“Think about it at least, will you?”
Leon surprised Gwaine by nodding, a tiny thoughtful pout pursing his lips together. Gwaine was more used to something along the lines of absolutely not or get lost, especially considering Leon’s noble lineage and his dedication to being such a stickler for rules. To actually have his offer considered, however? Too rich. It was too rich for Gwaine not to let the corners of his mouth kick up in a bit of a smug grin.
He put a hand on the mess hall table and leaned in and to point a finger at Leon. “Just one pint,” he said with a rough eagerness in the back of his throat. “That’s all it’ll take.” When he rested back on the bench, he watched Leon’s face, not sure if it was irritation or embarrassment that pinched his brows together. Either way, it sent a rush of satisfaction through Gwaine’s gut and he thought not for the first time that he’d love to make Leon blush in private.
Leon said, “Alright,” and Gwaine let out a loud “hah!” as he took a hearty swig of ale.
They’d be going out to the pubs in the lower towns that night, now that Leon agreed. Dancing, fighting, raunchy singing, and good, dishonorable fun. Enough of all of it to make Leon’s skin crawl, or at least show him that there’s as much satisfaction in getting down and dirty as there is in playing with princes and swords.
“Now for the agreement,” Gwaine says, and Percival and Elyan both roll their eyes. “If I can get you laughing by the end of it, then I don’t want to hear any more of this ‘honorable man’ or ‘knight’s code’ garbage from you.”
Leon held his hand out. Gwaine spit into his own palm and moved to take it before Leon could redact his offer, but Leon still managed it. He pulled his hand away in time and told him,
“Absolutely not, no. I’m not touching your spit.”
“A deals a deal,” Gwaine rushed out. “If you’re gonna play with the real men, you gotta act like one, you know?”
“Don’t listen to him, Leon, no one else-”
But Leon did it. Before Elyan could even finish his sentence, Leon spit into his own palm and shook hands with Gwaine. His determination didn’t outway his dismay, however, and he pulled back his hand quickly, wiping it gingerly on his trousers.
Gwaine and Elyan and Percival all three laughed.
When Gwaine showed up to the tavern, Leon was already inside. He looked uncomfortable with his arms rigid at his sides, busy looking around with what Gwaine assumed was confusion and at the common men arguing and wrestling on the tables and being a general nuisance. Gwaine sauntered up to him and swung an arm over his shoulders; Leon a breath out in a small sigh, leaning into Gwaine’s arm with relief.
"I thought for a moment you might leave me to the wolves," he admitted with a sheepish smile and a glance at the bar maid.
"Who you callin' wolves, fancy britches?" Gwaine asked, pulling him closer with the arm around his shoulders while he jabbed the awkward knight in the chest with his finger.
"I didn't know what else to wear," Leon sputtered out, indeed his eyes drawn straight to his own britches, then to Gwaine's. "Do I look strange?"
Gwaine gave a sideways smirk and ruffled Leon's hair before letting him go. "I actually think Princess would have an easier time fitting in with this crowd than you," he conceded before he turned his attention back to the maid at the counter. "Give everyone at the bar a round of the house's best, on him," he said with a pat on the counter and a thumb gesturing in Leon's direction.
"I don't think that's-"
"You think you're better than them?" Gwaine asked with the intent of a man causing offense.
"No, it's just that-"
"Is it a round on the skinny one or not?" the maid asked, her lips pushed off in a frown while her body faced away from them. "You 'n yours can make up your mind, or you can get outta the way for the others."
"Just two pints, if you will," Leon hurried out before Gwaine could cut back in, side-eyeing his companion with misplaced affection. The bar maid, looking put out, turned to fill two flagons from the tankards. "Thank you," he added. She just raised her brow before she slamming them on the counter.
Gwaine was already drinking his own before Leon’s was even in his hands.
Leon didn’t do much more than sit and watch the men around them. It took a little getting used to. Gwaine kept trying to strike up conversation with the people around them, to get Leon involved with new people, but he would just listen politely and nod when appropriate. Every now and then, he would come out with a small clever line, sassy and cutting, but if Gwaine pressed it he could never get it back out again. It was maddening to him, who felt most alive when acting out of line.
