For everyone who saw this on livejournal, this is shadowwraith99 under a different penname. I am working in book-verse on this one; in the book, there is no scene with the Bishop and so we do not see Septimus offer Primus a way out of killing each other.


He was not a killer. It seemed odd, perhaps; a Prince of Stormhold was supposed to be ruthless, a cunning and conscienceless murderer if he expected to survive. Somehow, though, Primus could not bring himself to do it; he could not kill his baby brother, no matter how convinced he was that Septimus would not spare him if it came down to the two of them in the end. Somehow he could not stop seeing the little boy that his sixth brother had been once upon a time; the little boy whom Primus had taught to read, and whom he had comforted when Una disappeared. And sometimes, when he was feeling particularly optimistic (or delusional; he was never sure which) he would remember that Septimus had never raised a hand against him; never, in all the years of lies and murders, had Septimus targeted his eldest brother. And yet he had to wonder… was it because Septimus did not want to kill him? Or was it because the youngest Prince of Stormhold simply had not gotten around to it yet? His eyes had become so cold in recent years; there was no feeling there anymore, or if there was it was hidden deep down where Primus could not see it.

He had considered waiving his claim. He did not want to be king, not really; he was a firm believer in the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and he was not sure he trusted himself with the responsibility. Every time he thought about it, though, his brothers' eyes prevented him. Secundus was too proud; he would plunge them into a war they could not win and then have the audacity to look surprised. Tertius was too soft and Septimus… he could not be sure about Septimus. He was ruthless, certainly; Sextus and Quintus could have testified to that had they been alive. He had none of Secundus's extravagance and there was something about him that was forbidding, a hint of an iron fist hidden under the tatty coat and politely blank mask. When Secundus died, Primus breathed a sigh of relief; the worst possible king had just been eliminated from the running. That, however, left a scholar, a hedonist, and a potential dictator. He watched Septimus as they interred their father's body in the Royal Hallows. Even now there was no hint of emotion, no sign of filial affection or grief, although to be fair Primus himself was dry-eyed. And yet… there was something about Septimus's manner that gave him away, a certain stiffness to his movements and a distracted air about him that alerted Primus to the fact that all was not as it seemed. Septimus had, after all, been their father's favorite son; he had understood the old King as no one else had. Something in Primus softened a bit; so Septimus did still feel things. When Tertius had fled, cold and afraid of the ghosts of the Hallows, Primus lingered, watching his youngest sibling.

"Don't you have somewhere to be, Primus?" Septimus asked pointedly.

"No more than you do," Primus answered without rancor. They remained, not speaking for some time. At last it was Primus who broke the silence.

"I should be preparing to leave," he said. "Will you be alright?" Septimus stared at him for a long moment searching his brother's face as if looking for some hint of deceit. Finally, however, he nodded; Primus thought he saw a flash of something like gratitude on the younger man's face. Primus inclined his head in acknowledgement and then turned on his heel and left the tomb.

They were ready to depart when he saw Septimus again. Tertius had gone ahead, ready and willing to leave at any time; Primus was still in the stables waiting for the coachman, and Septimus…

Was right behind him, as he discovered when he whirled around. Septimus held up his hands; he held no weapon, and Primus relaxed a little.

"Ready to leave?" he asked. Septimus nodded curtly. Primus turned away as if to leave; his brother's hand on his arm stopped him. They had a rule about touching; it wasn't done. The older man raised one eyebrow, and Septimus stared at him intently.

"It's not too late," Septimus said quietly. Primus's right eyebrow joined the left, and he looked at Septimus quizzically. "You can still turn back. If you want to be the first Prince to see his brother crowned King…." Primus stared at his brother for a moment and then, slowly, regretfully, shook his head.

"You know I can't," he said. Septimus seemed to search his brother's face for a moment and then his hand dropped to his side; his face went blank again, losing what little animation it had had. He nodded.

"As you wish."