Knighthood, 81

Like Many Other Feelings, Contentment Can Sneak up on You

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“Sorry that took so long,” Gavin said, handing Edwin his shirt. “You can go, if you want.”

“Are you sure?” Edwin asked, taking his shirt and pulling it on. Gavin and Owen had made him come over and visit Prince Franz and his family so they could all get measured for clothes for Franz and Sir Gabrielle’s wedding, after which Edwin guessed Franz’s family would also be Gavin’s family. “I can stay if you need me to.” Gavin was wearing the ridiculous fluffy peacock smallclothes Edwin had bought him as a joke and it was very distracting because he was supposed to look stupid, not hot, in them.

Gavin shook his head. “We’re all going to talk about politics for a bit, but I’m not going to make you stay and listen to it, just Owen, who was about as cooperative a mannequin as an actual ox would have been. We’ll see you tomorrow. You’re all prepared for the big promotion in a few days, right?”

Edwin swallowed, glancing at Darby and Greg, who were getting dressed near the door. Well, Greg was getting dressed near the door. Darby was picking at a loincloth, but at least he was wearing it, which was a minor miracle. It belonged to Prince Franz’s servant Frederick, who’d been hitting on Edwin earlier. “Yeah, I’m prepared. Or I will be, anyway.”

“Good. The rest of us will be prepared too, in case the celebration gets rowdy,” Gavin said, tapping his feathered ass with a wink.

Edwin rolled his eyes. “Not that a celebration with you would ever get rowdy.”

Gavin leaned in. “I didn’t hear a ‘your Highness’ in there.”

Edwin leaned in too. “I’ve been thinking. I know you’re going to want to get me an annoying gift for my promotion, so you know what I think would be awesome?”

Gavin’s eyes actually lit up a little. “What?” he asked.

Oh, Edwin felt a little bad for this now. But just a little. “It’d be awesome if you could not talk for like, a whole day. Your Highness.”

Edwin had never seen someone switch from childlike anticipation to a childish glare that fast, let alone one that also somehow incorporated a pout. It was almost impressive how much of a sullen brat Gavin could be sometimes. “Just for that I’m going to get you something so annoying.”

“You were anyway.”

“Yes, I was,” Gavin agreed. He kissed Edwin’s cheek. “I love you.”

“Love you too.” Edwin said, and Gavin went back to talk to Franz while Edwin found his pants. He stepped into them as he headed over to Owen. “Hey,” he said, leaning down. Owen was sitting in a chair, talking with Boey and Franz’s nanny Hiccup. “I’m going to go.”

“Okay,” said Owen, putting his hand on Edwin’s. “Thanks for coming. See you tomorrow.”

Edwin nodded, not sure if it was okay to kiss him when people were watching, so he just got up. Owen took his hand, pulled him back down, and kissed him. Edwin could feel his face warming, but it just made him smile harder. “See you tomorrow.”

Feeling good, Edwin went to the door where his boots were, started putting them on. Greg was just finishing doing his clothes up. “You’re leaving too?” Greg asked.

Edwin nodded. “I guess they’re letting us all go. I was thinking of getting something to eat, do you guys want to come?” He signed the question for Darby too, even finishing before his words were done for once.

Greg shook his head. “Thank you,” he said. “But we, um, have plans with one of G-Darby’s friends.” He signed as he talked as well.

“Okay,” Edwin said, lacing up a boot. He was glad that Greg was making other friends. He didn’t seem to have a lot. “Another time, if you want.”

“I’d like that,” said Greg. He finished doing up his shirt, and signed at Darby. I’m ready.

Okay! Let’s go! Bye, Edwin!

He didn’t actually say Edwin’s name, he said the name he called Edwin, which had the word ‘light’ in it. Owen and some of the others had been talking earlier about why Darby did that, and Edwin should probably ask why Darby called him what he did someday. But for now it was clear they wanted to go, so Edwin waved at them as Darby pulled Greg out of the room, laughing a little at Darby’s excitement. They made for such a weird couple, but it worked really well. Edwin wondered if they considered each other brothers.

“Hey, uh…”

Edwin looked up, saw Frederick standing there, still naked, still smiling. “Hey,” he said. “They’re not letting you get dressed?”

