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Not Like the Other Times

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Berenger didn’t end Ancel’s contract but he remained steadfastly aloof, as always. Which was ridiculous, now that Ancel knew that Berenger wanted him. But Berenger was still Berenger, he of the boring brown jackets.

So Ancel did what he always did, flitting around being desirable and frivolous, acting like he was still out looking for better prospects- a better contract.

He flirted with various rich Lords and kept an ear out for gossip, and was in great demand for his delightfully crude comments and reputation for being unpredictable. He attended late-night gatherings with Lords and pets and wine and games and various performances while Berenger retired early to their rooms to read stuffy poetry and have boring meetings and eat plain toast, or something equally stupid.

And so it wasn’t unusual that Ancel found himself in Lord Droet’s parlor with a dozen other Lords and their pets, gossiping and drinking late into the night. What was unusual was the strange heat that Ancel felt stealing over him over the course of the evening, like his skin was tingling. 

It wasn’t hotter than usual, was it? The doors to the balcony were open, letting in a fresh breeze scented with flowers from the gardens outside. It wasn’t as though Ancel’s diaphanous silks were suddenly retaining heat.

And then he looked over at the cruel smirk playing over the lips of Lord Droet’s pet. And then he noticed that many of the other Lords had taken their leave. The realization that he’d soon be alone with Lord Droet and his pet had his heart sinking as he realized what had happened.

He’d been drugged.

When had it happened? Maybe a while ago. He wasn’t experienced with such things. Back in the brothels in Sanpelier some of the other whores had indulged in drug and drink to make their work easier, but Ancel had always aspired to something greater. He’d always aspired to being someone who mattered, not some glassy-eyed used-up whore. 

But that meant he had no experience with drugs, and had missed the signs. He’d missed his chance to slip away before it was too late.

He was already feeling too hazy to puzzle out if it was the pet acting on his own, or if it was at Lord Droet’s instruction. Based on the naked lust in Lord Droet’s eyes, he knew what was happening even if it hadn’t been his plan.

If Ancel cheated on his contract- if there was even a whiff of a rumor- he’d be ruined, his star cut down before it ever had a chance to rise. He could make his excuses now to leave, but the idea of wandering the halls alone in this state filled him with dread. Anything could happen. Anyone could see him and draw conclusions, spread rumors. Or worse. He’d made a lot of enemies during his time in Arles, but not very many allies.

He spilled the pitcher of wine right into the pet’s lap.

“Oh dear,” he said, wide-eyed like it had been an accident. The pet hissed in displeasure and Ancel forced himself to apologize even as he enjoyed the pettiness of his actions. Lord Droet called for a servant to mop up the mess.

“We seem to be out of wine,” Ancel said, staring at the servant. “Summon Lady Vannes, and tell her to bring some of that famed Vaskian liquor.”

Lord Droet looked suddenly displeased, but not as displeased as the pet. Ancel could only hope his ploy would work. Vannes wasn’t exactly an ally, wasn’t even Berenger’s ally. But the two of them were backing the Prince, so perhaps that was close enough to putting them on the same side. Ancel could only hope she’d come.

If she didn’t come-

But soon enough there was a knock on the door and the Lady Vannes was sweeping in with her Vaskian pet, and with Berenger.

Ancel was briefly annoyed. The situation with Berenger was complicated enough. He didn’t need the man thinking he’d been courting ruin like this, or that he was frivolous enough to indulge in drugs. He’d have to hide his condition but he could do that. He was good at acting.

“My Lord,” Ancel said with a delighted smile. “Come join me.”

Berenger sat down beside him on the settee he was perched on, keeping a careful distance between them. He was, as always, unreadable.

Ancel turned towards him like a flower turning to the sun, plastering himself to Berenger’s side and carefully angling his body to display himself to best effect while hiding his arousal. He could do nothing about his flushed cheeks but hopefully Berenger would think it was just the wine.

