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You Don't Have to Be Sadistic to Be the Villain, but it Helps

Chapter Text

It was dark, down in the dungeons. Sam liked that about them—it was freeing, knowing that nobody could see him when he was down here. He could do whatever he wanted and nobody would ever know.

It helped that he wasn’t one of the dungeon’s guests. They probably didn’t appreciate the darkness quite so much as he did.

He kept his right hand on the rough stone walls as he walked, counting one when he brushed a wooden door, and two when he passed another. He had to stop when he caught a splinter, which he pulled out with his teeth before moving on. When he got to the third door Sam stopped again, patting the door until he found the keyhole, retrieved the key from his belt.

The door creaked when it opened, and slammed shut behind Sam with a heavy bang after he’d shuffled inside the cell. Chains clinked as the cell’s guest looked up, and the silence after that was hard and prickly. The guest had only been here for a day, but the cell smelled already and Sam wrinkled his nose. He shouldn’t have been surprised.

“You’re just going to stand there?” A harsh, cracked voice sounded. “What, is that some kind of intimidation strategy?”

“No.” Sam said softly. “I came down to talk to you.”

“I’ve got nothing to say to you.” The voice spat.

“I guess you wouldn’t.” Sam smiled. “I’m not going to hurt you, if that makes it less frightening.”

“Frightening? I’m not afraid of you.”

He might be, if he knew who Sam was. “If you say so. He’s going to be okay, by the way.”

The voice was silent. Sam sat himself on the floor carefully. “The wound wasn’t as bad as it looked and the bleeding was stopped pretty quickly. He’s awake and moving around already. Did you really think you could kill the Sorcerer King with a crossbow?” Albeit a cleverly hidden one.

The silence turned sullen, and Sam smirked. “Are you hungry? They don’t always remember to feed prisoners every day, but I can make sure they bring you something at least once a day.”

“Where are you holding my partner?” The voice demanded. “Tell me where he is.”

“What’s your name?”

“Where is he?”

“I’ll answer your question if you answer mine.” Sam said, leaning back against the wall.

The silence filled with tension for a long minute, like a pig’s stomach filling with water until it burst. “Henry.” The name sounded despondent.

“That’s a nice name.”

“Where’s my partner?”

“Hm?” Sam smiled. “Oh, he’s being tortured to death somewhere. I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about him. They decided that since he’s a lot older than you he must have masterminded the attack, so he’s being punished.”

“Punished?” Henry’s voice hitched. “You can’t…just execute him. You don’t need to torture him.”

“Well, I’m not torturing anyone.” Sam said, bored. “What did you think was going to happen? I suppose you thought you would kill the evil Sorcerer King and make the world a better place through his absence.”

“Of course we did.” Henry growled. “He kills people, conscripts people into his army, experiments on people. He’s a monster!”

“I know.” Sam knew all of that a lot better than Henry probably did. “Too bad nobody cares enough to stop him.” Rather, the terrain and the fact that this was a strategically unimportant area made it hard for the kingdom to justify a campaign prevented an attack. But Sam thought they could if they really wanted to. For a little while longer that possibility would be open, at least. After that, they would be sorry they hadn’t taken the opportunity.

“We cared. Me and Terry cared.”

“Well, now you’re in a dungeon and Terry’s had his tongue ripped out, so that was a pretty stupid ideal to act on, don’t you think?”

The silence grew heavy again, angry.

“Were you and Terry having sex?”

“No! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Just wondering. You were his apprentice or something. It would have been pretty normal.” Honestly, Sam didn’t think it was something to get upset about.

“Well, we weren’t. We were just friends.” Henry’s voice cracked on the last word.

“If you say so.” It didn’t really matter now anyway. Sam moved forward carefully, listening to the sound of Henry breathing, until he was right in front of him. He found Henry’s chest and ran his hands up it, up his arms to his wrists where they were manacled to the wall, then back down to his neck, and his face.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Touching you.” Sam ran his fingers over Henry’s face, getting an idea of the contours of his skull, the shape of his features.

“Well, stop!”

“You don’t seem to understand that you’re the one chained to the wall and I’m the one with the key.” Sam said, tracing Henry’s eyes. Henry tried to move away but he could only move so far and Sam followed him. “That means I get to do whatever I want, and your attitude while I do it will determine how much you get fed.”

Now the silence was sharp, punctuated by the intake of breath from Henry. He was afraid. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Just…kill me.” Henry said, his voice shaking a little. Sam hadn’t expected him to get that afraid that quickly. The dark did that to people, he thought. Even if they weren’t afraid of the dark, being in the dark made them afraid of other things. People were afraid of what they couldn’t see.

Sam wasn’t afraid of what he couldn’t see.

“Why would I do that?” Sam asked softly.

“Just kill me!” Henry barked. “Don’t…don’t fucking play with me like a cat with a mouse. Torture me like you’re doing to Terry, or just take my head off.”

“No.” Sam’s took his hand from Henry’s face, felt his way down Henry’s chest again, pausing at his waist. “I like your head. I bet you’re very pretty. I like the rest of you, too. I can tell that you spent a lot of time training and learning how to fight. You must hate that you’re chained up here, not able to move. I don’t know how to fight. Normally you would punch me if I did this, but you can’t and that must just be…terrible.”

“What do you want from me?”

“I haven’t decided yet.” Sam smiled into the dark, quickly unlacing Henry’s pants. Henry made a sound and bucked back, slamming forward into Sam with sudden speed.

Sam held up a hand, called on his power, slammed Henry back into the wall and held him there. “Also, I’m a sorcerer too, so you really ought to be more polite.”

Henry didn’t answer, but the silence was sharper than ever and Sam reached out, still holding Henry in place, and finished undoing his pants. He pushed them down around Henry’s hips. “The first time I got caught touching myself, the next day there was a girl in my room.” Sam said, tracing the outline of Henry’s penis inside his smallclothes for a second, before pushing those down too. “Which was very thoughtful of my father, but I was always afraid to tell him that I wanted a boy instead.”

Dad didn’t want Sam having children, so he probably wouldn’t have cared. Still, Sam had kept that to himself. He didn’t need to give his father more reasons to be disappointed with him. He took Henry in his hand, considering the size of it and reaching down into his own pants for comparison. “I thought you were my age, but maybe you’re older than me.” He mused. Feeling around, Henry had more hair than he did, too.

“So, what?” Henry’s voice was strained. “When you heard there was a boy in the dungeons you decided to sneak down here instead?”

“Pretty much.” Sam said, rubbing Henry slowly, pleased with how he got bigger and harder. “Although me coming down here wasn’t a secret—they were just going to let you starve to death, but I asked them to give you to me instead. I may have given the impression that I was going to torture you, but I’m not, really.”

Henry was pretty hard now. Sam found it kind of neat that he could get like that even though he didn’t want to. The body just sort of did whatever it wanted. And Henry’s body seemed to want Sam’s hand, even if Henry himself didn’t. He was hard as well, so Sam took a second to free himself from his pants, and started jerking them both in tandem.

The silence was banished by the sound of both of them panting. Henry squirmed against the wall as if trying to get away. “You’re…you’re sick.” He panted. It sounded like he might be crying.

That appealed to Sam and he felt himself tipping over the edge and carefully pointed his hard-on away from himself, shooting his seed onto Henry and down the back of his own hand. He didn’t want to make a mess on himself that he would have to explain if someone saw.

Sam sat back, panting, paused in his efforts on Henry for the moment. That had been better than he’d expected—and Henry hadn’t even done anything except be there. Henry was panting too, and for just a moment Sam considered leaving him there like that, but that would be mean. So he resumed his pace, ignored the cramp that started to form in his hand and kept going until Henry made a strained noise and starting spurting his seed into Sam’s hand. Sam carefully pointed Henry towards his own belly to keep the mess minimal.

“There.” Sam said, lifting the hand he’d been using on Henry and taking one tentative lick of the fluid there before wiping it all on Henry’s shirt. “I told you I wasn’t going to hurt you.”

“Fuck you.” Henry whimpered softly. Honestly he was acting as if Sam had ripped his cock off instead of jerking it off. “I hate you.”

“I hope you change your mind about that.” Sam said, standing and doing up his pants. “I think we could be friends.”

“You want me to be your secret little toy.” Henry spat. “I’m going to tell everyone who walks by this cell what just happened. See how secret it stays.”

“Hm.” Sam thought about that. “I wish you wouldn’t. They might take you away from me and then they’d just kill you.”

“I’d rather die…”

“Why?” Sam interrupted. “Why would you rather die? If you’re alive you can escape. You can plan things. You can try to do something. You could even try to kill the Sorcerer King again, if that’s what you wanted. Or you could kill me, or chain me up and do whatever you wanted. But only if you’re alive.” The silence this time was like static, loaded and tense. “It’s better to be alive than to be dead.”

Henry didn’t say anything, and Sam turned to leave, considered leaving Henry like that for fun, but waved a hand and his pants did themselves up. “I’ll make sure you get fed properly, and that you and your cell are cleaned every day. I’ll see you again soon.” He pulled the door open, the creak echoing through the dungeon.

“What’s your name?” Henry asked, just as Sam was about to let the door close.

“Sam.” He said, and the door closed behind him with a heavy thud. Sam locked it, listening to the metallic click. “And Henry?” He called, knowing Henry would hear him because there should be a little grate at the top of the door. “Next time you try to kill my father, do a better job, okay?”

Chapter Text

Sam smiled as the dungeon door thudded shut behind him. The cell smelled better today, though the air was still thick with Henry’s angry silence, punctuated by the occasional clinking of his chains and the pale sounds of his breathing. “Good morning, Henry.”

It was sundown, but Henry had no way of knowing that.

Henry didn’t answer, and Sam moved forward slowly, searching with his foot. Eventually he kicked something and he stopped. “Are you going to behave today, or do I need to pin you to the wall again?”

There was no answer, but Sam hadn’t expected one. He moved forward.

The kick that took him in the stomach was unexpected and Sam fell back, doubled over and coughing in pain. He flicked a finger and slammed Henry against the wall, and despite the pain smiled at the startled noise he heard. “That was good.” Sam said, gasping for breath and still clutching his stomach. “Good aim, even in the dark.”

“I’m not going to make it easy for you.” Henry spat. “Not just going to let you do whatever you want with me.”

“I’d be bored if you did.” Sam told him, bringing himself to a sitting position. “They’re feeding you properly, right?” Henry didn’t answer that, and Sam sighed. “They’re not? I’ll kill the maids and get some new ones to bring you food, don’t worry.”

“No, don’t do that!” Henry actually sounded frightened. Maybe he liked the maids. “They’re feeding me enough. You don’t need to go out of your way to be a monster.”

“No, I don’t.” Sam agreed. “What’s the problem if I want to kill them, anyway? They’re evil maids, who work for my evil father in our evil castle. Don’t you want to see them brought to justice?”

“You probably forced them to work for you.” Henry grumbled. “Besides, you just murdering people isn’t justice. If you want to kill someone, kill yourself.”

“Wouldn’t you rather I killed dad first?”

“I’ll do that.”

“I hope so.” Sam patted Henry’s foot. “One of us is going to have to and he’ll expect it coming from me.”

Henry just huffed and didn’t answer, which Sam thought was interesting. “You aren’t going to ask me about your friend? I am your only link to what’s happening outside this cell. Unless the maids are telling you things, in which case…”

“They’re not, God.” Sam could feel Henry straining against the magic that held him tight to the wall. “Is he still alive?”

“Yes. He’s holding on quite stubbornly; we’re all very impressed. Normally people give up after the first little while, but it looks like he wants to tough it out until the end.”

“Of course he does.” Henry’s voice was strained now. “He’s a better man than any of you could hope to be.”

“The last two days we’ve told him that we’ll go easy on him if he asks. He’s said no both times.” Sam went on, shifting a little closer to Henry and rubbing his leg. “Do you think it’s because we told him we’d torture you his share if he wanted us to? He’s taking on twice the pain to protect you, isn’t that interesting?” That had been Sam’s idea.

“You…” Henry’s voice quavered and he didn’t say anything else.

“Don’t worry, we won’t actually torture you; we’re just waiting to see how long before he breaks and tells us he’d rather have us burn your fingers off than his.”

“He won’t.” Henry whimpered, and Sam leaned in, getting closer to his face to find out if he was actually crying. “He won’t. He’s too good a man.”

“We’ll see.” Sam whispered, right in Henry’s face. “Nobody’s that good.”

“He is.”

“I bet you aren’t.” Henry wasn’t crying, he was pretty sure, and Sam frowned. “I bet if I started flaying you right now you’d beg me to stop. I bet you’d beg me to do it to Terry instead.”

“No, I…”

“Of course you would.” Sam kept his voice low. “You already did. You dropped your sword well before he did when the guards surrounded you.”

“I got hit in the hand!”

“No, you didn’t. You didn’t want to get hurt, so you dropped your sword and hoped the guards would go easy on you.”

“I didn’t…” Henry’s voice cracked.

“Nothing to be ashamed of.” Sam said. “I would have done the same. It just means you’re smarter than he is, that’s all. After all, you’ll notice that you giving up got you this nice cell and him fighting on and killing four more guards got him a torture rack.”

“I…” A small sob broke through the air and Sam grinned. “I hate you.”

“I know.” Sam leaned forward and licked Henry’s tears from his cheeks before pulling back. “Don’t worry, we’re friends. I’ll teach you to like me.”

“We’re not friends!”

“Of course we are. It’s not like you can afford to be choosy at the moment, you know?”

“I’m going to kill you.” Henry cried. “I’m going to get out of here and kill you, and your bastard of a father, and avenge Terry.”

“Good. Though you’ve got it a little backwards. Dad’s parents were married in the eyes of God when he was born. I’m the bastard.”

“Going to kill you.” Henry whispered, his breath hitting Sam, and Sam thought he was talking to himself. “Going to kill you.”

“Oh, Henry.” Sam patted Henry’s damp cheek. “You just don’t understand. I’m the one protecting you. Frankly, you should be grateful I’m not trying to kill your parents in payment for you trying to kill mine. What are your parents’ names, by the way?”

“They’re dead already.” Henry’s voice got hard all of the sudden. “You fuckers killed them. That’s why…”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Sam said sincerely. He patted Henry’s chest and moved away. “I was looking forward to killing them in front of you. I would have given them the option of dying or watching me break you. If they’re any kind of parents you know what they would have picked. I don’t suppose you’ve got any siblings?”

“You’re sick.” Henry sobbed. “You’re sick.”

“So that’s a yes, is it?”

Henry shouted at him, a wordless scream that startled Sam. “Get out.” Henry rasped. “Leave me alone.”

“No, I don’t think I will. Here, I’ll be quiet for a while, will that help?” Sam moved to the other side of the cell and sat against the door, releasing the magic and hearing Henry slump to the ground in a clink of chains. He undid his pants and started touching himself, listening to Henry cry.

Even after he finished Sam sat there for a while, enjoying the sound.

Chapter Text

“I have a question for you.” Sam said into the sharp silence of Henry’s cell. Today he sat beside the door and spoke softly, not touching Henry at all.

Henry didn’t answer, but that was expected. Sam listened to his chains clink for a second before continuing. “There’s a house with a family in it. Father, mother, an adult daughter. There are raiders outside the house saying you have to send someone out to them to be killed and they’ll leave the other two alive. Who do you send out?”

The silence buzzed with confusion and Henry didn’t answer.

“If you don’t send someone out they’ll all be killed.” Sam added.

“I’m not playing games with you.” Henry spat.

“Oh? You’d rather move right to the part where I touch you? Okay.” Sam stood, careful to make enough noise that Henry could hear him clearly.

“That isn’t what I said, you sick fuck.”

“Then play a game with me.”

Henry made a deep-throated noise. “I’d go out.”

“Who said you were in the house?”

“You did. If I’m sending someone out, I must be in there too. I’d go out and fight them.”

Sam’s mouth ticked upwards into a smile. Henry wasn’t totally stupid. “Alright, fine. There are rather a lot of them, so unless you can single-handedly kill ten armed raiders, you die and then they kill the family in punishment for breaking the rules they’d set.”

“Not if I kill them all first.” Henry growled.

“You’d rather kill ten people than one person?” Sam asked. “Or, I suppose, it’s because the raiders are bad people, so they don’t count. What a strange way to value human life.”

“It’s not. We’re supposed to protect good people, and weak people, from those who want to harm them. It’s our duty as humans.”

“So the three men in the raiders’ group who are only there because it was the only way to protect their own families, their lives are less important than the people in the house?”

The silence returned for a moment. “You don’t get to just make things up after I’ve decided. That’s cheating.”

“That’s the way the world works.” Sam corrected. “Bad people are rarely bad because they’re evil, it’s usually for a reason they think is good. The guards you killed on your way to kill my father, for example, were mostly just people who needed money. You two had to have known that when you killed them.”

“We did.” Henry admitted, sullenly. “But it…the sacrifice was worth it to kill a bigger evil. Unless you’re going to try to tell me your father only tortures and experiments on people because of some secret noble reason?”

“No, it’s because he’s crazy and likes to hurt people.” Sam admitted, though that wasn’t the whole reason. “But that’s not what I’m interested in—the guards, they’re a necessary sacrifice to destroy the greater evil. So it’s okay to kill, say, ten decent people if it helps save ten thousand?”

Now Henry was silent for a long time, the sound of his breathing filling the cell like a metronome. “No. It’s not okay, but if it’s the only way, then you have to do it anyway.”

“So if I gave you a sword, put you in a room with ten people and told you to kill one of them and I’d let the other nine go, otherwise I kill all of them, you’d pick one and kill him?”

“What the hell are you asking me all this for?” Henry demanded, his words sharp. “Is there a point?”

“I’m trying to find out what kinds of things you believe in.” Sam told him. “You’re wrong about a lot of things and I want to know why so I can help you fix that.”

“I’m not—”

“The house.” Sam interrupted. “You aren’t there. Who do you pick to send out? It should be okay to kill one person to save two more, right?”

Henry exhaled sharply, and Sam wondered if he was thinking about the dragons his breath brought to mind, breathing fire on things. “Fine. The father.”

“Why?”

“The raiders are less likely to rape him to death.” Henry muttered.

“Interesting.” Sam thought about that. “The least possible amount of suffering?”

“Yes. Skip the part where you tell me that’s stupid. Who do you pick?”

Sam smiled. “The daughter.”

Henry laughed, a breathy, forced sound. “The most possible amount of suffering?”

“No, as a matter of fact.” Sam tilted his head as if to listen to something, but there were no sounds beyond the normal dripping of water, the occasional shuffle and clink from the other prisoners, the scuttle of insects or vermin. “The raiders are most likely to rape her to death. It likely distracts them so the parents can escape. Besides, the parents can have another child.”

“It…it doesn’t work like that!” Henry demanded. “People aren’t…toys. You can’t just throw them out to distract people, and then replace them!”

“Of course you can.” Sam said. “There will always be more people. Individuals are rarely worth anything—you admitted that yourself. You kill one person to save nine. My solution is identical to yours, only more likely to work. The raiders are going to set fire to the house when they’re finished anyway and you must have known that when I asked the question. At least this way someone survives.”

“You’re wrong. You’re, you’re just wrong.”

“Maybe.” Sam chuckled. “I like hurting people too, so maybe. Or maybe you should stop thinking of the world like there’s a right way and a wrong way and nothing in between.”

“There is a right way to do things.”

“Of course. There are several, which is the point.” Sam said, glad that Henry seemed to be catching on. “Your first answer, where you go out and try to kill all the raiders? That was you treating people like toys too, don’t you think?”

“What? That was me saving the family.”

“No, you were gambling their survival on your ability to overpower ten people at once. If you’d lost, all of them would have died. If I was in that house I’d hate you for that.”

“Even if I died, if I could kill a lot of them before I did, the family would be able to escape. If some of the raiders didn’t really want to be there like you said, they’d run if their team started losing, or maybe even turn on the others.”

“And then what, you marry the daughter and live happily ever after?” Sam sneered, stood. “Fine, maybe that would happen. But I don’t believe you. You’re not willing to sacrifice yourself to protect others. You just like the sound of it when you say that.”

“Of course I would sacrifice myself!” Henry’s voice grew hot. “It’s what you’re supposed to do!”

“Then why haven’t you?” Sam asked, reaching for the door handle. “I told you the other day about how we’re offering Terry the chance to lessen his torture by letting us hurt you instead. I kind of expected you would offer, but you didn’t.”

“What, no I…”

“It’s a nice thing to say, but when it was a real possibility for you, you didn’t even think of it.” Sam continued. “And that was the right thing—it means you’ll live longer and be hurt less. It’s the decision I would have made.”

“Don’t pretend that you and I are the same!”

“Of course not. Not yet, at least.” Sam opened the door and stepped partway out. “He took the offer this morning, by the way.”

“W…what?”

“Terry. This morning when we offered to go easy on him, he took the offer. We showed him the centipedes, so that may have been why.”

The silence grew heavy, solid. “You’re…you’re lying. He wouldn’t do that.” Henry’s voice was a whisper, hoarse.

Sam smiled. “Believe whatever you like. Goodnight, Henry.”

“You’re lying!” Henry yelled after Sam as the door screamed shut. “You’re lying!”

Henry’s accusations followed him out of the dungeon, and Sam just walked through the darkness, smiling.

Chapter Text

“Today we’re going to play a game called ‘don’t lie.’” Sam said when he came into the cell. “Sound fun?”

“Sounds like something you’d lose right away.” Henry said, and it seemed like he’d given up that sullen silence of his, which was fine with Sam. Forcing him to talk every day had started to get boring.

“When do you think I’ve lied to you?” Sam asked, honesty in his voice. “You’re completely within my power. What cause do you imagine I’d have to tell you anything but the truth?”

Henry made a huffing sound. “Do you need a reason? You’re a psychopath and you spend all your time thinking of ways to hurt me.”

“Don’t be so self-centered, Henry.” Sam chided. “I hate to break it to you, but you’re not my one and only. I spend a significant amount of time thinking of ways to hurt other people too. And often I hurt people without planning it in advance. For example, on the way here I decided I wanted to break someone’s fingers, so I did that to the next maid I met. So you’re welcome.”

“What? Why would you…”

“Well, if I hadn’t met her I might have broken your fingers instead, so you’re welcome. I’ve been trying hard not to break your body, since I like it so much, so it was good that I worked that urge out before I got here.” Sam actually did think, quite frequently, about all the ways he wished he could hurt Henry, all the ways he could break him. He wanted to lick Henry’s blood from his skin, take Henry to his room and flay the skin from his feet, cut him open and find out what his insides felt like. He wanted to hurt and hurt and hurt Henry until Henry couldn’t do anything but beg Sam to hurt him some more. But he couldn’t.

Not yet.

“Psychopath.” Henry said, and it was a whisper. “You’re a fucking psycho.”

“Hm.” Sam sat down on the floor in front of Henry. “That’s no way to talk to your friend.”

“We’re not friends.” Henry spat.

Sam sighed. It was taking Henry a long time to figure this out. Maybe Sam should give him hints. “So are you going to play my game?”

“Are you going to rape me if I don’t?” Henry asked, and Sam smiled because that was the first time Henry had used that word.

“Yes.”

“Are you going to rape me if I do?”

Sam laughed. “Probably.”

“Then fuck off.”

“Isn’t probably better than definitely?” Sam asked. “Don’t you want at least the chance to not be hurt? But then, I guess giving up is something you do a lot of, isn’t it?”

The sharp exhalation of Henry’s breath was Sam’s only answer. Sam smiled some more. “Fine. How about this—if you play with me, I won’t touch you today.”

“You’re full of shit.” The sneer in Henry’s voice was pretty plain.

“Remember before when I said I didn’t lie?” Sam asked, shifting on the stone. “Play with me.”

“No.”

Sam tapped his finger impatiently against the floor. “Dad’s in a bad mood today.” He said finally. “I don’t want to go back upstairs until he’s over it.”

“You’re afraid of him?”

“Of course I am—I’m not stupid. I used to have a lot more siblings than I do now, you know.”

“The world’s better off without them.” Henry muttered, but Sam caught a tone of regret in that. It would have been awfully out of keeping, he thought, for Henry to be happy at the deaths of children.

“Probably.” Sam agreed. Most of his siblings had been pretty awful. “Now play with me or I’m going to pass the time in a more fun way.”

The silence buzzed as Sam waited for Henry’s response. “Fine.” He finally said. “‘Don’t lie?’ The truth is I hate you and I hope you die in a fire. Happy?”

“Yes.” Sam smiled. “The rules are if you tell a lie, I get to punish you. We can take turns asking questions.”

“And what’s to stop you from lying?”

“My conscience.”

“Do you even have one?”

“Yes.” Sam wasn’t entirely sure what a conscience consisted of. It sounded to him like a voice in your head that told you not to do bad things—and unlike some of his departed siblings, he’d never heard any voices in his head that he knew of (though who knew, maybe some of the voices that talked to him throughout the day were secretly not real). Sam kind of assumed that meant he’d never done anything bad enough to warrant being told off by some mystical moral concept. “That was your first question. It’s my turn now.”

Henry’s annoyed huff was his only answer. “Have you ever had a pet?”

Sam could almost hear Henry’s surprise in the silence. Not what he’d been expecting, apparently. “I used to have a cat named Sparkles.”

“Sparkles is a stupid name for a cat.”

“My sister named her.” Henry’s mouth audibly snapped shut at that and Sam smiled. So Henry had a sister—or had had one, anyway. He wondered if she was still alive.

If she was, she wouldn’t be for much longer. “Your turn.”

“Do you have any friends at all—real ones, not people you’ve chained up to torture?”

Sam thought about that. “I don’t see why you don’t think people I’ve chained up to torture can’t be my friends, but going with that stipulation, no. There is a boy who’s a little younger than me working as a servant here in the castle. He’s awfully nice to me, I think he feels bad for me. His name’s Todd. I’d like it if I could get to know him better, but I think he’s also afraid of me. How do you convince people not to be afraid of you?”

“Is that your question?”

Sam’s lip quirked upwards. “Sure.”

“Normal people don’t need to convince anyone not to be afraid of them.” Henry said. “Most people aren’t afraid of us because we don’t rape and torture people for fun.”

“Ah.” Sam thought about that. “So it’s a perception of weakness. They don’t feel threatened by you, so they aren’t afraid. Interesting.” That seemed like something that might work with Todd. Sam would have to give it a try.

Henry just sighed. “Of course you don’t get it. I almost forgot you’re a lunatic.”

“It’s your turn.”

“Has anyone ever raped you?”

Oh, he was trying to get to the bottom of Sam’s troubled psyche as a method of getting control over his own situation. Wasn’t that clever. And adorable. Sam resisted the urge to rub his hands together. “Yes.” He lied. “My father used to give me to one of the guards when I misbehaved. Sometimes he even watched.” In reality, dad had only ever threatened to do that, because Sam had never been stupid enough to push him to find out if he were bluffing or not.

“That’s terrible.” Henry whispered.

“He’s a pretty terrible person.” Sam agreed. “Have you ever been with anyone besides me?”

There was a long pause before Henry answered. “No.” That one word was awfully heavy.

“Good. I don’t believe in sharing.”

“If…if we had killed him, your dad, what would you have done?”

“Hm.” Sam thought about that. He wasn’t in the habit of thinking of things that hadn’t happened. “Thanked you, probably. Then executed you both.”

Henry laughed harshly. “I’ll add gratitude to the list of things you don’t get.”

“I might still have taken you prisoner.” Sam said, still considering. “Though I’d have kept you in my room rather than the dungeon.”

“I’ll consider myself lucky then.”

“You’re funny.” Sam sat back. “Are there people who are going to come look for you? Friends, family?”

Henry was quiet for a while this time before answering. “No.”

“Because they’re all dead or because they don’t care?”

“It’s not your turn anymore.” Henry growled.

“Fair enough.” Sam said, leaning back with a smile.

“How many siblings do you have?”

“Living? Three.” Sam wondered if Henry was asking that as a way of getting information on how many sorcerers might be living here in the castle. That would be probably the first smart question he’d asked. “Two sisters and a brother. None of them are here, though.”

Henry snorted. “Let me guess, they all ran as far as they could?”

Sam held back a chuckle. “My oldest sister did. The other two are running errands for dad.”

“Guess you’re not useful enough to run errands, are you?” Henry asked with a sneer.

“No, not really.” Sam stretched his arms. “That was three questions. Now I get to ask three.” A light huff was the only answer. “How come, when you had me in a position where I had to tell the truth, you never asked about Terry?”

The stricken silence that followed his question sent a thrill through Sam. “I…” Henry stuttered and trailed off.

“You’ll incur a punishment if you don’t answer the question.” Sam told him.

“Tell me about him.” Henry’s voice was strained. Sam thought he probably already knew what he was going to be told.

“That’s not an answer.”

“I…I didn’t think of it, that’s all. I just…”

“You’re lying.” Sam said, sitting up and leaning forward. He pulled a small knife and tapped it against Henry’s throat just once, just so he would know what it was, just to get that little shock of fear that he liked. Then he reached down to Henry’s shirt collar and started cutting down the centre of the fabric. “You didn’t ask because you don’t care. Or maybe because you were scared of the answer. But you thought of it.”

“Fuck you.” Henry whimpered.

“So you aren’t even going to deny it?” Sam asked, finishing his cut and starting on the sleeves to get Henry out of the shirt completely.

“What did you do to Terry?”

“It’s not your turn.” Sam said harshly, finishing with the shirt and tossing the rags aside. He stepped back. “I have two more questions. Why’d you drop your sword the day you were captured?”

“I…” Sam could feel the force of Henry’s anger. “I got hit on the hand.”

“You’re lying.” Sam repeated, with an exasperated noise. “You didn’t want to get hurt so you surrendered.”

“I didn’t!” Henry’s voice rose. “I got hurt!”

“It’s not a hard game to play.” Sam sighed, crouching down and slicing through Henry’s belt with the knife, working the blade down a pantleg in one seamless cut. “It’s one thing to lie to me, Henry, but you’d be happier if you stopped lying to yourself.”

“Like you’d fucking know. You’re the most deluded person I’ve ever met.”

“Am I?” Sam challenged. “I say what I think, I do what I want, I act on my desires and I don’t feel the need to apologize for any of it afterwards. You’d be happier if you were more like me.”

“I’m nothing like you.” Henry spat.

Not yet, maybe. “Yes, you are. You’re just afraid to admit it is all. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.” Sam finished with Henry’s pants, tossed them aside as well. “Last question. If I let you out of here, told you what you needed to do to kill my father and escape, would you do it?”

“No.” Henry’s reply was definitive and rang through the small space.

“Now that I believe.” Henry wasn’t smart enough to realize that Sam was his only ally. “Why not?”

“That was your last question. What have you done to Terry?”

“Hm.” Sam stood, tapping the knife against his wrist. “I don’t feel like playing anymore. Thanks for helping me pass the time, Henry.”

“No!” Henry’s shout startled Sam a little. “You tell me what you did to him, you fucker!” His voice made it clear to Sam that he knew what he was going to hear.

“I didn’t do anything to him.” Sam said, still tapping the knife. “And you’re in no position to tell me what to do. Try asking more politely.”

A long silence stretched out between them, punctuated at first by the soft sound of Sam’s knife against his own skin, which he stopped when he accidentally cut himself. “Please.” Henry said finally, his voice carrying a harsh lilt of surrender. “Please, Sam. Tell me what’s happening to Terry. He’s my only friend.”

“See, that wasn’t so hard.” Sam crouched down, now tapping he knife on Henry’s shin. “What are you going to do for me?”

“What?”

“You’re awfully unpleasant to me. Not just today. Why should I do you a favour? Give me something in return and I’ll tell you.”

“You think I’m stupid, don’t you?” Henry whispered. “I see what you’re doing, you bastard.”

“I do think you’re stupid, but not because of that.” Sam said. “In your position, anyone would be easily manipulated by someone like me. You’re alone and scared. And you’re desperate to escape. And desperate to prove, to yourself as much as to me, that you’re a good person. That’d you’d have been willing to do for Terry what he did for you. And there’s a part of you that thinks maybe, maybe you deserve it. Maybe I should be hurting you, because you weren’t good enough and that’s why Terry got captured. You know it and he knows it, and if you hadn’t been here, maybe he’d have done better. Or if you’d been less of a coward and kept fighting, maybe things would be different.”

“Stop.” Henry said quietly. He was crying. “Just stop. Just…”

“What are you going to give me, Henry?”

“Whatever you want.” His voice cracked. “Whatever you want, Sam. Just tell me.”

“Good answer, Henry.” Sam said, smiling. “Are you sure?”

“Yes! Just…” Henry broke off, quiet sobs interrupting the silence.

“Okay.” Sam trailed the knife up Henry’s leg until he got to the smallclothes, then carefully cut those away too. “You’ll be much more comfortable without those dirty clothes on.” He said as they fell away. He bent down and took Henry’s boots as well, leaving him completely uncovered.

Sam sat there for a minute, thinking carefully about what he wanted to do. He was uncomfortably hard in his pants, but decided against doing anything about that yet. He moved forward, slowly until he found Henry’s skin, sliding his fingers along Henry’s body until he found what he wanted.

Henry was flaccid, so Sam started to play with him, willing him erect. It wasn’t easy and Henry made no noise at all while Sam worked, which was annoying. He liked the noises Henry made. He didn’t use his powers to restrain Henry today, trusting the chains to be enough, and Henry didn’t disappoint in that, at least. True to his word he just sat there, let Sam do what he would.

When Sam leaned forward and popped Henry into his mouth he was rewarded with a hiss. Despite his best effort Henry was soon getting hard in Sam’s mouth.

“This is my first time doing this.” Sam admitted, pulling away for a second. “I’ve had it done to me, though, so I like to think I know a thing or two. Still, I appreciate the opportunity to practice.”

Henry didn’t answer, but his breathing was audible now, coming heavy from his mouth. Sam went back at him, sucking Henry to full hardness and working it up and down with his tongue, paying particular attention to the head. Henry whimpered. Sam didn’t make any effort to keep his teeth clear, and knew he scraped Henry a few times, but Henry never complained.

Henry’s breath started to come in sharper spurts, light gasps. Sam smiled, pulling off his cock and standing, leaning in to kiss Henry on the mouth. Henry flinched back despite himself and Sam smiled, pursued him. Just a quick peck on the lips and Sam grabbed hold of Henry’s length, slowly stroking him to completion while Sam grinded himself fully clothed against Henry’s leg.

When Henry’s entire body tensed, Sam leaned in further and whispered in Henry’s ear. “Terry died three days ago. His last words were an apology to you.”

The cry that Henry gave when he came was so beautiful that Sam did the same, right in his pants. It was a strained sound that tasted of pain and conveyed so much guilt. When Henry was finished, he hung there softly whimpering, and Sam’s finger found tears running down his face. “We tossed his body in the centipede pit. It doesn’t take them very long to devour a person.”

“Stop…” Henry cried. “Please stop.”

“I’m answering your question, that’s all. We gave his sword to the captain of our guard…”

“Please just stop. It’s enough, that’s enough. No more, please.”

Sam’s favourite thing to listen to was the sound of Henry crying. But Henry begging, he thought, was a solid second. “You asked me for information. I’ll tell you everything we did to him, in as much detail as I can remember.”

“No…”

“No, please…I can’t. I can’t, Sam.”

“You’d be surprised what you can do, Henry.” Sam said, sitting beside him and getting comfortable. Quietly he reached out and hid the knife in the pile of Henry’s clothes in the corner. “The first thing we did was drip boiling water into his eyes until he begged us to take them out…”

Sam had to pause in his telling twice to relieve the terrible hardness that Henry’s pleading and tears were causing in him.

Chapter Text

“Why don’t you ever bring a torch with you?” Henry asked when Sam came into the cell today.

Sam didn’t answer right away, admittedly a little thrown. Henry hadn’t said two words to him, no matter what he’d done, since Sam had informed him of Terry’s death two weeks ago. He’d been just on the verge of doing something he would have regretted to make Henry start speaking again.

But it seemed like Henry had finally come to his senses, at least. Or maybe he was just trying a different strategy, Sam thought. That could be fun.

“Maybe I don’t need one.” Sam said after a minute, sitting himself down by the door.

“Bullshit.” Henry muttered. “You don’t want me to know what you look like. I bet it’s because you’re hideous or something.”

“Hm.” Sam hummed. He had no idea, honestly. “It’s because I don’t need a torch, that’s all.”

“I’m not stupid.”

“You kind of are.”

“You’re doing it to scare me. Like, the monster in the dark or whatever—people are afraid when they can’t see what’s in front of them. It’s just one of your little mind games.”

“Is it working?” Sam asked, curious. He was a little surprised that Henry had picked up on that.

“No.” The one word was harsh and grating.

“No, of course it isn’t.” Sam said thoughtfully. “You’re too brave and strong to be scared of something as silly as a monster in the dark.” He paused. “It’s only when you’re fighting that you get scared.”

“Fuck you.”

“Maybe in a bit.” Sam agreed. Henry’s chains clinked. “Would you like me to start bringing a torch?”

Maybe he could burn some of Henry’s skin off—not too much, but a little. It might be fun.

“I don’t care what you do. You’re using magic to see me anyway.”

“Nope.”

“Liar.”

“Nope.” Sam repeated. “I’m just not afraid of the dark, Henry. That’s all.”

“Of course you aren’t.” Henry spat. “You’re probably right at home in it, with all the other rats and bugs.”

Sam smiled. “Cute. What exactly do you hope to gain by being antagonistic?” Henry didn’t answer right away, so Sam continued. “I’ve wondered this for a while. You do understand that you’re the prisoner here, right? And garnering sympathy is a good way to plan an escape? And yet all you’ve done since you got here is call me names and be rude to me.”

“I wonder the fuck why.”

“I do too.” Sam admitted. “I mean, the one time you politely asked me for something, I gave it to you. It stands to reason I’d do it again if you were to ask again. And yes, maybe it didn’t go entirely the way you wanted, but that’s only because you didn’t consider the consequences of what you were asking me. And for all that, here we are. You still being mean to me.”

“You…” Henry bit back whatever he’d been about to say, which Sam thought was an improvement.

“And if I’m being honest, you sound angry and all, but it seems fake to me. Like you’re pretending to be mad because that’s what you’re supposed to be—it seems to me like you’ve just given up. Again. Was Terry really the only reason you were going on living?”

Henry didn’t answer that.

“It’s a little disappointing.” Sam sighed. “I just…I want to kill my dad, and I was hoping you’d help me.”

The silence that fell between them was thunderous. It swelled, filling the small space until it must be seeing into the cracks in the mortar and between the bars in the door. Sam didn’t break it this time, just sitting there and listening to it.

“What?” Henry whispered, after what had seemed like a long time.

“Nevermind.” Sam sighed, affecting weariness. He stood, making sure that Henry could hear him brushing against the stone. “I’ll just find someone else.”

Sam credited Henry for having the self-control to wait until the door creaked open to say “Wait.”

Sam smiled.

“What now?” He asked Henry, hand still holding the door. “Did you think of some new names to call me?”

“Stay.”

That sounded like an order. Sam stood still, waiting.

“Please.”

“Why?”

“Because I…” Henry faltered. “Because I need your help. Because you said you wanted to be my friend. Because…”

Well, it was about time, Sam thought. Still. “When in our time together have I given you the impression that I’d be moved by some insipid plea to my sentimentality?”

Henry made an irritated noise. “Fine. Because you need my help, then. Because otherwise you’ve wasted all the time you’ve spent on me so far. Because I got within crossbow distance of your father the first time and I can do it again.”

“And all I need to do is supply the crossbow?” Sam asked. “Still, that’s a much more honest answer, at least. I can understand you wanting to use me to your own ends. It took you long enough to come to that conclusion. Too long, actually—I’m starting to find you boring.”

“I can be interesting.” Henry said immediately, a touch of desperation in his voice, and Sam believed him because when people broke, they usually did it all at once.

“I find that hard to believe.” He said. “How do you plan to do that?”

“I…” Sam could practically hear Henry casting around for something to say. “I’ll do whatever you want. Sam, I will. Just give me a chance to show you. Please.”

“Hm. So in exchange for using me, you’ll let me use you.” Sam let the door swing shut, came over and stood in front of Henry. A gesture opened the manacles that suspended him and Henry fell to the ground with a small grunt of discomfort. Sam put a foot on his head and held him there. “Ask again. In a way that convinces me you really want it, Henry.”

The sound of Henry swallowing was audible. “Please, Sam. I want you to use me. I won’t bore you, I swear. I’ll do whatever you want. I won’t complain about anything. Please, I’m begging you, keep using me. Keep…keep hurting me, Sam. Please. I want you to hurt me.”

All at once, Sam thought, getting hard in his pants. Still, he kept his foot in place, didn’t say anything.

“I’ll do everything you say. No matter what it is.” Henry was crying now. “I’ll be interesting. I’ll be useful, I swear I will. I promise, Sam…sir. I’ll be the best tool. I’ll be the best toy. Please, sir.”

Sam smiled, removed his foot. Henry made no move to get up, and Sam crouched down, lifted his head from the stone floor. “I’m surprised you didn’t choke on that pride as you swallowed it.”

Henry’s only reply was a soft whimper.

“I break everything I touch, Henry.” Sam said quietly. “I will destroy you. I will take everything that you are and I will grind it into nothing, until you are nothing but what I want you to be. I was planning to do that anyway, but you’ve made it easier. You can use me and it won’t hurt me, but me using you will be the end of you, because I will use you until you fall to pieces.”

“I don’t care.” Henry whispered.

“Oh, I don’t believe you.” Sam whispered back. “You’re saying what I want to hear so I’ll give you what you want. Which is a huge improvement in your attitude, but you don’t really believe that I’ll do what I say I will—you think you’re strong enough to resist, that you’ve held on to yourself all this time and can keep doing that forever.”

“No, I…”

“Why’d you drop your sword that day?”

Henry paused, with a little intake of breath. “Because I was afraid to get hurt.” He said in a small voice.

Sam chuckled, reached down and unlaced his pants, pulled himself free and guided Henry towards his hardness. “Here, use your mouth.”

With a barely noticeable hesitation, Henry did as he was told, slipping his lips over Sam’s head, sucking him awkwardly but with little clear reluctance.

Though Sam found he wasn’t as enamoured with that as the usual fighting back, combined with everything else it only took him a minute to shoot in Henry’s mouth. He fisted Henry’s hair to keep him in place while Henry swallowed it all without being told. Only then did Sam pull Henry off and drop his head to the floor.

Standing, Sam laced up his pants again and made his way to the door. He decided to leave Henry unchained. He wasn’t a threat to anyone as it stood.

“I’ll think about it.” Sam said, leaving the cell with a creak and a slam.

On the other side of the door, Sam listened and heard Henry softly weeping, and whispering “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” over and over in the dark.

Now, Sam thought as he walked away, they were getting somewhere.

Chapter Text

Sam let Henry stew for a week or so before he went back down to the dungeon. He let the door creak open and closed and then paused inside the cell for just a moment, listening. Henry wasn’t chained up anymore, which meant that Sam didn’t immediately know where he was.

There, in the back corner. Probably curled up on the ground from the height of his breathing. Sam turned in that direction, but didn’t say anything. Henry shifted, moving. Sitting up.

Sam took two steps to put in close to Henry and stood over him, stayed quiet. He wanted to find out what Henry would do, now that he was unchained, now that he’d had a week to think about what had happened last time Sam had been here. It was easy to make a decision in the moment, but hard to keep one’s resolve after a week with only one’s own brain as company.

Sam had no intention of breaking the silence and the longer it went on, the clearer that became. Henry’s breathing started to pick up a little, in what tasted to Sam like fear. Maybe it wasn’t Sam standing in front of him. Maybe Sam had decided not to go through with their deal after all. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Maybe was the most dangerous concept humans had ever conceived.

Finally Henry couldn’t take it anymore. “S…Sam?” He asked, his voice wavering, weak. “Is…”

Sam brought his leg up and kneed Henry in the chin. Henry cried out, a wordless shout, and Sam reached down and slammed his head into the wall before pulling him forward by the hair and tossing him to the floor.

Henry tried to catch his breath in shaky, gasping gulps, while Sam sought out Henry’s hand with his foot and stepped on it, putting his full weight on it. He nodded in satisfaction when he felt the bones start to give way under his feet, though Henry’s shout drowned out the sound they would be making, so he kicked Henry in the head to quiet him.

Now Henry was just whimpering on the ground, and Sam smiled as he unlaced his pants. He moved around and, still searching with his foot and delivering kicks when he found something other than what he was looking for, made his way behind Henry. He crouched down and searched the rest of the way with his hands, not gently, probing and prodding until he was aimed where he needed to be.

Henry was tense underneath him; he had to know what was coming. Sam ran his hand affectionately down Henry’s spine before shoving himself inside, grunting a little at the difficulty. Lubricant was important for more than just comfort, it seemed.

Still, Henry’s pitiful little cries of pain were worth the hassle on Sam’s part. He pulled out and thrust in harder, got farther in, gasping at the sensation that ran through him. He needed somewhere to put his hands and so Sam reached up and grabbed the back of Henry’s head, gripping his hair and holding Henry’s face against the floor as he fucked him. His other hand wound up on Henry’s shoulder, and Sam thought he should have planned ahead and twisted Henry’s arm behind his back or something.

He kept thrusting in and out, trying to get all the way in, tearing and breaking Henry inside as he focused on little else but that and the sounds Henry was making. Sam could feel himself building up, and up, and up as he got further and further in with every thrust and finally, with a long cry of his own, Sam managed to thrust all the way in just in time to shoot his climax into Henry.

Still holding Henry in his place, Sam lay there for a moment, sweaty and out of breath. He might have liked it a little more if Henry had fought back a bit, he thought idly, but it had been fine without. Better than any of the girls dad had sent to him.

Sam couldn’t quite help the satisfied noise he made as he pulled out of Henry and sat back. He pulled Henry with him, so that he was nearly sitting in Sam’s lap. Sam turned Henry’s head uncomfortably far back and kissed him, tasting Henry’s blood when he did. “I’m impressed that you didn’t resist.” Sam whispered in Henry’s ear. He held Henry with one hand and reached into his shirt with the other to take out a knife, his attention wavering just briefly to wonder if the one he’d left in here before was still there and if Henry had found it yet.

“I…” Henry’s breath caught before he was able to get the rest of the answer out. “I told you I wouldn’t.”

“Don’t take that tone with me.” Sam chided. “But I won’t punish you for it since you’ve been so good.” He moved the knife around to Henry’s front and pressed the tip against Henry’s chest, making shallow cuts as he dragged it around the surface of the skin. When Henry didn’t say anything, he pressed a little harder. “Don’t you have anything to say to that?”

“I…thank you.” Henry whispered, quivering, keeping the pain out of his voice.

“Hm.” Sam shifted his grip so that his free arm was supporting Henry under his left shoulder, leaving his chest free. He kept pressing harder and dragged the knife downward, leaving a long cut as he went. “I’ve considered what you proposed last time. I’ve decided to give you a chance.”

“Th…thank you.” Henry hissed as the knife moved over his stomach.

“Look how polite you’ve gotten.” Sam muttered, and since Henry wasn’t resisting he brought his free arm down and over Henry’s belly, working his fingers into the cut and under the skin just to see if he could. “I bet you’d let me do whatever I wanted, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes...” Henry whimpered.

“Maybe we should test that.” Sam suggested, and the knife was well into Henry’s pubic region now. He stopped cutting and found Henry’s cock with it, scraping the blade along the shaft. “Maybe I’ll cut a few things off. You don’t need this part anymore, right?”

Henry didn’t answer immediately and Sam waited for just a few seconds before pressing the knife harder against his skin. Finally he shook his head.

“Words, Henry.”

“No.” He said, his voice cracking. “I don’t need it. Do whatever you want.”

Sam smiled. “I will, don’t worry.” He pulled the knife away from Henry’s cock and back upwards, resting it against his throat. “But I like that part of you, so we’ll keep it attached for now. I may have use for it later.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s not a gift to you.” Sam whispered, and carefully, very carefully, he drew the blade across Henry’s throat, deep enough to draw blood but not enough to cut the major arteries. He didn’t want to kill Henry, especially not by accident. He enjoyed how still Henry got as he worked. “Everything that you have and everything that you are belongs to me, Henry. I can do whatever I want and you’re going to like it when I do.”

Henry drew in a breath and nodded, his head moving against Sam’s chest. “I have to admit I still have my doubts about your sincerity. But that’s okay, we’re having fun and part of the fun is wondering whether you’re still secretly just waiting for me to be helpless for a moment so you can stab me to death.” Of course Henry still was. Sam wouldn’t have been interested in him otherwise.

As he spoke he brought the knife away from Henry’s throat and lifted it, stabbing down and plunging the blade into the right side of Henry’s chest, right through the ribs and into the lung. Henry’s cry was choked off just when it started as he gasped for breath, trying and failing to bring in enough air to keep himself alive. He jerked in Sam’s arms a few times and Sam smiled, hard again. This feeling didn’t quite compare to before, but it was similar.

“Don’t worry.” He whispered, pulling the knife out and discarding it, letting it clatter to the floor in a metallic dance that rang through the cell. Sam put a hand on Henry’s chest and opened himself to his magic. “Healing spells aren’t my best magic, but I know the principle.”

He knew two healing spells, and the one Sam ran through Henry’s body was Chaos-aspected, and rather than going with the natural flow of the body and healing the wounds according to nature, which was how Order-aspected healing worked, it warped space and created a module of reality in which the injury wasn’t there.

It was very painful to experience and Henry screamed as Sam healed him, all of his cuts and bruises and scrapes fading from his body at once. “There.” Sam said when he was done. Henry had gone stiff and now collapsed, panting. “I wasn’t entirely sure if that would work, actually. I’m glad it did—now I know I can do whatever I want to you for sure, as long as I don’t kill you. You’ll always be safe with me, no matter what I do to you.”

Henry was still gasping for air and, with a hitch in his breath, he started weeping. Sam smiled and shifted a little, until he was lined up to fuck Henry again. Still sitting up, he forced himself back inside. All the tearing and injury he’d done before had healed up as well, which didn’t sit well with Sam—he wanted Henry to have that reminder, at least.

His cum from before was still there, though, and that lubricated the way a little this time. Sam got all the way in with just a few thrusts. Henry was making an audible effort to control his crying and Sam bit his neck hard enough to draw blood before putting his lips to Henry’s ear again. “Don’t.” He whispered, as he rocked them back and forth. “Don’t make yourself stop crying. I love it when you cry, Henry, it’s my favourite sound.”

Henry went completely silent for just a second at that, before letting out a low wail that spoke of a pain far more than the physical hurt Sam had done to him today. Sam smiled and kept on going, listened to Henry weep as he violated him in the dark.

Chapter Text

The late afternoon sun warmed Sam’s face even as the slightly chill wind from the east blew through the rest of him, carrying the faint hint of ash and sulfur as it usually did.

Sam liked sunsets. Not for the reasons other people did—people said they were beautiful, or romantic or other thing that was equally as vapid. People liked them because of what they looked like.

When he’d been younger, Sam had wondered often what various things looked like. In the last few years he’d stopped caring. It didn’t really matter if a sunset painted the sky orange. It didn’t really matter what orange looked like, or what the sky looked like. He didn’t need to know those things.

Sam liked sunsets because they brought darkness with them. And Sam didn’t know what darkness looked like either, but he knew it frightened people, made them dependant. They lit lamps and torches and carried them around to preserve their own fragile understanding of the world. They couldn’t function normally—they were hesitant, careful, willing to be led by anyone who knew where they were going.

In the dark, Sam knew everything. In the dark, Sam was a king.

He was standing on top of the north tower in front of a large spell circle. Sam could feel its power thrumming in his head, smell the acrid taint it cast into the air. It was impatient. Teleportation spells were primarily Order-aspected, and Order was not a power that liked to wait.

Sam wasn’t impatient. He was slowly counting in his head, and only when he reached one thousand did Sam sigh, reach out with his own power, activate the circle. The world seemed to snap and Sam heard a birds chirping, smelled rain and tasted grass, for just a second while the spell worked.

“Oh.” The woman who’d just appeared on the tower said, and in that one word Sam heard surprise. She had a deeper voice than most women, one that rolled like a heavy stone. “You’re not who I was expecting.”

“I’m Sam. Usually you meet my brother. He’s not here anymore.” He’d been sent away for something more important than fetching visitors.

“Is that so?” The woman asked, and Sam could tell she was looking him over. Maybe she was comparing Sam to his brother, or perhaps to their father. Maybe she was looking at his eyes, which weren’t focused on her, or on anything. “Very well. Pleased to meet you, Sam. My name’s…”

“Jocelyn.” Sam interrupted, turning away from her and her gaze and heading towards the edge of the tower five paces behind him. “I know.” He didn’t pause at the top of the staircase that spiraled around the exterior of the structure, taking the first step down. One. He counted. There were two hundred and twenty-nine steps.

There was a staircase that went inside the tower as well, but it was getting dark so Sam used the outside one instead. Jocelyn followed him without complaint, as he’d known she would. “I thought I’d met all of Solomon’s children.” She commented as they started down.

“You hadn’t.” Sam heard the faint sound of something sliding against the stone behind him and smiled to himself. Jocelyn was steadying herself, which Sam wasn’t. He could feel her power as well, a sort of humming that was so faint it was almost drowned out by the wind, and by the low buzz that accompanied it. Witches got their power from the earth, he recalled. Sam wondered if being high up made it hard for them to do magic. There was probably no height restriction on necromancy, though.

“Not very talkative, are you?” Jocelyn asked. “I’m not taking you away from something important, am I?”

She was, as a matter of fact. He’d been looking forward to seeing Henry tonight. But dad’s commands always came first. “Of course not. What would you like to talk about?”

“Nothing in particular, but it’s an awfully long walk for silence, don’t you think?” Jocelyn lied. There was no way she wanted to talk about ‘nothing in particular.’ “I have a son about your age.”

That wasn’t what she wanted to talk about. “The one you tried to kill or the one you corrupted?”

Jocelyn laughed, and it was a nasty, dangerous sound that Sam liked quite a bit. “The one I tried to kill.”

“You and my father have that in common.” Sam observed.

“Did he tell you all about me and my family, or did you have to do research on your own?”

Sam frowned. People often spoke to him with disbelief or surprise when he knew things. Jocelyn just sounded entertained. “I have a tutor.” There were one hundred and nine steps left.

“And what else did your tutor tell you about me?”

“You also killed your sister, and your niece and your father.” The sister had been her brother’s wife, Sam thought.

“I’ve done other things.”

“I know, but the parts where you killed members of your family were the only parts I thought were interesting.” Sam admitted, and that was true. “Do you hold a baby to stab it to death, or did you put her on a table? Did she cry a lot?”

“Yes. It was insufferable. What about you? Have you killed anyone interesting?”

“Not really.” Sam said with a sigh. “I think I have a niece somewhere, but I don’t know where she is and I’m probably not going to be able to kill her. I did kill one of my sisters when I was younger, but it was sort of an accident.” He wondered if Jocelyn would hear the last part, the part that he hadn’t said. The parallel he hadn’t drawn.

“An accident, was it?” Jocelyn didn’t sound like she believed him.

“She took a toy from me. I threw her at a wall. I didn’t mean to kill her.”

“Yes, you did.”

Sam tilted his head, and chuckled. “Maybe. I was only six, so I didn’t really understand what death meant.”

“Your father must have been unhappy about that.” Oh, Sam thought. Maybe she had noticed what he hadn’t said before.

“She wasn’t born gifted with sorcery. I don’t think he cared.” Sam didn’t even remember what her name had been.

They came to the bottom of the stairs and Sam took two steps, reached up just above his hip and grabbed the handle for the door, pulled it open and stepped inside. The door banged shut behind Jocelyn and a muffled silence fell around them with the wind blocked out. Sam led the way down the hall, fifty steps to another door.

“Do you know what I’m here to talk to him about?” Jocelyn asked as they neared the second door.

“I don’t care what you’re here to talk to him about.” Sam said.

“So you don’t know.” And there was that amused tone again.

“In your years of working for—sorry, with—him, have you known him to share information freely?”

“I guess I figured he would with his trusted son. Where is your brother, anyway?”

“The northern capital, I think.” Sam said, knowing full well that dad wouldn’t have wanted him to answer that. They were in a hallway that they would need to follow for a hundred and four steps before turning left for another seventy-nine.

“And what’s he doing there?”

“Who cares?” Sam smiled to himself. “And yes, that does mean I don’t know.” Sam had a pretty good guess about what Saul was doing, but he wasn’t certain.

Jocelyn laughed again. “Admitting when you don’t know something? You must have inherited that from your mother.”

“I wouldn’t know, dad killed her.” At least, Sam assumed that was the case. He’d never met his mother and dad tended to kill women after he was done with them.

At step forty-three they passed by a doorway that hid a staircase which led to the dungeons. Sam wondered what Henry was doing right now.

Jocelyn was silent until they had turned left into the other hallway. “I suspect you’d get along with my daughter.” She said.

Sam snorted. “Do you think I’m stupid?”

“I don’t.” Jocelyn said. “My apologies, allow me to rephrase. You should marry my daughter. She’s a little younger than you.”

“I appreciate the suggestion.” Sam didn’t think Jocelyn’s daughter would, but that didn’t matter. “But I’ll pass.”

“You could come live with us in the tropics, get away from this castle for a time. Your father would appreciate having a closer eye kept on us, I’m sure.”

“He wouldn’t care if you had me hostage.” Sam said. “If he wanted to kill you he’d do it just the same with me standing in front of you.”

“That isn’t what I meant.”

“I know. You meant that I could help you unseat him.” Sam said. They were approaching a wide staircase with twenty steps.

“And you just tried to tell me you weren’t stupid. Surely you don’t think I’d suggest such a thing here in his own castle?” The sincerity oozing from Jocelyn’s voice was sickening.

“Of course not. You’re a loyal friend to him.”

“And you’re a loyal son.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page about this.” Sam said, counting the stairs as they went down. There were some servants in the room at the bottom, but he ignored them and they stayed out of the way.

“Of course. Your father’s goals are my goals. I’d hardly want to interrupt him in achieving them.” Sam slowed, putting his hand out in front of him as they approached the door. He wasn’t sure if it would be open or not, but his hand met no resistance and so he kept walking as if nothing had happened.

“Acting obsequious will get you nowhere with him.” Sam advised her. There was one last hallway here, just forty steps, that would lead to the sitting room where dad was waiting. Sam could feel his power from here, amplified by the stone he had with him, vibrating through the castle. He wondered if Jocelyn could feel it too.

“Obsequious?” Jocelyn asked, sounding amused again. “Did your tutor teach you that word?”

Sam felt his face heat up and found it annoyed him. “No. I’m not dependent on a tutor for everything. I’m not a child.”

“Hm. You might wish to be a little more dependent, since you didn’t quite use it correctly.”

The heat in Sam’s face increased, but instead of getting upset he laughed. “I like you.”

“I’m flattered.”

“You wouldn’t be if you knew what happened to the people I liked.” Before the conversation could continue beyond that the door down the hallway creaked open and dad’s power got louder.

“Jocelyn.” Dad said, a warmth that Sam knew wasn’t real. “So good to see you. I do hope my son didn’t bore you to death on the way here.”

“Of course not, Solomon.” Jocelyn’s entire tone had changed, and it was just as fake as dad’s. She swept past him and Sam heard a kiss. “You’re looking well.”

“Thank you. If you don’t mind waiting inside, I’d like to have a quick word with Samson before we eat.”

“Of course.” Something told Sam that Jocelyn gave him a look before disappearing into the room. The door closed behind her and Sam was left in the hallway with his father, the vibrations from dad’s power setting Sam’s own power on edge from this close.

Dad stood there silently for a moment and Sam stood in front of him with his head tilted forward in a mockery of someone looking at the floor.

Sometimes they played this game for hours, dad just standing there watching Sam, waiting for Sam to break the silence when Sam knew he wasn’t supposed to speak until spoken to. Sam was patient, he’d learned to play this game a long time ago and could stay quiet all day if he had to. He stood completely still, not shifting around or fidgeting, not giving any hint that his heart rate was slowly picking up, keeping a firm grip on his power as it tried to buzz and crawl all around him. Jocelyn was in the room there, surely dad wasn’t going to make her wait all night. He only had to do this for a few minutes, a few minutes was easy.

“You’re impatient, son.” Dad said after several minutes, and Sam frowned despite himself, trying to figure out what he’d done to give that impression. “Somewhere you’d rather be?”

“Of course not, sir—” The blow came unexpected, across the face, dad’s power knocking Sam from his feet and sending him sprawling on the ground. He didn’t cry out.

“I don’t like you taking that tone with me. Try again, boy.”

He’d been demoted from ‘son’ to ‘boy,’ though to be honest Sam wasn’t sure which he liked less. “No, sir.” Sam said, not getting up. He knew better than to get up when he was wanted on the floor. He hadn’t been taking a tone.

“I imagine you don’t think you were taking a tone, but you were.” Dad said, and Sam was sure that mind-reading wasn’t one of his powers, but it was hard to know for absolute certain. “You did as I asked.”

It wasn’t a question, which left Sam unsure for a second if he was meant to answer. But he decided the risk of talking out of turn was less than that of not answering when he should have. “Yes, sir.”

“Good, you’re useful for something, at least.” He’d been instructed to make Jocelyn think he was stupid, so she would be insulted at who’d been sent to pick her up. Sam heard movement; dad was turning away from him. “Go, then. Play with your pet in the dungeon. We’ll talk in the morning.”

“Thank you, sir.” Sam said quietly, still not moving from the floor. Dad’s footsteps moved away a bit, and he heard the door open and close. Sam only got up once that had happened, and then he moved away from that room as quickly as he could.

It wasn’t the things his father said to him or the fact that he hit him, Sam reflected as he turned and walked the forty paces back up the hall. It was that Solomon talked to Sam like he was barely there that pissed him off so much. He knew exactly how to make Sam feel like nothing just by sharing space with him.

Sam wasn’t nothing. He knew there were lamps light in sconces in the hall and he reached out and found them with his power, his mind feeling the chaotic cracking of the fire. He put them all out as he re-entered the room with the stairs, the servants falling quiet again. Night had fallen, and it was dark.

Sam wasn’t nothing. It was dark, and Sam was a king.

It was ten steps to the base of those twenty stairs and, still seething, Sam crossed them in nine.

Before tripping over the hem of the carpet and plunging forward with a sharp intake of breath. His hand came up and the slapping noise that he heard as it connected with the alabaster bannister of the staircase was obscene, sounding like weakness and failure.

The silence that had fallen in the room when he’d come in was nothing to the pulsating dirge of quiet that resounded through the space. The servants had all heard him nearly fall. He couldn’t hear them over the blood pounding in his ears so Sam reached out with his magic and found them, three of them. He picked one at random and threw him into a wall, just hard enough to elicit a cry of pain. “Was it you?” He asked in a whisper. “Who thought that would be funny?”

“No, sir. I didn’t, I swear I didn’t, please…”

“Thought it would be funny to trip the poor blind boy, did you? Have a nice laugh about it afterwards?” Sam was shaking now because he could already hear it, the laughter. The pity. It was dark in this room. How dare they laugh at their king? How dare they…

“It wasn’t me.” The servant insisted, and who was Sam kidding? Most of the servants hadn’t chosen to be here. He was a slave. “I swear it wasn’t me, please sir, it was them, please.”

Sam snorted a laugh, an animalistic sound. He lashed out with his power and lit the lamps, a flare of light that must have hurt the slaves’ eyes. Finding the other slaves, he picked them both up by their necks, cutting off airflow and any potential protest. “Their fault, was it?” He asked.

“Yes.” The first man insisted. Pleaded. He had to be able to see what Sam was doing to them. “It wasn’t me, I swear.” Maybe the other two were his friends or family. Sam didn’t know. But he did know that it didn’t take much to make people turn on each other.

“Fine.” Sam said, and he crushed both of the other two slaves’ throats with a satisfying crunch, a slurping sound, and dropped them both to the ground. “Thank you for your honesty.” He added, letting the first man fall harmlessly to his feet. “Clean that mess up.”

“Yes, sir.” The man panted, holding back what might have been a weep, but Sam had already lost interest and started up the stairs.

Only after he’d gotten back into the long hallway did Sam realize that dad was going to hear about that and assume it was because he’d managed to get under Sam’s skin earlier. “Fuck.” He growled, angry all over again, this time with himself.

Sam’s relief when he got behind the door that led to the dungeons was a physical thing and he leaned against the door for a moment, willing himself to stop shaking and breathe normally. Once he’d done that, he made his way down the spiral staircase into the underbelly of the castle. There were more torches burning on the walls, and Sam put them all out. It was always dark down here, even at midday. It was supposed to be that way—a place where light couldn’t penetrate.

Sam’s kingdom.

The guard was nowhere to be found as usual. He had a little room down at the far end of the dungeon, and he was probably asleep there. All the better; Sam wasn’t in the mood for anyone but Henry at the moment.

He didn’t need to run his hand along the wall any longer. He’d been down here enough to have memorized the steps to Henry’s cell. Just outside the door he paused, realizing his hands were still shaking. He wasn’t as calm as he thought, and his power was vibrating in his mind from having been used more than usual. Sorcery was a surging magic that liked to be used, and the more a sorcerer used it the hungrier it got for release. He could feel his power reacting even just to the little spell circle he’d put on the door here, a gnashing ball of Order wrapped in a balancing membrane of Chaos. That was for later, when he was ready to let Henry out, but he could feel his power slithering to trigger it now, because it was there. Maybe he shouldn’t see Henry tonight; Sam might do something he would regret.

After a moment Sam remembered that he’d never regretted anything in his life and pushed open the door and moved into the little room. “Morning, Henry.” He said, putting on a confident mask that was easier now that he had all the power.

Henry made a little noise of acknowledgement from the near corner of the room, but that was it.

Sam sighed, took the step to be in front of Henry, crouched. And slapped him in the face. “The proper response would be ‘Good morning, Sam.’ I also accept ‘sir,’ ‘master,’ or ‘your majesty.’ Just not where dad can hear.” Maybe he should insist on that last one, actually. This was his kingdom, after all. Henry lived here in the dark—Sam’s subject.

Yes, he liked that.

“Sorry. Good morning, Sam.”

Sam felt his face scrunch a little at that and he squeezed Henry’s arm just hard enough to hurt. “Don’t apologize. Don’t ever apologize to me, Henry. I hate apologies.” That was something he’d gotten from dad, he knew. Apologizing when he was mad just made him madder.

“What…”

“Just don’t. Next time you apologize to me I’m going to break your hand.” He grabbed Henry’s hand and squeezed, fed some of his power in until bones snapped and Henry cried out. “Like that. Okay?”

“Okay.” Henry strained, and Sam ran healing magic up his arm like a lightning bolt, smiling at the second cry of pain he got in response.

“Good. You’re learning a lot faster than I thought you would. Soon making me happy will be second nature to you.”

The vague rustle that preceded a small whimper told him Henry had nodded in response. Something else Sam was going to have to train him out of, but that could wait. “Now, let’s talk about ethics some more, Henry. A young couple are being chased by wolves. They have a toddler and an infant with them. Which one should they toss behind them to distract the wolves?”

“The…” Henry paused for a moment, swallowed audibly. “The infant.”

“Why?” Sam asked, curious.

“Because…um…it’s weighing them down as they run…”

“You’re lying.” Sam said quietly, sitting down properly in front of Henry and reaching into his shirt for his knife. “The point of this isn’t just to say the most reprehensible thing just because you think I want to hear it, Henry. I’m trying to teach you.” He poked the knife into Henry’s knees as he spoke, puncturing the skin. “The toddler is heavier, so she’s weighing them down more if they’re carrying her—and if she’s running, she’s doing it more slowly than the parents. Plus there’s more meat there to distract the wolves. Make sense?”

“Yeah…” Henry must have thought he was doing a better job at pretending to agree with Sam than he was, but Sam didn’t care to call him on it yet. That he believed he was fooling Sam was part of the fun.

Besides, kings had to be patient. Sam knew it was only a matter of time before he really did win Henry over. He could wait.

He could wait as long as he had to.

Chapter Text

“I’d burn the field.” Henry said dully.

“The owners have professed loyalty to you, though.” Sam reminded him.

“Then they should understand that you need to kill that rebel.” Henry answered. “If burning their field is enough to shake their loyalty, they weren’t loyal enough anyway.”

Sam smiled a little. “Very good. You’ve gotten a lot better at this.”

“Thanks.” Henry was clearly not happy to have gotten better at making people fear him, but Sam didn’t care much about Henry’s happiness.

“I should go.” Sam said, standing and brushing off his pantlegs. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Henry.”

“Hey, Sam?”

Sam paused, the tone in Henry’s voice making him turn. “What is it?” Henry had never made a point of extending their conversations before.

“Are you…doing okay?”

Sam blinked. “What?”

“Just…” Henry sighed. “This is probably just going to piss you off.” He muttered quietly. “The last few days you’ve seemed a little…down, is all.”

Frowning, Sam wondered what he had done that had given Henry that impression. Admittedly, he hadn’t been in the best mood lately, but he hadn’t been taking it out on Henry particularly. “You don’t need to pretend to care about my well-being, Henry.” Sam said after a moment. “You’re pretending you want what I do to you, that’s good enough.”

“I’m not pretending.” Henry insisted.

“Don’t lie until you’re better at it.” Sam advised, crouching in front of Henry again. “What do you really want?”

“God.” Henry whispered. “I don’t care, I just…nevermind.”

Sam smiled. “I like you better when you’re putting up a bit of a fight, Henry. I know you don’t care about me—so what is it really?”

“I do care about you, though.” Henry said, a little sharply. “You want me to tell the truth? Yeah, I don’t think much about your feelings except for how you’ll take them out of me today.”

“Fair enough.” That was about as far as Sam thought about other people’s feelings as well.

“But I do care about you—you’re the only way I’m getting out of here.”

If I decide to let you out.” Sam mused, moving to sit beside Henry with his back against the wall.

“You will.”

“Careful.” Sam said, running a finger up Henry’s arm. “That sounded like an order. I don’t take well to being told what to do.”

“Fine.” Sam could hear Henry sigh again. “If you let me out. But it’s still my only chance. If you’re going to be in some…mood that’s going to change what you agreed to, I want to know.”

Seemed like Henry was getting a little of his fight back. That was good. “Do you remember me telling you about Todd?”

Henry was quiet for a minute. “The servant who you wanted to trick into liking you?”

“Yes, him.” Sam was a bit surprised that Henry did remember, actually. “I’ve been trying to be nice to him, like you said. It’s working, I think.”

“Of course it is.” Henry muttered. “People like it when you’re nice to them.”

“Funny, I remember you saying you liked it when I wasn’t nice to you.” Henry had said no such thing, but Sam wanted to hear what he would say.

Henry chose not to rise to that bait, which was clever. He really was getting smarter. “So what’s the problem, then?”

Sam closed his eyes for a minute. “He feels bad for me.” He said, finally. “Which I suspected, but…I told him I felt bad for him because of what’s happened to him—my father dismembered his parents in front of him or something, I don’t remember—and he said he felt bad for me too, because I had to grow up the way I did.” Sam was pretty sure he’d meant being blind in addition to his father, but Henry would get the point without that information.

“Maybe he was lying.” Henry said after a moment of silence in which Sam made it obvious he was waiting for Henry to say something. “I mean, you were lying.”

“I was.” Sam confirmed. “I…hate people feeling sorry for me, Henry. I hate it. I…I almost melted the skin off his hands when he said that.”

“But you didn’t?”

“No.” Sam said, a little annoyed with himself. He should have. “That wouldn’t have been very…nice. I told him I was fine and thanked him for worrying about me.”

“I’m surprised.”

“So am I.” Sam admitted. “I didn’t think I was capable of sounding like such an idiot.”

Henry snorted. “You really don’t get it, do you?”

“No.” Sam was at a loss. “I honestly don’t see the appeal. If someone was treating me the way I treat him, I’d be suspicious and try to figure out what they wanted, but…” He trailed off.

“And that’s what’s been bothering you?”

“Part of it.” Sam sighed, figuring he may as well tell Henry this part. “Dad’s starting making comments about how much time I spend down here.”

A dangerous quiet fell for a moment. “What kind of comments?”

“Just…he’s mentioned it. He wonders why you’re still alive. I think he’s probably guessed that I’ve been having sex with you.”

“You’ve been raping me, Sam.” Henry’s voice went pleasantly flat at that.

“That’s interesting, I could have sworn you begged me to do whatever I wanted.” Sam said, tapping his finger against Henry’s thigh. “That seems a lot like consent to me.”

“That’s because you’re psychotic.” Henry mumbled.

“Don’t push your luck.” Sam advised, removing his hand. “Anyway, I think he knows. Remember how I said he sends me girls sometimes? He hasn’t in quite a while.”

“Is that going to be a problem for you?” Henry asked, and Sam thought he sounded curious more than anything.

“I’m not sure. I don’t…think he would care that much that I like boys.” Though Sam wasn’t entirely sure about that. “But on the other hand, he likes having reasons to make me feel like shit, so…”

“You’d think he’d be nicer to the only kid he’s got left here.”

Sam smiled grimly. “Oh, make no mistake. He has no intention of letting me inherit anything.” Otherwise why would Sam need to overthrow him? “All of us are disappointments in that regard.”

“What does that mean?”

“He has a weapon that he tried to bind to my soul when I was born. It didn’t work—me and my living siblings are all lucky in that we survived the process. Or so I’m told.”

Sam waited, to see what Henry would do with that information. “What kind of weapon?” He asked after a minute.

“No, that’s enough family secrets for one day, I think.” Sam could have told Henry about the stone, as it wasn’t like he could do anything about it, but he would rather not. “Anyway, dad likes to break things that make me happy, so he might try to kill you soon.”

“I…”

“Don’t worry.” Sam said, and he leaned over and gave Henry a kiss on the cheek. “If he kills you it will be because he killed me first.” Honestly Sam didn’t know what he would do if dad decided to kill Henry tomorrow. A part of him was afraid that he would just stand there and let him. Not because he cared about Henry, but because of what that would mean for Sam’s own commitment to killing dad.

“And I’ll still be just as dead.”

“That’s right.” Sam smiled. “You’re starting to think more like me. Just like with asking me how I felt because it affected you.”

“You’re the one who says I’m getting better.” Henry grumbled, sounding miserable.

“And I was right. If dad starts making more noise about you I may just have to attack him earlier than I planned. I’ll let you know.” He had no specific plan to attack dad at the moment, but Henry didn’t need to know that.

Sam stood, stretched. “I feel better.” He was a little surprised that that was true.

“Glad I could help.”

Sam hadn’t said anything about Henry helping, but that was fine. “Thank you for asking.” He said. “Even if it was motivated by selfishness, it was a nice thing to do.”

“Some of us don’t have to make an effort to be nice.”

Smiling, Sam shook his head and headed for the cell door. He didn’t mind that Henry was talking to him like that, really. There was nothing wrong with Henry thinking he was softening Sam up. “You…” Henry started, then trailed off.

“What?”

“I assumed you were going to hurt me, for talking to you that way.”

But even having thought that, Henry had still talked to Sam that way. Sam nearly laughed. “No. You sounded more like me today than you ever have. Consider it a reward. Goodnight, Henry.”

Henry was quiet for a long time, and Sam could practically hear him thinking. “Goodnight, Sam.” He said, finally realizing Sam was waiting.

Sam wondered as he left if he was being too obvious. It seemed like Henry had fallen for it too easily, but surely he couldn’t be that stupid. Surely he knew that Sam was playing with him.

He might have to test soon, try and get Henry to admit what he really thought.

Chapter Text

Sam came with a grunt, twisting Henry’s arm to illicit a nice cry of pain as he did.

When he was finished, he pulled out and pushed Henry to the floor, falling back into a sitting position and wiping at his brow with one arm. They breathed together in silence for a while, until Sam reached out and smacked Henry on the thigh. “Well?”

“Thank you, sir.” Henry said in a small voice.

That was better, but Sam shouldn’t have had to remind him. He sighed. “You’re pathetic.”

“I know.” Henry answered, and Sam just snorted. “You’re energetic today.”

“Am I?” Sam hadn’t noticed, but he thought about it and he supposed he’d been a bit more vigourous than usual with Henry. “I am in a pretty good mood. Actually, it’s making me feel generous. Roll over and touch yourself.”

Henry hesitated in complying, but not for long enough that Sam felt compelled to hurt him over it. He wasn’t very loud about it, which was a bit annoying, but Sam preferred that to Henry faking something, he supposed.

It wasn’t all that interesting to just sit here and listen, though. “What are you thinking about?” Sam asked, pulling Henry’s foot into his lap and fiddling with the toes just because he could. When Henry didn’t answer right away, Sam continued. “Not me, I assume.”

“I’m…not, really.” Henry murmured. At least he didn’t try that particular lie.

“Come on. It’s not a purely mechanical process, you must have something in mind. We’re friends, you can tell me your jerk-off fantasies, Henry. Is it a girl from home? Or maybe it’s Terry. Are you imaging Terry’s cock inside you like the way mine just was?”

“No…”

“Maybe he’s telling you he loves you?”

“No.” Henry whinged, and Sam reflected that he would have to be careful to keep the subject of Terry in his pocket for when he really wanted to upset Henry. He didn’t want it losing its potency.

“Maybe it is me, then.” Sam mused, playing with Henry’s toes. He was pretty sure it would be possible to create a spell that would force someone to feel arousal. He reached out for the Forces, thinking it shouldn’t be that different from making people feel other emotions, which he knew how to do in principle, though he’d never had much occasion to try it out. Most emotional magic was Order-aspected, so he started there. “Are you thinking about doing to me what I do to you?” He asked.

“Of course not.” Henry panted.

“That’s not very convincing.” If the magic didn’t work, then Sam figured at worst he’d make Henry feel some other feeling and he’d know pretty quickly. “I bet you are. You want to rape me, don’t you, Henry? You want to shove me against a wall or the floor, fuck me until I can’t walk, make me bleed and cry?”

“Stop.”

“Or have me on my knees in front of you?” Sam asked, manipulating a thread of power now and feeding it into Henry. “Choke me on your cock, just shove it down my throat. Maybe you’ll pull out and shoot all over my face, then make me say, ‘thank you, sir.’”

“I’m not…” Henry’s breath caught for just an instant. “I’m not.”

“Because you’re really not or because you’re too afraid to?”

“I’m not like you.”

“So you keep saying, but I’m not convinced.” Sam smiled. “But maybe I’m wrong, then. Maybe you’re thinking about me raping you.” Getting the hang of the magic he was using now, Sam really worked it into Henry, and was a rewarded with a sharp intake of breath as he felt something, at least. “Even though it just happened a few minutes ago, you’re thinking about what it felt like to be hurt, to be humiliated, broken. Maybe you like it.”

“I…”

“It’s okay, you can admit it. We’re friends, remember?”

“I don’t!” Henry shouted, and it filled the cell, surprising Sam with its volume.

Into the silence that fell afterwards, Sam smiled. And didn’t say anything.

“I…” Henry was trying to control his breathing. He’d stopped masturbating. “I’m sorry, Sam. I…”

“It’s okay.” Sam chose to overlook the apology, still fiddling with Henry’s toes. He wondered if Henry really needed this many toes. “Do you want to know why I’m in a good mood today?”

“Why?” Henry asked, voice strained.

“Remember Todd?”

The way that Henry tensed told Sam he was already anticipating some of what was to come. “Yeah.”

“We had sex.”

Henry was silent for a moment. “What?”

“You’re supposed to be touching yourself.” Sam reminded him. “I raped him, if you want to be pedantic. He was in my room helping me get ready for bed last night, and of course we’re friends now so he thinks that means he should prattle on all the damn time. He was telling me about some stupid field near his family’s house and how beautiful it was and I just thought that…I would rather be fucking him than listening to him.”

“God…” Henry was stroking himself again, for real this time. The magic must be working. Sam didn’t think he’d tell Henry about the spell. Let him think he was getting off on this all on his own.

“So that’s what I did. He was helping me dress for bed anyway so I told him I needed help with the laces on my pants. He must have seen that I was hard but he got down on his knees anyway to unlace them.” Todd was a bit of an idiot, actually. He’d deserved what Sam had done to him. “I grabbed him by the hair and stuck my cock in his mouth. Told him if he bit me I’d rip his teeth out.” Sam smiled at the memory, getting hard again. “It was, uh.” He giggled a little. “Listening to him gag and choke on it. I liked it. I’d like to try actually choking someone to death like that someday.” It probably wouldn’t work, Sam reflected. He wasn’t really big enough. Still, trying might be fun. Maybe a young kid or something.

“I didn’t mean to cum in his mouth, but I did. He coughed so much after, like he was going to throw up. You never did that.” The sound of flesh on flesh was getting faster. “I threw him on the bed and ripped his clothes and when I was climbing on him to fuck him, he said…” Sam broke off, lost in the memory for a moment. He’d started touching himself without realizing it. “He said ‘no.’”

Henry’s only answer was a soft whimper. Sam strengthened the flow of magic going into him. “Do you understand, Henry, what it is to take away someone’s ‘no?’ It’s the best feeling in the world. Knowing that you don’t want this, you’d stop me if you could. And knowing you can’t, so you’re reduced to hiding behind a word, and then taking even that away from you, it’s…God, it’s amazing. I hurt him so badly after that, Henry. I didn’t even really mean to. I broke his arm holding it behind his back, with my bare hands. I fucked him so hard I could smell the blood. I…”

Henry interrupted Sam with a cry as he came, and Sam could hear the spurts of cum squirting out from him and stopped the flow of magic with a smile. Let Henry wrestle with the guilt of that for a while. “You know what the best part was, though?”

Henry didn’t answer immediately, and Sam could hear him crying quietly. Sam bent one of Henry’s toes far enough out of its rotation to be painful. “I asked you a question.”

“I don’t…I don’t know.” Henry said, his words coming in starts.

“I made him leave after I was done with him and told him what I wanted for breakfast the next morning. And you know, he came back in the morning and gave it to me. He started crying when I told him he seemed quiet and asked if anything was wrong, sort of like how you are now. But when I told him I needed his help lacing up my pants he still got down on his knees and did it for me.”

“God…” Henry whimpered.

“That’s what I like.” Sam said, his hardness almost painful. “I realized that finally. Sex is okay, but I like that, the power. I like that I can do what I want and make you come back to let me do it again the next day if I want to.”

“Why…why are you like this?”

Sam didn’t know. “That’s a bit of a tall question when you just came to me telling you about raping a servant.”

“I…no. I didn’t. I didn’t, Sam. That wasn’t…”

“You’re just like I am, I’ve been trying to tell you.” Sam was pretty sure that everyone was on the inside, and that they all just pretended not to be.

“No.”

“The only difference is that I have the power to go with it and you don’t.”

“That’s not true!”

