The Gang of Five
Hello, everyone!  The month of June is finally here and unlike last month, we admins actually remembered to update the news item for June.  :bestsharptooth This month we have a new character showcase for Doc, which can be found here.  Please feel welcome to say a few words about the sauropod of few words.

For our resident fanfiction writers, there are also active fanfiction prompts for the months of May and June, in additional to several optional prompts that can be completed if you want to work on something different.  Details can be found here. We look forward to seeing what you come up with!  :RubyCurious

You Are Special

DiddyKF1

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YOU ARE SPECIAL



As the stars shone beautifully in the nighttime sky over the Great Valley, a quiet sigh escaped from Cerusa's beak as she gazed at them from the ledge in front of her home, deep in thought …

Two years … and so much had changed.

Two years in the Great Valley and so much had changed for the better.

Two years had gone by since those miserable couple of years with that cursed Flyer herd, and a life with much more freedom in the Great Valley had brought all that misery to an end.

At least, Cerusa wished she could say it could be that way …

There were no more despicable Flyers around who seemed to relentlessly bring her family down whenever they could. The family had a much safer home than ever before. All her children, including Petrie, were flying through the skies each and every day, and everything seemed to be at peace with her …

She couldn't stand the fact that she could not say that everything was all bright and cheerful, even in a peaceful valley that could very well be their forever home.

While some things had changed for the better, some had changed for the worse …

When it came to raising her children, she was completely on her own. Back during "those painful days," as her son Petrie put it, she at least had someone to help her, but that someone was gone now, branded a traitorous criminal with no worth of being a father figure to her children.

Deep in her heart, Cerusa somewhat missed having Pterano around. If only her brother hadn't slipped into insanity, he could have stuck around to be the perfect father figure to her five children, even if no one could replace the one thing the children had never gotten to have …

A father.

Even to this day, Rantyl's untimely death haunted Cerusa. A lot of nights, she would have night terrors about witnessing her mate's brutal murder in the jaws of a Sailback Sharptooth, as several messengers had told her the day after he left her, never to be seen again.

Occasionally, it made her think about Petrie …

Her son and his friends' numerous encounters with Sharpteeth had nearly gotten them killed on multiple occasions. Any time Littlefoot fearlessly led his friends to some dangerous adventure to the Mysterious Beyond against their families' wishes, Cerusa would hope and pray Petrie would not befall the same fate as his father did. Losing a mate was heartbreaking enough, but losing a child would be incomparably worse.

If you lost a parent, you'd become an orphan. If you lost a mate, you'd become a widow …

… but if you lost a child …

There was no word for that. It was unthinkable. The last thing anyone would want to do would be to leave his or her child's dead body behind forever, or in the case of the Great Valley dinosaurs, have to take them away or bury them.

Cerusa had lost count of how many sighs of relief she had let out whenever Petrie and his friends safely made it back to the valley. She had started to grow tired of worrying so much for Petrie's safety, it often made her head hurt. Becoming a widow had already taken a toll on her, and she was most certainly not going to become a mother whom had failed to keep all her children safe.

With five children to look after and with the many differences between them, to say that raising them alone had been a nightmare would be an understatement. Their behavioral differences had come on the brink of tearing the family apart just as much as they did before the Earth Shake. It was one of the few things that seemed would never change, even after the move. Having five children was somewhat of a guarantee that there would be some form of sibling rivalry, but when her children first hatched, Cerusa could not have imagined that there would be this much bad blood between them, and it wasn't even an all-against-all type of rivalry, either …

It was four-against-one …

Four perpetrators and one victim …

… and the victim was always Petrie.

Cerusa had been sure that Petrie's status as the runt of the litter, being the youngest in the clutch, would naturally become the subject of occasional bullying, but her other children took things to a whole new level, one that made the family look so broken and helpless. Pterano's misdeeds had already damaged the family's reputation in the valley, and Cerusa would not let her children make things worse just because the four older children hated their little brother.

First, there was Donnie. Being the first to hatch, he naturally expected himself to excel in comparison to his younger siblings. He became a very skilled Flyer and longed to become a herd leader in the future. In a way, Cerusa was proud of her oldest son for his accomplishments and high ambitions, but if there was one thing that strained their relationship, it was his relentless bullying of Petrie. In fact, Donnie was the ringleader when it came to picking on his youngest brother on a nearly daily basis. He took pride and joy in making Petrie's life as miserable as possible, even after Petrie finally summoned the courage to fly. He had very little remorse and had no respect for Petrie whatsoever. The Great Day of the Flyers did almost nothing to change his views. Sure, Donnie may have considered himself superior, being the oldest, but he unreasonably took it too far. In a way, Donnie reminded Cerusa of Cera with her prideful Threehorn attitude.

Terra, the oldest daughter, was just as bad as Donnie when it came to bullying and berating Petrie. She was his second-in-command in that regard. Nevertheless, whenever Petrie wasn't the subject of conversation, she excelled at flying, particularly at high-speed flying, becoming the fastest one in the clutch. If she were to ever have a run-in with a Sharptooth, it was almost a guarantee she'd be out of range before the Sharptooth even had a chance to begin pursuing her. She wasn't as ambitious as Donnie, but was proud of herself for what she had been able to do up to this point.