Berenger carefully wrapped an arm around Ancel’s waist, the pressure of it shockingly pleasant. So shocking that he let out a small sound like a gasp. It wasn’t loud enough to carry through the room but he could tell Berenger had heard. He looked down into Ancel’s face in surprise, and then he frowned faintly and turned to speak to Lord Droet.

Ancel leaned his head on Berenger’s shoulder, forcing himself to breathe slow and deep. The fabric of Berenger’s ugly brown jacket felt awfully fine against his flushed cheek and he nuzzled into it, slightly. Berenger tightened his hold over his waist.

The aristocrats spoke. Lady Vannes poured hakesh for Lord Droet and his pet with a smirk. Ancel couldn’t pay attention to any of that. His skin was on fire, his cock aching. Berenger was rubbing soothing circles over his hip with his thumb and the slight pressure was blissful. Ancel sighed, trying to match his breathing with the slow sweep of Berenger’s thumb so he wouldn’t hyperventilate. It helped, somewhat, but he couldn’t take this much longer.

How much time had passed? He wasn’t sure if it would be terribly rude to leave. He couldn’t stay. He leaned up and pressed a kiss to the side of Berenger’s neck. When Berenger shivered Ancel did it again, a bit higher up. And then again.

“My Lord,” he murmured into Berenger’s ear, intimate and yet loud enough that everyone would hear. “Won’t you take me to bed? Or must you torture me much longer?”

Berenger swallowed. “Yes,” he said. “We’d better go.”

Lady Vannes laughed, the powerful sound of it rocking through the room. Ancel could feel it rumbling through his very bones and had to shut his eyes, hiding his face against Berenger’s chest so they wouldn’t see the way he was panting.

He needed to get himself together. He could do it. He was in control.

When Berenger stood, he kept his arm around Ancel’s waist and it was easy enough to angle his body away from the others in the room so they couldn’t see he was roused.

“Good night,” Berenger said.

“I’m sure it will be,” Lady Vannes said.

Ancel didn’t say anything and didn’t know if anyone else did either. His ears were ringing and Berenger was solid against him, steady. If it weren’t for his arm around Ancel’s waist he wouldn’t have been able to make it out into the corridor.

Somehow, they walked.

“Are you alright?” Berenger asked quietly once they were alone.

“I’m drunk,” Ancel lied. It was better than admitting he’d allowed himself to be drugged with some unknown aphrodisiac. For the first time he considered how it would reflect upon Berenger, to have his pet running around with someone else behind his back.

He’d be forced to turn Ancel out in disgrace, publicly. The scandal would follow Berenger for years. Courtiers would gossip about how Lord Berenger hadn’t been able to keep a paid pet, a glorified whore, loyal to him. They’d speculate that he was too poor or stiff to provide proper gifts, or maybe that he was impotent, or only liked women, or maybe that he was cruel in bed or finished too quickly. He’d be the laughingstock of Arles. His business contacts would suffer-

Ancel shivered as he considered the fate they’d both just narrowly avoided. He felt faint with more than the drug. If Berenger knew how close Ancel had come to ruining him he might just end their contract anyway. After all the work Ancel had done to be useful to him, Berenger would think him a brainless whore, a liability. It was too horrible to contemplate.

Thankfully Berenger stayed silent until they returned to their quarters.

“Good night,” Ancel said, pulling away from him. Somehow he managed not to stumble as he walked to his bedroom and closed the door.

He felt hot tears rising to his eyes as he took in the luxurious quarters. He tried to tell himself that he was fine. Nothing had happened. But that didn’t matter. He felt dirty, brought low.

Lord Droet had thought to use him without paying. Even as a cheap whore in Sanpelier he could expect a few coppers in return for a tumble. But Droet had wanted to simply take him like he was some stable boy, a quick fuck like he was nothing.