“What are you doing, mate?” Gwaine asked once he realized that Leon was actually comfortable like that. He had been haunched over the table with an empty flagon resting under his hand, just listening to Gwaine prattle on and on about the different kinds of whiskeys in the different settlements while the men behind them shouted and gambled and threw punches.
“Relaxing,” he answered, and Gwaine shook his head, blown away. Leon looked surprised by it, brow raised in what could have even been concern. “Am I meant to be on watch?” he asked, leaning in as if Gwaine initiated some form of knight’s code that sent up a red flag. Those cutting lines, maddeningly in character enough that he couldn’t quite tell if Leon was joking or not.
“You are anything but relaxing,” he answered back, and the fondness that reached his voice stretched his own patience with himself. “What is it about nobles here in Camelot?” He shook his head and downed the rest of his ale. “It must be something in the water.”
Leon did actually laugh. He shook his head, and the smile he gave Gwaine made the cheeks under his eyes swell and the crows feet at the corners of his eyes pinch.
It took Gwaine a moment to remember the wager, but by the time he did, Leon’s raised a hand in defeat.
“You win, Sir Gwaine,” he said, and it didn’t feel like victory.
Gwaine couldn’t understand why yet.
"Carry my coat." Gwaine took it off for no reason other than to make Leon follow orders.
Leon was drunk. He did as Gwaine commanded.
It wasn’t not without a little snicker, but he did it; he took Gwaine’s coat with a deep, respectful almost mocking bow, and Gwaine wished the other boys could see this side of Leon, this uncanny ability to make fun of everyone, including himself.
“Of course, my lord,” he said, and he followed Gwaine with the posture and dignity of a (drunken) knight in service.
They found their way to Gwaine’s quarters and Leon climbed into Gwaine’s bed as if it’s the natural course of things, and while Gwaine’s not complaining, neither does he really comprehend.
“Now, my noble knight, I’ve a question for you,” he said, the combination of Leon and his bed not quite registering, but not really being too far off. He pulled a few wineskins from his trunk and tossed one at Leon. “Have I told you about my private supply?”
The temptation so close to him, he couldn’t keep himself still for too long. He pressed his nose to the nape of Leon’s neck and grazed the skin with the buds of his lips. Leon stirred and rolled onto his back. Gwaine sat with his weight on his elbow so he could look down at the sleeping noble.
“We slept in,” were the first spoken words, followed by a low groan and Leon smacking his sleep-slackened lips together.
“Nah, mate, this is when I usually get up,” Gwaine said, resting a hand flat on Leon’s chest. “You stay there and let me pamper you, yeah?” He bent over to kiss along Leon’s jaw and nip at his ear. Leon only protested minimally, but enough to push Gwaine off of him.
“Duties, Gwaine,” he started to say, but Gwaine cut him off with a loud ah ah ah! and a pointed finger.
“No knightliness talk from you, Sir Snores-A-Lot.”
If they kissed a bit more before they got up and dressed, no one needed to know.
That day on the practice field felt a bit strange. It wasn't as if Gwaine expected a change per se, but Leon was dedicatedly acting as if nothing happened between. What was it but a cuddle, Gwaine wondered, that could make him so stiff? He was a bit distracted by this thought, and by watching Leon from across the field, when Merlin came over carrying a couple swords resting atop a shield.
He bumped Gwaine’s shoulder, followed his gaze out, and asked, "Something happen?"
The rogue knight grinned at the memory. Were they so obvious, now, that even Merlin could see it? Just a night of cuddling, and there was enough tension to be visible to others. How fun, he thought.
That meant that Sir Leon would be an easy target for teasing, more so than usual, if he was feeling so tense.
"No." He answered Merlin with a pushed-back sideways smile. He nudged Merlin in the side and winked at him. "But it's about to. Watch this."
He grabbed one of the smaller swords from Merlin's stack and weighed it in his weaker hand at a distance. "How d'you think he'll do against a bit of dirty fighting?" he wondered aloud, and Merlin just rolled his eyes and laughed. He stood and watched nonetheless as Gwaine stomped across the field.
"Oh, Sir Leon!" he called out.
Leon turned his head just in time to see Gwaine's offhand sword flying at his head. He ducked, and stood back up to parry the second blow.
Gwaine didn't give him enough time to ask what he was doing before throwing in a low kick, which Leon avoided by tightening his knees. Gwaine reached around to knock him on the back and send him down forward.
