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Burn The Plot To Cinders

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Skull is nineteen and acts like he's thirteen, with dark purple hair and colour matched lipstick with eyeliner. In a time where people dress in layers upon layers of lace and ruffles to fluff themselves up like peacocks, Skull stands out for his plain but vibrant purple clothes. This is not a good thing.

The only part Skull got to pick was the colour, because Mammon won't buy him anything other than plain shirts and slacks. Skull had to beg for riding boots because Mammon is that frugal despite usually being the richest person in whatever town they move to.

Skull is Mammon's son, born because Mammon thought it would be prudent to secure the inheritance before the…accident. Mammon's spouse had a brother who would have definitely protested the money going to a newly widowed Mammon, but as Skull was the rightful heir, the brother could do nothing about it.

Skull very quickly becomes a part of Mammon's schemes. Mammon can't fake soft, mushy love so instead they wave Skull around as proof they have a heart because isn't the boy adorable, I made him myself.

Baby Skull is taught to cry crocodile tears and act cute. With this extra boost, Mammon leisurely makes their way through several marriages, which all meet abrupt ends when Mammon's spouses have terribly unfortunate accidents. Along with riches and mansions, Mammon also acquires two handsome stepsons.

Colonnello is older than Skull by a year and was the first stepson to join them. He's a tall and muscular young man with bright blue eyes and golden hair. Mammon's spouse this time actually dies entirely on accident during a border skirmish, which was a nice surprise for Mammon.

Unfortunately, Mammon then has to fight to keep Colonnello from running off and joining the army like his now dead parent. Instead, Mammon keeps the blond firmly at home, where the son can bait young ladies into showering him with presents.

Mammon holds Colonnello's short leash with an iron grip, lying in wait for a truly rich one to come along before they're willing to sign away the stepson's life.

Then Mammon meets yet another spouse, not as rich as they're used to but with a son even more handsome than Colonnello; Reborn is all darkness with sharp edges and a wicked smirk. Mammon is getting old even if they're still as cunning as ever, but with children Mammon can continue to gather riches without much effort.

Skull doesn't know what happened exactly, but as he was packing up the old house with Colonnello and Mammon, some bad people visited Mammon's new spouse. Only Reborn walked away from that.

Reborn attracts even more people than Colonnello, and unlike the blond, he can play along. The family is showered in gifts every day, from men and women hoping to attract Reborn's attention.

Skull sits on the kitchen floor, a bucket of soapy water and a rag off to the side while he flicks small bits of cheese at the mice that run around him. He used to have a brush but he sort of broke it and Mammon won't fork out the money to get another so Skull's hands hurt if he cleans for too long. Thus, a lunch break for his pets.

"You know rats give you the plague, right?"

Skull's head whips around to find his two stepbrothers standing in the doorway. Colonnello, the one that spoke, has his hands tucked into his pockets. Reborn beside him has his arm crossed over his chest, leaning against the doorframe.

"They're mice," Skull protests.

"Is that supposed to be better?" Colonnello scoffs.

Reborn leans over to stage whisper; "Actually, fleas on the rats carried the plague, not the rats themselves."

Colonnello corrects himself; "You know the mice will give you fleas who then give you the plague, right?"

Reborn looks down at Skull, clearly derisive. "Why are you even playing with them? Honestly, for your sake, go outside. Find friends. I don't want you snapping and murdering us all in our sleep."

Skull huffs, tossing the small handful of cheese he has left. "I've tried, but everyone in this city only talks about you two and I'd rather get the plague than sit through that bullshit."

"Well I'd rather you not give me the plague so try harder," Colonnello points out.

"Whatever!" Skull cries. "There's no plague! I wash them." He snatches up the rag where it hangs over the bucket's side.

Reborn blinks. "You...wash the mice."

Skull scrubs the floor madly.

"Now I just feel bad," Colonnello says to Reborn. "You think Mam should know that their son is a freak?"

"Poor Mammy," Reborn muses. "Having to raise that thing."

Skull throws the rag down. "Mice are cute, damn it!"

"Fuck you, I'm cuter," Colonnello laughs.

"The most adorable," Reborn agrees with an exaggerated flutter of his eyelashes.

Colonnello puffs up. "Come," he says in a ridiculously deep voice. "Swoon into my arms."

Reborn sighs, back of a hand to his forehead, and pretends to faint. Colonnello catches him and swings him up into a princess carry before they leave the room laughing.

Skull grumbles and starts scrubbing the floor again.

"Missed a spot," Reborn hums from where he's stretched out on a chaise lounge, hands behind his head and hat over his eyes.