“Taking a bit of a step backward there, aren’t we?” Sam asked playfully. If this was all it took to get Henry to be more honest with him, Sam should have raped Todd weeks ago.

“I don’t…” Henry cut himself off. “You’re the one who keeps telling me to be honest with you.”

“That’s true. Tell me how you feel, Henry.”

“You’re sick, you’re a monster. You’re nothing like me. I’m nothing like you. Nothing.”

“Hm.”

“I hate you.” Henry cried in a soft voice.

“But you’re still going to let me use you, aren’t you? How very…”

“It’s not worth it.” Henry whispered, interrupting Sam. Sam didn’t like to be interrupted, but he quieted and let Henry talk. “It’s not worth it. I was wrong, it’s not worth becoming like you.”

“And here I thought you were happy to be my plaything.”

“No.” Henry said, voice small. “I can’t. I’m sorry.” He wasn’t talking to Sam anymore.

But this was the most interesting Henry had been in a while. Sam dropped his foot on the floor and crawled on top of Henry, not surprised in the slightest when Henry struggled underneath him. Months in a prison cell had left him weak and Sam was able to keep him pinned without the use of his magic. “No!”

“Henry.” Sam whispered, positioning himself awkwardly since Henry wouldn’t stop moving underneath him. He leaned down and got right in Henry’s ear as he prepared to enter him. “You have no idea how much I’ve been wanting you to say that.”

Henry screamed and cried and cursed and said it over and over and over. No, no. no.

And Sam revelled in taking that ‘no’ away from him.

Chapter Text

Later, Sam would tell people that he just hadn’t felt like passing the butter.

Breakfast was quiet, like most things that he and his father shared. Solomon didn’t talk to his inferiors any more than he had to, and Sam—like all of them—was very much an inferior. Maybe more so, since dad at least had Sam’s siblings out doing useful things instead of hanging around the castle here, but honestly it was hard to tell. Sam was the youngest, so maybe in a year or so he’d get sent away somewhere too.

All that said to Sam was that dad was afraid to have too many other sorcerers around him at any given time.

They were seated at a small round table in the dining room, a cavernous, drafty room with tall windows that let in the outside air, that volcanic air that always smelled just a little like sulphur. There was no wind today and the hot morning air hung heavy in the room. The little clatters of tableware being moved, the shuffling of servants along one of the walls, the faintest sound of dad’s breathing and the chewing of food were Sam’s company as he ate. Those, and the constant high thrum of dad’s power, and the different frequency of the stone that he always had with him, both of which made Sam’s power want to react in kind.

Sam knew better.

It would end eventually. Dad hadn’t called Sam down here for bacon and toast. Usually Sam ate by himself in his room, and for that matter, so did dad. He must want something from Sam.

Or maybe he just wanted Sam to feel anxious, it could be either, really.

“There’s a scouting party on the way here.” Sam raised his head at the baritone of dad’s voice, trying not to seem startled. He’d expected dad to talk, he really had. Some grease from the bacon was on Sam’s chin and he reached up and wiped if off.

That was all dad said, and Sam listened very carefully to the silence afterwards, interpreting expectation from it. He wanted a response. “Sent from where?” he asked, with no way to intuit what the right question was.

“Hawk’s Roost.”

“Well, that’s interesting,” Sam said, considering.

“Is it?” There was a tilt of amusement in dad’s voice.

Sam wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say to that either. That a scouting party had come from the capital had seemed objectively interesting to him. “Isn’t it? It’s the first time they’ve worked up the nerve to even acknowledge we’re here.”

“That it is.” There was a pause and Sam heard a slurp as dad drank some water. A tap as he set the cup down. “It’s being led by Hans diFueure.” That was the king’s family name from before he’d married into the diGorre family, Sam remembered. Lord Hans must have been Dolph’s brother or an uncle or nephew.

“He’d be useful.” Sam didn’t elaborate much farther than that. He didn’t think hostages were really all that useful—alive. That their families thought they were alive was good enough, but why waste time and resources taking care of someone when they could tell all their secrets under a hot iron?

But Sam and his father weren’t entirely in agreement about that, so he kept quiet, reaching for his own cup. It wasn’t quite where he’d thought it was and he only brushed it with his fingers, adjusting his grip before dad could notice.

Dad always noticed. But he didn’t say anything.

“That’s what I think too,” dad agreed, and Sam wondered or a moment if he’d misheard. Dad didn’t usually agree with him—especially when he was right. “I’m going to send you home with him.”

“What?” That took Sam so acutely by surprise that he didn’t have the mental capacity to be polite just then. A little water sloshed out onto his hand. Dad’s power thrummed. The power in the stone thrummed more keenly in response. The air smelled like sulphur and bacon.

“I said you’ll be going to Hawk’s Roost with Lord Hans. You’ll leave today, make as if you escaped, offer him whatever information you like to convince him to take you to his lovely home. Herbert will go with you.”

Herbert was the guard captain, a recent promotion. He was also the one dad had liked to threaten Sam with as a kid. Sam had always known he would go through with whatever dad told him to.

Needless to say, he didn’t miss the threat inherent.

“Once you’re there, you’ll infiltrate their court—play the sad lost orphan, escaped blind boy from your evil father. Acting pathetic should play to your few strengths. Eventually I’ll send you my signal and you’ll kill all of them.” Dad sounded bored. The stone pulsed in his pocket. Sam’s heartbeat had picked up.

“How…” Sam didn’t like this feeling—the feeling that he wasn’t keeping up.

“I expect you’ll figure out a way, son,” dad drawled. His chair creaked a little. “You haven’t forgotten that you’re a sorcerer in all your time downstairs, have you? Even you ought to be strong enough to kill a few ordinary people.”

“How,” Sam repeated, and this time dad didn’t interrupt him, “am I going to get back?”

“That’s hardly my problem. If you survive the encounter I’m sure you’ll manage.” The doubt in dad’s voice was as palpable as the pounding of power in the air around them. Sam’s power was reacting to it, and he wasn’t containing it as well as he should have been. “Oh,” dad added. “I’m going to have that pet of yours killed, since you’re leaving anyway.”

“No.” As soon as he said it Sam clamped his mouth shut, blood rushing in his ears, making them hot. The air smelled like sweat and sulphur.

“Excuse me?” Dad’s voice was filled with the iron that Sam could taste in his mouth.

Sam had to say something now. “I’ll do it,” he improvised. “I’ll kill him, I’ll do it. Let me do it, please, sir.”

Henry. Henry was his. Sam’s things had always been taken away or broken. He wanted to keep Henry. If Henry was going to die, Sam was going to do it.

“No, I don’t think so. You’re too enamoured of him. I don’t trust you not to let him escape or some foolish fantasy—I expect you’ve built him up in your mind as some saviour for you. Best to get rid of that notion now, I think. I’ll have one of the guards feed him to the centipedes.”

“No, dad, please…” Sam hated this. Hated how stupid he sounded. He didn’t care about Henry. This wasn’t about Henry.

“Is there something wrong with your hearing, Samson?” dad asked kindly. “It would be a shame if you were to have to go without that too.”

“Go without?” Sam whispered, sagging a little. His power was running amok all over his body, sending shards of electricity through his limbs at random. He knew dad could feel it, his own power was throbbing more quickly in response. The stone seemed to be vibrating. “I’m not…there’s nothing wrong with me.”

The only thing about being blind that bothered Sam was that everyone wanted to remind him of it all the time.

“Sit down, son. Your breakfast is getting cold.”

Sam hadn’t realized that he’d stood. He stayed like that for a moment longer, hands on the table to hide how much they were shaking. This was too much, all at once. Dad always did this, always made it hard for him to concentrate.

“I said sit down, boy.”

Small, shaking, Sam sat.

And he hated himself for it.

“That’s better. It’s clear I’ve been letting you have too much free time. You seem to have forgotten your place all of the sudden.”

He could hear the servants shuffling in the background. They were trying to be quiet, but he knew they were there. They had heard that entire thing.

“Know that I’ll be keeping an eye on you while you’re gone,” dad continued. “If you don’t carry out the task I’ve given you properly, I’ll correct the mistake I made when you were born. Pass the butter.”

Surely he couldn’t really be shaking this much. Sam felt like he was sitting through an earthquake. His tongue was sticking to the top of his mouth. Sam reached for the butter.

It wasn’t where he’d left it. He ended up knocking on the table right where he’d put the little bowl a few minutes ago when he’d finished using it.

Sam moved his hand around that area, bumping up against his plate, the dish holding the bacon, a pitcher. No butter.

“Something the matter, son?”

Sam went still, hand flat on the table. The itch of his power under his skin was almost painful. The stone was keening in dad’s pocket. Dad’s power was pulsing. The sound of hush had flooded into the room. The air smelled like butter.

The table cracked under Sam’s hand as his power came rushing forth all at once, Chaos-aspected, crawling its way up from his stomach to explode out in front of him with a snap. The table cracked in half and flew apart. Dad flew back and hit the wall with a dull thud. One of the servants shouted out.

Sam stood.

Power hummed all around the room now, from Sam, from dad, from the stone. Dad coughed. “Looks like someone needs to be taught a lesson,” he said, sounding on the verge of laughter. He was a giant, far more powerful than Sam. Sam had no hope.

“No,” Sam said, taking a step forward before his father could stand. “I think I’ve learned everything I need to from you, dad.”

Sam had never needed hope before. Dad had spent his whole life killing that.

Sam reached out, with his hand but with his power, seizing on that keening thing in Solomon’s pocket. The stone flew loose, coming towards him.

And stopped, pulled back by an opposite power. “I don’t think so.” Solomon was getting to his feet, his voice coming from higher up now. They were a few arm lengths apart, unless Solomon had managed to move the table itself without Sam noticing.

“I didn’t ask what you thought.” Sam wasn’t shaking any longer. He wasn’t afraid. He was far beyond fear now. Either he was going to win or he was going to die.

If he died, it would be with the satisfaction that he’d ruined Solomon’s plan, at least.

He put all of his power into pulling that stone towards him. It was a powerful weapon, one that made any sorcerer who touched it much stronger all at once. Sam didn’t have a chance as long as Solomon had access to it.

Solomon pulled back, and he was stronger than Sam even without the stone. But Sam wasn’t going to back down, he couldn’t. Solomon wouldn’t be willing to risk his life, he wasn’t like that. But Sam, Sam’s entire life was already on the table right now. So he opened himself up to his power as strongly as he could, to both Forces, using both of them to pull the stone closer. If it killed him then he deserved to die.

“You fool boy,” Solomon snarled at him, still pulling back. Still winning. “You have no idea. You don’t know anything.”

“I know you’re afraid of me,” Sam said, taking a step forward. Their tug-of-war was sending shocks of magic through the room, shaking the stones.

Solomon barked a laugh. “Afraid of you? You’re worthless. Why should anyone fear you?”

“Then why didn’t you kill me when I was a baby?” Sam asked, calmly. This wasn’t working; Solomon was pulling harder than he was. Another reverberation of power went out and one of the servants cried out in pain. The air smelled like blood.

“I thought I could find some use for you.” Solomon sounded strained, but not as much as Sam did. He had to do something. “The biggest mistake of my life.”

“I’ll make sure it is,” Sam promised. The stone, he thought. He needed the stone to win this. But he couldn’t get the stone unless he won this.

Unless he could. It was crying out, a near-shriek of power that rivalled Solomon’s in volume. But the power of the stone was acting the same way the power of a human would act.

Sam split his focus a little, still pulling with all his might, but turning inward as well, to his own power. Stopping the crawling and spiking it wanted to do and wrestling it to behave differently. To vibrate, like the stone.

Would it work? Sam didn’t know. But it was his only chance.

“You wouldn’t even know what to do with this stone if you did get your sticky hands on it.” Solomon gave a huge pull, and it was all Sam could do to keep from letting go. The vibrations from his power were filling his ears now, those and his own heartbeat.

“What I want to know,” Sam asked, feeling his pull grow weaker as he put too much of his energy into changing the frequency of his magic, “is what you would have done if you’d actually managed to bind it to me when I was born like you wanted to. You’re so scared of me now, I don’t know what you’d have done if I was that powerful all my childhood.” The stone was vibrating at less of a screech now, deepening in tone. It was starting to sound like Sam.

The stone had never sounded like Solomon.

Solomon’s snort was audible. “You think you can distract me with some worthless prattle? I see what you’re doing—trying to distract me because you know you’re not strong enough to finish what you started.”

“What you started.” Sam corrected, tasting blood in his mouth. His arms felt like they were aflame. The stone was pulsing again, in addition to the vibrations. It was…beating. It was beating just like Sam’s heart.

“Yes, what I started, boy,” Solomon raged. “What I started before you were born, my plan—to change the world, to rule the world, to be a god, boy. My plan, my power. Nearly thirty years in the making now, and you think I’ll be undone by some child who doesn’t want to give up his favourite toy?”

While Solomon was ranting, Sam was listening to his own heartbeat. The stone was getting farther and farther away, it must be just inches from Solomon’s hand now. But it sounded like Sam, it felt like Sam.

So Sam reached out along that line of sympathy and grabbed, not with his power but with something else, something that was him.

And the stone grabbed back.

Solomon’s hold over the stone broke immediately and it flew into Sam’s hand, which clasped over the warm rock even as a scratching, crawling fire cast through Sam’s entire soul and psyche, searing him and sending him to the ground in a cavalcade of surges, cacophonous blasts in Sam’s head that went on into infinity, and the Forces were there, and they were there, in a way they never had been before, in a way that wasn’t extrinsic but was part of Sam, not something that Sam could touch but something that Sam was. And it was so much that what Sam was threatened to get lost in the maelstrom.

I refuse to get lost, Sam asserted, putting everything he had into staying afloat in all of it. Trying to do this killed everyone who tried. He hadn’t come this far to die in some sorcerous fire. He hadn’t touched the sun so that it could burn him alive. He hadn’t. He wouldn’t. He wasn’t everyone, He was Sam, and he was a king, and a king didn’t die because he’d put on a new crown.

Sam stood.

The air smelled like power.

Somewhere, deep in the fortress, a thin membrane of Chaos frayed until the unruly ball of Order inside it broke free. And a door creaked open.

“No…” Sam heard Solomon whisper over the torrent rushing in his ears.

Sam smiled. “Dad,” he said. The stone was hard in his left palm. “I’ve recently come to realize that’s my favourite word to hear from anyone.”

“That’s impossible!” Solomon insisted. And now, now he sounded afraid. “I tried, when you were a baby. It failed—you failed.”

“Babies aren’t very good at magic.” Sam took a step forward, feeling out this new power. The servants against the far wall.

In a series of shrieks that were cut off all at once, suddenly there were several less people in the room.

Sam had barely even thought about what he wanted. “You probably should have thought of that,” he said, turning his attention back to Solomon. “You could have tried binding it to yourself, you know. But, of course—you were too afraid.”

“You…” And Solomon’s power surged, massively from what it had been. He’d been toying earlier, not putting his everything into stopping Sam. Well, he was going to regret that now. “Power’s not enough, Samson. I’m still a better sorcerer than you’ll ever be.”

“Sure you are,” Sam scoffed. He took a step forward. “The Sorcerer King. Not anymore. I’m the king now.”

“The king of what, boy?” Solomon’s attack was unexpected, and Sam staggered but was able to deflect the spear of flame that shot up from the ground, leaving the stone around him molten. “What do you know of ruling? What do you know of what we’re doing here? What can you accomplish?”

“Your plan, your power, to rule the world, to be a god.” Sam sneered, lashed out and felt Solomon flinch back, hiding behind a shield. “I’m going to destroy everything you ever built, daddy. I’m going to tear it all apart. That’ll be my accomplishment. Don’t worry, I’ll dedicate the ruins to your memory. Here stands the pride of Solomon, King of Rubble.”

“That all? You want to destroy everything? How very ambitious of you, you fool boy.”

“I haven’t decided what to do after that,” Sam admitted. “But I’ve got a lot of time to figure it out.”

“Assuming you live to see lunch.”

“Right.” Sam smiled now. He wasn’t afraid. “Let’s get the succession sorted out now. I’ve got a coronation to plan.”

Solomon snorted, and Sam felt a spike of Order. “Here’s your crown.”

A crack, and everything above Sam was noise, and it took him just a second longer than it should have to realize that he needed a shield of his own. He snapped one up, a bubble of Chaos, just as the roof collapsed on his head.

Sam was safe inside his bubble, at least from the tonne of rock on top of him. But the small space quickly filled with dust, and then Sam couldn’t breathe. Bringing a hand up to cover his mouth and stop the burning in his lungs, Sam lashed out with Chaos and shoved the stone away. There was so much of it but Sam pushed and pushed, and kept pushing until it gave way, until it was gone and the dust lifted, giving him some clean air to breathe.

He could still feel it in his lungs, but Sam could move and that was what mattered, He pushed rocks out of the way and made his way clear of the pile, trying not to stagger. He tripped over a loose stone and fell to the ground with a shout. As he hit the ground, a pulse of power went out form him unbidden, knocking everything aside and shifting the piles of mortar, covering him in dust again.

He needed time, and practice, before he’d be able to control this properly. Solomon wasn’t entirely wrong—there was more to winning that just power.

Solomon was gone, and when Sam got some of his concentration back, he felt the remnants of a teleportation spell in the air. For a moment he felt a spike of anger that threw a shudder through the castle, but he could feel the spell, feel where it went.

Daddy hadn’t gone far.

Forcing himself to his feet again, Sam took deep breaths to encourage the dust to get out of his lungs and into the air where it belonged, and took a step forward, and then another.

He wasn’t oriented anymore, didn’t know where the door was. So he blew a hole in the wall and made his way out to the hallway.

It wasn’t far. From the door it was fifty-three steps, a left turn, nine stairs, a right turn, twenty-three steps and then a pair of doors. Sam needed a few days, a few weeks to get used to his new strength, to the stone in his hand and the way it had changed his power. But all he had was the route from here to his destination.

He took his first step and started counting.

On his way there, Sam did his best to feel out his power, to try and get a hold of it. He wasn’t going to beat Solomon by just tossing it around at random; he needed to think. He needed to have the level of control he’d had before now. He couldn’t get that in the next ten minutes, but he could at least try.

The castle was loud—there was fighting in the halls, Sam realized. Groups of guards were moving around and it seemed like they were fighting with each other. Which meant Solomon had told them to stop Sam and some of them didn’t fancy being torn to pieces.

The only people Sam tore to pieces were the ones who got in his way, which was more of them than there should have been. The stairs in particular were a site of a lot of fighting. The blood after Sam walked in the room made them slippery and treacherous to walk down. Swords and crossbows and axes cluttered the floor alongside the bodies.

Sam was tired, but by the time he’d arrived at the doors, he could breathe again, at least. There was nobody around so he let himself rest against the wall for a minute, regaining some energy.

He should have eaten more at breakfast.

As stable as he was going to be, Sam swallowed and pushed open the doors to the throne room.

The room was filled with the thrum of power, such that Sam almost didn’t hear the clatter of armour and of wood, the pulling of strings.

“Fire.” But it was too late, Sam had already reached out his power before Herbert had called out the order. He sent a series of explosions through the room, sufficient to wipe out whatever portion of the guard had been stupid enough to keep standing for Solomon up there on the throne.

The explosions sounded a lot closer than they should have, and the power in them rebounded onto Sam, who had to guard himself at the last second. “What?”

“I told you it’s not about power, Samson,” Solomon said from the back of the room. “Pay attention to your surroundings.”

Sam did, taking a breath as the ringing in his ears stopped. The throne room was a hundred paces long, uncomplicated but for four columns, two on either side of the room. Ten paces in, a magical circle began, and it covered the rest of the room right up to where Solomon was sitting.

It was so complex that Sam couldn’t possibly have comprehended it all at once without hours to study it, but what was obvious was that all of the guards were standing inside of it, and that the centre of its defence was the throne itself. Sam giggled. “You didn’t make this up on the fly, dad. You had this prepared for when someone eventually came to get you. You were even more afraid than I thought.”

“I think the keyword there is ‘prepared,’ son,” Solomon sneered from the throne. He had a way of sneering with his voice. “You’d have been better to retreat, plan a proper attack, come back when you were ready.” He paused. “I knew you wouldn’t. You’ve always been stupid.”

Sam threw an experimental lance of fire into the centre of the room, fully prepared to block it when a ball of energy came rebounding back at him. The circle was a mixture of the two Forces and had countless openings, to let power in, to divert it across the channels Solomon had created, and to bounce it back.

And all the guards had to do was stand inside it and shoot arrows at Sam, which is exactly what they did. Sam constructed a shield to keep them out, but this standstill couldn’t last forever. Sam didn’t have the energy for it.

An intersecting hallway just at the top of the stairs had had a lot of guards fighting in it. Sam remembered it, flexed his new power, cast a teleportation spell.

One of the guards showed up in pieces, but the rest seemed fine, if disoriented. Pretty good for a spell Sam had never cast before. “Whichever of you kills Herbert will be the new captain of my guard.”

Sam didn’t know what side these particular guards had chosen, but that didn’t matter anymore. “Oh, and those of you who decided to stay loyal to daddy—I’ll be giving your families to the ones I like as rewards.”

It was kind of pitiful how quickly chaos erupted then, weapons clashing, men shouting and bleeding, dying. The circle Solomon had put up didn’t stop people walking into it, especially people without magical powers. An odd oversight after Terry and Henry had managed to get so close to him last year.

“Well played, Samson,” Solomon called over the fighting.

“People are cowards,” Sam said, thinking. He had to break down this spell circle, but he couldn’t find an opening that wouldn’t have his power thrown back at him. “Make them afraid and they’ll do what you say.”

Solomon laughed. “Perhaps. Sam, it’s not too late—stop this. There’s no reason for us to fight, and if we united, we’d be unstoppable. You can keep your pet in the dungeon—hell, you can have more of them if that’s what you want. Work with me, together we can…”

“That’s the best you can do?” Sam asked, bored. Spell circles could be broken by physically breaking them, Sam thought. But he couldn’t get any magic through the barrier. Unless he cast it on somewhere that wasn’t the within the barrier. “Some pitiful appeal to family bonds and togetherness?” The door behind him creaked just so, just enough that Sam heard it over the fighting.

“I’m offering you everything in the world!”

“I don’t need you to take that.” Sam smiled. “And all I want is to hear you beg me not to kill you.”

“Your lack of ambition…” Sam wasn’t listening. Under the floor, in the room below, Sam weakened the stone supporting the front two columns. Suddenly sinking, they wobbled, tilted, and fell, one into the group of now rapidly fleeing guards and the other colliding with a third pillar and tilting it as well.

He heard a crack up above, but what did Sam care if the ceiling fell in again? He’d survived that the first time. He could feel crawling on his back, but it was fine. He knew it was fine.

“You call me the king of rubble, but you’ll destroy this whole castle to get to me!” Solomon shouted. “You’re pathetic, boy.”

Parts of the barrier were still up, but much of the front layers had collapsed. Rather than moving, Sam levitated the rubble and tossed it at Solomon. “Am I? You’re the one cowering on his throne. What should I care about something you built?”

The rubble crashed into a solid barrier a few feet in front of Solomon, and Sam smiled. So he had built in a protective wall after all. But it felt like the worst of the magical barrier was gone, so now it was Sam’s time to attack.

And he did, reaching out with a stream of power that was aimed right at his father’s heart.

Solomon reached back and they were in another tug of war, which shouldn’t have been anywhere near even but was with the remnants of Solomon’s shields up rebounding a portion of Sam’s magic back at him, forcing him to defend himself at the same time as he was attacking. Still, he persisted, putting as much of himself as he could manage into his assault, forcing Solomon to put everything into defending, into relying on his spell circle to eventually save him.

Forcing him not to pay attention to the naked, emaciated young prisoner who’d snuck into the room behind Sam and snuck closer to the throne, holding a crossbow that he’d picked up off the floor outside.

Sam heard the snap and a gasp from Solomon, and the barrier disappeared.

And Sam giggled. “Thanks, Henry.”

“You…” Henry sounded distant. The fighting in the rest of the room, what was left of it, had stopped. “Don’t pretend you planned it this way.”

Sam hadn’t, though he had made sure to show Henry where the barrier started so he’d know how close to get. “I was curious when I heard you come in. If you’d point it at me or dad. I knew I could trust you to do the right thing.” Sam reached out and felt Henry with his magic, felt the crossbow. And he knocked it aside, lest it accidentally get fired off again.

A ball of fire shot towards Henry from the throne, and Sam reached out a hand with a small shout, pushing Henry back to avoid it. It hit the wall and dissipated.

“You’re pathetic, daddy,” Sam said, inexplicably angry as he picked his way across the rubble carefully and climbed up to the throne. Solomon was still breathing, rasps that were already growing shorter. Sam wondered where Henry had hit him.

“You couldn’t…even kill me,” Solomon managed. “You had to…get your toy to do it.”

“And you got your guards to hide behind a shield to shoot me while you hid behind them,” Sam reminded him. “And you spent years terrorizing a child who couldn’t fight back because you could. Well, now you can’t fight back.”

A surge of magic and Sam prepared for an attack, but that wasn’t what it was, and he reached out as soon as he noticed and seized Solomon’s power, overwhelming it with a flow of Chaos that banished all other magic and cancelled the teleportation spell. “No, I don’t think so. You don’t get a strategic retreat. You don’t get to run and hide in a hole. You’re done now.” He put his hand on dad’s chest, moving it around, looking for the bolt Henry had shot into him.

“You’ll never maintain power.” Solomon’s voice was fading. “They’ll kill you within a year. If you don’t kill yourself throwing that power around before you know what it is.”

Rocks shifted as Henry made his way up the steps, but Sam ignored him, found the bolt. Twisted it. “I’m going to take everything you built, everything you spent all that time on, and I’m going to drive it all into the ground. Don’t worry, you’re not going to live to see it. I’m not stupid. You should be grateful, I’m not even going to torture you. You’re just going to die, here on the chair that you built for yourself. And then I’m going to take it. I think Henry wants to give you some prattling speech about justice before you go, too.”

There was silence for just a moment. “You deserve a lot worse than that,” Henry said finally. “You got a lot better than you gave to my parents.”

Solomon laughed while Sam tried not to sigh. It would be a shame to ruin this nice moment for Henry. “You speak as if I should remember your parents, boy. Like as not they were just peasants, just in the way. If they’d stayed quiet and obeyed, they’d have been fine.”

“They were the Lord and Lady Arkhewer!” Henry’s voice hitched. “You burned them alive because they wouldn’t cede land to you. And my sister…” He broke off, crying.

Solomon laughed one more time. “All of this, for him, Samson?”

“We’re friends.” Sam smiled, even though Henry was being stupid. “I’m past having to explain anything to you, Solomon. I’m the king, now.”

“You’re nothing,” Solomon spat.

Sam reached up, put his hands around his dad’s neck. “I’m the king,” he repeated.

“No matter how much you say it, it won’t be true.”

“Say it,” Sam said, tightening his grip. “Say I’m the king, dad.”

“I’ll see you hell, son.”

“Say it!” Sam demanded, squeezing, squeezing. “Say I’m the king!”

But Solomon didn’t. He didn’t say anything, going limp in Sam’s hands.

“He’s dead,” Henry said quietly beside him.

“I know that.” Sam sighed, annoyed. He straightened, turned to Henry, acutely aware that Henry could see him now. Normally that didn’t bother him. “Congratulations, you completed your mission.” He put his hands awkwardly on Henry’s shoulders, not used to them both standing up. Henry was taller than him.

“It’s empty,” Henry reported, voice changing. “I thought it would feel like something. But it doesn’t.”

“It will, once it sets in.” Sam pulled Henry close, turned him to he was facing Solomon’s body, and gave him a push to he stumbled forward and had to brace himself on the arms of the throne. And Sam undid his pants.

“Your majesty!” One of the guards called out from below. Sam could hear rustling. “Your loyal guards have won the battle. We pledge our loyalty to you.”

“Just a minute.” Sam called down, pushing into Henry, who let him in with a whimper. “Don’t close your eyes,” he said, as he thrust. “Look down at him. You did that. This is what you wanted, Henry. And you got it. You’re welcome.”

“It’s…you’re just as bad.”

“Worse, probably.” Sam smiled. “But at least you’re out of the dungeon. You’ll have a whole castle to explore. Think of what we can do now that we’re both free of him.”

“I should have shot you.”

“But you didn’t.” Sam had been honestly unsure of what Henry would do. The room smelled like fear and death. “I’m glad. Now we can be together. At least for as long as you’ll last.”

“I…I…” Henry started crying again. He’d been doing a lot of that lately.

“You should be happy, Henry,” Sam chided, feeling his orgasm build already. Good thing, with how tired he was. “It’s a day for celebration. You know what they say. The king is dead. Long live the king.”

Chapter Text

“The masons say it will take them two months to complete the repairs to the castle…”

“I want it done in two weeks,” Sam interrupted.

“Your Majesty, I’m not sure they can do that.” Sam didn’t know if Benny always sounded so nervous or if he was made nervous by Sam. He hadn’t been too nervous to beat the old master of servants to death with a candlestick a few days ago.

“I’m sure they can if they try.” Sam smiled. “Have their children brought in to the castle to watch the construction. I have a feeling that will make them work faster.”

“Yes, your Majesty. Um, a lot of the guards were killed in the fighting.”

“I know that.” Sam made a left turn. Two more turns and a door, a hundred and nine steps, and he’d be at his bedroom. His new bedroom. It wasn’t as familiar a walk as the one he was used to. “I killed some of them.”

“Yes, your Majesty. The guard captain says they don’t have enough people any more.”

“I’m sure they can go recruiting in the nearby towns.” Sam shook his head. He hadn’t realized that being king meant he was going to have to do everything by himself. People really were too stupid to live their own lives, honestly. “There must be plenty of people who’d be happy to get a sword and some steady pay.” And stupid enough not to realize that their families would be used as collateral if they took those things.

“I’ll tell them, your Majesty.”

“The old guard—are any of them still hanging on?”

Benny paused for a moment. “I believe two of them still are, your Majesty.”

“I should pay them a visit.” Sam didn’t really care. He’d had any guards who had fought for dad and lived nailed to the walls of the castle, along with dad’s body and those of a few others in the castle he didn’t like. There were lots of people around; he wasn’t too worried about a few who weren’t going to live much longer.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Have you found my brother and sister yet?”

“Um…” That Benny didn’t say anything more was answer enough.

Sam sighed. “If you’re not going to use your tongue, I can always take it out for you.” There were plenty of servants here who’d be happy to take the role of master of servants, Sam was sure.

“Nobody knows where they are, your Majesty!” The words came out a tumble. “There are no records of where your—of where Solomon sent them. He must have been the only one who knew.”

Sam felt frustration tug at his throat, and there was a crack nearby, power fluttering in response. It was still new, this power that came from being bonded with the stone. He’d broken a lot of things by accident. “Well, I guess that gives you something to do, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“I want them to come back here so we can reunite. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them.” Sam had cells prepared for them in the dungeons, special ones that he’d cast spells on to restrain any magic.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

Didn’t he know how to say anything else? “You’re boring. Go away.”

“Yes, your Majesty.” Benny paused again. “But…”

“What?” Irritated now, Sam took a breath. The hallways still smelled faintly like the blood that had stained them a week ago.

“What about the woman, your Majesty?”

Sam didn’t answer, just kept walking. Benny was smart enough to stay quiet.

They reached the doors of Sam’s bedroom and he put a hand on the handle, pushing it open. “I haven’t decided yet,” he said finally. “Henry.”

“I’m right here.”

Sam knew that Henry was right there—he’d been told to wait in the room. “What do you think I should do about—what’s her name?”

“Daisy.”

“About Daisy.” Sam sneered her name. The woman they’d found in dad’s room after the fight.

The pregnant woman they’d found in dad’s room.

It had been Henry who’d convinced Sam not to eviscerate her on the spot.

“What do I think?” Henry repeated, dumbly.

“Yes, that’s what I said—you’re the one who wanted her kept alive. Do you still want that? Or have you changed your mind?” When Henry didn’t answer, Sam sighed, sweeping into the room. He put his hand out in the direction of where he knew there would be a wooden chair and sat in it. “Here—I promise that I’ll do whatever you think is best when it comes to her, okay? Just tell me what you think.”

Sam had to admit, he was glad he’d let Henry beg him not to do it. The idea of taking that baby—dad’s baby, Sam’s sibling, was appealing. He hadn’t decided if he wanted to raise it or not, but it would have been a shame to just kill it before it could be born.

“I think…” Henry’s voice was dull, and it seemed a lot quieter above ground than it had in the dungeons. “You shouldn’t kill her. She hasn’t done anything to you and neither has the baby.”

Sam couldn’t help but smile a little. There were things about Henry that really hadn’t changed—yet. “Okay. You heard Henry, Benny. Make sure she’s taken care of. And I want to know when the baby’s born.”

Sorcerers did need clans, after all. Maybe he would keep the baby alive.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Get out,” Sam said, tired of him. “I don’t want to hear you until tomorrow.” He didn’t really want to hear from Benny ever again—it was exhausting, having to spend half his day deciding stupid things like who the new head chef was going to be. Why should Sam care?

“Yes, your Majesty.” And Sam heard that, so Benny wasn’t very good at following orders. But Sam didn’t bother punishing him for that now—he had a feeling he’d get annoyed and kill Benny in the next day or so. But if he did it here, there’d be blood all over the room and he’d have to put up with servants coming in to clean it up.

The door closed behind Benny, and Sam sighed. “Being the king is a lot of work.”

Henry didn’t answer that.

“Maybe I can get you to make all the stupid decisions,” Sam continued, tapping a finger on the arm of the wooden chair. “You know me well enough to know what kind of decisions I’d make, right?” He smiled. “I’m sure if I can trust you not to shoot me with a crossbow, I can trust you not to turn my castle into something I’d hate.”

“Yeah,” Henry muttered. “I guess you can.”

He managed to fit so much self-loathing into those five words. It was delightful to hear. “I don’t understand why you’re so unhappy, Henry.” Sam stretched out his shoulders. “This is what we wanted, isn’t it? Dad’s dead, I’m king, you’re out of the dungeon. The bed in here must be a lot more comfortable than the stone floor down there.” It was actually a little soft for Sam’s liking.

Henry made a little noise, but didn’t say anything.

“I can’t read your mind, Henry,” Sam reminded him.

“This isn’t…” Henry trailed off, and Sam patiently waited for him to pick it back up. “Why are you pretending so hard?”

“Pretending, am I?” Sam asked, giggling a little. He stood from the chair, made his way to the bed, where he lay down. “What am I pretending?”

“That I care. You know I hate you—and you made sure I wasn’t afraid to say it out loud.”

“Did I?”

“It’s not like you can do anything worse to me that what you’ve already done,” Henry said, quietly. “There’s no point in me holding back any more.”

“Hm.” Sam had a feeling that wasn’t true. He had ideas. “Snakes have to shed their skin every so often, you know. It’s healthy, for them to get rid of what they used to be like that.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Now that you’re not trapped in the dungeon it’ll be much easier for me to help you shed your skin, Henry. You already have—we both have, I guess—but you should again. I should have known you’d be too stupid to see it as a good thing, though. Don’t worry, I’ll help.”

“I don’t want your help.”

“Going to sit there and plot to escape now?” Sam asked him. “Get away from the new Sorcerer King? Or maybe kill me, which you’d better do if you plan to run and get anywhere.” A search of Henry’s cell afterwards hadn’t turned up the knife Sam had left down there ages ago. “Except you’ve been sleeping in my bed for a week now and you haven’t even thought about putting the pillow over my face, have you?”

“I…of course I have. But you’d stop me.”

“I would,” Sam agreed. “Well, keep trying. We’ll make it a game. You try to figure out a way to kill me. I’ll be making you into what I want you to be in the meantime. We’ll see which of us gets what we want.”

Except if Henry had so much as considered putting a pillow over Sam’s face while he slept rather than facing him in honourable combat, then Sam had already won.

Henry snorted. “And what, in the meantime you’ll just keep pretending that we’re best friends?”

“Henry, I’m insulted,” Sam said to the ceiling. “You can pretend you don’t care about me, but don’t ignore how much I care about you.” Nobody have ever interested Sam the way Henry did.

“You…” Henry cut himself off. With an audible sigh, he came over to the bed and sat opposite Sam. “You’re insane.”

“I wonder.” Sam did, sometimes. “I think now that we’re out in the real world, you’ll learn to appreciate me a lot more, Henry.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You’re lucky that your stubbornness is something that I find attractive in you. Come here.” Henry did as he was told, and that itself was the only reason Sam had asked him to do it. He crawled across the bed, sitting beside Sam. Sam pulled him down onto his back, and put his head on Henry’s shoulder. Clothed now, sadly. He hadn’t wanted people to have that kind of access to Henry. “You’re going to be my bodyguard starting tomorrow,” he told Henry. “You can stand beside the throne with your sword and be all intimidating. I think you’ll like it.”

“You afraid someone’s going to try and kill you?” Henry asked.

“No. But it just seems proper, and it will give you something to do. I’m having a guest soon. Lord Hans DiFueure. He’s on his way to the castle to visit dad.”

“Don’t kill him.”

“Hm.” Sam smiled. “See, if you want me to do things like that, you’re going to have to give a little ground too, Henry. Life’s a compromise.”

Henry didn’t say anything for a long time. “What do you want? Not saying I’m going to do it, just…”

Sam had a feeling that it would never cease to be cute that Henry thought he wasn’t going to do something that Sam wanted him to. “Benny.”

“You want Benny?”

“I want you to kill Benny,” Sam clarified.

“What…”

“I’m going to kill him anyway. If you do it for me, I’ll let Lord Hans live. Plus, you know I’ll kill him painfully. If you do it, I’m sure you’ll go out of your way to make sure it’s humane and painless. It’s a win-win for you, really.”

Henry was silent for a long time again.

“Well?”

“I…”

Sam smiled.

“I can’t,” Henry said quietly. “I can’t just murder someone like that.”

“You murdered dad.”

“That was different.”

“Not really.” Sam sighed, nestled a little into Henry. “Okay. You’re still new to this, so I’ll think of something else and let you know.”

“What, really?” Henry paused for a second. “I’m not stupid. You’re going to think up something worse and then tell me it’s my fault when you kill Hans.”

“I guess we’ll find out when we get there, won’t we?” Sam asked, taking one of Henry’s hands in his. “If Benny dies between now and then, you won’t have to find out.”

“I’m not.”

“Okay.”

Henry hadn’t sounded as confident that time as he had before, Sam noticed. He should be bored, playing a game that he’d already won, but he wasn’t, not at all. This was going to be fun.

Chapter Text

It didn’t seem to matter how many cushions Sam had put on his throne, it stayed just as uncomfortable as it had been the first time he’d sat down on it.

Still, kings didn’t squirm, so neither did he, even as he thought about getting a new chair made. This one was dad’s anyway. As much as Sam liked the idea of ruling from the throne Solomon had died in, he wasn’t sure his back could handle it.

But that wasn’t going to happen today. Sam sat straight, hands rested on the arms of the throne, as Lord Hans was led into the hastily-repaired throne room. The number of footfalls said he hadn’t come alone, which Sam had expected. There were some nice spells around the door that, if Hans’s friends happened to be magic practitioners, would react automatically to put a stop to that. He could feel Henry beside him, doing everything he could to stay still.

Sam had made clear that he’d have to kill anyone who didn’t find a proper king in him, and that it would be a shame if Henry’s refusal to cooperate were to be what had caused that.

The footfalls came to a stop just past the second pair of columns. “Lord Hans DiFueure of Hawk’s Roost, your Majesty,” his crier said. She was a young girl, the daughter of someone or other. Her voice was annoying, but it was loud, and that was the main thing that a crier needed.

“How nice of you to come and visit me, Lord Hans,” Sam said, smiling down at where the visitors were.

“I’d come to see the supposed Sorcerer King.” Lord Hans’s voice was a grumble that sounded affected. He sounded like the kind of man who would squeal before hollering. He had given a good long pause before answering. “But I’m guessing I saw him out there on the wall, didn’t I?”

“I can’t speak for what you saw,” Sam told him, aware that at this distance, Hans must be able to tell that Sam didn’t see. “But yes, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that the dreadful threat posed by my father has been put to rest forever. I’ll accept your thanks for that.”

“A rather gruesome end, to be nailed to a wall.”

“He was dead before he was put up there, I assure you.” Sam cocked his head a little. “In any case, you can talk to me, can’t you?”

“I suppose I can, lad.”

Sam frowned. Henry tensed beside him. “The normal style for kings is ‘your Majesty,’ or ‘your Grace,’ Lord Hans. Given your status, I’ll also accept ‘sire.’”

“There’s only one king in Kyaine, sorcerer.”

“Yes, how is he doing?” Sam asked, stretching a little despite himself. “When you go home, do let him know that I’ve got the Fury Plateau under control, will you? If you like, I’ll even give you my father’s body as a show of good faith. If you’d like to pretend you’re the one who made him a body, I won’t stop you.”

“If you’re truly interested in a peaceful coexistence, you’ll cede all land your father seized and bow to the authority of the crown, young man.”

Your Majesty,” Sam corrected, some irritation slipping into his voice. “And you seem to have misunderstood, Hans. I’m not interested in peaceful coexistence. If your brother—or his wife, rather—sends armies anywhere near my territory, I’ll send them back in small, easily transported pieces.”

That tensed the room up some, a buzz seeming to fill the air between Sam and Hans. “Your father lived as long as he did because he didn’t actively threaten the crown, boy.” Hans growled. “You’d best abide by the same lesson if you’d like to live to see another new year.”

Beside Sam, Henry made an indistinguishable noise.

“Oh, dear.” Sam sighed, reached out. There were two people flanking Hans, and he lifted the one on the left into the air by the neck, listening to him struggle. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding at some point. Let me clarify which one of us here is the king, Hans.”

True to Sam’s prediction, the second of Hans’s cronies reached for some magic—a power Sam couldn’t sense, which meant he was a wizard. Mages' power stemmed from the Forces, and a lot of sorcerers could at least get a sense of where it was coming from. Some were even skilled enough to pass as mages for a short time, pretending to pull on the Pillars. Sam had never tried, himself.

But it didn’t matter. The spell he’d put around the room was a similar wave of Chaos to what he’d used to block dad’s last failed attempt to flee. It washed over everything, infusing the air with a sting that blocked out all other magic but Sam’s. The wizard—it was a woman—let out a shout when it struck her, and Sam smiled again. “None of you is that smart, are you?” The stone was humming contentedly in Sam’s pocket.

“Put him down,” Hans demanded, voice going a bit higher now.

“Very well.” Sam did, and the man’s flesh caught fire the moment he hit the ground.

For a very long moment the room was filled with the sound of agony as the man burned to death. Sam smiled and listened to it, before it was rather abruptly cut off. The room smelled like burnt meat and ashes. “Now,” Sam said. “I promised my friend that I wouldn’t kill you, Hans. People with you were not included in that promise. Why don’t we start over? Greetings, Lord Hans of Hawk’s Roost. I’m Sam—the Sorcerer King.”

The only sound in the throne room for a long moment was the quiet smouldering of flesh and the occasional pop of fat or bone marrow. Sam sat there patiently, waiting to hear how much Hans valued the life of his remaining wizard.

Hopefully not much. Sam’s power very badly wanted to be used again. One thing that had changed since binding the stone to him was that he never had to fight it back anymore—it never tried to take control, instead letting Sam hold the reins. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t demanding.

It was a very pregnant silence, and one carried fully to term before Hans cleared his throat. “Thank you, your Majesty,” he said, and Sam grinned. “Thank you for your…hospitality.”

“Of course. I’m always happy to have guests. I’ve had rooms prepared for you and your people, you can stay with us for a while. Landon.” Sam gestured vaguely. He didn’t know where his new guard captain was standing. “Why don’t you escort Lord Hans and his retainer to their rooms. We’ll reconvene at dinner for a nice chat.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Ensure that the rest of his party is cared for as well. I won’t be accused of being a poor host.”

“Of course, sire.”

“Your Majesty,” Hans cut in. He sounded queasy. “My people—they’ve no part in any of this. There’s no reason to…”

“On the contrary, Lord Hans,” Sam interrupted. “They’re very much a part. You should know as well as anyone that servants make good playing pieces. We’ll talk again at dinner.”

Landon led the spluttering Hans out of the throne room, and Sam slouched a little in the throne. He reached out and found Henry’s wrist, squeezed it. “That went well, I think.”

“I’m surprised you let him live.”

“I promised you I would,” Sam reminded him. Hans, Sam suspected, would very much live to resent that Henry had bargained for his life. “And now for your part.” He raised his voice. “Bring in my next guest.”

The doors opened and there were more footfalls, this time hurried, and someone was thrown down on the floor in front of Sam. “Kill him,” Sam said to Henry.

“What? I…I can’t.”

“Yes, yes.” Sam waved a hand, uninterested. “You can’t kill an innocent person, I know. How many people have you killed, exactly?”

“Seven, but…”

“It’s different; they were evil, I know.” Sam sighed. Henry probably had all of their names and faces committed to memory. “You,” he said to the main, who was audibly cowering. “Tell my friend what you told me earlier.”

“Sire, your Majesty, please,” the man begged. “Spare me. I can’t, I don’t, I didn’t. Please, spare me.”

“You’re not making much of a case for yourself,” Sam told the man. He wondered what his name was. “Now tell Henry what you told me earlier.”

“I don’t…” the man whimpered, and just as Sam was about to hit him or something he started talking again. “All I did was tie the knots, that’s all.”

“Which knots, exactly?” Sam asked, hand still around Henry’s wrist.

“The knots…I swear, I didn’t try to let them escape. I tied them as hard as I could, the knots on Lady Arkhewer’s wrists. It wasn’t my fault she got out of them. And she didn’t get far, they caught her. She must have broken her own fingers to get out of them, they were good knots, I swear.” The man was crying now.

Sam smiled.

“You…” Henry whispered, and suddenly his wrist was shaking in Sam’s hand. Henry hadn’t nearly gained back all the muscle he’d lost in captivity, so he was still quite gaunt. When he was strong again, Sam wouldn’t be able to hold him like this. “You were there when the Lord and Lady Arkhewer were burned alive?” he asked the man.

“Yes, sir,” the man promised, tears in his voice. The best part of this was that Sam hadn’t even had to fabricate something—there were a few people around who remembered that little incident. Very useful. “She tried to escape, to free her daughter. But it wasn’t because the knots were bad, I swear. I just never thought she’d be stupid enough to break her own fingers to get out of them.”

“It didn’t occur to you?” Henry had gone nicely dark all of the sudden, “that she might try to rescue her daughter?”

“Of course it did, sir. I just, it’s not my fault, I swear. She didn’t get far anyway, only a few steps before they jumped on her.”

Sam let go of Henry’s wrist.

Henry took a step forward, and then another one. And the sword Sam had given him—Terry’s sword, recovered from Herbert’s body—came out of the sheath, a swallow of metal emerging into the air.

“Please, please. It won’t happen again. I’ll tie them better next time, I’ll learn better knots, please…”

“No,” Henry said, voice getting farther from Sam, closer to the grovelling man. “It won’t happen again.”

“Please, please, please. I won’t, I swear, I’ll do better, I will, please…” The man’s litany filled the air now, a pathetic warbling that Sam wanted to put a stop to himself. But this was Henry’s moment, so he waited, tapping his finger on the arm of the throne.

Henry took a good long time standing over the man, sword drawn. Was it up in the air, prepared to strike? Or hanging uselessly at his side? Either seemed likely to Sam, but there was no way to be sure until something happened. The man begged and groveled and soiled himself, and Henry stood there, not moving or acting or doing anything, not saying anything. Wrestling with himself. Was it okay to kill this person? This man who’d helped kill his mother?

It was a stupid game Henry was playing, one Sam wasn’t that interested in. But just as he started to get bored, there came a sudden shriek, a holler, a squelching sound and a spray of liquid. And a thud as the man fell dead onto the throne room floor.

Sam chuckled, getting up and making his way down the steps from the dais, heading slowly over to where he could hear Henry’s laboured breathing. “I guess that’s eight,” he said, as he drew closer. “Lord Hans will get that supper after all.”

“Are there more?” Henry asked quietly. “Are there more of them in the castle?”

“People who were there?” Sam put a hand on Henry’s arm again. “Yes. Would you like to meet them?”

Silence for a second. “Yes,” Henry said after that second.

“I can burn them alive if you like,” Sam offered. “Justice.”

“No.” Henry tensed. “I’ll do it.”

“Fine.” Sam sighed, leaned up and kissed Henry on the cheek. “Good job.”

“I didn’t do it for you.”

“No, but you still killed someone in cold blood, didn’t you?” Sam hugged Henry’s arm for a moment before pulling away. “A defenceless, tied-up prisoner.”

“He helped them kill my parents.”

“That’s a justification,” Sam told him. “Those get easier as you do it more. And eventually you don’t need to hide behind them. You’ll get there.”

“You’re just making it easier for me to do to you someday.”

“Am I?” Sam asked, turning away. The room smelled like death. “Get someone to clean this up. I’m going to go cast some spells to make sure that wizard of Hans’s doesn’t try anything stupid.”

“It wasn’t right,” Henry called after him. “Just then, what I did. It wasn’t the right thing to do.”

Of course it had been. “But you did it anyway, Henry.”

“Yeah.” A sliding of metal as the sword went back into the sheath. Henry sounded hollow. “I did.”

Chapter Text

The smell of earth and old blood filled the air around the centipede pit. Sam breathed it in, leaning on the rusty railing that enclosed it as he waited.

“What actually keeps them in?” Henry asked, shifting a little beside Sam. “They can climb up the wall, can’t they?”

“They can.” Sam tapped his foot, running some power into the ground so that the containment spell that circled the pit would glow in its inscriptions in the stone, visible to Henry for a moment. “If they try to pass that barrier they catch fire. Only a few of them tried and then the rest never have.”

“I didn’t know bugs were that smart.”

“There are a lot of things you don’t know,” Sam told Henry consolingly. He knew Henry was probing for information. It was cute, so Sam decided to give him a little. “They’re not normal bugs. They’re imbued with sorcery.”

“Your dad made them?”

Sam was quiet for a second, thinking about that. Nobody in the castle called Solomon Sam’s father anymore. Except for Henry. He wondered what that meant. Why Henry thought he could get away with that. Why Sam let him. “No. At least, I don’t think so. He found a nest of them somewhere and brought them here.”

Henry started another question—wise, since Sam was in the mood to answer—but he was interrupted by some footsteps, two pairs of heavy boots clomping on the floor, and a third, less enthusiastic. “Ah, Lord Hans is here,” Sam said, waving for the guards to bring Hans over. “I thought you might want to see this.”

“Some dirt?” Hans asked him. “Is this a fighting pit?” He was quiet for a moment. “No, the earth is too disturbed, and full of holes besides. Something lives down there, no?”

“Yes.” Sam could hear more footfalls now, coming down from the other side. There were a lot of them. “You’ll soon see what.”

The other set of guards came closer, and the stench of death mingled with the rest of the odours in the air. “My word,” Hans muttered. Beside Sam, Henry tensed.

“I feel they’ve been serving as wall ornaments long enough,” Sam told him, as the guards filed in with the bodies of Solomon and all the others who’d been nailed to the walls outside. “And they were starting to fall apart, which is a waste of good meat.”

“As you say, your Majesty.” Lord Hans sounded a faint.

“You sound ill, my lord.” Sam smiled. “If you’d like to go lay down somewhere that’s fine. I thought it might be nice to show you this, but if you’re not interested…”

“No, no. I shall stay.” Hans was very quick to say that.

“Good.” Sam pointed towards the pit. “Toss them in.”

The guards did, and Sam heard moving and hefting and a series of thumps, some squishier than others. And a moment later, a lot of clicking.

The clicking got louder as the centipedes emerged in their hundreds, swarming over the bodies and devouring them with single-minded hunger. It went on for several minutes, the clicking being added to by a slough of flesh tearing, splatters of liquid.

Then it was done. The clicking died down as most of the centipedes disappeared back into the nest, though a few remained aboveground, skittering about. “Only bones left…” Lord Hans muttered to himself.

“They’ll eat those as well,” Sam promised. Beside him, Henry had put his hands on the railing, and Sam covered one in his own. Henry was gripping the railing tight, as if worried he would fall. “Given some time. But with all that meat, they won’t be hungry for a few days.” Sam paused, squeezing Henry’s hand a little. “Of course, they like fresh meat better than old rotted meat. Bring him in,” he said.

One of the guards went to the door and opened it, and in came two more stomping sets of boots, this time with something dragging in between them. “I believe this man belongs to you, doesn’t he?” Sam asked.

“What?” Hans moved, and then was silent for a moment before turning back to face Sam. “What is the meaning of this—you told me my servants wouldn’t be harmed if I cooperated with you!”

That wasn’t what Sam had said. “Indeed,” he agreed. “So perhaps you can explain to me why this man was caught trying to send a message to Hawk’s Roost.”

The man was gagged, and made a series of sounds. “Let him speak,” Sam ordered the guard.

A moment later the man took several gasping breaths. “Lord Hans never told me to send that message. You leave him out of this, you little psycho!”

“You’re not helping your case much,” Henry said quietly. He hadn’t turned around.

To his credit, Hans didn’t try to deny the man’s crime. “If you’ve already caught him, then no harm was done. I’ll make sure all of my people know not to do any such foolish thing, and…”

“No, I’ll make sure they know,” Sam interrupted. “You’ve a lot of servants, I’m sure you won’t miss this one. And I need you to understand that I am to be taken seriously. If I tell you not to do something, I do mean it, Lord Hans.”

“I won’t stand for harm to come to my people, Sorcerer King.”

“I’m happy to feed you to the centipedes in his place.”

The silence that fell after that was a bit funny, so Sam giggled. “I didn’t think so.”

“No! You can’t throw me in there! Don’t…”

“Shut him up.” There was a punch, and the man stopped talking. “Now, here’s what’s going to happen,” Sam went on. “He’s going to die, and the centipedes will eat him. Henry, you can decide what order those two things happen in.”

“What?”

“If you’d like, you can take his head off, or stab him in the heart or something equally humane. Or you can keep your hands clean and watch him be eaten alive. I leave the choice to you.”

“You can’t…”

“Yes, I can. And so can you. You’re at eleven now, aren’t you?” Sam had introduced Henry to a few more people who’d been there to watch the Arkhewers burn. “It should be easy by now.”

“It’s…” Henry’s hand tensed under Sam’s. The man behind them was making a lot of obnoxious noise.

“Please, young man,” Lord Hans interrupted, voice hoarse. “You must…you must do the right thing. Nobody deserves to die eaten alive like that. Please.”

Sam let go of Henry’s hand.

Henry was quiet beside him for a minute, except for his breathing, which was heavy. Then he turned, and steel rang out.

“Do the right thing, lad,” Lord Hans pleaded, and Sam wondered if he thought he was being subtle.

There was a liquid sound, a gasp from the gagged prisoner, and Henry stepped back. Sam reached out and patted him on the arm. Lord Hans didn’t say anything.

The guards tossed the man’s body into the pit with a thud and the clicking came back, over more quickly this time as there was less meat to get at. “There, that’s dealt with,” Sam said with a tired sigh. “Do impress upon your people the importance of behaving, Lord Hans.”

“I…I shall, your Majesty.”

“Good.” Sam’s tone was dismissive, and the guards escorted Lord Hans out. On the other side of the door, Sam could hear retching.

He turned to Henry. “You did well. Good work.” And he leaned up and gave Henry a kiss on the cheek.

“Lord Hans hoped I would stab you.”

“I know. I’m glad you didn’t.” Henry did still have his sword out, though. “You’re welcome to use the pit, by the way. If you ever meet someone you don’t feel deserves a nice humane death.”

“Like you?”

Sam smiled. “I look forward to the day you work up the nerve to try, Henry.”

Chapter Text

“I’m going to bed,” Sam said, setting aside the talisman he’d been working on.

There was a sudden clatter of metal as Todd knocked something in the corner. Sam ignored it. “Okay,” Henry said dully, from the chair opposite Sam. Henry’s voice was often dull these days, which didn’t bother Sam overly.

“Come over here and undress me for bed,” Sam ordered Todd, who’d been in here cleaning the room and annoying him. Even when he was trying to be quiet, he couldn’t help but make too much noise.

“Yes, your Majesty,” the boy muttered, and Sam heard his footsteps cross the room. Sam stood and moved out from behind the chair, closer to the bed. He waited for Todd to reach him and held out his arms.

“I can do it, Sam.”

“You can let Todd do his job, Henry,” Sam told him, noting that Henry’s voice was a little more animate that time.

That gave him an idea, and that idea made Sam hard, but he just stood there for now and let Todd pull his arms out of his sleeves and his shirt over his head. It took a few minutes since his arm was in plaster so he only had the one to use.

Todd reached out to do Sam’s pants, paused just perceptibly. But he grabbed the laces, started to undo them.

Sam put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him to his knees, where Todd went with a whimper. “You can reach better from down there,” he said with a smile.

“Thank you, your Majesty.” Todd whispered, and he started awkwardly unlacing Sam’s pants.

“Sam…” Henry said, and Sam heard him stand.

“Henry.” Sam didn’t need to say more than that, because Henry knew it was one thing for him to speak that way in private, but if he did it when someone else was around there would be consequences. Sam had never had to actually show Henry the consequences yet, but Henry seemed to have figured it out without the demonstration. “You should undress too.”

Henry let out an agitated breath, but he complied.

Todd got Sam’s pants undone and pulled them down, waiting for Sam to step out of them. Sam did, moving forward so his erection was pressed against Todd’s face. Todd froze, and Sam smacked his head. “I’m standing here because I still have clothes on, idiot.”

“Sorry, your Majesty!” Todd said in a strained voice. He reached up with his one good arm and tugged at Sam’s smallclothes, pulling until they came down, freeing Sam’s cock. It sprang out and hit Todd in the cheek, and Sam almost giggled. Todd pulled his smallclothes all the way down and Sam lifted his legs out of them, arm darting out and seizing Todd’s hair as he tried to move away.

“You’ve been awfully quiet these last few weeks, Todd,” Sam told him, taking his cock in hand and jerking Todd’s head into position so Sam could rub himself against Todd’s lips. “Something on your mind?”

“Sam.” Henry’s voice had a tone of warning to it now, and a tone of pleading, all at once.

“You used to talk to much,” Sam continued, ignoring Henry. Todd was whimpering. “I thought we were such good friends. Don’t you like me anymore?”

“I…” Todd let out a little sob, and he was crying but trying to be quiet. Sam resisted the urge to ram his cock right into Todd’s stupid mouth the moment it opened.

“You what?”

“Sam.” Henry sounded a lot closer now. “Stop.”

“No. I’m in the mood for a blowjob, Henry. And Todd’s in the mood not to have his other arm broken.”

“I’ll do it, Sam. Leave him alone.”

Sam smiled, but not widely. “You don’t really want to do that, Henry, and we both know it.” Todd was still silently crying in front of Sam’s erection. “Just let him do it for you.”

“No! I…do want to do it, Sam. Please, let him go,” Henry pleaded.

Sam sighed. “You don’t, you’re a bad liar, and if I’m going to rape someone I want it to be someone who’ll cry, Henry. You’ll just suffer in silence and make me do all the work.”

“I’m not lying!” Henry said fiercely, his hands suddenly on Sam’s shoulders, forcing him to turn away. “I want to do it.”

“Make me believe that, Henry,” Sam told him, since Henry wasn’t getting the hint without direct instruction, as usual.

Henry was silent for a moment and the only noise was the sound of Todd’s efforts not to bawl like a baby. There was an audible swallow, and Henry took a breath. “Please, Sam. I want to blow you. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I need to taste you, you haven’t—you’ve been so busy that you’ve barely touched me the last few days. I really just need to have you, Sam. So don’t…don’t give it to him. Don’t let him have what’s mine, please?”

As he listened to that, Sam’s smile grew. “That was much better, Henry. Almost realistic.” He tossed Todd aside, heard him hit the floor. “Get out.”

“Thank you,” Todd managed to say, and Sam heard him scramble to get to his feet and then to the door, which opened.

“Todd?”

He paused, and Sam almost laughed. He was so stupid. “Yes, your Majesty?” he whispered.

“Tell the kitchen that if my breakfast is burnt again tomorrow I’m going to come down there myself.”

“Yes, your Majesty.” Todd whimpered, and the door shut.

Sam snorted, crossed his arms. “Well? Pretty sure I heard you insist on blowing me just now, Henry?”

“You don’t want to sit?”

“If I wanted to sit I would be,” Sam told him, exasperated. “I want you on your knees. Get over here.”

“Okay.” Henry exhaled loudly, and Sam heard the thump as he got down where he’d been told. His hands wrapped around Sam’s cock, and his breath fell hot on Sam’s skin. “You’re always bigger than I remember,” he muttered quietly.

“You’re still talking,” Sam told him.

“You know, some people like to set a certain mood for stuff like this,” Henry told him, breath a little closer now.

“I don’t care what some people like.” Sam thrust his hips forward a bit, hit Henry’s nose with his cock. “And what would you know? The only person you’ve done ‘stuff like this’ with is me and I don’t.”

Henry huffed a little. “I’ve been thinking of this all day,” he muttered, oddly quiet all of the sudden. “Don’t ruin it for me.”

Before Sam could ask why Henry felt the need to tell that particular lie, Henry finally did what he’d promised and took Sam into his mouth. He slid his lips past about half of Sam’s erection, and made a bit of a satisfied noise as he did. Sam put a hand in Henry’s hair to steady himself against the sensation, suddenly thinking he shouldn’t have stayed standing after all.

With one hand massaging the rest of Sam’s cock and the other rubbing his thigh around to the buttock, Henry sucked Sam lightly, using his tongue to explore Sam’s head. Sam tried to thrust forward, to get more of himself into Henry’s mouth, but Henry’s hand stopped him from getting far.

This wasn’t the same as when he’d made Henry do this for him in the past. It wasn’t the way Sam normally wanted it—hard, fast, normally he just used Henry’s mouth for the hole it was, just something to stick his cock in—and part of Sam didn’t even feel like he was the one in control here. Henry was the one deciding how fast to go, and how much of Sam he was going to touch, and Sam should have hated that, but he couldn’t make himself force Henry to do more in that moment. In that moment, Sam was happy to let Henry be in control.

Henry made little moaning noises as he sucked on Sam, keeping it up with his tongue and his hands. Sam’s breath was coming in pants, and he realized after a second that some of the moaning he could hear in the room was his own. “Henry…” Sam called out, both hands on Henry’s head, more to brace himself than anything else.

Sam came with a shout, bucking a little in Henry’s mouth as he filled it. Henry tightened his grip on Sam and held him in place, swallowing as Sam went until Sam had no more to give. Only then did Henry pull back, Sam’s hands slack in his hair, and he stood just as Sam’s knees buckled a bit, catching him. “I got you,” he muttered.

Sam let Henry guide him to the bed and sit him down. He took a moment to breathe.

“Was it good?” Henry asked, sitting beside him.

“It was,” Sam admitted, and then he chuckled. “Maybe I should threaten poor Todd more often.”

“Don’t.” Henry’s voice moved as if he’d turned his head away. “He’s a nice kid. You don’t need to terrorize him.”

“He’s an idiot,” Sam said, leaning back a little. “And I don’t need to terrorize anyone. It’s just fun. Plus, look where it got me tonight. I’d say it worked out well.”

“I’ll do it again if you want.” Henry sounded angry, but Sam had a feeling it was directed at himself. “You don’t need to hurt him.”

Sam smiled, crawling onto the bed properly and laying back against the pillows. He tugged Henry’s arm to get Henry to come with him. “No, I don’t,” he agreed, as Henry lay beside him. As instructed, Henry had taken off his clothes too. And he was hard, so Sam reached down to stroke him. “Because you’re going to protect him from me, aren’t you Henry?”

“Y-yeah…” Henry said, shuddering a little.

“Just like you’re protecting Lord Hans, and Daisy and Benny…” Sam trailed off, stroking Henry harder. “You’re protecting so many people from me, Henry. You’re a hero.”

“No, I’m not…” Henry insisted, his breath coming heavy.

No, he wasn’t. “Sure you are. Just think how much more dangerous I’d be if you weren’t here, offering yourself up every day in place of all the other people I might want to destroy. The whole world owes you its gratitude, Henry.” Sam’s voice got quieter and quieter as he jerked Henry off, until he was whispering in Henry’s ear. Henry came with a stifled cry, and Sam let him go.

“I’m going to sleep now, goodnight, Henry.” Sam put his head on Henry’s shoulder and got comfortable, ignoring the mess he’d made on Henry’s chest.

“Goodnight, Sam.” Henry whispered, shaking a little. Sam wondered if he was going to start crying.

He didn’t, or at least he didn’t yet. “Oh, and Henry? Thank you.”

Henry didn’t answer that, pretending to be asleep. His breathing gave him away, but Sam let him do it and he nestled a little, pulling a blanket over them. He didn’t fall asleep right away, thinking. He was thinking about that blow job Henry had just given him, and how good it had been. Henry had been lying, pretending to give Sam what he’d wanted. Sam knew that Henry hadn’t wanted that any more than he’d wanted anything else Sam had done to him. He’d raped Henry just as much tonight as he had any other time, and Sam knew that very well.

But for a minute there at the end, Sam had been able to believe it. To believe that Henry really did want it. And he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to make of that.

It was a long time before Sam fell asleep, but he pretended that he had and for a long time, the two of them lay there in the bed, pretending.

Chapter Text

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“I…I’m not sure, your Majesty.”

Sam hated the sound of Daisy’s voice. She wasn’t a very young woman, probably about ten years younger than dad, but she had the nervous, high-pitched intonation of someone much younger, like someone Todd’s age.

Sam wondered if that was something dad had liked about her.

“I thought this was the sort of thing that mothers knew,” Sam said, not taking his hand away from Daisy’s swollen belly.

“I’ve…I’ve never been a mother before, your Majesty,” Daisy admitted. “Your fath…the Sorcerer King, he…he killed my husband, and…”

“His name was Solomon,” Sam said quietly, rubbing her belly. “He’s dead, Daisy. You don’t need to be afraid of him anymore.” She needed to be afraid of Sam. “It was terrible, what he’d done to you.” He’d probably raped her or something, Sam didn’t know.

“He…”

“It’s okay,” Sam heard the fear in Daisy’s voice. He didn’t want her being afraid of Solomon anymore. Solomon wasn’t anything to be afraid of. If he had to play nice to make her realize that, he would. “He was my father, but he was a terrible person. The world’s better off with him dead.”

“I…yes, you’re right, your Majesty.”

“I make sure to thank Henry every day for putting the world out of his misery,” Sam said, and he heard Henry shuffle near the door. “Do you have a guess? Boy or girl?”

“I think it’s a girl, your Majesty. My…my mother always said that girls move around more, and she kicks a lot.”

“Is that so?” Sam hadn’t felt any kicking, but the baby wasn’t living in his body every minute of the day, so he supposed he could trust Daisy in this, even if she was stupid. Maybe it was just sleeping right now.

Just as he thought that, there was movement under his hand, and Sam snapped it back with an intake of breath, forcing down the crawl of power that surged instinctively forward.

Daisy giggled. “There she is.”

Sam wondered if Daisy realized that laughing at him was gambling with her life. Behind him, Henry shuffled again.

Composing himself, Sam stood, clasping his hands behind his back and stepping back from Daisy. “The servants are caring for you properly, yes?”

“Yes, your Majesty. I have everything a mother needs for a healthy baby.”

Sam hadn’t yet decided if Daisy was going to get to be the baby’s mother. Part of him thought it was a bad idea. “Good. And you’re due to give birth around the beginning of winter, is that right?”

“Yes, your Majesty. I…”

Sam stopped listening as suddenly the air around him shook, and the stone in his pocket let out a long wail in accord with the shaking. The Forces answered the cry, trembling for just a moment.

“Your Majesty?”

“Shut up,” Sam said to her in a whisper, turning to the north, where he could feel the tremor emanating from.

“Sam, what’s wrong?”

“I said, shut up.” The furniture in the room shook as Sam took a step in that direction, bumped into a low table and nearly tripped with a curse. After a second Henry’s hands were on his arm and Sam shook him off roughly, sticking his hand in his pocket and fingering the stone for a minute.

The tremor stopped, and the Forces and the stone returned to normal right away, as if nothing had happened. Sam’s power was reacting, though, crawling up and down his flesh, breaking through his skin in a desire to meet whatever challenge had just been issued.

“What the hell was that?” he asked nobody in particular. It had the flavour of power, but Sam was the most powerful sorcerer in the world and he didn’t think that he could shake the Forces like that. And the stone had been…reacting to something.

As much as Sam wanted to know what it was, he was also fairly certain he didn’t want to meet it.

And that, recognizing that…fear, pissed him off.

“Sam.”

“It’s nothing,” Sam said, cutting Henry off from saying anything else. “Just some magic in the north. Someone throwing a temper tantrum or something.”

“That you felt all the way from here?”

“I guess so.” Sam turned and made for the door, expecting Henry to open it for him. To Daisy, he said, “I’ll come visit you again. I look forward to meeting the baby, Daisy.”

“Me too, your Majesty.”

Sam nodded, and strode out of the room, then down the hall as quickly as he could without tripping.

“What’s going on, Sam?” Henry demanded, following after him.

“If I wanted to tell you, I would have already,” Sam snapped.

“Is that your way of saying you don’t know?”

Sam stopped walking, rounded on Henry. “I don’t have patience for that tone today, Henry.”

Henry was quiet for a minute, until Sam turned away and took another step. “You’re scared.”

“Of course I’m not scared. What do I have to be scared of?”

“It’s written all over your face,” Henry said, following after Sam. “All of your emotions are. Why are you scared?”

“I’m not.”

“Sam,” Henry said, tone plying. “It’s me you’re talking to. Nobody else is here. You don’t need to pretend.”

Sam lashed out, slammed Henry into the nearest wall, eliciting a cry of pain. Shaking, he stepped forward, until he was right in front of Henry, who he knew couldn’t move. “I’m not scared.”

“You’re trembling,” Henry gasped out.

“I’m angry.”

“You get angry when you’re scared,” Henry told him. “You think I don’t know you? After all this time, you think I don’t know you, Sam? I’m not asking to laugh at you, Sam, I’m asking because you’re the scariest person in the world and you’re scared and that scares me too.”

Sam stood there for a minute, keeping Henry pinned, listening in his head to Henry’s words. He couldn’t find a trap in them, no joke or jibe or opportunity for Henry to gain leverage over him. Was he being genuine? You think I don’t know you, Sam?

Sam let Henry go, turned away while he slumped to the floor. “You’re a coward.”

“I know.”

“Someone really powerful was using their magic just now,” Sam said, waiting for Henry to stand.

“More powerful than you?”

“Maybe. Don’t bother getting ideas. It was far to the north.”

“At least you know where it was. Whoever did it doesn’t know where you are.”

“You’re right.” Sam did take comfort from that, which annoyed him. He didn’t need Henry to comfort him. “It just…surprised me, is all.”

“You get angry when you’re surprised, too.”

“Am I that easy to read, Henry?” He shouldn’t have asked that. It would make Henry think he cared, but not in the way Sam wanted Henry to think that. He needed to go sit down, and collect his thoughts for a minute.

“To me you are, Sam.”

Sam tensed for a second, made himself relax. “Go to the kitchen and tell them I want…something. I’m hungry.”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know, decide something. You know what I like.” He just needed Henry to go away for a few minutes, that was all.

“Okay,” Henry sounded like he didn’t believe Sam. “I’ll meet you in the room.”

“Fine.” Sam stood there while Henry moved away, and didn’t move until he was alone in the hallway.

He stood there for a few minutes, taking deep breaths and trying to calm down, and trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.

Chapter Text

Sam woke up really suddenly to the feeling that it was still night.

That wasn’t unusual, he’d never been the heaviest sleeper and often woke up during the night for a few minutes at a time or longer. But this time something was different.

This time he’d woken up for a reason. Someone was in the room.

Henry was snoring softly beside him, having rolled away from Sam a bit in his sleep like he usually did. He was where Sam had left him, but Sam was absolutely certain he was being watched.

He lay there, not moving, trying to listen to the room, but there was no sound, at least not any that wasn’t usually there at night. He could hear the wind outside, but nothing else. But his skin was crawling, and it was getting worse as his power reacted to what he was feeling.

Sam wasn’t going to sit here and wait for some cowardly little assassin to come at him with a knife. He grabbed hold of his power, wrestled it into submission, prepared to wash the room with it to flush out his silent watcher.

Unwise, sorcerer.

Sam froze. That had come clear as a stone dropping, from everywhere in the room at once. Silent, but easily audible.

“What are you?” Sam asked, taking a breath to steady himself and sitting up. He wasn’t going to cower. He didn’t let go of his power. It wasn’t human, whatever had just spoken.

A friend.

“I don’t have friends who sneak into my bedroom at night,” Sam said, cautious.

An ally, then. An asset. I was a friend to your father.

Sam felt his face contort into a glare. Henry had told him he wore his emotions on his face, which had made him aware of it. “Then I want nothing to do with you. He’s dead.”

So I have learned. Imagine my surprise after being gone for such a short time to return and find him dead. And you, little sorcerer, bonded to the stone.

“Don’t talk to me like that,” Sam said, hand clenching in the blankets. “I’m the Sorcerer King.”

That you are, little thing. And suddenly the room was filled, filled with power and taint, and Sam lost his grip on the Forces, on his magic. And Sam was powerless in the face of this…this thing that had manifested around him.

Then the power subsided, leaving behind the sensation of thousands of ants burrowing into Sam’s skin. Sam shivered, rubbed his bare arms to warm them up. But you have no sovereignty over me.

“You think I care that you’re a demon?” he demanded. It was the only thing that made sense. Sam had suspected his father must have had some sort of contract with a demon. It would have been strange if he hadn’t with how powerful he’d been.

The voice seemed to sneer. Demons are merely the result of an inept child’s temper tantrum. I am something far greater.

Sam wasn’t playing this game. He recognized it, knew that an interrogator forcing his prisoner to ask questions that would betray ignorance was a tactic used by people with power. He’d done it to Henry for months, and Solomon had done it to Sam for years. He wasn’t playing that game. “Tell me what you want,” he ordered.

Your father shared nothing with you, did he? the voice mocked. He was not the most trusting of men, to keep such things even from his own son.

“Solomon and I weren’t the closest of relatives,” Sam spat, shifting in the bed. He hated that he was sitting here in his bed, naked and half under the blankets as if hiding from this…thing in his room.

Sons should be more respectful of their fathers.

“And fathers should be fathers to their sons. Are you going to tell me what you want or did you just come here to make fun of me?” Through all this, Henry slept. Sam had a feeling his visitor was helping him along in that. Henry wasn’t a heavy sleeper either.

I came here to find out why Solomon had not put his plan to seize the mages’ stone into action. I see now why.

Sam frowned, tilting his head a little and trying to hear if the voice really was coming from everywhere like it seemed to be. “Why would he have wanted the mages’ stone? He couldn’t use it.” The stone sitting on Sam’s bedside table had four partners, but a sorcerer could only use this one. There was no reason for Solomon to care about the rest of the set.

The stones’ usefulness lies not in their ability to amplify your existing power, little sorcerer. Gathering the five will make you into something far greater than what you are.

“I’m the most powerful sorcerer in the world. I’m a king.”

The king of what? Nothing of consequence. Do as I say, and you shall be a god.

Sam straightened a little at that. “Solomon said something about that. He was going to be a god. Now he’s centipede food.” He considered the voice for a moment. “And you? What will you be once you have the stones?”

Sam wasn’t stupid. This creature wasn’t here to help him.

What I used to be before the world was destroyed by a foolish human.

“A god.” Sam felt his heart slow down.

There was a very long silence in which the only thing Sam could hear was his own blood racing in his ears, his own breath filling the air.

It would be a shame for you to let all your father’s planning go to waste.

“I don’t know anything about my father’s plans.”

All you need do is give a signal. For the rest, you shall have to learn on your own.

“And if I decided not to cooperate with your…request?” Sam sneered.

Then I shall withdraw, leave you to your own devices. But remember that I want the five stones, little thing, and you have one. You must decide if you would rather have me for ally or foe.

The presence left the room suddenly, moving. It wasn’t everywhere, it was just big. Sam felt it leave, felt it move west. Beside him, Henry started making stupid noises and moving restlessly in his sleep. A nightmare. He had them most nights.

Sam had nightmares sometimes too, and the last few times he’d woken up from them with Henry’s hands on him, trying to calm him down. A sensible enough precaution since Sam’s power didn’t always sleep with him and he’d destroyed a few pieces of furniture in his sleep before.

Part of Sam wanted to sit there in the dark by himself, possibly for hours, and think about what had just happened. Part of Sam wanted Henry to stay asleep, not be around him when he was like this.

Sam reached out and smacked Henry on the shoulder. “Stop that.”

Henry jolted awake with a shout, panting. “Sam! What…”

“You were making too much noise. It was annoying.”

Henry was quiet for a moment, calming his breathing. “I didn’t…thank you.”

“It’s fine.” Sam sighed. “Go back to sleep. It’s still night.”

“You sound upset.”

Damn. Sam took a breath, tried to sound normal. “I’m just tired of you waking me up.”

There was a long and heavy quiet. “What were you dreaming about?”

Sam didn’t answer for a minute or two, wondering why Henry cared. “Solomon.” He wasn’t sure why he didn’t want Henry to know about the creature, the god, that had just been in the bedroom. He wasn’t sure why he’d rather have Henry think he was having another stupid nightmare. But he did.

“Me too.”

“Go back to sleep.”

“You too.”

“Yeah.” Sam sat there for a moment later, Henry laying quietly beside him. Obviously waiting for him to lay back down. So Sam did, because he couldn’t be bothered hitting Henry again.

He curled up next to Henry, trying to find sleep again.

“You’re freezing,” Henry mumbled, tired. Sam marvelled that he could sleep again that easily, and with Sam right here. He really had managed to train Henry well.

Sam didn’t answer Henry. He was a king. The Sorcerer King. Sam was the one who decided what to do and what not to do. He wasn’t subject to the whims of others, the whole reason why he’d killed Solomon was so that he wouldn’t ever have do obey orders again. This god—so called, Sam wasn’t as convinced now as he had been a minute ago—coming into his room and telling him what to do…put that in question. And that made Sam angry. You get angry when you’re scared, too.

Sam pushed that aside. It was just Henry being stupid.

You must decide if you would rather have me for ally or foe, the voice had said. It had made the choice Sam’s, but the choice didn’t exist. He’d done that to Henry enough times too to know, Solomon had done it to him enough times for Sam to know it when it was happening again.

Laying cold against Henry in the night, Sam tried to warm himself up as he thought hard on that choice. And he made it, clenching his fist.

I’d rather have you dead.

Chapter Text

There were wards on the door to Solomon’s private study, active even now after his death. They were powerful, violent, prepared to lash out at anyone who tried to enter the room.

None of the servants in the castle would ever have tried to enter this room, and a basic ward would have stopped them. A locked door would have stopped them. These weren’t up so that servants couldn’t intrude on Solomon’s privacy—there was only one person in the castle who’d have been able to get through a basic ward or locked door. Solomon had been trying to keep Sam out.

Sam cut through the wards with a flexing of his power that left the air in the hallway smelling of smoke. He pulled the door open, stepped into the room, paused.

Henry followed Sam in. “How come you’ve never come in here before?” he asked.

“Because I don’t care about my father’s things. The only reason I didn’t have someone destroy them was because I couldn’t be bothered to open the wards before now,” Sam told him, standing there in the entrance. He didn’t know where any of the furniture was in this room.

Henry brushed past Sam, came into the study. He moved forward a bit, stopped. There was a thud, as if he’d walked into something. Sam took a step forward. “Then why now?”

“Because I have free time today,” Sam told him, joining Henry and slowly lowering his hand until it landed on what he assumed was Solomon’s desk.

“Okay,” Henry said quietly, voice shifting as if he’d turned his head. “It’s kind of like my father’s study back home,” he said. “Books and maps and stuff. He even had a display case like that in the corner too, with random knickknacks that he liked.” Henry paused. “I don’t think he’d have needed a big table like that one, though. But I guess he need an extra surface to do magic at and stuff.”

Sam didn’t care about Henry’s father—the man was charcoal—but from the casual tone of voice Henry was taking as he described everything, he wasn’t much worried about the man either. Sam listened to him, trying to understand why he was doing it. There was nobody but the two of them in here. “Why?” he interrupted.

“Why what?”

“Why wouldn’t you use it against me, Henry?” Sam asked.

Henry was quiet for a long minute. Sam heard him move, felt Henry come into his air. “Because you’re used to people using it against you so you’d know. Because you’d hate it if you thought I was pitying you.”

That was true. “It’s the only thing you have that puts you in a position of power over me. It’s stupid not to take advantage of it.”

“I’m pretty stupid,” Henry’s hand was on Sam’s face suddenly, brushing lightly over his eyes. Sam recoiled. “There are a lot of things wrong with you, Sam. You’re a broken, fucked-up excuse for a human in so many ways I can’t even count them all. But this isn’t one of them.”

Sam made an agitated noise and slapped Henry’s hand away from him. “I don’t need your approval, Henry.” He turned away, keeping a hand on the desk as he walked along it, stopping when he came to the edge. He could feel magic humming in one corner of the room as he took a minute to think. “The display case. Tell me what’s in it.”

“Um…” Henry moved closer, around Sam. “A sword with a fancy grip. Two little dragon figurines, a necklace, a wooden box, a book with a metal latch on it. A bowl, looks like it’s got bloodstains. A saint’s icon.” He paused for a minute, and Sam waited for him to finish. “That’s all.”

Some or all of them were enchanted, Sam could feel it from here. Maybe this was where dad had kept his weapons. Or his toys. “Open the case.”

“There’s…it’s locked shut.”

Sam closed his eyes for a second, sighed. “Do you think I give a fuck about the sanctity of a display case? Break it open. I’m sure you can manage to punch through a pane of glass.”

Henry hesitated for just a second. “Right.”

There was a long silence, then a grunt and the sound of glass breaking, and Henry cried out in pain.

Sam smiled. He liked that sound. “Hand me the things that are in there one at a time. I want to know what they are.”

“Okay.” Henry was breathing hard, trying to get through the pain he was feeling. Sam let him do it, holding out his hand. Something long and heavy was put in there, leather. “The sword.”

It didn’t seem magical to touch, but when Sam pulled it a little from its scabbard, he felt power in it. Nothing major, just a strength enchantment. A strong one. “You could probably knock down a wall with this,” he said, putting it back in its scabbard and setting it on the desk. “Maybe I’ll give it to you.”

“I have a sword,” Henry grated. “Here. The icon.”

Sam took it. “Fuck!” It burned his hand. He dropped it immediately. Shaking out his hand, Sam suppressed the surge his power gave in response to the injury. “What saint is it?” He wasn’t sure why that mattered.