Skybeak, the one in the middle, had become a decent Flyer who simply dreamed of growing up with a peaceful life with a future mate and even a child of his own. Whether he wanted to stay in the valley once it was his time was something he hadn't thought of just yet. His flying wasn't as astounding as Donnie's or Terra's, but he didn't care as long as his mother didn't put any serious expectations on him. His relationship with Petrie wasn't quite as tumultuous as his two older siblings', but they still detested each other at times largely due to Donnie's influence. They respected each other for a while after the Great Day of the Flyers, but Petrie's night terrors and nest wetting had only further strained their relationship.

Pearlwing was the softest of the four older children. She cared about Petrie more than their older siblings did, but she, too, fell victim to Donnie and Terra's dominant influence and only went through with harassing Petrie because she didn't want to get on their bad side, even if that meant getting on their mother's bad side. She had a couple of flying tricks of her own, and her relatively positive attitude had earned her a couple of Flyer friends in the valley, which Cerusa felt very happy about. At least one of her kids were able to find other Flyers as friends after the devastation that befell their old herd in the Earth Shake.

And, of course, there was Petrie …

He was the complete opposite to his siblings in just about every aspect of life. He had unwillingly brought so much pain to the family before and even after the Earth Shake. From the moment he was born, he was a very timid little boy who was frightened of just about everything, even flying. His fear of trying to fly had brought shame and humiliation to the family in the eyes of their old herd. His early failures at trying to fly along with his broken speech patterns were seen as stains on the family's honor and a major disgrace. He spent his early childhood completely friendless until he was supposedly killed in the Earth Shake along with nearly the entire herd. When he suddenly appeared in the Great Valley, finally in the air for the first time ever, happily greeting his mother, "Mama, I a Flyer!" much to the absolute shock of his four siblings, it should have been the happiest moment for the entire family after the Earth Shake, and it surely should have been the moment that all the misery that had befallen Petrie would finally end …

… but that dreadfully was not the case.

Even to this day, Petrie was mercilessly picked on by his siblings for different reasons rather than his previous inability to fly. His adventures had mentally scarred him to the point that he would have night terrors and wake up screaming and wetting the nest on an almost nightly basis. This made him laughter fuel for the other kids all over again. Despite the fact that he had several special friends, all of them different kinds, and even despite the fact that his uniqueness and his heroic actions during the Great Day of the Flyers earned him quite a lot of respect amongst the Flyers of the valley, he still looked down on himself. He was a complete weakling in comparison to his siblings and his flying was very mediocre. When it came to Flyer life, he had given himself absolutely no expectations whatsoever. He expected himself to just be a lonely Flyer for the rest of his life with no chance of ever getting a mate. Who would want to be around an easily frightened weakling who was barely able to fly and spoke in broken grammar?

Despite all of this, Cerusa still loved Petrie because he was her son. In her mind, a mother should love all her children unconditionally regardless of their traits. In fact, she knew the reason why Petrie had to endure a miserable childhood …

He had hatched with a hereditary condition that had also plagued her sister Liran, her cousins, and her aunts and uncles from her father's side of the family. One wouldn't have been able to tell from the outside because he had the appearance of a perfectly normal child. It was the reason why he was always nervous and completely lacked the social nerve. It was the reason for his broken speech. It was the reason for his initial inability and unwillingness to fly. It was the reason why he was still a nest wetter to his day. It was the reason he was very emotionally fragile.

It was entirely why he had endured a painful childhood and still felt he had no future.

During "those painful days," Cerusa felt tempted to give Petrie special treatment because of his condition, but she resisted because she knew it would have only caused further animosity between him and his siblings, and her children would have then accused her of favoritism, which she viewed as a sin when it came to being a mother. She could very easily have said to herself that she loved all five of her children equally had Donnie not started those horrible games of "Let's Make Petrie's Life As Miserable As Possible."

In her heart, Petrie was secretly Cerusa's favorite child because she thought his efforts to overcome his condition made him special. In her eyes, his condition alone made him special because he had a big heart and almost naturally formed such a loving bond with her that seemed unbreakable. She had heard of a very small handful of dinosaurs with the same condition that had that same tendency to form such a strong bond with their mothers, even compared to normal children. Whenever he got frightened, the first thing Petrie did was frantically look for her as if she was the only one who could keep him away from danger, … unless he and his friends were adventuring in the Mysterious Beyond. It was no wonder his snuggling stick he had found shortly after his arrival in the valley had become an excellent coping mechanism so that he didn't always have to rely on her to keep him calm and comfortable. It was no wonder he had a knack for lazing around from time to time, snuggling with his stick and a bunch of comfy tree stars.

It was a secret Cerusa could never tell anyone, not even Petrie himself. It would cause unrepairable damage to the entire family if it ever slipped out of her beak. She knew that all her children should have to live generally happy lives despite their differences. Her only hope was that all five of them would blend well into Flyer society just like their father had wanted. She had never lost her will to carry out her mate's dying wish, and she would see to it that Rantyl's wish came true no matter what.

Cerusa noticed the beautiful twinkling of the stars, and she shook her head to snap herself out of her long train of thought. She gazed at one particular star in the western horizon and kept her eyes fixed on it. She often wondered if Rantyl might be among the many stars in the night sky, shining and smiling down on them. If only she could ever see her beloved mate again, even for just five minutes, she wondered how he would have reacted to seeing how his five precious children had grown. Surely, he would have been disappointed to see how poorly Petrie was treated, but he would have at least been happy to see his youngest son flying high in the sky just as well as the rest of them were.

