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Negotiation (Of Marvellous Things)

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"Your majesty, if I may-" Sotherby tried, hurrying after Charles as he strode out of the Presence Chamber and headed down the corridor.

"Hmm?" Charles said, several paces ahead and making no sign of slowing down, his footsteps echoing briskly as Sotherby juggled the diary, a ream of endless paperwork, several notes about an impending Ambassadorial Procession and a letter from William of Orange. One page escaped from under his arm and flittered behind him, the edge tapping the floorboards as Sotherby spun on his heel to grab it, and he nearly dropped everything else as he bent on one knee and finally snagged it between two fingers.

"Oh, do come along, Sothers," Charles said, suddenly at his side and curling a hand around his arm to help him up. "You're the one who keeps insisting I have places to be and people to meet, at very un-party-friendly hours, I might add."

"My apologies, sire," Sotherby said, straightening, and Charles didn't let go of his arm, instead tucking it into the crook of his elbow and pulling Sotherby along as they marched down the corridor again, Sotherby trying to reorganise his papers with only one hand.

"And you did promise me I had an hour off," Charles said, glancing at him with wide, imploring eyes.

"Well, actually-" Sotherby started, but Charles cut him off as he propelled them through the doors of his study.

"Splendid," Charles said, slipping his hand off Sotherby's arm and leaving him by the door before throwing himself into his favourite chair by the window, immediately becoming engrossed in something outside.

Sotherby pressed his tongue to the back of his teeth, glanced at the ceiling, and then resigned himself to business as usual.

"What I actually said, sire, was that you could retire for an hour in order to sort through the backlog of things to be approved," Sotherby reminded him, and placed everything he was holding on the writing desk to one side of the room.

"Surely not," Charles said, glancing at him in exaggerated surprise. "I was sure that's what you were for."

Sotherby held back a sigh. "I was sure the purpose of having a study was for you to work, sire."

"Well, that doesn't seem right," Charles frowned. "I thought that's why we put the writing table in dear Catherine's rooms?"

"Perhaps, sire," Sotherby said, a blush rising unbidden to his cheeks, and he settled himself behind the desk without another word, pulling the top letter towards him and reaching for his quill. Charles watched the blood rush to his face and chuckled to himself, quietly victorious.

"What are you writing?" Charles eventually asked after the satisfaction had worn off - a few long, quiet minutes, mostly spent watching Sotherby out of the corner of his eye.

"A declaration of intent," Sotherby said, his face calm and his blush cleared, and carried on scratching his quill across the page.

"Oh?" he said, and then when Sotherby continued ignoring him, added, "Of what?"

"To resign," Sotherby said, dotting the page with a final, definite full-stop.

"You would never", Charles declared, but strode over anyway and snatched the paper from under Sotherby's quill.

"Would you mind signing it, sire?" Sotherby asked lightly, as Charles scanned the brief note about livery. "Since you are at your work desk, after all."

Charles huffed, his smile small but sure under his moustache, and skirted around the desk to lean down next to Sotherby and take his quill, his fingers brushing over the back of Sotherby's hand. He placed one hand on top of Sotherby's chair and pressed his shoulder against his back as he approved the note with a flourish, and then dropped the quill at the end of the desk, carelessly out of Sotherby's reach.

"That's enough work for today, Sothers, dear Nell's in a new play this evening and I simply must be there," he said, glancing at Sotherby sideways, just in time to catch the fleeting exasperation that crossed his face.

"Ah," Charles said, drumming his fingers against the polished wood and looking around the room, fully aware of Sotherby's gaze fixed on his profile. "I suppose we did agree on an hour."

"Yes, your majesty," Sotherby said, barely hiding the sigh in his voice, and Charles turned his head just enough to smirk at him.

"Have I been so terribly naughty, dear heart?" he asked, and his eyes were glittering. "Well then, if I am yours for an hour, what would you have me do?"

"The parliamentary paperwork," Sotherby said immediately.

Charles looked aghast for a moment, and then laughed as Sotherby's carefully blank face twitched into a smile. "I do love it when you tease, Sothers."

"Is that so, your majesty", he said, and touched a finger under his chin, enough to tilt his head up a little and turn him an inch closer.

Charles hummed in agreement, pushing himself closer to Sotherby's mouth before suddenly there were two fingers pressed against his lips and Sotherby's mouth was still several inches away.

"We agreed you are mine for an hour," Sotherby said, his voice low and dulcet and surprisingly steady, and there were wicked promises in the corners of his lips.

"So we did," Charles breathed against his fingers.

Sotherby's eyes widened a fraction, in surprise or delight or something he couldn't quite fix, and Charles inhaled with the familiar thrill of anticipation.

"What would you have me do?" he asked again, murmured against Sotherby's skin, letting his lips drag across Sotherby's fingers, and Sotherby's eyes flashed dark.

