He didn’t know why King Ferdinand had to wear red today.
Well, okay, so it wasn’t really red. It was more of a mauve color, but dammit, that wasn’t the point. Longaville exhaled a sigh, letting his head thump down lazily to rest on his arms. He was seated on the brick edge of the castle’s stoop, arms and head, chin now nestled on his wrists, resting on the railing, which was black and hot but really, Longaville didn’t exactly notice. Ants tickled his bare feet – he’d removed his shoes, because that Saturday was hot as all kinds of hellfire – and a stiff and warm breeze tickled his bleach blond bangs. He proceeded to exhale upwards, unsettling the previously mentioned bangs, most of which continued to remain stuck fast to his forehead.
The air itself pressed his shoulders in to a dejected slump, wetting his neck and back with unnecessary blotches of sweat. The book resting languidly on his lap lay forgotten, the pages folded and ruffled from the occasional breeze that was more of a blast of heat than anything else. He’d lost his place long, long ago. He shifted his wait and his legs proceeded to stick to the stoop, much to Longaville’s dismay.
Once he was settled again, his attention focused back on the man wearing red that was resting in the shade of the large, cumbersome oak not but thirty yards away. He was wearing red pants, his feet were bare and crossed at the ankles, he was reading, he was shirtless, and it was all a bit too much mental torment in Longaville’s opinion. How could anyone look that good just reading a book?
Longaville watched Ferdinand tip his water bottle up for a drink in utter fascination, the king’s eyes closed in ecstacy, his hair sticking to his forehead just slightly, all kinds of dripping, hot, unfathomable manliness and rippling, sweaty muscle….
Longaville hit his head harder against his hands. Urgh, it just wasn’t fair.
It was one thing to be a man that liked men in the time. It wasn’t really looked down upon – he was most certainly higher on the scale than actors and prostitutes, and being a Lord definitely earned Longaville that little extra “look away” value – but it wasn’t going to get him anything much in the way of anything, either. He was kind of… stuck, as it were. A loner. Even if he were to come out – he hadn’t, that was another problem – he would be alone, because no other gay man would come out and join him.
It was another thing entirely to be Longaville. He had promised a lady – Maria – that he would study a year and then marry her when she returned after a period of strict mourning. So Longaville, along with the other three fools in the fanciful parade of their lives, was bound to an oath – fast, study, and only sleep three hours a night, and no pleasures from women – and when it was all said and done he was going to go to hell, no matter what. Either break the oath for a second time and go to hell, or get married and essentially go to hell.
“Next time I flirt with a lady just because I want to spend more time with the guys, I really need to make sure she’ll deny me first.” He moaned to himself, swinging his legs and loosening his ever tightening necktie. “I’m not even good at writing sonnets. Urgh, I had to have had way too much wine when I thought of that plan.” He pressed the top of his head against the hot metal below his arms. Bad ideas seemed to run rampant in all their lives recently, but no one knew how deep the bad ran when it concerned the poor, poor Longaville.
The whoops and hollers that suddenly echoed across the grounds caused Longaville to bang his head on the railing, hissing a word of pain as the two remaining fellows in the game of love approached from the area of the forest. He looked up, one hand rubbing the back of his head, as Biron and Dumain approached, Biron waving a shovel in one hand, and a trunk carried between them.
“How now, good Longaville?!” Biron crooned, saluting sloppily with the shovel. Dumain just waved. “We found treasure!”
“Shouldn’t you two be studying?” Longaville asked. He was certainly glad he still had his book on his lap. It made it easier to feel less like a hypocrite, but if Biron caught him on it, Longaville could just bring up the fact that he wasn’t one to talk, the damn man.
“Literary treasure!” Dumain lifted the trunk slightly. “Biron and I were reciting… Plato as we took a walk through the forest and he tripped over the top of this trunk, so we went for a shovel.”
“You’re the one that tripped, Dumain, you pansy.” Biron replied, quick as a whip. Dumain frowned. “But, that’s not the point. The point it, it’s full of books!”
Longaville simply nodded. He didn’t want to care, he wanted to keep watching Ferdinand, but if he said anything about not caring, or looked like he didn’t care, he’d be right out busted, and that wouldn’t be fun.
“Hey, guys, what’s that?”