The cerulean Flyer felt tears welling up in her eyes, and she closed them to keep them in and turned her head down so that any of her kids who might still be awake would not have to see her struggling to keep her composure. It wasn't wrong for a mother to get emotional in front of her children, but somehow she never wanted to show this weaker, softer side of her. Petrie had already gotten some tastes of it, but she didn't know how her other children would react to seeing it. She only wanted to be a mother who could succeed in parenthood, and yet even today she was questioning her own abilities. Many of her past problems had gone, but many more still lingered, and she wondered how she would ever be able to get all five of her children to respect each other.

Suddenly, she heard footsteps. They sounded as though they came from tiny feet, and she knew right then and there that it had to be one of her children. They got slightly louder with each step, and she could tell one of her kids was approaching her from inside. It was the middle of the night and surely all her kids were supposed to be asleep …

Cerusa sighed and opened her eyes, and she began to presume that it was Petrie who was coming out. It always seemed to be him who had trouble sleeping and would much rather be taking a night flight by himself. It always seemed to be him who would sneak his way outside in the middle of the night, either to get her attention and seek her warmth or if his friends goaded him out so they could wander off again.

Finally, she turned her head so she could see who it was, and just as she had thought, it indeed was Petrie. The little brown Flyer was taking small baby steps toward her, holding his snuggling stick in his wings. The stick alone brought a sense of relief to Cerusa. This at least meant that he wasn't sneaking out again, but instead he was seeking her warmth and love just as he had been doing practically his whole life. He didn't do this nearly as often nowadays compared to his "painful days," but nevertheless, Cerusa couldn't help but grin a little at the cute sight approaching her. In her eyes, Petrie was a cute sight in many ways just because he was small, although he had grown quite a bit since the journey to the valley, now up to her waist in height. His head would almost be up to her shoulders when he sat on her lap nowadays.

Aside from that, Cerusa also thought Petrie was cute just because he was her son and was very precious to her. She knew that all her children were precious to her because they were her flesh and blood, but she had a particularly soft spot for Petrie. His squeaky-sounding voice that marked him "special" because of his broken grammar, his willingness to fight his hereditary condition after she had finally revealed it to him during the most recent cold time, and how he always loved to be in her presence whenever he could, except for those very rare occasions when he wasn't in the mood for it. He loved her just as much as she loved him, and Cerusa was certain that Petrie would probably be eager to keep living with her and his valley friends for as long as possible. It was like she and his friends were the only things that gave him the will to live a happy life and grow up in a quiet valley. It only disappointed her a little that he lacked the will to be independent aside from his flying, but she knew that his condition made him rely on her.

Petrie sighed and sat down with his snuggling stick in his lap, and Cerusa watched as her son glanced at the stars. The twinkling of the stars gave his eyes a shine of their own to go with his curious expression that his mother thought was adorable.

"Shouldn't you be asleep, my sneaky little one?" Cerusa chuckled as she sat down next to Petrie.

Petrie looked down with a sad sigh before he took a glance up at his mother. His expression alone was enough for Cerusa to guess what was wrong.

"Can't sleep?"

"No," replied Petrie in a low voice, shaking his head.

Cerusa looked back inside their small cave-like home, and she saw that Donnie, Terra, Skybeak and Pearlwing were all sleeping soundly. It could only mean that Petrie at least didn't wake everyone up with another night terror. This confirmed her lucky guess that Petrie just couldn't sleep at all tonight.

Clueless, she turned back to her sleepless son.

"What's the matter, Petrie?" she asked him, "Did something happen today?"

Petrie didn't answer. He just turned away and stared off into space, letting out what sounded like nervous gulps. Whatever it was he might have been thinking about, it seemed he didn't want to talk about it.

"Petrie?" Cerusa spoke up, "Is there something wrong?"

Petrie remained silent.

"Petrie, you know you can talk to me about anything. I'm your mother, and I'd like to know how you're feeling. You know that whatever it is, I won't judge you because I love you very much."

This at least got another gulp out of him before he opened his beak a little and his eyes turned to her then back to the stars and to her again. Surely, he'd speak up any second now.

"B-bad memories … coming back."

Cerusa placed a hand on Petrie's shoulder and gently rubbed his back. She was happy to have at least gotten this conversation going. All she needed to do now was to carefully keep it going until she knew what to do to make him happy.

"What bad memories, dear?" she asked in her soft voice that always seemed to calm him down.

"Just … e-everything," gulped Petrie, "Me try to go to sleep, but then … m-me no could stop thinking about … how everything scare me all the time, … how me always seem to be useless compared to me friends, … how me no can do anything than just, … w-well, … fly, … why me no seem to be worth anything compared to other Flyers, even in Great Valley, … why me always have to rely on others rather than figure anything out meself. M-me mean, … w-what wrong with me? M-me condition you tell me about to blame for all that, too? Me ever going to change or me be like this forever?"

Cerusa let out a deep sigh. It was somehow demoralizing to her that Petrie was still questioning his worth in the world even today. For some reason, even though he had friends and had become somewhat decent at flying, he still felt worthless even though he was just a kid. It shouldn't have been a problem that kids were just little and still needed time to mature, but Petrie's troubled past continued to haunt him, and he still felt as if he desperately needed to prove his worth to the world just because he wasn't "normal."

"Come here, Petrie," she spoke gently to her son, and Petrie nervously scooted closer before she picked him up and set him on her lap, keeping a wing around his back to help him feel warm and comfortable.

"M-me sorry," he whimpered softly.

Cerusa knew that tone easily. Petrie was regretting bringing this dreadful subject up again because he feared she would get tired of having to reassure him over and over again. It was a clear sign of his reliance on her and complete lack of independence.

