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five times henry's competency turned alex on and the one time it turned him into a pile of romantic goo

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It hits Alex when Henry’s playing the piano, his long fingers dancing across the keys with a lightness that seems impossible.

He watches attentively as Henry plucks at a combination of three notes repetitively, creating a pleasant trill that soothes the ear. His brows are marginally furrowed as he loses himself in the concentration of music, his seated posture impeccably straight, shoulders set and arms and wrists loose. Henry’s playing like a goddam Mozart, and it sends a thrill down his spine and sets his throat dry.

Alex has a fucking thing for competency. A competency kink, if he wants to be crude. And it just so happens that his boyfriend is one of the most competent men in England.

Well, Alex, he thinks. You sure know how to pick ‘em.

 

.

 

It starts about a month after they’ve confirmed their relationship to the world. The night before, they’d made their fourth appearance in public as an official couple—which still doesn’t feel real—at a movie premiere of the new critically acclaimed Sherlock Holmes film in England. The amount of flash that Alex receives once he steps out of the SUV is momentarily blinding, and the sound of the paps and photographers yelling almost deafens him. He feels kind of unsteady—but then Henry slides his arm into Alex’s, and the world rightens itself again. Henry’s blue eyes are a bright comfort in the night, and Alex smiles as he takes in the image of his boyfriend on the red carpet, cool and charming. He doesn’t doubt that particular snapshot will make headline news tomorrow—and when there’s so much more to be reported on other than a couple walking the carpet.

The rest of the evening passes without much excitement, and they sneak away during the after party to press each other up against a darkened stairwell wall, and Alex steal breaths from Henry with his lips. They manage to get home to the palace in one piece, collapsing into bed after a tearing their clothes of and going for a few rounds, then falling asleep pressed against one another, exhausted.

They are, Alex hates to admit, in their honeymoon phase.

The next morning is a struggle. His eyes are so heavy and it’s so warm beneath the covers…

Alex sluggishly blinks his eyelids open, feeling almost a part of the mattress, he’s so deeply sunken into it and immobilised with sleepy fatigue. There’s a slight throbbing in his head from the drinks from last night, but it’s less annoying that it could be. Henry’s behind him, passed out and clutching onto Alex in his sleep like a koala or some shit, and it’s so adorable that Alex’s heart does a weird sort of jump.

He fully plans to close his eyes again and fall back asleep in Henry’s arms, except that his eyes fall onto the alarm clock on Henry’s bedside that reads 18th November, 11:19am.

18th of November, Alex ponders absently, letting his eyes fall shut. Almost noon.

Wait. His eyes fly open. 18th of November.

He has a horrible flashback to a meeting with his mother, in which he’s promising to be there for that date, for an extremely important state dinner that he’s organised in which he has to make attendance, she promises him, otherwise there will be—cue unpleasant pause—consequences.

If it were a normal state dinner, he’d be laxer about it. But it’s a dinner that he’s orchestrated down to the last detail, tweaked to that last second of scheduling, planned down to the last minute of the day. Including his flight back home, which if he misses, will cause him to miss most of it, and being the host of the event, it would be extremely unprofessional and embarrassing to do so.

His flight, which is in less than ten minutes.

Alex springs out of the bed, still half asleep, catching his foot on the duvet and falling headfirst to the floor with a loud thump. He staggers up, casting his head wildly around for his clothing.

“Shitting fuck,” he swears, sprinting over to the corner to grab Henry’s boxers, the only ones in sight.

“Mmngh?” Henry says intelligently from the bed, eyes still shut.

“I’m going to miss my fucking flight—fuck,” Alex trips over his shoes in his haste, falling spectacularly to the floor once again. He spots his trousers under the bed while he’s down, and rolls over speedily to snatch them and start pulling them on as he stumbles to his feet. “My mom is going to fucking kill me.”

“No she’s not,” Henry says blearily, rolling onto his back and rubbing at his eyes.

“Have you met my mother?” Alex exclaims incredulously, now crawling on his hands and knees in search of a shirt.

“I have,” Henry yawns. “And I spoke to her last night to delay the flight and dinner, because I knew you were going to be like this.”

Alex gapes. “But the guests—”

“—Have had enough notice and are fine with it,” Henry finishes. “The representatives from South Korea and China had previous arrangements that would’ve caused them to be late anyways, so they’re thankful, apparently.”

“You,” Alex stutters, his throat suddenly dry and trousers suddenly a little tight. “When did you have time for all of that?”

“When you were in the bathroom last night.”

“You’re so—” he swallows. “Organised.”

