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A Bride's Price

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          Galahad made another fretful face as he loosed an arrow. It soared wide, missing the target and embedding just below Isolde’s perch on a cypress tree. The hawk squawked at the intrusion, taking to the sky after a disgruntled ruffling of her feathers.

          “You put an arrow in my bird, I put an arrow in you, Pup,” Tristan said, making Galahad jump at his unexpected proximity.

          “I wasn’t trying to!” Galahad threw his head back, trying to get the curls from his eyes. “It’s your damn bird’s fault anyway. Three hundred trees about and she picks the one behind our archery targets.”

          “Forgive her,” Tristan’s mouth curved into a small smile. “She’s only a bird; how is she to know you’re such a terrible shot?”

          Galahad glared, watching as the damnable bird landed on Tristan’s target. The knight loosed an arrow, hitting it dead center. The bird fluffed her feathers and turned to look at Galahad.

          “I hate that fucking bird,” he grumbled, sneering when Tristan smirked. 

          “What has you so out of sorts today?” Gawain asked, a heavy hand landing on Galahad’s shoulder. “You’ve lost two bouts in the ring and you’re firing your bow like your balls haven’t dropped.”

          “I’d wager they haven’t yet,” offered Bors with a laugh. Galahad threw a stone at the larger knight with a snarl.

          “In truth, you’ve been a mess for days,” Lancelot said, sheathing his blade and studying Galahad with a small smile. “It’s a woman, isn’t it?”

          “The boy’s still green, has been since he got here.” Tristan snorted, hitting another bullseye.

          “He is at that, Tristan,” Lancelot agreed. He threw an arm around Galahad’s shoulder, adopting a conspiratorial tone. “But what are you green at, Galahad the Pure? Because I don’t think it’s combat.”

          Galahad looked up, his jaw set. “How do you woo someone?”

           An alarmed squawk made the knights turn, Tristan’s arrow had missed its mark, lodging alarmingly close to Isolde’s claws.  She took off with a dismayed caw circling overhead.

          “I knew it!” Lancelot crowed. “I knew it was a girl. What she like, then?”

          Galahad smiled. “Beautiful.”

          “Good tits?”

          “Gods, Bors!” Gawain slapped at the back of Bors’ head with a laugh. Gawain leaned forward, face serious. “Are they, though?”

          Galahad laughed, blushing a little, but shook his head.

          “Now now, our pure boy hasn’t seen a tit since his mother tucked hers away and gave him porridge for breakfast,” Lancelot teased. “You must have an opinion on her face, though, Galahad.”

          Galahad’s eyes softened, his gaze drifting over to the scout, who kept his back firmly to the conversation. “Unruly brown hair that falls across eyes the color of burnished mahogany.”

          Gawain cocked his head, eyes flicking over to the scout, who was loosing his arrow. “Good high cheeks too, I’d wager?”

          Galahad’s eyes dropped, Lancelot looked at Gawain then back to Galahad, his eyes widening.

          “What?” Bors asked, frowning when Gawain struck him again.

          “Are we training or gossiping like women?” Tristan asked, shoulders tight and high as he notched another arrow.

          “I’m not sure what you’re doing, Tristan.” Lancelot raised an eyebrow at Tristan’s target, where three arrows were now embedded in the outer corners.

          Tristan sneered, his eyes never leaving Lancelot’s as he shot an arrow into the dead center of his target. Lancelot grinned, raising his eyebrows and shimmying his shoulders in mocking admiration.

          Gawain waved away the two men, turning back to Galahad. “This tit-less brown-haired beauty – are you looking for a quick poke, or something lasting?”

          “Be wary of something lasting, boy,” Bors warned. “You’ll have eight kids and a back ache before you know it.”

          “You have nine, Bors.”

          “I do not! They don’t count until they’re out of her!”  

          “One night is far too short a measure for one so fair. I think forever is a better sum.” Galahad shrugged, he eyes flicked to Tristan as a smile curled at his mouth. “Besides, I wouldn't mind a child.”

          Tristan’s next arrow landed in the cypress, just below Galahad’s.  He turned, glaring at the younger man. “Throw a coin her way and she’ll spread for you just like the other whores.”

