Actions

Work Header

Heartsigh

Chapter Text

Cagamosis (n.) an unhappy marriage.


 

At the age of thirty four, Bard had believed that his life would have been more rewarding than what it was. Sure, he had a house, a car, a stable job, three wonderful kids and a wife, but something was clearly missing. Although he was never quite able to figure out what it was that he needed or wanted in his life to make it feel complete. He wondered why he wasn’t happy yet. Why was he working his ass off everyday only to come home and feel empty inside? His children always helped to lift his spirits, though. They were the one light in his life that he wouldn’t trade for all the happiness or money in the world.

Bard knew he hadn’t always felt this way, although it was hard to remember a time when his relationship with his wife was pleasant, instead of stained and forced. When he first married Madison, his high school sweetheart, he had been happy. Their marriage wasn’t always like this. There hadn’t always been this tension controlling their every action, their every behavior. But as the years went by, things seemed to gradually go downhill. Arguments never got resolved, just pushed to the back burner – out of sight, out of mind. Bard tried his best to ignore his wife’s snarky comments, always belittling him in front of the children and making him out to look like a bad person. Bard tried his best, with the children, with his job and with his marriage, but sometimes he made mistakes. He was only human after all. He couldn’t be perfect and he never claimed to be. Madison’s incessant nagging every morning and night wore him down and left him feeling overly tired and utterly drained. He really didn’t know how much more he could take before he reached his breaking point. He could only be pushed so far.

“Bard!”

A heavy sigh escaped Bard’s lips as he tossed around in the empty bed, his wife’s voice pulling him back into reality. He didn’t know why Madison was yelling for him at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning. He was sure she must have told him last night if they had early plans, but like usual he shut it out.

Thankfully the kids were all spending time at friends houses, so they didn’t have to be around to witness the near constant state of arguing Bard and Madison were caught up in. Could they ever have a normal, civil conversation? It seemed not. Those days were long behind them now.

“Wake up, Bard!” He heard her calling out with more volume this time. She was grumbling under her breath, some nasty comment, something along the lines of ‘why am I married to such a lazy piece of shit.’

“What do you want?!” Bard yelled back, his patience already worn thin from their disagreement the previous evening.

“We are going to do the groceries. Don’t you remember me telling you this?!” Madison shouted, walking into the room and smacking Bard’s shoulder in hopes of rousing him. Bard wasn’t even asleep anymore; he just didn’t want to deal with her nagging today. He wanted to be left alone. He didn’t understand why she needed him to go to the supermarket with her. Why couldn’t she go alone? Wouldn’t she enjoy the solitude? Bard knew she must be annoyed with him as well, so why not just go alone?

“And you need me there because…?” Bard groaned.

“Because you can’t just expect me to do everything for this family while you’re sleeping!” She yelled, her voice becoming more heated with each passing second. “Now, get up and let’s go. I’m not wasting the whole day.”

“Fine.” Bard grumbled, throwing the covers off of himself and making his way to the closet to get dressed.

“You don’t have to do anything around here. It’s all me. I have to cook, clean, do the laundry, get the kids ready for school. You do fuck all, Bard.”

“Can you stop, Madison? Please? I don’t need to put up with this! Day in and day out, all you do is criticize me.”

“Well maybe you deserve to be criticized. Maybe you need to be taught a lesson.”

“I’m not some child that you can just punish! There is no lesson to learn! The only thing I’ve learned over the years is that you have no heart! You’ve become a real monster, Maddy!” Bard’s voice was beginning to falter now. He could feel his hands shaking, his fingernails digging into his palms as his fists shook at his sides.

“Shut up! Don’t call me Maddy. We aren’t teenagers anymore. Let’s just go and get this over with.”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

“And when we get back I expect you to start painting Tilda’s room. You were supposed to do it months ago. Jesus, Bard, where are your priorities?”