Ancel wanted to rip off his clothes and jewelry, he wanted to scream and break every fine thing in this room. It meant nothing, if others still saw him as something base and low, a quick fuck to be taken at whim.

But he wasn’t a whore anymore. He was a Lord’s pet in the royal court at Arles. He wouldn’t be used and thrown away. He wouldn’t.

Ancel sat at his dressing table and carefully took off his jewelry, putting it all away with shaking hands. He sobbed as he unclasped the fine emerald necklace and set it down, as he took off his earrings and smoothed the braids from his hair. He’d been so happy to get the jewels. He’d thought it meant he was worth something, and that everyone would see and know as such. But clearly there were still people who thought he was worthless.

Men took what they thought was on offer. He wasn’t on offer like that, never had been. He tried to tell himself this was good. The pet had felt threatened, and so he’d-

Ancel let his face fall into his hands, weeping quietly. His body was aching. His skin was on fire. He wasn’t used to feeling like this.

He almost missed the knock on the door, but he didn’t miss the sound of it being pushed open. He swallowed and didn’t turn as he schooled his voice into something calm. He amazed even himself at how steady he sounded when he said-

“Can I help you, my Lord?”

“Ancel,” Berenger said quietly.

“I’d really prefer to be alone just now,” Ancel said, a faint tremor entering his tone.

“Can I make sure you’re alright first?”

“I’m fine.”

“Ancel. Look at me.”

Ancel shook his head. He couldn’t let Berenger see him like this. He might like boring boys in plain shirts but he wouldn’t want to see Ancel disheveled with smudged paint running down his face, with red eyes and a snotty nose.

Of course Berenger had to be impossible, as usual. His steady footsteps came closer until he was kneeling beside Ancel’s chair and drawing his hands away from his face.

Ancel stared back at him, feeling utterly defeated. But Berenger was just as steady as usual as he brought Ancel’s hands up to his lips and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.

“Do you know what they slipped you?” Berenger asked.

“You’re not angry?” Ancel asked in a pathetically small voice.

“I’m very angry. Not at you. You were clever to call for Vannes. I’m proud of you.”

Ancel sniffled again, quietly. He had no idea how to deal with the storm of emotion raging through him.

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” Berenger said with painful gentleness before standing and drawing Ancel over to the bed. There was a pitcher of water on his nightstand along with a large bowl and a washcloth. They hadn’t been there before, Berenger must have brought them.

Ancel felt a strange tender feeling uncurling in his heart as Berenger bid him to sit on the edge of the bed and poured water over the cloth. He tilted Ancel’s face up with warm calloused fingers before bringing the cloth up to wash the smudged paint away. Berenger was gentle with him. It was a rare thing for anyone to be gentle with him.

Normally Ancel would have scoffed at the tenderness, but now he found he needed it like he needed air. Berenger swiped the cloth over his skin like he was precious, priceless. Ancel needed that too, the reassurance that there was someone still who thought he was worth something.

“Do you feel dizzy?”

“More hot than dizzy,” Ancel said. “A little… foggy, maybe.”

Berenger nodded, rinsing the cloth and bringing it back to drag over Ancel’s neck, his shoulders. The cool water felt amazing over his overheated skin.

“It sounds like an Akielon pleasure drug,” Berenger said and Ancel closed his eyes, feeling Berenger’s voice washing over him perhaps even more viscerally than the cloth. “You’ll be alright.”

“You’ll ruin my silks,” Ancel said wryly as Berenger continued to bathe him, moving on to his chest.

“I’ll buy you new ones,” Berenger said.

“Better ones,” Ancel said petulantly.

“Better ones,” Berenger agreed.

Ancel shifted so that his garment slipped off one shoulder as if by accident. The slide of silk over overheated skin felt decadent, the cool breeze made him shiver.

“I know this trick already,” Berenger said, but he sounded a little breathless. Ancel looked at him through lowered lashes, surprised to see him blushing. It works on me, he’d said.

