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08 January 2011 @ 11:53 pm
My Love for a Kingdom -- Chapter 13  
Title: My Love for a Kingdom
Summary: Young prince of the blood chi-hata Emerson Ratliff isn't thinking about anything beyond finishing his last year at Academy.  Unfortunately, his parents have some disturbing news for him.
Genre: fantasy, historical, romance, comedy, political, academy
Author[info]artemisms 
Word Count: 4206
Rating: 18+
Warnings: AU, fantasy setting, no immediate hardcore action :p
Disclaimer: These are my own original characters! I love them muchly, so please don't copy! <3
A/N: Enjoy :)  Btw did you think everything would be happy-happy after the wedding? Muwahahah

The guard had been right: Rohan was asleep. Just to be safe, Emerson had tried to open and close the large double doors as silently as possible, his heart beat quickly slowing when his eyes picked out the passed out lump lying on the marriage bed, silvery hair all over the place, lifeless cheek resting on one outstretched hand.

And still fully dressed, thank gods.

He crept further into the room, carefully slipping out of the greatcoat before moving closer to the bed. The old Rohan, he thought bitterly, the quiet, considerate young merchant who’d courted him for these past several months, would have been courteous enough, no matter how drunk, to take the couch and leave him the bed. But not this man. Not this drunken, lust-driven sorry excuse for a new husband.

Okay, so maybe that was a bit harsh, he thought, as he quietly, oh so quietly, crawled into bed, still FAR away from the other prone figure. But he didn’t have to attack him like that. He really didn’t.

If he were feeling less guilty, he might even suppose Rohan’s behavior tonight stemmed more from his non-aristocratic upbringing than anything else.

He closed his eyes then, curling up into a ball beneath the covers, and tried to fall asleep.

Then the next thing he knew, his eyes reopened, and the morning sun was streaming through the large bay windows.

He lay there for a moment before sitting up without thinking, one hand absently pushing the covers down to his waist. Then the next second he started slightly, turned to look over his shoulder—and felt a confusing mix of vague disappointment and profound relief when he saw that the rest of the bed was empty.

Maybe it had all been a dream anyway ... except there was the greatcoat still lying on the floor in a heap near the door.

Feeling restless, he pushed the covers the rest of the way back before swinging his feet over the side of the bed. He wondered for a second why no servant had been sent to wake him, but then realized almost immediately that it would make sense to let a newly wed couple sleep the morning away at their leisure. He yawned, just able to ignore the ache in his chest and the knot in his belly as he trudged towards the washing room, rolling his eyes a little when he thought of the horror on the servant’s face when he’d requested to pour his own bathwater. Apparently, newlyweds were considered infinitely more capable of seeing to their bodily needs than unmarried people.

He kept the door shut while he bathed, but nevertheless, he was quick about it, his heart beating fast as he stepped out of the huge sunken tub and made a veritable sprint across the room for one of the warm fuzzy robes hanging nearby. He felt foolish, but after last night, he wasn’t taking any chances.

Then again, thinking about last night brought the guilt crawling back up his gullet, shame burning the skin on his face.

Was being a virgin excuse enough for practically punching a handsome man in the face on your wedding night?

What Rohan wanted to do with him—why was that so bad?

“No, no, no,” he muttered under his breath, mostly to his own body, which apparently was beginning to enjoy the thought of letting his new husband do whatever it was he wanted to do last night. Since even he had way too much dignity to try and pleasure himself while thinking about someone he’d soundly rejected the night before, he simply splashed a bit of cold water on himself, thought hard about the yellow stuff Marta had smeared onto Miranda Ellsing’s underwear, and made his way back into the main room.

As he went to open a window to let in some cold air, he paused, seeing something small and white resting on the little breakfast table—something that hadn’t been there before.

It was a note.

He unfolded it, his eyes widening, ever so slightly:

Meet me for breakfast in the courtyard. ~R.

Quickly, he glanced up at the double doors, but they were still closed. This note hadn’t been here before, he was sure of it. Had a servant brought it in, or...?

He balled the note up, flushing a little, glad that he’d had the fortitude to not ... relieve himself ... in the bathroom a moment ago.

He dressed as quickly as he could, keeping his wardrobe simple, partly because he preferred it that way, but partly because he wasn’t capable of putting anything too elaborate on without assistance. Really, he was used to dressing this way for school anyway. He tied his still damp hair high up on his head then before pushing his stockinged feet into the padded house shoes and making his way out of the main room.