“No, I’m not allowed yet,” Frederick said. He was Franz’s page. Edwin wondered if princes and pages were the same as knights and squires. Probably not, since Edwin had never seen Drew in Gavin’s bed. “I just saw you leaving and wanted to say it was nice to meet you properly, Sir Edwin.”

“You can really just call me Edwin,” Edwin promised, though he knew it was a lost cause.

“Right, sir.” Frederick smiled. “You’re very nice, and Grey Rain, Greg and Drew all speak very highly of you. I can see why.”

Frederick was looking at Edwin in a way that made it clear he meant that literally. The fact that he was mostly hard with no way to hide it helped, though he hadn’t exactly tried to hide anything when he’d seen Louis either, and he’d been fully dressed for winter then. “I can see why they like you too,” Edwin said. “You’ve been very friendly. I appreciate that. I’m pretty new to all of this hanging out in castles stuff, and I didn’t think I’d ever really fit here, but you’ve really helped me ease into it.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that,” Frederick said, getting Edwin’s coat for him as he stood up. “If you’d like, next time you have some time off I could show you around the castle. I’ve lived here a long time so I know all the best places.”

“That’d be really awesome, actually,” said Edwin. “I could use a crash course in where everything is since it seems like I’m going to be here a lot. Oh, you don’t need to do that.” Frederick had come around and was doing up the buttons on Edwin’s coat for him.

“It’s okay,” said Frederick, smiling up at Edwin. “I like being helpful. Besides, you work really hard to keep us all safe. Doing up your coat is the…least I can do.”

The way he said it made it clear that he thought he could do a whole lot more than that, and Edwin smiled at him. “If you insist.”

“I definitely do,” Frederick said, biting his lip just for a second. He got really close to Edwin to do up his coat, and then ran his hand down the front. “There. Stay warm, Sir Edwin.”

“I will, thanks to you,” Edwin promised. Frederick smiled at him again, brushing Edwin’s hand as he moved away, and Edwin gave him a pat on the butt before heading out.

He hadn’t been lying to Frederick; Edwin really didn’t know his way around the castle. The parts of it that he’d been to, sure, but he’d never been in this room before, and it took him a few minutes to retrace the steps he’d taken to get here to find his way out. It was a comfortable walk, though. He wasn’t uncomfortable here.

He wasn’t uncomfortable with where he was, in the world, in the city, in his life. Edwin…hadn’t expected that.

He left the castle, crossing the bridge over the frozen moat, remembering the first time he’d been here. He’d been irritated and hot and impatient, and glad to leave. Now he was looking forward to coming back. It was a weird feeling.

But he was snapped out of it quickly. Erik was standing there just on the other side of the bridge. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey.” Edwin hugged him, almost sending them both to the ground. “You’d better not have been waiting out here for me all this time.”

“No, just the last little bit. I figured you’d be done soon.” Erik smiled. Distantly behind him, Edwin could see Ned lurking badly, but he was keeping that distance, so it was fine. “So, are they dressing us up in something stupid for the wedding?”

“Of course. But you should see what they’re dressing themselves in,” Edwin said. He actually had no idea what anyone was going to be wearing for the wedding despite having been in the room for over an hour. There’d been small pieces of fabric and a lot of talk about colours and contrast and themes, but he hadn’t seen one single outfit. He guessed the tailor would make those once Gavin and Franz weren’t there supervising and he could actually get some tailoring done. “Cal, you must be freezing.” It was so cold out.

“Yeah, and you must be starving,” Erik said. “I figured we could go out to eat somewhere.”

Edwin grinned. “Only if you’re paying.”

“Of course I am.” Erik took his hand, walked him away from the castle. “I heard about this cool place where they cook the food right at your table.”

“What, how?”

“I don’t know, let’s go find out.”

“Sure,” Edwin said, leaning on Erik. “Is this my ‘congratulations on your promotion’ dinner?”

“Nah, this is just a regular date. I figured we’d do that dinner after your promotion. There’s this restaurant that’s also a brothel and you can pay someone to keep your cock warm the whole time you eat.”

Edwin laughed. “Okay. That sounds expensive.”

“That’s why we’ve never been there. But I’ve got money and I want to spend it on you.”

“You really don’t…”

“Have to, but I will,” Erik told him. “No arguments, squire.”

Edwin grinned, bumping Erik as he walked. He’d never thought he’d be this happy with where he was in life. “Whatever you say, sir.”

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