"As you're told, for once," Sotherby said, twisting his hand so his fingertips were back under Charles's chin, and Charles grinned wolfishly.

"And where would you have me?" Charles breathed.

"On your knees," Sotherby said, and after a moment of internal conflict added, "Sire."

Charles slid to the floor gracefully and without hesitation, holding Sotherby's gaze with a challenging gleam. Sotherby studied him for a moment, the heave of his chest almost shuddering, before he took a breath and the corner of his mouth quirked up and he rose, moving the chair away so he could stand sure-footed in front of him - Charles looked straight ahead for a long second, and then flicked his eyes up to Sotherby's, and raised an eyebrow.

"Should I- ah," Charles said, nodding towards Sotherby's breeches with a knowing, filthy smirk, and Sotherby stepped back half a pace.

"Not unless I instruct you to, sire" Sotherby said, swallowing. "Now, if you could remove your cravat?"

Charles immediately began tugging at the lace, letting it dangle around his neck once the knot slipped open and Sotherby, squaring his shoulders, stepped closer again, towering over him. Charles reached up to loosen the neck of his shirt, his skin flushing hot.

"Forgive me, sire, but did I give permission for that?" Sotherby asked coolly, biting the inside of his cheek.

"Ah," Charles said, and pressed his teeth down on his bottom lip, smiling. "I am most deeply sorry, Sothers," he said, sounding utterly insincere.

"I could leave you to do whatever you wished," Sotherby mused, and Charles snapped his face into a glaring pout, frowning up at him.

"You wouldn't dare," Charles said, but crept his hand forward so it was almost touching Sotherby's boot, edging the gap between them.

"If you wish me to stay," Sotherby said, and stopped, waiting.

Charles did not need to consider it. "Please," he said, his voice rushing hot and breathless, and Sotherby allowed himself a small, private kind of smile before looking Charles over in such a slow, considering way, from his bare throat to his knees to the hand resting between them and back again, like he was cataloguing every inch of flushed skin that was suddenly crackling with sensitivity. His eyes lingered on the shadow of his throat, still half-hidden under his collar, like he knew how unbearably keenly he felt every point where his skin brushed against his clothes, and Charles had to clench his fist against his thigh to stop himself from tearing at his shirt.

"Please, Sotherby," Charles breathed, husky and artless and uneven, and Sotherby nodded.

"You make remove your coat," he conceded, and a moment later it was flung off, leaving Charles in just his shirt and breeches, the cravat still hanging useless and forgotten around his neck. Sotherby reached forward to catch it between his fingertips before changing his mind, instead ghosting his hand up Charles's neck, his skin hot and glistening under his touch. He gently stroked two fingers from the corner of his jaw to his chin, and Charles's head tipped back with the barest pressure and his eyes fluttered half-closed. Sotherby pulled his hand back and just watched him for a moment, marvelled by how eagerly he had been reduced to a creature desperate for touch, how breathtakingly beautiful he was in his element.

Sotherby unbuttoned his own coat with a calculated slowness as Charles licked his dry lips, watching Sotherby's fingers work the small fastenings before he laid it across the back of the chair, half turning away and allowing Charles enough of a moment to fidget or adjust his crooked collar - but when he turned back Charles had not moved except for his hands, both now resting palm-down on his thighs, fingers slightly curled.

Sotherby clasped his hands behind his back, squeezing his knuckles like a lifeline, and took the step that brought the tips of his shoes within an inch of Charles's knees and his crotch into Charles's eyeline again, the shape of his erection just a hint behind the volume of his breeches. Charles studied it for a moment before looking up with a smile that bright and easy despite the near-black gleam of his eyes.

"With your permission, Sothers," Charles stated, with a twitch of an eyebrow, and his fingertips hovered like he was unable to keep them down and not touching him any longer.

A steadying pause and then, "You may," Sotherby said, and Charles hissed with relief, arching forward and unlacing Sotherby's breeches with a startling ferocity that only practice allowed, and in moments his hardness was free and Charles was all soft hands and that quick, clever tongue and Sotherby's breath caught, his chest pounding tight and hot. Charles stroked his thumb against the underside of his prick as his tongue swirled, all slick wet heat against the thick weight of him, and he raised himself up higher in his knees so he could curl a hand over Sotherby's hip to steady himself as his lips slipped further down his shaft, narrowing to tight pressure and the unending workings of his tongue.

Sotherby allowed himself to moan, stuttery and gasping, as both hands whipped around to tangle in Charles's curls. He considered, briefly, ordering Charles to clasp his hands behind his back and use only his mouth, until Charles wrapped his fist around the base of his prick and his mouth reached his fingers and Sotherby was perfectly, deliciously surrounded by that tight silky warmth, Charles's hands so long and elegant and unmarred by work that the thought of not having them on him seemed treasonous.