It was only a minute’s walk or so down the stone corridor before he came to the little inner courtyard, set aside for their private use.

Roses and other small ornamental trees made up most of the landscaping, as was the case for most of the garden areas on his parents’ manor. His mother purportedly had a fondness for roses, though it was not something he had ever heard her utter herself. There was only one elaborately covered and cushioned stone bench in one corner; in the center was a stone table for two. One of the pretty little dainty-looking chairs was empty. In the other sat his husband.

Rohan was reading something, his other hand absently clutching a cup of steaming tea or coffee, but he looked up when he heard him approach. For some reason, Emerson half expected him to stand, but he didn’t. He only folded the paper he was reading and stared at him for a moment before asking, calmly: “Did you sleep well?”

Not knowing what else to do or say, Emerson merely nodded.

He came forward then, glancing curiously at the paper on the little round table before taking a seat opposite his husband.

“It’s just the Meryton morning paper,” Rohan explained. “I try to keep up when I’m in town.”

Emerson smiled a little, still looking down at it. “Let me guess. You love the society page best.”

“No. I mostly stick to the business section, actually.”

Emerson swallowed, his face warming. Rohan usually responded well to his teasing, often teasing him back in return. When he finally looked up, there was not a hint of amusement on the other man’s face.

But then, there didn’t seem to be much at all there. It was as if Rohan had woken up this morning and decided he didn’t need silly things like expression and emotion anymore.

“I wanted to apologize to you for last night,” the older man eventually said, his voice calm, sober ... if a bit on edge.

“I guess I should do that, too,” Emerson said, the guilt practically eating him up from the inside at this point. But that’s when he suddenly noticed the darkened area of skin on his new husband’s jaw, just below his right cheek.

His eyes practically bugged out of his head. “Oh my god!” he blurted out. “Your face!”

Rohan looked confused at first, blinking, before his eyes widened slightly, an “Ah” looking coming to his face.

“Yes,” he said bemusedly, one hand lifting to carefully rub the bruised skin. “It’s nothing, really. Doesn’t even really hurt unless I accidentally touch it. Or try to shave,” he added wryly.

“Gods,” Emerson said. He wanted to bury himself in the rose bushes, he was so ashamed. “I’m so sorry. So, so, SO sorry.”

Rohan’s mouth quirked slightly, his green eyes actually warming a little. “Hmm, I think I like you like this, so full of apologies. I should let you hit me more often.”

Emerson scowled, his shame momentarily (and quite swiftly) forgotten. “Oh, is that what happened last night? You let me hit you?”

“Pretty much,” his husband agreed mildly.

Emerson felt flustered, annoyed, filled to bursting with the urge to respond. But something held him back. Maybe it was the memory of Rohan’s hand, lightly grasping his wrist, or of his body settling warmly but not necessarily heavily on top of his own.

It was then that the thought finally hit him.

He could’ve taken me if he’d really wanted to.

Rohan was stronger than him. He may as well quit fooling himself about that. His husband was a trained swordsman and horseman; further than that, he was taller and more sturdily built. It didn’t matter that they were both men. There was a difference there, and he should probably start admitting it to himself.

But so what? Arthur had some weight on him, too, for example, but he definitely had the edge over Mack. But then again, Muller could probably take them both with one hand tied behind his back.

Wait—did he just think about Mack, Muller, and himself—?

He blinked, his eyes refocusing, meeting Rohan’s.

His husband smiled. “Welcome back,” he quipped.

Emerson frowned.

“Aren’t you worried about what people will think?” he asked, anxious to change the subject, even if half of it was still in his own head.

“Not particularly. If anything, assuming they even guess correctly at the cause, they’ll just applaud my manly inclinations towards you. It would have been different,” he added, “you know, if you’d woken up with one of these instead of me.”

Immediately, Emerson felt his blood beginning to boil. What, this, AGAIN?!

“Why must I always be the weaker one?!” he asked, leaning forward in his chair from the intensity of his anger. “Why do people look at the both of us and assume that I’m the ... that I’m the woman!!”

His face was red—he could feel it. But he couldn’t help it. It was humiliating!!

Rohan, to his credit, did look sympathetic.

“Because you’re younger,” he said after a moment, as though considering all the possibilities before speaking. “You’re smaller ... prettier ... more innocent...”

He looked away then. When he did, Emerson experienced the horror of realizing his husband was blushing—Rohan was embarrassed.