Berenger looked up to catch him watching and something in his eyes shuttered. “I should go,” he said.

“Don’t,” Ancel said, surprised at his own desperation as he grabbed the lapel of Berenger’s jacket.

“Ancel,” Berenger said, oddly pained.

“Stay,” Ancel said, searching for the right thing to say to get what he wanted. “I’m scared.”

“Ancel,” Berenger said, sternly.

Ancel sighed, annoyed. “I’m not scared,” he admitted. He wasn’t scared now that he was safe. “But I’m on fire and I don’t- I’m not used to- I just.” He flushed. “I want-” but he didn’t know quite what he wanted. “It felt nice. With the- the cloth. You could stay. And do that some more.”

“Alright,” Berenger said. Ancel blinked at him in surprise. He hadn’t really thought- 

“Lie down,” Berenger said, and Ancel scooted back so he was laid out in bed. He didn’t have to think about arranging his limbs in a languid seductive sprawl, one knee teasingly up to hide his hard cock, arms arranged above his head as if inviting a lover to hold him down by the wrists, to climb on top, to take him.

“Are you comfortable?” Berenger asked dryly.

“Very,” Ancel lied. It was an effort but he let his muscles loosen until his pose was not quite so studied. Berenger nodded to himself a little before sitting beside him. He poured water over the cloth and wrung it out, and then pressed it to Ancel’s forehead for a moment before dragging it down his neck.

Ancel let out a shuddering sigh and closed his eyes. He let his head fall back to show off his long neck to best advantage and then realized what he was doing and laughed a little, and shifted into something more comfortable.

His breathing came fast as Berenger continued, his heart pounding in his chest. It was strange to be… attended like this. That was his role, as the pet. But Berenger had never been exactly normal at the best of times. It figured he’d enjoy something like this. Ancel wasn’t sure anymore if what he felt was a result of the drug or if it was what Berenger was doing.

His clothing fell open over his hips and it was only belatedly that he realized Berenger had pulled open the tie at his waist, and then the cool washcloth was dipping further, over his stomach until it was pressed to his groin, his cock.

Ancel’s breath stuttered in his throat as his hips bucked up involuntarily. The cool touch, the pressure was such an unbearable relief. He grabbed Berenger’s arm in case the bastard thought to stop.


“Fuck,” Ancel managed. “Do that again.”

“Alright,” Berenger said, shakily. There was desire in his voice. Maybe he thought Ancel was too lost to hear it. Maybe he simply couldn’t hide it anymore. Either way the thought of it pleased Ancel almost as much as the emeralds had.

“Kiss me while I touch myself,” Ancel demanded, opening his eyes to see the way Berenger flushed. With some shock he realized Berenger was about to refuse. Idiot.

Ancel took him by the collar and dragged him downwards, wrapping an arm around his neck to keep him close. He groaned at the first press of lips against lips, an ugly sound of desire that wasn’t fake. At another time he might have chastised himself, tried for something prettier, but he couldn’t think with Berenger against him.

He opened his mouth, another demand, and Berenger deepened the kiss at last. He was steady, like the last time. But there was a wildness in it too. And his hand, holding the damp washcloth, was still pressed to Ancel’s cock. Ancel pushed it away so he could take himself in hand, groaning in bliss- another ugly sound that Berenger swallowed like he was hungry for it.

Ancel didn’t touch himself often. There never seemed to be much point in it if it wasn’t for a performance. He’d given plenty of hand jobs before, but thanks to Berenger’s prudish tendencies that had been a long time ago. He wasn’t quite sure how to go about it on himself. He started with a tight hold, a quick pace. It felt good but it wasn’t quite right, and he pulled away from Berenger’s mouth to pant, frowning.

“Slower,” Berenger said, his voice dark and low in his ear. “Not so tight.”

“You’re going to tell me how to touch myself?” Ancel asked, surprised at how the thought of it made his blood boil with lust. It seemed easier to think of it as something he was doing to please Berenger, a show. It was a strange comfort, something he was used to.

