They know. The other two know. It's hard to tell if she did herself; she was always the stupid one.
Stretched out, tongue protruding pinkly, paw reaching towards me and the tub of ice cream (with claws safely retracted for once), Archie looked settled and contented. Like he knew that it was all over now, that there was nothing to be done but longingly imagine me spoon feeding him melting vanilla ice cream. Once again granted permission to enter rooms filled with human comfort, and not obliged to wait outside doors, bereft of attention, the ginger ones (like Laurel and Hardy, or French and Saunders) are almost audibly sighing relief at the final rest of the matriarch.
I let Archie sleep on my pillow. He needed it. The unspoken (naturally, as he is a cat) acknowledging of grief and the necessity for contact and my duvet cover. Hector isn't so quick to catch on. He takes after his mother. But he definitely sought out a little more head-scratching and jowel-jiggling than usual, on my return in the evening. As always, it is not so much the loss at what has gone that is the heart breaking element, but what is left behind. A confused chubby son (the chubbiness makes it all the more heart rendering, like he needs his mum to give him nutritional guidance), and the resilient loner of an older brother.
Yet they will have to adapt, and adopt a camaraderie, a marmalade unity.