“I’m not prettier than you,” he stammered, anxious to say something, anything. “That’s stupid.”

Rohan shook his head, seemingly annoyed with himself. “It doesn’t matter.” He frowned. “You mustn’t let it bother you. Do you really care what others think about you? About us?”

Of course not, he wanted to say, but the truth was, he knew that he DID care what others thought of him, and especially of him and Rohan both.

“People are always going to talk,” Rohan said after a moment, evidently sensing his unease. “If you’re going to let it affect you so much, then the only thing you can do is try to change what you project towards them.”

“Well, how the hell am I supposed to seem less innocent,” he snapped back, practically snarling the next words out between his teeth: “Less pretty.”

Rohan looked uncomfortable.

“I suppose that was a stupid thing to say,” he admitted. “You are ... good-looking.” He looked chastened, his husband’s disdain for his earlier choice of words apparently made obvious to him. “Even if you don’t believe it yourself. You are younger, a bit smaller, though not by much.”

“You don’t have to placate me,” Emerson said, annoyed.

“And you are innocent,” Rohan continued. He sounded a bit firm when he added that, his expression now daring Emerson to deny it.

Emerson didn’t. What was the point? Instead, he chose to look down and stare a hole through the morning paper, his mouth turned down angrily at the corners.

“Emerson,” his husband said, his voice almost gentle now. “I didn’t know. I really didn’t.”

“You’re lying!” he snapped back, his head snapping suddenly back up as well. “You knew I wasn’t experienced! You said as much in that stupid—that—!”

But he stopped, mid-sentence, feeling the angry color fading from his face as his eyes widened, realizing what he was about to say.

Rohan’s own eyes narrowed. “So you did read it.”

“I’m sorry,” he said automatically.

Well, so much for denial.

All the kindness, all the gentle humor seemed to drain back out of Rohan’s expression then, his sea green eyes hardening a little.

“We should get ready to leave,” he said. He reached for the paper and stood, picking up his cup of whatever it was he’d been drinking and finishing it off with one tilt of his head.

Emerson blinked, despite himself. “Huh?” He stood up as well. “But what about breakfast? In the note, you said...”

“That was just to get you out here.” His eyes met Emerson’s, holding them briefly. “You overslept. Breakfast was served nearly an hour ago.”

He turned then, heading in the opposite direction of the wedding suite. “I was going to have the servant bring you something.”

And...??? But Emerson just stood and watched him go, his heart sinking in his chest, his stomach reluctantly re-knotting itself back up. It protested though, rumbling weakly. But skipping breakfast was probably a good idea anyway, since the one thing that could make this gods-awful morning complete would be to puke all over his angry husband’s feet in the carriage.

He had no idea where Rohan stomped off to (well, Rohan did not stomp—but he preferred to think of it that way), but as for himself, he knew he had to go and say good-bye to his friends. To his dismay, however, the servant whom he found cleaning Marta’s room informed him that she and her family had left early that morning, “so that the chi-hatar may return to school as quickly as possible.” Arthur was evidently in a similar boat, but luckily, he managed to catch him just as his friend was preparing to leave.

“I wouldn’t worry about it, Emerson,” said his calm, round-faced friend, his long dark hair done up in a simple ponytail, his body clad in his freshly laundered simple travel clothes. “Rohan likes you. And you like him.”

Sometimes he really did wish life could be as simple as Arthur seemed to think it was.

Emerson shook his head. “You don’t understand. He’s furious with me.” He frowned, his shoulders drooping a little. “I guess ... he kind of has a right to be, really.”

But Arthur just smiled.

“He likes you, Remy,” he said. Then he leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “Good-bye.” He straightened and smiled again, so Emerson just sighed and put his arms around his goofy friend, the pair hugging one last time.

“Hug Marta for me, too,” he said.

Arthur nodded. “Hug Mack for me.” His violet eyes looked briefly sad, and Emerson wasn’t so self-absorbed that his heart didn’t go out to his friend, just for a moment. It was hard on him, being separated from his best friend like that. But it had to ease his heart a little, knowing how happily settled, in more ways than one, poor Mack was now.

Afterward, he met Rohan at the front gates, his husband supervising the loading of their things and other preparations for their journey. It should have been beneath him, the newly married spouse of an aristocrat, but either this hadn’t yet occurred to him, or he had no genuine intentions to change his behavior over a simple rise in social station. Emerson couldn’t decide whether he wanted to admire him for it or thwack him upside the head. Maybe both.