Skull wobbles on the backrest of a chair as he tries to dust the top part of the massive curtains. "You can't even see right now! Take your damn hat off and try again."

"Half a meter to the left, about a head above you," Reborn orders, hat still covering his face.

Skull looks around and finds it. "Fuck you."

"Happy to be of service."

Skull starts beating at the curtains again. "You could help."

"I could," Reborn agrees.

Skull turns to look at him. "Are you…going to?"

"No, dumbass."

Skull sighs and goes back to swiping -and occasionally whacking- the curtains with a feather duster. "Is there nothing else you could be doing?"

"I'm watching you so you don't mess up again," Reborn says.

"Are you hiding from Bianchi?"

Reborn pushes his hat off his eyes to glare and Skull can feel it burning into the back of his head. "No. I'm-"

"I don't blame you," Skull continues. "She's scary and her cooking is worse than mine."

Reborn sits up, the glare only getting fiercer. "I am not scared of her, I'm just…it's hot outside and I don't want to burn."

Skull laughs, loud and grating. Reborn grabs a vase off a nearby pedestal and hauls back, ready to throw it.

Mammon's hand grabs Reborn's wrist and snatches the vase away to put it back down. "Not only do I find you throwing my things around, but you also let Skull dust the curtains?"

Skull turns with wide eyes. "Wait, Reborn told me that you said I had to-"

"Get down," Mammon barks. "I don't want you ripping my shit up again. Do you know how much this fabric costs?!"

Skull pouts. "I didn't mean it! Colonnello poked me with a broom and I grabbed the curtains when I fell!"

Reborn clicks his tongue. "Snitches get stitches, Skull."

Mammon scowls at their oldest son. "Get over there and clean like I told you to."

Reborn huffs and stands, straightening his suit jacket with a tug. "Just a hire a damn maid, Mammy."

"Don't call me Mammy," they retort instinctively. "And why waste money when I have three perfectly good slaves? Skull, get back to cleaning the stairs – and stop feeding the damn mice, I don't want the fucking plague."

"They don't have the plague!" Skull wails.

Colonnello opens the doors and almost gets bowled over back into the grass when Skull throws himself at the blond. Colonnello quickly twists and pushes Skull behind him before marching into the house. This wouldn't be the first time someone has tried to steal Mammon's wealth.

"Are they still here?" Colonnello demands, peering around the lobby.

"I don't know!" Skull squeaks. "I was watching the spider until you got home but I had to pee and when I came back it was gone! It was huge!"

Colonnello slowly turns. "You flipped out over a spider?"

"Fucking huge, Nello. It might be pregnant! Spider. Babies. Everywhere."

"I'm not an expert," Colonnello begins. "But in my opinion, the spider has probably gone off to hunt down your mice."

Skull gasps, horrified, and runs off to one of the mouse holes around the place.

Colonnello rolls his eyes and heads up to his room, but not before calling out; "If you're lucky the spider will die of the plague."

"There's no fucking plague!"

Chapter Text

Skull curses as he pricks his finger again and just throws the shirt down in frustration, sucking on his bleeding finger.

"Skull have you seen-" Mammon pauses in the doorway. "How many times do I have to tell you to stay away from the clothes? They are too expensive to be sullied by your dirty blood."

"My blood is your blood, Mam," Skull argues around his finger.

"I forgot," Mammon drawls in a flat tone. "Sometimes I fantasise so much about Reborn being my son that I forget it's just a happy dream."

"That…that one hurt on the inside," Skull admits quietly, fingers twisting around each other.

"Good. Get away from the clothes."

"Cleaning all the time is so boring," Skull whines. "Let me do literally anything else."

"Did you fuck up the shirt?" Mammon asks. "If you fucked it up it's yours."

"It's fine," Skull scoffs, but also nervously pats down his too big shirt that once belonged to Reborn before Skull accidentally tripped and got coffee stains on it that won't come out. The pants have obviously sewn patches from where Skull kept ripping them playing and Colonnello had to keep sewing it up.

The other two get new clothes because they're eye candy. Skull gets leftovers and hand me downs to save money. Skull doesn't mind, he likes his clothes - it's got a grunge feel going on and he digs that.

Mammon leans back out into the hallway. "Colonnello!"

Someone thunders up the spiral staircase and Colonnello pops into the room, hair in disarray and sweat dripping down his shirtless torso.

Mammon gasps, scandalised. "You put a shirt on right now! People have to pay for a show like that!"

