Viola nodded. “Yes.”

Gregor started to cry. Viola surmised much of what must have happened. He had heard the rumors from a staff member, or one of the guards. Her execution of Petrovich was so public, it would have been a wonder if Gregor didn’t eventually hear about it.

But what he said next stunned her. “Are you going to try and kill me too?”

“What?” Viola paled, sickened. “Sweet boy, no! No, I couldn’t do that.” She hugged him, and then peeled back, concerned. Was hugging him helping? Was it giving him comfort, or was she scarring the boy even more? Did her mere presence terrify him?

“Because I know I don’t make my bed every day, or eat vegetables enough. I try to be good…”

“You are good, Gregor.” Viola laid a hand on his face. “Please know that. I adore having you in my house. You, and Nadia, and everyone here…even curmudgeony old Nalus. I am not trying to kill you.”

Gregor sniffed, and wiped tears from his eyes. “Then why did you kill him?”

Viola sighed, and nodded. “The first, easy answer from adults is to say it’s complicated. But that is such a dodge, I hate that. The real answer is your father tried to kill me.”

Gregor gasped. “Why?”

Viola shrugged. “He thought he was doing the right thing. Killing me would have meant a revolt. A lot of people, including your family, would have been well off, or so he would have thought. And even more people that had done terrible things would, or could have been punished.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“No, it doesn’t.” Viola agreed. “But your father went about it by killing innocent people. Some of the guards, and even some old counselors. And good changes should not start with killing people. And more important for me, he would not be satisfied while I was still alive.”

“What do you mean, sassified?”

“Fancy word for happy,” Viola said. “When I became countess, your father decided that I needed to die. And the only way to make him stop was for me to kill him.”

Gregor nodded. “And you didn’t kill people just because?”

Viola smiled. “Not if I can help it. Everyone in the Valley, I consider them a part of my family. Sometimes we fight, and argue. Sometimes we do things we’re not proud of. But we don’t kill family just because we don’t like what they’re saying.”

Gregor smiled, and hugged her. “I’m glad you’re not trying to kill me.”

Viola laughed, and returned the hug. “Oh, me too.”

Viola led him back to his bedroom. Tucked him into bed, and after the second glass of water and third trip to the restroom, he was ready to sleep. She kissed him on the cheek. “Good night, sweet Gregor.”

“Good night, mom.” He mumbled as he drifted off to sleep.

Viola left the room chilled, and unsure what to think on that.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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