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The evening begins much like any other had or likely would in either direction of the flow of time. Beautiful, treacherous marionettes hide behind dishonest card hands and keep their eyes either to the ground, respectfully, or more boldly, aligned with anothers. A miasma of hidden intent and secrets tinge the air of every opulent leisure room. The court breathes in the toxins like a potent drug.

“He doesn’t look at all well, does he,” Someone tisks into the Chevalier’s ear, who specifically is unimportant. Perhaps it’s his cousin but it could easily be the young musician he’s been hunting for the last week or the man he vaguely recalls feeling up at the card table an hour or so ago. It doesn’t matter. It’s inconsequential. For a creature so dark, so powerfully delicate has broken the noxious peace of the parlor that even the candles seem to dim out of respect for his fury.

Nothing else exists but this creature now and bless him, the attention his entrance has caused seems to delight, vex and disgust him all at once. For all his regal posturing he never has been able to mask his emotions. So much the better. He’s delicious when he’s fuming.

Within a dozen steps the Chevalier is at this dark, luminescent creatures elbow, close enough to see the quick rise and fall of the brocade that stretches across his chest. The tension of the covered buttons. Everything’s always just a little too tight, thank God. There may even be a corset hiding under all those layers. The attention of the other nobles, fruit flies that they are, has already shifted away.

After all, it’s as common for Monsieur to storm in and out of a room as it is for him to strut through it or float or dance.

“Such a rise he’s gotten out of you, Mignonette. That puts me out of a job. I’m sick with jealousy,” the Chevalier whispers gleefully against Monsieur’s soft curtain of hair.

Of course it’s terrible that he’s upset and no doubt some impossibly unfair political move or another has been made against him but there’s no denying that Philippe wears turmoil like armor or lace. It becomes him and the image might leave anyone in his wake dumb with nothing but the recognition of a masterpiece. Anyone, that is, who isn’t already acquainted with the full spectrum of Philippe’s moods.

Unable to bare the proximity without contact, the Chevalier lifts his hand and strokes Monsieur’s high cheek. Soft and rosy, rouge on alabaster. Only a moment of this is allowed before Philippe wraps his hand roughly around the Chevalier’s wrist and sets off towards the door, grip still tight.

The uneven sounds of their heels clack around the high room but only when the doors slam shut and the discordant clicking fades down the corridor do the nobles begin their speculating. What good sport.

 

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“I come willingly, you know. You’ll be awfully sorry if you damage that hand,” his voice is a loud whisper, the only kind he knows, and the words drip with wine and guileless arrogance.

To his credit Philippe doesn’t point out that that hand has done absolutely nothing but selfishly grip fist fulls of hair and wood bed posts and fine sheets for as long as anyone could remember. He’s not, however, above taking the opportunity to shove the Chevalier against the nearest wall.

“Shut your mouth ,” Philippe hisses, maddened further as the look of shock melts into that of excitement, arousal even. He knows even before the Chevalier does what will happen next and sure enough the air jumps from his lungs as he feels his own back hit the gilded wood. He closes his eyes and lets the weight and familiarity enclose him.

It’s what he wants for now. It must be. A fight he can win, or at least one he can be satisfied in loosing.

“Is that an order, Highness? I’m not so good with those,” The Chevalier speaks slowly, directly into Philippe’s ear. His lazy, flippant phrasing infuriates many and endears few. The stars must have been aligned very strangely the day his failings struck Philippe as charming instead of repugnant.

Philippe can feel a smile bending his lips despite the heat of anger lingering from his fight with his brother. The Chevalier takes Philippe’s hips in his hands and pulls them flush together there in the hallway. He presses his lips against the smooth underside of Phillipe’s jaw before sighing a conspiratorially quiet, “What’s happened, my love?”

Despite the countless candelabras lining the corridor the darkness of early morning touches every groove and crease in the architecture. Any sound outside of their heavy breaths and shifting fabrics seem foreign and inconsequential.

“Nothing that concerns you. Don’t ask me again,” Philippe bites out, bringing his own hands up to push the thick hair back from the Chevalier’s face. Bitterness is expected so no feelings are hurt by the sword sharp tone. The Chevalier was mostly looking for gossip anyway. If he took every one of Monsieur’s moods to heart or tried to share in every one of his Highness’s emotional burdens he would surely go mad. No. Sharing is not what they needed. Something more along the lines of take and tease and distract would be just the medicine.

Such force in Monsieur tonight. Such authority . The Chevalier could fix that.

“That’s the second command you’ve given since rudely dragging me from my engagements,” the Chevalier pulls away and looks back and forth between Philippe’s clear eyes, “You forget our arrangement.”

A high moan echoes off the walls, a sensual addition to the overall artful beauty, as the Chevalier shifts his thigh between Philippe’s and rocks it forcefully against his Highness. Philippe’s pretty mouth hangs open on the note and his eyebrows lift and furrow in that glorious way which bespeaks equal parts pleasure and pain. The Chevalier grins and laughs against Philippe’s throat.

Much better,” he purrs, rewarding Philippe’s surrender with a gentler push, a more cooperative rhythm when his coquet begins to roll his hips down.

“Oh, God,” Philippe moans.

“Ah ah ah,” the Chevalier fixes his grip upon Philippe’s jaw and directs their eyes to meet again, “Surely you don’t mean to wound me by calling for another when it’s me who’s pulling that music from you. I don’t want to hear that name again. It’s my alter you’re on, love.”

Their conversation finally takes off as Philippe begins singing the only hymn that ever really suited him.

 

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Later when they’re swathed in soft silks and cottons, feather pillows beneath their heads, hair mussed and spread around them it’s silence that satisfies for a time. Already confessed are the passions and promises and blessings. The professions and cruel jokes and blasphemous, hedonistic worships are done too. They are several times spent. Exhausted and sated. Covered in constellations of mouth bruised skin and the shooting star trails of fingernails. What remains is silence.

The Chevalier lies on his back with an arm around Philippe who curls against his chest and side as tight as a fine frock coat. If he reaches down he can stroke the silken thigh of his lover. He can kiss the crown of his head. He idly gnaws the inside of his lip as he maps out the various actions he can take without disturbing Philippe who may or may not be asleep.

Most likely Philippe clings to the last vestiges of consciousness, unwilling to close his mind to this peace. This understanding. This thing that is his alone. Unwilling to wake up to another day where everything might change as more masks are pried away from faces he thought he knew.

They should return to Paris soon. They should pack tomorrow. Neither one of them would be missed at court. Not really.

“You wouldn’t lie to me…” Philippe whispers, kissing whatever expanse of skin is closest to his lips.

“Hm… Well, no. I exist almost entirely within the two states of being that allow nothing but complete honesty,” the Chevalier replies easily with a grin that can be heard.

 “And what are those?”

 “Drunkenness and ecstasy, my love. Now close your eyes to me, hard as it is. I think it best we leave in the morning.”

 

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