@cruelfeline wanted a snippet between Hordak and Glimmer where they contemplated on how much of a fuckup either of them is.
I took it as a prompt and I hope this little oneshot scratches that itch.
It was always better to go to a banquet than to host it, Glimmer thought to herself while making her way down the long hallway of the reclusive palace wing. If she felt at odds or tired or just not in the mood, all she had to do was signal Bow and he’d take her home. But as a host, she WAS home, there was nowhere else to go to. Besides, since she was the esteemed host, she couldn’t leave early. It would be in poor taste.
This year, the anniversary of the end of the war was hosted in Bright Moon and she had to find a secluded place in her own home to take a breather from all the commotion before she had to return to the party and smile and nod and… try not to feel like such an imposter.
She finally found her favorite overlook, the one where she came to sulk whenever her mother gave her a stern -and justified- talking to, the best view and the music of the party down in the main hall was muted. No sooner did she lay her hands upon the balustrade that she spotted movement to the periphery of her vision. It was another person she really didn’t want to interact with due to the sheer awkwardness: Hordak. He was sitting by himself in contemplation, looking on into the distance in the last light of the day.
She and he stood meters apart on the balcony in silence for a while. He seemed to look at peace while staring off into the sunset. She tried to do the same. Her maelstrom of thoughts made it difficult.
During the war, she had never met him face to face, all she knew was what other people said of him – both her own and other hordesmen that were captured and interrogated.
Their first meeting in the flesh had been memorable… for very terrible, nightmare inducing reasons. Even now, she couldn’t look at Hordak without seeing Prime discard his errant tool then threaten to destroy her world in a dulcet voice as if it were the most trite of things. It probably had been to that monster…
Hordak hadn’t been what she – an everyone else thought he was. What made it even more jarring, and unexpected, had been his eagerness to repent and atone following the war.
Glimmer had decreed that Prime’s little brothers were not at fault for what they had been made to do for their creator, all of them, Hordak included. She couldn’t in good conscience persecute any of them whilst knowing, intimately – unlike the other monarchs- where they came from and what had been done to them.
Hordak however, decided to be difficult, because of course he did.
He insisted that even had his actions been in the hopes of serving Prime, they had been his actions, his mistakes. He owned them, and he owed Etheria. He had decided- by himself - to rebuild the things he had a hand in destroying not out of a desperate bid for forgiveness but because it was what he had been convinced that it was the right, and the just thing to do.
It made it very awkward for her to interact with him… whenever she invited Entrapta to these events, he was always her plus one. Entrapta was a sore spot for Glimmer. She had decided that the Dryll princess would be the first one to be invited whenever Glimmer hosted any event. It was the least she owed her.
She had learned that Entrapta endangered herself to save her back when she had been abducted on Prime’s ship… a few weeks before that, Glimmer had argued with Adora and Bow to leave her on Beast Island for the time being. It was a shame that stung deeply. Entrapta had been a far better friend to her than she had been to Entrapta. To make matters worse, Entrapta seemed either oblivious or not to hold it against her. It made Glimmer’s guilt even worse. At times, she wished Entrapta HAD been angry, she wished the other princess would give her a piece of her mind, at least then, she’d be able to make it up to her.
No wonder Hordak “punished” himself with reparations and reconstructions…She couldn't stop a heavy sigh from escaping her. It wasn't an invitation to talk but he seemed to take it as one since the noise startled him out of his contemplation and he slowly turned towards her.
“Good evening, your grace.” It was always a bit comical when one of Prime’s clones bowed to her, they would have to bend over comically low to match her height. Hordak didn’t. He merely bowed his head smoothly and lowered his ears to convey submission.
“Uh, hey.” How dignified of her. She wished she had half as much grace as her mother had. “Uuuh,-“ he looked at her with that blank face that had been conditioned into him. ‘Ugh, say something Glimmer, this doesn’t have to be this awkward. Make an effort, for Entrapta’s sake at least!’. “- lovely sunset, right?”
He blinked slowly then turned back to the vista. “Indeed.”
‘C’mon! Give me SOMETHING to work with here!’ She thought to herself. “What do you think of the party?” That had been a host thing to ask, it was appropriate and neutral right?
It wasn’t... The answer came in that calm, low, dignified and slightly husky voice of his, a voice that had cracked from screaming and had never recovered. His posture betrayed his unease. Hordak further stiffened at the question.
