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A Kingdom for you and me

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A skeleton stared back at him without an ounce of sympathy.

Stretch listened to the muffled chatter through the doors — someone was talking, some ones. Discussing his future, perhaps? Though, by this point it was set in stone. He wasn’t mad about it, a little bummed, maybe annoyed, but he wasn’t mad per say.

It took too much energy to be mad, anyway.

His eyes slid shut as he thought back on the events that lead up to this moment.

First and foremost, the war. That was its own messy situation Stretch really couldn’t bring himself to untangle. Long story short some kingdom by the name of Swapfell got greedy and wanted more land so they began attacking any kingdom they could. Conquer the world vibes, check. 

Secondly, his own kingdom wasn’t exactly made to fight — sure, they could hold their own, but against a growing kingdom like Swapfell? They were impressed they’d lasted this long. So of course, that lead to negotiations being made with the kingdom nearest to them: The Fell Kingdom.

Which brought him to his last point, the Fell kingdom wasn’t the most trustworthy of others — nor were others particularly trustworthy of it. It was a powerful kingdom, one even Swapfell itself didn’t dare take on… so naturally, Swap had requested some sort of protection…

With the lack of trust, they couldn’t just agree and had to have something that they could be certain would keep Swap in line, and would let Swap be at least at ease enough to know they wouldn’t be abandoned. 

A marriage.

Now obviously it couldn’t be just anyone, and considering how young the king was and the fact that Stretch was an only child of royalty, a skeleton, which also meant he’d be able to allow the Fell royal line to continue...

Yeah, he was the only choice.

It was… alright. He doubted the king was jumping for joy about hitching someone like him, so maybe they could just ignore each other and allow their kingdoms to settle. Regardless of what he thought on the matter, his father had one discussion with him before ultimately deciding this was for the best.

Well, it wasn’t like Stretch was planning to argue for his freedom or anything. Really.

Anyway, with that settled his father had decided on a date and everything, how generous. So here he was, in traditional wedding attire after some monsters had fixed him up to look all pretty and perfect for future husband dearest. He was half tempted to tear the piece to shreds, but that would cost more energy than it was worth. 

Besides… this was for the sake of his people.

His eyes opened again.

The veil covered his face, but was transparent enough for one to know there was a face behind it at all. The dress (robe?) in general was made of whites and pale orange- almost peachy colours… and yet, the biggest contrast of the subtle yet extremely obvious black and red combo dancing around the outfit. 

The second he’d stepped foot into the kingdom, the amount of black and red practically drained the very soul within him right out. It was painful to look around, even in an attempt to distract himself he’d see the god forsaken colour combination one way or another. On the walls, the curtains, the clothes. Lord almighty did Fell monsters not know any other colours existed?

It definitely made him stand out.

He jolted as he heard the door click open, and he looked through the reflection of the mirror — his father walked in with his fancy attire. He was smiling.

It was strained.

“Ah, look at you, Stretch.” He made his way over to the younger skeleton, before resting his hands on top of the delicate shoulders and squeezing them. “Can’t believe you’ve grown so much..”

“That’s what I’d like to say.” The skeleton grit his teeth, then seating himself next to Stretch. “But… no, I don’t think this was a particularly fair growth.”

“Meh.” Stretch shrugged as he played with the ends of the veil. “War isn’t fair, we’re just doing what we can to make it as fair as possible — if I’m the only one who can do that, then it’d be pretty unfair if I didn’t take the chance.”

“Perhaps.” His father chuckled, before reaching under the veil and pinching Stretch’s cheek. “But I’d rather it have been a choice.”

“Did you see him?” Stretch swiftly changed the subject, turning away from his father’s dual coloured eyes. Orange and blue, that’s what he always saw. Orange and blue, orange and blue, and two clean cracks on the skull — one of which caused the orange eye to constantly get droopy. “Is he as charming as they all say?”

His father watched him for just a few seconds, before returning his arm to his side and facing the floor. Gaze tracing each pattern he was met with, a contemplative expression ever present on his face.

“Well, charming isn’t the word I’d use.”

“Great.”

“But I bet you’d at least be physically attracted to him- did you know that even the skeletons here have sharp teeth? He’s got fangs, Stretch, isn’t that the wildest thing?”

“Well,” Stretch winced. “I sure hope he doesn’t bite my face off in the middle of the wedding, then.”

“That would be unfortunate.”

“I’d never be able to face you.”

“I wouldn’t think so, n- wait.” His father faltered, before turning his gaze over to Stretch — who was doing a pretty bad job of pretending not to be in the least amused. “Did you just-?”

And with that, Stretch burst into a childish laughter, and his father was doing his very best to hold back his pained screaming. “I can’t believe you, Stretch! Minutes before the wedding begins and you’re punning.”

“You’ll never be able to repress the real me, dad.”

“I hope your husband hates puns as much as I do.”

“Why would you want to curse me like that? If he hates puns I’m blaming you.”

“The horror.”

With a shared laugh, the heavy atmosphere began to creep back in and settle. It was light and refreshing, just for a moment, before the reality of the situation came back to remind him just what was waiting for him in a few minutes…

He couldn’t believe it was so soon, it felt like it was just yesterday when his father had shared the news.

 


 

Stretch honestly wasn’t doing anything that exciting, or at least he personally didn’t think so. Bones circled around his body of either white or blue, others around him moving in certain patterns — what those patterns were, it didn’t matter. They never stayed the same for long, anyway.

It was usually him with his father or a friend, but recently things had been a little stressful with the negotiations and the war. Stretch wasn’t sure what was more nerve wracking. Regardless, because of both these things his friends didn’t have the free time to spare to use on him — which was fine, he never really forced them to spend time with him, he just felt a bit deprived of socialisation is all.

His concentration broke when the doors opened, and he hurriedly had the bones disappear before his father poked his head through.

“Stretch?” He called out, and Stretch easily looked over his shoulder and gave his father the usual lazy grin.

“Hey dad, how’d the meeting go?”

“Ah, well, very well, um…” he squirmed in place, before stepping into the room and seating himself nearby. “Did.. did you know the King is actually your age? Shame he had to take the responsibility so soon- uh, he’s quite a dashing fellow-“

“Dad.” He cut him off, a sinking feeling in his chest. “Don’t joke around, you made a deal didn’t you?”

He grew quiet. The two skeletons didn’t break the stare, both refusing to back down and yet also desperate for a sign of something- anything else. 

There was nothing.

His father let out a single laugh, pained and distressed, and the tears started and wouldn’t stop. Stretch watched, unable to move, his face looking both frightened and concerned.

His father rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face, and shakily breathed out.

“I’m sorry...”

 


 

Really, he didn’t blame his father. 

From what his father was able to deduce, his fiancé was a serious man and didn’t play around with his role as King. So there goes the fun in his life, or maybe it’d be amplified if this guy was more interested in doing the work half, so then Stretch could do entertainment.

Or maybe he was screwed either way.

“Well…” His father stood, and extended a hand for Stretch to hold. The younger skeleton took it, before being brought to a gentle hug. “Just know… the kingdom and I will forever be grateful to you.”

Stretch didn’t say anything, just let out a sigh and returned the hug. His father had always been full of warm magic, and Stretch never wanted to let go of the safe, secure blanket that had protected him from the moment he’d been brought to this world.

And yet here he was, taking a step back.

“Well, let’s go, I wouldn’t want to keep fiance dearest waiting.”

Another strained smile. Would it really kill his father to give him a real one so Stretch could hold it to memory? Maybe he should’ve appreciated the previous smiles when he had the chance. Oh well.

His father bent his arm, just enough for Stretch to hold onto it. Almost clinging had he had any less self control.

They exit the room.

The dark, looming walls felt crushing. The heavy air pressed down against his soul, and he almost ran back inside the room. Cold feet? Not quite, but really he didn’t feel much of a “Welcome!” vibe from this place. Haha… aren’t weddings supposed to be the happiest day of your life?

The hold on his father’s arm tightened, and Stretch lowered his gaze. There was no one else around, and yet Stretch felt the prick of eyes on his back — unwavering predators waiting to feast at the right moment. A moment where Stretch and his father put their guard down for a split second-

He looked behind him. No one was there.

A shudder down his spine as he continued to follow his father down the looming halls, focusing his attention back ahead of them. No one was there, Stretch, there’s nothing to be paranoid over.

Gods, just the atmosphere in this place had him nervous. Or maybe it really was cold feet.

Large, double doors glared — and he found himself glaring back. Just behind these doors awaited the beast that would snatch away his freedom faster than Stretch could ever hope for. Stretch couldn’t put a face to this beast, so all he could picture was some horrendous creature that had the power to snap his neck.

A face wasn’t the only thing Stretch couldn’t put to this man. His glare dropped and instead a horrific realisation dawned on him.

What was his name?

He’d been referred to as a “man” and a “skeleton” and a “monster”. 

“Wait,” he faltered, snapping his head towards his father — eyes blown wide with panic. “Wait, dad-“

“King, Prince.” A monster - an anthropomorphic deer, from what Stretch could deduce - squeezed through the door, their cruel eyes staring directly into them. With the addressing, his father paid him no mind as he greeted the monster. It nodded to them both. “The wedding is ready, are you?”

Am I ready?

No, heavens no, Stretch wasn’t ready at all. He felt sick to the very stomach he didn’t have, and anything he’d consumed prior was threatening to lurch back out. He wanted to turn his heel and run, perhaps teleport, surely they wouldn’t be able to catch him if he kept teleporting? But how long would that go for before he was caught? Before he passed out?

Was his father nodding? Was he saying yes? To being ready? Oh, oh no, no no… this wasn’t good, Stretch felt dizzy- lightheaded, he needed to sit- needed somewhere to rest-

He felt his father stabilise him, they shared a few more words before the monster stepped back into the room. Stretch inhaled sharply and tried to step back — his father moved in front of him and gripped his arms.

“Stretch, look at me.”

He felt his body shaking violently, and yet almost didn’t feel it at all. Heavy gasps rasped through him, and his father soon brushed the veil aside — cool air rushed in and hit his face, and almost all at once it felt so much lighter.

“Stretch…” his father soothed, rubbing his tear stained cheeks lightly with a napkin. “I know you’re scared- I know this was sudden and the lack of rehearsal isn’t ideal… but you need to remember that once this is over you and your husband will be off to bed and you can put this behind you- the sooner you go in, the sooner you go out.”

The sooner you go in, the sooner you go out.

That alone was enough for Stretch to ground himself- luckily the panic wasn’t bad this time, just a minor shock, he easily brought himself back up… 

God forbid this had been one of his bad panics… 

“See? There you go…” his father kissed his forehead and cradled his cheeks. “You’ll be fine… I’ll be with you, okay?”

Unable to bring himself to speak, Stretch nodded weakly. His father brightened, and with one more squeezing hug, he readjusted the veil and made room for his arm. Stretch held it.

The doors opened.

He sucked in a sharp breath, and soon enough the lights poured out into the hallway. A chandelier dangled from the ceiling, and the spacious hall was filled with tables and seats were an endless sea of monsters stood around respectfully. The left side full of Fell monsters, and the right full of Swap…

The innocent and youthful colours of Swap clashed in the strangest of ways with the dark and brooding colours of Fell. It was almost mesmerising.

Almost. Because at the moment it just made Stretch dizzy.

Still recovering from the earlier shock, Stretch pushed himself forward and held his head high and the closer he got, the more detailed the man at the other end was.

The man… his fiancé. His future husband.

This is their first meeting.

He stepped in front of the skeleton, eyes carefully low. From what he could see the guy was wearing the typical black and red, but there were subtle oranges and whites- opposite to his own outfit.

The way he stood was like that of a proud warrior, even though Stretch refused to look into his eyes. Or his face. Would like to avoid that as much as he could help. 

“Monsters of Fell and Swap.”

Heaven forbid his father was making a speech.

“A marriage thought previously unheard of, a Fell and a Swap, both these skeletons will learn to grow and love each other as time moves forwards — and will bring a new era of peace between our kingdoms.”

His father sounded far too confident in that last part. It wasn’t a guaranteed peace- in fact there won't be peace unless Swapfell somehow left or was taken down. All Swap can do is hope Fell is strong enough to keep them safe. It almost frustrated him, but by this point Stretch just couldn’t wait to greet his bed.

“We are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of Edge and Stretch in marriage.

“I am proud as both a king, and a father, that my son has taken this opportunity in order to help my Kingdom settle, and to allow the royal line of Fell to continue.”

I’m so proud that my son’s gonna get knocked up by a stranger! 

Thanks, Dad. Stretch pouted, only to quickly fix up his expression and tense as the man before him suddenly turned to face him. He had definitely been looking away, he could tell from the subtle turn of his chin.

Lord let this end.

At least he learned the guy’s name! And just in time for their wedding, too.

“May their marriage come with years of happiness and love… please, allow me to recite your vows.”

Vows?

Vows.

Right.

“Do you both, Edge Fellverse and Stretch Swapverse, take each other to be husbands — to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward till death do you part?”

“I do.”

Stretch almost jumped out of his bones at the voice — deep, rough and yet so incredibly soothing. Stretch didn’t know whether he hated or loved that this was the first thing he heard him say.

It was silent.

Stretch had to say it. He had to…

He was still behind the veil, and that was the only thing keeping him from cracking. Normally he’d have thought Fell traditions were strange for not unveiling the bride until the newlyweds were alone — but he supposed this was some sort of possessive act. Regardless, he couldn’t believe how grateful he was for it.

“I…” he swallowed, losing himself for a moment. “I… I do.”

And with that, his freedom belonged to Edge Fellverse.

 


 

The doors of the bedroom closed with a soft click.

Stretch was trying so hard not to so much as glance at Edge, but this wasn’t the easiest task when he was in the very arms of said monster. Near the end of the wedding, Edge had literally whisked Stretch off his feet and headed for their room. He had seen his father give an apologetic wave.

Apology not accepted, but at least Stretch didn’t have to walk back. He was…….. bone tired.

Eh?

Eh???

No, this wasn’t a good time.

“Uh- nice bed.” Stretch attempted a conversation, but the attempt was quite pathetic and short lived. “Can I… sleep in it? Haha…”

Please forget the tradition please forget the tradition please forget the-

He was lowered to his feet, and turned to face Edge.

Fuck.

“If I may?” He asked, fingers playing with the ends of the veil.

With no other choice (and because it was getting stuffy under there) Stretch nodded. Edge, with surprisingly gentle fingers, lifted the veil and set it behind his head. Stretch shivered. The rush of cold air was more freezing than refreshing.

Edge ceased movement, probably taking in the sight of his gorgeously flushed and sweaty face. He must be the most attractive being walking this earth. What a lucky fellow, Edge was, to be stuck with someone as lazy and unbearably average as him.

With the silence, Stretch let out an awkward laugh.

“Yeah, sorry I’m not what you were hoping for- uh, probably hoping for something- um- y’know, pretty.”

“Beauty was never something I cared to look out for,” he cut in, and Stretch felt a hand reach up to his face- cradling the cheek and neck. His head tilted up in time to meet the glaringly red eyes of his husband- Stretch’s breath hitched at the sight. “But if you must know… I think you’re breathtaking.”

The gleaming eyes of his husband belonged to a face aged with stress, and yet despite this intimidating presence, Stretch felt strangely safe in it. He found that his father was right, Edge is a dashing fellow and certainly glad that he was, at the very least, not in threat of being murdered by said face. That made it a little easier to sleep at night.

He only had those few precious seconds to take in what Edge had said, before he realised the skeleton had been leaning in.

Unable to react fast enough, Edge kissed him with an almost emotional hold. For a second, it was almost as if Edge was pouring out his heart and soul to Stretch, feeding him with love. Stretch snapped out of the daze.

It was impossible for Edge to love him.

It was just an empty passion, created by the natural reaction of intimacy. He flinched away from the mouth, and Edge looked him in the eye — he didn’t react to the falter otherwise. Stretch swallowed.

“I’m- uh- tired, um…”

“Right.” Edge murmured, before leading him over to the left side of the bed. “The staff have already sorted your clothes, get changed.”

Get changed.

It was a measly comment, something that one would have to be pretty petty if they got upset over it, but… well, sue him, he was petty. It sounded like a demand, and Stretch was half tempted to just sleep in the wedding attire. Unfortunately the only thing stopping him was that it was incredibly uncomfortable and he’d most likely tear it in his sleep.

So, awkwardly, he began uniting the many ribbons holding the dress in place. Ribbon after ribbon, silently loosening the dress — it was going fine, until he felt hands on him.

He tensed and whirled around, fear entering his eyes for a split second — Edge held his hands up in surrender. 

“I just wanted to help you.”

Stretch stared, and his eyes snapped down for a second before looking back up at Edge. He was already dressed. 

Not wanting to make this any more awkward than it had to be, Stretch slowly turned around again and allowed Edge to work through the dress. His mind was desperately trying to make sense of the situation, to think about this logically and not going any other places- his husband was undressing him and that was completely normal and nothing more than sleep should be expected.

The dress slowly slid off him, and he wiggled out as Edge offered the pyjamas to him. He mumbled a thank you as he accepted them and got dressed hurriedly. Trousers had never felt so good. And the almost dress top of the shirt was cosey enough for Stretch to want to sleep in it for all eternity. They were comfortable, and made of silk. The sleeves long enough to just have his fingers poke out - just as he liked it.

But before that, Stretch ducked down to pick up the dress and set it up in the wardrobe. It was very quiet. Too quiet when there was someone else in the room. With the air of uneasiness settling in again, Stretch headed for the bed and laid down. He made note of how Edge copied his motions, and then the first alarm rang in his mind.

Edge put a lot of distance between their bodies.

Now, under normal circumstances Stretch would’ve found this relieving — he liked room, liked having his own space… but this just felt like downright rejection.

But he called me breathtaking.

Maybe that’s all you are to him.

Well, that wasn’t a happy thought right before bed.

So Stretch opted to turn around and face the window nearby — the moonlight shone on his face, a gentle caress that was both welcoming and mocking. He tried to distract himself with thoughts of his home, his friends… of his father.

And just like that, the first drops of tears streamed down. The reality of the situation hit him like a truck — he was in Fell. He was married to a man he didn’t know. He was expected to carry on the royal line… And he knew no one in this kingdom. The loneliness and anxiety of it all settled into his soul, and distress pouring out in waves… a husband behind him that didn’t dare to reach out and comfort him. His body was shaking, he knew, and all he could hope to do was curl into a tighter ball and squeeze his eyes shut, his hand flew up to his mouth in a pathetic attempt to keep quiet.

The other clenched the bed sheets, wrapped around him and yet so, so cold. 

The bed had two monsters on it.

But it had never felt more empty.

 


 

The morning that followed was… decent. Perhaps leaning towards frustrating, but Stretch just let the pain of routine ease out. Normally he liked sleeping in as much as he could, but his dearest Husband seemed to wake up at six in the god forsaken morning. Both a pain in the neck and distracting, the guy shuffled around the room before leaving. Stretch could only assume he’d been getting ready.

He fell back asleep, only to be woken up two hours later by one of the castle staff. Breakfast.

Normal etiquette here was for family to all eat together, that was the norm in basically any other kingdom. Except in Fell, it was considered rude to talk during this time. Which made sitting opposite his husband incredibly awkward. He wanted to wish him a good morning, maybe just say hello but heavens no that’d be rude.

Instead of trying anything, Stretch sleepily ate his food. Edge made no attempt to ask if he liked it or wanted anything else, maybe just ask if he was comfortable. 

Actually, scratch that, Edge didn’t even look at him.

What a great start to the morning.

With breakfast finally done, Edge was the first between them to leave the room. In a rush, it seemed. Or maybe following a schedule… or both. Probably both.

Once he’d left, Stretch found that… he had no idea what to do. New place, new rooms, no idea what he could do or if there were any responsibilities to be held. He hoped not, and yet he also hoped that he would have something to do at least. Spending the day alone didn’t sound at all appealing.

Well, it is the first day, so the first order of business should be to explore. He can’t get things done if he gets lost every three seconds.

With a determined nod, Stretch left his seat and headed out of the room. Where to go first? The castle’s structure was both similar to his home and completely different. The spacious area was something Stretch was used to, but the sheer emptiness of it was not at all a familiar sight. Usually his home would be open and welcome to friends or villagers — obviously certain rooms being inaccessible — but at the very least there was life to be seen in every turn…

And, well… the colours were a bit less gloomy than this.

There wasn’t much to see, honestly, there were rooms that served their function and that was it. The library was large, which was nice to see — at the very least he’d be able to spend time there… but otherwise, the rooms didn’t have much going for them in the decoration department. The miserable look to the place didn’t help Stretch’s mood at all.

It was so quiet.

Stretch had unfortunately gotten himself lost. He blamed it entirely on the lack of decoration and maze like structure, but by this point he was sure he’d ended up in the kitchens at least three times. The staff didn’t offer any help, just gave him these looks that he believed were meant to be sympathetic but only managed to look terrifying. 

He would’ve felt pathetic, had his self worth been any higher than dirt. 

And yet, there was just enough pride in him to keep him from asking for help.

He decided to just look for the bedroom and stay there. This place wasn’t worth getting lost, and the dreary amount of black and red was seriously getting on his nerves — it was such a cliché and evil colour combination Stretch had to wonder if he was in someone’s poorly written story full of stereotypes and-

Ugh, kitchen.

Finally, unable to bear this any longer, Stretch cleared his throat just loud enough to grab the staff’s attention. His face flushed into a pale orange, and Stretch squirmed in place.

“Sorry, um.. new to this place and all, could one of you help me?”

The monsters stared at him, then looked between each other for a few moments, before finally they decided on one. The monster left the room and stepped up to Stretch — they were just a bit shorter than him.

“Yes, my Queen — what is it you need?”

“Could you help me find the b- wait, Queen?”

The monster looked at him, nodding. “Yes, we already have a King, and you’ll be providing an heir for him — so you must be the Queen, no?”

The… he was…?

He really needed that bed.

“Uhm…” he looked away, playing with his hands. “Anyway, could you uh… show me to my bedroom? Sorry for interrupting you, by the way.”

“You are my Queen, so you shouldn’t feel the need to apologise.” The monster said simply, before bowing and taking a step in front of him, leaving Stretch with no choice but to follow. 

It was a quiet walk, no attempt to chat, not even to look back and check if he was still there… just do what you were told, that’s the vibe he got from the staff. No time for pleasantries, even in the presence of royalty- especially in the presence of royalty. It sucked, and Stretch really just wished he could’ve been born in some sort farm-house, that would’ve been fun. Maybe he could’ve even had a brother or sister… female skeletons were rare, though, so maybe just a brother would be more realistic.

Well, living on a farm in general wasn’t realistic in itself.

Before he knew it, they’d reached a door — one that looked like many others- except this happened to be a double door. It signified importance- at least, that’s how it worked in the Fell kingdom.

It was then that Stretch had realised he’d completely daydreamed the entire walk here, and he mentally scowled. He could’ve used this as an opportunity to figure out his bearings. But no, had to let his mind wander.

Forcing out a semi normal sounding thanks, Stretch entered his room and leaned against the door. 

That… had been exhausting.

Okay, so not only did he not have a good understanding of the castle’s layout to traverse it, the castle itself was incredibly frustrating to so much as glance at, and the castle staff referred to him as a Queen.

And where was husband dearest throughout all this?

He groaned, feeling a headache coming on. Surely there was something he could do in this bedroom? It didn’t look terribly barren, but there wasn’t much else to use it for aside from changing clothes and sleeping. Just like every other room, this place simply served its function and nothing more.

His eye twitched.

Surely shattering the mirror in the bathroom wouldn’t cause that much of a commotion? Maybe they’d think he was mentally unfit for the job of carrying and would send him away… and would take back the deal with Swap.

He couldn’t have that.

With his kingdom’s safety on the line, Stretch forced himself to calm down as he wandered around the room. Maybe some drawers had items that could cure him of his boredom.

Basically nothing, great.

A flicker of irritation passed him, before he let the fire burn out. It wasn’t worth getting mad, he told himself. That only led to future complications he really couldn’t give the slightest fuck to deal with. Future him should be glad that Stretch isn’t making this any harder than it needs to be for the both of them. 

With a sigh, Stretch plopped down on the bed, leaning back just enough to look up at the roof of the bed. No patterns, or at least not obvious ones. He was really feeling desperate at this point… Oh, maybe he could..

His right eye lit up, and with a flick of his wrist, bones were summoned. They danced around the room, avoiding any objects or furniture. If he couldn’t find something to do, he’d just create something instead. Bones building up on top of each other, creating patterns and shapes. A smile graced his features as the familiar pulse of magic gave him a sense of comfort and presence — a perfect mix. And in the privacy of a bedroom, what’s the worst that could happen?

Husband dearest catching you in the act, apparently.

Stretch gasped once he felt a tight grip on his forearm before it was yanked back, the break in concentration causing the bones to dissipate. He felt himself forced to look up at the grabber, soul pounding. The gleaming red eyes he’d met yesterday, so precious and warm, were now a scorching fire seeping into his bones. While his magic curled into itself, making it as small as possible, the monster before him overpowered the entire room.

Breathing was a struggle.

“What…” he growled, tightening his hold on the shorter skeleton’s wrist. “Are you doing?”

He wasn’t happy, oh ho he was not happy. Stretch didn’t even know what this guy was so mad about, and when did he even get here? Wasn’t he doing whatever King’s duties he had? How much… Stretch paused.

How much time had passed?

“Answer.” Edge snarled, and Stretch gasped again as the grip on his wrist got tighter. He tried to pull his arm back, only for Edge to yank him back close. He glared down at the skeleton, and Stretch whined.

“Let-“ he shivered, feeling his bones quiver under the pressure. “Let go- Edge, please-“

“Not until you answer.” Edge stepped closer, and Stretch could feel the other’s breath against his face. The pressure increased the more Stretch struggled, logically he should keep still… but instinctively, he tried to run.

“Please- please, Edge-!

“ANSWER!”

“MY HP EDGE!” He shrieked, and suddenly the grip loosened entirely. Stretch stumbled back, barely catching himself on one of the support pillars of the bed’s roof. He trembled, sweat building on his body as the panic attempted to settle. He’d felt it, that sharp sting of a drop. 

His soul was checked.

Startled, Stretch looked up — Edge was facing his soul.

4/5 HP

1 ATTACK

1 DEFENCE

THE EASIEST ENEMY. CAN ONLY DO 1 DAMAGE.

There was silence.

Chapter Text

Two weeks.

It’s been two weeks since the bedroom incident. A hard incident to forget between them but one neither really dared to bring up either. Stretch still had the sight of Edge’s horrified expression stitched into his very soul. 

His very… weak soul.

 


 

Edge staggered back, hand clenching and unclenching with an indecisiveness so familiar to Stretch. Both skeletons were scarily silent. Edge hadn’t stepped forward, nor had Stretch stepped back. 

Quiet.

“You..” Edge interrupted the tense air, sweat building on his skull. “Your soul is…” 

Stretch watched him fumble, in any other situation it would’ve been extremely pleasing to watch. Now? Stretch’s soul was racing too hard for him to even begin noting the body language. The skeletons both looked like they wanted to talk as well as put this incident behind them.