However, she never liked to go hard on Petrie given how his low self-confidence could easily strike him down. She knew it seemed unfair that he rarely ever punished him. The only times she did were when he sneaked off without her permission or when he violently retaliated against his siblings when they harassed him. She hated bringing him down like that and always tried her best to go easy on him and help him overcome his emotional burdens and assure him that he would be okay just as he was and that he didn't need to become an overachiever. The only long-term goal she had given him was to just become a good Flyer and live a happy, peaceful life, and yet Petrie felt he couldn't even accomplish that, either. At times like these, Cerusa knew that the only thing to do was to reassure her poor son that he would eventually succeed in his goal and that he just needed time and patience.

"Petrie, I'd like you to listen to me, okay?" she said, softly pressing Petrie's beak up so that he would make eye contact with her.

Petrie gulped and hesitantly nodded, "Y-yes, Mama."

Convinced that she had her son's full attention, Cerusa went on.

"You and I have had this conversation before, and I understand you feel that you have no worth, but I'm telling you right now, dear; you won't be this way forever. Things will change, Petrie. It just takes time. Like I said during the cold time, once you've reached your Time of Great Growing, many of those problems should be gone. I know that being a little kid can be very difficult, but if you just be yourself like your friends and I told you many times before, you'll eventually grow up to become a decent Flyer. That's all I've ever asked from you, dear. If you could at least do that, I'll be proud of you no matter what."

She watched as Petrie's face turned sad and he looked down and let out a sniffle. It seemed that he was lamenting over the fact that it had become almost impossible to achieve even the simplest goals she had placed on him, which felt like the equivalent of achieving absolutely nothing at all, all because of that condition he was born with that had turned him into a "nest-wetting scaredy-egg" that almost never got to fly. His brothers and sisters had greatly berated him over the years with their biased opinions and inexcusable bullying, and his self-esteem had been completely destroyed by it.

"M-me try so hard to be meself, … but me never become decent at anything," he quivered, and he looked away. It was a gesture that told Cerusa that he was about to burst into tears and he didn't want to be looking at her when it inevitably happened. He often felt ashamed of crying, especially when anyone was near him.

"You will, Petrie," said Cerusa, "You just need to think about the good things in life and try practicing some more at flying. I've seen you do amazing things, dear, and it would really upset me if you believed you couldn't even do those things anymore. You've spent your whole life thinking about all the negative things. You shouldn't let your brothers and sisters' biased opinions bring you down. They're only saying those things because they think they're superior. I don't think any one of my children is superior over the others, and you shouldn't think about that, either. Why can't you just believe in yourself every day, Petrie?"

"Me no know," answered Petrie, sounding as though he was ready to break down.

Cerusa slowly brought the tip of her beak against Petrie's head and spoke in a gentle voice, "Petrie?"

This did its magic in getting her son to face her, his eyes shining with moisture trying so hard to come down his face. She soothingly patted his head and tried to think of some words she hoped would bring him out of his funk.

"Have you ever stopped just for one moment to think about how special you are?"

Petrie was still for a moment as the word appeared to hit him. He had never thought of himself as special, and his first flight and his actions in the Great Day of the Flyers did very little to change that.

"What make me so special?" he moaned after a long silence, slumping against his mother's chest.

"Your condition makes you special because you're nothing like the others. It makes you unique. Uniqueness was what earned you high regard in the Day of the Flyers. Your willingness to overcome your condition makes you special, too, Petrie. You've gotten braver as time goes by, maybe too brave for your own good, and you're finally able to fly. In fact, you do it quite well in my opinion."

Petrie was blushing as his mother mentioned that he was too brave for his own good. Cerusa chuckled as she forced him into those memories of his dangerous adventures. However, he still wouldn't smile, and soon his face dropped again. He was still thinking negatively about some of his past experiences.

"Me was never really that brave … or smart," he murmured sadly.

"Now, now, Petrie, you don't have to be the smartest one just to succeed," Cerusa tried to reassure him.

"Me only get through because of Littlefoot and Cera thinking. Me never had idea that got us anywhere. Me just … th-there. If me were leader, me probably just get us all stuck in tar pit again."

"Petrie," sighed Cerusa as she got just a little impatient with Petrie constantly bringing himself down, "Don't bring yourself down like this. It's this kind of attitude that will only make things worse. If you keep beating yourself up like this, you'll only make life much harder for yourself. You've heard me say this many times, dear, but you just need to …"

"Me sorry, Mom!" Petrie suddenly snapped, looking directly into his mother's eyes, his hands pressing against her chest as he dropped his snuggling stick, and he began hyperventilating just as the tears finally started to trickle their way down his beak.

"Petrie!" Cerusa gasped in momentary shock, and she quickly grabbed his hands and pinned them down as she hugged him tightly, "Not so loud, okay!? You'll wake up the others!"

"Me sorry, okay!?" shouted Petrie, "Me no can get over how everyone say me so weak and worthless! Me try everything to become better Flyer but it no use! Maybe me stupid condition keep me this way forever! Maybe me stupid brothers and sisters right about me! Maybe that old terrible Flyer herd right about me! Maybe even me friends think me just so dumb and weak compared to them! Me just some babyish, nest-wetting scaredy-stinkbug, and you know what!? Maybe everyone …"

Cerusa released her grip on Petrie's hands, pulled him closer to keep his arms trapped, and clamped his beak shut to stop him mid-rant.

"Mmmm!? Mmmmmmmm!" Petrie moaned in a muffled voice as she gave her a protesting look.

