Theodore played with Emma's hair as she lay in his lap, Willaby behind them creating a delicate flower crown with his long fingers.
Theodore didn't understand why the princess was so comfortable with him. She shouldn't, no one should be- his job, even though he was just a teen, was literally killing people. She knew he was an assassin and yet the princess lay on him like none of that mattered, her eyes shut peacefully and the sun glittering in her sunset red hair.
The air around the courtyard was calm, the soft scents of the garden around them seeming to seep into his skin, the sun pouring gently upon them.
“You know,” Emma whispered from where she lay. Theodore's fingers paused as he was about to tangle together another short braid. Her hair was short for a girls, but he thought it suited her. “I've always wanted a brother my age.”
Theodore felt his insides curl. It's okay Theodore! Boe had told him once after his mothers death. You can be my brother now! The memory of bloody glass in his hands entered Theodore's mind, the smell of blood seeming to fill his nose as he forced himself from the past.
“I'm not your brother,” Theodore stated shortly, his fingers going back to work. Willaby had paused with his flower crown to watch them quietly. “I will never be your brother.”
Emma's eyes snapped open and she tipped up her head just enough to stare into his, green eyes on blue. “You could be.”
Theodore had to bite back his feelings. What was with her and Prince William? Did they not understand what he was? He was a killer! He killed constantly, death following his every step since he was a small child, he had even attempted to kill their brother- he wasn't just some kid that they could adopt off the street.
“I'm good.” He finally lamented. He couldn't make his connections with the royals stronger, not with what he was going to do soon.
Emma seemed to bite back disappointment as she lowered her head back down. “Friends then.”
Theodore grimaced. No attachments. He didn't want to hurt them like he had hurt Boe. He didn't want to have to kill another person he loved and the best way to do that was to avoid loving people. Attachments would only hold him down.
But he found himself nodding. “Fine. Whatever child.” He said the last bit like an insult, but Emma didn't seem to care.
She beamed, closing her eyes again as her red bangs hovered over them. Willaby had turned his attention back to his flower crown.
“You almost done Wil-boy?” Theodore asked him.
Willaby shrugged, his hazel-green eyes flitting to Theodore for a moment. He had stopped fighting the nickname the day before which was honestly disappointing. Oh, how Theodore loved to tease Willaby, get under his skin, and annoy him. It was a nice distraction.
“Almost.” The guard said, tangling together the last of the flowers in his lap. “Just gotta... Done!”
He held up the crown proudly. Theodore would be lying to himself if told himself it was anything but spectacular. He had seen flower crowns before, even had made a few, though those were always trash, but this one, this one was amazing. Each flower had been so carefully entwined together and you could see it, the workmanship was something he had definitely not expected from his guard.
“Wow man, you could sell this thing for hundreds.” Theodore whispered as he took the crown from him, careful as he handled the delicate flowers.
“See!” Emma chirped as she sat up and turned herself so she was on her knees, causing Theodore's lap to become cold abruptly from the absence of her warmth. “I told him they were amazing but he didn't believe me!”
Willaby blushed, brushing dark curls from his face. “Guys- it's just a bunch of flowers.”
“A pretty freaking good-look'n bunch of flowers.” Theodore muttered as he stared down at it.
He became distracted by the long cuts on his hands as the flowers gently brushed against them. Another small but painful reminder he had lost everything, but for once they didn't bother him as much. Maybe one day they would heal and leave white marks permanent across his hands. But for now, they were just healing, almost like he was. Eventually, he would go and do something to painfully tear the wounds open, like how he would soon destroy any progress he made emotionally. But the burdens he carried would never turn into little nearly forgotten white marks. He would never escape the pain and unhealed wounds that followed him through this ill-fated life.
“Here Theodore.” Emma's gentle voice tore Theodore from his thoughts. Her green eyes seemed to glow in the sunlight as she watched him, carefully gathering the crown from his now shaking hands. She tenderly placed it on Theodore's hair, a smile tugging at her lips. “You make handsome royalty my good sir.” She said, the last few words almost musical.
“I'm not royalty.” Theodore snapped, though there was cheer in his tone now.
“Maybe.” Emma teased, her nose wrinkling up in concentration as she adjusted the crown on top of his golden curls. Willaby pulled over another pile of flowers to himself and began weaving another crown, softly humming to himself.
Theodore didn't want this to end.
But all good things had to come to an end eventually. No point in mourning something he was going to ultimately lose.
But he couldn't help but wish he could somehow make this last forever.