Edge finally got his bearings.

“I knew you would’ve been weaker…” He admitted slowly, glaring at the bedroom’s floor. “But… not that weak.”

“Rude.”

“Stretch,” He raised his gaze to meet the other’s eyes, and Stretch stiffened. It was odd, hearing his name come from this monster’s mouth. “Why didn’t you warn me of this?”

“What?” Stretch’s eye twitched. “Warn you? What, am I supposed to come hopping into your workspace and just casually bring up I’m a delicate little flower?”

“No-”

“Or maybe I should’ve informed you right after you kissed me last night- today, perhaps? Oh, would you look at that? Today’s our first day as a couple, and you were off being a busy little king, what did you want me to say , Edge?” Perhaps he let the frustrations of today seep through his tone, and for a second it was almost relieving to tell Edge- just for a second. Because no later Edge had stormed up to him again, and Stretch couldn’t keep himself from flincing. Their difference in power becoming apparent.

“I wanted you to realise that this is now priority. ” He snarled at Stretch, and honestly the shorter skeleton couldn’t tell if Edge was mad at him specifically or just this entire situation.

Maybe both.

“You can’t hide such things, especially when you’re in the Fell kingdom - trust isn’t something we wave around, and right now I don’t think I can trust you stepping foot out of this castle- Five HP.”  He grumbled the last part to himself, turning his heel and pacing around the room. “You have five- how can it get that low? For a grown monster especially, the least it should be is a thirty.”

Stretch watched as Edge talked to himself, briefly wondering if maybe he should’ve done that instead of playing with magic. 

Speaking of which, he’d like to know what in God’s name caused Edge to react so strongly with Stretch practising a little magic. In Swap it was completely normal to be allowed to do your own thing in a bedroom, but Fell was so backwards he couldn’t even begin to figure out what the issue was. 

“Mind telling me what I did wrong?” Stretch mumbled, interrupting Edge’s rambling. “I was just practising…”

“What you did wrong, Stretch,” Edge growled and pinched his nose. “Was you were practising in the bedroom.”

Another silence. They both stared at each other for the longest time. 

Stretch blinked.

“Are…” He narrowed his eyes. “Are you serious? You got mad at me for practising magic in the bedroom? I’m not five!”

“You should’ve used one of the training rooms.” Edge interrupted this time, and Stretch crossed his arms with a huff. “The bedroom is for sleeping, the kitchen is for cooking-”

And this husband is for fucking, but we’re not doing any of that are we?

“Every room has its function, what is the point of a room existing if you aren’t going to be using it for that function?”

Stretch could not believe this man was his husband. He was ready to snap his skull off his body, whether his own or Edge’s. Edge clearly wasn’t the type for pleasantries or entertainment, this was the worst possible case scenario. Who wants a husband that’s such a drag?

“Edge,” he rubbed a hand down his face. “Okay, okay, fine, no more magic in the bedroom-” he resisted a joke. “But was losing your temper that necessary ? An explanation for this not native monster would’ve worked just as well.”

Edge had the decency to look at least a little regretful, and he gave Stretch a nod.

“Yes, now knowing you’re quite frail-” Stretch’s face tightened. “I’ll be sure to be more careful with you.”

Lovely.

“Anyway,” Edge grumbled as he headed for the door. “We’re going to be late for lunch, let’s go.”

And Stretch had no choice but to follow.

 


 

Well, that was then and this is now. Dinners hadn’t been any less awkward (in fact, Stretch fathomed the tension actually got thicker) and Stretch was still bored out of his mind. He didn’t get the chance to inform husband dearest that he had no idea where these ‘training rooms’ were and honestly he was too pent up with his frustration to bite his pride and ask for help again. 

So back he was to square one, exploring. 

The castle didn’t feel any smaller than the last two weeks of walking around aimlessly, but Stretch had to admit that he was at least getting better at finding places. For one, he didn’t accidentally end up in the kitchen. That was as big a win as any.

For two… well, that was basically it. He could remember the path from the bedroom to the dining room and library (where he spent most of his time) but when it came to going to those places from any other part of the castle? That was still a struggle.

Even still, despite his boredom there was something that arrived just a week later that managed to brighten his day. 

He looked down, a smile on his face as his fingers delicately traced the paper in his hands. A letter, just for him, from his father. It made his soul soar when it arrived, and he simply couldn’t wait another moment before he reached the library and opened the envelope - resisting the urge to just tear it open.

His father’s familiar handwriting stood out to him at an instant. 

My dear son,

 

How have you been? I hope Edge is treating you fairly. I have not heard news nor rumours of what is happening in that castle, all I do know is that you haven’t shown your face in public just yet. Naturally, this worries your father.

I hope there’s nothing troubling you, but if there is, know that I will, at the very least, be here by letter and willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible. I’m unsure if I’ll be able to visit, due to the protective nature of the Fell kingdom, the distance, as well as the fact that I must take care of my people. 

You always come first in my soul, Stretch, but I fear what may happen should I leave the castle unattended. I am, unfortunately, not as firm souled as you are. A trait I wish I had the luxury to be blessed with. You were quite fierce when you were younger! My, where did that firm side of you go? I haven’t seen it in a long time…

But enough about me reminiscing on the past. Since I cannot hear your responses instantly, I will simply share what has been occuring over here.

The kingdom’s people miss you, that is a fact anyone can see. When my people come in the castle and just see me, well, I can’t even bring myself to feel a sting when they’re disappointed! I would be, too. Doctor Dyne has also been missing your quick wit and intellect, she longs to work with you again, but alas, I fear this may not be possible for quite some time.

The Royal Guard has been hard at work, surprisingly, I suppose they didn’t want you to feel as if you leaving would go to waste. They’d like you to know they’re training hard to keep the kingdom as safe as possible, in order to at least buy time until the Fell kingdom comes for aid or vice versa. Quite the firm chain we’ve created, no? 

Al is pretending she hasn’t even noticed your absence, but I can tell that any time she listens to Dyne ramble there’s an almost emptiness in her eyes. You and Dyne would ramble on and on about new projects and experiments, it just doesn’t feel the same when it’s only Dyne.

Does that make sense? 

Probably not.

Well, I hope this letter brings you comfort - and I’d really love to know how your faring. Your poor father’s soul is itching to know, I simply must be given the confirmation that you’re okay by your own words. A messenger just won’t cut it. 

I eagerly await your response, 

Your father

Well, if that letter didn’t cause his soul to burst with both happiness and misery, Stretch didn’t think anything would. He cradled the paper, so carefully in fear of damaging it. His father’s writing, his father’s words, he could practically hear his father’s voice speaking to him through the letters. He wanted to speak back to him, to respond to everything as quickly as possible.

… But that, in itself, was not possible. 

An ache settled in his soul as his expression fell, he couldn’t just reply to his father’s words just like that. He couldn’t look him in the eye as he spoke nor listen to his muffled laughter when he shared a joke. 

It ached. It ached in ways that Stretch couldn’t begin to try and soothe. 

With a shaky hand, Stretch picked up a pen and placed a fresh new piece of paper next to his father’s. He read the lines carefully, he had to make sure to respond to everything his father said, to make sure he didn’t miss anything or give his father the wrong idea. 

The pen in his hand danced around the paper a few times, nearing it, only to be spun away. 

Stretch hadn’t really… sent a letter to his father before. He’d sent letters, of course, though he never really enjoyed that method of communication, but to his own father? His father would always be in the same building as him! And if not, Stretch would just wait until his father returned from whatever kingly duties he had to deal with.

They spoke with their mouths and hands. Not words on a piece of paper. 

This was no time to be picky. Stretch knew that he could either actually respond to this letter, or be childish and ignore his father. Stars knows what’ll happen if he went with the latter, his father may think he’d been forced into silence or, lord forbid, dusted. 

Stretch took a deep breath, and lowered the pen.

‘Sup, dad?

Stretch instantly scrapped the paper. No, no, he couldn’t just play it off. Maybe he should try the tone his father was giving him- but, that wasn’t how Stretch spoke… He was casual, but letters always felt formal. 

This was more stressful than it should’ve been.

Taking another piece of paper, Stretch carefully considered how he’d go about writing. He needed to actually think about how to start before writing in mindlessly. How did he sound when talking? Casual, but when it came to opening up a letter’s introduction he needed some form of greeting that wasn’t downright stupid. 

Pen on paper once again, Stretch took a deep breath and let instinct take its course.

Hello, dad,

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was to see a letter from you. Life in the castle is dull, let me tell you. The staff are just doing their job, no monsters are allowed in the castle unless they have access to it or have been given special permission of some kind. So, essentially, this Swapverse monster is bored out of his mind. 

Edge has been fine, I think. There’s nothing to stress over, he’s just a workaholic that takes too much pride in wanting things to go exactly as planned. Get this, he completely lost his temper with some poor monster because they ‘used magic in the wrong room’. I mean really, is that any reason to yell at anyone? He could’ve just calmly explained…

Otherwise, I don’t see him much aside from lunches and bedtimes. Busy bee, am I right?

I told Edge about my HP, and because of that he doesn’t want me to be in any danger. Which is probably why you haven’t really heard anything from me, but I assure you I’m fine. Edge is just taking extra precautions to assure my safety, so at least he’s taking his job seriously.

Nothing’s troubling me aside from the horrid decor. Dad, they literally don’t know any colours aside from black and red. Are black and red really that sinister? Imagine if everything was bright pink, I’d bet everyone would begin to fear pink if the Fell kingdom was wearing it. Maybe I should start wearing it? 

Glad to hear everyone’s missing me, though, be sure to tell them I miss them, too. Dyne and Al especially. I’d love to hear some sort of response from them next time, think you could squeeze them into a letter for me? It’d be nice to hear from them. But also I’d love to hear from Dyne personally what she’s planning nowadays, it’s been three weeks since I’ve seen her - more by the time this letter arrives, I can’t imagine she hasn’t made any progress in anything.

And Al, little ol Al, tell her she’s the sweetest cupcake I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I can assure you she will appreciate it. 

Other than that, I don’t think there’s much to say. Finding my way around the castle is still a pain, and there’s probably rooms I still haven’t explored just because it seems like I’m walking in circles… I’ll get used to it, just wish there was a map or something that could help.

I miss you, dad, so much… 

Love, 

Stretch

Stretch leaned back as he blinked away orange tears. There it was. A letter. All he had to do now was post it and it would be on its way to the Swap kingdom, to his father’s hands… For a moment, Stretch really just wanted to be this piece of paper and send himself back, but somehow he doubted that would be possible.

Some parts of his story in the letter were twisted, obviously the ‘monster’ Edge had yelled at was him, but it was probably wiser to leave out that bit of information. Last thing his father needed was knowing Edge may have been some sort of threat to his life. That would cause for some awkward meetings.

Neatly folding the letter, Stretch placed it in the envelope and stood up from the chair. He had to find a staff member in order to send this, seeing as he “wasn’t allowed to step foot out of this castle.” 

He made sure to pick up his father’s letter before he left, and he gave the library one more look over. It really was exhausting to look at, and thanks to the horrid colour combo it made reading feel like more of a chore than a pleasantry. Maybe one day he’d be able to get some life in this place, stars knows they needed it.

Leaving the library, Stretch wandered through the castle halls. They were quiet as ever, and that’s what mainly unsettled him. Usually the castle had chatter left and right, friends walking freely and comfortably…

It was so, so very quiet.

A sigh left him, and it took him another ten minutes to spot anyone. How come the staff were so… silent? He understood respecting royalty and whatnot, but how come they didn’t even talk to each other? Anytime Stretch neared there wasn’t even a hush of whispers, rushing out the most recent gossip. Just… quiet.

The monsters were male and female, from what Stretch gathered — guards, given the armour. And very, very big dogs. Sorta reminded him of some guards in his kingdom. They were standing in front of a double door entrance — whatever this place lead to was important, then? 

Stretch awkwardly shuffled towards them, and the guards somehow straightened their postures even more. He gave them a tight smile, before clearing his throat.

“Pardon, but…” his eyes darted, and he’d never felt smaller when one of the dogs looked down at him. The girl, he realised. “Um- I wanted to send a letter to my father, but..” 

This felt more and more stupid when he talked out loud. 

“I’m not exactly allowed to leave, uh..” he shyly looked up, fingers drumming the letter. “Could- could one of you show me how I can send this- or, maybe someone else should- hah..”

“I don’t know my way around.” He admitted, and something in the female’s eyes shifted. Stretch couldn’t be sure but it was almost as though they’d softened, which he really hoped was the case.

“Of course, my Queen.” The female bowed her head, then looked over at the male. “Could you inform the king of my whereabouts, should he ask?”

“Of course.”

With a nod, the dog gently began to walk down the hall, and Stretch had no choice but to follow. 

Last time Stretch hadn’t made an effort in talking to his escort, and just got frustrated when they didn’t say anything. Maybe it was because they were just strict to the point where they wouldn’t speak unless spoken to? If that was the case then everything made a lot more sense. Husband dearest himself didn’t seem like the chatty type.

“Um..” he started, and almost slapped himself. Great opening to a conversation, Stretch, maybe next time you should start with the ‘uh’s and ‘so’s, that always gathered a crowd. No one could resist those social charms.

“What’s.. your name?” He tried, and for whatever reason the guard actually looked surprised at this question. Was she expecting something else? Given how the Fell monsters weren’t too trusting, Stretch couldn’t put it past her to expect something more rude.

“Dogaressa, my Queen.”

To hear a response, Stretch’s soul leaped and he eagerly dove in to continue the conversation.

“That’s a lovely name.” Stretch said with exhilaration. “You’re a guard, right? I’m still trying to figure this place out, haha… I know double doors mean importance, did I interrupt a duty?”

“Royalty comes first, my Queen.” Dogaressa bowed her head, and yet her walking pace didn’t falter. “The room is the King’s office, he spends most of his time there dealing with paperwork.”

Edge’s office…? Well, that’s one more door mystery down. At least he knew where he’d most likely find the guy, now. It wasn’t terribly far from the library, either. 

Stretch kept close attention to the path this time, not wanting to get caught in a daydream. Last thing he needed was to struggle to find his way back.

“You must be skilled and trusted, if he’s having you guard the doors to his office.” Stretch hummed, only to stop at Dogaressa’s empty chuckle.

“Trust is a… strong word, my Queen.”

Right, yeah…

“He trusts my husband and I to be efficient and properly follow orders,” she nodded, a small smile perked on her face. It was then that Stretch noticed how little the monsters here smiled. “But, I wouldn’t say he trusts us.”

Stretch was quiet, just for a few seconds, as he pondered the thought over. Edge obviously wasn’t much the trusting type, and even though Dogaressa and her husband (who he assumed was the other dog guarding) were clearly skilled enough to protect something like the King’s office, which implied they’d been here a long time, it clearly wasn’t enough for there to be any sort of solid trust in each other as monsters.

That was… upsetting.

“Well, I know I don’t have much of a say here, but…” Stretch looked up at Dogaressa, and smiled. “Thank you, for working so hard to protect the kingdom.”

And that’s when Dogaressa bumped right into the corner they’d meant to turn. The loud clang from her armour’s impact attracted attention, but Stretch was more concerned over the pained yelp Dogaressa had let out. She must’ve hit her snout.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Stretch kneeled beside her to where she’d fallen back. “I must’ve distracted you!”

“Heavens, my Queen!” Dogaressa gasped. “There’s no need for you to apologise!”

“But-“

“What’s going on here?”

The pair froze, and looked up to see another guard. Appearance had nothing special to point out, in fact the monster seemed to mostly hide behind the headgear. They looked serious…

Upon making eye contact with Stretch, though, their pose seemed to falter.

“So sorry,” Dogaressa fumbled as she got up to her feet, quickly helping Stretch up. “I wasn’t-“

“My fault, entirely.” Stretch interrupted, and both monsters shifted their attention to him. Dogaressa with a dropped jaw, and the other guard with an intimidated curiosity. For a second, Stretch was lost as to why this guard was afraid of him…

Then he remembered the difference in status.

“I was teasing her, she was doing her job, please pardon what happened.”

“My Queen-“ Dogaressa tried to cut in, only for the other Guard to nod and bow.

“Of course, my Queen, I will leave you.”

And like that, he returned to his earlier marching. Or perhaps he’d been intending to reach a destination… regardless, Stretch quickly stepped in front of Dogaressa and checked her snout.

“Is it aching…?”

Dogaressa shuffled in place, uncertainty readable on her face clear as day. The nod was so subtle and frightened that Stretch’s soul ached at the sight. Why so timid to admit to injury? 

Stretch reached up, pausing just for a moment upon Dogaressa’s flinch, before finishing the journey and carefully cradling the snout. A green glow pulsed from his palm, and Dogaressa was completely and utterly enamoured by the sight. She was unable to take her eyes off her nose, and Stretch resisted the urge to chuckle at how much she resembled a child with those crossed eyes.

“There,” his hand lifted from her nose. “Does it hurt?”

“Not… not anymore, my Queen.” Dogaressa answered breathlessly, as though she couldn’t process what had occurred. Stretch’s smile tightened, but instead of retreating his hand entirely, he gave her a good scratch behind the ear.

Worked like a charm.

The tension in her shoulders loosened completely, and the dog let out a pleased whine as she tried to lean into the hand. Stretch snorted under his breath before fully taking back his hand — he stifled a laugh at the sight of Dogaressa attempting to follow his hand before she caught herself.

“I still need to send this letter.” Stretch grinned as he waved it in front of the guard, and she quickly fixed her posture. She was dazed, Stretch could see that much.

“Of- of course, my Queen!” 

Suffice to say, Stretch believed he made a friend.

 


 

Screw every single speck of dust and carpet in this dungeon of a castle.

He was going insane! Stretch was going positively insane. A week after sending his letter, Stretch wasn’t getting any closer to Edge- no, in fact, it really felt like this guy was pushing him away! 

Stretch tried to put in a little effort after talking to Dogaressa, clearly monsters here didn’t do much talking unless spoken to, so maybe he just had to try and catch Edge when he wasn’t working.

Which! Honestly?! Was a stars damned challenge in itself. The guy just didn’t! take! breaks!! One minute he was in his office and the next he had to go to a meeting for whatever stars forsaken reason. So obviously Stretch had to improvise and try and talk to him between works! He waited an entire hour outside of his office, Dogaressa looked like she just wanted to open the doors and let him in but couldn’t because Stretch nor Edge had told her to. And Stretch wasn’t planning to, either.

The hour passed, Edge left the room, and Stretch wasted no time in catching up to his long strides. It was clear Edge was in a rush, so fair enough if he didn’t have much to say…

But lord almighty the guy didn’t even acknowledge him! He waited that long just to be completely brushed under the rug- no, not even brushed, completely left to his own devices and expected to brush himself. Unbelievable!

At the very least, Stretch was hoping for some sort of glance but heavens no! That’s clearly asking too much!

He was much too frustrated to wish the guy ‘Goodnight’ but it certainly didn’t help at all when Edge didn’t even utter something similar- and deciding that he’d rather sleep as far away from Stretch as he physically could!

Really feeling the love here, asshole. Stretch glared at the food before him — simple soup, but he had no appetite to try it. Edge just kept on his silent charade and pretended like Stretch didn’t exist at all. He was far too pissed to even lift up a spoon, and since there was the whole “ no talking” rule when it came to lunch, Stretch doubted Edge would make a comment about his lack of eating.

Actually, no, scratch that, even if they didn’t have that rule Edge would probably still ignore him.

The thought agitated him further.

When Edge finished, he merely stood and silently pushed the chair back in. Not a glance. He left the room.

Stretch’s glare hardened, and he wondered how much trouble he’d be in if he hurled this bowl at Edge. Maybe the guy would finally give him attention, even if it would involve yelling.

The fact that he was so desperate for Edge’s attention made him even more sour. The guy was an ass and didn’t deserve so much as a look from Stretch, Stretch knew this… so why was he trying so hard? He didn’t put effort into people not worth his time-

But Edge was worth his time. Or he should be. He was his husband, a monster that would one day be the father of Stretch’s future child. Maybe he was doing it for the sake of the kid, maybe he was doing it for the sake of successfully completing a challenge. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to sleep with a guy who hated him…

Edge would be his first, after all.

Shaking the thought away, Stretch decided he wouldn’t be able to stomach any of the soup and chose to follow after husband dearest. He was probably gonna go to his office or whatever, but honestly maybe he’d find something new along the way, and if Edge had something to say about it? Good! At least then Stretch would know Edge was actually aware he existed!

The walk was quiet, as it always was, and Stretch noted that this was a different path to the ones he usually found Edge in. Maybe he’d find another place Edge worked at? How surprising.

Soon enough, though, he found that Edge had, in fact, gone to the centre of the castle — a courtyard of sorts, and an army strictly waiting for his command.

For his command. Not as a King, but as a leader. 

Of course he’s the captain of the Royal Guard… Stretch frowned, he couldn’t hear exactly what Edge was saying but it was definitely along the lines of ‘Train hard! No fun! Grr I’m a scary king!’ and no one could tell him otherwise.

Well… at least it wasn’t bad to look at.

After Edge barked his commands, they all made some sort of salute before splitting off into designated pairs, Edge himself preparing to go against a monster that looked very similar to Dyne, they must’ve been the same type. Regardless… when they started to train, oh, they started to train.  

Stretch felt his breath catch in his throat.

Edge’s movements were swift, quick, deadly, if this was a real fight Stretch doubted this girl would last. His eyes were locked onto her and yet so aware of their surroundings. She kept on attacking, matching his pace and yet unable to find an opening. Stretch wasn’t much of a physical fighter himself, but…

Edge was… something else.

It felt like the world had slowed down as Stretch’s vision focused solely on Edge’s form. Such a posture, so controlled and proper. He didn’t pause for a break and yet he didn’t falter in his steps either, constantly on the move as the girl attempted attack after attack. Stretch wondered if it’d ever stop… 

A small part of him didn’t want it to.

He jolted when Edge suddenly yanked the girl forwards before throwing her over his shoulder — a bone summoned not a moment later, pressed near her throat. Stretch massaged his own, as if feeling the pressure of magic. 

Three seconds later, the bone dispersed and instead Edge offered a hand to her. She gratefully took it, a sharp grin stretched her face.

“I swear, Edge, one of these days I’m taking you down!”

By the mere fact she didn’t address him as ‘my King’ let Stretch quickly know that this girl was not only high ranking, but a close friend, too.

He didn’t even know Edge could have any of those.

He must’ve been staring for too long because Edge’s eyes soon met his own — a pale orange flushed his face at the attention, and the colour itself seemed to draw in some eyes from the courtyard. But Stretch wasn’t paying attention… to finally have Edge’s eyes on him was exhilarating- more so than he was expecting. He felt his breathing slow down as he struggled to find any words, he couldn't help but appreciate the subtle sweat building on Edge’s skull — the red popped out against the white… Edge’s gaze narrowed. 

“What do you want?”

And instantly the illusion shattered. Stretch’s chest tightened and puffed out at the same time, and he returned Edge’s glare as his hands fell to his hips.

“What?” He started, tone dripping with sarcasm. “Can’t I check in on how my dearest husband is doing?”

Because I’ve been trying to make this less awkward for the both of us and you are NOT helping you son of a-

Edge turned away from him, and Stretch felt a flare.

Did this asshole just ignore him? In front of all these people?! Completely disregarding him in such a manner with everyone watching?!

Humiliated and furious, Stretch grit his teeth as he turned his heel and stormed away from the courtyard.

Fine, fine! Fuck you, I don’t care!

Stretch is trying too hard for a guy that isn’t even fucking worth it. If the kid ends up growing into a bastard like Edge then Stretch damn well hoped Edge had karma bite his ass and the kid was nothing but trouble. 

He slowed down, not because his anger was burning out, but because he ended up nearing the place that he’d spent more time with than his own fucking husband.

The library.

I may as well marry the books, Stretch thought sourly as he grabbed a book and sat down. They make better company than that rat of a husband.

Stretch was cursing Edge’s very soul to the stars and back. He wondered, for a moment, if reading was actually helping in the slightest, given that he was honestly barely reading at all. But at this point, he didn’t even care. It was distraction enough, giving him something to grip on and fumble with, certainly better than seeing one more second of Edge’s face.

He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting there, glaring at the same page as time moved on. It was apparently enough time for a certain someone to barge into the library. Upon hearing the doors open, Stretch looked up — his previously relaxed face shot back into a glare at the sight of Edge, and Edge himself didn’t look too impressed. 

So Stretch doubted this was an apology.

“Finish your training?” Stretch asked dryly, not even sure why he spoke in the first place. If Edge wanted a perfect, silent little husband then so fucking be it!

Edge ignored him.

“You’re late for dinner.” 

Stretch paused.

Now, Stretch may be pissed off beyond reason and he so badly wanted to chuck this book at Edge’s face for even bringing up food in his presence when clearly he should've been bringing apologies, but… well, he knows meals are important to share, even if they were a little skewed in the Fell kingdom.

Muttering an apology, Stretch stood up and went to return the book-

He jumped when warm fingers brushed his own, and he bit back a startled gasp as Edge slowly lowered the book back on the table. He snapped his gaze up, unsure what to make of the situation- he was gonna say something, but his words caught in his throat when he realised just how close Edge was. He could feel the heat of his body emitting off him.

His soul skipped a beat. 

“The staff will put it away.” Was it just him, or was Edge’s voice deeper than usual? Maybe it was because they were standing so close. Stretch repressed a shudder, and he scorned how much he felt the urge to pull Edge back when the monster leaned away and began heading out of the room.

Just a few moments ago he was hating the guy’s guts, and now all of a sudden he was as flustered as a teenage girl.

And for what reason? Why was Stretch so god damn shy whenever Edge got too close?

Damn him and damn everything he stands for.

Stretch had no choice but to follow after him.

Dinner was… god it was awkward. Stretch was mad at the guy but honestly? He was mostly tired of being ignored. He didn’t know why Edge hated him so goddamn much, he didn’t know what he even began — it was Edge’s fault that they were married at all, he didn’t have to make an arranged marriage as an agreement to the kingdoms. So why was he acting like Stretch was the scum of the earth? 

It just… wasn’t fair.

So, in an attempt of desperation, Stretch decided to break this stupid rule.

He spoke during dinner.

“So,” he started, playing around with his food boredly as he rested his cheek bone on his knuckles. Not at all a dignified posture. “Royal Guard? Must be tiring, tackling all those jobs at once.”

“...”

Edge didn’t say anything, just kept on eating. Stretch took that as a sign to not shut up, because if Edge didn’t comment then Stretch was absolutely taking advantage.

“Looks pretty cool, to be part of that.”

“...”

“Have to question the excessive amount of black and red, do you guys have any other colour you like or is this just an era where black and red is the new blue?”

“...”

Stretch’s eye twitched, before slamming the fork into the plate. That certainly caught Edge’s attention, he looked up but didn’t even flinch upon seeing the foul look on Stretch’s face. 

Fucker.

“Look,” he started again, not even trying to hide his anger. “I’m trying to have a conversation here, the least you could do is talk back.”

