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worth more than gold

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When Sir George, second of his name, joined King Midas’ guard, Midas was a different king.

Midas remembers. Though much of that time seems blanketed by a haze, he remembers George kneeling before him and swearing to protect him with his life, to put the king’s wellbeing above all else. No personal desire shall come before the king’s happiness.

He remembers George standing by his side, day in, day out. He’d asked George once if he had anyone else to be with - a family, a lover - and George had shook his head and said, “Only my king.”

He remembers, though only barely, feeling doubt over the doors he had learned to open. The people never went hungry if the king could reach a plane of food, the rain could be summoned at will to water their own crops, but Midas had some vague sense of unease about what else he could find. And he’d turned to George.

“You have advisers more learned than I, sir,” George said.

“In this area even the greatest scholars are blind,” Midas said. He rested his hand on the curve of George’s jaw. “And I have no one I trust as much as you.”

Swallowing, George looked away. “…Whatever the king decides, I am sure will be the right choice.”

Not long after, Midas found a door that led to nothing but mesmerizing gold, and all those concerns slipped from his mind. All he thought was that it was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen, and he had to have more.

His servants disappeared one by one, usually in the night. Midas didn’t mind. That meant less underlings to pay and more gold for himself. His personal guard shrank, but what did he care? Any attacker could be made into a beautiful statue. Besides, only George had ever really mattered to him.

A castle once full of life became empty. Lavish, covered with gold, but only occupied by Midas, George, and a cook who’d wrung their hands and said that even His Royal Majesty couldn’t survive on gold alone. The people of the town no longer sought audiences to plead about the taxes being impossible for them to pay.

But what cause was that for despair? Midas had never liked spending time with anyone else anyway. Only George still brought him comfort greater than his vault.

“Your armor is terribly drab,” Midas says, reclining on gold-colored sheets. “I could add a few decorations for you.”

George no longer takes his helmet off when they’re in private, let alone everything else. “That won’t be necessary, sir.”

“Are you sure? You don’t want anything else? You are my favorite guard, you should look the part.” That he’s now Midas’ only guard is irrelevant.

“I was made your guard in this armor, and in this armor I will stay.” Midas can only imagine his expression.

He sighs, fond as ever. “You know I can’t refuse you anything. Very well, then. Your old armor it is.”

When Sir George, second of his name, leaves King Midas’ guard, he leaves behind a handwritten note of apology. ‘Your Royal Majesty is a different king now,’ it reads. ‘You’ve lost your way, and I fear I cannot help you regain it.’

Midas expects anger, or failing that, the indifference he’d had learning of everyone else’s departure. Instead he feels… sad. Deeply sad, even while standing in a palace of gold. His vault brings him no comfort.

George is the person he trusts the most. If he says Midas has lost his way, Midas… cannot give up his gold. He can’t even imagine it. But he can learn to value other things as well, to be a good king again for his sake.

After all, he’s valued George all this time.