I don't know how to make it any clearer that the boy is dead. Basilton won't look at me. He won't look at anyone. He's just hunched over on the ground, staring at the mess that he's made, saying Wake up, Simon. Please, love. Simon. Come on, and everything under the sun.
The powerful servant girl, Penelope, always loud, is being too loud for me to even concentrate. She's weeping like I've never heard anyone weep before, and she's clearly in too much agony to desperately coat the boy in magic. All mages do their best when they're losing or have lost a loved one. They both won't move away from him, even as dusk approaches.
The boy. Simon. Basilton's boy.
I've dried out of tears long ago, let alone for people I never once knew. But Basilton, he's— both of them— I've never seen so much pain.
But we can't stay out here. Amongst all this blood and decay. The remainder of The Coven is soon to be on their way, and none of us have enough energy to make it through another fight. And I don't know if it's settled in for Basilton yet. That this was his doing.
That he lost control.
That he gutted Simon before he could understand what he was doing. We tried to avoid this. I tried to avoid this. But everything fell together at the wrong time. Under a full, blood, super moon, there was nothing that would've stopped him.
Nothing but Simon's death, I suppose. I can't explain the look in Basilton's eyes when he came to his senses. . .
I walk over, unsteady on the limp I've acquired in my leg. I nearly slip on a man's innards. It's all so foul, but I'm too familiar with it to be bothered.
"Basilton," I start. Penelope won't settle down. (And how will she act once she sees that Basilton is the one to blame? Although he isn't. None of this would have happened if…) "I'm so sorry."
I'm supposed to be encouraging him to leave. But he won't look away. The adrenaline from our battle is escaping through the soles of my feet and I'm falling against him. He doesn't move.
"I'm sorry," I'm telling him. He's speaking over me. More pleas. "But it's not your fault. Don't say this is your fault."
I fear that if he does, or more accurately, when he does, he won't hesitate to take his own life. Because he's properly dramatic, and tragic, and an abomination in his eyes. Because he's got Grimm and Pitch blood and that in itself is an invitation for a destructive ending.
I don't want that for him. I can't let him. But I won't be able to stop him on my own, will I?
No. Please. Basilton, don't. Don't. Don't.
I fall against the ground, pain shooting up my side, because Penelope has realised what I predicted that she would. I wouldn't take it well, either.
It's an awful sight. Simon Snow, covered not only his own blood, but so many others. Simon Snow, lifeless, blanketed by death, and Penelope Bunce using all her strength to defend a corpse. And Prince Basilton, too far gone in his own head to understand that he's hurting her, too. That he's only seeing her as another foe and not a heartbroken grieving girl that was just his ally before everything caved in.
I manage to get in between them but it's not enough. So I end up spelling them apart and then spelling them put. Only for now. The Coven is still approaching.
"This wasn't how it was supposed to go!" Penelope, fighting against my magic but not budging. "You destroyed everything! How could you? How did I allow myself to trust you? Do you see what you've done!?"
Basilton is still silent.
"You monster! You absolute monster! Bring him back!!"
This is just asking for more death. This is all wrong.
"Bring him back," she cries, and her head falls into the filth below her. "Bring him back, Baz."
"He can't." I try it as soothing and understanding as I can. "There's nothing we can do. I'm sorry for what happened here, for both of you, but—"
"Shut up! You don't know him! You didn't—! I swear to you both that I won't rest until you're dead by my hands. Look at him, Basil!" It's all he's been doing. "He's gone because of you!"
I silence her. I have to. It's the only way to postpone the inevitable. What am I doing, Natasha? How did we get here?
There's a shift in the wind. I take a deep breath that only sways me.
I turn away from the girl and focus on Basilton. His eyes are something else. Dark, empty, wild, and glossed all in the same. An unforgiving storm who's destruction I can see all too clearly. At this point, I'm positive that there's no turning this into something where things are okay in the end. When are they ever?
A murder of crows carries with the sound of marching feet.
"We have to leave. Now." I wish there was a better way out. We'll all die when The Coven arrives, but these two won't care. To them, they've only got their lives to lose.
I can't panic.
"Basilton," he clenches his jaw, fingers twitching. One wrong step and everything is over. "We have to move away from here. You must understand. This can't end for you here, not like this. I know you're hurting." He finally looks my way, past me, (through me), and I take another deep breath. "But we have to go, you and I. We— your mother… and Simon, they wouldn't want…" No, no. I can't be doing this right. "Now isn't the time to...you…" Fuck. "You have to live for him, Basilton. You have to live for Simon, and Natasha, and your sisters and brother. Your kingdom."
I think...some part of that weaved its way into his mind. I stand, cautiously nearing him although he's surrendered under my magic.
"I promised your mother that I'd see this through."
That earns me a more human reaction than most. Now was the best time to admit it. It has to give me some sort of leverage.
"When I let you up, you're going to come with me." I glance at Penelope. "I'll let the girl up when we're far enough into the woods. I need to keep you safe."
The frenzy of cawing is too close. I let up the spell before clarifying that he'd do as I say. That he'd listen, that he'd understand. I do it because I too am as desperate as I've ever been.
But because I'm cursed, nothing ever truly goes how I wish it to.
Once Basilton has stumbled onto his feet, he's barreling past me before I know what hit me. When I look back, Simon is scooped up into his arms, and I can't see the expression he wears. Penelope is screaming behind my restraints. Basilton is gone, gone, gone, off into the woods. My magic, when I shoot it, doesn't hit. None of it lands. And I don't have the speed to run after him. The Coven is beginning to appear through the other side of the trees, and a crackling sound, like thunder in the earth, rips in the ground around us. Flocks of birds retreat from their places in the branches as the trees violently tremble. A vicious heat breathes into the air and I can't help but scream out, and the men of The Coven do as well. But it soon disappears with a pop, like everything else, as it goes unnaturally silent and still.
When it all comes back, it's with a rumble so deep that our planet must be turning itself upside down.
When I focus, all I see are flames. The trees have caught fire. The bodies. Everything is blazing. Everything is blue.
I've failed you, Natasha. This is truly the end.