Henry paused a moment, the tip of the dagger trembling beneath Seoc’s chin. He could see himself reflected by torchlight in the other man’s dark eyes, resigned eyes, glazed over as if in death. A small trickle of blood ran down along the blade, dripping, warm and sticky, onto his hand.
He wanted to hurt him. Make him suffer.
But no. No. He couldn’t.
Does he not deserve to feel the same pain that you do, Henry? Ought not he pay for what he has done to you?
That wasn’t fair, though. Seoc hadn’t been aware that he had wronged him. How was he to know? He might as well have been innocent.
Henry drew back his dagger a few inches so that it was still pointed at Seoc’s throat, but no longer touching his skin. The smaller man blinked, his muscles convulsing slightly in response to the lessened threat, but he did not relax his rigid posture.
Then it is the newt’s fault.
Slowly, without moving any other portion of his body, Henry let his eyes glide sideways to rest upon Seymour.
But he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t kill Seymour. No matter what Seymour did to hurt him. He couldn’t kill Seymour.
Then kill the little fairy boy. Not because he deserves it, but to punish the newt. And don’t believe the slimy green bastard’s threats. It won’t kill itself for him. It cannot love as a human does. It hasn’t a soul to love with!
Henry turned his attention back to Seoc.
You murdered your own parents, did you not? What’s one meddlesome little coward to you, one you hardly even know?
But he had murdered his parents because they deserved it. Seoc didn’t deserve to die. He had not known he had transgressed. Not unless Seymour had told him. And why would Seymour have told him?
In one swift and abrupt movement, Henry brought down the dagger, cutting the thorny vines that bound Seoc’s hands. Then he crouched and likewise freed Seoc’s feet. The severed bits of brier writhed on the floor like decapitated worms.
That dealt with, he rounded on Seymour. “Do you see what you’ve done to me?!”
The Aechyed did not answer. Henry sheathed his blade and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, pacing back and forth a yard or two a few times before stopping in front of Seymour’s immobilized form and slapping him hard across the face. The noise echoed in the spacious chamber, resounding upon the stone walls.
Seymour’s head jerked back in response to Henry’s attack, and he let out a small yelp. Ignoring the unpleasant, tingly stinging sensation in the palm of his hand, Henry drew back his arm and hit him again.
“Don’t you see what you’ve done?!”
The Aechyed cringed slightly, bowing his head as if anticipating another strike. “I-I’m sorry, Henry,” he mumbled. “I really am!”
“I thought you loved me. I thought I’d…I’d finally done something right…something to cause someone to want me…but I suppose I was wrong.”
“I’m sorry,” Seymour repeated.
“At the inn in Waelyngar…why did you kiss me?”
Sighing heavily, the Aechyed looked down at his flipper-like bare feet. “It was an impulse. I didn’t intend to, it just…happened. I suppose…I suppose I felt sorry for you.”
His words washed over Henry like frigid water, and he turned away, fighting back tears. “Of course,” he hissed. “Of course. I should have known it all along. Dammit, I should have expected it! That’s all I’ll ever be! An object of pity!” His breath catching, he sat down on the edge of the unmade bed and held his head in his hands awhile. Then, eventually, he looked back up to meet Seymour’s eyes. “It’s just…no one had ever kissed me before, and I thought…you know…I just…”
A change came over Seymour’s face then, a change that even Henry could recognize as an expression of profound shame. His mouth came open and his gaze wavered; he seemed almost to shrink.
“Oh, Henry,” said the Aechyed, his voice scarcely more than a whisper. “I am so sorry.”