“I didn’t have time to do it yet. I’ve been working overtime, you know that. The past few Saturdays I’ve been in the shop. And with all that’s been going on with my dad do you really expect the painting to be on the top of my priority list? Really?” Bard couldn’t believe how selfish his wife was being. Lately she had been treating him as if he wasn’t even her husband, as if he was just someone to boss around. He felt mistreated and abused, to be honest.

The brunette was used to just sighing and submitting to whatever his wife asked of him, but after being treated poorly so often he knew that eventually he would snap.

They did the groceries together, Madison picking out everything on her list and carefully putting it into the cart, while Bard pushed the cart around, following her at a close distance. She bickered at him more than was usual for them to do in a public place and Bard bit his tongue once again, not wanting to cause a scene. He didn’t want to be that couple.

Every time Bard picked something off the shelves (mostly different brands of cookies) his wife scoffed and grabbed the item and put it back onto the shelf, scolding Bard as if he were a disobedient child.

Their fighting continued when they got home. They fought about everything possible. From who was going to drive the kids to school in the morning, to who worked the most hours and did the most around the house. Finances were also one of the main topics that they argued about. Madison always told Bard that he needed to work longer hours, yet when Bard did she would complain that he never spent any time with the family. It was a lose-lose situation, there was no winning, ever.

Sometimes Bard just wanted to disappear. The only thing that kept him from running away were the kids. He would never abandon them. Never, ever. They meant the world to him. And despite his constant fighting with his wife he knew deep down that he loved her and she loved him. Or at least he hoped she still loved him.

Part of Bard was sure that she was cheating on him, but the other part thought it was just an overreaction on his part. He couldn’t truly believe that his wife would ever do something like that to him.

  

The rest of the week went on as usual. Bickering, small arguments, nasty glances, the silent treatment, everything possible to make Bard feel like just giving up on his wife and walking out.

On Thursday morning Madison had hit him in the face before they went to work because apparently she was so frustrated with her workload that she had to take her anger out on someone. Bard thought it was a pretty lame excuse. Not only had she been verbally abusing him for the past few years, but now she was actually physically abusing him as well.

Bard put the incident out of his mind that day, focusing only on the work he had to do at the shop. He checked engine lights, changed the fluid in the master cylinder, replaced spark plugs, and let his mind wander as he spent most of the day with his head in the engine compartment bay under the hood of various cars. It was a much needed distraction.

“Man, are you okay today?” Percy asked him while they were on lunch.

“Yeah.” Bard sighed, feeling his voice give away that he, in fact, was not okay.

“Doesn’t look like it.”

“I’m fine. What makes you think something’s wrong?” Bard questioned. He thought he was doing a good job of hiding his feelings. He didn’t think he was so blatantly obvious.

“Well, for one, Alfrid has been bitching at you all morning and you haven’t snapped back once yet, which is a new record for you, and two, you’ve been working faster and harder than I’ve ever seen you work in the past five years. And I know you Bard, you only drown yourself in this much work when there is something on your mind.” Percy concluded, shooting a concerned look in Bard’s direction.

“Well, I guess things have been a little strained at home.”

“Wife?” Percy guessed.

“Yeah. What else would it be?” Bard answered derisively. Obviously it was his wife that was putting him in such a foul mood.

Percy gave Bard a questioning look, but Bard just waved it off. He didn’t want to go into details, and it’s not like Percy didn’t already know how Bard felt about his marriage. He had called his friend many times before in the middle of the night ranting and raving about how badly she treated him. Percy knew, therefore he didn’t push.

Bard sighed and changed the topic, discussing problems at work and the ridiculous things his kids did. He didn’t want to focus on the issues of his marriage. There was no point in letting that crap ruin his day at work when he knew he would be faced with the onslaught of his wife’s anger once he arrived back at home.

“When was the last time you did something fun? Something just for you?” Percy asked as they clocked back in at the shop and picked up where they left off before their lunch.

“Hmm.” Bard sighed, taking a moment to really think about it. He couldn’t even remember when he last did something just for himself. Everything he did these days was either for Madison or the kids. He didn’t have any leisure time. “I honestly don’t remember.”

