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Major Grant had been under the impression that when the position of Lieutenant Colonel became available, it would naturally fall to him to step into the role. He was a hard worker, well behaved, and he rarely complained (and there were a very great number of things he considered worth complaining about) – he was certainly a good candidate. Granted, he had made a few mistakes, but hadn’t they all? Even Wellington was not the faultless pearl amongst oyster shells the men made him out to be in their letters home. Grant’s experience with war had shaped him into an impeccable soldier, the kind who could spot an enemy at two-hundred yards and survive poor conditions for days without needing anything more than bread, potatoes and water.

That was why the Major was disillusioned when a young man – no, no more than a boy really – had bought his way into the now vacant position. William De Lancey was, well what was he? He was inexperienced (so Grant presumed), arrogant to a laughable degree, and as gobby as they came. Grant could not have helped getting off on the wrong foot with him. Upon their first meeting he’d joked about leaving tactics to the men while little boys went and played with their toy soldiers. He was not sure he deserved a dressing down from De Lancey as stern as the one he had given him, certainly not in front of the other officers – it had only been a joke.

Grant found it hard to take De Lancey seriously when he reprimanded him, for he saw him as nothing but a fresh-faced milksop. The uniform did nothing to mask it either. He was certain he’d never feel quite right standing to his attention.

Wellington had sent them both on a reconnaissance detail today, one that required them to be far from the British troops and within the company of none but themselves and the French battalion they were spying on. Perhaps, Grant wondered, Wellington had created this task to force them into close proximity, hoping they would finally work things out and get along. Perhaps he just enjoyed torturing him. Whatever the reason, having to spend his day being ordered around by De Lancey was not appreciated, and no one could make his distaste in something clearer without being obviously offensive than Major Grant.

“Quiet,” De Lancey snapped. He had been peering through his spyglass for several minutes, scanning the trees from the seat of his horse to make certain it was safe to proceed through the clearing. Throughout those minutes, Grant had been grumbling about more advantageous methods of trailing the French, making sure to add that only fools went about things this way.

The Major decided to dismount and settle down for some lunch and a good drink of water. Spain was unbearably hot at this time of year and the heat came off the dry ground in waves. The horses could do with a break too, mares never did like such temperatures. After tossing some large stones from a mound of grass he settled down and unwrapped his sandwiches. He enjoyed a moment of peaceful silence (if the constant noise of desert crickets and the crackling haze of the sun could be described as silence) before De Lancey opened his mouth again.

“North West I think,” he said, bringing his spyglass down from his eye to nod proudly.

“What?” Grant asked, his mouth full of hot stale bread and sweating cheese. He watched De Lancey dismount and unbuckle one of his saddlebags to fetch his own prepared lunch.

“We should head North West. If we’re behind them we’ll get a better idea of where they’re headed.”

Grant lowered his sandwich and gave the new Lieutenant Colonel a look of incredulity, shaking his head. For a so-called intelligence officer, De Lancey did not seem to have much of it.

“And that will put us right between them and their march battalion,” he looked up at De Lancey and waited for the realisation to dawn on him. This was basic, he should not need to point this out.

“I know that,” De Lancey said, twisting the lid from his flask, “that’s why I said North West, because-“

They both flinched as the sound of musket fire split the thick air like ice cracking. De Lancey’s mare whinnied helplessly, legs buckling beneath her. The second shot sounded and De Lancey’s flask was flung from his hand as his wrist flew backward.

Grant took no time in getting to his feet. Grabbing the reins of his horse he turned her about, aware he had to work quickly. De Lancey had been shot in the arm and Grant could see he was already going into shock. He needed to get them away from the clearing now or they were both dead. Using the horse to shield them both he mounted her and held out a hand to him.

“Quickly,” De Lancey turned to look at his injured horse and Grant raised his voice, “leave her!” He took Grant’s hand, wincing as he pulled him up to sit behind him, sharing the saddle. The mare was already in canter when Grant hooked De Lancey’s good arm over his shoulder and held it to his chest, his other hand gripping the reins. A further shot was fired, ricocheting from the rocky terrain just beside the horse’s hooves, forcing a scream from her.

De Lancey looked back angrily over his shoulder as they made their escape. He was furious that the bastards had outmanoeuvred them, cheating him of his horse and perhaps the use of his hand. But he was more furious with himself, for allowing them both to be caught. Or was it distracted? Grant had barely stopped complaining since they’d set out, the drone of his voice off-putting to say the least. This could very well be his doing entirely. A pained groan escaped him involuntarily as the adrenaline began to drain from him, the agony in his wrist becoming a sudden reality.

“Don’t worry, once we find safety we can sort that out,” Grant said over the sounds of the gallop. He gripped tighter at De Lancey’s arm, feeling his body weaken a little against his back, “just hold on.”

De Lancey closed his eyes tight and pressed his face into Grant’s shoulder. The Major had been a distraction, but then again he had just saved his life. He would let it slide this time. 

Chapter Text

It was a rarity that Grant and De Lancey had the chance to enjoy an evening as much as they had this one. It was also a great rarity that they got their hands on such high quality wine. The kind they were used to, which lined and warmed the stomach well enough but would make you sick if you drank too much of it, felt a thousand miles away.

