Dragon, 20

There’s a Time and Place for Decorum, but Sometimes it Should be Cast Aside

Ao3 Link

The bank of the river was shallow and rocky, just enough that they could get their feet wet without having to wade into the actual flow of the water. It wasn’t where Owen would have chosen to practice swordplay, but he supposed it was serviceable.

Serviceable, that was, for getting some squires wet. The four of them had somehow managed to get permission for Owen to have a practice sword and convinced Gabrielle and the other knights that they were responsible enough to supervise him. Which is how, once today’s dinner had been finished, Owen had found himself dragged to the river to get himself beat up.

Or so they had thought, but three of them were soaking wet from having been knocked down and Owen was facing off against Ashton, Gabrielle’s perpetually determined-looking squire. Owen himself was still dry except for his boots.

They were standing a few feet apart, swords raised. Owen had attacked all of the other three first and beaten them easily, and now he stood perfectly still and waited for Ashton to come at him. “Whenever you’re ready.” He smiled.

Ashton scowled and leapt forward, and Owen brought his blade up to block the blow, forced to use both hands since they were still manacled together. What he didn’t think any of them had realized was that it wasn’t entirely the disadvantage he’d worried it would be, since it gave him more strength to brace himself against the blows.

Owen blocked three strikes without moving, and then stepped back as far as the chains on his feet would allow just in time to throw Ashton off-balance, force him to follow. He could hear the jeers of the other boys, and he honestly wasn’t sure which of the two of them they wanted to see soaked in the river. They were clearly all friends, but they seemed to thrive on competing with one another and Owen had a feeling that if Ashton won where they’d all failed, they’d be equally annoyed that he’d beaten them as pleased that one of their group had won.

“You’ve got him on the run, Ash!” Evan called when Owen took another step back and made Ashton follow him again. “You’ve got this!”

Owen waited, blocked strikes, kept stepping back until Ashton started to believe what they were telling him, a small smile appearing on his face. Owen smirked at him, and made to take another step back. Ashton made to follow him and Owen stepped sideways instead, brought his sword around in an arc and struck Ashton’s hand. He didn’t drop his weapon but he did flinch back, and Owen lunged, two shallow steps forward, forcing him to overbalance and topple backwards.

“Dammit!” Ashton punched the water as his friends cursed. “You suck.”

“Really?” Owen asked, smiling down at him. “Because you’re the one taking a bath.”

“I don’t get it—we trained for this for years, went to school and learned from anointed knights. You’ve been holding a sword for two minutes according to what they say. Why the hell are you so good?”

“Simple,” Owen said, planting his dulled blade in the silt and offering Ashton his hand to stand. “There’s a difference between learning how to use a sword and actually using one.”

“Oh, do fucking tell.” Ashton had a lilt of nobility in his voice, despite his dirty mouth. He took Owen’s hand and stood, brushing himself off.

“Usually when I use my sword it’s because someone’s trying to kill me,” Owen told him, and all of them. “Or kill Gavin, which would be worse. Nobody’s ever actually tried to seriously hurt any of you. You know how to use a sword, the proper form and all that. You’re better than me in that way. But I know how to not die, and proper form can suck it when I’m trying to survive.”

They were all looking at him like he was crazy, and Owen shrugged. “You know how to handle a sword. I know how to fight. It’s not quite the same thing. But once you learn how to fight too, you’ve got all that form and training that I don’t. You’ll beat me then.” By then Owen would hopefully have enough experience not to suffer that defeat, but then again, by then maybe Owen would still be in prison for kidnapping Gavin.

“Owen, are you being mean to the squires?”

Owen looked up, a smile coming to his face at Gavin’s voice. “No,” he called, as Gavin stepped into the river to join them. The other four were saluting. “Just helping them get clean. They asked for my help.” Owen was pretty sure Gavin’s presence was what stopped him from getting any rude retorts. “Should I salute you too?” he asked, when Gavin had drawn close enough to put a hand on Owen’s arm.

Gavin smiled, shook his head. “How could you four possibly be having trouble? God, it’s just Owen. He’s easy to knock down, watch.”

“What are you doing?” Owen asked quietly, but Gavin just shushed him and leaned in for a kiss, putting both hands on Owen’s head. Owen was only a little embarrassed at the moan he made when it started, blaming the fact that he’d barely even seen Gavin in ages for it. Besides, Gavin made a noise too.

After far too short a time, Gavin pulled back, put both hands on Owen’s chest, and gave a sharp shove. Owen didn’t even realize what had happened until he felt a flash of cold and realized he was in the water. He flailed for just a minute before managing to sit, coughing. Gavin was standing there laughing at him, and even if it was a very pleasant sight, Owen glared at him. “What the fuck was that for?”

“I felt the need to assert my dominance.”

Owen narrowed his eyes, judged the distance between him and Gavin, and struck out with his legs, trapping one of Gavin’s ankles in the chain and toppling him into the river as well. The look on Gavin’s face was halfway between outrage and surprise, and Owen just smiled at him. “Not that dominant.”