Colonnello rolls his eyes. "Whatever. What am I doing?" He notices Skull and the shirt on the ground. "Why do you keep trying this when you're so god awful at it?"

"I don't know," Skull grumbles. "I thought I could do it this time but clothes hate me."

Reborn appears in the doorway in an apron, curious at the gathering, but soon loses interest when he realises Skull was just messing around again.

"Food is ready," the oldest brother says.

"You said I could help with lunch!" Skull blurts out.

"I don't want to deal with a grease fire today, thanks," Reborn sneers. "Cooking already takes too much time without your interference."

Colonnello raises an eyebrow. "It only takes so long because you make everything too fancy. Just plate up toast or something."

Reborn stares judgmentally. "I'm happy I'm not related to you."

Colonnello scowls and looks to Mammon. "Can we please just hire a maid with the mountains of cash you have so we don't need to bother with this shit?"

Mammon hisses wordlessly. "You bite your tongue. I didn't raise you to be so frivolous."

"You sleep in a pile of gold," Colonnello argues. "I feel like we have more than enough to pay for one maid."

"Food is ready," Reborn cuts in. "If it's cold I'm going to shove it down your throats anyway and you're damn well going to enjoy it."

Reborn shoos them all downstairs.

After lunch, Skull cleans the plates while Mammon makes Reborn and Colonnello take music lessons. Mammon is a perfectionist, so their sons have to be good at absolutely everything. Skull is excluded because he's bad at everything, which means the two stepsons send him envious, frustrated looks when Mammon throws yet another thing to learn at the two.

Colonnello has taken to protesting by being as bad as possible, so Skull soon hears a banshee screeching. Reborn goes for the opposite approach and tries hard to end the torture as soon as possible, so Skull hears a quiet but soothing piano accompaniment.

Even Mammon, tough as nails, can't stand Colonnello for long and gives up the lesson early, just in time for a knock at the door.

Colonnello vaults over the stair railing to get there faster than his two brothers who race him for it. The blond wrenches open the door and blinks at the letter held out to him.

The four of them sit around the dining table as Mammon practically foams at the mouth in manic glee.

"Okay," Mammon says with a disturbing giggle. "Skull and Colonnello run interference with the other guests while Reborn drags the prince away and hides him. Reborn, suck his dick, I don't care - you are marrying a prince."

"That's a little far," Skull hedges. "I mean, if they're not compatible-"

Mammon holds up a hand. "If the prince is blind and stupid then Colonnello will attempt it. Reborn, get as much information on the prince's tastes while you're with him and if he's not seduced then warn Colonnello of what he likes. Colonnello, fake it 'til you make it."

Skull sighs. "I meant that if it's not true love-"

"There's no such thing as love," Mammon scoffs. "Boy, I raised you right, so I have no idea where you get these stupid ideas from."

Colonnello plants his elbows on the table and leans forward. "Listen, not that I believe in soul mates or wherever, but I'm pretty sure I can't keep acting for the rest of my life."

"Just until you marry," Mammon soothes. "You don't even have to talk to him, just have a lot of sex and the prince will be satisfied."

"I'm not gay," Colonnello points out.

"You are if I say you are."

Reborn rolls his eyes. "Don't worry, the prince won't get past me. However, what are we doing with Skull?"

Skull blinks. "I'm running interference."

Reborn raises an eyebrow and looks to their parent. "Mammon, honestly, Skull is going to scare the prince away. Best we leave him at home."

"No!" Skull cries. "I want to go to a ball!"

"Reborn is right," Mammon muses. "Skull, you can't dance, and you don't have any tailored suits. Staying at home is best."

"But-but," Skull tries. "If I get a suit and learn to dance, then I can go?"

Mammon purses their mouth. "If you're passable then yes."

Skull scrambles out of his chair fast enough to almost make it tip over and races up the stairs to get started on his clothes.

The three watch him go.

"Yeah, he's not coming to the ball," Colonnello mutters.

Skull stands up straight beside Colonnello and Reborn at the front door. His clothes are... avant-garde at best but at least his make-up is on point. Skull looks rather pathetic compared to Reborn in deep blacks and soft charcoal, and Colonnello in baby blue and white. There wasn't anytime to make something even after Skull begged for Colonnello's help with sewing.

Mammon pats Skull on the shoulder. "Go weed the garden."

Skull slumps sadly and pouts as he waves goodbye.

Chapter Text

Reborn spins out from the dancefloor, smug at the gazes that follow him, and sashays past the prince with a seductive smile. He continues across the room to one of the many large balconies, an extra sway to his hips when he notices the prince's eyes quite a bit lower than his back.