During a march, the 11th Foot had stumbled across a house, recently abandoned yet stocked with the most excellent pantry and expansive wine-cellar. As it was just beside the new location of the camp the officers had decided to meet there once the men were settled and suitably busy with set up. Each of them had gorged upon the large stock of nuts, dried fruits (which they dipped in honey) and soft wheat pasta in olive oil. After having their fills they swiftly became rosy-cheeked from the wine, which was as deliciously rich as it was heady.

Once the important plans had been laid for the following morning the officers set to enjoying a third pleasure: good conversation. With the accompanying wine and treats it felt like safe conversation, no threats looming over their heads or weights on their shoulders, only the enveloping feeling of trust and companionship with their fellows. It was almost like being at home.

Just before twelve Grant had decided to call it a night after he found himself crying with laughter over an anecdote the Brigadier General had shared. Over the course of the evening he’d heard enough war stories to last an entire lifetime. Interestingly, the Lieutenant Colonel had several tales of his own that Grant had not yet heard and he found himself captivated by his storytelling. Since the day of their ambush, their friendship had blossomed. Grant still felt uncomfortable taking orders from De Lancey, but at least he could say that they were friends. The fact that they were so often required to be in each other’s company became more of a highlight in their day than a hindrance.

As Grant carefully made his way through the grass toward the distant glow of the camp, it dawned on him that it was perhaps not the best idea to return in total darkness, especially when he’d only made this journey once before and in the opposite direction. He tripped a few times on the uneven and unfamiliar ground, but managed to find his way back to his own tent, erected just that day, his belongings still cluttered about inside it. He lit a lantern and began to strip himself of his boots and uniform.

The Major had been settled in his cot for barely ten minutes when he heard a rustling (and giggling) outside of his tent.

“Grant?” It was De Lancey, sloshed up to the eyeballs and slurring rather obviously. He almost fell into the tent and Grant sat up with urgency in the darkness. “I went to the wrong tent,” he laughed, holding on to the tent pole to steady himself until Grant was convinced he would pull the whole thing down with his weight, “twice!”

“I’m afraid,” Grant said, in as hushed a voice as he could muster, “this will be the third mistake De Lancey.”

“No,” De Lancey shuffled into the tent, letting the flap close behind him. He sank to his knees beside Grant’s bed and put his hand on his thigh, causing Grant some alarm, “I was trying to find your tent.”

“Whatever for?”

De Lancey looked up at the Major with his large watery-blue eyes and a small smile spread across his mouth. He was aware of how drunk he was, and of how much he would regret this in the morning, but that wine had stripped him of his inhibitions the way it might strip a door of its paint. He was determined to tell the Major, or rather show him, what he so wanted from him.

Grant waited for a response from De Lancey until it became awkward. He soon realised that the Lieutenant Colonel was slowly slumping forward, the cogs in his head grinding to a halt as his body shut down for rest. When he collapsed against the edge of the bed Grant stiffened, unsure of whether to push him back onto the grass or pull him up under the blanket beside him. Instead, he lightly patted his face. “De Lancey?” He tapped a little harder on his cheek but nothing – he was out for the count.

Sighing, Grant climbed out of his cocoon of blankets and tugged De Lancey’s limp body up from the grass by the shoulders. He was a heavy lad, but once he had an arm hooked under his knees he could lift him quite easily. Luckily he had seen where De Lancey’s tent had been put up that day. Hurrying slightly, he carried him to it and placed him down gently onto his own bed.

The Major stood for a moment as De Lancey settled upon the sheets in his sleep, bringing a hand up under his face and nestling into it. He would have called him a dummy, a dimwit, or simply an idiot, but he found his heart softening at how pure he looked cradled in his bed like a contented cat, mumbling and smiling to himself through an intoxicated slumber. The fact that he’d been privy to more of De Lancey’s soldierly qualities since becoming his friend, and less of those of a petulant boy as when he’d first met him, was forgotten when he witnessed him this innocent. He looked like a boy again, but it did not stir up Grant’s blood the way it used to, rather filled him with a need to protect him.

Fighting the urge to kiss his forehead goodnight (and putting the desire to do so in the first place down to that deadly wine) he left De Lancey to sleep well. 

Chapter Text

De Lancey laid back against the bank of the lake, groaning with happiness as his tired muscles were finally able to relax. Both he and Grant had been riding side by side for hours in the July heat. Despite not being far from their base, when they’d spotted the water they’d simultaneously decided to stop the horses. They’d seen a lot in the last few days and had urgent intelligence regarding the Spanish rebellions that would have Wellington pale-faced. But they decided to allow themselves this one moment of calm between what they were sure would be days of hard graft and bloodshed.

Grant came and sat beside him after tying to horses up at the top of the bank. They stared out for a while at where they were. The view was phenomenal. Soldiers did not usually have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the country they were protecting – they would take the time to look now. Landscapes such as these could be found in paintings back in London’s galleries, but even the most talented painter could never capture what the two of them saw then, with their own eyes. Beyond the lake, far in the distance, the horizon was shaped by dark rows of grassy mountains. Closer to them were scattered trees, similar to those back home but not entirely, dotted across the rocky canvas of the land. Some of those trees around the edge of the wide lake were reflected in its water like a mirror, the brilliant blue sky shining straight back from the surface. Grant threw a stone in.

“Do you think we can drink it?” De Lancey asked, lying back and resting his arms behind his head. Their flasks had been emptied hours ago, the last few mouthfuls they had saved hot on their tongues and not at all refreshing.

“I should think so,” Grant said. They would bring the horses down for a drink too once they’d rested a while.