"Sssssh!" Cerusa hissed loudly, "That's enough yelling, Petrie! I know how you feel, but what you're saying right now is completely wrong. You cannot keep berating yourself like this with your pessimistic attitude. I am telling you right now; you will become a better Flyer, Petrie, and yes, it will take some time before change happens. You should at least be happy that we no longer have those pushy Flyer leaders trying to rush you into growing up. Those Flyers are gone now, and your brothers and sisters have no right in making biased presumptions about you. Do you really feel there's a need to be in a hurry to grow up so that you can prove everyone wrong?"

Petrie stared at his mother as he took a moment to register what she had just said. As far as Cerusa was concerned, he was having a difficult time trying to accept her words.

"Besides, Petrie, comparing yourself to your friends, I must say, is rather silly of you," she chuckled, "They're not Flyers, and I think you'll find that you'll always be smaller than all of them, even after you all grow up, so you'll have physical disadvantages compared to them no matter what, but that doesn't mean you'll always be useless to them. You can do many things they can't do. You can go many places where they can't. You have your own unique advantages just like the rest of them do. It's another thing that makes you special. It makes each of you special. I've never expected you to become an overachiever like Donnie. Just be yourself, Petrie. Just be a friendly little Flyer who's always there for your friends when they need you. If you want my opinion, I don't care what your brothers and sisters think about you, and you shouldn't, either. They already have their own ambitions to worry about, and you should only worry about how you want to achieve your own goals."

"Rmmm?" Petrie moaned, looking rather surprised. It seemed to Cerusa that he was trying to say, "Really?" and she chuckled a little at his feeble attempt to speak with his mouth sealed shut.

Finally assured that he wouldn't start yelling again, Cerusa released her hold on Petrie's beak and allowed him to speak again.

"Y-you mean, … m-me just be little kid as long as me still just little kid?"

Cerusa laughed, "Of course, my little one. You may still have nervous and somewhat babyish tendencies, but you're still a kid and there's plenty of time for you to just be what you are. Being a kid is supposed to bring fun and happiness, not pain and discouragement. Just try your best at what you know how to do, and one day you'll find you can do much more, like flying the way you've always wanted to."

"Just like in Great Day of Flyers?" chuckled Petrie sheepishly.

"Just like in the Great Day of the Flyers, my little one," replied Cerusa with a hearty laugh.

Petrie so nearly smiled, but that frown just wouldn't leave his beak. More thoughts were still bugging him.

"Me still wonder if me ever going to get speech right, … and … stop wetting nest, … and … w-well …"

"Like I said, that will take time, Petrie," said Cerusa, "In fact, the day you hatched, even your father said it would take time before you'd be able to show your potential. You know, had he lived, perhaps he would have been okay with what you've achieved so far. There's no need to try to be perfect. The only ones who do are those that choose to or are told to. I've never expected perfection from any of my children. The sky has no limits, but we each have our own. Your brothers and sisters don't have the right to impose such unreachable expectations."

"Y-you … really no mind if me, … um, … some nest-wetter? You think m-me Daddy … no mind if me nest-wetter?" stammered a blushing Petrie.

"As much as I don't like waking up to the smell of that, I don't mind because I know you're still trying to get over your terrible past. I'm not the judgmental type, dear. I'm okay if you're still sleeping with special tree stars just to stop your accidents from ruining the nest. I'm okay if you're still struggling with your speech given your young age and your condition. I'm okay as long as you're trying your best every day to become a decent Flyer. If you ask me, you are perfect, Petrie, … just the way you are. You're as perfect as someone with a condition like yours can be, and I think your father would have been very proud of you, too. If you wanna become a better Flyer, keep being what you are. Just be you."

As she finished that last sentence, Petrie's frown slowly turned into a slight smile as he struggled to keep his tears in. It was obvious he was trying so hard not to cry.

"It's okay, Petrie," she soothingly assured her son, "Please don't be ashamed of crying. If you need to let it all out, don't keep it in. Crying is not a bad thing. It helps to let everything go. Don't try to keep those feelings bottled in."

Petrie's beak quivered, and after a couple of seconds, he sniffled several times as he smiled at his mother, and finally he couldn't hold it in any longer. He wrapped his arms around his mother's neck and rested his beak right on her shoulder. Cerusa smiled softly as she heard the squeaky sobs begin to come out of her son's beak, and soon she felt his tears running down her chest as she hugged him tightly.

Eventually, the sobs got louder, and Cerusa quickly started rubbing the crown of his head as the sobs turned to babyish wailing. She did her best to muffle his beak so that his cries would not wake up his siblings. She watched the tears streaming down his face like waterfalls, and she knew those weren't sad tears. Rather, these tears seemed to have been from joy or relief, and she knew just why. Petrie was finally trying to let go of the pain from his troubled childhood. For the longest time, he had been trying to keep it bottled in until the pain was too much, but now he could finally let it all out and feel some sense of freedom; free from all the pain from his past and free to be happy just the way he was; simply Petrie.

Cerusa lovingly kissed her son's head and nuzzled him. Petrie opened his reddened, pouring eyes and saw his mother's sweet smile, and he closed his eyes again and kept crying until he couldn't anymore.

"That's my boy," Cerusa whispered in his ear, "I love you, Petrie. I'm very proud of you."

Petrie's cries soon turned to hiccups and leftover sniffles as the last tears came down. He opened his eyes and brushed a few tear streaks away before he looked into his mother's eyes again.

"Thank you," he sniffled happily, "M-me really needed that."

Cerusa gave her son another smile and rubbed his head affectionately.

