The Crofters BrothersRoman Crofters dramatically drew himself away from the semi chopped ginger on the cutting board.
“Ugh- why do I have to chop this thing? I can’t go outside smelling like a corpse.” He emphasised the word ‘corpse’ with the flick of his knife, splattering more mess across the kitchen. Logan Crofters, the youngest of the two, idly watched as it slid down the walls.
“Ginger hardly smells like decay, Roman. I thought it would be wise to inform you of my secret recipe, to further aid in Ma’s recovery.” He glanced from Roman, to the ginger stained walls. “But I regret that decision- Roman!” Logan jumped out of the way, narrowly missing the flailing knife his brother was holding.
“I can’t go outside smelling like this! What would the neighbours say? What would REMY say? Oh, they’d never let me live it down.” Adjusting his glasses back in place, Logan glared at his brother, making the older sibling’s arms settle by his sides. “…sorry, Logan.”
“Apology accepted. Now, after you chop the ginger, place it in the boiling pot of water, I’ll add the herbs.”
“None of your business.” Logan said, nudging Roman out of the way. The brunette scoffed.
“Alright. Whatever. Keep your secrets.”
“Fine.” Roman crossed his arms and leaned against the kitchen counter as Logan added the strange herbs from his collection. “How come Ma taught you about herbs and not me?” He asked.
“She tried. You just never attended her lessons.” The older sibling gave a dramatic gasp.
“I showed up!”
“Yes. If that includes you and Remy fighting the ‘dreaded dragon witch.”
“She was a foul beast!” Roman announced, pushing himself off the counter, arms flailing. The strong smell of ginger had started to disband into something more pleasant. “…you always were the smart one out of the both of us.” The brunette stated, after taking a long whiff. Logan took note of his brother’s significantly lower tone, his attention now focused on the bubbles in the pot.
“Roman. I won’t stand for you comparing yourself to me. You are intelligent. You know this.” His voice was stern. Roman nodded.
“Yeah. Thank you, Logan.” There was a pause.
“There are actually many types of intelligences- “
“Yeah, I got it buddy.”
“Right, yes, sorry.” Logan had a tendency to go off on fact related tangents. The two brothers stood in comfortable silence after that, enjoying the smell of Logan’s secret recipe for ginger tea. Logan used to make the best ginger tea for Roman, and only Roman, when he was sick, and Roman used to love it. He remembered lying in bed, surrounded by tissues and plushies. He remembered the gentle knock on his door and Logan walking in wearing his over-sized spectacles and dressing-gown.
“It’s not a medicine, Roman.” He’d say. “It’s a cough remedy.” But Roman, didn’t believe him. What he did believe, was that his brother was clever enough to make medicine out of just herbs and ginger tea. He believed his brother could do anything.
Logan had always been there to aid Roman in his ventures, the younger brother barely getting sick himself due to rarely stepping a foot out of the cottage fields. After that day, Logan made ginger tea for Roman every time he was sick. After long days of playing ‘Princes’ with his best friend Remy, Roman would come home to tell Logan all about his day, gulping his warm milk and practically bouncing in his seat.
“The dragon-witch had black scales! And HUGE glowing yellow eyes! And you want to know what I did Logan?”
“What did you do?”
“I took out my sword and got him! Right in the belly! I saved the kingdom and Remy crowned me a Prince!”
“Your milk Is going cold.” Ma would watch her two sons from the other side of the room, fondly listening to Roman’s tales before she tucked the two into bed. The Crofters brothers lived on a dairy farm, just outside the kingdom walls. The family would spend their mornings milking the cows and feeding the goats. They’d give the milk to Ma, who would deliver it to the kingdom. By the time she got back, it was sunset, and Roman and Logan were ready for their warm milk. They didn’t mind that their mother hadn’t the time to play with them during the day. After all, they spent time with her in the morning on the farm. During the rest of the day, Logan preoccupied himself with his medical herb studies and Roman played with Remy all day. The Crofters family were incredibly content, that is, until they heard by word of mouth that the Queen had died, and Ma began to get very ill.
Roman knocked lightly on the wooden bedroom door, entering with the permission of a feeble cough. The brothers’ footsteps were loud across the floorboards. They greeted the doctor with polite nods.
“Hey, mum, we made you ginger tea.” Roman offered, placing it on her nightstand.
“I even added some honey to this mixture; it’ll taste sweeter as well as give you some relief.” Logan stated, pouring the mixture into a tea cup and handing it to Ma. She sat up in bed, with aid from the doctor, and smiled.
“I thought this was only Roman’s cure?” She croaked, raising an eyebrow. Logan shrugged. Ma chuckled to herself before taking a sip of the tea. “Delicious. Thank you, Logan. I know this recipe means a lot to you.” She placed the tea cup on her nightstand. “My boys.” She cooed, reaching out to them. Logan and Roman took one of her hands in theirs and Roman’s heart wretched at how skinny her wrist was. It was only then did he notice how the pigment in her skin had paled, the redness of her cheeks a stark contrast and her sunken eyes. What had snatched the air of Roman’s lungs was the large black bags under her eyes. They made her look so helpless. So fragile. So ill. The doctor cleared his throat.
“May I see you boys outside?” Logan squeezed his mother’s hand before standing and following the doctor into the hallway. Roman followed soon after, his eyes trained on the barely-touched cup of ginger tea, the steam making his eyes water a little.
Big brown eyes gazed across the fields, just outside the Crofters Household. Roman used to count the fields, pretending he was counting his many Kingdoms. None he invaded, of course. He had helped them all out of poverty or defeated a villain to save their Kingdom too.
“Prep.” Logan stated, now sitting on the bed behind his older brother.
“Nerd.” Roman replied.
“…there’s still a chance Roman.”
“A chance!” Roman scoffed. “A chance! I don’t want to risk her life with a chance!”
“Me neither, but you heard the doctor.”
“Why can’t we buy her medicine? Huh? We have the money!”
“King Ethan increased the prince in all medicine about a month ago, you know this.”
“W-we’ll save up! Right? We can do that! We can- “
“Roman!” Logan took his brother by the shoulders. “I know you’re upset, but think about this! We’d starve!”
“This is more important!”
“Ma would never forgive us!” Logan yelled. Silence fell upon the brothers.
“You’re right.” Roman fell back onto the bed, eyes blurring with tears as he gazed up at the ceiling. “As always.”
“Obviously.” The older brother rolled his eyes so he was once again facing the window. He spotted the castle in the distance. He snarled.
“If I was a Prince, we’d have enough money to care for Ma. I’d give away all my money to the Kingdom too. It’s a shame Prince Virgil isn’t as generous as me, eh?”
“Indeed.” Another comfortable silence passed over the boys.
“I’m going to get a job.” Roman stated. “It may be our only chance of getting enough money for the medicine for Ma.” Logan glanced at his brother and nodded.
“I’m going to continue with my studies. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help Ma while the doctor isn’t here.”
“Yeah!” Roman turned to his brother, wiping away any escaped tears. “We can get through this. We can.”
Behind large stone walls and big ivory towers held a boy. He watched his trembling hands until a warmer pair cradled them.
“It won’t be so bad!” A chipper voice soothed. “I’ll still be around; you can still come to me when you need me.”
“I need you now, Patton!” The boy croaked. “My mother is dead! Can’t they make an exception?” The silence was all that the boy needed to know before sob racked his body. He clumsily clung onto the other’s wrists, refusing to let him go. Patton gulped down his doubts and smiled once more. There was nothing else he could do.