Leon may have been caught of guard, but he wasn't the King's first knight for no reason; he was as quick to adapt as Gwaine was to initiate. On his knees after the blow to his back, Leon dug his elbow into the muscle of Gwaine's thigh.
Gwaine was unfair, though. He wasn't taking a blow for a blow, and he seemed to have no intention of letting Leon even get a real one good hit in; with both swords, he pinched Leon's sword and pushed it into the ground, then stepped on it to jerk it from his hands.
Before Leon could pull back, Gwaine's sword was at his throat.
"Next time we get to a pub in the lower towns, expect to see this kind of action," he warned him, throwing down a hand in an offer of good sportsmanship.
Leon looked at the hand and after only a moment's confusion about the whole ordeal -- much to Gwaine's surprise -- he actually smiled and took the hand to pull himself up. It was a bright smile, the kind that pulled his hairline forward. It almost seemed he enjoyed Gwaine’s attack.
He gave Gwaine a firm handshake and a pat on his upper arm, telling him gently, "I'd like that," before picking up his sword and returning to the conversation he was having before the spar.
Merlin approached, same stack of weapons in his arms, and stood alongside Gwaine watching Leon as well. "Was that your idea of courting him?" he asked and Gwaine replaced the sword he'd stolen.
Gwaine looked to Merlin, a bit startled at the idea. But it warmed him. "Guess so," he said with a bit of rogueish carelessness. But he tucked the idea back to think about it later. How did one court a knight?
It wasn't so easy as Gwaine might have supposed. He'd had plenty a hand at ladies before, some needing little more than a dashing smile while others required more complicated tactics like flowers and drinks -- but he'd never tried to court them, not really.
And that besides, Leon was different entirely. Gwaine wasn't even sure what he wanted from him, let alone how to get it.
In the end, he tried to settle for another date night at the pub, but the high energy and the alcohol got him wanting to step in on a brawl at the other side of the tavern.
Leon talked him down with a hand an arm linked around his bicep and a hand on his chest.
"Easy with the fighting," he told him as he pulled him away from the chaos. "You're getting carried away."
Carried away, indeed! Gwaine let himself be pulled back, but it wasn't without its own consequences; Leon began to lecture him on ethics and favoritism and went back to their spar on the grounds earlier that day.
"I can't be showing you favoritism, no matter how much I like you," he said, and Gwaine liked the sound of it at first, but the longer it sat with him, the more sour he felt.
There was another awkward beginning to the next day on the training grounds. This time, Gwaine was the one ignoring Leon.
To be fair, he was in part respecting Leon’s wish about showing favoritism, and Gwaine didn't particularly want any kind of preferential treatment, not on the training grounds. But instead of trying to find a middle ground, Gwaine blew off the problem altogether by ignoring Leon completely.
It proved to be more difficult than Gwaine had counted on; Leon's determined indifference from the day before had actually dissolved entirely and warmed into a friendly acknowledgment. There were fruits Gwaine’s labor in this, however. Though at first it frustrated him, he soon realized that Leon’s cheeks flushed when Gwaine went cold. He would lose balance or fumble a conversation. It was, to say the least, adorably awkward. It made the courtly games of playing coy fun for him, for the very first time being on the other end of it.
By the end of practice when Leon shot him a sideways glance or an approving smile, Gwaine would look right through Leon and let him sweat it out.
Of course Merlin noticed. It was the same as before. He walked up to Gwaine who was skulking lazily about the sidelines and bumped shoulders. "Thought you were courting him," he said, a bit of a teasing lilt present.
"That I am," he told Merlin, poking him in the chest. He felt Leon’s eyes on them; feeling bratty, he brought a hand to Merlin's upper arm, rubbed it in a friendly way, let it linger a bit longer than he ought to. "Don't you know playing coy is a part of the game?"
"Is it now?" Merlin asked, raising a brow at the unsubtle touch. "S'not enough he likes you back, you have to drive him crazy too, do you?" He rubbed his arm where Gwaine had touched him, a small heat rising to his cheeks, and Gwaine wondered if Merlin had ever even been with a man before.
Right. Arthur. Whatever that was, it was confusing and messed up, and Gwaine was happy to be oblivious.
"Give him a break, take him out again. Elyan says Leon's never been easier on him than yesterday."
