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Love Letter part 5

Title: Love Letter to Nobody
Author: Me, naturally
Summary: Amery has died, leaving his possessions behind. His little brother finds a letter from his favorite—and only—brother to a woman defined only as ‘eternal beloved’ and goes to find out who it is.

Weeks passed, turning somehow subtly into months without Balfour even realizing it, only his hair marking the passage of time in any certain way. His dark hair was quite a bit longer than when he had first joined, falling into his eyes when his head was tilted down, hiding the sight of the cruel world of the Airman. He had adjusted to the teasing by then, to the pranks, no matter how many times he had had his room broken into or his boots pissed in. There was only one thing that hurt him, and he let no one know what it was because he was sure the one who was hurting him never meant to do any such thing.

Eventually, he realized he would have to get his hair cut. Luvander and Evariste might be able to get away with having their hair tied back, but it wouldn't look good on him. He remembered seeing his brother try it once; it had looked absolutely ridiculous, just as ridiculous as it did on him as he pulled it back in the mirror, testing it out. He sighed and shook his head, deciding that he did need to go into town again, anyway.

After putting in for proper time off, making damn sure no one had swapped him shifts that night without telling him, and getting the okay from Adamo, he set off, with only a lightly teasing remark from the older man about not coming back until that mop was shorter. He offered a small laugh, then went on his way. There it was again, that too-familiar pain in his hands and chest. As he passed Rook, he shied away, dodging to one side, hoping the cruel man didn't notice him leaving. Luckily, he didn't, or else he risked being tied up again or a fate much worse. Rook was one of the few that hadn't backed off by now. Most of the others had gotten bored with their games and were bouncing between tormenting Raphael and him, mostly for the same assumed crime: being a cindy, the worst thing to be in the testosterone-driven society of the airman. Gods forbid one of the men liked men more than they should.

He went down to a little shop near an old favorite teahouse of an old pen pal of his, happy to, as Adamo had said, get his mop cut to a shorter length, then going to the teahouse to get some of his favorite tea and a few treats. Someone's birthday was coming up, so, while he was in town, he would make sure to go shopping. He wanted to buy something nice, after all. While in a shop, looking for a nice pen set, he ran into an old familiar face, one that he remembered having seen with his brother numerous times. She recognized him as well.

"I'd know those eyes anywhere," she told him. "But other than that, you've grown up to look just like your brother, did you know. Oh, he was so handsome."

Balfour smiled and looked at his list—he carried that paper everywhere, now. "What is your name?" he asked her.

"Marishka," she said with a bright smile right back at him. He looked at the list, and lo and behold, her name was on it.

"You knew him well?" he asked.

"Why, of course," she said simply. "Now, why the questions. And this list! So many names!"

Balfour sighed. He had never once explained to the women he had interviewed why he had had so many questions, such a long list of names. "I found something in my brother's possessions when they were sent to us after... Well. I believe it belongs to one of his female acquaintances."

She laughed quietly, flushing a bit. "Well, if he were any of the other airmen, such an item would have been in quite questionable taste, yes?" she asked, clearly teasing the younger man, who averted his eyes, his ears going just a touch pink. "Ah, but Amery...He was a classy young man, never influenced by the terrible habits of his peers. He would not have kept such things, but, perhaps, it would be jewels or a trinket that he had been given or intended to give?"

Balfour shook his head. "It was a letter, miss," he corrected. "Would you say he was close to you? Closer than he was with most of the other women?"

"Oh, one can never tell," she murmured sadly. "He was quite fond of many women, of whom I am lucky to count myself. He often gave me trinkets and jewels, but we were never in correspondence." She knew that this letter wouldn't be for her, after all.

"Do you know any of his particular friends that might have been ladies of the court?"

"Oh, quite a few, honestly. Let's see. There was Ana, Kyrie, Rhani, and quite a few others that I had never had the pleasure of meeting. Perhaps you should ask around amongst those ladies? They would know what you seek, if anyone. Court gossip, especially that of a young man of that caliper travels quickly."
They chatted a while longer, friendly small talk, Marishka reminiscing a bit over how she had first met Balfour, having been lucky enough to run into him while they were in the country, her father owning a rather large country estate himself and having been invited to one of his family's parties. "You were very small then," she said. "I believe you spent most of your time tagging along behind your brother. You two were inseparable then. Even he, at the age of fifteen, didn't mind too much that his ten year old brother tagged along. Perhaps the age gap isn't so much."