“I don’t know. Are you okay?”

“Just hand me the next thing.” Sam didn’t need Henry worrying about him.

A rattling sound. “The…the necklace.”

Henry sounded distant suddenly and when the necklace touched Sam’s hand, Sam grabbed it, found himself having to pull it from Henry’s hand.

And was overwhelmed immediately by the sound of waves crashing in his ears, the scent of salt, the feel of spray against his face. The ocean, he was near the ocean. But, no, Sam wasn’t near the ocean. The Fury Plateau wasn’t near enough the ocean for Sam to be there, and he’d never been closer to the coast than this.

But suddenly in this moment Sam wanted to go there, wanted to go to the ocean, where he belonged. He should just…he should just go there. Sam could go there if he wanted, he was the Sorcerer King. He could go anywhere he wanted, and he belonged in the water, not here in this castle, this dry, high up castle that was so far from…

“Sam?”

Sam gasped. His hand was clenched so hard around the necklace that his fingernails were digging into his palm. He opened a teleportation spell with a thought and dropped the necklace into it, snapping it shut immediately.

All thought of the ocean fled his mind.

“What was that?”

“Compulsion on the necklace. You wanted to go to the ocean when you were holding it, right?”

“Yeah, it was weird.”

“I teleported it as far west as I could. It probably ended up in the ocean. It can fucking stay there.” Sam did not like being compelled. If Henry hadn’t snapped him out of that, he might have teleported himself to the ocean with that thing.

With a long sigh, Sam reached out, grabbed Henry’s arm, ran healing magic through him to close the cuts on his hand. Henry cried out but righted himself a second later, panting. “Thank you.”

“Just give me the rest of the things in there,” Sam muttered, hand tingling. He didn’t want to touch anything else since two out of three had turned out to be dangerous so far, but Solomon had kept all of these for a reason and they were Sam’s now—he wanted to know what they did.

The book rattled when picked up, the bloodied bowl whispered in Sam’s ear in a language he didn’t know, the figurines made his head go all fuzzy and he felt like he was flying for a minute before he dropped them, and the box needed to be ensorcelled in a really specific way to open and proved empty once it had been, though Henry said there’d been a small flash for a second.

Sam wasn’t very impressed with dad’s collection. He’d been looking for something with which he might give a signal, or something that might help him kill a creature claiming to be a god. Surely Solomon hadn’t allied himself with that thing with no way out.

There was nothing on the table but notes about spells and magic circles, Henry informed him. Some of those Sam intuited could be used to send messages, but he didn’t know to whom. Once Sam was better situated in all this, maybe he’d use them to call whoever they called back to the castle here. Some of them probably were means of contacting Saul and Sarah, and Sam wanted them here, not wherever Solomon had sent them.

“There’s a journal here,” Henry said, looking through Solomon’s desk while Sam waited.

Sam took a breath, hesitating. He hated having people read to him more than almost anything. There was no faster way to make him feel like a child than to have someone sit there and dictate the words in a book to him and what was more, Sam had no way at all of knowing if what they were reading him was what was actually written in the book.

“Sam?”

“What?” Sam snapped.

“Should I read it for you?”

Sam shook his head. “No. I don’t care. Just…look through it and see if there’s any mention of…mages.” He didn’t want Henry knowing what he was looking for.

But that wasn’t going to work, Sam realized. He couldn’t not tell Henry and at the same time expect him to know what to look for. He...

If Sam wanted to know what he needed to know, he was going to need to trust Henry.

“There’s one here.”

Sam took a breath, let it out. “Tell me what it says.”

Henry started reading the entry and Sam paid careful attention to his voice for any hint of falsehood. The whole time he listened, he couldn’t hear a single one.

Chapter Text

“How many more?”

“Just two.”

Sam sighed. Part of being the king was hearing the concerns of his people. For some stupid reason, they thought he cared. So today he’d been sitting court, listening to the whinging of what had seemed like everyone in the Fury Plateau. He thought he’d been handling it all pretty well, if he did say so himself.

He’d let Henry pronounce judgement on most of the cases that weren’t important or interesting enough to merit Sam’s attention. And if Henry was too lenient—he hadn’t ordered a single person tortured or executed—that was okay. Let them all be grateful that Sam was in a good enough mood not to contradict him.

“Send the next one in, then,” Sam said with a gesture. “And I want a bath prepared for when we’re done.”

“Okay,” was all Henry said, and that was enough. He was a surprisingly good attendant. He got done all the things Sam wanted him to do. It was kind of annoying at times; it didn’t give Sam much opportunity to punish him. But Henry being obedient was kind of fun in itself. For now.

Footsteps sounded, three sets. A guard and two others. “Your Majesty,” the guard said formally. “Two farmers, one accused of stealing the other’s cow.”

Sam sighed. Peasants were so boring. Henry started to talk, but Sam sat up straight. “Which of you stole the cow?”

Both men started to talk at once, and Sam scowled. “The first one of you who lies is going to get a hot poker to your tongue. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I am not someone who can be lied to.”

That shut them both up. Henry sighed a little beside him, which he always did when Sam decided to arbitrate. But never audibly, so it was only Sam who could hear it. He was getting a little cheeky, was Henry.

Finally, one man worked up the courage to talk. “It was him, your Majesty! He stole it, right out of my field, and put it in his barn, said it was his!”

Sam was silent for a minute. “I don’t hear you denying it,” he said.

“He’s always letting it graze in my field. It’s practically my cow, your Majesty, and he’s already got five others.”

Sam sighed. So stupid. “How much is a cow worth?”

“Maybe about five silvers, up to ten if it’s a good breeding cow,” Henry supplied.

Sam thought about it for a second. “Pay him for the cow. He’s been negligent in caring for it; you can keep it.”

“Thank you, your Majesty.”

“Cut off his hand,” Sam told the guard. “We don’t want to encourage theft in my kingdom, after all.”

It was, Sam thought, a measured response. One that Henry wouldn’t complain about later like he often liked to when Sam punished people. “Wait, your Majesty!” The sound of drawing steel filled the air. “I’ll give it back, I’ll give it back, please!”

“You broke the law. You think you can fix it just by reversing what you did?” Sam asked.

“Please, I won’t do it again, have mercy, your Majesty! I have three children! I barely feed my family as it is!”

“You shouldn’t have had three children, then. Maybe you’d be happier with fewer.” Sam sighed. “I’m willing to be lenient, this time—if your neighbour drops his charges against you and you return what you stole and pay him the cost of the cow. How does he feel about that proposition?”

If it were Sam, he’d still insist that the man’s hand be removed, to prevent future theft. But Sam was curious about how someone else would react in this situation—Henry, he knew, would be forgiving, and he was curious which route the farmer would take.

“I…I’ll drop the charges, your Majesty. Please don’t cut his hand off.”

Sam sighed again. “Fine. Get out of here, both of you. And settle your problems yourselves next time, because I promise I’m only going to be generous once.”

There was some bowing and scraping, and finally they were gone. “Bring in the next one,” Sam called, leaning back on the throne again. “People are so stupid. Over a cow? Do they not have more important things to worry about?”

“Cows are the most important thing in their worlds, Sam.”

“I wonder what it’s like to be so small,” Sam mused, as the guard brought in two more sets of footfalls.

“Your Majesty,” the guard called. “Two peasants, accusing members of your guard of the rape of their daughter.”

“How terrible,” Sam said to them, as Henry went a bit still beside him. His backside was really sore from sitting on the stupid throne so long. “Tell me what happened.”

“Your Majesty, your…guards came to our village recruiting. They banged on our door when they heard we had a son, and they…” the man broke off for a moment, voice trembling.

“I can’t do anything if you don’t tell me what happened,” Sam said, impatient. He wanted that bath.

“They…our daughter was there, and the three of them, your Majesty, the violated her, right there. They laughed while they did it! She’s only fourteen, and now she’s pregnant with one of those pigs’ bastards!”

“I understand,” Sam said with a sigh. “And you have a son as well.”

“Yes, he’s twelve and he watched while they did that to his sister. Can you imagine what that does to a young boy?”

“I can imagine,” Sam told the man dryly. The boy had probably been jealous. “I’m surprised you’re not happy. Normally people are excited to be grandparents, aren’t they?”

“Your Majesty!” The wife’s voice was a near shriek that hurt Sam’s ears. “Nobody wants children under these circumstances.”

“I understand there are tinctures women can drink to ensure that pregnancies fail, in that case.”

“That’s hardly the point!”

“Yes, of course.” Apparently there was a point. Sam had missed that. “Is it possible to identify the guards responsible?” he asked Henry.

Before Henry could answer, the wife did. “We know their faces, and besides—that man right there was one of them!”

She must have been indicating one of the guards. Sam didn’t know which one, but there were a few scattered around the room. “Come forward,” he called, and heard footfalls from his left. “Your name?”

“Dana, your Majesty.” He sounded quite young himself.

“There are too many screaming babies in the world, Dana. Rape the boy next time, it’s basically the same.”

“Understood, sir.” There was a clanking of metal. Dana sounded smug. Henry’s silence was audible.

“You and your two friends will return to that village and pay the girl—Henry, what did you say a breeding cow was worth? Ten silvers each to her to pay for the expenses of having a child.”

“Is that supposed to be a joke?” the peasant man demanded in a shrill shout. “We demand he be put to death!”

Sam tilted his head. “That isn’t going to reverse your daughter’s rape, and I care more about having living guards than your need for revenge. I’m done with you, get out.” If they’d wanted the guards killed, they should have arranged for it to happen themselves.

“Listen here, you cross-eyed son of a bitch, you don’t get to…”

Sam straightened a little on the throne, opening his mouth as a cold rage swept through him, the Forces shuddering over the surface of his skin as he reached out.

“Guard,” Henry called, before Sam could do anything. “Take him to the dungeon. You’re under arrest—that is your king you’re addressing.”

There was a lot of shouting, from the man, cursing Sam, from the woman, begging them not to, but he was taken from the throne room, hollering about justice all the way. “Please, please don’t!” his wife cried. “He didn’t mean it, he didn’t!”

“Shut up,” Henry told her, voice hard. “You came here for the king’s justice and you got it. If you weren’t willing to accept what you heard, then you shouldn’t have come.”

“You’re monsters, both of you!”

Sam’s hand was clenched into a fist on the arm of the throne, but he smiled at that. “Says the woman who did nothing to stop her daughter being raped. I’m willing to bet you didn’t offer yourself in her place, did you? I’m sure your husband didn’t either.”

“I…we…”

“Dana, you and your two friends will escort this woman back to her village and pay the girl her due.” He smiled. “And since the family is short one parent to provide, they’re going to need some extra income. You can inform the son that he’s been hired as one of my castle servants, I’m sure his family will appreciate the money, and having one less mouth to feed.”

More clanking of metal. “Yes, your Majesty!” Footsteps, and the crying woman was dragged from the room. The throne room doors closed behind her. Sam made an annoyed noise.

“That was cruel,” Henry told him.

“I want that man tortured to death.” Sam wanted to torture him to death personally.

“If you keep him alive and let him go in a few weeks, he can tell other people what happened and warn them not to do the same thing.”

“Did you not hear me, Henry?” Sam hissed, finding his breathing coming heavier than usual. He didn’t know why he was so angry about the vapid insult of a mindless peasant.

“You can’t torture everyone who insults you, Sam.” Henry was keeping his voice down, enough that the guards probably couldn’t hear.

“I think you underestimate how good I am at torturing people.”

“I’m not, but it’s a question of what kind of kingdom you want to be ruling. Kings do more than torment their subjects.”

King could do whatever they wanted, which Sam thought Henry should probably know, but before he could answer, the doors to the throne room opened again and he turned his head. “I thought you said we were done.”

“Apologies, your Majesty,” the guard said. “Sergeant Cole has returned.”

Oh. Oh, that was fun. One of his father’s guardsmen, he’d been away putting down a rebellion in the eastern part of the Plateau for a while. “Send him in.”

“Who’s Cole?”

It was all Sam could do not to smile. “He used to be Herbert’s second in command. Solomon liked to send him out to deal with anyone not paying proper deference to him. Cole is very creative about fixing such things.”

There was a clomping of boots and Sam could feel Henry go stiff. “Sergeant Cole, I trust you’ve put down that silly rebellion?”

“Yes, your Majesty.” Cole had a teasing voice that Sam tolerated only because he used it on everyone. He heard a knee hit the ground. “Since I wasn’t here to say it when it happened, congratulations on your ascension to the throne.”

“Thank you. I assume I can count on your continued service?”

“Of course, your Majesty. I understand you promoted Lowell to captain of the guard.”

“I did,” Sam said. Lowell wasn’t present at the moment. “If you want the job, you’re welcome to convince me you’re better for it.”

Cole made a noise of derision. “Well, I don’t need to stick it in little kids to feel like a man, for one. But I’m sure you’d prefer something more…convincing. I can make that happen.”

“Please, do.” Lowell’s preference for young children was something Sam liked about him, actually. He’d given Herbert’s kids to him after he’d killed Solomon, and everyone with children themselves knew to stay in line or else. It was useful. “I’m sure you must want to rest after your journey. Please, feel free to reacquaint yourself with the castle. We’ve redecorated a little.”

“I’ve noticed, yes.” A pause. “I’ll look forward to speaking with you again soon, your Majesty.”

“And you as well, Cole.”

Footfalls, and then they were alone again. Sam smiled, and stood with a stretch. “I want that bath now.”

“Sam.” Henry’s voice was hoarse, rough.

“Yes?”

“He…that man, he was there.”

“I know.” Sam descended from the dais, turning to head for a side door that would take them to his rooms. “He led the party that was sent to deal with the Arkhewers when they refused to recognize Solomon’s sovereignty.” Sam paused. “Actually, I don’t know if I ever told you—Solomon ordered your family to be brought in line. That’s all. The decision to burn them was Cole’s.”

“I’m going to kill him.”

“I’m not giving him to you like I did the others. He’s useful to me.”

Sam.

Sam liked that tone, that dangerous hiss. “Are you about to threaten me, Henry?”

A pause of just a second. “Please. Let me kill him.”

“Hm.” Sam pretended to think about it. “I just said I wasn’t giving him to you. I didn’t say you couldn’t kill him. His life is valuable to me and his death is valuable to you, so I want something in return, that’s all.”

“Anything you want, as long as I can kill him.”

Sam like that dedication. “Now that’s a conviction I didn’t think I’d ever hear from you, Henry. Deal. Don’t tell me you’re going to kill him humanely, please.”

“I…nobody deserves to be tortured.” That was a cracked whisper. Sam didn’t think it would be hard to widen that crack.

He reached out, found Henry’s wrist, used Order. Henry screamed as his arm caught fire, jerked back, fell over. Sam let him burn for a few seconds, before waving a hand and putting the fire out. “I just thought you might like to know what being on fire feels like,” he said when Henry had stopped screaming. Sam crouched, put a hand on Henry, paused. He just let him sit there, panting in pain, feeling what a burn really was for another few seconds before he ran his healing spell through Henry with a jolt.

Sam stood, left Henry sitting there on the floor, and turned. “And that was just your arm, imagine what it must be like over your whole body, until you die. But if you really think he deserves a painless death, that’s fine with me.”

He left Henry there, went to the door, which a guard opened for him. “And I want that man in the dungeon tortured. But keep him alive.”

Sam really wanted that bath.

Chapter Text

“I could have done this without you,” Henry said, as he and Sam waited on top of the tower. “You didn’t need to come.”

“I know.” Sam let the sulphurous wind blow over him. “I thought I’d keep you company.”

“You thought you’d keep me from doing anything stupid,” Henry corrected.

“I wonder what stupid thing you think you’d have done if I weren’t here.” That was, in fact, part of the reason Sam had come.

“Guess we’ll never find out.”

“I guess not.” Sam breathed in the air.

“You know…” Henry trailed off.

Sam waited for him to finish, and when he didn’t, Sam sighed. “What?”

“Nothing.”

“Henry.”

“Just…” Now Henry sighed. “You’re a better king than I thought you’d be.”

That wasn’t what Sam had expected. “Oh? You thought I’d be a bad king?”

“I did,” Henry admitted, voice a little distant, as if he’d turned away. “I just figured you only wanted to be king so you could hurt the most people all the time. That you’d turn everything into your own personal bloodbath or something.”

“I’m sorry to have disappointed you,” Sam said dryly. “I can make a throne out of the skulls of infants if you like, though they’re easily breakable and not the best building material.”

“I’m trying to compliment you.” Henry sounded testy. “Wait. Was that a joke? An actual, funny joke, from you?”

Sam felt himself get oddly warm at that. “No. And you’re trying to tell me I’m not as much of a psychopath as you thought I was, which isn’t as much of a compliment as you think.” Sam smiled, though. “Still, I appreciate the effort. I didn’t really want to be king as much as I wanted to kill Solomon, but if I’m going to be king, I’d better do it well. If I torture and maim all my subjects in the first week of my reign, who am I going to torture and maim next week?”

“Ha, ha.” Henry sighed.

That hadn’t been a joke. “You’ve been surprisingly helpful,” he told Henry. “I expected you to complain at every turn that I was being too mean to all the poor peasants, but you’ve actually done well in dealing with them when I don’t want to.” Which was most of the time.

“I try to strike a balance,” Henry muttered.

“Between?”

“Things awful enough that you’ll approve without being as evil as possible.”

Sam heard that, then thought about it, let it sink in. And he laughed. “So you’re placating me by only letting the guard torture some people? Good plan. It’s working.”

“It’s a first step,” Henry said, sounding cautious. “The overall plan is to wean you off torture altogether.”

“Now you’re making funny jokes. But good luck with that. Hurting people is fun.”

“If you’re a psychopath.”

“The proper term is sadist,” Sam corrected. “And you can admit it, it’s just you and me up here. I promise not to tell anyone that you’ve developed a liking for bloodshed.”

“Shut up,” Henry’s voice went a little quieter at that.

“That’s no way to address a king.”

The spell circle crackled with power, and Sam directed his attention over there just as it snapped, and Jocelyn stepped out of it. “Oh my, you’ve found a friend.”

“I had him last time too, you just didn’t meet him,” Sam told her.

“I see. I’m Jocelyn,” she said, presumably to Henry. “Nice to meet you, young man.”

“You too, ma’am.”

“Polite.” Jocelyn said that in a way that made it sound like she was mocking. Which she probably was. “And cute, too, though I suppose you’re not overly worried about that, are you, Sam?”

“Cute things are for children,” Sam said, leading Jocelyn and Henry to the stairs, which he started down without hesitation. He didn’t like Jocelyn making comments about Henry. Maybe he should have left Henry downstairs.

“You know, I know your father put the teleportation circle up here as a power play to make me walk down the treacherous stairs all the time,” Jocelyn said, not sounding bothered, “but I rather like that he did. It’s a good view and Mount Saint Bernadette is quite striking from here.”

“You could always visit it if you want,” Sam offered. “Though it’s empty these days. Solomon killed everyone in the monastery when I was little.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t like nuns.”

Actually, Sam was pretty sure dad hadn’t liked women much. But that probably wasn’t why he’d emptied the monastery.

Jocelyn made a little noise that might have been a laugh. “I have to admit,” she said when they were a little farther down the steps. “I was waiting for your father to call me. I assumed he’d want my opinion on that little explosion a few weeks ago. You must have felt it too.”

Sam paused, forcing the other two to pause as well. The wind buffeted them, but he stood there, deciding what to say. “You know who was responsible for that?” She had to be talking about whatever had shaken the Forces that day. And if she had felt it too, then it had been a bigger deal than even Sam had realized.

“Not categorically, though I have a suspicion.”

“Who was it?”

Sam could tell from the tone of her silence that Jocelyn was smiling. “Worried, are you?”

“Curious,” Sam told her.

“I suspect it was James.”

“Your son.”

“That’s the one. It was definitely witchcraft that was responsible, and as far as I know there are only three witches alive who can shake the cosmos like that. James is the only one who’s stupid and emotionally unstable enough to actually do it, though. It was probably an accident.”

Sam did not like the idea of ‘shaking the cosmos,’ though he was worried it wasn’t inaccurate. “If he’s that powerful, you should have done a better job of either keeping him on your side or killing him.”

“You don’t say,” Jocelyn said, tone flat.

Sam didn’t say anything else and led her and Henry the rest of the way down the stairs, through both sets of doors and into the castle proper. “Have you given any thought to my suggestion from last time we spoke?” Jocelyn asked as Sam took her down the hallway.

It was obvious that she was being vague in case Henry were some kind of spy. “Your suggestion that I marry your daughter and help you overthrow my father?” Sam asked. “No.”

“Really?” Jocelyn sounded unsurprised. “I didn’t think you’d be the type to so simply dismiss options when you’ve so few of them.”

“I’m not,” Sam told her, turning right and leading them down a set of winding steps. “But I prefer boys.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen this part of the castle before.” Sam could hear Jocelyn looking at Henry.

“I’m told that seeing new things is fun,” Sam said, as Henry moved past him to open the door at the bottom of the steps. He led Jocelyn into the short hallway and through another door, which he undid a ward on, and into the room with the centipede pit, which was quiet at the moment.

“What’s going on?” Jocelyn asked, her footsteps echoing a little. Sam heard her move to the rail around the pit, then shift. “I have a hard time believing your father asked you to take me down here.”

“He didn’t.”

“You’re willing to risk his wrath? That’s new.”

“Is it?” Sam asked. “You don’t know me as well as you think.”

Jocelyn was silent for a minute. “Sam, where is your father?”

Ah, the tone of her voice told Sam that she’d finally figured it out. He gestured towards the pit. “Oh.”

“He’s been digested by now, so don’t bother looking,” Sam said, nonchalant.

“I see.” Jocelyn was silent for a moment, then let out an audible breath. “You went to quite a bit of trouble set up this reveal. You’ve got your father’s flair for the dramatic. May I presume that now is the part where you tell me that I’ll meet the same fate if I don’t do as you say?”

Sam had hoped that Jocelyn would simply assume that without either of them having to voice the threat. It was less tacky that way. “You may presume whatever you want.”

“Oh, look at you being cool.” Jocelyn’s tone was mocking again. “It goes without saying that I’ll be working with you in your father’s place. I was never that attached to him anyway.”

“Is that the ease with which you’ll leap to my successor’s side as well?” Sam asked.

“Of course. Do you think I’m stupid?”

Sam smiled. “No, I don’t. In that case, we can start with you telling me what you and Solomon were up to.”

“Generally or in specific?”

“Both,” Sam said. “I did tell you he wasn’t fond of sharing information. Especially with me.” Sam hated having to ask. But he also hated not knowing, and if Jocelyn knew, he had to get it out of her. Henry had convinced him that asking was a better first step than torturing her.

Maybe he was being weaned off torture. Sam was going to have to flay someone later just in case.

“Fair enough.” Jocelyn paused for a moment, collecting her thoughts. Sam heard her foot tapping. “Well, in short, he and I were conspiring to collect the four other stones related to that one he had—which I presume you now have.”

“I do,” Sam confirmed. It was in his pocket. “What did you want with them?”

“Power. His is tuned to sorcerers, I’d be given the one tuned to witches, my husband or my daughter the one for necromancers and the ones for wizards and mages he’d distribute to mysterious friends of his and don’t ask, because I don’t know who they are.”

“That’s it?” Sam asked. “Power?” It sounded too small for Solomon, and what was more, it didn’t match what Solomon had told Sam before he’d died.

“Yes. Power is an end to itself. But with it, we’d carve out what we wanted from the world, bring our enemies under our heel, never be challenged, that sort of thing. A bit trite, maybe, but don’t discount the base impulses of humans.” Jocelyn didn’t sound like she was lying. But that might just mean she was a good liar.

Sam thought about that for a good minute. “And this was Solomon’s plan? Did he have help coming up with it?”

“I’d be more likely to say we came up with something similar independently before we met. If you’re asking whether he was working on it before he knew me, then yes.”

She didn’t know about the demon who’d visited Sam in the night. Not with the way she was talking about the plan, not with the things that she obviously didn’t know. Solomon hadn’t told her.

“He planned to kill you,” Sam said, realizing all of that.

“Excuse me? And here I thought he didn’t tell you anything.”

“What you just told me is different from what he said before he died. It’s different from what I found in his notes. He thought that gathering all five of the stones would make him a god. Him, personally. He never mentioned you or anyone else.”

The quiet in the centipede pit stretched three ways. Sam waited, Jocelyn considered, and Henry bit his tongue. He would know Sam was lying, because that wasn’t what was in Solomon’s notes. Sam might have to tell him the truth later.

But fortunately, Henry kept his mouth shut. “Interesting,” Jocelyn said, contemplative. “He was slightly more insane than I’d realized. I suppose in that case I ought to be glad he never managed to get his hands on any other stones. His agent in Merket had the necromancer and wizard stones, but they were stolen out from under him before he could retrieve them for himself.”

More information Sam hadn’t had. “He had a plan to retrieve the mages’ stone from Three Hills as well. I sent the signal to enact the plan not long ago.”

“But no stone.”

“Not yet.” Sam had no way of knowing whether the plan had worked. He didn’t even know what the plan was.

“And the witches’ stone is currently bound to James’s soul, so there’s no way to get to it and even if you could get past him—bearing in mind that he can rattle the world at a whim—it’s unusable by anyone else as long as he’s alive.” Jocelyn made an annoyed noise. “Perhaps some new plans are in order. Assuming you don’t plan to pick up your father’s slack and kill me in your deification.”

“Being a god sounds boring.” It sounded like Jocelyn’s son was in the same position with his stone as Sam was. At least that explained how he was so powerful. It also probably meant Sam was just as strong as he was. “You have nothing to fear from me.”

“A lie if I ever heard one, but I’ll accept it for now.”

Sam smiled. “I want to hear all the details of your planning with Solomon, and then we’ll talk about some new plans. Join me for dinner.”

“Lead the way, your Majesty.”

Sam smiled, led Jocelyn out of the centipede pit. “Looks like you were right,” he said to Henry.

“Yeah.” Henry sighed. From his position, it probably would have been better had Sam just tortured Jocelyn instead of allying with her. But it was too late for that now.

Well, it was never too late to torture someone, but anyway.

“I’ll reward you later.”

“You know what I want,” Henry said, impatient.

“Soon.”

Henry made a noise, and Sam just smiled as the two of them followed him to dinner.

Chapter Text

“Tell me, Lord Hans, how much longer do you think before the king and queen notice that you’re missing?” Sam asked, sipping at his wine. He didn’t like how lightheaded wine made him feel, so he only ever drank a small amount of it at a time. But he didn’t want to appear as a child who couldn’t handle drink, so he’d had two cups tonight.

“No doubt they already have,” Hans rumbled. He’d had more than two cups of wine, Sam was fairly certain. Servants were clearing away the table from their supper.

“And yet they’ve sent nobody to come rescue you. Why is that?”

Beside Sam, Henry was trying hard not to fidget, and knowing that was making it hard for Sam not to smile. He was playing a game with Henry the last several days, one Henry didn’t know about. Using a slightly dampened version of the same arousal spell he’d used on Henry once before, Sam had been influencing Henry’s libido for four days now, making his body want sex while at the same time not touching Henry once.

Inevitably it would build to the point where Henry would take it out on someone in the castle, and Sam was curious to know who.

“They know that I can handle myself,” Hans said, defensive. “They have no cause to be worried.”

“Or perhaps they don’t care,” Sam suggested. “They did send you here, after all. Did you consider the possibility that they were trying to be rid of you?”

Sam could hear Hans stiffen. “Of course not. I’ve given them no reason for that, and my brother would never do such a thing.”

“Hm.” Sam drank the last of his wine. If his brother wouldn’t do such a thing, then Sam wondered why it mattered that Hans had never given them reason to. “Mine would, but I suppose our families are very different.”

“Clearly,” Hans muttered, into his cup.

“Hm,” Sam said again, pushing back his chair and putting his cup down. “Thank you for the lovely conversation, Lord Hans. I’m afraid I grow tired. I’ll look forward to our next chat.”

“As will I,” Hans lied, as Sam stood up.

Sam turned away and headed for the door of the dining room, letting Henry precede him to open it. Outside the room, Cole was waiting, and Sam said to him, “Do let Lord Hans keep drinking until he’s finished before you take him back to his room.”

“Sure thing, your Majesty,” Cole said, in that slightly mocking tone.

Sam kept walking, with Henry behind him now. As he went, Cole asked, “You’re the Arkhewer boy, aren’t you?”

Henry went tense behind Sam. Sam smiled. “Yes.” Henry’s voice was hoarse. “I am.”

“Thought so,” Cole said. “You look like your dad.”

“You…” Henry took in a breath, didn’t say anything else, or at least didn’t say what he’d been planning to say. “You’re not very good at your job. There were only four of us and you let me get away. I’m surprised that Solomon put up with that level of incompetence.”

“Careful, kid. When his Majesty gets bored with you I can always finish the job.”

“As if you’re anything without a squad of thugs behind you,” Henry shot.

“You want to find out?” Cole asked, cocky.

“You’re both boring the hell out of me,” Sam told them, still walking. “Compare sizes later when I don’t have to listen to it.”

“Understood, your Majesty,” Cole said, armour clanking as he saluted. Henry just snorted, and followed after Sam.

“God,” Sam muttered as they headed for his rooms. “He’s more obnoxious than I realized. Why did Solomon put up with him?”

“Because Solomon was just as much a psychopath as he is.”

“Aw,” Sam teased. “And here I thought that was a word you only used for me, Henry. I thought it was a term of endearment.”

“Yeah, well.” Henry made an agitated noise. “You’re my favourite psychopath, how’s that?”

“That makes me happy,” Sam admitted, mocking. But it did, in a strange way. “You’re mine too.”

“I’m not…” Henry trailed off, making that noise again.

They got to Sam’s room and Henry opened the door, and shut it behind them.

Todd was in there, clattering around, cleaning up. Or whatever the hell it was that he did in here when Sam wasn’t around. “Oh, good evening, your Majesty.”

Sam ignored him, heading for the adjoining room, intending to leave Todd and Henry alone, just out of curiosity. As he went, he sent a pulse of power into Henry, increasing the arousal spell.

“Todd, come back in the morning,” Henry told him, voice a little deeper than usual. Sam paused, wondering what that was about.

“I…”

“Get out,” Henry ordered, gently. He was too gentle with Todd.

Sam didn’t say anything to contradict Henry, and Todd shuffled out of the room, door clicking shut behind him. Henry came up behind Sam. “What was that all about?” he asked. It would have been funny if he could have gotten Henry to rape Todd.

Henry put a hand on Sam’s wrist, pushed him into the wall. “What the fuck?”

Sam could hear Henry swallow, just holding Sam there against the wall. Sam’s power was crawling up his body, demanding to be unleashed against Henry for this, but Sam didn’t do anything yet. Their bodies were pressed together and Sam could feel Henry’s hardness through his pants. “What’s the matter with you? Sam asked.

Henry answered by leaning down and kissing Sam on the mouth, just once. Then he pulled back as if surprised that he’d done it, breathing on Sam’s face. Sam stood still, not sure how to react.

He hadn’t considered the possibility that Henry would take his sexual frustration out on him.

“That was unexpected,” Sam said, quiet. “Something you want to tell me?”

Henry reached up, brushed a finger along Sam’s jaw. “You know, you’re…”

“What?”

“You’re pretty cute,” Henry whispered, and he kissed Sam again. “Actually. I was surprised the first time I saw you.”

Sam felt hot all over at that. “Expected horns, did you?” he managed.

“I don’t know.” Henry’s voice was clouded by lust, just like his thoughts. He started kissing Sam again, more intently this time, tongue probing into Sam’s mouth as he did. He let go of Sam’s wrist, hands wandering down, lifting Sam’s shirt.

Sam let Henry take it off, wrapped his arms around Henry now. He tried to get Henry’s shirt off but Henry started kissing him again, harder now, pressing Sam against the wall, grinding their hips together. Sam kissed back, doing what Henry was doing, liking this more than he knew he should be.

Henry reached down as they kissed, trying to open the front of Sam’s pants with one hand and not really succeeding. “Stop being so gentle,” Sam whispered between kisses. “They’re just clothes.”

Henry grunted and reached his other hand down, ripping the front of Sam’s pants open and then doing the same to his smallclothes, pulling Sam’s erection free and gripping it in one hand, rutting clothed against Sam as he resumed kissing him.

With a louder grunt, Henry stiffened against Sam a moment later and filled his pants with cum, jerking Sam off furiously and keeping him pressed against the wall. A minute of that, of Henry kissing him, moving off his mouth and kissing Sam’s chin, his neck, his collar, and Sam came too, squirting into Henry’s hand and up in between them.

Sam slumped a little, finished, but Henry kept going, taking his hand off of Sam and still kissing his neck. Sam whimpered a little, and Henry started to push his own pants down. “What’s the matter, Sam?” Henry whispered, as his cock sprang free and he rubbed it against Sam’s. “Aren’t you going to stop me?”

“Why…” Sam swallowed. “Why should I do that?”

“You hate this,” Henry said, thrusting against Sam now. “You hate that I’m in control of you, that I’m doing this to you. You hate not being the one calling the shots.”

Sam did hate those things. But Henry didn’t know that Sam was the one in charge—he’d made Henry feel this way, and he could easily force Henry to stop if he wanted to. He knew that if he told Henry to let Sam have his way, let Sam do whatever he wanted, Henry would. But that was boring. This, this was fun.

Especially because he already knew how guilty Henry was going to feel afterwards. “Go ahead and do what you want,” he said, smiling. “You’ve had a stressful few weeks. Have some fun.”

“I…” Henry sounded agitated, but he pressed Sam harder against the wall. “I don’t believe you,” he whispered. “You’re going to stop me. You’re not going to let me do this.”

Sam wondered what Henry was planning to do. He had an idea or two, but he wondered if Henry had had those ideas too. “I’m not making you do anything, Henry,” Sam told him. “You can stop if you want. You could even do this to someone else. I promise not to stop you.”

“No,” Henry said, and his hand was in between Sam’s legs. His fingers were wet; Sam wondered when he’d done that. “I’m not…you’re not…” It sounded almost like a whimper, the way he said that, and he pressed his fingers, both of them, up into Sam.

Sam grunted, flinching at the intrusion, at the pain that came with it. He couldn’t help but tense, but he bore the pain just fine, and Henry jammed his fingers all the way into Sam, pushing them apart, trying to stretch Sam open. Sam tried to stop resisting him, he knew it would hurt less if he did. He also knew where this was going and if he couldn’t handle some fingers, it was going to get a whole lot worse in a minute.

“Knew you wouldn’t like it,” Henry muttered, still pressed against Sam. “You’re going to stop me.”

It sounded, Sam realized, like a plea.

“I’m not,” Sam told him. “I’m not going to stop you. Why would I stop you taking what you want, Henry?”

Henry whimpered a little. And he pulled his fingers out, very suddenly grabbing Sam by the thighs and lifting him, Sam’s pants tearing completely as he did. Sam yelped a little as he was pinned to the wall, but then he felt Henry poking at his stretched hole, and he couldn’t help the strangled cry he gave as Henry pressed into him, up and up and into him and it hurt, more than Sam had realized it would. It took everything he had to hold his power back, to bite his tongue and not rip Henry to shreds, to let Henry penetrate him until he was all the way in.

Or not; Henry pulled back a little and pushed, going in even farther, ignoring Sam’s cry and kissing Sam’s neck again as he kept pushing, until finally Sam was sure he couldn’t go in any farther. Sam was perfectly aware of how big Henry was, but he felt so much bigger like this.

Sam hated that a tear ran down his face, eyes clenched in pain. Henry kissed that tear. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“No you’re not,” Sam gritted, arms around Henry’s neck. He wrapped his legs around Henry’s waist to keep himself in place. “I’ve told you about apologizing.”

“Yeah.” Henry let out a breath onto Sam’s cheek and he started moving, back and forth, up and down, in and out of Sam. Never totally out, never more than halfway, and getting faster and faster every time he pushed back in. Sam moved with him, bucking his hips a bit, rubbing his cock against Henry’s shirt as he moved, trying to create enough friction to cum.

It wasn’t enough though, and when Henry gave a particularly hard thrust, slamming Sam against the wall as he started to cum, Sam made a frustrated noise, the pain having ebbed to a gentle throb by now.

When he was done, Henry lifted Sam off him, nearly dropping him on the floor, though he did help Sam stand. “You okay?”

Sam was pretty sure he wasn’t. “Please, I barely felt that. It’s not a fraction of what I’ve done to you.”

“Yeah,” Henry whispered, panting.

“You’re not done, are you?” Sam demanded, reaching out finding Henry’s cock, still hard. Sam was shaking a little. “I’m sure that wasn’t all you wanted, was it?”

“I…I’m fine. I just…”

Sam patted Henry on the cheek, stroking his cock a little. Henry was hot in the face. “You’re too nice. To me, of all people? After everything I’ve done to you? You deserve to take what you want from me, don’t you?”

Sam expected resistance. He expected Henry to protest, to devolve into tears, to insist that he wasn’t like that. He wasn’t expecting Henry to snatch his arm, spin Sam around and slam him up against the stone wall again, pressing against him, breathing hard on his neck. And after only a moment’s indecision, he lined himself back up and slammed his cock back into Sam, much, much harder this time. Sam couldn’t hold in his cry as Henry forced his way back in and started moving, far harder than he had before, properly fucking Sam this time.

Henry had Sam’s arm pinned behind his back and he covered Sam’s wrist with his other hand, breath falling hot on Sam as he fucked him into the wall. It hurt, it hurt inside and it hurt in front where Sam was pressed up against the rough stone, scraping his skin as Henry went on, relentless, grunting like an animal.

The pain faded for the most part and was replaced with a numbness as Sam got used to Henry. He’d done this, he reminded himself as Henry fucked him, he’d made Henry do this. This was all Sam’s doing. He’d asked for this, demanded it. It was part of the game, part of what he was doing to Henry, that was all. The tears on his cheeks would make Henry feel bad later.

Sam slipped, losing a bit of feeling in his legs, and Henry hauled him up a little, painfully, by his arms, and started going at him harder as if to nail him to the wall. The new angle was slightly different and suddenly, Henry hit something that Sam hadn’t known was there, something that sent a surge of pleasure through Sam, something that made him cry out for a totally different reason. He was hitting that over and over now, and Sam was rutting against the wall, trying to go that extra inch, trying to get himself over.

And he did, clenching his body with a cry as he came against the stone, harder than he thought ever had. “You like that,” Henry whispered, voice rough. “You fucking like this, you little…ng.” Henry came again, heat filling Sam once more as he covered Sam’s body with his.

But Henry wasn’t done, he kept going, more slowly, fucking Sam through his own orgasm and not stopping. Sam had been keeping him in a state of arousal for several days, after all.

Held up entirely by Henry’s hands and his cock, Sam didn’t have the energy to protest as Henry just kept fucking him, for Sam didn’t even know how long, until with a groan, he came again, his cum spilling out around him, running down Sam’s legs.

Only then did he pull out, let go of Sam’s arms, and catch him before he fell.

“That’s better,” Sam muttered, as Henry half-carried him to the bed.

“You liked it,” Henry said, laying Sam down. It was an accusation.

“So did you,” Sam accused back, smiling as he listened to Henry undress. Some part of him liked that Henry had kept his clothes on throughout that. He reached out with his senses and cancelled the arousal spell, deciding to call the experiment a success.

“Yeah.” Henry admitted, climbing into bed with Sam. “Sex is good when it’s not rape.”

“Hm.” Sam wondered. It was pretty good when it was rape, too. “You really wanted me to stop you.”

“Yeah.”

Sam moved, laying his head on Henry’s chest as Henry pulled the blanket over them. He wanted a bath, but he wanted sleep more. He couldn’t feel his legs. “I’m glad I didn’t.”

Henry didn’t answer that.

Sam smiled. “You can kill Cole whenever you want.”

“What? I...”

“I’m feeling generous,” Sam explained.

“Thank you,” Henry whispered, putting an arm around Sam.

“Is it going to hurt?”

Henry was quiet for a long time about that, and Sam waited patiently, though he was drifting off. “Yes,” Henry finally said.

“Good. I’m glad. Let me know if you need any help.”

“I can do it.”

Sam shifted a little. “I know you can, Henry.”

Chapter Text

“What’s that you’re working on?”

Sam didn’t pause in his spellwork. It was very delicate. “What do you think it is?” And why in the world did Henry feel entitled to bother him with it?

“Looks like a collar.”

“Huh,” Sam said. There was a clatter of dishes in the corner and he tried to ignore it. Todd was training the new servant boy, Derek. Sam reminded himself that if he killed every new servant boy who annoyed him, he’d have an endless succession of new servant boys to put up with. “I guess eyesight is all it’s cracked up to be after all.”

“You know, I think you making jokes is actually scarier than you trying to be threatening.”

Sam grunted. Henry had been taking that conversational tone with him a lot more since they’d had sex the other day. “I don’t try to be threatening. It’s not my fault if people are threatened by me.”

Henry made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a scoff. “No, I guess it’s not. What’s the collar for?”

Sam frowned when a metal cup hit the floor, letting out a patient sigh at Derek’s whispered apology. “What would you do if I said it was for you?”

“What would you do if I laughed at you?”

Something had definitely changed in Henry lately. Sam didn’t answer for a second, listening to the two in the corner. He wondered if they were friends or if Todd was just putting up with Derek. He wondered if he tried to hurt Derek, if Todd would offer to take his place or let him do it. He had a feeling he knew. “It’s for stopping a practitioner from using his magic,” he finally said. “The spells I’ve got on Hans’s wizard require a lot of attention from me. This wouldn’t.” He smiled. “Don’t get any ideas. I’m making the spells, so they won’t work on me, and I’ll have the key to open them anyway.”

Assuming Sam could do them properly. They were complicated and he was figuring them out as he went.

“You’re going to collar Hans’s wizard?”

“Among others,” Sam agreed. “Eventually we’ll find Saul and Sarah.”

“How do you know they won’t be happy you killed Solomon? Maybe they’ll work for you,” Henry suggested.

Sam snorted. “You haven’t met them. Sarah used to practice spells on me and Saul liked to move furniture around when I wasn’t in rooms so I’d walk into things. They both liked to pretend to read books to me and make everything up so I’d look stupid when I repeated it later.”

“So they teased you as a kid, and now you want revenge?” Henry asked, not sounding impressed. “That’s it?”

Sam scowled, his power reacting to that jibe. He had to fight down the surge of it that came with the flash of frustration, crawling up his arms like termites. The stone pulsed in his pocket. “You say that like it’s a bad reason.”

“To kill your only living family?” Henry asked, letting out a breath. “I guess not.”

“There is my sister Sylvia,” Sam said quietly, ignoring the few memories of her that surfaced. “She might be alive, unless dad managed to kill her without telling me.” Which was totally possible.

“You liked her.”

“I was young when she left. I remember her being nice to me. It doesn’t matter; if she’s smart she’ll never come back.”

“Would you hurt her if she did?” Henry asked, voice a little quieter now.

Sam had to push back another ripple of power, the corresponding throb from the stone making it harder. “I don’t know,” he said honestly, and then clenched his jaw when he heard another dish fall. “Learn to keep your hands steady or I’ll cut them off,” he snapped.

“I’m sorry, your Majesty…” Derek’s voice squeaked, trembling.

Sam balled his hands into fists, trying to push back his power again. It pushed against him, pressed, pulled, tore up and down his body, wanting to be released, and it was a fight to keep it in check. The stone pushed with it, longing to be used, to tear something apart, to destroy.

The furniture around Sam rattled, and the air started to smell like smoke.

No, Sam thought, using everything he had to keep his power in check. It was his power, it was going to do as he wanted. He was the master here, not the other way around.

Derek whimpered a little in the corner, and Sam hissed a little from the effort of not boiling the blood in his veins. “Get out,” he said. “All of you, now.”

Todd whispered something and two sets of footsteps rushed for the door, which opened and, after a pause, shut again. “You too, Henry,” Sam ordered, annoyed that he had to say it twice.

“Since when are you afraid to hurt me?” Henry asked, still sitting in his chair from the sounds of it.

“I’m…ah!” Sam doubled over, a wave of power sweeping over him that sent a field of electrified air through the room. Henry grunted in discomfort or pain, but he didn’t get up.

No,” Sam said, clenching everything, pressing the power down, putting it back in its place. It fought, but it went, and a moment later it quieted, leaving Sam panting in the chair.

Henry had the sense to stay quiet until Sam had recovered something resembling composure. “What was that?”

“That was me being pissed off,” Sam growled.

“I thought you had your powers under control,” Henry said, cautious.

It annoyed Sam that he’d been that obvious, but Henry wasn’t going to tell anyone, he figured. How he knew that, Sam wasn’t sure. “I do. But sorcery is a power that wants to be used, and it’s something that needs to be contained. The stone makes that harder. It’s not a problem.”

“Hm,” Henry said. “You just shook the room by mistake.”

“It happens.”

“What if it happens again but worse?”

“Then Derek will die before he can drop another cup,” Sam snapped.

Henry took in a breath. “He’s scared. He’ll get over it. Is there nobody you can ask for help? Other sorcerers?”

Sam snorted in derision. Too familiar. Henry was getting too brave. “Ask someone weaker than me for help? Even if I wanted to, Solomon was sure to cut ties with all the other clans, and they wouldn’t know what to do with the stone bound to them anyway. The only person with experience with a stone is…”

“Jocelyn’s son?” Henry asked, when Sam didn’t finish speaking.

“Maybe I should…” Sam trailed off again, thinking. “I have to take his stone from him. Maybe I should pay him a visit.”

He wasn’t going to ask Jocelyn’s son for help. But maybe if he got a sense of how he controlled his stone, Sam could learn something.

“Are you going to kill him?” Henry asked.

“I don’t know. Depends on how it plays out,” Sam muttered, still thinking.

“Just that he’d be a useful friend to have.”

“And a dangerous enemy, I know,” Sam said, sighing. He hadn’t forgotten Jocelyn’s comment about him shaking the cosmos. Sam figured the son was about as powerful as him, but with the benefit of experience letting him have greater control over the stone. Not someone to be afraid of, but not someone to pick a fight with unnecessarily, either.

“He might agree to help you if you offer him his mother,” Henry suggested.

Sam frowned. “When did you get so invested in all this?” Henry wasn’t wrong. Sam wasn’t used to Henry not being wrong.

Henry was quiet for a while. “That’s a good question.”

Sam smiled now. “I’ll need to do a divination spell to find his exact location in that forest. Then we’ll pay the little witch a visit.”

Between that and Henry’s new attitude, Sam was in a much better mood all of the sudden.

Chapter Text

“Are you nervous?”

Sam sighed, listening to the thrum of the teleportation circle he’d drawn up in an empty room. “No, of course…”

“Of course I’m not, stop being an idiot, Henry,” Henry said, interrupting him. “I know. You look nervous.”

Sam paused, wondering at what had just happened. He should be furious that Henry was mocking him. But he…wasn’t. “I should tear your tongue out for that.”

“Are you going to?”

Sam turned to face the spell circle. “No. I’ve…never left the castle before.”

Henry’s silence was palpable. “Never?”

And that tone of voice, disbelief laced with pity, was exactly the reason Sam had never told Henry that. “Solomon wasn’t exactly in a hurry to let everyone meet his broken youngest son.”

Henry was quiet for another minute. “Are you just going to stand there?” Sam demanded.

“You should go,” Henry said. “Outside. Take a tour of the Plateau. It’s your kingdom. You should get out to experience it, at least once.”

That was the stupidest thing Sam had ever heard. “Why would I do that?”

“Because it would do your subjects good to know that you’re a real person who they don’t want to piss off, not just your asshole guards.”

“I’m sure they know that. They can’t be that stupid.”

“You’d be surprised. People don’t believe something is real until they see or hear it for themselves. Meeting you would remind them to stay in line.”

Sam had to admit, Henry wasn’t totally wrong. Something that was getting more common lately. “I’ll think about it,” he said, taking a breath. “After I get back.”

“After we get back?”

“Did I stutter?”

“You’re not going there by yourself, Sam.”

Sam sighed, turned back to Henry. “Of course I am. What the fuck do you think you’re going to do?” He didn’t know when in the planning of this Henry had decided he was coming, but it was annoying. Sam didn’t need a babysitter.

“Stop you from tripping over a tree root?” Henry suggested. “I have a feeling you wouldn’t like that much. Bad first impression to make.”

“Be that as it may…”

“What, do you think I’m going to try and stop you? After all this time, you still don’t trust me, Sam?”

“Stop interrupting me!” Sam snarled, raising his voice a little. “Stop. You’ve been doing that too much lately. Forgetting yourself.” Forgetting who Sam was.

It was a different quiet, this time. “I’ll be more careful.”

“Yes, you will.”

“You haven’t been punishing me.”

That was a stupid thing to say. “Do you want me to?”

“No. I’m just saying, you haven’t been hurting me lately. Made me wonder if you’d moved the line when I wasn’t paying attention.”

Sam wanted to ask what line Henry was talking about, but he had shit to do and so he just pretended he knew, stepped into the spell circle. “I haven’t. Get in here.”

Henry did as he was told, quietly stepping up beside Sam.

“If you make me look like a fool…”

“I know.”

Sam let his power go, activated the teleportation spell he’d set up to the woods. It should be accurate to within a few dozen feet of the centre of Jocelyn’s son’s little temper tantrum from a while ago.

The world crashed away as Sam and Henry teleported, leaving them in a state of disassembly as they tore through nothing, hurtling at top speed through a void, through a lack. There was no sound, no sensation, nothing, but still Sam was Sam, and he knew he was there, and he didn’t like it. He’d never teleported before and hadn’t realized it was this bad.

The whole point of teleportation was that it was instantaneous, but it felt to Sam to take a whole lot longer than that. Every time he thought it must be over, he was reminded that time no longer existed and that everything about them was gone right now.

There was nothing here, but suddenly Sam felt a wall. Or a hand. Keeping them in place. They were still moving, screaming through emptiness forever, but something was stopping them from getting to their destination, a power foreign to Sam, but one he knew, one he recognized, one he’d felt before.

The world snapped back as he realized that, and Sam was hit with more disorientation than he’d ever had in his life. Which was due in part to the lack of ground beneath his feet. Before he could even process anything around him, Sam fell, fell into cold and current.

His power reacted, trying to blow his attacker away, an explosion of rushing water filling the air, but it didn’t work, the water kept coming, and Sam…

Henry’s hand was on Sam’s arm, pulling him. Pulling him up, above the water. “Fuck. You okay?”

“What the hell?” Sam demanded, panting for breath. The water was still rushing past his chest.

“We’re in a river,” Henry told him, also panting. “In the woods, there’s a house just there.”

Oh. Sam tried to calm down, tried to force his power back into submission. “Right. Okay. That will be where he lives.”

“Yeah.” Henry tugged at Sam’s arm, getting him to walk. Sam tripped over a stone and Henry helped him keep his feet, wisely not saying anything. “This was a bad place to set us down,” he said.

“I didn’t fucking pick it,” Sam snarled. “Not like I knew what the area was like. And there was a…wall, or something.”

“Like a shield?”

A ward. Sam should have fucking known there would be a ward. “Yes. It knocked us aside a bit, I think. He must have put it up to protect himself. Fucking asshole. We weren’t supposed to land in the fucking river. Probably did that on purpose. I’m going to fucking…”

“Sam,” Henry interrupted, as they got out of the water. He squeezed Sam’s arm as he spoke, and his tone was worried all of the sudden.

Sam paused in his tirade, listened. He could hear wind, birds, plants rustling, water roaring. He couldn’t feel any magic that would suggest that a witch lived nearby. Just a strange buzz in the air. But Henry’s tone was enough to tell him that they weren’t alone.

Sam straightened, trying to pretend he wasn’t soaking wet from having just teleported into a river. “Watch out,” a male voice called out, loud enough to be heard. “That plant there will trap you if you’re not careful.”

At least one of them knew what the person there was talking about, because Henry pushed Sam slightly to the left. Either towards the dangerous plant or away from it, Sam had no way of knowing.

“This isn’t how I’m used to receiving visitors,” a quieter voice said. He sounded uncertain, maybe to hide fear.

This was James, Sam figured. He should have been able to tell a magic practitioner this close, even one using a different power. But Sam didn’t feel anything coming from the person in front of him. Maybe it wasn’t James after all. Maybe these were his servants or something.

Henry gaze Sam a squeeze that made Sam realize he’d been standing there without answering. “No doubt,” he said. “Are you Jocelyn’s son?” The easiest way to find out was to ask, and Sam had decided, as much as it pained him, that he had to be polite for this. Just in case.

“Yes,” the quiet voice said, quieter now. “Who are you?”

So this was James. Unless he was lying, but Sam had a feeling he wasn’t. Maybe he wasn’t as powerful as advertised. Maybe that outburst before had all been the stone, and James himself wasn’t anything worth noting. Sam smiled. “My father was friends with your mother.”

“Solomon.” James’s voice was a whisper. “You’re Solomon’s son.” He definitely sounded afraid now. Henry had gone still beside Sam. Sam was just trying not to shiver.

“That’s right,” Sam confirmed, wondering if James would do something stupid with that information. Part of him hoped so. “I want to talk to you. I think we have some things in common.” It would be easy, now that he knew how powerful James wasn’t, to just kill him. And Sam was thinking about it, just putting an end to a potential problem right now.

There was a moment of quiet, which Sam didn’t blame James for. He probably knew his life was in the balance here. “Okay. You look cold. Why don’t you come inside and we can have some tea to warm you up?”

Sam scowled. He could hear James and the other person, his servant, walking away. “Are you okay?” Henry whispered to him.

“Fine,” Sam said, still considering. “He’s weak. I could kill him.”

“He can’t help you if he’s dead.”

Sam considered that too. “I guess.” He sighed, set off to follow. “I don’t think he’s powerful enough to have done what happened here. I wonder if it was someone else after all.” One of those other witches Joceyln had mentioned, maybe.

“I don’t see anyone else around,” Henry told him, as they started walking. Sam found he didn’t hate Henry’s hand on his arm as much as he thought he would. If they were in front of people who mattered, that would be one thing. But here in the middle of nowhere, it was fine. “It’s just a garden and a small house behind a big wall of tree roots.”

Tree roots? “Guess he’s scared of intruders.”

“I guess.” Henry fell quiet, and a moment later they stopped walking.

Sam heard a door open. “Come on in. Ron, why don’t you stay out here with Sam’s friend and show him around?”

Sam wondered what that was about. Maybe he didn’t want his servant to see him in case he had to beg for his life. It was a prudent decision.

“Sure.”

“I don’t…”

“It’s fine, Henry,” Sam interrupted, gesturing to shut Henry up. He put his hand out, found the doorframe, and took a step inside what smelled like a not very clean house. Henry sounded worried, but it wasn’t like he had any cause to be. Unless he thought James’s servant was going to hurt him, but that wasn’t Sam’s problem.

Besides, he knew Henry would be fine.

He took a step into the house, heard footfalls behind him, and the door shut. “There’s a chair about three paces in front of you,” James said quietly from behind Sam. It seemed he said everything quietly.

Sam took those three paces, felt around. There was indeed a chair there, and he sat in it, finding the table easily enough after that. It was all made from rough wood by the feel of it. “Thank you,” Sam said, remembering to be polite. Just for fun.

“I’ll make us some tea,” James said, moving through the room, and Sam heard him clattering things about for a second. “The river’s not warm at this time of year.”

“Then you shouldn’t have dunked me there,” Sam said. James would pay for that.

A strange silence. “I didn’t. You weren’t very careful in your choice of landing point. But it’s hardly your fault when you’ve never been here.”

Sam was fairly certain that James was lying, but he let it go. For now. “I hope I didn’t scare you by appearing suddenly.”

“No,” James lied, coming to sit at the table without tea. The kettle must be boiling. “Only surprised. You said your father and my mother were friends. Are they not anymore?”

“Not since my father died.” Sam smiled, and he had to keep himself from laughing into James’s quiet.

“You killed him.”

It wasn’t a question. “Yes,” Sam answered. “I did.”

“Where’s my mother?”

“I don’t know,” Sam said, and it wasn’t a lie. He didn’t know where Jocelyn lived. “But she visits the castle every so often still. She wants to work with me the way she worked with him. She talks about you sometimes. You know she wants to kill you, right?”

“I know. She wants…”

“The stone.”

“Yes.” James got up, and he clattered around again. The kettle was whistling. “What happened to your father’s?”

“I have it,” Sam told him, fingering it in his pocket.

James didn’t say anything else until he was back at the table, setting a cup in front of Sam. “It’s hot. You have no intention of returning it, do you?”

Of course Sam didn’t have any intention of returning the stone to the other sorcerers. Even if it weren’t his, he’d never do that. Stealing it was probably the only wise decision Solomon had ever made. “It’s bound to me,” was what Sam said instead of that. The longer he played the polite kid, the more likely James was to tell him something useful. And this was what he’d come for.

More silence. James communicated in those as far as Sam could tell. It was obnoxious.

“Do you want sugar?”

He was changing the subject to give himself time to think. “No.” Sam sipped the tea, wincing when it was hot.

“You were right, we do have some things in common,” James said, and Sam heard him tapping what sounded like his finger against the table. “What do you really want from me?”

“This is good tea,” Sam said, because two could play at the changing the subject game.

“Thanks, I used a poison you can’t taste, otherwise it mars the flavour.”

Sam choked, nearly dropping his cup immediately, power running up his spine as he…

“A joke,” James said, sounding like he was laughing. “Not a good one. Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“Nothing scares me,” Sam assured him, deciding he was done being nice. If James was going to mock him, he was going to show James which of them was in charge here. Sam’s power skittered up his body, clawing its way forward, prepared to lash out.

And then it stopped. Something closed over him, gently like a blanket, and Sam’s power wasn’t blocked so much as it just…fizzled out, suffocated. It had nowhere to go, and it receded, quiet. Sam frowned, felt the stone in his pocket, pulled through it, forcing his power back into the air, towards James.

It happened again, that sensation of being drowned out. He couldn’t use his power, he couldn’t get a grip on it. The buzzing feeling in the air, the one he felt everywhere, it was interfering with his power, as if it were somehow stronger than him. But that was impossible. James’s power was so weak Sam couldn’t even feel it from three feet away. There was no way he…

Sam suddenly realized why he couldn’t feel James’s power. It wasn’t because it was small. It was for the same reason that a fish didn’t know the shape of the ocean.

Because it was huge, and he was floating in the middle of it.

Sam sat there, struck, not sure what to do or say or…anything. From outside, he could hear the sounds of swords clashing. “Sounds like Ron and your Henry decided to have a contest,” James said, sipping his own tea. “I don’t understand the sword thing, myself. They always want to know which of them is better. I mean, unless they’re planning to attack each other, why does it matter which of them is stronger, you know?”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, finding his voice. He sounded quieter than he usually heard himself. He wished he could say he didn’t know what to do, but what really made him hate this was that he did. “It’s a waste of time, but as long as they’re having fun, I guess.”

“Mm.” James didn’t sound sure, but that was all he said on the subject. “How long have you been bound to the stone, Sam?”

“A few months now,” Sam said, hating how small his voice felt. How small he felt. He hadn’t felt like this since he’d killed Solomon.

“And you deal with it okay? It was hard for me, the first little while.”

“It’s fine,” Sam said, swallowing. “I control it fine.”

“Okay,” James said, and Sam had no idea what that meant. “I realized about a half-year in that it can’t be about control. The stones are…not sentient, but something. They’re difficult to control, maybe impossible. I realized I could fight it my whole life and not control it. So I learned to work with it instead, guiding rather than pushing. Like a conversation.” A pause. “But that’s just me. If you’re not having any trouble controlling it, you probably don’t need to hear me ramble. I hardly use the thing anyway, it’s in a drawer somewhere.” He said it like a joke.

Sam had his stone, and he’d been using it. James’s was in a drawer somewhere, and he hadn’t needed it to effortlessly eclipse Sam’s power. And he said it like a joke.

“If you want,” Sam said, to say something, to show he wasn’t afraid, “I could give you your mother. I could trap her next time she’s at the castle and bring her here.”

James reached over and picked up Sam’s fallen teacup, the sound suggesting he was moping up the mess with something. “That would be helpful. I need all four of them, though, not just mom. My father and brother and sister as well.”

“I’ve never met them.” Sam wasn’t sure how he’d trick Jocelyn into bringing her whole family to the castle without her catching on and disappearing.

James made a noise and sat back in his chair. “And what would you want in exchange for bringing them to me?”

Sam was a little surprised that James was agreeing so readily. He was more bloodthirsty than he seemed in his stupid little cottage. Sam smiled. “Cooperation.”

“With what?”

“My efforts to undo what Solomon and your mother were trying to do,” Sam told him.

James was quiet again for a second. Living with him must be the most obnoxious thing. “They wanted all the stones,” he said, and again it wasn’t a question. “But between your family and mine they can only use three of them at most. What about the other two? They had friends among the wizards and mages.”

James was smarter than Sam had thought. “They had friends everywhere.”

“Everywhere?”

“As far as I can tell.”

“Including on the Grand Coven of Witches?”

Sam had no idea, but he wouldn’t be surprised. “Yes.”

“Okay.” James was tapping something against the table.

“The friends all think I’m carrying out Solomon’s plans,” Sam continued. This had worked on Henry, it would probably work on James too.

“And you can’t risk betraying them all by yourself,” James finished. “I understand.” He said it in a patronizing way, like he understood how weak Sam was. Sam wasn’t weak. “No wonder you look so tired. You don’t sleep well, do you?”

Sam paused, trying to figure out what game James was playing now. “No,” he admitted, not sure why. “It doesn’t matter.” He almost wanted to tell James about the creature that had visited his bedroom, but he wasn’t going to do that. Either James would know what it was or he wouldn’t, and either way it would make Sam seem like a coward.

“Nightmares?” James guessed, getting up. He clattered around for a bit, came back and set what sounded like a bag on the table. “Boil some of this in tea before you go to bed and drink it. Just a tiny bit. It helps.”

Sam was absolutely not going to drink some cursed concoction given to him by a witch. “Thank you,” he said, taking what turned out to be a thick pouch and slipping it into his wet pocket. “I should get going. I’m sure you’re busy.”

“Not really. You could stay for supper if you like.”

“No.” Sam stood, pulling the chair out of his way. He felt like he was suffocating. “Thank you for your time.”

“Anytime. I look forward to seeing you again, Sam.” James stood as well, and he followed Sam the three steps to the door, something wooden thumping on the floor as he moved. Sam wondered if he was supposed to feel threatened by that comment.

Because he did.

“Henry,” Sam called, when he stepped outside. He didn’t hear swords ringing anymore.

“Here,” Henry called back, from somewhere off to Sam’s right.

“We’re leaving.” He hoped he didn’t sound too rushed. He could feel James standing beside him, part of the buzz that was ambient in the area. Sam had no idea how he’d been so stupid. It was so obvious that James’s power was everywhere.

“Okay.” Henry said something else, quieter, to James’s servant.

“Looks like they became friends,” James commented as they said their goodbyes for far too much time. He shouldn’t have let Henry be alone with either of them, should have insisted on Henry coming inside with him. But then he would have been there when James humiliated Sam.

“Good for them,” Sam muttered. “Henry doesn’t have any of those.” Maybe they’d decided on something. Maybe Henry had told James’s servant something important. Fuck.

A moment later he heard Henry approach, and Henry’s hand was back on his arm. “You got what you needed?’

“Yeah, let’s just go.” Sam tried not to growl as he pulled Henry away from the house.

“Nice to meet you, Sam,” James said from behind him, mocking. “Come back sometime.”

Sam waved a hand and teleported himself and Henry away.

That same sensation of travelling through a shattered nothing, but for much less time this time, and then they were back in the castle.

Sam snarled wordlessly and shoved Henry away, stalking out of the spell circle and putting his hand against the nearest wall, leaning there and just…breathing. His power was running amok, trying to be used after that period of being untouchable.

“Sam…”

“Don’t!” Sam held up a hand, keeping Henry away. “Just…don’t.” Under his hand, the stone wall was shaking; he could hear it cracking.

Henry didn’t, and Sam stood there for a good minute, wrestling himself into submission. His power, the stone, ached to be tossed out, to destroy something, to kill Henry, to do something other than put a hole in this stupid wall. But he couldn’t, he wouldn’t do that. So he pressed it down, forced it to be quiet, until he was sweating from exertion but finally victorious over it.

The fact that Henry had seen the whole thing was…frustrating, but less so than it might have been some other time. “Don’t tell anyone about this,” he warned, taking his hand away from the crumbling stone.

“I know,” Henry said. “You know I won’t.”

“I don’t know that,” Sam snapped. “I don’t know who you’re talking to when I’m not there.”

“Hardly anyone,” Henry said, moving closer now. “Most of the castle is afraid of me, because I live with you and I’m still alive. If I told them about stuff like this, that you were human and had regular human problems, they wouldn’t be afraid of either of us anymore, and then where would we be?”

That was stupid, but if it was really how Henry thought, Sam wasn’t going to complain as long as it kept him in line. “I…” Sam choked a little. “I was wrong. He was more powerful than me.”

“By a lot?”

“By too much,” Sam whispered, trying to comprehend he magnitude of what James’s power must have been. “Way too much.”

“Hey,” Henry’s hands were on Sam, and before Sam knew it, he was being pulled into Henry’s arms. “It’s okay.”

“What the fuck is this?”

“It’s called a hug.”

“I know what…” Sam let out an irritated breath. Henry’s arms were warm, wrapped around him, and Sam was still a bit cold, so he let them stay there for now, using Henry to warm up.

“I know you’re not scared,” Henry told Sam, holding him. “But I’m the coward here and I am. That much power in one person is scary.”

Henry was offering Sam an out, offering him a way to have this conversation without admitting to being afraid. Because he knew how Sam felt about being scared, he knew how angry it made Sam, and he didn’t want Sam to get angry and take it out on someone. It was patronizing and offensive.

“I was scared,” Sam said quietly, realizing he was shaking a bit. He wasn’t sure why he admitted that except that he knew he could, because it was Henry, and if there was one person in the world he could admit this weakness to, it was the person holding him right now. He had broken Henry enough that Henry wouldn’t do anything with that, wouldn’t use it against him. That was all. “I was scared of him, Henry.”

Henry was quiet, holding Sam tighter. “You’re safe here.”

Sam wasn’t so sure, but he nodded, bringing his arms up and hugging Henry back. “I…he didn’t threaten me, really. He didn’t try to intimidate me, or do anything that suggested he wanted to hurt me. I tried to kill him in his own damn kitchen and all he did was take me by the fucking hand and put my power to bed without saying anything. Just kept having a normal conversation while he did it. Even Solomon never did that—even when he ignored me, I always knew it was on purpose, to make me upset. It wasn’t even that with James. I wasn’t even worth his time and he knew it.”

His cheeks were wet. Sam was fucking crying about this.

“So you didn’t make friends with him, then?” Henry asked, voice soft.

Sam gasped out a laugh. At least one of them was focused. “I got him to agree to cooperation on some bullshit idea of dismantling my father’s plans in exchange for his family. He wants all of them.”

“Something else you two have in common,” Henry joked.

Sam snorted. “I’m going to kill him. I can’t let someone that powerful live.”

“How?”

“I don’t know yet. But I am.” Sam would never be safe as long as someone like James was alive. Especially now that James knew who he was. That had been a mistake, he should have stayed away. He managed to slow his breathing, to stop his tears. “Okay.” He pushed Henry away, wiping his eyes. “Okay. I’m okay.”

“Okay,” was all Henry said.

Sam considered him. “I’ve killed everyone who’s ever been with me when I was scared,” he said.

Henry didn’t answer immediately. “You going to kill me?”

“No.” Sam tugged at his wet shirt. He wanted out of these clothes. He didn’t want to think about why the answer was no, about why Henry was different. “I want a bath.”

“Hold on,” Henry said, grabbing Sam again. Before Sam could ask, Henry wiped at his cheeks, at his eyes. “There. As long as nobody looks close, you can’t tell you were crying.”

“Are people in the habit of looking closely at me?” Sam asked, wondering why Henry had done that, and wondering if that was something else he didn’t want to think about the answer to.

“No. Let’s go.” Henry’s footsteps moved for the door, and Sam followed him, oddly wishing he could have Henry’s hand on his arm again.

“What did you and James’s servant talk about, or did you just hit each other with swords?”

“The forest, and James, mostly. How we’d gotten where we are now. I didn’t tell him anything about you.”

Sam decided to believe that for now. It was easier. “Could you beat him in a real fight?”

“Yes. I had to hold back on him a little.”

“Good.” Sam was starting to feel more normal.

“Sam?”

“What?”

“It makes you scarier.”

“What does?”

“That you’re human. That you can get scared. It makes it worse that you normally don’t.”

Sam felt warmer all of the sudden, and he lengthened his stride to get ahead of Henry. “If you’re going to say stupid things, at least let them make sense, Henry.”

“I’ll try harder,” Henry said, following after Sam.

Sam walked faster, but only enough that his back would be to Henry. Not so fast that he’d lose Henry.

Chapter Text

“Can Derek walk across a room yet without pissing himself?”

Todd’s surprised squeaks whenever Sam addressed him never stopped being annoying. “N-no, your Majesty. I mean…he’s still scared.”

Sam sighed, tapping a finger on the table as Todd took away the dishes from lunch. Henry had gone off somewhere, and Sam was bored. Bored and wondering who it was that Henry was off talking to.

He’d forbidden Derek from coming back in his rooms until he could carry a tray without clattering it everywhere. Sam was trying very hard not to kill him and Derek had been making it very hard not to want to.

“Sniveling coward,” Sam muttered. “He hasn’t even been given a real reason to be scared. I’d say that fucking him a few times ought to knock that out of him, but it doesn’t seem to have cured you.” Though, Sam thought, Todd could at least pour water without spilling it.

Todd squeaked again. “S-so you do plan to…”

Todd didn’t sound very upset by that. Sam smirked. “Plan to what, Todd?”

“To…to r-rape him,” Todd said, voice cracking.

“Yes,” Sam said. “I like raping people. I get to fuck someone and hurt someone at the same time. Two of my favourite things. And it’s an easy way to remind someone I’m in charge.”

Todd just made a stupid noise, and Sam smiled. “Raping cowards is especially fun. Speaking of which, get over here. Pants down.”

With a whimper, Todd complied, his footsteps dragging a little. But he stopped beside Sam’s chair, pants hitting the floor. Sam stood up. “And that’s what I mean. Knowing that you’re going to come over and do as I say even when you know what’s going to happen is a great feeling, Todd. That’s what power is. Open my pants.”

Todd did as he was told, hands shaking a little. “Pull it out.” Todd did, freeing Sam from his smallclothes. “Get it wet.”

Todd dropped to his knees, taking Sam into his mouth without hesitation. He sucked on Sam, used his tongue, wetted every part of Sam he could reach. “That’s enough,” Sam decided, before he changed his mind and ended up fucking Todd’s face. Not that that didn’t have its appeal. He’d kept his hands at his sides the whole time, not even touching Todd. “Up. Turn around.”

Todd stood, and Sam listened to his shuffling. He stepped forward, found Todd with his legs spread, leaning against the table. Sam smirked, lined himself up. “Coward,” he said, ramming himself in.

Todd cried out, but not as much as before. He was getting used to having cock up his ass, seemed like. That was good, because he was going to have a lifetime of it if Sam was any judge. Someday when Sam was bored with Todd he’d find a man with a big cock who would get a lot of use out of Todd. Sam pushed Todd down until his face was pressed against the table, thrusting into him happily, the table scraping the floor as he moved.

“Tell me,” Sam grunted, after a good minute. Todd had fallen silent. “If I gave you the chance to switch places with Derek, would you?”

“Yes…” Todd’s answer was immediate. “Yes.” He sounded like he was holding back tears.

Sam smirked, gave a hard thrust. “Even if I promised to hurt him worse than this?”

“Still…”

“Good answer,” Sam told him, panting. “Not stupid.”

Cowardly, but not stupid.

He didn’t stop fucking Todd when the door creaked open, when Henry’s footsteps came into the room with a sigh. “Sam…”

“There you are,” Sam picked up speed. “Hey, do you want a turn?”

“What? No.”

“Hm.” Sam stopped, hand on the small of Todd’s back. Todd made another stupid sound. He had a whole arsenal of those. “I’ll stop. Fuck him, and I promise not to for two days.”

He’d fucked Todd every day this week. There was an appeal that before had only been there intermittently.

“No.”

“Three days?”

“I’m not raping him, Sam.”

Sam snorted. “Fine.” He picked up his thrusting again, holding Todd in place as his orgasm built. Henry didn’t try to stop him, just went and sat on the bed. Sam had made it clear that he was going to do this regardless of what Henry said or did or offered.

Sam came, digging his fingers into Todd’s sides as he filled him up. Then he pulled out, content, and stood there. “Clean me up,” he said to Todd, grinning when Todd got back on his knees and licked his cock clean, putting it back into his pants at Sam’s order.

“Get dressed and get out. I’ll eat supper in the dining room tonight.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Todd said in a small voice. Everything about him was small, weak. He pulled his pants up, shuffled to the door.

“Todd?”

A squeak. “Y-yes, your Majesty?”

“Aren’t you going to thank me?”

Silence, for a second. “Th-thank you, your Majesty,” Todd whimpered.

So annoying. Sam headed for the bed. “Same time tomorrow, Todd.”

The door shut behind Todd, and Sam giggled as he fell onto the bed beside Henry. “God, he’s so…stupid.”

“Stop hurting him.”

“No. I like hurting him. Almost as much as I like hurting you. Which reminds me, I was thinking earlier I wanted to break your fingers. Give me your hand.”

“I know what you’re doing,” Henry said, putting his hand in Sam’s. Sam almost giggled again. Power.

“What am I doing?” Sam asked, stroking Henry’s hand, gripping his index finger.

“You’ve been hurting Todd, doing stuff like this to me, ever since we visited James.”

Sam pulled back on Henry’s finger until it cracked. Henry shouted. “I’ve been hurting people since long before then.”

“You’re…” Henry’s voice gritted through the pain. He’d developed a tolerance for pain. “You got scared because James was stronger than you. So you’re hurting people who are weaker than you until you feel strong again.”

Henry screamed as Sam broke his second finger. “Maybe,” Sam admitted. He hadn’t thought of it that way. “Or maybe I’m just reminding you that I’m in charge here, since you’ve started talking back and acting all familiar. You can’t stop me from hurting you, or Todd or Derek or anyone else in this castle.”

“Maybe that’s all it is,” Henry managed. He broke off again at the third finger, and Sam only waited long enough for him to finish to break the little finger too. He gripped Henry’s thumb. “But you…don’t have a solution to your James problem yet, do you?”

Sam snapped Henry’s thumb back. “Other hand.”

Henry’s broken hand was removed and replaced with an unbroken one right away. Sam smiled. “You’re so obedient.” He broke the thumb first this time. “If I let you switch places with Todd, would you?”

“No.”

Of course. “What if it was Cole instead?”

“No,” Henry hissed. “I’ll hurt Cole.”

“You’re taking your time.”

“You said…” Henry took a break to scream again. Sam moved to his middle finger. “You said whenever I wanted.”

Sam wondered what he was waiting for. He broke the middle finger with a nice crunch, kept moving. “Up to you,” he said. “Where have you been?”

“In the…ah!” One finger left. “In the training yard. P-practicing.”

“With the guards?” Sam asked. “Making friends?”

“No. They hate me.”

That, at least, Sam believed. He broke Henry’s last finger, dropping his hand on the bed.

“You might be right,” he said, once Henry was done yelling. “Maybe I’m hurting you to make myself less afraid. Maybe that’s why I’ve always hurt people.” Mostly, Sam thought it was because he liked hurting people. “I’m not going to stop, though.”

“How does it help you figure out how to beat James?” Henry challenged in a pant.

“It doesn’t.” Sam pushed Henry back, straddled him. He ran his healing magic up Henry, repairing all the damage to his hands. Henry sighed. “It’s something to do until I figure that out.”

“I’ll help you figure it out,” Henry said. “You don’t need to…”

“Why’d you go to the practice yards?”

“To…practice.” Henry was hesitant, searching for the trap.

Sam leaned down, stroked Henry’s face. “You left me here, knowing Todd was going to be here and that I’d hurt him. You’ve been practicing a lot lately, too.”

Henry was quiet for a second. “We both have ways of dealing with stress. I can’t stop you from hurting Todd, so at the very least I don’t want to watch it happen.”

“Hm.” Sam sat straight. “If you’d made sure he wasn’t here, I’d have fucked you instead. And you know that. After the second day, you stopped trying to protect him.”

Sam didn’t really care that Henry was a hypocrite. He was just curious to hear his justification.

“You taught me to fight battles I can win,” Henry said quietly. “You want to hurt him so you’re going to. I’m not going to help you do it.”

“You will, someday,” Sam promised. He hadn’t expected that Henry would take him up on his offer to fuck Todd today. But someday he would. “Hand.”

Henry gave it to him, and Sam started feeling his unbroken fingers again, selecting one. “I won’t,” Henry said. “I’m not going to rape someone.”

“Even if I say I’ll give him to the guards? All of them?” He’d thought about that, on occasion. Just for fun.

“No. Because you’re bluffing.”

Henry said that so confidently. It was annoying, because he wasn’t wrong. Sam wasn’t actually intending to do that. “You know me too well.”

“Of course I do,” Henry said. “You’re my only friend.”

Sam snorted, squeezing Henry’s hand. “I’m happy to hear you say that.”

“Happy enough not to break my fingers again?”

“No.” Sam smiled. “But happy enough not to make you talk to me while I do it. Scream for me, Henry.”

Over a backdrop of cracking bone, Henry did.

Chapter Text

“Three men tried to desert from the guard last night,” Lowell reported, hopefully finishing out what had been a very boring hour. Sam knew why he had to waste his time doing things like this—because it was his castle, and he needed to know what was going on in it, so Henry had convinced him—but it was so boring.

“Tried? You caught them?” Henry asked, tapping his finger on the table.

“Of course we caught them. They’re in the dungeon.”

“Obviously the penalty is death,” Cole said, voice grating on Sam. He was Lowell’s second in command after the mysterious death of his predecessor, which wasn’t that mysterious. Sam wondered if Lowell was worried yet. “But they knew that going in and weren’t discouraged. I suggest something a little stronger to deter others.”

“Torture them, then,” Sam said, waving his hand. “Do it in the yard where everyone can hear them scream.”

Maybe he’d even help, just for variety.

“Yes, sir,” Lowell said, but Cole wasn’t done.

“I was thinking something stronger than that, your Majesty,” he said. “I think we should bring in their families, really remind people why working for you is a lifetime job.”

Sam smiled. Sometimes he remembered why Cole was useful. “Do it. Don’t lay a hand on the three of them until they’ve watched every minute of their punishment.”

“Don’t do that,” Henry said at Sam’s side, sounding exasperated.

“Can do, your Majesty,” Cole said. “Got a lot of good ideas. A few of the hunting dogs I took with me out east know some…fun tricks.”

“Sounds good, maybe I’ll come listen,” Sam said, wondering if those tricks were what he thought they were. “Make them participate, too. Pick who goes first, rape one person to save the others, that sort of thing.”

“Sam.”

“I want everyone to watch at least part of it,” Sam went on, choosing to ignore Henry for now. “Make it very clear what the punishment for disobedience is.”

“All over it, your Majesty.”

“You don’t need to do any of that,” Henry persisted. “Just execute them. Torture them if you really have to, but that’s enough of a deterrent. There’s no need to hurt their families, God.”

“Hurt your family,” Cole said, tone sneering. “And now here you are, loyal as can be. Seems to me like it works wonders.”

“Lowell, control your hyena,” Henry said, voice stiff.

“That’s enough, Cole,” Lowell said, and Sam wondered when he’d started taking orders from Henry. “We’ll do as his Majesty orders.”

“No. Just kill them.”

“Are you his Majesty now, Henry?” Sam asked, leaning back, voice low.

Henry let out an agitated breath. “No. But…” He cut himself off from whatever he’d been about to say. “Guys, give me and the king a minute.”

“You know, his Majesty has a point,” Cole said. “You don’t give orders around here, you’re just the king’s bedboy.”

“Get the fuck out before I throw a bucket of poisoned meat scraps in your kennel,” Henry snarled.

A chair scraped. “Don’t,” Cole said, hands hitting the table, “touch my dogs. And don’t threaten what you can’t follow through on, boy.”

“Do what I fucking tell you and I won’t need to threaten.” Henry’s voice was level. “I’ve been on the receiving end of Sam for most of a year. You think I’m afraid of you? Get over yourself, you tiny piece of birdshit.”

Hearing Henry talk like that was…impressive. Sam was impressed. “Get out,” he said to the two of them. “And you’d both do well to remember that Henry is my right hand.”

Silence for just a second. Lowell cleared his throat. “Yes, your Majesty. Cole.”

“Yeah,” Cole growled, pushing the table as he turned to leave the room. A moment later, the door slammed.

“I should reward you for putting Cole in his place like that,” Sam mused, stretching. “Though eventually you’re going to find your balls and put him in the ground, right?”

“You need to stop,” Henry said.

“Are you sure you don’t need help? He’s not that good a fighter, but if you’re scared…”

“Sam.”

“I wouldn’t hurt him, but I could stop him from moving so he’s less of a threat to you. You could…”

“Sam!” Henry hit the table, making a loud noise. Sam jumped in spite of himself, and the lamps rattled as his power reacted. “Listen to me. You need to stop acting this way now.”

Sam snorted. So it was one of those days, where Henry tried to make him a better person. “Sorry, I forgot that today was the day I was supposed to start handing out flowers in the courtyard. Fuck off, Henry. I’ll do what I want.” Sam was the king. That meant he could do whatever he wanted to whoever he decided deserved it. Sam stood. “And I don’t appreciate you raising your voice at me.”

Henry’s chair pushed back and Sam felt him there, in front of him. “I’m not telling you to become a monk and heal the damned sick, Sam. I’m telling you that you need to stop letting the fact that you’re scared dictate everything you do.”

“I’m not…”

“Todd?” Henry asked him. “Me? Those maids that you cut open in the hall yesterday for talking too loudly? The painter who you made paint with his own blood until he died? Now these three? It’s childish, Sam.”

Sam bristled. “Childish? You think I’m a child, Henry?”

“I think you’re acting like one. I think you need to sit down and think about your problem instead of lashing out at all of us all the time. I think you need to act like a king instead of a scared little boy.”

A cold fury swept through Sam, and he took a step forward, pushing Henry back. “You’re lucky I don’t give a shit what you think, Henry,” he spat. “I will do whatever I want to whoever I want to do it to and your opinion is irrelevant. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone in this castle calls me ‘your Majesty’ because I’m the fucking king, Henry. If I want to make those three deserters watch while their little brothers and sisters get raped to death by dogs, then that’s what’s going to happen. If I tell you to hold the damned kids down, that’s what’s going to happen. If I…”

It was so fast, so sudden, that Sam didn’t know what had happened at first. His face hurt, and he staggered sideways, and…

Henry had slapped him in the face.