The prince needs to come to him first because from what Reborn has observed, the prince likes to be in charge. If Reborn slides in and sweeps the man off his feet, then Reborn is more likely to get beheaded than invited into bed.

He rests his hands against the cold marble of the balcony railing, looking over gardens teeming with shifting shadows, only lit by the glare of the ballroom lights behind him. The cool wind brings a bit of relief. He's hot from dancing and this suit is slowly suffocating him.

Someone settles on the railing beside him, the man's back to the garden but his head turned to watch Reborn. The man smiles serenely. "My name is Fon. May I have yours?"

Reborn slides him a glance. Good clothes but strange fashion with a long red tunic and wide sleeves, lengthy hair up in a braid. Reborn guesses something like an eastern ally or diplomat, so no one who would have a say in the wedding.

Reborn ignores him.

That earns a laugh. "Arrogance suits you," Fon says with only a faint accent.

"Everything suits me," Reborn retorts derisively. "I'm the most handsome thing you've ever seen."

"You'd look even better if I had a name to go with your beautiful face."

Reborn rolls his eyes. "Don't talk to me, commoner, I'm going to be ruling this country very soon."

Fon tilts his head, hair swinging with the motion. "Is that all you need? If I tell you I'm a prince will you fall into my arms?"

Reborn glances sideways. "Are you?"

"I promise. Prince Fon of Namimori."

Reborn smiles charmingly and leans in. "Well then. Don't talk to me, Prince Fon, I'm going to be ruling this country very soon."

"Cruel," Fon states. "It must be pain from your sharp words that are making my heart race because surely this can't be love at first sight."

A laugh is startled out of Reborn. "Cute. Not cute enough." He casts a look over his shoulder and smiles coyly when he sees his target prince finally separate from the ballroom, firmly locked on to Reborn.

"Be careful," Fon murmurs with a calm smile. "Bermuda likes to own things. Don't get into something you can't get yourself out of."

Reborn turns fully to face the approaching royalty but keeps his voice low. "Watch yourself, Fon. I may just take offence and order Namimori wiped off the map."

Prince Bermuda steps up and holds out a hand. "May I have this dance?"

"Of course, I'd love to," Reborn says deliberately too fast, his words stumbling over each other. He takes the prince's hand with a light and weak grip, letting himself be led away.

Fon's smile fades away as he watches the handsome man act demure, falling into Bermuda's arms with a love-struck expression.

What a waste.

Skull steps from the darkness outside into a blindingly bright ballroom. He nervously smooths down his dark purple waistcoat that matches his tie and adjusts his rolled-up sleeves, the shirt a pretty lavender. The sliver chain running from his lip piercing to his ear glitters like the massive chandeliers spaced over the ceiling and his hair is slicked back.

He moves to the edge of the stairs leading down and grins when he sees the couple gracefully moving across the middle of the dancefloor. Reborn and Bermuda blend together in soft black hues, the prince's cape almost entirely engulfing Reborn as they spin around each other.

Skull hurries down the steps and quickly locks onto Mammon near the edges of the crowd. He does spot Colonnello also on the dancefloor, constantly switching out with young ladies.

Mammon does a double take when they see Skull and drags him off to the wall by the arm. "How did you get those clothes?" Mammon asks quietly. "And how did you even get here without a carriage?"

"It's a long story," Skull admits.

"I have the time," Mammon grits out.

Skull bites his lip but then quickly stops before he ruins his lipstick. "So I was in the garden and then an old lady - well not an old lady but she looked like one - I mean I don't know why-"

"Skull," Mammon barks. "Bullet points."

"I met a fairy godmother named Luce and she magicked some clothes and a coach for me," Skull rushes out.

Mammon's grip on Skull's arm tightens painfully because they've seen some things as they travelled, most of it not good. "Did anyone see this happen? Does the coach look normal?"

"No and yes," Skull answers quickly. " you look so freaked out?"

Mammon lets out a shaky breath. "Because they could burn you for being a fucking witch, Skull. That bullshit stopped only a few years back."

"I-I'm not," Skull stutters. "It wasn't me."

"You have a magic fucking coach," Mammon hisses. "Now we have to get rid of it-"

"It disappears at midnight," Skull explains desperately. "The clothes, everything."

"Fuck," Mammon cusses. "They look at their watch and swear again. Go to the coach, I'll send Colonnello home with you. Take off the clothes, hide the coach, and for the love of god don't talk to the fucking fairy again."

"It'll be fine," Skull insists. "No one will know. We still have time before it changes back."

