Phillip trembled from head to foot. Gusts of wind blew, and, from the open window of the attic, the chill spread into Phillip’s veins. Phillip’s palace gathered cobwebs. How could he have…? He squinted eyes closed, through wave and wave of self-faced hate. Hate warm with tears.

Phillip knocked his forehead against the glass, once, twice. If he might knock out his idiocy…

Phillip jumped, a good two feet back onto the hard wood boards. Footsteps were following him. He froze, ears pricked. Rion couldn’t have dressed that quickly, could he? Luckily, those steps were light enough not to be Rion’s, though. For that, Phillip was grateful. He smeared the tear-trail at his jaw and rubbed an ankle.

Benjamin rushed up the attic steps, hands and feet nimble from all his riding. Phillip turned his cheek from the trapdoor.

“Phillip, whatever is the matter? I heard a door slam and footsteps… I wondered.” He placed a hand on Phillip’s shoulder, but he brushed it away.

“I’ve done a terrible act and wounded someone I ought not have.”

“What happened?”

“I lost my temper again with Rion, and I threw an ornament at his – at Lysander.”

Benjamin fell into gaping for a whole minute. He played the fool well, through the conglomerate of questioning gaze, but his eyes were calculating.

He spoke in a voice free from fumbling. “All right. Dare I ask quite exactly what happened? How did you both end up in this position?”

At the horrible cunning – though Ben had not meant to be sly with his choice of words – Phillip’s sight blurred. Fresh tears.

“I…didn’t mean to…” He sobbed.

Benjamin laid a hand on his shoulders, but Phillip whirled away. He shuddered as the fear took hold of him again, and the droplets dripped from his eyeballs. Nothing hurt him more than what he had seen, what he had stood witness to in the dying hours of the day. He hated every single act.

“What if I have killed him directly?” Phillip lamented.

Benjamin raised his eyebrows. “I doubt that. By the sounds of it, you only injured him. However, I can help. Take me to him.”

Heat spread through Phillip’s cheeks. He couldn’t. Not whilst Rion stood bare in his cell.

Phillip quivered. He shook his head back and forth. “I am sorry, Ben. No.”

He drew back, burnt, from the window-edge. Phillip tore himself from the dark corner of the house, always intending his retreat to lead him back to the bedroom…as much as he wished to dive away from that second darkness.

If he could rewrite his action…

Phillip’s footsteps pounded the floor as his throat clogged. He shook his head of the new, confused tears. Run through it all. Benjamin was no runner – he had not followed.

Phillip halted, held to his post by the shadow at the base of his sight. Dressed from head to foot in his black suit, Rion stood in his path, arms crossed. Phillip stopped, toppling from foot to foot. He swallowed.

“Is Lysander…?”

Rion’s eyes dissolved into narrow slits, dark. “Don’t you dare call him that. It is not his name. After your damage –”

“I am sorry.”

“Not enough. I can take your verbal aggravation, but your physical sniping of me has gone too far. Yakinos will be fine in the long term; less can be said of you and I, Brother. He has dislocated his right shoulder-bone, thanks to you. I cracked it back in place, but it will be sore for the next few weeks.”

Phillip avoided his eyes. “Look, I –”

“Forget it, Phillip. You cannot undo what you have done, or the embarrassment you have set over that boy. He only wanted –! Why am I even making excuses for us both?”

Phillip boiled once more. His forced his curled nails into his palms. “Me? I only ever tried to protect you from the h–” He bit his tongue. Where had anger ever advanced him before? It had only ever set him back. Phillip shot his brother a glare and ran the way he had come.

CostelloMansion uncoiled itself in Phillip’s path; the walls and ways beyond stretched longer than Phillip had ever felt them stretch before. The world moved onwards, whilst he himself found contentment in what lay behind. Phillip shook the black veins of his out of his eyes as he ran. Those untruths stained his vision: he found no pleasantries with Rion and Rion’s…companion. Ridiculous as it was, he had no excuse for his actions. Bitter, blacker actions.

The End

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