Edge huffed, clearly not taking this seriously as he rolled his eyes. “No talking during dinner, that is a typical Fell tradition-“

Fuck you and fuck your traditions!” Stretch hissed, and Edge actually god damn recoiled upon hearing the venom. Or maybe it was just because he heard Stretch cuss him in his face. Whatever it was, it pleased the furious beast inside him. “I’ve followed your culture through and through, and I’ve had nothing to do for a month! The least you could do is actually talk to me!”  

It felt good to yell that out, but oh he was not done.

“I don’t know what the fuck is up with your culture, but over in Swap, we use meal times as a chance to talk about our day! Share information! Have a nice chat!” His voice was getting louder, they both knew his voice was getting louder but stars Stretch just didn’t care. Not talking is what we consider rude, and it’s even more fucking rude when your own HUSBAND DOESN’T EVEN LOOK AT YOU!”

Stretch flinched, hearing his own yells echo in the large, empty halls of the castle. Stars have mercy on whatever poor soul heard that with no context, because Stretch wasn’t sure if he’d be able to explain. He hadn’t even realised he’d slammed his hands down on the table and stood up at some point during his fit.

His breathing was heavy, and the orange in his face burst into a brighter hue, much more vibrant. He’d just yelled at Edge, for something as trivial as not getting attention. Stars that was embarrassing, he awkwardly hunched his shoulders as he sat back down in his seat, feeling a bit of shame at losing his temper. Stretch was usually a patient monster, so for this to happen…

It always made him feel guilty after he shouted at anyone.

Edge didn’t speak, and after five seconds of staring, the monster turned back down and faced his food… he ate in silence.

Stretch felt himself deflate. Was that it? Was this really how it was going to go? Edge couldn’t even spare one Swap culture in his castle? It felt… exhausting, and his stomach was tying nasty knots — the food didn’t look at all appetising. 

Defeated, Stretch sighed and simply waited for Edge to finish. He wasn’t allowed to leave until the King was done, after all.

Ten, ten minutes of silence. The time ticked by and Stretch found he was slowly going mad, so slowly. The only thing he felt was really grounding him was that fresh talk with Dogaressa, he may just begin latching onto her for the sake of keeping any bit of sanity…

Ten minutes… until he heard a voice.

“Today was… a decent day.”

The sudden weight that lifted from his soul had him gasping, and it fluttered from the unexpectancy. He snapped his eyes up as they widened. Edge just-? Did Edge talk to him? When there was still food on his plate? Stretch was momentarily caught off guard by it, and he couldn’t help but stare. It was becoming evident he was when Edge shifted in his seat and looked up — Stretch felt silly, but his sockets were honestly beginning to feel a burn.

It had never felt so good to hear his voice.

“Really…?” He responded, voice a bit raw from the yelling. “Why don’t you tell me what you did?”

And the conversation went from there.

 


 

Safe to say, meal times quickly became Stretch’s favourite time of day. The conversations aren’t anything special, your typical ‘How was your day?’s and ‘did you sleep well?’s formula. But honestly, Stretch didn’t feel like complaining. It was so much better than the stuffy silence.

Sleep was a little easier, as well.

If he had to point out anything, it did seem like Edge’s mouth turned down in the most subtle of ways whenever Stretch didn’t have much to report on his day — the library was the most common thing to bring up. Because of that, Stretch opted to share more about himself personally, and Edge caught on seeing that Stretch talking about his day often didn’t lead to much. They learned a bit about each other, some things didn’t surprise him at all while others were quite pleasant to learn.

Edge couldn’t stand the sight of messes.

Stretch was admittedly a lazy person.

Edge found the colours red and black a bit exhausting at times. (They both happily agreed to that.)

Stretch used to horse ride with his father.

Edge had to become King at the young age of 13. (Stretch couldn’t even begin to imagine)

Stretch loved honey. 

Little bits and pieces that just generally gave him an insight of what Edge was like. He wasn’t necessarily a rude guy, Edge just seemed to struggle getting his point across in anyway that isn’t blunt. And, he actually admitted that his tone occasionally came off as harsh.

It was pretty normal after that. Meals gave Stretch just barely enough of the social boost he needed for his day, and then he was able to spend his time reading in the library. It still felt a bit lonely, and there was a time where he’d just watched the clock for an hour in a desperate attempt to make time go faster… note to self, never do that again. Clocks definitely go slower when you stare.

Still… there were many places in the castle he’d managed to explore, and he was beginning to get a good grasp of the layout. It wasn’t terribly difficult once he managed to mostly understand where each path lead — it wasn’t as big a maze as he originally thought. The lack of decor and colour shift were really the only things that made it hard to find your way around.

He’s also been talking to Dogaressa a lot, he’d find her during one of her shifts and they’d spend hours talking before it was time for Stretch to head for his meal. They’d gotten close, close enough for Dogamy to want in on their little circle. Dogaressa teasingly left him out of it at first, but eventually let him in.

“Oh, that is quite embarrassing.” Stretch covered his mouth in a pathetic attempt to stifle a laugh, Dogaressa and Dogamy were less polite on it.

“Indeed, my Queen! Why, the poor fellow just-“ she snorted. “Couldn’t get up!”

Any attempt to stay quiet was thrown out the window as Stretch felt the threat of tears in his eyes, and the first set of giggles left him. The mere idea of the poor monster in the story to keep slipping and stumbling like that- oh, goodness it was too much.

“Well,” Stretch let the jittery laughter ease out of his system as he gently rubbed his eye. “It’s been a lovely time, talking to you both.”

“Of course, my Queen!” Dogaressa perked up, tail wagging. “It’s such an honour, to spend time with you!”

“How many times must I say it, Dogaressa?” He laughed kindly. “Call me Stretch!”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, my Queen.” She smiled down at him, eyes full of such fondness it made him want to swell up his chest with pride. Pride he didn’t have.

When a quietness settled, Stretch found himself thinking. Shocking, wasn’t it? Anyway, he knew he had a good understanding of the castle and occasionally found a new room… so really, he had to wonder…

“Are there any rooms here I don’t know about?” He asked, and the two guards looked at him strangely. Both tilting their heads in unison. Stretch laughed. “Let me rephrase that- I’ve explored the castle a good amount, and sometimes I find a new room or two, but is there anything else? I just wanted to know if there are any interesting rooms that aren’t as easily spotted.”

The Guards were quiet, and given the shuffle they seemed to be hesitant to share that information. Stretch recoiled.

“Oh- I hadn’t meant to make you uncomfortable, I didn’t mean to imply-“

“No, my Queen!” Dogaressa quickly cut in. Interrupting a Royal was seen as offensive, but to see her so comfortable with him honestly just warmed his soul. “We didn’t think for a moment anything like that! It’s just…”

More quiet, Stretch inclined his head as a way to give her a gentle push to continue. Dogaressa let out a breath.

“Well… there’s one room no one’s ever been in before.”

“Oh?”

“Yes,” Dogaressa nodded, and smiled at Stretch’s curious eyes. She opened her mouth. “It’s the King’s Garden.”

Chapter Text

A sacred place, the King’s Garden, no one had set foot in it before — aside from the King himself. Naturally this had Stretch very curious, but also just the fact that there was a garden here at all was intriguing in itself. Stretch wanted to see it.

The Guards both squirmed at the request, and quickly reminded Stretch that no one was really allowed inside, unless Edge himself deemed it so — and they weren’t sure if Stretch was an exception.

“I’m not telling you to open the doors for me,” he softly spoke to her, resting a hand on her paw. “I’m merely asking of its location.”

She seemed to be fighting an inner battle with herself, wanting to obey royal command while also wanting to obey royal command. A situation Stretch was glad he wasn’t in but not too guilty on swaying her a little in his favour — curiosity may have killed the cat but this was something worth the risk.

He had doubts the garden was much to look at, though. If it was anything like the rest of this place then it was probably just as sinister looking as any other part of the castle.

So why was it kept secret?

Maybe because it was a garden and gardens tend to be associated with prettiness and delicacy. And those two things just plain ol didn’t exist in Fell.

Well, technically he was here so maybe the “delicacy” part of that statement existed.

Either way, Dogaressa caved in and, upon seeing Stretch’s gleeful joy, didn’t seem to regret her choice too much. She made sure to keep reminding him along the way that they really technically shouldn’t be near the doors. ‘They’ as in any monster that wasn’t in the royal line.

Stretch brushed off her concerns.

They reached the doors — double, Stretch noted — and stopped before them. There wasn’t much to point out about the door aside from how isolated this room was to others, and was located in one of the tower blocks. It was almost lonely, how especially empty this part of the castle looked.

A pang of sympathy, before it was washed out with Dogaressa’s voice.

“That’s as much as I can show, my Queen.” She bowed. “I’m afraid none of us have access to this room.”

“That’s…” Stretch almost sounded a bit dazed, something was on the other side of this room and it was making him feel… weird. “No, no, it’s fine Dogaressa, thank you for bringing me.”

“Of course, my Queen.” She bowed again, and upon hearing Stretch’s dismissal, she hesitantly stepped foot out of the tower.

Stretch stayed.

He stared at the door, hypnotised almost. There was something heavy in the air, and it made every breath feel sickening. Stretch realised, at this point, that staying here probably wasn’t a very good idea. Something was interfering with his soul and it wasn’t doing anything good.

You should leave.

A peek surely wouldn’t hurt?

Every part of Stretch’s being was telling him this wasn’t a good idea, that he shouldn’t be going behind Edge’s back and certainly shouldn’t be exposing himself to any more of this weird aura that came off the door.

He just wanted to know what it looked like.

Managing to find a crack, just big enough to peek through, Stretch squeezed an eye shut and peered. It was a good thing this place didn’t look like it’d seen a renovator in years, it looked ready to crumble. From the peek, though, there wasn’t much Stretch could see. Just an empty space…

You’ve seen enough.

No, you haven’t.

Zeroing in on that spot, Stretch focused his magic and, with a surge, entered the room.

Albeit, very clumsily. He was trying a smooth shortcut, only to find himself landing face first into the ground. He supposed he deserved it, but mostly he was confused as to why it happened to begin with. And he was only confused from the first few seconds of the impact, after that, the answer was clear.

This place was heavy with magic.

Normally the presence of magic was soothing to monsters, skeletons especially who seemed to be the most sensitive to it… it would’ve been fine if it had been just that, a presence… 

Stretch felt like he was suffocating.

He forced his eyes open, squinting in the darkness, there wasn’t much he could see, but he could barely make out the figures of flowers. He needed a light, but- but-!

Stars, he was about to puke.

With the remnant of his energy, Stretch ported out of the room in a flash. His earlier meal threatened to lurch out of his throat, vision was hazy, and he slumped against the wall. He couldn’t even recognise which castle hall he’d ended up in. What did it matter? Every hall looked exactly the same…

He tried to push himself off the wall, just in time for a familiar figure to turn a corner. They made eye contact.

“M-“

She didn’t get past the first word, before Stretch’s legs gave out. Someone’s arms. He could roughly make out muffled yelling, and maybe there was one or three more monsters nearby. He couldn’t tell…

It was… so hard to breathe.

 


 

When Stretch woke up, it wasn’t in the usual bedroom he’d grown accustomed to. He wasn’t sure how he could tell at first, given how this room wasn’t too different, but…

The bed just didn’t feel right.

And when his vision cleared up, it was more apparent that this room was far too small to be his own.

Where was he? 

Stretch grunted as he brought a hand up to his face. He couldn’t remember exactly what happened, everything after Dogaressa brought him to the door was a blur- Stretch tensed.

The door. The garden. The magic- oh stars he completely ignored Edge’s rule of not allowing anyone in the Garden. And Stretch ignored that for his own selfish desire- stars, what was wrong with him? Where had his father’s lessons gone? One shouldn’t act in such a selfish need, he could’ve asked Edge- he should’ve asked Edge rather than try and be a stupid, sneaky brat-

The door opened. Stretch jolted.

It was a lizard monster, similar to Al and yet not quite. This one certainly had more nervousness in her than the lizard he was used to, but both had a cruel air surrounding them… albeit, Al seemed to be more fierce than cruel.

They made eye contact.

She didn’t seem to be expecting it given her jump, or maybe she was just naturally being skittish. The lizard hurriedly rushed to him and pressed a hand against his forehead, he groaned. Wherever her cruelty had gone didn’t matter now, apparently.

“Who...?”

“Try not to speak, my Queen.” She hushed, using a wet napkin to wipe Stretch’s forehead, and Stretch sighed against it. The cool relief something he wanted to just bask in for the rest of his life. “You had a fainting spell, I just need to ask some q-questions to make sure nothing’s wrong- is- um- that alright?”

He must’ve been staring at her for too long, because the poor girl suddenly broke into a sweat.

“Well-! You don’t have to if you don’t f-feel up to it, my Queen!” She insisted, body shaking violently. The fear in her eyes ached to see, and Stretch weakly reached out — she flinched, he smiled.

“It’s okay.” He spoke, attempting to be soft and yet voice too raspy. The girl jolted and grabbed a nearby cup — it was warm, must’ve been recently made. She offered it to him and he gratefully took it as he shuffled up into a sitting position, sighing in relief as the warm tea eased his throat.

The girl shuffled.

“Alphys, my Queen.” She mumbled, staring down at the floor. Stretch hummed.

“That’s a nice name…”

She seemed shocked by the compliment, and it took her a whopping four seconds to register that she had to respond, and upon all the squeaks and sputters, Alphys managed a “Oh- th-thank you…!” before reverting to her tiny shell.

“You had questions?”

Alphys jumped again at the reminder, before hurriedly grabbing her clipboard and pen. She scribbled something down before facing him, forcefully keeping her expression professional.

“Were you feeling off before the fainting spell or was it out of nowhere?”

“Uhm… I felt off a few minutes before it.” Stretch sheepishly admitted. Maybe he should tell her that the fainting occurred because of the overwhelming magic pouring out of the garden’s door, but something kept his mouth shut.

Alphys ticked something off. Stretch felt uncomfortable at the sound.

“Are fainting spells a common occurrence?”

“Not… really.”

Because of the hesitance in his answer, Alphys frowned and asked him to elaborate. Stretch squirmed.

“Um- sometimes I have dizzy spells, but that’s just cause- um…”

Telling someone else of his HP felt… a bit of a personal reveal, but he supposed he didn’t have the right to privacy if he was here because of him breaching Edge’s.

“My HP is…” he shuffled in his seat. “Below average.”

“I see…” Alphys ticked another box, before scribbling down notes. Stretch was curious to know what she was writing, exactly, but at the same time wanted her to just stop. 

Doctor visits were the worst.

“On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst and one the best, how would you rate your ‘dizziness’ at the moment?”

“Uhh…” he frowned, his brain felt mushy all of a sudden. “I dunno, four? Three, probably.”

He never understood that number rate system, what exactly measured how dizzy a person was based on a rating? Was five and above so dizzy you’d puke? Just thinking about it made Stretch’s headache worse.

“P-please bare with me, my Queen.” Alphys squeaked, hiding half her face behind the clipboard. He must’ve been making a nasty expression, or just frowning hard enough for it to be picked up by the smaller monster. “Is- Um, have you been e-eating properly?”

“Think so…” his eyes fluttered, Stretch felt ready to just fall back on the mattress and sleep his years away. He was sure he’d been eating properly, certainly better now that Edge was talking to him. Definitely had been sleeping. Surely he could brush off the faint by blaming his HP?

“Alright- is there anything you feel is off right now? Excluding dizziness?”

“No…” he mumbled. “M’tired, though…” his voice was small, and eyelids felt heavier with each passing second. Alphys seemed to finally notice his exhaustion and quickly took the cup from his hands. Stretch sighed in relief as he fell into the pillow, curling the blankets tightly around him.

His soul ached in a strange longing. One he couldn’t place, and fell asleep too fast to register it.

 


 

Waking up again was a chore, but mainly he did because he heard voices outside. Borderline yells, but Stretch’s sleep hazed mind couldn’t quite figure out what was being said. It didn’t require any strain of the ear, though, for mere seconds later the doors burst open. Edge stormed in, while Alphys squeaked behind him and desperately tried to explain that he needed to be quiet.

Edge didn’t look happy, he hardly did, but this time it wasn’t directed at him…

He wasn’t sure how he knew, maybe he’d been on the wrong side of Edge's temper enough times to notice the difference. Edge just strode right past him, and for a second Stretch felt offended- only to soon realise the guy was pacing.

“You didn't think for a moment to inform me?!”

“I- I thought Undyne would’ve-!”

“If I hadn’t arrived hours prior then clearly Undyne didn’t say anything! Where is that fish, I have a word or more to say to her-!”

“Edge, shut up.” Stretch grumbled as he rubbed a hand down his face. The effect was instant. 

Edge was right beside him, looking between him and his chest (soul?) and empty cup nearby. He didn’t look very comfortable. He gave Alphys a look, and the doctor seemed to catch the hint. She yelped and hurried out of the room, carefully closing the door behind her.

It was quiet. Stretch felt inclined to explain himself.

“Edge-“

“I thought you were in the library.” Edge cut in. “You were late, so I just- I thought you got distracted again… but you weren’t in the library.”

Stretch frowned, confused as there was a shakiness in Edge’s voice.

“You weren’t in the bedroom, you weren’t with the Guards, certainly weren’t waiting in the dining room-“

He tried again. “Edge I-“

“So when I’m approached by Alphys, and she goes to me to give me a report on your condition-“

A hitch. Stretch stared.

“Stretch,” Edge’s voice barely left his throat. “don’t you scare me like that.” 

“P- what? I scared you? Because I fainted?” Stretch gaped, quickly sitting up — only to regret it as a headache pierced his skull. He slowly leaned back down, but still watching Edge. “It was hardly a concern-“

“You suddenly fainting wasn’t a concern? With that HP?” His glare hardened. “What if it was something serious, Stretch?”

“But-“

“What if you're just insisting it was nothing just so monsters aren’t burdened with you? What if you’re actually losing health as we speak? And you’re lying to my face and acting like you’re okay only to begin to dust before my eyes-“

“Edge!” He yelled, and Edge finally snapped out of whatever trance he was in. They met eyes, Stretch’s were firm for once in comparison to the vulnerability he was seeing in Edge’s ones. Why was he…? “I’m fine, see?” 

An orange soul formed in front of his chest, and no later he felt the familiar tug of a check. Edge stared directly at his soul for minutes, and honestly even though Stretch offered even he was beginning to squirm under the eyes.

“I’m not losing health, it was just a dizzy spell.” He insisted, finally returning his soul to his body. “I don’t have the HP to afford lying like that, Edge, and if I was really out for hours and my HP still hasn’t dropped, then there’s no harm, right?”

They both were intent on staring, on keeping this little battle going. Edge had freaked out over something small and Stretch could only make guesses- from the way he’d spoken earlier, Stretch could assume it was something personal. He doubted Edge was freaking out in such a way because of him specifically, heavens no, they hardly knew each other.

So what was it?

Edge caves in, and lets out a sigh and he leans forwards and brushes his forehead against Stretch’s, catching the shorter skeleton by surprise.

“Don’t…” he sighed again, a puff of breath hit Stretch’s mouth. “Don’t do that again.”

“I can’t promise that.” He quickly admitted, throat strangely tight. “It’s not uncommon for me, just know that it’s never been serious — it’s more of exhaustion than any sickness.”

They stayed still, and Stretch let Edge ease his breathing before him. Eyes closed, meaning Stretch could stare for as long as he’d like without the need to feel judged. There was more stress in Edge’s face, somehow he looked paler, and Stretch longed to reach out and hold Edge’s hands in his.

He kept still.

“Edge?” He finally spoke up, and Edge’s eyes slowly fluttered open — upon eye contact, Edge cleared his throat and slowly leaned back. Which was a shame, he was very warm.

It was quiet, until Edge seemed to remember something and stood off the chair. He headed for the doors and slammed them open, Alphys squeaked from the other side. Fear in her eyes, that’s the last thing he saw before Edge closed the doors.

Yikes, Stretch was glad he wasn’t on that side of Edge’s temper.

 


 

That had been a week ago, Stretch mused. Edge had acted very strange with him during the time, but after he proved he could walk on his own two feet without any struggle, Edge seemed to shoot back to his much more isolated self. They still talked, during meals, but it only got so far.

Honestly, Stretch was sure they’d gotten past this. Now he was regretting his little visit to the garden even more. It hadn’t even been worth it, barely saw the garden itself — and Edge freaked out over thinking he fainted for no real reason.

The guilt was eating him up, enough for the meal in front of him to look… very unappetising. He didn’t want a single whiff of it, and instead tried to distract Edge with conversation. It worked…! Sort of… it only worked for the first five minutes before Edge took notice of him not touching his food. Stretch attempted to appease him by cutting up the food as though preparing to eat it. It didn’t take long after that for Edge to catch up.

“Are you okay?” He asked, not exactly sounded concerned given his tone, but his eyes held enough of it. Stretch jolted. He hadn’t been expecting to hear that at all — Edge didn’t seem like the ‘concerned’ type. 

“Haha- yeah!” He forced out a laugh, looking to this right. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Edge looks at him a moment longer, but simply returns to his food.

Dinner was very quiet. 

Rest did not come easy that night. He found he was staring out the window longer than necessary, eyes catching the many stars that filled the clear skies. He was mesmerised by them, as he always was. Stars just had this air of mystery yet complete simplicity to them that just made Stretch want to know more. 

That was not the reason for his inability to sleep that night.

The lack of food, combined with the heavy guilt in his soul did nothing to soothe the ache. Not only had he completely lied to Edge’s face, but he also betrayed a trust- sure, a trust he hadn’t been specifically warned for by Edge himself, but one he’d been told would be better to leave alone.

And like a fool, he didn’t listen.

No longer able to find peace in watching the sky, Stretch rolled over to observe the monster resting just fine without him. He was surprised at what he found.

Any traces and creases of a glare were gone, leaving instead this peacefully serene face that tugged on Stretch’s heartstrings in the strangest of ways. Well, that wasn’t fair. How come Edge looked so sweet all of a sudden? He could stand to show this side of him a bit more, even if he wasn’t aware of it at the moment.

Eventually, Stretch reached out to cradle his cheek, then stopped. He yanked his hand back and turned over again, the crawl of sin sending shivers down his spine. He’s given in to temptation before and that’s what caused him to end up in this situation, he wasn’t about to do it again. He didn’t deserve to.

Closing his eyes, Stretch let out a long breath and tried to relax. An attempt to force himself to sleep… his body was not that generous.

 


 

He couldn’t take this. He really, really couldn’t take this. The lack of sleep was getting to him, he knew it. It’d only been three days since his fainting and he honestly felt like he was about to faint again. Edge had picked up on the dark circles, and occasionally asked him if he was feeling alright over dinner… and during such occasions, Stretch would catch a flash of fear in his eyes.

Given how he’d completely freaked out the other day by Stretch’s collapse, it wasn’t too far fetched for him to feel uncomfortable on Stretch seemingly getting worse. Something personal had happened, a similar experience, and Edge clearly must’ve thought something similar was happening.

It only added to the guilt he was already drowning in.

It’s during lunch, he snapped.

The meal was quiet, in ways that made both parties uncomfortable and yet Edge was doing a better job of hiding it. He was used to the silence, after all… but not a silence where Stretch looked so distressed.

He seemed finally ready to push about it.

“Stretch-“

“I’m sorry!” He blurted out, and Edge recoiled.

Stretch himself was also ready to just confess already.

With an awkward and panicked stutter, Stretch found his words came tumbling out and they came too fast for him to begin any beats or breaks. Edge was left to cluelessly listen on Stretch’s ramble of a confession.

“And I just felt like there wouldn’t be any harm in at least knowing where the room was so I went to check it out but it made me feel weird and I wanted to see what was up with that so I went inside in a moment of impulse and there was so much magic it made me feel sick and I quickly left and that’s when I was found on the verge of collapse because the magic was so dizzying and- and-!” He hiccups, and covers his face. “I’m so sorry!”

Since a young age Stretch had been raised to never sin, and to act on temptation for one’s own selfish, greedy desire was definitely up there with the sins. It made him feel sick, a different type of sick to the overwhelming magic- this “sick” was painful to admit to.

He was expecting a disappointed sigh, a yell or a scolding for going against his orders — anything, anything that would’ve been easier to accept. Any sort of punishment. He’d have been more than happy to take it.

So when he felt a hand rub away his tears, Stretch tensed. He looked up, almost shyly, definitely with uncertainty. Edge wasn’t smiling, clearly he wasn't happy but…

But he wasn’t angry either. And that’s something Stretch couldn’t even register.

“I’m not mad at you, Stretch,” he soothed, and Stretch felt both relief and a jab of hurt. Not hurt for his own sake, but Edge’s. “Disappointed, yes, but not mad.”

Edge stood up, and nodded towards the doors. He wanted to take him somewhere… Stretch didn’t have it in him to say no — not that he’d really been planning to. So he followed him, and his hands twitched in an urgency to hold Edge’s — to intertwine… or just to latch onto.

He kept his hands to himself. He didn’t deserve Edge’s touch.

They walked a familiar path, it always was a familiar path to be honest, but this one had certain twists and turns that Stretch found were uncomfortably familiar.

They were heading to the tower.

Why was Edge taking him to the tower? To this tower? Not to mention the heavy amounts of magic- he could already taste the overbearingly spicy magic as they moved up the stairs. Their pace was slow, and yet Stretch only wished they could go slower. The magic was weighing him down- how was Edge so-? So unaffected by it?

“You said there was heavy magic in the air?” Edge’s voice broke the silence so suddenly Stretch almost fell down the stairs. He swallowed down his nerves and nodded when Edge looked over his shoulder to look at him. 

They finally made it before the doors, and Stretch had to blink away the black dots in his vision.

“I hadn’t realised how suffocating it was, up here.” He murmured, and Stretch gave him a startled glance. He didn’t-? How did a skeleton just not realise? That wasn’t possible, it was so heavy, so strong, so much, so- so…

Stretch faltered. “It’s your magic?”

“Yes.” 

Well, that answered a lot of questions. Certainly made it more understandable when Edge didn’t seem to so much as blink at the suffocation. While one could feel the presence of their own magic, it never exceeded the point of a pulse of familiarity or power. Your magic can’t reject itself, after all.

“Come.” Edge walked forwards and pressed his palm against the doors — they picked up his magic, and slowly creaked open. Stretch stepped back. ‘Come’? Come in that room? Where the magic was undoubtedly heavier? Had Edge lost his-

“It’ll be okay.” Edge soothed again, and suddenly Stretch felt the presence of some sort of shield around his soul - a protection, he recognised, one made specifically to stop magic attacks. It only made sense that it could keep away the majority of the magic around the room away…

It didn’t make the fact that Edge’s magic was coiling around his soul any easier.

Upon feeling the heaviness of magic leave, Stretch stepped into the room, and it was as dark as ever. He almost knocked into Edge, but could roughly make out the figure of a flower in the centre of the room.

Edge flipped a switch.

A light weakly lit up from the ceiling, clearly unused to turning on at all, and Stretch staggered back at the sight that greeted him.

Flowers, flowers everywhere he looked. So many colours burst in his vision, so carefully sorted into groups of familiarity and family. The flowers wrapped around the room, while in the centre rest a fairly large flower. It was alone, and closed off, not bloomed like the rest of them.