"Really?" Gwaine asked.
Merlin shrugged. "No. I just wanted to see if you'd stop pretending not to care." He gave Gwaine a rough pat on his arm. "You said you wanted to show him how to loosen up. Do it."
"Right, then." Gwaine smiled and looked over at Leon who was apparently watching their exchange, just as Gwaine had assumed. They locked eyes and smiled at each other, and Gwaine felt a bit dopey for a moment as heat rose to his cheeks and he looked back to Merlin.
"Advice noted. Off to your armor polishing, then, or whatever it is you do." He waved a hand dismissively and set Merlin off in another direction.
After practice, Gwaine sat beside Leon in the mess hall. He grabbed the senior knight's wine and drank it down, while Leon sat back and watched, brow raised.
"How's that for preferential treatment?" Gwaine asked as he slapped the goblet back onto the table. Leon reached for Gwaine's goblet and switched them without much of an answer.
There was Leon’s cheekiness again. Gwaine loved it. It wasn’t much, and it was quiet, but it was ever-present and, he was maybe biased, but Gwaine thought he was pretty darn clever too. Leon maybe didn’t need to get into fist fights to show someone up or get back at them, but he still managed to do it.
It didn’t stop Gwaine from liking the fights. He didn’t try to get involved this time -- just by being with Leon, he didn’t feel he had to -- but Leon decided it best to keep him out of it anyway. At his suggestion, they went back to Gwaine’s quarters to “rest up.”
Gwaine wasn't as drunk the last time he brought Leon back to his quarters. That meant he had more control, more awareness, and he knew he'd be able to remember it better in the morning.
It made him want to make it memorable.
While it was Leon's request that they go back to Gwaine's place and "get some rest for the morning," it wasn’t rest Gwaine had on his mind. And with Leon down to nothing but his loose slacks, it was hard to think of anything else but what else he had in mind.
Sloppily, contentedly, he moved in on Leon; he put his hands on his waist, pulled his hips in close. He didn't kiss him, didn't want to give him the satisfaction. Instead, he hovered so that their breath mingled and warmed each other's noses, mouths, and cheeks. Gwaine felt the heat from the tips of his ears all the way down to a searing hotness that shot between his thighs.
"Gwaine," said Leon, though he was hardly protesting.
"Yes, Sir Knight?" he asked with a bit of a cheeky grin and a raised brow.
Leon closed the space.
Gwaine meant to hold back, at least for a few moments, but it was all he could manage not to throw Leon on the bed and have him then and there. Leon's hunger was just about the sexiest damned thing he'd ever seen.
The senior knight pressed their mouths together and it was unshaven scruff meets five o'clock shadow. His lips brushed against both the soft, thin lines of Leon's lips and the coarse stubble of both of their beards. The heat between his thighs thickened and he found one of his own hands moving behind Leon, pulling him forward so that their hips were flush against one another.
Leon’s hunger was not sated. He bit Gwaine’s bottom lip and groaned, guttural and throaty, against his mouth. It was a trumpet call, declaring the important entry at the door as Leon’s tongue pushed its way into his mouth.
Gwaine's willpower was completely lost.
He pinned Leon against a wall and fought for dominance in this kiss. His tongue pushed in, struggling with and dancing against Leon’s, running along his teeth, the roof of his mouth, all the while the other knight’s hips bucking forward. Somewhere in all of this, his hand ended up on the bulge of Leon’s pants, and Gwaine pressed hard into the kiss while his fingers round the sensitive muscle caressed, rubbed, squeezed.
He pulled back from the kiss once he won it, and smirked against the sight of a very dissheveled and still-hungry Leon. His thumb pressed against the hardness of his groin while his fingers fondled the weight of his balls through the fabric of his trousers.
A sight to behold, that’s what his needy noble knight was. Gwaine took a step back to look at the mess he'd made. Leon leaned against the wall with his shoulders pushed back and his hips pushed forward, eyes on Gwaine with uncertainty and need, drunkenness and a thirst for control, and Gwaine wanted to take everything in his world and turn it on its head.
"On the bed?" he offered finally, pulling his hand back from Leon's groin.
"No," said Leon. His cheeks flushed as he broke the eye contact. "Here. Against the wall."