"Just. Just stay here, I'll get your brother," Mammon insists and quickly makes their way across the room.

Skull stays against the wall, worried. He catches sight of Reborn being dipped low by the prince as the song ends. Reborn is swung up into Bermuda's arms and they have a quiet conversation before they start moving towards a side door that leads into the garden.

Reborn pauses mid-step and turns, immediately locking onto Skull. Skull tries to wave him off but Reborn says something to the prince and parts, heading to Skull.

Skull flails his arms as subtly as possible at the older man but it doesn't deter him.

"Skull?" Colonnello asks as he steps closer with Mammon at his side. "Where did you get the clothes? What's happening?"

Mammon starts explaining but only gets as far as Skull being tricked by a magic user before they catch sight of Reborn coming closer.

"Reborn, go back!" Mammon whispers fiercely.

Reborn takes up a solid stance in their little huddle and crosses his arms. "Why are you all so freaked out?"

"Just go to the prince," Skull says. "He's staring at you, go."

Colonnello is still gaping at Skull, not even properly registering Reborn's presence. Mammon is serious about this so Colonnello automatically believes it's true. "A fairy magicked you a fucking coach? What did you give her? Did she ask for a soul or something?"

Reborn turns a glare on Skull.

Mammon makes a pained noise and looks at their watch again. "The ride takes almost an hour and we have to hide the coach when we get back. We don't have the time for this, we have to go now. Reborn, go back to the prince-"

"No," Reborn snaps back. "There's a fairy hanging around Skull, probably trying to get his trust for something sick. If fairies are real then why Skull and why waste magic on such a thing as getting him to a ball? I'm going with you."

"We can handle it," Colonnello promises.

"The fairy has magic," Reborn argues. "I'm not dancing while worrying about you being turned into toads. Or having your eyes pecked out by birds."

Skull waves his hands around to get their attention. "The bird thing is a little much. It's probably nothing bad-"

"Why did the fairy help you?" Reborn fires back.

"Because she's a good person?"

Mammon frowns. "You said she was disguised at first. She clearly has an ulterior motive. Once she noticed you were too nice, she latched on, wanting you in her debt. Trust me, I know these types."

"You are that type," Colonnello deadpans.

"Exactly!" Mammon cries. "Fuck, we don't time. Just - shit. Fine, Reborn come with us."

Reborn's eyes widen in shock. He didn't think Mammon would actually let him. "Really?"

"Don't make me regret it," Mammon sighs, moving off. "Even though I already do. Shit, lost a once in a lifetime chance."

They rush from the ballroom and Skull takes one last look back to see the prince trying to push through a crowd of people to follow. Another man in red catches Skull's attention but he isn't sure why.

Mammon sucks in a sharp breath at the very human coachman. Reborn and Colonnello appear wary but climb in regardless.

"Stop!" a voice cries. "Stop right there!"

Reborn leans out of the window to look behind at the voice and finds a mass of guards running for them. Did they notice something is wrong already?

"Go," Colonnello barks at the coachman and the vehicle takes off with a sudden jerk.

Reborn gasps in shock when his hat falls off from the sudden motion and tries to grab it but the coach is already full speed ahead. Reborn sits back into the seat, stony faced.

"It's okay," Skull soothes, patting Reborn's leg. "We'll come back later and get it."

Reborn sighs, which quickly turns to a curse when they hear a stampede after them.

"Skull," Mammon begins. "If they catch us, I'm just letting them burn you."

"That's fair," Skull mutters, peering out of the window at what has to be half an army chasing them.

The coach, magic that it is, quickly out matches the guards on horseback. Unfortunately, just as they lose sight of the chasers, the coach starts to fall apart. Reborn grabs Mammon and Colonnello grabs Skull before they bail out of the sides just in time for the coach to shrink back into a pumpkin.

Colonnello angles them so he hits the ground first and they roll, the blond quickly dragging Skull behind a bush as the guards round the bend, smashing apart the pumpkin underfoot and sending the lizards and mice scattering. On the other side of the road, Reborn and Mammon have also hidden themselves.

The walk back is long and tense as they keep an eye out for guards.

Chapter Text

Mammon answers the door reluctantly.

The prince had people search for Reborn, because it turns out the guards weren't after Skull, but Mammon still didn't let Reborn go back to castle. Reborn protested because the prince is clearly smitten, Colonnello backed up his older brother and even Skull encouraged it.

Mammon finally admitted that running someone down with a hoard of guards isn't exactly what someone in love does and maybe, just maybe, it's less of the prince being smitten and more because the prince is humiliated that Reborn ran away.

