==> Be the Handsome Knight
Of course you're the handsome knight, who else would you be? No one, that's who. But perhaps a better adjective for you right now would be bored. Very bored. Not that it shows. In fact, your face is a perfect mask of indifference. Your red eyes are locked on a far off place and your hands are lightly clasped behind your back. You're slouching slightly, but resist the urge to shift your weight between your feet. Restless, that's what you are. Restless and bored, but you don't more. Your prince has ordered you to stand by his side and that is what you'll do.
Speaking of your prince, you slide your eyes lazily to the side to catch a glimpse of him. He's dressed in his royal blue and silver attire. The formal garbs cling to and hang from his frame in just the right places. You think he looks good in it, like he was born to wear it, which you guess he was. You've told him as much and he just scowls at you. He detests his formal royal robes, claiming that they are uncomfortable and itchy. You usually just smirk at him. Not smile. Striders don't smile.
Though you doubt your staring was obvious, John notices. His eyes tear away from the visitor long enough to glance sideways at you and those blue orbs catch you staring. You immediately turn your gaze forward again but not before noticing the smile that graces his lips.
With an inward sigh, you go back to silently urging time to pass faster. Being the kind and approachable royal family they are, twice a week the castle doors are opened to visitors from the kingdom. These visitors are usually lower to middle class peasants and merchants, and they usually come to complain or ask for help. To you, it's boring. You don't exactly want to spend your mornings listening to the poor complain about working conditions, but that's exactly what the royal family wants. They want to make their kingdom a happier place so they allow anyone to come and speak to them. It used to be just the King who listened, but after they came of age, the prince and princess have started taking up the position. They usually trade off, but John volunteers to do it more often than not. He says it's his job as heir to make sure he knows what's happening in his kingdom. You think he just likes making you stand there for hours on end.
Guards are prohibited from being in the throne room while the visitors are there. Not only do they tend to make the lower class nervous, but the visits are supposed to be in confidence with the royal family. However, when John asked his father if one knight standing with him would be alright, his father couldn't refuse. In fact, he encouraged it. Because anyone was welcomed into a private council with the royal family, assassins are a possibility. Though John himself went through plenty of training, having a loyal knight there couldn't hurt. You don't think it's necessary, at least for John. You know that beneath his cheerful exterior, he is anything but defenseless. But John insists that you stand next to the throne while he listens to the happenings of the kingdom, and a knight cannot say no to his prince.
People come and people leave. All the while you feel the seconds tick by until finally the doors are closed. John stands from the throne and stretches his arms over his head. You watch, unmoving as always. "Well that was interesting. Don't you think, Dave?" He asks as his arms flop back down to his sides. He's looking at you with those big blue eyes and his smile is bright.
You raise one eyebrow. "I think that was the complete opposite of interesting, Egbert."
His grin just widens. "Come on, Dave, I know how much you love these weekly sessions. We learn so much about the kingdom! And from the point of view of the lower class too. There's so many things that formal reports won't tell you." Though he's smiling, his hand is at his back, scratching an itch you're sure he's been sitting with for quite a while.
"I don't understand why you insist I be here. You're more than capable of taking care of yourself." You turn to face him. Without the public eye on you, your arms cross over your chest and you allow your weight to settle mostly on one leg.
"Because you're my best friend and I want you with me." He says it innocently enough, but you can see that glint in his eye, the one that sparks when he feels mischievious. The same glint that confirms your suspicions that he's making you be here just because you don't want to.
You open your mouth to say just as much when the doors are suddenly thrown open at exactly the same time. Your mouth snaps shut as the King strides into the room. His blue robe trails along on the floor behind him and the gold of his crown sparkles in the light. You automatically fall to one knee and bow your head. John spins and waves his hand enthusiastically. "Hey, dad! What're you doing here?"
The king stops in front of his son. His personal guards stopped by the door and wait silently there. "Hello, son. Rise, Sir Strider." You do so. You should say something like 'your majesty' but you're already forgotten as the king turns back to his son. "Am I too late?"
John giggles. "Yeah, dad, we just closed the doors. You should really get here sooner if you want to listen to some of the visits. But don't worry, I got it covered. I'll write up the reports later."
"I would have been here sooner, but I was busy overlooking the preparations for tonight's festival." The look in his eyes softens as he lays a hand on his son's shoulder. "I'm proud of you, son."
John grins. "Thanks, dad." He fidgets, and you can tell from the way he's twitching that it's not the conversation. His hands are at his back again, scratching away at the material. "So how are the preparations going?"
The king's hand returned to his side. "Very well. I had to make sure all the desserts I ordered are being done properly."
