"My father died when I was very young, so there's only Mom and me." Cloud-gen. Written originally for Psychological Fanfic Challenge.
There was a time when he believed in those words, and remembering that gives him vague feeling of nostalgia as he lifts an old sketchbook in his hands, smiling at the clumsy signature in one of the upper corners. He remembers drawing a lot back when skill didn't matter, and while he was more interested in drawing imaginary sceneries and exotic animals, sometimes family portraits sneaked in. His father had blond hair and blue eyes in those pictures, spiking upwards just like Cloud's tended to do.
He drew his father like that because he couldn't imagine him looking different, and that's how he eventually realized that he had no idea what his father looked like.
"My father died when I was very young. He fell off a ladder and broke his neck."
His mother told him that in different words and continued: "We had barely settled down and your father had to go and die. We never even got to pose together as a family." And that's why his father, whose pitch dark eyes always surprised Cloud in the photographs, always posed alone, while Cloud and his mother always posed together. His mother's answers were always so convenient, always so well constructed that the only way to question them was to accuse her of lying, and no matter how bitter he grew he could never bring himself to hurt her like that. She had hurt enough at every mention of Cloud's father, shadows haunting her eyes long after each awkward conversation, and even though he has stopped believing in her words, he has no right to ask her do the same.
"My father died when I was very young. I was small then, so I have no memory of him."
He remembers how his mother smelled like when she smoked her pipe (/the sight of it always more unclear in his mind/), how warm it was to rest in her arms, how low she spoke when she warned Mr. Lockhart to never threaten her son again. He gave up on searching for any concrete memories of his father very early on, but body remembers better than the mind, so there should have been a scent, a touch, a sound that would feel like father to him. Part of him still waits for that feeling.
"There's only Mom and me."
Rest of him has become fine with knowing better.
He's not sure when exactly he put the sketchbook down, or how long his fingertips have been brushing across the cover of an old photo album, s if pondering whether to open it or not. He decides not to: it was bad enough when his mother insisted on digging up his childhood belongings, toy soldiers and sketchbook with a dream drawn on each page. He should be heading back for the inn, anyway. He has more of his childhood to face tomorrow.
As he leaves his childhood home behind again, he finds himself wondering who the man in the photographs really was.