Henry looks mildly concerned. “I don’t know if I should be worried by that tone, or—mmph!”

He doesn’t get the chance to finish, because Alex has launched himself on top of him and securely fastened his lips onto his, kissing him intensely.

“So. Fucking. Hot.” Alex punctuates each word with a kiss that goes lower down Henry’s bare body each time, and Henry gives a gasping laugh.

“If that’s all it takes to get you hot and bothered, then—aah,” He tips his head back and falls onto the pillows, left lacking coherency as Alex puts his mouth to good use. “Oh my god, sweetheart, just like that.”

Alex smirks from his position further down the bed.

 

.

 

It takes him a while to figure out that Henry’s competency does… things for him, but once he does, he reflects on interesting incidents in a different light.

For instance, a croquet match in the White House.

Alex had invited Liam and his boyfriend, and a couple other people from college he was friendly with to a “family barbecue”, organised by his mom and dad in a bonding attempt for the family. Of course Henry’s also there, along with Pez, Shaan, some of June’s college friends, Nora, and Alex swears he saw Luna lurking in the cloisters somewhere a minute ago.

The smoke from the White House’s industrial looking barbecue furls into the air as his mom flips burger patties and other assorted meat on the grill, whilst his dad preps the rest of the food on a table nearby.

He’s had a really good time catching up with the others, learning about Liam’s new job and Pez’s recent endeavours, but when it comes down to it after dinner, he’s right where he wants to be: seated on the outdoor couch with Henry by his side, feet in his lap.

“I feel like we should be doing some sort of post-dinner game,” Nora comments absently, from her position of laying on June’s stomach, who groans when Nora moves her head and insists she’s too full for this position. Alex can tell she secretly enjoys it.

“If you say Uno, I’m going to lose it,” Alex says, shuddering as he remembers the horrific fights that have been a consequence of Uno games between the White House trio.

“I’m not stupid, Alex,” Nora raises her eyebrows, turning her face towards him. “I was thinking an outdoor game.”

“Cricket?” Spencer offers, and Alex’s dad winces.

“I’m not risking being accidentally whacked by my children with a bat again.”

“That was one time!” Alex protests, sitting up.

“One time too many,” his dad grimaces, and Alex falls back against Henry, pouting.

“What about croquet?” His mom suggests, wiping a thumb across the leftover barbecue sauce on her plate and licking it. “I think we have a set somewhere.”

June’s old college friend, George—the annoying one—perks up. “Ooh, yes.”

“Fine by me,” his dad adds, and June nods in agreement.

“Well that’s settled,” his dad says, grasping his kneecaps to push himself into standing position. “I’ll go get the kit.”

There’s a shuffle, and murmurs of conversation fill the air as everyone gets to their feet to clear the garden area to make room for the game. Alex stands up, stretching, and turns back to Henry, who’s still seated.

“You not playing?” He asks, and Henry shakes his head ruefully.

“I’m far too full to move,” he says, sheepishly.

“Suit yourself,” Alex shrugs and salutes him as he walks off to join the gaggle of others.

As they set up, George makes sure that everyone knows that he was apparently the best at croquet at his college, and will “go easy on them all” as he laughs, self-assuredly.

“Can I accidentally hit him with my mallet?” Liam mutters, as they hammer in one of the wickets in the ground together, and Alex snorts loudly.

As predicted, Alex does pretty terribly at the sport, being unable to find the balance between exact hand-eye coordination and the right amount of force to succeed in hitting the ball the correct distance. Everyone else is pretty average—June being surprisingly talented and almost taking the lead in the match, if it weren’t for George, who, as self-predicted, is winning single-handedly.

After another very unsuccessful shot and pettiness finally reached with a smarmy comment from George, Alex decides it’s finally enough.

“Henry!” He calls, grabbing his boyfriend’s attention from where he’s talking to Spencer. “Get your royal ass up here and help me.”

“Come on, Alex,” Henry grins, leaning back on the sofa, arms behind his head. “I’m sure you can finish it off by yourself.”

“Someone’s a little afraid of losing,” George crows cockily.

Henry raises a single brow, and pauses before standing up, and unbuttoning his blazer one handedly before discarding it on the couch. June wolf-whistles.

“You’re sweating,” Nora notes, and Alex scowls.

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“Your turn,” he deliberately ignores her and offers his mallet to Henry, who’s rolling his pressed sleeves up efficiently.

“Don’t feel bad if you can’t catch up, Your Highness,” George says dryly. “Alex has left a pretty large gap to fill.”