They all agreed to lay low, stay out of the way and wait for the commotion to die down.

Then the prince sends people out to find the owner of the fedora dropped at the bottom of the castle's front steps. Reborn assures them that he hasn't written his name on the hat in any way and there's no way the prince could connect it to him.

Unfortunately, everyone in this town knows Reborn, so the prince is very quickly pointed towards their house.

Reborn is hiding in the attic when Mammon begrudgingly invites the prince inside.

"I have quite a few sons," Mammon admits, patting Colonnello's shoulder. "This one and Skull as well of course. He's in the kitchen getting refreshments." Technically not a lie, just an omission.

Skull steps into the sitting room and sets down a tray of tea which he pours with shaking hands. Mammon glares at him sideways for giving something away and Skull hurriedly leaves it and backs out of the room. He doesn't go far but he's too nervous to stay there with the prince and the guards standing around.

"Thank you," Prince Bermuda says when he accepts the tea from Mammon. "And there's only three of you?"

"Oh," Mammon tuts. "My spouse died suddenly a few years back you see. Good person, good person. Sad to see them go." Mammon dabs at their eyes from under their hood and adds in a few sniffs for extra measure.

"My condolences," Bermuda offers but isn't distracted in the least by an awkward topic. "And this spouse, they left you only two sons?"

"Skull is my son from an earlier marriage," Mammon says, voice still thick with 'sadness'. "Colonnello is a stepson but it makes no difference to me. We're all family here."

"How wonderful," Bermuda murmurs and takes a sip. "A close family. Of only three."

Skull swallows thickly and Colonnello wipes his sweaty hands on his pants. Mammon stays steady like always, a solid presence that helps the two calm down a bit.

"I do apologise for the lack of treats," Mammon says, hoping small talk will chase the prince off. "This lack of hospitality is no way to greet a prince-"

"So you know I'm a prince?" Bermuda muses, setting his tea down. "Strange. Then why are you lying straight to my face?"

"Lying?" Mammon gasps. "I would never do such a thing. What makes your royal highness think that I would be so-"

"His name is Reborn, isn't it?" Bermuda interrupts. "I've heard many things from just about everyone in this town. Please, explain to me why are keeping him from me, and perhaps I will forget your ... lack of hospitality."

Mammon puts down their tea as well. "There was a family emergency and we unfortunately had to leave as soon as possible. It was not meant as a slight towards you."

Bermuda narrows his eyes. "Is Reborn sick or injured?"

"No, he's healthy," Mammon assures, watching Bermuda's reaction closely. "The matter is sorted now, but my son is rather...sensitive, you see. He was worried you wouldn't like him after he left in such a manner."

"May I see him?" Bermuda requests.

Mammon hesitates for just a second. "I'll get him right now. Colonnello, perhaps you should show Prince Bermuda the lovely gardens."

The room stands only when Bermuda does out of curtesy and Colonnello leads them outside while Mammon makes their way into the hall where Skull is hovering.

"What's wrong?" Skull whispers as they take the stairs.

Mammon doesn't reply and they spend the rest of the climb in silence. Mammon opens the attic door and Reborn looks up from where he's sitting on a box of old clothes.

"Did they buy it?" Reborn asks. "I saw Colonnello leading them around." He gestures to the window.

"It's fine," Mammon starts slowly. "The prince isn't upset, he just wants to meet you again."

"Oh," Reborn murmurs softly. "Okay." Reborn stands and moves to them. "Why do you look so nervous then? Isn't this a good thing?"

Mammon runs a hand over their face. "Shit. Fine, I'll say it. I want you to be happy. Do you want this?"

Reborn starts cooing.

"Shut the fuck up," Mammon snaps. "Yes or no, asshole?"

Reborn's smirk falls away and he becomes serious. "True love doesn't exist. Not pure love, not without ulterior motives. But sometimes ... I really do think I'd die for you idiots and not regret a single thing."

Reborn glances to the window, where Colonnello's voice is coming through. Skull sees Reborn's fingers half curl into fists.

"He's okay," Reborn says. "For you, I'd take a lot worse."

"You don't have to," Mammon insists.

"I want to."

"You shouldn't want to."

Reborn laughs. "Mammy, really, I've thought this through. You don't have to worry."

Mammon nods sharply. "Yes. Well. If you want to come back then you tell me."

Reborn opens his arms for a hug.

"I'll push you down the god damned stairs, boy, don't think I won't."