“Would you like that?” Berenger asked curiously.

“I’m actually quite good at these things,” Ancel said. “It’s my job.”


Ancel bit his lip. “Yes,” he said at last. “I think I- yes, tell me.”

“Slow down,” Berenger instructed, stroking Ancel’s heaving chest with one of his hands. His fingers were cool and still a little damp. He left Ancel’s skin tingling in the wake of his touch. “Start easy, with a loose grip.”

Ancel did what he was told and somehow it didn’t feel like a performance. During a performance the audience would be watching his hand on his cock. Berenger was watching his face.

“Twist a little on the upstroke, stroke the slit with your thumb.”

Ancel hissed in surprise.

“You like that,” Berenger said, his breath hot against Ancel’s ear. “Do it again, slower.”

“You have a mouth like a whore,” Ancel said, because the alternative was keep going, talk to me, don’t stop.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Berenger said and kissed him, hot and deep. He kept talking after, whispering into Ancel’s ear, setting the pace. He was in control, as he should be, and Ancel felt dizzy with how good it was.

“You’re close,” Berenger said at last. “Come for me.”

Ancel cried out, no doubt screwing his face up into something hideous as he came. His silks really would be ruined now.

He panted, expecting to feel like he was coming down from the heat, expecting to feel relief. He only felt more unsteady, like the heat had ratcheted up a few more degrees. He was still hard.

“It didn’t help,” he whined. “It didn’t- it’s worse now-”

“Alright,” Berenger said. “I can- I’ll help you. Alright?”

“Don’t you dare fucking touch me while you’re wearing that hideous jacket,” Ancel said, like it made any sense. Like he hadn’t been letting- wanting- Berenger to touch him this whole time. He felt untethered, like the room was spinning around him. It felt good to lash out a little to try and grab some control.

Berenger stood to take off the jacket. Ancel took the opportunity of his distraction to wipe at the mess he’d made of himself with a corner of the sheet, then threw his forearm over his face with a wince. “It’s too bright in here,” he complained. Berenger put out most of the lamps. It felt safer once it was darker. Ancel wasn’t in control, at least if it was dark Berenger wouldn’t see all the ugly undignified faces he was making.

“Well?” Ancel demanded, spreading his legs pointedly when Berenger just stood, looking at him.

“You’re so beautiful,” Berenger said, settling on the bed between his thighs.

“I know I am,” Ancel said. “Now would you fuck me already?”

Berenger braced himself over him and kissed him for a long while. It wasn’t the first time Ancel was mostly nude and kissing a fully-dressed man. But it was the first time the man was wearing a simple linen shirt and soft trousers rather than cheap scratchy fabrics, or clothes rough with ornamentation and beading and laces. He could feel the powerful lines of Berenger against him, his trim waist and muscled torso, his long thighs. He couldn’t help rutting against Berenger above him. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Berenger seemed to like it.

“Please,” Ancel whispered. He was used to whispering things like that, but this time he meant it. “Come on. Please- Berenger-”

Berenger seemed in no hurry so Ancel hissed in annoyance and dragged his shirt off, pausing for a moment to laugh when it got caught around Berenger’s shoulders. But then it was off and lost in the sheets and Berenger kissed him again. That time it was skin against skin and Ancel moaned, arching up towards him. He could feel Berenger’s hard cock against his thigh and it felt like victory.

He moved a little to press against it harder and Berenger pulled back from their kiss with a small bit-off sound. He didn’t go far, just took a breath and dipped his head down to trail kisses down Ancel’s neck and over his collarbones. He swiped his tongue over Ancel’s nipple, and when it tightened he took it into his mouth.

Ancel knew he should pretend to like it, but it tickled so he laughed. Berenger pulled back to look at him with a smile over his face.

“What do you like?” Berenger asked.

