Cecil had always assumed that if he was to be doing anything heroic it would involve the kinds of stories that Kain had always used to go on and on about; rescuing damsels from certain monsters and other such courtly things that made him somewhat uncomfortable. Protection was something he understood, but he never could grasp entirely what his old friend had gotten at. He'd been almost relieved that Rosa wouldn't stand on the sidelines, time and again, insisting on going with him on the various missions that a Paladin King unfortunately was called to do.
If Ceodore wasn't so young, she probably would be here now, to handle the more embarrassing aspects of this particular mission.
"Edward how did... why... how... what are you wearing?"
Like many of the now leaders of his various allied countries, Edward had proven his loyalty and worth in battle. In fact, Cecil had always admired what Edward could do with just a song, while the rest of them had more crude weapons; maybe if circumstances had been different and he were not who he was maybe he would have taken up the harp himself. Peacetimes were just as bloody as wartimes, it seemed, and no matter how many hits he took the sense of distaste about it never went away. White armor wasn't really as much a symbol of the good as it was a more poignant reminder of the messiness of the work at times, so much more than his Dark Armor had been.
However Edward Chris von Muir, bard or no, did not typically wear nothing more than a bit of cloth to cover his nether regions. And only the front of his nethers, because was that... a string? Whatever dissidents had captured him and tied him up and made him wear that were... well Cecil really couldn't think of what they had to be to think of that.
"Oh Cecil! I'm so glad you came! It was awful. They kidnapped me from my bed in the castle!"
Bondage of this sort always made Cecil particularly uncomfortable; it had been as such ever since Rosa had gotten captured by Golbez. Maybe it had been due to the fact that helplessness in general was something that he couldn't handle in himself, and to see people he cared for go through it was even more troubling. But despite this, the fact that Edward was practically naked was nearly overriding his inner compassion.
Cecil took a deep breath and gathered his composure, trying to think of what Rosa would do in such a situation. She wouldn't be bothered by nakedness as much as it bothered him, or if it did, she wouldn't show it. "Do you know how they bound you?"
"These chains are real, but I think there's some magic involved."
As Cecil muttered the incantation to see what sorts of spells had been weaved into the chain, he found his eyes going southward, nearly breaking his concentration. He unhooked his cape from his shoulder armor, draping it over Edward. There. Better.
"Thankfully this is just a standard black magic binding spell, nothing too complicated." Maybe he should have asked Porom to come, too. Or Palom. Or both of them. Even if it was a simple spell, the amount of white magic he knew to undo it would take a couple of hours. When he got back to Baron, the first thing he was doing was going to be to practice that more. He'd been relying on his sword too much lately.
"I was afraid you wouldn't be able to make it, with all your new duties. I haven't seen you at all since that meeting just after your wedding." Edward's speaking voice was as lovely as his singing one typically, but it seemed particularly breathy as Cecil touched the points in the chains where the magic was most concentrated. The cape managed to make it less awkward when he had to find the joint near the ankles.
"You are an ally and a friend. Someday I know I won't be able to come out personally, but I hope that day is a long way off." Cecil had only ever used the leverage as one of the Heroes to keep from being trapped in the castle all the time, as did Rosa as often as possible. It had seemed inevitable that he would become a king, no matter what his choice had been, but he was at least the kind of king that could live with himself this way. They all could.
Darkness and delusions hadn't turned out well for anyone that had embraced that.
"How is it that you're always saving me, Cecil? I've yet to return the favor."
Cecil paused as he worked at the wrist shackles. Undoing the spell required close contact to it, and no matter how much respectable distance he tried to manage between the other man and him, Edward seemed to be pressed against him. "You've saved me on multiple occasions. We would have never gotten through the Lodestone Cavern without you. We would have never defeated Zero--"
"No, I've never saved you. Never helped you off the ground and wiped the dirt from your face." Edward's long blond hair draped across Cecil's breastplate as he leaned his head forward, one of the few movements afforded to him. And Cecil remembered.
They were almost to the den of the Antlion, when one of the blob monsters had hit Edward hard, causing him to fall. Rydia had frozen it, and it was up to Cecil to tend to Edward. He was only a Dark Knight then, he couldn't deliver anything more than death. Still, the potion worked, and Edward had sat up choking; Cecil had used too much.
"Easy Prince Edward. Let the magic work." Cecil removed his helmet, unsure if Edward had ever fought as much as he had that day, and tried to reassure him. He had just lost Anna, and Cecil couldn't help but wonder if his zeal in wanting to help cure Rosa was tied in that guilt.
When the choking stopped, he brushed some sand from his cheek, restoring Edward to the paleness that a man who was unused to the sun possessed.
"You are quite a strange Dark Knight, you know that?"
The moment had stretched on unnaturally, interrupted only by Rydia's urging them forward, onward, part of the force that had driven Cecil so far from home and himself.
Cecil kissed him on the forehead first, a gesture that he had used with Rydia once when she was crying. He might not have understood logically what it all meant, but he had a feeling that it would help.
"Not all rescuing requires a sword."
The wrist chains broke first, reminding Cecil why he had come here. He probably should start asking Edward exactly who would do this to him, find out if his dissidents were related to Baron's, see if they could reach--
--How exactly did Edward's tongue end up in his mouth?
Cecil had developed a defensiveness against amorous women; they happened. He wasn't sure why they did, because he never indicated any interest in them. Sometimes they offered tokens and kisses while his wife was with him. But he hadn't expected this from Edward, who despite all appearances was much stronger than the average amorous woman. And much more naked.
The grip on Cecil's hair was almost desperate, and he stood there, not wanting to push him away because he might hurt him in multiple ways. It didn't change the married and oh god what would Rosa say about this. Edward was insistent, and sought out all the places in Cecil's armor that were even close to skin. He yelped a bit when he got near somewhere that only his wife had been and it seemed to stop the assault.
They stood there; Edward still chained at the ankles and Cecil focusing on his hairline because he did not want to know if the nether bulge had moved.
"So... why did they remove your clothes?"
"Oh, they ah, took me from my bed. I sleep like this. Silk sheets."
No, talking didn't help. Cecil had seen his former best friend go mad from romantic delusions, and to feel that kind of confusion in himself was frightening. Edward's romanticism had never been as dark as Kain's but it was no less heavy, even seemingly dampening the sound of the ankle shackles breaking.
But Cecil just picked his cape off the ground, draping it over Edward again, coaxing him to leave the cave. There would be plenty of time for words later.