“You need to get on that. Do something you enjoy, then everything else won’t feel as shitty. You gotta be selfish sometimes.” Percy said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Well, it’s not that simple. Maddy would get pissed at me if I just went out and did my own thing. I’d never hear the end of it.” Bard explained. He wished he could be in loving supportive marriage like Percy was.

Percy sighed, shaking his head as Bard continued on his rant.

“It’s like she doesn’t even want me to have friends! Remember a few months ago when you asked me to go out for drinks? Well that turned into a massive argument because of how ‘irresponsible’ it would be! She treats me like I’m some idiot or something. Like I’m a child that needs to be taken care of!” Bard grumbled, throwing the wrench he was using to take off the tires of a car, down onto the ground.

“Bard, promise me you will do something you enjoy, something without her involved?”

“I’ll try.”

“Maybe get back into archery? You always enjoyed that.” Percy suggested, picking up the wrench and sitting it on the workbench.

“According to her, archery is way too dangerous and a foolish thing to do if you have kids.” Bard sighed, grabbing the wrench again and beginning to loosen the tires. “Let’s just drop this subject, Perce, before I lose my shit.”

“Alright. Sorry, Bard. I won’t say anything else. Just take my advice, please.”

“I will.”

 

That evening Bard got home at a fairly decent hour. He refused to stay late, not because he didn’t want to do the work, but because he knew his wife would give him shit. He really needed a good night’s sleep if he was going to start painting Tilda’s room in the morning.

As Bard entered the house, he put on his best happy face, smiling despite knowing that Madison was probably still angry at him. He hoped that if he was in a positive mood that it might help lift her mood as well.

“Hey, honey! I’m home.” Bard called out as he took off his shoes and slung his jacket over the back of the couch as he walked into the living room.

“You’re late, Bard.” Madison said in a condescending tone, shaking her head.

“Not really.” Bard said, still trying to put on a faux smile.

“Yes, really.” She chided, walking past him and grabbing his jacket from where he left it on the back of the couch. “And will you ever learn what a hanger is for? My god!”

Bard sighed, completely exasperated. What was the point in even trying? There was no way his positivity could ever rub off on someone so innately negative.

The sound of little feet approaching had a quick silencing effect on both adults. Bard greatly disliked the idea of any of the kids witnessing their fighting. It wasn’t right for them to have to deal with the questions that would ultimately arise in their curious minds.

“Hey, Da!” Tilda squealed, grasping at Bard’s leg but flinching and pulling away when she realized how much grease was on his pants. “Ick! You’re all dirty!”

“Yes, darlin’ I know. Lots of messy jobs today. How was school?” Bard asked, ruffling her hair affectionately.

“It was good.” Tilda replied, giggling and smoothing her hair after Bard had left it sticking up in odd angles.

“That’s good. Where are your sister and brother?”

“They went out to friends houses!”

Madison sighed. “Maybe you’d know where they were if you bothered to involve yourself in their lives, Bard.” She scoffed, obviously not caring if Tilda was around to experience her bad mood first hand.

“Seriously? Who goes to all their school functions? Plays, rehearsals, parent teacher meetings? That’s all me, not you. I never miss anything; you on the other hand never do much to show you care.” Bard spat out the words like it would kill him to keep it in any longer. He quickly tried to compose himself in front of his youngest daughter, apologizing softly, hoping that he didn’t upset her.

“Please don’t fight.” Was all Tilda said, the words coming out quietly as a little pout formed on her lips.

“Sorry baby girl.” Bard said again, leaning down to kiss the top of her head while his wife just shook her head and shrugged.

Madison was never one for apologies. Not with the kids, and especially not with Bard. It was as though she never believed she did anything wrong, or that no one was worthy of an apology. Bard couldn’t tell which it was. Probably a bit of both.

