Knighthood, 106

You Don’t Always Need to Know What to Say, Especially if You Know What to Do

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Edwin was five minutes late for breakfast, but only because Erik hadn’t wanted him to pull out. But Robby had helped him put his armour on and now all three of them were ready to go.

Well, Robby was still sluggish and had had bad dreams last night, but he’d insisted he was okay to go back to class today and had certainly been okay for sex earlier. And Erik was walking a bit bow-legged, but he’d get over that, probably.

“Morning,” he said to Nigel, as he sat down. “You’re picking up the cats today, right?”

“Yeah,” said Nigel. “We just got an urgent message for you, from the castle.”

He held out a roll of paper, and Edwin took it as he let Nigel pour him some juice. “It’s probably from Elaine.” Breakfast smelled awesome, and Edwin hoped that whatever this message was didn’t…

Ed, said Owen’s scratchy handwriting. Gerard died last night. That was all it said.

Edwin stood up, putting the note in his pocket. “Has Ned come…there you are.” As he said that, Ned was coming into the room. “I need a favour.”

“Sure, what’s wrong?”

“I need you to teleport me to the castle right now.”

“What?” Erik asked. “Edwin, what’s wrong?”

Edwin looked at him, and he felt cold. “The king died,” he said quietly. “Last night.”

“Oh, fuck,” said Erik, putting an arm around Edwin. “Okay.”

“The king died?” Nigel asked. He looked stricken. “Is…what’s going to happen?”

“I don’t know,” Edwin told him, figuring it was best to be honest. He didn’t know what else to say. “Owen’s note didn’t say much. I’m sure we’ll get an official letter from someone later. I guess there’ll be a funeral and then they’ll make Gabrielle queen. Or maybe the other way around. I know it’s…a lot, but it’s really nothing to worry about. There are people who know how to make sure everything happens smoothly.” He assumed.

“Okay.” Nigel swallowed. “It’s just weird. I guess it’s different because you know him. But to me he doesn’t seem like a real person, really. So it’s weird that he’s just dead. I thought he wasn’t very old. Like my dad’s age.”

“Yeah,” Edwin said, letting Robby take his free hand. “He wasn’t. I have to go. I’m sorry I’m going to miss breakfast. You can come, if you’d rather not be alone.” Nigel and Nikolai had been hesitant to be alone the last few days because of the Drew stuff.

“No, no, we’ll be okay.” Nigel swallowed. “We’re going to go see our parents anyway. Is there going to be a lot of knight stuff to do because of this?”

“I don’t know,” Edwin said. There probably was. “Maybe. I mostly need to go see Gavin.” What the fuck was he going to say to Gavin? Fuck.

“Listen,” said Erik, softly. “I know you’ll want to tell your parents, but ask them not to spread this around yet, okay? Sometimes nobles don’t announce stuff like this right away, so it would be better if everyone doesn’t know until there’s an official announcement.”

“Okay.” Nigel swallowed.

“Why wouldn’t they tell anyone?” Robby asked. He’d disappeared and come back with coats.

Edwin didn’t know. “They might want all the details in place about his funeral and Gabrielle’s coronation so they can make it seem like nothing scary is happening.” He took a breath, decided not to say the second part.

“Or they might not want to disclose his cause of death,” Ned said, unhelpfully. “In case it was, you know.”

Well, it was out there now, so Edwin nodded. “It probably wasn’t. But yeah. Anyway, you guys can stay and eat breakfast, but I need to go.”

“We’ll come with you,” Erik said, and Robby nodded. Edwin loved them both so much.

“Okay. Thanks. Ned?”

“Sure. It’s easier if you close your eyes.”

Edwin did, and there was a pulling sensation, and when he opened them, he was standing just outside the castle gates with Erik and Robby. It looked normal, but even from here Edwin could see the outside guards looking more tense than usual. “Can I come in?” Robby asked. “I don’t know if Grey Rain and Greg will be up for it, but I want to at least see if they’re okay.”

“Sure,” said Edwin, nodding. Edwin didn’t know what to say to the kids either. Maybe Robby would know. “I imagine their head bodyguard will clear that. Come on.” He led his brothers into the castle. The guards let them through with no trouble, and Edwin went right to Gavin’s rooms, where Anthony was on the door. “Are they in there?” he asked.

Anthony nodded. “The kids are. The prince and Sir Owen are…” he looked at Robby. “With the king. I think they’ll be back pretty soon.”

“Okay,” Edwin said. “We’re going to go in.”

“I’ll stay out here,” Erik said.

“You don’t have to.”

“The kids don’t care about me as much as they do you,” Erik said, with a shake of his head. “There’s no reason to crowd them.”

That made sense. Edwin felt like he was moving on a track. “Okay. Thanks.” He went inside with Robby, found the main room empty. So he went over to the kids’ bedroom, and there they were, sitting on their bed together. He knocked on the doorframe.

Greg looked up, eyes red with tears. He tugged Grey Rain’s hand, and both boys waved him over. Edwin came over and sat on the bed beside them. Hey, I’m so sorry.

Are you guys okay? Robby asked, sitting on their other side. Can we get you anything?

Grey Rain shook his head. He had a black eye. We’re okay, sort of. King Cat is really sad.

We don’t really know what to do, Greg added. He had some pretty bad bags under his eyes. Or say.

Me either, Edwin promised them.

Robby sighed. There’s nothing you can say that will make it better. But he’ll appreciate you being there for him, I promise.

Greg looked down for a second, swallowing. It doesn’t feel like enough.

It will be, Edwin promised, though he felt the same way. Having to tell it to someone else helped. Family is always enough. I don’t know what to say or do either, but I knew I had to come here as soon as I heard.

Grey Rain was nodding. When Elk Fang died, having my cousins with me made me feel less lonely, even though I was still sad.

Edwin didn’t know who that was, but Greg obviously did, because he squeezed Grey Rain’s knee for a second. Okay. Thank you for coming. Both of you. You didn’t have to.

Robby smiled. The things we don’t have to do are usually the most important, don’t you think?

Edwin heard the outer door open and looked over. He got up when he heard Owen and Gavin come in, and Greg pulled Grey Rain to his feet too. They all went out into the main room, Robby following a few steps behind.

Gavin had been crying, and he was leaning heavily on Owen, who was also puffy-cheeked. They saw Edwin, and Gavin tried to stand straighter. Edwin bit his lip. “I don’t…know what to say. I’m so sorry.”

Gavin nodded, and he hugged Edwin, crying quietly. “I’m so glad you came. It’s your day off.”

“Owen sent me a note.”

Gavin nodded, hugging Edwin tighter. “Thank you,” he whispered. He saw the boys over Edwin’s shoulder, and waved them over. Greg and Grey Rain hugged him too, and Gavin wrapped his arms around them, not saying anything.

He didn’t need to. None of them did. Edwin had been so worried about what to say that he hadn’t thought that the best thing to do might be to say nothing at all.

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