The truth was Amery had always been rather kind to Balfour, even when he did accidentally ruin some of his possessions. Sometimes, it had even become a joke. Amery had always brought him books, even though the young man hadn't much cared for children. He and his little sister, Charity, who was three years younger than Balfour, were never close. She was too young. He had been five when Balfour was born, but eight and allergic to children when Charity was born. As he aged, the gap between him and his sister widened. He had never lost the closeness with Balfour, though. He had held him as a child, after all.

Then again, who in their right minds could resist Balfour's big, blue eyes when he was a child?

As he walked home, he felt a bit more accomplished, the three names circled on his list. He would have to track them down, but for now, all he really felt like was putting the package in the mail to send to the recipient. He had a huge smile on his face for the first time in a while as he walked into the Airman, only to find his room had been broken into again, all his books trashed, thrown all over the room. As he cleaned up the mess, he found himself thankful that no one had found his journal of poetry.

After a while of cleaning, he realized that one certain book was missing. It was his favorite book, just a story book, a silly fictional piece that his brother had given him for his twenty-second birthday, the year before Amery died. He searched everywhere for it, but he couldn't find it anywhere. He wanted to cry, but he didn't. Instead, he stood and decided to expand his search throughout the Airman. He didn't tell a soul what he was looking for, but he didn't find it. By the time he had checked every open room three times, and managed to convince a couple of the airmen to let him look in their rooms—Raphael, Ghislain, and Magoughin to be exact. Ones who were tolerable to him—he was distraught, tearing apart a couch. That was how Adamo found him, and he cleared his throat, looking a bit disturbed.

"Now this isn't like you to be so destructive," he said simply, grey eyes hard, his face tolerating no nonsense. "So there better damn well be a good explanation."

Balfour turned to him, clearly upset, past the verge of tears and looking closer to a mental breakdown, twisting his gloves desperately. "My book," he whispered, eyes darting to the corners of the common room. He would only tell Adamo. He knew he wouldn't laugh. "Amery got it for me a couple years ago, for my birthday. Some—I mean, I think I misplaced it." He had to quickly correct himself lest he accuse someone of doing something that he had done himself.

"Someone stole it?" Adamo asked, catching the slip.

Unable to lie to the man, Balfour nodded. "I think so, sir. My-my room was trashed and the books thrown everywhere," he told him. "I accounted for all of them, except that one."

His brother's book. It was worse than when they had stolen his gloves.

"I'll keep an eye out," Adamo said. "You get some rest before you end up in padded room. I'm sure no harm's come to it and it's just a prank." He waved him off, but when the younger man didn't move, just stood there twisting his gloves, he put his hands on his shoulders and walked him down the hall, depositing him in his room. "Next time something like this happens, come get me before you start cleaning up."

Balfour nodded again, and only when Adamo had closed the door did he break down, sinking down onto the bed and crying his heart out. He was sure that whoever stole the book not only did so, but completely destroyed it as well once they had read the inscription. He was almost positive, knowing some of the men here, that he would never see it again. He almost wished that it was Raphael who had stolen it. He knew the man took care of books. Even Ivory would have been preferable to who he really thought destroyed his room with such malice. As he trashed the broken glass of his photograph of him, Amery, and Charity, only one name echoed in his head. No one else would have been so cruel. Only Rook.

It was with these hopeless thoughts that he fell asleep, the broken frame gripped in gloveless hands, his gloves wrapped around it. There were few things that he had of his brother, and the vandal—he refused to think for sure that it was Rook—had taken one and nearly destroyed another. He was glad no one was stealing his gloves anymore.

Title is from Dead Boy's Poem by Nightwish
Bit about dark hair blah blah blah is from While Your Lips Are Still Red by the same artist. "Dark hair for catching the wind, not to veil the sight of a cold world..."