He’d been only six when it’d happened. Vaati and his brother Octavo had remained at home while their parents had left… it was only supposed to be a short journey. They had left to go visit the neighboring kingdom, it shouldn’t have been more than a couple of days. It wasn't even the first time their parents had gone on a trip like this, so they hadn't thought at all to worry.
However, fate was not to be kind to them.
Though it was just a simple journey, tragedy struck. It was late in the afternoon when someone finally returned with the news, the lone survivor of the group that had been travelling with the king and queen.
Of course, neither Vaati nor Octavo had been present upon his arrival- they’d been off in Octavo’s room, talking and playing as children would. The twins had both turned their heads, looking towards the knight who’d entered the room, neither able to discern why he’d looked so distressed.
“It something wrong?” It was Octavo who’d spoken first, standing up. “What’s wrong?”
“Young masters… I have… I have horrible news.”
“What is it?”
“Your parents… have passed away.”
“I’m sorry, young masters… but they will not be returning home.”
Octavo was quick to push away the knight, closing the door behind him and just staring at Vaati. He’d been frozen in place the entire time, not knowing what to say or do…how could he know? Their parents were… were gone now.
“T-Tavo… What… what’re we gonna do?”
“I… I dunno, Vivi…”
Once things really started to sink in, Vaati found himself crying- tears rolled down his cheeks, and he didn’t even have it in himself to attempt to put anything further into words. What could he put into words? There were no words to describe this- their parents were dead now! Gone!
“H-Hey… Vivi, c’mere, don’t cry…” But despite his own apparent strength, Octavo was no better off- he pulled Vaati into a hug in an attempt to hide his own tears, ensuring that Vaati wouldn’t be able to see his brother’s face. “It’s… it’s gonna be okay, Vivi…”
The two children cried for quite a long time, nobody daring to intrude on their mourning. Vaati was too lost in his own sorrow to even think about anyone else in the castle- there was nobody else to think of, not right now. Not when everything in his life had just come crashing down in an instant like that.
“…’Tavo? What… what’re we gonna do?”
“I… I donno, Vivi… but it’s gonna be alright, okay? I promise.”
“But… but ‘Tavo… w-we’re all alone now… we’ve got nobody… nothing’s ever gonna be okay again… I… I miss them! I wanna see them again! I wanna see mama and papa!”
“I do too, Vivi, but we can’t! They aren’t here anymore…”
“I don’t wanna be here without them… I don’t wanna! I wanna see them! I wanna see them!!!”
“Vaati!” Octavo grabbed onto his shoulders, his grip strong as iron. It didn’t make Vaati stop crying, but it did stop his shouting for long enough for him to look up at his brother. “You can’t! You can’t go see them! But I promise, I’ll make sure things will be okay! I promise!”
“You can’t promise that! You just can’t!”
“Listen to me, Vaati! I’m your big brother, right?”
“But I was born first. I’m older, Vivi, so you can rely on me. I promise.”
“Y-You… you promise…?”
“Yeah. I promise. Things are gonna work out okay.”
“’Tavo… okay… okay. I’ll believe you, ‘Tavo… I trust you…”
He wouldn’t be completely alone, and that’s what mattered- he still had his brother, at the very least. And Octavo wasn’t going to just go away… so he’d cling to Octavo’s words, because that’s all he had to hold on to.
It was much later in the evening when the two young princes finally spoke to someone else, Octavo running and grabbing one of the royal guards. There were people in the castle who’d already started with preparations for the funeral, and trying to figure out what was to happen next… neither of the princes were really certain what to do, but now was hardly the time for that.
Vaati followed along, but he didn’t speak a word the entire time. He didn’t know what to say, and he felt like opening his mouth would only lead to crying- he didn’t want to be a burden. He didn’t want to just weigh Octavo down, by just continually crying… so he forced himself to keep his mouth shut.
He could hear the whispering, though- the people of the castle were all pitying them, speaking as if he couldn’t hear them. And by the goddesses, he wished he couldn’t- no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t shut the voices out. He simply had to deal with it, to pretend like he didn’t notice how everyone who stared at them was going to say something.
When it came to preparing for the funeral, at the very least, neither of them had to do anything. Vaati and Octavo just needed to be present- they were still only children, nobody would’ve put the responsibility of leading a funeral onto ones at their age. Vaati had just done his best not to cry- he didn’t do very well, but he at least managed to cry silently. It hadn’t shut out the way people had continued to speak, though- by the goddesses, they didn’t stop. The wind carried every word of it to his ears, a constant reminder of his new life situation that he hated.
“What… what’s gonna happen now…?”
He was holding his brother’s hand tightly after they’d finally been allowed privacy following the funeral, trying to pretend like he hadn’t been crying.
“We’re gonna be okay, Vivi. I promise. Okay?”
“Are you… gonna be king?”
“I don’t think I’m allowed to, yet. I’ve still got a lot of things to learn.”
“Th-then… then who’s gonna look after the kingdom…?”
“There’s a lotta advisors and people who worked for mama and papa. They’ll take care of things for us, until we’re old enough.”
“Y-You’ve got this… all figured out…”
“Didn’t I say? You can rely on me, Vivi. Rely on your big brother.”
Vaati bit at his lip, finding it impossible to really just be calm or okay with things. How could he be, honestly? But, that was why Octavo was so reliable… he was a lot better at dealing with things than Vaati was. Especially considering the fact that he didn’t have the wind to tell him things, like Vaati did- he didn’t have to hear all of the extra things. He was safe from all of the whispers, as far as Vaati was aware.
And hopefully, it would stay like that.