Sam straightened, facing Henry, power roiling, cascading into the room. “I’m to take that hand apart in tiny, tiny little pieces and you’re not getting it back,” he whispered, furious. He’d never been this angry.

“Go ahead,” Henry told him, just as even as when Cole had threatened him before. “Do it. You’ll prove me right.”

Sam paused, fully prepared to lash out, to disintegrate Henry, to destroy the room, to…

Henry was right. If Sam hurt him now, all he’d be doing would be playing into Henry’s game. Sam had let himself get trapped.

“What’s the matter?” Henry challenged. “I’m holding out my hand. Don’t you want it, your Majesty?”

Shaking like a leaf, Sam took a step back, fell back into his chair. “You’re going to regret this,” he told Henry. “I’m going to make you regret this.”

“Yeah,” Henry said, his own chair scraping as he sat as well. “I know. But doesn’t the fact that I knew that, and did it anyway, tell you that this is important?”

“I…”

“Sam.” Henry’s voice was gentle now. “When you act the way you’re acting, all it does is make people want to run away. If nothing else, your guard needs to be loyal to you, not just scared of you. What if they all decide to desert? Or worse, what if they all decide to mutiny? Are you going to torture all of their families?”

“Yes,” Sam said stubbornly, though he knew he wasn’t going to. Suddenly he felt like that child Henry was accusing him of being.

“And then what? Be king of ghosts? It’s fine for people to fear you, but if they think you’re unstable, they’ll never respect you and they’ll never stop fighting you. The people of the Fury Plateau need to understand that your kingship is the best thing that’s ever happened to them.” When Sam didn’t say anything, Henry continued. “And people like Lowell and Cole need to see a king who knows what he’s doing, not one who they know is easily distracted by the promise of screaming.”

“I know what I’m doing,” Sam insisted, but it sounded hollow. He didn’t. He hadn’t known what he was doing since that shadow monster had come into the bedroom.

“Fine, but it doesn’t seem that way based on how you’ve been acting. You’re hurting people so you can pretend that James didn’t scare you.”

Sam smacked the table, which splintered under his power. “I just…hate it. I hate how weak I felt, how powerless I was.”

He never should have told Henry that he’d been afraid. But now that he had, it made it easier for Sam to talk about this now.

“Yeah,” Henry said, reaching out and taking Sam’s hand off the table. The power coursing through Sam had to sting when Henry touched him, but he showed no sign of it, just went about picking splinters out of his hand. “It sucks. But if I can do it, so can you.”

“It’s…” Sam started to say that it wasn’t the same, that Henry had never been powerful, never been strong, so having that taken away from him was nothing. It wasn’t the same. But the words died on his tongue. “You shouldn’t care so much,” he muttered.

“Well, I do.”

Why? Sam wondered. “You’re an idiot.”

“I know.”

“Shut up and let me finish. You’re an idiot, but you’re not wrong about this. Tomorrow I’m going to finish that magic collar. If it’s strong enough, that should block James’s powers.”

“Then we just have to put it on him.”

“Yeah,” Sam muttered, taking his hand away from Henry, shaking it out. “There’s…” He hesitated. “Something I want to tell you about. But not now. Remind me in a few days.” He wanted a few days to calm down, to think about how to tell Henry about the shadow.

“Okay,” Henry said, standing.

“After I’ve punished you.”

“Okay. I’ll remind you after I recover from that.”

Sam smiled. “It might be a while. I’m really pissed.”

“I know. Slapping you was kind of fun.” Henry’s hand touched Sam’s cheek lightly as he said that.

Sam snorted. “Don’t make things worse for yourself, hm?”

“I’d do it again.” The hand retreated.

“Say that after I’ve finished with you.”

“Big talk,” Henry teased, as if Sam were joking about torturing him. He had to know Sam wasn’t.

“You’re going to regret it,” Sam promised, moving around the table and towards the door. “And the fact that you’re not terrified is a sign that your mind is breaking under the strain.”

“Yeah,” Henry said, quiet. “I know.”

Sam snorted, put his hand on the handle.

“But what does it say about you that you let me talk to you like that?”

Sam paused for a second, and he didn’t have an answer to that. So he didn’t answer, pushing the door open and stepping out into the hall. “Torture the deserters,” he said to Cole and Lowell. “Publicly. Use your dogs if you want. Don’t touch their families, it’s not worth the hassle.”

“Your Majesty, I…”

“That wasn’t a suggestion, Cole,” Sam said as he walked past him. “If you can’t do it, turn in your uniform and I’ll find someone who can.”

“Y-yes, your Majesty.”

“Thank you, your Majesty,” Lowell said, and Sam made a noise as he went. He could practically feel the weight of both their gazes on Henry as he came out of the room behind Sam. A trap, everything about this had been a trap. Just because Henry was right, didn’t mean it wasn’t a trap.

Henry was going to regret everything about that conversation.

Chapter Text

Sam hummed to himself as he crouched in front of the fire, warming his knife until the metal was hot enough that his hand started to burn even through the leather grip on the handle. Then he stood, crossing the room with the hot knife, and sat on the bed beside Henry. “Did you miss me?” Sam asked, free hand running up Henry’s thigh.

“Knife’s going to get cold if you sit there and chat,” Henry said, voice hoarse.

Sam made an agitated noise, found Henry’s balls and squeezed them. “You know,” he said conversationally, “your attitude is the reason why you’re here. Maybe you could work on it a little.”

And before Henry could answer, Sam pressed the knife against Herny’s sac, smiling at the sound of Henry’s scream, the smell of singed flesh rising a little through the sweat and blood that filled the air already.

When the initial scream ended, Sam pulled the knife away with a tug, taking a layer of skin with him, and he grazed it down the inside of Henry’s thigh, playing around the edges of Henry’s hole, not penetrating him—he’d done that earlier, it had been fun—but just reminding Henry that it could be worse. “I just don’t understand why we’re back to having the conversation about why you should be nicer to me. I thought we were past this.”

“You…” Henry broke off, whimpering. “You don’t want me to be nice to you. You’d be bored.”

That was true. “I do want you to stop acting like you’re enjoying this. It’s meant to be a punishment.” Sam wasn’t even mad at Henry for the way he’d spoken the other day anymore. What he really wanted to do was get a sense of where Henry was, what his limits were now, how broken he really was. Pain had a way of bringing out the truth from people.

Henry made a pained sound. “You think I’m enjoying this?”

“I think if you have the energy to snark at me, you aren’t hating it enough,” Sam said, taking Henry’s cock in his hand and running the tip of the knife up the underside. He stopped at the head, tapping it with the knife.

“Do you want me to beg?” Henry asked. “I will. I’ll do whatever you want.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” Sam said thoughtfully, still tapping the knife. “You know, I’ve always wanted to give you a scar, something that won’t heal.” He pinched Henry’s foreskin between his fingers. “In some places, they cut the foreskin off when you’re a certain age. Maybe I’ll take yours off. A nice reminder for you of where you belong.”

“I know where I belong.”

Sam slashed Henry’s thigh with the knife. Henry cried out. “Don’t talk back.”

He put the knife back where it had been, wiggled it to make a small cut. “I don’t really know how they do it,” Sam said, carefully slicing along the bottom of the head, feeling his way as Henry bit back shouts. “So I’ll try my best to…fuck.” Henry had moved, making his cock shift and Sam’s hand slip, slicing nearly half the head off as Henry sobbed in pain.

Sighing, Sam took the whole bloody mess in his hand and used his healing spell. When he removed his hand, Henry’s cock was intact again, foreskin and all. “You are going to have to hold still,” he said. “I’m committed to doing this as many times as it takes to get it right, but I do want the rest of you to be in once piece.” Sam did like this part of Henry.

Breath coming in harshly, Henry managed to say, “I’ll try.”

“You say things like that and then wonder why I think you’re enjoying this,” Sam said, sighing as he got up again. “I’m heating up the knife.” He could easily do that with his magic, but it was more fun to make Henry wait while he did it.

Sam didn’t think Henry was having fun, not really. He knew Henry didn’t like being tortured, but it was clear that what Sam was doing—and had been doing for a few hours now—wasn’t good enough. Henry had gone past the point where physically hurting him, even maiming him, was enough to get the reaction Sam wanted. Real torture was in the mind, and pain wasn’t getting through whatever barrier Henry had managed to build for himself.

Fortunately, Sam knew Henry very well, and he knew what would get through that barrier. And it was on its way here any time now, if he was measuring right.

It was two more trips back and forth, four more attempts to take Henry’s foreskin without destroying his cock, all failed, before Sam heard it. He was warming the knife in the fire again, just about to get up and go back to Henry, find out how those three stab wounds in his gut—the product of Sam’s frustration at failing—were doing and if they needed healing before trying again, when a soft knock on the door heralded the fun part of Henry’s punishment. Sam smiled, not answering as he crossed back to Henry.

The door clicked open, and almost immediately Sam heard one of Todd’s annoying noises. “Oh.” He already sounded like he wanted to die. “I…I’m sorry, your Majesty. I thought…I’ll come back…”

“No.” Sam sat down beside Henry, this time resting the knife over one of his eyes. As Henry screamed, Sam smiled. “Get in here, Todd.” He healed the bleeding wounds in Henry’s belly as he talked. Couldn’t have him passing out.

The door closed, and Todd’s panicked breathing filled the air, though it wasn’t louder than Henry. “Henry, tell Todd why I’m punishing you.”

“Because you’re a fucking psychopath.”

Sam jammed the knife into Herny’s eye, leaving it there. He could hear Todd whimper, and nothing was even happening to him. “Henry, tell Todd why I’m punishing you.”

“For talking back to you,” Henry choked. “For slapping you.”

“For disrespecting me, but close enough.” Sam ran a hand down Henry’s chest, turning in Todd’s direction. “But I’m feeling generous. Tell you what. I’ll swap you for Todd.”

“No.”

“I’ll heal you and let you go,” Sam said, ignoring that. “And your punishment will be over. And I’ll torture Todd for half an hour. Just half an hour, instead of the rest of the day.”

“No,” Henry repeated, voice cracking as Todd whimpered near the door. “No. Hurt me, leave him alone.”

Sam sighed, but that was what he’d expected. “Okay,” he said, taking the knife out of Henry’s eye. He’d heal it later. “Todd, don’t you want to save Henry? Repay him for all he does for you?”

“N…no…please…”

“Switch places with him for half an hour, save him six hours of this.”

“Sam…”

Sam ignored Henry. “What do you say, Todd? Up to you. If you say no, I’ll respect that.”

“I…I don’t want to…please don’t hurt me…” Todd was already crying. Sam hated him.

Sam snorted, tapped Henry’s cheek with the knife. “See what your nobility gets you? You sacrifice yourself for him, he sacrifices you for himself. Fucking coward.”

“It’s…” Henry paused, taking deep breaths. “It’s the same thing you’d do.”

“Excuse me.”

“You’d sacrifice me for yourself too.”

Sam went cold. “Oh, see, I was going to rape him and let him go. But just for that I’m feeling mean. Todd, clothes off, get over here.”

Todd’s breath hitched. “Y-yes, your Majesty,” he breathed, and Sam heard him approach.

“Sam, don’t,” Henry said, more worried now. “No, please. That’s not what I meant, Sam. I swear that’s not what I meant, don’t do this.”

Sam slashed Henry’s throat, cut him off in a burble as he tried to breathe. Tood whimpered. Sam waited a second, then another, then put his hand over the wound and healed it. Henry coughed up blood, taking in hacking breaths as he recovered. “Shut up,” Sam told him. “What the fuck’s taking you so long, Todd?” Sam was already hard in anticipation.

“S-s-sorry, your Majesty…” Todd said, obviously already crying as he climbed onto the bed, stopping a good foot away.

Sam reached out and grabbed the first part of Todd he could reach, which was his arm, and he pulled Todd over with a yelp, and tossed him on top of Henry. Todd seized up, trying not to go there. “No, no…”

Sam cut his arm with the knife, twice. “Every no gets you a cut.”

“Sam, don’t…”

Sam slashed Todd again. “Every no from Henry gets you one too.”

“Sam!” Henry bucked up and hit the bed hard in frustration. He’d probably have tried to physically do something if he weren’t tied to the bedposts.

Sam cut Todd again, and tossed him on top of Henry so they were belly-to-belly Todd sobbed, but went where Sam put him this time.

“The thing, Henry,” Sam said, licking his hand, then using it to slick his cock up as he got on his knees, “is that hurting you doesn’t seem to be getting my point across. But hurting someone else…” he lined up, shoved himself into Todd in one motion, gave Todd a cut when he cried out. “Even if it’s a useless sack of shit like Todd, hurting someone else because of you is a more fitting punishment, isn’t it?”

“Please, just…” Henry stopped when Sam raised his knife again. “Do it to me,” Henry pleaded.

“Oh, I’m going to,” Sam promised, as he started thrusting roughly into Todd. “But you need a little reminder that you aren’t the only one you’re protecting.”

Sam fucked Todd into Henry, cutting him every so often when he felt like it, or when Henry was getting too vocal in his complaints. While he did that, though, Sam did something else as well. He reached down with his free hand, finding Henry’s thigh, and, concentrating as best he could in this state, ran magic into Henry to jump his libido. Todd made a very peculiar sound as Henry got hard underneath him, and Henry’s breath picked up as he tried to keep quiet.

With the spell going strong, Sam took his hand off Henry and pushed Todd down, grinding him against Henry’s cock as Sam pounded him harder. Sam was so worked up and so, so happily anticipating what was about to happen that he came quickly, pressing the flat of the knife down on Todd’s back as he filled him up.

Sam grinned, pulled out. “This is what happens to other people when you mouth off, Henry, got it?”

“Got…got it..” Henry’s voice was cracking. He was taking this a lot harder than he’d been taking his own torture. “I won’t do it again, Sam.”

“I believe you.” Sam’s hand wandered down between Henry’s legs, found him hard. “Liked that, did you?” he asked, as though surprised.

“No…”

Sam gave Todd a slash, then another one when he didn’t like the noise he made. He pulled himself out of Todd, and grinned. Sam pushed Todd up a little, taking Henry’s cock to line it up.

“Sam, Sam,” Henry said, voice a near panic. “No. Please. Please, don’t. Please, Sam…”

“You’re the one hurting him, Henry,” Sam said, holding in a giggle. “Not me.”

And he pressed Henry into Todd’s hole, pulling Todd down to get it inside. Todd cried out, a choked sob tearing from his throat, matched by the one Henry let out. Sam pulled Todd to a sitting position, with Henry inside him. “This is what happens, Henry, when you piss me off. Ride him.” He hit Todd with the knife.

Todd didn’t move. “Sam…” Henry whimpered, pathetic.

Sam gave Todd another cut, then, taking his own erection in hand, he looked around for Henry’s entrance. “Here, something you’re used to,” he said, pressing in. The position was awkward and this angle, but he managed it, helped along by Henry bucking his hips up at the initial penetration, either from pain or thanks to the libido spell, Sam didn’t know.

That got a motion going, forced a cry out of Todd and made him move too, and Sam wrapped his knife arm around Todd, fucking Henry and setting the pace for all three of them while keeping the point of the knife on Todd’s belly. Sam’s own movements pulled Todd back and forth, not giving him the option of stopping even when Henry went still. Both of them were crying, Todd more loudly than Henry.

Keeping his hand on Henry’s thigh, Sam put power into the libido spell as he sped up. “Henry’s liking it inside you more than he lets on,” Sam told Todd, having fun. “Sure you can feel that. Not that I blame him, you were pretty much made for cock. It’s all you’re really good for.” Sam grunted as he kept going.

Henry’s noise got louder and louder and Sam had an idea why. He finally outcried Todd as he came, tensing everywhere as he let out a pitiful sob that filled the air. Todd was crying too, an endless whinge.

When Henry finished, panting, whimpering, Sam pulled Todd off, pushed him off the bed, heard him hit the floor with a thunk. “Fuck off,” Sam said, adjusting his position now so he could fuck Henry better. “Come back at dinner.”

“Y-yes, your Majesty…” Todd whimpered, picking himself up, but Sam didn’t even listen.

“You liked that, didn’t you?” Sam asked, fucking Henry harder and harder. “You liked being inside Todd like that.”

“No…” Henry insisted, voice quiet. “No.”

Sam didn’t break the libido spell just yet. “Yes you did, you pervert. Say you liked it.”

“I didn’t!”

“You liked raping him.”

“I didn’t!” Henry shouted, voice cracking again. “I didn’t rape him,” he insisted. “I didn’t. You did. You raped him.”

“Hm.” Sam smirked, felt himself getting close. He gave a last few hard thrusts, came inside Henry with a grunt, pressing the knife against his chest as he did. He pulled out, lay beside Henry on the bed. “That’s one way to think about it.”

Henry just took in a breath, crying quietly.

Sam heard the door close as Todd finally left, and for a while he lay there on the bed, recovering. When he was good, he sat up, gently touching Henry, who recoiled from him. “Now, where’s the smartass I had on this bed an hour ago?”

“Hate you…” Henry breathed, breath hitching. “Hate you.”

No, he didn’t. “Causing you pain doesn’t impress upon you the gravity of what you’ve done,” Sam told him. “Next time you pull something like you did before, it’ll be Todd tied to this bed, understand?”

Henry was quiet. Sam dug the tip of the knife into his elbow. “Understand?”

“I understand,” Henry quivered, voice tiny.

“Good.” As a reward, Sam put his hand flat on Henry’s chest, ran healing power through his whole body. He was happy with this. He was happy with the way it had turned out, but he also didn’t want to subject Henry to too much more of the mental torment for fear of breaking him completely. He’d still come back from this, Sam was sure. “Don’t worry, even if it doesn’t work, I’m still going to hurt you plenty. There’s a lot of day left and I still have a part I want to cut off.”

Chapter Text

“I have to say,” Jocelyn said, as Sam led her to the dining room. “It’s a nice change to have the king always come up and get me in person. Your father never did that.”

“Maybe he was just afraid of heights,” Sam said, though he was pretty sure that wasn’t why. It was because Solomon had had Sam and his siblings to send up—other sorcerers who Jocelyn couldn’t overpower and who were replaceable if she did. Sam only had Henry.

Jocelyn laughed. “Then what was he thinking building his castle on the side of a mountain?”

“Maybe he was an idiot,” Sam muttered. Henry moved ahead of them and pulled a door open, letting them into the dining room, where supper had been set out for them. Henry had been very good about doing what Sam wanted—quietly—in the last little while. “Have a seat, eat.”

“Why, thank you,” Jocelyn said. The two of them sat, and she clinked some dishes. Sam let Henry get his food for him, then Henry sat with them. “I do hope it’s not poisoned.”

“Poison is a coward’s weapon,” Sam told her. “If I wanted to kill you I’d use magic or something sharp.”

“Duly noted.” With a pouring of wine, Jocelyn prepared to eat. Sam picked up his fork as well, not waiting for her. “So what brings you to summon me today, your Majesty?” Jocelyn asked, in that almost mocking tone she always used.

Sam didn’t answer immediately, collecting his thoughts. He’d brought her all the way here. He’d seem like an idiot if he didn’t say it. “I went to see your son a while ago.”

The movement of Jocelyn’s dishes stopped, her end of the table going quiet for a moment. “Did you now?” she asked after that moment, fork moving on her plate. “How is he doing?”

“He seemed fine to me,” Sam said, putting some meat into his mouth and chewing. “He wants to kill you.”

“No doubt.”

“He doesn’t seem very smart,” Sam continued, swallowing. “I tricked him into thinking I was some poor soul trapped in my father’s evil legacy and that I need help escaping it.”

“Hm…” Jocelyn thought about that for a moment, then she let out a laugh. “Did you? That sounds like the sort of tripe he’d fall for.”

“He told me he’d help me if I brought him you and your family.”

The silence returned. Sam reached for his cup, sipped some wine, tried not to make a face. Why did people like wine? “Of course,” he added, after a moment. “I have no reason to actually do that. I was just telling him what he wanted to hear.”

“Well, I’m pleased to hear you don’t plan to sell me to him.” Jocelyn’s voice was even.

“Not at all. I intend to kill him as soon as I can.”

“Oh, that’s reassuring,” Jocelyn said. “Someone has to and I can’t.”

“You can’t?”

“Well, if you’ve met him, I’m sure you’ve noticed he’s somewhat more powerful than I am,” Jocelyn said. “In fact, you’re the only person I can think of who might be able to overpower him.”

Fuck. If their plan was going to involve Sam overpowering James, that was going to be a problem. He tried to keep himself under control, clearing his throat. “Why’d you piss him off so much if he was so powerful? Keeping him on your side would have been smarter.”

“No kidding,” Jocelyn drawled. “I assumed he’d do as I told him. I was wrong. Much like your father was wrong about you. The difference being that James was too much of a coward to kill me when he had the chance.”

Sam sighed, leaned forward on the table. “Well, we’ll make him regret that, won’t we?”

“Yes. If I may make a suggestion?”

“Go ahead,” Sam said, wondering what on the table smelled like that. It wasn’t strong, but it had a nice smell. He bet it tasted good. Hopefully Henry had put some of it on his plate.

“Lure him here when you want to attack him.”

And let James destroy Sam’s castle? That seemed like a terrible idea. “Why?”

“Because he’s a witch. His power is drawn from the forest he lives in, and especially from his own home. If you went to my house and met him there, you were where he’s at his strongest.”

Sam straightened, feeling lighter all of the sudden. “Bringing him here will weaken him.”

“Yes. Why do you think your father always insisted that I come here? He wasn’t averse to leaving his castle for meetings from what I understand, but he never came to my island. Obviously you’re a much braver king than he was.”

“Obviously,” Sam said, not really listening anymore. Henry brushed his leg under the table, but nothing else. He was remarkably docile the last little while, since Sam had punished him. Sam had expected it, but not to that degree. “Thank you for the advice. It will make my job a little easier.” And if James came here, Sam could set up spells in advance, shields and wards and magic to dampen James’s power before he could even touch it.

“Will you pay me back by letting me be here when you kill him?”

Sam only hesitated for a second. “Of course. I’ll let you know when I intend to have him here. I’m in the process of trying to track down Solomon’s other allies.”

“Any luck?”

“No. He didn’t keep an itinerary,” Sam said. “I’ve been waiting for one of them to contact me, but nothing so far.”

“You got a letter yesterday,” Henry said quietly.

Sam blinked, turning a little, a scowl on his face. “And you’re telling me now?”

“They only told me this morning.” Henry’s tone was oddly accusatory, and Sam wondered how in the world that could be his fault. “And I tried to tell you this morning. You told me not to bother you.”

Sam remembered that. He’d been working on the stupid magic-blocking collar, which was a lot more difficult to finish than he’d hoped it would be. “Tell me now.”

“It’s not signed. I have it here if you want me to read it to you.”

“Read it,” Sam said, scooping up some more food.

Henry shifted, and there was a crinkling of paper. “I shouldn’t have had to hear your father died second-hand. The Grand Coven is planning to move against you, but slowly. We should meet, your Majesty.”

Sam waited for the rest, but Henry was done. “That’s it?”

“That’s all it says. It was delivered magically. It appeared on a metal plate in the tower.”

“It was sent by a witch, which I suppose the mention of the Coven makes clear,” Jocelyn said, voice a little dangerous. “So Solomon was working behind my back after all.”

“I don’t care what Solomon was doing. I want to send a message back to this person, tell them I want them to come here and meet me.” So James had met with all his witch friends, by the sound of it.

“I’ll write it, but I don’t know how to send it,” Henry said.

“I can help you with that.” Jocelyn paused. “It might, perhaps, behoove you to take a look around your castle, see if you have any other magical communication devices that might lead you to other people your father was friends with. I can help with that too.”

She was right, and she was more qualified to point those out than either Sam or Henry. But that meant trusting her. Sam hesitated again, swallowing. “I can take you to his study, to the tower, to the library.”

“If I see anything interesting, I’ll let you know.”

“If you lie to Sam,” Henry said, voice quiet. “I’ll cut your throat.”

Sam could almost taste Jocelyn’s smile. Maybe it matched his own. He really liked that tone of voice from Henry. “My, aren’t you charming?”

“I try my best.”

A laugh. “It doesn’t benefit me to lie. I need to know who Solomon’s secret allies were just as much as you two do.”

“Good.” Sam picked up his wine cup again. “Let’s eat, then we can conspire. Once we know who these people are, maybe we can find out what the fuck my father was doing and if it’s worth keeping up.”

“God willing.”

“Someone willing, anyway,” Sam grumbled, taking a drink. This was going to be a long evening.

He brushed Henry’s leg under the table as he did.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to try and make an ally of Hans,” Sam said, shifting in his chair. “I think I can.”

“How do you plan to do that?” Henry asked, voice dull. He’d gotten all dull again since Sam had punished him. Sam was wondering if he’d gone too far, pushing Henry too much. He’d expected Henry to have recovered by now. “You kidnapped him and held him captive.”

“I treated him well and only killed his servants when they annoyed me,” Sam countered. “He’s in a nice room and nobody’s torturing him. I made an ally of you with a lot less than that.”

“Okay,” Henry said, sighing a little. “I didn’t say you couldn’t do it. I asked how you would. I’m curious.”

“You’re curious because you want to tell me it won’t work,” Sam grumbled, holding out his hand. “Bring me some water,” he said. Todd was over there somewhere, and he’d brought Derek with him again. Derek was much quieter now that he’d had some practice, though Todd hadn’t let him get near the dishes, so he was over there making the bed.

They could easily tidy the rooms while Sam was out during the day. But where was the fun in that?

“And you don’t want to tell me because you know that’s what I’ll do,” Henry countered, but his voice didn’t change. “How do you plan to stop him from saying he’ll be your ally and then running as soon as you let him go?”

Hand held out as he heard the water being poured, Sam considered that. “I plan to make him realize that there’s something in it for him if he doesn’t run. And that there will be consequences if he does.”

“The farther he gets from you, the easier it will be to ignore those consequences.”

“But the closer he’ll get to the throne in Hawk’s Roost,” Sam countered. “Which is what he wants. Or what he will want after I offer it to him.”

Henry was quiet for a bit. Todd was taking a long time with the water, but Sam could hear him coming over now. “He could take it without your help, probably. Hawk’s Roost is far from here. He’d turn on you.”

“I’ll stick a centipede in one of his retainers, obviously,” Sam said, dismissing that. “I’m not an idiot, Henry.” Finally, Todd put the cup in Sam’s hand. Sam raised it to his lips, and heard him hand a cup to Henry too.

“How does the centipede thing even…Sam, stop.”

“Stop what?”

“Don’t drink that.”

Henry’s tone of voice had changed. It had gotten sharp, hard. Sam heard him stand up. Todd made a quiet sound.

Sam lowered the cup, let Henry take it out of his hand. The room was deadly quiet. “Derek,” Henry said. “Come here. Drink this.”

“I…”

“Now.”

With heavy breaths, Derek padded over, not as good at being quiet as Todd was. The water sloshed as Henry handed the cup over. Derek whimpered a little. “Please…”

“Drink.”

Sam listened attentively to the silence that flooded the room. A long moment passed, during which nothing but Derek’s increasingly distressed breathing filled the air between the four of them. Sam didn’t hear him drinking.

“Stop,” Todd whispered, voice a broken sob. “Don’t.”

“That’s what I thought,” Henry said quietly, and Sam heard the cup thunk against the table, followed by a second as he put his own cup down too. “What the hell were you thinking, you idiot?”

“I…thought…why would you…I thought you’d help…”

“But you poured the poison in the pitcher.” Henry’s voice was very calm, very matter-of-fact. “Not Sam’s cup.”

“I…”

Sam giggled. He couldn’t help it. “Oh, I’ve been waiting for you to pull something like this. You stupid piece of shit.” He reached out and grabbed Todd with his power, pulled him closer. “I was hoping you’d grow a pair someday and try to stab me. Poison, huh? Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you’d go for a coward’s weapon.” He reached out and slapped Todd’s face, getting a little sob out of him.

He wasn’t even angry that Todd had demonstrated the audacity. He was just really amused. To acquire poison—and he was going to want to know how Todd had managed that—to wait patiently, to get it in the water without Henry or Sam noticing. He’d really planned this whole thing out. It was funny.

And now, came the really fun part. Sam grinned. “I’m honestly proud of you for even trying, you know,” he said. “Good for you. But you must have known what the risks were going to be. And you fucked up, so…now I get to have fun. You can start by taking your clothes off, you won’t need those anymore.”

“Sam.”

“Don’t moralize at me, Henry,” Sam said, waving Henry away. “He tried to kill you too. Doesn’t that piss you off? That he’d go through you to get to me? Though I guess that’s your idea of justice too, isn’t it?”

“Of course it pisses me off,” Henry growled. “Mostly it pisses me off that he thought I was stupid enough not to notice.”

“Maybe he thought you’d drink it too, for the greater good.” Sam sneered. “Or maybe he hates you too for what happened last week. You’re not talking him out of a punishment, Henry. Don’t try.”

Todd whimpered. Derek was still breathing heavily, trying not to be there.

“I’m not.”

“Good.” Sam smiled again, turning back to Todd. “We’ll warm you up. But not for long. You’re going to get every cock in the castle inside you by the end of the night, Todd. And when the humans are done, we’ll get Cole’s dogs, and then you’ll spend some time in the stables with the horses. And while that’s happening, you can decide which part you want me to cut off first. I’m thinking I might go with your tongue.”

“Sam,” Henry repeated, voice insistent.

“What?” Sam demanded, rounding on him. “This isn’t up for debate, Henry.”

“I’ll do it.”

Sam stopped short, blinking. “Excuse me?”

“I’ll punish him.”

Sam was quiet for a second, letting Henry stew. He hadn’t expected that. “You know what I expect done to him.”

“I know. And I’m saying I’ll do it.” There was a quaver, just a small one, in Henry’s voice just then. But he remained firm.

Sam smiled. “Okay. You’re a lucky idiot, Todd. You’re getting off easy tonight.”

“Not that easy,” Henry muttered. “Get on the bed.”

“No, I…please…”

“Shut the fuck up. Did you not hear Sam just now? Would you rather be gang-raped all night? Get on the fucking bed, you idiot.” Henry was getting heated now.

With a cry, Todd shuffled to do as he was told.

Sam turned to consider Derek. “What about him?”

“I didn’t…” Derek’s voice was a squeak. “I didn’t know! I didn’t know he was going to…please don’t hurt me…”

“Hm.” Sam wondered. He believed Derek. “Todd, did he know?”

“I…told him before we came here, your Majesty,” Todd managed to say.

Sam snorted. “Hoping we’ll reduce your punishment by adding onto his? Or do you just hate to be the only one suffering? Don’t worry, Derek, I know Todd’s a liar on top of being a coward. I’m not going to punish you.”

“Than-thank you…”

“I am going to fuck you, though,” Sam added, as an after thought. “Take off your clothes and pull that chair over to the bed.”

Henry and Todd were both going to be busy, after all, and he didn’t want to interrupt that.

“B-but…”

“The amount you complain is proportionate to the amount it’s going to hurt,” Henry told him. “Just do as you’re told.”

All it had taken was an assassination attempt and suddenly Henry’s position on rape had reversed, Sam thought. He should have orchestrated one on himself ages ago. Sam waited while Derek pulled a chair over to the bed, and by the time he sat down, Henry already had Todd out of his clothes and was climbing on top of him. “You deserve this,” Sam heard Henry say to Todd, and then he heard Todd cry out, stifled a little.

Sam fished his hardening cock out of his pants, and grabbed Derek’s arm. “On my lap. Now.” He waved, and the bottle of oil he kept near the bed flew over. Sam uncorked it and poured it on himself, yanking Derek into his lap when he wasn’t moving fast enough.

“Don’t worry,” he said in Derek’s ear, loud enough to be heard over his crying. “You won’t get this often. I have two other people I like better than you. Watch them. Tell me what’s happening.” He searched for Derek’s hole as he spoke, finding it and ramming in all at once.

Derek cried out, but not as loudly as Sam had expected. Sam had to give him a bit of a smack as he started rocking back and forth. “Talk.”

“They’re…Henry’s, he’s fucking him. Todd’s…crying a lot.”

“Good,” Sam said, picking up to a steady rhythm. He didn’t go too fast. There was going to be a lot of entertainment tonight; he didn’t want to blow too soon. “Keep going.”

Todd cried out again as he said that, and Derek made a choking sound. “He’s holding Todd’s arm behind his back, really far. It looks…like it hurts…”

“It had better,” Sam said quietly. “Is he your friend? Todd?”

Derek just sniffled, moving his head in front of Sam’s chest. Sam gave a hard thrust. “Answer.”

“No!” Derek sobbed, as Sam slowed down again. “No. He…he hurts me.”

“Does he?” Sam was interested now. “Hurts you how?”

“Like…” Another sob. He might actually cry more than Todd, which was impressive. “Like this…”

“Oh, really?” Sam almost laughed. Why he was surprised, he didn’t know. “Todd’s a budding rapist, is he?”

“Every night,” Derek managed, between gasps. “He said…he said it was because you were going to, so…”

“So he wanted to prepare you,” Sam finished, chuckling on Derek’s neck as he fucked him a littler harder, closer to cumming than he expected to be. “I’m sure.”

“It hurts more,” Derek told him. “When he does it.”

Sam laughed out loud. “I’m better at it. Do you like it? Watching this?”

“N…no…”

Sam snorted, and since he could, he cast the libido spell on Derek. “Liar. He’s probably going to be extra-hard on you after this. I’m not going to protect you.”

Sam was learning a lot of things about Todd tonight, and he was liking them. He knew Todd’s type. He’d prey on anyone weaker than him.

“B-but…”

“If you want him to stop, make him stop,” Sam said, giving a deep push. “It’s your problem, solve it.”

A loud snap filled the air, followed immediately by a louder scream. “What happened?” Sam asked, arms around Derek, gripping the hard-on he now had.

“He…he broke Todd’s arm…” Derek wept.

“His wrist,” Henry grunted, and Sam could vaguely hear the slapping of flesh as he pounded Todd. Then a loud smack. “Shut up.”

Todd didn’t, but Henry must have hit him again, because he cried out again. “He p-punched him in the head,” Derek reported.

“With those big hands that must have hurt,” Sam giggled, speeding up again. “You’d better break more than his wrist, Henry.”

“Not all at once,” Henry said. “Can’t have him passing out.”

Sam laughed again. He was having fun now. Maybe he should move to the bed so he and Henry could play with their toys side by side.

The room was filled for a while with nothing but flesh slapping, grunting and panting, with crying from Todd and Derek. Sam breathed in the atmosphere, loving it.

“Going to cum in you,” Henry told Todd, though Sam wondered if it was really him Henry was talking to. “Sam’s right. It’s all you’re fucking good for. Scream.”

That last word was punctuated by another loud crack, and Todd did as he was told, filling the air.

“His shoulder...” Derek whimpered, tensing up as he came in Sam’s hand.

He didn’t get any more than that out before Sam came too, holding him tight and filling him up with a quiet grunt. He wasn’t as good a fuck as Henry or Todd, but he was passable, and the energy in the room made it better. Oddly, Sam had never felt closer to Henry than he did right now.

Still holding onto the libido spell, Sam let go of Derek, leaning back and resting his arms on the chair’s. “Keep going,” he said, thrusting up once. “I’ve got more in me. And I know Henry does too.”

And he hadn’t even had to cast any spells on Henry. But there he was over there, still grunting, still moving in and out of Todd hard, heedless of his pathetic crying. There was no sign that he planned to stop any time soon either.

Sam was so proud. This might just have been the best night of his life.

Chapter Text

Sam was feeling pretty good about himself.

He’d just come off a conversation with Solomon’s friend in the mages’ academy, who Jocelyn had helped him find a contact spell for. He hadn’t given out any specific instructions or anything, but at least now he knew what was going on over there. Solomon had planted two agents in the academy, but one of them had been killed in the attempt to seize the stone that Sam had triggered by following some written instructions in a journal.

He’d also gotten a long report on the situation with the chosen one. Apparently, first and foremost, there was a chosen one out there somewhere, and there was a situation with him. So that was good to know. The situation was that there were three of him and the academy couldn’t decide, but it sounded like they’d largely settled on one now.

The agent had asked if Sam wanted the chosen one killed, which Sam had chosen to hold off on for now. Some schoolboy in an academy across the continent wasn’t something he was all that concerned about, even if there were prophecies about him. Other things in the report were more concerning. Sam had been questioned a little more thoroughly than he’d liked on what the plan was to be now, and he hadn’t known, so he’d just told the agent to sit still and wait.

At least it seemed like Solomon’s death wasn’t going to deter them from doing whatever they’d agreed to do. Sam figured they’d been promised the mages’ stone when everything went up in flames, which it was increasingly seeming like Solomon’s plan had been.

The magic coalition that was apparently being put together at the academy—and who was involved in it—was of the most interest to Sam. He hadn’t expected that Solomon had really garnered that much attention worldwide, but apparently there was a coalition forming to come put a stop to him. Which should be fun, especially because of who was involved in it.

The only other of Solomon’s friends that he’d managed to get in touch with had not been nearly as much help, except for telling him how it was that Sam triggering that spell from the journal had made a dragon attack the northern capital. Which was very interesting, but really just seemed like a waste of a dragon to Sam. Still, for all that it had been less helpful, Sam had found that first conversation much more interesting.

Sam was tired, and he let out a half-yawn as he reached the door to his rooms, pulled it open. Henry should be in here at this time of day. “I’ve found one of my sisters,” he said to the room as soon as he came in. “Sylvia, I think. She’s in the northern capital, putting together a coalition to help kill my father.”

Henry didn’t say anything, but Sam didn’t care. He could hear Henry breathing, he knew he was in here. He came in and kicked the door shut behind him. “It seems like Sylvia’s got the archmage on board, and someone from the Grand Coven, and there are going to be some wizards involved. We may have to shore up castle defences, but Solomon’s agent there doesn’t seem worried about an attack coming any time soon.”

Henry got up, approached Sam. “I still haven’t been able to get in contact with a few of Solomon’s other friends. I’d like to know who he had with the wizards—there must have been someone. He had practitioners of every other kind in his pocket. I still haven’t heard back from the witch who sent the…Henry?”

“Hi,” Henry said, voice a little hoarse. He smelled like wine as he approached Sam, slipped behind him. Sam stood there while Henry put his arms around him.

“What are you doing?”

Henry hugged Sam from behind with one arm. “I killed one of your guards this morning.”

“Why?” Sam didn’t have any more guards for Henry to get revenge on. Just Cole, who Henry would have named, Sam figured.

Henry was quiet for a second, breathing on Sam’s neck. “Because I wanted to. He was an asshole. So I cut his throat and fed his body to the centipedes. But mostly I just…felt like it. Felt like killing someone.”

Henry’s other arm came up, and then Sam felt a knife at his throat. “Oh.”

“You left this for me,” Henry said, quiet. “In my prison cell, in the pile of my clothes after you tore them up. Remember?”

“I remember,” Sam tried to speak normally. He could stop whatever the fuck this was; he wasn’t worried. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“So it was on purpose,” Henry muttered, touching Sam’s throat with the blade. “I wondered. I tried to convince myself that it was a mistake, that you didn’t mean to leave it. That it was my secret weapon. I told myself that over and over and over. That you weren’t infallible. That you screwed up. I told myself I’d use this knife to kill you with someday. I’ve kept it in a drawer all this time.”

“I wondered where it was,” Sam whispered. He was extremely aware suddenly of how much bigger Henry was than him.

Henry sighed, gently moved the knife down, down to Sam’s collar, his chest, his stomach. “You win,” he muttered in Sam’s ear.

“Do I?” Sam had no idea what Henry was talking about.

“Yeah.” Henry let go of Sam, drawing back. Now the knife touched the back of Sam’s neck, and Henry started to move in a circle around him, dropping the blade again, touching Sam with it every so often. “You told me. Warned me. You said you’d break me. Take everything I was and grind it down until all that was left was what you wanted. A game, remember? To see whether you annihilated me before I managed to kill you.”

“I remember that,” Sam said, though he did only vaguely. He stood still, aware of Henry prowling around him.

“Well, you were right,” Henry said. The volume of his voice made Sam think he had his head turned to the floor. “I…was sitting here, thinking. The whole time you were gone, I was thinking. About who I am. And…I don’t know, Sam. I don’t know anymore. You did that.”

“I warned you.”

“Yeah. I was going to…Well, I told myself I was finally going to stab you. But we both know I wasn’t really going to do that. I was going to kill myself. But I couldn’t. I think I knew that when I decided it. So instead I…decided.”

Sam gulped despite himself, that tone in Henry’s voice making him shiver a little. “Decided what, Henry?” he asked, because Henry clearly wanted him to ask.

“To admit defeat. I decided to stop pretending that you hadn’t won. You won before we even started, Sam. I should have known it then.” Henry stopped, standing in front of Sam. The knife blade came back up to Sam’s throat. A flick of Henry’s wrist and that would be it. Sam stood still, cold. “I decided to admit that I’m not anything except what you made me into. And I don’t know what that is. So it’s up to you to tell me.”

Sam wasn’t sure what to think. About what Henry was saying, about any of this. He felt his legs shaking a little. “You’re giving up?”

“No.” Henry let out a sigh. “No. I’m not…not going to stop protecting people from you. I’m not going to stop trying to make you a better king. I might still try to kill you someday, I haven’t decided. I just…I’m not going to lie to myself anymore. There’s no point.”

“Good,” Sam said, giving a short shake of his head. “I worried for a second that you were going to get all boring on me.” He’d been worried for a second that the stuff with Todd the other day had pushed Henry too far.

“Never,” Henry promised, removing the knife from Sam’s neck. “You’re shaking. Am I scaring you?”

He was shaking, Sam realized. All over. And he was clammy with sweat, heart beating fast. Was he…what reason did Sam have to be scared of Henry? He was standing there telling Sam he wasn’t a threat to him.

No, that wasn’t what he was doing.

He was standing there telling Sam that he’d given up on most of the things that had kept him from being a threat to Sam.

So Sam swallowed the spit that had collected in his mouth. “Yes,” he whispered, voice cracking a little.

Because if he couldn’t be honest with Henry, what was the point?

“Hm.” Henry took Sam’s hand, pressed the knife into it. “I don’t need that anymore.”

Sam caught his hand as he pulled it away, gave the blade back. “Keep it. I gave it to you.”

Henry let out a little laugh. “What do I need with it?”

“I’m sure you’ll find something. Put it back in that drawer. I don’t care. Just…keep it.” Sam didn’t know why it mattered. But it did.

“Fine.” Henry took the knife. “Hey…if I’d had the nerve. If you’d come back and I’d killed myself. What would you do? I kept picturing you just laughing, but…”

“I…” Sam thought about that, thought about a world without Henry. He didn’t like that, not at all. “I wouldn’t laugh.”

“Yeah.” Henry sighed, and Sam heard him sit down in the chair again. “Do you know what you’re going to do about that magic coalition?”

“No,” Sam admitted, finding his chair and sitting as well. He was suddenly very, very tired. And wary. “Not yet. Kill them and their chosen one, I guess.”

“Might want to come up with a better plan than that,” Henry muttered.

“No kidding.” Sam willed his heart to be less quickly. He felt like he was sitting in a room with a cobra. “Why don’t you do it? As part of your journey of self-discovery. Tell me how to fight them.”

Henry snorted. “Sure. Because I’m a strategist now.”

“You’re whatever I tell you to be, aren’t you?” Sam asked, smiling a little. “Do it.”

“Fine.” Henry let out a sigh. “Hey…before, when I slapped you. You wanted to tell me something. I forgot to remind you. What was it?”

“What?” Sam frowned, thinking back. “Oh, right.”

He’d been planning to tell Henry about the shadow creature. He’d forgotten about that. And now he wasn’t so sure he wanted to. Telling Henry that was telling him one of the only secrets he really had from Henry. It…might be dangerous.

Henry might be dangerous.

But what was the point if he couldn’t tell Henry the truth?

“There’s a…thing. An entity of some kind,” Sam said. “That was allied with my father. I don’t know what it is. It claimed to be a god, but I don’t buy it.”

He told Henry about his encounter with the creature, what it had said and what he’d learned from it. Henry listened quietly, and at the end all he said was, “So you’re planning to kill it, right?”

Sam blinked, his heartrate picking up again. That fear again. Why was he afraid? It didn’t feel right. The fact that Henry knew him that well shouldn’t scare him. Shouldn’t send spikes of worry into his heart.

And Sam shouldn’t be so unsure about how it made him feel. “Yes,” he said after a minute of contemplation.

“Good. You shouldn’t let something like that tell you what to do. Getting the stones together is probably the best first step. You might be able to use them against him.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Sam said. Henry really did know him.

And he didn’t know Henry nearly as well, Sam realized. And that was the worrying part.

“You haven’t told anyone else?”

“Jocelyn? No. I don’t trust her.”

“You trust me?”

That brought Sam short, and he spent a second thinking about it again. “I do,” he said, realizing it was true. “I guess that might seem strange.”

“No,” Henry said. “I get it. I trust you too.”

“Good. Help me come up with something to kill this fucker, then,” Sam ordered.

Sam’s heart had skipped a beat when Henry had said that. That shouldn’t scare him. He needed to stop being stupid. There was no reason to be afraid of…

No.

He wasn’t afraid. This was something else, something positive. He liked that Henry trusted him. He liked it. He wanted Henry to keep trusting him. He wanted Henry to stay with him. He wanted…he wanted Henry.

And that, that scared Sam.

Chapter Text

“So,” Sam asked, as Henry helped him dress after his bath. “Have you killed anyone I liked today?”

Henry grunted. “Is there anyone besides me you like?”

“Not really,” Sam admitted.

“Then no. Do you know who any of the guards I’ve killed were?”

“No.” And Sam didn’t care. “Still, you’re going to have to stop murdering my guards before I run out.” Henry had killed at least one castle guard every day this week. Some of the bodies were still sitting only half-eaten in the centipede pit because the centipedes weren’t even hungry.

Sam was impressed, honestly.

“We can get more,” Henry said, wrapping his arms around Sam to do up the laces at the top of Sam’s tunic.

“We can,” Sam agreed, hoping Henry didn’t notice how his heartbeat picked up with the proximity. “But still. Makes me think you’re trying to pull off a coup.”

Henry snorted. “Why would I need to do that?” He finished with the laces, and then stepped back. “Tell you what, I promise not to kill any more guards for a while, okay. Except the ones you’ve already told me I can kill.”

Sam frowned, turning around, putting a hand on Henry’s chest. “I haven’t told you that you could kill any of them.”

“Cole.”

Sam perked up. “Oh?” Now he got it. Henry had been practicing on the others. “Finally worked up the nerve?”

“Something like that. Some time in the next day or so I’ll do it.”

“Why wait?” Sam asked. “Do it now.”

“I’ll wait.”

Sam felt a twinge of something at that. “You’re up to something,” he accused.

Henry leaned into Sam’s air, and though Sam tensed, Henry just kissed him on the cheek. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, now I’m…” Face burning, Sam stopped at a hesitant knock on his door. “What?”

The door opened, admitting someone with a heavy bootstep. “Your Majesty!” It was a young man’s voice, a guard. He sounded very afraid, which Sam liked. “I’m to tell you that…”

He hesitated, and Sam sighed. “That what?” he prompted.

“Yes, sir!” The guard sounded terrified now. “Your Majesty. Guard Captain Lowell is dead, sir.”

Sam hadn’t been expecting that. “Excuse me?”

“How did he die?” Henry asked, calm. He didn’t sound surprised, not at all.

“He was…stabbed to death, sir.”

Sam snorted. “Cole got to him.”

“No, sir. Um. I’m sorry, your Majesty. He was stabbed by the two, um. Children that he had in his room, sir.”

Sam felt a little unbalanced, but he laughed at that. “Excellent. Oh, that’s wonderful. Henry, we’ll have to make sure we tell Todd about that one.”

“Yeah,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s arm. To the guard, he said. “Thank you. Take his body to the centipede pit and throw it in. And find Sergeant Cole and tell him to meet us down there for his promotion.”

Now that, that reeked of a plan to Sam, so he let it slide.

“Yes, sir.” The guard hesitated. Sam was going to cut his ears off if he didn’t learn to just spit out what he wanted to say. “And the children, sir?”

“I want to talk to them,” Sam said, before Henry could say whatever he’d planned to say. “I bet they have an interesting story to tell.”

Considering that Lowell had been keeping them for his pleasure since Sam had taken over, he was honestly surprised they’d had the vigour in them to do the deed. Lowell must have been gentler than he’d thought.

“Take them to the dining room,” Henry said. “Give them something to eat. The king and I will see them after we’re done with Cole.”

“Yes, sir. Your Majesty.” And the guard fled the room before they could tell him anything else, pulling the door shut behind him.

Sam turned to Henry. “Guess your plan got moved up a little bit, hm?”

“I guess it did,” Henry said, slipping his hand down to take Sam’s. “Let’s go to the pit.”

“Please tell me he’s going to be alive when you push him in.”

Henry squeezed Sam’s hand. “Of course. I tried to think about what would be worse than burning to death. Being eaten alive by centipedes seemed like a good option.”

“Agreed,” Sam said, giggling a little. “I bet it’s awful. But you’re willing to do it to him.”

“Yeah, well.” Henry let out a sigh. “What’s the point of trying to be good anymore?”

Sam leaned in to Henry a little. “Have you been keeping up with Todd’s punishments?” Sam had made it clear that Todd’s indiscretion wasn’t easily punishable in one moment, and that by taking responsibility for him that night, Todd had become Henry’s problem.

“Yeah,” Henry muttered.

“Details, Henry.” Honestly, it was like he completely didn’t get the point.

Another sigh. “I smacked him around a bit, bent him over the chair and fucked him.” He sounded tense. “Tore the back of his pants so he’d have to walk back like that.”

Sam smirked. That last part was unnecessarily mean. Sam liked it. “Good. Did he cry?”

“He always cries.”

“He’s such a baby,” Sam sighed. “Is he still raping Derek?”

“I think so.”

“Good for him. You should give Derek a fuck too.” Sam was a little disappointed that Derek hadn’t turned the tables, especially since Todd had a broken arm. But whatever. He was a stupid coward too. “If only because it will piss Todd off.”

“You really do delight in other people’s suffering, don’t you?”

“I mostly just find it fascinating, the way little people act when they want power.” Sam made a content noise. “It’s hilarious.”

“Little people like me?”

“No, you’re different,” Sam assured Henry, and he meant that. Henry wasn’t like Todd, or the others. “So do you need help with Cole, or do you plan to nobly fight him? He’s a good fighter.”

“I’ll be fine. Stay out of it,” Henry said, a tone of warning in his voice.

“Okay. What should we do with the kids?”

“I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

Sam had some ideas, and he thought on them as they walked to the pit. Once there, Sam wrinkled his nose. “Smells more like rot than usual. Which is your fault.”

“Yeah.” Henry said, sounding a little pleased with himself. “I already told you I’d stop after today.”

That tone again, the one that made Sam realize he was planning something. “What are you up to?”

“I’m going to kill Cole, obviously.”

Sam didn’t get a chance to demand more as the doors were opened and two guards shuffled in, he assumed with Lowell’s body. “In the pit,” he said, not interested. “You know, the centipedes aren’t going to want to eat him with all the food you’ve given them.”

“I know,” Henry said, a little smug. “Hey there, Sergeant.”

Oh, so Cole was with them.

“I think it’s Captain, now,” Cole said, laughing a little as he followed the guards in. Sam heard a thump as Lowell’s body was tossed in the pit, and skittering as the centipedes came out to look.

“Yeah, I guess it is.” Henry shuffled a little. “Congratulations.”

“Yeah, like I believe you really mean that, Arkhewer,” Cole teased. Sam heard him move, and his voice got closer as he turned to face Sam. “Your Majesty. I think I’ll be making some changes to…fuck!”

“Oops,” Henry’s voice said quietly, over Cole’s scream, his fall. “You had your back turned. I assumed you wanted a knife in your knee.”

“Fuck you, you little…ah!”

“Don’t worry, that one’s high enough on the shoulder that it won’t bleed that much. Stand up.”

Cole let out a string of curses as Henry pulled him to his feet, dragging him, presumably to the centipede pit. Sam followed, interested. “You little piece of shit! Should have killed you before!”

“Yeah,” Henry said. “You should have. Bye, Cole.”

“King’s not going to let you do this. He needs me. He needs…”

Sam barked a laugh. “I don’t need you, you idiot. I kept you because you were funny. And your joke’s gotten stale.”

“You…” Betrayal crept into Cole’s voice. “You can’t! You need me. You need someone like me. You’ll never get anything done without me, you funny-eyed little son of a bitch! You think your puppy here can do what needs to be done! You think…”

“Shut up,” Henry said, and Cole screamed again, voice getting distant, and then there was a thud. “That was easy.”

“Don’t! Please! Don’t, let me out! Please, I’ll do whatever you want!” Cole pleaded, as centipedes skittered.

“He changed his tune quickly,” Sam commented, leaning on the rail.

“Do you blame him?” Henry’s voice got muffled as he turned his head. “Kill his dogs,” he said to the two guards who’d brought Lowell in. “One at a time, maybe one every hour. Toss the bodies in here with him. They don’t listen to anyone but him anyway, they’re a liability now.”

“Yes, sir.” That was the same guard from before, sounding sick now.

“You fucking coward!” Cole screamed. “You fucking piece of shit! You…I sure did love the way your sister screamed as we cut her to pieces! She deserved it! She wasn’t even a good fucking lay, and I would know, the entire unit tried her out, just to be sure!”

“See,” Henry said down to Cole, fake casual. “The thing is, I’ve been feeding the centipedes a lot over the last little while. So there’s no reason to panic, Cole. It could be several days before they get around to eating you.”

Oh. Sam felt a strange feeling move through him at that. That’s what Henry had been planning. All the guards he’d murdered, just for this. Impressive.

“Fuck you!” Cole sobbed, obviously crying.

“I was wrong,” Sam said. “You are still funny.”

“Have a good afternoon, Cole,” Henry said, moving away, hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Maybe I’ll come visit you later, see how you’re doing.”

And he guided Sam out of the room, sending those two guards off, and shut the door on Cole’s hollering, his pleading.

When they were in the hallway, Sam laughed out loud, hands on Henry’s arms. “That was…everything about that was cruel and unnecessary, Henry.”

“The only thing worse than being eaten alive,” Henry muttered, sighing. He sounded tired. “Is having to sit there and wait for it to happen.”

“Yeah. I never even would have thought of that. I’m proud of you.”

“Yeah.” Henry started walking.

“Too bad we can’t stay while it happens.”

“We can come back later.”

Sam intended to. Just for fun. “Who’s the new guard captain, then?” he asked, as they walked. “Is it Barry? I don’t like him. I’m picking Art instead.”

“Hm, yeah.” Henry said. “About that. Barry and Art are dead.”

Sam stopped walking. “What?”

“Yeah. So are Pollock and Uri and Dean. Actually,” Henry said, pausing as if considering. “Someone’s killed everyone in your guard who was in any sort of command position over the last week. They’re going to need to be completely restructured.”

Sam felt the blood drain out of his face. “You…”

“Don’t worry,” Henry said, kissing Sam’s cheek. “It’s okay, I’ll deal with it. Not important enough for you to worry about.”

“You…what have you done to my guard, Henry?”

“I think they might be my guard now, Sam.” Henry’s voice was dangerous.

“You’ve been planning this,” Sam said, as the pieces clicked into place. He felt like he was falling. “You were killing the guards on purpose, for this. You waited on Cole. You…you gave those children the knives, didn’t you?”

“You know, you’ve never asked me what I was up to when you left me alone?” Henry asked. “Don’t sound so scared. I did it all for you. You need a functioning guard that’s not run by monsters who get off on hurting people.”

“Isn’t that what you are?” Sam whispered, struck by the enormity of this. He hadn’t, he couldn’t have expected this. Even after Henry’s display in the room last week.

“Maybe, but at least I’ve got your best interests at heart. It’s okay. Do you want to go back to the room?”

Sam wanted to…he didn’t know. Lay down. Kiss Henry. Cry. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling. His head swirled, and he tried to clear it. “No,” he finally said, shaking his head. “No. The children. I want to talk to them. I want to…”

He wanted to use them against Henry, to remind Henry that he wasn’t in charge here.

“I was thinking that we could take care of them,” Sam said, getting a hold of himself. Yes, that was what he’d do. “Maybe teach them. They’ve already killed someone, we could train them to do it again, and better. Have our own little assassins.”

“Not a bad idea,” Henry mused.

“Plus they’re nice and broken in,” Sam continued, swallowing and wishing his mouth wasn’t so dry. He wanted some water. “It’s useful. We can…give them to someone, use their bodies as currency or…”

“Stress relief, for people we want to reward?”

“Yeah.” Sam didn’t buy it, he didn’t buy that Henry was going along with this. He was going to object eventually. “Or even target practice. I mean, it’s not like we need them. The world is full of idiot children.”

“It is,” Henry agreed. “Whatever you want. I got what I wanted today. I won’t stop you from taking what you want too.”

“I don’t believe you,” Sam whispered, but Henry just squeezed his hand and walked with him to the dining room.

There, the guard at the door opened it for them, and Sam and Henry walked in. “Hello,” Sam said to the kids. “You’re Herbert’s children, aren’t you?”

“Y-yes, your Majesty,” one of them whispered. Sam knew there was a boy and a girl, but he wasn’t sure which was which.

“Don’t be afraid,” Sam said, smiling at them. “You aren’t in trouble. I’m glad you both got away from that terrible man. Did you have anything to eat?”

“Not yet,” the same child said, voice a little steadier. Sam thought it was the girl. “We weren’t sure it was…okay…”

“Here,” Henry said, stepping forward. “There’s some food here for you. And some water. Drink.” Sam heard him pouring water.

“Some for me too, Henry.”

“Sure,” Henry said, two cups hitting the table in succession. Then there was a crash as the pitcher hit the floor. “Shit, sorry. Adrenaline’s fading. I’ll go over there and grab the other one, just hold on a second.”

“Whatever,” Sam muttered, waving a hand. He heard slurping as the children drank their water, and he took a chair at the table. “So,” he said, in a voice he thought was a voice used when speaking to children. “You guys must be happy that you’re away from Lowell, right?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” the girl said, swallowing audibly. “He…hurt us. A lot. He…” She sounded dull, and couldn’t finish he sentence.

“It’s okay,” Sam said, kindly. “You don’t need to say it, I know. I want you to know I’m very proud of you for what you both did. In my kingdom, we reward people who stand up for themselves. I was thinking…”

Sam was cut off by a thud, and a shout from the girl. “Hank? Hank!” And then a choking sound, and then…nothing. Another thud.

The pouring of water, and a cup was put in front of Sam. “There you go,” Henry said, pouring another for himself and drinking audibly.

“What the fuck,” Sam whispered. “You…when you poured their water.”

“Yeah.”

“And you dumped the pitcher on the floor on purpose so I wouldn’t drink.”

“Yeah. Got the vial off Todd that night. Kept it just in case. There’s none left now, just so you know. He got it from one of the cooks. Figured I’d let you kill her.”

Sam was shaking in his chair. “You planned all of this. All of it, right down to…they were little children.”

“Yeah. I didn’t expect you to have a moral objection.” Henry sounded surprised.

“I…” Sam shook himself, dispelling the stupidity of that suggestion. “I didn’t think you’d go that far.”

“The girl,” Henry said, taking a seat beside Sam. “Haley. She was getting too old for Lowell. He was talking about passing her off to one of the others. She was going to take all the blame if you were mad. She wanted to protect her little brother.”

“You killed them,” Sam repeated, feeling like an idiot.

“It was the only way,” Henry told him. “To protect them both.”

Sam snorted a laugh. “To protect them from me?” he asked, that laugh followed, more coming up. It wasn’t funny. But he was laughing. “You killed them to protect them from me?”

“From both of us,” Henry said quietly.

Tears streaming down his face, Sam pushed away from the table, stood up, staggered back a step. His power crawled, skittered all over his body, urging him to fight, to protect himself. To protect himself from the threat it perceived to him. To protect himself from Henry. “How…” Sam’s mouth was so dry. “How do I know? How do I know you didn’t keep the poison? How do I know there’s not more, waiting for me?”

Henry’s chair scraped. “You don’t. You just have to trust me.”

Trust him. Trust Henry? Sam just had to…

He started laughing again, the concept rocking him so much that he couldn’t help it. He clutched his stomach, laughter escaping him as he stood there and cried. All he had to do was trust Henry.

With his life.

“Shh…” Henry said, and his arms were around Sam now. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

Sam shook his head. No. He wasn’t okay. And yet. And yet he put his arms around Henry too, fighting back his power, fighting back the urge to attack. And he hugged Henry, letting Henry hold him. “It’s okay, it’s okay.”

And he stood there, and listened to Henry, over and over again. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” And it wasn’t okay. And he never once believed it was. But, Sam realized as he stood there, he wanted to. He wanted to believe it.

“It’s okay, Sam. It’s okay.”

Chapter Text

Todd seemed to have a limitless supply of noise in him.

Sam didn’t understand how after all this time he could still whimper and cry every time Henry fucked him—not even that hard, from what Sam could hear—but he managed it. It was actually kind of impressive, the consistency with which he managed to be annoying.

Sam had almost figured out the last bits of the spell on the magic-blocking collar, but Todd was distracting him from figuring out how to get the Forces to close the circle for him.

Just as he was getting frustrated by the noise, Henry spoke up, a smack filling the air. “Shut up, God. I’m not even hurting you.”

Todd just whimpered. Henry let out a sigh and kept fucking him.

Sam got up, setting the collar down and heading over to the bed, where Henry had Todd bent over the side. He unlaced his pants. “You need to learn how to control him better,” he told Henry, pulling his hardening cock out.

“Be easier if you weren’t always helping,” Henry said, and Sam heard him shift, pushing Todd’s head towards Sam.

Sam grabbed Todd’s hair and muffled the whimpers by sticking his cock in Todd’s mouth, smiling as the warmth covered him. “Can’t help it,” he grunted.

“You gave him to me to deal with,” Henry reminded Sam, as they got a rhythm, fucking Todd between the two of them.

“What’s yours is mine, Henry,” Sam reminded him back. Hoping that he was still right about that. The possibility that it was suddenly the other way around had occurred to him more than once, but Henry hadn’t yet done anything that suggested he was planning to betray Sam.

Sam might have to kill him if he did, and he didn’t want to do that if it could be avoided. He wasn’t sure he was willing to do that.

Henry just grunted at him, made an indistinct noise, fucked Todd harder. He didn’t stop, but Sam knew that he was cumming inside Todd as he did, and not only because of the loud noise that Todd made around his cock. Sam fucked his face harder in response.

Letting out a loud sigh, Henry pulled back, leaving Todd to Sam. He went quiet, like he usually did after he was done with Todd. Sam knew he was still telling himself it was because this was what was best, and that it was the only thing keeping Todd from a much worse fate. But he still didn’t like it. Or at least he was pretending not to.

Funny how he could poison two innocent kids and let a man suffer for a week before being eaten alive, but this still got to him.

He’d get there, Sam wasn’t worried. Not about that, anyway. He was a little worried now about what would happen after Henry got there. After Henry’s little display the other day, Sam had realized very quickly that he didn’t know what Henry was capable of. But instead of attacking indiscriminately, Sam had elected to pay attention, to find out what he could about Henry.

A knock sounded at the door, and Sam didn’t slow down on Todd’s face as Henry got up. “Suck harder,” he said, smacking the side of Todd’s head.

Todd did, as Henry opened the door. “What?”

“A…” the servant at the door paused, probably noticing Sam, but picked up again. “A letter for his Majesty, sir.”

“When did it come in?”

“Just now, sir. You said that all letters should be brought right to you…”

“I know I said that, Wendel. Thank you. Go back to work.”

“Yes, sir.”

Henry shut the door, the sound of ruffling paper tracking him across the room as he came and sat on the bed beside Sam, who’d slowed down. “Who is it from?”

“Hold on,” Henry said. He must be reading through it. He reached down and gave Todd a push onto Sam, fingers brushing Sam’s. “You’re almost done with that collar, right?”

“Almost,” Sam confirmed, taking in a bracing breath as he felt himself get close. “The letter, Henry. Who’s it from?” He needed Henry to remember that Sam was still in charge here, that Henry only had what he had because Sam had given it to him. That he was still Sam’s servant.

Whether or not that was true.

“Your brother.”

Sam stopped moving, but Todd didn’t stop sucking, and he brought Sam over the edge, and Sam came into his mouth with a surprised yelp, holding Todd firmly in place as he did. Todd choked a little, but swallowed.

Panting, Sam pushed Todd off, and he fell to the floor as Sam sat down properly on the bed. “Saul.”

“Yeah. Get better at swallowing,” Henry said to Todd, moving closer to Sam. “You look like an idiot with cum running down your chin.”

“S-sorry…” Todd still managed to sound sullen, even through his pain.

“Get out,” Sam told him. “I’m sure Derek’s waiting for you to come take this out on him.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Todd whimpered, voice wavering.

“Does it feel good?” Sam asked him, as Todd got up. “Hurting him? Making him cry?”

Todd was quiet for a second, until Henry smacked him. “He asked you a question.”

“Yes,” Todd said, voice a little stronger.

“Yeah.” Sam smiled. “Now you understand why I like doing it to you. Get out.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

Todd lingered, fabric rustling as he started to pick up his clothes. Sam reached out and kicked him. “I said get out. I didn’t say get dressed.”

Todd let in a breath sharply, let it out in a whimper.

“Problem, Todd?” Sam asked sweetly.

“N-no, your Majesty…”

“Good. Get lost. Give Derek my regards.”

Todd fled, the door opening and closing behind him. Faintly, Sam heard a sob on the other side of the door.

Sam giggled. “Have you managed to keep everyone in the castle from using him? Or have others been acquainted with his hole yet?”

“A couple of the guards have raped him,” Henry said, voice dull. “I killed them.”

“How protective of you.”

“Do you want to hear the letter or not?”

“Of course.” Still giddy, Sam crossed his legs, turned to face Henry. “What did my dear brother say?”

This was going to be good. Sam could already hear Saul screaming in his dungeon. Maybe he and Henry could rape him together.

“Dear dad,” Henry read. “Sorry I haven’t written in so long. I’ve been really busy with classes. School’s going really well. It’s a bit wild because we’ve got these three classmates who all might be the chosen one. Nobody’s really sure which of the three of them it really is, but Nicholas, Isaac and Peter are all really good people either way, so I’m happy with any of them. Oh, that’s all kind of a secret, so don’t tell anyone I told you, okay? There was this crazy attack on the Vault a while back, and someone tried to steal some artefact from us. I can’t imagine why anyone would attack the Academy like that. It’s suicide. Anyway, we have final exams coming up soon, and I’m really nervous about our Practical Magecraft exam. I’m pretty okay at using the Pillars, but I’m worried everyone’s going to be able to tell I’m not as good as my classmates. How are you doing? I guess busy, since you never answered my last letter. Do you want me to get you any souvenirs or anything? I can get you stuff if you want. Or are you going to come and visit Three Hills like you said you might? I know it’s not easy and everything, so no worries if you can’t. Anyway, I’d like to hear from you just so I know you didn’t forget I exist now that I’m all the way out here. Hope you’re doing well.” Henry stopped. “It’s not signed. None of you people know how to sign letters.”

“It’s because he’s not using his real name,” Sam said, processing everything that Henry had said. He could hear it, hear Saul’s snotty voice behind the words. “He’s worried that someone might read the letter, that’s why it’s full of crap about his classes and his friends instead of just saying what he means. He’s a student, at the mage’s academy.”

“In the northern capital,” Henry agreed. “He doesn’t mention the other friend that you found.”

“No, and she never mentioned him either,” Sam mused, leaning back a little. “Which means that Solomon didn’t trust one of them. Maybe both.”

“Or they have different jobs,” Henry suggested. “He wants the stone, but he might have also wanted to keep an eye on this chosen one.”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, breathing hard. His heart was beating hard. “Saul did make sure to mention that. The attack on the Vault, I ordered that. The spell that I cast to trigger the plan Solomon had in place. His friend knew about that, and she knew about the attempt to rob the academy. Saul didn’t.”

“He was calling it stupid,” Henry said. “When he said it was suicide. He thought Solomon made a mistake.”

“Well, it didn’t work, so I guess he was right, now wasn’t he?” Sam snorted. “He’s worried he’ll be detected. The comment about the exam. Sorcerers can pass as mages for a time. The power that they use is accessible to us because it branches off from the Forces. But he’d only be able to do it in a rudimentary way. Eventually someone will detect him.”

“Was that Solomon’s plan?” Henry asked. “Or did he intend for Saul to be out of there before it became a problem?”

“Probably the latter. He wouldn’t have thrown Saul away if he didn’t have to. He liked Saul.” Sam let out a breath, trying to think. “I should write back to him, pretend to be Solomon. Recall him. He won’t come back if I tell him to—he hates me.”

“Since you plan to torture him to death, do you blame him?”

“Fair enough.” Sam sighed. “I wouldn’t come for him either. What if we went there? Solomon must have said he might.” Given what had happened the last time Sam had left the castle to go meet someone, he didn’t like it. But it might also be his only shot at getting Saul.

“Saul obviously didn’t want him to. He won’t be expecting that,” Henry said. “We could teleport to the northern capital. Maybe even stay there for a day or two. We’d have to be careful, though. You can’t just walk into a school full of mages and start killing people. There are going to be a lot of them.”

“Agreed, and if Saul noticed me, he’d probably attack me.” Sam scowled. “Let’s…” He didn’t know what to suggest, but he wanted to suggest something before Henry did. “Let’s go there. Find out if we can learn a bit about what’s going on in the capital. The mages have one of the stones, and I’d be surprised if Solomon didn’t have other plans in the northern capital.”

“You want to write back to Saul?”

“No,” Sam said, biting his lip. “No. We’ll do that when we get back. I…you were right, before. I need to be a king who knows what he’s doing. And I need to think instead of just acting. I need…I need to know what’s happening there before I make a decision.”

The room was quiet for a second and Sam felt his heartbeat quicken. He wasn’t sure why. He felt worried…nervous. That’s what it was, he was nervous. He was…

He was nervous because he didn’t know how Henry would react to that. He wanted, he hoped that Henry agreed.

He wanted Henry to approve of him.

Sam clenched his hand into a fist, trying to suppress its shaking.

“That’s smart,” Henry finally said, and Sam felt his cold relief flood his chest. He was going to have to do something about this. When had he started to care about Henry’s opinion? “We’ll gather intelligence. You don’t have to go.”

“I will, though.” Sam didn’t want to have to rely on someone else’s perception, or on what someone else chose to tell him, any more than he had to. “You and I will go together. The servants will be thrilled.”

“Less fear of dismemberment in their daily lives,” Henry agreed. “All right. We’ll go. I’ll start making the preparations right away.”

“Okay.” Sam let out a breath, wishing that he wasn’t so…something. Happy? Excited, maybe. Not for the trip, or for finding Saul, but because he had Henry. Because he’d be somewhere alone with Henry, and he liked that idea a lot. “A few days, but we’re not moving there. I don’t want to be gone forever.”

“Yeah. Three, four days should be enough, I think.” Henry covered Sam’s hand in his. “I think this is one of the best decisions you’ve made so far.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

Sam couldn’t help but smile at that, but he suppressed it. “I don’t give a shit what you think. I’ll be paying close attention to you while we’re there. Don’t think I don’t realize you’re hoping to slip away from me in a crowded city.”

Henry snorted, and he leaned forward, kissed Sam on the forehead. “And leave you to slaughter hundreds of random townspeople? I don’t think so.”

Sam felt his stomach flip at that, and he got up, pulling his pants up. “I’m going to finish work on that collar. Go start the preparations.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Henry said, and it sounded like mockery to Sam. But Sam didn’t mind it. Because it was Henry. And as much as he worried that Henry might try to kill him, he was also having a hard time making himself not enjoy the game Henry was playing to build up to it.

Excited for the trip for more reasons than he could completely quantify, Sam went back to work, smiling to himself.

Chapter Text

Sam hated Three Hills. It was too loud, and too crowded with stupid people, and it was cold. They’d gotten here yesterday and he couldn’t wait to go back home. They’d heard all about the dragon attack, and poorly understood rumours that shadows had been attacking people at the same time, all of which sounded stupid to Sam.

Word was the dragon he’d sent had been single-handedly killed by Prince Gavin’s fiancé. Sam kind of wanted to meet someone who could kill a dragon single-handed. He wondered if Henry could.

The other rumour that they’d heard last night when Henry had made him sit at a common table with some loud merchants and play nice for three hours had been that there were centipedes in the First Church of the Blessed, so that was where they were going tomorrow. But today it was the academy, and Sam let Henry lead him through the unnecessarily crowded streets as they headed there. The church was in the same area and Sam was going to make Henry take him there after, and then they could just go back to the castle tonight instead of wasting another day in this stupid city.

It might not be so bad, Sam reflected, if the whole city wasn’t built on hills. Not that he’d expected a city called Three Hills not to be, but damn. He was really regretting that he’d promised not to maim or murder anyone while here.

“That’s the church,” Henry said, guiding Sam up the road, nudging Sam to the right a little. Not to make him go there, just to tell him where it was. “It looks almost the size of your castle.”

Sam snorted. “Thinking of trading up? Becoming the High Presbyter’s partner instead?”

Sam said it casually, but then waited, because it wasn’t casual. He’d been trying to think of a word to describe what Henry had become to him, and that was what he’d settled on for now. He wanted to know what Henry’s reaction was going to be.

“Hm,” Henry muttered, pulling Sam closer to him. “Nah. I bet he’s not as cute as you.”

“Oh, go fuck yourself,” Sam growled. That wasn’t much of a reaction. But at the same time, Henry hadn’t shot it down.

“Why? I’m sure you’ll do it for me later, your Majesty.”

Sam just made an annoyed noise, wondering once again why the fuck he put up with Henry. Aside from the amount of work he’d put into making Henry a liveable bedmate. And because nobody but Henry understood Sam, for better or worse. “Just for that, maybe I won’t.”

“What the hell’s the world coming to if you’re threatening not to rape me?” Henry joked, leading Sam farther up the road. “I guess this must be the academy.”

“Yeah?” Sam asked, as Henry tugged him to the left.

“There’s a big wall, and I can see some towers beyond it. I assume that’s it.”

“Sounds like it,” Sam said, focusing. He could definitely feel some magic up ahead. A lot of it. Henry stopped, and he guided Sam’s hand to the wall.

Sam made a face. “Yeah, this is the academy. There’s a spell right on the wall here.”

“A shield?” Henry guessed.

“Of course. Cowards.” Sam frowned, pressing against it, but not too hard. He didn’t want to alert anyone that he was here. “Hiding behind a stupid shield. Not that it does them any good since Solomon managed to get my brother and two agents inside.”

“Yeah. Is it strong?”

“It is,” Sam said, prodding a bit, then pulling back when it seemed like there might be a reaction. His power ached to just pound the shield until it broke, but… “I don’t think I can break this.”

He really wasn’t sure that he thought this whole honesty thing he was doing with Henry lately was a good idea. But here he was, doing it anyway. “Not that I was going to anyway,” he added, when Henry didn’t answer.

“It’s good to know, though,” Henry told him, shifting a little, closer to Sam.

“Yeah,” Sam agreed. It made clearer that his strategy couldn’t be a frontal assault, as much as he’d prefer that. Henry would have to come up with a plan. “Anyway, we know he’s in there, so let’s…” There was magic behind Sam. Not moving. Standing there. Someone was watching him.

Shit. Sam turned.

“Hi, didn’t mean to bother you.” A male voice, one of those happy sounding people, said. “Are you visiting the academy?”

“Yeah.” Sam let Henry do the talking. “Well, we’re visiting the capital.”

“My brother is a student here.” Sam maybe shouldn’t have said that, but whatever, he was telling the truth today, and this guy was magical, which meant he was probably a student here. He sounded too young to be anything else. “Just thought we’d come by and get a sense of what his school is like.” He smiled.

“I’m a student here,” the kid said, confirming Sam’s suspicion. “I’m Isaac. What’s your brother’s name? I probably know him, I can go find him. I’ll tell him you’re here.” He sounded so friendly, like he just wanted to help. He sounded like an idiot.

“No.” Sam shook his head. That had been a mistake, shit. He couldn’t have this idiot going in and telling Saul he was out here.

“You sure?” Isaac asked. “It’s not a problem.”

“I said no.” God, it didn’t take a lot of brains to be a mage.

“Sam, don’t be rude,” Henry interrupted, squeezing Sam’s arm to remind him. No murder, no maiming. Sam remembered. “They just don’t get along super well, that’s all,” he explained to Isaac. “Sam just wanted to make sure he’s doing okay, you know? Not actually meet him.”

“Oh. Well, okay.” Isaac sounded put out. “I’m sure he’s doing fine. The academy is really safe.” Not from what Sam had heard, it wasn’t. “He’s probably just stressed for exams like the rest of us.”

“That’s what his letter said,” Sam said, wanting out of this. Then he realized something. “Hey, your name is Isaac?”

“Yeah.”

Oh. Isaac. Isaac was the name of one of the three chosen one candidates, from what both Saul and Solomon’s friend had told him. Maybe…Sam was getting an idea. Maybe they should lure him away. He elbowed Henry to go along with this. “I’m Sam. Henry and I are…a bit lost, actually. We don’t know how to get back to our inn from here. It’s our first time in the capital.” He kept a strong hold on Henry’s arm, trying to put all the stupidity and helplessness he could muster into his voice. He sounded a lot like Todd in his head.

“Where are you staying?” Isaac asked, falling for it.

Henry changed his grip on Sam .“Our inn is called the King’s Hammer. It’s just off the big road that heads north, behind the castle?” Oh, good. He was playing along. Whether he knew what Sam was up to, it was hard to tell. But Sam chose to believe that he did.

“The Merchant’s Road?” Isaac asked, as if Henry hadn’t just told him that they didn’t know the name of the fucking road. “I know how to get there.”

“Would you…” Sam paused, trying to channel Todd as best he could. “I don’t want to impose, but would you mind taking us there? It’s so easy to get lost in this city.”

God, he sounded stupid.

Isaac gave a little laugh. “Yeah, it is. Sure, I’ll take you.”

No matter how stupid Sam sounded, though, Isaac managed to sound stupider.

Sam smiled to himself. “Thank you so much, Isaac. I don’t know what we’d have done without you,” he simpered.

“I’m sure you’d have been fine,” Isaac said, voice shifting as he turned. “Come on. It’s this way.” They followed him, and unfortunately Isaac kept talking. “The capital is built in circles,” he told them, as if they gave a damn. “This is the smallest one. You want to get out of it and into the middle circle to get anywhere else, and to do that you have to go through Herald’s Square.”

That seemed stupid to Sam. But Henry made a noise of appreciation. “That way there’s only one road to the castle.”

Oh. Well, that made sense.

“Yeah, I guess it’s a defence thing? I don’t really know.”

Sam didn’t either, and he didn’t care. If he attacked the capital, it wasn’t going to be with a ground army. There was only one road to his castle too, it wasn’t that big a deal anyway. “Are you from the capital?” Sam asked him instead, because he wanted to know how one became a chosen one.

“No, I’m from a little village up north,” Isaac said. “Got brought here for mage training and stuff. Where are you guys from?”

“Down south,” Sam said, hating the dictates of polite conversation. He didn’t want to talk about himself. He wanted Isaac to talk. This was why he preferred torturing people for information—that way he didn’t have to give them any in exchange. “Somewhere. Henry’s from the Fury Plateau, if you know where that is.”

It was true.

“Sort of,” Isaac said, though Sam wondered how it was possible to only sort of know where a geographic area was. It wasn’t like it was a misplaced sock. “So you guys came all the way up here just to see the academy?”

“No.” Sam was trying to keep the derision out of his voice. “We’re travelling. We stopped here for a few days, that’s all.”

“Sight…” Isaac stopped abruptly, a silence falling over him for a second. “Taking in the city?”

Oh, he wanted to avoid offending Sam. How sweet. “You can say seeing,” Sam told him. “I’ve been told that other people do that.” Actually, it was…an oddly nice feeling, that Isaac had thought of that. Most people didn’t.

“Sorry,” Isaac said, sounding embarrassed. “If you’re interested, that’s the big cathedral right there. The First Church of…something. It’s like the headquarters of the Catechism. The High Presbyter used to live there.” As if they hadn’t walked by it on the way to the academy.

“Used to?” Henry asked. Sam wondered at that too.

“He died a while ago, during the dragon attack,” Isaac told them. “They’re picking a new one.”

“I heard about that,” Sam said, interested. That there were apparently centipedes in the cathedral and that they were selecting a new High Presbyter was an interesting combination. “The dragon attack. Was it bad? Did a lot of people die?”

He hoped they had.

“A few people,” Isaac said, a little quiet. “The dragon wasn’t that bad, from what I hear. It tried to kidnap the prince, but someone in the castle killed it. But there were also these shadows that came out and killed a bunch of people, wraiths, they’re called.”

Sam frowned. That same story again. That hadn’t been part of Solomon’s spell, as far as he’d known. “Wraiths? I didn’t hear about that.”

“Yeah. They attacked the order of knights, mostly. A lot of them appeared right here in Herald’s Square. I heard there was a demon controlling them.” The way Isaac said it made it clear that he was just repeating something he’d heard a lot. It was common knowledge that this had happened. Sam wasn’t sure what to think. He was fairly certain that the wraiths hadn’t been part of Solomon’s plan. Which meant that either there was a whole part that he wasn’t aware of, or that someone else had taken advantage of the chaos to attack the order of knights. Sam wanted to know who it was.

“Wow,” Henry said, breaking Sam’s concentration. “I’m glad someone got rid of them, then.”

“Yeah,” Isaac agreed. “Anyway, that’s what happened. But that was a while ago. What you want to do to get out of this area is go south from the square, until you get to the wide road. Come on.” It took Sam a second to realize that Isaac had gone back to giving directions.

Sam had hated the square coming through it the first time, and he hated it just as much this time. It was still crowded and full of people, and Henry had to put his arm around Sam to guide him properly. Which Sam kind of liked, but which he also wished people didn’t have to know about. It made him look needy.

“So, you two together?” Isaac asked, out of nowhere, once they were out of the square.

“We…” Sam…wasn’t sure how to respond to that.

“Yeah,” Henry said, speaking over Sam. “For about a year.”

“Congratulations.” Isaac sounded legitimately happy, which was weird. Who cared about someone else’s relationships?

Were he and Henry in a relationship? Yes, obviously. But the kind Isaac was asking about?

“Thanks.”

