Everyone thought that Duzell was the evil twin. Post-series fluff set fifteen years after the birth of the twins. (A/N: Uploading hiccup - please ignore the other copy.)
Evil Twin and Eviler Twin
It was pretty much inevitable. Everyone who met the royal twins expected that Duzell would be the evil twin, what with his ominous namesake and, for those who remembered his mother during her rebellious teenage years, his striking resemblance to her. Not that Queen Ishtar could be considered a paragon of propriety and decorum even now, but even that jerk Darres winced and covered his eyes whenever the subject of her youthful misdemeanours was raised, as it often was, for Phelios loved to hear stories of her childhood and the precarious period when Duke Lassen attempted to usurp the Pheliostan throne.
In all honesty, Duzell could not blame them entirely for their prejudice, as he was not always not exactly what one would call a good child, or a nice one. Still, he thought it was quite unfair that no one ever expected ill of sweet-tempered, smiling Phelios-named-after-St-Phelios (the idiot -- that is, St Phelios was the idiot, not Phelios), and thus no one was ever watching when he did things like this.
"Duzie, come," said Phelios, beckoning from behind a statue as Duzell hurried to get back to their classroom before councilor Berel arrived. As Duzell prepared to snap at him for using the ridiculous nickname, Phelios grabbed his hand and ran.
"Where the hell are we going? We're already late for history by now," Duzell demanded in a harsh whisper as Phelios led him through the kitchens and up the servants' stairs, away from their rooms. He did not care for history, but he felt he ought to point it out at least, for form's sake. He was the less evil twin, after all.
"Hush, they will hear," Phelios murmured, and ducked into a doorway as one of their guards appeared at the bottom of the stairs, calling their names. He tugged at Duzell's hand until Duzell unwillingly joined him in hiding. Duzell knew very well who would be blamed if they were caught.
Several breathless moments passed before they heard the man walk away. Phelios peeked down the stairwell to make sure he was really gone, and started climbing again. He still hadn't let go of Duzell's hand.
If all the adults who fawned on and petted Phelios while sighing and looking askance at Duzell could see him now ... damn, even being sneaky and determined, he still looked more sweet and innocent than Duzell could on his best day. Surely he had some serious, legitimate business to attend to, or he would not be here instead of in class as he ought to be. Even Duzell believed it, and he knew Phelios. Why was life so unfair?
While Duzell was grumpily brooding over the injustice of it all, Phelios had dragged him up to the unused top floor of the old tower overlooking the old orchard. Duzell tugged his hand free and went to the window to look. It was winter, and there was nothing and nobody in the orchard to see. "So what did you bring me up here for?"
"Shh, they're sleeping," said Phelios, and he pointed up. In the rafters, there were ... a lot of bats. Duzell squeaked. "Aren't they adorable?" He was practically cooing.
They were not. They were gray and hairy and had spindly leathery wings and squashed-looking faces, and they smelled and made him itchy. Phelios obviously did not find them alarming in the least, but then he was always a freak anyway and this was just further proof.
Duzell wanted to scream. He did not. Phelios was clever but not exceptional in his studies. However, he remembered everything about everyone he met, good or bad. It would not do to show weakness.
"Very cute," Duzell wheezed, and drifted discreetly back to the window while Phelios admired the bats. Don't think about the bats. How nice it is to look at trees in winter. How ... Then Duzell forgot all about the bats. "What the -- how disgusting! How could she?" he hissed, nearly prostrate with the horror. "How could she?"
"What is it?" asked Phelios curiously, leaning around him to look.
Duzell grabbed him and pointed. "Look, look, she's kissing him! They're touching each other!"
Phelios followed the line of his pointed finger, meeped and ducked, dragging Duzell to the ground with him. "We shouldn't be seeing this! It's private!"
"He's old! He's fat! He's ugly and stupid and /she's kissing him!/" Duzell struggled and failed to find words adequate to describe his emotions.
"He's not!" Phelios hissed back indignantly, "he's /our father./" He paused and frowned, reconsidering his words. "Objectively speaking, he still would not be considered old and fat and ugly and stupid by any measure," he declared firmly.
Duzell scrambled to his knees and peered over the windowsill. "It's still disgusting! How could she?"
Phelios wrapped his arms around him again, octopus-like, and pulled him down so they were lying on the ground together and Duzell couldn't get up. "Of course they do that. They love each other."
That was not a satisfactory answer. Duzell kicked the wall, hard. Phelios winced and looked up at the bats, and so did Duzell, responding to his anxiety. They were undisturbed, and Duzell averted his eyes again. "Well, Ishtar says she loves me. Why shouldn't she kiss me instead of that jerk? It's not fair!"
Phelios started, "Duzie! It's different," then seemed suddenly frustrated, at a loss for words, and at last said, "Father came first," his tones almost petulant.
It was such a petty, even childish thing to say that Duzell stopped struggling and looked at Phelios, surprised. Phelios looked hurt, his gentle eyes bright and reddening slightly. Duzell found the sight strangely distressing. "What?" He pressed a palm to Phelio's cheek. "What is it?"
"Darres came first." Phelios said. "And I knew you first." A tear slid down his cheek; Duzell found he could not speak through the painful lump in his throat. He hated seeing Phelios cry, and he was obscurely certain this was somehow his fault.
Another tear followed the first, then the one that threatened on the other side spilled too. Duzell looked around desperately, remembered that he never carried a handkerchief anyway, and scrubbed the offending drops away with his palm. "Phelios, don't cry. I love you too."
The answering look with which Phelios graced him eloquently expressed scepticism, and Duzell was surprised himself to realize that it was true. He cupped Phelios's face in his hands, making sure that Phelios was looking him in the eye, and repeated himself. "I love you, you idiot. Stop crying." Then he kissed Phelios, and drew back a little to see his reaction.
Phelios stared at him, wide-eyed, then sat up and turned his back on Duzell, shoulders shaking, and Duzell felt the beginning of panic stir in him. Had he misunderstood? "Phelios?"
The little shit was giggling. Irked beyond measure, Duzell rolled over and braced himself to stand, then Phelios pounced on him from behind and hugged him tightly. "Silly Duzie," said Phelios, and the warm affection in his voice somehow drained away Duzell's anger.
They sat together that way in the cold attic until someone hit on the bright idea of luring them out by ringing the bell for tea early.