“It is,-“ he paused considering his words carefully “quite sumptuous, your grace.” He bowed again. It was clearly at least as uncomfortable for him as it was for her.
This wasn’t helping… ‘Good job Glimmer!’ If it hadn’t been weird and both of them had enjoyed the companionable silence before, now she had made things awkward.
While considering what to say next, he saved her the effort by saying. “Your guests are enjoying themselves.” Was that a compliment? Was he trying to compliment her? She knew from former interactions with him that he had a very stiff and formal way of talking, very unlike his progenitor. Words fit poorly in his mouth. It was so curious how, despite having the same voice and the same face, almost… they sounded worlds apart. He held himself differently too, Prime had filled every space he was in, he owned every room he walked into. Hordak on the other hand seemed perpetually on eggshells. Was that why he was here by himself?
“You are my guest too.” She said to him, trying to sound warm and welcoming but it came out a bit defensive.
The unasked question hung between them in the dying light of the day.
He saved her from asking it once more. “My presence… makes some of your other guests uneasy, your grace. I did not wish to impose.”
“Impose? Nonsense!” She waved it off with a chuckle. “You and Entrapta are welcome here, I’ve expressly invited the both of you myself. There is no way you could ‘impose’ in any way!” Then it hit her… “Did anyone tell either of you that you were imposing? If they did, tell me who it was and I’ll have a chat with them.”
He huffed out a chuckle then turned towards her once more. A small, tentative smile made its way on his face. “No such thing your grace, the initiative was all mine.” The shared gaze was broken as he looked at his feet then back into the distance. “ I wished to prevent it from becoming an issue. Many of your kinsmen are weary of me, and for good reason. My actions on your world did not endear me to most of your kind.” It seems that guilt had brought them both on this overlook.
“I should name this ‘the shitty overlook!’ Hah!” She laughed. “Because everyone comes on this balcony to feel shitty.” He looked at her, one browridge raised in inquiry. “You’re here because of the whole conquest thing and I’m here because I’ a terrible friend.”
Glimmer continued. “We both did regrettable things during the war.” She too looked on into the distance, the line of bleeding orange light got thinner and thinner as night overtook it, a thin line of fiery hues reflected off the surface of the turbulent lake. Silence hung between them for a few minutes.
“You did what you thought was necessary, your grace.” Despite the curt tone, it was a reassurance. It was uncanny for Hordak of all people to be the one trying to comfort her.
“We both did. It still doesn’t make it feel right.” Both of their closets had skeletons cramped in them.
“It may not but, at the time, you saw no other way to do your duty.” He sighed deeply. “Hindsight is indeed, not a charitable beast your majesty, but it is unfair.” He clicked his claws on the balustrade. The motion was somewhat distracting. ” You know things now that you couldn’t have possibly known back then. Within the constraints of the time and the data available, you did the best that you could, the best that could be expected. You were a formidable opponent.” As sound as his logic was, it did little to assuage the anger she aimed at herself.
“And I had my friends take the fall for me because I thought it was necessary.” She sighed and hugged herself. “I was wrong, even back then but I didn’t want to admit it, I thought the ends justify the means. They don’t. They never do.”
“It’s easy to overthink the choices made when one is aware that there were other options, other paths that could have been taken.” He sounded, small and sad, his own demons haunting him.” The reality of it is that, in the moment, you may not have been aware of other possibilities and time had not been on your side. You decided to move forward down the only path you saw before you. The alternative would have been admitting defeat. Had you done so, you wouldn’t be here to second guess yourself. It was, in general, the right thing to do even if you are left with the consequences of your perceived momentary oversights. You have the privilege now, to make up for your mistakes – a privilege you wouldn’t have had should you have not done the things you did. “
“Thank you. I needed to hear that.” She hadn’t known she needed it nor would she had ever asked for it and that’s exactly why the point had hit home. “She was right, you’re a good listener.”
He chuckled again, an animate chuckle that rippled through him as he shook his head and turned back to look at the lake. She made her way closer and took in the familiar view. Neither of them said anything after that.
They watched the stars appear on the night sky, reflecting off the surface of the lake, somewhat distorted. The ripples of the lake made their twinkling even brighter. The night was peaceful.
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