“Do you have someone?” Sam asked, since they were talking about this now. If he could get something to use against this chosen one, that would make this worth the time. He could kidnap some girl or boy and make Isaac do whatever he said. Isaac seemed like the type to just crumble and obey if someone he cared about was in danger. It was easier to think about that than the ramifications of Henry’s answer to the question.

“Yeah. A few people, actually.”

“A few people?” Sam asked, as Henry turned him to the left.

“Yeah. Not, like, a lot. Just two boyfriends and like…four, five guys who I hope to get there?” Isaac asked. “And some other people for fun.”

Sam snorted. So the chosen one was a slut. “Not a lot, though,” he teased.

“I’m not greedy.”

“You just sleep with all comers?” He was getting the beginnings of an idea.

Isaac grinned again. “Most comers. And they’re definitely comers before I’m done with them.”

Sam frowned for a second, wondering what the fuck that meant. And then he heard it, and couldn’t help the snort of laughter that escaped him.

“That was terrible,” Henry told Isaac. Sam had appreciated it.

“Maybe, but I got laughs, and that’s what matters.”

Henry didn’t seem amused, but Sam nudged him, letting go of Henry and finding Isaac’s arm instead. “You’re funny,” he said. He’d decided. If Isaac was as much of a slut as he seemed, Sam could probably talk his way into fucking him without that much trouble. And then Sam and Henry wouldn’t have to go back to the Fury Plateau empty-handed. They’d have a chosen one with them too.

“Thanks,” Isaac said, happy. “You’re cute.”

Sam felt himself heat up. He hadn’t expected that. “I wouldn’t know,” he muttered, at a loss for what else to say. “I’ll take your word for it.”

“Henry?” Isaac asked. “Isn’t he cute?”

“He is.” Henry touched Sam’s cheek, tone a little guarded. He must realize what Sam was trying to do. “He’s also not very subtle.” That was definitely directed at Sam, but Sam chose to ignore it.

“That’s okay,” Isaac said, walking more slowly than he needed to. “Neither am I.”

“Henry and I aren’t strangers to having people in our bed,” Sam told him. Just as a comment, to find out what he’d do with that information.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I was a third wheel.” No hesitation. As soon as it was suggested, Isaac was jumping at it. Dumbass.

“Hm.” Sam smirked. “Henry?” he asked, as if Henry’s opinion mattered. Though part of Sam did wonder what Henry thought of this whole plan. But there was no way to ask.

“As long as you’re going to behave,” Henry chided, his tone laced with meaning. Sam got it. No knives.

“Oh, you’ve got behavioural problems? Found myself a bad boy, huh?” Isaac teased.

He had no idea at all. “Henry’s the bad one,” Sam said, managing not to smile. “He’s a monster.”

“Oh, really?” Isaac just sounded excited, rather than worried. “Now you’ve got me all curious.”

“How much farther?” Sam asked, pleased.

“A bit yet.” Isaac said, turning his head to look off.

“Alright.”

“Impatient?” That teasing tone was back.

“Sam doesn’t do patience well,” Henry told him.

Isaac chuckled. “Don’t worry,” he said. And with a short pause, he kissed Sam on the cheek all of the sudden. “We’ll get there. There are plenty of hours left in the day.”

Sam’s power, already on edge with the proximity of a magic-user, crawled up his body for a moment and rather than fighting it down, Sam used it, channeled it into his libido spell to cast on Henry. Not that he thought he needed it, but just in case.

“You’re a magic user.”

“What…” How had he…well, Sam had known that about Isaac, so of course Isaac could sense it in him too. It had taken him long enough. “Yes. You could tell?”

“We can sense other magic,” Isaac told him, as if Sam didn’t know that. “What kind of magic? You don’t feel like a mage.”

Shit. “I’m a sorcerer,” Sam said, because the truth was easier than lying in this instance.

“But your brother’s a mage. I thought sorcery ran in families?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck. It was fine. Sam could fix this. “It does. But not exclusively. You’re wondering about my brother—he wasn’t born a sorcerer, so we thought he wasn’t talented.” And wouldn’t Saul love that lie if it got back to him. “But then he turned out to be a mage. Dad was annoyed.”

It was hard to say how Solomon would have reacted if one of his kids had turned out to be a mage. None of the ones not gifted with sorcery had lived long enough to get there.

“Sorry,” Isaac said.

Sam had to stop from sighing. “It’s fine.” He squeezed Isaac’s arm a little.

“Sorry, it just surprised me, is all.”

What had? “Not enough to change your mind about being a third wheel, I hope.”

Isaac laughed out loud. “Not at all. There’s not much that would change my mind about that.”

Well, that was good. And predictable. “You’re eager.”

“Always.”

“Good. I like that.” This was going to be fun. If not entirely for the reasons Isaac thought.

“So you were doing a spell just then, huh?” Isaac asked. “What kind?”

“Does it matter?” Sam wanted to know why Isaac had been able to read his magic that clearly. Would he know if Isaac cast a spell?

“I guess not, I’m just curious.”

“I am too,” Henry said, tone a little warning. “What kind of spell was it, Sam?”

“It was just…” Fuck. Sam could lie, but he had a feeling Henry would know if he did. Fuck. He shouldn’t have cast that stupid spell. “It was just a spell to encourage Henry’s libido,” he settled on, making it as benign as he could.

“Excuse me?” Henry did not sound impressed.

“Yours isn’t as high as mine,” Sam said, trying to find an explanation that would satisfy Henry and not scare Isaac away before they got him into the room. “It’s just…to help you along. I don’t use it often.” It seemed important to add that part.

“So you’ve done it before?”

Fuck. Henry sounded annoyed. “Isn’t that a bit…I don’t know, shady?” Isaac asked, saving Sam for a second from having to answer. “Like making him want something he doesn’t?”

There, his opportunity to fix it. “It’s not a mind control spell, or anything like that,” Sam said, which was true. “All it does is increase bloodflow to a few places. I’m not making him do anything or want anything he doesn’t already, that would defeat the purpose.” He could easily use mind control on Henry—in theory, Sam didn’t actually know any mind control spells—but that wouldn’t be as fun as having Henry do things under his own power.

Both Henry and Isaac were quiet for a second. “I do feel a bit more…excited than a did a minute ago,” Henry admitted after that second.

“All right, okay.” Sam felt a little wash of power from Isaac, casting a spell of his own, maybe one to find out if Sam had been lying? If that was the case, it was a good thing that Sam hadn’t lied. “Well, as long as you’re cool with it. But Sam, you really shouldn’t do magic on people without telling them.”

As if Sam was going to ask for permission every time he cast a spell. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he said, to shut Isaac up.

Fortunately, that seemed to satisfy him and Isaac was mercifully quiet for the next few minutes, until they arrived. “Ah,” Henry said. “I recognize this. We need to go down there.”

“Perfect,” Isaac said, guiding Sam into a turn. They headed down the road and towards the inn, proceeding right up the stairs without hesitation. Sam had a feeling that Isaac hadn’t been kidding about doing this often. He knew what he wanted.

It was actually kind of admirable.

They got to the door, which Henry unlocked. Sam waved to open the ward he’d put there, because he didn’t trust locks. “A ward?” Isaac asked, as Henry opened the door.

That was really annoying. “You never know,” Sam told him, going inside. “Take your clothes off,” Sam said, once Henry had shut the door.

Isaac took hold of Sam in a sort of hug. “What’s the rush?” He kissed Sam, surprising him. Sam almost pulled away, but remembered that was the opposite of what he was here to do, and leaned into it instead, kissing back. It was…not unpleasant.

But then Isaac stopped. “Come here.” While Sam tried to figure out what that was about, Henry approached, and for a moment there was the sound of the two of them kissing. Well, he had invited Isaac to fuck both of them. “Guys, I’m really sorry,” Isaac said when he stopped.

“What?” Henry asked. Was he going to change his mind? Leave? It was too late for that now. They had him here.

But no. “Neither of you is a very good kisser.” Isaac sounded mournful. “You both need more practice.”

Of all the stupid…Henry laughed. “Alright,” he said. “You want to demonstrate?”

Isaac didn’t answer, but he was right in Sam’s face again, breathing on him. “Do what I do.”

Isaac kissed Sam again, slowly. Sam tried and failed to suppress a sigh, but did as Isaac had said, remembering Henry’s comment about behaving. He kissed back, trying to do what Isaac was doing, with his lips, with his tongue, he’d never realized kissing was this complicated. It was…good, though. Sam found himself liking it.

And then Isaac stopped, leaving Sam unsure why. “There,” he said. “More like that, less like you’re trying to eat my lips, okay?”

“Whatever,” Sam managed. “Henry’s never complained.” Though they didn’t kiss that often.

“Yeah.” Isaac went back over to Henry, left Sam standing there listening to them kiss for several minutes. “See?” he asked Henry when it was done.

Henry swallowed audibly. “Yeah, got it.”

“You should practice.” Isaac said, and it took Sam a moment to realize. He meant the two of them, him and Henry.

Sam realized that just in time to have Henry take him into his arms and kiss him, in a way similar to how Isaac had but better, rougher, more like what Sam wanted. “There you go,” Isaac said, watching happily. “See, it’s not that hard.”

When the kiss was done, Sam took a step back, catching his breath. That had been good. He’d liked that. They would do that again, without Isaac there to meddle. Hands on his belly, and Henry was lifting his shirt. Isaac’s hands joined them, and the two of them stripped Sam out of it. Sam wasn’t going to be manhandled. So he stepped forward, kissing Isaac again, taking charge. Isaac had called the shots for long enough. Henry’s hands left Sam, lifting Isaac’s shirt as Sam kissed him, and Isaac undid Sam’s pants. Now this was a pace Sam could work with, and he deepened his kiss with Isaac, oddly wishing Isaac were taller. Isaac’s shirt came of, and Henry and Isaac got both their pants and boots off as well, leaving Sam standing there naked, pressed against Isaac’s thigh.

Isaac broke away for a second, taking Sam’s hand and putting it on Henry’s waistband. His shirt had come off already. “Come on, let’s help him?”

Sam did, finding the button. “Henry does tend to be too slow.” He didn’t know why he’d said that. It wasn’t really true.

“Nice,” Isaac said, once Henry was naked. His hand wrapped around Sam’s cock, and he pushed, making Sam take a step backwards to the bed. He and Henry both fell onto it, and Isaac with them. Isaac immediately got down on his knees, stroking Sam in one hand. “Hm,” he said. “Can’t decide which of you I want to taste first.”

“Well, make up your mind,” Sam muttered. He wanted Isaac’s mouth on his dick.

“Well, just for that I’m picking Henry,” Isaac teased. Sam would teach him not to tease so much. “Teach you to be rude to the guy with your dick in his hand.”

Sam could do nothing but make a noise and listen as Isaac slurped up Henry’s dick, sounding happy. Henry was tense on the bed beside him, hand covering Sam’s. Isaac’s hand felt nice on Sam’s cock.

Isaac sucked Henry for what seemed like a long time, but Henry didn’t cum, and he pulled off, now breathing on Sam. “Okay, now it’s your turn.”

Sam made an unimpressed noise, but Isaac finally took him into his mouth and started sucking. Sam put his hand on Isaac’s head and pushed him down, surprised that there was a little bit of resistance, like Isaac was nervous to have more than the head of Sam’s cock in his mouth. But eventually he gave in, sliding down. Sam groaned a little as Isaac sucked him, not taking very long to shoot into Isaac’s mouth with a content sigh.

He let Isaac go, leaning back. Isaac pulled off, letting out a breath on Sam’s dick. “Is he always this greedy?”

“Always,” Henry said with a snort. Sam elbowed him. Sam was behaving. Henry could too.

Isaac moved away, pulling Sam with him, by the hand. “You took Henry’s turn,” he said as he tugged. “Come down here and make it up to him with me.”

“Excuse me?” Sam was…not impressed, to say the least.

Henry’s hand was on Sam’s shoulder, pushing him down. “You heard him, get down there.”

Sam…couldn’t refuse without making it clear to Isaac that they’d lied to him. Henry was going to pay for this. But for now, he kept his annoyance to himself, got down on his knees with Isaac, who pulled his hand closer to Henry. Isaac surprised Sam with a kiss, which was followed by Henry’s dick on Sam’s lips.

Sam paused, getting ready. He’d done this before to Henry. It wasn’t a big deal. He was just as in command now as he had been back then—how could he be anything but in control with his teeth right on Henry’s cock? So he opened his mouth and let Henry inside, going down on him, sucking Henry off.

Isaac’s face was right near Sam’s, but he pulled away. “Are you sure you guys have been together for a year?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?” Henry asked, breathless. Sam had done that to him.

“Just…” Isaac hesitated. “Neither of you can kiss and Sam clearly doesn’t know his way around your dick.”

Henry laughed, and Sam nearly used his teeth. What the fuck did Isaac know? “Sam’s usually on top, that’s all,” Henry explained. At least he was trying to keep their story intact.

Isaac’s hand rested on Sam’s head. “I guess that makes sense,” He poked Sam on either cheek, moving his lips into a more circular shape. “Like that. Everyone should know how to give a blowjob, just in case they accidentally steal their boyfriend’s turn and have to pay him back.”

Sam wanted to say that not everyone was a fucking slut, but his mouth was full so he just kept sucking. Isaac was going to pay too. “Use your tongue,” Isaac told him. “Curl your lips a little, and let your cheeks help you suck.”

Sam figured it couldn’t hurt to play along for a few minutes, since Isaac seemed happy and getting Isaac to feel safe with them was his goal. So he licked Henry’s shaft, hollowing his cheeks. Isaac kept correcting his form, but Sam thought he was being pedantic at that point. He was doing fine. Which he proved a second later when Isaac said, “He’s going to cum in a minute. Get ready. Try and swallow, but if you can’t, that’s okay.”

Sam was going to fucking swallow just because of that condescending tone of voice. So when Henry cried out and lifted up his hips, Sam swallowed, letting Henry’s cum flood his mouth. He swallowed as fast as he could, but was overwhelmed, choked a bit. But he kept going. Sam wasn’t going to be beat by a bodily fluid. He kept going. In the end, he swallowed it all, though some escaped. It tasted gross.

“Good job,” Isaac said as if Sam were his pet dog. Sam wiped the cum off his chin. “See, it’s not that bad.”

“It’s…harder than it seems,” Sam muttered, throat sore. He’d never realized how much effort went into that. He could feel himself sweating.

“Yeah, it’s a lot of work. It’s fun, though, right?”

“I guess,” Sam said, because calling Isaac a name would be rude, and Sam was avoiding that. “I prefer receiving them.”

“Sure,” Isaac said, with a chuckle. “Well, you guys have to do what’s best for you. I’m not going to tell you how to have sex.”

“I liked it.” Henry sounded smug. “It was nice to be on this end for once. You should do it again.” That sounded more like a promise than a suggestion.

“Right now?” Sam asked, hoping that his tone of voice conveyed his disagreement.

“Someday,” Henry said, and he was serious. Sam was going to stab him later. “And you should practice while you have the chance. Isaac hasn’t cum yet.”

Sam was going to stab him so hard.

“You don’t have to,” Isaac added, but Sam did, because…well, he just did.

“I…” Sam didn’t know what he wanted to say there. “Get on the bed. You can tell me how to do it properly, since I’m so bad at it.”

If nothing else, Sam could get really good at this. Maybe it was a tool he could use against Henry in the future. Do a task, get a blowjob. Seemed like something Henry would enjoy. Something to keep him on his current path, positive reinforcement.

So he didn’t flinch when Isaac got up onto the bed, patting his cheek. “It’s hard to be really bad at a blowjob as long as your teeth don’t get in the way. It’s just also hard to be good at it without practice, that’s all.” He sounded so patient. Sam wondered if he’d be that patient chained to a dungeon wall. But he felt his way up Isaac’s leg to his groin. “Go at whatever speed you’re comfortable with,” Isaac told him, still patient.

“I’ll be fine,” Sam muttered, taking Isaac in his hand as nicely as he could, and putting him in his mouth in one movement. He started sucking Isaac harder than he’d sucked Henry, figuring he’d like that.

Isaac made an appreciative noise, so Sam was right, but he also reached down and poked Sam’s lips again. “Like this,” he said, making Sam’s mouth into a different shape. Sam let him do it, noting that it did make Isaac’s dick a little easier to control that way. “Suck a little more gently unless you want to end up with it down your throat,” Isaac moaned. “Don’t think you’d like that right away…”

Fine, Sam figured. Apparently Isaac couldn’t handle it harder, so he eased off, going more slowly. Henry put his hand on Sam’s back, rubbing him, keeping him in place. Reminding him to behave. “You’re getting the hang of it. Try using your tongue a little.” Sam ran his tongue up Isaac’s length, giving attention to the head as he kept up sucking. It was hard to do both at the same time, but Sam was getting the hang of it now.

“I’m going to cum in a second,” Isaac warned him. “Decide if you want it in your mouth or not…” Henry’s hand pressed on Sam’s back a little.

As if Sam was going to let Isaac cum on his face anyway. He kept sucking, and Isaac started to shoot into his mouth, the now-familiar flavour of cum “Satisfied?” Sam asked, coughing. He hadn’t choked this time, though.

Isaac got down off the bed, grabbed Sam’s face and kissed him. “Yeah. Fun, right?”

Sam felt himself heat up again for no reason. “It wasn’t awful. That’s all.” He hadn’t enjoyed it. But he hadn’t hated it. It was just a means to an end.

Isaac touched Sam’s nose. “Okay. If you want to get better at it, you’re going to need to practice. Try doing it at least once a day, I’m sure Henry won’t complain,” he teased.

Henry’s hand was still on his back, and the heat in Sam’s face got worse. Maybe he was coming down with something. “I’ll think about it.” Sam put his hands on Isaac’s shoulders. He was done playing Isaac’s game. “I want to fuck you now.”

Isaac laughed at him. “You’re not very romantic.”

“Who cares?” Sam asked. Romance was stupid. He was going to stick his cock up Isaac’s ass and they’d just met an hour ago. Did Isaac want flowers and a serenade?

“Not me,” Isaac told him. “Let’s get on the bed.”

With Henry’s hand on his arm, Sam stood, and Isaac got on the bed. Sam got in between his legs. “You guys have some oil somewhere?” Isaac asked.

“There’s a bottle here.” Henry left, leaving Sam to feel his way between Isaac’s legs, prodding at his hole.

“I assume you do this often,” Sam said to Isaac, as Henry gave him the oil.

“Often enough. You?”

“Let’s just say I’m better at it than I am at kissing,” Sam muttered, oiling himself up. He used more than normal, just because. Then he crawled up a little, and found Isaac’s hole, using his fingers to probe the entrance.

“Prove it, then,” Isaac said, tone challenging.

Just for that, Sam pushed two fingers in at once, smiling a little at Isaac’s gasp. Since Isaac did this often, he assumed that that meant he didn’t need to waste a lot of time on this, which was fine because Sam had never used his fingers on anyone before. He just knew that was what boring people did before fucking someone. So he pushed his fingers in and out for a minute before deciding that was long enough, putting his hand on Isaac’s leg to press himself properly inside, his dick sliding into Isaac’s hole more easily that it ever had to anyone else’s. The fingers must have done that, he figured. Those, and Isaac’s obvious experience.

Sam used Isaac’s hips to keep himself steady, then started fucking him, firmly enough to show Isaac that he was the one in charge here. Isaac surprised him by moving his hips in response, matching the speed Sam was fucking him at, but Sam went along with it, using it to get deeper into Isaac.

“Let’s give you that blowjob,” Isaac said, breathless.

“All right.” Henry moved past Sam, climbing up the bed, and a moment later Sam heard a slurp as Isaac took Henry back into his mouth.

Sam fucked Isaac happily, enjoying the knowledge that he was sucking Henry at the same time. This was basically what they did with Todd most afternoons, only Isaac had asked for it. He liked it, he liked knowing that Henry was there with him, knowing that Henry was helping. He liked sharing this with Henry. He liked sharing with Henry. Sam had never liked sharing with anyone.

It wasn’t long before he started to get close again, and Sam fucked Isaac harder as his orgasm built, before cumming inside of him. Henry was making orgasm sounds too, and Sam pulled out of Isaac, not at all surprised when he heard Henry grunt right after, and when Isaac did the same, both of them orgasming. Had Isaac liked being fucked that much?

“That was fun.” Isaac said, sounding very happy with himself. “You guys want to switch spots?”

“I’m game,” Henry said, immediately, as Sam tried to figure out what the fuck. He’d never fucked anyone who’d turned around and asked for it again. Not even the girls Solomon had used to send him had done that.

Well, he was still hard, so Sam wasn’t going to say no to another blowjob since it was there in front of him. “Fine, get over here.”

Isaac came over, got between Sam’s legs and used the blanket to clean him off before licking his dick. “No hands in my hair this time,” he told Sam. “I’ll do it on my own.”

Sam almost put his hands on Isaac’s head just for that, but he leaned back a little, keeping his hands on the bed. “Fine, whatever.” Let him pretend that he was in charge if he really wanted to.

Isaac sucked on Sam, using his tongue, and this time Sam was paying attention and recognized what it was that Isaac had been trying to get him to do earlier. Well, it felt really good, if Sam cared about making whoever’s cock was in his mouth feel good, he supposed. Isaac’s head was bobbing up and down as Henry fucked him, and Sam smiled a little, thinking of Todd again, keeping quiet and letting Isaac do what he’d said he would. It was nice, actually. Not having to force someone for once.

All of the sudden, though, Isaac pulled off of him entirely, then engulfed Sam’s entire cock down to the root. And stuck a finger up Sam’s ass without any warning. Sam jumped a little, power crawling, but he pushed it down, clenching around Isaac’s intruding finger. What the fuck did he think he was doing? But he couldn’t say anything. So he just…sat there. With a finger up his ass.

Which Isaac clearly took as an invitation. Moaning around Sam’s cock, Isaac slid his finger in farther, a second one probing at the entrance. He pushed that one in. The blowjob was good enough that Sam could ignore it for the most part, the mild burning as Isaac’s fingers stretched him out. He focused on his cock in Isaac’s throat instead. But then Isaac touched something inside Sam, something that stung in a way that Sam really liked, and Sam couldn’t help but make a loud noise as he was shoved into an orgasm, painting Isaac’s throat with his cum, while Isaac and Henry both filled the room with noise.

Laughing, Isaac pulled off Sam’s softening cock. “Did you like that?”

Sam had. He thought about saying he hadn’t. But he’d just very obviously enjoyed it, and he could feel Henry’s attention on him. “It was…yes.”

This honesty thing was going to be the death of someone.

Isaac pulled his fingers out of Sam, and Sam winced at the sudden loss. It was almost as strange as having them put in. He wished he could go again. He wanted to undo one or two of those orgasms so he could fuck Isaac again, remind him that he was in charge here. Isaac clearly needed that.

Hm. Sam had an idea, and he put his hand on Isaac. “Hold still,” he ordered, sliding his hand downwards, looking. This should work. And if it didn’t, it was only Isaac he’d maim. He found Isaac’s dick, surprised when Isaac gave his sensitive cock a lick. But he pushed that away, grabbing Isaac’s balls. And he ran the same healing spell he usually used into Isaac, smiling a little as he jumped.

“Ow!”

Sam let go. “The pain fades in a second.”

“What did you do?” Isaac sounded more annoyed than worried, which was the wrong reaction, but it was good to know. He was too trusting. Sam could use that.

“Healed you.” Sam told him. “Did it work?”

“What?” Isaac clearly didn’t understand.

So Sam decided to be patient. Isaac wasn’t screaming in pain, so it had probably worked. “You’re ready to go again, aren’t you?”

Isaac was silent for a second. “Yeah. What did you do?”

“A healing spell. Reversing the toll on your body.” Sam found Henry, did the same spell. “There. Now you two can keep going at it while I recover.” He couldn’t heal himself, as much as he might want to. But this would buy him some time to get it up again.

But then Isaac’s hand was on Sam’s balls. “I know a healing spell. It doesn’t reverse damage, but it speeds up regular healing. If yours can do it, mine should too.” And there was a…strange feeling like water running over Sam’s dick, and he wasn’t sore anymore, and grew back to full strength right away. “How do you feel?”

Sam hadn’t expected that, not at all. He didn’t think he’d ever been with anyone who wanted sex as badly as Isaac did. “Better. I can definitely go again.” He was a fast learner. Something else Sam would have to keep in mind.

“Good.” Isaac gave him a lick. “You want my fingers back?”

“No.” Sam absolutely did not…

“Liar,” Henry accused, before Sam could finish his thought.

Sam didn’t say anything for a moment, considering his options. He could continue to refuse, and Isaac probably wouldn’t do anything. He seemed like the type. But he had no idea what Henry would do later. Or he could go along with it. It hadn’t hurt or anything. And he’d liked it, honestly. “Fine, yes.” It wasn’t like it mattered what Isaac thought, they’d correct him soon enough once they had him at home.

But Isaac was apparently in the mood to be an asshole. “Say please.”

“Excuse me?”

“You always demand. You never ask,” Isaac said, despite the fact that he was very demanding. “Say please, and I’ll give you back the fingers.”

Sam didn’t want to play games. He seriously considered telling Isaac to go fuck himself. Or telling Henry to break his arm. He could block Isaac’s magic. But it wasn’t worth it. Not when he wasn’t sure how exactly he wanted to play Isaac yet. Maybe chaining him up wasn’t the best option—he might be willingly swayed. “Fine. Please.”

“Please what?”

“Please…” Nevermind, Sam was going to kill him. “I’m starting to hate you.” He was hot in the face again.

“Uh-huh, sure,” Isaac said, entirely too smug for someone with Henry’s cock up his ass. Henry was going too easy on him.

“Fine. God.” Sam did not have the patience for this. “Please give me back your fingers.” He didn’t even want them that badly.

“That’s much better.” Isaac stuck the fingers back in at once, and put his mouth back where it belonged on Sam’s cock. Sam just leaned back and let himself enjoy it, trying to pay a little bit of attention to what Isaac was doing—just out of curiosity—but that was hard with those fingers up there, poking around.

He blamed those fingers for cumming again so quickly, lifting his hips up into Isaac’s mouth as he did, before collapsing back onto he bed, Isaac chuckling as he swallowed.

And then Isaac stuck a third finger up his ass, and Sam went tense again, not having expected that. He felt full all of the sudden, in a way he wasn’t sure he didn’t like, and Sam moved his hips involuntarily.

Isaac clearly missed the message, though, pulling off Sam’s cock. “How do you like the fingers?”

“I…I like them…” Sam felt his face heat up again. He hadn’t meant to sound like an idiot. Talking was harder than he’d expected. He liked this more than he’d expected. He was starting to wonder if this—any of this—had actually been a good idea.

“Think he’d like something else?” Isaac asked.

Sam wanted to know what the fuck he was talking about, but Henry answered. “I think he would.”

Oh, now the two of them were up to something. Great.

“Haul me up there,” Isaac said, taking his fingers out of Sam.

Before Sam could ask what was happening, Henry grunted, and suddenly Isaac was on top of him. “What are you doing?”

Isaac kissed him. “Showing you something more fun than fingers.”

Sam still had no idea what was happening, but then he heard Isaac uncork a bottle, and he started to realize. Then he felt Isaac pressing at his asshole. Not his fingers. “If you’re interested,” Isaac said, hesitating.

He was moving ever so slightly, Henry still fucking him. How determined he was. But he didn’t penetrate Sam, waiting for permission. Sam hesitated for a good minute, considering telling Isaac to jump off a building. But…it wouldn’t be that bad. Henry had been pounding at Isaac for a while now and Isaac was fine. “Fine, whatever. Have you fun.”

It had hurt when Henry had done it to Sam before. But it couldn’t hurt that bad. Isaac had a smaller cock than Henry.

“It’ll be fun for you too,” Isaac told him as he started to push in.

Sam didn’t believe that, but he let Isaac do it anyway, figuring that he could live through it. And then he’d kidnap Isaac, block his magic, take him back to the castle and have Henry rape him until he couldn’t ever get hard again.

Isaac fucked him slowly, more slowly than Henry had by far, more slowly than Sam had fucked him earlier. His movements were deliberate, careful. And it didn’t hurt, Sam realized after a minute. It didn’t hurt. It was…it was good. Isaac hit something inside Sam that made him gasp, that same thing he’d touched before, and then he did it again, and again, and he missed that time, but there it was again, and Sam was fisting the sheets as Isaac kissed him, hands all over Sam, hitting him again, and again. Sam wanted to make him stop, to ask what he was doing to…

Isaac sped up a little as Henry started grunting louder, probably enjoying Sam’s suffering, The harder pace made it even better, and Sam felt like he was going to explode or cry or cum or do something, but he wanted something, something more than this and all he could do was lay there and let Isaac do what he wanted, wondering how he was making it so good.

Isaac came inside him and Sam barely noticed, biting his lip to keep himself from saying anything he’d regret, and Isaac hit him one last time and Sam exploded, arching his back as he came without Isaac having touched his cock once.

Isaac lay down on top of him while Sam tried to catch his breath, his weight suggesting Henry was on top of Isaac. The three of them breathed on each other, trying to stay alive, and Sam felt more…satisfied than he ever had after sex. “Told you you’d like it,” Isaac told him, head on Sam’s shoulder.

There had to be something. Some trick, some lie. Isaac had…he’d used a spell. Right, of course. It couldn’t feel like this without help. Isaac had managed to slip something like Sam’s libido spell past him, or he’d reversed Sam’s ability to feel pleasure and pain. “What did you do?” Sam demanded, voice hoarse. “You used magic, or…”

Isaac kissed Sam’s cheek. “Nope, I’m just good at it.” He sounded happy. “Let me guess, you guys tried it before and you didn’t like it?”

How the fuck had he known that? “It…hurt…” Sam told him. He hadn’t known that it could not hurt. The fact that it had hurt with Henry wasn’t the main reason why he hadn’t liked it, but it hadn’t helped.

“Yeah. You’re big, and you’re a bit rough. You have to go slower.” He was talking to Henry, Sam realized. “A guy can take a lot if you stretch him enough and go careful enough.”

“We’re not being very careful with you,” Henry growled. Sam thought they were being awfully careful. He hadn’t taken his knives out.

“Yeah, but I’m used to it,” Isaac told him. “I’ve taken bigger guys than you. Took two at once, one time.”

“You’re lying.” Sam wasn’t an idiot. Nobody could take two cocks up their ass at once and then sound happy about it later. No matter how much of a slut they were, nobody could...

“Nope.” Isaac sounded smug. “Wasn’t so hard. I mean, we were all hard. But the sex was good.”

“I don’t believe you’d be laughing about it if you’d really taken two people at once,” Sam insisted. It wasn’t possible.

He heard Henry sigh. “You want me to prove it?” Isaac asked.

Wait a minute. Isaac had angled him this way. Sam realized that now; Isaac had brought it up so that he could get Sam and Henry to do it for him. He was probably bluffing. Well, Sam was going to call his bluff. “Henry, roll him over.”

“Got it,” Isaac was pulled out of Sam, which Sam didn’t like, and Henry moved them both off of him. “Here you go.”

Sam inhaled, giving Isaac a second to protest, but no protest came. He didn’t really think Sam was going to back down from this, did he? Sam got up on his knees, found them and crawled on top of Isaac, who still had Henry buried in his leaking ass. He touched his dick to Henry’s and pressed it against Isaac’s hole, showing that he meant it.

But Isaac never made him stop, so Sam just started pushing in, going slow because it was tight, wow. Really tight, squeezing in there with Henry, Henry’s cock pulsing under Sam’s. It was hot, Henry was hot, Isaac was hot, Sam was hot.

Isaac spread his legs farther, breathing hard, and Sam kept going, and Henry started fucking Isaac at the same time, which made it easier for Sam to bury himself. So bury himself he did, getting all the way in and starting to fuck him at the same pace as Henry. He was astounded. Isaac wasn’t crying or screaming or…anything. He was making little moaning noises as if he liked it. So Sam sped up, and Isaac’s hands came onto Sam’s shoulders, stopping him. “Slow…slower…”

Sam paused, triumphant. So Isaac wasn’t unbreakable after all. He fucked more slowly. “Better,” Isaac told him in a half-moan.

“Guess you were wrong…” Henry told him, underneath Isaac.

“Shut…shut up…” Sam managed, focusing on fucking Isaac. He didn’t care if he’d been wrong. He didn’t care if Isaac had tricked him into his. He wanted to keep doing it. He wanted to stay like this. He wondered what it felt like for Isaac.

Isaac came with a cry as they both penetrated him particularly hard, and neither Sam or Henry stopped. Henry followed him, and his orgasm pulsed along Sam’s cock, bringing Sam the rest of the way there as well, driving deep inside Isaac to add his cum to the already impressive volume in there. Overwhelmed by how tight it was, Sam pulled out as soon as he was done, breathing.

“Told you,” Isaac said, a little sleepy.

“Shut up.” Sam didn’t know what to think. He didn’t know why he was enjoying this so much. He didn’t know.

“You can take anything up there if you’re careful enough. It’s just a matter of being careful.” He shifted as he said it, and judging by Henry’s groan he was pulling Henry out of him. He must be leaking cum everywhere.

For something to do, Sam reached over and grabbed Henry’s dick, testing to see if he was still hard. He was. “If you ever want to try again,” Isaac said, “I suggest this position, actually. Let Henry lay back and you sit on him. That way you can control how much goes in and how fast.”

Oh, Sam hadn’t thought of that. And he was probably being pushed again, but Sam didn’t care. If Isaac could take both of them, then Sam could manage Henry’s cock. He just had to be careful and then it wouldn’t hurt. And in that position, it would be obvious which of them was in charge. “Don’t feel like you have to right now…”

“Quiet,” Sam told him, positioning himself properly. He squatted over Henry’s cock, and Isaac grabbed his arms to keep him steady as he let Henry inside, pushing down. He got fuller and fuller, wondering more and more why he hadn’t done this before. He stopped when it got to be too much, sitting there with most of Henry’s cock inside him.

“Don’t go too fast,” Henry warned, and Sam ignored him. He didn’t need Henry’s input here. He slid down a bit more. Isaac’s hand appeared on his cock, stroking him a bit. Sam slid the rest of the way down, realizing he’d misjudged Henry’s size rather impressively, but getting it all in and sitting on Henry’s hips. Sam felt…full. And happy.

Sam put his hands on Henry’s shoulders, moving his hips. Isaac was right, like this he could control how much happened. It wasn’t like last time. It didn’t have to be like that time. Sam could have this and not have to worry about Henry. He sped up, getting more comfortable. Henry’s hands came up to rest on his hips.

Sam wasn’t aware of going faster, but Henry was just laying there, passive, and soon Sam was bucking his hips hard, using Henry to hit that spot in himself, using Henry to pleasure himself. Annoyed that he’d never thought to do this before. This was…amazing. He would definitely be doing this again.

And Sam came, crying out loud as the hardest orgasm of the day hit him, and he splattered his cum all over Henry, riding him and the orgasm at the same time. Only when Sam stopped moving did Henry start, giving a handful of thrusts of his own, and then cumming inside Sam, which was fine.

Sam lay down on Henry’s chest and Henry put his arms around Sam and it was really, really something. Sam hadn’t ever imagined something like this.

He didn’t know how long they all lay there, just enjoying being tired. Sam had never been this tired, but he’d never been happier to be tired. “Thanks for the invitation,” Isaac said, breaking the silence.

“Yeah.” Sam had forgotten he was there, listening to Henry’s heartbeat.

“Thanks for all the pointers,” Henry laughed.

“Anything to help.” Isaac laughed too, then made a bit of a noise as he sat. “I should go.” Sam wanted him to go, so he didn’t say anything. Isaac puttered around, dressing himself, while Sam wondered how he could even walk. “Thanks,” he said, leaning down and kissing first Henry, then Sam, one last time.

Sam let him. And he was going to let Isaac go, too. “You’re just lucky we’re letting you leave.” Until a few minutes ago he’d had no intention of letting Isaac go anywhere.

Isaac patted Sam’s back. “Sure.” And then, his hand slid down. And it found Sam’s balls, and before Sam could say anything, he felt water running over him.

Isaac reached up and did the same thing to Henry, who had only half-fallen out of Sam’s hole and was now getting hard again, to match Sam’s growing erection against Henry’s stomach.

That little piece of shit.

“I hope we can meet again sometime,” Isaac said, cheeky, as he headed out.

“We will,” Sam promised him. And Isaac wouldn’t enjoy it as much the second time. Sam and Henry would. But Isaac wouldn’t.

Isaac let out a snort. “Enjoy the rest of your visit to the capital.”

And he left, leaving them alone.

“Thought he’d never leave,” Sam muttered.

Henry snorted underneath him, shifting to slip his cock back inside Sam. Sam didn’t complain. “You brought him here not intending to let him leave.”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, sliding his hips a bit as Henry started to as well, the two of them working together this time to fuck Sam’s hole.

They’d been revitalized again, but they were tired, and so they went slowly and carefully. It still didn’t take long, Henry driving up deeper into Sam’s stretched hole, Sam sliding himself farther down to let Henry in. Henry hit that spot inside Sam a few times that was all it took for him to cum on Henry’s belly, and after that a few more thrusts had Henry filling his ass some more.

Sam could get used to this.

“Why’d you let him go?” Henry asked, when they were done. He was still hard inside Sam. Sam didn’t mind, he was still hard against Henry’s belly, but too tired to do anything about it right now. Stupid Isaac.

“Because I changed my mind,’ Sam told him. “I was going to kidnap the chosen one since the opportunity was there. But it’s not worth it. He’s not worth it. He’s harmless, and obviously easy to handle.”

“Okay,” Henry said. And Sam yelped as suddenly Henry rolled them over, pinning Sam to the bed. He leaned down and kissed him. “Are you sure it wasn’t something else? Gratitude?”

“Oh, fuck off.”

“I think you meant fuck you. I am still under the influence of that spell, you know.”

Sam had forgotten that. He raised his hand to break it, but Henry caught his wrist. “Don’t,” Henry said. “I like it.”

“You like it?” Sam was a bit confused. It was hard to think.

“Yeah.” Henry kissed Sam. “We’re going to have a chat about it someday, but for now I like it.”

Sam made a noise. And he wrapped his legs around Henry’s waist, his arms around Henry’s neck. “Good. Turns out I like this, so get used to it. A new way you can be of use to me. Starting now, let’s go.”

“Hm.” Henry kissed him again, and he thrust hard, once. Sam gasped. “Careful. You might regret that.”

“Oh, Henry,” Sam said, pulling himself up and kissing Henry this time. The trip to the capital hadn’t been a total waste after all. “I expect you to make me regret it.”

Chapter Text

Their footsteps echoed through the First Church of the Blessed as Sam and Henry explored it late at night.

The doors had been locked, but Sam had taken care of that, working a finicky spell to unlock them rather than blasting them open, because Henry wanted to avoid their trespass being discovered. Which Sam figured made sense, even if he didn’t like it. The whole point of their being here in the capital in secret was that nobody was supposed to know, after all.

Nobody was here this late at night and Sam would be lying if he said the church didn’t have an oppressive feel to it in its silence, as if someone were listening. So he talked to cover it. “Where did they find the centipedes?” he asked Henry, keeping his voice low for no particular reason. It just seemed like he should. To avoid detection.

“In the walls,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s arm to guide him. “I don’t know exactly where.”

“Fine,” Sam sighed. “There are a lot of walls.”

“If they’re in one wall, they’re probably in all of them,” Henry reasoned.

Sam supposed that made sense. Once again, Henry proved to be not a complete idiot.

Sam would be alarmed, if Isaac hadn’t given him a brand-new way to control Henry. Sam was sore as hell from letting Henry fuck him so many times. After Isaac had left they’d gone until they’d both collapsed for being too tired, and Sam had—perhaps unwisely—healed Henry one further time to encourage him to keep going. Then Henry had fucked him again at bedtime. And this morning when they’d woken up.

Before, Sam had always thought of being fucked as something passive, something that happened because the other person was stronger. But he’d thought about it and realized that Isaac had been in charge of their entire encounter, he’d called every single shot without effort. And he’d gotten it up the ass half a dozen times or more. Because he’d wanted it, and he’d gotten exactly what he’d wanted.

Isaac hadn’t just proven to Sam that being fucked felt good. He’d proven to Sam that bottoming was just as powerful a position as topping. Maybe even more so. He had something Henry wanted and as a result, a way to make Henry stay loyal to him.

And despite expectations, Sam liked it too. So it all worked out.

Henry rested Sam’s hand against the wall, and Sam sighed as he touched the cold stone. “Alright, centipedes. What the fuck are you up to?”

He brushed Order, sent a pulse of power into the wall. Nothing happened for a moment, none of the expected feeling of unease that usually came with proximity to the centipedes. “They aren’t here,” Sam said. “There’s nothing…oh.” Sam felt…

“Sam?”

A pulse of power directed back at him. That sense of unease, but targeted. A reply. That…didn’t normally happen. “What the fuck?” Sam whispered. He sent another pulse of power, stronger this time. And it happened again, stronger back, with a feeling this time. Down.

“What’s going on?”

“They’re not in the walls, they’re in the floor,” Sam muttered. “They’re under the church. They’re…” He got another one, unprompted, a sense of vastness. “They’re under the city, not just the church. There are…a lot of them.”

Why the fuck were there so many of them?

As if in answer to his unasked question, Sam could feel it. He could feel…cracks. Everything falling down. Disaster. Feeding. And he felt…power, dissolving. “What…”

Come meet me, Sam felt, clear as a bell, and he took in a shaky breath, mind travelling away from the church to…somewhere. A mountain, he felt. A building. Heat, sulfur.

“Sam?”

Henry’s hand was on his shoulder, gripping hard, pulling Sam back. Sam felt slimy. “What’s wrong?” He sounded alarmed. Worried.

“Nothing,” Sam whispered, swallowing. The presence in his mind receded, slowly. “It’s…the monastery. On Mount Saint Bernadette.”

“What about it?”

“Solomon killed everyone there. I never knew why. The centipedes, they’re…conscious. They spoke to me.”

“They spoke to you?” Henry asked, dumbfounded. “What the fuck? That’s…really fucking creepy.”

Sam barked a laugh. “That’s what creeps you out? Out of everything that’s happened to you, that’s the thing?”

“It doesn’t creep you out?” Henry demanded.

“Of course it does.” Sam let out a huff. “There’s…I think there’s a person, an entity of some kind, controlling them. Or they’ve got a hive mind or something, which I always assumed they did anyway. I thought Solomon controlled them. But now…”

“You think he made an agreement with someone.”

“Yeah.” Sam was too shaken to be worried about how quickly Henry had drawn that conclusion. Everyone knew sorcerers could make contracts with…entities. “And someone wants to destroy the capital.”

“Not right now, I hope,” Henry said, hand sliding down to Sam’s back.

“No, I don’t think so.” Sam took in a calming breath, straightened. “We need to go back home tomorrow morning. I’m going to go visit the monastery.”

“Is that a good idea?” Henry’s tone suggested he didn’t think it was.

And Sam didn’t disagree, but he also didn’t care. “Yes. I need to know what this entity is and what it wants.” Being spooked wasn’t a good enough reason not to find out what this thing was up to and what sort of agreement it had had with Solomon. “And it invited me to come. I want to talk to it.”

“Okay,” Henry said, sliding his arm around Sam’s middle. “Rh’eyltakak isn’t that far from the castle. If we leave tomorrow afternoon, we can be there by the next morning. It takes a few hours to climb the mountain, but we can get to the monastery by lunch the day after tomorrow.”

“How…do you know all that?” Sam asked. There was no way Henry could have predicted that Sam would want to go to the monastery. How did he…

“I’m an Arkhewer, Sam,” Henry reminded him. “Ech’kent was our territory before Solomon moved in. You think I don’t know my way around it?”

“Right…of course,” Sam muttered, embarrassed. He’d forgotten about that. House Arkhewer had already been under Solomon’s control when Sam had been a small boy, so he’d never heard them in the context of doing anything important. And of course Solomon had wiped them out a few years ago, so he’d just sort of forgotten that they had ever mattered. Even with Henry right beside him, he’d forgotten that.

That, Sam realized, was probably his biggest problem. He didn’t pay attention. He only bothered to remember things that were important to him in the moment. But if something turned out to be important years later, he was fucked.

How did he stop doing that?

“We should go, then,” Henry said, pulling Sam away from the wall. “If we’re going home tomorrow, we’ll want to rest properly tonight.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, turning and letting Henry guide him away.

“It’s too bad,” Henry said, as if to himself, as they walked.

“What is?”

“Nothing. I was just looking at the big altar up there when we came in.”

“And?” Sam didn’t intuit a point in there anywhere.

“I was just thinking that when you were done with the centipedes, it might be fun to go over there and fuck you on it.”

Henry let that statement hang there, still walking towards the door. Sam considered the soreness between his legs, considered Henry. He stopped walking. “It’s not…that late,” Sam muttered. “And neither of us sleeps anyway.”

Beside him, Henry snorted. “Is that a yes?”

“A yes to what?” Sam asked. “I didn’t hear you ask a question.” He wasn’t going to make it that easy for Henry.

Henry span Sam, one hand on either shoulder. He kissed Sam on the mouth. “Want to come desecrate a church with me?”

Sam smiled, feeling that strange not-quite nausea that he felt whenever Henry kissed him. “Yes, Henry, of course I do.”

So they did. It was probably the most fun Sam had ever had.

Chapter Text

Sam’s knees hurt every time the cart jostled them, which was a lot since they were travelling up a mountain. The path only seemed to be getting rockier and rockier, his knees taking the hit every time it did.

Every jostle of the cart seemed to drive Henry’s cock deeper into Sam’s mouth, earning him grunts and moans from Henry every so often. Sam had been in this position for a half-hour, ever since Henry had suggested that they pass the time on the road practicing Sam’s oral skills like Isaac had told them to.

Sam could have cursed Isaac for putting him in this position, but instead he’d just smiled, pleased. Only a few days and it was clear that Henry was addicted to this. He wanted something from Sam that he had to ask for, and as long as that was true, Sam had all the power. And it would always be true, because Sam had all the power and Henry didn’t.

Plus this had had the bonus effect of shutting Henry up about what they were going to do when they got to the monastery, which Sam didn’t know, because he had no fucking idea what was up there. Blowing Henry was definitely preferable to talking about nothing for the last leg of the trip.

Though his jaw was starting to hurt, and Sam found himself wondering when they were going to be there. Henry’s hands on his hair kept him from pulling off—though of course Sam could if he wanted to—and Sam kept sucking, determined to get Henry to cum.

He did eventually, Henry thrusting up into his throat and shooting hot seed down it, Sam doing his best to swallow so it didn’t run down his face and get on his clothes. He managed to get most of it and when Henry let him pull off, he coughed a little, wiping his mouth.

“You really are getting better at that,” Henry told him, patting Sam’s face.

“Be grateful to the chosen one,” Sam told him, coughing one more time. His throat was sore. He took a breath. “Are we nearly there or not?”

“We stopped moving a minute ago,” Henry told him, and as soon as he said it Sam realized it was true.

“You didn’t say anything?”

“You seemed invested in finishing,” Henry teased, taking Sam’s hand and helping him stand. A second later Henry stood as well and opened the door of the cart, brushing his hand over Sam’s lips one last time. “Let’s go.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sam growled, following Henry out of the cart and onto the uneven ground below. He held Henry’s arm, smelling the sulphurous air. “Where’s the monastery?” he asked Henry.

“It’s not here,” Henry muttered back, pulling Sam in one direction. “There’s a flight of steps carved into the side of the mountain, the cart can’t go any farther. We’ll have to climb the last leg on foot.”

“Lovely,” Sam grumbled. Stupid nuns. No wonder Solomon had killed them. No wonder he’d hidden his mysterious centipede monster up here if it was so fucking hard to get to. A day and a half of travelling and now Sam had to walk up a flight of fucking stairs.

“It’s supposed to be the last leg of a pilgrimage,” Henry explained to him. “Technically we should have climbed the whole mountain on foot, but I don’t think either of us is getting closer to God no matter how much our legs hurt, so there wasn’t much point in that. Wait here for us,” he told the cart driver. “The king and I will be back in a few hours.”

“Yes, sir,” the driver said, sounding nervous.

“A few hours?” Sam asked, as they started up the steps, Henry pulling and pushing him to keep Sam away from loose stones. “How many fucking stairs are there?”

“Not that many, I think,” Henry told him. “I just don’t know how long we’ll be in the monastery. And I don’t want him deciding we’re dead if we don’t come back in an hour.”

Reasonably enough, Sam thought. “If we have to walk down this mountain, I will level it myself.”

“The people of Ech’kent would rather you didn’t,” Henry told him. “So hopefully the driver waits.”

“I don’t care what the people of Ech’kent want,” Sam said, using the native word for the Fury Plateau because Henry had. “I’m their king, not the other way around.”

“If you cared what they wanted, they’d like you better.”

“I don’t care if they like me.”

“You should,” Henry told him, guiding Sam to the left. “Considering that they feed you and supply you with servants, soldiers and taxes.”

“They pay taxes to me?” Sam hadn’t known that.

“Of course they do, you’re their king.”

“Well…” Sam scowled. “That doesn’t matter. They’re going to keep doing that anyway because if they don’t I’ll slaughter them, they know that.”

“They do,” Henry agreed. “But if they liked you, they’d do it and you could devote less resources to keeping them in line.”

“Do I devote a lot of resources to that now?” Sam asked, a little embarrassed that he didn’t know any of this.

“Over half your soldiers are out in the plateau at all times just making sure that the people don’t rebel against you. There are little uprisings all the time. There’s one going on in the southeast again. I just got the report this morning.”

“Didn’t…” Sam tried to remember. “Didn’t Cole suppress that?”

“Not very well, apparently. They’ve killed three of your guards. We’re going to have to deal with them.”

“Send someone,’ Sam muttered. “Kill the ringleaders, do whatever we do to suppress these things.”

“I think we should go,” Henry said, pausing Sam and moving a rock with a loud clatter.

“Why the hell should we do that?” Kings didn’t go out and deal with every minor annoyance, that was why they had servants.

“Because sending your lackeys obviously isn’t working,” Henry told him. “You need to show them that you know they exist, and that you care, and that you won’t tolerate dissension.”

“Only the first and third things are true,” Sam said, sighing. “I can’t show that I don’t tolerate dissension and make them like me at the same time.”

“Maybe,” Henry said. “But you can show that you’re worth liking to the people who aren’t dissenting.”

“Or I could just flay a few of them alive until they remember why I’m the fucking king and they aren’t,” Sam growled.

“Not a viable long-term ruling strategy,” Henry told him. The ground they were on right now was flat, but Henry turned Sam and they started up another flight of stairs. Sam’s legs hurt.

“And you’d know?” Sam snapped.

“I would.”

“Your family did such a good job ruling the Plateau that they rolled over when Solomon moved in. What makes you think you have any idea how ruling works?”

Henry’s hand tightened a little on Sam’s back. “I’m doing it now, aren’t I?”

Sam didn’t have an answer to that, so he didn’t say anything, thinking about it while his legs burned. Just when he was about to hit his limit, the stairs ended. “We’re here,” Henry said. “The monastery is right there.”

“Let’s go inside.” Sam muttered, wishing he didn’t need Henry to guide him.

But he did, so Henry guided him, taking a breath before pushing open a door that creaked and gave off a waft of air that smelled like rot. “Wonderful,” Henry muttered, leading Sam inside. There, Sam could hear it. Chittering, skittering. Insects, centipedes.

“How many of them are there?” he asked.

“A lot,” Henry muttered.

“Yeah.” Sam took a breath. “Okay. It feels like this thing is deeper into he monastery. We’ll head there…”

“No,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s arm. “We’ll stay here.”

Sam snorted. “Scared, Henry?”

Henry squeezed his arm. “You’re a king. You don’t go hunting for someone who’s invited you, not when you’ve already come all the way here. This thing can come and show some half-decent hospitality if it wants an audience with you.”

Sam thought about that. Henry…wasn’t wrong. “Okay,” he said, standing still. “You’re right. We’ll wait.”

Almost as soon as Sam said that, the clicking in the room got louder as the centipedes swarmed, and it filled the room until Sam realized that it sounded exactly like laughter, filling Sam’s ears, surrounding them.

And then it coalesced, into one source in front of Sam, accompanied by a clicking, clattering, and some other sound that Sam couldn’t place but which sounded like liquid. “Fuck,” Henry muttered.

“What’s happening?” Sam demanded, felling power forming in front of them. He grabbed his own power, the stone pulsing, just in case.

“They’re climbing onto each other. They’re making a shape. It’s…it looks like a person. Made of centipedes.” Henry sounded sick.

“Well, that’s disgusting,” Sam said.

“Heh.” A voice said, vaguely masculine, vaguely human. It sounded like it was coming from fifty places at once, but those fifty places were all the same place. “Come into my house and insult me, huh?”

“Well, fuck,” Henry muttered, holding Sam’s arm as Sam felt another surge of power. “It…looks like a human now. Mostly.”

Sam wondered what that ‘mostly’ meant, but he exhaled, directing his attention forward. “You invited me here?” Sam asked, trying to hide nerves.

“I did,” the creature said, still clicking a bit when he spoke. “Thank you for coming all this way, Your daddy never came to visit me, you know. Well, once, when he cleared out the bugs that used to live here. But never after that.”

“I can’t imagine why,” Henry muttered.

But Sam shushed him. “You’re the reason why he emptied out this monastery. So you could live here instead.”

“That’s right,” the creature told Sam. “I needed more than the pit in your house. There’s a lot of me to go around, you see.”

Sam could hear centipedes still, all around them. And he remembered how many of them there were in the capital. “All of the centipedes,” he said, just to make sure. “They’re all you, aren’t they?”

“Yes, they are.” Laughter from the creature.

“What are you?” Sam demanded, unnerved. He felt like he might fall over, and he didn’t like that. His power was skittering up and down his body, unsure.

“I just told you, I’m a zillion little centipedes. Your vocal tract is too sophisticated to pronounce my name, but your daddy used to call me Scott if that helps.”

That wasn’t what Sam had asked, so he answered it on his own. “You’re a demon,” he concluded.

Sometimes sorcerers could make contracts with demons, but it was a dangerous prospect. They were powerful and uncontrollable. And they were supposed to be chained up in hell where they belonged, but this one was clearly here, not chained up. And that was very worrying, even to Sam, who wasn’t in the habit of worrying.

“If you want to put your words on it, sure,” Scott said, taking a step closer to Sam, who had to fight himself not to take a step back. Being in proximity to the power that Scott was revolted Sam, repulsed everything in him. “The real kind, not the bunch of dumbasses you get running around your world all the time.”

Sam didn’t know what that meant. “Demons are all chained and sealed in hell,” he said. “And can only be freed momentarily through contracts with sorcerers. How are you here?”

“I’m slippery,” Scott told him, taking another step. Henry squeezed Sam’s arm, and Sam felt his power crawling. “I’m hard to chain up. And there have been…instances. In which gates were opened more widely than they should have been. In which trespasses were made that shouldn’t have been. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of my kind are sealed just because you’ve only ever seen us in chains.”

Sam had never encountered a demon at all before now. He’d had no idea, none at all, that this could happen. Maybe, he thought, maybe that meant that the shadow from before was one too, was something like Scott. He took a breath of dead air. “Fine. You’re not chained. But you’re stuck here, aren’t you? This part of you is stuck here. Otherwise why didn’t you manifest like this in the church? Or in my castle? You made me come here because this is where your power is, didn’t you?”

More chittering laughter that seemed to echo. Scott took another step forward. “You’re right. I’m here in this tomb for the most part. Daddy preferred it that way. I don’t think he wanted me in his clean little castle down there.”

Sam could well understand why. Suddenly he wasn’t sure he wanted any centipedes in his castle at all. “Why did you call me here?” Sam asked. “What do you want?”

“I want a lot of things,” Scott said, stepping forward again. Sam knew he had to stand here, knew he couldn’t move, and he let Henry root him in place. “So many things, so many.” He reached up, power brushing Sam’s, making Sam feel sick. He touched Sam’s face, and it felt like a thousand little feet on his cheek, burrowing into his skin. “Are you afraid of me, Samson?”

“No,” Sam made himself say.

“Why not?” Scott’s breath was falling on Sam’s face.

“Because you’re bound to your contract with Solomon,” Sam said, shaking. This was true, he knew it was true. He just had to calm down and think, like Henry kept telling him, and he’d be fine. “Which is a contract with his clan, which is a contract with me. You’re not going to hurt me because you’d be sent back to hell if you did.”

Scott kept his hand on Sam’s cheek for a second. “Heh.” He let it fall. “You’re right. Mostly. I asked you to come here because I wanted to discuss that contract and I’d hoped you would be more reasonable than your daddy.”

Beside Sam, Henry snorted, but Sam ignored that. “What were the terms of your contact with Solomon?”

“Who cares?” Scott asked. “He’s gone. I ate him myself. I’m talking to you now.”

“You haven’t told us what you want,” Henry said to him.

“You be quiet,” Scott chittered at Henry, who clutched Sam’s arm a little more tightly.

“He’s right,” Sam said. His legs still hurt. “What do you want?”

“I told you, a lot of things.” Scott didn’t talk for a second, the air filled with the sounds of centipedes. They must be everywhere in here. Scott must be everywhere. “So many things. But what I want from you, specifically? I want to you to make sure I can eat everyone in the city you call Three Hills. And then I want to build my nest there.”

Sam scowled. “But why?” That didn’t make any sense to Sam. There were bigger cities, less fortified cities, and more populous ones as well.

“Doesn’t matter why. I just do. That’s my only demand. Oh, no it’s not. I want to be able to leave this mountain. I’m tired of it. Let me out sometimes, just for walks.”

“No,” Sam said immediately. He didn’t need Henry’s warning grip on him to know this. “You’re too dangerous to be allowed to just wander around the world whenever you want.” Six months ago Sam might not have cared. But he wasn’t going to let Scott wreak havoc indiscriminately.

“And you’re not?” Scott asked, voice darkening a little. But then the presence that accompanied that faded back to the normal oily revulsion. “Fine. You’re just as boring as your daddy. But I can let that go. How about limited visiting time? With your permission only?”

“What are you offering him in exchange?” Henry demanded, before Sam could say anything.

“The same thing I offered his daddy. Access to me. You can send parts of me wherever you can get them on errands, which includes inside people who can do stuff for you. I’m a good spy. You have no idea how many places I’m in, do you? You could know all that, Samson. And you can direct all of me however you like, I’ll do as you say.”

Sam swallowed. He needed that information. He needed to know what his father had been planning. And it sounded like Scott was a big part of that. He opened his mouth.

Henry squeezed his arm again. “And what else?”

“There is no what else,” Scott clicked. “That’s the offer.”

“No,” Henry said.

“Henry.”

“Sam. You heard him, that’s exactly what he offered to Solomon, and Solomon gave him less in exchange. If you’re going to agree to letting him out of here sometimes, then he needs to give you something he didn’t give Solomon. Something important, considering how badly he wants out.”

Scott made an annoyed noise, and Sam smiled. “Henry’s right, Scott. I’m not renegotiating the contract if all I’m getting is what I already have.”

Another annoyed noise. “What do you want, then?”

Sam thought about it. He wished Scott would go away so he could talk to Henry for a minute. But he didn’t, so Sam took in a breath, trying to decide. Something he could use, something helpful, something… “Control,” Sam eventually said. “Of you.”

Henry made an approving noise, and Sam smiled again.

“You already have that,” Scott protested.

“No, I don’t. Or else Solomon wouldn’t have locked you up here. You’d have been in a room in the castle if he could trust you not to eat people he didn’t want you to eat. I’ll let you out of this mountain sometimes. But you’re going to do everything I tell you. And you’re not going to do anything I don’t tell you. If you eat a cat without permission I’ll consider that a breach of contract. If you lay an egg without asking I’ll send you back to hell where you belong. You want to be allowed out? You’re going to do it on a leash, Scott. A very short one.”

“You…” Scott clicked and chittered, voice growing and shrinking, coming from all over. Sam didn’t need Henry to tell him that Scott’s human form was probably collapsing, and his power pressed in on Sam from all sides, poisoning the air, tainting him with its touch, and Sam wanted to explode, to fight back against it, holding the power of the stone in his fist, ready to level everything if that was what it took to…

“Heh.” Scott’s power receded, his voice returning to what passed for normal. “I’d like to pretend that you’ll pay for humiliating me like this. But you won’t, since the contract is effective until you die. Well done, Samson.”

Sam felt a bit of pride at that, but he quashed it. Scott hadn’t agreed to the deal yet. “While I’m at it, I’ll throw in one last stipulation. You have to tell me everything you did for Solomon and everything you know or suspect about his plans. And you’re not allowed to lie to me about anything, ever. Got it?”

“That’s two different stipulations,” Scott said, quiet now. “But fine. I agree to these terms, sorcerer. I am the Demon of Ceaseless Hunger, and I would form pact with you.” Behind that was a name, one Sam’s mind couldn’t quite hear, one that made his ears bleed.

“Give me your knife, Henry,” Sam ordered, holding out his hand. Henry did without complaint, and Sam took it and slid the blade across his forearm, trying to remember how this went. He’d only heard about it. “I too agree to these terms, demon. I am a sorcerer of Clan Netzer, and I accept your offer of pact. Long may our partnership last, in power and in blood.” He touched both Forces at once, exhaled power as he held out his hand to Scott.

A tongue lashed across Sam’s arm, drinking the blood, the power. And Scott’s hand was offered to him, leaking virulent power. “In power and in blood,” Scott echoed.

Sam took it and licked the blood from Scott’s hand, drinking it down, letting the power into him. It was the worst thing he’d ever tasted, but he avoided gagging, barely. “And so the pact is made.”

“And so it is.” Scott stepped back. “Now, I believe I have some stories to tell you, Samson.”

“Yes,” Sam said, feeling ill. His hearing was dulled with the blood in his ears. “But tomorrow. You can come to the castle and tell me then.”

“My first walk on my new leash!” Scott clapped his hands. “I can’t wait, Sorcerer King. I’d kiss you, but you’d have to give me permission first.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” Sam said with a shudder, turning away. “We’re leaving. Until tomorrow, Scott.”

“I await your summons, my king,” Scott mocked, form dissolving again as Henry led Sam out. They walked through centipedes to get to the door, and when they finally stepped outside Henry pushed the door shut immediately.

“That was disgusting,” Sam said, rubbing at his ears.

“Yeah. You did well, though. Good work.”

Sam smiled. “Really? I’m surprised you’re not waiting to tell me what I did wrong.”

“Well,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s back as he led him away from the monastery. “I’d rather you hadn’t let him out at all. The ultimate control stipulation was good. But I’m nervous about him having any foothold in the rest of the world. Especially since your control of yourself is dubious at best.”

Sam snorted. “Whatever. I need an entity like that on my side. In order to combat the one who I’m sure isn’t.”

“I get it. But what’s he going to do after he turns Three Hills into his nest?”

“Who cares?” Sam asked. “He’s our slave. He can’t hurt us, and if we don’t like what he’s doing, we can order him to stop until we die. And then after that we’ll be dead, so who cares?”

“A king really should be concerned with legacies,” Henry told him.

“The contract passes down to others in my clan, that’s legacy enough,” Sam muttered. “God, I want a bath. I feel sick.”

“Even I felt his power,” Henry agreed. “It was gross.”

“I don’t blame Solomon for not wanting him in the castle,” Sam said. “I’ll tell him he has to sleep in the pit. Or in Todd’s room.”

“Derek doesn’t deserve that.”

“Who cares? Derek can sleep in our bed if you’re that worried about him. In fact, he should anyway. You haven’t fucked him yet and I want you to.”

“You said he wasn’t very good,” Henry reminded him.

“He’s not, but he’s worth doing at least once.”

They made their way down the steps, down the mountain, dirty but accomplished.

Chapter Text

Derek wasn’t crying, which surprised Sam. The only sounds he could hear were the sounds of the bed creaking, his soft moans and grunts, Henry’s breathing and panting, and the sound of flesh hitting flesh.

Plus occasional frustrated noises from Todd. Henry hadn’t needed much convincing to fuck Derek, and Sam had decided it would be more fun if Todd sat in to watch as his favourite victim got used by someone else. Sam knew Todd’s type well enough to know that would upset him more than almost anything. It would upset Sam more than almost anything if someone else started hurting Henry, after all.

Sam had fucked Todd too, but only once, and then he’d come back over to his chair to work on the magic collar some more. He was going to get it today if he had to kill someone. He kept an ear on the bed as he worked, but honestly it wasn’t very interesting. Just the sounds of people fucking. Maybe he should go over there and stab Derek or something, make it more fun.

Almost as soon as Sam thought that, he heard Henry pick up speed, grunt and cum inside Derek, who squeaked. Henry let out a sigh, then got up from the bed. That was his third load, which was usually Henry’s limit.

Sure enough, Henry’s footsteps approached him, and the bed creaked again, a yelp from Derek as Todd jumped on him, probably going right for it. Sam hardly blamed him. Then there was a strange tussle that had them both making a lot of noise for a second, before the normal fucking sounds started up again. Henry had paused, but then came to sit beside Sam.

Sam reached out and grabbed Henry’s balls, healing them to make him hard again, just in case. “What was that about? Did Derek fight back?” It seemed out of character for him.

“He rolled them over,” Henry said. “He’s riding Todd now.” He sounded…proud.

“You encouraged him,” Sam accused. That was hardly fair.

“Nah, I just suggested that Todd might react better to a show of dominance than continued submission.” Henry chuckled. “You know what Derek said when I started? He said I was so big that Todd wouldn’t be able to hurt him anymore.”

Sam snorted. “Cute.” That was more intelligent than Sam had expected from Derek. “Why isn’t he fucking Todd then?”

“Don’t know, but Derek’s a lot smarter than he seems. I think he’d go far if we trained him a little.”

Sam didn’t care. “Do whatever you want, he’s nobody.”

“Not for long,” Henry muttered. “How’s it coming?”

“I’m almost done,” Sam said, frowning. “There’s just this stupid part at the end where Order won’t behave and let me close the circle. I can’t…figure it out.”

“Hm,” Henry said, not making fun of him, not that Sam had figured he would. “There’s too much Chaos at the start of the circle. It’s backing up when you try to close it with Order and repelling it.”

“What…” Sam scowled. “What the fuck do you know about sorcery? Don’t try to tell me that was part of your Arkhewer education.”

“No,” Henry admitted. “I just saw the diagram you were working with. I’ve been reading Solomon’s books.”

“Why?” When did Henry have time for that?

“One of us has to, and I figured I should learn at least the basics of how you work.”

Oh. Sam felt himself blush. “Fine. I modified the diagram a lot, there’s hardly any Chaos at the open of the circle now. It’s all concentrated in the middle. It shouldn’t be an issue.”

“Oh, well so much for my suggestion,” Henry said with a quiet laugh. “I tried.”

“I…thank you,” Sam said, focusing back on the collar. He was immediately distracted by a loud moan from Todd as he came. “Will you two fuck off? I’m sick of you.”

There was a moment of panting, then the bed creaked as the two of them started to get up. There was relative silence for several minutes as they collected their junk and then finally left, the door closing behind them. “Well, Derek’s going to be walking funny for a while.”

“Whatever,” Sam said. He really didn’t care much about Derek. But maybe he should? Not today, though. “Let me work on this, I’m almost done.”

“Yeah,” Henry said, not moving. “I want to talk about that libido spell.”

Sam blinked. “What?”

“The spell you told Isaac you used on me. I want to know how many times you’ve used it.” Henry sounded dangerous, a tone Sam had gotten used to from him by now. He wasn’t dangerous, Sam could toss him across the room if he wanted to.

So Sam just sighed. “Aside from in Three Hills, only the once, when you pushed me against the wall. And I didn’t make you pick me, before you ask. No, I didn’t use it today, or with Todd, or any other time. That was all you.” Henry had been doing so well lately, Sam didn’t need him rolling back into blaming all of his actions on something Sam had done.

“You’d better not be lying,” Henry grumbled.

“I don’t lie.”

“No, but you often just choose not to tell me things. You’d never have told me about that spell if Isaac hadn’t noticed you doing it.”

No, Sam probably wouldn’t have. “It was funny.”

“Hm. Use it on me now.”

“No.” Sam was trying to work, he didn’t need this right now.

“I want to feel the difference,” Henry said. “So I know when it’s active and when it’s not.”

Sam sighed, pressing back against the headache he felt forming. “Fine,” he snapped, reaching out, taking Henry’s hand and casting the spell. “There. Now feel the difference, shut up and let me work.”

“Okay,” Henry promised. “When you get it, I’ll fuck you in celebration.”

“When I get it,” Sam said, focusing again, “I’ll fuck you as a celebration.” He liked this newer, freer Henry, but he had been getting a bit too confident lately. It wouldn’t hurt to curtail that just a bit. Well, it wouldn’t hurt Sam, anyway.

“Fine,” Henry said, shifting in the chair and picking something up from the table. A book, Sam could hear the pages flipping. “Let me know when you’re done.”

Sam didn’t say anything, just working in the blessed silence that wasn’t as calm as it could be because he was so aware of Henry right there, turning pages. Whatever the reason for Order being all finicky, Sam was going to figure it out.

He worked for a solid twenty minutes before he realized what it was all at once. It was what Henry had said, but not really. The strain of keeping the knot of Chaos where it belonged was stretching the other threads of power too far, and making it impossible to graft them. Once Sam loosened the knot, just a little, putting up an extra conduit to siphon the excess power to where it should go, the circle closed in an instant and…it was done. “I…I did it!”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah!” Sam was giddy, bouncing a little in his chair. “It was…the Forces were drawn too thin near the edges. I’ve got it now, though, it’s done!” It was the hardest spell he’d ever done; he was excited.

“Nice,” Henry said, reaching over and taking the collar out of his hands. “So it’ll work? You can use this on Saul?”

“Yes,” Sam said, getting up and moving, climbing right into Henry’s lap and kissing him. Henry kissed back. “I can use it on any practitioner of magic. Once it’s on, it won’t open without the key, which I have on the table.”

“That’s awesome, Sam,” Henry said, kissing him again. “And how powerful is it?”

“Powerful enough. Nobody can break it, the spell is designed to disrupt the body’s ability to access the powers related to magic. It could hold anyone in the world indefinitely.” Sam giggled, realizing that Henry had never dressed after he’d finished with Derek. He was hard. So was Sam.

“We should test it out,” Henry said, hands sliding up Sam’s chest, kissing him now and then. His breath was warm on Sam’s face in a way Sam didn’t dislike.

“Yeah. One of Hans’s wizards is still under lock and key. We’ll slap it on her.”

“There’s someone else we could try it on,” Henry muttered, voice quiet, as his hands drew higher up.

Sam frowned, trying to think. “Who? There are no other practitioners in the castle. I doubt it would work on Scott. And going all the way back to Three Hills to get Isaac is stupid just for a test. Oh, we could take it to the woods, trick James into wearing it…”

“Yeah. But that’s not who I was thinking.”

“Then who?”

Henry kissed Sam. And Sam felt the collar press against his neck, clicking shut. “You.”

Sam’s stomach dropped as he felt the Forces vanish, the ever-present buzz against his body just…gone. “What? Henry…fucking…that’s not funny.”

“I don’t know,” Henry said, kissing him again. “The look on your face is pretty funny. You were cute, all excited that you’d finally figured it out. Congratulations, Sam.”

“Henry!”

“What?”

Sam was…Sam was angry. He tried to get away, out of Henry’s lap—he’d crawled there himself, like an idiot!—and to the key on the table. Henry held him in place, not letting him go. He was so strong. “Let me go!”

“No.” Henry gripped Sam’s arms painfully. “I don’t think I will. You know why?”

Why was he so big? Sam couldn’t get away, he struggled and he couldn’t get free, he was trapped. “Henry…let me…”

“Because I’m stronger than you,” Henry whispered, standing up and standing Sam with him, holding him by the arms. “Because I’m stronger than you, and that means I can do whatever I want to you. You taught me that.”

“No, Henry, no…I’m going kill you…let me go!”

“Okay,” Henry said, tone calm. “I’ll let you go. If you try to reach for the key, I’m going to hit you.”

And Henry’s hands came off his arms, freeing Sam, who just stood there breathing for a second, trying to calm down. And then he lunged to the side, to where he knew the key was on the table.

Henry grabbed his wrist, stopped him. And smacked Sam hard across the face, then punched him in the gut, doubling him over in pain. “Ah!”

“What did I tell you?” Henry asked.

Coughing, Sam tried to get away from Henry, but he wasn’t strong enough. Henry kept him in place, and he heard something being lifted from the table. “I’ll keep this somewhere safe until we need it. Don’t worry, I’ll take the collar off eventually.” He paused. “After all, I’m only powerful in this castle because of you. The guards only listen to me because of you. If they realize you have no power, then neither will I and we’ll both be dead within the day.”

“You’d better not take it off me if you value your life,” Sam warned, anger permeating his everything. If he’d had his power he’d be dragging the castle down on them right now. “Because you’re going to die as soon as you do. And don’t you fucking dare think it will be painless just because it’ll be quick.”

“Yeah, we both know that’s not true,” Henry said, unafraid. When the fuck had he stopped being afraid of Sam? What had Sam done wrong?

Sam growled, shaking. “How dare you? How dare you pretend to know what I’m thinking? How dare—”

Henry smacked Sam again, then started pulling him towards the bed. “What are you…”

“Act like you don’t know, why don’t you?” Henry asked. And Sam was thrown on the bed. Still naked from before, Henry climbed on top of him.

“No!” Sam said, realizing what Henry meant to do. He couldn’t, not like this, not while Sam had no power to stop it, not while Sam couldn’t be the one in charge, not while…

But Henry just yanked Sam’s pants down, smacking his leg when Sam kicked at him. When the pants were around Sam’s knees, Henry climbed in between Sam’s legs, effortless preventing Sam’s efforts to clamp them together, and lined himself up. “Henry…”

“Shut up,” Henry said, and he started to push in.

Sam shouted, pain arcing through him, a tearing pain that burned. “Ah…”

“Does it hurt?” Henry grunted.

“Fuck…fuck you…”

Henry punched him in the gut again, and pushed in farther until Sam screamed. “Does it hurt?”

“Y-yes…” Sam admitted, hating that he was crying more than anything. It hurt so much, so much more than he’d thought it would. It was the pain, but it wasn’t even that. It was the way Sam felt aside from the pain, like something had been ripped from him, something he’d never get back. He felt broken, violated.

Powerless. Powerless in a way that had nothing to do with his magic.

Henry started moving, and Sam couldn’t do anything but lay there and cry, cry as Henry fucked him, raped him, tore him to pieces. As Henry took everything away from him, Sam could do nothing but lay there and sob like an idiot. He’d thought he knew what it was like. He knew what bottoming was like, and he’d thought it was just that, but with more pain, with some humiliation. But no, it wasn’t, it wasn’t at all.

Henry came at some point, pouring into Sam. And then he pulled out, rolled off of Sam. “I’m hungry,” he said, getting off the bed to look for clothes. “I’m going to go get us lunch. Stay on the bed, I’m going to do that again when I get back.”

Sam lay there, listened to him dress, listened to him leave. He should get up. He should get up and find a weapon, something to gut Henry with or club him over the head with or, or…

But Sam didn’t do any of that. He stayed right there on the bed, crying, hurting, and waiting for Henry to come back.

Chapter Text

Sam was sore. His backside was sore, his arms and legs were sore, his chest and belly were sore, his head was sore. Everything, everywhere, was sore.

Sam was sore all over and he had to pretend not to be because if anyone noticed and asked why, if anyone found out, he’d be a laughingstock. Even if he got his powers back Sam would never be taken seriously again if they knew. So he couldn’t tell anyone. Couldn’t let anyone find out what was happening, what Henry had done to him. Was doing to him.

So he sat, sore, on his throne, acting like nothing was wrong. Held court, because he had to. Because Henry had told him he had to.

Sam sat straight, not letting any signs of discomfort creep into his posture, his tone of voice, his temper. The annoying thing, the thing that really pissed Sam off about all this, was that he knew how to do this. He knew how to act like nothing was wrong. He knew because Solomon had taught him how to do it. And Sam had thought he was past that. Thought he was past pretending.

More than anything Henry had taken from him, Sam resented that. Resented, hated, that Henry had made him back into what he’d been before. That Henry had taken Solomon’s place as Sam’s tormenter. Sam spent no small amount of time thinking of how he’d punish Henry when this was over, but nothing he came up with seemed strong enough for what Henry had done to him. Was doing to him. Would do to him. Nothing would make it better.

“Next,” Sam called, as the weeping parents of some murdered brat were led away with their compensatory gold. More than the stupid kid had been worth, most likely, since he’d gone and fallen under a guard’s horse. But Sam had given them gold instead of telling them that. Because he didn’t need Henry bitching him out over it later.

And because, though Henry hadn’t said it out loud, Sam had a feeling that how roughly he was treated tonight was going to be directly proportional to how he treated his subjects today. So he was being…lenient. There was no point in inviting more pain than was necessary. All he had to do was bide his time until Henry had to take the collar off. There was no point in making some suicidal stand on principle.

“This man is charged with rape and murder of three women, your Highness,” Sam’s new guard captain, a young man named Archer, said.

“Hang him,” Sam said, trying not to sound bored. It was obvious, what the punishment was for that. Why even bring it here? A town magistrate should have been able to pass that sentence. He could feel Henry move beside the throne, just slightly, and he tried not to frown with it. The collar around his neck, hidden behind a high-collared shirt, itched.

“Your Highness, the families of the slain women requested he be brought to your justice,” Archer said, sounding slightly uncertain. He was probably looking at Henry, Sam realized.

“And my pronouncement is to hang him,” Sam repeated, firmly. “That’s justice. Next.”

“They want you to torture him, Sam,” Henry said quietly. “That’s why he’s here. They don’t want him to die quickly or quietly.”

Sam listened to Henry, heart beating. He was being tested, he could feel it. If he didn’t do what Henry wanted…there would be consequences. But what the fuck did Henry want from him? Sam had no idea. Everything ached. He couldn’t think properly. “His victims probably didn’t get to die quickly or quietly,” Sam said, trying to coax a hint from Henry. He hated this. He hated it.

“Probably not,” Henry agreed.

Dammit, that didn’t help. Dammit. Sam took a breath, sat up from the slouch he’d ended up in by mistake. He should have the man scourged and thrown in the centipede pit for Scott to eat. He should…Sam took a breath. “Hang him,” he repeated. “That’s the law. That people are upset is not cause enough to change the law. Hang him. That’s my sentence.”

“Understood, your Highness,” Archer said, and there was scuffling as he led the man away.

“I’m no different than you!” The man’s voice hollered out suddenly. “I didn’t do anything you don’t do! Nobody’s punishing you for what you do! What makes you any different? What makes you better than me?”

The man was punched and fell quiet, but Sam stood up, hand on the arm of the throne, resisting the urge to reach up to the collar on his neck. “You know full well what makes me better than you,” Sam said, in a voice just above a whisper, that question echoing in his head. Without his power, what made him better than this man? “Your mistake wasn’t murdering those women. It was getting caught. Take him away. Next.”

As the man was dragged away, Henry leaned down and spoke quietly in Sam’s ear. “I’m disappointed in you,” he muttered quietly.

A chill swept through Sam, and he swallowed. “I did what you would do. It was the just thing to do.”

“I know. He was the last petitioner today, actually. But there’s a letter I need to read you after everyone clears out.”

“Okay,” Sam said, trying not to shake. He was so sore. He’d never left Henry in constant pain like this. He’d always healed Henry when they were done.

They waited while the guards left, and Henry ordered the servants out as well. The last of the doors banged shut with a foreboding sound, and Sam was left alone with Henry.

His captor.

“What’s the letter?” Sam asked, to put some sound in the room.

Paper rustled. “It’s from the king of Kyaine.”

Sam frowned. “Why would he write to me instead of the queen?” Kyaine was ruled by Francesca DiGorre. Her husband had no political power.

“Because he killed her,” Henry said. “And then he sent you a letter. ‘Dear Sorcerer King. I hope this letter finds you well. For too long you and the Fury Plateau have been at odds with the crown of Kyaine. Francesca DiGorre was to blame for that, but she and her family no longer rule in Hawk’s Roost. As king, I hope to build better relations with the whole of my realm, and negotiate with you a way for us to exist peacefully. I await your response.’ It’s signed King Stephan Fyrhawk.”

Sam took that in, the simple wording, the politics behind it. The crown had been usurped. “I don’t know anything about this Fyrhawk except that his family has always been at odds with the DiGorres.”

“Guess they got tired of that,” Henry said. “You have ears in the court, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Sam said, remembering that. “Scott does, you’re right. I can have him find out what’s going on. Why didn’t he tell us about this when we spoke?”

“Because you didn’t ask him,” Henry said gently, putting a firm hand on Sam’s shoulder that Sam flinched away from. “He’s not going to help you any more than he has to. Sam, this is an opportunity.”

“For peace with this idiot? I don’t care about…”

The hand squeezed his shoulder. “No. To put someone on the throne of Kyaine who will do what you want.”

“Who?”

“Don’t be stupid. Think about it for two seconds.”

“I’m not…” Sam bristled, but made himself stop. He took a long breath, wishing it didn’t make his bruised ribs hurt, and tried to think. “Oh, Hans.”

Hans DiFueure, the queen’s brother in law. His brother Dante had been married to Francesca, and Dante was probably dead too. He didn’t technically have a claim to the throne, but with the queen dead…his was just as reasonable as this Fyrhawk king.

The shoulder squeeze turned into a gentle pat. “Exactly. Now’s the time to work out a deal with him.”

“I’ll help him avenge his useless family and he’ll do as I tell him,” Sam said, getting it. Of course. And of course Henry had thought of it before him. But to be fair, Sam thought, Henry had had this letter for God knew how long. To be fair to him, Henry was cheating.

To be fair, to him, Henry wasn’t playing fair.

And Sam had no right to complain about that, because he hadn’t played fair either. But still it…it was fucking annoying. And he wanted to call Henry out on it.

But he was too afraid of what might happen. He just had to bide his time.

“I’d be more polite than that, but yeah,” Henry said. “Basically.”

“Okay. Let’s go.”

“Not now,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s arm. “Not yet.”

“Why they fuck not?” Sam snapped. “Why wait?”

“Because you’re going to talk to Scott first, get what information you can about what’s happening there before you talk to Hans. You’re not going into this armed with a letter from someone you don’t even know. It could be all bullshit. Once we’ve done all that, you’ll talk to Hans—and reply to this letter.”

Sam sighed. “Why the hell don’t you just sit on the throne? It’s only you and me in here.” Effectively, Henry had taken it from him. Just like he’d taken everything else.

Henry patted Sam’s head. “Because I’m not the king, dumbass.”

“Why are you pretending?” Sam whispered. He had no idea what game Henry was playing, none at all.

“Why are you?”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“You should know what it means, Sam. You’re smart enough that I shouldn’t need to spell it out.”

