No Matter How Big Your Problems, You Have to Take Time to Take Care of The People You Love
From the window in the bedroom doubling as Geoffrey’s prison, he could see part of the castle grounds and a small corner of the Shrike’s Lake. They looked the same as they always did, clean and well kept and idyllic. They looked exactly the same as when Geoffrey had first seen them. Obviously in all the coups, nobody had tried to replace the gardeners. There was nothing about them to suggest that anything unusual was going on.
The bells did that for him. They’d been ringing all day, seeming to only get louder and faster as the day went on. They were celebratory bells, in honour of the signing of the peace treaty that would end the civil war, and in honour of the queen’s coronation.
And of her wedding.
It was a big day for everyone in Kyaine, and everyone who mattered would be gathered for the festivities. Everyone with any power. Which of course was why Geoffrey was still locked in this room.
“Staring at the grass isn’t going to bring it inside,” Javier said, sliding his hands onto Geoffrey’s waist.
“I know,” Geoffrey sighed, leaning back into his companion. At least Giacomo had kept his promise and he wasn’t trapped in here alone. “It’s just…” He didn’t finish, resting his palm against the window. Even with the window shut tight, the bells were so loud.
“I know,” Javier said, with a slow sigh. “I wish we were there too.”
Geoffrey nodded. He wasn’t even angry. He wasn’t plotting anything anymore. He just wanted to watch his brother get married. But Giacomo had been right. He’d lost the war. This was his punishment, and he was lucky it wasn’t worse. “We’re going to be fine,” he said, leaning back into Javier’s touch. “They can’t well punish House DiSheere too badly when my brother is married to their queen.”
“I know,” said Javier. “If they were going to kill you or something they’d have done it already.”
“Unless they want a statement execution,” Geoffrey muttered. He didn’t think he was in danger, but a declaration like his beheading would be a lot stronger if it didn’t happen on the same day as three other historic ones, so next week would be the time to worry about that. He leaned further back, his back to Javier’s chest, and he frowned. “Your heart is racing.”
Javier nodded, letting Geoffrey twist around and put a hand on his chest. “I’m fine,” he said. He was sweating, too. “Just the bells, is all. Usually we ring them for bad reasons.”
They were ringing them for bad reasons today too, just not because anyone was dying. Geoffrey nodded, breaking his hug with Javier for a second to close the curtains, pull him a few steps from the window. “Let’s go over here,” he said. “You want to have a bath?” That was one of the only things they could do in here. “I’ll ask the guard to bring you some mint tea.” Hopefully they had some. They always had it at Geoffrey’s house, but he didn’t know if they would in the castle. It was a fucking castle, he thought. They’d better have some tea.
“I already did,” Javier said, holding Geoffrey’s hand. “They brought coffee.”
Geoffrey scowled. That wasn’t going to help. “I’ll go talk to them.”
He started to the door, but Javier grabbed his arm. “Don’t, please.”
“Javier, you know coffee won’t help with…”
“I don’t want you to pick a fight, Geoffrey, please,” Javier said, hands shaking.
Crap, he was headed towards one of his moments. Geoffrey nodded, gently took Javier in his arms. “Okay,” he said. “I’m sorry, I won’t pick a fight. Everything’s okay, Javier.”
Javier shook his head, clinging to Geoffrey now. “No, it isn’t,” he said, looking at Geoffrey’s chest. “Nothing’s okay. We lost the war, and what if the DiGorres are just doing all this so they can kill Giacomo? What if they’ve already killed him and we’re next? What if…”
“They didn’t,” Geoffrey said, wishing that didn’t make him worry too. “They didn’t do that.”
“This is all my fault,” Javier said, tears collecting in his eyes. “This is all my fault, oh, God, I should have known better. I shouldn’t have let you go in that inn, not with those two guys there. I should have known they were wizards, I should have…”
“It’s not your fault, Javier,” Geoffrey insisted, as gently as he could. “Come on, we’re safe, let’s sit down.” He sat them down right there, pulling Javier to the floor so his knees would stop shaking.