Alex is mildly seething. Henry quirks an innocent smile, positioning himself at Alex’s red ball. “I’ll try my best.”

Now, Alex is a little iffy on the rules of croquet, but he knows that if you hit the ball through the hoops, you get an extra hit, and if you hit another persons ball, you get two extra hits. And honestly, he wasn’t sure what he was expecting from the Prince of Wales’s croquet skills, but it certainly wasn’t a knock out of the park.

Henry starts by taking a seemingly effortless stroke which sends the ball through the hoop at the difficult angle that Alex was struggling with, and using his extra stroke to hit Alex’s dads ball out of the way, and hitting it through a wicket once again. He never pauses, taking one stroke after the next, posture impeccable and game strategy perfection. He continues to use the extra strokes until he reaches the final hoop, at which he manages to hit the ball through the hoop and to the end wicket simultaneously.

Alex’s mouth is agape. George looks absolutely gobsmacked. His mom and dad exchange wide eyed looks, and the rest of the party is in shocked silence. As for Henry, he looks perfectly mild as he strolls over to Alex and hands him the mallet back. And Alex, who knows Henry better than most there, can detect the faintest hint of smugness on Henry’s face.

“I believe this is yours,” Henry says while handing it to him, smiling privately.

“That was the single most attractive thing I have seen you do,” Alex replies, as if he were commenting on the weather. His cheeks feel quite flushed. His mother coughs.

“In that case,” Henry drops the mallet to the ground, and nods toward the White House. “Shall we?”

“I’d like nothing more,” Alex agrees

“Looks like you’re beaten, champ,” He hears his dad say to George as they leave to find a secluded corner to make out in.

 

 

.

 

Once they move into the brown house together, …things become more evident.

Of course, it’s all Alex has ever dreamed. They get the privacy and intimacy of their own home without anyone of any sort of government connection hovering nearby—the nearest secret service slash bodyguard team is in a car outside—and they get to fill the space with as many things as they want. No ugly golden sheets issued by the Royal Family, no turkeys, no pictures of old white men on the walls—with the exception of Alex’s maternal grandfather.

It’s home, and Alex is utterly in love with it.

He and Henry spend their nights splayed out on the sofa, legs propped up on a banquet in front of them, watching television or reading. He’s too overexcited by the domestic nature of it.

Monday nights in particular are spent with a cup of tea in Henry’s hand, decaf coffee in Alex’s, and University Challenge playing out on the screen before them.

He hadn’t had a clue what University Challenge was before moving in, Henry insisting that it was British tradition and on that he would not budge, so Alex spent the first Monday night in house getting to know what exactly the program entailed. Turns out, it’s a sort of game show, in that people compete on live television for the highest score—but that was as close to a game show as it got. The two teams look like the biggest nerds on earth, and the presenter and questioner looks about seventy. That wouldn’t be unusual either, if it weren’t for the ridiculously difficult questions that they’re asked.

“The question is on quotes,” the presenter calls out in a posh voice. “In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover gem-like above the bay.' This was the last diary entry of which explorer, written on January 5th 1922 at Grytviken in South Georgia?”

Alex isn’t even going to pretend that he understood what the man just said. Henry, however:

“Ernest Shackleton,” he says distractedly, not glancing up from the newspaper he holds in hand.

On the screen, a buzzer goes off, and the camera zooms in comically to a girl with huge glasses on the Cambridge team.

“Ernest Shackleton,” she speaks quickly, and the presenter nods and discards the card on which the question is held.

“That is correct. Now, your bonuses are on Germanic tribes.”

Germanic tribes?” Alex mouths, eyes glued to the screen in confusion.

“Firstly, led by Alaric I, which Germanic tribe sacked Rome in 410? They ruled southern Gaul in the fifth century and most of Spain until early in the eighth.”

“Hmm…” Henry taps his lips with the pen he’s using for the newspaper crossword, eyebrows fractionally narrowed. “That would probably be the Visigoths.”

“The what?!”

“Visigoths!” Someone proclaims on screen, and the presenter confirms that it’s correct.

“Which branch of the Goths split from the Visigoths in the fourth century and, under Theodoric the Great, established the Gothic kingdom of Italy?”

Henry frowns, eyes still on the crossword before him. “The Ostrogoths.”

“Is it the Ostrogoths?” A man on the television asks uncertainly, and the presenter nods once again and discards the answer card.

This continues for what feels like forever, but is actually only about twenty minutes. Alex is getting uncomfortably hot, and every time Henry answers one of the obscure questions, he can feel more blood drain from his face, knowing exactly where it’s going instead.