"I know you're still struggling to accept that you're fine just the way you are, dear, but the way I see it, you are. Yes, you're still like a baby in some areas, but there are other areas where you greatly excel."

"Like what?" murmured Petrie in between hiccups.

"I might have told you this once, but you have a very big heart for someone your age," said Cerusa with a knowing smile, "You care very much about your friends just as much as they care about you. You're able to fly very well by yourself. I've seen you do your fancy little tricks."

"Hehe," chuckled Petrie sheepishly, "Me guess m-me just like all that freedom."

"I know you do," giggled Cerusa, "Think about it, Petrie. You have freedom in the sky, and you have freedom in the Great Valley, too. You're free from all the persecutions of that herd we can be so glad we're not part of anymore. We no longer live in a herd that places such high expectations on everyone. The Great Valley is the perfect place for you to focus on your simple goal of just living a peaceful life. Whether you ever decide to find a mate when you grow up? Well, that's entirely up to you. I'm not going to push you that far. If you're happy the way you are, then I'm happy. Whatever you want to achieve in life is completely up to you."

"R-really?" quivered Petrie, looking ready to burst into tears all over again.

"Of course, my little one," smiled Cerusa, "What would you really like to do once you're past the Time of Great Growing?"

"Um, … m-me no know," answered Petrie, blushing in embarrassment at his own answer.

"That's exactly what I mean, dear," replied Cerusa, and Petrie's cheeks turned deep red, "There's still plenty of time for you to just be that special little kid you are right now while you try to make up your mind about your future. You're nothing like your friends, and you're nothing like your brothers or sisters. You are you, and nothing and no one can ever change that. I love you just the way you are, Petrie; my special little baby."

As if on cue, Petrie's smile dropped and his eyebrows turned angry.

"Mama! No call me baby!" he complained.

"I know you don't like being called that, but between you and me, you'll always be my special little baby because you're my special son," giggled Cerusa.

"Mama!" whimpered an embarrassed Petrie, "Why you no stop calling Petrie baby if you know me no like it!?"

"Because I love you, Petrie, and every child needs a mother's loving affection," chuckled Cerusa.

"Well, you seem to overdo it!" pouted Petrie, crossing his wings.

Cerusa simply laughed at her youngest son's pouty display. As far as she was concerned, no mother could ever go too far with loving and caressing her child, and now was the perfect time to show Petrie that this indeed was the case.

"You do realize what that mood of yours will earn you, don't you?" she said, giving him a mischievous expression that would certainly get Petrie to realize his mistake.

Sure enough, his expression turned to one of shock. He knew that with that last remark he had gone too far. Cerusa playfully showed her hand and wiggled its fingers as a nonverbal gesture to tell him what was coming to him next, and he immediately gasped and panted nervously in anticipation. She tightened her hug on him so that there was virtually a guarantee that he wouldn't be able to make an ill-conceived escape attempt.

"N-n-no!" gulped Petrie, "M-me sorry, Mama! Petrie no mean it that way!"

"I'll believe you once you've had your little lesson, my silly little one!" giggled Cerusa, and she brought her wiggling fingers to her son's chest before he had time to complain any further, and she listened happily as his well-known cute, squeaky laughs began pouring out of his beak as the sensations tickled him immediately.

"Eek! Heeheeheeheehehehehehe! Mama! Stahahahahahop!" laughed Petrie.

"I think a little more will help you learn," snickered Cerusa, moving her hand up to his neck and shoulders, which she knew was his most sensitive spot of all.

"No! NO! EEK! AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! MMHMHMKEEHEEHEEHEEHEEHEEHEE!" Petrie laughed uncontrollably, "ME SOHOHORREEHEEHEEHY!"

"Do you promise not to start pouting at me again because of how much I love you as my sweet little baby?" teased Cerusa with laughs of her own as she enjoyed teasing and playing with her son this way just for grins and giggles.

"MOHOHOHOHOM!" chortled Petrie, "NOHOHOHO MOHOHOHORE!"

"Maybe a little more will do the trick, then!" said Cerusa, tickling his shoulders a little harder to make the sensations a little more ticklish.

"ME GIVE! ME GIHIHIHIVE!" pleaded Petrie through his squeaky laughter.

"How about if you say uncle?" giggled Cerusa.

"UHUNCLEHEHEHEHEHEHE!" replied Petrie, and she promptly stopped the tickling and allowed him to catch his breath once he was able to stop laughing.

Cerusa looked back and sighed in relief when she noticed that her four other children were still asleep. She could consider herself lucky that she didn't tickle Petrie so hard that his laughter would have woken up everyone possibly half a mile away. Relieved, she turned back to Petrie.

"That's another thing I know that's hard for you to accept, dear," she said playfully.

"That me a special baby to you?" said Petrie with an annoyed look.

"Like I said, my little Petrie, I don't care if you still have babyish tendencies with wearing those special tree stars, sleeping with a snuggling stick and having nest-wetting accidents, and you're very special to me just because of what you are."

"Mama!" sniffled Petrie, his cheeks turning red again.

Cerusa laughed as she saw the look on Petrie's face, and she gave him a playful nuzzle and a loving kiss on the crown of his head to feed him lots of motherly love that she knew he needed in a moment like this.

"Just promise me that you won't overburden yourself with pointless expectations which you know you won't be able to achieve. We all have our limits, and you need to understand what your limits are. You don't need to become some overachiever just so you can prove your brothers and sisters wrong or impress your friends. I would say that your friends are already impressed just because of what you are."

"W-well, … me never become Flyer if it no be for them," admitted Petrie bashfully.

