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Zakath ran his fingers through his hair and sighed, absently petting his mackerel tabby with his other hand.  The cozy fireplace in his private room gave off a steady warmth as the cheerful flames flickered and danced.  The Emperor of Boundless Mallorea wasn’t feeling so cheerful at the moment though.  He ran over the possibilities in his mind, played through all of his interactions with Garion and the yearning ache in him only grew worse.

“This is childish, and obsessive,” he muttered to himself.  “He is only a boy.”  He gave a low groan of frustration and dropped his cat from his lap onto the floor and stood.  With a sigh he stepped over to his door, pulled it open and spoke quietly to the guard posted, “Please, send for Belgarion.  I must speak with him at once.”

“Yes, Kal Zakath!”  The guard bowed hurriedly and then scurried off.

A few moments later Garion slid sideways in through the barely open door and stood there, eyes a little wide with surprise.  “You wanted to see me, Zakath?”

The Emperor took a deep breath and swallowed hard.  His eyes followed the curve of Garion’s neck and his thoughts wandered to the obscene.  With a strangled groan he stepped forward as Garion took an involuntary step back, closing the door as he did so.

“Are you alright?  You look a little feverish.  Would you like me to fetch Aunt Pol?”

“There is nothing that will cure me of my latest bad decisions, Belgarion.  I need only to work it out of my system and then, hopefully, I’ll be myself again.”  Zakath moved even closer.

“Are you cross with me, then?  Do we need to have another shouting match?”  The young King offered with a nervous grin.

Zakath did not answer.  Instead he took a deep shuddering breath and closed the remaining distance between them and tilted his head downwards to catch Garion’s lips with his own.

The Rivan King’s hands came up in a startled motion and lightly settle on Zakath’s chest, as if to push him away.  When the Angarak did finally pull back Garion’s expression was sad, almost pitying and for a brief burning moment Zakath hated him for it.

“I’m sorry, Zakath.  I can’t be what you want me to be,” the young man murmured with a sad little smile.  “I’m married with a child and I do love Ce’Nedra.”

Zakath stepped back and ground his teeth in frustration, “I know.  I know, Garion.  Give me one night though; a small moment between us that will never be spoken of again.”

Garion cocked his head to the side as if he were listening to someone, then he sighed regretfully.  “I can’t and you know that I can’t.  Please don’t ask for what I can’t give you.”

Zakath nodded and turned to face the fire, “Go then.  Leave me to my thoughts.”

The soft rustle of fabric and the soft click if the door was the lonely man’s only answer.