Sam squeezed his hand into a fist. He wanted to hit Henry, wanted to make him bleed, cry, beg. He wanted to scream and shout and fight and hurt someone. But he unballed his fist, hissing out a breath. “I hate you,” he said, voice still a whisper.

“And I’m disappointed in you,” Henry said, taking Sam’s hand and guiding him down from the throne. “You’re not even fighting.”

“Am I boring you?” Sam sneered. “There’s no point.”

“Okay.” Henry sighed.

And punched Sam in the stomach, doubling him over with a cry. Sam rolled down the last two steps, coming to lay on his back at the bottom with a whimper.

“I was going to take you back to the bedroom first,” Henry said, descending. “But I think I’ll do it here instead.”

“He…Henry…” Sam coughed, trying to recover.

“I’m tired of listening to you talk. We’ll find something useful for that mouth to do, I think.”

And so right there on the throne room floor Henry had his way. And Sam did nothing, because he could do nothing.

And Sam felt hot, burning, humiliating tears on his face because it wasn’t fair.

Chapter Text

“Why do you want me to care about this?”

“I don’t. But I want you to know about it.”

Sam sighed, hand on the wall outside Daisy’s room. He was too tired for this. He didn’t hurt quite as much, but the ache was still there. “I do know about it. She’s pregnant. What else do you want me to know?” He had more important shit to worry about than her. Like himself.

“Anything that will remind you that she exists. I bet you haven’t even thought about her since last time you saw her, have you?” Henry accused.

“No,” Sam admitted. What the fuck was he supposed to do, sit around ruminating about some woman just because she had his sibling in her guts? Not fucking likely.

“You should. Have you decided what you’re going to do with the baby? With her?”

“No, I haven’t, I’ll decide once it’s born,” Sam said, not sure why Henry gave a shit. “I guess this is the part where you try to tell me I shouldn’t kill them.”

“Of course it’s not,” Henry told Sam, hand on his shoulder. “We’re past that.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Sam tried not to wince at the touch.

“Go inside and talk to her. Scott and Hans are waiting for you.”

“Then I should talk to them first.”

“No. Go inside.”

Sam sighed, and put his hand on the door and went inside without knocking. “Daisy,” he said, as he stepped inside.

“Your Majesty?” Daisy’s stupid voice sounded from one corner of the room. Fabric rustled. “This is a surprise! I’m sorry I’m so…”

“Don’t worry about it, Daisy,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s lower back. “Don’t get up on our account. Sam wanted to come and find out how you were doing.”

There was a familiarity to his tone, Sam realized. “You two have been talking to each other.”

“Oh, yes,” Daisy said, as Sam slowly moved forward, trying to find a chair or something. “Henry’s been such a dear. I know it’s because you told him to, but he’s been making sure I had everything I needed. I really appreciate it.”

Sam had, of course, not told Henry to do any such thing. But was he surprised that Henry had been running around behind his back? Of course not. “I’m…glad that you’re comfortable. How’s the baby?”

“Running marathons,” Daisy laughed, as Sam found a chair and sat in it. “Sometimes I think she wants to kick her way out of me.”

Sam could well understand. She’d better not ask him to touch her belly. “She?” Last time they’d talked Daisy hadn’t known if the baby was a boy or a girl.

“Well, I don’t really know,” Daisy admitted, sheepish. “I just like to imagine her as a girl.”

Sam didn’t get the point in imagining it as anything when it didn’t exist yet. Though he supposed that, all things considered, he’d rather have a sister. He at least had one of those he didn’t hate. “If that makes you happy,” Sam allowed, not sure what the hell to say to a pregnant woman. He guessed he probably had to keep talking about the baby. What was he supposed to ask about a baby that didn’t fucking exist yet? “What are you going to name her?”

“Oh,” Daisy said, surprised. “I…hadn’t thought about it, your Majesty. I assumed you’d want to name your sibling.”

Sam frowned. “No. It’s your baby, you name it.” Why should Sam give a damn what it was called? It wouldn’t even be a person for a few years after it was born. “Pick a name you like, I don’t care.”

“Well…I’ll have to think about it, then.” Daisy sounded pleased. “I have always liked the name Salome. Or Delilah. Seth or Stephen are good boy’s names, don’t you think?”

Sam had had a brother named Stephen who’d been a year younger than him. He’d died when Sam was seven. “They all sound fine. Pick whatever you want.”

Daisy didn’t answer immediately. “I’ll put some thought into it, your Majesty.”

“Fine,” Sam said, wishing he didn’t feel so strange. Strange in a way that had nothing to do with Henry, for once. Daisy made him feel strange. Like a child. What else should he say? “When is it going to be born?” he asked.

“In the next few weeks, says the midwife. I sure hope she’s right,” Daisy tittered. “I’m a bit tired of being a piece of furniture.”

“Is it hard to be pregnant?” Sam had never had the impression that it was. He’d never known anyone who was pregnant. He just assumed that they got fat and then had a baby. How hard could it be?

“It’s exhausting to be pregnant,” Daisy told him. “I’m tired all the time, and I weigh much more than I’m used to. It’s hard to move around and it’s impossible to sit comfortably. My feet and legs always hurt and so does my chest, and I can’t sleep properly, eating gives me heartburn. It’s always too hot…Oh, sorry, you probably didn’t want to hear me complain. I do like it, really. It’s just hard.”

Sam…hadn’t needed to know all of that. He swallowed nothing. “I…understand.” Some of what she’d said was remarkably similar to how he was feeling. And if she’d been feeling that way for most of a year… “Well, at least it’s over soon. And you’ll have a baby.” People liked babies, Sam had heard.

Why, Sam did not know. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to like the baby. He couldn’t do anything with a baby. And if it grew up, it might be a threat to him someday.

“Yes.” Daisy sighed. Then yawned. “I’m looking forward to meeting her. Oh, excuse me.”

“You’re tired,” Sam said, standing quickly. Thank God. “We’ll leave you alone so you can rest.”

“Oh, you don’t have to go, your Majesty…”

“Yes, I do,” Sam said, turning and heading for the door. “I don’t want to intrude. Let Henry know if you need anything else.”

And Sam left, hastening out of the room and pressing his back against the wall. Breathing.

It was a few minutes before Henry came out of the room, and Sam was calmer by then. “Okay. Let’s go do something important.” And far less disturbing.

“She hopes you’ll come talk to her again.”

“I won’t,” Sam said, setting off in the direction of the pit as quickly as he could.

“I think you will,” Henry said, keeping pace with Sam easily and walking with him all the way to the pit. Sam dared not say anything else, lest Henry decide he had to be there when the baby was born or something.

Sam shuddered to himself.

The pit stank, as always, but now it was loud, too.

“Hey, Sammy!” Scott’s irritating voice called out from the hole almost as soon as Sam entered the room. “I’ve been waiting for you for ages.”

Sam huffed. “I don’t care. Tell me about the Kyainese court.”

“Heh. I was wondering if you’d ask me about that,” Scott said, sounding smug.

Sam approached the railing, leaned on it. “Then you should have told me about it.”

“Doesn’t work like that. Kyaine’s in a mess—it’s a bit hilarious. Some dumbass killed the queen and now he’s the king. I guess it’s not just here that it works like that, huh?”

Sam ignored that. “I know that part.”

“Can I come out of the hole? Looking all the way up at you is weird.”

“No,” Henry said. “Answer the question first.”

“Sammy hasn’t asked a question, Sparkles.”

Sam sighed. “What is going on in Hawk’s Roost?”

“I told you. The queen’s dead, the new king’s barely older than you and like most humans barely older than you, he’s stupid. His advisors run his kingdom. My host is one of them—don’t worry, I’m not running the kingdom, I’m just watching—and if you ask me they’re going to kill him. I think he wants to try and, you know, do shit on his own. The whole independence deal that humans are so into. And I bet they’ll kill him when he tries. Assuming the DiSheere kid doesn’t do it before then.” Scott paused, scraping against something, probably the wall of the pit. Sam could hear centipedes scurrying. At least with his powers blocked, he couldn’t sense Scott’s malignant energy seeping through the air. He knew it was there, but he didn’t have to bathe in it. “And that’s what I know about that.”

“The lords of the kingdom,” Henry asked. “And the armies.”

“All his, at least in name. Oh, a bunch of the old queen’s brats are still running around. Only managed to nip one of them, actually, the oldest boy. And even then his pregnant wife got away. Shitty way to go about it if you ask me. Should have killed the kids first, but now they’re all out there, probably planning rebellions and shit, except for the little girl, Flora. He’s going to marry her, supposedly, but she’s a kid at the moment and I happen to know you lot don’t do that. I don’t know where they are, the brats, except for the one who’s up north marrying the princess. He’s kind of funny.”

Sam was quiet as he processed all of that. Okay, he decided, he could use that. Henry’s hand was on his back. “If I learn you’ve left something out…”

“Yeah, yeah, damnation and hellfire. Whatever. It’s your fault, you know.”

Sam frowned. “What is?”

“The change in who gets to wear the ugly hat. The new boy rose to power because the queen’s old military leader got kidnapped by some asshole called the Sorcerer King.” Scott made a clicking sound. “And then he got ambitious, I guess.”

Hans. Sam smiled. “Perfect. That’s all I needed to hear.” He turned, heading for the door. Henry turned with him.

“Can I come out of the hole or not?”

Sam paused, biting his lip as he considered. “Fine. You can take a walk around the castle, but you have to stay in your human shape and all the other rules still apply. No touching anyone.”

“Sam,” Henry said.

Sam smiled. “On second thought, actually. If you meet a kid named Todd, feel free to touch him as much as you want. Just no centipedes or eggs inside him.”

“Got it!” Scott’s voice was already much closer, as if he’d just leapt up over the barrier. “Thanks, boss.”

“You have until this time tomorrow to get back in the pit,” Sam told him. He was thinking, suddenly. He could control Scott. His contract with Scott still held even without his powers. He could…he could have Scott kill Henry. He could have Scott look for the key. Henry couldn’t stop him. Henry couldn’t…

“Understood. See you. Oh,” Scott said, as he brushed past Sam. A finger touched Sam’s throat, a rancid smell coming way too close to Sam, nearly making him gag. “Nice jewelry. Suits you.”

And Scott fucked off, whistling off-key.

Sam couldn’t trust Scott. The deal bound them, but if Scott decided to break it and go back to hell with the key in his hand, Sam would be trapped forever. And that notwithstanding, he would not, would not, be in any sort of debt to something like Scott, not for a second.

No, he wouldn’t do that. At least not yet. Not until he could think about what he’d need to tell Scott to do. But it was a plan, at least. It was something for Sam to cling to. He took a breath, trying to clear his head of Scott’s stench. “Let’s go see Hans.”

“Yeah,” Henry said, running his hand down Sam’s back as they walked. “That was better.”

“Better than what?” Sam knew better than to ask, he really did. But here he was, asking anyway.

“Just…better. Anything Scott does to Todd I’m going to do to you.”

Sam shivered, hoping it wasn’t obvious. “There are a lot of things Scott can do that you can’t.”

“I wonder,” Henry said, apparently to himself.

“As if Todd would tell you anyway,” Sam sneered. “He hates you more than he hates me.”

“Hm. You’re right about that, actually.” Henry said it as if it were surprising. Todd was too stupid to realize that his tormentor wasn’t the person actually hitting him. Sam knew Todd, he knew that Todd thought that Henry was the reason he was in pain, even if it was all Sam’s orders and his own doing for fucking up so badly. Even if he’d fucking been there when Henry had made it clear that he was protecting Todd. Henry had told him outright why he was doing what he was doing and Todd hadn’t listened long enough to understand. He deserved all the pain that came to him and more.

Maybe Sam should hurt him tonight. It might make him feel better.

It was a bit of a walk from the pit to Hans’s rooms and Sam wanted a rest, but if he tried to detour to his rooms and do that, Henry definitely wouldn’t let him have it, so Sam walked, hearing armour clank as the two guards on Hans’s door saluted.

They were saluting Henry, Sam had no doubt. “He’s in there?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” one of them said. He sounded young.

“What’s your name?”

“Archer, sir.”

“Fine.” Henry had taken over his guard because he knew more about it than Sam. It…wouldn’t hurt Sam to at least know their names. He’d try to remember them, one at a time. He walked past the guards and into Hans’s rooms without knocking. Kings didn’t knock. “Where is he?” he asked Henry, when he didn’t hear anyone in the room.

“Lord Hans,” Henry called. “The king is here to see you.”

A moment later there was a rustling, and Hans emerged from somewhere with a creak. The privy, by the smell of it. “Your Majesty,” Hans said, tone barely respectful. “To what do I owe this dubious pleasure?”

Sam was quiet for a second, moving forward slowly. He found a chair and sat in it. “Your brother and his wife are dead, and so is their oldest son.”

“E…excuse me?” Hans asked, voice breathless.

Sam smirked. “Stephan Fyrhawk usurped Francesca’s throne and is currently sitting as king of Kyaine. I know this, because he nicely sent me a letter yesterday.”

Wood scraped the carpet as Hans pulled a chair for himself, then creaked as he sat in it. “Dante…good God. Tell me you’re lying, Sorcerer King.”

“I don’t lie.” Sam smiled. “Here’s the truth of it, Hans. I was hoping I could turn you against your brother and his wife eventually and have you usurp the throne for me. But clearly that’s now a pointless plan. So instead, I was wondering how you feel about vengeance.”

“Vengeance?”

“I’m willing to let you and your people go, give you some of my army, some of my power. Have you take revenge for your murdered family,” Sam told him.

Hans was silent for a time. “In exchange for what? Servitude?”

He caught on quickly. “In exchange for friendship. You’ll rule Kyaine. I’ll rule the Fury Plateau. We’ll communicate. That’s all.”

“I am not one of Francesca’s heirs,” Hans said. “I cannot rule Kyaine.”

“No,” Henry said, shifting, hand on Sam’s chair. “But Flora DiGorre can. She’s being held hostage by Stephan.”

“She’s only eight years old,” Hans muttered, voice dark. “She’s too young to…” He fell quiet as he anticipated Sam’s next suggestion.

Sam smiled. “She’d need a regent.”

“And a husband, once she’s older,” Henry added.

Hans was quiet for a moment, a long, heavy moment. Sam sat still in the chair, wishing his back didn’t hurt. “This army of yours,” Hans began eventually.

“It’s sufficient to take Hawk’s Roost,” Henry told him. “With some help from the inside, which we have.”

“Who?”

“You don’t think we’re going to tell you that?” Sam asked. He’d forgotten to ask Scott that part. “Suffice it to say you will take the city, we’ll make sure of it.”

“And all I need do is bow to you,” Hans finished.

“Nothing so grandiose,” Sam said, standing. All he needed to do was swallow one of Scott’s eggs so that Sam could control him. But he didn’t need to know that. “I’ll let you think about it for a while. I’m going to write back to King Stephan tonight. If you’ve anything you’d like me to add, let me know before then.”

Sam turned and headed for the door, letting Henry open it for him. With his hand on the doorframe, Sam paused. “Oh,” he added. “And sorry for your loss, Lord Hans.”

And Sam left, striding out into the hallway and as far away from the room as he could get, away from the guards, before he leaned against the wall again, resting. All the aches and pains from before were coming back again. They’d been gone during all that. He’d been too busy to think about them, more like.

“Tired?” Henry asked.

“I’m fine,” Sam said, wishing he could just…have ten minutes.

“Let’s go back to the room. You need to rest.”

Sam sighed, let Henry tug him there. “So much rest I’ll get.”

Henry surprised Sam, kissing the side of his head. “I mean it. You’ll have a bath and we’ll sit for a while before lunch. I’ll rub your back for you. You’ve done well today. You deserve a break.”

Sam was quiet as Henry led him back to the room, not sure what to make of this. He let Henry do it, because Henry was leading him everywhere anyway. “If our positions were reversed, I wouldn’t be giving you a break,” he muttered.

“Yes, you would,” Henry told him. “You used to give them to me all the time, in the dungeons. Speaking of which. I have something for you.”

“What?” Sam felt a little bit, just a little bit of dread. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

Henry didn’t answer until they were back in the room, when he had Sam stand there while he went and retrieved something. He came back and put it Sam’s hand.

“A knife?”

“Yes.”

“Why?” It was heavy, unsheathed, not all that sharp.

It was, Sam realized, the same knife he’d given Henry.

Henry patted Sam’s shoulder. “Because I don’t need it and you do. Let’s go have that bath.”

“Y-yeah…” Sam let Henry guide him to the bath, holding the knife, not sure what to feel.

He wasn’t sure he’d ever be sure what to feel again.

Chapter Text

Sam awoke as abruptly as an accusation, the feel of the soft bed, the heat of the blankets, the lingering smell of sweat and sex, the soreness that was his companion lately, all of that coming back to him at once. The knowledge of who and where and why and what he was. All at once.

Sam didn’t want any of that. But then, he’d been dreaming too. And in his dreams Henry was there, not on his knees, crying and begging like he should be. In Sam’s dreams, Henry was king, handing down justice from on high. And the people loved him for it. And Sam was just…there. Nothing.

And he hated that more than being awake.

He and Henry had rolled away from each other in the night leaving a person or more of distance between them. Henry was snoring quietly. Sam was on his belly, and he rolled further away from Henry, onto his back, taking in a breath that made his chest hurt.

Then he held it. Someone was in the room. Sam couldn’t feel it, not with his magic, obviously. But there was someone here, watching him.

Sam slid his arm out, but couldn’t reach Henry to wake him. Fine. He let out the breath, sat up. “Must you interrupt my sleep?” he demanded, trying to project confidence. “I’d be perfectly happy to speak with you during the day.”

I do not desire for you to be distracted when we speak, the god said. Your power has been sealed, little sorcerer.

“Do you presume I don’t know that?” Sam demanded, hand coming up to brush at the collar, the only thing he was wearing.

I did not imagine you so weak as to be overtaken by a powerless human.

Henry wasn’t powerless, not at all. Even when Sam had his magic, Henry was far from powerless. That was obvious. “Overtaken? You’re a fool. This is a game, that’s all.” Sam wished that that lie made him feel at all better, but it didn’t. “He’ll release me when I tell him to.”

God, how he wished that were true.

The voice was silent for a minute, and Sam heard judgement in that silence. But a moment later, it spoke again. Your games do not interest me. So long as you remain committed to our agreement.

“Of course,” Sam lied. “Now are you going to tell me what you want, or do you want to keep condescending at me instead?”

Sam was being condescended at by Henry all day, every day lately. He really didn’t need to have it happen while Henry was asleep too.

Your impoliteness remains charmless, little sorcerer, the god told him. It is best you learn to show your betters respect.

“I’ll keep that in mind if I meet any,” Sam snapped. “Tell me what you want or get out.”

The voice seemed to shift for a moment as if deciding what to do with Sam. Sam kept hold of his anger, his annoyance. That way he wouldn’t show the thing he was afraid. This thing needed him. It wouldn’t hurt him. And after a moment, it seemed to relent. It is time, the voice said, to carry through one of your father’s plans. The Sea King has been revived.

“And I care about this because?” Sam asked. He didn’t know who the Sea King was, but as long as he wasn’t a rival for Sam’s throne, he didn’t understand why he should care.

What might have passed for a sigh came from the entity. He is a tool for you to use to effect the plan your father and I created. In your father’s possession was an enchanted necklace, which will create a link between your power and the Sea King’s…

“An enchanted necklace,” said Sam, thinking back. “Yes, he had one of those. It tried to compel me to take it to the ocean.”

Yes. The Sea King’s Regalia contains pieces of his soul, which wish to return to the ocean and reunite their master. This has been accomplished with all but one piece of the Regalia. A piece of a soul can be used to control the other pieces, and thus…

“I don’t have the necklace anymore.”

What? the voice demanded. Why not? What did you do with it?

Sam snorted. At least now he knew the voice wasn’t watching him all the time. “It wanted me to put it in the ocean. So I did. I teleported it there. I don’t like being compelled.”

You…you fool! The Necklace was the only thing that we could use to control the Sea King! Without it, he is an unchecked power that seeks nothing but destruction!

Sam brushed the collar on his neck. Stopped from being an unchecked power of destruction by a necklace. He could fucking relate. “That’s hardly my problem.”

It is both of our problem, boy! The Sea King’s involvement was meant to create a military distraction to divert all attention from your conquest! He was meant to scour the western coasts and exist as a target for the magical powers of this continent—and draw the stones to him in order to seal him again! We could have acquired all of them in one fell swoop were it not for your foolishness!

Sam yawned. “Well, maybe you should have told me that. Instead, you left me to figure all that out on my own, and now you’re surprised that I didn’t. Perhaps if you’d actually let me in on this grand plan of yours, I’d be able to do something about helping you, you pretentious cloud of vapour.”

You…you are a child, Sorcerer King.

“And you’re an idiot who trusted a child, aren’t you?” Sam sneered. “In the future if there’s something you want done, try telling me. In the meantime, go away. I’m trying to sleep.”

And he lay back down, flat on his back, and waited. And sure enough a moment later, the malevolent presence in the room disappeared without a word. “Fuck,” Sam whispered. “Fuck.”

And, against his better judgement, he sat up, and crawled over to Henry, smacking him on the shoulder. “Wake up. Henry!”

“What? What the fuck, Sam, you…” Henry shifted, rising, hand on Sam’s shoulder. “What’s wrong? Did you have a nightmare?”

Why did he have to ask that childish question in such an insulting voice? “No,” Sam said, gritting his teeth. “It came back. The creature, the demon that spoke to me before.”

The blankets moved as Henry sat up. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Sam said dismissively, moving back to sit. “That necklace I sent away. Apparently it was a piece in some grand plan and now it’s mad at me for tossing it away.”

“Well…too fucking bad,” Henry said, annoyed. “If it was important, then this asshole should have told you about it before.”

“That’s what I told him,” Sam grumbled.

Henry sighed, and he pulled Sam forward, eliciting a stupid sound that Sam regretted. And then he just…held Sam there, against his chest. “Good. You’re okay.”

“Of course I’m okay,” Sam muttered, tense. He didn’t like being this close to Henry. But he didn’t dare demand to be let go. So he sat there, feeling Henry’s heartbeat against his own. Henry was warm.

Henry just kept his arms wrapped around Sam, breathing on his neck. “You should try to go back to sleep. It’s still early.”

“I can’t,” Sam said, fully aware that sleep was his only means of escaping from Henry. “There’s no way I’d sleep again.”

“Try,” Henry advised, pulling Sam down, still holding him but now in a laying position.

“Henry.”

“We have a long day today. You’re going to regret not sleeping properly.”

Sam frowned. He had no idea what Henry was talking about. Should he ask? He…fuck it. He wanted to know. “Why is it a long day?”

“I was going to surprise you when you woke up,” Henry said with a sigh. “We’re leaving the castle.”

“What?” Sam started, tried to sit up, but Henry held him down easily. He was so strong. “What the fuck, Henry?”

“We’re going to go deal with that rebellion in the east,” Henry explained. “I told you I want you to do it personally.”

“Now?”

“Now.” He pulled Sam even tighter. “Especially now that you’ve pissed that thing off. It’s important that you have your own people behind you if something happens.”

“But…”

“No buts. I’ve already set it up. We’re leaving after breakfast.”

Sam was so very much not in the mood for this. This trip, this conversation, this…everything. So he just huffed, tried to settle comfortably in Henry’s arms. “I’m not going back to sleep.”

“I don’t want to hear about how tired you are later, then.”

“I’m not a child. Stop talking to me like one.”

“Stop acting like one.”

“I hate you.”

“Sure you do. Sleep.”

Sam sighed loudly, enough to indicate what he thought of that. But he wasn’t going to argue any further, not when Henry was just…holding him. Warm. Not hurting him or anything, just holding him. He wasn’t sure what to make of that, but it was preferable to the alternative.

So Sam just lay there, quietly, thinking about gods and kings and children, and about what made them different.

Chapter Text

Sam was sore all over, but at least this time was just from riding in the carriage all day. The wooden bench and walls weren’t comfortable to sit on, to lean against. He was tired and nodding off, but the jolting of the carriage kept waking him up again. “Please kill the carriage driver,” Sam grumbled after the fifteenth time it had happened.

Henry snorted, pulling Sam closer to him. Sam refused to rest his head on Henry’s shoulder, no matter what. “It’s not his fault the roads are shit.”

“Then kill whoever’s fault it is that the roads are shit,” Sam snapped, annoyed.

Henry was quiet. Sam was quiet too. The cart bounced again.

“It’s my fault, isn’t it?”

“Solomon didn’t use enough of his tax money to keep up infrastructure,” Henry said. “You maintained his spending habits with the size of your armed force. Every time I’ve tried to bring it up you’ve just brushed me off or ignored me entirely.”

Sam snorted. “As if I’m to believe you haven’t taken over my treasury too? Don’t fucking use me as an excuse, Henry. You forgot that the roads needed to be fixed and you know it.”

Henry was quiet again, a different, dangerous quiet this time. Sam didn’t say anything. The cart hit another hole in the road. “I should hit you for that.”

“Fucking go ahead,” Sam muttered, too tired for self-preservation. Henry would hit him if he wanted to, there wasn’t anything he could do about it. “You hit me all the time anyway. At least this time I’d deserve it.”

Henry laughed, taking Sam’s hand in his. “True. You should try to sleep. You didn’t last night like I told you.”

“I’m not tired,” Sam said, willing himself not to yawn as he said it. It worked, but only for a few seconds, and he eventually did, trying to hide it as just a regular inhalation.

“Sure,” Henry said. “Fine. We’re almost there anyway, you can sleep when we arrive.”

“You want me to sleep through putting down a rebellion?” Sam sneered. “Am I that unnecessary?”

“We won’t be putting down any rebellions today,” Henry said. “It’s late. We’re going to stop in Jdinrma-Hash.”

“That’s…” Sam tried to remember. He knew this, he did. “The centre of the plateau.”

“More or less,” Henry agreed. “It’s the biggest settlement in Ech’kent.”

“I know that.” It was the closest thing the region had to a capital. It was positioned across the Dragon River, which had a different name in Chez’n, but Sam couldn’t remember it. It controlled access to the biggest freshwater basin in the plateau, and the gem mines just to the southwest. “The rebellion is here?”

“No,” Henry said, sighing. “It’s a little farther east. Sounds like it’s headquartered in Endlyn. We can get there in about three hours tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to put a stop to.”

Sam didn’t know Endlyn, it was probably one of the many small villages that made up the Plateau. “We should just go there now. Put a stop to it and turn around.”

“We could,” Henry said, squeezing Sam’s hand. “But someone’s too tired because he didn’t sleep last night.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Henry, treat me like a prisoner, but I’m not a fucking child!”

The carriage stopped, and Sam tensed a little. Henry opened the door. “We’re here,” he said, hopping out. “Come on.”

Sam sat for a minute more, calming down. He could hear people out there. But eventually he stood, reaching out for Henry’s hand, and letting Henry pull him out of the carriage.

He nearly stumbled when his feet hit the unpaved road, but Henry steadied him. He could hear people murmuring. “There’s a crowd,” Sam said.

“They wanted to see the king,”

Sam snorted, trying to walk tall. “Wanted to see him trip.”

“No. They wanted to see if he was real.”

“And you wanted them to see that he was just a boy with a collar on.” Sam wasn’t stupid. He knew Henry was doing this to humiliate him. He could hear them murmuring.

“That’s not what they see, Sam, trust me. Let’s go.”

“Go where?” Sam demanded, as they started walking.

“Up the road just a bit. It’s not far.” Henry sounded like he wasn’t nearly as calm as he was pretending.

Sam was suspicious. “Why didn’t we just stop in front of the inn?”

“Because.” Henry put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “The people want to see the king.”

Sam just sighed. “Fine. Let’s go.”

They walked through the crowd, to some muttering, some cheering, some other sounds. Flanked by Sam’s guards on all sides, their path was clear. He did his best to ignore the people. The road seemed to go on for a good while, but eventually the sounds of the crowd, the oppressive push of people, faded, and they were walking down a quieter stretch of road.

They transitioned to walking on gravel. “Where are we?”

“Where I thought we could stay,” Henry said quietly.

“Sir,” one of the guards said. “We haven’t canvassed this building. We don’t know if it’s empty, or if it’s safe.”

“It’s fine,” Henry said, guiding Sam forward. “Set up a perimeter, will you?”

“Yes, sir.”

The guard moved off, boots crunching the gravel. The other moved to secure the area, leaving Sam and Henry alone. “This isn’t an inn,” Sam accused.

“No,” Henry said. “I didn’t think you’d like an inn. Too many people. This is more private.”

Henry was right about that, but Sam also didn’t like being taken away to parts unknown without his knowledge. “What is it, then, a gravel pit?” He caught a whiff of something on the air, ashes, maybe. “Or a fire pit, maybe.”

“It is pretty burned,” Henry admitted. He said nothing else until they’d passed through a doorway, wood brushing Sam’s hand as he went in. “But it’s mostly still standing. It should be fine as long as we avoid the worst parts.”

“Henry, answer my fucking question,” Sam growled.

“Yeah. This is home,” Henry said, putting his arm around Sam’s middle, holding him. “This is Arkhewer Manor.”

“What…” Arkhewer Manor had been destroyed when the family had been. Or so Sam had assumed. He should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. After all, House Arkhewer wasn’t as destroyed as it should be either.

“We’ve been in your house for a long time. Figured we could visit mine while we were in the area.” Sam didn’t know what to say. He felt…weird here. Like he shouldn’t be here. Henry stood there quietly for a minute, then let go of Sam’s body, taking his hand instead. “Come on. My bedroom is this way. You can sleep there.”

Sam had no choice but to let Henry drag him through the ruins of his family home, and all the while Sam felt like an intruder.

Or maybe, he realized much later, a trophy.

Chapter Text

Endlyn was small, according to Henry, about a thousand inhabitants. Supported by a few nearby farms and not producing much that was useful, Sam wasn’t sure why it needed to exist. But it did, apparently.

“The village council is gathered for us?” Sam asked as they trundled into the town. They’d been trundling a lot lately. “I’m not getting out of this stupid thing and then waiting for an hour.”

“They’re gathered,” Henry assured him. “Or at least they should be.”

“And if they’re not?”

“Then someone’s going to die,” Henry said, sighing. “Which they are anyway.”

“That’s not like you,” Sam said. “Going into it with that attitude.”

“If your father and Cole proved anything, it’s that you don’t go into a rebellion only half-planning to fix it,” Henry told him as the cart stopped. “Let’s go.”

“Fine,” Sam said, standing and letting Henry help him out of the cart. It was regal, not dependent, he told himself.

They hit the ground, and Henry stopped. “Fuck,” he muttered.

“What? Are they not here?”

“No,” he said quietly. “They’re here. They’re just…they’re flying the fucking Arkhewer sigil above the town. And a dragon flag.”

That made Sam shiver, the implications of the town supporting House Arkhewer—supporting Henry—being alarming. “A dragon flag?”

“You don’t know anything about Ech’kent, do you?” Henry asked him, with a heavy sigh. “Didn’t you have a tutor growing up?”

“Yes, I did, he taught me useful shit, not about flags,” Sam snapped, feeling his face grow hot.

“Well, flags are useful shit,” Henry disagreed. “Before the Catechism came and built churches here, we used to worship dragons as gods.”

“So it’s a religious flag?” Sam asked. That really didn’t matter to him.

“Yes, but no. It’s a political statement—our religion, from before we were invaded. It’s used as a symbol whenever people on the plateau decide to make a statement that we’re separate from the rest of Kyaine.”

“You’re not,” Sam told him, though that wasn’t true.

“We are, that’s why Solomon came here,” Henry disagreed. “Because he knew nobody gave a shit.”

“Hans did.”

“And it took him almost ten years.”

Sam huffed. “Okay, fine. So they’re separatists.”

“It’s going to make them a little harder to reason with is all,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s back. “Let’s go.”

Sam wondered when they’d decided they were here to reason with anyone, but he let Henry guide him down a dirt-packed road and then stop him in front of what sounded like a fountain. He could hear the flags blowing in the wind. There were people shuffling, armour was clinking. “These are my rebels?” Sam asked, making his voice loud enough to be heard over the wind.

“The village council of Endlyn,” Henry confirmed.

“And what do they have to say for themselves?” Sam asked. He wasn’t really interested.

What followed was a series of loud comments in the plateau’s native language, Chez’n, which Sam only understood a handful of phrases in. “Tell them to speak a normal fucking language,” Sam growled. Sam spoke two, and this wasn’t one of them.

“They won’t,” Henry said. “He’s going on about freeing them from the shackles of invaders and Solomon’s tyranny.”

“Solomon’s fucking dead,” Sam snapped. “Tell him if he wants to rebel against a dead man he can do it from hell.”

Henry relayed that—hopefully. Sam didn’t like that he needed Henry as an interpreter, but on the other hand it made Henry into an underling as far as everyone else was concerned, so maybe that was good. And Henry had never misled Sam before when relaying information, at least not that Sam knew of. So it was probably fine.

“He says he’s not rebelling against anyone,” Henry said a moment later. “Only defending their land from an invader. Sam, he’s not going to reason with you.”

“Then kill them,” Sam said. “You’re the one who wanted to talk. Kill him if he’s not going to reason.”

“And make him a martyr?”

“He…what can a dead person do?” Sam demanded. He didn’t understand what Henry wanted him to do. He didn’t know why Henry didn’t just do it.

“They’re flying my family’s flag, Sam. Not because of me. Your father killed my parents and it didn’t stop anyone from using their name to act this way. Killing a few of them is just going to convince others that this was a good idea.”

That was a kind of fucked-up logic that didn’t make any sense to Sam. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s how these people think, trust me. It’s how I used to think.”

Sam had a headache. Why was Henry doing this? “Then what would have stopped you?”

“Getting chained to your wall a few months and talked at a lot,” Henry muttered.

“Well, we’re not doing that. And imprisoning their leaders does the same thing as killing them. I’m not playing this game with you, Henry. Tell me what you want done or just kill all of them. Destroying an entire village should send a message to everyone else that I don’t plan to suffer this bullshit lightly. “

Henry was quiet for a minute. “I know,” he finally said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out a way around.”

Sam frowned, feeling himself rock a little. He didn’t know why. He didn’t know why that should surprise him. He could easily imagine Henry doing that. “You’ve known that was the end of this since the beginning.”

“Yeah,” Henry said, voice quiet. “Of course I have. But…”

“That’s…” Sam was extremely aware of everyone around them. He reached up and brushed his neck, scratching. “That’s why you did this, isn’t it? So I wouldn’t just tear the town to pieces?”

“No,” Henry said, reaching out and taking Sam’s hand, kissing it. “It’s not. People are watching, tell me what to do. How can we stop from having to destroy the town?”

Sam let out a breath. Fuck. “We can’t,” he said, cupping his elbows. They were both talking so quietly. “Not if they’re as zealous as you think. The only way to deal with this is to make Endlyn an example so nobody else is stupid enough to pull this again.”

“There’s got to be a way, Sam,” Henry pleaded. He sounded so weak. It…made Sam happy, to hear him like that. It put Sam back in power for the first time in far longer than he’d had this thing on his neck.

So he sighed. “Take their children hostage, threaten to kill them if they don’t cooperate. And Henry, you have to follow through on it. If they don’t cooperate…”

“I’ve killed children before,” Henry muttered. “If we do kill the children we lose leverage.”

“You start with the ringleaders’ brats—once you’ve sent their bodies home, the parents of the other ones will start to lose faith, the movement will start to lose support. People love their children more than they hate tyranny, trust me.”

“And if they don’t?”

“If they don’t then you have to destroy the town,” Sam told him. “There’s no other way.”

“You’d better mean that,” Henry said, not giving Sam the chance to say anything to defend himself before turning and talking loudly in Chez’n. Not just to the townspeople, but to the guards. Who were all natives of the plateau as well. Was Sam the only person here who didn’t speak this language? Probably. Fuck.

There was shouting and outrage as the guards marched off to collect the town’s children, and it didn’t die down even when the guards drew steel. It only got worse when the crying of children was added to the din. Sam really didn’t want that in his castle, but if it made Henry happy…

Not that he cared about making Henry happy. And these people wouldn’t be able to help themselves from rebelling again, so he’d get to kill the brats. Maybe he’d feed them to Scott, or give them to Todd to practice on.

“They’re shouting defiance,” Henry said, sounding distressed. He knew. “They’re not going to give in.”

“I know.”

“I…” Henry let out a breath, barked something at a guard. And drew his sword. The snivelling of a child was brought closer to them, a high pitched voice pleading in Chez’n. Henry argued back and forth with someone for a minute. “He’s not going to…they’re not going to give in.”

Sam knew that. He didn’t say anything.

There was a cough, a gurgle, and a thud. Silence from Henry. And a roar from the assembled townspeople, of fury.

And then Henry barked an order, and that roar turned to screaming, hollering, fear, and the smell of blood. And Sam stood there and let it happen, and Henry stood beside him, quiet, deathly quiet.

It was a while, over an hour that they stood there and listened to their guards slaughter the population of Endlyn. Many of them probably escaped, but that was fine. Let the word spread that the Sorcerer King and Lord Arkhewer didn’t tolerate dissenters.

They executed the members of the village council last, making nooses and hanging them in front of the flagpole with the dragon flag on it. And only then did Sam relax, turning around to head back to the carriage, Henry with him.

In the quiet of the carriage, Sam found he wasn’t scared. In the past he’d been scared to be alone with Henry after he’d done anything that revealed how dangerous he was. But not this time. This time was different and Sam wasn’t sure why. Sam was more vulnerable than he’d ever been with Henry before, but he wasn’t scared.

“You can blame me,” Sam said as they started the journey back to Jdinrma-Hash. “If you want. I’m the one who told you to do it.”

“No,” Henry said. “No. I already knew I’d have to give that order. I was just…being childish, thinking I could talk them out of it.”

“It wasn’t childish,” Sam disagreed. “That kind of decision requires deliberation. You shouldn’t do something so final as your first resort.”

Sam would have. He wouldn’t have considered alternatives.

“We have to do something generous for the other towns,” Henry said suddenly. “The ones that didn’t rebel.”

“To ease your conscience?”

“To show that we reward loyalty just as strongly as we punish disobedience.”

Sam thought about that. “You’re right. Find out what they want and give it to them. Assuming they’re loyal.” Fear alone wasn’t enough to keep people in line. They had to know that life was better for them if they kept Sam and Henry happy.

“Yeah,” Henry sighed. The cart shifted a little, and he fell onto the bench beside Sam. And took Sam’s hand in his. “I’m not going to blame you. You didn’t do it.”

“Yes, I did,” Sam said. “I didn’t give the order, but it was my mismanaging the plateau that made it necessary. And what you did, you did on my authority. I may not have given the order, but you sure as hell didn’t do it all by yourself.”

“I know,” Henry told him. “That’s the point. I didn’t do it. You didn’t do it. We did it. Together.”

Together. That rang through Sam. Together. Equals. “Together.”

“Yeah.” Henry squeezed Sam’s hand.

“I remember when you used to think I was a monster,” Sam whispered.

“I still do,” Henry said. He kissed Sam’s hand. “It’s just that I used to think I wasn’t.”

Sam moved a little closer to Henry, leaning against him, resting his head on Henry’s shoulder. And he didn’t say anything else, but they rode the rest of the way back to Arkhewer manor like that.

Together.

Chapter Text

Once, when Sam had been seven or eight, Saul had slipped some poison into his breakfast that had given him violent diarrhea for three days. When he’d been eight, Sarah had tied him to his bed and told him there was a venomous spider hidden somewhere in his room that would sense magic if he tried to use it. A little over a year ago Solomon had made Sam sit still for twenty hours while he tested out a spell, and then had made Sam do it all over again when he’d sneezed. A few weeks ago, Henry had put a collar on Sam and then raped him until he’d cried.

And despite all of that, Sam reflected, somehow what was happening to him right now was the worst thing that had ever happened to him.

“Feels nice, right?”

“Y-yes,” Sam said, with no idea what ‘nice’ felt like in this context. “Very solid.” He was wearing a weird ring on his hand. It was heavy.

“Pounded from iron mined up near Chavekma-Rashish,” the merchant told him. “The stone is from the Shen’keit Fissures—all made right here in Ech’kent.”

“I’ll take it,” Sam said, because what the hell else was he supposed to say? He didn’t care where the ring had been made. “And if you have others, with stones in different colours.” Apparently, he’d learned, it was important that the colours of things matched. Which meant that one ring wasn’t enough rings, because unbeknownst to Sam, his wardrobe contained clothing of many different colours.

“Right away, your Majesty,” the merchant said. “I’ll have them sent to the manor.”

“Thank you,” Sam said, turning and walk away from the stall. “How many more?”

“Only a few,” his companion said.

Sam sighed. This was the worst thing that had ever happened to him. An easy thing for him to do, according to Henry, was go shopping in Jdinrma-Hash’s market, spend a lot of money and, worst of all, be pleasant to people he’d rather dismember. So Sam was doing that. And it was terrible.

And as if it couldn’t get any fucking worse, Henry had fucking abandoned him here partway through. He’d stayed for the part where he’d stripped Sam to his smallclothes to be measured at a tailor’s, but then he’d headed off to be present in another part of the town, and left Sam on his own with a few guards and an idiot.

The idiot in question was a boy named Max, who Henry had found somewhere and paid to drag Sam around the market and interpret for him when shopkeepers tried to speak to him in Chez’n. He was friendly and he was obviously excited to be meeting a king, and Sam had wanted to feed him to Scott after five minutes in his company.

But he wasn’t allowed to do that. “The next one, then.”

“You’re super generous to shop at the market like this,” Max told him as he led Sam somewhere. “You’ve spent more money today than I’ve ever seen!”

“The crown’s money comes from taxation,” Sam told him, just wishing so badly that he could tell this idiot to shut up. But Henry had made the ‘be nice’ part of this excursion very clear. It was how to balance out destroying Endlyn. Be nice to the people who weren’t rebelling against him. “It’s only fair that some of it goes back to the people.”

“Yeah, but still. I guess I just thought that the Sorcerer King would be…” Max trailed off.

Sam smirked. “An evil monster who tortures people for fun and eats peasant boys for breakfast?”

“Well…yeah. I mean you hear things, and stuff. And Endlyn…but you’re actually really nice. Uh. Your Majesty.”

Sam tried not to sigh. “The people in Endlyn killed their own children, did you know that? Because they were worried I’d use them as leverage to stop the rebellion. They needed to be stopped before they hurt someone else.” Sam had decided to add that detail as the story they told—vilifying the dead was a good way to put Sam and Henry in the right.

“Wow…My friend Gino is from Endlyn…guess they killed him too…” Max was quiet, mercifully. Sam should have brought up the dead children sooner. Then someone started talking at them in Chez’n, and he talked back. “She’s going to show you her wares. She’s got cloth.”

“Fine,” Sam sighed, and the next several minutes he passed touching various fabrics while Max translated at him about what they were made from.

Sam wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do with that information or with some fabric that wasn’t made into anything, but he let them talk for way longer than he would have liked, oddly grateful for the collar on his neck that prevented him from gutting someone because he was bored.

Sam’s hand fell onto a really soft fabric that moved like liquid and he paused, feeling it, running his hand down the length of it. “I like this one,” he said, mostly to himself.

“It’s artworm silk,” Max told him, as the shopkeeper babbled in Chez’n.

Sam didn’t care. “I’ll take it.”

“She’s asking how much.”

“All of it,” Sam said, letting go with some reluctance. The guard behind him moved forward with his coin. “I want to have bedsheets made out of this.”

“Wow…she’s really happy. I think this is really expensive.”

“Tell her thank you,” Sam muttered, awkwardly. He wasn’t used to people being happy when he was around. It was a weird feeling. He wished Henry was here.

After extricating himself from the cloth merchant, Sam went with Max to a man selling knives, which were at least something Sam had an opinion on. Sadly they seemed to be mostly ornamental, but he bought several anyway.

“What are you going to do with that many knives?” Max asked, as Sam looped one onto his belt, letting his people carry the rest back.

“Stab people,” Sam told him.

Max giggled, obviously assuming it was a joke. “I didn’t know kings were allowed to be funny.”

“Kings are allowed to be whatever they want.” Except for free.

Max laughed again. “You’re really not as bad as people say.”

Sam smiled. “Yes, I am.”

“Okay. There’s one more shop. I don’t know if you’ll want anything from here, it’s kind of just random junk…”

“Don’t listen to him, your Majesty,” a man’s voice said, reproach in his tone. “I only sell the highest quality items.”

Oh, good, someone who spoke a real language. “What items?” Sam asked him, hand out as he walked until he hit the stall.

“I have a selection of smoking pipes here,” the man said. “Some quality reading glasses. A case of premium writing quills.”

Sam didn’t smoke, read or write, and the man seemed to realize those last two just a second later than he should have. He wasn’t very observant. “Or perhaps I could interest you in a hand-carved incense burner.”

“Sure,” Sam said, nodding. Incense gave him headaches, but fine. He had to buy something so he could leave and go back to the fucking house and then go to sleep and then go home tomorrow. “I’ll take that, it sounds good.”

“Very good, sir. Ah, perhaps I could interest you in some of my more…unique wares?”

Sam frowned. “Unique how?”

The man didn’t answer, but he bustled around while Sam waited in irritated silence, and a moment later he heard a tray being put in front of him and a cloth pulled back.

“Um…” Max said, shifting beside Sam.

“What?” Sam demanded. “What is it?”

“These,” said the merchant, gently touching Sam’s hand with something. “Are…aids that you might use, on your own or perhaps together with Lord Henry.”

“With Henry?” Sam asked, taking the object he was being handed. “Why would I…” it was heavy, polished stone, cylindrical, pointed near one end and broader near the other, not quite the length of Sam’s hand. A possible use for this entered Sam’s imagination after a second, and he felt himself get warm in the face.

“You might use these for…extra stimulation, should you need it,” the shopkeeper said. “Or desire it. Of course, if you’d rather not…”

“What else do you have?” Sam asked.

“If you clasp this metal ring around the male member, it will delay gratification,” the man said, handing Sam the ring. “And this can be affixed to a nipple or any number of other places for mild pain. This here has a ribbed surface…”

Sam ended up buying a good number of things from the merchant, and left feeling quite pleased with himself. He knew logically that Henry was going to end up using most of it on him rather than vice-versa, but Sam found that didn’t bother him overly.

“So…” Max said, quiet as he led Sam back to Arkhewer manor. “Is it true, then? That you and Lord Henry are…”

“Fucking?” Sam asked, when he trailed off. “Yes.”

“Wow…” Max muttered. “I didn’t think that was really true. But I guess you’re the king, right? You can do whatever you want!”

Sam snorted as they got nearer to the manor. “Anyone can do whatever they want, Max. If someone tells you that you can’t, you just have to get them out of your way, that’s all.”

“Huh…” Max was mercifully quiet as they crossed the gravel path to the house. “Well…here you are, your Majesty.”

Sam started to go inside, then stopped. He was being nice today. “Thank you for all your help, Max.”

“It was no trouble! I was happy to help, your Majesty!”

Sure he had been. Sam called the guard and got the coin purse he’d been carrying around. It had a few coins left in it, and he gave those to Max. “Here.”

“Lord Henry already paid me to…”

“I don’t care. Take it.”

“Thank you…” Max took the coins. “You’re very nice, your Majesty.”

“No,” Sam told him. “I’m not. But you are. And you were very helpful today. And I reward people who are helpful.”

“Thank you, your Majesty! It was…it was nice to meet you!” The gravel scraped as Max spoke.

“You too. Now get lost, I’m going to eat.”

Sam went in the house and let Max scurry off. “I’m surprised.”

Sam jumped. “Fuck, Henry. Were you just standing there?”

“Yes. I got back a few minutes before you did. I’m surprised you didn’t bring him in here so you could do something awful to him.”

As if Henry would have let him. Or maybe he would have, Sam had no idea. “I’m too tired to hurt anyone today. Your stupid shopping trip was exhausting.”

“Yeah, you look really tired. Come on, there’s lamb for supper.”

“I hate lamb.”

“That’s nice. Come on. It’s our last night here.” Henry put his hands on Sam’s shoulders and guided him towards the dining room, which was actually a sitting room since the dining room was destroyed. “You can tell me what you bought, and I’ll tell you about the craftspeople I met.”

“Whatever.” Sam couldn’t imagine anything less interesting than that, but fine. He went with Henry, liking his hands on him. “Henry?”

“Yeah?”

“A month ago I would have,” Sam said quietly, recognizing that. “I’d have make him come inside with me.”

“I know,” Henry said. “Why didn’t you today? I’d have let you, you know that.”

“I just…didn’t feel like it, that’s all,” Sam insisted. Henry had put that boy in danger, not knowing whether or not Sam would hurt him. Or maybe knowing that he wouldn’t.

“I want you to think about why not.”

“Just fucking tell me if you have all the answers,” Sam growled.

Henry kissed Sam’s cheek. “No. Think about it yourself. Come on, let’s go eat.”

Sam didn’t care, and he didn’t want to play this stupid game. But he spent the whole meal, despite himself, trying to figure that out.

Chapter Text

This was the last time Sam planned to trundle anywhere.

He could hear the portcullis of the castle being lifted as they waited outside in the carriage, and once it was finally finished raising, he let out a breath. “Fucking finally.”

“Was it that bad?” Henry asked, running a hand down Sam’s arm.

“Yes,” Sam insisted. He was so glad to be back where he belonged. “It was really that bad. Between sleeping in the dusty remains of your house, the performance in Endlyn, the shopping, and all the fucking trundling in this stupid thing. It was awful.”

Henry snorted. “Trundling?”

Sam paused, suddenly wondering if that was the right word. “Yes. That’s what a carriages do.”

“I know. Nevermind.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Henry!”

Henry snickered. “It’s just a funny word. It makes you sound like a bard or something.”

Sam didn’t know what to say about that. So he didn’t say anything, just sitting back and crossing his arms. “I want a bath when we get inside.”

“I know. I told the servants to draw one when I sent them ahead to prepare the castle for you.”

Sam scowled. “Prepare what?”

“Nothing, just making sure the bedroom was clean and the sheets were fresh, putting food on, drawing you a bath, that sort of thing,” Henry said. “A king shouldn’t come home and find out the castle’s in disarray.”

“The castle better not have been in disarray while we’ve been gone,” Sam growled.

“It probably wasn’t. But it’s good to remind people. And this is the work they’re supposed to do when you’re not paying attention, so it’s of benefit to them if they’re not doing it while you’re there.”

“Then they should have been doing it the whole time,” Sam grumbled. “Whatever. As long as the bath’s ready when I get in, that’s all I care about.” Unless Henry had something stupid planned for him. Sam honestly didn’t care—Henry could hit him all he wanted, Sam wanted a bath first.

The carriage pulled to a stop and Sam got up. “Burn this stupid thing,” Sam muttered, reaching for the door and pulling it open. “I never want to be near it aga—fuck!”

He’d stepped out of the carriage and just…pitched forward, a loose cobblestone sending Sam to the ground. “Fuck, ow…fuck.” His ankle hurt like hell.

“Sam!” Henry’s feet hit the ground har and his hands were on Sam’s side. “Are you okay?”

“Don’t touch me.” The last thing he needed right now was Henry’s fucking hands on him. The courtyard was silent but for the wind but it didn’t matter, Sam could hear the people in it, hear everyone who’d watched him fall like a dumbass and hurt himself like a child.

“Don’t be stupid,” Henry said. “You’re hurt.” He touched Sam’s ankle.

“Ow, Henry!”

“Quiet,” Henry muttered, touching it some more. “I don’t think it’s broken, I think you just turned it. Come here.”

“What are you—Henry!” Sam tried to get away, but Henry’s arms were underneath him and he was making Sam stand, supporting him. “Put me down, Henry, I swear to God…” Sam was so angry, so angry. What the fuck was Henry doing? He was…after everything he’d done to keep Sam visibly in charge, here he was overtly undermining Sam’s authority. How was Sam supposed to live this down? Being half-carried out of his own courtyard?

“I could, but you’d fall, and you’d hate that more than you hate this,” Henry muttered quietly. “Now walk with me or crawl back to the room, it’s your choice.”

“I don’t fucking…”

“Or I could carry you.”

“If you lift me up I’ll stab you, Henry, I swear to God I’ll stab you in the face.” Sam meant it, he really did in that moment. He’d take the knife at his belt and he’d put it in Henry’s eye.

“Then walk.”

With no options, Sam just shook as he let Henry support him and walk him into the castle. His leg hurt like hell but he walked on it, trying as best he could not to need Henry’s help. The servants in the courtyard watched them silently. “So much for keeping up the castle.”

“It was just a loose stone, Sam. It wasn’t their fault.”

“Someone’s going to die for this, Henry.”

“Because you twisted your ankle?”

“Because it happened in front of all those people,” Sam snarled. “Because everyone in this fucking castle is going to know about it by the end of the day. Because…”

“Who cares?” Henry interrupted, voice calm.

“What…are you that fucking dumb?” Did Henry genuinely not understand why this mattered?

Henry sighed, though. “Are you? Did you stop being the king when you fell over?”

What the fuck was that supposed to mean? “Of course not. That’s why it’s important that people don’t see you helping me, Henry. I don’t need people thinking that I can’t do things on my own.”

They’d passed into the castle proper now, the wind was only in the background. Coming up was the main staircase. “Get lost,” Henry said, and some scuffling happened as people left the foyer. “There, there’s nobody here now.”

“Too fucking late, they’ve already seen…woah!” Henry suddenly moved in front of Sam, all but forcing Sam to fall forward onto him, and the he stood, Sam wrapping his arms around Henry’s neck so he wouldn’t fall. Henry hoisted up Sam’s legs, then started up the stairs carrying Sam on his back. “Henry!”

“Nobody’s here, and you can’t climb the stairs with your ankle all fucked up like that,” Henry told him.

Shame and anger boiling for control inside of him now, Sam just gripped harder and let Henry carry him. He was quiet as they walked through the castle, and so was Henry. Eventually Henry got to their room and took Sam inside, carefully putting him down on the bed.

Henry sat beside him, taking the boot off Sam’s uninjured foot, before moving his hand fell on the injured one. Sam winced and tried to pull it away, which just made it hurt more. “Stop,” Henry told him. “I need to take that off and put some ice on it before it gets all swollen.”

“It…” Sam heard what he was about to say and stopped himself with an angry noise. It hurt? So what? It was hardly the worst thing that had ever happened to Sam.

Henry was slow and deliberate as he took the boot off, and it hurt the whole time. Sam had to admit that his foot felt just slightly better after, though. “Okay,” Henry muttered. “We need some ice. Stay here, I’ll go have someone get some.”

“Don’t…”

Henry had already gotten up and headed to the door, leaving the room and leaving Sam alone. Sam just…sighed, and lay back on the bed. What was he supposed to do? He couldn’t move. He could limp away, but to what end? Henry was going to do whatever he was going to do to Sam, regardless of what Sam wanted, just like he had been since he’d put the collar on. Just like he had been since before that.

When had Sam let Henry take over his life so completely? How had it happened?

There was nothing Sam could do about it now. Eventually Henry would take this fucking collar off of him and then Sam would put it right. Once he had his power back he’d put it right.

But for now he had to sit here and wait, his ankle throbbing every time he tried to move it. Eventually the door opened again. “I’m back,” Henry said.

“Obviously,” Sam muttered.

“I got some ice, and some stuff to make a splint,” Henry told him, coming back to the bed. “You shouldn’t be moving that if you can. But it should heal fine in a few days as long as you stay off it.”

“You expect me to sit here in bed and do what, exactly?” Sam demanded.

“Heal,” Henry repeated. He put something against the side of Sam’s ankle and then started to wrap it. “No walking for a few days. I’ll carry you if you need to go somewhere.”

“So you can drop me at an opportune time?” Sam sneered.

“Why would I do that?” Henry asked quietly. He finished wrapping the splint and put something cold atop Sam’s ankle. “Keep that there, it’ll help the swelling.”

Sam huffed. It wasn’t like he had a choice. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Do what? Take care of you? God knows you’re not going to do it on your own, Sam.”

“That’s not what I meant. You don’t have to patronize me or treat me like a child. If you want to humiliate me, all you had to do was leave me there on the ground. It’s what I would have done to you.”

Henry sighed, brushing Sam’s hair away from his face. “It was an accident, Sam. The cobblestone was loose. Anyone would have fallen.”

Sam’s cheeks burned. “Anyone didn’t fall. I fell.”

“You’re a person too. You’re allowed to fall down sometimes, Sam.”

Sam batted Henry’s hand away from his face. “No, I’m not. Why don’t you understand this? You’re allowed to fall down sometimes, Henry. I can’t. It makes me seem weak.”

“Kings trip and fall too,” Henry said.

“So do blind people,” Sam snapped. “Don’t you get it? If you trip it’s because the cobblestone is loose. If I trip it’s because I’m broken. That’s all people know. Of course anyone could have fallen there. But I’m the one who did, and what’s true doesn’t matter, only what people think. I can’t fall down, Henry. Because when I do they remember.”

Henry was quiet for a long moment, moving. He climbed into the bed, coming to sit beside Sam, his arm around Sam. “Solomon was a shitty parent,” Henry said.

“That has nothing to do with this.”

“Yes it does. He didn’t teach you anything. Those servants in the courtyard didn’t see a blind boy fall down, Sam. They don’t look at you and see a blind person. They look at you and see their king. Yeah, they’re going to talk about it and everyone in the castle will know about it come tomorrow. And they’ll all have forgotten about it next week. The fact that twisting your ankle is enough to make you question the respect you’re paid in this castle makes me realize that Solomon didn’t teach you anything about how power works. Do you really think that your command over these people is that tenuous?”

“Weakness begets weakness. Showing one means there are five I’m not showing. That’s just how people think.” Why didn’t Henry understand this? He was so smart normally.

“No, it isn’t,” Henry insisted. He sighed, pulled Sam a little closer. “You’re still their king, no matter what happens. Trust me.”

“Why the fuck should I trust you?”

“Have I given you a reason not to?” Henry asked.

That question cut through Sam. He felt like the answer should be a loud and obvious yes, in the shape of a collar on his neck, but somehow he couldn’t make himself say it. It felt wrong. So he didn’t say anything.

“Anyway, don’t worry about it for now,” Henry said, patting Sam. “I told the kitchen to bring up some food in a bit. But for now it’s just me, okay? If nothing else, you don’t have to worry about me. I’ll take care of you.”

Sam didn’t understand what Henry was doing here, what game he was playing. Surely he must understand what was happening here, he couldn’t be that stupid. And surely he must understand that out of everyone, Sam was the most worried about him. He couldn’t be that stupid.

He couldn’t be. But Sam sat there, Henry’s arm protectively around him, and he couldn’t figure out for the life of him what Henry was trying to do.

Chapter Text

“So I need merely swallow this?” Hans asked, holding in his hand the egg Sam had given him. “What is it?”

“A token,” Sam lied, sitting in an armchair, bored. “It will connect you to my power, allow me to help you from afar. Don’t chew it, just swallow. Give one to your wizard and whichever of your lieutenants you trust enough with it.”

“I see,” Hans said, still not putting it in his mouth. “And with this, I shall have power sufficient to avenge my brother’s family and take the throne?”

“That’s right.” Sam paused. “Don’t misunderstand. It’s not going to give you magic powers. But it will allow me to help you in your conquest. You have my word that you’ll be king of Kyaine once you get to Hawk’s Roost.”

“Hm,” Hans said, sounding skeptical. Sam didn’t care if he was skeptical as long as he swallowed the fucking egg. Or as long as someone among his people did. “It might be seen by some as capitulation if I allow you to help me fight off the usurper.”

Sam sighed. “It might be seen by some as stupidity to go have your head mounted on a spike because you charged into the capital with no power but your brother’s name behind you. It’s entirely your decision.”

“You’ve given me no reason to trust you,” Hans said. “You abducted me, killed my servants, held me here for months. For all I know you orchestrated the coup in the first place.”

“Do you want to be king or not, Hans?” Sam asked. “If you don’t, I’m sure I can find someone who does and you’re welcome to keep residing here as my guest.”

Honestly, Sam couldn’t care less who was king of Kyaine. It was convenient if it was someone he could control, if only so he didn’t have to worry about people sending armies after him again, but it wasn’t a matter of great importance to him. Even Henry, standing quietly outside the room, didn’t really care. The only reason this mattered to Sam at all was that it would be useful to have allies who were his allies, not Solomon’s. That, and it would be useful to get Hans out of his castle.

Hans’s silence mouldered for a long moment. “Very well,” he said, finally. “I will have my wizard examine this, and if once I’m certain you’ve not put poison or some mind control spell on it, I shall swallow it.”

Sam sighed. “Fine.” So long as he actually did it, that was fine. “Once you have, you can ready your army and leave to take Hawk’s Roost.”

“My army is hardly an army. Five hundred men, assuming they’re all still alive.”

“You’ll find more. I’ll lend you some, and I trust you to pick people up as you go west,” Sam said. “And besides, you only need enough to pacify one city. The gates will open for you.”

“And if I’m martially opposed?” Hans demanded. “The Fyrhawks have a great deal of military power.”

“I have a great deal of power too,” Sam said, irritated. Why didn’t Hans understand that he wasn’t the one doing any of this? “You’ll be fine.”

“I am staking everything on those promises, young man.”

Sam almost lashed out there, almost shouted. He wasn’t ‘young man,’ he was the king. “Take it from me, Hans. You don’t become a king without taking risks. Big rewards mean higher stakes. The faint of heart don’t make for good royalty.”

“I suppose not,” Hans grumbled. His chair scraped. “Very well. Until next time. Your Majesty.”

“Until then, your Majesty.” Sam smirked at Hans’s obvious non-reaction to that, remaining seated until Hans had opened and shut the door and he was alone.

Then Sam huffed, pushed himself to his feet, settling all his weight on his unhurt left leg. His right was still sore. Better now, but he still couldn’t walk properly on it. Henry insisted it would be fine in another few days as long as Sam didn’t do something stupid.

Sam managed to limp partway to the door before it opened, and Henry came in, already sighing. “What part of not walking…”

“From the chair to the door isn’t going to kill me,” Sam snapped, though he did let Henry support him, leaning on Henry. His ankle was throbbing. “He’s going to swallow the egg. Where’s Scott?”

“Waiting in the other room,” Henry said, guiding Sam. “Come on.”

“As if I have a choice.”

“You always have a choice, Sam.” Henry sighed. “You know what I found out?”

“I don’t care.”

“It’s almost your birthday.”

Sam scowled, nearly tripping when he stopped moving and Henry didn’t. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Nothing. I just thought maybe we could do something. The king’s birthday should be a celebration,” Henry said. “It’s the sort of thing that people like.”

“I…” Sam couldn’t help but make a face. “I honestly could care less. Hold a banquet if you want. I’m not going.”

“Let me guess, you’ve never celebrated your birthday?”

“A few times when I was a child. Saul and Sarah would give me toys and I’d get to tell the cooks what to make for dinner.” Sam tried to remember the last time they’d done that. Maybe five years ago. “I was a child. Even then I knew it wasn’t a big deal. I just liked being able to tell people what to do.”

“And it’s lost its lustre now that you can tell people what to do all the time?” Henry asked.

“I guess so. Do something if it makes you feel better about my sad childhood. I don’t care.”

“Alright,” Henry said. “He’s in here.”

Sam let Henry open the door, was assailed with the stench of Scott almost immediately. He really didn’t need Henry telling him he was in here. The door opening was enough to make that clear. “Hans has the eggs,” he told Scott, because talking helped him not gag.

“What a good little minion he is,” Scott chirped, voice just as grating as it always was, sounding like glass breaking and a thousand feet tapping against a string. “Now he just needs to put them in his mouth like an obedient little doggie and we’ll be in business.”

“He will,” Sam said. “What’s going on in Hawk’s Roost?”

“A lot. The price of bread’s gone up again. The cobblestones on Archer’s Way are cracked and need replacing, but it’ll be years before they get done. The inns on the west side of town all have an outbreak of black mould that…”

“What’s going on in Hawk’s Roost that I care about?” Sam interrupted. “You know what I mean, dammit.”

“You gotta be more specific when you give your demon pet orders, Sammy,” Scott chided. “It’s slip-ups like that that are going to get you eaten.”

“Answer the fucking question,” Sam said, resisting the urge to lean against Henry.

Scott giggled, a sound like a drill on brick. “Nothing much. King Stephan the Last is hosting a banquet that’s sure to go super well since at least one person is probably going to try and kill him. He’s just learned that his predecessor’s family is gathering up north and has thrown in with the Dolovin throne and he has enough rocks in his head to realize that’s a bad thing, especially since his little boyfriend is stuck up there. Which, I could have told him that, but did he ask me? Yes, actually, but it would have given the game away if I’d talked. He’s still looking for the little heir to the throne, who he can’t find because he’s not looking in Pelican Bay even though that’s where he is. But don’t worry, even if our pet king is bad at keeping an eye on the kid, I’m all over it. Oh, and Sparkles’s cousin is way too smart for his own good. You’ll want him out of the way if old Hans is going to take over.”

“Cousin?” Sam asked.

“You didn’t know?” Scott asked, knowing full well that Sam hadn’t known.

“Geoffrey DiSheere,” Henry said. “A cousin on my father’s side.”

“Who Sparkles has been writing secret letters to.”

Henry sighed. “I wrote to Geoffrey to convince them that Ech’kent was under control. So they wouldn’t feel compelled to interfere after your letter to Stephan convinced them that you didn’t want to deal with them.”

Sam rounded on Henry, wincing as his ankle protested. “And you didn’t tell me?” Why he was surprised at that at this point Sam didn’t know.

“It wasn’t important. If it became relevant I was going to. Geoffrey wrote back to me, I only got the letter after we came back. He thinks he can use me as a back channel to negotiate with you for the crown.”

“He’s wrong,” Sam said.

“I know, but it’s no benefit to tell him that.” Henry’s voice was even. “His lands are just outside of Ech’kent. It’s not the worst thing ever to have an ally nearby. One who has reason besides fear or greed to want to help us.”

“You think your cousin will help me out of what, familial loyalty to you?” Sam demanded. What the hell had Henry been thinking.

“It’s not impossible. I’ll work on it and let you know.”

“You’ll keep me updated as it happens,” Sam told him. “I don’t want you surprising me again.”

“Oh?” Henry asked, hand on Sam’s shoulder, hard. “Will I?”

“Yes, you will.” His voice was dangerous, like he was about to hit Sam. Sam ignored it. He was dangerous too.

“Okay.” And that was that—Henry sounded normal again.

“I can’t believe my parents are fighting, right in front of me,” Scott teased. “Did you guys need anything else, or can I go for my walk now?”

Sam thought about it a moment. “Go for your walk. Usual rules. I want to know as soon as Hans or his people swallow the eggs.”

“Got it, Sammy.” Scott breezed past him and Henry, somehow not touching Sam even though he came within a hair of it. “See you around.”

And he wandered off down the hall, humming off key.

“You shouldn’t let him wander around as much as that.”

“Whatever. He’s not allowed to do anything but look.”

“And talk.”

“Who the fuck would want to listen to him?” Sam asked, turning, a shoot of pain going up his leg. “Fuck.”

“What’s wrong?”

“My fucking leg hurts,” Sam growled. “What do you think is wrong?”

“Come on,” Henry muttered, supporting him again. “You need to rest.”

“Stop treating me like a child.”

“I’m treating you like someone who’s hurt and is too stubborn to take care of himself,” Henry said. “Now walk or I’ll carry you to bed.”

Sam sighed, let Henry walk him back to the room. “I’m serious,” he said after a minute. “About telling me things. Don’t keep secrets from me.”

“I didn’t think you’d care,” Henry explained.

“I probably wouldn’t have. But…you’re the only person I…trust not to hide things from me, Henry.” Sam was quiet for a second. “So don’t hide things from me.”

Henry was quiet too, the rest of the way back to the room. “Okay,” he finally said. “I won’t do it again. Promise.”

Sam snorted. “As if I’m just supposed to believe you.”

But he did. That was the problem, he did. All it had taken was a few days of Henry not hurting him, of Henry doing as he said again, doing what Sam told him to do and Sam…

Actually, had Henry ever stopped doing as Sam told him to? Except for the collar, Sam wasn’t sure he could remember Henry not doing things Sam had told him to do.

And as he realized that, Sam fell quiet, suddenly thinking hard about Henry and the collar and kingship.

He didn’t have an answer yet—Sam didn’t even really have a question. But by the end of the day, he was finally starting to feel like he was getting somewhere.

Chapter Text

When Henry had pushed Sam onto the bed and started to take his clothes off, Sam hadn’t bothered fighting. There was no point and it hardly hurt anyway. Letting Henry have his fun made him go away for a while, giving Sam some space to think.

Henry grunted as he pounded into Sam, not as hard as he could have been. Maybe he was distracted too, only doing this to remind Sam he could and not because he was actually interested. Either way, he kept Sam pinned to the bed on his back, cock sliding in and out of Sam for a good while. Sam judged it had been maybe half an hour since they’d started.

But finally Henry came one last time, pushing Sam into the mattress and pulling out to cum on his belly. Then, as Sam just tried to get his breath back, Henry got up. “Want me to clean you up?”

“I’ll do it,” Sam grated, sitting even though he didn’t want to. He used a blanket to do it. The sheets would need to be changed anyway, and he’d have a bath after.

“Okay,” Henry said, his presence leaving the bed as he stood and dressed. Sam cleaned all the cum off his belly and from between his legs, and had just started to stretch out his arms to stand up when Henry came back. He put his hand on Sam’s cheek and just held it there.

“What?” Sam asked, waiting for the rest of it. Whatever the rest of it was today. A hit, an insult, a kiss.

“Nothing. I’m going for a bit.”

Sam wished that didn’t bother him. “Where?”

“Just have to get something. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Huffing, Sam brushed his hand away. “Whatever. Don’t expect me to miss you.”

“I don’t. I miss you, though.”

“What…” Sam scowled now. “I’m right fucking here.”

“I know.” Henry gave a chuckle. “I’ll be back.” His presence receded, headed for the door. “Todd and Derek should be coming by to clean the room in a minute or so. Go easy on them.”

“Why?”

Henry just chuckled again and opened the door, closing it again and leaving Sam alone. Sam sighed, slumping as he sat on the edge of the bed. “Goddammit,” he muttered, rubbing at his face. He was so tired.

Whatever, he didn’t have time to be tired. Sam didn’t actually have anything to do, but Hans had left with his people this morning, and it made him feel restless, like he should be doing something.

He should be figuring out how to do something about the shadow creature, Sam thought. Or about Isaac and James. He probably shouldn’t be thinking of them together, they were separate problems. Okay, so three problems. One more pressing than the others.

Three people more powerful than he was who he wanted dead. Maybe he should pit them against each other. Get the shadow to kill Isaac and James—it wanted the stones they were in proximity to, after all—and hope they weakened it somehow so that Sam could kill it. It needed refining, but it might work, actually.

It was just a matter of how to do that without making it seem like that was what he was doing. Sam took a breath, stood to go to the bath. He’d think better in there. He needed the privy as well.

The door clicked open as he stood, quiet footfalls entering the room. “One of you draw me a bath,” he said, since they were there. “And stay quiet while you clean up. I’m trying to think.”

“Told you,” Sam heard Todd mutter. He probably thought he was being quiet. “He’s got that collar on.”

Sam froze, but only on the inside. He made himself turn to face them, coming around the side of the bed. “Did you not hear me? I want a bath.”

“He doesn’t have his magic,” Todd said, louder this time.

“Todd, don’t,” Derek said. “Just go fill the bath and I’ll change the sheets.”

“Fuck that.” Todd’s plodding footsteps moved closer, approaching Sam. “He can…he can change his own fucking sheets. He…”

“He’s still your king, you fuckhead,” Derek said, some venom in his voice as he got closer as well, flesh on flesh and the cessation of footsteps suggesting he’d grabbed Todd.

“Listen to Derek,” Sam warned. He could hear his heart pounding. How had he figured it out? Henry. Henry had probably told him. “Listen to someone smarter than you for once in your useless life, Todd.”

Derek made a sound and then Sam was struck in the face, stepping back and tasting blood as he brought his hand up. That had hurt. Not much, but enough. “Oh, you little…”

“What are you going to do?” Todd demanded. He gave Sam a shove. “Call the guards outside? Let them come in and see you? They’d team up with us and you know it.”

Todd hit Sam in the stomach and Sam doubled over, fell to his knees. “You’re going to regret this…”

“You can’t do shit to me,” Todd hissed. “You do and I’ll tell the whole castle you have no powers. Then what’ll happen to the Sorcerer King, huh?”

“Todd, you’ve made your point. Stop,” Derek pleaded.

Goddammit. Todd was right. Whatever he was going to do, Sam couldn’t stop him or he’d risk losing everything. Henry couldn’t have done this—he’d lose everything too. Which meant it wasn’t some game; Henry wasn’t going to come put a stop to this. Fuck, fuck.

“Oh, no,” Todd snarled, grabbing Sam’s hair. “I’m just starting to make my point. Watch, Derek, the king’s going to suck my dick to make sure I don’t tell anyone he’s powerless. And then he’s going to say ‘thank you’ after he’s done, isn’t he? Sam?”

Sam didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. He couldn’t do this. Not with Todd. It would be fine if it were anyone else. He could live through it with Henry. Even one of his guards, even, maybe even Derek. But Todd…Todd wasn’t even a person, he was just a thing that Sam stuck his cock in sometimes to bother Henry.

Another tug on his hair. “Oh look, he’s going to cry. I asked you a question, bitch,” Todd said. His dick was pressing against Sam’s mouth.

“Todd…”

Sam was not going to cry. He wasn’t going to do this. He would…

Sam would rather die.

So Sam opened his mouth, let Todd slide his dick inside. And then bit down hard, making Todd scream, pull back. There was blood in Sam’s mouth.

Sam surged upwards, hitting Todd in the stomach, in the chest, taking his legs out from under him and knocking him on his back. And Sam climbed on top of him with an animalistic cry and started to hit him, over and over, on his head, his face, his shoulders, until Sam’s hands were bleeding and Todd was wailing. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry, please…”

Sam sat up, trying to contain his rage. “You’re fucking lucky I don’t have my powers so I can’t rape you with your own femur,” he growled at Todd. “Did you imagine, did you imagine for a fucking second that having magic was what made me stronger than you? That I needed magic to be better than you?”

“I…I…”

Sam hit him again, and he crawled up Todd, straddling him. He fed his cock into Todd’s mouth, not waiting for Todd to do anything. Beating on Todd had made him hard, and he just started fucking Todd’s mouth, wet with blood. “I am the fucking king, you piece of shit,” he said as he did, shaking all over. “You’re just a hole for me to put my cock in, and nothing’s ever going to change that.”

Todd was choking on him, but Sam didn’t care. He kept going, ramming into Todd until he was ready, then he came, pushing as deep into Todd’s mouth as the angle allowed for. Todd swallowed, or tried to. He ended up coughing most of it up.

Sam stayed like that, until his breathing evened out, until he stopped shaking, daring Todd to try and move or escape for fight back. He didn’t. Sam relaxed a little, and let his bladder go, pissing right down Todd’s throat. Todd coughed again, choked, and this time Sam pulled out, emptying his bladder all over Todd’s face.

Only then did he stand up. Sam kicked Todd’s side. “Say it.”

“Th-thank you, your Majesty,” Todd slurred, voice garbled.

“Tell me who I am.”

“You’re the k-king.”

“And tell me what you are.”

“I’m a piece of shit,” Todd sobbed.

“You’re right, for once,” Sam said. He held out his hand, addressed Derek, who’d remained quiet. Smart. “Get me the knife that’s in the drawer of my bedside table.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Derek said, scurrying over. He came back a second later, pressed it into Sam’s hand. “Um…your Majesty. I know now is a bad time, but may I ask a favour?”

A favour? That was awfully bold of him considering he’d done nothing to help Sam a second ago. But then, Sam would have killed him if he had. He held out the knife again. “Cut your ear off.”

Derek took the knife without a word, and Sam heard him make a soft noise. “Could I use a sharper knife, your Majesty? This one’s very dull and it will take a long time.”

Sam smirked, held out his hand. “Nevermind.” Derek didn’t sound scared. He wasn’t a coward—he’d stayed quiet before because he was smart. He’d known that was a test, not a real request. “What favour? I’m busy.”

“I…” Derek took a breath and put the knife back in Sam’s hand. “I know you’re angry with Todd. But if you’ll let me I’ll take responsibility for him. I’d like to punish him for you.”

Sam considered. His initial thought was that Derek was too much of a coward to punish anyone properly. But at the same time, Sam didn’t hear anything but determination in his voice. He was a lot more opportunistic than Sam had given him credit for. And he’d have cut off his ear if Sam had really wanted him to. And he’d been Todd’s inferior for a long time. Sam remembered the humiliation, the burning feeling that had been worse than pain, when Henry had first put this collar on his neck. He remembered how that had felt, how awful it had been. He’d been thinking about castrating Todd, but maybe this was better.

He smiled. “Fine. He’s your problem now. Start right now--make sure he cleans up this room. I expect it spotless before I get back. Don’t you dare lift a finger to help him.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Derek said, sounding pleased with himself. “I’ll let you get back to what you were doing.”

Sam turned around without a word and left the room, not bothering to dress. He wrapped the anger he’d been feeling before around him instead, wearing it like armour. It was his fucking castle. He was the king. Even without his powers, he was the fucking king. “Where’s Henry?” Sam demanded to the guards outside.

“He…” Sam must have been even more frightful than he’d realized, because the guard sounded terrified.

“Answer the fucking question.”

“I don’t know! I’m sorry, your Majesty! He said you’d know where to find him.”

Sam frowned, quiet for a second, considering the weight of the knife in his hand. “I do,” he said, and he turned in that direction.

His ankle still hurt a little, but Sam ignored it, walking confidently and with wide steps. A few servants ran out of his way as he went, and all of them were smart enough to be quiet about it. Sam trod the familiar path, trying to keep hold of enough of his anger, enough of his conviction, that he could get all the way to where he was going.

He was Henry’s king as much as anyone’s. It was high time he reminded Henry of that.

The stone was cold against Sam’s bare feet, the air chill against his skin, but Sam ignored it as he entered the dungeons, went without hesitation to the third cell, pushed the door open. “What the fuck are you doing in here?”

“Waiting for you,” Henry said, feet scuffling.

“You could have waited for me in the goddammed hallway.”

“Maybe I felt like being dramatic.”

“I’ve had enough of your performances,” Sam told him, taking a step forward. “I don’t appreciate your teaching methods.”

“I didn’t appreciate yours either,” Henry answered. “But I appreciated the lessons.”

Of course. Of course that was what this was all about. Sam had been right. “I get it, okay?” Sam demanded. “I understand.” He did. He understood what Henry’s point was with all this. He understood what Henry was doing.

“What do you understand?”

“Henry, I don’t want to play any more games.”

“Then tell me what you understand, Sam.”

Sam sighed, knife hanging limply at his side. “Magic isn’t what makes me the king. There’s more than one kind of power. People can respect me without fearing me. I need the support of people to stay in charge no matter how powerful I am. Take your pick.”

“Do you actually believe any of that?” Henry asked, coming closer. Sam could feel his cloak of anger starting to melt. “Or are you just saying it because it’s what I want to hear?”

“I do,” Sam said, taking a deep breath. “I do believe it. And I get it. It’s what you’ve been trying to make me understand this whole time. Not just since the collar. And I wouldn’t listen to you. This was the only way you could make me listen to you.”

Henry snorted, touched Sam’s cheek like he had in the bedroom. It felt like days ago. “You never listen to me. This was the only way I could get you to figure it out on your own, because as long as I was telling you, you’d never agree.”

“Why are you so invested in me being a good king?” Sam asked, shaking his head.

“Because Ech’kent deserves one.”

“It doesn’t have to be me. It could have been you. Why not just kill me? Don’t give me that bullshit about me being the source of your power. That’s only true now. You could win the castle over, win the plateau over. Why didn’t you?”

“Because I need you,” Henry told him, quiet. “Not for the power or the status—though I do. But just…I need you. I do. I can’t picture my life without you in it, Sam. I think I’d go crazy. I think I’d kill myself.”

“That’s stupid,” Sam said. But…Sam tried to imagine his life without Henry, tried to imagine what he’d do, how he’d rule, how he’d get by, who he’d talk to, how he’d… Just imaging it made his stomach hurt. He’d thought about killing Henry more times than he could remember in the last few weeks, but the thought of actually doing it—of living with the consequences of it—made him sick. “But me too. Here.” He lifted the knife, pressed it against Henry’s chest. “I don’t need it. I don’t need protection from you.”

Henry covered Sam’s hand in his, but didn’t take the knife yet. “Of course you do. I’ve hurt you more than anyone you know.”

“And I’m sure you’ll keep doing it,” Sam said, shivering a little. It was chilly down here. “And I’ll keep hurting you too. It’s what we do. I’m saying I’m not going to try and stop you.” Henry was the only person Sam was willing to let hurt him.

“Neither will I,” Henry promised. “You’re going to be a good king, Sam.”

“I know. I have a good advisor.”

Henry was quiet for a second, and then he took the knife from Sam, leaving him defenceless. “Not how I pictured this happening.”

“How did you picture it?” Sam wasn’t sure why he cared. He wasn’t sure what he was doing. He was just standing here now, naked in the dungeon.

“More romantic, I guess?”

Sam made a face. Of course Henry would decide to be an idiot now. “Can you…will you take the collar off? Please?”

“Sure.” Henry’s hand came up to Sam’s neck. “All you had to do was ask.” They key was in his hand. He must have hidden it down here. Sam never would have thought to search for it in the dungeon.

There was a stone clink as the key tapped against the metal on the front of the collar, and Henry reached around Sam’s neck, unclasping it, and Sam was free.

And it came back, his power, in a wave that excoriated Sam’s skin, making him stumble forward. Henry caught him and Sam clutched his arms, sorcery clattering through his body in palpitations that felt like claws inside his skin, a thumping against his brain. Sam felt Henry wrap his arms around him, holding him there as he rode it out.

The floor was shaking—the whole castle was shaking, his power finding itself an outlet as Sam tried to control it. He let Henry hold him in place while everything else moved, and Sam could hear his heart beating. He was holding the stone, Sam realized. It was clawing out too, making it all the worse, trying to bring the castle down. Sam couldn’t fight it and his own power at the same time.

So, remembering some idiotic thing that he’d been told, he didn’t. Instead, he focused on Henry’s heartbeat, coaxing his power to resonate like that, to work with him instead of trying to kill him.

It worked. The clawing stopped, Sam’s power returning to something like normal. The castle stopped moving, or at least stopped moving so much. It still rumbled.

“Now who’s being dramatic?” Henry muttered.

