Not Every Day Has to Be Exceptional for it to Be Enjoyed
“We should be back in Pelican Bay within the week,” Admiral Elias Aerchon said to Gavin and to Natalie, and to a lesser extent to Owen. “I expect you will enjoy setting foot on dry land again, your Highness.”
“I don’t know,” Gavin said, tapping the deck of the Queen Geneva with a foot. “I was thinking maybe I’d stay with the Coral Witch. Become a swashbuckler. Sail the high seas, fight pirates. You’re in need of crew, right, captain?”
“Always,” Natalie agreed, eyebrow raised. “I could use someone to mop the decks.”
“That’s what Owen’s for,” Gavin agreed.
“No, I was thinking ship’s security for him,” Natalie said.
“Do you have a lot of security problems on your ship?” Owen asked her.
“Lately I’ve been having trouble with people staying up all night making all kinds of noise,” Natalie told him. “You’d be expected to go around knocking heads to make them sleep.”
“I’m good at knocking heads,” Owen said, as if he wasn’t one of those people. They hadn’t been up that late on any night that he could remember. They always fell asleep eventually. Maybe she was talking about Cal’s team. There had been a few nights where they’d been going at it long after Owen had fallen asleep. “But in reality, we’re not going to stay,” he added. “We do have responsibilities on land.”
Owen didn’t often go with Gavin go the Queen Geneva, mostly because it was boring, but Gavin had made him come today because apparently “We’re going to be married, you can’t be completely distant from all things diplomatic.” Which seemed stupid to Owen, but when Gavin told him to do something, he went, so he had gone to the Queen Geneva with Gavin and Natalie today. And somehow he was the one reminding Gavin about responsibilities.
Also, they didn’t seem to be doing any actual diplomacy, just sitting and eating lunch. But maybe that was secretly somehow diplomacy and Owen just didn’t recognize it.
Further also, Owen didn’t really understand why Gavin thought they had to do diplomacy with people who were on their side already. But anyway.
Gavin sighed. “True. I admit I’m getting somewhat antsy the longer time goes on, even if it’s only been a few weeks. I want to be speaking to this Theodore now, not in another half a month. I wish we could put in at White Cape.”
“We could if we wanted to be trapped in the ice, your Highness,” the admiral said. “And speak with him in the summer.”
“I know someone who can give you lessons in traversing the frozen harbour,” Natalie mused. “But I can’t say as I recommend it either. Mostly because I got stuck there once and I didn’t like it much.”
“I know, I know,” Gavin said, waving his hand. “You two need to get better at understanding that I just like to complain. Owen gets it.”
“It helps him when he’s bored,” Owen said. Gavin kicked him under the table, and Owen smiled at him. “Without something to kill for a few days he gets itchy and it’s either complaining or picking fights that I have to win for him.”
“And there’s just nobody around here challenging enough to Owen for me to pick fights with,” Gavin said, even though Owen didn’t think that was true. Mathilda notwithstanding, Pax and Denver were both clearly very dangerous, though Owen thought he might have been the only one who realized that.
“I daresay a few of my marines would pose a challenge for Sir Owen,” Aerchon said, very nicely. Probably they would, to be fair.
“Maybe we should arrange a contest, then,” Gavin said immediately, smiling. “Before we get back to Pelican Bay. Tomorrow, maybe?”
“I shall let the worthiest of my sailors know, your Highness,” Aerchon said with a nod.
“Excellent,” Gavin said, standing. “With that, I should probably leave you. Thank you for the invitation, admiral. Captain, I’ll see you later.”
They both bade him farewell, and Owen hurried to follow him out onto the wide deck of the Queen Geneva, and over to the board that was connecting the two ships. “That was fun,” Gavin said, while they were still in the hearing of the people on the flagship.
Owen waited until they were back on the Coral Witch before saying, “it was really kind of boring.”
“Yeah. But it’s necessary,” Gavin said, grabbing the front strap of Owen’s armour—which he’d insisted that Owen wear—and kissed him. “Thanks for coming.”
“It wasn’t like I had a choice.”
“No, but thanks anyway.”
“I don’t get why you needed me there,” Owen said. “I didn’t do anything.” Aside from sit there and eat. The food had been good.
“Sure you did. You reminded them that I’m a person,” Gavin explained. “People look at me and know that I’m a prince. Which is fine when I’m ordering them around. But sometimes they also need to remember that being named ven Sancte doesn’t mean that I’m somehow more than human. Having a fiancé who makes fun of me reminds them of that.”
“Huh,” Owen said, eyeing Gavin. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Gavin laughed. “That’s because you always saw me as a person first. Which would be why I’m marrying you.”
“That’s why?” Owen asked, amused.
“It’s one of the reasons. The others being that you’re kind and strong and loving. And hot and good at sex.”
Fair enough, Owen supposed. “That’s all? Seems like a short list. I’ve got a longer list for you.”
“It’s not a contest, Sir Owen.” Gavin smirked. “But I’d win if it were. Since we’re on the topic of you being awesome, though.”
“That is a good topic,” Owen agreed. “What is it?”
“Edwin?” The last Owen had seen him today, he’d been doing his regular duties. Darby was following him around. Ever since the four of them had woken up in bed together, he hadn’t been able to figure out whether he liked Edwin or wanted to bite him.
“He’s upset about something. He mentioned something about Sir Erik.”
“Yeah, he said it wasn’t a big deal.”
Gavin rolled his eyes. “Yes, it’s clearly not a big deal and that’s why he’s been upset for over a week. I want you to talk to Erik. Discreetly.”
“I’m not very good at being discreet,” Owen reminded him.
“Just find out what’s going on. And don’t let Erik know why—if he finds out he might get angry with Edwin.”
Oh. “You think he’s being abusive?”
“I think he must be mistreating Edwin.” Gavin sighed. “And I don’t like that. Not just because we’re sleeping with him. I don’t want to see him treated poorly and I wonder if Erik is the reason he has such low confidence to begin with.”
Owen nodded. That kind of made sense, actually. “Okay. I’ll find out.”
“Thank you. I’m planning to strongly recommend Edwin for full knighthood once we get home anyway, which means he’ll be away from Erik anyway. But I don’t want Erik staying on my guard if that’s what he’s like.” Gavin shrugged. “And if he’s not and I’m misinterpreting, I don’t want to unfairly judge him and have it just turn out that they can’t agree on which of them gets to have the hammock or something.”
“Got it,” Owen said, knowing it was more than that. “I’ll use all the discretionary power that God gave me. I won’t even bring Little Sword.” Though that might make Erik know something was up.
“Thank you,” Gavin said, smiling. “Now, let’s go get you out of that armour.”
“What a good idea.”
“And into regular clothes.”
Owen frowned. “But with a fairly long interval, right?”
“Obviously,” Gavin said with a roll of his eyes.
“Good, because I don’t think you ate enough at lunch.”
“You never do,” Gavin laughed, and led Owen to their cabin.
Owen honestly didn’t care how much longer it took them to get to land. Home was where Gavin was, after all.