She hung up Bard’s jacket with a grunt and went off in the direction of the kitchen where the microwave had beeped. Clearly she wasn’t making dinner, just eating leftovers again. Bard didn’t mind doing the cooking, for everyone or just himself, but he did enjoy eating dinner together at the table as a family. Maybe he was just old-fashioned. He knew his wife didn’t share his values.

“Da, are you going to come to the movies with me and Mommy?” Tilda questioned, her big eyes searching Bard’s own as she bounced on her feet, following Bard into the kitchen.

“No, sweetie.” Madison cut in before Bard could speak. “You father has to get your room all set up for tomorrow.”

Bard shot his wife an incredulous look as Tilda pursed her lips in confusion.

“What’s tomorrow?” The little girl asked.

“Tomorrow your father has work to do.” Madison raised her eyebrows as she glanced at Bard yet again. “He’s going to finally paint your room. Am I right, Bard?” She sat down at the table with her leftover stir-fry from the night before, eyes still locked with Bard’s as she awaited his response.

It was so typical of her to bring this up in front of Tilda, where she knew Bard had to say yes. There was no out, because if Bard refused to do what she asked then he would seem like a bad person, so he sucked in a breath before responding.

“Yes. I’m doing the painting tomorrow. So I guess I won’t be able to go to the movies with you.” Bard replied, the fury building inside of him because he would have loved to go out and do something with his daughter, but of course his wife enjoyed torturing him and making his life miserable.

“Just us girls tonight, Til.” Madison said, chomping on her food in an annoying manner. Everything she did these days was getting under Bard’s skin. He was seriously about to lose it on her.

“Aww.” Tilda sighed, pouting again as she gave Bard a hug before he retreated up the stairs to go take a nice hot shower.

By the time Bard was finished washing up and putting on fresh clothes it was a little past seven o’clock. He went back downstairs only to see that the house was now empty. He didn’t care to make any food for himself but he went to the kitchen anyway to see if there was anything he could eat quickly. His eyes immediately caught sight of a piece of paper left on the table with his wife’s neat cursive print taking up most of the page.

‘I did not want you to come with Tilda and I. You don’t deserve to spend time with her. You are a bad influence. When we return I expect you to have been productive with your time alone. STOP BEING SO LAZY! And don’t bother sleeping in our bed tonight. You can have the couch. I can’t bear to look at you.’

What the fuck. Bard seethed as he read and re-read the note. What kind of a person would just leave a note of that caliber out on the table? What if Sigrid or Bain had come home and read it before Bard had a chance to? The fury took over all of Bard’s thoughts, turning them poisonous and toxic.

He made a split second decision. He was going to go out. He wanted food and he wanted to drink. Lots and lots of alcohol may be the only thing at this point that could wash away the callous thoughts from his head.

It hit him suddenly. He didn’t think he was in love anymore. In fact, he knew he wasn’t. But letting the thought ruminate for too long was dangerous. The more he addressed the feeling, the more it became a reality. He had pushed it to the back of his mind for so long, not wanting to think about the possibility that there may be no love left in his marriage for fear that his thoughts held too much weight and that the truth would bring with it far too much pain.

He knew he couldn’t be with someone who treated him like the dirt on the bottom of their shoe. Of course the idea hurt him. He didn’t want to be one of those people who fell out of love with their spouse, but he couldn’t help it. It was a one-sided marriage. Bard tried endlessly to make things work and he did not get the same response from his wife. She just did everything possible to push him farther away. Were her actions calculated, he wondered? Did she deliberately plan everything out so that Bard would get fed up and leave, or did she not think about those sorts of things?

Bard barely realized what he was doing before he was out of the house and slamming the car door shut as he got in the driver’s seat. He was going to the pub. He didn’t give a shit what his wife would say when he returned. If he returned.

The drive to the pub seemed much shorter than it was in reality. Bard was barely paying attention to anything save for the frustration building inside his body. He felt it all over. A tingling emptiness, a hollow sort of pain that only came from being in an utterly hopeless situation. It felt like he had been punched in the stomach and was gasping for air, only to be punched again when he did finally catch his breath.

