wiggled, kicked and shook his head so hard, in attempt to get away and Tom was too intrigue by all of this to let him go. His eyes burned with such desperation to leave. Merlin, those eyes of his was simply precious.

It was such a shame Tom couldn't take them out and observe them more clearly in a closer angle. 

It wasn't long till the boy went still, chest heaving. His bird's nest of a hair covered his face, masking his expression. 

He then went limp and fell down to his chest. 

Tom thought he scared him so much, he gave him a heart attack but the pulse on his neck meant he was still alive. He was just unconscious. 

He let him sleep on his chest, feeling his warm breath blow on his collarbones. Ebony locks tickled his nose and Tom raised a hand to thread his fingers through several knots of hair. The texture was rough and frisky, he bet the boy hadn't taken a shower for quite some time, and just the mere thought of germs getting on him almost made Tom push him away. 

He turned to his sleeping face. The calm expression made him finally appear more of his age. 

He could leave the boy here to rot, let any magical creature or a normal animal feed on his body. Why would he care of some stranger who didn't have basic decency, but some part of him did want to keep him. Eyes like his was definitely a gem, and the determine look he gave definitely fueled something inside of Tom. It was rare to find people who didn't crumble beneath his grip. 

With great ease, he carried the boy behind his back. 

Tom decided to keep him, and if he ended up being boring, he'll throw him back to the forest.