De Lancey closed his eyes, the sun blazing onto his tanned face and dirty red coat. He could have slept, slept for hours, but tiredness became the default state for a solider after a while. He would just rest his eyes (and his back) and be content to get back onto his horse again soon. Beside him he heard the Major stand, shuffling about on the loose ground. Assuming he was going to fetch some water he asked “get me some,” without opening his eyes.

“Get it yourself,” Grant said light-heartedly, “I’m going for a swim.” De Lancey opened his eyes sharply and realised that the shuffling sounds he had heard were in fact Grant undressing. He was just pulling off his shirt, parts of his uniform scattered about on the ground beside him. “Are you coming in?”

“Certainly not,” De Lancey said, lying back on the ground.

“Suit yourself.”

De Lancey opened one eye a crack as Grant pulled off his boots and socks until he was barefoot on the hot earth. He observed him tugging off his breeches and smallclothes inelegantly, throwing them beside the other garments until he was entirely naked. Grant let out a sigh of happiness at his exposure, feeling the soft breeze on his skin. He was looking forward to the cool embrace of the water around his tired limbs, and the way it might soothe the reddened sores the saddle had left on the insides of his thighs. Turning to De Lancey quickly, to ask him if he might change his mind, he noticed him looking at him.

“Something catch your interest?” Grant said boldly, turning around to face the fully-clothed Lieutenant Colonel. De Lancey pursed his lips and looked everywhere but Grant. “If it does, you should join me, shouldn’t you?”

The invitation was more than just to come into the water and they both knew it. In the last few months there had been countless almost-kisses between them, and so many touches and gazes that had lingered a little longer than was decent. Neither of them wanted to admit it, for they well knew the heartache that becoming too attached to someone here might bring, but they both felt it. If De Lancey had not been a little wary of water, and wary of what might happen once he entered it, he would have followed Grant in without a moment’s hesitation.

He watched Grant dip his toes into the water from the bank, then his foot, startling at how refreshingly cool it was. Slowly, he stepped in, the water swallowing him up until he was just a head sticking out above the glistening ripples. De Lancey had enjoyed seeing the broadness of Grant’s bare back to the point of disappointment at no longer being able to, but he knew he’d return to the bank soon. Then he would be dripping with water, shimmering in the sun. He loosened the top button of his tailcoat and laid back again, trying not to think about it.

“It’s lovely,” Grant shouted from the water. He dipped his head under for a moment, emerging with wet hair clinging to his forehead. Sweeping it back he splashed his hand through the water, forcing the ripples further out into the lake. When he looked back to the bank De Lancey was watching him with interest again. “Come in?”

De Lancey looked nervous. “I don’t know about that, you never know how safe lakes are.” Grant shrugged and swam further out, kicking and splashing his legs behind him as though it might tempt De Lancey in. “I want to,” De Lancey shouted, “but…”, but he didn’t know why. Perhaps it was the thought of them both being naked in such close proximity to each other. No, it was definitely that.

Grant treaded water on his own for a while, waiting impatiently for De Lancey to make up his damn mind and join him. When he didn’t he decided to take matters into his own hands. He strode out of the water and saw that De Lancey had laid back, pretending again that he hadn’t been watching. He had little time to react before Grant grabbed him and pulled him up from the floor.

“No, Grant, I don’t think I-”

“Just stop thinking,” Grant said over him, scooping him up into wet, dripping arms.

“What are you doing!” De Lancey panicked, struggling in Grant’s iron grip as he started to walk back into the water with him, “Grant! My uniform! Grant!” De Lancey let out a squeal of horror as his clothes rapidly soaked through, Grant holding him firmly and dropping him in once they were deep enough. “What the hell are you doing man!” he cried. He kicked himself upright, frustrated and humiliated as he started to make his way back to the bank, “how am I going to wear this?” he gestured to his uniform as he walked back out onto dry land, “it’s soaked!”

“You’ll have to take it all off, won’t you?” Grant had paddled his way up into the shallower water, lying on his front and resting his chin in his hands. De Lancey turned to look at him with unrestrained annoyance. “It’ll dry in the sun in minutes.”

De Lancey turned away from him as he began to unbutton his tailcoat, mumbling something under his breath about Grant having no manners and no decency. But, as the shock of being so effortlessly manhandled by such a naked Major began to wear off, he realised that he could be right. His uniform would dry quickly. It was just water after all. He was enjoying the refreshing feeling of being wet. The chance of a good wash was something he certainly wouldn’t turn his nose up at either.

Grant had swum back out further into the water by the time the Lieutenant Colonel had undressed. He was a little red-faced as he stepped back in, covering himself with a strategically placed hand. Grant smiled at his bashfulness, for it was so unlike De Lancey to be shy. When he was beside him, Grant chuckled.

“That took some work.” De Lancey rolled his eyes at him.

“I would appreciate it if you refrained from… picking me up like a toy in future.” Grant laughed again.

“I apologise, but I really wanted you to join me.”

It may have been the fatigue, or their sublime surroundings, or his excitement at finally getting De Lancey into the water which inspired Grant to do what he did next. But he cared little for what had made him do it for once he had he knew this moment had been right. Reaching out, he brought his hand to De Lancey’s face and touched it lightly. He stroked wet fingers over his cheek and temple, smiling contentedly.

“Grant, what are you doing?” De Lancey asked, not pulling away. This was what he had been afraid of, the reason he had not wanted to come into the lake, but now that Grant’s hands were upon him he was mysteriously bereft of that fear. He leant into Grant’s palm, turning his face ever so slightly into the heat of it.

