Someone seems to have neglected to inform Gwaine that now he’s a knight of Camelot, he needs to follow Leon’s orders. Not the other way around.
Still, Leon thinks that if he hadn’t seen Gwaine fight, he would have come to the conclusion that Gwaine had charmed his way into the Prince’s good books, rather than being awarded knighthood for any kind of honourable merit. He’s certainly not demonstrated otherwise—aside from on the practice field—since Morgana had been defeated and they’d been attempting to put the kingdom back together.
He just doesn’t seem to realise the gravity of their station.
“What gravity?” Gwaine snorts indelicately, then drains the last of the ale from his tankard.
“Knights of Camelot must comport themselves with dignity,” Leon says with the last shreds of his patience, “should they wish to gain the respect of the subjects they protect.”
As if on cue, the barmaid sweeps by their table, depositing a fresh jug of ale in front of Gwaine and chucking him lightly under the chin, making some kind of cooing noise before bustling away again.
Leon resists the urge to scowl in the face of Gwaine’s smug grin, as doing so would be undignified. Instead he clears his throat. “As I was saying—”
“You’d get more respect with a little more—” Gwaine waves his hand around his head in an incomprehensible gesture— “my friend.”
And Gwaine certainly doesn’t realise that Leon is the one who gives him orders, because somehow they end up in the baths below the castle, and it was certainly not Leon’s idea.
Leon sits sullenly in the hot pool, water up to his armpits, sweat already running down the back of his neck. And it’s not as if he’s not seen other men naked before, especially when they’re out on the road and the only way to bathe is to take a quick splash in a stream, but surely there isn’t any need for Gwaine to strut like that. (Although, a treacherous part of his mind says, when Gwaine turns to face him and gives Leon an eyeful, perhaps he does have reason to strut.)
“If I’d known these were hidden away down here, I’d have become a knight a lot sooner,” Gwaine says cheerily, looking around the enormous, tiled space.
Leon can feel his mouth tightening in disapproval at this flippancy. “The Pendragons are of Roman stock,” he explains stiffly.
“Explains the penchant for orgies,” Gwaine returns easily, and when Leon splutters in indignation, he very quickly finds Gwaine’s hand on the top of his head—pressing down as if for balance as he steps into the water and onto the shelf Leon is sitting on.
Leon’s not proud of the satisfaction it gives him to vindictively duck away below the water just as Gwaine’s teetering on the edge, but Gwaine disappointingly looks just as unruffled when Leon rises to the surface again. He’s also sitting practically in Leon’s spot. Leon edges back onto the shelf a little further over and scrubs his hands over his face, swiping the water out of his eyes. He scrapes the flat of his hands over his scalp and gathers his hair behind his neck, squeezing some of the water out of it before leaving it settled at his nape.
At Gwaine’s uncharacteristic prolonged silence, Leon deigns it time to acknowledge his existence again, only to find Gwaine looking back at him incredulously. “That’s it?” Gwaine questions, disbelieving.
Even with the lower half of his body submerged, Gwaine still looks infuriatingly well-presented: the heat of the water staining a pleasant flush up to his cheeks, steamy air darkening his beard, and hair not the slightest bit lanky, merely releasing a few tendrils out of its wave to cling to the side of his neck.
“Well, I’m hardly down here more than once a month, if that,” Leon says, forcing the defensiveness out of his voice.
Gwaine’s incredulity edges more towards horror. “Oh no,” he says, “Sir Leon, no. It’s all right, though.” He half turns and rises to his knees, reaching for Leon, and Leon freezes in place—one doesn’t touch other people in the baths, it’s just not done. It must be another thing someone’s neglected to tell Gwaine, though, because he’s petting Leon’s hair, fingers combing gently through it. “It’s going to be all right.”
Not long after, Leon finds himself wondering just why one doesn’t touch other people in the bath, because the feeling of Gwaine’s fingers massaging his scalp is downright divine. Especially when he’s more floating than sitting, immersed up to his neck in the deliciously hot water, fragrant steam flushing through his senses.
“Lean back,” Gwaine instructs, and cups the back of Leon’s neck when Leon obeys, keeping Leon’s face above water and consequently unravelling the tension of struggling to stay afloat. With his other hand he scoops water over Leon’s hair, fingers teasing away the soap suds and combing out the tangles. “At least once a week,” he murmurs, voice very close to Leon’s ear. “At least.”
