„I am busy, Sir Rollanz.“
Henry is bent over his royal paperwork, thinking deeply about his royal affairs and trying to find a royal solution to his problems. The administrator of one of his shires has decided to build himself an own monastery on the his ground without asking for permission from Henry, who is King coronated and chosen before and by God. So now Henry has to find, write, copy, translate and distribute the new law that will forbid such provocations under his crown. It is all very complicated, and he wishes he could have slept in and taken a nice soothing bubble bath instead.
His faithful knight, Sir Rollanz, clears his throat and speaks up again, hesitantly. “But your majesty. There is someone … I … I believe you should …”
Henry cups his ears and shakes his head. “Rollanz, no.” he commands, like you'd command a dog to sit down.
It takes a moment before a soft chuckle breaks the silence. “I really thought I'd be more welcomed. After all those years.”
Henry immediately recognizes the voice, jumps up and turns around, clasping his hands in front of his mouth. There stands, right next to his first knight, a man who's face he has dreamed of oh-so many times. Those black eyes, the black curls, the vibratingly beautiful smile, everything is exactly how he remembers it. And yet, though barely younger than Henry himself, maybe in his late-twenties, early-thirties, this man has changed over the course of the years. He is less boyish now , less pale, his cheekbones and jaws have lost their roundness, his shoulders have broadened, and so has his horizon surely, too. He looks indeed more … ripe.
“Thomas.” the King breathes and takes a few steps towards the man. But his eyes fall on his knight and he involuntarily steps back again. He straightens his shoulders. “What are you doing here?”
“Can the Archbishop of Canterbury not come visit his King and seat of the Empire, every now and then?”
“I was not aware that 'every now and then' means once in a decade.”
The man who feels as though he hasn't been called by his first name in years, laughs. It's the same, beautiful and quiet laugh Henry remembers. It's neither loud nor obnoxious, like his own. It's calm, thoughtful, almost melancholic. “Let us dine together tonight.”
Henry nods. “Sir Rollanz? Would you guide the Archbishop to his room? I am sure he will be pleased to hear that it has not been taken by anyone else since his departure in 1161.”
His knight snaps his heels together and bows. “Yes, your Majesty.” His eyebrows are arch up, and it's obvious that he notices the change in Henry's voice. In his mood, his smile, his posture. Even Henry himself recognises that in the split of the second in which he finally appeared his long-lost friend again, his entire inner being changed. Everything is more light now. Calmer, stronger. As if he has finally regained his force. And all that only by being reunited with his Archbishop. Well, if that isn't a miracle.
King Henry II chooses his favourite robe for the dinner with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas. Not his second favourite robe, not his least favourite robe, no, his absolute favourite robe. The blue one, with the golden embroidery. And then he presents it with pride, his head held high.
“You look marvellous.” Thomas smiles, his calm and nearly melancholic smile. He himself is dressed in a - quite unusual for him -, simple priest attire. It suits him, though.
“I know. And it is just for you.” Henry beams, sitting down at the other side of the long, rectangular table. “Tomorrow I will be giving a feast, to welcome you back. Everyone in the whole empire of Angevin shall know that the Church and the Monarchy are finally working together again.”
As if to hide the faint blush on his white cheeks, Thomas lets his head sink. “You speak like your grandfather.”
“My grandfather? Aren't you too young to know how my grandfather spoke?”
“I am. But I read books while I was away. And when I imagined King William and how he must have talked to his powerful people, the people he united as one when he brought the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans together, then I see you, and hear the tremble that lies in the voice you call your own, the tremble that comes when you're giving speeches.”
Henry laughs, holding the back of his hand over his mouth. He is not used to his shy Becket being so open-hearted about his opinion about him. “Let us eat.” he diverts the conversation.
And so they do. It's a wholesome supper, with many courses, just like the French like their supper to be, and Thomas, who has – as he confessed – only lived on bread, fruits, soup and water in the past decade, is soon too stuffed to continue.
“You will miss the dessert!” Henry exclaims.
“I shall miss it then.”
“You shall not miss it tomorrow. I will make your favourite dessert for the feast. You will finally be able to live like a King again.”
“Like a King.” he repeats, chuckling.
Thomas shakes his head. “Will you make the dessert yourself? With your own hands?” As he looks up a cheeky shimmer of wit lies in his eyes.
Henry gazes at him for a moment, barely able to stand all that beauty right in front of him, yet trying to take it all in. To burn it into his memory, so he will never have to live without it again. As moments pass, he realises that he didn't answer, and so he bows his head. “I will let it make for you.”
“So I thought.” Thomas smirks, holding his gaze the entire time.
“You know me too well.”
When the dessert is served, Thomas orders to give his plate to the person who cooked it. To the hesitation of the servant, he says: “It has not changed since I left this castle, has it? All the food you create is meant for no one but the nobles. And all the food the nobles reject, is meant for no one but the pigs?” The servant looks clearly troubled by Thomas' forward question, troubled for he is more than aware that his King will be listening to his answer. He shoots Henry a glance, who - with a nod of the head and a slightly impatient wave of his hand -, allows him to let the staff have the dessert instead.
As soon as they are alone again, Henry places the same, still in the air hovering hand over his chest and closes his eyes. “I missed the goodness in your soul.” The words climb into the air and disappear there, diffusing into the greatness of the hall like smoke, and leaving nothing behind but a faint scent of admiration. Only when they are nothing more than a memory anymore, Henry opens his eyes again. He is not alone on his side of the table anymore.
The tall figure of Thomas is crouched down next to him, slowly trailing his hand over Henry's arm until their fingers meet and intertwine. “The goodness in my soul was nothing more than desperation without you.” he murmurs, and for a moment it seems as though he has waited for the words to become memory, too. Henry gazes down to him. Down, although it has always felt as if he was looking up whenever they shared a room. How many of those memories were the two of them still sharing? Or has too much time passed and he is now the only one who carefully places his racing heart's ache close to Thomas' sweet answer?
Feeling the presence of Thomas becoming a nearly tasteable, touchable thing, and he clasps his hands over Thomas'. “Please don't leave me ever again.” He squeezes. Gently, yet with a begging urge.
Thomas smiles, lifts their intertwined hands up to his lips and presses a kiss to the white knuckles. Chastely. “God made us live together on this earth, and thus we shall guide the crown and the church of this empire to wealth and health together.”
Henry lets his head sink. He is known for being loud and always wearing his emotions on his sleeves, but the happiness that overcomes him in this very moment is so strong, so thick, so real, that he can't show it. He feels his chest, his soul, his heart drum with the unspeakable power of this joy, but can only carry a timid smile on his lips. Lips, that are suddenly met by Thomas'.
He accepts the gesture gratefully.
At first there are only his lips, his chaste, wise lips, gracing him with their softness, then there is his tongue, daring its way into Henry's mouth, making him want to pull, and press, and push their bodies closer together. And finally, later, as the priest's dress and the blue robe with golden embroidery fall to the ground of Henry's room, as both of them fall into the depth of his bed, heated body against heated body, there are Thomas' teeth that playfully, yet demandingly take Henry's lips in.