Longaville looked up to see Ferdinand standing terribly close to him, dripping and shirtless and smiling. The hot heat and the cold shame of oath breaking ideas collided on Longaville’s face, leaving his face pale but his ears red to the tip, burning with embarrassing desire. Now was the proper time for any man to run.
“It’s literary treasure. We found it – Longaville, you okay?” Biron asked. Longaville had hoisted one leg up to the stoop in order to make a grand and quick escape, but alack the day, he’d been caught. This only caused his ears to burn a hotter red and his face to dip a shade paler. His stomach churned and he really felt very sick. Of course Biron and his stupid big mouth would be the ones to notice his escape.
“I see we’ve caught out friend in a personal plight!” Biron crowed, much to Longaville’s dismay. There wasn’t even time to stand up for himself in this. He could simply sit there, ears burning, leg aching, stomach doing knots because Ferdinand was standing right there, like a statue of a Greek god but with pants on, low slung pants, showing off a little hip and a sparse bit of hair and the sight of this image, right at Longaville’s eyes, nearly made the boy faint.
“Something present in this circle was enough to excite.” Dumain responded, looking rather proud of the rhyme. Biron shot him a glance that asked him not to do that anymore.
“Guys, really. Longaville, you feeling alright?” Ferdinand bent down and put a hand on Longaville’s shoulder.
Longaville saw the world stretch in front of him. The edges of his vision were white, with Ferdinand being the only thing in focus. The smell of sweet roses, sweat and leather bound books hit him squarely and made his eyes flutter. The heavy warmth on his shoulder was exquisite, and he suddenly felt very cold all over. Everything seemed to fall away from his face for a moment until his arms pulled taught and he realized that he’d been slipping backwards. He tried to form words as he sat himself up, one hand going to his head, the other steadying itself on the perfection of Ferdinand’s arm, but his tongue felt thick and his mouth felt dry and he was suddenly very, very thirsty and wet all over. If he’d been paying attention to himself previously, he would have noticed these things before.
“I think I’m alright, really.” Longaville managed, his visions of Ferdinand swaying slightly as he swayed, white spots dancing in front of his eyes, exploding fireworks of light framing Ferdinand’s face, the hand on him strong and steadying even as he tipped to his left before swinging forward. Now he really felt sick, and it wasn’t the churning of love in his gut making him feel like that. All he could think, though, was trying not to embarrass himself in front of Ferdinand.
Sadly, his body was to betray him, because the world quickly went black and he toppled forward into the king’s waiting arms.
Longaville groaned. He was lying on his back on something soft, and it was cool. There were sheets soft against his back, cold against cold sweat. He breathed out, opening his eyes, feeling his body relax against the soft linen. It felt terribly nice. There was a cloth on his head, cold against his hot forehead. The air was filled with the sweet scent of honey-wax candles that lit up the room with a soft, fireside glow. Longaville slowly sat up, taking in his own sparse room. He noted Ferdinand reading quietly to himself in a chair across the way.
He also noted that he felt a very stiff breeze in between his legs. With a yelp, he yanked the sheets up close to his neck. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be naked in a room with Ferdinand, but, well, he was naked, in a room, with a fully clothed piece of perfection.
“Longaville!” Ferdinand stood, heading over to the bed. He pulled his chair along with him, sitting at the bedside for a moment. “How are you feeling?”
“Drafty, but alright. Where are my cloths?” Longaville asked, pulling his legs up to his chest under the covers.
“We removed them. It seemed, according to Sir Nathanial and Holofernes, that the toll of the oath combined with the oppressive heat made you faint, so we removed them to cool you further.”
“Oh.” Longaville gulped. This was not how he’d planned on Ferdinand seeing him naked for the first time. “I, well, I apologize for that incident, and, uh, thank you for bringing me inside.” He felt his ears going red again.
“It would be a shame if something happened to you, Longaville.” Ferdinand patted the other man on the shoulder lightly, before standing. “Biron will be by later with some food. Eat something, and please, Longaville, do get some rest, okay?”
Longaville nodded almost dumbly, watching Ferdinand go. The king had no idea what those words meant to Longaville, and as soon as the door clicked closed, the man flopped backwards onto the bed with a heartfelt sigh of pure love ignited into a insatiable fire.