"I know, dear," chuckled Cerusa, "The point I'm trying to make is that I believe you're perfect just as you are, and as long as you try your best every day to become as good a Flyer as you can be, you'll have a nice, peaceful life in the valley, even beyond your Time of Great Growing. I'll be there with you every step of the way, Petrie."

She paused and smiled at him.

"Because I love you so much, my little Petrie."

Petrie's eyes appeared to well up again. Surely, there couldn't have been any tears left after he surely let them all out, but it seemed there may still have been a few left over. Cerusa knew she had done her part well in restoring her son's sense of hope for his future and assuring that he had already earned plenty of worth just because of what he had already accomplished. Perhaps Petrie was finally accepting the notion that he was indeed perfect just the way he was. He didn't need to worry over the fact that he was still a timid, nest-wetting baby who was a somewhat mediocre Flyer on the outside. On the inside, he really had grown considerably. He cared for others who cared for him, and he was determined to overcome his condition just so he could live as normal a life as he had dreamed of living.

"Me love you, too, Mama," he sniffled as those last couple of tears finally came down, and he wrapped his arms around his mother's neck in a tearful embrace.

"Aw, Petrie," smiled Cerusa, returning the hug tightly, "Promise me you won't try to become an overachiever who will try to do miracles I don't expect from you, … okay?"

Petrie stared at her for a moment before he blushed and shakily nodded his head, "Okay, Mama."

"That's my boy," chuckled Cerusa.

"And … y-you promise me you always be there for me and s-support me no matter what me do?" asked Petrie.

Cerusa held back a laugh as she heard those last few words. It was like he was trying to escape any likelihood of being punished for his numerous adventures, even though he probably didn't mean it that way.

"Not that I'd encourage you to wander off with your friends a million times," she giggled, making her son blush bashfully, "But yes. I'll always be there for you and support you no matter what. I care deeply for all my children, and I want to see all of you grow up to become successful at whatever your ambitions are."

Petrie sighed and stared off into space, presumably from the mention of his siblings. Cerusa had often wondered if Petrie was secretly wishing she'd give him special treatment because of his siblings' constant bullying, but as a mother she knew she had to be impartial and give all her kids equal treatment despite the temptations given Petrie's condition and the openly obvious differences between them. Deep down, she feared she had not been doing a very good job because she punished Donnie and the others far more often than she did to Petrie, but if only all five of them could get along together?

"I know what you're thinking, dear," she said, "I understand your brothers and sisters have been a pain, but give them time and they'll eventually learn to accept that you're perfect just the way you are."

"Me not so sure," bemoaned Petrie.

"Oh, Petrie," sighed Cerusa despondently as her son struggled to concede the possibility that his siblings would never change.

A yawn managed to escape from Petrie's beak, and that alone was an indication that he was finally tired after this emotional conversation.

"Sounds like someone is ready to get some sleep," teased Cerusa.

Petrie's eyes suddenly jerked open as if he was realizing that something wasn't quite right.

"Wait! Where me snuggling stick!?" he panicked.

Holding back a laugh, Cerusa pulled her son up to reveal his snuggling stick having been dropped right on her lap, somehow without him realizing.

"Oh," blushed Petrie with a guilty chuckle as he picked it up, "M-me sorry."

"You adorable, silly child of mine," giggled Cerusa, earning a bashful giggle from Petrie, "Do you want one of your special tree stars to sleep in tonight or no?"

"Well, … m-me guess me okay with it tonight after those sweet words you say to me," answered Petrie nervously.

"There's no need to be nervous about wearing your special tree stars as long as I'm around, Petrie. Besides, I'm not a judgmental mother and I'm perfectly okay with it."

Petrie smiled and embraced his mother around the neck as she stood up and carried him back inside. She soothingly rubbed his back as she walked past her other sleeping children and settled down in a warm spot in the back of the cave. She then gently set her son down on his feet, and she took a moment to glance at her other children to give Petrie a moment of privacy.

It was moments like these where she wished she could so happily say she was proud of all five of her children, and yet it was so difficult to say it that way because of the animosities between them. In her heart, she knew it would eventually be a matter of time before they might eventually put their differences aside and finally learn to respect each other. It was the one thing that continued to bring Petrie down. It would always worsen his insecurities and lead him to believe that he drastically needed to improve himself, when, in fact, improvements in self-quality would always take much more time than perhaps what they envisioned. Perhaps they just didn't care and simply took sheer delight in trying to ruin his life just because of his status as the youngest, smallest and weakest one in the family. One thing was certain, though; the torment would have to stop soon or it could only worsen the family's already quite dire situation.

Shaking off her thoughts, she turned to notice Petrie approaching her again, his special tree star strapped on tightly from shoulders to crotch, his snuggling stick in one hand and dragging two large tree stars with the other. He was clearly intending to have a warm sleep with her, and she chuckled just from the thought of it and lied down so that he could snuggle up to her. It reminded her of times past when he used to do this because he didn't do this nearly as often anymore, so it was always nice whenever he did it nowadays.

"That's the cutest I've seen you in a long time," Cerusa chuckled at her son, earning a blushing smile from him, "Come here, you."

Petrie giggled cutely as his mother pulled him in and wrapped him and his snuggling stick in the two large tree stars so that he was practically covered from head to toe with just his face exposed. Cerusa had to admit to herself that it seemed rather silly for someone his age, but she didn't say it out loud because she knew he liked being this warm occasionally when he slept. Tonight just might have been one of those nights, or maybe he felt encouraged to do this tonight after hearing her kind, heartwarming words.