The ride was silent, save for the clop of the horses’ hoofs and the loud, clanking roll of the carriage wheels against gravel, then stone, then finally worn, hard, packed dirt. The castle and spa were a day and a half’s journey ahead, so they would be stopping at an inn tonight before arriving sometime after noon tomorrow.

Rohan had entered first, leaning briefly out to give him a hand up before settling back in the seat opposite his own, the one facing the back of the carriage. He then pulled out a book and began to calmly and silently read, his body only shifting slightly forward and then back as the carriage began to move.

He hadn’t even reacted to Emerson’s scowl, which had only naturally been directed toward him when he’d handed his husband up into the carriage as if he were his WIFE.

Therefore, instead of yelling at him, Emerson decided to simply sit, his hands folded meekly in his lap, his feet absently rubbing together.

Rohan looked up after a few minutes, the manor house a small speck out the carriage window at this point.

“Didn’t you bring something to read?” he asked.

Emerson felt stupid. He shook his head.

There was a pause, then: “Do you like faerie tales?”

He frowned, more surprised by the question than anything. “I guess,” he said.

Rohan leaned forward then, handing him the book he was reading. He then reached down into his travel carry bag and pulled out the paper he’d been reading his morning, leaning back and getting comfortable again as he shook the paper out and resumed his silent activity.

Chagrined, Emerson opened the book after awhile and forced himself to focus on the stories there.

They stopped for lunch, which turned out to be little more than a picnic spread while the accompanying servants and guards sprawled nearby, enjoying their own packed lunches. Rohan was civil to him, if not necessarily friendly. He was occasionally warm, a smile flitting onto his handsome face. But he seemed preoccupied.

Emerson felt too confused and conflicted to do little more than listen and only occasionally respond when his husband asked him a question.

“Are you enjoying the book?” he’d asked, after they’d climbed back into the carriage.

“It’s okay,” Emerson said. But he felt bad about that, since it wasn’t the stories themselves that were failing to lift his spirits.

“I have a few more like it at home,” Rohan said. “Some with a bit more ... uumph to them, so to speak.”

“...Oh,” he replied, not really sure what to say to that.

His husband grinned. “More sex,” he clarified. Then he gave him a little wink.

Emerson surprised himself by laughing, the sound of his own voice actually startling him a bit. “Oh,” he said again, feeling himself redden.

But after that, they didn’t speak again until the carriage finally stopped for the night.

They had dinner upstairs in the suite that had been reserved for them, the series and size of the courses brought out to them verging on absurd. Emerson wondered if some mistake had been made, if the inn had been informed that they were to be servicing two excessively large and rotund noblemen (or nobleman and his newly wedded spouse). But Rohan told him they were probably just trying to impress them.

“Everything here has likely been produced and prepared in this very town,” he explained. “Now, if in the morning, you or I were to tell the proprietor that we particularly enjoyed the ham tonight, she might inform us that it is from a gentleman farmer who lives not five miles from here, and that if we like, she could have some sent to us, as a wedding gift. If the farmer is lucky, we’ll like it so much that we’ll begin to request for it several times a week, or perhaps even spread the word and encourage other wealthy families to purchase their ham from this farmer. In a matter of months, perhaps even weeks, his business has more than tripled, he and his wife or husband are wealthier than they’ve ever been, and he can give his daughter away at her wedding with all the pomp and circumstance she deserves.” He spread his hands. “And so revolves this friendly world of ours.”

Emerson gaped at him. “I think,” he said after a moment, “you should have been a novelist.”

Rohan laughed.

“I do have a flare for the dramatic, don’t I?” he said, his eyes twinkling. “But I find it makes the mundane more palatable, don’t you think?”

Emerson shrugged. “I guess it does. I never really thought about it like that.”

“Well, you’ve never really had to. I don’t suppose things ever seem too terribly mundane to a sweet young chi-hata such as yourself.”

Emerson scowled. “You don’t know that. And anyway, I’ll have you know, my life was pretty spectacularly boring until you came along.”

“Oh?” Rohan arched one eyebrow at him, his mouth tugging into a smile. “Is that so?”

Emerson could feel himself flushing—as always. “You’re just trying to embarrass me,” he accused. “That’s all you ever do.”

