Noble, 55

“Don’t drink too much,” Javier said quietly, hand on Geoffrey’s arm.

Geoffrey nodded, holding his wineglass. He was only part way through his first one. “I won’t,” he promised.

“And try not to spend the whole night staring at Giacomo, he’s fine.”

Giacomo was not fine, but he was better than he’d been the other night. He was smiling when it was appropriate and talking to people normally and acting like he always did, like he’d never had a mental breakdown in Geoffrey’s bed.

Noble, 54

When the knock sounded at the door, Geoffrey didn’t answer right away. He was too busy kissing Javier, whose arms were around him. Geoffrey had his hand in Javier’s pants, undoing his loincloth and playing with him to get him hard.

There was another knock, and Geoffrey ignored that too, as Javier climbed into his lap to kiss him harder. Geoffrey slid his other hand down the back of Javier’s pants, gripping one of his ass cheeks.

At the third knock, Janus looked up from his book. “Are you going to let him in?”

Noble, 53

“Not to be a jerk, but when the hell can we go home?” Janus asked, idly tossing a pillow up and down as he lay on the bed.

“Soon, I’m sure,” Geoffrey said, though he wasn’t at all sure.

“Cool. I just think that if Dahlia and Giacomo were going to hang out in Three Hills all this time and make us wait with them, we could have gone on a trip to somewhere else in Dolovai. I know I said I was cool not to go on a trip but that was when I thought we were going home to do important shit.”

“We’ll go on a trip, then,” Geoffrey promised.

“What, no, I don’t want to because it’s too fucking cold, remember?” Janus turned his head, looking at Geoffrey. The pillow fell on his face and he pulled it aside. “We’ll go on a trip in the summer. Like normal rich people.”

Noble, 50

When Gabrielle and Franz ven Sancte walked out of the First Church of the Blessed after the wedding had concluded, Geoffrey slumped in his seat. It had gone just fine. Nobody had died. And that shouldn’t be Geoffrey’s criteria for a wedding going well, but formal events with lots of nobility at them always seemed to involved people dying these days.

But everyone had been on their best behaviour. Which to be fair had been easy when most of their jobs had been to sit there and watch. There was a party after that they’d all be heading to soon, and that was probably where everyone would get poisoned.

Noble, 48

“Do you think the wedding will be bilingual?” asked Janus, head on Geoffrey’s shoulder.

“Probably not?” Geoffrey shrugged the other shoulder. “Maybe. But it’ll probably just be in Daolo.”

“Yeah.” Janus sighed. “Sorry, Dalton.”

“It’s okay.”

“You don’t know Daolo?” Geoffrey asked. “We could teach you some before we get there. It’ll be another week and a half. If you want.”

“I mean…” Dalton shrugged. “Sure, I guess. I’ve been to weddings before, so I can probably figure it out. In the eyes of God I hold you to these vows, in the name of God I bless your union, by the grace of God I declare you married. World peace, amen.”

Prince, 98

“So I just take this off when I’m ready to come back?” Franz asked, touching the necklace Ronaldo had given him.

“That’s correct, my prince,” said Ronaldo. “I confess the spellwork is somewhat beyond my ken. As you know, wizards are incapable of teleportation magic. But it has been crafted and vetted by mages I trust, and I have tested it myself. When you put it on, you shall be transported to the room where you shall meet with Lord Geoffrey, and when you take it off, you shall be returned here instantaneously.”

‘Here’ was a room at the mages’ academy, because it had been deemed too much a security risk to teleport directly into or out of the castle, which seemed reasonable to Franz. “Okay. How much time do we have?”

Noble, 46

Giacomo sat in Geoffrey’s lap for the carriage ride back to the house, resting his head on Geoffrey’s shoulder.

Geoffrey held him, feeling the comforting weight of Giacomo’s body on his, bouncing up and down. He clung a little tighter as they hit a hole. “You know,” Geoffrey said, kissing Giacomo’s head. “Someone really ought to do something about the quality of the roads in this city.”

Giacomo smiled. “I might know a guy who can do that.”

“If you say it’s Hans I’m going to spank you.”

Noble, 42

Javier sighed against Geoffrey’s chest, holding him. “I’m okay now,” he whispered.

“You sure?” Geoffrey asked, arm around him. “We can keep sitting.”

Javier shook his head, pulled out of the hug. He took a deep breath and tried to fix his hair. “No, I’m okay.”

He seemed like he might be telling the truth, so Geoffrey helped him stand, went over to the basin with him so he could clean up. “At least you threw up in the privy this time.”

Noble, 40

“The knots aren’t that hard to tie,” Janus said, showing Geoffrey slowly as he tied them. “But it’s important you do them right.”

Geoffrey nodded, focusing carefully on what Janus was doing. “They’re different from other knots?”

“Yeah, because look.” Janus finished the knot and then tapped Dalton’s shoulder, and Dalton tugged, the rope coming undone.

“Oh,” said Geoffrey. “That’s cool.”

“Right?” Dalton asked, grinning. “I’m not going to be able to talk, so this way you don’t have to worry that I’m getting hurt and you don’t have to break the game to check in, unless you want to. If I don’t like it, I’ll let myself out right away, promise.”