          “That’s hardly a bride’s price, Tristan,” Gawain scolded, his eyes smiling.

          Tristan’s lip curled. He shouldered his bow and a quiver, stomping off toward the tree line without taking his leave. When he had almost reached the cover of the cypresses, a hawk swooped at his head, screeching. Tristan stopped holding up his arm. Isolde landed, snapping and flapping at Tristan whenever he tried to touch her. Eventually, her feathers smoothed and she allowed his fingers to graze over her crown unharmed.

          “Lover’s spat,” snorted Bors.

          “You sure you want such a creature, Galahad?” Lancelot asked, head turning to study the youngest knight.

          “I am.”

          “What creature?” Bors asked, poking at Lancelot with a blunt finger. 

          “Surely there’s a less surly thing to woo,” Gawain mused.

          “Perhaps, but where would be the fun?”

          “What are you on about?” Bors asked again, frowning. He looked at Galahad, following the knight’s eyes to the trees where the scout had disappeared. “She live in the woods, then? A WOAD! It’s not Arthur’s bit of cunny is it?”

          It was Galahad’s turn to smack Bors in his dense skull.

          “WHAT? She’s got no tits and brown hair!” Bors rubbed at his head. “The only other thing that lives in those trees is Trist-”

          Bors’ mouth fell open. He whipped his head to Galahad. The younger knight steeled himself, puffing out his chest.

          “HIM?”

          “Leave him be, B-” Galahad’s hand silenced Gawain.

          “I woo who I like, and you’ll answer to me if you object.” Galahad did his best to tower over the seated knight, glowering.

          “Calm down,” Bors shoved Galahad and snorted when the younger man landed hard on his ass. “I don’t care what you do with your prick, boy.”

          “It’s true,” Lancelot nodded. “I’ve stuck mine in Vanora more times than I can count and he’s never said a thing.”

          Bors launched, wrapping a giant arm around Lancelot’s throat, choking him as he turned back to Galahad. “I was just surprised is all. Hell, I didn’t think anything liked him but the bird.”

          Lancelot was turning an interesting shade of purple, slapping at Bors’ head. The larger man didn’t seem to notice.

          “You’ve no objections?” Galahad asked, ignoring Lancelot’s hand that was frantically grasping at him as he stood.

          Bors shrugged. “I still think tits are better, but I’ll help you if you’d like.”

          “Help?”

          “Well, you can’t woo Tristan with flowers or trinkets from the market,” Bors mused, Lancelot’s hand clawing at his chest. “You’d have to woo him with bow oil and fistfights.”

          “What about jealousy?” Gawain asked, stepping over Lancelot’s prone legs.

          “What?”

          “He nearly skewered his bird when you mentioned wooing.” Gawain smirked. “I bet he’s off in the woods plotting to murder every girl with brown hair and no tits in the village.”

          Galahad blushed. “You think him that jealous?”

          “Poor Isolde certainly does.”

          “I’ve got it!” Bors roared, lifting his arms and dropping Lancelot into a heap in the mud. “The new girl at the tavern, Enid! She’s got brown hair and her tits aren’t much! You should flirt with her at dinner!”

          Lancelot rolled onto his back, chest heaving. Galahad stepped over him.

          “How would I go about that?”

          Gawain grinned. “I’ve got an idea. Bors, come! We’ll need drinks to make a plan.”

          The three men walked toward the village, discussing their options.

          “Fuck the lot of you!” Lancelot gasped from the ground.  


 

          Tristan never entered the tavern with the rest of the knights, he just seemed to materialize in the group when Vanora came with the drinks. Galahad could never figure out how the scout did it, and for years, he would watch the entrance, only to have Tristan nudge him and smile at the younger knight’s surprise.

          Tonight, Galahad didn’t much care how Tristan arrived in his company. He was too focused on his goal: To drive Tristan into a jealous rage. He had the evening all mapped out in his head. First, he’d flirt with Enid until Tristan couldn’t stand it anymore. Then, Tristan would start a fight with him, out of frustration. Next, Galahad would kiss him to shut him up. Finally, Tristan would drag him back to their quarters or ravage him on the tavern table, he hadn’t decided that bit yet.  

