“A ledger?” Mum asked as she walked into her study, “You're mulling over a ledger?”
I leaned back in my seat and gave her a superior look, “Well, I am Master of the House now, aren't I, Mumsy?”
Mum laughed and stroked me head, “You squishy potato, you,” she said. She looked at the book from over my shoulder for a while, before she sighed and leaned against the desk, “I'm impressed. You're taking all of this extraordinarily well.”
“I've seen you do it for years,” I said.
“Don't make excuses for me, Aldrin. I... understand what you're going through. Only, I wasn't handed as much responsibility. Our house was much smaller then,” Mum looked away and then continued, “You don't need to put on a smile for me.”
I paused a moment before saying, “I know this is something I have to do.”
Mum crossed her arms, “But that doesn't necessarily means it's something you want to do, does it?”
“Do you not want me to do this?”
“So you don't not want me to do it?”
I shook my head, “You do or you don't?”
“I want you to want to do what you feel you should do.”
I stared at her.
“Aldrin, do you want to do this?” Mum asked me.
“...No. Not really. I don't even know if I can do it all...”
“Then why are you still doing it?”
“Because you asked me to. Because you said you needed to go away and I had to look out for everything you left behind.”
Mum looked at me for a long time.
“I... I didn't mean it like that,” I said, noticing how negatively I'd said it.
Mum touched my face, the place she had hurt me, “I'm sorry I'm leaving you like this. I'm not asking you to be happy about it or even support it, I just... I wanted to know.”
“Why? So you can be sad about something else?”
Mum smiled at me, “No. So I know that however much strife this puts you through, I can trust you to stick to your duty. That I can rely on you for this,” she kissed my forehead softly.
She then looked like she remembered something and pulled an envelope from one of her pockets, “I forgot to give you this before.”
I took it from her, “What is it?” I asked.
“It's a letter from your father. Nothing technical, like a will or anything like that, just his... parting words to you, I guess.”
“Did... everyone get one?” I asked, putting the envelope down on the desk to hide the fact that my hands were shaking.
Mum nodded, “Your father made sure to write one for each of you when you came of age one by one. He was constantly mindful of the fact that he might suddenly die one day and there wouldn't be room for any famous last words. Except, Eomer won't have one.”
“Did you get one?”
“I did... I haven't opened mine yet. I don't think I'm ready to cry that much. Which... reminds me,” she pulled a second envelope from her pocket and gave it to me.
I looked at her expectantly.
“Aldrin...” Mum began and she sighed. I saw tears well up in her eyes but she blinked them back, “I... I don't know if I'll come back. I mean, I always make out like I will because... well, I can't afford to think the other way. But, you know what war can be like, how it is-”
“I don't want this,” I said, holding out the envelope.
Mum raised her brows.
“That came out wrong,” I said carefully, “Mum, you will come back. You've always come back and I believe you will this time.”
“Aldrin,” she smiled, putting my hand down, “in that letter are all the answers to every question you might have in mind with regards to me,” she said.
“You're doing all this for me. You deserve to know,” Mum hugged me and I felt her tears dampen the fur on my neck, “I'll miss you so much.”
“I'll miss you too, Mum.”
She let go and looked at me, “And if I don't come back-”
“Bup-up-up! You will. I know you will.”
Mum scoffed and stood in silence for a moment.
“Are you going to go now?” I asked her.
She nodded, “As soon as Kenny's ready.”
“He's all set and snoozing away at the moment.”
“You can leave him here if you want.”
“He's already growing up without his father. I don't want him to lose his mother too. At least, not yet.”
“I'll write to you.”
“Do you... Do you think I should get back together with Amethyst? Amethyst Brindley, I mean. Bex... mentioned it and so did Kenny.”
“Do you like Amethyst?”
“I actually don't know her that well... But, she's okay, I guess.”
“Aldrin,” Mum scoffed, “If there's anything the last few days have taught me, it's that a long life isn't worth living of you're going to live it alone. Now, you let me slowly work that out of my psychology, but if you think you like Amethyst, then yes: You should get back together with her.”
“Just know, if things fall through, I will be a mother-in-law. And that is any girls' worst enemy.”
I laughed, “Kind of like how Dad was with Ted and Alex?”
“Something like that, yes.”
“So, uh... What's the plan? What are you going to do when you get to Normandy?”
“I'm going to fix the mistake your father made. I'm going to tear shit up and destroy that map.”