Summary: Memoirs of the Conté Kings. A collection.

Title: Bruises

Character: Roald (snr)

Rating: G

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His backside hits the ground with a soft thud. Roald whimpers slightly; the stone is cold in the shade of the harsh summer day. Scrambling back up, he eyes his older brother warily.

Nine-year-old Reginald advances on the younger Prince. A grin slowly spreads across his face. He is the older son, the heir, and he does what he wants. The pudgy six-year-old hits the pavement with a harder smack this time. For a moment, Roald doesn't move. Reginald fleetingly wonders if he has pushed too hard. Then the boy on the ground stirs, and he chuckles to mask his brief apprehension.

He hears laughter behind him as his spectators note their cue. They are his well-bred chorus. The Prince basks in their admiration for his bravery. After all, his father says that a king needs keep his subjects in their places. Reginald gets an early start with his brother.

Menacingly, he places a foot on Roald's chest. "I didn't say you could get up." He delights to see that tears well in his victim's eyes.

Roald bites his lip. He refuses to cry. "I don't need to ask you. Leave me alone." He looks up into his brother's deep blue eyes pitifully.

The oldest brother smirks, but the game becomes less fun as his Roald refuses to submit. He turns to another boy cowering slightly in the shadows. "Rufus", Reginald coaxes, "would you like to come and play?" Slowly, the youngest Prince leaves the safety of the doorway. He edges around the boy lying on the pavement, as gracefully as a four-year-old can manage.

Reginald throws one last look of disgust down at Roald. He scuffs dirt onto what he knows is the other boy's favorite play tunic. Leading hid friends away, he muses out loud. "Rufus, I need a footman. Or a dog," He pauses. "Yes, you can be my dog. Bark for me!" The other boys giggle as the King's son bellows like an animal.

Roald sees a figure standing over him, offering him a hand. Gareth of Naxen, a friend of his brother, tries to haul him up. The Prince pushes him away, attempting to salvage what remains of his dignity. "Just go!" Roald orders angrily. He stands on chubby legs, and then doubles over in pain. The older boy watches him shrewdly for a moment, then shrugs and follows Reginald and his pack.

Tears stream down Roald's cheeks. He spends the rest of the summer alone in the nursery.