Skull follows them back down and thinks about the nights he snuck into Reborn's room, about Colonnello joining them soon after because Skull is never quiet enough. He thinks about whispered conversations, about dreams where they travel the world together, about the messy stack of paper in the back of his wardrobe with lists of places in a chaotic mix of their handwriting.

Skull thinks about rescuing Reborn from dragons and feels a little sick.

Fon sips his tea serenely and the two women don't move, kneeling with their heads bowed.

Fon sets down the cup after a while. "And you are certain that the burst of magic lead back to the youngest?"

They both nod once in unison, not even a rustle of cloth to give them away. Fon sighs and gracefully stands from the floor cushion, shaking out his sleeves and moving to the window. He stays silent, thinking things over. Kyouya may enjoy the form of a beast but Fon is tired of his twin shedding fur everywhere.

His eyes flicker when he sees the gold drenched carriages slowly make their way up to the castle. Fon imagines that man wrapped in traditional red instead of white and tells himself that he won't. He's lying.

"The wedding. Take a brother to keep the target calm."

The wedding comes quickly but Reborn moves faster. He sends carriages full of gold to Mammon's house, one after another until Mammon reluctantly has to turn them away because there's no more room. Colonnello is drafted for the palace guard and Skull is given a tailored suit for the ball scheduled a month away, just for him, just so Skull can finally dance like he's having a seizure.

Reborn keeps a perfect smile on his face through the entire day of his wedding, barely a week since Bermuda came to the house. Sometimes fond with love in his eyes, other times too wide like he can't believe it's really happening.

The rest of his small family, relegated to the back of the procession where the unimportant people sit, loudly applaud Reborn for his acting when they spot a particularly wholesome expression. Reborn gives them side glances when he hears but doesn't break character to bow at them like he wants to.

Reborn waves and acts charming, accepting well wishes from the crowd even as he inwardly mocks them. People whisper, gossip, scream that this is perfect, like a beautiful fairy tale.

That night, the castle doesn't light up with fireworks, but instead burns down with fire.

Chapter Text

It's funny because Skull lights a fire but he's the second one to do it.

Mammon is waiting with a coach, a magic one because that nice fairy came back when Skull called. Colonnello is making his way through the castle to grab Reborn and make a run for it.

They cracked. They watched Reborn walk away from them and they couldn't take it. Fine, they're idiots, Reborn would have ruled this kingdom with prejudice and drowned the family home in riches while he played around.

Mammon insists that if Reborn is going to marry a prince then he needs to marry a good one, a much more powerful one than this. Colonnello and Skull humour Mammon as they work on piling barrels of gasoline into the magically expanding coach with Luce looking on nervously from the background.

So they had a plan, except Skull is on the other side of the castle when he sees the first pillar of black smoke. Explosions go off next and suddenly people are screaming and running because there's an army hidden in the crowd. They strip off loose outer clothing and reveal a uniform Skull has never seen before.

Skull looks back up at the castle and hopes his brothers don't get caught up in it. He's pretty sure they're going to anyway so he shoves over the last barrel and rushes in as backup.

The door to the bedroom is kicked in and they roll away from each other. Reborn's eyes go wide when he realises it's the man from the ball, Feng or Fon maybe, with the bodies of guards littering the hallway outside.

The prince stands and pulls on a robe but Reborn throws himself from the bed still naked and drags his bag out from underneath, scrambling to find the knife Colonnello shoved on him 'just in case'.

The sound of rapid cracks makes Reborn look up to find the prince pitch over and crumple to the floor, a puddle of blood quickly seeping out from under his head before he managed to even get a word out.

Reborn finally grips the knife but Fon is already vaulting over the bed to reach him.

Colonnello reaches the room only to find the prince and his guards are dead while Reborn is nowhere to be found. Colonnello swears that he's going to trade Reborn for a better brother after all of this - one that doesn't get into so much trouble.

"You," a woman grits out.

Colonnello whips around, just realising how bad this looks for him with a dead prince and all. There's a fierce woman with dark blue hair and scary looking shotgun pointed at him. Colonnello recognises her as Lal -the captain of the guard- mostly from that bad burn across her face.

"I just got here," Colonnello blurts out, hands coming up to show he's not a threat, but he also doesn't stop inching towards the door. "Look, I need to find my brother – who also didn't kill anyone-"

"Come with me," Lal snaps and grabs a fistful of Colonnello's shirt before he can react.

She moves deeper into the room, leans out of the window after a pause, and starts dragging him away and down the hall. He was going in this direction regardless, so he doesn't struggle, not that he wants to test her aim with that shotgun.