"This bring back cuddly memories," said Petrie with a cute giggle as he rubbed his snuggling stick with his face and purred a little.

"I was thinking the same thing," replied Cerusa, holding back a laugh at her son's purring, and she gave him a big motherly kiss on his beak that momentarily sealed his mouth closed, "I love you, my precious little Petrie."

"Me love you, too, Mama," Petrie replied with a sweet smile, and Cerusa lowered her head so he could kiss him in return.

Petrie did just that with an adorable-sounding kiss on her beak, and he yawned again as his mother cuddled him as tightly as she wanted him to.

"Have pleasant sleep stories, my little one," she whispered to him as he slowly closed his eyes.

"You, too, Mama," Petrie weakly replied.

"Goodnight, Petrie," Cerusa whispered with one more kiss on his face, earning a peaceful smile that was sure to not leave his beak for the rest of the night.

"Goodnight, Mom," whispered Petrie before his sleep rumbling began with a purring smile.

Cerusa quietly laughed to herself as she watched her son sleeping so comfortably that waking him up the next morning was guaranteed to be a challenge; a fun one, at least. She grinned at the thought of it and nuzzled his beak with her own before she closed her eyes and fell asleep herself, knowing that this conversation had finally freed Petrie from all the pain from his past so he could feel completely refreshed for the first time in what felt like an eternity. Getting a glimpse of what could have been in a Wall of Frozen Water had provided a sense of closure that had done little to brighten his spirits, but tonight her carefully chosen words had given him the courage to release all the pain he had been holding in for nearly his entire life. He could finally start anew and not worry about what anyone thought of him. For as long as Cerusa could remember, being able to freely live a peaceful life was the only thing Petrie had dreamed of doing, and perhaps starting tomorrow he could finally concentrate just on enjoying the rest of his childhood in such a happy, peaceful Great Valley. He didn't know what his Time of Great Growing would bring, but there was no need to worry about that right now as long as he was content being who he was.

As Cerusa drifted off to sleep with her son snuggling cozily in her wings, the only thing she could think about as a new sleep story consumed her was flying through the sky and watching Petrie joyfully flying all around her, laughing and playfully performing his flying tricks she had seen him do in the Great Day of the Flyers. It was just the kind of life she envisioned them having, and she knew that days just like these were right around the corner. She couldn't wait to see his cute smiles and hear his adorable squeaks in the sky. The whole Great Valley could finally see the Petrie that they deserved to know; the Petrie who enjoyed being a carefree Flyer who was free to do whatever he wanted in the valley; the Petrie whom all his friends cared for and loved playing around with …

She couldn't wait to wake up the next morning to tell her son that she had a happy sleep story about him and that in it he said to her, "Look, Mom! Me be like me!" She smiled in her sleep at the thought of it. It would be such a happy moment when Petrie realized he could finally be free to simply be … Petrie.

And thus concludes my entry for the December 2020 prompt, aiming for a Mama Flyer perspective story. I may have visited this subject numerous times, including another story that is still being worked on, but this can be considered some sort of follow-up to "The Tragic Cycle," and how Petrie's life has somewhat improved since the Earth Shake yet somehow the pain from his childhood trauma still lingers.



And thus concludes my entry for the December 2020 prompt, aiming for a Mama Flyer perspective story. I may have visited this subject numerous times, including another story that is still being worked on, but this can be considered some sort of follow-up to "The Tragic Cycle," and how Petrie's life has somewhat improved since the Earth Shake yet somehow the pain from his childhood trauma still lingers.

This may feel eerily similar to how OwlsCantRead's "Weathered Gorge" ended, with similar issues being brought up, and I'm sorry if it does, but in a way I still took my own path. In a way, watching the fandub kinda refreshed things for me a little, as you might have noticed.

I hope you've all stayed safe just as I have, and that you all have a happy and safe start to 2021! :)petrie
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P



Ducky x Petrie forever! :)petrie :duckyhappy


rhombus

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Though this story remains in familiar territory for how you depict the dynamic with Petrie and his family I did find this story to be an engaging part of the overall narrative that you have constructed around Petrie's past.  In this story we get to see quite a bit from Cerusa's perspective, from her happiness at her children now being in relative safety and for the passage of the painful times, to the melancholy she experiences at now facing the challenges of parenthood alone and the lingering issues with her children not being accepting of Petrie.  Though this melancholy does remain at the end of the story, she does a fine job at highlighting Petrie's own uniqueness and showing him how that is a good thing in its own right, as his unique experiences have allowed him to have an open heart and mind.  His friendship with his non-flyer friends is testament to that.

If there is a weakness to this story if it not so much in the narrative itself or the characterizations, as those fit well into the overarching narrative you have constructed for Petrie.  Rather, I think the main critique that I could offer is that what is missing from some of these stories is a sign of Petrie's growth into finding his own self-confidence.  We have hints of it with references to his friendship with the gang, but we seldom get a sense (as in the Great Day of the Flyers) with Petrie proving himself and gaining a bit more clout (or at least tolerance) from some of his siblings.  This would be something nice to see at some point as I am curious how Petrie would use his own unique strengths to carve himself out a reputation within flyer society. 

But that aside, I think that this story showcases the relationship between son and mother quite well.  And though it does tread upon familiar ground, I do think that it makes connections between your previous works to further enrich the overall narrative that you have constructed.  Thank you very much for your participation in the December prompt and for sharing this story with us. :)


Go ahead and check out my fanfictions, The Seven Hunters, Songs of the Hunters, and Menders Tale.