Knighthood, 101

Burdens Can’t Weigh You Down So Much When You Share Them

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“Seven entrances,” Edwin muttered, glaring at the First Church. “Why does a church need seven entrances? Not counting all the windows.”

“People coming in through the windows won’t be your fault,” Erik reminded Edwin. “Nor will people coming in through the other six entrances.”

“Yeah, but we still have to guard them. Putting this much of a guard on a church feels like a sin. Do you think Cal will get mad at us?”

“No,” said Erik, crossing his arms.

“Good, because the seven entrances wasn’t counting the secret tunnel that leads to a series of demon caverns,” Edwin grumbled. “Gabrielle and Franz should get married in the fortress. It’s safer.”

“Wow, I’m so glad that you’re only in charge of a small part of the wedding’s security,” Erik said. “And not the whole of the wedding’s security. I can tell how much stress you’re under having to worry about exactly one thing that has nothing to do with how many entrances the church has.”

Now Edwin glared at Erik. “You are my least favourite husband,” he decided. “And it’s not even close.”

Erik snickered, and he kissed Edwin’s cheek. “I think you’re just grumpy because you didn’t get a honeymoon.”

“Yes, well…” Edwin sighed, started walking away from the church. “That would have been nice. But I’m sure one of you will spring a surprise one on me in a few weeks.”

One of his husbands. Edwin still couldn’t totally make himself accept it. He felt so completely different but so completely the same, and everything in his life just seemed…better. He wasn’t even that mad about the seven entrances. Even things that were frustrating didn’t seem like that big a deal because his soul was attached to six other people’s souls. Edwin was pretty sure that if he sat down and thought about it, he’d be forced to admit that that wasn’t a real thing. But it sure felt like a real thing, and he’d decided that was all that mattered.

He would have liked to have had more than one day with all of them before he’d had to send Louis and Denver home so he could close all the portals around the city, but Edwin also didn’t want his honeymoon to be the reason why everyone got assassinated at the royal wedding, so it was fine.

Gavin had pointed out to him that any half-decent assassins would already be in the city and they definitely wouldn’t use someone else’s portals that they couldn’t rely on. Somehow, that hadn’t made Edwin feel better like Gavin had clearly expected it to.

“Seems like you could have avoided a lot of this if you’d been willing to put your foot down before the wedding instead of waiting until after,” said Erik, as they walked.

Edwin shook his head. “Putting my foot down isn’t going to be a one-and-done thing. It’s going to take weeks or months or longer to get the order to agree to revise the chivalric code, and if everyone’s first impression of us is as the people who ruined the royal wedding, we’ll never get anywhere.” Edwin looked up at the sky, which smelled like spring. “Besides, it’s not like I don’t want to do my job. I just want my friends not to be treated like shit anymore.”

“It’s not me you need to convince,” Erik reminded him. “And when you talk about it, try not to sound like you’re trying to convince yourself.”

Edwin blushed a little. “Right. I’ll try. Anyway, I’m just stressed because everything that could possibly go wrong at the wedding is going to be my fault, so I have to make sure absolutely nothing goes wrong. It’s not a big deal.”

“I think you’re taking too much on yourself.”

“Yeah, well.” Edwin sighed. “I asked Ned about the wedding ceremony. He told me that where he’s from, before the Catechism, marriages were less about romance and more about sharing burdens. Like, obviously people loved each other and everything, but the main reason to get married was because you’d found someone who you just…wanted to help them carry everything. All that stuff he said at the wedding about the world being chaos, they really thought that was what the world was like. Everything’s just loud and fast all the time, and if some people just…link together, they can slow it down, and make it easier for themselves and for everyone else. They thought that ideally, eventually most souls would find at least one partner, and that would bring peace to the cosmos.” Edwin thought about the way Ned had looked when he’d said that. He’d lost his soulmate, a long time ago, and Edwin didn’t know how he’d lived through that.

“Yeah, he told me,” Erik said. “I thought it was a really cool way of thinking about it. That’s why I asked him to do the wedding.”

“Right,” said Edwin. He hadn’t needed to go on that tangent, oops. “The thing is, I don’t think I’m taking too much on, because I have six other souls to help me carry it. And don’t tell me that some of the souls aren’t going to be there. Nothing is going to go wrong at the wedding. We’re going to get what we want with the order. Rudy’s going to be fine. Everything is going to go well.”

Erik was looking at Edwin now. “Wow. Shame on me. I was worried that you were about to spiral into doubt and anxiety again. But you’re more confident than ever.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Edwin pulled Erik to face him, and kissed him, arms around his neck. “You didn’t just make me your husband the other day, Sir Erik. You made me unstoppable.”

Arms around Edwin’s back, Erik smiled at him. “You were already unstoppable, Sir Edwin. You always have been.”

“Maybe, but now I know it, so everybody had better get the fuck out of my way,” Edwin told him.

“I like being in your way. Speaking of which, you’re free the rest of the day, right?”

“No,” said Edwin. Their shift had ended earlier when everyone had gone home from the wedding preparations. “Sorry. I’m meeting with Elaine and the guard captains in two hours.”

“Wasn’t Elaine supposed to be doing that?” Erik asked. “You know, alone?”

She was. “She decided that the knight commander giving her that task when I’m the one who’ll have to be working directly with castle and city guardsmen was inefficient and setting me up for failure. So she’s making me come to all her meetings. They’re so boring, and Captain Sergio is an asshole. No fucking wonder Stuart hates him.” He had given Edwin some tips on how to talk to his uncle, though, which had been helpful.

“So…does that mean you don’t want to fuck?”

“What?” Edwin took Erik’s hand, pulling him towards the fortress. “When did I say that? I said I’m free for two hours. Well, an hour and a half.”

“Good, because I was thinking we could spend some time in my room. For old times’ sake.”

“Perfect, but if you make me do laundry I’m going to punch you.”

“In the sexy way?”

Edwin laughed. “Oh, and Erik? Do me a favour.”

Edwin squeezed his hand. “If I start stressing about work in the next hour and a half, bite me?”


Edwin made it to his meeting without any teeth marks. His husband was just that good.

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