“I’ll stop, if you want me to,” Grant said it so gently his voice broke. It was as if he could hardly bear to think of hearing De Lancey say it, to ask him to stop. They both knew there would be battles they needed to fight soon, and demons they would have to face in the dark silent nights that led up to them. If they didn’t do this now then they never would.

“Don’t,” De Lancey begged, his eyes wide and radiant in the sunlight, “don’t stop.” His hand came out from the water and touched the back of Grant’s, holding it to his face to show him not to let go. They came closer in the water and looked at each other, nervous, trembling a little, laughing at their own foolishness for doing so. Grant stared into De Lancey’s eyes, then drew his gaze down to his mouth.

Their lips touched.

They kissed then, finally, deeply, smiling through it, the both of them wondering why it had taken them so long to do this.

De Lancey crept a hand through the water and placed it against Grant’s waist, anchoring himself to him. He pulled his skin into his grip, holding it as tight as he could without hurting. Grant caressed his face, his other hand lost somewhere in his strawberry curls.

They kissed and clutched at each other, happy and carefree in the water. Soon they were splashing each other, laughing and swimming about like boys. Then they laced their fingers together under the water and kissed again, knowing they’d have to get back soon.

The sun continued to shine down on this, their shared and stolen moment of heaven. 

Chapter Text

“I will not have you here,” Grant had said.

He had said it several times, every time causing De Lancey to whine at being denied something (or rather someone) he so desperately wanted. He wanted Grant. He wanted him on top of him, inside him, wrapped around him, unable to think of anything but him. That was why it was so despairing to be turned down by him. But it wasn’t a refusal – it was just a postponement.

Grant would explain, as his hands touched and kissed all there was of the Lieutenant Colonel above his uniform, that his cot, a bed roll, or the dry rough fields of Spain, were not places where they could be together, certainly not comfortably anyway. He did not want to take De Lancey with his spit alone, somewhere wild and ravaged, or where there was any chance at all of them being interrupted. He wanted it to be perfect. De Lancey would just have to be patient.

It was why the two of them felt fit to burst once they stepped inside the room of their Portuguese guesthouse and locked the door behind them. It felt as though they had been waiting forever for such solitude: four walls and a bed to call their own. Bless Lord Wellington. Bless him and his ridiculous details that had them crossing borders together, with expectations that they would not return for days.

De Lancey was quick to grab at the Major, ready to tear him free of his clothes and trappings. He wanted to drink in the sight of him again, naked and stripped of his rank, duty and concerns of war. But as he grabbed at his belt, he found Grant’s hands taking his wrists gently, but with enough strength to hold him still.

“Grant,” De Lancey warned, “if you so much as think of telling me this too is unworthy of-“

“No,” Grant said, impossibly calm, “I don’t want to rush, not when I’ve waited so long for you,” he kissed De Lancey’s hand, “I want to savour you.”

De Lancey took a moment to allow Grant’s words to sink in properly before nodding. He went to speak his agreement but found his words stifled as Grant covered his mouth with his own, his wrists still held in his fists. He let out a pathetic little noise at this, opening his lips and inviting the Major in. The kiss was shallow, Grant taking his time with it. They both remembered the lake and sighed at the shared memory.

Before Grant had even introduced his tongue into the matter, De Lancey felt weak, panting gently as the fight left him. Grant released his wrists at the submission and let De Lancey’s hands come to rest at his waist. Sliding out his tongue, he coaxed him to respond and as he did, felt a little tug at his sword-belt. De Lancey slipped his fingers over the leather and its brass fastenings, stroking the crimson sash beneath it that was tied so tightly at his hip.

As they kissed lightly, Grant helped De Lancey with his task. Without his sight he unfastened the plate of his belt and carefully lowered it with its sling and sheathed sabre to the floor. Slowly he untied his sash, pulling the fabric loose to let his coat come away from its snug position against his waist. He did the same to De Lancey’s belts, continually kissing him with confidence and a calmness that had the other man gasping quietly into his mouth. Soon there was a small pile of weaponry, leather and red worsted wool on the floorboards beside them.

Once stripped of their accoutrements, Grant slowly pushed De Lancey backward toward the big bed in the centre of the room. When the back of his knees touched the edge of it De Lancey moaned. Finally the place where Grant was happy to have him was within his reach. Turning his head he let his gaze flit to the simple sheets and smiled, for soon they would both be tangled within them.

“You are completely certain?” Grant asked, a little breathless, his hand on De Lancey’s hip.

“Grant,” De Lancey said, trying to sound stern despite trembling hands and the hopelessly endearing look of concern on the Major’s face, “if you do not have me in this very bed, at this very moment, I will have you put on a charge.” Grant chuckled, a small but entirely genuine smile on his face.

“Point taken.”

Deftly, Grant stripped De Lancey of his coat, noticing with curiosity the sharp rise and fall of his chest beneath the gold buttons he had yet to unfasten. When the Lieutenant Colonel went to mirror Grant’s actions, he grumbled as his hands were pushed away.

“I will have you naked first this time,” he said, alluding to their time at the lake, “I want to see how desperate you are for this.” De Lancey canted his hips into Grant’s thigh to demonstrate how hard he already was.

“Is that not enough for you?” He was eager for Grant to touch him there, or at least look down and acknowledge it, but Grant shook his head. “You are intolerable.” De Lancey shut his eyes tightly, becoming as frustrated as Grant hoped he would be.