Stretch couldn’t tear his eyes away. He’d forgotten how much he missed these colours. Blues and greens and pinks and purples…

No reds. Not a speck of red or black.

“It’s so…” Stretch breathed… and jolted upon hearing Edge.

“Destroyed.”

He snapped his head over, and Edge was standing by one of the purple flowers. He didn’t reach out to touch, as though he didn’t dare to… But, destroyed? The garden didn't look anything of the sort, the flowers were lovely, what was the problem? Stretch watched from where he was standing, silent, waiting for Edge to continue.

Edge didn’t.

“This isn’t my garden,” he returned to the matter at hand. “So you have just as much right to be here as I do.”

It wasn’t…? His garden? Then- who did it-?

“I’m fine with you being here.” Edge answered with a thoughtful hum. “Encourage it, even, given how this garden doesn’t have any glaring colour to it.

“But I can’t allow you in here if you don’t have protection.”

That was fair. And despite the old, rusty look the garden seemed to have, it was so, so gorgeous in comparison to the rest of the castle. A euphoria he'd be intending on spending more time in. Stretch breathed out a gentle laugh. 

“Don’t worry, I can conjure some good shields…”

It was a necessity. When his father had realised his HP wasn’t increasing, and his stats so scarily low, learning how to conjure shields of many kinds had become a sort of speciality in his skill set. Healing just came along with it.

“Good.” Edge sighed, then left the room. “Close the door on your way out.”

Edge must’ve thought Stretch was staying- he wanted to, of course, the garden had much to appreciate, but…

But he couldn’t stop his feet from moving, they stumbled forwards before breaking into a run — he turned off the light swiftly on his way out, and once he left the room, the doors closed by themselves.

That wasn’t important.

Edge heard the thunder of steps and looked over his shoulder, giving Stretch an odd look. He had every right to, Stretch had been planning on- on doing something but he didn’t even know what that was. 

So instead, he played it safe.

“Um- we haven’t- finished lunch yet…” Stretch tried pathetically, and Edge’s mouth twitched for a split second. The shorter skeleton didn’t comment.

“The staff have probably cleaned up the food by now,” Edge hummed thoughtfully. “But considering you haven’t been eating,” Stretch sheepishly smiled. “I can ask them to make something for you.”

“That…” he huffed out a laugh. “That’d be nice, yeah.”

Edge nodded, before turning again and leaving the tower. Despite the shield protecting him from the brunt of the heavy magic, when they left the tower the air still felt so freshly light in comparison. He basked in it, appreciating what he couldn’t before.

They made their way down the hall, Guards nodding to them respectfully as they passed by. Stretch smiled at them, and it always both amusing and upsetting to see the surprise. A shame, that they weren’t used to the kindness.

His eyes glanced around as they walked down a particularly long hallway, and soon found that they’d locked onto Edge’s clenched hand. It moved back and forth with rhythm, simply conveying the action of walking and yet Stretch couldn’t look away.

Don’t react on impulse. Stretch’s mind tried to remind him, and yet he couldn’t keep his own hands from twitching. This wasn’t really a… bad thing to impulsively want, and besides, Edge was right there — he’d be the one to decide if he liked the action or not quite quickly. If he didn’t, that would be that. No reason to feel bad.

So before he could even decide any further than that, his hand took the chance and sprang forwards. It clasped Edge’s eagerly.

Edge stopped walking.

Bad.

Instantly, Stretch yanked his hand back and panicked. Did Edge dislike it? Was he annoyed? Surprised? Pleased? Probably not. Maybe angry, that made more sense.

“HAA-“ Stretch breathed out a panicked laugh. “Th- You- uh- there was..? Something in your hand??” He tried a pathetic excuse, both hands waving around rapidly as though they were also trying to explain themselves to Edge. “S-Sorry!” He gasped out, swallowing down a scream. He was really freaking out over a touch, but Edge’s expression remained unreadable and Stretch’s heart could only take that as a bad thing. “Let’s just-! Go to lunch!!” 

He tried to walk past Edge, in an attempt to stay ahead of him so he didn’t risk eye contact. That had been the original plan.

He was stopped, quite suddenly, when a hand grasped his own. Stretch’s eyes widened, and he slowly looked over to face Edge. Edge wasn’t looking at him, didn’t say anything either before he began walking again and stayed ahead of Stretch. Stretch’s eyes focused entirely on their joined hands, Edge’s warmth covering his so sweetly. 

Sweetly. A word he’d never think he’d use to describe Edge in any form.

Due to where his focus has zeroed in on, Stretch failed to notice just how red Edge’s face seemed to have gotten.

Chapter Text

It’s been two months.

Two months since he’s been married to Edge, and two months of being crammed up in the castle. He wasn’t one to complain, especially not now with how he’d gotten access to the Garden. The both refreshing, yet stuffy garden.

Two months of sending letters back and forth to his father, things had been okay over at Swap, Dyne and Al had many things to say as well. Dyne’s cursive clashed so heavily against Al’s messy, angry scrawl. Or maybe it was just a passionate scrawl. May the stars have mercy on whatever quill Al used.

Two months of Edge.

They’d been talking a lot. During meals and near the end of the day when both would be in the bedroom. The bedroom of all places, Stretch was getting Edge comfortable with talking in the bedroom, who’d have thought? Sure, he’d spoken to him during their wedding night, but that was a pretty obvious exception.

Because other than that and the time Stretch was a little magic-y in the bedroom, he hadn’t spoken a word.

So to be able to sit with him and chat was nice, even if they were just sitting next to each other on the bed rather than facing or touching. He’d have liked to hold Edge somehow, if he was honest. The temperature was slowly beginning to drop and Edge’s heat was becoming more and more apparent as each day passed.

It was a shame, now that the cold was incoming. Sooner rather than later it’d be too cold to leave the castle, anyway. And while he loved laying around and doing nothing, he’d been doing so much of that lately that winter wouldn’t feel like much of a break at all.

For a supposed ‘Queen’ he certainly didn’t have many responsibilities, if any. He wondered if it was just because Edge was such a workaholic that he liked taking charge of everything. He brought up the concern with Edge, who in turn looked surprised.

“You want… to work?”

“Well, don’t phrase it like that.” Stretch pouted, cutting up the chicken. “I was just wondering why I don’t have any duties? I’m the- the Queen aren’t I?” He squirmed in place. “It just sorta feels like I’m not really doing anything to contribute.”

“Do you want to?”

“Shouldn’t I?”

“That didn’t answer the question.” Edge responded stiffly, giving him a glance before cutting up his own food. Stretch sighed.

“Yes, I want to.” 

“Then we can talk about this later, in detail, in my office.”

His.. office? Stretch felt a spark pulse inside him. He hadn’t entered Edge’s office, nor peeked in the two months he’d been here. Funny how he was so desperate to see a garden but something like Edge’s office didn’t- hadn’t sparked any interest. Not until now.

He found himself feeling quite restless for the day to finish.

It had come, in due time, and after a long, dragged conversation with Dogaressa (he loved her, but he was just really eager at this point) the doors of the office finally opened. Edge looked at Stretch and nodded.

“Come in.”

Dogaressa seemed surprised, which was understandable given that Stretch hadn’t really told her he’d be going in to talk with Edge- especially not about his duties, either. It was almost shameful, that he’d gone two months without doing anything. Almost, because technically it took one month for Edge and Stretch to actually begin talking and another for Stretch to honestly feel comfortable enough to ask.

The office itself was…

Honestly, by this point, Stretch shouldn’t be surprised. It was Edge’s workspace, of course it wouldn’t have had any sort of special exception. If this is where Edge worked the most, of course this room especially wouldn’t have any sort of decoration.

Still a shame to see it, though.

Stretch neared the desk and glanced around curiously, not bothering to put up pretenses of regality if they were alone. It was a pain to always keep his back straight. He wished he could just slouch, that’d be so much more comfortable. And at times, he did, when he was sure no one would walk in on him. Which wasn’t a common occurrence in Swap.

One of the things he’d learned to appreciate in Fell was the respect of privacy. 

“Cosey.” He answered dully as he gazed around the room, rolling his head on his shoulders. He couldn’t possibly be more sarcastic, and Edge snorted upon picking up on it.

“Good, I wouldn’t possibly want my Queen to feel uneasy.”

It was meant to be taken lightly, of course it was, it was followed after Stretch’s teasing comment. But there was something inside him that flipped when he heard Edge utter the words ‘my Queen.’

He was getting far too comfortable with that title.

Edge noticed the sudden silence, and tilted his head in question. Stretch waved it off.

“Anyway,” he gave himself a mental pat on the back for the lack of shakiness in his voice. “Duties, I’d like something to do before I lose my mind- anything you can spare me?”

Maybe he could have worded that a bit nicer, but it wasn’t like he had any ill intent towards Edge. Edge himself didn’t look offended as he made his way around the desk and sat down, and Stretch decided to stop leaning on the desk in favour of sitting down. Edge looked through the papers.

“Many things are possible for you, it all depends on how much you’re willing to shoulder to start off with.”

Stretch looked down, piles of papers with many different reasons of belonging, and Stretch had no idea which one he could even begin to understand…

Edge caught on his indecisiveness and decided to step in to help. “How about we sort out the ones you definitely wouldn’t want to do?”

Right, yeah, sounded simple enough. He’d rejected a few piles, ranging from legal matters to requests. He’d like to take on the latter, orders and such in order to help, but… 

He didn’t know these monsters well enough to know which were greedy and which sincere. It wasn’t as though Fell could afford to wave around their riches. 

Edge seemed to notice how his stare lingered on those papers, and a thoughtful hum left him as he searched through more papers, before reaching down in his drawer. Stretch looked up, curious.

“There’s one task I haven’t opened up in a while…” he pulled out a piece of paper, then lowered it so it faced Stretch. “It may interest you.” 

Stretch looked down, and his eyes widened a fraction.

Charity.

 


 

Safe to say, Stretch was very keen on that duty. He couldn’t even begin to understand why it’d been discontinued, but one uneasy look from Edge was enough for him to know.

It was best not to ask about it. Not yet, at least.

He was quick to scurrying around the castle with items and clothes in his arms that were much harder to find than they should’ve been. He talked to Guards, to staff, even requested to be sent toys from Swap in order to help, and gathered as many items as he could manage over the two weeks. It was exhilarating, to move and have so much to do all of a sudden. The items piled on and Stretch couldn’t be more thankful. Warm clothes, old toys, a few generous new gifts (admittedly those were from the Swap kingdom). The Fell staff were opposed at first, but for whatever reason struggled to say no when Stretch asked in that soft little voice.

He knew what he was doing, sue him, but it was for the greater good and the Fell kingdom had to learn to play nice with their things and share. He could afford a bit of persuasion for the sake of children, especially if Edge was being truthful when he said orphanages in this kingdom often struggled to keep children alive.

That in itself left Stretch feeling hollow for a good hour.

It was on the thirteenth day of his on going work that Stretch realised he’d need to leave the castle in order to properly participate in the charity share. And at some point he’d definitely need to go around the kingdom in order to collect more items for the monsters in need from the monsters that didn’t need them.

In order to do that… he’d have to leave the castle.

When he brought up that point with Edge, Edge actually fumbled. 

Stretch was taken aback as he sat on the bed, and watched as Edge almost dropped one of the toys he’d been observing. He’d barely caught it, saving it from damage. Stretch tilted his head.

“Edge?”

You want to go outside?” He asked shakily, not as an insult. Rather, a clarification. Stretch frowned.

“It’d be kinda stupid for me to collect these then just have someone else take them- that’s as if I’m telling the kids they aren’t worth my time.”

“No, I know that but-“

“Edge.” He rolled his eyes. “A trip to the orphanage won’t kill me, besides, I think it’d be nice to meet the kids, and possibly meet the monsters of this kingdom.”

Upon seeing the hesitance, Stretch gave a little push. “If I want to put more effort in my position, I need to know these monsters, I can’t just sit around and hope I’m doing this right.” He leaned over so he could get in Edge’s line of sight. “I need to meet them at some point.”

Edge clearly understood, objectively, that Stretch was right. It wasn’t like Edge was faulting the logic in it at all, no, but… well, clearly he didn’t like that Stretch had to exit the safe grounds when his HP was so dangerously low. 

While the fact that Edge was protective was nice to know, especially after that incident, it didn’t stop him from frowning when he knew the only real reason Edge was jittery about it was because he didn’t really want the monster that’d carry his future child to die quite this soon.

It wouldn’t be too fortunate. 

“Edge, buddy,” he didn’t know when he’d gone from a sarcastic ‘husband dearest’ to a teasing ‘buddy’ but he supposed this was what they were doing now. “If I have some guards with me, will that chill you out?”

“If you have Undyne with you it will ‘chill me out’.”

She must’ve been the fish monster.

“Great! It’s decided,” Stretch scrambled off the bed and rushed for the door. “let’s go inform her that-“

“Stretch.”

He stopped, breathing out a frustrated sigh. He was centimetres from the door’s handle, just a bit more and he could leave this room. But Stretch didn’t move, even when he heard Edge shuffle and step towards him.

Edge took his hands, and Stretch looked up.

A silent conversation passed through their eyes, emotions of varying degree being both shown and hidden. It seemed to be a battle of determination, so Stretch kept his gaze locked onto Edge, hardly blinking. There was so much Edge wanted to say, with how his jaw rolled and the occasional small hitches of his breath. Stretch was expecting it to all come spilling out, and he steeled himself in preparation.

Edge didn’t say a word.

When it became apparent Stretch wasn’t going to let up, Edge sighed and lowered his hands. 

“Promise me,” he said. “Promise me you’ll be back in time for dinner.”

Now, Stretch didn’t like making promises, especially ones he couldn’t keep. Especially ones that really shouldn’t require a promise to be made, but… Edge wouldn’t let him go if Stretch danced around that, so with a defeated sigh, Stretch nodded.

“I promise.”

The grip on his hands loosened (he’d only just realised how tight the hold was) and Edge allowed himself to breathe in relief. Stretch frowned, before bringing a hand and knocking Edge’s temple. The taller monster gave him a weird look.

“Hey,” Stretch grinned. “I’ll be fine.”

They stood there, and Stretch really wanted to step in and lean in Edge’s safe arms, and technically nothing was really stopping him, aside from whether Edge liked hugs or not. He chose against it, for now.

So after a minute of silent staring, Edge mumbled something as he gently pulled Stretch back to bed. They shuffled in and made themselves comfortable, Stretch couldn’t be sure, seeing as sleep took him so soon, but...

He could’ve sworn there was less space between them this time.

 


 

Undyne didn’t like him.

He was sure if it, the fish monster had done nothing but glare at him for the past hour. They left the castle gates and he was riding along with her on the same horse. Behind her and yet she still managed to glare directly at him.

It made holding onto her waist a little awkward.

He didn’t even know what he did, was it cause he’d gone and fainted on her a while back? Edge didn’t seem happy when he learned Undyne kept the information from him. He didn’t know why Undyne kept the information to begin with, but Edge hadn’t brought it up afterwards so Stretch could only assume it had been serious.

Still, as they travelled Stretch found that the air outside the castle was crisp and fresh. He’d been inside so long it almost didn’t feel real to be outside again, and he let out a pleased sigh in relief. This was something he’d like to get used to…

Well, if it came without the whole staring business.

He tried to smile at the passing villagers, but that didn’t ease their fear at all- if anything, they seemed even more panicked. Why were they so afraid? This entire kingdom was drowning in fear, and it made his soul uneasy. He just wanted to reach down and scoop up all the frightened monsters to bundle them up in cozy blankets.

He decided that wouldn’t be a good idea.

Instead, he tightened his hold on Undyne and tore his eyes away from the horrid sight. Undyne didn’t comment on it.

Soon, they reached the orphanage and, upon stopping, the owners of the orphanage (who happened to be outside at the time) stiffened. Stretch frowned, and took Undyne’s hand when she offered him help down and off the horse. The rest of the Guards stood nearby, but no closer. 

There was a small crowd around them.

Stretch stepped away from Undyne and neared the owners. Both rabbits, and shaking violently with each step he took as he drew closer. One clasped the other’s hand, and they both held their breaths as their bodies bowed. By instinct, mostly, rather than anything conscious.

He stopped before them.

“Why are you afraid?” He asked, voice as soft as a whisper. The rabbits jolted, and one of them looked ready to faint.

“Th- you-“ she gasped a few times, red sweat dripping despite her fur. Red. A common soul colour in Fell… the only soul colour in Fell, it seemed.

He kneeled down before them both, and he could practically feel the shock pulsing all around him. Undyne cleared her throat.

“My Queen, maybe you should stay standing-“

“I’m very aware of my actions, Undyne,” he responded calmly. “Please, allow me a moment.”

It sounded polite, but spoken in a tone so Undyne didn’t forget their difference in status. He may not like to dangle his title over people’s heads, but he wouldn’t hesitate to use it in a situation such as this.

He smiled patiently at the two rabbits, and their fear began to resemble something closer to suspicion and fatigue. Fair enough, he might’ve reacted the same if he was in their shoes.

“You don’t need to tell me.”

With just that, the shaking bunny to the left completely burst into tears. Stretch flinched, taken aback. Her friend desperately tried to soothe her, trying to shush her- reminding her who was before them. Stretch shook his head.

“No, she’s allowed to be upset if I’ve said something-“

“What-?” The right one straightened, and Stretch could feel Undyne’s discomfort to the point of it being amusing. He fought back a smile.

“Isn’t she allowed?”

“W- well, yes but-!”

“There’s no buts,” he shook his head, before facing the crying girl and softening his voice. “Would you like a moment to calm down?” 

“N-“ she swallowed a lump, then breathed in shakily. “No, my Q- my Queen.” The last word choked, and she hurriedly rubbed her eyes. 

Well, if that wasn’t a heartbreaking sight…

“I come with gifts,” he finally said, and both the rabbits froze upon hearing the words. The calmer one reached up to massage her ear, before timidly asking.

“P-pardon-?”

“Gifts, for the orphanage.” Stretch smiled at them both, before he stood up and headed for the Guards. They’d been still as ever, and Stretch took one of the boxes, Undyne grabbing the other two and holding them both under her arms. Clearly she wasn’t planning on letting him stray too far on his own.

Fair enough.

He stopped before the rabbits again, and dropped to his knees once more. Undyne wasn’t going to join him, but didn’t carelessly drop the boxes either, and Stretch could appreciate that.

He carefully opened the box, and let the rabbits peek inside. The tearful one gasped, covering her mouth. She looked like she was about to cry again.

“I couldn’t collect much this time, but-“

“Th- this is more than enough, my Queen!”  The timid one suddenly cut in, only to catch herself. Her hands flew to her mouth, and she looked sick. She’d interrupted him.

“I’m-“ she swallowed thickly. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t-“

“You got excited,” Stretch smiled, scooting the box closer to them. “I can’t be mad at you for that.”

She really did end up crying that time, and her friend barely paid attention as she subconsciously rubbed the girl’s back. The calmer one looked up, eyes wide as her voice was nothing more than a whisper.

“Why…?”

“What?” Stretch frowned, unable to ignore how she flinched. “Why help the children in need? Why offer items that us higher ups don’t need in order to help those who can’t afford them?”

“I- I hadn’t meant to offen-“

“You didn’t.” Stretch soothed, and his eye caught sight of a few children poking their heads through the large doors. Curiosity clear in their eyes, Stretch smiled at them. He picked up one of the toys and showed it to them. “Don’t be afraid.” 

Whether he was telling the children or the owners was anyone’s guess, but the words seemed to take effect as the tension in the rabbits’ shoulders eased off so slightly, and the children walked out with a nervous curiosity. They were slow with their movements, and Stretch didn’t move a muscle to avoid startling them. (Good thing he doesn’t have any.)

One of them, a little dinosaur looking monster, bravely stepped closest to Stretch. The others hid behind him. Stretch offered the plush in his hands, a mouse. Buttons for eyes and decorative stitches, and a very good cuddle partner. Children in Swap adored this brand of plushies.

For a moment, Stretch thought the monster was standing still as he tried to decide whether to take the gift or not. No, what he was actually doing was worse. 

He moved a little, looked up at Stretch then down at the doll, before moving again, and repeating the motions.

Did.. did he think Stretch was going to snatch it away last minute? That Stretch was gonna hurt him? Oh, why did a child have to fear something like that?

This kingdom really needed help.

Finally, the child got close enough to grab the plush with his mouth (given his lack of arms) and he reeled back. Eyes wide upon realising the plush was actually in his mouth.

And like that, a domino effect took place.

All the children suddenly launched towards the box with excited chatter, looking through all the different toys. The mere sight of them all huddled and so loud had the rabbits shed a few tears, though the calm one tried to hide her own by lowering her gaze. 

The bustle of life in the orphanage had definitely made heads turn, if it hadn’t already given the fact that the Queen and Guardsmen were there.

One of the children shrieked as they found themselves tangled in strings, and Stretch burst into a fit of giggles as the poor girl desperately tried to figure a way out. He reached over and gently lowered his hands on her arms. The girl still flinched, but didn’t pull away. With that, Stretch took it as an okay to untangle her. 

With quick success, Stretch leaned back and quickly wrapped the string around the item. The children stopped talking and watched the item with interested. Stretch blinked, before holding it up.

“Do you know what this is?” He asked, and the children shook their heads in unison. Well, that was something. “It’s a yo-yo.” He answered, and smiled when the children giggled and whispered to each other about the silly name. “Yes, quite silly.”

“What does it do, mister Queen?” The girl asked so innocently, that Stretch had to try really hard not to laugh at the title. He didn’t want to hurt the poor thing’s feelings, but he’d definitely need to look into seeing if that could become an official title. 

“How about I show you?” He said as he stood up, then wrapped the hole around his middle finger. He cradled it, before dropping the item with a flick of his wrist. The children gazed up in awe as they watched it go up by itself, Stretch easily catching it in the palm of his hand. Even Undyne had been looking with interest at that point, boxes still tucked under her arms.

Had none of them seen a yo-yo?

“And you can keep doing it like this.” He said, repeating the motion easily and continuing. The children crowded around him, and more from the orphanage began stepping out. The more timid or cautious ones. Ha, yo-yo’s really do bring the world together.

“Can you do anything else with it, mister Queen?” The girl asked, her puppy ears perking up with interest. 

“Hmm…” he hummed, taking playfully long to decide. Having so much attention on him should’ve been something he’d shy away from, but he supposed two months of struggle made it easier to accept the eyes. 

‘Two months of struggle’ he says. There‘s a jab in his soul as the cruel voice whispered to him. 

All you did was not get Edge to look at you, and these kids have probably been going to sleep every night starving… the world must be so cruel to you, huh?

He shot down the voice, the last thing he needed was for him to start panicking in front of kids. Or Undyne. She’d definitely report something to Edge.

“Well,” he finally spoke up again, before spinning the yo-yo so it landed on a stretched (heh) piece of string, still moving up and down the line rapidly. The kids gasped at the swift movement, and honestly Stretch had never felt cooler for learning to use a yo-yo.

“I may know a few things.”

With the excited shrieks and cheers of joy, Undyne offered the last two boxes to the rabbits — showing the large and good quality clothes. The timid one, Mercy, (a sweet name, in Stretch’s opinion) was unable to hold herself as her friend, Jeneatte, had to keep her steady. 

The little girl, the dog, looked up at him with the sweetest smile. Fangs somehow not affecting the innocence in her face.

“Thank you, mister Queen…!”

It was a good day.

 


 

By the time he was back in the castle, Stretch was honestly ready to collapse in bed. He’d spent hours with the children, and the rabbits even let him inside so he could play with them safer, or at least, so they weren’t crammed by the front of the orphanage and the boxes of items could be sorted. They were a bit uneasy, for the most part, and it was either because Stretch was still royalty, or because Undyne was sending death stares at them any time they wandered too close.

Or maybe it was both.

The dog, her name was ‘Bernadette’ but she liked ‘Burden’ for short. Stretch didn’t know how to feel about that, but Mercy quietly commented that she really did genuinely prefer it, despite its meaning. Stretch didn’t have much to say about it, in that case. Regardless, she’d gotten quite enamoured with the yo-yo and begged Stretch to teach her how to use it.

Safe to say, he’d be making more visits to the orphanage.

He hummed a tune under his breath, enjoying the achy exhaustion in his joints more than he probably should. A good, warm shower after this would feel heavenly. Especially considering it’d been so cold today.

He turned the corner and noticed a certain someone waiting by the table. His mouth curled. Of course, no matter how much fun he had with the kids, they wouldn’t make him forget a promise.

“You’re cozy, huh?” Stretch called out, and Edge huffed. The shorter skeleton joined him soon, sitting himself down. He jumped when Edge spoke.

“I thought you wouldn’t have made it.” He told Stretch quite bluntly. Stretch blinked, then his gaze narrowed.

“Buddy,” Stretch frowned. “I promised, I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”

The air was heavy, heavy in a way that honestly disappointed Stretch. Was it too much to ask for a day to go completely right?

Edge watched him, only to turn away from his gaze faster than was expected. A flash of hurt, and Stretch only mumbled a thank you to the staff when they brought the food. Other than that, he kept quiet.

It made his achievements of the day feel… well, not good enough for him.

He hated the quiet. 

 


 

Stretch didn’t expect much from the following day. Edge would probably ignore him, he’d hide in the library, meals would be awkward.

So safe to say, he was very surprised when Edge was the one who woke him up that morning.

“Hn- whadimeit?” Stretch slurred over his words as a hand shook his arm. He rubbed his eyes, dazed as he turned over to face Edge. The monster’s face was unreadable, or maybe Stretch’s bleary eyes just couldn’t tell the difference. What was Edge-?

“I thought it’d be nice for us to start the day together.” He said, as though there was nothing weird about his statement at all.

Stretch stared at him, before slowly falling back to his pillow and shutting his eyes. “Yeah, okay, lemme just wake up from this dream first.”

“I assure you it’s no dream.” 

Stretch sighed into his pillow, part of him really wished this had been a dream, and another part of him was having a hard time believing it wasn’t. Edge never woke him up, much less just because he ‘thought it’d be nice’. 

With another huff, Stretch forced himself up and rubbed his eyes again. The sun was barely peeking past the hills, from what he could see, and that in itself caused him to narrow his eyes at Edge.

“Please tell me you did not just wake me up at six in the stars damn morning.”

“The sun is up, so you should be up, too.”

“I’m going back to sleep, the sun can wait.”

“Your surprise can’t.”

That certainly halted all of Stretch’s movements. His what? Stretch had a what now? He looked over at Edge, as though asking him to clarify.

Edge didn’t. 

“Wh- you can't just say something like that then not tell me what it is!” Stretch guffawed, and the Fell monster hummed in thought.

“Can’t I?”

“Oh, I hate you.” Stretch snarled, and yet there was no venom in his voice. He forced himself off the bed and stumbled to the wardrobe, searching for clothes. “If this isn’t worth it I’m ignoring you for a week.”

“I doubt it won’t be.”

“You sound confident,” he snorted as he pulled his shirt over his head, quickly replacing it with some casual attire. “Can I get a clue?”