He parked quickly in the first empty space he saw, making his way into the pub with heavy footsteps. The place was already pretty full seeing as it was a Friday night, but Bard didn’t care. He was in his own world anyway. He just wanted a drink.

There was an empty stool at the end of the L-shaped bar that Bard hurriedly sat down on before any other patrons could snatch it away from him. It was best to be at the bar, he decided; the closer to the alcohol, the better.

Of course Bard had to end up sitting next to some rowdy twenty-somethings who made it pretty obvious with all their loud chatter that one of them was celebrating a twenty-first birthday. The noise was so loud Bard could almost taste it in the air around him, the sounds almost deafening in volume.

Bard quickly ordered a drink, not paying much attention to the young men beside him. It wasn’t too hard to ignore them…that is until one of them stood up abruptly and backed into Bard almost causing him to spill his drink all over himself. He cursed under his breath silently, shooting a disgruntled look in their general direction but of course they didn’t even notice.

Maybe he could just find a different place to sit, a better place to wallow where he wasn’t surrounded by happy people.

It was then that Bard looked up, eyes searching for another possible empty seat that he spotted the most gorgeous person he had ever seen. A beautiful man was sitting at the other end of the curved bar, giving Bard a perfect view. How had he not noticed such beauty sooner?

Bard could hardly make out the man’s face due to the dim ambient lighting of the pub along with the fact that the man was looking down scribbling onto a napkin. It was still very obvious how absolutely stunning he was.

He had long white-blonde hair, longer than Bard had ever seen on a man, draped over one broad shoulder that he delicately ran his hand through a few times trying to rid himself of the discomfort of having it hanging in his face. That hair looked unbelievably soft, so soft that it made Bard crave the feel of it under his fingers.

Bard shook his head and ran his hand over his face trying to wipe the thoughts straight out of his mind. He was a married man, he should not be thinking about touching some random man’s hair. As he took another sip of his drink, he looked back over to steal another glimpse of the beautiful man.

Suddenly, with an inquisitive look, the man glanced up from whatever he was writing or drawing, only to lock eyes with Bard, and my god, what magnificent icy blue eyes they were. The brunette felt the man’s gaze pierce into his soul.

‘Shit. Look away. You’ve been caught staring.’ Bard told himself frantically, his thumb beginning to circle the rim of the glass nervously as he darted his eyes around in an attempt to ease his anxiety.

Surprisingly, the beautiful blonde smirked at him before letting his eyes fall back to the napkin he was scrawling on.

Bard couldn’t help but fawn over his beauty. He had flawless porcelain skin, high cheekbones, a perfectly defined jaw line, and soft pouty lips. Well, Bard was just guessing that they were soft; they surely looked like they would be. Bard had never, in all his thirty-four years on this earth, seen such an attractive human being. His beauty was almost ethereal.

The brunette felt his heart clench, as if a bunch of butterflies were attacking him from the inside. He felt drawn to this man, and he knew if he was carefree and brave he would just strut over and kiss the man on the lips. But unfortunately Bard was neither carefree nor brave, not to mention the fact that he was married.

He mentally kicked himself for entertaining such thoughts about a complete stranger. He tried to just keep his eyes to himself, or fixated on the drink in front of him at least.

Bard ordered another drink after he realized his first was now empty, easily ignoring the young men beside him now that he was caught up in his thoughts about the pretty blonde man, who very blatantly kept looking in Bard’s direction. The brunette could feel those eyes searing into his very being, as if they had some sort of telepathic connection.

 

By the time Bard was on his sixth drink, he could not stop the thoughts in his head; they played on repeat and showed no signs of dissipating. He couldn’t stop thinking about how the beautiful stranger’s skin would taste, how it would feel to push him against a wall and ravish his mouth with filthy kisses.