So Grant took to the torturously slow undressing of his Lieutenant Colonel, teasingly mouthing at his cheek and throat as each layer was peeled away from him. “Yes,” De Lancey breathed, once his shirt was unlaced and pulled over his head, and Grant’s heavy hand was upon his naked chest. He groaned when he felt his thumb smooth over the peak of one of his nipples.

“Are you going to keep your uniform on?” De Lancey asked, biting his lip at the very idea of it. That Grant might be so fully dressed while he so brazenly naked, had his stomach in knots. He lifted a hand exploratively at the thought, creeping light fingertips through the corded fringes of Grant’s epaulettes. The Major pushed his face into the curve of De Lancey’s shoulder, drawing his hands down his back. Smoothing both palms over his backside he took a firm hold of his buttocks and kneaded them through his breeches.

“Would you like it if I did?”

“I might,” De Lancey turned his mouth to Grant’s temple and pressed a wet kiss to it, “if you keep your boots on.”

Grant sank to his knees then, pushing De Lancey back until he was seated upon the edge of the bed. Slowly he slid the Lieutenant Colonel’s boots from his feet and began delicately massaging his socked feet with his thumbs and fingertips.

“Oh,” De Lancey cooed, “you cannot do that enough.” He flopped backward onto the sheets as Grant pulled off his socks. Steady hands resumed soft circles down the flanks of his shins, around his anklebones and up under the arches of his feet. Marching and standing for hours would toughen a soldier’s feet, but it would not stop them from aching after a whole day upon them. There was something wholly intimate about the tender way in which the Major touched De Lancey’s slender feet. If his prick had not been threatening to burst through his beeches any minute he would happily have fallen asleep to such attentions.

But then Grant’s hand was there, knuckles brushing his groin as he took to unfastening his breeches. He tugged De Lancey up from the bed until they were both standing again and slowly pulled them down. The skin of his stomach was marked from where his sash had been tightly tied over the waist of his breeches, fading red lines imprinted on his flesh that followed where the fabric had sat. He took a moment to take in the texture of them with his fingertips. Slipping two hands under the waist of De Lancey’s smallclothes he slid them down too, taking in the curve of his backside again as he did so.

Once he was completely laid bare, Grant could not help but eye De Lancey’s straining member. If they really had time, he would enjoy De Lancey in every way he knew how. He would sink to his knees and take him in his mouth, work him achingly slowly until he was gasping and speechless. He would slip his tongue between these slim, lightly-freckled thighs, and ease it into him, have him spending and spending before he’d even introduced his fingers.

Grant was torn from his imaginings when De Lancey grabbed at his hair, pulling him in for what he expected would be another kiss. But he spoke to him instead, closely and into his temple, with a tone of threat beneath his wavering voice.

“I hope you’re going to hurry up and fuck me?”

“Patience,” Grant said with a smirk. He wanted De Lancey to realise how wanton he had just sounded, “what might His Lordship say, if he heard you so desperate?”

De Lancey scoffed, “that rutting stag! I doubt he would be the least perturbed.”

Grant smiled, perhaps he was right. Taking the distracted De Lancey completely off-guard as planned, he lifted him up from the floor to carry him to the bed.

“Grant!” De Lancey thrashed his arms and legs for a moment, but then quickly calmed, realising he was being lowered onto the centre of the bed. “I told you not to do that,” he groused, accepting an apologetic kiss to the cheek as Grant loomed over him for a moment.

“Sorry,” he said, not sounding very sorry at all, “but it’s your turn to watch now.”

The Major stepped off of the edge of the bed and began to unbutton himself. De Lancey watched with an avid interest as he slowly stripped himself of his coat, waistcoat, neckcloth and shirt. He appeared far too calm and poised for such a situation, so De Lancey spread his legs a little, giving him the faintest glimpse of what he would soon be permitted to have, all to himself. Grant swallowed, his hands pausing against his breeches. He clenched his jaw and De Lancey smiled, glad to get under Grant’s skin with something as simple as an indecent display.

Grant found the temptation hard to resist to give the Lieutenant Colonel exactly what he wanted – a good, hard fuck – especially when he had asked so nicely for one. But he wanted to enjoy him as thoroughly as he could, for he had no idea when they’d have an opportunity like this again. Once Grant was in a state of complete undress De Lancey flexed himself like a cat on top of the sheet and rolled onto his side.

“How do you want me Major?” Grant wet his lips. He wanted De Lancey in any and every way imaginable.

“On your front,” he managed, his voice so weak it threatened to break.

De Lancey shuffled over to complete his instructions, giving Grant a view of his nude back. The Major’s mouth watered at the sight of his lithe, muscular form in the candlelight. He really was quite handsome.

From within the pile of red and white clothing on the floor, Grant retrieved a small bottle of oil he had purchased from this very town earlier that evening. The bed creaked and dipped a little under his weight as he joined De Lancey and settled in the space beside him. The sound of the bottle being uncorked had De Lancey chewing his lip in anticipation. It smelt richly of olives and had become warmed from the body it had sat against for most of the day. When Grant poured some of it into the cup of his palm De Lancey manoeuvred himself to give him better access to his backside. But Grant pushed him back down flat.

Suddenly, Grant’s warm oily hands were upon the small of his back. They brushed across his pale skin, wide thumbs massaging into the little dimples that sat at the base of his spine.