“What you like,” Ancel said. It was a lie that told the truth. Sex had never been about what he liked, and as a result he had no idea. But he knew he liked making his owners pleased. Though Berenger didn’t seem like an owner just now. Hadn’t for a while.

He expected one of Berenger’s moral crises of honor, just then. He was prepared for it. He wasn’t prepared for Berenger to smirk, and say-

“Tease. I’ll have to figure it out on my own, I suppose.”

He pressed more kisses to Ancel’s heaving chest and over his stomach, and then he took Ancel’s cock in his mouth and Ancel’s world whited out.

Ancel grabbed for the sheets to try and center himself, shocked that Berenger would- that anyone would-

He was a pet. No one- no one had ever-

He groaned, a hitching desperate sound as he fought to catch his breath. Berenger’s mouth was hot and wet around him, tight as he sucked on the upstroke. He dragged his tongue over the bottom of Ancel’s cock and licked at the slit before sinking back down, wrapping his fist around the bottom of Ancel’s cock where he couldn’t quite reach with his mouth. His other arm was draped over Ancel’s stomach, heavy and immovable, and it was only distantly that Ancel realized his hips were hitching like he was trying to thrust up, bury himself deeper into Berenger’s mouth.

“Fuck,” Ancel breathed out. “You shouldn’t- this isn’t-” And then he was moaning again and he couldn’t think straight and Berenger was sucking him.

The slick sounds were absolutely obscene. Was this what it felt like, when Ancel did this to other men? No wonder they paid for it, wanted it-

“Berenger,” Ancel moaned when he did something amazing with his tongue, his lips. All of it was amazing.

Berenger didn’t seem to be in a rush, and still Ancel felt himself hurtling towards climax from the painfully transgressive thing they were doing. Berenger was a Lord, and Ancel was a country bumpkin, an upstart, a whore, and- and-

“Berenger!” Ancel cried out when he sped up. His thighs fell open wider and his fingers were aching from holding so tightly to the sheets. “I- I’m going to- wait, I-”

But Berenger didn’t stop, and Ancel sobbed out a last desperate plea before he was spilling while Berenger’s lips were still wrapped tight around him.

He expected disgust, anger. In retrospect he should have known better.

Berenger sucked him through the aftershocks, and then pulled off, and swallowed.

Ancel stared at him, wide-eyed. “You-”

Berenger didn’t even seem particularly affected.

“You- pervert,” Ancel said in shock. Berenger let out a startled laugh. And then they were laughing together and Ancel still couldn’t quite believe it. He’d never heard Berenger sound so happy. “You’re welcome to suck my cock any time you like, my Lord,” Ancel simpered, grabbing Berenger by the face to pull him back into a kiss.

“You taste disgusting,” he muttered, as he tasted the bitter salt of his own spend in Berenger’s mouth.

“You don’t,” Berenger said, still smiling against Ancel’s lips.

And that was just- ridiculous. What a ridiculous thing to say. Ancel’s heart fluttered in his chest and it was probably because of the drugs. And how warm he felt- that was because of the drugs too.

They kissed for a long while until Ancel’s erection started to feel insistent once again and he groaned, letting his head fall back against the pillows.

“This Akielon drug is quite… annoying,” he said.

“I can use my mouth again,” Berenger whispered into his ear, like a promise. “Would you like that?”

“Yes, obviously,” Ancel said, and grabbed Berenger’s arm to stop him from sliding back down his body. “But I’d prefer if you took off your pants and finally fucked me.”

“Really?” Berenger asked.

Ancel flushed, suddenly unsure. He’d never particularly enjoyed it, before. With anyone else. But Berenger wasn’t anyone else. He had a strange wild thought that maybe, with Berenger, it might feel different.

“You want to,” Ancel said, because saying the truth felt too dangerous. “I want you to.”

“I’m not sure-”

“Do it,” Ancel insisted.