          Either way, the night ends with both knights well fucked and happy. Gawain told him it was foolproof. Bors had toasted them with his ale. Lancelot had asked if anyone else minded if he took Enid to bed.  

          When Tristan finally appeared, not at the knights’ table, but perched on a stool in a dark corner, Galahad sprang into action. He helped Enid with her trays. He made her blush under the weight of his compliments. He challenged Gawain to a throwing contest, begging Enid to be the judge.

          Gawain hit just shy of the bullseye, cursing under his breath. He winked as he handed Galahad a knife.

          “Make it good, he’s nearly off his chair he’s staring so hard,” Gawain whispered.

          Galahad nodded, launching the knife into the bullseye, dead center. The crowd whooped, and Galahad turned to smile at Tristan, but was stopped by small hands.

          “Aren’t you a wonder?” Enid’s strong fingers curled in the scruff at Galahad’s chin, pulling him in for a kiss. The young knight stiffened for a moment before leaning into the gesture. He fretted that he couldn’t see Tristan’s reaction, but it mattered little as long as it stirred the man to action.

          “I’ll buy an ale for any man that can beat that throw!” Galahad crowed, a smile stretching wide on his face. He turned to the dark corner where the scout sat. “What say you, Tris-”

          The corner was empty.

          Galahad whirled back to the other knights, eyes wide.

          “You may have overplayed it, Gal,” Gawain chided.

          “You told me to make him jealous!”

          “I didn’t tell you to kiss her!”

          “I would have told you to kiss her,” Lancelot offered as he took another pull of his ale.

          “Aye, me as well,” Bors said with a bob of his head. He looked up from his empty tankard, squinting. “You sure you don’t like tits?”

          The slap, when it came, whipped Bors’ head to the side. The burly knight pulled back to strike, only to stay his hand with a sigh when he saw Vanora standing over him.

          “What have you lot done?”

          “It’s private,” mumbled Galahad.

          “You wouldn’t understand,” dismissed Gawain.

          “That fucking hurt,” grumbled Bors.

          “Hello my gorgeous girl, tired of that old man yet?” Lancelot winked and leaned in with an ale-soaked smile .

          Vanora took a moment to slap the back of Lancelot’s head, sending him into Bors’ chest. As the two knights commiserated, Vanora turned to loft an eyebrow at Galahad.

          “Little boys shouldn’t play love games,” she scolded. “They hurt too many people.”

          “I’m not a boy!” Galahad shouted, flushing scarlet when he drew laughter from the crowd. He ducked his head. “I was just trying to get him to-”

          “To what? Fight poor Enid for your hand?”

          “Of course not!”

          “Then why trifle with the girl for Tristan’s attention?”

          Galahad frowned, looking up through his lashes at Vanora. She threw her bar rag at his face.

          “Save your lashes for Tristan, boy.” She pointed at Enid. “You go apologize to that Enid before the stars in her eyes get any worse.”

          “What of Tristan?”

          “If you’re too cowardly to say what you want, you don’t deserve to get it.”

          “That’s right!” Bors wrapped an arm around Vanora’s waist, pulling her close. He rested a large hand over her swollen belly. “I told you I wanted to make babies with you the minute I saw you.”

          “Don’t tell Tristan that.” Vanora pressed a kiss into Bors’ head. “But whatever you say, tell him true.”

          “Truth, eh?” Galahad muttered miserably. “Will he listen?”

          Vanora smiled. She elbowed Bors, who shifted down the bench giving her room to sit. “Do you know how I met your scout?”

          Galahad shook his head.

          “Please don’t tell me he’s had you, it’ll make what we have less special,” Lancelot said with a grin. Bors stood, carefully stepping around his pregnant love to yank Lancelot into a headlock. Vanora rolled her eyes and scooted away from Lancelot’s flailing hands.

          “He was 17, and covered in blood.” Vanora moved a half full tankard so the purpling Lancelot couldn’t knock it over. “Arthur had him brought to the tavern, said he was whipped for stealing, and the Romans wouldn’t see to his wounds. Asked if we could help.”

          “I’m surprised they caught him,” said Gawain. “He was a ghost even then.”

          “I must have spent an hour mopping up his blood and pressing salve into the wounds. He never moaned or flinched.” She reached out and laid a hand on Galahad’s. “I asked him what he took. He told me the boy took an apple, I took the beating.”