"Well, well." Gwaine clicked his tongue and stepped forward to bring his hands back to Leon's hips. "That's not something I could have predicted." He slid his hands upward, running his fingers over his chest hair and bare flesh. It embarrassed Leon, and that excited Gwaine.
He didn't back down, though, and Gwaine had to admire that. He cocked his head to the side, moved in to kiss Leon again, and it was more gentle this time. Leon had lost his confidence, it seemed, which gave Gwaine the chance to be the one to show him a good time.
Rest would definitely happen later, he decided. For now he needed to spoil the pampered knight before him. His hands still roaming and caressing Leon's chest, Gwaine fell to his knees looked up.
"Any objections?" he asked. Just making the request made his own cock harden. There was something so satisfying about acknowledging the deed with spoken word, something shameless and sensual.
Leon chose not to show his own satisfaction in it, though if the heat Gwaine could feel on his face from being so close to Leon’s groin was anything to go off of, the question and the implications within had the same effect on him as well.
“You’ll do as you will,” he said a quietly, and there was a level of affection behind it that Gwaine hadn’t expected. He chose not to think about it, and instead tugged at the hem of Leon’s trousers while Leon’s fingers combed through Gwaine’s hair.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he added, and Gwaine’s growing affinity for Leon solidified in that moment.
His game became bigger than him.
“Good, then,” said Gwaine, and he pulled the pants down just enough that Leon’s hardening cock bobbed out and upward. Gwaine took hold of it, running his thumb over the head while the fingers in his hair tightened and he looked up at Leon to make eye contact, which Leon held without apparent reservation.
Gwaine wasn’t much used to having a honeymoon period, but even though he wasn’t much expecting one, he didn’t expect for Leon to be so done with him so fast. He only wanted to show Leon a bit more of the darker side of fun, and already the noble knight was upset at him.
"I don't understand," Leon said as he plucked the tiny satchel from Gwaine's hand. "What you're doing is a serious offense. Is it not the very same act that's helped free prisoners from our dungeons?"
Gwaine slapped Leon hard on the back and took the satchel back. He tossed it up and caught it, then side to side, from hand to hand; it was small enough to wrap his fingers around it, and he did.
Leon reached back out for it, but Gwaine pulled it away, keeping it snug and safe inside the cage of his hand.
"Relax," he said, holding it up now between his thumb and forefinger. "It's just a stink-bomb. No harm can come of it." He smirked and tossed it back at Leon, who took the parcel with a deep-set frown. "Just fire it up, and drop it through the crack in the door."
"And this is meant to lighten me up? Knowing I've enabled the kind of behavior that endangers our citadel." He tucked the item into his pocket, and Gwaine noted he had no intention of pulling it back out.
"Fine," Gwaine said with a frown. This whole thing was starting to seem like a bust. The sulking at the pub, being ignored at practice, his tiny stink-bomb now confiscated...
This whole attitude, the superiority of the noble class, that was what Gwaine read from it. He gave a huff and walked off before he could let himself pick an argument.
"There." Gwaine pointed to one of the bar maids. She wasn't necessarily the cleanest woman in the tavern, but her breasts were the most ripe and she had the lushest lips. "Give her a go, won'tcha?"
Leon frowned, his thumb running idly over the handle of the pint Gwaine had bought him. "I'm not interested," Leon said plainly, a pull at his voice akin to irritation.
"Don't be such a coward, mate," Gwaine said with a big pat on the back. "She'll hardly bite, unless you want her to. For a nobleman like yourself, she'll make herself anything you please." The bitterness in his voice was hardly a secret, and he felt surprised by himself at how angry he felt, not at all fond like he usually felt when he teased his friends.
Leon looked startled by it, as well.
"What is this about, Gwaine?" he asked, inching the pint away from himself.
But Gwaine turned his game face back on and waved the barmaid over, entirely ignoring the sudden situation he'd created.
"What can I help ye with?" the busty brunette asked as he bent over the table, picking up Gwaine’s and Leon's steins to wipe the table off beneath them.
"My Noble Knight right here has been twinkling his eyes at you all night, princess," he said, leaning an elbow over the table to get in good and close.
The maid drew the rag back and raised an eyebrow at Leon. "Have ya there, love?" she asked while Leon's cheeks reddened and he held out a hand to silence Gwaine, who carried on,
"He was hoping to meet up with you at the end of your shift, walk ya home, you know. A gentlemanly kind of thing."
