Noble, 32

Mercy Is Only Bloodless if its Recipient Wants it to Be

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The door banging open dragged Geoffrey from a nap, though he hadn’t been deeply enough asleep for it to matter. “What?” he asked, as some guards came into the room.

“Stay right there,” one of them told him. They were both wearing House DiGorre’s crest on their brightly polished breastplates, and started looking around the room.

“What are you looking for?” Javier asked them, from his place near the window. He was writing.

“Weapons. Hand the quill over.”

“Weapons?” Javier asked, looking at his quill. He handed it to the guard, who inspected it.

“It’s okay, Javier,” Geoffrey told him. There was only one reason they’d suddenly be inspecting the room. “Just let them look around. The queen is coming to see us.” The king wouldn’t have bothered with all this.

“Oh, right,” said Javier. He sat there quietly and watched the guards rummage through the room, and Geoffrey didn’t move from the bed, until they made him move so they could make sure he didn’t have knives hidden under the pillows. Geoffrey hadn’t been given so much as a butter knife since he’d been in here, but given how many monarchs Kyaine had run through this year, he understood the precaution. It would be bad news if another queen got stabbed in the heart.

That may have been Neville’s style, but it wasn’t Geoffrey’s. He’d probably poison her instead.

Once they were satisfied, the guards left the room without a word, leaving the door open. Geoffrey had enough time to stand beside Javier at the table before Dahlia swept around the corner in a green and white dress with the trim in yellow rather than gold. Behind her was Giacomo in a green that almost looked black with red in his shoes and on his cuffs. “My queen,” said Geoffrey, bowing. “My king. You know I’d have come to you.”

Dahlia nodded, and Giacomo shut the door. “For the sake of public appearances, it’s best if nobody sees you coming into my rooms.”

“Yes, they might think I’m doing something inappropriate to your husband,” Geoffrey said, gesturing at the table. “Please, sit.”

Dahlia nodded, and did that. Giacomo sat beside her. “How are you?” she asked him. “I trust you’re being treated well. Is there anything you need?”

“Mint tea,” Geoffrey said immediately, as he sat too. Javier sat with him after a second, looking at his hands.

Dahlia blinked. “Mint tea? I’m sure that can be arranged.”

“Thank you. I’ve asked the guards for it several times and they keep bringing me coffee. I do like coffee but that’s not what we need.”

“I’ll make sure you get some,” said Giacomo, who was looking at Javier. “Are you both okay?”

“We’re fine.” Geoffrey smiled. Javier had been a little on edge since the coronation, but he hadn’t had any more moments. “We’d like to be allowed to go home.”

“I’d like that too,” Dahlia said. “Obviously this is complicated. My uncle Hans was removed as my regent; I successfully argued that if I’m old enough to be married, I’m old enough to rule a kingdom. But he’s still around as one of my advisors and we can’t get rid of him.”

“Why not?” Geoffrey asked.

“Because,” said Giacomo. “The Sorcerer King thinks I’m playing along with his schemes and spying for him, and he ordered me not to kill Hans. If we do, it’ll be obvious I’ve betrayed him and he’ll attack us again. Until something can be done about Samson Arkhewer, we have to keep Hans alive.” He was touching that ugly ring on his small finger.

“This has to stay in this room,” Dahlia told Geoffrey. “We can’t have it getting out that we have any connection whatsoever to the Sorcerer King.”

“Of course,” said Geoffrey, watching Giacomo. How long had he been with Henry and his husband? Long enough to form some sort of alliance with them, and to betray that alliance, at least. What had happened to him while he was there? “They still have Darius as well, is that right?”

“It is,” said Dahlia, sighing at her cousin’s name. “They’re holding him hostage. Giacomo believes that we might be able to negotiate with House Arkhewer in the near future, but I’m not convinced that’s going to pan out. Either way, Hans stays for now. Because of that, and because of how the war turned out, it’s not going to be possible for me to acknowledge everything House DiSheere and its allies did for House DiGorre and me personally.”

Of course it wasn’t. Geoffrey smiled, hoping it didn’t look too bitter. “That’s fine. I’ll settle for not being beheaded.”

“We’re not going to behead you,” Giacomo promised. “You’ll have to appear before the queen’s court tomorrow and renounce any designs you have on Kyaine’s throne, pledge loyalty to the queen, and beg forgiveness for the harm you’ve caused House DiGorre and the nation.”

He said it so casually, as if it meant nothing. As if the repudiation of everything Geoffrey had worked towards for months was nothing. There wasn’t a speck of emotion on Giacomo’s face no matter how hard Geoffrey looked. He hadn’t changed since Geoffrey had last seen him, but suddenly he looked every inch a stern king. What was Geoffrey supposed to do in the face of that? He held Javier’s hand under the table. “I can do that.”

“There’ll be a punishment,” Dahlia told him. “Something public and embarrassing, but we’re not going to flog you or anything. Giacomo is going to dole it out.”


“I am?” Giacomo asked, looking confused now. “You’re the one he was in rebellion against, it makes more sense…oh. No, I see. We’re also demonstrating that my loyalty is to you, not to my brother.”

“That’s right. I’m sorry to ask you to do this, but I’m not asking. You need to do it.”

