"Be my vassals," he declares, almost impulsively. He's seen enough of this boy to get a feel of his genuine spirit, seemingly completely untouched by the ill will of the world. He reminds himself of a younger, more naive Percival, eyes following every movement of his mentor - the same one who broke the pedestals he had been placed on. He left, feeling betrayed and disillusioned by his dream of utopia, carrying his regrets of not saying enough. He pushes aside those thoughts for now.
For his part, the boy doesn't seem the least taken aback. In fact, he dares Percival to a fight. Exhilaration rushes through his veins, quite a foreign feeling after so long. Finally, something worth it. He almost laughs, but manages to keep it in. "We'll spar another time. I expect my vassals to be in excellent fighting condition. I'll see you in the morning, Gran."
This story gets embellished depending on who's telling it, but it's the start of Percival finding his place in this eclectic crew, and he'll have room to grow yet.
There's a period of quiet after the rush to dismantle most of the otherworld conspiracies. Lancelot has no doubt they will probably return, and he and Vane will be standing ready at Feendrache when the time comes. That leaves Percival and Siegfried on board the Grandcypher as a home base. Siegfried has been sternly talked to to not vanish without a word again, but Percival has some doubts of its effectiveness.
It's a good time to review, in the interim.
Gran's already back out into the field. He threatened to lock Percival in his room if he dared breathe a word about taking missions, and after all that, he can humour him some.
He's been thinking. His chest clenched when he saw Gran all beat up. It was his job to protect his vassals, and it was only Gran who threw himself into the line of fire this time. What about Lyria and Vyrn? He couldn't prevent Gran from taking injuries, how could he call himself a king? How was he deserving of such vassals?
Another visit to Wales is due. Gran would unhesitatingly divert the entire crew there in a heartbeat as he does for everyone else, but this time, he'd just like just the four of them alone. He's sure his selfish request would be met too.
He goes to wander on deck rather late into the night. He's not really surprised to see Gran there. He's heard from other crew members about their captain's occasional night owl habits, which seem to be increasing in frequency.
Gran's honestly done so much more for them (him), it would be remiss to not to return the favour.
"Didn't you go out today? Go to sleep."
Gran shakes his head silently, stubbornly. Percival reaches for one of Gran's hand, warming it. "Give me the other."
He pouts, but does so anyway. He's clearly exhausted, but is refusing to rest. The habitual tendency to overwork himself is starting to catch up.
"I'll make sure you stay in bed tonight," Percival finds himself saying. "I'll tuck you in."
"I'm not a kid," Gran finally says.
"You're acting like one now."
Without further ceremony, Percival lets go of Gran's hands, and carries him in his arms. There's a weak sound of protest from the boy, but he still settles in comfortably. Percival can feel his breathing, and he thinks about how afraid he is to lose him, no doubt a sentiment shared by everyone else in the crew.
There's the clenching in his chest again.
He tucks Gran into his bed in his quarters as he said he would. The boy has fallen asleep in the walk here. As Percival stays by his side, Gran's breath occasionally hitches and his face scrunches up. He gingerly gets into the bed beside Gran, unsure of what he's doing.
He decides to hold onto one of Gran's cold hands and Percival too gets claimed by sleep before he can think any further.
Once started, habits are incredibly hard things to break. They don't discuss it, but Percival is getting concerned he's getting used to sleeping by Gran's side. It's not warmth, he can do that on his own. Gran not being there just gives a unpleasant tightening of the chest.
He doesn't think he can ask the other crew members about sleeping - ONLY sleeping - with your captain. That wording will only invite disaster.
For his part, Gran is getting more visibly shy for whatever reason when they meet up. He finds himself at a loss for words too, getting overwhelmed by unnamed emotions. He must be getting overprotective of his vassal, that should be it. That overprotectiveness included wanting to kiss Gran, an extremely worrying turn of events.
A trip to Auguste should, in theory, allay his fears, but they have a tendency to find trouble and get to work anyway.
Which they do, for the record.
They get paid in kind in food, nor was it too terribly taxing, so it's still a net win.
Percival wanders off to the beach alone later in the evening, continuing his survey of the area, free of pressing matters. He's not surprised Gran finds him some time later.
"Not taking a break, Percival?" Gran's voice is slightly teasing.
"I could say the same to you, not enjoying the food with the crew," he lightly retorts.
The sun is dipping, so they spend a few moments appreciating the rays dazzling the ocean before them.
"... Say, Percival. Before I forget..."
He looks away from the sunset at this strangely pitched voice of Gran. He's removed his visor and is gripping it so tightly Percival thinks he might tear it in two. His face is red, and it's not the evening hues.
"I..." he sounds rather strangled. Percival's about to ask if he's okay when he blurts, "I'm in love with you!"
That visor looks quite destroyed now, is what Percival can process at the moment. Gran is looking extremely mortified and is about to book it, but he manages to grab his hand.
Love... would certainly make sense, yes. For all the studies he's done, knowing this wasn't part of it.
"... Korwa was right, you ARE dense," Gran whispers.
Of course Korwa would be the one to meddle in this.
"I'm just not used to having these... feelings," Percival feels the need to defend himself, indignant, embarrassed. He lets go to huff and cross his arms.
Despite himself, Gran is laughing, and Percival flushes red. "I reciprocate," he says, rather lamely.
"Oh my god, I don't know if this is the worst or best day of my life," peals of laughter spill of the boy. Percival wishes the sand would swallow him up.
He coughs. "Let's... try this again. May I kiss you?"
"Yeah," Gran answers, brashly.
Percival leans down and their lips touch gently for the first time, while the sun bathed them in its setting rays. When they part, Gran has a curious look on his face. Percival gets struck by self-consciousness, being in unfamiliar territory.
"Does that make me the Royal consort now? ... Percival? Percival, are you okay?!"