"I really didn't kill-"

"Of course you didn't," Lal scoffs. "You think either of you fuckboys could have taken down my guards?"

Colonnello blinks. "I mean. I'm sure I could have-"

"Where would your brother run if someone was chasing him?" Lal interrupts. "He went out the window, dropped onto the balcony below and ran back into the building again."

"You're so hot," Colonnello says before he can stop himself because smart and violent women are his thing. "Reborn doesn't know the castle well, he would have tried to get outside to assess the situation."

Lal shoves him at a passing guard without a hitch in her stride. "Get blondie to a safe place."

"Wait, wait!" Colonnello cries, batting away a hand that grabs his arm. "I can help. Reborn thinks people are trying to kill him so he won't follow you. You need me there, and I've been training, I won't hold you back."

Lal stops, turns to scan him and then scoffs again. "Put him in a cell if he won't cooperate."

Colonnello waits until she turns around a corner before he punches the guard in the throat, steals a massive gun leaning against an adjacent wall and runs after her.

She trips him when he gets around the corner but looks considering as he picks himself up. "Can you use that thing?" She nods to the rifle.

"I could always swing it around," Colonnello offers. "Everything else I can pick up as we go."

"Listen," Skull tells Reborn. "I tried super hard. This man? He's a brick wall. Even you were running from him so don't give me that face."

Fon is smiling pleasantly despite holding Skull in a headlock. Skull did try, but the body slam hurt him more than it hurt Fon.

"That's why I told you to run," Reborn snaps at Skull but keeps his head turned to watch Fon as Reborn is made to walk in front.

"I did run-"

"In the wrong fucking direction! Run away, not towards us!"

"You were being chased! You're half naked! What other reaction are you expecting me to have?"

Fon clears his throat. "Excuse me-"

"You shut the fuck up!" Reborn screams at him. "I could have you flogged with your own spine and people would applaud the decision!"

Fon's smile only grows. "May I have your name now?"

"Fuck you, no!"

Skull awkwardly tries to move in the headlock to look at the man. He doesn't get very far. "Don't you already know it? Like he just got married."

"I know," Fon hums. "But I prefer to hear it from him."

Reborn sneers. "What a gentleman. Who cares about my dead husband or my ruined wedding night-"

"Technically not married," Fon interjects. "As you didn't consummate the marriage."

"You don't know what happened," Reborn fires back. "We were on the third round when you broke in."

Fon looks over Reborn's form slowly; rumpled pants but otherwise bare skin. "You must have cleaned up quickly because I certainly didn't see the last two rounds smeared between your thighs."

Skull slams his heel down on a foot and lurches forward hard even though he chokes himself. Reborn lunges but he's a step too late as Fon quickly rears back and tightens his grip to make Skull wheeze painfully. Reborn freezes.

"I should not have said that," Fon admits immediately. "That was wrong of me and I sincerely apologise."

"Go eat the tar out of your mother's cunt."

Reborn looks at Skull, shocked speechless at the words coming out of his little brother. Skull is glaring past Reborn, at the heavily guarded convoy of carriages waiting to whisk Fon and his two hostages off.

"Nello!" Mammon calls frantically, running up to the blond.

He looks down from (stolen) horseback, rifle slung over his shoulder. It's taken too long. He's too slow. People reported hours later to Lal about seeing his brothers get dragged off. It's well into the next morning now and Colonnello finally has a direction and vague descriptions about the carriages.

The soldiers are still dealing with the remnants of the invading army causing havoc as a distraction. They can't leave the castle while it's still under attack so he stole some supplies, anything at hand, and slipped away.

"It's fine," Colonnello says, leaning down to grip Mammon's hand when they reach up. "They're both caught up in this shit now but I'll bring them back. It'll be okay."

"You can't go," Mammon retorts. "You're outmatched, outnumbered-"

"What else can I do?" Colonnello laughs without humour. "Those idiots, they're lost without me. It's going to be fine, Mam. I'll bring them back."

"I'll come with you-"

Colonnello shakes his head. "Stay here – they might escape before I even reach them. Skull will make friends with rats and Reborn will train them to spread the plague." He grins, bright enough to light up the whole kingdom. "It's going to be okay. I won't let anything happen to them."

Colonnello shakes off Mammon's tight grip and urges the horse into a fast gallop. He might be late but he's not going to miss the whole damn thing.

Mammon watches their last son run off to get killed and pulls hard at their hood. "Fuck."

Maybe now would be a good time to catch up with the Varia. Let's see how far those bastards can run with Mammon's kids when Xanxus catches the scent.