“What if they’re going to kill us, I think they poisoned us, Geoffrey, I can’t breathe…” He was gasping now, eyes squeezed shut as he took short, shallow breaths that were way, way too fast.
Geoffrey nodded, pulled him closer, rested their heads together. “Yes, you can, Javier,” he said, holding Javier’s hand. “Yes, you can.”
“I, I can’t…”
“You’re going to breathe when I breathe, okay?” Geoffrey asked. “A deep breath, like this.” He took one, slowly, and then let it out. “Can you do that for me?”
Javier shook his head, still gasping.
“Yes, you can. Let’s do one together when I count to three. One, two, three.” He took another breath, and Javier took one with him, not as deep, but deeper than the ones he’d been taking. “Okay, good,” said Geoffrey. “Now let’s do it again, okay?”
It took ten minutes, but he got Javier breathing again, and his shaking had slowed. His eyes were still closed, and he was clinging to Geoffrey hard. “I’m going to throw up,” he muttered.
“Yeah,” Geoffrey said, reaching over and pulling a flowerpot closer. Javier always threw up after a moment. “Right here, if you can.”
He couldn’t, and he ended up retching onto Geoffrey’s shirt, tears running down his face as he threw up in Geoffrey’s lap. Geoffrey closed his eyes, trying not to feel sick himself. “I’m sorry,” Javier said, sounding miserable and tired. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Geoffrey told him, rubbing his back. “You going to throw up more or is that all?”
Javier didn’t answer right away, resting his head on Geoffrey’s collarbone. “I’m done,” he finally said, sighing. “I’m really sorry.”
“It happens,” Geoffrey said, lifting the back of Javier’s shirt up to get it over his head. “It’s been a while since you last had a moment like that.”
“Yeah,” Javier muttered. He let Geoffrey take his shirt off and toss it aside, then lifted his head so Geoffrey could take off his own warm shirt. “I don’t know if it was the bells or just everything, or…”
“Doesn’t matter,” Geoffrey said. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
Javier nodded, still not looking up. “Sorry for throwing up on you.”
Geoffrey kissed his forehead. “I’m your companion, who else are you going to throw up on?”
Javier snorted a small laugh. “I guess. And I guess we should have that bath.”
“Yeah,” Geoffrey said. He pulled Javier to his feet and unlaced his pants, trying not to make a face when the laces were covered in vomit. He pushed them down and untied his loincloth, then did Javier’s as well. “I know you can’t always believe me when I say stuff like this, but it really wasn’t your fault, Javier.”
Javier nodded, letting Geoffrey lead him away from their gross clothes and to the room with the bath. “I know. I…I don’t believe you, right now. But I probably will later.”
That was good enough. “Sit here,” Geoffrey said, putting Javier down on a small chair while he went to fill the bath. “We’re going to be okay. I promise.”
“That one I believe. You always land on your feet.”
“Only because you’re there to catch me,” Geoffrey said while he tried to figure out how the pulleys worked.
“The one on the left.”
Geoffrey pulled it, got some water flowing into the tub. “Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?”
“You already are,” Javier said. He took another deep breath. “Can we…can we just talk about something else, please? Something that’s not…” he waved his hand.
“Sure,” said Geoffrey, trying to think of something. “Last night I had a dream that I was a centaur.”
“Yeah, I had hooves and a horse dick and everything. I was trying really hard to find this glass sword, but everyone kept feeding me carrots.”
“Is…that why you were biting my fingers in your sleep?”
“I was not.”
“You were. And also humping me.”
“They were good carrots!”
There were a lot of things out there that Geoffrey was worried about, but it was easy to put all the other stuff out of his mind for now and just focus all his attention on Javier. Javier needed him the most, more than anyone else right now, and he was one of the most important people in Geoffrey’s life.
So no matter what else was going on outside, Geoffrey was going to be here for his companion.