“Mmm…” De Lancey’s face sank into the pillow, his entire body relaxing, “God that’s good.” He felt himself becoming boneless under Grant’s gentle touches, his prick softening slightly as the situation became less frantic – Grant was taming him. He moved his hands higher, smearing the slick of oil along the length of De Lancey’s back. “Please don’t think I’m not enjoying this,” he said quietly, his voice muffled by the pillow, “but there really is no need to be so gentle with me, I shan’t break.” Grant nodded to himself.

“I know,” he leant down to push his nose into the hair at the nape of the Lieutenant Colonel’s neck, “but what if I should find pleasure in doing so?” De Lancey huffed out a breath, in no mood to argue when he was being treated to such bliss.

“Then I will not say another word.”

Grant continued working the knots and tension from De Lancey’s muscles until he was threatening to fall asleep under his hands. He had reapplied the oil several times, until the sound of the massage had become obscenely wet. Completely out of the blue, Grant’s oiled hand moved lower and the tip of his thumb slipped into De Lancey’s body without a hint of resistance.

“Oh f—,” De Lancey gasped, mouth open against the pillow. He lifted his hips from the bed, the effort it required making him squirm, and felt himself take more of Grant’s thumb with ease. “God.” He was trembling. Grant pressed his face into the side of De Lancey’s head, breathing gently against his hair. His hole was tight around his thumb, but the massaging had left his body weak, limp and accepting. De Lancey pursed his lips when Grant’s thumb slowly withdrew from him, leaving him to feel incredibly empty.

“Think you could take my fingers?” Grant asked, his control gone, voice broken with arousal. De Lancey nodded into the pillow, hips writhing with need as he breathed out a “yes, please,” that had Grant’s hands itching to act.

De Lancey took two of the Major’s fingers easily and a long groan escaped his throat as they slid deeper, the sound they made going straight to Grant’s prick. From the inside he felt divine, his hot silky flesh dripping with oil and sounding as lewd as it looked. He was tight around his fingers, but it was obvious from the high keening sound De Lancey was making into the pillow that he felt no discomfort from Grant’s probing and stretching. Grant almost completely withdrew the digits, leaving just the tips of them inside. The sound they produced as he drove them all the way in again had his skin prickling. He repeated the action, staring at his fingers as they slowly worked in and out, in and out, watching them disappear inside him. It was certainly a sight to behold, and the Major often forgot how to breathe. After a while, he tilted his hand and pushed a soft pressure to De Lancey’s prostate.

“F –,” De Lancey dragged in a ragged breath as though he’d just been run through with a bayonet, “fucking – hell.”

“Good?” the Major asked with a smug tone. All De Lancey could do in response was whine and pull the sheets into his fist. Grant rubbed that special place that had De Lancey squirming once again and saw his hips lifting up into his hand in response. “Think you can take me now?” De Lancey nodded furiously, a small patch of drool soaking into the pillow beneath his mouth.

“Yes! Grant, yes. Now. Please. I want you to. Right now. Do it.” Grant blinked a few times, for he had never heard him sound quite so wild before. He turned De Lancey over until they were facing each other, his hips slotting neatly between De Lancey’s thighs as they wrapped around him. Pressing another kiss to his mouth he felt how hard De Lancey was again, the firm prod of his arousal against his stomach and an eagerness in his eyes he would not forget. He reached for the oil again and the Lieutenant Colonel whimpered as a little more was worked into him.

Grant took De Lancey’s hand then, rubbing the oil from his own hand onto his fingers and palm before leading it to his swollen prick. De Lancey took it with a soft grip, riding the length of it slowly with his fingers and tipping his head back. He swallowed and Grant watched it in his throat.

“You’re quite a big boy aren’t you?” he trembled, admittedly a little nervous at the sheer size and weight of it in his hand. Grant kissed him again, breathing heavily as he was worked impossibly harder. “It’s going to hurt.” Grant shook his head.

“It won’t.” With that he moved De Lancey’s hand from his prick down between his own legs, “feel yourself.” De Lancey’s eyes widened as he felt the slick rim of his hole with a fingertip, wide with his arousal and Grant’s soft, slow coaxing. Pushing the finger inside he whimpered, pupils blown.

“See, you’re very ready for me,” Grant said, his voice hungry with lust. De Lancey groaned desperately.

“Put it in me,” he whispered, looking scandalised over saying such words aloud, “but let me feel it, let me feel it going in.” Grant jumped to action. Positioning himself, one arm either side of De Lancey’s shoulders, he took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. Lining himself up he lowered his hips a degree. The tip of him breached De Lancey easily, requiring a not uncomfortable stretch. De Lancey grabbed at Grant’s prick, mesmerised, as he stilled and waited for him to find the right place to hold. He pushed in further when he had, eyes locked on where they met, and De Lancey’s petite hands feeling him pushing in. “Oh my – good lord,” De Lancey gulped. He pulled his hand away from where they met as Grant’s stomach became flush against his, buried to the hilt.

“Feel good?” Grant managed to ask, counting to ten in his head as he tried not to spend right then. What he was really asking was, did it hurt?

