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“You hate me.”

The words fall out of Emmy’s mouth almost instantly, before she has the time to think about it. She carefully watches as Hershel considers what she’s just said, and carefully watches as his usually neutral brow furrows. She braces herself for a lecture in an all too familiar manner, loud thoughts swimming around in her head like bees.

“I do?” There’s confusion in Hershel’s voice, like these ideas that have plagued Emmy’s mind for months were completely foreign to him.

But… that’s a response she certainly wasn’t expecting. She looks down at the floor, refusing to look him in the eye.

“You have to. It only makes sense now, doesn’t it?” Idly, she was fidgeting with her hands. He had to hate her. She threatened to kill Luke, and Hershel despising her and wishing for her demise was the only thing that made sense for that. How was he supposed to forgive a disgusting, wretched creature like her?

The disgusting, wretched creature that Uncle Leon created.

The one that’s plagued her mind all these years.

But Hershel simply shakes his head, which just makes Emmy even more confused.

“Well, I don’t think that makes very much sense.” Hershel says. Emmy tilts her head to the side a little.

“...Explain.”

Hershel sighs, which makes Emmy flinch slightly. She shouldn’t have questioned it. She should’ve kept her mouth shut. Questioning would get her nothing except a few bruises and scars.

“Emmy, you’re a wonderful assistant. A wonderful person. I don’t have any idea where this is coming from, but-“

“Stop lying.” Emmy speaks behind gritted teeth. She really didn’t mean to say it like that, but it just came out before she had time to think. She swallows back her tears.

Don’t cry, that’ll just make your punishment worse.

“Why do you think I’m lying?” Hershel asks, and Emmy shakes her head back and forth almost rhythmically.

“T-that…” She gulps down a sob. “That doesn’t make sense, I-“

“Emmy.” Hershel’s still so calm, which lets Emmy know (makes her think) that he’ll probably start yelling soon.

“Emmy, why do you think I have to hate you so much?”

Emmy looks up at him, mouth agape a little.

Why did she think that?

It only made sense, didn’t it? Everything had been so quiet since they returned from the Azran Sanctuary, and Emmy was bad by nature, and Hershel and Luke hating her just made everything fall into place.

Or did it?

Neither of them seemed… outwardly malicious towards her, but that could mean anything.

It was all so, so confusing.

“I… I don’t know.”

Was she crazy? She had to be crazy.

Hershel takes a deep breath. Emmy’s eyes widen in terror. Was he going to?

“You made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes.” He explains, “Although yours was… more sizable than others.” Ow. That stings more than it should’ve. “But I hope you know that I forgive you, and I’m sure Luke does as well. I don’t know if those words mean anything to you, but they’re true to me.”

Oh.

Though there’s a part of Emmy’s brain that doubted it, like it always does, but… maybe hearing that helps. Just a little.

“Like I said earlier, you’re a wonderful assistant. And while I don’t know what your plans are, I hope you consider continuing that role.”

Emmy blinks. Was that an option? She really wasn’t used to making big choices like that by herself. In the past, it was always Uncle L-Bronev making decisions like that for her.

“I’ll think about it.” Emmy says, “But I’m still not sure. Are you sure Luke isn’t upset with me?”

Hershel gets up from his seat, setting his teacup down on the coffee table before walking towards the window. Curiously, Emmy climbs off the couch and follows him.

Luke is watering the flowers in the garden outside, seemingly at peace with the world. Emmy softly smiles.

“I’m sure he’ll be okay with time, but,” Hershel turns to Emmy, “Are you sure you’ll be okay? You seem… anxious about something.”

Emmy sighs, instinctively crossing her arms and shifting her weight nervously.

“I’m not ready to talk about it yet.” She responds. She really hoped Hershel didn’t press on about it.

But instead, Hershel simply smiles at her. One of those kind, fatherly smiles that make Emmy feel at home.

“Well, I’ll be here whenever you’re ready.”

“Thanks, Professor.”

It’d take some time before Emmy would be able to open up about everything, but it was very reassuring to know she has someone looking out for her.

And even if she doesn’t stay with Hershel and Luke, she atleast knows that her uncle could never hurt her again.