“If you don’t like it, I’ll stop,” Berenger said, very seriously. He didn’t say tell me if you don’t like it and I’ll stop. He spoke like he knew Ancel better than he knew himself and somehow that was exactly right. 

Ancel nodded.

Together they stripped Ancel of the silks he was still tangled up in, and then they stripped Berenger of the rest of his clothes too.

“Lie down on your side,” Berenger said, reaching for the oil on the nightstand.

Ancel did as he was told, shivering as Berenger moved to slot up behind him, and pushed one of his legs up, and stroked his entrance with oiled fingers.

No owner or client had ever prepared him before. Ancel had always been the one to do it, and then it had been done by servants.

“I can-” Ancel said.

“I want to,” Berenger breathed out, and nipped at his ear, and pushed a finger inside.

Ancel let out a shuddering breath, closing his eyes. The sensation was familiar. It felt like it always did, and nothing like it at all. He was too aware of his body, of Berenger’s body, of the sheets and the flickering lamp light and the heat pooling in his belly.

Berenger pushed into him slowly, opening him up, kissing the back of his neck. He added another finger and Ancel quivered around him, not quite used to this after all this time. He panted into the pillows and gripped the sheets and pushed back into Berenger’s touch as he thrust inside with two fingers, and then three.

It felt tight, and full, and good. Berenger spent a long time fucking him with his fingers and Ancel didn’t have the presence of mind anymore to tell him to hurry up already. Some immeasurable amount of time passed in a haze of wet gasps, and pleasure, and Berenger’s mouth sucking kisses against his neck and the backs of his shoulders. And then Berenger was finally shifting and pushing inside with his cock.

Ancel screwed his eyes shut, lost in the strange pleasure of it. He’d been right. This felt nothing like the other times. This felt good.

Berenger moved inside him, slow and easy. His oil-slick hand was gripping Ancel tight by the hip and distantly Ancel was aware of the quiet sounds falling from his lips as Berenger fucked him. It was like no fucking he’d ever experienced. It was making love.

Berenger slipped his hand around to stroke Ancel’s cock in time with his languid thrusts and Ancel was lost to pleasure, too gone to care about making the right sounds and striking the right pose, making it look good. There was no one to make it look good for, only the two of them.

His climax stole upon him slowly, sweet and inevitable. It was different the third time around, without urgency. It was like swimming in a cool pond, simple and perfect. Relief.

Ancel came with a quiet gasp and Berenger fucked him through it. When his trembling stilled it was to realize that Berenger was breathing slowly against his ear and his cock was soft against the back of Ancel’s thigh.

“Did you…?” Ancel gathered himself enough to ask. But he could feel the evidence of Berenger’s climax trickling out of him and flushed, turning his face into the pillow.

“Yes,” Berenger laughed. “Are you…?”

“Finished for now?” Ancel asked dryly. “I can only hope.”

He felt oddly full, still. Like he was floating. He didn’t bother moving as Berenger rose and got the cloth and cleaned him up just as tenderly as before.

“Stay with me,” Ancel murmured. “I don’t want to be alone.”

“Alright,” Berenger said. He gathered Ancel in his arms, and stayed.



Ancel woke slowly, sore and sleepy and satisfied. He opened his eyes to find he was in his rooms and Berenger’s bare chest was under his face. His skin was warm and smooth, the air smelling faintly of sex. Ancel looked up and saw that Berenger was watching him uncertainly.

“Ancel,” Berenger said, very carefully.

He looked so scared. He probably thought he’d done something wrong last night, even though it had been exactly what Ancel had wanted for so long. Ancel considered playing it up, just to tease. But Berenger looked so distraught that Ancel couldn’t do that to him.

Instead he laughed.

“Ancel,” Berenger said with a tone of reproach. Ancel laughed harder.

“You look like a lost little lamb,” Ancel murmured once he’d settled. He suddenly felt very brave as he cradled Berenger’s face in his hands and leaned forward to kiss him.