“Wear something for the outdoors.”

Stretch froze, and that’s the only chance he had before Edge trudged past him and left the room, leaving behind a speechless skeleton. Wear something for the-? He quickly looked down at the shirt he’d put on, before pulling it off and searching through the wardrobe again. He was sure Edge waited that long to tell him on purpose.

What a child!

It didn’t take him long to change, and he found some good clothes that were warm enough for the chill outside, as well as boots for the mud. It was cold, but stars was the ground muddy. It was annoyingly slippery, and it’d been two months of being inside the castle, so Stretch had forgotten about the slipping and sliding… Good thing Undyne had saved him from humiliating himself. Even if she did it while she was glaring.

Breakfast was annoyingly slow, and Stretch was certain that Edge was purposely taking his time. Come on, Edge, no one ate that slowly. Every chew and swallow felt like an eternity, and it was driving Stretch insane. He wanted to know what the surprise was, and Edge knew perfectly well how impatient he was being. 

Well, at least he wasn’t whining about it. No, he quickly caught himself before doing so, the flash of orphanage children causing his mouth to screw shut. 

Thankfully, Edge finally finished his breakfast and Stretch hurried to his side. He could tell the monster was amused at his antics, but that didn’t make him walk any faster. Their pace was steady, and Stretch wanted to smash his skull against the wall. You can’t just go slow after telling someone they had a surprise!

He really felt childish, and it took everything in his power not to pout at Edge. It felt like it took years to reach the castle’s field, when really it only took twenty minutes. 

The castle’s… field? Stretch hadn’t been here before. 

He looked around, uncertain as he followed Edge. It was a wide, open area, and Stretch honestly wondered why the army didn’t just train here rather than in the courtyard. There was more room here- albeit, more muddy, but hey that could increase their grip on the ground. 

Not that they looked like they really needed it.

They reached some building, and Stretch eyed it curiously. While quite extravagant, this was no doubt a stable. Why had Edge brought him here? Were they gonna-?

He didn’t dare get his hopes up… but it was becoming increasingly harder to do so when Edge held his hand and tugged him inside. His eyes sparkled.

Horses, most of them large and powerful. Despite the menacing appearance, they were well groomed and each room had a generous amount of space for the horses to rest in. Not to mention the place was quite toasty. It smelled, of course, but what could one do about that? Besides, the smell was nostalgic. 

Edge carefully guided him down the hall, most of the horses were black, from what Stretch could see, with the occasional spotted or patterned one. Stretch had no doubt that their armour was red.

Horses really were beautiful creatures. 

Stretch didn’t get much more of an opportunity to stare, as soon his attention was caught by a stunning mare. 

Oh, oh she was stunning.

A mostly caramel coating, with splashes of white that gave her such a soft looking appearance. Her large and furry hooves making her look so strong yet the purest epitome of elegance. Oh, he longed to reach out and run his hand through the long mane. 

“Do you like her?” Edge whispered next to him, and maybe under any other situation Stretch would’ve shuddered, but his attention was completely and utterly snatched.

“I love her.” He stepped away from Edge as he reached out his hand to the mare, she made a noise and leaned her head down, snout connecting with Stretch’s palm. He couldn’t stop himself from combing the mane. Edge hummed behind him.

“I’m glad, because she’s yours.”

Stretch snapped out of his daze and whirled around, eyes wide. Did Edge just-? Wait, what? But- when did he even-? How did he even- okay, maybe the how wasn’t that important but-

Edge made a noise, similar to that of a chuckle, upon meeting Stretch’s face. He probably looked really stupid right now, but- well, sue him, Edge just got him a stars damn horse and Stretch didn’t even know what to say about it. 

“You said you liked horse-riding.”

“I do! But, I mean- what? Did you just grab a horse and went ‘yeah that’ll do’ or-” 

“Let’s make one thing clear, Stretch.” Edge cut in, stomping forwards to grab Stretch’s hands. He cradled them both, though his eyes never left Stretch’s. “I will never, ever consider a gift for you as ‘good enough’, it will either be as perfect as can be or exactly as you desired it to be, my offerings to you will never be ‘half-baked’, nothing I do is sloppy, and you’re no exception.”

R.. romantic…? It would’ve been, but honestly Stretch had no idea where this had come from. Maybe it was less romantic and more just informing Stretch that this guy didn’t really half ass his shit. That made a bit more sense, especially given the context.

But that wasn’t the point right now. 

“Okay, okay,” he stepped back and pulled away from Edge’s hands, albeit regretfully. “I didn’t mean to insult it, ‘course not, I’m just,” He struggled to find the words, and subconsciously reached up to pat the mare’s neck when she leaned down her head next to his. “Why?”

“You mentioned you liked horse-riding with your father,” he answered swiftly. “I decided that after hearing your repetitive schedule to give you something to do, I wasn’t expecting the request for duties, so that may make it a bit harder to make time, but,” He stopped, as if remembering something. “Well, as you can tell the horses here don’t have much variety in colour, but they’re meant for war, and, well…” his face flushed hotly, and no matter how much he tried to turn and hide it, Stretch could still make out the rush of red magic. “You certainly break the colour code yourself, it’s refreshing to see you, so I figured you’d want something similar with your horse.”

Okay. Okay, wow, that was… Hnn that did weird things to Stretch’s heart, and all he could say to that was a strangled ‘Oh’ before turning away and hiding his face in the mare’s neck. Well done, Stretch, he just offered a horse that breaks the code for the sake of your happiness and all you can get your mush of a brain to say is ‘Oh’. 

“Ha… thanks, edgelord.” Stretch huffed, and ignored the look Edge had given him with the name.

“Well, that’s a new one.”

Stretch could tell that Edge was no longer flustered just by the fact of how controlled his voice was. He wanted to melt. Edge literally gave him the greatest gift and he was calling him names, stars he wanted to die.

Somehow, though, Edge didn’t sound bothered at all. “What will you name her?” he asked instead, and Stretch finally pulled away from the mare’s neck and pressed his teeth together tightly. 

What should he name her? He had no doubt most of the horses here had ‘scary’ names, and Stretch really didn’t feel any sort of sinister vibes from this horse at all. She was an angel in comparison to the rest of the horses here.

No offence, he mentally informed them. But my girl’s the best.

And he was already competing.

Back in thought, Stretch combed the mare’s mane as name after name slide through his skull. There were many choices to pick from, some that Stretch liked and others he shot down fairly quick. None of them latched onto him, though, until the seventh name popped in.

“Peaches.”

Stretch could feel Edge freeze he and refused to face him, because he knew he’d burst into laughter if he saw Edge’s face. There’s no way the guy wasn’t looking appalled. 

“Peaches.” Edge repeated, and Stretch almost choked out his tongue. Stars he sounded so done and Stretch could barely hold himself together. “I bring you a mare, in the Fell kingdom, and the best name you can think of is… Peaches.”

“Peaches is a valid name!” Stretch gasped and finally turned to face Edge, feigned offence all over his face. He held a hand to his chest for extra effect. “You just can’t accept true art.”

“Please reconsider.”

“It’s too late, she is Peaches and she is mine.” He buried his face in her neck. “She is my Peaches.”

“Stretch,” Stretch could tell Edge was fighting back a smile, the glare in his eyes fooled no one when his mouth twitched like that. “Peaches is not a fearsome name-”

“It will be.” He shot back without a speck of hesitance, before returning his attention to his mare. “Don’t worry, Peaches, he’s just a grumpy-pants that can’t accept the true wisdom of the name that is Peaches.”

“Stop, you’re making a fool of yourself.”

“Only for you, edgelord.” 

The taller skeleton sighed, rolling his eyes before stepping away from Stretch. It didn’t take much later for Stretch to finally realise that the horse opposite his own belonged to Edge. It was large, large and so, ever so silent. The other horses made the occasional snort or thump of hooves. This stallion was a statue. Hardly moved when Edge opened the gates after calmly accepting the lead. 

Stretch recoiled. The lead. 

“What-?”

“We’re going horse-riding.” Edge told him simply, and lead his horse out of the stable. Stretch really had to strain his ear holes to hear any noise coming from the horse- how were its hooves so silent? That shouldn’t be possible, and horses tended to have a ‘click clack’ sort of noise. 

What Edge said finally registered, and Stretch jolted. He reached for what he presumed was Peaches’ lead and easily tied it around her. She certainly moved her head more than the stallion, but was no less gentle and easy when it came to actually getting the harness on. 

Stretch felt a tingle under his fingertips as he opened the gate and easily pulled Peaches through. He was holding to a horse. A horse! Stars, it felt like far too long since he’d guided one. And to have one of his own! His father didn’t let him, seeing as when he’d asked was at a younger age and his physical form was much more fragile. 

‘You’ll get one when your HP increases.’ his father told him, and when it was clear that those numbers wouldn’t go up, the conversation was never brought to light again. 

Well! Suck on this, dad, I’ve got a horse! Stretch thought gleefully, and he quickly caught up to Edge. Standing by him with their horses right there, it honestly felt like a dream. 

“Where would you like to go?” Edge asked him, and Stretch faltered. 

Where would he like to go? Well, it’s not like he knew this kingdom’s layout. Hell if he knew where he wanted to go, and it’s not like it helped at all when Edge was implying they could leave the castle when just the other day every bone in his body was opposed to Stretch so much as poking a toe out of here.

“You’re…” Stretch couldn’t help but bring it up. “You’re fine with us leaving the castle?”

“I’m not entirely comfortable with it,” Edge admitted, nodding his head. “But, you were quite happy when you came back yesterday, I can’t keep you locked in here forever.”

Forever sounded like much too long a time, and honestly Stretch was glad Edge reconsidered his actions. The safety was nice, but suffocating. He appreciated a good walk, despite popular belief. 

“Well,” He raised a fist and playfully bumped Edge’s shoulder, earning him an amused look. “I don’t know my way around, so how about you recommend a spot, yeah?”

Edge’s mouth twitched again. “If that is what you wish.”

 


 

Alright, Stretch had to admit, for a gloomy, miserable looking kingdom, Fell definitely had fantastic greenery. The forest was full of life, even if it lacked any other colour, and honestly Stretch couldn’t begin to understand how the trees were so wonderfully green, especially considering it was autumn! 

He trot along with Edge, horses side by side as Peaches and Reaper (pffft, ‘reaper’.) casually kept similar pace. Peaches didn’t even seem to struggle to keep up with Edge’s stallion at all, something Stretch hoped he could say about himself when it came to walking with Edge. The guy’s legs were long, annoyingly so. 

Regardless, it was very peaceful. 

“I can’t believe you made room for me.” Stretch mumbled again for the thousandth time, and Edge sighed. 

“I really don’t understand why you’re so surprised, Stretch, you’re worth my time.”

“I mean, objectively yeah but-”

“Stretch,” knowing the tone by heart, Stretch was very quick to raising his head to meet Edge’s eyes. “We may not be your typical couple, but you’ve been trying for me for two months, it is only fair that I try back.”

Huh… Guess his attempts really hadn’t gone unnoticed. That made his heart flutter a little, and Stretch quickly tore his gaze away from the King. 

Edge organised his schedule so he could spend the day with Stretch. He’d left Undyne in charge of the army, and Alphys in control of any small papers. Which surprised Stretch, given that his first impression of Alphys’ and Edge’s dynamic was screaming and fear.

Maybe they were closer than he realised. 

As they trudged along, an idea slithered in Stretch’s mind. It was a silly, childish idea and yet it wouldn’t go away. He should drop it now, drop it before he embarrassed himself.

The thought grew when he noticed how long the path ahead was.

Before he could stop himself, his mouth curled up into a grin as he slowly turned to face Edge. It only took a few seconds for the other to realise Stretch was staring, and he looked over as well. He gave Stretch a strange look.

“What?”

Unable to keep it in, Stretch suddenly blurted out. “Race ya!” And with a whip of the harness, Peaches suddenly gained a burst of speed and shot forwards, leaving behind a startled Edge. No later though, Edge’s mind seemed to click, and he wasted no time in getting Reaper to give chase.

Stretch felt his grin grow, such a lightness in his chest that he couldn’t help but glow in delight, literally. His eyes blinked with magic as the first set of giggles left him, and the adrenaline pumped as he heard Edge behind him. Even Reaper couldn’t stay completely silent when running, though admittedly the steps were still so much quieter. 

It must’ve been magic.

At some point, the pair ended up breaking through some bushes and entered a clearing, where Stretch slowed Peaches down and laughed, actually laughed as Edge soon showed himself. He motioned for Peaches to move, and Edge copied. They circled each other, but Stretch couldn’t stop his fit. 

And upon catching an expression on Edge’s face, the laughter grew merrier.

“Oh my God- Edge, you’re smiling!”

Edge looked startled for a second, before he attempted to glare at Stretch. Key word, attempted.

“What?” A weak growl. “No, I’m not-!”

“You are!” Stretch exclaimed, straightening his back as he pointed at Edge’s face. “You are, you totally are! You can smile!”

The King didn’t look so sinister anymore, no matter how hard he tried to look it. “Shut it!”

“See that, Peach?” He reached down and pat her neck. “That’s what we call an emotion!”

Edge’s attempted glare faltered, and soon a devilish grin replaced it instead. Gone was that softness around his mouth, and instead his fangs seemed to sharpen. “Think you can get away with teasing the King?” He roared, uncaring of who heard them. “You will have to be punished!”

Stretch let out a squeal of both fright and joy as Edge steered Reaper towards them, and Stretch had no choice but to get Peaches to start running again. 

By the time they ended their little game of cat and mouse, the sun had already reached its peak and they both ended up returning to the clearing. Their horses were tied up nearby, peacefully eating the grass as the two monsters lay down on the grass, uncaring of the cold wetness that seeped through their cloaks. Side by side, they faced the sky.

Still light headed from the adrenaline, Stretch raised an arm and pointed. “That one looks like you.” 

It was funny to him for the first four seconds, before he realised Edge wasn’t nearly as amused. He looked over to him, a curious expression as Edge returned it just the same. 

“What looks like me?”

“The cloud.” Stretch answered bluntly, and they stared at each other for even longer. Seconds later, it clicked. Stretch sat up to look at Edge easier, the monster had taken to crossing his arms behind his head and resting on them. 

“Have you never played pretend with clouds?”

“I can’t say I have.” Edge raised an eye ridge, and Stretch couldn’t help a snort. He lays back down and scoots closer, explaining the game as he went, before pointing up at the sky and sharing examples. Fish, or souls, clouds could resemble anything if you were creative enough. 

Edge huffed. “You Swapverse monsters seem to have a lot of time on your hands.”

“You’re just jealous we can come up with these things- seriously, I can’t believe you’ve never played with clouds! Look, look, I’ll start,” he pointed at a particularly large cloud. “That one is the shape of a donut.”

“It’s a ball.”

“Now you’re getting it!” he laughed, angling himself so his head was closer to Edge’s chest, but never close enough to touch. “Come on, try again!”

And the game went on, guesses here and there, Edge calling Stretch out when he began shoving mythical creatures into the mix. Stretch insisted it was to make it more interesting, seeing as Edge was so bad at the game.

“It so counts!”

“There is no living proof of dragons ever existing, therefore a cloud cannot possibly resemble something like that.”

“I mean! You can tell it’s a dragon with that jaw-” he stopped, before rolling on his belly. Laughter seemingly never ending. “Okay, okay, your turn!”

Edge squinted. “Uh,” He watched the clouds go by, and as he took his time Stretch played around with the grass. Picking it from the dirt and knocking his feet together. “I dunno, I guess that one looks like a duck.”

“Huh?” Stretch tilted his head up and frowned. Which one was Edge talking about? He tried another angle, assuming the cloud he was staring at was the one Edge was looking at too. “Wait- how?”

Edge didn’t falter. “Cause I want it to look like a duck.”

“Wh- Edge!” Stretch pushed himself up to teasingly glare at the Fell monster. “That’s not how the game works!”

He was cut off when he heard a deep rumble, and soon realised it was the sound of Edge’s consecutive chuckles. The sound took him by surprise, and he couldn’t help but snicker along with it. Who knew the edge lord had it in him to laugh? Or do anything that wasn’t glaring. It eased out, soon enough, and Edge joined him in sitting up. 

They met eyes.

The air silences. 

Slowly, Stretch’s smile relaxed off his face, falling and yet not because he was upset. There was a shift in the atmosphere, and he felt his soul pulse with nerves and… something else. He swallowed, so many times, because no matter how much he did it didn’t feel like it was enough. Sweat clammed his palms, and there was a strange anxiety building up. It didn’t help when it felt like Edge’s stare became more and more intense, yet strangely fond at the same time. 

The gaze holds.

Stretch tenses at the feel of fingers brush against his own, and he could’ve sworn Edge’s face was closer than before. His soul raced as colour burst in his face, and he timidly awaited the outcome.

Then it breaks.

Edge clears his throat and turns away, mumbling something about it getting late. Stretch instinctively agreeing but not quite conscious enough to understand exactly what he said. He felt dazed. 

They sat there, very still, before Edge got up to his feet and helped Stretch up. It was then that he’d snapped out of it, and Stretch’s soul dropped in a disappointment that made no sense to him. What was he upset about, exactly? It's not like he wanted whatever they were doing to escalate. But what were they doing in the first place? What was the path, and why did it feel so right?

They kept their faces turned away from each other.

The return to the castle was quiet, no surprise there, and there was this awkward air around the two of them. Stretch honestly wasn’t even surprised, of course the mood shifted into the negatives when they had to return to this blasted castle. This place was cursed, he was sure of it.

They walk through the halls, greeting staff as they passed. Stretch’s smile was tired, but easy to muster. It would’ve, admittedly, been easier if Edge was holding his hand. 

He wanted to reach out and grasp it, but it didn’t feel like Edge would much appreciate it. Or maybe that was his dumb brain talking.

Best not risk it.

He went to sleep that night with not much else to consider. The day had been going well until it hadn’t. Just as any other day here. So, being used to it, Stretch easily rested his head on the bed and drifted off, and for the most part ignored the pang in his chest.

And just as he did, the body behind him seemed to shuffle closer. If he had been awake, Stretch would’ve felt the heat of magic caressing his back. 

Chapter Text

The crack in the ice had broken just enough for Stretch to breathe out of.

Stretch would like to safely announce that he and Edge have been making steady progress in this whole talking business. Astonishing. It was nice that they got to hold hands during it, too.

Ah, the hand holding. Stretch couldn’t get enough. More than once he wanted to pull Edge in and latch onto him properly, but couldn’t bring himself to even try. Instead he just happily accepted the hand, holding it any chance he could. Edge himself didn’t seem bothered by the excessive touching, seemed to enjoy it, actually.

Oh, recent addition to his schedule! Sundays were horse-riding days. Stretch managed to coax Edge into the idea, and since Edge ‘didn’t want to keep dragging his guards away from work’, he agreed in joining Stretch for a good few hours for the day. He couldn’t afford a full day off as he had the first time, so it could only last until morning’s end before Edge had to step away. 

It was nice.

The garden was also a common place to chat in, and though Edge knew Stretch could conjure his own shields just fine, he insisted it was more effective if his own magic was protecting him. 

Stretch went with it, even if Edge’s reasoning didn’t make much sense. It’s not like Stretch would really deny a chance for Edge’s magic to be so close to him- as close as can be.

Things were going good for two weeks, halfway into autumn meant that Stretch had a limited number of weeks to horse ride before it got too cold to go out. Undyne especially would need a heavy amount of warm magic, seeing as her body wasn’t made to handle the cold too well.

But it did make Stretch think.

If winter was coming, Stretch really needed to meet some of the Kingdom’s people, else he’d never be able to get through the requests and help Edge with paperwork. The next charity he wanted to start was an event for the lower class to get necessary items, but he couldn’t start until he knew the rough quirks of his kingdom… he’d hoped, seeing as tomorrow was Sunday, he’d be able to go around with Edge.

Fate had other plans.

“I’ll be running an urgent meeting,” Edge spoke swiftly as he moved around his office, gathering papers. “I’m afraid it can’t wait longer, you’ll have to go with someone else.”

Stretch frowned at him as he sat on the desk — recently he’d taken to inviting himself in Edge’s office and keeping him company. At first Edge told him to stop being distracting with all his chatter, but straight after admitted that he liked the company. Almost as if he regretted how he’d said it. So, as a compromise, Stretch just held back on the talking. It was boring at first, seeing as he hadn’t brought any books, but once learning the typical routine of Edge literally never tearing his eyes away from the papers, he quickly took to bringing some over. 

It definitely helped in keeping him quiet.

“Without you?” Stretch shifted in his seat, a pang in his soul. Edge said he’d make time for him, he understood that he couldn’t always keep the routine strict, especially not in case of emergencies. But…

Well, it didn’t stop the slight drop in disappointment.

“Yes, I’ll make sure Undyne keeps close watch-“

Ah, great. A glaring bastard for a glaring bastard. Only tiny detail that made ones company different was the fact that he was married to one of them, and got the other in trouble.

“-She’ll keep a close eye on you.”

“I’m sure.” 

It’s not like she’d ever seemed to fail in her job before. Definitely trusted enough to casually call Edge by name rather than title. He wondered if she’d ever call him by name, too… the idea was silly, it honestly didn’t feel like she had even a small thought to get familiar with him.

He didn’t know if he was relieved for it or upset.

Stretch must’ve been quiet for a while, because the touch of a hand on his shoulder snapped him back to reality with a jolt. He looked down to it, then up at Edge. The King watched him with a careful frown, leaning over to face him. 

Stretch swallowed.

“I'd love to join you, Stretch,” Edge confirmed slowly. “But I need you to understand that some responsibilities can’t just be brushed under the rug for a little relaxation — I’m still a king, and there will be times in the future that we can’t make time for each other.”

He knew it was true. He was completely aware that sometimes, maybe even a lot of times, Edge wouldn’t be able to drop a meeting or duty just for the sake of Stretch’s happiness. It wouldn’t be fair on him, and Stretch didn’t want to make Edge feel torn up about it.

That didn’t mean it didn’t sting.

“No, I know,” Stretch brushed the hand off and stood off the desk. “Chill, Edgelord, it’s not the end of the world.”

“Stretch-“

“Besides, I still get to go horse-riding,” he waved him off. “So it’s not like I’m missing an experience- I’m fine!” Stretch insisted when he saw Edge’s look. “We’ve done this together three times already, going one or five days without you isn't gonna kill me.”

Alright, maybe he could’ve phrased that a bit better, especially when he saw the tremble in Edge’s hands. Only for a second, before Edge crossed his arms and turned away from him. Still, his point stood, if he was going to the villages with Undyne then there’d be no issue, right?

Right.

“Alright.” Edge answered him at last, moving his way around so he could seat himself on his office chair. “If you believe you’ll be fine, I have no qualms in stopping you.”

Stretch let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. Somehow, though, it wasn’t out of relief. No, there was this lingering disappointment, as if he’d been expecting Edge to change his mind and come with him. To push this meeting aside-

‘Oh come on.’ Stretch practically slapped away the thought. ‘ He has his own life, I can’t drag him away- have you learned nothing?’

Stars forbid his father ever learn Stretch was turning selfish.

With a strained smile, Stretch gave the king a wave and decided to head out. Somehow, it didn’t feel right to stay — maybe because Edge was clearly busy and their conversation didn’t exactly lighten the mood. Whatever it was, it made Stretch leave earlier than usual.

Something he noticed Dogaressa wanted to ask him about when he left the doors, but given his lack of initiative for conversation, she remained silent.

Somehow, just for that moment, he was glad Dogaressa didn’t talk.

 


 

Stretch really didn’t think Undyne liked him.

She didn’t look happy upon hearing the news that she’d be joining him for a stroll, and honestly Stretch was beginning to wonder if it was his fault or Undyne just wasn’t the type to get buddy buddy with strangers, maybe both. Made him wonder how someone like her and someone like Edge could get along.

Both Stretch and Peaches stuck out like sore thumbs against the village, and multiple eyes were sent their way. All quickly averting upon meeting Undyne’s glare.

“Y’know,” Stretch frowned at her. “You don’t have to look at everyone like that.”

“They shouldn’t be looking at you.”

Stretch faltered. What was he meant to say to that? Especially when Undyne made it perfectly clear that that’s where the conversation ended. Under normal circumstances, he may have been intimidated- well, actually, no. Despite his status, Stretch could feel the furious yet controlled aura flaring around the fish monster. It was absolutely, without a speck of a doubt, intimidating.

He felt inclined to ask either way.

“Well, eyes don’t hurt anyone-“

“You’re the King’s husband, his treasure, his.” She snarled under her breath. “It’s disrespectful for others to look at you, you’re not theirs.”

Th.. what. That was a whole can of worms that Stretch hadn’t been planning on opening. What did looking had anything to do with claiming? And did she have to make it sound so… Possessive? He wasn’t some object, nor a ‘treasure’. 

“Undyne…” Stretch frowned. “They’re just looking- that doesn’t automatically mean they’re planning to take me to bed.”

Undyne was quiet, and Stretch assumed that was the end of the conversation. He guided Peaches to a nearby post, easily slipped off her saddle and going to tie the lead around it- Undyne stopped him.

“It’s best for you to hold onto her.” She told him gruffly, glaring daggers at his hands, or maybe the rope. “Horses make a lot of money.”

That certainly caused his hold on the harness to tighten. Thieves were common, then? Of course they were, not like the Fell kingdom ever tried too hard on helping each other. He nodded to her, and followed her lead as they made their way around the village. 

Monsters scurrying into their houses and a small amount of children peeking from their bedroom windows. Just like the orphanage, the monsters were absolutely terrified of their presence. It upset Stretch, but some part of him was glad that Edge hadn’t joined him. Somehow, he felt the sight of both the King and Queen would’ve caused for a good few heart attacks.

“Mm…” Stretch felt his frown deepen, especially after a woman flinched when he turned to smile at her, the streets were empty, and no one dared to step foot out of the safety of their homes. However safe those homes were.

Undyne caught his sound. “What?” She asked, voice sharp. Stretch really should’ve scolded her on talking to him like that, but… well, no matter what his father says, Stretch didn’t believe he was as fierce as his kingdom liked to believe. Especially not as fierce as this kingdom’s standard.

“It’s nothing.” he spoke softly, contrasting her. “Just wish they weren’t so afraid.”

Undyne huffed. “It’s good that they are, if they were comfortable enough to be in your presence without a slick of fear they’d use that to their advantage.”

Stretch’s eyes furrowed, and he stopped walking. Undyne stopping as well, whether out of loyalty or curiosity, Stretch didn’t bother to figure out. 

“I don’t want them to be afraid of me, Undyne.”

“Yeah, well, good luck with that.” She snorted. “This kingdom can’t be trusted-“

“Edge trusts you.” Stretch cut in, and he could feel Undyne’s flicker of annoyance at being interrupted. Good. Maybe she’d get mad enough to start interrupting him too, or maybe her loyalty ran deeper than her spite. “And you don’t take advantage, why are they different?”

That seemed to catch her off guard. She faltered for a moment, still not looking at him as she searched for the right thing to say. Whether there was a right thing or not, Stretch didn’t care to know. He just wanted Undyne to understand-

“I’ve been with Edg- my King,” she caught herself. “For years, we’ve built a relationship based on skill and trust, these monsters are all strangers, how can you just throw around your trust like that?”