Sam laughed, holding Henry tighter. It was back. His power was back. He felt normal again. Tears were running down Sam’s face and he tried to say something that came out a sob. Then he just started to cry, holding Henry as that took him over, the tears making him shake as much as the castle had been. It felt like everything he wanted to do and feel and say was coming out all at once and he just stood there, hugging Henry and crying like an idiot for he didn’t even know how long.

Finally the sobs passed, leaving Sam feeling gross and weak. But with Henry holding him he didn’t even care. “Thank you.” The castle shook again, lightly.

“Don’t thank me, asshole. I’m the one who did it to you in the first place.”

Sam swallowed, getting a hold on himself. “Take off your clothes.”

“What, right now?”

“Just fucking do it, Henry.”

Henry chuckled. “Okay, Sam.” He stood back, and Sam heard him taking them off. “I should have known you’d want to put things right. Maybe I should have done this in the bedroom.”

Sam grabbed his wrist, pulling Henry down onto the cold floor. “I want you to fuck me again.”

Henry was quiet for a second. “Why?”

“Because I do,” Sam insisted. “Because I can want whatever I want and it doesn’t mean a damn thing except that I want it.”

“Right,” Henry laughed. “Okay, then.” He knelt down, moving until his body covered Sam’s, hands on Sam’s shoulders. “Don’t complain later.”

Sam put his arms around Henry’s neck, his back cold against the floor. “I won’t if you do it properly,” he said, stomach fluttering strangely.

“You have my word.” Henry kissed Sam, and Sam kissed back, and they kept kissing, holding each other, as Henry pressed against Sam, pressed inside, filled him. The castle shook again, the aftereffects of Sam’s power still moving.

Henry fucked Sam slowly on the dungeon floor, and Sam didn’t urge him to go any faster. He just let it happen, let himself enjoy it, let Henry hold him and touch him. And Sam let himself admit that he liked that, that he liked this.

That he liked Henry.

“Ah, fuck, Henry…” Sam moaned after a little while, his back rubbed raw on the stone. He didn’t care, he was starting to cum.

“Yeah,” Henry grunted. “I know, Sam. I know…”

Sam came with a cry, holding Henry tight and kissing him deeply. Henry kept going, driving deep into Sam and shooting inside him with a content sigh.

When it was done, Henry pulled out and lay back on the floor, and Sam lay on Henry’s chest, Henry’s arm around him. “Weren’t you worried?” Sam asked after a few moments of quiet.

“Worried about what?”

“About me,” Sam said. “That I’d kill you or just…lock you back up in here after you took the collar off. You did it without even flinching. You weren’t even scared.”

Henry shifted his grip on Sam, holding him closer. “I knew when I put the collar on you that it could end that way, yeah. I figured you’d probably kill me.”

“But you did it anyway. And you took it off anyway.”

“It was worth the risk. Besides, you didn’t kill me. Why not?”

“I don’t know,” Sam muttered. “Because I knew you were right. Because I knew I deserved it. Because I like you.” None of those felt like the real reason to Sam, but he said them anyway.

“I like you too,” Henry said. He kissed the top of Sam’s head.

“Why? It’s not like I’m pleasant to be around.”

“Who knows. It’s not like you to care about this.”

“Maybe I’m changing.”

Henry’s chest rumbled, rising and falling as he laughed quietly. “Maybe you are. It’s cold down here.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Sam wasn’t cold, here on Henry’s chest.

“We should go upstairs. You don’t even have any clothes to wear.”

“No,’ Sam said, putting an arm around Henry’s chest. “Not yet.”

“Why not?”

Sam didn’t know. He felt weird. “I just don’t want to yet,” he said. “If we go upstairs we’ll have to…I don’t know, it’s stupid. Be us again.”

“It’s not stupid,” Henry said, sighing. “We can stay here for as long as you want.”

“I’d like that.” Sam took a deep breath, and just lay there with Henry for a while in the dungeon. It was…nice.

Sam was happy.

Chapter Text

“If we reduce recruitment for your guard by half, we can afford to fix most of the roads in Ech’kent without taking too much a hit.”

Sam sighed. “It’s not that easy.”

“You don’t need a military force the size of yours, Sam,” Henry insisted. “You just don’t. Especially when they don’t do anything.”

“They’re guarding the plateau, Henry,” Sam said, tapping the table. “They’re keeping peace. They’re keeping people out.”

“You know that more of your guards have died this year because of you and I than because of people trying to kill us?” Henry asked.

“Well, let’s stop killing them and then we won’t need to recruit so much.” Sam snorted. “Besides, what are people supposed to do for a living if we don’t give them weapons? Rebel against me? Seems like the only other option.”

“They could build roads for us,” Henry suggested.

“And once the roads are built? You want me to just endlessly rebuild the same roads?” Sam demanded.

“Well, it’s one way to launder money,” Henry said. “But no, once the roads are built we’re going to lower taxes.”

“Why are we lowering taxes?”

“Because they’re too high. The builders will have to find other jobs.”

“Maybe in the guard.”

“Maybe not.” Henry sighed. “There’s got to be a better way to keep Ech’kent secure without wasting all our money on it.”

“There’s dragons in the mountains,” Sam muttered, leaning back in his chair. “I could put leashes on them. Or I could make Scott do it. Henry, I don’t care about this. Why are you making me talk about this?”

Sam was free, he was himself again, and he could do whatever he wanted. But instead of doing whatever he wanted, he was sitting in some stupid room listening to Henry read reports and talking about taxes and roads.

“Because,” Henry said. “This is the sort of thing that kings talk about, and you don’t know anything about it.”

“To be clear, just because I didn’t kill you for collaring me and just because I’ve decided I like you doesn’t mean you get to dictate my life for me, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that suddenly I’m going to be King Sam the Friendly and give a free puppy to everyone in the plateau.”

“I’m not asking you to hand out dogs, I’m asking you to build roads, lower taxes, and stop recruiting two-thirds of the plateau’s men into unnecessarily working for you. Also, hire some women, would you? It looks bad.”

“And what do I get in exchange for doing any of that?” Sam sneered.

“A kingdom that runs smoothly, people who don’t hate you and a smaller number of armed assholes who’ll support whoever comes along to unseat you at the end of the day?” Henry asked.

Oh. “Put that way, your point is…a little more compelling,” Sam admitted. The guards in the castle had for the most part supported him over Solomon, after all. He had no reason to assume they wouldn’t support the next guy—be it Henry or someone else. “Fine. Call for a temporary reduction on recruiting, just for a few months. Use the money to build roads or whatever.”

“I’ll be sure to relay how invested you are in the project to the people,” Henry muttered. “Anyway, they should be happy. Between that and the higher price we’re buying grain at, they should be happy. Oh, and the feasts.”

“Feasts?” Sam scowled. Henry had made some comment about his birthday before, hadn’t he? “I said I’d put up with a birthday thing, Henry, but I’m not having multiple of them.”

“No, just the one for your birthday next week—it’s a secret, by the way, you don’t know I’m planning it for you.”

“Then why are you telling me?” Sam hated secrets, so it was for the better that Henry did.

“Because you hate secrets. Just pretend you didn’t know if you end up giving a speech or something.”

Sam had no intention whatsoever of giving a speech of any kind. “You want me to pretend to be ignorant of what’s happening in my own castle?”

“I want you to pretend to be surprised that we spent money on having a feast for you. You’re concerned about the plateau’s finances,” Henry explained.

“I’m really not. Are the plateau’s finances that bad?”

“We could stand to start trading with the east again. Which might be easier after Hans takes over, but I could also write to Geoffrey about it.”

Sam really didn’t care about that. “I’ll think about it. Why is it feasts plural?”

“After the birthday feast I figured we’d wait maybe a few weeks, have a wedding feast,” Henry said, shuffling some papers.

Sam frowned again. “A wedding feast? Who’s getting married?”

“Uh…” Henry trailed off for a second. “Well, us?”

“Us?” Sam snorted. “Sure, Henry. That seems like something we’d do.”

“But, we…” Henry sounded confused. “Wait, what?”

“What the fuck are you talking about, Henry?” Sam demanded. He’d spent so long coming to learn how clever Henry was that Sam had forgotten how dumb he could be. “You want to get married?” Sam supposed it wouldn’t be the worst idea politically, especially if people were using the name of House Arkhewer to rebel against him. But it was stupid.

“We already did, Sam.”

“When in the world do you…” Sam just sighed, calming down. “Just tell me what the fuck you’re talking about, Henry, I’m not in the mood for games.”

“You gave me back the knife, remember?” Henry asked. “In the dungeon.” He sounded legitimately upset.

“Yes, of course I remember.”

“You said you didn’t need it anymore.”

“Yes. The point?”

“You gave it to me in the first place,” Henry said, as if this was obvious. “And then I gave it to you, and you gave it back…oh, my God. You…you don’t know.” He must have been reading something in Sam’s expression. “You didn’t know. I thought you knew.”

“Thought I knew what?” Sam demanded.

“It’s a marriage ritual. You give someone a knife to court them,” Henry said. “Then they give it back if they want to marry you, and you give it back again to say yes. You…I just thought you weren’t saying anything because you’re…you. I didn’t think you…”

Sam was quiet, thinking of the knife, how it had passed between them. And how Henry had put it on the mantle when they’d gotten back to their rooms after like it meant something. He felt his heartbeat slowing down. “Do you mean to tell me that…when I hid that knife your clothes in the dungeon…”

“I thought you were trying to court me.”

“I was trying to torture you!” Sam said, raising his voice. The chairs shook. His power was still not entirely under control. Working with it was harder than it seemed. “I was trying to goad you into doing something dumb! Why would you have thought…”

“Because you’re fucked up?” Henry asked, sounding lost. “I thought you had some weird twisted affection for me that you couldn’t say because you were so wrapped up in your layers of emotional repression or something! I thought it was part of your messed up game. I…” He let out something between a hiss and a sigh. “It never occurred to me that you didn’t know.”

Sam made a noise in the back of his throat. “Why would I know about some stupid Ech’kent custom?”

“I don’t know.”

“So…” Sam was still trying to figure this out. Married. He was married to Henry. Stuck to him, forever. “To be clear. You thought I wanted to court you. And then you put a collar on me, beat me, raped me and terrified me, then asked me to marry you.”

“Yeah. When you say it like that it sounds stupid, doesn’t it?” Henry snorted. “Dammit. Whatever, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a silly ritual, we don’t have to…”

“Hold on,” Sam interrupted, standing up. Hand on the table, he moved around until he was close to Henry, who was also standing. His husband. His. “I don’t…hate this idea.”

“What does that mean?” Henry asked quietly.

Sam put a hand on his chest, felt Henry’s heartbeat, felt his own magic. It meant they were together forever. It meant they were united. And it was kind of a nice ritual. It was simple. “A king should have a consort, right?” Sam asked.

Henry was quiet a second. “Yeah,” he said. “Most of them do.”

Sam let out a quiet breath, just feeling Henry’s heart. It was new, weird. But once Sam got past the immediate anger that he hadn’t known, that this had come out of nowhere, his hatred of surprises…it was nice. He didn’t mind it. He got up on his toes and kissed Henry. “If I have to marry someone, I’m glad it’s you.”

Henry covered Sam’s hand with his own. “Me too. I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else.”

“Good. Saves me having to murder them in front of you. Arrange the wedding feast. And if there are any other weird rituals you have, I want to know about them.”

“It’s normal to burn some of our possessions at the feast,” Henry said.

“That sounds like fun. Let’s burn Todd.”

“Doesn’t quite work that way.”

“Hey, it’s my wedding feast, I should at least be allowed to have fun,” Sam protested.

Henry laughed, removing Sam’s hand from his chest and kissing it. “We’ll figure out a compromise. Come on, let’s keep talking about this instead of taxes.”

“Where are we going?” Sam asked, as Henry guided him out of the room.

“I don’t know. A walk.”

“Fine,” Sam muttered, letting Henry hold his hand. “I’m definitely not giving a speech for the wedding.”

“Really? I think the story of how we met is a good one.”

Sam laughed at that. He was unused to this. Enjoying himself just because he was. It was something he’d been doing a lot of the past few days. It was strange.

And like some other changes in his life lately, Sam didn’t hate it.

Chapter Text

“Of course, my townspeople were overjoyed at the banquet thrown at home too,” the woman said to Sam. “Rare indeed to see a king give gifts for his birthday rather than expecting them from his people.”

Sam smiled. This woman was the leader of the town called Zegid in the Plateau’s northeast. He didn’t know her name. “I didn’t want any gifts. I have a lot of stuff already, as you’ve probably noticed.” He waited for both her and the man with her to laugh politely. “But the plateau-wide banquet was Henry’s idea, not mine.”

“Well, I’ll have to thank him for that,” the woman said.

“Make sure you do,” Sam told her. “He’d be happy to know his gift was appreciated.”

“Very much so,” said the man. He was the magistrate of a town named Henth, also in the east. Whether it was actually big enough to warrant a magistrate Sam wondered, but he hadn’t asked. “I think with you and him in the castle here, we can count on a new prosperity in Ech’kent.”

Sam tried not to sigh. At least these two spoke Kyn, so he didn’t need a translator. Henry was going to teach him Chez’n soon, he said. “I hope so. I’m the first to admit that Solomon wasn’t a good king. We’re better off without him.”

A measure of tension suddenly evaporated. “Quite so,” the man said. Sam didn’t know his name either. Henry had told him all the village leaders’ names before the party, but Sam didn’t remember any of them because he didn’t fucking care. “I think we’re all…pleased to know that you don’t intend to follow in your father’s footsteps, your Majesty.”

“What happened in Endlyn wouldn’t have had to happen if he’d been more willing to listen to the people’s wishes,” Sam lied. He knew that everyone in this room was thinking about what had happened in Endlyn. “I intend to avoid any further insurrection by actually being a good king instead of a terrible one.”

They laughed at that as though it were a joke. That as fine. Sam really wished he didn’t have to talk to them anymore. He had a headache and the presence of so many people in proximity was making his power skittish. Though it had been skittish before that—he was just on edge today, feeling like something was going to happen.

Just as he was thinking that he couldn’t handle this much longer, a hand touched his back. “Excuse me,” Henry said, the fake charm in his voice slightly nauseating. “I need to borrow the birthday boy for a second.”

“Please don’t call me that,” Sam said, trying not to sigh. That was the fourth time Henry had done that. He wasn’t a child.

“Sorry, your Majesty,” Henry said, mocking. “Excuse us.”

“Of course, Lord Henry. Happy Birthday, your Majesty,” the woman said, and Henry finally took him away from them.

“They’re still alive,” Henry teased.

“The next person you plant me in front of had better be Todd,” Sam growled. “Because I’m going to eviscerate whoever it is. I can’t do this anymore. It’s driving me insane. If the whole point is that my birthday should be fun, then I shouldn’t have to deal with all these people and not kill any of them. It’s not fair.”

Sam felt better just having said that.

“I can’t put you in front of Todd,” Henry said. “He’s in our room.”

“Why?” Sam made a face.

“I had Derek tie him to the bed for you when you get back. A birthday present.” Henry kissed Sam’s cheek.

Sam giggled. “Aw, thanks, Henry. Remember when you used to think you could protect him?”

Henry snorted. “He tried to rape you. Besides, maybe this is me protecting him.”

“I can’t imagine he thinks of it that way,” Sam said. Someone came up and muttered to Henry, and Sam frowned. “What?”

“Thanks,” Henry said, sending the messenger off. “We should probably go see Daisy.”

“Why?”

“She’s in labour.”

“What?” Sam felt himself scowl just at the idea. “Who’s making her labour? She’s pregnant, she can’t do anything.” What kind of work could a pregnant woman even do?

“Sam, pregnancy isn’t an infirmity,” Henry said. “But that’s not what I mean. She’s having the baby.”

Sam stopped walking. “What, now?”

“Yeah, pretty much right now. She’s been working at it all day, but that message was from the midwife. Seems like it’ll be any minute now. Do you want to be there?”

“Of course I don’t want to be there!” Sam said, perhaps slightly more loudly than necessary. There was someone in the castle having a baby right now and Sam didn’t know what to do with that. Soon he was going to have a sibling and he didn’t know what to do with that either. “Are men even allowed when that’s happening?”

Henry snorted a laugh. “It’s not some magical ritual, Sam. And you are the king. You don’t want to meet the baby?”

“It’s…a baby,” Sam explained. “It can’t talk. It’s not going to know I’m there. It’s just going to cry at me. Why would I want to meet—” Sam cut himself off as suddenly a wave of power crashed into him from nowhere, nearly knocking him from his feet. The world felt like it was spinning.

“Woah,” Henry said, catching him. “You okay?”

“Fine,” Sam muttered, letting Henry help him stand. “There’s something wrong.”

“What?”

“I don’t know.” Sam wished there weren’t people around. There were so many people. That power, whatever had caused that wave, it was in the castle, somewhere. Thrumming, as if ready to attack him again. Sam let his own power crawl, protecting him from it. “There’s something in the castle.”

“Should I call the guards, or…”

“No, it’s sorcerous,” Sam said. “Feels a bit like me. I think it’s one of my family.” Saul or Sarah couldn’t have shown up, could they have? They’d have to be stupid. Maybe Sylvia? If she’d heard Solomon had died…

Henry went still, hand on Sam’s back. “What do you want to do?”

“I’m going to find it,” Sam said, heading for the door. “I want to know who it is.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“No,” Sam said.

“Sam.”

“You need to go get the collar,” Sam told him. “And bring it to me. It’ll take me a few minutes to find where it’s coming from.” In case it was someone who wanted to hurt him, he wanted a backup plan.

They left the banquet hall, some muttering behind them. Sam didn’t care. “Okay,” Henry said. “Please don’t do anything crazy before I get there.”

“I’ll do whatever I want. It’s my birthday.” Sam gave Henry a shove. “Go.” And Sam himself went, in the opposite direction, towards where he could feel that wellspring of sorcerous power.

The closer Sam got to it the more he was sure it was someone from his clan. He couldn’t tell them apart just by feeling their magic, especially not when he hadn’t been near any of them for years, but it was one of them. It was just similar enough to his own, to Solomon’s that it was unmistakable. There was no way Saul had gotten here from the northern capital, so it wasn’t him.

Sam didn’t know where Sarah was even after searching through Solomon’s materials. It could he her. Maybe Solomon had told her to come back at an appointed time. Maybe she’d heard he was dead. Maybe she was here to kill Sam. Sam was more powerful than her, he was sure. He had the stone with him.

Maybe it was Sylvia. Sam didn’t know what he would do if it was Sylvia. He only remembered her vaguely, an idea more than a person. He’d been little when she’d left, fled, not sent away. He barely remembered her but he remembered liking her, feeling safe with her. He remembered being devastated when he’d realized she’d left—and not taken him. She’d left him behind, with Solomon. Why hadn’t she taken him?

Would Sylvia attack him? Did she remember him fondly? Was she here to kill the Sorcerer King? Sam had no way of knowing and no way to know what to do until he did.

He got closer and closer, focusing on the power as best he could, not letting it overwhelm him. It felt like it was trying to swallow him, to grab him. Servants moved out of his way, clearing his path. He ended up travelling in a circle for a minute, but finally he found it, up a level, around this corner, down that hall, behind this door…

Behind this door. He could hear crying.

“Sam.”

Henry sounded out of breath. Sam was too. “In here,” Sam said. “If you see an opportunity to collar her…”

“Sam, this is Daisy’s room.”

Sam stopped short. “What?”

“This is Daisy’s room, Sam,” Henry repeated. “Listen, you can hear the baby.”

Sam listened. He’d never heard a baby before, but the crying didn’t sound like a person. “Why the fuck…”

He pushed the door open, the power inside calling him.

“You can’t be in—your Majesty!” A woman, the midwife. Sam ignored her. “The baby’s healthy, your Majesty. She…”

Sam’s knees knocked against the bed and Henry steadied him so he didn’t fall. He put a hand near the crying, found Daisy’s arm, moved up, his power vibrating like it never had before. The crying was so loud. “She’s not very happy,” Daisy said, sounding tired. “She’s had a bit of a hard day.”

Sam’s hand touched blankets, and he slid it up, found skin, crusty with something, damp in places. The baby stopped crying immediately.

Sam’s power was vibrating so fast, so much. And at nearly the same frequency as the baby’s. His had changed, and so had hers as they got closer together. “Give it to me,” Sam said in a voice barely more than a whisper.

“Of…of course, your Majesty. Here…” Daisy raised the baby, and Sam tried to take it in his hands.

“God, Sam, you can’t hold a baby like that,” Henry said, and he moved Sam’s arms, making it so the baby was resting in the crook of his elbow. Sam lifted the baby up, moved aside the blankets, put his hand on her chest.

His power snapped, and so did hers, the vibrations synchronizing until they were the same. Sam felt his power all over him, but instead of clawing, tearing like it did, it was flowing, moving like water or air over his skin and inside his bones.

“Sam?” Henry asked. Sam had been standing there for a few minutes now.

“What’s her name?” Sam asked Daisy.

“I…if there’s a name you like, your Majesty…”

“You’re her mother,” Sam said. “What’s her name?”

“I’d hoped to name her Delilah.”

“Fine,” Sam said, feeling the baby’s power, his power, everywhere. “Delilah.” Sam could feel her little heartbeat, racing like she’d run for miles. She was so powerful. So…small. She might threaten him someday, like all the others. He should kill her now, before she could do anything. Before she could…

“Take her,” Sam said, thrusting the baby back into Daisy’s arms.

“Your Majesty?” Daisy asked, but Sam was turning away, fleeing the room.

He stood out in the hallway, hands balled, breathing, trying to calm down. The baby had started crying again. The door opened behind him. “Sam?”

“She’s a sorcerer,” Sam said to Henry, as he came out, put his hands on Sam’s shoulders. “She’s going to be powerful, like me. I felt…connected to her. I still feel connected to her.”

“That’s a normal way to feel about a baby,” Henry said calmly. “It’s human instinct to want to take care of an infant.”

“No,” Sam said, almost shaking Henry off, but not. He liked Henry’s hands there. His husband. Connected to him, forever. It was a comfort. “Not like that. Our power is connected. Mine surged when I held her. It reacted when she was born. I feel different. I feel stronger. But different.”

“What does that mean?” Henry asked. “That doesn’t sound like just because you’re from the same clan.”

“It’s not,” Sam said. “I don’t understand. I…I thought about killing her. That’s why I gave her back and left. I thought about killing her before she can grow up and threaten me. She will.”

“Why?”

“I did.”

“Solomon gave you a good reason to grow up and threaten him,” Henry said. “Maybe you could just not give her one?”

“It doesn’t work that way,” Sam said, wishing Henry understood.

“Why not?”

Sam didn’t have an answer for that. He turned around, let Henry hold him, resting his head on Henry’s chest. “I should kill her,” he said. “But…it feels like I’d be killing part of myself.”

“Then don’t kill her,” Henry said, holding him.

Sam was quiet a minute. “Okay. But if she kills me it’s your fault.”

Henry snorted. “Okay. You should go back in there for a bit.”

“I’m not…”

“You scared Daisy,” Henry said. “And if you want Delilah not to hate you, having her mother like you is a good first step. Besides, you’d rather not go back to the party, right?”

Sam sighed. “You’re such a pain in the ass.” He really didn’t want to go back to the party.

“I know. Come on. And you do have to go back to the party, especially since you left so suddenly. You can bring the baby, introduce her to everyone.”

“That’s stupid.” It wasn’t like a five-minute-old baby cared about a roomful of people.

“It’s the sort of thing people like.”

“People are stupid.” Sam sighed again. “Whatever, fine.”

“Let’s go meet your sister.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, letting Henry guide him to do that.

“And Sam?”

“What?”

Henry kissed him. “Happy birthday.”

As far as birthdays went, this wasn’t the worst Sam had had.

Chapter Text

Discontent, Sam walked through the halls as if hunting for something, but of course he didn’t find anything. Because he didn’t know what he was hunting for.

“How’s Todd’s punishment going?” Sam asked Derek when he ran across them. He didn’t really care, but it was something he could ask that might make him feel less weird. Hearing about Todd’s suffering might cheer him up or something.

“Fine, your Majesty,” Derek said, voice not as meek as it had been, but not confident to the degree that would have Sam slamming him into something to remind him of his place. He knew his place, Derek did. Sam kind of liked that about him. “I think he’s finally started to realize what he did wrong.”

“And what exactly is that?” Sam asked, curious. Todd had done any number of things wrong.

“Todd?” Derek asked, voice sweet in a way that vaguely disturbed Sam. “Tell the king what you did wrong.”

“I…” Todd’s voice came from somewhere lower than Derek or Sam, kneeling, probably. He hesitated for just a second. “I started something I couldn’t finish.”

Sam snorted. “You don’t say.”

“That’s close enough for now,” Derek said, a small noise in the back of his throat preceding it. “You started something you didn’t have the guts to finish is what you wanted to say. You’ll get there.” This last was said in a cloying tone that put Sam in mind of flowers.

Sam didn’t care if Todd was learning his lesson. He wanted to know what parts of him Derek was cutting off. “How exactly are you punishing him?” he asked. “You’d better not be letting him off easy.”

“I’m not,” Derek assured him. “Todd, be honest. Would you rather stay with me or let the king punish you? I’ll give you back to him if you want me to.”

Todd gulped audibly. “I…P-please…your Majesty…please take me away from him…please?”

Derek made a happy sounding noise. “I’m proud of you for telling the truth, even though you must have known I was lying to you. Good boy, Todd.”

Todd just whimpered.

“You haven’t answered my question,” Sam said, slightly testy. He would take Todd away from Derek if Derek was going to be stupid.

“Oh, how am I punishing him?” Derek let out a little giggle. “I’ve always wanted a puppy, your Majesty.”

Sam frowned, then considered the implications of that, and the fact that Todd was clearly on the floor right now. Then, unable to help it, he snorted a laugh that tumbled into a few more, mirth overtaking him for a second. “Fine,” he said. “As long as you’re disciplining him properly then.”

“Oh, I am. Can’t have him getting spoiled. Just last night he slept in the kennel because he was misbehaving too much to stay in my room.”

“Good,” Sam said, grinning. “If you need anything to help with that, a collar and leash or a bowl for him, tell Henry. He’ll get it for you.”

“Thank you, your Majesty,” Derek said. “We can get you a collar and bowl with your name on them. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, boy?”

Todd didn’t answer immediately. “Wouldn’t you, boy?” Derek repeated, just a touch more slowly.

“Y-yes, sir,” Todd muttered. “I’d like that.”

“What was that?”

Todd was silent a second longer, and then, probably at Derek’s urging, he let out a stupid sounding bark.

“Good boy.”

Sam snorted again. “Finally, somewhere he belongs. Keep it up, Derek.”

“Yes, your Majesty.” Derek said, tugging Todd out of the way so Sam could pass. Pleased but also somewhat disturbed, Sam resumed his wandering, heading vaguely in the direction of the bedroom. He had been cheered up a little, but his sense of discontent had returned by the time he reached his door, and Sam sighed, going inside.

“There you are,” Henry said as he came in. “I was starting to wonder if you’d decided to run off.”

Sam ignored that, shutting the door behind him. “Remind me to make sure Derek stays on our side.”

“Oh, you met his new pet, then,” Henry said. “Yeah, it’s creepy.”

“Tell me about it,” Sam muttered. “Seems to be effective, though. I think Todd hates it more than being tortured.”

“Todd always hates what’s happening to him more than what could be happening to him,” Henry said. “He’s just like that. Makes him easy to protect.”

“Protect?” Sam made a face. “Sure.”

“You don’t think that’s what Derek’s doing?”

“He’s no different from the rest of us. A touch of power and he’s got Todd barking like a dog because he can.”

“But he’s not hurting him,” Henry said, standing up. “Just humiliating him. I don’t think he is like the rest of us, not really. He’s a much nicer person than any of us are.”

“Hm.” Sam came over and let Henry take his hand, kissing it. “I think you’re wrong. He was gleeful about it. If he were nice he wouldn’t take pleasure in humiliating someone like that.”

“You don’t think he was acting because you were standing there?”

Sam frowned. “Maybe. I’m trying to be in a good mood.”

“Well, he’s still kind of creepy.”

“Tell me about it. Can’t imagine enjoying making someone act like a dog.”

Henry snorted. “You’d like it. You like having power over people. And if it’s really that foreign a concept to you…” He brushed Sam’s neck. “You looked good in a collar.”

Sam felt heat rise in his face and he pulled away. “Maybe now I know where Derek got his ideas from.”

“Mm. I got you something.”

“Why?” Sam asked, suspicious now.

“I can’t get my husband a gift? Take your clothes off.”

Now Sam was really suspicious. “Which one of us ends up bleeding at the end of this gift?”

“Does it matter?”

Sam thought about it, and decided that it didn’t. “Fine,” he said, taking his shirt off, aware that Henry was just standing there waiting for him to get undressed. “I’m waiting,” he said, once he was naked.

Henry took his hand without a word, pulling Sam to the bed. He stood him in front of it, running a hand down Sam’s front. “You should wear nothing more often.”

“I wear it often enough,” Sam grumbled. Henry was making him be patient, and he didn’t like that.

Henry snorted, then put his hand flat on Sam’s chest and pushed him back. Even expecting it, Sam staggered, and fell backwards onto the bed, onto… “The hell?” the bed was soft in a way it never had been, a fabric that felt like cool water touching Sam’s skin everywhere.

“Artworm silk,” Henry told him, sitting on the bed beside him. “You bought a fuckton of it in Jdinrma-Hash, remember? You said you wanted it made into sheets.”

Sam nodded, crawling a little farther up the bed so that more of his skin was touching it. “I’d forgotten about that.” It felt really nice on his skin. It was too early for bed, but Sam was pretty happy to lay here, honestly.

Henry was still sitting, moving beside Sam, hand on his belly. “Thought you’d like that. You bought some other stuff in the market, which I’m guessing you also forgot about.”

“Probably,” Sam said idly, waving a hand and trying to just focus on the way he felt. “It was just a bunch of crap and…” he trailed off, suddenly remembering what else he’d picked up in the market. What he’d forgotten to tell Henry about.

Something rustled as Henry set a bag down beside Sam. “I can’t believe you forgot you bought all of this.”

“I was distracted,” Sam muttered, suddenly embarrassed.

“You’ve been distracted the last few days, too,” Henry said, rifling through the bag. “Everything okay?”

“Yes, everything’s fine,” Sam told him. He hadn’t realized that Henry had noticed. “I’m just…are you going to use something from that bag or not?”

“Yes,” Henry said. “A lot of stuff in here. What do you want?”

“I don’t know.” Sam shifted a little, getting hard. “I’ve never used any of it before. Just…pick something you think I’ll like. Or something you’ll like.”

“Okay.” Henry was quiet a second, his hand leaving Sam. “In that case, maybe we’ll start with the obvious stuff.” His hand came down to Sam’s cock, and Sam felt a metal band. The ring, right. It clicked shut, tight on him. “I noticed you bought two of these,” Henry teased. “One smaller than the other. Almost like you wanted it put on you.”

“Sh-shut up…”

“In fact, I noticed you bought multiples of a lot of things in different sizes.”

“It’s not…like I knew how big they needed to be,” Sam growled, as Henry pushed his legs apart, sliding easily on the silk sheets.

“Sure you didn’t,” Henry said, pressing something against Sam’s hole. Polished stone, not very wide, but it would get wider, Sam knew because he remembered buying it. “Here we go,” he warned, then pushed it inside. It was wet with something, and it hurt less than Henry’s cock as it went in, getting wider and wider. Sam made fists in the sheets and tried to hold still as it went inside, until Henry got it all the way in, punctuating it with a slap on Sam’s ass. “There we go. Might be fun to spank you like that, actually.”

“If you…think I’m going to let you spank me,” Sam managed. “You’re crazy…”

“Oh, I wasn’t planning on you letting me,” Henry said, giving Sam another slap. Sam shuddered. Henry kept his hand there a second, then suddenly pulled the toy right out of Sam all at once.

Sam cried out just at the sheer surprise of it. “What the fuck?”

“There are more things in here that are meant to go inside you,” Henry said. “I’d like to try a few more of them out, find out which one you like the best.”

“Well…” Before Sam could say anything, something thicker was pushed against him, and then inside. This one was longer, but the same thickness all the way down until the base, which was round. “Fuck…” Sam said, as Henry pushed it in. It was bigger than Henry himself, he thought. “Fuck.”

“Don’t like it?” Henry asked. “If you don’t I’ll take it out.”

Sam let out a tense breath. “It’s fine. It’s…big.”

“Yeah. I kind of like this one, the grip on the bottom makes it easy to do this,” Henry said, pulling it out, pushing it in, doing that several times, fucking Sam with the toy. Sam cried out, his cock twitching as the toy assaulted the spot inside him, made him want to cum.

Henry pinched the tip of Sam’s cock. “Leaking a little,” he said. “You want to cum?”

“Of course I do,” Sam growled.

“Let’s take your mind off that, then,” Henry said, still fucking Sam with the toy as he did. His hand left Sam’s cock and the toy, and a second later, there was a sharp but not severe pain on Sam’s nipples as two metal clamps were put on them. They weren’t so tight as to draw blood, but it was enough to hurt. “How’s that?”

“Take them off,” Sam said. He didn’t like that. “Now.”

Henry did, setting them aside, massaging Sam’s chest for a second. “Didn’t like those?”

“No.”

“Guess we’ll keep those in the pile of things you bought to use on me, then,” Henry said. “Or someone else. Roll over.”

He didn’t actually let Sam roll over, doing it for him until Sam’s tingling nipples and his sensitive cock were pressed against the softness of the silk, which felt good for both of them. Sam let out a sound without meaning to.

Running a hand down Sam’s back, Henry reached the toy and pulled it out. “Next one,” he said, replacing it with another at his entrance.

“Fine,” Sam panted. He should have hated this, being teased and controlled and denied. But it was Henry doing it, and he liked that. It helped that he’d been holding back his power much more easily the last few days, since Delilah had been born.

“I wasn’t asking permission,” Henry told him, pushing the toy inside. It was shaped like a bulb, or a series of bulbs, each one stretching Sam as it went in, earning a gasp from him. There were six in all, and once it was inside, Henry just wiggled it a little, fingering the base. “You know, I might put one of these in you one morning and make you wear it all day while sitting court. That would be fun.”

“For…you,” Sam breathed. “It might be fun for you.” His cock was rubbing against the silk and it felt so good, and he wanted to cum so badly.

“That’s what I was getting at,” Henry said, slowly pulling the toy out again, getting several more gasps from Sam. “Last one.”

Sam knew what one this was, remembered feeling it in his hands. It was one he’d definitely planned to use on Henry, not the other way around, and as it slid inside him, widening and then cutting off in ridges, he grabbed the sheets again, hoping he didn’t rip them. “Henry…”

“I really like hearing you say my name like that, Sam,” Henry said, pushing another ridge in, then another. “We’re going to have to do this again.”

“Sh-sh-shut…” Sam’s voice collapsed as the base of the toy touched him. Then, with a hand running down his spine, Henry pulled the toy out, clawing a wordless shout out of him that had him bucking his hips into the sheets, trying desperately to cum.

“Sh…” Henry said, still stroking Sam’s back as he moved on top of him. His cock slid inside Sam now, familiar. He fucked gently, pushing Sam into the sheets. “That sounded fun.”

“It…it was,” Sam admitted, beaded with sweat now. Henry wanted him to beg. He wanted Sam to ask to cum, to ask to have the ring taken off. There was no fucking way Sam was going to beg.

Henry gave a hard thrust, and Sam felt metal at his entrance. “Y-you’ve got one on too?”

“Don’t want to stain the new sheets, right?” Henry grunted, hands on Sam’s shoulders now. “Might be fun to see which of us breaks first.”

“That’s…that’s my favourite game,” Sam admitted, feeling his resolve strengthen. “I’m putting them all inside you soon.” Maybe at once. Henry had earned it.

“Good. Which one…ng…which one was your favourite?”

Sam tried to think, tried to keep his head clear between his need to cum and the sheets on his front and Henry inside him and everything, just everything that was bothering him. “The…the third one, the bulbed one.”

“Okay,” Henry said, breathing on Sam’s ear. He pushed deep inside, then stopped moving, just holding still for a minute. “Still distracted?”

“Only by you.”

“You want to tell me what was bothering you?”

“No.”

“I’m not taking that ring off until you do.”

Henry was evil, Sam had forgotten that. Which, considering he’d taught Henry everything he knew, he ought not to have. Sam could take the fucking ring off himself. But he wouldn’t. “It’s stupid.”

“I doubt it.”

Sam was just quiet, and Henry went back to fucking him for a while, getting more and more desperate as his own need to cum built. Sam started to whimper with need, toes curling. And Henry just kept going, just going, how was he so collected? “I just…”

Henry stopped, grip on Sam’s shoulder hard. “Just what?”

“I just…” Sam sighed. Fuck. He hadn’t meant to say anything. “I just feel like something bad’s about to happen. Too many good things have happened. Something bad must be coming.”

Henry sighed quietly, about to tell Sam he was dumb. Or not. “Yeah. But don’t worry about it, okay? If something happens, I’ll be here with you.”

Sam huffed. He didn’t need Henry to comfort him. Henry being there when some nebulous thing happened in the future didn’t make him feel better, he’d just be in the way. But…

Henry saying that did make Sam feel better. He lowered his head, laying his cheek against the sheet, feeling its caress on his face. “Get moving,” he said. “I’m giving you five more minutes before we switch places.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Henry said, kissing the back of Sam’s neck and picking up his movements again. “Don’t suppose you want to try barking like a dog?”

“Don’t make me give you to Derek.”

Sam ended up giving him a lot more than five minutes, but only because he didn’t want to move from where he was right now. He felt safe there.

Chapter Text

Sam didn’t understand the appeal of babies. They didn’t do anything except lay there and sometimes cry or shit. But for some reason peopled liked them. Maybe it was because they didn’t talk back.

He just sat there in a chair, holding Delilah, his hand on her chest. She’d wrapped her hand around his finger, which had momentarily freaked Sam out, but apparently that was something that babies did.

Babies didn’t do anything but for some reason they could latch onto people. It was alarming.

Anyway, he was sitting there holding Delilah, who was holding him back, and he could feel her heartbeat. Not just because his hand was on her chest, but because the stone was resonating with it. It was fast, which was apparently also normal.

“Have you recovered?” Sam asked Daisy absently, figuring he should say something instead of just weirdly sitting here in silence with a baby. He remembered her being tired after having the baby and he had been every time he’d been with her since then too. It had been a week now, though. She was probably fine.

“It’s not something you recover from quickly, it turns out,” Daisy said, voice a little less weak than it had been. Just a little. “The midwife said it would be quite some time. I’m fine, though, your Majesty. Don’t worry about me.”

Sam wasn’t worried about her. He was worried that Delilah would get sick because she was being taken care of by someone who wasn’t well. “I’ll make sure you have a maid or a nurse to help you.”

“Oh, your Majesty, I hardly need…”

“Don’t be st—foolish,” Sam interrupted. “You’ll have someone to help you. I’ll…make sure it’s not someone you won’t like.”

He didn’t know how he’d do that…well, yes he did. He’d make Henry find someone for him. But he’d talk to them first. Sam wasn’t going to let just anyone get near Delilah.

“Thank you, your Majesty. I…I really appreciate that.”

Delilah stirred in his arms, and Sam stroked her chest. “Don’t worry about it.” She started to fuss a little, making noises. Not crying, just noises. Sam didn’t know how to make them stop. “Stop,” he said to her, quietly. “You’re fine.”

She didn’t listen. Sam wondered how long it took before babies started doing that.

Daisy laughed at him, but she did that a lot and Sam had realized eventually that it wasn’t because she was making fun of him. She just thought he was funny when he held Delilah. Sam couldn’t bring himself to correct her. “She’s just hungry.”

“Again?” Sam asked. She’d been eating when he’d come in. But then, he’d been here a while now.

Alarmingly, she was turning her head towards him as if looking for food. Sam held her away from his body.

“It’s a lot of work,” Daisy said, hand brushing Sam’s before she lifted Delilah out of his arms. Sam tried not to sigh too obviously.

“What is?”

“All this breathing and being held that she’s being expected to do suddenly,” Daisy explained with a giggle. “Not to mention all the light and noise and people. There wasn’t any of that where she was before. She gets overwhelmed easily.”

Finally, Sam thought. Something he and the baby had in common. He sat there in awkward silence for a second. Figuring he should go. “Does it…hurt?” he asked suddenly, remembering the feeling of the metal clamps on his nipples. “Feeding her?” He hadn’t liked the sensation even for a few seconds. He couldn’t imagine having it for hours every day.

“It makes me a little sore,” Daisy admitted. “But it doesn’t hurt. She hasn’t got teeth, right?”

“I…guess,” Sam admitted, trying to remember that wasn’t weird. “How long before she can eat normal food?”

“Oh, at a year, I’d expect.”

“A year?” Sam asked, incredulous. “That’s insane.”

“That’s how it works, your Majesty.”

Sam was totally lost. Babies were the weirdest sort of monster he’d ever heard of and he knew Scott. He stood up. “I should go,” he said. “Let you two rest.”

Daisy made a noise. “Thank you, your Majesty. May I say something?”

“You can say whatever you want,” Sam told her. She’d earned that much.

“You’re a much nicer person than your father was.”

Sam froze, feeling…very weird at that. He wasn’t sure whether or not he liked it. “Th-thank you,” he said, sounding like an idiot. He didn’t try to be nicer than anyone. He didn’t care about being nice. But hearing that made his insides churn. “Daisy, you don’t need to...you can call me by name if you want.”

Daisy was quiet for a second. “Thank you, Samson.”

“Just Sam,” he muttered, heading for the door. “I’ll get you that maid, and I’ll come visit you again tomorrow.”

“I’d like that.”

“Me too,” Sam said, stepping out into the hallway. God, babies really were monsters. One week with one in his life and he was turning into a sappy idiot.

Feeling the urge to dismember someone’s relatives in front of them so that he could feel more like himself, Sam headed back to his room to rest. Even holding a baby was exhausting. He needed to sit for a minute, and Henry wanted to talk to him about taxes again in a little while. But there was probably time to detach a few limbs before then.

Most of the way to his room though, Sam started to feel weird, a pressure building at the back of his mind. Magic. Magic he recognized. The shadow creature. It had never come during the day before. What…

It was here in the castle with Delilah and Sam didn’t like that at all. He hurried to the room, intending to just confront the stupid thing and find out what it wanted. His hand was in his pocket on the stone when he went in. “What do you want?” he insisted. “What are you doing here in the middle of the day?”

Someone snorted. “Is that how you speak to your king?” a male voice asked.

Who the…Sam reacted before asking, reaching out and slamming whoever it was into the wall. “Who the fuck are you?”

The stranger’s power broke Sam’s catching him by surprise, and Sam was lifted from his feet. “My question, I feel.”

The hold wasn’t that strong, and a second later Sam lashed back, dropping to the ground. He prepared an attack against the intruder, felt magic growing to launch against him. Whoever this intruder was, he was going to die before Sam bothered to learn his name.

Suddenly Sam’s magic and the intruder’s vanished at once, and the room was filled with he power of the shadow. Enough posturing from you two. That’s not how friends should behave.

“Friends?” Sam spat. “Why have you brought this intruder here?” A threat?

“And where,” asked the intruder, “have you brought me?”

To the castle of the Sorcerer King, the shadow said. I feel you two will get along. And keep each other occupied.

“Answer my question,” Sam snapped.

I have brought him here because you are a fool, the shadow told Sam. And tossed away your only chance to control the Sea King.

“I,” said the intruder, “will not be controlled, spirit.”

The Sea King, Sam thought. Some magical creature who’d been revived by that necklace Sam had tossed away. “And I will not be threatened with…”

Not a threat, little sorcerer. An ally. Forces begin to converge. A battle is coming. It will be advantageous for the two of you to be in the same place.

“Advantageous for who?” Sam asked. No, he wasn’t going to let this happen. “You, of course.”

What is advantageous for me is also so for you.

“And for me?” the Sea King demanded. “I am away from the ocean. I am without my fleet. I receive no advantage from this…union.”

Your pirate leaders will be delivered presently. Your fleet rests to the south. The Sorcerer King is adept at moving people where they need to be, as am I. Fear not, Sea King.

“I fear nothing.”

Then you too are a fool. Our enemies are mutual, and they gather. You two will cooperate or we will all die.

“You…”

I will take my leave. I shall speak with you both later.

And the shadow vanished from Sam’s mind, leaving him alone in his bedroom with the Sea King. They were quiet for a moment. The Sea King’s power started to gather, and Sam’s wanted to do so in response. But Sam didn’t let it, smiling. “That creature is the one who is a fool.”

“If he believes he can control me merely because he abducted me from my castle…” the Sea King began.

“Shut up,” Sam said. “You hate him.”

“I do.”

“So do I. And I don’t want you here, but we both know you will be for as long as he’s alive.” They both knew the shadow was too powerful. Sam didn’t have a way to kill it. But it might have just dropped a way in Sam’s lap.

The Sea King’s power hesitated now. “You propose an alliance.”

“On our terms, not his.” Sam leaned against the doorframe. This was going to be fun to explain to Henry. “We’ll work together. Kill him.”

The Sea King breathed out, the smell of salt filling the room. “You will swear fealty to me.”

Sam laughed. “No, and if you ever suggest that again I’ll find a part of you to cut off and choke you with. This is my castle, and there’s no sea outside, Sea King. And nor, I assume, will you bow to me.”

The silence that grew between them was rife to give birth to something. A sea breeze seemed to be blowing through Sam’s bedroom. “Well?”

“Your domain is these mountains,” the Sea King said finally. “Mine is the ocean. I…see no reason for us to be in conflict, Sorcerer King. And I would rather be your guest than his prisoner.”

“Wise,” Sam said. “In that case, here’s to our friendship. I’ll arrange rooms for you and these pirates our benefactor plans to deliver. You can rest from your…journey. And tell me how you came to be in this thing’s possession.”

But first he needed Henry. He needed to talk to Henry about this, to figure out what to do. He needed to have Daisy and Delilah put as far from the Sea King as possible. He needed to stop and think about this for a few minutes, just a few minutes. And for that he needed Henry. He could understand Delilah being overwhelmed. Life was overwhelming.

“Very well,” the Sea King said, voice wrought with warning, with threat, and tension. Sam understood that. It put him on edge, but he understood it. “Your hospitality is appreciated, Sorcerer King.”

Sam hated this. He hated every second of this. Having another person in the castle near as powerful as him, someone he didn’t now or trust, was a terrible idea. The Sea King was someone else he was going to have to kill at some point now. That wretched shadow must have known it couldn’t trust Sam, and had put this monster in his castle to keep him in line.

Sam would not be kept in line. He would not be treated like a child by some entity that barely even existed. For now he’d put up with the Sea King, for as long as they had a mutual enemy. For as long as they could trust each other not to attack.

The other day Sam had been worrying that something had been about to go wrong. Now it had and he had to get a handle on it quickly before it became something he couldn’t control.

“Your Majesty will do just fine,” Sam said, opening the door again and stepping out into the hall. “Come. I’ll personally show you to those rooms. And later we can reconvene and discuss how we’re going to kill our mutual ally.”

Chapter Text

The wind was howling on top of the north tower, but Sam ignored it as he crouched in front of the spell circle, hands flat on the ground. The power was rippling around him. “I’m opening the spell now,” he said, to nobody in particular.

“Okay,” Henry said back, and even though Sam hadn’t really been talking to him so much as he’d been talking to himself, it was comforting. Knowing Henry was behind him with his sword was comforting.

Sam opened the spell, smelled tropical air. “Good morning,” Jocelyn said, stepping through immediately. Her boots crunched on the tower’s gravel.

“It’s lunchtime,” Sam said.

“Not where I live. We’ve only just finished dawn a few hours ago.”

“What?” Sam asked, trying to figure out what she meant by that. “Okay, whatever, come with me.”

“How hospitable of you,” Jocelyn laughed, following him and Henry down the stairs.

“I’m giving you lunch, that’s hospitality,” Sam said, impatient. “There are people I want you to meet.”

Jocelyn didn’t answer until they were at the bottom of the stairs and inside the tower. “Is that the reason for the abrupt invitation?” she asked. “These people?”

“Yes,” Sam said, not wasting time. He wanted Jocelyn to meet the Sea King and the two pirate leaders he’d brought with him. He wanted the Sea King to know he had other allies. He wanted to show Jocelyn he had more powerful allies than her. He wanted them to meet some of his father’s ally from the Coven, find out how Jocelyn reacted to that. And he wanted them all to meet Scott, to understand that Sam was the one calling the shots in this alliance.

He also wanted to know why the fuck he was suddenly at the head of an alliance, but that was for another day. Today he wanted to stop juggling half a dozen people by turning them into one group.

“Do I get to know who they are?” Jocelyn asked, “or is it a secret?”

Now it was Sam’s turn to be quiet, which he did for a long few minutes while they walked. He and Henry had talked about this, decided what Sam had to do. “Solomon never mentioned a shadow to you, did he? A disembodied voice?”

“No,” Jocelyn said slowly. “I can’t say as he did. Was he hearing voices? He was insane, but I didn’t have him marked for delusional.”

“I’ll explain at lunch,” Sam said. He’d already known that Jocelyn hadn’t known about the shadow creature, but it was good to have that confirmed. “The guests aren’t anyone I think you know. You’ll meet them soon.”

“Most mysterious. I do so enjoy your flair for the dramatic, your Majesty.”

“Thank you, I’ve been cultivating it lately,” Sam muttered.

“Sammy!”

Sam winced at Scott’s chainmail voice. “My goodness,” Jocelyn said. “This is…unexpected.”

“No doubt,” Sam agreed. “Scott has that effect on people.” And he hadn’t even done anything yet.

“You’re just going to ignore me?” Scott demanded, catching up to them. Sam could hear faint footsteps behind him. “Rude, and I’m already in a pissy mood. Oh, hey, it’s Tipsy! How’s the family?”

“I’m rather afraid I’d remember you if we’d met, young…Scott.”

“Not so young,” Scott laughed, sounding like a bird choking and smelling like the aftermath. “But we’ve met a bunch of times, rude. That’s okay, you’ll get it eventually. Sammy! You invited me to lunch! I’ve never felt so loved. Do I get to eat her?”

“No,” Sam said, trying to remain patient, which was hard when he could barely breathe. “You don’t get to eat anyone. There’s food in there for you.” They were nearing the dining room.

“Oh, I hope it’s rotting meat. Please tell me it’s rotting meat.”

“It’s beef soup,” Henry said. “Spiced.”

“I prefer goat,” Scott complained. “Make it goat.”

“Just go in and don’t bother anyone to the point where they want to kill you,” Sam grated, halting outside the door. “Now.”

“Okay, okay,” Scott let out an exaggerated sigh like a fly buzzing into someone’s liver. “Come on, Tipsy, Sammy and Sparkles want to kiss before they come in and eat.”

The door creaked open, and Scott’s voice receded. “Hey, new friends! Doesn’t this lunch look delicious? And the food looks nice too.”

“You’ve some…interesting friends,” Jocelyn said cautiously. “If he’s any indication.”

“Most of them were Solomon’s friends,” Sam said. “Blame him. Come on, let’s go.”

“Hold on a second,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s wrist. “We’ll be just a moment, Jocelyn.”

Jocelyn made a sound. “Very well. I shall go introduce myself.”

She went in, and Sam turned on Henry. “Don’t waste my time. We need to go in there.”

“I know. Thank you, Todd, goodbye.”

Oh, right, Sam had forgotten they’d sent Todd to get Scott. “Did he say anything to you on the way here?”

“He just made fun of me, your Majesty,” Todd whispered.

Sam didn’t care. “Fine. Get lost.”

“Go to the guardhouse,” Henry told him. “I told Manuel that you’d be there to help some of the off-duty guards relieve some stress this afternoon. I already told Derek about it.”

“Yes, sir,” Todd said, sounding on the verge of tears. But he didn’t cry, at least not where Sam could hear him, as he trudged off.

“Remember when you didn’t want him to get raped by half the castle?” Sam asked idly.

“It protects the other servants from being at the receiving end of it. And it’s something useful that he can actually do,” Henry said. “His training is going well, apparently. I was thinking that we could get Derek to come in and give us a demonstration. Might cheer you up.”

Sam snorted. That was an appealing idea. “Fine. Now stop wasting my time.”

“Before we go in…”

Sam sighed. “Don’t waste time telling me to be careful or smart. I know this is a bad idea, okay? It’s the only option we have.”

Henry touched Sam’s face, two fingers running down his cheek. “I was going to say that if it goes badly, who do you want me to kill first?”

Oh. Sam was quiet for a second, letting Henry touch him. “Read the situation and decide. I trust your judgement.”

“Okay,” Henry said. “Let’s go, then. Waiting a few minutes will have made them nervous.”

“Or annoyed.”

“It amounts to the same thing. Let’s go.”

“Yeah.” Sam got on his toes and kissed Henry, then turned and went into the dining room.

“And then,” Scott was saying as Sam moved into the room, towards his spot at the head of the table, “the kid starts to blubber and say he doesn’t want to do it anymore, as if he has a choice and as if he hasn’t already dumped centipede eggs over half the city. Snot running down his face and all. Humans are adorable, aren’t they?”

“Adorable isn’t the word I’d use,” the Sea King said, sounding impatient. Good. “Sorcerer King, why have you allowed this abhorrent creature near any living thing?”

“Because misery loves company,” Sam said as he took his seat. “And because if we’re all to be allies, we may as well all meet each other now. Saves me having to have the same conversation six times.” He sighed. “Though there are a few more who will join us next time. Our ally in the mages’ academy couldn’t sneak away and neither could Solomon’s wizard friend.” And the other friend, the one who’d helped him with the dragon, hadn’t answered Sam’s summons at all, even with regrets. Solomon had obviously let these people get away with far too much.

“Well, that’s probably because of all the fun in Hawk’s Roost,” Scott said, chair scraping. “Which is why I’m so jazzed that you wanted to chat, because I’m lipid. No wait, lipids are the things you eat. I’m pissed.”

“What happened?” Henry asked. “The king sent Hans DiFueure to take the city. Didn’t he?”

“Oh, he did,” Scott growled. “But the Late King Stephan managed to be late for his funeral. Which I don’t care about, because at the same time that was happening, some fucking little ball of jizz pulled a Right Hand and cried me right out of existence.”

“What?” Sam asked. This sounded important, he didn’t have time for the tedium that passed for Scott’s personality.

“I’m saying a human evaporated every centipede in Hawk’s Roost, Sammy. Your puppet king is on his own, so if you want him to keep dancing, you’d better retie those strings somehow.”

Fuck. Who the hell had the power to destroy Scott like that? “Fine. I don’t imagine you’re useful enough to know anything about this person.”

“If I did, you think he’d still be sucking air through his face holes?” Scott snapped. “I’ll find him, don’t worry. He fucked out of the city, but I know where he’s headed, and there’s a lot of me up there.”

“Tell me when you find him,” Sam ordered.

“I demand to know who this creature is,” the Sea King said in a growl. Beside him were the two pirates who ran his armada, and Sam felt a not insubstantial power from them as well.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Solomon’s Coven friend asked. Her name was Cassiopeia. “This is the creature who’s been controlling all of those centipedes.”

“What centipedes?”

“My goodness, your Majesty, where on earth did you find this boy?” Jocelyn asked with a laugh in her throat. “He doesn’t know anything, does he?”

“How dare you speak that way to the Sea King?” one of the pirates demanded. It was the man—the other was a girl Henry’s age. “You are only a witch of middling power.”

Jocelyn snorted. “And you’re only a necromantically-animated corpse of middling value.”

“I,” said the necromantically-animated corpse of middling value, “am Constantine Hammerhead, pirate lord of the…”

“Yes, yes,” Jocelyn said, interrupting. “I know who you are. I was there when my son reanimated you.”

“James did?” Sam asked, straightening in his chair. He might have to kill this pirate lord if that was true.

“No, Johnathon. My useful son.” Jocelyn gave the impression of laughing, though she wasn’t. “Not what I would have wasted my time on, but I do think it’s important to let my children have hobbies. He was so disappointed when you went missing some months ago, Master Hammerhead. How delighted he’ll be when I tell him I’ve found you.”

“The pirate lord and his fleet belong to me now,” the Sea King threatened. “I care not whence they came.”

“Oh, I’m sure you two can work something out. Why is it that boys never want to share?” Jocelyn paused for just a second. “Cassiopeia, you’re looking at me like you’ve eaten that rotting meat Scott was so disappointed to have lost.”

“Who the fuck wants to eat meat that’s not rotting?” Scott demanded defensively. “At least unless it’s freshly dead. Or not dead. You look tasty, Floater. I was disappointed when Tipsy’s kids didn’t feed you to me.”

“I was merely thinking, Jocelyn,” said Cassiopeia, as if Scott hadn’t spoken, “that I should have listened to James when he said you and Solomon were working together. I once asked Solomon and he explicitly told me he wasn’t.”

“Funny, I once asked him if he had an ally still on the Coven and he explicitly told me he didn’t,” Jocelyn said. “It seems he lied to both of us.”

“It seems so. And we can’t both use the witches’ stone, now can we?”

“No, I’d say we can’t.”

“Why is it that adults never want to share?” Hammerhead’s lieutenant Alanna asked, sneering.

“It hardly matters when that stone is the one we’re the farthest from being able to get to,” Sam interrupted. “And considering that you lost two of the other ones, Cassiopeia, perhaps you should worry about that.”

“I accept all the blame for that, your Highness,” Cassiopeia said, grudgingly. “I expected my proxy to have better security than he did, and then I expected their new owner would give them to me eventually. They were stolen again before I could even make the attempt.”

Sam knew that, but everyone else in the room didn’t. “And now you have no idea where they are.”

“No, I’m afraid not. Neither, fortunately, does anyone else.”

“Except for the little bat who stole them,” Scott sang.

“Where are they, Scott?” Sam asked.

“Who knows?” Scott asked. “Not me. I haven’t seen him either.”

“Tell me when you do.” There was no question that Scott would see them, it was just a question of when.

“These stones you all speak of are irrelevant to me,” said the Sea King. “This is not what I am here for.”

“They are relevant to you,” Henry told him.

“Oh?” The Sea King sounded amused. “Do tell, then.”

Sam took a breath. Okay, it was time. “There is an entity that is attempting to manipulate both myself and the Sea King. A shadow who claims to be a god. It was manipulating Solomon as well.” And for the Sea King, he added, “It wants the stones.”

Nobody spoke for a moment, and then Scott scraped his spoon against his bowl, then slurped loudly. Sam hadn’t touched his own food and remembered he was supposed to in order to show it wasn’t poisoned. Hopefully Henry was eating. “Click, click, click,” said Scott. “You should see all their faces, Sammy, while they realize how it all clicks together. Humans love realizing they’re just pawns in someone else’s game.”

“So you knew about it?” Sam asked Scott. If any of them had, it would have been him.

“Can’t say as I did, and you’re going to tell me all about it, okay? Because it sounds tasty and it’s been a long, long-fuck time since I’ve eaten a god.”

Sam didn’t think he’d ever heard Scott sound that way. For the first time since they’d met, he could believe just from listening to him that Scott was dangerous. “Sounds like you’re asking for a renegotiation of our deal.”

“We’ll talk about it later,” Scott said, still sounding dark.

“So the dark creature wants us to gather these artefacts for him,” the Sea King mused. “I can relate. I am, however, no monster’s game piece.”

“That,” said Cassiopeia, “is something I suspect we can all agree on. Which I assume is why the king has asked us all to come here.”

“It is,” Sam said, though he’d ordered them to come here. “We have mutual goals. And a mutual enemy who thinks to control us all. We’re allies and I think it’s time we started acting like it.”

“Aw, we all love you too, Sammy.”

“Except for you. You can shut the fuck up.”

“I’m his favourite,” Scott stage-whispered to someone.

“In other words,” said Alanna, who Sam didn’t like much, “you need our help to kill his monster of yours.” She always sounded like she was sneering.

“In other words, working together is the only hope you have of not being someone’s servant for the rest of your life,” Henry said, before Sam could get annoyed. “Or afterlife, I guess.”

“Listen…”

“He’s right,” Jocelyn said. “Whatever this creature is, it’s obviously more powerful than all of us or it wouldn’t be using us as game pieces. We have to kill it whether or not we’re interested in the stones.”

“I think the best way to do that is to do what it wants for now,” Cassiopeia said quietly. “Find the stones. Having them will make us more powerful, and if it thinks we’re trying to betray it, it may take drastic action.”

“Bringing the Sea King here was obviously meant as a threat,” Sam said. “So you’re right.”

“Our strength is that it doesn’t think we’ll be able to work together without it telling us to,” Henry added. “We should avoid being too obvious about this alliance. Hopefully we can all pretend to hate each other convincingly.”

“However will we manage that?” Hammerhead drawled.

Sam finally ate some of the soup, found it both cold and too spicy. “We’ll pull it off somehow. I know, let’s make a list of people we want to kill. Mine only has my siblings and Jocelyn’s son on it at the moment. Any suggestions?”

Chapter Text

“This little demonstration had better be good,” Sam said, reaching into his pants to adjust his erection. “If Derek’s wasting my time and it’s just going to be Todd barking at me for an hour it won’t be Todd who spends the night with his ass full. Or at least not only Todd.”

“I think we can count on Derek not to waste our time that impressively,” Henry said, chuckling. “He wouldn’t have offered to do a demonstration if he didn’t have something to show off. He wants us to recognize his hard work, after all.”

Sam snorted. “If he’s managed to make Todd less of a useless ball of sweat I’ll give him whatever he asks for, I think that’s the traditional gift for doing a great service to a king.”

“Didn’t know you were that invested in Todd being less useless.”

“I’m not. And I’m probably going to rape Derek tonight anyway. I don’t want him getting too full of himself. He needs to remember his place.”

“I don’t think that’s really a problem, but do whatever you want.”

“As if I don’t always.”

Henry just chuckled again, kissed Sam on the cheek. Fortunately before Sam could accuse him of mocking, a knock sounded on the door. “Come in,” Sam called, since it was going to be Derek. “You’re late,” he said once the door was open.

“It won’t happen again, your Majesty,” said Derek, who was not late, and Sam knew he knew that. The door shut behind him and Derek’s footsteps, along with some shuffling, moved to the centre of the room. “Sit.”

There came the sound of leather stretching for a second and then Derek stood up. “There we go. I just tied him to the table leg here so that he won’t wander around chewing the furniture or something.”

Sam snorted. “And here I thought you’d brought him to here to report that he’s well behaved now.”

“He’s most of the way there. Every once in a while he still likes to act out. He bit me the other day,” Derek said, a chuckle in his voice. “But don’t worry, your Majesty. I’ve made sure he understands that misbehaving tonight will be a very, very bad idea. Haven’t I, Todd?”

The only reply was a soft whimper.

“I took all the straw out of his kennel,” Derek told them. “And put it in the guardhouse with his food and water bowls. That’s where he’s going to stay for the next week if he’s not good tonight. You can touch him if you’d like to inspect him.”

Sam smirked, sliding down from his chair and moving closer, putting his hand on Todd’s face. “You make him sleep in a kennel?” He slid his hand down, found a heavy collar on Todd’s neck, connected to what was clearly a leash. He gave it a tug and moved downwards.

“Not every night, your Majesty,” Derek explained. “I did it for about two weeks so he understood the stakes. But now that he understands that, he’s allowed to sleep in my bed as long as he’s good. That’s his harness,” he added, when Sam found a series of stiff straps around Todd’s shoulders and bare chest. “So he doesn’t jump up on people.”

“Hm,” Sam grunted. “And so at night do you fuck him before putting him in his kennel?”

“Most nights,” Derek agreed. “And if he gets to sleep in my bed, of course. The only time I don’t is if he’s been really bad, so he learns to realize me fucking him is a reward, not a punishment. So on the days when he’s been bad I don’t, but don’t worry, your Majesty, I usually tie him to the outside of the kennel those nights.”

“So anyone can get to him all night,” Henry said from his chair.

“Exactly,” Derek said, voice closer now. He must have crouched. “Todd, how do you feel about the kennel?”

“I…I like it, sir,” Todd said quietly.

“Because?”

“Because it’s safe in there.”

Sam snorted. “How many times a day does he get fucked?”

“Usually about ten, I think,” Derek said. “Not counting by me.”

“Make it fifteen,” Sam ordered, hand brushing metal between Todd’s legs. “What’s this?”

“One of Todd’s biggest problems is his impulse control,” Derek explained, while Todd whimpered again. “So I took away the thing he couldn’t control his impulses over. Now he’s only allowed to be hard when he’s made me happy, and he’s much better behaved for it.”

Sam cupped the metal cage in his hand, gave it a tug. Todd didn’t react, but the cage didn’t move. Interesting. He should have stuck one of these on Henry when they’d met.

Oh well, too late now. “Has he ever made you happy enough to take it off?” Sam wondered.

“A few times.” Derek sounded fond. “He’s getting better. We’ve been working on what I figure are his main trouble areas.”

“Which are?” Sam asked. “Stupidity, I assume?”

Derek giggled. “His two biggest behavioural problems are that he doesn’t do as he’s told and he can’t stop himself from complaining about everything.”

“You don’t think trying to rape people is a bigger problem?” Henry asked.

“No, because that ultimately stems from his feelings of dissatisfaction because he can’t accept who he is. He thinks he wants to be like the king, but that wouldn’t make him happy. Learning to be happy in his place will cure him of that, and teaching him to obey orders and not complain will help him do that,” Derek explained, all very rationally and very much like he was honestly talking about a dog.

Sam was entertained. He’d hoped for more blood and broken bones, but Derek’s plan here was so completely dehumanizing that it would destroy a person far more effectively than cutting parts off of them. “I’m impressed,” he admitted. “But is it actually working?”

“Yes,” Derek said, standing and stepping away from Todd. “I’ve been teaching him that saying no or complaining about anything will result in a serious punishment, and he’s started being a lot more compliant to avoid that. He’s still got a long way to go, but he’s much better behaved already. He can show you. Tell him to do anything you want. He’ll do it, no matter what.”

“Hm,” Sam said, hand coming up to Todd’s face. He smiled. “I want you to beat the pulp out of Derek.”

Without hesitation Todd moved, lunging upwards at Derek, a choked sound in his throat, and then another one, and he thudded to the ground, whimpering.

Derek giggled. “Oops, I forgot to undo his leash. Sorry about that.”

Mirth rose in Sam, and he ended up laughing on the floor, humour bubbling from his stomach and out into the room as he fell back, sitting there for a good minute while he recovered. “Tell me,” Sam giggled, still trying to keep under control. He’d made the room rattle with that. “Tell me, how are you going to punish him for attacking you?”

“I wouldn’t punish him for following your orders, your Majesty,” Derek said, sounding pleased. “I’m happy he did, it means the training is working.”

Still chuckling, Sam stood up. “Henry tried to convince me you were doing this to protect Todd, you know. He thinks you’re a nice person.”

“I like to think that teaching someone to behave so they don’t get hurt in the future is a type of kindness,” Derek said softly.

“I think treating a person like a dog is a kind of sadism,” Sam said. “But whatever helps you sleep. Todd, I want a cup of tea, go pour it.” There was a pot and some cups on the table, and at a gesture from Sam, the handles fell off the pot and cups, and the pot started to boil.

Todd went without a word, crawling to the table. Sam heard him pull over a chair to get up and giggled again.

“I liked that teapot,” Henry said, tone neutral.

“Well, you’d better punish Todd for breaking it, then,” Sam said. “Go get me a knife.”

Henry just sighed, muttering something quiet as he left Sam’s side. Sam sat back down, listening to Todd make quiet whimpers as he poured the tea, then crawl back—which must have been hard—with the cup in his hand, arm brushing Sam’s leg as he held up the cup.

Sam put out his hand and Todd put the cup into it. And let it go, tossing it at Todd’s face. “Ow,” Sam said. “Hot.” Todd made what sounded like a cry, but bit it back. “Something you wanted to say, Todd?”

“I’m, I’m sorry,” Todd panted. “D-do you w-w-want another one, your M-Majesty?”

“No,” Sam said, waiting for Todd’s quiet sigh of relief. “You can just pour the rest of the pot over your head.”

“Yes, y-your Majesty,” Todd said, voice cracking. He went back to the table.

“You weren’t kidding,” he said to Derek. Henry’s footsteps approached him, and a knife was put in his hand.

“I told you, your Majesty,” Derek said, sounding smug.

“You’ve made your point,” Henry grumbled, hand brushing Sam’s shoulder.

“Only because it took you so fucking long to bring the knife over,” Sam told him, hearing a splash, then a clatter as the teapot fell. Todd let out a strangled cry, cut off as soon as it started. “You’d better not have dropped that teapot. It’s a family heirloom.”

“I’m…s-sorry your Majesty, I’m sorry,” Todd whimpered. He sounded so pathetic.

“I could do this all night, this is hilarious,” Sam muttered. “Just come over here.”

Todd did, and Sam leaned forward, bringing the point of the knife close to his face. “Which eye would you like to cut out?” he asked, politely.

“M-m-m-m…” Todd didn’t seem able to make words.

A smack sounded. “The king asked you a question, Todd.”

“My left eye!” Todd cried, voice shrinking at the end.

“There, that wasn’t so hard,” Sam said, putting the knife down in front of Todd. “Do it, then.”

“M-me?”

“Yes, you,” Sam told him. “Go on.”

There was a very long moment in which the only sound was Todd’s breathing, the gentle clatter of the knife. That breathing got shallower, interspersed with soft cries, tears doubtless falling. Sam just waited quietly.

Todd let out a sob, and the knife hit the ground with a thud. “I can’t,” he whispered. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”

Derek sighed audibly. Sam smirked. “Henry, why don’t you use Todd for his intended purpose while I have a word with Derek?”

“Fine,” Henry said, clothes rustling. “Come here, Todd,” he said, and Sam listened until he heard flesh hit flesh. Todd barely made a sound, but he was still crying.

Sam undid his pants, freeing his erection, which hadn’t softened all night. “You were wrong, Derek,” he said, standing.

“Yes, your Majesty,” Derek said. “I thought he was better trained than that. It won’t happen again.”

“I should think not. Turn around.”

“Yes, your Majesty.” When Sam reached out a second later, he found Derek’s back, slid down, found Derek’s pants, pulled them down.

Sam spread Derek’s cheeks with one hand and guided his cock to Derek’s hole with the other, pressing against the entrance. “Actually,” Sam said, stepping back. “There’s barely any point in fucking you, you never react to anything. You can do the fucking work for once.” And he backed up, sat back down in the chair.

“Okay,” Derek said, straddling Sam, hand on Sam’s cock, lining it up. And then he slid down onto Sam. He grunted as Sam entered him, but it was swallowed by Henry grunting over there inside Todd. “Fucking work,” he said quietly, moving back and forth. “I like that. It was funny.”

Sam thought for a second, realized what Derek was saying. “It wasn’t a joke.”

Derek giggled. “It was, though.” He got all the way down, puts his hands on the arms of the chair and started moving hard.

“One would think…you’d be a little more…contrite,” Sam panted. “You fucked up.”

“You never really thought Todd would put his own eye out,” Derek accused. “You wanted him to say no so you’d have an excuse to punish us both.”

Sam reached up, put his hand on Derek’s throat, squeezed. “Your insolence…is not as cute as you think it is.”

Derek went tense after a few seconds, starting to choke, trying to breathe and failing. His hand tightened on the arm of the chair, but never came up to grip Sam’s.

Only when Derek slowed in moving his hips did Sam let him go, leaning back while Derek coughed. “Thank you,” he rasped.

“What?”

Derek bucked his hips, leaned in closer to Sam. “Knowing that you hurt me as part of his punishment is going to upset him more than anything you do to him.”

“Really?” Sam moved his hips hard. “He hates you.”

“Trust me, I know him really well.”

Sam snorted. “Trust you? Fine.” He raised his hands, put them around Derek’s neck. “Let’s hurt you, then,”

This time Derek’s hands did come up, clutching Sam’s wrists while Sam choked him, thumbs against the veins in his neck. Derek choked quietly, a few sounds escaping as he tried to breathe, and Sam kept going until he started to go slack, only letting go and letting him breathe then, and then just enough to take in a breath before he clamped his hands down again.

Sam fucked Derek harder and harder, the chair creaking as he moved. Every time he had to let go of Derek to let him breathe, he gave a hard thrust up, and every time he clamped his hands down again Derek bucked his hips like mad, and Sam wondered if this was the time he’d decide not to let Derek breathe again.

When Sam felt himself getting close, he closed his hands hard, coming close to crushing Derek’s windpipe. He could do it. Derek would let him. He didn’t let go when Derek started to go slack, didn’t let go when his hands dropped off Sam’s. He didn’t let go until he came, groaning as he shot into Derek.

Only when Sam was finished his orgasm did he let go, and Derek fell forward, chest not rising for a moment until he gasped against Sam, pulling air into his lungs at the last second. He breathed for a second, hand on his throat, before saying, “I can’t believe I missed the end.”

“I’m sure we’ll do it again,” Sam smirked, pushing Derek off. “I like you. You remind me of me.”

“Th-thank you, your Majesty,” Derek said, stepping back as Sam stood.

“Wasn’t a compliment,” Sam said, stepping out of his pants totally. “I’m a bad person.” He took his shirt off too and tossed it at Derek, crossing the few steps to where Henry was fucking Todd. Sam reached out for the source of Todd’s sounds, found his face, at a height suggesting that Henry was fucking him standing. Which meant, given that Todd’s harness was supposed to stop him standing, that Henry must be holding him aloft. Sam smirked. “Clean me off,” he said, stepping forward.

Todd opened his mouth with a small moan, and Sam rammed his cock in, feeling a shock as Todd’s tongue immediately starting cleaning his sensitive head. “Let’s do what we did with Isaac,” he said to Henry, while Todd worked.

“I thought you’d never ask,” Henry said, and Todd was lifted right off Sam’s cock. “Here.”

Sam snorted, took a step forward, finding where he was going. He reached down, past the cage, found Henry’s cock sliding in and out, squeezed Henry’s balls for fun. Then Sam stepped forward, pressing his own cock against Henry’s, and pressed upwards, using Henry’s thrusting to move himself along. It took several thrusts, but then with a shout he managed to press inside Todd as well, ripping a scream from him that just encouraged Sam to go harder.

Henry had already cum, that much was obvious from how slick Todd was inside. Sam found the position a bit hard to do much with, but he made do, pushing forward and letting Henry push him back, hands on Todd’s hips. When Henry up there with him, Todd was as tight as the first time Sam had raped him, back when Henry was still in the dungeon and Todd had wanted to be Sam’s friend.

They were pretty good friends now, Sam thought.

They fucked Todd together for a good while, enough for his cries of pain to mostly fade away, which was too bad. But Sam didn’t have it in him to hurt Todd, trying as he was to keep up with Henry’s pace. Henry came, pushing Todd forward with a loud grunt, and Sam nearly fell backwards trying to compensate. But soon after he was cumming too, pulling Todd down onto his cock as he used Todd the way he was meant to be used.

Sam pulled out when he was done, and heard Todd hit the floor just as Henry’s arms were on his shoulders, and they kissed, passionate, hard. Henry was sweaty, hard, smelly, and Sam wanted to just… “D-Derek too,” he gasped, between kisses. “I want to do it to Derek too.”

Henry moved against Sam’s mouth, kissing him one more time before stepping away. “Come here,” He said. Then Derek was in between them and Henry pulled them both to the ground. “On top of Sam,” he said, putting Sam on his back. Derek straddled him again, backwards this time, and Sam slid into him without problem.

Then Derek was flat against Sam’s chest, and Henry’s cock was there against Sam’s again. “I want it,” Derek whinged. “I want it, put it in.”

“We don’t care what you want,” Henry said, and he pushed inside. Derek cried out, squirmed against Sam, but Sam barely noticed because Henry started kissing him again.

They fucked Derek together, rough and fast and Derek didn’t matter at all in the equation, he could have been any hole in the world for all Sam cared. What mattered was that he and Henry were there together, doing this together, and that was what he couldn’t get enough of, of Henry and of that closeness, that unity, that purpose as they fucked Derek as hard as they could only so they could rut against each other like it was their first time.

It had to have been an hour they were on the floor like that, but it couldn’t have been five minutes. It might have been a day. Sam didn’t care. Derek clenched around him at one point, whimpering, and Sam got a jolt from that. He was so close, and getting closer, and he started to go faster.

Henry started to move faster too, kissing Sam, but then he stopped kissing and Sam didn’t like that. “I want you,” he panted.

“Yeah,” Sam agreed. And just as soon as he said that Henry pulled out of Derek, and Derek’s weight was gone as Henry pushed him aside, and then there was a wonderful, lovely pain as Henry slammed himself inside Sam, kissing Sam as they moaned together. Sam bit Henry’s lower lip, drawing blood, tasting him perfectly, holding him close while Henry went and went and just after a short minute he was there and Sam came like he never had before, screaming as Henry thrust into him, rocking all the furniture in the room, cracking it, not caring at all.

And the it was over. Henry was on top of him, panting, and Sam clung to him, sore all over. The rug had burned his back. He’d hate that tomorrow. He’d love that memory tomorrow.

Henry gave one more lazy thrust before he pulled out, rolled beside Sam, pulled Sam close to him. “That was good,” he whispered.

“Yeah,” Sam agreed. “Yeah.”

He heard rustling, shifting, moving. Derek and Todd. It sounded like they were getting up. “What are you doing?”

“You look like you want to be left alone, sir,” Derek said. “I was going to…”

“Don’t presume,” Sam said, waving a hand and sealing the door. Henry kissed his temple. “Night’s not over yet.” He was having probably the best night of his life. Sam couldn’t think of any reason to cut that short.

“If you’re lucky,” Henry added, “we’ll think about letting you go in the morning.”

Sam laughed, kissed Henry’s cheek. He’d never felt this close to Henry. He’d never felt so much like they wanted and needed the same thing as he did right now. “You read my mind.”

Chapter Text

“How many people were killed?” Sam asked, leaning forward on the throne.

“Forty-three, your Majesty,” the magistrate of Jdinrma-Hash said, sounding out of breath. He’d sounded out of breath since he’d arrived. “Six priests and five people that we’re sure of who were sleeping in the church.”

Sam frowned. “That’s eleven.”

“Yes, your Majesty. The others were in nearby buildings that were destroyed by falling rubble. We think about a dozen people died from suffocation of being in the dust cloud.”

Sam remembered a ceiling falling on his head, the dust choking his lungs, and he could believe that. “And the cathedral is completely destroyed?”

“Yes, your Majesty. And several surrounding buildings. It will take years to rebuild.”

Sam sighed. Last night three dragons had come out of nowhere and destroyed the cathedral in Jdinrma-Hash. Why, Sam had no idea. Dragons did whatever they wanted. Usually, though, they stayed away from settlements. “Fine. I will arrange for these creatures to be hunted and killed so they don’t pose a threat to anyone else.” Maybe he could use the same spell that had controlled the dragon to attack Three Hills before and just make them come here to get their heads cut off. “As for rebuilding, obviously the crown can’t restore lives lost, but we can supply you some coin to help pay for the repairs.”

Beside the throne, Henry coughed, barely audible. Sam sighed just as inaudibly. “And in the next few days, I’ll come to Jdinrma-Hash myself and lend my own power to help clear out the rubble. It’s the least I can do.”

“That’s…very generous, your Majesty,” the magistrate said, sounding surprised. Sam had been surprised when he’d heard it too. But as much as it annoyed him to have to do it, Henry was right. Going there to clean up the mess was in Sam’s best interests, and those of the plateau. Dragons had been worshipped as gods here before the Catechism had shown up, so the symbolism of them destroying the cathedral was too great to ignore. Sam had to remind the people he was their preferred ruler or else he’d have another rebellion on his hands in two weeks full of people thinking that a stupid animal had attacked a mostly empty building to make a political statement.

“It’s the right thing for a king to do for his people,” Sam said, sitting back on the throne. “In the meantime, you and the people of Jdinrma-Hash have my condolences for your loss.”

Sam did not, in fact, care at all about people in Jdinrma-Hash who he didn’t know. He hoped they’d all died painfully. With any luck, parents had had to watch their children be crushed to death before dying themselves, and the only person who’d been rescued had been a lone boy who’d been pulled out at the last second by someone who’d he’d thought was his saviour and was even now raping him into a daze.

Thinking that way made him feel better about all the crap he had to say out loud.

“I shall extend your words to the people of the city, your Majesty,” the magistrate said. “And my thanks again.”

“You can go,” Sam said, waiting for all the bowing and scraping and whatever to be over. The doors shut, and he stood from the throne. “How does one kill a dragon, anyway?”

“I’ll have someone look into it,” Henry said. “Maybe we can go to Three Hills and ask them.”

“Does seem like they have the answer to that one,” Sam agreed. “Maybe we can borrow their dragonslayer for a bit. This is so fucking annoying. Now I have to go to go Jdinrma-Hash and you’re going to make me stay in your family’s house.”

“It’s under construction right now. They’re rebuilding it.”

“Not anymore. They can’t afford to do that and fix the damage done by these stupid lizards,” Sam growled. “You’re the one who likes to talk about taxes. How are we going to pay for this?”

“I don’t know,” Henry sighed. “There’s something else you need to know. It happened on the way here.”

Sam sighed. “Of course there is. There’s always something else. What is it?”

“I have a letter from Geoffrey,” Henry said, a flap of paper accompanying his voice. “To the lord of House Arkhewer, I hope this letter finds you well, blah blah. You have certainly heard from Lord Hans that we have succeeded in removing Stephan Fyrhawk the usurper from the throne of Kyaine. I hope you’ll feel at ease knowing you have family in Hans’s court to represent your interests and those of Ech’kent. I believe both sides of our family will benefit from this alliance, Yours, blah blah.”

“Hm,” Sam said, walking out of the throne room, Henry following him. “We have succeeded, have we?”

“Apparently. Considering Hans has yet to send us a letter, we have no way of knowing if it’s true.”

Sam agreed, walking slowly. “And all of the centipedes are dead according to Scott. We can use your cousin to control Hans.”

“That’s what I think too. He’s basically offering when he says he’ll represent our interests in Hans’s court.”

“Write him back. Tell him that we’re happy to have him as an envoy and that he should tell Hans we’re waiting to hear from him. Maybe we can send your cousin some centipede eggs,” Sam said. “Get Hans back under control. There’s no point having him out there if he’s not doing as we say.” If necessary, he thought, they could get Geoffrey to kill Hans and let Henry’s cousin be king of Kyaine. That could work too, assuming he was loyal.

“Okay. I’ll tell him,” Henry said. He put a hand on Sam’s arm. “Stop.”

“What?”

“Scott’s there. There’s a centipede. Like, one centipede. It’s coming towards you.”

“What the fuck?” Sam asked, just standing there waiting. “You’re not supposed to be out of the pit, Scott.”