“So good,” De Lancey mumbled, eyes shut tight as his body adjusted, “so, so good Grant, oh!” he gasped as Grant pulled out with a wet noise only to push back in with more force this time. The look of De Lancey beneath him had the Major’s head spinning. His cheeks and chest were flushed and mottled with pink, his hands clutching and clawing aimlessly at the sheets and his own hair as he panted furiously. He felt sublime around his prick, his slick heat trembling and fluttering with his every movement. Grant started a gentle rhythm, with a leisurely speed that drove both of them to the brink of madness. De Lancey lifted his hips, inviting Grant deeper with a tight wrap of his legs around his waist. His hand grabbed at the pillow when he was, fingers digging into the feather down. “Oh Grant, oh God – so good – you have,” he gulped in another breath, “no idea, how good – don’t stop – Jesus.”

Grant lifted one of De Lancey’s legs at the knee and pinned it against his chest. The new angle allowed him the slightest bit deeper and De Lancey positively wailed, sobbing at it, overcome with the thumping, pounding pleasure that pulsed through his entire body. He mouthed wordlessly through it, feeling entirely full, like he could go out of his mind with it.

“You’re amazing,” Grant whispered, leaning down to kiss De Lancey’s forehead after panting against it for a moment. His eyes were brimming with his appreciation, of De Lancey’s selfless submission to him. He was concerned for De Lancey’s pleasure too, using every ounce of his soldierly self-control to stop himself from thrusting and fucking into him as hard as he could give. De Lancey grabbed at him, at his hair, his face, his shoulders, his chest, pulling him into him, astonished by him, clearly close to his end. “Let me make you spend,” Grant dragged his tongue across De Lancey’s jawbone before kissing at his open mouth, “let me watch it on your face.” He did not want this to end, but seeing as the end was indeed near, he wanted to make it last as long as he could. De Lancey mumbled something incoherent that ended with the word please.

Grant gave a firm thrust with all of his weight behind it, pushing deep and holding his hips still, a strong pressure on that place inside De Lancey that had him about fit to explode.

“God, keep doing that!” De Lancey shouted, the muscles in his neck straining before going limp again. Grant repeated the action, and had to tip his head back and bite his lip at how good it felt to do so, knowing De Lancey was watching him.

“Can I finish in you?” Grant asked toward the ceiling, unable to stop his breaths from coming in short sharp gasps, “once you’ve come off?”

“Yes,” De Lancey moaned, blearily looking up at the expanse of Grant’s neck and the way he swallowed hard.

So the Major kept up his impossibly slow, impossibly deep thrusts into De Lancey, until he was trembling, arching up into him and babbling about how wonderful Grant was, how wonderful his prick felt, and how hard he was spending. Grant watched it all play out on De Lancey’s face until he met his own end. As he spent, his hips bucked fast and hard a few times, something out of his control, and it forced harsh bitten-back grunts from them both. The sounds they made together were lost into each other’s bodies as they pressed their faces into whatever skin was closest.

Grant did not stop moving until De Lancey whined at him to, telling him he could take no more. He released his leg and slid out of him slowly, finding the strength to look down at where they had met as he sat back on his heels. De Lancey felt a hot flush at being looked at so intimately, but was too tired to do anything about it. A trickle of oil combined with Grant’s seed was leaking from him onto the sheets, spoiling himself and them.

“You have no idea how good this looks,” Grant said after a lengthy stare, his mouth watering at the sight. He could not help but reach his hand out and dip a finger into the glistening mess. De Lancey twitched as Grant touched his sensitive hole and circled it with a fingertip. He then sucked that finger clean and groaned at the taste.

“You are obscene!” De Lancey said, letting out a breathless chuckle. Grant came to rest beside him on the bed, taking his face in his hand.

“And you are remarkable,” he kissed him on the mouth proudly, “my remarkable boy.” De Lancey pulled away with a mock annoyance. He was not sure he liked being called a boy, but there was something about Grant’s face when he said it that changed his mind. Still…

“Grant,” he heaved, still breathless from their exertions, “may I remind you – that I am your superior.” Grant gave him one of his incredulous looks.

“I hardly see how you can bring my lower rank into this,” he stroked a hand down De Lancey’s spoiled stomach and walked his fingers over his softening prick, “not when you’re leaking me all over someone else’s bed.” De Lancey blushed before kissing Grant tiredly again, cupping his face in both hands.

Grant hooked his arm under De Lancey’s back and lazily stroked his shoulder blades until they were both asleep, entwined in each other. They both knew there was work to be done tomorrow, and that they needed to get a good night’s sleep for it, but neither of them wanted their privacy to end quite so soon.

They made love twice more before sunrise.

Chapter Text

Waterloo, Belgium, 18 June 1815

 

Grant thought he heard someone say, somewhere in the back of his mind, that the battle was over.

How could it be?

How could it possibly be over?

He was very much still fighting in his own head, still trying to stay alive.

Everywhere he looked he saw atrocity after atrocity. Soldiers caked in mud and darkened blood lay scattered across the field. There were too many of them to make out where one ended and another began. Incomplete bodies brought the taste of bile to his tongue as he stepped carefully between the pieces and parts of men that one should never see; shattered skulls, protruding bones, severed limbs and displaced organs. Men of every nationality reached for him hopelessly as he walked across the battle-torn ground, through the ghostly mist that was starting to cling to the groaning bodies like they’d already become part of the earth. Most could do nothing but quietly whimper and cry, no strength left to speak. Some who had yet to die begged for help. Others pleaded for death. He could not take in what they were saying to him, what they were asking of him.

There was a ringing in his ears that he was not unfamiliar with. It was usually caused by artillery fired in close proximity. A cannon had not been fired in at least ten minutes, yet his ears still rang loudly as if it had. His body was attempting to cope with it all, the sounds of the dying, the smells of the dead, the ghastly tableaux of bodies and faces he was sure would never leave him, not for a moment.