And then his strong, massaging fingers are sudsing in the hair on Leon’s chest, and then further below the water, to the hair between Leon’s legs. “Mmm,” Gwaine rumbles, close enough now that his breath is hotter than the steam, keeping Leon’s head above water by bracing it against his shoulder. “You do have a lot of it, don’t you?” And then he reaches lower still, as if it’s a perfectly natural progression, to grasp the part of Leon that had particularly enjoyed the head scratching.
Leon finds himself acceding to the suggestion that perhaps Gwaine’s techniques have some merit, though perhaps if he moved a little faster, and rubbed his fingers just—
“Ah, there— there—”
“There?” Gwaine confirms, rubbing, and Leon finds himself groaning out his approval in a completely undignified manner.
And then Gwaine doesn’t stop rubbing, or squeezing; doesn’t ease his stroke on Leon’s cock at all, and Leon finds himself tensing and squirming helplessly— Because surely he shouldn’t— “Not in the water—”
It’s too late, though. And afterwards Gwaine’s hands rub boldly through the hair on Leon’s thighs before making their journey back up Leon’s body again, over Leon’s heaving chest, scratching his fingernails delicately in Leon’s beard, along the line of his dropped jaw.
“Good for the skin,” he informs Leon brightly, swishing his hands in the water, watching the final diffusion of Leon’s release. “Now me.”
Leon’s confused when Gwaine moves around to settle in front of him instead, facing away, but then Gwaine hands him the soap and tilts his head back into the water.
Leon can’t quite get up as good a lather as Gwaine managed, and as well as getting the soap in Gwaine’s eyes, he’s apparently bad enough at the actual soaping that Gwaine feels the need to instruct him on it for the first few minutes. Leon supposes he gets it eventually, if the way Gwaine is making low moans of pleasure as Leon rubs his scalp is anything to go by.
Leon didn’t think it would be as nice doing it to someone else as it was having it done to him, but Gwaine’s hair in the water is silky between his fingers, and with Gwaine’s eyes closed Leon can look down at his face as much as he likes: Gwaine’s lowered lashes clumped together, his nose straight and noble, beard and expressive eyebrows dark and somehow delicate this close.
“I’m doing the rinsing myself,” Gwaine tells him bluntly, when Leon’s clearly just petting for the sake of it.
Gwaine’s chest is smooth and hairless, and when he rises out of the pool again, the water cascades down his chest unimpeded. He smirks back over his shoulder at Leon, who’s struggling on weaker legs to clamber out. “Come here,” Gwaine instructs, and before Leon can protest at the order again, Gwaine says, “Kneel.”
It’s on the tip of Leon’s tongue to point out to Gwaine that he only kneels for royalty, but Gwaine seems unconcerned. He’s certainly doesn’t seem to be dwelling on compromising Leon’s honour as he examines a dark little bottle he’s procured from somewhere, and when he unstoppers it, he sniffs at the open mouth and hums briefly in approval. Then he drips some oil from it into his palm and coats his hands thoroughly in it, and nods for Leon to kneel.
The oil’s scent is familiar, and Leon abruptly recognises it for the affectation that it is; usually he smells it mingled with sweat and hot steel on the practice fields. Gwaine runs his hands through Leon’s hair thoroughly, and it’s quite pleasant, actually, and it only seems fair—and reasonable to take advantage of the opportunity, given their respective positions—that Leon gives Gwaine’s cock a little suck, in gratitude.
After all, he hardly needs instruction for technique in that—he is quite accustomed to kneeling for royalty, after all—though he finds himself wondering which of their techniques is the cause of Gwaine’s hands clutching his hair until his eyes water.
By the end of it they’re both puffing like the bellows, though—too much steam in their lungs—and the flush stays on Gwaine’s skin even after they’ve dressed again, as if the layers of cloth and armour are just trapping the heat in.
Leon’s hair feels soft against his neck—softer when he touches it experimentally with his fingers—and he wonders whether this was a good idea after all. Surely allowing Gwaine such liberties would only give him further licence to subvert Leon’s authority. But when they emerge from the stairs and into a corridor of the castle proper, the first chambermaid they see drops a curtsey and looks up at Leon through her lowered eyelashes, and Leon supposes—seeing as they’re not on duty—he’ll let Gwaine’s smug glance go, just this time.