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Brother, Brother

The monarch’s only biological son followed the drops of blood into the throne room, the trail only visible through the cracks of light between his fingers. The last turn at the end of the grand hallway neared, and he crept on silently with his face in his hands, holding in a sharp, pained breath. At last, he saw himself inside, where he met his adversary at the seat of the throne, flaxen hair glowing radiantly in the sunlight.

The villain sighed, watching the sky. “And there you are, dear friend.”

The protagonist gasped, knowing not that he had been seen.

The boy at the throne approached him with a crooked smile, finally drawing his small knife from the heart of the queen. “I’ve been waiting for you to come around.” He lowered the protagonist’s hands from his face, running his own along the hero’s dark curls. “No need to worry,” the villain cooed, hands still messy and red. “The crown is in good hands.”

The protagonist jerked away, drawing his sword. “It won’t end like this,” he cried. “It can’t.”

“Changed your mind so soon?” As soon as the protagonist had lifted his hand to strike, it was seized tightly. “I always knew you were so hard to please.” The protagonist shuddered as his heart raced, the villain’s satisfied hums uncomfortably warm against his ear. “You pitiful scum. You and your mother. You lot are the only thing in my way, and I can’t let that go.”

We are doing everything we can to protect the people.” The protagonist squirmed restlessly, but the villain’s grip held just as strong. “The land will soon be under attack, and the last thing we need right now is for our family to be divided.” He gulped. “Brother, I didn’t think it of you to go this far.”

“No,” the villain grunted, releasing his hold on the protagonist, whose blade, still free, slashed the poor hero just below his eye. He crashed to the ground from the shock, and the precious heirloom fell out of his hand not too far away, quickly meeting him on the floor. “It’s always been this way,” the villain roared, “hasn’t it?”

“All,” the protagonist sputtered, “you want…is power.” The searing pain from his open wound only worsened as he faced a sudden kick to the ribs. “You care not for anyone else.”

“And is that so bad?” The villain continued kicking him, towering over him quite menacingly. “Do you realize how much more hurtful it is to be constantly kicked to the dirt?” He looked back to the throne, where the crown twinkled, displaying not a mark of defect. “And your mother tried so hard to keep me hidden away. I feel the throne must belong to me, then, no?”

“You know you will never be able to rule, you just can’t.” He winced as he felt a thick trickling down his face. “You know, because—”

“Because I destroy everything in my path?” The villain seethed with anger, yet crazed laughter filled the room. “That’s why you let it happen, isn’t it? You’ve never let me forget it…” His eyes darted over. “She never let me forget it.”

“Please, I yield—”

“You look good next to her. But I need you to know that we will never, ever, be brothers.” The villain knelt down and pulled the protagonist close by his finely pressed collar, grinning against his lips. “You know,” he whispered, “between you and me, I always had a soft spot for you, so I choose to forgive you.” He ran his free hand through his golden locks. “It’s not preferable—or easy—but maybe one day, I’ll really believe that it wasn’t your fault. So please, don't do anything else to upset me.” The villain let the protagonist fall back to the floor. “You know how Mother dislikes messes in here.”

“This won’t stand,” the protagonist wheezed, dragging his fingers pathetically along the tile to reach for his sword—but not before the villain took notice. “Villains like you never win.”

“I suppose we’ll see.” The villain picked up the sword and returned it to the prince, but it barely held in his hand anyway. “For now, this kingdom is in need of a real ruler.” He watched the protagonist struggle, and it was then that he finally felt himself at ease. “Here, it’s quite alright—you can close your eyes for now.” He kissed them shut with a warm smile. “But you can’t give out on me just yet, okay? You and I still have business in order.”

He faced the window, sun still pouring on his brilliant face. With a smirk, he wiped his hands clean underneath his cape before moving to the crown, positioning it atop his head. “Yes, Her Majesty,” he sighed, watching the sky, “My brother and I are doing just fine now.”

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