The farmhouse was his destination, that’s all he could focus on – it had been his starting point this morning. As he looked into the distance he saw smoke rising from it. Distracted, he tripped and fell, hands and knees splashing into the mud. Wondering why he was wincing he realised, somewhat belatedly, that his hand was bleeding. He was indifferent toward the wound, certain he must have sustained others, and he had seen so many today, what was one more? He felt little of his body at this moment, neither did he care for his own life. If he was to drop down dead right here beside these men, he would be glad for it. Surviving when they did not felt almost cruel.

The gates were open when he approached, a handful of men carrying bodies through them, haunted expressions on their faces. Grant wondered if his own would be similar. Merlin was sitting on the edge of the well, his eyes lost within his mud-plastered face as he stared down at a body. And there were bodies everywhere. It was difficult to discern anyone in particular, so muddied and mangled as they were. Fleetingly, he thought he saw De Lancey’s face amongst them. He dismissed it, but the ringing in his ears immediately stopped.

No. Grant had vowed to protect Merlin and De Lancey. Merlin was sitting just there – he checked again to make certain that he was – and so De Lancey would be elsewhere, somewhere safe. Fate and the twists and turns of battle had whisked him away from them both, but surely his determination, his absolute need to have them safe would have prevailed?

Standing very still, he turned only his eyes to the body he thought might be De Lancey’s.

His chest heaved. Disbelief cut him through.

Suddenly his hands were trembling, his head shaking from side to side as his jaw set tight. De Lancey’s eyes were open, two pearls of blue beneath the bloodied pallor of his face. He would stare at him until he moved.

Grant stared until his eyes stung with tears. If he stared long enough, De Lancey might blink, or call to him the way so many just had from their battlefield deathbeds.

But De Lancey was still. He was dead.

Grant thought he could look then, rather than numbly stare.

De Lancey looked like he had when Grant had first seen him nearly seven years ago – a young man parading about in a Lieutenant Colonel’s uniform, thinking he knew best. The soldier he had become was wiped from his face, the man too. What lay in the mud now was just a boy.

Swallowing down his acceptance, Grant took a step closer to De Lancey’s body. He ran his eyes over his chest, ripped open from hipbone to opposite collarbone. At least it would have been quick. Could any comfort be found in that? He didn’t know for sure.

Suddenly a member of the burial detail appeared to lift him from the spot where his life had ended. Grant stammered, shocked and unaware of how desperate he might sound. He had not yet considered that he would be taken from him.

“N-no, please,” he reached out, hopelessly, “let me carry him.”

“The officers are being taken to the garden, just through there,” the man pointed and Grant nodded without looking away from De Lancey’s body. “Do you need help?” Grant shook his head. No, thank you, he’d carried De Lancey in his arms enough times. He could do it alone on this last occasion.

When he scooped him up from the ground Grant could not hold back a small sob that had been caught in his throat since the moment he’d first found him. De Lancey was heavy and Grant was battle-weakened and losing blood, but he would do this. He had to do this. He half expected De Lancey to laugh at him, tell him to stop being such a ninny and to put him down. He’d always hated being carried. Maybe De Lancey might push his face into his chest as he walked him away from here and tell him that it hurts, that he would like to go home. Grant wanted to go home. He wanted to be anywhere but here. But De Lancey was silent as he was carried through the mud, past the farmhouse and into what remained of its garden.

There were corpses neatly lined up around the edges of the garden wall, ready to be identified and collected. De Lancey was the next to be added to the line. Grant stopped for a moment, breathing a deep shaky breath through his nostrils. Once he was there, placed in line with the other men, he would be gone. He wanted to wait a while before laying him down, and he wasn’t sure why, but he couldn’t hold him up much longer.

So, very gently, Grant lowered De Lancey back onto Belgium’s ground, carefully moving his hands to his sides and letting his head back slowly like a fragile newborn. When he stepped back he felt a heaviness in his heart at letting him go, for failing him. But he simply could not dwell on his failure here. There was something inside him, driving him, speaking to him – say your goodbyes Grant, do not let this break you. Closing his eyes, he ignored the voice for a moment, wallowing in his grief. Then he obeyed the orders.

He stood to De Lancey’s attention, feet together, back straight, chin raised and eyes forward. This time, it felt right. Who could more be owed respect, than one who had given his life in service to his country? After a moment he nodded, turning on his heel. He thought of the other men he stood beside and those who would soon join them. It was an honour to stand at their attention. He nodded again.

Walking away from the bodies he did not look back, for he was searching for Merlin now. Merlin would need comfort, assurance. Focus Grant, the voice said, make him your focus now.

The focus was interrupted when a medic gently took his arm and led him into the house. He silently bandaged Grant’s hand and improvised a sling from the cloth. As he knotted it at his shoulder he asked if Grant required any further assistance. He said that he did not. His voice sounded far away again.

When he returned to Merlin, who had remained on the edge of the well, he stopped in front of him. He could think of nothing to say. Merlin gave him a weak smile that showed he understood the sentiment. What could one say at a time like this? 

“I was told you were dead,” Merlin said. He looked entirely broken.

Grant wiped his wet eye with the back of his thumb. He could show no weakness in front of Merlin. He would hold himself tall and be the shoulder into which he might cry. Needing to be strong for another would be the only way he could get through this.

“I felt certain you would be,” he replied.