Bard had always known that he was bisexual, but unfortunately his wife was quite strongly against his sexuality, so it always felt like he was repressing it, like he had to be someone else. He had told her about it only years into their marriage for fear that she would not be receptive and of course, he had been right. She simply scoffed and ended up becoming insecure and paranoid. Whenever an attractive man was anywhere in their vicinity she would make a remark along the lines of “would you sleep with him?” It even happened when they watched movies – “how about him, does he do anything for you?” Her words were always seeping with jealousy and insecurity and it made Bard feel extremely uncomfortable and regretful that he had ever opened up to her at all.

Although he was 100% certain of his sexual orientation, Bard had never actually been with a man before. He met his wife when he was very young and she had been the only person he had ever been intimate with. But now, his brain supplied him with maddeningly perfect images of what it would be like to engage in sexual activity with the gorgeous blonde man.

Bard repressed a sigh when he felt his phone vibrating in his pocket. He didn’t look at it for a few minutes though, knowing exactly who it would be. It was late now, almost midnight, of course his wife would be trying to contact him. She was probably livid that he was not at home. The thought of her worrying about him almost made him smile.

To be honest, he really didn’t care about how she felt, the alcohol doing a good job of soothing him, letting him drift easily into a comfortable state of indifference.

The time had gotten away from him, he knew that. He had spent most of the night sulking to himself in between short calculated glances in the direction of the blonde man. The eye contact they made every now and then did a wonderful job of distracting him from his marital issues. The longer their gazed would linger, the better Bard felt. At least someone wanted to look at him.

When he finally pulled his phone out it started buzzing again. Madison was calling, but he ignored the call. He didn’t want to have to talk to her right now, no. His vision was blurred making the screen dance around brightly, almost hurting his eyes. He opened his messages.

[from: Madison]10:59pm: Where the fuck are you???

[from: Madison]11:05pm: BARD!!!!

[from: Madison]11:07pm: ANSWER ME

[from: Madison]11:08pm: Where did you go?!?!

[from: Madison]11:41pm: Fine. Don’t bother coming home tonight then.

He read the messages over and over, taking deep breaths, trying to calm his nerves before typing out a reply.

[to: Madison]11:54pm: OKayy. I wony come home thrn. gooodnight.

He didn’t have much to say to her. He looked over the message before sending it, spelling mistakes and all. If she didn’t want him to come home, then that was fine. He wouldn’t.

Within a few seconds, he got a response. Bard chuckled to himself as he pictured his wife sitting in bed staring at the screen of her phone just waiting for what he would say. It was pathetic.

[from: Madison]11:55pm: Are you drunk?! What the fuck is wrong with you? Where are you?

[to: Madison] 11:56pm: I said goodnight noe fuck off abd go ti bed! Im done

Just as Bard shoved his phone back into his pocket, the bartender appeared in front of him holding out a drink.

“For you.” The bartender said, sitting the drink down in front of the confused brunette.

“But…I didn’t order this.” Bard mumbled, pushing the drink back. He wasn’t one to refuse a drink but at the same time he didn’t want to pay for something he didn’t even order.

“From the blonde man you’ve been eyeing all night.” The bartender replied nonchalantly as Bard raised his eyebrows questioningly, a little gasp escaping his lips.

Bard looked over to where the blonde was sitting, only to see that he was no longer there. Where did he go, Bard wondered? The brunette’s eyes darted around, head turning to search for the blonde. He quickly spun around on the barstool, not caring how obvious he looked. He didn’t want the man to get away. He may never find out his name now. Or get his number.

The crowd had died down a little now but still Bard could not spot the beautiful blonde man.

Bard croaked out a sigh, grasping the drink and taking a languid sip, letting the liquid coat the inside of his mouth. It was extremely smooth going down, only leaving a slight tingly burning sensation at the back of his throat. This was definitely the best drink the brunette had had so far. He wondered what is was, how much the man had paid for something as good as this.

Despite not wanting to admit the truth to himself, Bard let the feeling of disappointment wash over him. He wished the man would come back. He wished he hadn’t been such a coward. He scolded himself internally for not going and talking to the man when he had the chance. Now, it was too late.

