It wasn’t so much that Hymir was invited to watch King Aloysius die. He couldn’t be trusted to roam the palace by himself. Clearly.
He was smart enough to keep his mouth shut as the four of them ran through the halls. The sequence wasn’t long enough to get committed to memory. They ran and ran, Pallas and who Hymir presumed was Leander, Pallas’s younger brother and Aloysius’s middle child, led the way by a handful of breaths. Dimitri’s fist was curled around one of Hymir’s coat sleeves. Not that it mattered. Hymir had practically a foot on both of them. And he doubted that any formal training they’ve received could compare to what Levin liked doing.
Besides the whole ‘King-dying’ situation, he was worried about how Pallas knew… things. Levin had contacts, yes. Contacts that could be counted on hands and knew that to betray anything Levin said was to sign death contracts. But these guys said that they didn’t like Levin. They dropped Aunt Kristen’s title of Queen as if they were casual with her! It could be explained by Levin being able to leave wherever he wanted. So why not take care of this himself? And who else knew… things? Where were they? There were the raiding towns up North, where Hakon came from, where most things came prepackaged with bows. And Greece was South, where there were supposed to be ancient Gods, not new-age magic. Hymir knew something was up since Levin shoved him through the portal. He could practically smell it on the air itself.
Even if this answer wasn’t the case, there was still something that Levin was hiding, and that didn’t really surprise Hymir anymore. He supposed it hurt; that little boy inside who just wanted his father to love him, who would go at any length to get noticed. But eyes and spotlights hurt, and it didn’t matter how long he endured that pain.
He would never get trusted with the real information.
It was as if King Aloysius had been cursed. There was too much to focus on. His skin was the worst part of it. Shriveled, his bones looked as if they were trying to break free from the flesh. Nothing was exposed. Hymir didn’t know if that would have made things better. Aloysius’s chest rose and fell for he was alive, and he looked beyond malnourished to the point that Hymir begged his death to fall right then and there.
Things weren’t supposed to work like that. So they didn’t. The eyes bulged naturally out of the soft skin around them, taking in each face for presumably the last time. Hymir hid himself behind Dimitri, knowing that it was foolish. It wasn’t like he could stop that pit in his stomach from growing. Killing people was easy. They were bad people, and their ends came undeservedly swiftly. This death had lingered for too long, wrapping around the room, crawling through arteries the way magic and life were supposed to.
It might have been better if King Aloysius had said something. Made a final decree or promise or some piece of advice for his children to carry with them. Might have been. The first moment of death didn’t come from the light fading out of his eyes, or that slow rise and fall of his chest eventually stopping. There was a before and after, and the line was muddied by the silence of each breath around the room.
No one left for a while. To leave would be to acknowledge that what had happened did happen, to solidify that a once great man had allowed himself to become a corpse. He was younger than Levin. He had to be.
The two younger children left first; Leander holding Ione’s hand. Ione was a young girl. Probably not older than seven. They looked like their older brother, who Hymir presumed looked like the other woman in the room, their mother. And the features that didn’t carry over were dominated by their father. Not that it was recognizable. Not in this state at least.
Dimitri dragged Hymir out next. It was the right thing to do. “Now do you get why we have to kill you?” Dimitri said, answer in the hollowness of his voice, nose twitching this time.
“I won’t tell.” Not willingly. It burned Hymir’s throat. Having a King be like… that was a powerful secret. Symbolic of things that might not have been true: the country was weak, its inhabitants refused to move on. Hymir didn’t know. Truth was easily hidden like that above what he was allowed to know.
A laugh. Cruel. Not like the one practiced for cameras. “You say that.” Dimitri walked closer. There was no reason to run, he had no weapon. But he was angry. He was angry, and hurt, and without supervision. Hymir’s back was against the wall. “But that’s the thing about you Fae. Someone just has to ask, and you can’t stop from saying-”
“Dima.” Dimitri backed up, not dropping his glare as he looked at Pallas. When his face returned to Hymir, it was closer to being numb than anything else.
The three walked in silence back to Pallas’s room. A triangle. Dimitri held Pallas’s hand, and Hymir trailed behind them because that was the right thing to do. Pallas’s free hand lingered on the doorknob. Just a moment. Just a confirmation that he was feeling… things.
They sat in a circle on the floor in front of Pallas’s bed. Pallas had to speak first. It couldn’t be Dimitri speaking for him (the media said he had a habit of doing that), and it definitely couldn’t be Hymir (he was an outsider who really shouldn’t have been there). And they couldn’t nudge him or give him clear glances or cough. Nothing. They were going to wait. That was it.