"My, a gentle knight," the barmaid said with a lilt that implied she'd entertained many a knight before.
"Sorry, no, there's been a misunderstanding," Leon said, pushing back from the table. He rose to his feet, gave the barmaid a polite bow of his head and a small apologetic smile, then turned his attention to Gwaine. It was only a moment, full eye contact, disdain as plain as Gwaine's snide remark. It made Gwaine feel small, which made him puff up with anger. But Leon said nothing, and he turned on his heel and left.
Confrontation without a fight. Drunk. In a tavern. No. This wasn’t a resolve, Gwaine needed to duke it out, to show his worth, to fuck it up beyond repair. If Leon wasn’t gonna have a good time, he shouldn’t just tolerate the things Gwaine threw at him.
At first, he didn’t plan to follow Leon, but before he could make that decision he’d already taken off after him, practically tearing up the sticky tavern floor on foot.
“What was that?” he demanded, snagging Leon’s shoulder once they were outside. Leon turned around, frowning first at Gwaine’s hand as he jerked his shoulder away, then at Gwaine himself.
“I will not answer a question you yourself couldn’t answer,” he said hotly, and Gwaine realized this was the first time Leon had actually been cross with him. He took a step back, dumbfounded, and at the silence, Leon continued:
“I’ve no interest in sleeping with a barmaid,” he said, gesturing back to the tavern with an open palm. “I’ve no interest in any maid.”
“Then what was letting me do this,” Gwaine demanded, using the same open-palm gesture at Leon’s groin. Leon flushed, but he only seemed to swell at the frustration. “You nobles, you think you’re so much better than the rabble, but you’re all the same as us, just cleaner is all, that it?”
“This isn’t about my birthright, Gwaine,” Leon said flatly, arms crossed, and maybe Leon was seeing right through him. Gwaine didn’t have to admit it.
“You can walk around and judge us all you want-”
“I’m not judging you.” He let his hands hang limp, as if in defeat, and Gwaine wondered if he maybe shouldn’t have ever taken up this bargain. “You’re the one making judgment calls. You’re the one asking me to abandon my own code. Who’s asking you to change?”
Anger began to boil over again, and Gwaine felt defensive of the maid. “So I meet your code, but the lady at the bar doesn’t because she’s not proven herself by luck in the eyes of your beloved king, that it?”
“No,” said Leon, and he walked past Gwaine. Their shoulders brushed. “That’s not it. And I don’t wish to discuss this further.” Gwaine had a hard time letting it go, though. He wanted a fight. The anticlimax of the fire fizzling out left him unsatisfied, and he went back into the pub to drink and start a brawl with a stranger.
Gwaine woke up the following morning with a headache from more than just a hangover. He didn’t remember much, but a flash of Elyan and Percival dragging him to Gaius’s was a bit of a gem that chose to stick around. As he sat up, he winced at the light and brought a hand to his head to feel the bandaging there. He immediately removed it.
"Merlin?" He tried to shout but his voice was hoarse and his throat parched, so it came out as a bit more of a hiss.
But Merlin did come.
He came with a rag in a bowl of water, and he rolled his eyes at the freshly removed bloody bandage in Gwaine's hands. "Well, the bleeding's probably stopped, so I guess there's no harm," he said as he took a seat beside him. "You're a bit of an arse, you know that?"
"An attractive, charming arse, though, am I not?" Merlin laughed and shook his head, ringing out the cloth before lifting it to Gwaine's head. Poor Merlin probably saw no point in arguing with him.
"Leon's pretty upset, you know. Thought you said you were gonna try the whole courting thing, didn't you?"
"Yeah," Gwaine said with a small toothy grin that stopped before it could reach his eyes. "Guess I'm not very good at it, am I?"
"So we can narrow it down to attractive, but not charming, then, I suppose." Gwaine winced as Merlin began cleaning off the dried blood on his face.
"Suppose it's only fair I can't have it all, yeah?" He lifted himself onto his elbows, but Merlin pushed him back down.
"I had Gaius get you out of practice for today. To repay me, you have to tell me everything." He put the bowl in Gwaine's hands to get him to clean his own face off. "Elyan and Percival got me up to your agreement, but they're as baffled by the rest of it as anybody else. It's only fair."