The phone in his pocket began buzzing again, reminding him that he was in fact a married man and should not be thinking about some stranger the way he was. He turned his phone off. Tonight, he didn’t care.

Unfortunately, Bard’s mind was still clear enough to realize that after this drink he probably shouldn’t indulge in anymore. When the last drops of liquid were drained from his glass he paid the bartender and made a quick stop in the bathroom before heading to the front door.

His wife told him not to bother coming home, but where would he go? Could he go to Percy’s house? No, he didn’t want to bother his friend at such an hour. He figured he would just sleep in his car; it would not be the first time he had to do such a thing to escape his wife’s wrath. He was in no condition to drive; he was coherent enough to know that. He would never put himself or anyone else in danger.

He sauntered slowly out of the pub, taking careful steps so he wouldn’t fall on the concrete. The world was spinning. He felt it so much more now that he was standing. It hit him like a ton of bricks and he had to sit down. He turned around quickly, knowing that there was an old picnic table beside the pub’s entrance. His mind didn’t have enough time to catch up to his body and before he knew it he slammed into something – or someone.

“Oh shit, sorry!” Bard blurted out, his eyes still instinctually closed from the fear of impact.

“It’s fine.” A deep melodic voice replied.

When everything stopped spinning quite as fast Bard let out a shaky gasp at the sight in front him, before he completely froze, his body going rigid in shock.

The blonde man.

Up close he was even more beautiful. Those light blue eyes were boring into Bard’s. The brunette’s face paled and his breath caught in his throat before his expression shifted into disbelief.

“I-it’s you.” Bard choked out. Why was his voice failing him now?

“It’s me.” The blonde replied, a slight smirk playing on his lips.

“I – uh – I looked –but, uh… you were gone - ” Bard stuttered, unsure of what to say now that he was actually in the presence of the person he had been fantasizing about the entire night.

“I didn’t want to leave without seeing you again.” The man said, voice smooth like dripping honey.

Bard didn’t know what to say to that. All he could hear was his heart thumping in his head. His legs felt like they were about to give out, and when he didn’t reply, the blonde man grasped his arm and led him gently to the picnic table where Bard could finally let his body collapse.

“I’m Thranduil, by the way. It’s nice to meet you.”

Thranduil. What an odd, yet perfect name for such a perfect creature. Bard let the name play on repeat in his head a few times before offering his own.

“Nice to meet you too. I’m Bard.”

They shook hands, albeit a little sloppily, it was still rather amazing to feel the man – Thranduil’s – warm hand lightly gripping his own.

“Unfortunately, I have to get home, but I didn’t want to leave without speaking to you.” Thranduil said, tilting his head as he fished around in his pocket for something.

“Oh.” Was all Bard could say. He wasn’t sure whether it was the alcohol or Thranduil that he was drunk on.

“I wanted to give you this.” Thranduil said, holding out a napkin – the one he had been scribbling on earlier.

Bard took the napkin and inspected it, inhaling sharply when he saw the sketch of himself. It was absolutely brilliant. Thranduil must have drawn this portrait of Bard when they were sitting at the bar. So, that’s what he was scrawling on the napkin the entire time. Bard was rendered breathless. It was such a simple act, but it left him feeling warm inside, a kind of warmth he hadn’t felt in years.

“Wow. D-did you – you drew this?” Bard asked, still in awe of the sketch he held gingerly in his hands.

“Yes, I did. You inspired me.” Thranduil smiled, pulling a pen out of his pocket and taking the napkin back from Bard.

Bard couldn’t take his eyes off the blonde as he wrote something onto the flimsy piece of paper. He was gorgeous in the moonlight. His flaxen hair gleamed radiantly under the white light – it was glorious. Bard was utterly captivated by his beauty.

“Here.” Thranduil handed the napkin back to Bard as he made to stand up. “I left you my cell number. Text me if you’d like.”

The blonde began walking away in measured steps and all Bard could do was nod and stare.

He couldn’t believe his luck.