“Fuck you,” Gavin said, but he was holding back laughter. “You cheated.”

“And you didn’t?”

“Exploiting weaknesses is a perfectly valid battle strategy,” Gavin said. “You think with your cock. It’s a weakness.”

“And you like to gloat. Which is also a weakness.”

“Actually, I just like seeing you on the ground in front of me too much.” Gavin got up, offered Owen his hand, and kissed him again as he stood. “You know, I came to offer to sneak you away for secret blowjobs in the woods,” he said quietly. “But I’m rethinking that now.”

Shit. Owen coloured and tried not to look at the squires. The river was loud enough for them not to have heard, he thought. “I don’t see why. Seems like a good idea to me.” Even if Gabrielle would behead him if she found out.

“Yeah, but now I’m wet and grumpy.”

“I can think of a few good ways to cheer you up…”

There was a very clear sound of someone clearing his throat not far from them, and Owen looked up to see Sir Devin standing at the riverbank. “They worry more about where you are than where I am,” Owen muttered.

“This is what I get for fucking around.” Gavin sighed quietly. “If I’d just come up to you and said ‘hey, Owen, come over here and let me blow you,’ we’d have been away by now.”

“Yeah,” Owen agreed, voice a little strained. “You should be more direct in telling me what you want, really.”

“Your Highness,” Sir Devin said, patiently. “Her Highness Sir Gabrielle has requested that you return to the camp.”

“It’s been a minute and a half, Sir Devin,” Gavin said, shaking his head and turning around. “What does she think I could possibly have done in that time?”

“She ordered me to carry you if need be, sire.”

Even from behind, Owen could tell that Gavin was rolling his eyes. “Alright, fine. If you’ll all excuse me. I’m apparently late for another appointment to have my life choices disapproved of.”

“I thought it was me that she disapproved of,” Owen muttered.

“It is.” Gavin turned around and gave Owen a kiss on the cheek before moving to depart. “You’re my life choice.”

While Owen tried not to splutter at that, Gavin made his way out the river. “Lead on, Sir Babysitter,” he grumbled.

“Yes, sire.”

“Oh.” Gavin turned and smiled at the four squires, who were all trying valiantly to pretend that they couldn’t see or hear anything that was happening. “The reason why he keeps beating all of you is because you’re letting him set the pace of the fight. Honestly, he can barely move his feet; don’t let him decide how fast you’re going to move.”

“Hey!” Owen called, though he wasn’t really mad. “Stop giving advice to my opponents.” Even if Owen himself would have told them that same thing soon.

“I think it’s my duty to make sure that the knights of the kingdom are sufficiently trained. How else can they protect us from scary outlaws like yourself?” The chagrinned expressions that got Gavin told Owen that the jibe had struck home. “Go easy on them, Owen.”

“Then how will they learn anything?” Owen asked, more smugly than he felt. Knowing how competitive the four of them were, this would drive them to get better quickly. Which of course Gavin had picked up on. “Besides, they’ve still got all their teeth, don’t they?”

“All right.” Sir Devin sighed. “Let’s go, sire. And you four—try not to embarrass yourselves too badly. I’ll be back shortly to…supervise this.”

And he led Gavin off, leaving the five of them in the river. Owen scowled. “Well. That last part wasn’t supposed to happen.” His sword had ended up in the river at some point and Owen cast around for it. “Anyone else think this is going to end with him beating me up?”

None of them answered, and Owen found his practice weapon and retrieved it, glancing at them. They were all looking at him. “What?”

“You…” Warren looked at the others as if for support. “The way you talk to his Highness.”

“What about it?”

“You’re a commoner,” Ashton said, a little indignant. “And even if you weren’t, you can’t talk to a prince that way! You…”

“I can’t talk to him like he’s a person? Or, taking your cue, I can’t talk to him at all?”


Owen decided it would be bad form to point out that he and Gavin had been having sex for eight months. “He’d like you guys if you had the balls to say two words to him. And you’d probably like him too.”

“That’s not the point!”

Owen sighed. “I tried to talk formally to him when we first met,” he had, for all of two hours the morning after he’d killed the dragon. “He sat on my chest and refused to move until I started calling him names.” Gavin’s exact words had been that he’d never suck Owen’s cock again if Owen was going to be too afraid to call him a cocksucker, but probably that didn’t bear repeating.

“Well…” Ashton seemed at a bit of a loss and he looked at the others for help, and they just shrugged at him.

“You’re noble born,” Owen pointed out. “But I bet you let them talk to you like real people.”

“Well, yeah. But they’re my friends, and we’re equals in the order.”

Owen shrugged. “And I’m an insolent country hick who doesn’t know anything about manners. Besides, we are kind of…you know. So I think that gets me some leeway, don’t you?”

“Not…really.” But he sounded uncertain, and Owen read defeat in his stance.

Owen just smiled and shook his head at them. “Sir Devin is coming back soon to babysit us.” He held up his sword, moved into a fighting stance. “Who wants their rematch against the chained-up outlaw before he gets here?”

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