This is a fic for the "canon divergence" part of my Retired Leaders AU, and it takes place years in the past.
Belos has been strangely absent for the last few days.
Throughout those days, several scouts and captains have approached Kikimora to ask whether she knew his whereabouts, only to receive a similarly confused response. She told them that he asked not to be disturbed last time she saw him. And for a while, she stayed away.
But eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and she went to check on him. Having lived in the castle for about two years now and having spent a significant amount of time by Belos’s side, earning his trust, she knew where to look, and she was allowed to do it, too.
Other members of the Emperor’s Coven were only permitted to enter Belos’s living quarters when they were ordered to do so by the man himself, in part due to his efforts to keep his identity secret even from them, however, Kikimora was allowed to simply come in.
She knocked on the door to the Emperor’s room and awaited a response. But after a few moments of silence, she used her magic to unlock it herself. Once she was inside, she locked the door again - Belos has requested that she always do so when she enters. She looked around the somewhat dark room, but the Emperor was nowhere to be seen.
She then turned her attention to the half-open door to an adjacent chamber that could only be accessed through the one she was currently in. She quickly made her way to its entrance and peeked inside.
And there he was.
She saw Belos sitting on the floor, unmasked, with his long wavy hair draped over his shoulders and his head hung as if in mourning. A cocoon-shaped object wrapped in a blanket was resting in his arms, held by him in a way that could only be described as.. fatherly.
And right as the tiny teenage demon was about to voice her concern over the Emperor’s evident sorrow, she gasped, her eyes widened and her ears perked up as she realized that the cocoon in the old man’s arms had a face. A pale, round face of a sleeping newborn witch.
“Is that.. a child?” - Kiki asked quietly, but with a clear tone of surprise.
Belos’s eyelids fluttered for a brief moment as he looked up at her and let out a confused “huh?”. He hesitated to respond, pondering the explanation for this strange scene Kiki has stumbled upon.
“..Yes. He is all that is left of my family” - he finally replied.
Kiki approached him as he spoke.
“Your family?” - she glanced up at him with a questioning gaze. - “You never mentioned them before”
Their eyes met for a second or two. Seeing the obvious curiosity in Kiki’s intent stare, Belos wordlessly looked away to escape prolonged eye contact and allow himself to think. For a few moments he remained silent, seemingly unsure how to respond.
“Well..” - he hesitated. - “..We didn’t have the most.. friendly relationship, so I chose to avoid bringing them up. I didn’t want you to deal with our family drama” - he looked down at the floor. - “But they’re all gone now”
The more he spoke, the clearer the sorrow in his voice became, and Kiki stroked his arm in an attempt to comfort him.
“And what about him?” - she asked, pointing at the sleeping child. - “What’s his name?”
Belos turned his head to the newborn, but gave no answer, staring at the baby’s face with an absent gaze and his eyes nearly closed, as if in deep thought. Kiki patiently awaited his response, but the longer he gave none, the more confused she became. She knit her brows and tilted her head, wondering why such a simple question was so difficult for Belos to answer.
But at last, his eyelids lifted and his gaze became focused.
“Hunter” - he uttered. - “His name is Hunter”
“Am I allowed to play with him when he gets older?” - Kiki looked at the Emperor with a hopeful spark in her eyes.
The question seemed unexpected to him, and he glanced at her with an uncertain and somewhat confused expression. But after a few moments, it changed into one of endearment as his eyelids lowered and the corners of his lips perked up in a tired smile.
“Of course” - he responded softly. But then his smile quickly faded. - “However, I order that you do not inform anyone else of his existence. Until I say otherwise, it shall remain a secret. Do you understand?”
“Yes, my liege” - Kiki nodded.
“Good” - Belos straightened his back.
“Do you need any help with Hunter?” - Kiki asked.
“I will call you if I ever require assistance” - Belos replied as he stood up. - “But for now, you could be much more useful if you continued your training instead”
“I understand” - Kiki bowed to him and headed to the door.
“I will see you again soon” - Belos said as she exited the chamber.
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