Though you can't see John's face, you can practically hear him roll his eyes. "Don't want them to forget any of those." His fingers are struggling to reach higher on his back. He tries over his shoulder, but it still doesn't work.
The king nods. "Exactly. There will be a lot of people there and I don't want anyone to be without sweets. A lot of them cannot afford sugar on a regular basis so that tends to be their favorite."
John suddenly looks over his shoulder, right at you. He frowns for a second before smiling. You raise your eyebrows questioningly. "Hey Dave, could you scratch my back? There's a spot I just can't reach."
Your eyebrows fall back down to their usual neutral expression. You simply nod and step up behind him. Both hands go to the heir's back. You press them into the fabric until you feel the muscles that lie beneath. You begin with the heel of your palms, up, then down, rubbing the spot that he had been trying to reach.
Meanwhile John has turned back to his dad. "Yeah, yeah, I know. You say that, but I think it's just to satisfy your own sweet tooth." He teases and the king smiles and looks elsewhere, feigning innocence.
"Sweet tooth? I have no such thing."
John snorts a laugh. "Yeah right, dad." Their conversation then dissolves into other preparations for the midsummer festival, but you're no longer listening. You dig your nails into John's back, dragging them down, pushing deep into the flesh beneath the thick fabric. You then dig the heels of your hand up his back, and proceed to drag your nails back down. You're not completely sure, but you're fairly certain his breath hitched at some point. You allow one corner of your lips to curve upward into a smirk, ducking your head to hid it from the king's view. You know you're the only one who would be allowed to touch the heir like this.
After a few more repetitions of your scratching pattern, you lower your arms and step back. "Is that alright, my lord?" You ask.
He glances over his shoulder. "Yes, thank you."
You give him a low sweeping bow, and you both know it is just for an overdramatic show. "If you'll excuse me, your majesties, it is my day to help with the pages' training."
They both nod as you straighten and stride out of the room. As you leave, you make sure to give a little hip swing to your steps, knowing John would be watching. As you pass the guard, you look over your shoulder and sure enough, the heir's blue eyes are watching you over his father's shoulder. You give him a knowing smirk that makes his eyes snap back to the king. You feel like laughing as you leave. Of course you don't. Striders don't laugh.
By the time you reach the training fields, the pages are all circled up in the sword play area. You often volunteer to help train when you have the time. You like to see the look of awe on the kids' faces when you move too fast for their eyes to follow. And though you do like to show off, afterward you're perfectly okay with slowing down a bit to help them actually learn. The sword master stands in the center of the ring of kids, a wooden sword in his hands as he teaches some basic maneuvers. Several of them turn to look at you with wide eyes as you approach. And why wouldn't they? You're one of the most well known knights in this kingdom. You're the fastest swordsman around and the youngest to master it. Not to mention it's common knowledge that you're best friends with the heir.
You step around the outside of the circle and strip your belt of your sword and sheath. Gingerly setting them to the side, you take a wooden sword from the pile and test the weight of it. Too light. You pick up another. Too heavy. You go on like this until you find one that balances well in your hand. By then, the sword master has introduced you and everyone's eyes are turned your way. Introductions were just a formality. They all already know who you are. Well, maybe some of the first year pages don't, but they'll soon learn. The older kids have already seen you fight.
You and the sword master proceed to have several duels. After everyone the other man takes a moment to explain certain things that happened and what to learn from that. You just wait to engage him again. You win all of them, as usual. He's learned this is an inevitability, but he's good natured about it, using it as a teaching tool. As you expected, the kids are in awe at your speed and skill. After another duel, you look around while the sword master explains something about your footwork. You've gathered quite a crowd. People love a good show. You scan their faces, seeing many people you know, but your eyes don't stop until they lock on a familiar set of blue orbs. He grins when you look at him and you have to actively keep yourself from smirking in response. Instead you give him a small nod. You had a feeling he might show up. He usually does.
The next duel is over faster than the previous ones. You admit it, now you're just showing off. After all, John's watching. You can see the way his eyes follow you, seeing more details than the other spectators. After the duels are over, you step to the side to allow the pages more room to spread out and practice. You eye John from across the span of the sparring field and run your fingers through your hair. The sweat makes it stand on end, but you don't care enough to fix it. He's watching you like he's mesmerized, eyes wide, mouth slightly agape. Even though several other people are trying to talk to him, his eyes are on you.
You grab the material of the front of your tunic between two fingers and pull it out a few times, allowing some air to get down to your chest because, damn, you worked up a sweat. It's an innocent enough gesture, but you make eye contact with John and your tongue slips out to slowly glide along your bottom lip. His face turns pink and he finally turns to the people around him, as if just realizing they were there. You chuckle softly to yourself and start walking among the pages, fixing stances and giving advice.