“I never said I trusted them,” Stretch agreed with her, before taking a deep breath and turning around; Undyne followed him without a word. “But they haven’t given me reason not to trust them, either.”

“You hardly know them, my Queen.” Undyne growled under her breath. “I’ve lived with them, thieves, all of them- no honour, no faith, common thieves that steal things that don’t belong t- what are you doing?”

Stretch tied Peaches’ harness around the post, then stepped back as he clasped his hands in front of him. He faced Undyne, she snapped her eyes away.

“I’m putting my trust in the kingdom,” Stretch answered simply, before walking ahead again. Undyne faltered, sputtering out reasons on why this was not a good idea. Stretch acknowledged them, but didn’t change his mind.

“Edge- My King gave you that horse, are you really just gonna risk her? Does she mean that little?!” Undyne looked like she wanted to tear her hair from their roots, and honestly Stretch wouldn’t have stopped her. Stretch hummed.

“She means a lot to me,” Stretch said. “She’s a stunning, beautiful creature, and I adore her.”

“Then why-?!”

“I just told you.” He cut in once more, and Undyne’s temper easily flared. “She means a lot to me, what better way to put my faith in the monsters than leave what I love out like that? I can’t offer something of little sentimental value, I’d hardly call that a test, certainly wouldn’t mean much to me if it was stolen.”

“And what if they end up stealing her?”

“I’m sure she’ll cause a ruckus.” Stretch snorted. “She doesn’t seem fond when she’s handled by anyone that isn’t me or Edge.”

The memory of Peaches on her back legs and going wild when one of the guards tried to bring her to him was both a concerning and hilarious sight. His girl had a temper and was acting like a bratty child, but he couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride upon knowing that Peaches had already settled her loyalties. 

After that, though, the guards steered clear of her. Another task on Stretch’s list that he could do. It was nice, taking care of her without the overwhelming concern of his father’s aura. 

“You’re a weird one, my Queen.” Undyne finally answered roughly. No hint of amusement, but there wasn’t any venom either. Stretch would take that as a win.

“I aim to impress.” Stretch answered merrily, hands behind his back. “So! Since no one else wants to join us, that only means one thing.”

“What?”

“You tell me about yourself,” Stretch leaned over to grin at her, but Undyne made a quick attempt to turn away. “And I don’t mean that as an order.”

“...”

The walk was silent, but not in a way that got under his bones. There wasn’t that uncomfortable itch, so Stretch could only assume it was because they were outside, or maybe because the silence was with a guardsman and not Edge.

Undyne didn’t seem to know what to do, probably mentally fighting herself. Stretch wanted to reach out and soothe her, whether physically or emotionally, but somehow it didn’t feel as if she’d take the comfort kindly. Independent bastards were hard to comfort without them feeling suppressed. 

Clearly she wasn’t comfortable sharing, so Stretch decided to shift the focus.

“In Swap, there’s a festival where we try out new skills we’ve never done before.” He started, and Undyne seemed relieved at the decision. Points for Stretch’s observation and fast thinking!

“Oh?”

“Yeah, that’s how I learned to use a yo-yo, actually- my friend, she’s a doctor, ended up making a mess as she tried to bake-“ he snorted, covering his mouth in a pathetic attempt to hide his giggles. “Bless her, she and the kitchen were just not meant to be.”

“Mm.”

“Some things work and some things don’t, I guess.” Stretch smiled as they turned a corner, his eyes brightened at the sight of children. “It’s the trying that counts.”

One of the children he recognised from the orphanage- Monster Kid. He asked to be called “MK” for short, which was infinitely better than “Burden”. 

At first sight, Stretch thought they were playing. Everyone here was rough looking, so maybe rough housing was normal… that normality was thrown out the second one of the kids landed a punch on MK’s face. Stretch tensed, and he found himself frozen as MK weakly pushed himself up. He didn’t fight back, and that only caused the kids to mock and push him around more. 

They held up a familiar mousey plush, yanking it away any time he tried to reach for it and shoving him down if he got too close. He curled, doing his best to protect his body.

He didn’t fight.

Appalled, Stretch completely ignored Undyne’s warnings and stormed up to the kids. Three of them, picking on MK. He yanked the plush out of their hands.

“Excuse me,” his cold voice cut through the air like a knife. The children froze. “I hope I’m not interrupting something.”

And a second after he’d said it, the three kids bailed and ran away, Undyne was expecting a command to run after them. She was ready to, preparing a spear.

Stretch didn’t say anything to her.

“Hey,” he knelt down and carefully reached out to MK, and the boy flinched. His bruised face shamefully hidden, turning away from him. His soul broke a bit. “No, no it’s okay, I’m not mad at you.”

His voice was as soft as he could make it, and the motherly tone of it seemed foreign to the child, but MK was intrigued by it regardless. Or maybe it was specifically the words Stretch used…

I’m not mad at you.

This kingdom wasn’t doing his soul any good. 

“There we go,” he lowered a hand near MK’s back, using his palm to motion for the child to look at him. He didn’t want to force contact, especially not after what MK had just gone through. His will weakened, though, when he met the frightened, black eyes. He slumped. “Oh… How could anyone hurt a child?” 

MK trembled so violently that Stretch didn’t need direct contact to feel it. He hiccuped, ducking his head.

“... don’t..”

Stretch tilted his head, leaning forwards just a little more. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that- could you please repeat it?”

With a shaky gasp, MK snapped his head up. His tail tucked between his legs. “Please- please don’t tell them-!” 

His voice choked off at the end, and the shaking grew worse. Without being able to stop his instincts, Stretch reached out and quickly pulled MK to his chest. The child fought back tears best he could, if the small amount of dampness on his shirt was anything to go by. But…

Rubbing circles on MK’s back, cradling him as any mother would a child, Stretch rocked them both back and forth. Whispers of comfort and presence, Stretch’s soul pulsed with empathy, and he let the magic engulf them both.

It was a light show, the kind, green magic danced around the pair. Cuts closed and bruises faded in quick succession, Stretch’s magic grabbing the attention of villagers nearby, all peeking through the curtains or door gaps.

The child let out a pleased sigh, the lack of ache in his body undoubtedly helping his emotional control.

Soon, the light faded, and Stretch leaned back in order to get a better look at MK. 

“Better?” He asked, and the small monster nodded.

“Better.”

After a minute of sitting still, MK finally shuffled out of his hold. Eyes fixed and HP restored, though Stretch hadn’t dared to check, he didn’t want to know how much ill intent the children could muster. MK shyly looked up at him. Curiosity clear as day.

“How did you do that?” He asked, and Stretch tilted his head.

“Do what?”

“The- you took the hurt away!” He called out, up on his tiptoes. “I’ve never seen that before.”

N… never seen…?

“Do you know what healing magic is?” Stretch asked him quietly, and and the jab in his soul truly stung when the child shook his head. How did they not know what healing magic was? He didn’t like that, he didn’t like that at all. If they didn’t know the healing touch magic could make, how far back was their medicine? Their healing properties?

“Well…” he cleared his throat. “I’ll explain another time.” Because he had no doubt that this would take a while to wrap one’s head around if a child doesn’t know what healing magic is. Especially one in a kingdom such as this. “Would you mind telling me how many times those kids have hit you?”

“Oh- not that many!” MK laughed weakly, and some part of Stretch’s soul quickly latched to the idea that this was by far not a rare occurrence. “Yeah, no, we’re just playing! They thought the plush was cool and wanted a turn- it’s fine!”

The memory of MK just minutes before, of how shaken up he’d been about it, made Stretch quite confident on the fact that this was not fine. And he made sure to get that idea in MK’s head quickly.

“They hit you,” Stretch breathed out. “Repeatedly, that's not playing, especially not when you clearly wanted your toy back.”

MK quickly shook his head and jumped on the ‘defend my crappy friends’ wagon. Stretch didn’t say anything as he let MK go on and on about how they were actually nice and they just showed it differently, that he should feel lucky that they’d only knocked thirteen points off his HP.

That was thirteen points too many.

“Alright,” Stretch huffed, MK smiled at him, thinking that he’d gotten through to Stretch. Stretch held out an arm and pulled up his sleeve, revealing the delicate bone. The child looked at it weirdly. “Hit me.”

The silence was so sudden, so full that Stretch could hear the drop of a pin. MK looked up at him with a slack jaw and eyes blown wide, and Undyne made her presence known again by crying out to him.

“M- what?! My Queen, what are you-?!”

“I won’t hit you back,” Stretch calmly reassured MK, and the child swallowed. “We’re only playing, after all.. so go on,” he let his arm near the monster. “Hit me.”

MK looked torn between wanting to prove a point and not having the guts to. He opened his mouth, just for a second, then closed it again. He worked his jaw, as though he was about to bite- only to withdraw last second.

He looked up at Stretch, then down at the arm again.

His jaw snapped wide and thrust his head down, Undyne conjured her spears-

The teeth never even grazed the bone.

Had he snapped his jaw shut, with the right intent, Stretch would be nothing but dust on the floor. But MK’s mouth remained carefully around his bones, not touching, before he leaned back. He was shaking.

“I… I can’t-“

“And that’s good.” Stretch soothed as he pulled down his sleeve, stroking the boy’s head. “Fighting is never the answer, nor is it a game.” The skeletal hand slid down to cradle the boy’s cheek. “Getting hurt like that isn’t a game, don’t feel ashamed for doing the right thing.”

Rubbing away the boy’s tears, Stretch offered the plush again, and MK quickly grabbed it with his mouth. He waited for a few seconds, most likely expecting Stretch to tell a ‘sike!’ And snatch back the doll. Horrible, truly horrible.

Seeing that Stretch didn’t move, he bowed low to him then hurried away. Stretch had a heart attack when the kid fell on his face, but he hardly seemed shocked by it and instead carried on.

That… was something.

Stretch sighed, then finally stood up and pat down his trousers. He turned to face Undyne- only to jump as her glaring eyes were pushed right into his face.

“Have you absolutely lost your mind?!”

Oh, if only.

“He literally could’ve ki-“ she cut herself off, suddenly aware of the village before growling low at Stretch. “I’m so reporting this to Edge.”

Ah.

“Oh- Wait, we can talk about this.”

“Absolutely not.” She snarled, grabbing the horse again and storming back to the castle, obviously Stretch couldn’t just stay alone so he hurried after her. “You risked your life- right after you saw how dangerous kids here can be! And now you have some weird ass magic that heals shit and you didn’t bring this up- the fuck?!”

“Undyne, please!” He huffed breathlessly, struggling to keep up. “I couldn’t let him think that getting hurt was okay! Would you have left him?”

That caused her to slow down. Stretch frowned at her, watching each twitch and crease on the fish’s face. Eventually, she tore her gaze from the ground and looked on ahead.

“My Queen,” she started carefully. “My job is to protect you, I can’t do that if you’re purposely trying to dust yourself.”

“Undyne…” he spoke with exasperation. “You were ready to fight should anything have happened, besides, have a little faith,” Stretch knocked Undyne’s shoulder with his knuckles as it clanked with bones against metal. “He wouldn’t have gone through with it, he didn’t even fight back against the kids.”

“You have too much faith in this Kingdom’s people.”

“Maybe,” Stretch admitted, before looking up and stopping. Undyne turned to face him with questioning eyes, only for them to twitch when Stretch gave her a smug look. “But, I think it’s rightfully placed.”

Undyne groaned and, regretfully, turned to look at whatever Stretch was talking about.

Just ahead, Peaches remained completely untouched. She raised her head with recognition, no panic or distress seen in her eyes. Stretch easily walked up next to her and untied her from her post. Undyne grumbled under her breath.

“This doesn’t mean anything.”

“‘Course not.”

Pulling her away from the post, Stretch easily hoisted himself up onto her saddle, and Undyne followed his motions. He smiled at her, she looked away.

Undyneee~” he spoke in a sing song voice, and the fish monster groaned again at the sound. “Pretty please don’t tell Edge with a cherry on top?”

“What-“ she twitched. “What does that even mean?”

“It means you should absolutely not tell Edge what I did today?” He tried again, and Undyne dramatically rolled her eyes.

“I can’t not report this.”

“Maybe try and dance around the topic? You don’t have to lie just- y’know, don’t word it specifically?”

“And how exactly are you expecting me to do that in front of Edge, my Queen?” Undyne scoffed, and Stretch pouted at the tone.

“Well, we could start with telling him that I made a child feel better!”

The bickering went back and forth, Stretch presenting ideas and excuses to use other than the solid truth, and Undyne sighed or groaned at most of his suggestions, flat out rejecting the rest. Which! Was awfully rude. What was so wrong with telling Edge how much of a valiant hero he’d been in saving a child from dastardly beasts?

Though he supposed Undyne made the fair point of the made up story being worse than the real one.

The conversation lasted all the way to the castle. Stretch couldn’t be sure, but he swore he saw a flicker of amusement in Undyne’s eyes.

 


 

“Undyne had the strangest things to say when reporting on your day.”

“Oh?”

Stretch didn’t look up from his book as Edge entered the library, and honestly he found himself a little giddy at being so casual. Ha! Him, causal with another kingdom’s king. His father would be so proud.

“Yes,” a gloved hand reached for his book and pulled it out of his grasp, and Stretch pouted up at Edge. The taller skeleton’s eyes remained as inexpressive as ever. “So how about you tell me what happened? I’d like to hear it from you.”

“Isn’t it dinner time?” Stretch looked to the right, eyeing the clock for a few seconds. Edge didn’t let him change the subject as he pulled out a chair and sat down next to him. Stretch tensed.

“Stretch.”

Stars he hated that tone. 

And Edge knew that tone worked because each time he used it, Stretch caved in. Damn him and his voice, if Stretch didn’t have any self control he’d have crushed the cursed thing.

“Yes, yes, you’re upset about something.” Stretch grumbled, elbow to the table and cheek in his palm. “Just tell me what it is, no need to delay.”

“Did you or did you not risk your life?”

Well, Edge really didn’t beat around the bush when it came down to it, he supposed. And for a second, Stretch was actually caught off guard. What exactly had Undyne reported? What a snitch!

“Oh, come on.” Stretch groaned, rubbing a hand down his face. “You’re making a big deal out of something so small!”

“It’s not small in the slightest.” Edge growled. “You saw that children are capable of ill intent, and straight after you let one hit you- you don’t have the defences, and you don’t have the HP, do you not realise how frail you are?”

Stretch pulled a nasty face, mood soured as he turned away from Edge. He didn’t want to see another second of the dumbass’ face.

Look at me, Stretch.”

Oh he despised that voice.

Bitterly, Stretch glared up at the king. The other’s eyes remained calm and yet firm, he wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t about to lose his temper, either. Though, he supposed last time he did that it hadn’t ended well- would definitely make his point a little awkward.

A hand reached up to his cheek, almost touching but never completing the journey. Stretch could feel the magic heat emitting from it in waves, and he wanted nothing more than to lean into it and hold the hand and-

Oh, fuck it.

He did just that, allowing himself to relax into the touch. Edge tensed under it for a split second, only to calm himself straight after. Edge leaned close, red and white eye lights gazing into each other with a peaceful serenity. Stretch forgot his anger, in place of the warmth in his soul.

“Stretch,” Edge spoke roughly, his thumb gently rubbing Stretch’s cheek. “To hear from others a second time that you were at risk,” a shaky breath. “Please, please be less careless next time, if the kid really did bite down, you’d be...”

The sentence wasn’t finished.

Stretch sighed. He knew what he did was stupid, maybe if he had at least the average amount of HP he wouldn’t have been getting scolded. Stretch could barely survive an ill intending punch. Naturally, people would freak out if Stretch went out of his way to risk an injury as serious as a bite.

But still.

“It was necessary,” Stretch frowned. “He needed to see.”

Seconds passed before Edge sighed and leaned back, taking his hand with him. Something Stretch didn’t appreciate, but didn’t ask for either. The pair settled in a silence just like many others, and Stretch didn’t mind it too much. 

Soon, the moment of piece was broken as Edge lifted himself off the seat and reached his hand out to him.

“Come,” he said, and Stretch easily took the hand as he stood up. “We wouldn’t want dinner to get cold.”

Well, that was as good a reason as any to leave the library, so Stretch didn’t struggle or resist as he was gently lead to the dining room. At the very least, their talk didn’t end in an argument, that would’ve caused for some nasty looks being sent Edge’s way throughout dinner.

 


 

It really was a treat to watch Edge train. Each move was calculated and controlled, yet no less predictable. He scanned the area and his opponents, and used everything as an advantage, a skill gained through years and years of training. It was hard to imagine that Edge would’ve ever been a beginner, given how seamlessly he worked through his training.

Normally, Stretch avoided the courtyard like the plague. Ever since his first visit, all he could feel any time he wandered near the cursed spot was the burning humiliation from when Edge brushed him off in front of everyone.

He still hadn’t apologised for that.

But it wasn’t just that, any time he neared the courtyard there was this… heaviness in the air, a sinful feeling that Stretch’s soul registered as LOVE. It disturbed him, how the monsters here had high LV, but mostly it made him feel off. Like his patience wore thin, or the uncomfortable fear settling in him.

Shaking the thought away, Stretch’s focus returned to the grounds and watched as the guards all trained rigorously. The constant clangs of metal against metal pierced his skull, but he managed to sit through it. 

He couldn’t help but feel a shiver, and not because it was chilly today. There was some sort of longing thrill that ached, and he didn’t understand it. Was it because Edge was training? That Undyne wasn’t glaring at him for once? Albeit, she wasn’t looking at him at all.

Strange.

He made himself more comfortable on the bench, a respectable distance from the fighting and certainly safe from any sharp blades. While he loved observing Edge, his attention was soon caught by a pair of nearby soldiers. They were talking to each other, more so than other training partners. While the rest of the army either yelled out criticism to their partner where it was needed, these two seemed to be…

Stretch blinked. They were teasing each other.

Flirting, specifically. 

Now that was juicy. Stretch struggled to refrain an intrigued smirk, watching as the pair clashed and battled and yet with such eager energy that had nothing to do with the training itself. It was amusing, and Stretch wondered if the pair were aware of the signals they were sending or were completely oblivious.

Stretch wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face if it was the latter. 

The training ceased soon enough, and the pair that Stretch had been watching stayed close to each other. One of them curled their long tail around the other’s leg, which caused them to snicker under their breath.

The amusement and light air was soon washed away as Edge sauntered over to them; he didn’t look impressed, but then again, he hardly ever did in the presence of strangers. 

Stretch couldn’t hear exactly what they were talking about, but given how the tail curled away from the monster, he could only assume Edge was scolding them for behaving like flustered teens.

Apparently there was no time for blossoming love in this castle, no sir. Stretch frowned as the two monsters ducked their heads in shame, or respect. Either one, it didn’t matter, Stretch didn’t like how upset they’d suddenly become.

So, he decided to ask Edge about it.

“How come you don’t let them be happy?” 

Edge’s long strides slowed down, and he sent Stretch a perplexed look. Stretch was fiddling with the cuff of his button shirt sleeve, hardly sparing the other a glance. 

“Pardon?”

“Those guards you talked to,” Stretch looked up at last, frowning at him. “During training, they weren’t doing anything wrong.”

“I was informing them to keep that behaviour out of the courtyard,” Edge grumbled. “I don’t need them getting distracted, they’re there to train, not flirt.”

“So if I was the one to flirt, would you be opposed?” He asked teasingly, but was startled when Edge suddenly growled at him.

“Of course I’d be opposed.” He said in a swift and firm rejection, harshly enough for Stretch to flinch. “You want to just walk up to me in the middle of my training just to say a few nice things? It’s a waste of time, time I could’ve used to get stronger.”

Stretch’s face twitched, and the drop in his soul made him feel sick. It was one thing to have the implication of steering clear of Edge during his training, and another to be flat out told to fuck off. He swallowed a lump.

“So my words are just a waste of time?” He spat, and Edge’s eyes narrowed. 

“Don’t word it like that, training is a vital part of the army, you are fully aware interrupting me just to say something nice is a waste of time-“

“Maybe to you!” He snapped back, fists clenching by his sides. He knew he was being unreasonable, that Edge was absolutely right. But it hurt when he worded it like that- it hurt to hear him say that it would’ve been a waste of time. “Maybe I just thought you’d appreciate it!”

“Well, good thing you know now that I wouldn’t.” Edge snarled, and Stretch could taste the Lv rising in the air, Edge’s red magic pulsing uneasily. That in itself should’ve been a prioritising concern, as the only other time he’d felt the slice of Lv was during the time in the bedroom. Just from that flag alone he should’ve stepped back, been the bigger person and calmly worked through the issue.

He didn’t. He stepped closer.

“What next, edgelord? Planning on keeping me from talking to others at all? Locking me up in your room? Disallowing me contact with my father?!”

“You are blowing this out of proportion!” Edge held up an arm between them to keep Stretch from coming closer, Stretch glared.

“Maybe I am! But you also need to let monsters have a little fun around here!”

“What they do in their own time is none of my concern, it’s when they drop it during duties where it a problem.”

He was making sense. He was making far too much sense and Stretch hated it, he wanted to point fingers and throw everything at Edge. The words continued to sting, and Stretch yelling out his frustrations wasn't helping. 

He didn’t want to be wrong.

“You can’t always have a stick up your ass, Edge! They couldn’t help it!”

“They absolutely could, and I was there to remind them just that!” Edge raised his voice, refusing to grab at Stretch or push him. Only stopping him from getting closer.

“Why couldn’t you just let it slide?!”

“Why can’t you mind your own business?!” Edge straightened himself towering over Stretch, holding back… something . “Must you whine about every little thing?! There's always something you're upset about and I've had just about enough of it, all I did was remind them that they shouldn't flirt during work and they listened to that easily enough, and yet here I am stuck with a monster that can’t handle a little discipline!”

Stretch paled, as did Edge. Seconds passed, the silence deafening. Shock was written all over them both and it only turned for the worst as hurt finally showed itself in Stretch’s face. Edge staggered back. 

“Stretch-“

Stretch ducked his head, and with a burst of vibrant orange, he was no longer in the hall. Instead, he hurriedly put up the shields as he collapsed near a flower bed. He buried his face in his arms as he hugged his knees, breathing heavy.

What- what even happened?

He just lost his temper with Edge for doing something reasonable. Stars above what was wrong with him? Stretch couldn’t control the shaky hiccups and wet gasps. Edge had every right to yell at him, he had every right to be upset- every right to say everything he did-

He couldn’t breathe.

Heavy gasps left him, and he clawed at his shirt to tear it off his body. Yanked the restrictive cloth and chucked it away from him. His blurred vision grew worse, and he squeezed his eyes shut. He ignored how the orange magic lashed out of him, finding comfort in the protective hold it had around him. 

He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe he couldn’t breathe-

A voice.

He heard a voice, so gentle and sweet that it made him sick. Soon after, familiar magic reached out to him and he wanted to push it away and curl his own closer to his soul. But his soul responded eagerly, latching onto the magic and letting it engulf him.

The orange and red mixed into a new colour, one Stretch didn’t have the conscious to describe. His attention shifted when the calming waves of magic flowed into him like a stream, tickling his bones and dancing around the room.

With a hiccup, Stretch rubbed his eyes and trembled. Hands settled on his arms, and he could make out the dangerously red eyes of none other than Edge. How did Edge find him so quickly? Had it been quick? He wasn't sure, his head hurt. 

Edge whispered to him, quiet sweet nothings that held no other purpose aside from comfort. Stretch’s bones rattled, breath occasionally hitching.

“Ed.. Edge-“

“Shh,” Edge settled next to him, taking off his cape and wrapping it around Stretch’s shoulders, keeping his arm there. “You don’t need to talk.”

Stretch couldn’t stop the wet, nervous laugh. Funny, how Mercy had reacted just the same when Stretch spoke those precise words to her. The relief of being given an out felt good, but he didn’t take the chance. 

Edge didn’t deserve that.

Stretch scooted closer and let himself slump against Edge’s side. He could feel the body tense, only to relax right after. It wasn’t a surprise at this point.

Minutes ticked by, and Edge didn’t pull away from him. Stretch sighed, enjoying the warm body. Maybe he shouldn’t have pulled off his shirt, but hey, he got a cool cape out of this..

Edge didn’t say anything. Stretch took initiative.

“...m’sorry.” His voice barely reached past the barrier, and he could feel Edge shift to face him. “I don’t… know why I acted like that.

“I shouldn’t have gotten so… so angry. You were completely right, they shouldn’t have been messing around but I just- I thought it’d be nice if we did the same thing and when you said-“

He struggled to find the words, before he let himself burn out and slump further into Edge. 

“I’m sorry.”

That’s all he could say, really. There was no excuse for his reaction, and the fact that Edge was holding himself back and mostly keeping calm when Stretch was being pissy just made him feel worse. 

There was a shrug of Edge’s shoulders.

“If it bothers you that much, you can-“

“No!” He suddenly sprang away, gaping at the other. Edge raised an eye ridge. “Edge- Edge you are not at fault here!”

“I said things that hurt you.”

Stretch’s eye twitched, and he scrambled in front of Edge. Hands on the other's shoulders, Stretch made sure Edge was looking at him.

“Yeah, you did, and guess what!” He frowned at him. “You said those things right after I acted like a brat, you got mad and rightfully so, I deserved that!”

“No, I gave into my LV.” Edge awkwardly squirmed before his fiddly hands settled on Stretch’s hips. “You were probably affected by it-“

“Don’t-!” 

Edge jumped at Stretch’s sharp tone, though it seemed neither were expecting it. Stretch quickly softened his voice.

“Don’t… don’t blame yourself, please, let me take it- let- please , Edge-“ his voice broke off, and he buried his face in the crook of Edge’s neck, gripping the front of the other’s shirt. His trembling bones were quickly soothed by the stiff yet gentle touches of Edge’s fingers. “Please…”

Edge sighed, and leaned back to give Stretch more surface to lay on. He didn’t say anything about it, so Stretch understood that Edge wasn’t going to stop blaming himself. He sighed, shaking ceasing as he let himself relax. If Stretch hadn’t gone emotional then…

Then..

...He should ask about that. 

“Edge?” He shyly looked up at the other, Edge was facing the ceiling but still acknowledged him with a hum. Giving him the perfect opportunity to ask about… them. 

He’s stuck with you.

An opportunity he didn’t take.

Stretch settled for another question. “Why don’t you tell me about the garden?” 

The question didn’t seem to exactly surprise Edge, but he was still caught off guard by it. He tilted his head down, sparing Stretch a glance before shuffling and facing the ceiling again. He breathed out a sigh.

“What is there to say?”

“You said it was destroyed.” Stretch mumbled, gaze focused on a nearby crack on the floor. “Why?”

Edge didn’t say anything at first, and Stretch wasn’t expecting him to. The garden was a personal thing, after all, the idea that Edge would share anything after that argument was laughable.

So safe to say Stretch was surprised when Edge did start talking.

He sighed, rubbing his eyes. “That’s… there’s a lot to unpack with that, depends on what you want to know specifically.”