          Galahad paled. “No.”

          Vanora squeezed his hand. “He told me all about you. How small you were. How young. How fierce. How you defiantly ate your stolen prize in front of the Roman guards, while they were none the wiser of your theft.”

          “He never told me,” Galahad whispered.

          “And you never told him,” Vanora said, slapping the back of Galahad’s hand. She stood, stretching her back with a sigh. “And now it’s a mess. This is what comes of leaving men in charge.”  

          She paused, tapping Bors on the shoulder. He released Lancelot, allowing the knight to collapse on the table gasping. Vanora moved a tankard of water closer to Lancelot. “I’ve watched him for near 20 years, watching you and eating apples. Hoping you’ll try to steal one from him, I imagine. Men.”

          With a snort, she walked away.

          “I’ve made a mess of it all, haven’t I?” Galahad sank his hands into his hair, yanking the tangled curls.

          “Not all,” said Bors said as he settled back on the bench next to the still-prone Lancelot. “You could still fuck Enid.”

          Galahad laughed in spite of himself, throwing the bar towel at his friend. “I suppose I should go apologize to her. Think of a way to apologize to Tristan.”

          Gawain clapped Galahad on the back with a small smile. “I’ll go with you, maybe Enid will need some comforting after you break her heart.”

          Galahad rolled his eyes and left with Gawain. Bors wandered over to help Vanora with a tray of drinks.

          “I’m fine, thanks!” wheezed Lancelot, still limp on the tabletop.  


 

          Galahad cast his eyes toward the wild apple trees with a sigh. The Woads planted them near sacred oaks for some reason, but the fruit they bore was bitter. He could hardly go to Tristan with those dry, drab little fruits when the scout had developed at taste for Roman fare.

          So here he stood, watching as Arthur haggled over the price of a bushel with an Acceptarius, patiently listening to the older man’s stories of being a Decurion in high regard. Veterans often farmed Roman orchards, offering the fruit to the armies before marking up the rest of the harvest and selling to the villages. Arthur had insisted he could get Galahad the Roman’s price, and offered the young knight a wink when he’d gratefully accepted. It seemed the only person who didn’t know of his plans was the scout he was hoping to woo.

          A price settled upon and a bushel strapped to his chest, Galahad began the tedious job of examining apples and judging ripeness while Arthur sat, trapped by the Acceptarius and his interminable stories.

          After an hour, Galahad’s back ached. The strain bothered him little, once he realized he had company among the branches.

          Galahad felt the eyes on his back as he worked and smiled to himself. It was unlikely the tree was watching him. With a grin, he grabbed a green apple and chucked it into the tree, biting his lip when a hand emerged from the leaves to snatch it.

          “Where’s the chicken that follows you around?” Galahad squinted into the branches, trying to discern his scout’s face.

          “Hunting,” The tree replied.

          “Ah,” Galahad nodded. “And what, pray, are you doing? Guarding the orchard?”

          “I was seeking solitude.” The branches rustled and Galahad grinned at what must have been a nervous shift.

          “Oh, then, I’ll leave you to your tree sitting, then.” Galahad turned, hefting the bushel.

          “Are-” The tree hesitated. “Are you gathering apples for Vanora?”

          Galahad allowed himself a small smile before he rounded to address his tree again. “No, the children do that.”

          A snort and another petulant movement shook the branches, an apple falling at Galahad’s feet. He picked it up and placed it in the bushel. “Your bride’s price, then?”

          Galahad held up the bushel. “Do you think this is enough to woo my shy love, Tristan?”

          “How am I to know, pup?” Boots hit the ground and the man himself landed a few feet from Galahad. A twig with a few leaves stuck out at an odd angle from his head. Galahad simultaneously wished to pluck the foliage from Tristan’s hair and keep it there, at that exact endearing angle forever. “That tavern wench might value her virginity at a higher price than some plucked fruit.”

          A spike of guilt made Galahad pause. Tristan snorted and stalked off toward the village.

          “Tristan! Wait!” Galahad laid the bushel down, heart hammering.

          Tristan waved him off, his steps quickening. “I’ve wasted enough time here. One of us should do something useful today.”