Berenger only hesitated a moment before kissing back. Ancel moaned against him, a carefully constructed sound meant to entice.

“Stop that,” Berenger muttered.

Ancel pulled back to look at him, feeling strangely fond. “Look at you,” Ancel said with a smile. “Suddenly so afraid after you came to me last night, knowing I was under the influence of some pleasure drug. As if you didn’t plan to-”

“I didn’t,” Berenger said, sounding offended. “I-”

“Yes?” Ancel asked, folding his arms on Berenger’s chest and setting his chin over them to look down at him with an indulgent smile. “What did you come here for last night, my Lord?”

“To- to give you a gift,” Berenger said, oddly bashful. “I thought to make you feel better. I thought to make you feel… precious.”

Ancel flushed at the thought, and then pushed himself up to sit. “A gift?” he asked, excited.

“Yes,” Berenger said, not meeting his eyes. “It’s in the pocket of my hideous jacket.”

Ancel laughed and climbed off the bed, wincing only a little at the ache inside him. His eyes caught on Berenger’s plain white shirt, tangled in the sheets. He pulled it on to cover his nakedness. It was too large on him, the sleeves falling past his wrists and the hem falling to mid-thigh. He buttoned a few buttons, just enough to preserve his modesty- what little of it there was.

He didn’t need a looking glass to know his hair was a glorious tangle and angled himself in front of a window so his hair was limned in golden morning light. He struck a purposefully casual pose- debauched fiery country youth in a plain white shirt, triumphant.

Berenger’s eyes widened.

“You’re too easy,” Ancel teased, overwhelmed with happiness. And then he practically skipped over to Berenger’s jacket and searched through the pockets before he found a small velvet box.

He was giddy as he came back to bed and sat on his knees as Berenger pushed himself up.

“Well?” Ancel asked, shoving the box towards him. “Give me a gift.”

Berenger seemed equally exasperated and charmed by Ancel’s antics. He took the box for a moment before wordlessly offering it back.

Ancel opened it, gasping as he saw a pair of fine diamond earrings.

“Diamonds,” he breathed out. He’d never had diamonds before. He picked up one of the earrings and held it out so the sunlight caught it. It was so brilliant that Ancel found himself mesmerized. Just the one earring was finer than any jewels he had, and now he had two.

Ancel put them on and tilted his head so they’d catch the light. Now he was- debauched fiery country youth in a plain white shirt, triumphant in diamond earrings.

“These must have cost a fortune,” Ancel said.

“They did,” Berenger said, tucking a lock of red hair behind Ancel’s ear with a small smile.

Unexpectedly Ancel felt his heart seize in his chest. Berenger was embroiled in some plot to back the Prince against the Regent. It was- serious. Important. He shouldn’t be spending his money like this. Not when he could be spending it on stupid boring things, like smelly horses, and equipment, and ugly jackets.

“Don’t you like them?” Berenger asked with a faint frown.

“I love them,” Ancel said, taking his hands and holding them close to his beating heart. “It’s just… I think I look so much better in emeralds.”

Berenger seemed uncertain but Ancel could see the slowly dawning realization in his eyes. Ancel wasn’t just a pet. This wasn’t just for show.

“Yes,” Berenger said at last, a wide unguarded smile playing over his lips. Ancel’s heart skipped a beat. “You do look very fine in emeralds.”

Without even trying, Berenger was the perfect picture of a love-drunk lord, resplendent over mussed satin sheets. His muscular chest was rising and falling a little faster than usual, his hands trembling faintly. The moment stretched into something dangerous and Ancel pressed forward to kiss his lips, his cheeks, his nose.

“I want cake for breakfast,” Ancel breathed out. “And then I want your mouth again. And then I want to ride your cock, and then I want new silks. And then we can go walk through the gardens, and then have luncheon with Lady Vannes, and-”

“Yes,” Berenger whispered, and, “yes,” and “yes,” and “yes.”