Stretch frowned, before reaching up to play around with the torn ends of Edge’s cape. “Well, let's start with something simple- how come there aren’t any blacks and reds in here?”

He had a feeling he knew the answer, but you may as well start a topic from somewhere, right?

Edge snorted. “After living your whole life with those colours, just about anyone would find them mind numbingly dull.”

“Hah,” Stretch huffed out a weak laugh. “Why don’t you change the weird rule, then? You have the power to.”

“I do.” He agreed, but didn’t offer a reason as to why he didn’t. Didn’t seem like he was planning to, either, so Stretch opted for another question.

“How do you find the time to take care of the garden amongst everything else? There’s so many flowers here, and you already do so many other things.”

“I don’t.”

What? Stretch blinked up at him, giving him a weird look before asking. “What do you mean?” 

“This is…” he faltered, then quietened his voice. “ was… the King’s garden.”

He stared at him for a while longer, gears in his head turning. Stretch sat there at a loss for words, not understanding what Edge was trying to say. He was about to ask, but Edge beat him to the punch.

“I use magic to keep this place alive, but that’s as far as my magic can go, so the flowers aren’t- they aren’t really alive, just frozen in time.” Edge grit his teeth. “I can’t bare to part with this place, nor let someone else touch it, but I don’t…” he breathed out through his nose. “I don’t have the time.”

He sighed, shoulders dropped just a little before he turned his head and leaned into Stretch’s.

“My father’s garden.”

And then it clicked. 

Chapter Text

The King’s garden, at first giving you the implication it belonged to the current King, Edge. And yet the pieces fell into place and Stretch learned that this was none other than the previous King’s garden, Edge’s father. A monster that Stretch knew next to nothing about, aside from his death and long ownership of the kingdom. 

He owned a garden such as this.

Edge must’ve been close to him, that or respected him to the point of not wanting the last bit of his father’s existence to disappear. It was strange, though, that there were no paintings that Stretch could see of Edge’s father. The staff never brought him up (albeit Stretch never asked) and it seemed to be a name that no one was going to just drop in the village. 

Stretch wished he knew more.

But that was beside the point, that wasn’t what Stretch was focused on. No, instead his mind had been buzzing with how Edge had mentioned he missed the garden. The place held a rotten stench of magic, and while it was visually lovely, Stretch could only handle so much magic at once, even if he had protection.

Naturally, this probably wasn’t the garden Edge was missing. At least not in the state it was in now. 

Whoever this previous King was must’ve had some books on these flowers, so in order for this plan to take place, Stretch had to research.

With some parchment and ink, Stretch hurried to the library and quickly set everything down on the table before moving around the room in order to find the books he was looking for. There were many, many books, and Stretch was never more thankful to see that the books were sorted through genre and topic rather than an alphabetical order.

Grabbing four of them, Stretch hurried over to a table and sat himself down. He had two hours before it was time for lunch, he had to keep tabs on the time if he wanted to keep Edge from seeking him out and risk finding out about this.

Why are you keeping it a secret?

Stretch faltered. Why was he keeping it a secret? It’s not like it’d matter if Edge learned about it, hell maybe he’d be willing to lend a hand in helping him figure out the exact sort of flowers that these all were.

Because I want to surprise him.

Just to see a look like that on Edge’s face without a hint of horror or regret, as he’d first seen it when Edge had accidentally hurt him, would probably make his week. That was as good a reason as any to keep things a little hushed from him.

Flipping open the books, Stretch allowed himself to seep into the world of green thumbs and pretty petals.

Admittedly, it was a lot harder to find what he was looking for.

There were pictures (thank the stars) but none of the flowers he was seeing so far at all matched the appearance of the ones in the garden. So many unique shapes and purposes he was seeing for the first time, and yet none that Stretch could afford time to linger on. This was for Edge, not for him.

It was the least he could do after he… 

Stop it, Stretch angrily shook his head. He’s not mad at you.

He should be.

Just focus on this, do it for him.

The sinister voice slithered away, and Stretch kept his eyes locked onto the pages. Three books later, he wasn’t making progress. There were a lot of flowers in this world, Stretch had to wonder if the ones in the garden were perhaps a bit different to the ones he normally saw in his kingdom. He was so used to seeing flowers that he never really appreciated them as much as he should, but he knew for certain that he didn’t recognise most of the flowers in that garden…

With that in mind, Stretch rose from his seat again and searched through the bookshelves. Many garden topics ranging from plant care to types of specimen, even plant monsters and how they could be taken care of similarly to that of a normal flower. Stretch didn’t touch that book, but he was definitely curious. He’d have to go through it another time.

Tracing the covers, Stretch walked past all the books. Eyes darting up and down to read all the titles as he went, and after fifteen minutes of thorough search he was beginning to give up hope that he may be able to find whatever he was looking for. ‘Rare flowers’ maybe? There was no such title as far as he could see, maybe he was thinking too deeply in the fact that the flowers he saw weren’t ones he’d seen in Swap specifically-

'Myths of the Garden'

Stretch stopped, eyeing the strange title. Well, if that wasn’t attention grabbing he didn’t know what was. Reaching out, he pulled the book out and gave it a good look. It seemed aged, definitely in a worse state than other books here… he opened it. The pages were creased, and made a crackling noise when flipped.

The best kind of books.

He spent a good few seconds just enjoying the sound of the pages, before stopping himself once realising how utterly childish that must’ve looked. He really hoped no one saw that. Then remembered there wasn’t another soul in the room.

Fell’s privacy rule was really beginning to grow on him.

Properly paying attention to the book this time, Stretch hurriedly flipped through the pages to see if there were any connections at all to the flowers in the Garden.

The first picture he happened to land on was one that he immediately recognised, and with that he rushed to his table and grabbed the quill and parchment, ready to write down notes. 

That was the plan, but he ended up getting more absorbed than he initially expected.

The flower was a unique kind, naturally, and was well known for how it repeated back anything you said. It was a rare- no, not even a rare sight. Completely impossible for it to grow in Fell, considering that the conditions it needs to stay alive are hardly presented well in the kingdom. As any flower, it needs water and sunlight. Something Stretch noted that the Kingdom was noticeably lacking in.

Aside from the basics, the flower seemed to require a presence. Peaceful and gentle, in which case it gave Stretch a pretty good idea as to why they seemed to have died out in Fell. There wasn’t a lot of peace here, much less any gentleness. But it certainly gave him a unique idea of what the previous king of Fell was apparently like.

He doubted the flowers could handle a grieving presence, probably for the best that Edge didn’t try to care for them.

The flowers seemed to thrive in echoing back sounds, and depending on how clear the sound was let you know how healthy the flowers seemed to be. So of course, they seemed to be rightfully named ‘Echo flowers’. 

They seemed to be simple enough to take care of, Stretch saw no issue in figuring out a schedule for them. If Sundays tended to be busy mornings , then he could work with the garden in the afternoons every day. That routine should be easy enough to remember, so Stretch quickly wrote it down. He needed to make a trip to that garden. 

He quickly grabbed his stationary and the book, and once he settled a quick protection onto his soul, he decided to take a shortcut to the garden.

The garden was as quiet as ever, and Stretch wasted no time in turning on the light. Now that he was looking for it, Stretch quickly realised that the light held some magic, artificial sunlight in order to help the flowers in ways the gloomy skies of Fell couldn’t.

He headed over to a patch of flowers, all blue yet a fair bit desaturated in comparison to the “vibrancy” the book was telling him these held. He lowered everything he was holding on a nearby bench, then looked around the garden. There wasn’t much place to hide in, really. Small for one to see all the flowers from the entrance of the room, but large enough for benches and pathways to fit. 

That wasn’t what he was looking for.

Searching the room, he eventually found a mostly closed off door in the corner of the garden. Hidden by weeds and vines and all sorts of greenery. It looked like some sort of ancient ruin, and Stretch could only guess as to what this door was for. He brushed aside loose plants, then pressed his side against the door as he tried to open it. The handle itself was hard to turn, and the door squeaked unsettlingly at the pressure. Stretch cringed at the sound, before he pulled away. It must’ve been rusty.

Edge was thirteen when his father fell down, and now he must’ve been around Stretch’s age. That was at least fifteen years of this door rusting. Ouch.

Well, he didn’t want to risk destroying anything on the other side. So forcing the door open would do more harm than good… maybe he could grab some oil-? Why on Earth would there just be some random oil cans laying around? Great thinking, Stretch, nice to see all those visits to the library are sticking with you.

Huffing, Stretch bent down to find some cracks in the door. You’d think after the first time he’d know better than to attempt a shortcut again, especially to an area he doesn’t know that well.

But! Well! This was important, so screw the consequences.

He’ll worry again.

You really like stressing him out, huh?

Stretch hummed as he found that the bottom of the door was wonky enough for him to peak under. It felt silly, as though he was a mischievous child, but soon discovered there’d been no point in doing so. The room on the other side of the door was far too dark for him to make any sense of possible equipment.

Stretch sighed, standing up and wiping his robes. “What does a monster have to do to find a watering can around here?”

“Maybe I can help?”

Stretch gasped and whirled around so fast his neck almost snapped, he was just about ready to scream. His soul raced, and eyes darted around the room in hopes of finding the voice — it giggled, giggled at him.

“Down here, silly!”

Slowly, ever so slowly, Stretch looked down.

A golden flower smiled up at him. 

 


 

“Are you alright?” 

Stretch blinked, and looked up to face Edge. The other was sending him a few concerned eyes, and Stretch had to force out a smile in order to look even the least bit okay.

“Yes, sorry, I’m just a little tired.” He brushed off the concern, before looking down at his food again. He would’ve thought that’d be the end of the conversation, that’s how it usually was, but…

“You’re not touching it.”

“Hu- pardon?” Stretch quickly corrected himself, then looked up at Edge again. He was frowning.

“You tend to not touch your food when something’s bothering you.” 

“O.. oh..?”

“I’m going to take a guess and assume it’s not any discomfort to Lv,” he said, and Stretch grimaced. After the courtyard incident Edge had been quite persistent on keeping him away from the place, as though he'd come to some sort of realisation- or assumption. Either way it was undoubtedly causing him concern and possibly paranoia, so no going in the courtyard, no sirree. “Is it anything I can help with?” He pushed, and Stretch squirmed in place.

“Maybe- probably- I’ll be fine.”

“St-“

“Really!” He cut in before Edge could even think of using that tone. “Listen, Edge, I’m fine, it’s nothing I can’t handle!”

He’s worried, you can confide!

Why should you burden him?

Edge watched him with a careful frown, then lowered his gaze down to the plate of food — Stretch’s plate, then his own.

“If you say so.”

Now he knows you’re a rotten liar.

With a shaky breath, Stretch forced himself to eat, despite his stomach’s protests. He didn’t want Edge to worry about him more-

What a waste of breath you are.

The grip tightened.

He’s wasting his time making sure you’re fine, and you lie to him.

Stretch's breath hitched.

The only reason you’re here is to carry his child. Nothing else. Don’t get too comfortable with the idea that he might actually like you.

He dropped the utensils, and Edge’s head snapped up. Upon seeing Stretch’s pale complexion, he hurried over to Stretch’s side and knelt beside him. Hands hovering over his arms, never touching.

Never touching.

“Stretch? Stretch is this a dizzy spell?”

He tried to open his mouth, tried to say something back to him that could’ve given Edge some peace of mind. Yet all his stupid mouth could come up with was shaky, wet sounds that weren’t in the slightest tangible.

Overreaction.

Why was he panicking? What was going on- what had been the point of the conversation in the first place? Why was everything so hard to see-

Why are you like this?

Why was he like this? So emotional, so torn, what was that wetness on his forehead- was the floor bony? Why was he on the floor? Who was touching him?

Edge.

“Edge-“ he whimpered, and the hold on him tensed, before a familiar shape leaned down and whispered close to him. Words he couldn’t quite make out, but enough for him to focus on.

I’m here

It’s okay

Breathe

Breathe. He had to breathe. He was following a rhythm, someone’s rhythm, he could make out the idea that a rhythm was being sent to him. He followed it, zoned in on it, he’s done this enough times to know-

Breathe.

Breathe.

Breathe, blast it.

With a greedy gasp, Stretch sprang up and swallowed the air, sucking in as much as he could as though it’d escape him. His body trembled, and wet hiccups left him as arms cradled him. A small handkerchief slid off his forehead and landed on his lap, and he stared down at it as soothing circles rubbed his back.

Voices around him, hushed whispers and soft murmurs. Voices of monsters he distantly recognised, and one he kept close to. 

The touch on his arm, a fluffy hand, caused him to hiss and flinch away from it. Burying himself closer to the other skeleton, and letting the arms hold him tightly. This was safe, safest. Safer than anywhere else. He wanted to stay here.

The presence of the other monster eventually disappeared, and soon the only soul presence Stretch could feel was Edge’s. He sniffed, reaching up to rub his eyes as his face flushed hotly with humiliation. He opened his mouth weakly.

“I’m-“ Stretch didn’t get passed that, and he took in a shuddering breath. Well, this was a pleasant meal wasn’t it? Just yesterday he’d thrown himself into panic, so that was two for two. He wondered how long it would take for the next one. At this rate, possibly tomorrow. A few hours from now if his mush of a brain was feeling generous!

“Hey, hey…” Edge shushed him, reaching down to tilt Stretch’s chin up so their eyes could meet. “You need rest, do you feel well enough to walk?”

No.

Seeing as the other lovely voice didn’t have a comment to say to that, Stretch subtly shook his head. Just like that, an arm hooked under his knees and the other around his shoulders, before he was hoisted up. His own hands holding onto Edge’s shoulders…

The walk was quiet, but Stretch preferred it to be.

Their bedroom door opened, and Stretch let out a sigh. The safety of the bedroom couldn’t be beat. Edge was as gentle as he always was with him, and lowered him onto the bed. Stretch released a pleased groan at the soft material, easing the ache in his joints. He threw an arm over his eyes and sighed again, wanting to bury himself in the blankets and-

Edge was touching his feet.

Flinching, he quickly sat up with surprise written all over him. Edge offered a glance, but focused on his task. Untying Stretch’s shoes as though Stretch couldn’t do it himself.

Shoes lowered, Edge looked at him expectantly — then his clothes. Stretch’s face burst into a violently bright orange, before turning away and hunching his shoulders. Clearly even after attacks Edge wasn’t one to be flexible on the idea of laying in bed without pyjamas.

“Is this how you usually bring monsters to bed?”

“No,” Edge huffed. “Naturally I let them pass out first.”

“Ooh, getting them in their sleep?” Stretch snickered. “You’ve gotta tell me how that went.”

The lightness of the conversation left him a little merry, he hadn’t expected Edge to go along with the joke nor how easily Stretch followed after. But he knew it wouldn’t last, nothing ever did.

“Stretch,” Edge spoke, thankfully not in that tone but one that made him just as guilty. “I need you to tell me, honestly, if you’re alright.”

Hhh hhhhnnn talking about his problems was not on his to do list, thank you. Especially not ones he didn’t even understand; he should’ve been fine, would’ve been if that voice in his head just minded its own damn business. Ever since he came in this cursed Kingdom that bratty voice had been louder than ever. 

He gave Edge a weak shrug, but apparently that was better than a lying “yes husband I’m fine” so at least Edge didn’t look too disappointed with the answer. It didn’t mean it was an answer Edge was necessarily happy with, though.

Edge frowned at him, then sighed and stood off the bed, ready to leave.

“Wait-“

His hand had reached Edge’s wrist before he could even think, and the two met eyes. Stretch dropped his gaze quickly, shutting his eyes and waiting. He reacted on instinct, on wanting Edge to stay with him- or at least not be left alone. He didn’t want Edge to go.

Another sigh, and Edge moved to sit closer to him. Beside him, almost…

Stretch didn’t let go of his wrist.

“If I’m staying, I want some questions answered.”

Squirming, Stretch hugged his knees with his other arm and looked away from him. “Depends what sorta questions they are.”

“That’s all I ask.”

A beat of silence, and the pair of skeletons sat still. From what Stretch could tell, Edge must’ve been trying to find the right question to ask, or a proper way to word one he had in mind. 

It seemed he decided to be blunt.

“Your magic,” he started, glaring at the floor- or maybe he was focused. Seems like he was going to avoid asking about what happened earlier, which was a good plan. Stretch very much liked that plan, and hopefully they kept to it. “Undyne reported to me you have this healing magic, and I’m sure you’ve noticed by now but none of us here really have any of that sort of…” he faltered. “Kindness.”

A sigh left him, before he shifted and faced Stretch. “I’d like to know about it, but as we’re on the topic, your teleportation, that’s not something I’ve witnessed before either-“ he cut himself off, before the smallest of sounds escaped him, a chuckle, Stretch was certain. “You’re a strange one.”

Undyne said something similar, but not because of his magic. How rude!

Stretch thought about the question, danced it around his mind. Not because he wasn’t planning to answer, of course not. No, he just didn’t really know how to explain something he was so used to.

“Healing is… not as unusual as you think it is.” Stretch started. “Sure, it’s a kindness trait and monsters with that specific soul trait have stronger healing prowess, but it can also be trained by others.

“In Swap, it’s pretty uncommon to find a monster that can’t heal, seeing as we’ve all got enough kindness to use it to heal others- that’s our supposed ‘intent’.”

It was strange, how Fell’s intent was made to hurt, and Swap’s to heal. A curious combination.

“It’s a welcoming colour, apparently.” Edge hummed. “That’s what Undyne said.”

“Hard to imagine she said that.” Stretch pulled up a half smirk, amused, before it dropped again as he returned to the topic at hand. “Anyway, um, I’ve trained it a bit- my father was pretty adamant on the off chance I dropped at all and didn’t fall.”

He really needed to stop mentioning the high possibility of death around Edge because it didn’t look like Edge was appreciating the constant reminder. Neither was Stretch, he honestly didn’t understand why he was bringing it up so much lately.

“As for ‘teleporting’,” he quoted the air. “I actually call them shortcuts, but, well, monsters with, um, high magic? They can…” 

He hadn’t talked about his shortcuts in a long time, at least not outwardly. It felt strange to discuss it with someone. “So long as I know where I am and what the place I’m going to looks like, I can shortcut- naturally, this has a distance limit, and blindfolds are a big no no, so none of that in bed, yeah?” He winked, but Edge didn’t look amused, the hold on Edge’s wrist faltered. After a minute, Stretch deflated in defeat.

Edge inclined his head. “Stretch?”

“I dunno,” he shrugged again. “It’s a weird ability, my dad can shortcut items but not himself- sorry.”

“Why are you apologising?”

“I don’t know!” He threw his hands up to his face, cheeks burning. “I’ve never met anyone else who could do it like I can, and you wanna know more but I can’t give you anything else cause that’s all I know! I’m-“ Stretch stopped, then tucked his knees closer to his chest. Curled into a ball, he tried to keep his eyes away from Edge, finally letting go of his wrist, setting both his hands beside him. “I just…”

Say it.

Don’t.

“I’m sorry…”

Coward.

Edge frowned at him. “You’ve told me enough, if that’s all you know then that’s all you know.” And after a moment’s hesitation, he reached out to let his hand settle near Stretch’s.

Near.

Not touching.

“Stretch?”

Edge must’ve noticed the sourness building in Stretch’s eyes, and the shorter skeleton quickly brushed it away with a strained smile. 

“It’s nothing, I’m just tired.”

They stared at each other, another battle, before Edge carefully withdrew and stood off the bed.

“Don’t let me keep you, then,” he headed for the door and settled his hand on the handle. He looked over his shoulder. “Rest.” Was all he said.

The flower, ask about the flower.

You’ve said enough.

“Okay.” He answered back, Edge lingered for just a moment before he left the room and softly shut the door behind him. 

… Stretch didn’t like a quiet without Edge.

 


 

“Just- walk in.” Stretch squirmed as he faced the door, before returning to his prior pacing and mumbling. “It’s a flower, a monster most likely, it can’t hurt you.”

Probably.

Two days ago he’d entered the garden and, with a start, met a peculiar flower. It seemed to want to help him, or something, but honestly Stretch’s racing soul was still catching up with the fact that there was another living being in his presence when he was sure the only other monster that could enter was Edge.

It made the flower more than suspicious. 

With that thought, Stretch took a determined breath, before pressing his palms against the door and watched it recognise his magic signal as it slowly opened up. The room appeared deserted, but oh no not this time, Stretch knew that little weed was somewhere and he was sure he’d find it. Because of it, he hadn’t managed to get started with the gardening plans he had! He just shortcut out of there before he could do anything else-

The paper and book was still there.

Whoops. Stretch winced, and headed over to pick them up. He’d forgotten he left them there after his shortcut- that was more than a little careless, wasn’t it? He brushed his hand across the cover, a deep frown settling on his face.

“Howdy!”

Stretch yelped and dropped the book, he whirled around and- yep, there it was. The flower stood (sat?) right there. The flower in the middle of the room, separated from all the rest. It was a monster.

Holding a hand against his chest, Stretch bent down to grab the items again, never breaking contact with the smiling flower. 

It’s petals appeared a torn in some areas, and it even looked tired. That didn’t stop it smiling, apparently, and Stretch had to wonder how it got to that state without dusting. 

“Who are you?” He asked, finally finding his voice as he stood. The book and paper clutched tightly against his chest as the flower gave him a subtle tilt of the head. 

“I’m Flowey, Flowey the flower, and protector of the garden!”

They stared at each other blankly, and ‘Flowey’ faltered.

“Well, not protector per say- sorta? I mean if someone I don’t know comes in I’m gonna kick them out, but mainly I just stand around?” He pressed his mouth in a tight line, eyes snapping to each corner of the room in his vision. “I mean, y’know, can’t really move past the garden since there’s no soil- or monster to latch onto, since… no one comes.”

The air was growing heavy, heavy with a familiar awkwardness that Stretch wanted to drop as fast as possible.

“W- well-!” He too had to take a second to find his bearings, before settling himself down on the bench. “I’ve- come here a few times already,” he took a deep breath, calming down. “How come you’re just now showing yourself?”

“Because you came here with a garden care book and a single page of notes on how to take care of Echo flowers,” Flowey stifled a laugh. “You were struggling with the shed, too, I had to help- but mainly?” He snorted. “I didn’t want you to accidentally damage the garden.”

That was fair. Stretch didn’t know the first thing about gardening aside from the one book he’d read, naturally a monster that stayed in the garden would be a little iffy with Stretch’s attempt on trying to help.

Still, he squirmed on the spot. “Are… can you help me, then?”

“Of course I’m gonna help you!” Flowey laughed merrily, yet the sound felt.. off. “This was Rouge’s garden as much as it was mine, I don’t wanna see it waste away.”

Stretch stared, before tilting his head curiously. “Rouge? Is that…?”

“Ye!” Flowey nodded, popping the 'p', before disappearing as he burrowed into the ground. Only to pop up behind Stretch in the patch of Echo flowers seconds later, successfully giving the skeleton another soul attack. “Rouge was the King! Best King I’ve ever seen, though Edge isn’t too shabby.”

Flowey and this ‘Rouge’ must’ve been close, then. If that was the case, Stretch could probably ask him more about the king- learn things he couldn’t learn from others. Flowey seemed to speak fondly, while Edge’s tone shifted into that of grief and pain any time the king was so much as mentioned.

Flowey may really be his only chance here.

“Right…” Stretch mumbled, then shifted so he got a better look at Flowey. “So you’re gonna help me? With the garden’s state?”

“I’ll help you make it better!” Flowey cackled. “There are some flowers here even Rouge couldn’t awaken because of his Lv, but you don’t have any.” A cheeky smile. “These flowers aren’t made for Fell, so with you here, I bet the garden really will come to life.”

Well, who could say no to that?

Stretch nodded, and stood off the bench as he moved around to eye the Echo flowers. Flowey inclined his head towards the door again, and Stretch headed towards it. Flowey popped up beside it mere moments later.

Flowey winked, before focusing on the door as vines grew out of the ground. They wrapped around the handle, hinges, and a few crawled into the lock and beneath the gap of the door. With a deep breath, the smaller monster crushed the door, breaking it off its hinges without so much as a sweat.

Stretch’s eyes widened, and he looked down at the flower. Flowey just smiled.

“Go on, then! Everything you need is inside.”

“Hang on,” Stretch stopped him. “If you can open the door, and have vines that work as hands, why couldn’t you take care of the flowers?”

Flowey’s smile dropped, and there was a tenseness in the air straight after the question was asked. Something personal, or something serious, either way, Flowey didn’t seem ready to answer.

“Never mind,” Stretch pulled away from the question, taking note of the sag of relief in Flowey’s form. “Watering can, right?”

“Yeah.”

Entering the shed, it only took Stretch a good five seconds before a murky looking watering can stood out to him. Basic looking, nothing exactly special about its design, but that could also be because of how old and worn whatever design was left seemed to be.

He pulled it from the shelf, shivering at how it took a little effort to unstick it.

“This place sure has been letting itself go.” Stretch muttered as he exited the garden, before eyeing the flower. “No offence.”

“None taken, I agree with you.” Flowey snickered, before making his way to his centre spot. “Time to water!”

Stretch gave him a weird look. “I don’t have any-“

His words cut off as the flower pointed down at the small pond of water circling him. Stretch assumed it had been there for decoration, but as Flowey reached out to guide his hand towards it, his mind began making second guesses.

“Wait- what are you-?”

“Applying your magic to the water, duh,” Flowey laughed as he pulled the hand until it was mere centimetres away from the water’s surface. “Flowers here are dying for some water, but mixing your magic with it is really gonna help with the recovery!”

Stretch gave him a look. “Why?” 

“That kindness that you use, in your soul,” Flowey calmly explained. “That healing property- it’s touch can only do good, right?”

“Well,” Stretch squirmed, arm beginning to ache from being stretched out for so long. “Yes, I suppose, but I don’t think it works like that-“

“Of course it does!” Flowey grinned, then let go of his wrist as he waited. “Just try!”

With an argument like that, how can one say no? Stretch thought sarcastically, before sighing and eyed the water. He’d never fused his magic with water, or anything else that didn’t automatically heal. He didn’t know if this would work at all, but if it didn’t, then it didn’t. Surely it wouldn’t hurt?

Lowering his hand in the water, Stretch focused his magic and let the green glow pulse from his hand. Flowey ‘oooh’ed in front of him, much like a child, and gleefully watched the water accept the magic touch. Stretch jolted as the pond seemed to light up, purifying and turning clear, rather than the foggy, dull state it’d been in prior. 

“Hah! That green stuff sure is healthy, huh?” Flowey laughed, and Stretch returned his own hysterical giggles. His healing could clean water, who’d have thought? How come he didn’t know about this? Had no one in Swap ever attempted to use green magic in water or was it because they saw no real need to? Stretch definitely hadn’t seen any reason to do it before, Swap’s water was clean and pretty much everyone could heal…

This was-

“Go on, then!” Flowey pushed, pointing at the flowers with his leaf arms. “The flowers won’t water themselves!”

Startled, Stretch’s grip on the watering can tightened. Stars, this flower was basically a child. He sighed and dropped to his knees as he filled up the can. The ‘magic water’ didn’t do anything to the state of the can, but then again it’s not like the can was a living being. He hoped not, at least.