Rohan smirked. “Just getting you back for reading my journal. After all, you know pretty much everything about me now. That strikes me as a rather unfair advantage. I have to capitalize where I can now.”

“But I’d barely started reading it before you came in!” Emerson shot back. “And besides, I was only looking for the parts that had me in it.”

“I don’t believe you,” Rohan said with a smile. “Well,” he pretended to consider, “except for the last part.”

Emerson growled and rose to his feet. “I’m going to bed.”

Rohan stood as well. “Very well.” He gave a slight bow, more playful than mocking. “Goodnight, then, chi-hata.”

Emerson turned around, surprised. “Are you going downstairs?”

Rohan shook his head. “Across the hall. I reserved an extra room for myself. Just a small one, mind.” He smiled a little. “I don’t require much.”

At first, Emerson could only blink at him. The surprise must have shown clearly on his face, because Rohan didn’t immediately turn away; he just stood there, hands patiently clasped behind his back, expression neutral.

“You aren’t sleeping here?” was the brilliant response he finally came up with.

“I thought it best not to,” his husband replied gently.

Emerson didn’t know what to do. His head was whirling; he’d been anticipating (dreading?) this moment all day, wondering how he would handle it, how Rohan would behave, what sort of awkwardness would likely spring up between them. But this, this, wasn’t something he’d been counting on.

“You can sleep here,” he finally said, or rather heard himself say. It was like the words had sprung out of his mouth on their own accord.

Rohan was looking at him, his eyes widening slightly.

“I can?” he asked.

“I mean,” Emerson went on quickly, “In this bed. We can share it. It’s okay.”

There was a brief pause, then:

“...Oh.” Rohan smiled, looking down for a moment. There was some slight color to his cheeks, his fingers behind his back clenching and unclenching slightly. He seemed to take a deep breath then, before lifting his head again.

“I don’t think that would be a very good idea, Remy,” he said, that careful, gentle tone to his voice again.

Emerson scowled, the expression hopefully covering up the feeling of rejection he was currently attempting to repress. “Why not?” he snapped back.

“I like you,” Rohan said bluntly, evidently tired of mincing words. “I like you A LOT, Remy. I can’t sleep silently beside you like some chaste old nursemaid. And,” he continued, before Emerson could react, “as I’m not going to force you to come to any sort of decision about us tonight, I think it’s best if I go and sleep in the other room.”

He paused, arching one silver eyebrow again. “Is this acceptable to the chi-hata?”

Emerson had to resist the urge to pull up the baseboards and attempt to smoother himself beneath them. So instead, he simply replied: “Uh. Okay.”

Rohan nodded. “Goodnight,” he said, bowing again, this time slightly more formally, as if the motion were more out of habit than anything. He turned then and left the room, closing the door softly behind him.

Emerson stared at the spot where he’d been standing for at least a minute or two before finally saying, aloud: “I ...am a complete ... idiot!”

He squeezed his eyes shut, his fingers squeezing into fists at his side. However, since he was now thoroughly and irrefutably alone, there really was no point in continuing his little verbal self-flagellation, so he simply sighed and turned towards the large master bed, his bag of things placed on the edge of the mattress.

Gods ... he hadn’t even noticed that Rohan’s things hadn’t been brought into the room.

I really AM an idiot, he thought, as he crawled into bed after pulling his clothes off and slipping into his pajamas. As punishment, when he started to think of Rohan climbing in beside him, he turned and pressed his face into the pillow, gritting his teeth together. But before he knew it, his hand was sliding up the mattress and under his belly before reluctantly slipping inside his sleep pants.

I’m a weak idiot, he thought, his breath starting to come fast, the heat rising to his face. But who cared, really? Rohan didn’t hate him.

No. Rohan actually liked him. A LOT.

He turned his head again, smiling into his pillow.

 

 
 
Current Mood: happyhappy
 
 
 
debbiemethosdeb on January 9th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
loved it ,Emerson is really young and he is not really sure what he wants with rohan .That is the biggest problem they have .They are both tip toeing around it now .Rohan feels bad for showing up drunk and emerson feels bad for just not letting him do "it" and getting it out of the way. Now,he is stuck in 'friendland" with rohan and "it' may never happen.
artemismsartemisms on January 10th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
aww You leave the best reviews <3 You are so insightful. Yes I agree that the biggest problem these two have is communication, or lack thereof. But they are both so young, so, not surprising I guess :) And Rohan probably really isn't as smooth and experienced as he wants Emerson to think he is lol