          He whistled, not waiting for his dapple-grey horse to stop before mounting. He was gone in a clatter of hooves and dust.

          Galahad frowned.

          Vanora may have been right about him buggering this all up. With a groan, he hefted the bushel onto his back. He found Arthur and his companion, offering more coin for another bushel. They could always make cider with any extra apples. And Galahad decided he’d need a few gallons of strong cider should Tristan reject him. Arthur laughed at Galahad’s reasoning, stretching his neck before settling in to hear more war stories.


 

          “HE’S COMING! HE’S COMING!”

          Galahad and Gawain glanced toward the window, Two had done an admirable job of alerting them to Tristan’s approach. He smiled, fiddling with the last of the apples, turning one to hide a bruise.

          Gawain landed a comforting hand on Galahad’s shoulder. “He’ll like it.”

          “Or he’ll stab me and drag my carcass to the woods for the Woads to eat.”

          “Either way you’ll get something stuck in you,” Gawain said with a wink, dodging Galahad’s fist.

          Lancelot rounded the doorway, holding two skins of wine and a small vial of oil. He tossed the vial to Galahad. “It’s all Vanora could spare, but it should be plenty for your tiny pricks.” 

          Galahad grabbed an apple to throw, but thought better of it. Best to keep his present intact.

          “TRISTAN! HOW ARE YOU, BROTHER?”

          The trio froze in panic, hearing Bors’ booming voice. Lancelot and Gawain scrambled, fleeing the room and closing the door softly, leaving Galahad and his panic to wait. He heard a few more jovial voices and then the soft thump of Tristan’s step as it neared.

          He steeled himself as the door opened.

          Tristan blinked as he entered his room, eyes sweeping from corner to corner. They landed on the apples, spread about the room in baskets borrowed from the tavern; glanced over the candles, procured by Arthur from the market; and finally settled on Galahad, who sat nervously on his bed, tossing a green apple between jittery hands.

          Tristan’s jaw set, his eyes grew hard. Galahad clutched at the apple, trying to find his voice.

          “Please tell me you don’t value your virginity any higher than this,” he began, voice a little higher than he’d like. “My back’s nearly out.”

          “You think me funny, pup?” Tristan snarled. “They all helped you, didn’t they?”

          Galahad stood, approaching Tristan carefully. “They think me funny, for mucking this up so. I asked them to help me fix it.”

          Tristan snorted, lip still curled. “I watch you boy, chatting with woman, batting your eyes for their blushes.”

          “No, Tristan,” Galahad settled a cautious hand on the scout’s chest, counting himself lucky when it remained unbroken. “I was always in your sight line, batting my eyes, and hoping you’d notice.”

          Tristan’s fierce glare faltered. “What of your vows?”

          Galahad smiled. “I’ll remain pure of heart.”

          Tristan’s mouth began to curl at the corner, his eyes shone in the low light. “And untouched?”

          “By women. No one asked me of men.” 

          Tristan’s fingers gripped hard and Galahad’s vision swirled as he was spun and caged against the door.

          “If you jest with me,” Tristan warned.

          “I have loved you since the morning you split my arrow at the training grounds.” Galahad stroked the tattoo on Tristan’s cheek. “You winked at me and I was lost.”

          Tristan leaned forward, frowning when his lips were met with an apple. He looked up.

          “Do you accept me?”

          Tristan’s brow furrowed. “Talk sense.”

          Galahad waved the apple before Tristan’s eyes. “Do you accept me as your suitor, Tristan?”  

          Tristan snorted, cocking his head. “What?”

          “If you accept the apples, you’re accepting me in your bed – and no other.” Galahad’s free hand pushed Tristan a few inches away. He was too close to what he wanted to give up now.

          “Shall we be married too?” Tristan asked with a scoff. “Will you braid flowers in my hair like Guinevere?”

          “I’ll braid flowers in your hair every day, if you’re mine. I’ve already asked Isolde’s permission.” Galahad pulled back his collar revealing scratches on his shoulder. The bird had only released him when he threw his rabbit offering as far from himself as he could. He had run back to the village as soon as the beast released him. “We, uh, we came to an accord.”

          Tristan’s eyes narrowed, one hand tracing the scratches with a feather light touch. “You’re serious.”

