Slavery, 110

Daniel’s stomach hurt a little from all the juice he’d drank at breakfast, but it would pass if he just went pee somewhere and had some exercise. He was on his way to the academy, wondering if he should go in through the gates this time or climb over the wall again. They’d probably let him in if he just said he was Isaac’s friend.

He felt like he should think it was weird to just be Isaac’s friend, but it wasn’t, so fuck that. Isaac was nice in a way that nobody Daniel knew was. A little bit like Ozzy but different, somehow. And since they’d be leaving soon, Isaac wanted to see him one more time to say goodbye, and maybe thank you for helping him the other day when he’d been acting like a fucking dumbass.

“Hey, you,” said Ozzy, appearing out of nowhere to walk alongside Daniel just as the academy came into view. “Where you going? We never see each other now that you’re not legally bound to hang out with me. But I’ll remind you you’re still morally bound by the bonds of friendship. Let’s hang out.”

Slavery, 109

Daniel had overslept, which was really unlike him. Theodore wasn’t in bed with him and he wasn’t even by the fire reading ledgers or whatever else he did when he was trying to pretend he hadn’t been watching Daniel sleep.

He yawned as he sat up, sore from his neck to his knees, and remembered why he was so tired. Theodore had kept him up all fucking night, the pervert. His neck felt funny too, like he’d had his collar on, but he hadn’t.

Daniel got out of bed, stretching. They were in the richest person inn in the world and the people who worked here would bring them food, but of course Theodore would never let that happen when the staff would end up seeing Theodore and his son sleeping in the same bed.

Slavery, 108

Grandpa Gerard’s funeral had ended and Aunt Gabrielle’s coronation was going to start soon, but there was a little bit of time and Greg had been feeling very cramped in the cathedral surrounded by all those people, and so many of them had wanted to come up and give him condolences for his loss, so he’d gone for a walk to calm down since the coronation was supposed to take a few hours and then there was a wake after.

Gavin had been talking a lot about how things looked and how they had to look right, and how their family had to act a certain way so everything looked right, and Greg knew he didn’t mean to be scary, but he also really didn’t want to start freaking out in the middle of the coronation and make things look bad. He also knew that Gavin would feel bad that he’d accidentally made Greg feel that way, but the fact that it had been an accident didn’t make Greg feel better at the moment, and soon he had to go back in and sit down and seem calm and not just start crying, so he was taking a walk.

Not being around other people was helping. He already felt better than he had, and he was pretty sure he’d be okay to go back in pretty soon. It didn’t help that he wasn’t supposed to be sad during the coronation, only the funeral. It had been okay that he’d cried during that.

Slavery, 107

Please don’t touch my body while I’m not here. I’ll be back before the sun comes up for sure.

Greg didn’t really know where Grey Rain was going to go, but he sat on his bed and watched Grey Rain carve patterns into the floor, then paint himself with werewolf symbols. He was trying to talk to a god called Sky Heart so that Grandpa Gerard’s soul could go to heaven. Grey Rain was really worried about him becoming something called a heavy one, which seemed a bit like a ghost or a zombie.

Greg wasn’t sure if he was worried about that because priests had already come and done prayers and stuff for him, but Grey Rain was and he seemed like he knew, so maybe he was right. Greg had never seen him so worried about wanting to talk to his gods before. Sometimes he talked about how he could do it, but mostly he didn’t really bother, even though he also didn’t like coming to church with the rest of them.

Slavery, 106

The snow was melting, but it was still cold.

“You doing okay?” Ozzy asked, nudging Daniel.

“Hm?” Daniel was running his fingers through some snow on the side of a building, making it fall to the ground in a shower of white dust. It was pretty, until it mixed with the slush on the ground and got gross right away. “Yeah. Just tired.”

Slavery, 105

It was snowing really heavily, that soft, unending kind of heavy snow that cascaded down from the sky and made it impossible to see everything. For two minutes after stepping out of the inn, Daniel had worried about wearing black when everything was white, but that was stupid because the snow was hiding everything and was sticking to him all over.

He was fucking cold, actually, and he only knew where he was going because he and Ozzy had gone there carefully the previous night. He was by himself tonight, though. Ozzy had work too, and so he and Daniel had split up after leaving the inn.

Now Daniel was perched on a wall, looking down. He knew how to get down and to where he wanted to be. He was just counting in his head. The snow probably meant the guards weren’t on their usual patrol routes and probably not at the same time, and it also meant they wouldn’t see him if he walked right in front of them, but Daniel wasn’t about to fuck up over something stupid.

Slavery, 104

“Almost every critical structure in Three Hills is embarrassingly easy to break into,” Ozzy told Daniel, as they walked back to the inn after very easily breaking into several critical structures in Three Hills. “They should have the best security in the country but honestly.”

“Yeah,” Daniel agreed. “Too many windows and doors. And they think walls mean nobody can get in.”

“The only buildings in this city that I’ve ever had to think twice about breaking into are the banks,” Ozzy sighed. “Which tells you everything you need to know about society.”

“Security costs money?” Daniel guessed.

“I was thinking something a little deeper than that,” Ozzy muttered, bumping Daniel’s shoulder. “Anyway, tomorrow night, okay?”

Slavery, 103

“I’m going to go out for a bit.”

“I’ll come with you.”

Daniel looked at Marcus, who was laying on the bed. They were sharing the second room in the inn tonight because Ozzy had spent all of supper riling Theodore up and was currently in Theodore and Daniel’s room begging for forgiveness. “Okay,” Daniel said, as if he hadn’t been leaving to get away from Marcus.

He grabbed a coat and some extra knives, tucking them away carefully while Marcus got dressed, then pulled on his boots once Marcus was finally ready. They went out together.

This was the first time they’d been alone together since they’d been in the capital. Since everyone had left. Since Marcus had been freed. It wasn’t going well.

Slavery, 102

“Cannot believe you made me go to the wedding,” Daniel grumbled, as he and Theodore filed into the First Church of the Blessed.

“Now, Daniel,” said Theodore, patting Daniel’s shoulder. “There is no need to be frustrated. The guards were only doing their jobs. They were trained to be thorough.”

“I’m not mad about the guards,” Daniel insisted. There had been people patting everyone down before they could come into the church.

Theodore made a vague noise, which made Daniel scowl. “Shut up.”

“I said nothing.”

Slavery, 101

Daniel sat in the middle of the slaves’ room—his room, now, it was only his room—and wondered why it was so fucking big.

It had nothing in it anymore; Hugh, Simon and Marcus’s stuff was all gone, so it was just Daniel’s stupid clothes scattered around. They’d been piled in one corner, but he’d unpiled them to make the room look fuller. The games and books, pillows and blankets too, he’d strewn them around the room like they always were, even though he had nobody to play games with and he didn’t need that many pillows and blankets. He could sleep just fine on the floor.

He was being fucking stupid and he knew it. He hardly slept in this stupid room anyway, he shared Theodore’s bed most nights. Marcus hadn’t even fucking moved out. Benedict had given him a bedroom just upstairs, because people got bedrooms and Marcus was a person now.