Standing up, Stretch made his way over to the patch of Echo flowers and let the water gently hit the petals, watching as the flowers appeared to greedily suck it from the dirt in rapid pace.

“Alright- that's enough.” Flowey called to him after a minute or so, and Stretch pulled back. The dirt by the flowers seemed to pulse with a green, before it faded out. It hardly lasted more than a second. Stretch frowned, then turned back to Flowey. 

“It looks like they want more.”

“They’re parched flowers, Stretch, of course they want more.”

To be called by his name had been unexpected, and Stretch almost dropped the can. Whirling around to face the strange monster, Flowey hadn’t seemed to notice he said anything wrong. Which he hadn’t, but… 

It was still weird.

“But you can’t drown ‘em in water, no matter how healthy it is, so be steady and careful with how much you give.”

Right, right, he could do that. Flowey smiled after him once he nodded, and then spread his leafy arms to the rest of the flowers. 

“Come on, then! We’ve got a lot of flowers to take care of!”

Stretch smiled. Gardening wasn’t so bad when you had someone to do it with.

Chapter Text

“And the purple flowers are supposed to turn to crystals but Rouge couldn’t ever get them to wake up.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah!” Flowey continued to watch him from his spot in the centre. “He had too much Lv, but hey, what can one expect from the king of Fell?”

Stretch let out a hum as he finished watering the last flower patch. Flowey had a lot of flower facts to share, and in such rapid pace Stretch had to wonder how long it’d been since Flowey last talked to someone. What mostly confused him about that was the fact that Edge had seemingly frozen the garden’s state with Flowey still in here. Sure, Flowey wasn’t affected as he was a monster, but that didn’t change that it didn’t seem like Flowey had a speck of interaction for… Stretch didn’t want to know how long.

Well, if that was the case, Stretch was happy to listen to Flowey’s blabber.

“Ah, good old Rouge,” Flowey sighed fondly. “Y’know, monsters constantly thought he was this ruthless guy- which! I won’t deny, sometimes he did some questionable things.” The monster puffed out his cheeks. “But it was how he believed things would be most efficient- I can’t say he was right in his thinking, but hey, I’m just a flower.”

“Hm.”

“Yeah! Oh, hey, I never asked about you!” Flowey perked up as Stretch returned the can in the shed, before rubbing his hands together to spark up his orange soul magic. 

“What’s there to know?” Stretch lowered himself to his knees as he gently cupped a single purple flower. Flowey told him that letting the purple ones take his magic for a minute each was vital to get the crystal forming.

He heard Flowey snort behind him.

“Oh please! You’re the Queen of Fell! Husband of Edge! What’s he like? Is he a softie? I always thought he was a softie.”

It was extremely weird to hear that second title, and Stretch shook away the shivers. Not bad shivers, but… shivers. Instead, he tried to change the topic. “Do you know him?”

“Not personally, now answer the question!”

Dammit. Oh well, maybe Edge didn’t know about Flowey? Unless Flowey did that hiding thing of pretending to be unblossomed- little sneak- but it was hard to imagine that they’d never interacted even once. They both lived in the same castle!

Well, technically Stretch wasn’t sure exactly how Flowey came to the castle in the first place, much less how he got this close to Rouge, but surely if Flowey held a friendship with the previous king, then that king would’ve introduced him to his son?

Strange.

“He’s…” Stretch frowned as he started on the next flower, watching it pulse back with eagerness. “He’s just Edge.”

“Come on! There’s gotta be more to it than that!” Flowey then leaned in, puckering up his lips. “Edge and Stretchy, sitting on a tree-!”

“Oh, stop it, you!” The skeleton breathed out a laugh, the light of the flower pulsing with the same rhythm. “It’s not like that.”

“But you’re married.”

“Not by choice…” Stretch reminded both of them, and cupped hands trembled for a split second. 

Flowey watched him silently, and Stretch assumed that had been the end of the conversation. Only for Flowey to pop up when he’d moved over to the next flower, and Stretch jumped.

“You really need to stop doing that!” He pressed a hand against his chest, before focusing on the flower again. Flowey didn’t give up, though.

“What do you mean not by choice? Isn’t that what marriage is?”

Stretch’s magic crackled in response, and Flowey, for a second, flinched away. As though he’d been expecting a hit, just like any other blasted monster in this kingdom.

Stretch didn’t want to know why Flowey had something to fear.

“It should be,” Stretch trudged the topic carefully, despite his shaky voice. “But I’m here because of a war, and to carry on Edge’s family line, not because we- ” He cut himself off with a hitch.

It hurt to say. He didn’t want to say it. He wouldn’t have to, Flowey understood, but Stretch’s soul didn’t. 

“We don’t love each other.”

The magic faltered, and he quickly withdrew before he damaged the flower. He and Edge didn’t love each other, plain and simple. Sure, they had moments of intimacy and some sort of spark, but that’s as far as it went. More often than not, Edge withdrew from the action if it went too far.

The most notable time Stretch can remember that Edge initiated without prior push was when Stretch decided to up and faint, and even then it didn’t feel like Edge was reaching out…

No… it felt like he was grounding himself.

“But, it’s fine,” Stretch took a deep breath and focused on the next flower. “We don’t hate each other, either, so there’s that.”

“But you like him.”

Stretch sputtered and flinched back from the flower again- Stars beyond did Flowey really want to help him with the garden or was he actively trying to go out of his way in order to give Stretch a soul attack?!

“I- well, that’s a bit sudden-!”

“But I saw you!” Flowey grumbled. “When you were freaking out in the garden- I was gonna step in but I didn’t think that would be the best way to go about us meeting- anyway, Edge came running in to help! You were hugging and everything!”

“That’s-“ Stretch had to take a moment to breathe, face heating up to the point of dizziness. “Flowey- he was just-? Trying to calm me down?”

“You don’t sound sure.”

“Of course I’m not sure!” Stretch covered his cheeks, trying to cool them down. “We had an argument before and we were trying to resolve it, please don’t think too deep into it- it really isn’t like that!”

Flowey grumbled, a large pout on his face. “You don’t have a right to say that when you’re married to the guy.”

Stretch had to wonder how he hadn’t already wrapped his hands around the brat’s throat. The rest of the time in the garden was spent bickering, but thankfully the topic mostly drifted from its origin.

This blasted weed, what a blast he was.

 


 

He was an idiot. It was confirmed. Stretch was a complete and utter idiot.

Stars how could he have overlooked such a major detail? There’s no way Edge wouldn’t notice- there’s no way he wouldn’t realise Stretch had been using his magic in the Garden.

And Edge would realise because every week he put up that stars forsaken “time pause” magic- Flowey brought it up, and it was basically panic from there. Stretch couldn’t just tell Edge to stay away because that would rouse suspicion or completely ruin the surprise, and Flowey certainly couldn’t because apparently Edge and Flowey had never officially met. So showing himself would cause its own series of questions, and it’s not like Flowey could leave the garden.

Convenient, you little weed!

So he couldn’t directly tell Edge to stay away, and Flowey couldn’t help. This was up to him and him alone, but where could he even start? There’s no way Edge would just up and forget about the garden, especially with his attachment to it.

He had two days to build something up before Edge damaged his work with the magic. Was it possible to distract Edge? Who even knew! He supposed it was about time someone at least attempted the theory. He certainly couldn’t just idly stand by and hope Edge miraculously forgot about something he’d been doing for years.

So he had to plant the seed as Flowey had to singularly use his brain to find a way to protect the flowers. 

And the only thing his crumb sized brain could come up with was being more lovey dovey. Stretch would be surprised if Edge wasn’t weirded out by it.

To start, Stretch waited outside the doors of the courtyard, technically he shouldn’t be near the place at all but they would have to make do, and quietly listened to the army’s vigorous training. He’d been waiting for a few minutes, deciding to join them near the end… he wouldn’t want the tea to get cold after all. 

Yes, lazy, fumbly Stretch decided to go into the kitchens and make buddy chum pal some tea. The kitchen staff made feeble attempts to get him to leave since he shouldn’t have to work, but a little sweetening into his voice got them caving in quite quickly.

Making the tea was fun, even if he needed a lot of help. He could try doing it more- he let the staff try it first, and they quietly told him it tasted lovely.

Stretch really hoped they weren’t just saying that to please him because this was for Edge and he’d die if it didn’t taste good. He stared down at the swirling tea, cup in his hands and magic keeping it warm.

He was so lost in thought that he hadn’t realised training was over, until a tall figure strode past him. Stopping just to give him a glance, and a nod.

“Stretch.” He said, and he waited for a moment. For Stretch to speak.

Stretch couldn’t begin to express how much he appreciated the acknowledgement.

“Edge- um-“ Stretch squirmed in place, and Edge fully turned to face him, giving him his utmost attention. Stretch shivered under his gaze.

“Is something wrong?”

“No- don’t worry it’s- um-“ Stretch’s eyes moved around the hall rapidly, before he ducked his head and raised his hands. “I made, because you were- I just…” he slowly offered it. “Tea…”

Yes. Tea. Well done, Stretch. Nice to see your social skills developing over the years.

He’d never felt sillier. Stretch could feel the awkwardness growing, and he hadn’t made it any better. He couldn’t bare to see Edge’s face, was it discomfort? Annoyance? Stretch hadn’t interrupted during training, though, so maybe he wouldn’t be mad-?

The cup was plucked from Stretch’s shaky hands, and the smaller skeleton’s breath hitched. The soft sound of a sip nerved him, and he dared to take a peek.

Edge’s face was far from the glare he’d been expecting, and instead there was this relaxed fondness in his eyes. Stretch found himself unable to look away.

“It’s good.” Edge answered simply, and kept drinking the tea. That was as good a sign as any that at least Edge wasn’t lying. Or maybe he’s just really good at faking.

Stretch would take it, feeling a swell of pride and a glimmer of confidence at the praise. Maybe he’d make Edge some more tea, even if the only reason he had this time was because Flowey took over the watering half of flower care. 

Meaning soon, he’d have to go back and use his magic for the flowers.

Fiddling with his hands, he offered a shy smile. “I’m glad, do you want to tell me about what you did during training?”

Edge sent him a curious glance at the question, and rightfully so. It’s not like a Stretch really asked him about his day during any time that wasn’t a meal. Maybe asking was too forward? Oh, good going Stretch. You barely set down the plank before you starting bouncing on the bridge.

But the bridge was more stable than he realised, apparently.

“Alright.” Edge nodded, and nodded to the hall. “Let’s go to my office.”

Stretch instantly brightened, and quickly settled himself by Edge’s side. Hands behind his back, he resisted the urge to skip like a child.

The flowers could wait an hour or two.

 


 

“A shield around the flowers?” Stretch repeated as he finished the last of the Crystal flowers. Not yet crystals, but the pulse of their light when responding to Stretch’s magic was brighter than ever — they must be ready to form soon.

“Yeah! It should keep Edge’s magic from affecting the flowers- time pause is tricky, and it can get bounced off quite easily if you know what you’re doing,” Flowey then spread his arms again, showing off the entire garden. “It’s how you’ve been able to heal them without the magic interfering- can you feel his magic at all, Stretch?”

Could he?

… No, he couldn’t. He lowered his shields, with only a second of hesitation, and stayed still for a moment. Nothing. No stench, no sickly heaviness. No, instead it was the familiarity of his own magic, curling around him and soothing. 

Edge would notice.

“He’s gonna notice,” he said aloud, bringing a hand up to his head. “There’s no way he won’t realise- my magic-!”

“Then be with him!” Flowey called out. “Bring something sweet, or use magic beforehand to get him thinking the scent is from you! Come on, Stretch,” he tilted his head, frowning. “You wanna surprise him, don’t you?”

“I don’t think you understand how sensitive skeletons are to magic.”

“Maybe I don’t!” Flowey admitted. “But it’s better than not trying at all, then he’ll definitely notice, which would you rather do?”

That wasn’t even a question.

That conversation happened yesterday, and now Stretch was nervously following Edge up the steps of the tower. His body was stiff with nerves, and the jitter of it refused to leave. It wouldn’t until it was confirmed that Edge didn’t recognise a speck of difference in the garden.

Since Stretch has taken to following Edge after work, and Edge allowing him this time, it didn’t seem to weird him out that Stretch was following him to the garden. In fact, Stretch dared to think that Edge was actually enjoying it.

They reached the doors. 

Stretch cleared his throat, then pulsed with orange and put on a show of raising his shields, mainly using it so his magic could surround Edge and distract. Hopefully he didn’t overwhelm the guy, he tried to be careful with how much he was emitting but skeletons had varying sensitivities to magic. Even if they were, as a whole, more sensitive to it than other monsters.

“Your magic,” Edge hummed, and looked as if he was taking it in. Stretch tensed. “It’s sweet.”

His form sagged with relief, and he let out a breathless laugh. “Yeah? Well, yours is pretty spicy, fitting.”

“As is yours.”

The doors opened, and Stretch squirmed on the spot. It was strange, looking at a garden so devoid of life. He’d already gotten used to being inside, talking to Flowey and taking care of the flowers. His fingers twitched, and he could detect the conjured shields around the flowers. They should be fine.

They will be fine. Even if the sight of the unblossomed golden flower threw him off.

Did Edge notice? He risked a glance, wanting to make sure nothing seemed off. Edge appeared focused, but that was only because of him using his own magic. The red burst into the garden so suddenly, Stretch yelped and jumped behind Edge in an attempt to hide. He felt the other chuckle, only because Stretch’s body decided to press itself against Edge’s back.

He jolted, practically yanking himself away from the other. Oh Stars above what was his body doing? It was a light show! A light show that was full of Edge’s magic- is Edge’s magic. He’d seen it before, definitely felt it, there was no need for this silliness! 

The doors began to close, and Stretch awkwardly looked around the room. Anywhere but Edge would suit him just fi- okay, never mind, hard to do that when the all mighty King decided to start walking Stretch’s direction.

Another tight smile, that really wasn’t a smile at all and both knew that. It dropped upon hearing Edge’s chuckle, though, and Stretch found himself glaring at the other. Though, without any vigor.

“What? What’s so funny?” His hands fell to his hips, and Edge’s smirk seemed to widen.

“You.” He answered without a speck of shame, the nerve! Stretch opened his mouth, ready to resort to a snappy remark- he never got to.

Two hands reached out and held Stretch’s in a gentle cradle, and Stretch stared with nothing but wide, unexpected eyes. The thumbs brushed against the knuckles, tracing each mark and gap and pattern. No visible pattern, yet Edge seemed to be following something… instinct, perhaps? 

He didn’t know, because suddenly it was a lot harder to think. The fondness in Edge’s eye filled him with sinful joy, and he was loving this more than he should be. Stretch swallowed, his throat dry. 

The pair stayed still, and Stretch wondered what the plan was here. Edge seemed like he wanted to do something, but made no move to actually complete or even start the action. He leaned in, just for a second, before leaning back with a sigh and releasing one of Stretch’s hands.

One of them.

The other was still firmly in Edge’s grasp, and as the other lead him down, Stretch almost forgot to pull his own weight and walk alongside Edge. 

They were holding hands.

They were holding hands and Stretch couldn’t stop smiling. It was silly, seeing as they’d held hands before multiple times- but still! Edge took initiative, he took initiative and he continued to do so all the way back to their bedroom. Stretch resisted bouncing into the bed next to him. Control yourself, Stretch! Bed bouncing can come when Edge stops imposing strict rules on everything.

Which was likely! Seeing as he’d already broken a few for Stretch’s benefit. 

Maybe the relief of knowing Edge hasn’t picked up on his magic was making him giddy. Whatever it was, it let him sleep extremely well that night.

 


 

“Oh?”

“Yes! She really smiled back at me- Oh, Edge, Mercy’s such a sweetheart.” Stretch sighed wistfully, clasping his hands in front of his chest. “It’s a shame she doesn’t smile more, her face really is made for one.”

Edge hummed, but didn’t make a comment on it. The pair were sitting on one of the courtyard benches, wearing cloaks to keep warm. Technically they wouldn’t have been here in the first place, seeing as Edge didn’t like seeing him here, but Stretch insisted that as there’d be no fighting action, he’d be fine.

A gush of wind flew by and his body shivered, but it gave Stretch reason to shuffle closer to Edge, the guy’s magic really was so wonderfully warm.

Earlier that day, Stretch had made another visit to the orphanage. The kids had grown on him, and as did he to them. Mercy and Jeanette were a bit easier with his presence, but still skittishly ran off when Undyne glared. Stretch really had to get Undyne to stop doing that- especially when he brought up the concern to Flowey. Flowey told him the forbidden act of looking at another’s lover is a very old, and mostly washed away Fell tradition. So Undyne was stuck in the past, it seemed, and Stretch didn’t really need that.

Regardless, he’d spent more time with the kids, and they were all keen on him showing some more of his extremely valid skills on the yo-yo. Ah, to be a cool kid. Back in Swap he was basically thrusted that title the second he was born given he was a prince, without much other reason for it. To be looked up to with those preciously large eyes just because he could flip a spinning yo-yo onto its string made him feel proudly childish.

Rightfully so!

“The donations I asked for from Swap arrived, too, so I can get started on giving out those for the poor, then we can try going horse riding one more time next Sunday, if you have free time, and then Winter will be here!” Stretch raised his arms overhead to accentuate his excitement, only to regret it seconds later as the cold hit his sides. His breath hitched and he hurriedly clutched them, trembling. “Well-“ he weakly laughed. “Least that gives me something to look forward to!”

“Indeed.” Edge hummed again, much quieter in comparison to Stretch’s excited chatter. 

“It’s a shame that there weren’t much of any Fell monsters willing to donate to the poor this time, so I hope the gifts from Swap will be enough.”

“It doesn’t surprise me.”

“Me neither — no offence — Fell monsters don’t seem to like the idea of sharing.”

“None taken.”

“Is that why charity work was a shut off project?” Stretch bluntly asked, and upon Edge’s lack of response, got the annoying idea of poking Edge’s cheek. Continuously. He turned his body and rest an elbow on the bench’s back, leaning his head into it. “Hey, heyy, answer me.”

“You’re in quite the mood today.” Edge answered dully as he brushed Stretch’s hand away. Stretch puffed his chest.

“I wanna know stuff!”

“You’re too curious.”

“Maybe,” he admitted, shrugging before focusing on Edge again. “But that’s not a bad thing, tell me!”

“I didn’t say it was.”

“Eeeeedge!” Stretch let out a loud whine, before shuffling so he could place his head on Edge’s lap. The monster above him tensed, staring down at Stretch strangely.

“What are you doing?”

“Annoying you.”

“No-“ Edge cut himself off, then let out a defeated sigh and simply let Stretch do what he wanted. “You’re impossible.”

“Thanks.” The shorter skeleton laughed, before shuffling so he could get more comfortable. That, and to feel more of Edge’s warmth. It really felt like a heater. “You didn’t answer my question! Stop avoiding it.”

Edge went quiet. Stretch frowned, staring up at him patiently. It didn’t seem like Edge really was the type to brush a task aside, much less something as vital as charity work. Edge was so painfully aware of the state of his kingdom, and he put so much work in anything else he did, somehow found time for Stretch himself, and did it all without breaking a sweat. That level of organisation Stretch couldn’t begin to understand.

So why was charity work brushed aside?

So lost in thought, Stretch jolted at feeling a hand on his head, rubbing in soothing motions and carefully avoiding the pretty crown sitting on top. 

He waited.

Edge sighed.

“Not today, Stretch.”

He pouted, and opened his mouth to argue- only to stop himself.

Tell him he can trust you.

You can’t even confide in him, wouldn’t that be hypocritical?

Stretch didn’t bring his problems up with Edge, it wouldn’t have been fair if he pushed the other to answer only to give nothing in return. That’s not how it worked.

With a nod, Stretch reached up to hold the hand on his head. The fingers both twitched, then fidgeted as they intertwined. Stretch’s soul jumped with a familiar thrill. Their fingers locked, even if they weren’t in the most comfortable position, and Stretch was sure his soul was ready to burst from his chest with pure joy. 

Joy for what, Stretch couldn’t say.

The urge to reach up and yank Edge down was big, so big that the second twitch in his fingers seemed ready to do just that, it was only his sheer will to not ruin this moment that kept his hands away from Edge’s collar.

Instead, Stretch regretfully leaned up but allowed his head to lean on Edge’s shoulder after a moment of hesitation. He almost laughed at that; no problem with thrusting himself onto Edge’s lap, but his shoulder? Heaven forbid!

He refused to let go of their interlocked hands, and found himself fixated on staring at them. The quiet moments they shared couldn’t be described by words, and the nerves that lingered were washed away with this swell of what Stretch could only compare to pride. He almost felt silly- knowing that Edge was his husband but going shy when it came to hand holding.

Follow your heart.

So slowly, he lifted Edge’s hand and brought it close. The nervous pulse in his soul so strong that he was worried Edge would feel it from his mere fingertips. Edge eyed him, but there was no questioning or strange looks. Simple curiosity, and permission.

Permission.

The hand neared his mouth, and the motion was fluid it really felt like he was about to kiss the knuckle-

You’re just here for the kid.

That was enough to cause him to freeze. Stretch lost whatever confidence he had in the last second, and lowered the hand completely. He cleared his throat and turned away from the taller monster, the shame hurting more than expected. He’d ruined it, stars he ruined it. Why couldn’t he just-? Why couldn’t he just complete the action with no fear of rejection? Edge was clearly fine with it, he knew exactly what was coming and he didn’t pull his hand away. 

Coward.

‘I just never win with you, huh?’ Stretch thought sourly at the voice, not only had it so kindly reminded Stretch of the only reason he was here in the first place, but called him out on not acting on something that felt right

Well, he was calling himself out since that voice was just the messy, dark thoughts in his mind generously reminding Stretch of their existence since his teenage years. Though, admittedly, ever since he’d come to Fell they somehow felt louder than usual.

It was frustrating that he listened to these thoughts more than what he really wanted.

“Stretch?” 

The skeleton jumped when feeling a hand reach up to brush his cheek, and his face was tilted against his will. Well, hardly against his will. He easily followed the motion, hardly needing the hand’s guidance. Edge’s red eyes no longer pin pricks of a glare, and instead seemed a little larger. Stretch sighed as he leaned into the hand, holding it against his cheek as his eyes softly slid shut.

“Not today.”

He felt what he assumed was a nod, and the thumb gently ran smooth lines on his cheek.

They remained quiet, so wonderfully quiet.

 


 

“You didn’t go for it?!” 

“Please stop.” Stretch groaned as he leaned over the Echo flowers, checking for their state. He couldn't see a difference, but Flowey insisted they’d gained more colour. Flowey was also insisting that Stretch should’ve gone for the kiss, so who knew how much one could trust Flowey’s words?

“Oh, come on! It was building up! You could’ve gone for it!”

“I didn’t tell you about my failures just for you to remind me that there was a possibility of success, dammit.” Stretch grumbled, finishing the last of the Echos before moving over to the Sundrops. Orange flowers, apparently they emit heat, and needed to be watered with warm water specifically. Stretch filled the can for the last time, before pressing his hand on the bottom and using his magic to heat it up. 

“Of course you did, that’s what buddies are for — so what stopped you?” Flowey leaned over his spot, letting Stretch get a good look at his petals. He wasn’t entirely certain, but he could’ve sworn the tears weren’t as jagged as he’d first seen them.

Stretch frowned. “Voice in my head.” 

There was a sudden pause and Flowey’s eyes widened. Stretch instantly regretted saying anything, and once Flowey opened his mouth, he felt obliged to slam his head against the wall. He knew exactly what Flowey was about to say, and he knew he should’ve kept his mouth shut. 

“You… have Chara?”

His hold on the watering can tightened.

‘Chara’, short for its uncreative version of Character. A dark voice in your head that tempted sin. It never forced you to do anything, but made the temptation big. Then, there were characters that seemed more interested in crushing the user’s spirit. Nowadays there were less Charas in Swap, so it was rightfully unusual for Stretch to have one.

But here he was. A mental mess.

“So what if I do?” Stretch frowned, turning further away from Flowey defensively. “Doesn’t do anything to my Lv, doesn’t make me a bad person.”

“Of course it doesn’t!” Flowey quickly caught himself, waving his leafy arms. “No, I wasn’t calling you bad I just-“ he stopped, then dropped his gaze. “Rouge, Rouge had Chara.”

Stretch spun around in surprise, staring at Flowey with a tight jaw. In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been so surprising considering this was Fell and therefore was more weak willed to the temptation of sin. But to hear that was another story, as far as he knew, no one else he’d met in his kingd-

His… previous kingdom had any Charas. 

To hear there had been a king with one brought him a sense of odd comfort.

“He did?”

“Yeah,” Flowey shrugged weakly. “Think he listened to it sometimes, it’s hard to ignore it, ‘specially when your Lv’s that high, think that’s what everyone feared.”

Stretch stopped heating the can once steam his face, and he quickly turned to water the Sundrops. “Did he ever hit anyone?”

And Flowey laughed, laughed at the question. 

“Did he ever hit anyone?” Flowey cackled, as though it had been the funniest joke he’d heard in centuries… then he stopped, and a frown settled on his face. “Many,” Flowey answered dully. “So many, it’s a surprise he didn’t go insane-“ the flower let out a strained laugh. “Guess he was too stubborn, that asshole.”

Stretch remained quiet, letting Flowey get lost in his memories. The monster looked worn out, and Stretch really should’ve told him to stop talking and rest. But curse his stupid curiosity.

“So stubborn, such a liar,” Flowey hissed. “If he'd just said something then he could still-“

It was cut off with a hitch, and Stretch knew from that not to push for a clarification; he leaned back from the last of the flowers. Instead, he shifted the tone of the topic and went to empty the can.

“Was he the type to hide a lot of secrets?”

“Definitely,” Flowey answered instantly. “He hid a lot of things, but I guess he had to, a lot of monsters were after his neck.”

“Even if he was a good King?”

“No, Rouge was a good Ruler,” Flowey corrected. “Fantastic fighter, but I don’t think anyone would call him a good King.”

… Right, well. He supposed he sort of understood what Flowey was trying to say. Mostly confused, but he didn’t push further. He’d already said enough.

To tell someone he had Chara, though, that left a weird taste in his mouth, and not necessarily the bad kind. It was uplifting, almost, that he admitted to it. The cruel, cruel voice was nothing more than a temptation, and it’s only purpose was to crush its victims. The latter commonly appeared in those with weak minds, which made him really wonder about Dyne. She’d never brought anything up about it so neither did he.

Returning the can to the shed, Stretch made his way back to Flowey and lowered himself to his knees again as he looked around the garden.

“It’ll be hard to keep it a surprise if they start getting brighter.”

“Yeah? Well, you’re in luck.” Flowey smiled. “The Echo flowers are the easiest to take care of, and with the added speed on recovery you’ve been giving with your magic, I have no doubt that by the time Edge comes in to cast his spell, the flowers will be ready.”

Stretch really hoped that was the case, and he and Flowey spent the rest of their hangout discussing the strangest topics. Sharing a few laughs, it was nice.

It really was nice.

He just wished Edge could be here.