          Galahad brushed Tristan’s hand away, holding up the apple again. “I’m determined to have all of you or none.”

          “Galahad the Pure, even now.”

          Galahad raised his chin, jaw set. He tried to keep the fear of Tristan’s answer from his eyes.

          Tristan smiled, a small thing, but it made Galahad’s heart rabbit in his chest. The scout leaned forward and sunk his teeth into the fruit, chewing thoughtfully. As he swallowed, he reached forward, grabbing Galahad’s tunic and pulling him into a kiss.  

          Galahad let out a startled breath and dropped the apple before sinking into Tristan’s embrace – his scout’s mouth was tart with the promise of sweetness to come.

          Tristan pressed him into the door, and Galahad found he liked the compression, working to keep Tristan as close to him as possible. When the scout pulled away, Galahad whined, attempting to pull the older night back.

          “One thing.” Tristan tilted his head, his breath coming in ragged pants. “I’m no virgin, pup.”

          Galahad shoved him, slapping his hand to his mouth in mock mortification. Tristan chuckled as he watched the display.

          “YOU’RE NOT?” Galahad glared, though his mouth turned up at the edges. “Well then, we’re selling at least one of these bushels at market tomorrow, you tart.”

          Tristan’s grin turned feral, and Galahad yelped when the scout lunged, lofting the younger knight off his feet.

          “If you can walk tomorrow, you can sell what you like,” Tristan said, slapping Galahad’s ass as he walked them to the bed.

          Galahad laughed, kicking his legs and squirming in Tristan’s grip, though he was careful to keep his heels from connecting with the scout’s face. “Good! I’m putting that bird on a spit and selling her to the highest bidder.”

          Tristan dropped Galahad on the bed, leaping upon the prone knight with a crooked grin. He pressed his lips to Galahad’s ear. “Best not trifle with my girl, pup. She’s like to have you on a spit instead.”

          Galahad glared, but it was hard to maintain such a disagreeable expression with Tristan between his thighs, nibbling on his ear. “Will nothing change between us, then?”

          Tristan pulled back, studying Galahad’s flushed face with a cocked head. “There’ll be less clothes. Perhaps more kissing?”

          “I already suffer your mouth all day, I suppose a few more assaults can be borne,” Galahad conceded with a put-upon sigh, grinning when Tristan took his mouth again. Tristan’s tongue was slick as it licked into Galahad’s mouth. Soon their kisses turned into a playful war for dominance, Galahad curling a leg around Tristan’s hip for leverage. His Praetorian leathers shifted, drawing Tristan’s attention away from his mouth.

          “This little skirt has haunted me for years,” Tristan grumbled, his fingers teasing at the hair high on Galahad’s thigh. “How could I aim true when I always had one eye on those creamy legs?”

          “I know,” Galahad’s smile turned smug, kiss-swollen lips curving. “Did you never wonder why I dropped so many things in front of you?”  

          Tristan laughed, his mouth opening wide to reveal crooked pointy teeth. Galahad ran his thumbs over Tristan’s tattoos, wondering if he could keep this man between his legs forever. “What am I to do with you, pup?”

           “I would suggest you find out what’s under my leathers.” Galahad squeezed Tristan’s waist with his thighs. “You are the best scout in the south, after all.”

          “North, south, east, or west – if I’m sent to map it, there’ll be no corner left undiscovered, boy,” Tristan warned, moving from Galahad’s body.

          The scout dodged the younger knight’s hands, standing at the edge of the bed. When Galahad moved to follow, Tristan pushed him back down. He watched as Tristan slipped out of his tunic and kicked out of his caligae. The scout’s steady hands fumbled slightly with the laces of his trousers, but Galahad couldn’t find it in himself to laugh when his heart’s desire was finally bare before him.

          The younger knight did, however, let out a yelp when Tristan’s hand snatched his ankle. The scout made quick work of Galahad’s sandals, before carefully examining his feet.

          “Four inlets,” Tristan said, tracing a finger between Galahad’s toes. When his nail grazed Galahad’s instep the younger night flinched, trying to pull his foot away. “Soft ground, sensitive.”

          “You’re not funny.” Galahad pushed at Tristan with his bare feet, only to have the knight latch onto one of his calves.

