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Mundus Vult Decipi

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   If Viggo didn't have an arm around his waist, a warm hand curled around his hip in silent restraint, Kahel was sure he would have broken his several years long streak of being able to keep his temper under control. It wasn't as much the fact that his husband's touch was the only thing that could ever keep him calm - though that helped - as much as the fact that he could feel the way Viggo's fingers dug into the fabric there, too sharp nails pricking his skin and telling him that Viggo was just as furious, if not more so. Years ago, he wouldn't have even noticed, would've kept on getting angry, demanding answers - but he wasn't that person anymore. They couldn't both afford to be violently upset - if one of them were to lash out, the other had to keep his head enough to reel him back in. 

   "Tell me you're joking." At least his voice wasn't shaking, that he could tell. Jocelyn's expression didn't change, cloudy and helpless and - Kahel gripped Viggo's hand, tried to steady his breathing. "Tell me they're doing this again?" He hissed, but he relaxed his hold slightly when Viggo winced. "Even though it blew up in their faces last time? Are they insane, or just old, incompetent, and entirely moronic?

   Had it really turned into something so desperate? Why had it been allowed to turn into something this bad?

   There was nothing he could say now, when the Elders had chosen to do this, but if he didn't say anything, he felt like he would explode. Kahel took a shuddering breath. "...I should've burned the Council down when I had the chance." He muttered with a fair amount of acid, and he felt Viggo relax against him, a quiet chuckle rumbling through his chest that Kahel could feel against his shoulder. It was still strained, but in a way, they had both come to some understanding about this. 

   Not acceptance.

   Never acceptance.

   "When will we have to tell them?" Viggo asked her quietly, and Kahel pressed his cheek into the side of Viggo's neck, feeling the way the words were carefully considered before being formed and shaped into sound. The low timbre of Viggo's voice was like an anchor that kept him in check. 

   "As soon as possible." Jocelyn sounded tired, run ragged, and they supposed she had to be, arguing with the Elders for the past several days without rest. "They aren't giving us a lot of choice, or time." 

   "I wish I could say I'm surprised, even after everything." Kahel muttered, apparently still unwilling to let it go, but his expression melted into one of concern. "There is still time, I can convince them about Cilia and Cynth-"

   Jocelyn shook her head. 

   "They have to do what they must." The words were forced, repeated. Kahel had heard them so many times before. The words that had once been said to him before he was shipped off with his own siblings. Hearing them before made him angry. Hearing them from his own sister's mouth infuriated him, even if it looked like it physically hurt her to say them. "As the crown heirs of the eldest-" 

   "Cinna and Rine are older than them. At the very least, Cilia should-"

   "Age doesn't matter to them, Kahel, they were willing to pick Tori-"

   "-must we ally ourselves to all of them-"

   "-wasn't our choice to-"

   Viggo coughed into his fist and the two of them jolted, bickering fading away into quiet glares. "There's nothing we can do about it now." He reminded them. Kahel's sullen look deepened, and Viggo smoothed his husband's furrowed brow with his thumb. "We don't have to like it, but we're to do everything we can to support them. They need us. We didn't have anyone there for us, but we're not going to make that mistake with them." Kahel didn't respond but his silence, and the way he tilted forwards to lay his head on Viggo's shoulder, was answer enough. Viggo inclined his head at Jocelyn. "You should go to them now." He said gently. "We'll tell the others on our side." Jocelyn sighed, running her fingers through her hair, but relented, pausing in the motion of standing up.

   "Kahel-"

   "I know." He interrupted and straightened from where he had been leaning against Viggo. "I'm not angry at you. It's not like it will be easier for you to tell the girls any more that it will be for me and..." He sighed and, after a second's hesitation, held out his hands, waiting for her to grasp them in her own before pressing their foreheads together. Physical contact with anyone other than Viggo was still something foreign to him, and it had been a long time since he had even shared it with Jocelyn, but he felt her relax and was a little relieved she wasn't pushing him away. "I'm just frustrated." He muttered and Jocelyn finally, finally cracked a small, tired smile, squeezing his hands one last time and kissing his cheek. 

   "You wouldn't be you if you weren't." 

   The silence they were left with when she was gone seemed to loop around his neck and tighten while he pressed his hands to his face. "....I don't want them to go through what we had to." He eventually spoke, his voice so tight it cracked with the true extent of his anxiety, breath hitching in panic. "I don't want them to think we're just pawning them off for some idealistic future. I don't want them to hate us for this. Viggo-" Viggo dragged him closer, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and winding his fingers through the too long strands of his hair. 

   "They won't." Viggo murmured against his temple and Kahel crumpled the fabric of Viggo's vest in his hands. 

   "How do you know that?" He swallowed against the bitter trepidation that threatened to rise. "How do you know this won't be another Ceviel? I hated everyone for what they did to us then. The Elders, our parents. I hated them for years. I didn't stop hating even after it became useless to hate, and Cyril is too much like me for that to not be a possibility for her." A somewhat hysterical laugh bubbled past his lips. "-Gan'kir, out of all the girls they could have chosen-" He didn't even realize he was shaking until he felt Viggo's hand stroking his back; a continuous loop of warmth from the base of his neck down the arch of his spine. The motion soothed him, until he was pliantly tucked under Viggo's chin. 

   "They won't," Viggo repeated. "Because we aren't our parents. Because we were there for them - you were there for them. You chose to care, and we didn't miss one second of their lives. They won't, because we'll be there." He kissed him then, brief and sweet and Kahel was reminded just how lucky he was that Viggo had never given up on him, had never stopped loving him; how lucky he was to have been given the opportunity to return those feelings even when the world was against them. His eyes burned and he reached up to wrap his arms around Viggo's neck, tracing silent gratitude into his skin - thank you for being here, thank you for staying by my side, thank you for loving me. 

   Their future had been uncertain once, and now it was again, and maybe it would be in the future, but right here, right now, he felt as if they would be able to face anything.

   Even, if it came down to it, another war.