Gwaine sighed and threw his head back, accepting defeat at the hands of the one man Gwaine knew he could absolutely rely on. "I messed ecerything up again. What else is new."
"Well, so far as I can tell, Leon thinks he's the one who's messed up," Merlin offered with a consolatory half-smile. "But that hardly helps fill me in. Details, please."
"You alright there, mate?" Gwaine asked as he approached Leon in the corridor. Leon stopped, though he looked anxious to keep moving. Gwaine figured it was probably better to get this done sooner rather than later, though. At least this way, Leon wouldn't be doling out unnecessary corrections and orders to anyone but Gwaine once it was settled.
Though, to be honest, Gwaine wouldn't have actually cared about that part, except that Merlin forced him to settle it now rather than later.
"Feeling better, Sir Gwaine?" he asked with a working sigh, though it wasn't really a question. "What can I help you with?"
Gwaine had to admit, as much as he had pranked and bullied Leon in the past, he had never seen him so cross and defeated before.
"Nothing, I just-"
"Then I'd best be going on my duties. King's orders." He set to go on, but his heels only hit the floor once before Gwaine stopped him by pulling at his wrist and giving a strong yank.
"Listen to me, will you? I'm trying to apologize!"
That stilled Leon enough that Gwaine could get a look at the rawness in Leon's expression. He wasn't cross, he was sad. Gwaine let go of the wrist, and it fell limp at Leon's side.
"Say something, will ya?" Gwaine said, patting Leon's upper arm in an attempt to warm the airs between them; he wasn't quite accustomed to awkward silences, so he afforded Leon a grin to try and reassure him, and to maybe ease him back into talking.
"Apologize to me tonight, then," he said after a moment. "I'm off duty after the King's cousel meeting. I'll send my squire off if you help me with my armor."
"Alright, then." Gwaine nodded and tried grinning again, but Leon's expression remained as stone. "Meet you in the armory, if it's all set." He pushed his hands into his pockets and stepped back.
"Yes, it's all set," Leon said, and he pressed on in his errand.
Gwaine waited in the armory for the better part of the evening. Sometimes the counsel meetings were over quickly, while other times they went on into the night. When a few of the knights came filing in, Gwaine rose to his feet. Percival and one of the new recruits came through first. Then was Elyan, who gave Gwaine an accusing-yet-mocking glare. Gwaine rolled his eyes but stayed his tongue; it was all in good fun, even if he did feel particularly sensitive about it.
Leon arrived last. Not that Gwaine was counting, but it was a good few moments before he finally showed up. True to his word, he was without his squire, and as he walked in, most of the other knights were already walking out.
It was a bit of a relief.
Gwaine didn't particularly want to have this conversation in front of anybody else, and he felt strangely vulnerable in his regular clothes, ready to start taking off a nobleman's armor. He heaved a heavy sigh, set to working at the buckles on Leon's pauldron.
"Suppose you're wanting that apology, then?" Gwaine asked while his fingers worked, more to fill the silence than to start the conversation.
Leon brought his hands up to Gwaine’s hands and pushed them down. “I have to be honest, Gwaine, I didn’t actually expect you to fall into subservience just to get my attention,” he said, and the satisfaction in his eyes pissed Gwaine off -- and he would have said so, if Leon hadn’t pulled at Gwaine’s coat and bent down to kiss him hard on the mouth. Well, then. That settled the matter of apologies. Gwaine looked over Leon’s shoulder while they kissed and gestured for the young squire left polishing armor to leave before pushing himself into the kiss to enjoy it.
It lasted a moment with heated breath and scratchy stubble and the smell of male excitement pushing them over the brink, but Leon pulled away with a hand on Gwaine’s chest to stop him from chasing the kiss.
“Sir Reginold is guarding the wines,” he said as he reached into the pouch at his hip, revealing Gwaine’s stink bomb from a few nights prior. “Get me out of this armor and we’ll refill our private supplies. What do you say, my noble knight?”
Gwaines stomach trembled with the hearty satisfaction of a good laugh. There weren’t many men who could actually remember most of what Gwaine said, let alone use his own words to tease him.
“Here, here!” he said, ‘cause he could think of little else, and they were on their way to a merry night.