          “Sparse brush here,” Tristan whispered as his hands ran over both of Galahad’s calves. He raised an eyebrow at Galahad, his eyes filled with mirth. “Wonder if it gets any denser further inland?”

          He kissed one knee, then the other as he gently pushed them apart. With a small smile, Tristan lifted the leather on Galahad’s thighs, kissing the soft skin he found. Galahad whined clutching at Tristan’s blanket as he tried to remain still.

          Tristan’s finger traced carefully over the straining tip of Galahad’s cock, tugging lightly at the foreskin before dipping low. “A peak and valley as well.”

          “Tristan, please.” Galahad let his eyes fall shut, flushing at the tremor in his voice.

          Galahad opened his eyes when he felt callused fingers on his cheeks. Tristan was above him, eyes soft and smiling. “I didn’t mean to tease you too terribly. Tell me what you want. I would give it to you.” 

          “Help me out of these damned clothes.”

          Tristan’s eyes crinkled as his smile widened. His hands worked at the buckles of the leathers as Galahad yanked his shirt over his head. When they were both bare, they came together again, laughing at their own eagerness as hands and mouths roamed unfamiliar planes. Galahad found he liked the scratch of Tristan’s beard against his stomach. He delighted when he found that the scout was terribly ticklish behind his knees.

          When their breaths got ragged and their fingers dug into flesh as they pressed against each other, Galahad pulled back, gasping, “The oil, on the table.”

          Tristan retrieved the vial. He rolled it between his hands as he watched Galahad settle himself in the middle of the mattress. Galahad looked up, unsure.

          “How should I…”

          “As you are,” Tristan’s voice was gruff. Galahad did not miss the small bit of color that came to his cheeks. “I…I would see your face.”

          The scout settled between Galahad’s legs, lifting the younger man’s thighs to bracket his waist. He began to stroke him, Galahad arched off the bed at the first touch of Tristan’s hand as it traveled his cock. Firm pulls wrenched moans from his body as Tristan’s free hand brushed lightly between his cheeks. Galahad tensed at the sensation, but soon found himself lost to the sparking want pooling in his stomach.

          Tristan released Galahad, pouring oil on his fingers. The breach, when it came drew the breath from Galahad’s lungs. The curling finger was an odd sensation, neither good nor bad, but the wonder in Tristan’s eyes made the young knight shiver.

          The addition of a second finger burned momentarily, until Tristan twisted his hand and Galahad’s world exploded behind his eyes. He had never felt such an intense pleasure in his life. He nearly howled when Tristan repeated the motion back arched and hands pulling at his own curls. He welcomed the third finger with a moan, deciding that Tristan had gleaned some sort of black magic from his time tracking the Woads.

          “GODS! Gods, please!” Galahad moaned, asking for he knew not what.

          “Shhhhhh,” Tristan pulled his fingers out, coating his ruddy cock with oil. “Peace, Galahad. I have you.”

          Galahad had the clarity to register Tristan’s cock pressing against him before the thrust. Filled and near incoherent with the sensations around him Galahad could do little more than cry out for Tristan. He clenched his thighs around the scout’s waist, drawing him deeper. “FUCK! Move, please, Tristan, please.”

          The scout leaned forward, caging Galahad’s face with his forearms and pressing soft adoring kisses into the knight’s jaw. “How I love you.”

          “And I you.” Galahad rolled his hips, gasping when Tristan grazed his prostate. “Come on, Scout, aim for the middle.”

          Tristan huffed a laugh, bracing one hand on the headboard, his other hand drifted to Galahad’s face. Galahad took Tristan’s thumb in his mouth, playfully biting him before he began to suck. Tristan moved in earnest, his powerful thrusts banging the headboard against the wall.

          Galahad did his best to match Tristan’s rhythm, find new bursts of pleasure with each roll of his hips. Soon he was keening, he could hear himself begging Tristan for more, harder. Tristan sank a hand between them stroking Galahad’s cock.

          It was a matter of seconds before Galahad came, eyes wide and nails sunk into Tristan’s shoulders. The scout followed soon after, grunting softly into Galahad’s shoulder as he filled him. Tristan released the headboard, his weight falling to Galahad. They panted together for a few minutes before Galahad pushed at Tristan’s shoulder.