It was near-perfect until Sotherby made the mistake of looking down and found Charles watching him as he sucked his prick, eyes bright behind heavy lids and his cheeks red with effort and his lips stretched slick and swollen around his girth, and the full force of that obscene vision hit him so violently he choked on air and then he was coming without warning, fingers tightening in Charles's hair and his throat shuddering out sharp, guttural gasps. Charles hummed in satisfaction, pulling back just enough to give his tongue room to move as he worked Sotherby through it, each convulsive swallow of his throat sending aftershocks up through his prick and into the warm, rolling pool of his stomach.

Charles blinked up at him, sitting back on his haunches and licking his lips in a way that made the heat flooding through Sotherby's bones burn a little brighter. After a moment Sotherby had the presence of mind to tuck himself back into his breeches, and with a voice a little raw and raspy Charles said, "Will that be all, Sothers?"

Sotherby rewarded him by grabbing each side of his collar and hurrying him to his feet, spinning them so the back of Charles's thighs hit the desk and Sotherby finally kissed him, a burning press of his lips that lasted not nearly long enough and left Charles trying to chase as Sotherby pulled away. Sotherby's hands found their way to his shoulders to hold him still and perched on the edge of the desk, standing neatly between Charles's spread thighs, his breath still slightly ragged.

"Oh," Charles said, and Sotherby dragged his eyes up from the swollen dampness of his lips. "I've just remembered what Catherine's desk is for."

"If you could concentrate, sire," Sotherby said, his put-upon annoyance betrayed by the flush in his cheeks and the smile that hid in the twist of his mouth. "I believed we were on something of a schedule?"

"You know I never pay attention to things like that," Charles said, his eyes softer than his voice, and tiled his chin up, lips pouted like a peace offering. Sotherby, after a moment's consideration, ignored it, and focused instead on unlooping the cravat from around his neck and catching up Charles's hands, pressing chest to chest as he gently tied Charles's wrists behind his back.

"Oh, this is new," Charles crooned, delighted, and Sotherby pulled back, still tantalisingly close, and looked at him. Charles pressed his lips together for a moment, and then adjusted his wrists and a frown passed across his face. "But, surely I could slip straight out of these," Charles said, pulling his wrists apart half an inch to prove it, the lace slipping easily.

"If you do," Sotherby said, and caught his eye to make sure he was listening, "I will leave."

"An exercise in self-restraint, then?" Charles said, looking impressed despite himself. "You are truly devilish, Sotherby."

"I do try, your majesty," Sotherby said, and kissed him again, loose and languid and entirely unhurried. "Now," he said, drawing back just enough so there wasn't a single point of contact between them, just rolling heat and sharp breaths, "Please listen carefully, sire. You will not move. You will not speak, and, ah, you will look nowhere but at me. Understood?"

Charles wet his lips, and nodded. Sotherby allowed himself the smallest quirk of a smile, a moment of encouragement, before he reached down and unfastened Charles's breeches with one hand, furrowing through the folds with ease until he found Charles's prick, pulsing hot and damp already. Sotherby wrapped his fingers around it and squeezed and Charles keened low in his throat, a tight, choked-off sound as his stomach jerked unbidden with the long-awaited contact - Sotherby loosened his grip like a warning, the barest touch of skin on skin until Charles swallowed, steadied himself and felt the lace slip against his wrists as he shifted, and nodded again.

As if to test him, Sotherby leant forward and placed his free hand next to Charles's thigh, close enough that the rough edge of Sotherby's wig scratched against his bare chest, that warm breath rushed over Charles's lips with every thick heave of Sotherby's chest, and dragged his hand up the full length of his prick. Charles breathed in sharply, mouth tightening for an instant and his eyelids fluttered but he held himself still, even as Sotherby rubbed his thumb achingly slow over the head, and Sotherby rewarded him with a kiss against his bottom lip, a hint of teeth and suction before he pulled away again to the point of no contact and dragged his hand back down to the base of his prick.

Sotherby worked him teasingly, unrepentantly slowly, rubbing and stroking with a delicious kind of friction and no steadying rhythm to fall into, working him until Charles's eyes were black and glazed and his lips were bruised and parted and he hadn't stopped watching Sotherby for a moment, hadn't moved his hands or even twitched his hips for fear of chasing away this splendid creature. All it took was Sotherby biting down on his own lip for Charles to come with the barest strangled noise, every inch of him shivering with the force of it as it rocked through him and he held himself, letting the pleasure crash through him instead of riding it and there was a distant sensation of falling as Sotherby smashed the distance between them and held him tight.

"Very good, sire," Sotherby breathed, and Charles laughed, muffled, into his neck.