It’s when “In cytogenetics, what term describes the entire chromosomal complement of a cell which may be observed during mitotic metaphase?” Is asked, everyone on screen stumped, and Henry answering absently “Karyotype,” getting it right, that Alex finally cracks.

He snatches the newspaper from Henry’s grasp, who looks up, flummoxed, and tosses it behind him to land in the kitchen. Alex clambers onto him swiftly, gripping the back of his neck with one hand and his jawline with another, kissing him passionately. Henry makes a muffled noise of surprise, letting his pen drop and roll to the floor before sliding his hands onto Alex’s thighs, moving to slide their clothed bodies together.

When Alex breaks away, he finds Henry breathless and flushed, giving him an dumbstruck smile which he can hear in his question. “What was that for?”

“For answering those stupid questions,” Alex replies intently, confused and turned on, leaning in once again to attach his lips to Henry’s neck, making him gasp in surprised pleasure.

“University Challenge?” He groans incredulously, as Alex rolls his hips insistently. “That makes you horny?”

“Not the fucking program,” Alex moans as Henry moves his hands further up his thighs. “How do you know all that shit?”

“Oh, Christ,” Henry gasps as Alex rips his shirt off and begins to unbuckle Henry’s belt. “Oh my god, you like it when I say smart things?”

“Not specifically smart things,” he grunts, standing for a moment to yank his boyfriend’s sweatpants off and then his own, before springing back onto his lap. “It does it for me when you’re really—good at doing shit.”

“You are a completely outlandish man,” Henry tells him seriously, his mouth twitching, sliding his hands down the back of Alex’s boxers, then kissing him.

“Fuck off,” Alex grumbles against his mouth.

“What subfield of physics deals with plasmas, such as those in fusion reactors and interplanetary space, and more generally with the interactions between a conducting fluid and a magnetic field?” The presenter asks from behind them, and Alex glances back momentarily to find the teams silent. He looks back to Henry, who looks darkly pleased at knowledge of this newfound power. Henry leans in, and—

“Magnetohydrodynamics,” He murmurs against Alex’s neck, breath making him full-body shiver.

“The answer is magnetohydrodynamics,” the presenter says irritably, when no one answers, and Alex’s intake of breath is audible.

“I hope you know your pupils just dilated.”

Alex grounds down on his boxer clad lap in response, making Henry curse ferociously.

 

.

 

“Bad day?” Henry asks him, after Alex throws his satchel to the floor and kicks his shoes off angrily.

“You have no idea,” Alex gripes, throwing himself bodily into the bed, crossing his arms, all tense muscle and locked limbs.

Henry rolls into his side, and squeezes his shoulder comfortingly. “Tell me about it.”

Alex huffs, throwing his arms sporadically up in the air. “Everyone still in the White House still treats me like a kid. I walk into a meeting and I feel like I’m not heard at all!”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Henry says reassuringly. “Your mom knows that you’re capable and mature.”

“She wasn’t in these meetings,” Alex mutters, staring up at the ceiling in frustration.

“Well…” Henry trails off. “There are always going to be people who don’t take you seriously.”

“Is this supposed to be comforting?”

“Shush a minute. There are always going to be those people—but more fool them, because you know you’re just as capable as them, and when they realise that, they will have missed that chance.”

“I guess so,” Alex grumbles, arms still crossed. He sighs, untensing his arms. “Okay, you’re right.”

“Mmhmm,” Henry hums, rubbing circles into his shoulder, but pausing before saying: “You know what I think will help you relax?” 

“Hmm… let me think,” Alex says sarcastically. “I couldn’t possibly think of what you could be insinuating.”

Henry snorts and rolls on top of Alex, squashing the air out of of him. He folds his arms on Alex’s stomach to prop his head up and look down at him.

“He put down his glass and stretched his bare arms along the back of my sofa,” He says slowly, mischief in his eyes.

Alex frowns. “Come again?”

“The afternoon sunlight struck the blond hairs on the wrist near my head,” he continues, picking Alex’s lax arm up and kissing the inside of his wrist.

His heart thumps. “Poetry?”

Henry only smiles, “His chin was strong.” He moves up to nose at Alex’s chin. “His mouth sucky.” He lightly presses his lips to Alex’s, and whispers. “I could hardly believe my luck.”

“Wilde?” Alex takes a guess, pulse alight and racing.

Henry shakes his head against Alex’s neck, and smoothly uses a knee to separate his thighs. Alex is on tether-hooks, and he can feel sweat beading on his forehead. “And here he was sitting beside me, legs apart.”