          “You’re crushing me, old man.”

          Tristan shifted, letting out a huff as he slipped from Galahad. Turning the younger knight, he pressed himself to Galahad’s back, raining small kisses on his shoulders. Galahad preened under the attention. If he could have this every night as he fell asleep, he’d count himself among the luckiest of men.

          Galahad had just about dozed off when he heard a crunch. Opening his eyes, he saw Tristan, head pillowed on his arm, biting into an apple. He held out the fruit to Galahad, eyebrow raised. Galahad shifted, lying on Tristan’s shoulder so he could steal bites of the fruit and apple flavored kisses until sleep took him.  


 

          Galahad traced his fingers down the whip marks that littered Tristan’s back, his fingers dipping and rising as he traversed solid muscle and scar tissue. Some, he knew, had been earned in a tavern fight with a Roman officer. Others had bitten into his skin when he was no more than a boy, lashed to temper his insolence and ensure his obedience. But there were a few among the bramble of scars that belonged to Galahad. Lines that were driven in to Tristan’s skin when he decided to spare a child from a foolish act.

          “Are you mapping me, pup?” Tristan shifted, eyes blinking up at the man in his bed.

          “I won’t be satisfied until I know every mark by heart.”

          “That will take you ‘til the end of days.” Tristan relaxed his shoulders, rolling the muscles under Galahad’s questing fingertips.

          “I hope so,” Galahad whispered, his chest feeling warm when Tristan hummed in agreement. “Tristan, why did you take a beating for me?”

          “What?” Tristan rolled onto his side, fixing Galahad with a curious gaze.

          “Vanora told me. She said you confessed to stealing apples to spare me.”

          “I watched you with that apple, so brazen as you ate it before the soldiers.” Tristan lowered his gaze, plucking at a thread on the mattress. “I couldn’t bear the idea that they’d beat that spark from you, the way they did everyone else.”

          “Thank you,” Galahad kissed him, rolling until he was straddling Tristan. “I won’t tell the others what a soft-hearted thing you are.”

          Tristan grinned, rolling his hips to meet Galahad’s “Not so soft now.”

          Galahad moaned, hands scrabbling to grip the headboard as he and Tristan moved together. The rhythmic banging of the board drowned out their moans and gasps.

          They were almost near completion when the door burst open. Galahad and Tristan both moving to shield the other and managing to bang heads in the process.

          Gawain stood in the door, hair rumpled and eyes murderous.

          “What the hell are you doing, Gawain? GAWAIN?” Galahad pulled the cover around himself and Tristan. Gawain stalked toward them, not saying a word. When he reached the foot of Tristan’s bed he grabbed it.

          The wood screeched as it dragged across the floor. When the bed was a foot from the wall, Gawain dropped the frame, blowing hair from his eyes.

          “Some of us are trying to sleep in cold beds, ALONE, you bastards!” Gawain stomped from the room, not bothering with the open door.  

          Galahad had just about closed his mouth when he heard a call from the hallway.

          “Did you move the bed?” Lancelot yelled, voice rough with sleep.

          “Aye.”

          “Thank the gods! I thought the building was going to come down.” A few steps and Lancelot ducked his head around the door frame. “Do try not to moan so Galahad; it’s scaring the horses.”

          With a smile, he closed the door.

          Tristan traced Galahad’s blush, chasing the flushed skin from his cheeks to his chest. “I wouldn’t fret, pup.”

          “I’m not; they’ll get used to the noise eventually.”

          Tristan smiled. “Eventually?”

          Galahad thumped the scout on the chest. “You bit the apple, old man; you’re mine, now.”

          Tristan’s eyes flickered for a moment, Galahad kissed him to dispel the hesitation.

          “What…What of your want of a child? You told Bors you wanted one.” Tristan dropped his eyes to study the blanket. “What happens when you take a woman?”

          “I want no woman, only you.” Galahad said firmly, pressing kisses to Tristan’s cheeks. “Besides, I talked to Bors. He told me we could have Nine, if it’s a boy – Four or Seven if we want girls.”

          Tristan’s laughter rung out in the room as he pulled Galahad back to his chest.