“Okay,” Giacomo said. He bit his lip. “I’ll come up with something.”

“A spanking,” Geoffrey suggested. Javier looked at him.

“You want me to spank you?”

“No, I want you to let me go home,” Geoffrey said, smiling. “But since that’s off the table until I get punished, a spanking. It’s what you do to an unruly little boy who needs to learn some self-control. I made a mistake challenging the crown, and you need to prove to everyone that you’re in control. It’ll demean me enough that nobody will take me seriously, so my name will be a laughingstock, not a threat.”

“That’s a good idea.” Giacomo was looking at his hands. “You’d really be willing to do that?”

“Giacomo,” Geoffrey said quietly. “I’d do anything for you. You know that.” This was what Giacomo needed so he could prove his loyalty. So he could rule the kingdom like he’d been born to do. If Geoffrey had to be humiliated, then so be it.

“Okay.” Giacomo took a breath. “A public spanking, then. Is that sufficient?”

“That should be enough. Geoffrey can be returned to your manor after that, with all the other hostages.”

“Oh, yeah,” Giacomo said, sheepish. “Sorry. That’s where they were all taken, and it didn’t really make sense to bring them here.”

“That’s fine.” Darn, Geoffrey thought. He had to live with Giacomo’s harem. How sad that was.

“Thank you,” said Dahlia. She stood, so Geoffrey did too. “I really do appreciate this, Geoffrey. And even if we can’t say it aloud, I do remember what you did for me, and I remember whose side you were really on. Once Hans is out of the picture we can change this narrative so that you don’t get noted in the history books as nothing but an agitator, manipulated by your relatives.”

“Lord Geoffrey the Spanked,” Geoffrey said with a snort. “Has a good ring to it, but I’d certainly appreciate something else instead. Look, I’m not going to pretend to you that I’ve always been a loyal servant of the crown or of your family. But I know when I’ve lost and I am loyal to my brother. As long as he’s on your side, I’m on your side.”

“Good.” Dahlia shook Geoffrey’s hand. “This isn’t the end of your service. My brother isn’t going to trust that I’m really reining as long as Hans is alive, and I know you’ve been in touch with him. You have a better relationship with Henry Arkhewer than Giacomo does. And depending on how their perception of you holds up after tomorrow, you have the ear of the eastern nobility, which I never will even with Giacomo beside me. You’ll be behind the scenes for a while, but I’m not going to forget about you.”

Geoffrey made himself smile. “I appreciate that, my queen.”

Giacomo came in between them, hugging him. “Really, Geoffrey. Thank you for being so agreeable.”

“Always,” Geoffrey promised, hugging back.

Giacomo pulled away, and took Dahlia’s hand. “We’ll see you tomorrow,” he promised, and they left the room together.

Still standing, Geoffrey watched them go, waited for the door to shut. And he stood there, quietly. “That went better than I thought it might,” Javier said, breaking the silence gently, hand on Geoffrey’s back.

Geoffrey nodded, staring at the door. “Yeah,” he agreed. “It did.”

“I’m surprised you agreed so readily.” It sounded like a question.

“Of course I did. Giacomo’s my brother.” He looked over his shoulder now. “Everything I do is for House DiSheere and for him, Javier.”

Javier was quiet for a second, and then he slipped an arm around Geoffrey, resting his head on Geoffrey’s shoulder. “You’re going to kill her, aren’t you?”

Geoffrey took Javier’s hand, standing there for a good while. They’d all been fighting for a long time. Kyaine deserved peace, and stability. The people deserved to rest and rebuild, to put their lives together. They all deserved not to be fighting.

But Dahlia DiGorre didn’t deserve to be queen.

“Not right now. But yeah,” said Geoffrey, looking back at the door through which his queen had taken his brother. His king. “I am.”

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6 thoughts on “Noble, 32

  1. Geoffrey, you idiot. That’s not your decision to make, and in fact you’ve amply demonstrated that you shouldn’t get to make any decisions ever.

    What makes you think that starting a second coup right after you were granted mercy for the first is going to do anything for House DiSheere but give it a reputation as inherently treacherous, disloyal, and untrustworthy? For someone with DiSheere’s best interests in mind, you have consistently made things worse for them.


    1. Considering Geoffrey himself said in the first chapter “we can only switch sides so many times before everyone starts to think we’re just untrustworthy assholes,” you’d think he’d be practicing what he preached a little more instead of trying to seem like an untrustworthy asshole at all times, yes.

      Fortunately, I think Giacomo recognizes this and it’s why he’s basically done all this to take away any of Geoffrey’s decision-making powers. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Geoffrey’s lost all perspective, and keeping him away from power from now on is the right call.

      So…thank goodness for Giacomo’s sociopathic ass, I guess?



  2. Oh fuck off, Geoffrey. You’re guilty of treason and you’re lucky you’re not being executed, and you decide to spend your second chance plotting further treason?


    1. That’s Geoffrey for you! He really doesn’t learn, which is probably his biggest problem. He could have averted most of this if he’d learned from some earlier mistakes, but nope. He picked a course of action and he’s going to go with it even if it’s been demonstrably proven to be stupid, haha. Thanks!


  3. Plot twist: Javier thinks this is going too far, and is going to go straight to the queen and Giacomo with this as soon as he’s able.


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