“I should have never told you about my turn ons,” Alex murmurs, desperately turned on.

“I could bear it no longer,” Henry continues, lilting his voice with emotion, as he slides a hand down to Alex’s belt. “I touched the inside of his thigh.”

And so he does, eyelashes fluttering innocently as he looks up at Alex, who is both irrationally charmed and aroused.

“Which poet?” He manages to ask, as Henry moves his fingers gently up and down his thigh, infuriatingly gentle and slow.

“His reply was to move closer,” Henry persists, ignoring Alex’s question. “I trembled, my heart thumped and jumped… as my fingers went to his fly.””

Henry unbuckles Alex’s belt one handedly, and undoes his zipper, looking up through his light eyelashes, and Alex fucking loses it, cussing and throwing his head back against the pillow. Henry shucks his jeans and T-shirt off, as well as his own, and lines his body against Alex’s, keeping a torturous rhythm of rocking.

“W. H. Auden,” Henry murmurs into his ear, as he palms Alex’s boxers, and Alex makes an unintelligible choked off sound.

 

.

 

They lay side by side in the aftermath, chests rising and falling rapidly, limbs spread wide in attempt to cool down.

“I can’t believe I have a fucking competency kink,” Alex sighs, resignedly, to the ceiling.

There’s a pause.

“I reorganised all of your papers at home into an alphabetical filing system last night,” Henry says, almost apologetically.

Alex whips his head to the side against his pillow. “You what.”

“Couldn’t sleep,” Henry shrugs, refusing to make eye contact, yet Alex can see a smile that he’s holding back.

“Please tell me you’re ready for a round two,” he begs.

Henry scoffs. “Do you want me to walk tomorrow?”

“You can’t just say stuff like that to tease me! You did that on purpose!”

“I’m a bored insomniac, Alex. It was going to happen at some point.”

Alex folds his arms in a huff and bounces back against the pillow, trying to ignore the thought of Henry reorganising every loose-leaf paper in the house into its correct section in a folder, because it just makes him angrier and hornier. “I swear, I’m going to find an embarrassing kink of yours out someday and tease you with it and then we’ll see how you like it.”

“Good luck with that.” Henry says wryly.

“I bet you have a secret praise kink or something. A hair pulling kink? No—a choking—? No, no way. Wait, let me guess – don’t laugh at me like that, Henry!”

 

.

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

y’all i’ve been invited to one of pez okonjo’s

AWESOME parties im here rn and its fuckin wild

man!!!

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

btw it was invite frm friend of a friend of a friend

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

i think i see pez at the bar lol

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

OH WHAT THE FUCK PRINCE HENRY IS HERE>>>!??

 

reece @neiljostenshoe

@ckannemarie WHAT THE FUCK WHATSDDJDS

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

@neiljostenshoe IDKFSDJFJFSDNK HE’S SITTING

BY THE PIANO

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

ok im not some creepy stalker im not going up to him

to ask for an autograph guys he looks chill ok

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

for those who want to know he’s chatting with some

dude at the bar

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

OH MY GOD IM AN IDIOT. OH MY GOD ITS ALEX

CLAREMONT-DIAZ

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

this is the craziest thing that’s happened to me omfg

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

alex is gesturing to the piano why-

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

HENRYS GOING OVER TO THE PIANO AND ALEX IS

FOLLOWING????

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

what the FUCK I have tears in my eyes he’s playing

fucking elton john – your song

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

alex is making bedroom eyes lololol

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

OK HENRY IS SINGING NOW???? U CANT RLLY

HEAR BUT HE’S SINGING THE LYRICS TO ALEX IM

ABOUT TO HAVE A BREAKDOWN

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

“yours are the sweetest eyes ive ever seen” he

Fucking Sang That So Sweetly to alex i

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

alex has his head like fuckin. Pillowed on his

arms on the piano and is just watching him

adoringly im about to Kermit

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

HE’S LIKE FULL ON SERENADING HIM WITH

THE SWEETEST SONG IN THE WORLD THE LYRICS

ARE GETTING TO ME BYE

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

the whole party is really quiet they haven’t noticed yet

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

henry is AMAZING at piano wtf

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

STANDING OVATION, HENRY LOOKS PLEASED BUT

EMBARRESSED

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

alex just looked at him like he hung the stars for

him and gave him a big ol kiss im fuckin CRYING

 

annemarie loves lily james @ckannemarie

WHY AM I SINGLE

 

Alex Claremont-Diaz @fsotus

my bf is the most talented person alive???

 

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