Garion woke up to a face full of cat and an inability to speak that was quite obviously caused by the aforementioned having stuck its tummy over his mouth, which Garion was quite aware he needed to breathe despite the cat being, evidently, rather confused on the matter, and so he woke up spluttering. The cat yowled as Garion sat bolt upright and flung it to the edge of the bed, where it hissed at him briefly before sticking its nose up at him and licking its ruffled fur back down. He glared at its unfazed preening until it curled up between his feet, and then he sighed.
Wait, when did he agree to get a cat?
"When did I agree to get a cat?" he said out loud, because the question was suddenly very important to him for reasons he felt ought to be obvious, given that he was a king and he needed both a reasonably clear memory or people clever enough to remember these details for him - usually in the person of his dear wife, Ce'Nedra, who ...
... was not in the bed beside him, if that muffled grumble was any indication. That was very definitely a man's voice.
Very definitely a familiar voice. A very familiar voice, one he enjoyed hearing as often as their circumstances permitted, but not one he expected to hear beside him. In bed.
Garion gaped at Zakath sprawled out next to him, sheets half shook off to reveal the lean muscles and faded scars of the Mallorean ruler. A frown knit Zakath's brows together in bemusement, and Zakath reached out a hand to swat Garion's fingers away from where they'd begun moving towards Zakath's chest.
"Too early for this," Zakath muttered. "What are you going on about, Belgarion of Riva? I was enjoying that dream." One eye opened halfway and the emperor of Mallorea fixed Garion with a pout so remarkably offended that Garion couldn't stop part of his brain finding it just as remarkably hilarious; it was such an icing of ridiculousness on top of the already-bizarre situation that it made his sensibilities twitch. Memory was beginning to stab its way through the thick-as-a-brick fog of sleepiness Garion had spent a long time learning to cultivate after he'd become king and didn't need to worry about going on quests every few months to save one thing or another for the sake of the Universe, and he was feeling mildly embarrassed that he could forget so easily several of the previous evening's details. Particularly that one conversation with Ce'Nedra ...
"I was trying to remember when I agreed to take on one of your cats, but I think it's kind of a moot point if I've taken you to bed already," Garion said, his face twisting up in a wry, rueful look. "One does seem to follow on the other."
"Regretting the experience, Belgarion?" Zakath's voice was deceptively light; Garion could see the brief flash of wounded pride behind the man's eyes, and the smile was almost a match for the Mallorean emperor's most sordid from the days when he still fit the terms of the prophecies about him.
"Not in that way." Garion settled back down against the bed and propped his head up with a hand, shifting away from Zakath so he could face the man. "In fact, I'm a little worried it's going to go to Ce'Nedra's head that she turned out to be right about this after all." He rubbed his chin with his other hand, and frowned. "She always thinks she knows what makes for the best sex for both of us as it is - she 'had better teachers than bored farm hands for such things', as she puts it - and now I'm dreading what she'll think of after this." Honestly, the ropes were quite 'interesting' enough, in Garion's opinion - he'd caught Ce'Nedra having a hushed discussion with Velvet some time ago, and noted the flush in the little queen's face with several layers of alarm, knowing quite well what the many expressions of joy on his wife's face meant by this point and having no way to ask as to what sort of devices the Margravine Liselle might next be bringing back from her merchanter's adventuring in the Eastern Empire.
Zakath's only response was to throw his head back and laugh, rich and high, the kind he used to only make when he'd just done something spectacular on a horse. "Oh, is that all? Well, I happen to think your wife's ideas are quite fantastic, and you should listen to them more often." His smile looked like a knife edge half-sheathed. "Particularly the suggestion about what we could do with our tongues. That, I thought, was wonderful."
Garion closed his eyes and tried not to look as embarrassed as he felt; it probably didn't work very well. "I can't argue with that," he said, his voice coming out as a half-croak. "You're very good at it. Uh, very enthusiastic."
"Well, I do like you quite a bit, Belgarion," Zakath said, softly, carefully, "and I don't get nearly as many opportunities to show it as I'd like to." The emotion in his eyes was so intense Garion felt swallowed by it - like he always did around Zakath, he felt both very small, and very great indeed, to have the friendship and adoration of such an intense sort of man, who had so much trouble learning to care about others. A man who had now agreed to ... sharing a bed with another man, something Garion was honestly still wrestling with in his head, despite the - repeated - discussions he'd had with Ce'Nedra on the topic, the final one of which had ended in agreeing to the situation which he currently found himself in, in bed with Zakath and with Ce'Nedra ... off doing who knows what with Cyradis. Probably in bed with her, too. Somehow. Even though Cyradis hadn't come with Zakath physically.
There were, however, many ways to have sex without ever touching each other, according to his wife, and Garion didn't think it wise to argue with a woman who was part dryad about such things. (About whether he was ready to try all those different ways - well, that was another issue entirely, he felt.)
"I suppose we'll have to work on that," Garion said distractedly, occupied with considering his wife's activities, and only half-noticed when Zakath grinned and leaned in close. He snapped out of those thoughts quite swiftly at Zakath's hand grasping the edge of his hip and tugging, and snorted in half-amused bewilderment at Zakath's expression. "So soon, Zakath?"
"I'm always ready for you, Belgarion of Riva," Zakath said, his voice a mischievous and challenging growl. "Want me to prove it?"
"If you think you're up to it," Garion said, a laugh coming easily to his lips, "then by all means, let's see you try."
Ce'Nedra turned away from the vantage point of the slightly-open bedroom doors to whisper to Cyradis, a smile dimpling her cheeks, "Do you think we should tell them how adorable it is watching them wrestle with each other like that?"
"Oh, never," Cyradis said, leaning in to put a shimmering eye up to the crack in the doors despite it being quite unnecessary for her in her projected state. "Then they might cease." (Ce'Nedra couldn't blame the Mallorean queen the affectation; after so many years unable to see all but the prophecies, she'd want to use them for the most unnecessary things, too.)
"Good point." Ce'Nedra turned back to the handsome sight on the other side of the doors, still smiling. "My, your husband is beautiful. Not as handsome as my Garion, but then, no one could be."
"I find myself quite content to have the most beautiful husband in all the world," Cyradis said, proudly. "Thou may keep thy handsome king."
"Oh, but has Zakath provided his kingdom with indoor plumbing?" Ce'Nedra smirked against the door. "Not yet."
"He hast all the days from now to learn the art from thy husband, Queen of Riva," Cyradis only murmured.
"So he does. I wonder if he'll remember to ask, in between breaths."
"We shall yet see."
Ce'Nedra couldn't help but shiver just a little - it was not so long ago that Cyradis spoke such words regarding the Prophecies of Light and Dark that the memory of what that prophecy had put her through could fade from her mind - but when she turned to meet Cyradis' wavering form, there was only wistful fondness on the Dalasian woman's face. Feeling vaguely ashamed at herself for such thoughts, Ce'Nedra resituated herself to face Cyradis directly, and moved away from the door. "I can think of a few other things we could see, you know."
"Canst thou?" The expression on Cyradis' face was as bright as the lights reflected in her eyes. "I wouldst quite like to see these things for myself."
"Well then," Ce'Nedra said, slowly moving to stand, "I suppose I'd better show them to you."
They left the men to their play, and moved on to find their own pleasures.