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Carnations

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Belphegor’s steps were heavy as he approached the bottom of moss-laden stairs, his heart beating rapidly as if it was about to pump itself out of his chest. No matter how many times he did it, visiting Mammon’s grave never got easier to him.

The assassin had put on his best suit, accompanied with a bouquet of flowers he had picked carefully – white carnations which symbolize remembrance. Everything needed to be perfect, for Mammon.

With long strides he climbed up the stairs, the humid weather making him break in sweat under the suit. Had it been any other day, Belphegor would’ve whined and complained about it, but today wasn’t like any other day.

Today was special.

Reaching the gravestone atop the hill, Belphegor hunched down in front of it and let his eyes rest on the name carved on the stone in golden letters.

Mammon.

That name alone was enough to send a flood of memories through his mind. He could almost hear their voice as if Mammon had been there with him all along, accompanying him like they used to – now it was just him.

‘’It’s that time of the year again, Mammon.’’ Belphegor said with a shaky voice. He placed the flowers carefully on the grave, a sentimental smile playing on his lips as he did so. Mammon would’ve scolded him for wasting money to something that’ll eventually wither away.

‘’The Prince is doing better. The night terrors have gone away, at least.’’ Belphegor continued, trailing his index finger against the golden letters. ‘’The others are well, too.’’

Belphegor felt a lump in his throat, making him unable to continue. He took a few deep breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Just like Lussuria had instructed him after a panic attack he had had during one of his worst nights.

‘’It hasn’t gotten easier, being here without you.’’ He confessed, biting down on his lip hard enough for it to hurt a bit. ‘’The Prince is lonely.’’

Belphegor rarely let himself cry in front of the rest of Varia, but in the safety of the graveyard he let himself be as vulnerable as he liked. After all, Mammon had been the only person Belphegor had trusted enough to let them witness him at his lowest.

Unable to hold himself together, Belphegor slumped down on his knees, gripping the fabric of his suit pants tight as quiet sobs escaped his lips. His tears fell against the ground, some of them on top of his hands.

Belphegor cried until he felt like he physically couldn’t anymore; he cried until his head hurt and his cheeks were wet from tears.

‘’You must be tired of seeing this side of me, aren’t you?’’ joked Belphegor as he wiped his cheeks to the sleeve of his suit jacket. ‘’If you come back, you’ll never have to see me like this again.’’

He knew it was useless, knew that nothing could ever bring his best friend back, but Belphegor couldn’t help himself. Talking as if Mammon was still there watching over him gave him a sense of security, a reason to keep going.

‘’The Prince has to head back now.’’ Belphegor stood up, dusting off his pants. ‘’Don’t worry about me, the Prince will be alright.’’

A gentle breeze blew through and played with his hair as if to say goodbye. Belphegor placed his hand on top of the gravestone, a wistful smile spreading on his lips.

‘’Happy birthday, Mammon. Rest easy.’’