I'll Never Forgive You
"Remember this, both of you: there's nothing more important than family."
The Princess stood awkwardly, a child in awe of her imposing mother. Her gangly teenage brother seemed similarly affected, but hid it beneath his usual moody demeanour. The pair of them had been bickering again – Princess Lucille had been caught sneaking out of the palace grounds yet again and her brother had taken it upon himself to tell her off for it.
She couldn't help it if she was enticed by the outside world. It was fascinating to see the bustle of Bowerstone Market or visit the old quarter where her mother had spent her earliest years before becoming a great hero. And of course, Elliot had dared her to sneak out. Logan didn't understand any of that though, he just yelled about how she was going to get herself in trouble – 'what if someone kidnapped and ransomed you', and all that.
The Queen was generally very lenient with her children. Since their father had passed away, she liked them to be independent – although she encouraged them to practice their combat skills and learn the laws and politics of the land. One thing she would never tolerate, however, was them quarrelling with each other.
"But she was being thick again!" Logan protested. "I was just making sure she didn't get hurt. She's so stupid that she'd probably have fallen in the river if I hadn't stopped her."
"I'm not stupid!" Lucille argued, kicking him in the ankle with all the strength she could muster.
That turned out to be a good deal of strength as he hopped on the spot, clutching his foot. Logan glared at his indignant sister. "That hurt, you... you trollop!"
She aimed another kick at him, but her older brother evaded the attack. The Queen cleared her throat, folding her arms and surveying the pair with a thoroughly unimpressed expression. Her children quickly fell silent. They'd heard the stories about how their mother had once fought off fifty armed men whilst bouncing baby Logan on her hip. Nobody with a brain messed with her.
"It's your responsibility to protect your sister," she told Logan patiently, now that she had their full attention. "And Lucille, it's yours to support your brother. You never know what might happen, and believe me – you don't want something to befall one of you, with all those feelings left unsaid. You're family. Even if everyone else turns their back, you can always count on each other – remember that."
To reinforce her point, the Queen took the hand of her son and daughter, and then folded them together. Lucille wrinkled her nose at her brother's sweaty hand in hers, whilst Logan made an affronted noise and snatched it back.
"I'm not holding hands with my sister!"
The Queen cuffed him round the head. "Pay attention, you. I'm trying to teach you an important lesson. This is what comes from spoiling them... Were me and Rose ever this bad?"
With that, she turned on heel and headed off to where Sir Walter was waiting with important royal duties to discuss. They were probably going to go and do something Heroic, like saving villagers from balverines or rescuing kittens from trees. Although, last time it was something to do with taxes.
Lucille looked up at her brother, stuck out her tongue – much to his indignation – and ran off before he could think up some clever reply that she didn't understand.
The entirety of Bowerstone's Old Quarter was consumed by flames. Civilians had unavoidably been killed as Lucille's forces stormed the city, slaughtering Logan's troops as they came. The deaths of the innocent citizens grieved her, but she would find a way to make it up to the people once she took her brother's throne. Then she could right all of his wrongs.
With the help of all the allies she and Walter had gathered, the unprepared soldiers of Bowerstone were outmatched. They held more military training and superior gear, but with the element of surprise and overwhelming numbers – plus Kalin's naval assistance – forcing her way into the city had been less trouble than expected.
Now they had breached the castle. They just had to take Logan, and it would all be over.
Lucille – decked out in a military suit to appear like the authoritative, dignified leader she aspired to be – sprinted down the castle corridor, Walter on her heels. The place was virtually deserted. All able-bodied men had been directed to deal with the coup, whilst the servants were cowering safely elsewhere.
"Be prepared for a fight, Walter! Logan won't go easily!" she yelled a warning back to her mentor. Her brother was tall and wiry, not the usual build of a warrior, but he was more than capable of holding his own. He also happened to be intelligent, and clearly cruel. She didn't put it past him to use dirty tactics.
"I'm not worried, Princess," Walter boomed, the constant voice of confidence. Just hearing him inspired her in a way the King never did. "The King he might be, but Logan's no match for a Hero. You'll snap him like a twig."
They closed in on the war room, where Logan undoubtedly was. Lucille drew her gun, readying it in her hands, whilst Walter clasped a sword. No matter what the King had waiting in there, they could take him.
"Think we should knock? Nah, let's give him a surprise," Walter said.
In unison, she and Walter booted the doors with their feet. The double doors swung open, and they lifted their weapons, ready for a fight.
Logan drew his sword, arching an eyebrow with that imperious air he seemed to excel at. "So, this is how it ends – the old fool, and the child who ran away. You've finally become the woman I wanted you to be."
Lucille faltered. She stared at him as he sheathed the sword again, regarding them expectantly. Walter didn't seem fazed by Logan's lack of resistance. "She's a lot more than that," he said, folding his arms. "And now she's ready to take your place."
"Perhaps the time has come for someone else to lead Albion."
"You were never a leader, just another tyrant!" Lucille snapped at him, irritated by his complacent attitude. Why wasn't he attacking them? Why was he just stood there like events were playing out exactly as he had hoped? She could never tell what Logan's game was. They were in the midst of a coup, and yet he was behaving as though they were here on his terms.
Logan shrugged, running a gloved hand over the map table as he approached. Sensibly, he stopped out of range of Walter's hands, so the older man couldn't throttle him. "Did it ever occur to you that I might have had good reason to be?"
"We're not interested in your reasons," replied Walter firmly.
The King rose up to his full height, not intimidated by the larger man. "Cower behind ignorance if you will, but my sister deserves to know the truth."
"Save it for the trial, Logan," said Walter. "You can beg for your life then."
Lucille couldn't meet her brother's eyes. Instead she stared at the map table, hardening her face into a mask so that he couldn't see her conflicted emotions. Walter dragged him away by the arm, to the dungeons to await trial. She knew what had to happen now, and part of her longed for it: the grim satisfaction of getting revenge and seeing justice done. But that didn't change the fact that he was the only family she had left – excluding Walter and Jasper, her adopted family – and she felt guilty both for wanting to kill him and for wanting to spare him.
A part of her still wanted to believe that the brother she had once admired and respected was still in there, behind the face of that autocrat. There had to be a reason that he would commit all these crimes, she couldn't accept that it was simply a lust for power.
She wanted to believe that nothing had changed from the days when she got into trouble and he would always defend her, when they played innocent tricks on each other and grudges were never held. The trouble was, everything had changed.