“Hey,” Henry said, and he crouched, then got back up. “No climbing. What are you doing?”

I want to talk to you, Sam, said a voice that was not Scott’s. Sam frowned. I’ll come to you if you’d rather. It’s important.

“What the hell?”

But that was it. The voice vanished. “It’s gone back to normal,” Henry muttered, and then Sam heard another voice—Scott’s.

Little fucker came to see me in the big jail in Three Hills, Scott said. Managed to use me like a messenger bird. Can I eat him?

“No,” Sam said. That had been James’s voice. “Leave him alone. Go back to the pit. I’ll talk to him. Shit.”

Heh. Try not to sound so scared. He’ll hear it. And Scott hit the floor, scurried off back to where he belonged.

“Shit,” Sam repeated, moving closer to Henry. “James wants to talk to me. He used Scott to get the message to me.”

“Could be your chance to kill him,” Henry pointed out.

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, nodding. That was a good point. He shouldn’t be worrying, he should be planning. “Yeah. I’ll get him to come here. Out of his fucking trees where he’s got all his power.”

“If he’s not willing to come here, though?” Henry asked.

“Then I won’t meet with him. Fuck. I didn’t need this added to everything else today. Let’s talk to Jocelyn and the Sea King. They should be enough to help me trap James. I’m not going to Jdinrma-Hash until this is done,” Sam said.

“Yeah, I agree. I’ll go get them, and I’ll write that letter to Geoffrey, too.”

Sam had already forgotten about that. “Right. Okay. I need to sit down and think for a few minutes.”

“Yeah.” Henry put his hand on Sam’s side, just for a second, and kissed his temple. “It’ll be okay, Sam.”

Sam pretended that didn’t make some stupid, childish part of him feel better. “I know. Just do what I told you.”

“I’m going now.”

“Go.”

Henry went. His hand lingered on Sam’s side for a long second before he did. Sam pretended not to notice.

He thought about that touch occasionally over the next few hours. It helped him concentrate.

Chapter Text

“I assume I don’t need to tell you that if you fuck this up I’ll be very unhappy with you,” Sam said to Derek, in the small room where he’d set up the teleportation spell.

“No, your Majesty. I understand that,” Derek told him.

“Good. Just in case I’m sending Scott with you,” Sam told him. They were sending Derek to talk to James, to extend an invitation for him to come visit in a bit. Sam wasn’t about to go in person and fall into a trap, and he wasn’t about to send someone who mattered like Henry, and he wasn’t about to send someone incompetent like Todd. Derek was the only middle ground between someone he knew could actually do it and someone he almost trusted not to betray him.

“He’s a tad conspicuous,” Jocelyn said. She was the only other person in the room.

“Heh,” Scott said from the corner. “Not all of me, Tipsy. Just a few little pieces. Joy’ll never know I’m there.”

“Your fear of names aside, don’t underestimate my son’s ability to sense your presence. He is highly attuned to what’s happening in the forest. There is a very good chance you’ll be discovered.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll be inside Princey’s clothes, and clothes hide everything, don’t they?”

“Oh, okay,” Derek said, sounding a bit creeped out. Sam would be creeped out if Scott hid in his clothes too, but that was why this was happening to Derek.

“You won’t be able to return without him,” Sam said. “He’ll need to open the portal when you’re ready to leave.” So if James did discover Scott, Derek was stranded at least until James came to visit Sam.

And of course, it meant that Derek wouldn’t be able to do anything stupid like betray Sam, since Scott would be listening in. Sam wasn’t stupid, and he only almost trusted Derek.

Derek wasn’t stupid either, so when he said “Got it,” Sam knew he had. “I should go now, then.”

“Scott,” Sam said, stepping closer to the circle where Derek was standing. There was a skittering, and Derek made a noise that sounded almost like a laugh.

“There we go, Sammy,” Scott sang. “Four of me, one of him. Road trip.”

Sam ignored him and touched the circle with his foot. “You’ll have to walk a bit when you get there. If he takes you hostage, I don’t plan on rescuing you.”

“I know, your Majesty,” Derek said, calm.

Sam snorted. “You’re lucky. He’s too much of a sap to hurt you even if he did kidnap you. He probably won’t even rape you.”

And because he didn’t feel like talking to Derek anymore, Sam powered the portal spell, sucking Derek away from the castle and into James’s woods. Sam just had to hope he didn’t get eaten by a bear or something before he got to James’s house. “Make sure he doesn’t get eaten by anything,” Sam told Scott, turning to leave the room. “I don’t want to have to send someone else.”

“Can do, boss boy,” Scott said, irritatingly following him out of the room.

“You’ve a greater concern that James will use the power of love or something equally saccharine to lure Derek away from you,” Jocelyn said from Sam’s left. He wished Henry was here.

“Derek makes his only friend eat out of a bowl and lends his asshole to assholes once an hour,” Sam told Jocelyn. “He’s nowhere near as nice a person as he lets on. Besides, his family is in the plateau. Will James accept the invitation?”

“I expect so,” Jocelyn said, while Scott chuckled to himself behind them. “If he’s contacting you, it must be because he believed you when you said you wanted his help. It’s the sort of thing he’d take at face value.”

“Hey, when was the last time you actually saw him?” Scott asked, cutting in.

“Five years ago.”

“And he was what, three years old?”

“It was his twelfth birthday,” Jocelyn told Scott, voice dripping with disdain. “Does this matter?”

“Not at all. Time is just seasoning. I’m just thinking that humans seem to think that they change as they’ve eaten more of it.”

Sam was getting better at deciphering Scott. “You’re making claims about what he’s going to do and you haven’t known him since he was too young to grow ball hair. You thought he’d be your ally and he isn’t, so even then you clearly didn’t know him well.”

“That’s all I’m saying,” Scott chirped.

That was never all Scott was saying, but Sam didn’t poke that.

“You’ve got a point,” Jocelyn admitted. “But he won’t have changed that much. He’s a nice person.”

“Dumbass,” Sam muttered. “It’ll be the death of him.”

“That’s the hope. If he’s a shred of intelligence to him he’ll have the stone with him when he’s here.”

“If he’s got a shred of intelligence to him he’ll leave that fucker at home,” Scott chimed. “Come on, he’s gotta know you guys are planning to make him the main course. If he was smart enough to use me as a piece of mail he’s smart enough not to bring you everything you’ve ever wanted on a platter made out of his own bowels, right?”

“It’s vaguely irritating that a vaguely irritating pile of centipedes with the personality of a vaguely irritating pile of centipedes is giving me better counsel than you about your own son, Jocelyn.”

“That’s an amusing use of repetition, have you been studying rhetoric, your Majesty?” Jocelyn asked. “Or just spending time with Scott?”

“Vaguely annoying?” Scott demanded. “Only vaguely? I’m the most concrete thing in the fucking cosmos, Sammy.”

Sam sighed. “I did absolutely nothing to deserve this.”

“There was all the rape and murder,” Jocelyn reminded him.

“Neither of you is raping or murdering me, you’re just being pains in my ass. Go away. I’ll call you if Derek comes back.”

“He’ll come back,” Scott promised. “Oh, oh, can I go bother Butt-Boy until he comes back?”

“Fine,” Sam said, to make him go the fuck away. “Just don’t kill him or maim him too badly.”

“Yes!” Scott broke into a pile of clicking, and then his noxious presence retreated.

After he’d left Jocelyn walked alongside Sam in silence for a moment. “I fear you give him too much leeway,” she said.

“He’s fine. He only does what I tell him to,” Sam said, ignoring her. He had Henry to nag him about Scott. “Maybe while James is here I should send someone to his house to retrieve the stone in case he doesn’t bring it.”

“You can simply wait until he’s dead,” Jocelyn said. “The wards around my house will collapse once he is and then I can go get it.”

“And how will Cassiopeia feel about that?” Sam asked. It was pretty clear that the two of them weren’t going to coexist for long.

“I don’t care. You haven’t told her about this, have you?”

“No.”

“Good,” Jocelyn said crisply. “I suggest you don’t.”

“And your suggestion sounds so much like a threat,” Sam said.

“It wasn’t meant to be. I don’t trust her.”

“Solomon did. And he trusted you too.” Sam chose to let it hang in the air whether that was a positive fact or not.

Jocelyn was quiet for a moment. “I’ll bring my husband and children when James is here. For backup. Trustworthy backup.”

“Fine,” Sam said, wanting her to do as he’d told her and go away. “Scott and the Sea King will be in the castle as well, so I’m not worried.” Fuck, that sounded like he was worried without them. “You’re giving me a headache. It’ll be a while before Derek gets back, even if he comes back. I’ll send for you.”

“Very well. I shall speak with you soon, then, your Majesty.” Jocelyn finally retreated, leaving Sam alone.

He took a breath, made his way back to the room. “It’s done,” he said, shutting the door.

“Good,” Henry said, from the bed. So Sam went there. “No problems?”

“You were right, Jocelyn is lying about James.”

“Mm,” Henry said, pulling Sam onto the bed to lay beside him. “She still wants him on her side. She thinks she can talk him into it by siding with him against you.”

“I don’t think she’s right,” Sam said, nestling against Henry’s chest, his headache clearing. “James wanted to kill her. He won’t side with her. There’s no way he wants to kill me enough.”

“There was nobody you’d have sided with Solomon over?” Henry asked quietly.

“No. Not even the shadow.” Sam was sure of that. He’d never have been able to coexist with his father any longer than he had. “She’s wrong if she thinks he’s any different.”

“He’s not like you,” Henry reminded Sam.

“No,” Sam agreed, breathing in the smell of Henry. “He’s like you.” He didn’t know why he said that, but it was true. Something about it was true.

“Is that why you’re afraid of him?”

Sam was quiet for a long, long time then, letting Henry hold him, feeling his heartbeat. “Yes.”

Henry just gently kissed Sam’s forehead. “You know I’ll protect you, right?”

“That doesn’t make me feel better.” It did, actually, but Sam knew it was a stupid, false platitude and it made him angry that it did.

“It shouldn’t. I just want you to know it. It’s going to be okay.”

“I feel like ‘stop being stupid’ was one of the first conversations you and I had,” Sam growled.

“It was. We’ve come awfully far since then.”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, resting his head against Henry. “Yeah, we have.” He yawned. “I’m tired.”

“Derek will be a few hours. Take a nap.”

Sam started to laugh, to tell Henry he couldn’t do that, that he wasn’t a child. But…it was just Henry here in the room. “Fine,” he said, trying to get comfortable. “Stay awake.”

“I will,” Henry promised, kissing Sam again.

And Sam knew he was telling the truth, so he was able to fall asleep like that.

Chapter Text

“So we kill Jocelyn’s son and take his stone,” the Sea King said, dishes clinking. “And then what?”

“There’s no ‘and then what,’” Sam said. “We’ll plan the next step after accomplishing this one.”

“That seems shortsighted and foolish,” the Sea King said. Sam wished he had a name.

“It’s not,” Henry told him calmly. He had a lot more patience for the Sea King’s arrogance than Sam did. “It’s wise. There’s no point in planning more than two or three steps in advance—hell, there’s not much point in planning past the first step. Plans are nice, but they never go like you want them to. So we kill Jocelyn’s son and take the stone, and then we figure out what to do after that. If we decide now, we’ll just end up changing our minds in a week.”

“For example,” Sam said, grateful that Henry had put that into words for him. “There’s a very good possibility that after we kill Jocelyn’s son, we’ll have to kill Jocelyn as well.”

“Hm. Is that so?”

“It will depend,” Sam said, “on whether she chooses to betray us while he’s here. She wants to, but we’ll find out if she’s stupid enough to try with you and Scott here.”

“Ah,” the Sea King said, laughing a little. “You assume that Scott and I won’t be on her side, I see.”

“Oh, please,” Sam said, spearing some meat and putting it in his mouth. He chewed, swallowed, before speaking. “If you’re going to make idle threats, at least don’t make stupid ones. Scott’s only your ally because of me, and Jocelyn has no motivation to help you rid yourself of the shadow creature. Kill me and you’re ensuring that you’re enslaved to that thing for the rest of your life. How old are you, anyway?” Henry said that the Sea King’s body was no older than him, but Sam doubted that the creature inside the body was Henry’s age.

“I am ancient as the seas,” the Sea King said, his voice echoing with waves.

“Sure you are.” As if Sam had the patience for this. “If that were true, you wouldn’t need my help to kill a shadow.”

The Sea King’s power fluctuated for a second, but Sam pushed back against it. The table rattled. It was just posturing; neither of them really wanted to fight. The Sea King knew he would lose. Besides, they were friends. “It is…difficult to say,” the Sea King admitted, after they’d stopped the little pushing contest. “I am something of an amalgam.”

“An amalgam of what?” Henry asked.

“Souls. I have memories of being an officer on a ship, of seizing it for myself and becoming the Sea King after harnessing the power of the seas. I also have memories of my family being slaughtered, of running from the man who did it and falling into the sea. I have memories of living under the waves, moving through water as a fish does. I have memories of being killed by an intruder, by a son, by a lover.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Sam said. Maybe the Sea King had been fucking his own son in a past life, but that didn’t sound like what he was saying.

“I am aware. Imagine being me and trying to live by it.”

Sam made a sound. “So you’re three different people, is that it?”

“I am the Sea King,” the Sea King said simply. “I am me, that is all.”

“Clearly not,” Sam said. “Fine, though. So you’re all of this and all you want is to rule over the ocean?”

“If you think that isn’t an ambitious goal, you’ve clearly no experience with the ocean,” the Sea King said. “It is massive, and powerful, and everyone who seeks to rule the world must cross it eventually.”

“Unless they can teleport or open portals,” Sam pointed out.

The Sea King just made a noise. “Most humans don’t have that power.”

“I’m just saying, I could take over the world without ever bothering you.”

“Fortunately you’ve no interest in taking over the world.”

“Don’t I?” Sam did not.

“If you did, you wouldn’t be ruling this little patch of mountain, Sorcerer King.”

Sam started to say something and stopped. “I think that was a compliment.”

“It was meant as one. Are you sure Jocelyn’s son will fall for the trap you’ve lain?”

Sam took a second to adjust to the change of topic. “Yes. Derek said that he wanted us to think he was worried about a trap.”

“He wanted you to think this?”

“The fact that he told Derek that means he wanted Derek to think he wasn’t. He wasn’t counting on Derek telling us exactly what he said,” Henry said. “He wants us to think he’s not worried because he’s trying to intimidate us.”

“Which means he’s hoping we won’t do anything because he knows he can’t stop it. Derek assured him we wanted him here in good faith.” Sam personally didn’t like all this double meaning and hiding behind half-truths, but Henry assured him he knew what it all meant.

“Do you believe him that stupid?”

“No,” Sam said. “He’ll try something. But it won’t matter. As soon as he steps through the portal he’ll be in a circle that will prevent his magic from working. Then we’ll kill him. You won’t even need to do anything unless Jocelyn interferes.”

“I hope that is the case,” the Sea King said. “I would rather not meddle in your affairs so.”

“And I’d rather settle them myself,” Sam agreed. “As long as we both agree about that.” He stood. “I should go. I have to hold court.”

“Until next time, Sorcerer King,” the Sea King said, as Henry opened the door.

“You as well, Sea King.” Sam paused. “Do you have an actual name? Or are you just the Sea King?”

The Sea King was silent for a moment. “I expect I had a name at some point. I fear I’ve forgotten it.”

“Hm,” Sam said. “Fine. If you think of something you’d rather I call you, just tell me.”

“The Sea King shall suffice. It is who I am.”

“Fine,” Sam repeated, and he left, disquieted. “How do you forget your own name?”

“By being three people? Or maybe by being immortal,” Henry said, sighing. “I don’t know.”

“I used to think power was worth anything,” Sam considered, wishing Henry would hold his hand or touch his shoulder.

“You don’t anymore?”

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to forget who I was. Would you?” he asked, turning his head towards Henry. “Would you accept power even if you had to forget yourself?”

Now Henry took Sam’s hand, and he kissed it. “I already did.”

“Right,” Sam muttered. That didn’t make him feel better. “Someone better have committed a crime, I’m in the mood to execute someone.”

“We’ve captured a few rebel sympathizers, how’s that?”

“Perfect,” Sam said, heading for his throne. “The day’s looking up.”

Chapter Text

“If I never have to talk to anyone again it’ll be too soon,” Sam decided, tugging at his collar to take his shirt off. He was tired of wearing clothes, he’d been wearing them all day and he was done talking to people now so he was going to take them off, even if it was too early for bed. He’d had a bath earlier today but he wanted another one and was trying to decide if that was going to make him seem silly.

“Do I count?” Henry asked, running his hand down Sam’s back as Sam’s shirt hit the floor.

Sam moved closer to him and let Henry reach around him to undo his pants. “That depends. If you’re going to try and talk to me about something stupid, then yes.”

“Okay,” Henry said, pushing Sam’s pants down and kissing his neck. “I was thinking of talking to you about sex.”

Sam smiled to himself. “Or we could just have sex.”

“Hm,” Henry agreed, sliding down, reaching around to undo Sam’s boots. All his short boots had vanished from his wardrobe and he’d started wearing boots that laced halfway up his calves, which he had to assume was because Henry liked them on him. But whatever, Sam didn’t care. They were just boots, they didn’t hurt his feet. And if Henry wanted to crouch there and unlace Sam’s boots, let him. It reminded him of where he was supposed to be. “Okay. You know what I’d like to do?”

“I don’t care what you’d like to do,” Sam said with a sigh.

Henry lifted Sam’s foot up, pulled his left boot off, then started on the right boot. He kissed Sam’s buttcheek as he did. “I’m going to tell you anyway,” he said.

“I know.” Henry had never cared what Sam wanted.

Henry kissed Sam again, unlacing the boot with one hand as his other hand slid up and cupped Sam’s dick, massaging it to hardness. “I’d like,” he said, stroking Sam properly now. “To make you cum, over and over again, until you can’t anymore.”

Sam snorted, lifting his foot when Henry coaxed him to. The boot came off, and the pants with it, and Sam was naked. “That sounds so horrible.”

“And then,” said Henry, kissing Sam again, “once you can’t cum anymore and it hurts to try, then I’m going to fuck you until I’m satisfied. How does that sound?”

Sam shuddered as Henry gave him a hard stroke. “That…doesn’t sound fun.”

“It does for me.” Henry kept going, and Sam was leaking, and it was hard to respond. And then Sam came into Henry’s hand while Henry kissed his ass some more. And Henry kept stroking.

“F-fine,” Sam said, knees knocking a bit. “Play your stupid game. B-but tomorrow you’re not going to talk. You’re going to spend the whole day sucking my cock.”

Henry snorted. “If you can even get it up, sure.” And he pulled Sam back, into his lap, and though Sam yelped, he didn’t reach for his power. He was fine. Henry caught him, held him there. Jerked him off.

Henry’s clothes were rough against Sam’s skin and his hand was rough against Sam’s cock, and he squirmed and tried not to whimper like a dumbass while Henry stroked him. Eventually it got to be too much, and Sam reached up, let his power skitter to his hands, and used it to tear Henry’s clothes off his body, the fabric pulling away and leaving just Henry’s skin. That was much better.

Henry chuckled and jerked Sam harder, pulling Sam against his chest now, arms around him, keeping him in place, holding him tight, almost too tight, and Sam came again, with a soft cry that was only because Henry was hurting him.

He wasn’t given time to recover. Sam was laid on the floor and Herny’s head was between his legs before Sam could even get used to the temperature difference between Henry’s skin and the chilly rug, and Henry was sucking Sam hard and deep, and not giving him a moment to catch his breath.

Not hurting but sensitive so that he understood, actually understood now, what Henry planned to do to him, Sam took matters into his own hands. He grabbed Henry’s head, ran the libido spell through him as powerfully as he could. Henry would be too horny to follow through on his little game, he’d just need to fuck Sam now, or to get off somehow.

But no matter the spell, Henry sucked Sam for a good fifteen minutes, not moving. His hand did leave Sam’s thigh after a bit, and Sam took as a sign of victory that he was probably jerking off down there to relieve the pressure. So much for that plan.

But when Sam came into Henry’s mouth with a shout, Henry just pulled off, climbed up and kissed him. “How we doing?”

“F-fine,” Sam lied. “You?”

“Fine.” Henry moved, his presence disappearing for a second, and then his mouth was on Sam’s cock again, and this time his cock was pressing into Sam’s mouth, not giving him much choice but to open it. Good. Sam let it in, sucked. He’d get Henry off a few times and then they could go to bed.

Sucking hard, Henry slid his cock into Sam’s mouth more and more, moving up and down, fucking his face. He’d cum pretty quickly, Sam figured. There was a little bit of fluid, but not enough to suggest he’d shot before.

And then with a thrust, Henry was fucking Sam’s throat, his whole cock in Sam’s mouth. And Sam could feel against his lips a metal ring. Oh, fuck. When had Henry put that on? Sam hadn’t felt it before when he’d been leaning against Henry.

Sam had to struggle to breathe and it was hard to think with Henry sucking him so hard, the suggestion of teeth now and then keeping him focused, and his jaw hurt and he didn’t know how much time was passing and his balls hurt and fuck, this was…

Sam shouted as he came again, spasming around Henry’s cock. Henry pulled out after a few more thrusts, sitting beside Sam, touching his cheek. “Had enough?”

“Fuck…fuck you…”

Henry kissed Sam. “Soon. I think you can go a few more times, your Majesty.” He picked Sam up like a child and manhandled him into a chair, sitting with Sam in his lap.

“Could kill you,” Sam muttered, as Henry pressed against his entrance.

Henry kissed his cheek. “I know you could.” And, arms around Sam again, Henry pushed Sam all the way down in one go, getting another shout in exchange. Then he started to bounce Sam up and down. “Wasn’t going to fuck you until you were ready, but I think, I think wearing the ring means it doesn’t count…”

Sam didn’t answer, just wriggled and tried to get comfortable in Henry’s lap, but it was impossible with Henry fucking him, however slowly, and hitting that stupid spot inside him that made his body think he liked this, think he liked Henry inside him and fuck, this was good, but it hurt, and Sam…

Sam came with a whimper this time, not even sure he had the breath to cry out. Henry kissed his neck and kept going. “One more?”

“St-stop,” Sam said, quiet. He didn’t want to do it. But Henry wasn’t going to, he knew that. Henry would do this all night. It was too much for Sam, it was…

A knock at the door. Sam barely heard it. “Stop.”

“Why?” Henry asked, breath heavy.

“Someone…”

“I hear them.”

“I don’t want…” Sam struggled to speak. “I don’t want them to…”

“See you using me as a toy just like you do everyone else?” Henry asked. “I can’t even cum like this. It’s pretty obvious that it’s just my job to pleasure you, isn’t it?”

“You…” Henry had a point. But at the same time…

Henry kissed Sam again. “Anyone brave enough to knock on that door at night is smart enough not to do anything stupid with anything they might learn in here. Come in.”

Sam didn’t have time to protest before the door creaked open, and then shut just as quickly.

“Hello, Derek,” Henry said, voice normal as if none of this was having an effect on him. “The king was just saying he’d like a blowjob.”

“Of course,” Derek said, coming over. Thank God Todd wasn’t with him. While Sam tried to stay composed, Derek got down on his knees and took Sam into his mouth, sucking obediently.

It hurt. At this point it wasn’t sensitive anymore, it just hurt, but Sam wasn’t, was not going to let Derek know that, so he just sat there, let Henry fuck him, let Derek suck him, like this was all for fun, like he was enjoying it, like he wanted it, like it was all his idea, like…

Sam hardly shot anything when he finished, but Derek swallowed it, then pulled off and stood up. “I hope that was to your liking, your Majesty.”

“It was…fine,” Sam got out. “What do you want? I’m busy.” Henry had slowed down, but was still fucking away.

“Yes, sir,” Derek agreed. “There’s going to be an attempt on your life in three days.”

Sam tensed, sat straighter. Henry stopped moving. “What?”

“By the rebel group that destroyed the cathedral in Jdrinma-Hash,” Derek continued, as if nothing was wrong. “The dragons who did it are working with some survivors from Endlyn. They’re planning to attack the castle and kill you and Lord Henry, your Majesty.”

Sam’s hand clenched, but Henry covered it. “And you know this how?”

Derek’s foot scuffed on the carpet. “Because I told them I’d help them.”

“You…” Sam reached out, magic lifting Derek from his feet, hand shaking with the effort at concentration, at not ripping him to shreds. “You little traitor.”

“It was the only way,” Derek explained, voice calm. “To find out their plan. If I hadn’t, they’d have killed me and you’ve never have known they were coming.”

“He has a point, Sam,” Henry muttered.

Sam didn’t care. “And how long have you known about this?”

“Only a week, your Majesty.”

“And you chose to wait until now to tell me.”

“I didn’t want to come to you with only half the information, sir,” Derek explained. “I know their plan now.”

Fuck. Sam wanted to kill him. The fact that he was right just made Sam want to kill him more. But at the same time, he kind of liked Derek. He put him down. “Tell me.”

“The dragons are going to attack the castle,” Derek explained, a small hitch in his voice the only indication that he’d just been at death’s door. “To distract you. I’m supposed to convince all the guards to go outside. The leaders of the rebellion are going to infiltrate the castle through the back wall and come assassinate you. One of them is a dragon that can shapeshift into human size, and he’s confident that your magic won’t hurt him. They think you’re going to be in the throne room.” Derek was silent for a second, but in that way that suggested he wasn’t done. “They’re being manipulated, your Majesty. Their leader is a foreigner named Cyrus. He’s convinced them that it’s all about freeing Ech’kent from you. But it’s not. He’s after the stone, the magic one you use.”

Sam went even more still. The stone was on the floor somewhere, in his pants pocket. “How do they know about the stone?”

“I don’t know, sir,” Derek said. “Someone must have told them. Whoever Cyrus is really working with, I guess.”

Fuck. Fuck. “Fine,” Sam said. “Fine. Tell us the details of their plan. We’ll prepare something to combat…”

“Your Majesty, if I might interrupt,” Derek said, doing just that. “I have it under control. They won’t get anywhere near you.”

Sam was not amused. “You have it under control.” Derek was a servant. He didn’t have any power except over Todd.

“Yes, sir,” he said, though, confident. “I’m telling you not because I need help. I’m telling you because there’s no way for me to keep it quiet when it happens, there are going to be dragons attacking the castle. Honestly I’d have preferred to deal with it without you knowing. I don’t think it’s important enough for you to waste time on.”

The furniture shook just a little. “You don’t decide what’s important enough,” Henry reminded Derek.

“Yes, Lord Arkhewer. There aren’t many of them. They’re not very smart. Aside from Cyrus they’re just stupid and sad. I think…” he paused. “I think they can be convinced to be your allies.”

Sam barked a laugh. “My allies? They’re trying to kill me. They’ll be centipede food.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Derek agreed. “Only, two of the dragons for sure will switch sides if we can convince a few of the humans to side with us instead of killing them. The humans may be useless to you, but dragons…”

Sam leaned back into Henry, finding it easier to ignore his soreness now. He wanted so many more answers than this. “Two dragons working for me. You’re sure.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

Hm. “And you know all this because they came to you for help.”

“Yes, your Majesty. I’m nobody important, but I have access to you and I can go anywhere in the castle. Recruiting someone like me was part of their plan.”

Interesting. “That was a mistake for them.”

“Yes, your Majesty, it was. They’re not very smart, like I said. Mostly they’re pretty young. My age or even a bit younger.”

Sam wasn’t sure what to make of all this. Well, he had an idea. The fact that Derek didn’t want him to kill these idiots was something to consider, though. “Go away,” he said after a minute. “I’m going to think about this tonight. Come back for breakfast and we’ll talk more. You’re not handling this anymore, Henry and I are.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Derek said, moving backwards. “Thank you for your time.”

“Just get lost,” Sam muttered. The door opened. Derek left. “Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Henry agreed. He stood up, not letting Sam off his cock, walked them to the bed, plopped Sam down on what he realized belatedly were the artworm silk sheets. “A bit of a problem.”

“Just a bit,” Sam said, as Henry slid back into him and started moving again. He wrapped his arms around Henry’s neck to help him think. “If there’s going to be an attack I want Daisy and the baby taken somewhere else. Somewhere safer.”

“I’ll have them get ready to go tomorrow,” Henry agreed. “Sam, three days is when James is visiting too.”

“I know.” Sam had, in fact, forgotten about that. Shit. “It’s our only chance to get him. We can’t make him come a different day or he’ll get suspicious. We’ll just have to deal with it.” It shouldn’t be a problem. James was going to be trapped in the circle that would block his powers. But Sam still felt like it was a problem. It was too many things at once.

“We will,” Henry agreed, kissing Sam’s collarbone. He thrust harder. “We’ll deal with it.”

Sam felt like that was actually true when Henry said it. It was comforting.

The orgasm he had was a surprise. He’d been busy thinking and hadn’t noticed himself building to it. It shook him, taking his strength, his concentration. “Fuck.”

Henry chuckled, fondled Sam’s sore dick a little. “Not even hard anymore.”

“Shut up.”

Henry pulled out, patting Sam’s cheek. “Let’s worry about the rebels and James tomorrow,” he said. “We can’t do anything tonight.”

“Fine,” Sam grumbled, ready for sleep.

Henry slid back inside, but this time there was no metal at the base of his cock. “For now, I’m going to take my turn.”

It was another two hours before Henry let Sam get any sleep. It didn’t matter. He slept really well anyway, even with all the things pressing down on him.

Chapter Text

“I don’t suppose,” said Jocelyn, who was standing in the centre of the room, “that James gave you a timeline for when he planned to arrive?”

He hadn’t. “No,” said Sam. “Just that it will be sometime today.”

“I see. So we could be waiting here for hours. Assuming he comes at all.”

“He’ll come,” Sam said, though of course he had no way at all of knowing that. He was standing here in this room with Jocelyn and her husband and two children, waiting for James. Henry wasn’t here.

“If you insist.”

Before Jocelyn could say anything else—and it was going to be her, none of her family seemed to be able to talk—a knock sounded on the door, and then it opened. “Excuse me, your Majesty,” said Todd.

Sam scowled, Todd’s voice making him want to stab someone, preferably Todd. It was supposed to be Derek. “What?”

Todd shuffled his feet. Sam wondered if he was wearing clothes. Or standing on his feet. He didn’t care much, he just wondered idly. “Derek told me to come get you, your Majesty.”

Sam was going to have to have a word with Derek about the proper use of a lackey. “I have to go deal with something,” he told Jocelyn. “I’ll be back shortly. If James appears, do entertain him until I get back.”

“Of course, your Majesty,” Jocelyn said, as Sam left the room. He tried not to breathe too deeply since Todd was there. Todd smelled horrible. Not as bad as Scott, but Sam was starting to wonder if he was trying to compete.

“Where’s Derek?” Sam asked him.

“He…” Todd swallowed audibly. “He asked me to come find you, and…”

“I asked you where he was.”

“I don’t know, your Majesty, I’m sorry. He asked me to come find you and tell you it was about to start but he didn’t say what.” Todd said it all in a rush, afraid he was going to be hit, probably.

Sam didn’t hit him, but he did enjoy the feeling of Todd’s flinch as he stepped closer. He put a hand on Todd’s bare shoulder, patting it. He’d gotten taller. “Will you stand the fuck up to him for once? It’s what he’s waiting for you to do. Unless of course you want to be his messenger boy for the rest of your worthless life.”

“I…” Todd sounded like he had been hit.

Sam turned away. “I shouldn’t be having to give you fucking hints,” he growled, walking away. Todd was smart enough, at least, not to fucking follow him.

The castle shook when Sam was about fifteen steps away from Todd, and Sam put his hand on the wall to steady himself. For all his declarations the other night that he’d be dealing with this, there wasn’t much he could do about some dragons attacking the castle, which must be what was happening now. As much as he hated to, he had to trust that Derek would stop them like he said he would.

Dragons were magic-proof, so killing them was going to pose a problem for Sam. But according to Derek, they could also shapeshift into smaller forms, which would make beheading them a lot easier. Though if they actually could be reasoned with, that wouldn’t be necessary.

Pretending that he wasn’t worried, Sam headed for the other side of the castle, where Henry was waiting. It was a room similar to the one he had Jocelyn in, with the only difference being that this was the room James was actually going to appear in.

The castle shook one more time before he got there, and then didn’t again, so maybe Derek had done whatever he was going to do. “Is it ready?” he demanded of Henry, banging the door open. “I’ve convinced Jocelyn and her useless family to stay on the other side of the castle, but I don’t know if they’ll stay there long.”

“Why are you asking me if it’s ready?” Henry asked, against the far wall. “Do I seem like a sorcerer to you?”

“Shut up,” Sam said, flicking Henry with magic just to remind him which of them was a sorcerer. He strode into the middle of the room, feeling for the portal. He’d only set half of one up, an invitation, so James didn’t just step out into whatever part of the castle he wanted to. James had to open up the other side.

It was the same as he’d left it. “What the fuck is taking him so long?”

“Maybe someone’s trying to kill him too,” Henry suggested.

“They can wait in fucking line.” James had better not be making him wait so he could deal with some lesser murder attempt carried out by lumberjacks or whatever was dangerous in the fucking woods. Since nothing was happening, he said, “I told Todd he had to stand up to Derek.”

Henry snorted. “That should end well. Todd’s idea of doing that is going to be to call Derek names or try to hit him.”

Probably. “In which case it’ll be amusing to know he’s sleeping in a kennel all winter,” Sam said.

“I suppose there’s a chance he’ll do it properly.”

“Probably not. He doesn’t do anything properly.”

“The air is shimmering.”

Sam stepped closer to Henry, feeling what he was talking about. The portal opened with a snap that Sam felt in his knees, and he heard two sets of feet hit the stone floor. James’s power filled the room, big but manageable now, something Sam could actually feel the shape of. Sam ran crackling power into the floor, and it ran into the circle he’d constructed all around this room, blocking all magic but his. “Hello,” Sam said, restraining his glee. “I’m glad you could make it.”

Wood tapped the floor. James didn’t answer right away, perhaps realizing he’d been trapped. “Of course. Thanks for having me. I get the impression that we’re similar and I don’t much like having guests, so I imagine you don’t either.”

Henry was so tense beside him, but there was no reason to be. Sam tapped his foot, just to check the spell was in place. It was. He felt nothing from James. “No. Which is why we’re just going to kill you. I’ve got other things happening today, so I don’t have the time to torture you that I’d planned.” He hadn’t been planning to torture James. Just like Solomon, he was someone Sam just wanted gone.

Metal rang, James’s servant drawing his sword, but it stopped abruptly. “I’d like to talk about your pet monster,” James said, calmly as he’d been back at his house. As if he were the one in control here.

Though Sam had a second where he wanted to ask why James wanted to talk about Scott, he ignored it. “You’re not here to talk.”

“He asked me to kill you,” James said flatly, not even waiting for Sam to finish.

He’d done…what? Why the fuck would Scott...Sam felt Henry’s elbow touch his arm. “You’re lying,” he realized. Of course he was. James knew he was trapped and he was hoping to talk his way out of this.

“Why would I do that?” Another tap of wood on stone. James must have brought a walking stick with him or something. It was annoying; Sam wanted to break it over his head. Maybe he’d rape James’s servant with it after James had died. “You have a contract with him that forbids him from hurting you. I’m guessing that it doesn’t forbid him from getting other people to hurt you.” That was…he was right, Sam thought. James went on. “And if you die, there’s nobody to uphold that contract, and he will be free. He is far, far too dangerous to be allowed to be free, Sam. Please, I came here for the specific purpose of asking you to send him back where he belongs before he can destroy the world.”

James sounded sincere to Sam. Though he’d started to sound stupid at the end. “Oh, don’t be so fucking dramatic. He’s not going to destroy the world.” Latching onto that made it easier to ignore the other things James was saying. Henry shifted at that, barely perceptible.

“That’s literally what he said he wanted to do.” Who the fuck was that? It took Sam a second to realize it must be the voice of James’s servant. Did Sam know his name? He didn’t care.

“I’m sure it is. Scott says a lot of stupid things,” Sam didn’t want to talk about Scott. “You came here because I wanted to kill you. That’s all. Now…” The castle shook again, more than before.

“Did you know your castle’s under attack?” James asked calmly, as if nothing serious was happening. He never seemed to care about anything. The benefit of being so powerful. But that arrogance was what had would soon have gotten him killed.

“I did know that,” Sam said, feeling irrationally like he should answer James’s question. “I’d be handling it, but I’m here wasting time talking to you.”

“By all means,” James said, with another tap. “Go handle it. I can wait.”

“No.” Sam didn’t like this. Something was wrong. James had to have known this was a trap and he was too confident, too calm. He must be up to something. Sam called his power, let it track all up his body, preparing to strike. “You’re going to die now.” His heart was pounding. Steel rang as Henry and James’s servant drew their swords.

Sam lashed out with his power, unleashing it against James, letting it fly and flaying James alive and…it didn’t work. He had the stone in his pocket and his power just flowed out of him and into the stone, into the circle, powering the spell in the room. And Sam was powerless again. “What the…what did you do?” This was impossible.

“I haven’t done anything, Sam. What do you think I’ve done?” James asked, in a voice that told Sam he’d been a bad little boy. It was the same calm sneer that Solomon had used to use.

“You…”

“You know, you were much friendlier when you visited me before.” Another tap of that wretched wood. That must be what was doing it. He’d managed some sort of spell, or… “What happened, Sam?”

It wasn’t the same as Solomon, Sam realized. James sounded playful, almost. He didn’t seem like he was sneering at Sam, or looking down at him. It sounded like he was playing a game.

“The spells on this room should have cut you off from your power.” Sam needed to buy time. Henry’s hand was on his back, keeping him in place. How had James done it? It should have been impossible, there was no way for him to touch his power here.

“Oh, is that what they were supposed to do?” James sounded impressed. Proud, almost. He was starting to sound like Henry in a way that Sam really didn’t like. “I don’t consider my power as separate from myself, Sam. Do you?”

“You…” Henry, Henry was here. He could just take James’s head off.

But before Sam could order that, noise and masonry filled the room. Sam felt Henry’s body over his, dust filling his lungs and then it stopped, and Sam felt a strange magic. A shield, but it wasn’t James making it. Was his servant also a witch?

They were on the floor. “The room exploded,” Henry said in Sam’s ear. “An attack from the outside, my guess is one of Derek’s dragons.”

Sam growled wordlessly, pushing himself to his feet, wanting to lash out and kill something. Henry stood with him. “Are you okay?” James asked, because he hadn’t even had the decency to be killed by falling stone, as if Sam had time for him to be drawing breath right now.

“Shut up.” Sam was leaning against Henry, but tried not to. “What the fuck is this? You said Derek was dealing with this.”

“You’re letting Derek deal with a dragon?” James asked. His tone had barely changed from before, as if the wall hadn’t just been ripped open. Hot air moved across Sam’s face. “He’s a child.” That part sounded reproachful.

“What the fuck,” James’s servant muttered, and Henry grabbed Sam’s elbow. Sam could feel it in the air. A presence, not quite like magic. A dragon, he presumed.

“Language.” James paused for a second, the wind howling. “Go to sleep, please.”

The presence disappeared, a second later Sam heard a crash.

“What the fuck?” Sam echoed, taking a step forward. He didn’t understand what was happening. “What did you do?” Dragons were immune to magic. James couldn’t have hurt it. Sam could accept that he’d broken through the spell, accept that he’d out-planned him, but that was just flat-out impossible.

“I just…oh, there are two.” James sighed. “You know, if this was a bad time, you could have said so and I’d have come tomorrow.”

God, Sam hated him. But before he could say that, another presence appeared, this one accompanied by flapping, hot air, and the smell of rotting meat. Something grew, and Sam didn’t need to be told it was an attack. The room and circle were destroyed and Sam’s powers were back, and he snarled at nothing as he flung them out, not into an attack like he desperately wanted to, but into a shield that blocked the fire, heat and all, from the dragon’s attack.

Sam couldn’t attack it, he didn’t know what James had done before, he didn’t know what was happening, he didn’t know…he needed help.

There was no way, absolutely no way, that Sam was asking James for help. But he could feel him there, doing nothing, as if waiting, waiting for Sam to admit weakness to him. And if Sam didn’t, James would watch him die.

“You could fucking do something,” Sam said, making it a command instead of a request. It was all he could do. It didn’t matter if James knew it was a lie. It didn’t matter if Henry knew it was a lie.

“Stop swearing and give me a second,” James said calmly, continuing to do nothing.

“Castor.” Sam hadn’t heard Derek approaching, which wasn’t surprising with all the noise. He brushed by Sam, standing in front of him at what must be the ledge. “Stop.”

“Derek.” Sam wanted to know what the fuck was happening.

“It’s okay.” The presence retreated, and then came back.

“Shit,” hissed James’s servant, but he didn’t do anything.

The dragon vanished from Sam’s mind, and feet hit the ground. Derek had said they could shapeshift. “Derek, are you okay?” a rough, worried voice asked.

“I’m fine,” Derek said, voice hurried. “I need you to stop attacking, Castor.”

“Derek, what’s going on?” demanded Castor the dragon.

“Listen,” Derek said, all of his usual stupid pleasantness absent. “You do as I say or we’re both going to die, got it?”

They scuffed closer to him, and Derek huffed out a breath. “Your Majesty, this is Castor.”

Sam tried to collect himself, remembering who he was. “Castor and his friend have damaged my castle, Derek.”

“I know, sir,” Derek said. “And I’d say they feel bad about it but they don’t. Most of the other rebels are contained, the attack is over. Castor is going to surrender to your mercy on behalf of his brothers.”

“What the fuck? Derek, I’m not going to…”

“Then the king is going to kill us, Castor,” Derek snapped. “Starting with me. Is that what you want? You said you’d do what I asked from you. This is what I’m asking from you.”

Sam hadn’t promised to kill anyone, but he didn’t say anything for now, listening to Castor’s silence.

Finally, Castor sighed, angry. “I…”

Before he could say the rest of it, Sam felt the floor rumble, and then he lost his footing, and then everything collapsed out from under him. And all he could think was that Henry was going to die. So he pushed Henry backwards, slamming him into the wall, and Sam fell.

It was only a few seconds that felt like forever, and there was no time for him to think of anything except that he was going to die, and he was going to do it because the fucking floor had fallen down. Of all the stupid, fucking stupid things to kill him, it was this. It was…

Sam stopped falling slowly, so much that he almost didn’t notice it until he hit the ground with only a gentle thud. “What the…”

“Falling isn’t because you’re heavy, it’s because the earth is pulling you down,” James said, still calm. He was breathing more heavily now, though. “If you know the trick, it’s possible to ask the earth to pull you with less strength.”

“That doesn’t make any fucking sense,” Sam growled, standing. He wasn’t hurt, but he felt like he’d been hit by something.

“Magic never does. Are you okay?”

Sam took in a bracing breath. He wished Henry was here…Henry. Henry had better fucking be okay. “I’m fine. Is it just us?”

“Derek and his friend are coming down now,” James said. “Ron and Henry are still up in the castle, I expect.”

“You expect?” Sam snapped. “You fucking expect?”

“Language. I’m not all-knowing, Sam.” James tapped that stupid piece of wood on the ground again. Sam very nearly reached for it with his power and snapped in it two. “I know you’re worried, but they’re probably fine. We need to worry about ourselves first.”

“We are fine.” Sam tried to orient himself. The castle was probably behind him. “We…”

“Do you believe that the floor collapsed on its own, Sam?”

A gust of wind and some footfalls suggested Derek and the dragon were here now. “Of course it did,” Sam said. “The castle’s falling apart.”

“Hm,” James disagreed. It was obvious that he was disagreeing. “Would it surprise you to learn that we’re surrounded by centipedes?”

That made Sam’s blood run cold, and he had to force himself not to take a step closer to James. “Scott,” he demanded, voice as steady as he could make it. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Heh, you ruined the game, Joy,” Scott said, voice coming from directly behind Sam. “I had a whole surprise planned, too. I was here to break your fall in case it came to that, Sammy. Nothing nefarious, promise. Can I eat the dragon?”

“No. You can…” Sam hesitated. He was about to tell Scott to kill James. Then he remembered what James had said up in the room. He asked me to kill you. “You can go back to the pit where you belong.”

“I can?” Scott asked, a screech on a wire. “That’s so nice of you, Sammy! But I’m going to stay here, actually.”

“Sam,” James said. Suddenly he sounded far less calm. “I don’t care what you’ve been told. That thing is not under your control. You have to send it back to where it came from or it’ll kill all of us.”

“I will, will I?” Scott asked, seeming closer. “Will I, I will? I suppose it’s not a bad idea, but don’t you know, I love Sammy way too much to kill him, Joy. Why would you ever think otherwise? I’d hug him right now but I’m not allowed cause he’s so mean.”

“That’s enough,” Sam snapped. “Go back to the pit, Scott. I don’t want to hear you again until I call you.”

“Okay, okay, I know when I’m not wanted,” Scott said, receding, both his voice and his poisonous power. “See you soon. Oh, Joy, it’s not me you should worry about. Look behind you.”

And then he was gone.

Sam didn’t need to be told what Scott was talking about. As soon as he was gone, he could feel it, a power like James’s. “Hello, son.”

“Mother.” James’s voice had lost its calm, and gone right to cold. It made Sam want to shiver. In all that had happened, he hadn’t yet heard James angry, he realized. And he was now.

“Are you ready to come with me?” Jocelyn asked. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Don’t waste my time. You’re coming with me.”

Jocelyn snorted. “I don’t think so.”

“Jocelyn,” Sam interrupted. “Nobody is going anywhere until I say so.”

“Your Majesty, I can’t say that I appreciate you trying to distract me,” Jocelyn drawled.

“I can’t say that I appreciate you trying to betray me,” Sam said back.

“Oh, is that what I was trying to do? All I want is my son.”

“Monsters don’t have children,” James said quietly.

“Now, that’s not a very nice thing to say…what the hell?”

That strange magic from before, the one that had blocked the dragon’s attack, appeared, and it seemed to rest in between Jocelyn, James and Sam. “Kid,” a buzzy voice said. “You okay?”

“I’m fine, Spike.”

“Removing a faery from the forest?” Jocelyn asked. “A bad idea.”

“Fuck you, bitch,” Spike the buzzy faery said, and what the fuck was happening?

At that point magic erupted from all three of them, a shoving contest that Sam stayed out of, unsure who to side with. Jocelyn was losing, unless his missed his guess. James must have been weakened from everything if he wasn’t just killing her, but he wasn’t losing.

“Your Majesty?” Derek was at his side after a few minutes had passed. “Should Castor and I help? He’s magic-proof.”

“No,” said Sam, trying to follow the fight. “Stay out of it until there’s a winner. Then we’ll kill them while they’re distracted.” This wasn’t his business. If Jocelyn and James wanted to kill each other, he could just let them do it and give the stone to Cassiopeia afterwards. Three problems solved at once.

“Understood,” Derek said. “The leaders of the rebels seem to have disappeared,” he added. “I think they’ve abandoned their people here. The attack’s over.”

“About time,” Sam muttered. “We’ll talk later about how bad you are at managing attacks on the castle.”

“Yes, sir.” Derek withdrew with Castor, not far off. What was taking Henry so long to get down here?

“You should have come with me, James,” Jocelyn said. She sounded just like Solomon. “We would have been something great. You would have been something great with me.”

“No,” James said, barely audible. “I wouldn’t have.”

“Kid didn’t need you to become great, you evil…”

A surge of a different kind of magic, necromancy, and Spike was cut off. “Spike!”

And then so was James, with a gurgle.

“Sentimentality was always your weakness,” Jocelyn said to her son. James was moving closer to Sam, falling over. Sam prepared to attack Jocelyn. “You should have come alone. You’d have won.”

The Forces shook, just for a second, and Sam only noticed because he was drawing on them. Something metal hit the ground between them. “What the fuck was…ah!” Jocelyn’s power flashed, and Sam heard Castor yell Derek’s name, and then…all three of them vanished.

Sam had no fucking idea what was happening. But he was alone with James now. Slowly, he moved closer. He was breathing, coughing. Sam could just barely smell blood in the air.

Sam could kill him right now. He could suffocate him, or even just sit here and let him die. He didn’t have to do anything and one of the most dangerous people in the world would be dead.

James could have killed him up in the room and he hadn’t. He could have let Sam fall to his death and he hadn’t. He could have killed him back in the woods and he hadn’t. Jocelyn was right. Sentimentality was his weakness. Sentimentality would get him killed. It would…

It would convince him Sam was his friend if Sam used it against him. He put his hand on James’s chest, hot blood on his palm. And, hoping this wasn’t a mistake, ran healing magic through James.

It only took a few seconds. Jocelyn had been fucking around instead of seriously trying to hurt him. She’d wanted to gloat. Sam healed the wound without any trouble. “James!” That was James’s servant, racing over. It was about fucking time. “Get away from him.”

Sam moved out of the way because he was all but shoved. “Oh, calm down, he’s not dead,” he said.

“What happened?” James’s servant asked, not Sam.

“Sam healed me.” James was already awake. He sounded unsurprised. Sam moved away.

“Why’d you do that?” Henry asked Sam, in a whisper.

“Because now he’ll help us,” Sam said back. “He’ll help us against the shadow, against the Sea King if we need it.”

“Against Scott?”

“If we need it.” Sam didn’t want to consider the consequences of them needing help against Scott.

“He’s just as dangerous an ally as they are,” Henry warned.

“No. Because they’re doing it for power and they’ll kill me to get it. He’s going to do it because he’s stupid and thinks it’s the right thing to do,” Sam explained.

“I seem to remember you saying he was like me,” Henry said. And he didn’t explain exactly what he meant by that, and Sam wasn’t going to ask.

“I’m really tired,” James said to Ron, barely audible.

“You can stay here,” Sam told them, because he was friendly. “In the castle. Until you can leave. I won’t even try to kill you.”

“That’s…”

James cut his servant—Ron?—off. “Okay. Thank you.”

“Just like that?” Ron asked.

“Just like that. Help me stand up. I want to make sure Spike’s okay before I do anything else.”

Sam stood there with Henry while the two of them got up, moved somewhere else to do whatever James was going to do. They were left alone for a moment. “Derek says the rebels have surrendered,” Sam said. “Their leader’s vanished.”

“And where’s Derek?”

“He disappeared with Jocelyn. He…” As Sam spoke, a portal opened beside him and spat Derek out, judging by the squeak. Someone landed on him. It was Scott’s portal, though. “I told you to go back to the pit.”

“The part of me on Tipsy’s island thought you might want your toys back,” Scott said in a jeer. “Going to the pit, bye!”

And he was gone. Sam really hated him.

“What the fuck happened?” Henry demanded of Derek and Castor.

“I’m not…super sure?” Derek asked. “It all happened very fast. I think Jocelyn got away, though.”

Sam sighed. “Great.” He was about to add something when a growl shook him, and he jumped. “What the hell is…”

“It’s the other dragon,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s arm.

“Oh, Claudius is awake,” Derek said, voice picking up with cheer. Why was he fucking cheerful? This was all a disaster. “Castor, go get him? I’ll tell the others you guys are okay. And on my side.”

“Claudius won’t…”

“Tell him I have Max,” Derek interrupted, something sharp in his voice.

A very tense silence passed between them, and Castor stalked away.

Sam wasn’t about to let Derek call the shots here. “Put those two somewhere until tomorrow,” Sam told him. “And your rebels as well. I’ll talk to them tomorrow. They can stew for a night while I decide what to do with them.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Derek said easily. “Anything else?”

“No. Go away.”

Derek did, and Henry took Sam’s hand and guided him towards the castle. “I’m tempted to kill them all just so Derek doesn’t get what he wants.”

“But that also takes away potential allies from you,” Henry pointed out.

“I know, I know.” Sam was really tired. “How much of my castle is still standing?”

“Enough.”

So a lot of it wasn’t. Fabulous. “This is such a fucking mess I’m surprised nobody died.”

“I expect a lot of servants and guards did.”

“Nobody I know,” Sam amended. “Not even James. It’s rather remarkable.”

“And you even managed to make friends,” Henry teased. “Wonders never cease.”

“Don’t ruin this by talking. I’m having a bad enough fucking day as it is.”

“Yeah. You’re covered in dust. Let’s get you a change of clothes.”

Sam let Henry lead him into what was left of the castle, thinking that put in perspective, today could have gone a lot worse than this.

Chapter Text

“Bring them in.”

Sam was sitting on the throne, Henry beside him. The throne room was lined with his guards. He and Henry had argued about that for a few minutes. Sam had thought it would give the impression he was frightened. Henry had convinced him it would reinforce that he was in command.

The doors opened, and the two dragons were led in by themselves, the guards halting them a good distance from the throne. Not that it would matter if they decided they wanted to kill Sam. “You two,” Sam said to them, leaning forward, “nearly destroyed my castle.”

One of the dragons snorted. “Not our fault you didn’t make it dragon-proof.”

A silence fell at that, one that tasted like thirty people preparing to draw weapons. Sam laughed into it. “I suppose it’s not. You can hardly blame a dog for biting you, it’s what animals do.”

“We,” growled the other dragon. Their voices were similar, but not identical. Derek said they were twins. “Are not animals.”

“Oh?” asked Sam, shifting on the throne. “And yet you let a bunch of idiot children put you on leashes and give you commands. What does that make you, then?”

“We…”

The first dragon interrupted the second. “We were doing as our siremate—our brother—told us to do. He’s bigger than we are, older, stronger.”

“And more cowardly,” Sam added. “He’s the one who ran away, yes? The one we can’t find?”

“Yes,” the first dragon admitted, reluctance in his voice.

“Hm,” Sam said. “Fine. So I’m given to understand that dragons know to obey those stronger than them. In that case, neither of you should have any problem obeying me.”

“You are no stronger than…”

The second dragon fell to the ground as power skittered down Sam’s arm. Dragons were magic proof, but if Sam used magic to harden the air and hit them with that, it hardly mattered. He hit the dragon again, then one more time for good measure. “I believe I misheard you,” he said.

The first dragon, obviously the smarter of the two, let out a breath. It didn’t sound like he was helping his brother up. “We acknowledge your strength, Sorcerer King.”

“Good.” Sam liked how that had gone. He’d expected boring contrition, assuming that Derek had bullied them into saying the right thing. The fact that he clearly hadn’t made it mean something that they finally had. “Henry tells me that dragons are an important symbol to the people here. You attacking my castle will have damaged much more than masonry. I expect you both to do a lot to fix that, do you understand?”

“We do,” said the smart dragon. “And we will.”

“Good. How many others like you are there?” Sam asked. “Who can shapeshift?”

“I don’t know exactly. About twenty, maybe, in the colony.”

“And there are how many dragons total?”

“Three hundred adults,” the dragon said.

Hm. Considering the damage two had done, three hundred was a worrying number. But if Sam could get them on his side… “Fine. Approach the throne.”

They did, coming closer until they were within Sam’s reach. He put his hands on them, feeling their skin. They were warm to touch, and Sam wondered if not having body hair was a dragon thing or if it was just these two. His hands found their cocks, and he squeezed them, amused. They were huge. “Derek tells me you got all of them acquainted with these?”

“That’s right,” the smart dragon said, smug.

“Good. I bet that hurt.” They’d probably liked it, though. “Kneel for your king.”

They both did, after a second, and the rush Sam got from that went right to his cock. According to Derek, dragons enjoyed showing dominance through sex, so he undid his pants, pulling them both towards him. To their credit, or perhaps to Derek’s credit for telling them to behave, they did as he wanted, two long tongues working on his cock at once.

Sam smirked. “Send the rest of them in.”

As the doors opened, Sam got Henry to lean down to him. “Remind me of that kid’s name again? The one who I met before?”

“Max,” Henry said.

“Right.” Sam pushed him away, straightening. The stupid kid who’d been in the market with him in Jdinrma-Hash had apparently gotten work as a castle servant and had been the one to betray the rebels to Derek.

They came in, Max and three others, along with Derek. Sam waited until they stopped moving, letting them take in what their pet dragons were doing. “Tell me why I shouldn’t have you all executed,” Sam said, bored.

“We, we were tricked, your Majesty,” one of the rebels said. Sam didn’t know his name, but he also didn’t care. “We were lied to by a…a foreigner who tricked us into…”

“Tricked?” Sam interrupted. “Not forced? Nobody made you attack me, so what you’re saying is you’re stupid rather than dangerous.” That was obvious already. If it weren’t for the dragons, these idiots would have just ended up impaled on a spear somewhere weeks ago.

“You killed our families,” the rebel said, voice flat. “We were angry and scared. It made it easy for someone to lie to us.”

If this was going to be a whole thing of just them pouting that he’d killed their families, Sam might just kill them too out of mercy for himself. “Henry killed your families, actually. But that’s not important.” He paused, taking in a long breath as the dragons sent a shudder up his cock. “I told you to convince me not to kill you and all you’ve done is complain at me. Are you the leader here?”

“I…yes,” the guy said.

“You fucking suck at it. Which is why you never stood a chance against me. If you want something, figure out how to get it instead of complaining that you don’t have it and hoping someone will give it to you. You’d better suck Derek’s cock every day for the rest of your life because his intervention is the only reason you have a rest of your life. In fact, you can start now.”

“Your Majesty…”

“Shut up, Derek,” Sam snapped. “I can listen to you talk whenever I want.” He waited until he was sure his orders were being obeyed, feeling his orgasm starting to build. “The rest of you. Where can I find your leader, the real one? The one who abandoned you?”

There was a shuffling of feet and a younger voice spoke up. “They probably went back to Cassius’s cave,” the rebel said, heavily accented. He didn’t speak Kyn well. “It’s north of the plateau, a little bit west of Zegid.”

“Fine. I want him found. Him I’ll be executing.” Sam paused so he could take in a deep breath to steady himself. “You fuckheads are going to be going around the plateau undoing the damage you did, assuming I let you live. People were starting to listen to you. You’re going to tell them that was a mistake. Can you do that or will you start saying the wrong thing as soon as you’re out of my hearing again?”

“We’ll…we’ll do whatever you say, your Majesty.”

Sam didn’t like this one. “What’s your name?”

“Sean, sir.”

“Sean, you’re annoying. Get up here and do something useful with your mouth.” He waved vaguely at Henry to get his point across. Henry didn’t complain. They’d talked beforehand about making it clear that the rebels had no choice but to be loyal. As Sean approached, Sam considered Max and the last rebel, pushing the dragons’ heads closer together. “Max. Your service to the crown is appreciated, and so is your loyalty.”

“I…” Max’s voice cracked on that one syllable. “Thank you, your Majesty.” He sounded awfully miserable for someone who’d won.

“If you were me, would you execute them?” Sam asked, out of curiosity.

“No, your Majesty.”

“Why not? They’ve killed dozens of innocent people, destroyed a cathedral, nearly started a war and almost got you killed.”

“They…” Max took a deep breath. “They’re more useful to you alive, sir. People in Ech’kent see them as leaders because they have the favour of dragons. If you work with them it will legitimize you, but if you kill them it will just make you look like a foreigner who doesn’t understand us.”

Sam was a foreigner who didn’t understand them, and that was too smart a point for the stupid kid he’d met in the market to make. “Now that’s a much better point. But I bet they’d execute you. Wouldn’t you?” he asked the last rebel. “You’d have Max killed if you could?”

The last rebel didn’t answer. “Gino doesn’t speak Kyn, sir,” Max said quietly. “I don’t think he understands you.”

Sam sighed. These fucking people. “Translate for him, then.”

Once Max had, and he and Gino had spoken briefly, he said, “he said he…he said he wouldn’t,” Max sounded like he might cry. “He wouldn’t do that to me because we’re friends.”

This was like talking to Henry in the dungeon all over again. “Is he lying?” Sam asked Henry, voice strained.

“No,” Henry grunted.

With a sudden surge, Sam came, spurting onto both dragons’ faces. He waited until he was done, then pushed them away, keeping them kneeling at either side of his throne. “Are you?” he asked Max. “Their friend.”

“Yes.”

“You betrayed them.”

“Because they were wrong, sir. I was trying to help them.”

“And look where that got them. If you’re their friend, then you’re willing to share in their punishment.”

“I am, sir. I deserve it.”

He did, if only because he was just as stupid as the rest of them. “If you insist. Guards. Once Derek and Henry are done, take our rebels to the guardhouse and entertain them for as long as you like. Should ease the pain of how many of your friends they killed. I expect them to stay in one piece, they have a meeting with me and Henry at breakfast to discuss what they’re going to do for us from now on.”

Both dragons growled quietly, and Sam kicked them. “You two go with them, have some fun.”

Henry gave a grunt as he unloaded into Sean’s mouth, then leaned down to talk to Sam again as everyone left. “You’re torturing them less than I expected. Big of you.”

“I just don’t have time,” Sam said. He didn’t care enough about these idiots to torture them properly. He stood up, tucking his cock back into his pants. “I still have to deal with the Sea King and James.” And Scott, somehow. He stepped down from the dais, sighing. “Derek, check on them in an hour and make sure that none of them have mysteriously choked to death, will you?”

“Yes, your Majesty. Thank you for sparing them.”

“Having them gang-raped is sparing them?”

“It’s better than being dead, sir.”

“We’ll find out if they feel that way,” Sam said, heading for the side door. “Do you like it when those dragons fuck you?”

“Yes, sir, I do,” Derek said, a smile in his voice. “I like them big.”

Sam snorted. “You’re a freak.”

“Yes, sir.”

Sam left without another word, Henry following him into the hallway. “Derek probably coached them all into going along with all that, didn’t they?”

“Probably. But that’s fine. If they’re taking orders from him, it means they’re taking orders.”

“I suppose. Now if only we could convince a few other people to do that.”

“Let’s try,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s back.

That, Sam thought as they headed off to meet the Sea King, should go really well.

Chapter Text

“I am surprised,” said the Sea King, sounding less surprised and more annoyed, “that you did not simply execute these rebels of yours. I would have.”

“I don’t care enough about them to want them dead,” Sam told him. He’d just spent an hour explaining everything that had happened to the Sea King, as if he owed him any sort of explanation. He thought he was doing very well in staying patient for no reason. “And they don’t pose a serious enough threat to require their deaths.” It had been a few hours since their sentencing. Sam was content to know that they were still entertaining the guards. He had a lot of guards, after all.

“Given the scope of the attack, it seems like they pose a rather substantial threat, in fact.”

“Nobody who matters was even hurt in the attack,” Sam countered. “And besides, keeping them alive means I get the first of what will eventually become an army of dragons at my disposal.” There was no reason to assume that having the two dragons would make it possible to get all the others, but there was also no reason to assume that it wouldn’t.

The Sea King snorted, a sound he managed to make imperious. “Dragons are fool creatures, not good for anything but knocking down castles.”

“Well, if nothing else,” said Henry, trying to sound patient, “we want them on our side to make sure it’s not our castle they knock down next time, don’t we?”

The Sea King considered that for a moment, silence like waves running through the room. “I suppose so,” he conceded. “Such creatures will be no help against your true enemy.”

“I have more than one true enemy,” Sam said. “Our shadow friend isn’t the only thing in the world that needs killing.”

“I see,” the Sea King said. “You speak of the demon you call Scott.”

“I do. He’s an ally for now. Having other allies who can obliterate him will make sure he continues to be.”

“A valid point. May I presume that this search for new allies is in part because we have lost Jocelyn?”

Sam made an agitated sound. “Yes.” Allying with James was going to mean that they lost her unless Sam could somehow talk her into not being stupid. “It’s safe to assume we’ve lost her.”

“Alas. I refrained from killing her family when they were suddenly transported to me, but perhaps I should have.”

He probably should have. James would have liked that. “It doesn’t matter. What did you to do them?”

“Nothing. Presuming they were your allies, I merely sent them away.”

“Fine,” Sam said. He didn’t bother asking where. It didn’t matter. “Jocelyn’s son is going to help us kill the shadow. He’s nearly as powerful as we are.”

He was a lot more powerful than either of them, but Sam was not about to say that out loud.

“In that case, losing Jocelyn is not important.”

“Exactly,” Sam said. “She may still come back if we’re careful, but frankly I don’t care if she doesn’t.” He stood. “That said, I need to go play nice with her son. He’s an idiot who’ll do what I say if I pretend to be his friend for an hour.”

“I know the sort,” the Sea King said sagely. “I shall leave you to it. It is my hope that soon we will be prepared to strike against the shadow. I grow tired of sitting on land.”

“We’ll get you back on the sea soon,” Sam promised, because he wanted the Sea King out of his castle. “I’ll speak with you again.”

Out in the hallway, Sam said, “Keep an eye on him,” to Henry. “People who get restless do stupid things.”

“I’ve noticed,” Henry said, walking with Sam to the dining room.

Sam smacked his ass with magic. “Don’t make snarky comments about me.”

“Too late.” Without magic, Henry was left having to smack Sam back with his hand. He didn’t do it hard, just enough to make Sam’s ass sting. “Hm.”

“What?”

“Maybe I’ll spank you tonight.”

Sam snorted, clenching his ass cheeks. “Maybe I’ll have the dragons come in and team up on you.”

“Maybe next time. Tonight I feel like spanking you. I think you’ll like it.”

“You obviously don’t know me very well.” Henry had mentioned spanking him before, once. He sounded like he meant it, this time.

Henry rubbed Sam’s shoulder. “I know you’ll pretend not to if you do, but that’s okay.”

“I remember when I used to be the one who decided about sex,” Sam grumbled as they came down the stairs and turned towards the dining room.

“You still do. Tell me to do something, I will.”

Sam had nothing to say to that. It wasn’t like he wanted to fuck Henry right now. “If I do that now it’ll be because you told me to,” he said. “I’m not stupid.”

“Never said you were,” Henry said. “I think you don’t quite know what you like.”

“Fuck off, of course I do.”

“Nah. Outside of a vague idea of playing with power, you’ve never thought much about exactly what you want. I’m just trying to help you figure that out.”

“To what fucking end?” Sam didn’t understand the point of this game.

“You eventually realizing that sex is something people do for fun, and that it’s not just a weapon.”

“I…I fucking know that,” Sam muttered. It was just that sex made a really good weapon. And it was fun to use on people.

“Okay.” Henry kissed him. “We’re here.”

Sam exhaled, wishing that kiss had lasted a bit longer. “They’re already in there, right?”

“Yeah, they should have been waiting for a bit.”

“Okay, go in, tell them I’ll be a few minutes.” Sam wanted to make sure that James didn’t think he mattered much.

“You know, it’s okay to just talk to them without the power play.”

“No it isn’t. Just go in.”

Henry sighed, smacked Sam on the ass again, and went into the dining room.

Stupid Henry, Sam thought to himself after he was gone. Where the fuck did he get off just assuming that Sam would like something? He just wanted to justify his weird desire to treat Sam like a belligerent little boy. Maybe Henry liked kids or something. He hadn’t needed much prompting to fuck Todd or Derek in the end. Sam could get him a little boy to fuck for his birthday, maybe. Fuck or spank or whatever.

He certainly didn’t plan to enjoy being spanked later.

As Sam stood there considering how much he wasn’t going to have fun tonight, the door opened again and he started to tell Henry off, before realizing that the gait wasn’t Henry’s.

“Hello, Sam,” James said, shutting the door behind him. “I was just looking for somewhere to pee. I hope I’m not disturbing you.”

“You are,” Sam said, before he could stop himself.

“Sorry. I know you were trying to make me wait for you and all. In the woods I’m allowed to pee wherever I want, but I figured you’d get mad if I did that without going into one of your funny rooms.”

“What, a privy?” What the fuck was wrong with him? “There’s one just around the corner.”

“Right. Thanks. I’ll let you get back to making me wait, sorry about that.” James moved past him. Sam reached out, got his arm.

He held onto James’s sleeve. “Why are you acting like this?”

“Like I need to pee? Because I do.”

“Like…nothing happened.” Sam was trying to keep calm. Getting angry wouldn’t help, a voice that sounded like Henry told him.

“Well, nothing’s happened. We’re just standing here, Sam.” James sounded perfectly normal, like he really had no idea what Sam was talking about.

“You…” Sam took a breath. “I saved your life.”

“Yes, I’m very grateful for that, thank you.”

“You’re not acting grateful.” James should be acting nicer, or more subservient, or something.

“Well,” James said, taking Sam’s hand to make him let go. “That’s just because I need to pee. And also because I haven’t forgotten that my life only needed saving because you put it in danger in the first place.”

James’s voice had started to get farther away as he talked, and Sam followed him. “That doesn’t matter. You knew I was going to do that.”

“Of course I did. But fine, if we take that off the table, what about the fact that I saved your life when we were falling? If we’re keeping score, that makes us tied, doesn’t it?” James kept walking, but slowly. He must be trying to find the privy. Maybe he really did need to piss. “But, and I admit I don’t have very many friends so I could be wrong about this, friends aren’t supposed to keep score, are they?”

Sam had nothing to say to that, so he just kept quiet, following James to the privy. When the door opened, he asked, “how did you do it?”

“I just pulled on the handle and it came open.”

“I mean,” Sam said, testy, “how did you break through my spell? It was foolproof. You shouldn’t have been able to use your power.”

“Do you need to pee too? You’re sort of standing in the doorway.”

“I…”

“I don’t mind, there’s room for both of us.”

“Answer the question.”

“Come in here and pee and I will.”

Sam growled, but came in, because he did kind of need to go and he may as fucking well. So he pushed down his pants and moved aside his loincloth—which Henry had made him wear this morning instead of regular smallclothes—and started to go. “My question.”

“How did I break through your spell?” James asked, his stream hitting the stone inside the privy. “It was easy. Why do you make Derek and Todd hurt each other?”

“What the fuck does that have to do with anything?” And where had James heard…Sam didn’t even need to ask. Todd was about to get fucked by a dragon.

“It’s the answer to the question, Sam,” James said. Sam was uncomfortably aware that James was taller than him. “Do you enjoy it when they hurt each other?”

“I don’t care that much about them,” Sam said. He didn’t.

“But you like hurting people.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“It’s fun.”

“Why?”

“It…it just fucking is,” Sam said. He was done, and tried to pull up his pants. His stupid loincloth was untied. He didn’t know how to tie it; Henry had done it for him this morning and earlier too. “Some people like gardening. I like hurting people.”

“I do too, a little,” James said. “Here, I can help you with that.”

“I can do it.”

“Clearly not. I like hurting people too.”

It took that repetition for Sam to hear it. “You…do?” James was tying his loincloth now. Not the way Henry had done it, but tying it.

“Yes, just a little. I like the way it makes me feel. Control over someone like that is a rush that I enjoy. But it’s the illusion of power, not real power.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

James finished tying his loincloth, and pulled Sam’s pants up as well, clasping his belt for him. “I was able to break your spell because you don’t understand power, Sam.”

“Stop treating me like a child,” Sam growled. How had this happened? How had he gotten here? How had he let James do all of this? But he knew the answer. James was like Henry. And Sam was conditioned to do what Henry said. Henry would also say that Sam didn’t understand power.

“Then stop acting like one. Let’s go, they’re waiting for us.” James left the privy.

“Don’t fucking tell me what to do.”

“Fine, I won’t. I’m going to eat dinner, you can stay here if you want.”

“I’m…I’m going to kill you.” He was going to bash James’s head into a wall and then…

“No, you aren’t. I’m going to help you, Sam. You have a lot of enemies and you’re smart enough to know better than to make me one of them. But if you want that help, you’re going to stop threatening me at every turn and listen to what I have to say.”

Sam’s power recoiled from nothing, marching up from his legs and dancing around, preparing to attack. But Sam held it in. He needed James. “Fine,” he said. “I won’t threaten you anymore. But tell me how you actually broke my spell. If you did it, someone more dangerous than you could do it.”

“I told you, you don’t understand power,” James said. “Your magic comes from a power outside of you. Mine doesn’t.”

“Your power comes from trees or something,” Sam challenged. He knew that much. James was a witch.

James chuckled. “Yes. But I am the trees, Sam.”

And with that stupid statement, he was in the dining room, approaching the table. Sam tried to seem calm. He couldn’t let James realize how annoyed he was, not when there were people.

“Sorry for abandoning you,” James said, sitting. He sounded perfectly normal. “I got lost. Sam had to help me find my way back.”

“It’s okay,” Ron, James’s servant’s name was Ron, said. “Henry and I were talking.”

Sam sat, wishing they’d go away so he could be with Henry for a minute.

“Good. I hope Ron wasn’t rude. He’s not used to sitting around making small talk. Normally he’s the one cooking the food. Being waited on will be a change for him.”

“I still feel like I should run down to the kitchen and offer to help.” It helped a little, Sam thought, to realize that Ron was definitely the person James liked to hurt. James wasn’t so different from Sam, he was just more self-righteous.

So Sam was able to pretend calm. “Don’t bother. The food is already on its way. You can just relax.” He might be able to turn Ron against James if he was careful.

“I don’t think I know how. We heard you guys were talking to those guys who attacked the castle earlier.”

He and Henry must have been talking about that. Or maybe Todd had told them that, too. Fucking Todd. “I was sentencing the rebels, yes.” And it was none of their fucking business.

“I hope you weren’t too hard on them,” James said.

Sam chose not to hear the chiding tone he used. “You don’t think they deserved to be punished? They almost killed you too.”

“I’d rather find out why they were so desperate. In my experience, people don’t do things like that without what they think is a good reason.”

What the fuck was that supposed to mean? “Their reason was that they were being manipulated by someone else. My father wasn’t from the plateau, and they don’t like having a foreign ruler.”

“Aren’t you from the plateau?” Ron asked.

“Yeah.” Sam had been about to answer, but Henry did. Ron asking him made a lot more sense. “My mother was Ech’kent’s ruler until Sam’s father appeared and she capitulated to him.” Why the fuck did he have to mention that? Fucking Henry giving ammunition to people. “Ancient history. Sam rules the plateau and I work with him. People getting upset about it need to get over it.”

“Surely it’s not that easy to get over?” James asked.

“It doesn’t matter.” This was a bad subject. Sam did not want to talk about this. “I didn’t kill them, they’ll be fine. We’ve agreed that we’re all going to work together to protect Ech’kent.”

“The most dangerous thing you need to protect this territory from is that demon of yours,” James said, as if he’d been waiting for that. “I know you think it’s your ally, but it’ll kill you just as soon as it can. It would have seen you dead yesterday if it could have, Sam.”

“I know.” The servants were here, setting the table. Sam wasn’t going to talk about Scott with them here. He took a moment to think while he had the excuse. You don’t understand power. Having Scott wasn’t real power. “I don’t know how to get rid of it.”

And the silence that followed after that was unbroken because now the servants were putting the food out. James had said he wanted to help Sam. Scott was something he could help with. And it was what he cared about—it was what he’d come to talk about. It was something that could distract him.

The servants fucked off. Dishes clinked as people got food. “I think that you don’t often admit to needing help, do you, Sam?”

Of course he was going to be annoying about this. Sam could feel Henry looking at him. “No. I know I’m not easy to get along with, okay?” He needed James. Being here, near Henry, was reminding him that he needed to play nice. “I understand that. My father wasn’t a nice man and he raised me not to be one either. But I don’t know how to get rid of Scott. I don’t know what to do about your mother. I don’t know how to do any of it by myself. I need help.”

There, that should fucking convince him. He’d practiced saying something like it earlier.

Sam jumped as James touched his elbow. “We’ll help you,” he said, as to a child. “I can’t do it by myself either. We’ll help each other, okay?”

Fuck, great. But that was what he’d wanted. “I’d like that. Thank you.” Sam did that thing where he channeled Todd to seem meek.

It worked. “You’re welcome. I’d like it if we could get to know each other a little better. Once I’m home maybe we can set up a small portal so we can visit once in a while. You can come over to our house for supper as well.”

Fuck. “If you want.” Sam did not want. But fine. Henry was still watching him. “You’re welcome here to visit whenever you want as well.” Hopefully they wouldn’t take that up.

“Thank you. I’d like to ask one favour as well.”

“What’s that?” Of course he would. Sam got the impression James didn’t do things for free.

“I’d like you to send Derek and Todd to me for a full day once a week.”

“Why?” Why the fuck did James care about them?

“Because you’re hard to get along with. And I think they both work very hard and could use a day off now and then.” Because he wanted to rescue them from Sam. “And I think they’re very similar to Ron and I and would benefit from having friends who understand them.”

This was a stupid request. He couldn’t possibly be planning to use them against Sam. It had to be that he honestly wanted to rescue them. “Okay,” he said. “Fine, if it’s that important to you. You can have them.” Or maybe he wanted to hurt them. That was fine too.

“I won’t do anything to them, promise,” James said. “Trust me, I think you’ll find them more efficient workers with a little time off.”

“If you say so.” Sam didn’t care. He forked some food into his mouth. Beets. He was going to stab someone in the kitchen.

“Trust me. Now, why don’t we get to know each other?”

Sam did not want to get to know James, he did not want to have this conversation anymore. He was about to kill someone. “That sounds fun,” Henry said. “Sam and I hardly have any friends.”

It did not, but it saved Sam from having to talk.

“Neither do James and I, really,” Ron said, not surprising Sam at all. “But we can be each other’s friends. How’d you guys meet?”

Sam couldn’t possibly have wanted this less, but he just kept eating, letting Henry do the talking for a while. Henry’s knee brushed against his under the table. It made him feel better. It helped him get through the dinner.

As a reward for that, Sam let Henry spank him like he wanted to later that night. It wasn’t as bad as he’d thought it would be.

Chapter Text

“How are you feeling?”

Sam sighed, wishing he wasn’t standing. “Fine.”

“Are you sure?” Henry asked.

“Yes.”

“I’m just saying, if you were sore, that wouldn’t be surprising.”

Henry sounded amused, which just annoyed Sam. “My ass hurts, okay?” he snapped. “Your big strong hands have left me all sore and now my ass hurts.” It had hurt all day, all through his breakfast with the former rebels, who’d survived their first night in the castle in better shape than he’d expected, and it still hurt now while he stood in this stupid destroyed room waiting for James to fucking get here. “Happy now?”

“Yes,” Henry said, patting Sam’s ass, probably enjoying his flinch. “You want Todd to come to the room tonight?”

Fucking Henry. Of course he’d know Sam was thinking that. “Derek,” he said, because he wasn’t as predictable as Henry thought. “He’s been getting too smug lately, I want to remind him of his place.” Again.

“Okay. I’ll let him know after this. I assume your new friends are going to be taking his place at some point?”

“We’ll give them a few days to think that we’re not going to hurt them before we start hurting them,” Sam told Henry. “I think we’ll let them pick between themselves for the first one to join us. At some point we’ll take the two brothers together. I want to find out which of them will agree to rape the other first.”

“Or,” Henry suggested. “We could be nice to them.”

Sam considered the merits of that. “Let’s not, since that’s stupid. Also, I want the dragons to fuck Todd sometime.” Maybe at the same time. Sam hadn’t decided yet.

“Of course you do.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Henry swatted Sam’s ass again. “It’s supposed to mean that last night I hit you and it’s put you in the mood to hit someone else to forget it happened.”

Sam snorted. “Please. As if the crap that gets you off has any bearing on what I do.”

“Sure.” Henry grabbed his ass now. “What I think is really interesting is that used to be, you’d want to hit me back. But now you just want to hit someone else.”

Sam didn’t answer that for a minute, letting the pain distract him from the comment. “Used to be,” he said, after a second, “that you’d have tried to actually stop me from turning the rebels into sex slaves, instead of helping me do it.”

“Well,” Henry muttered, pulling Sam a little closer. “We’re not who we used to be.”

“No,” Sam agreed, leaning against Henry, just a little. “We’re not.”

The door opened then, and Sam stepped away from Henry, annoyed. Two sets of feet came in, along with the tapping of James’s staff.

“I hope you haven’t been waiting for too long,” James said without preamble. “Ron was being difficult.”

He said it like Ron had been refusing to put his shoes on or something. He said it in a way that made Sam sure that James had told Ron the same thing about Sam last night. Like they were all just annoying children for him to discipline.

“It hasn’t been that long,” Henry said, being way too nice about it. “You have everything you need?”

“Yes. We didn’t come with anything. Thank you for putting up with us. I know we overstayed our welcome by a few days.” James’s magic was in the air now, and Sam could feel him working to open the portal.

“Of course.” Any longer and Sam would have slammed them both in the dungeon, but they didn’t need to know that.

“It was fun,” Henry said, giving Sam a slap on the ass again. “I’m looking forward to having you guys again.”

“You can come back to our place, I’ll make supper,” Ron said, for all the world like they were all normal people. “What kind of food do you guys like?”

What the fuck was this? Henry answered for him, thank God. “Sam doesn’t like anything too spicy.” And of course, made him sound like a child.

“Oh, nevermind. I’m cancelling our alliance,” James said suddenly.

What? What the fuck had triggered that? Sam wasn’t going to have sat through all this bullshit only for James to pull some capricious stunt and…

“Don’t worry,” Ron said, interrupting Sam’s train of thought. “I don’t like it either, and James doesn’t cook.”

“I cook,” James said, sounding petulant.

“Not when we have guests.”

Oh. They were joking, or something stupid. Fine. Whatever. Sam just huffed and hoped Henry wasn’t laughing at him.

“I’ll open up another portal when we get home,” James said, sounding tired. “You can send Derek and Todd through that when they come to visit. Come for supper next month, just after the full moon. The winter solstice is the same day and I’ll be busy, but if you come a few days after that, we should be free. And contact me if anything happens with your demon.”

Sam didn’t know why the winter solstice mattered, but whatever. Maybe it was some stupid tree-fucking witch thing. “I will. Or your mother. Don’t be surprised if she pulls something.” It would be just his luck that James would get murdered next week now.

“Right. She’s going to be desperate now that she’s lost you as an ally. I’m not sure where she’d go if not to me.”

She’d be awfully stupid to go to James after trying to kill him—and probably not realizing she hadn’t succeeded, but people were stupid. And she might think he was dead and go to retrieve the stone.

“Thank you for your help in the battle,” Henry said, while Sam thought that through. “For saving Sam. I appreciate it.”

“You too. For healing James,” Ron said.

Sam didn’t want to fucking do this for hours. “It was nothing. Just a simple healing spell. Any idiot could have done it.”

“But you did,” Ron said, sounding closer. Henry grabbed Sam’s wrist, lifted his hand, and Ron took it. They shook. Thank you.”

“Uh. It’s fine.” Sam let go as soon as he could. This was getting weird. “Don’t fucking worry about it.”

“Okay. I’ll see you guys soon.”

“Yeah. Looking forward to it,” Henry agreed. He probably fucking was, too. Freak.

The portal snapped open in Sam’s mind. “It’s ready,” James said. “Let’s go.”

“We’ll be back,” James said, mostly a threat. “Be safe in the meantime.”

Finally, they were leaving. Henry jostled Sam. Right. “You too.”

And that, mercifully, was that. “God, fucking dammit,” Sam sighed, once the portal had closed. “I can’t handle talking to them all the time.”

“It’s not that bad,” Henry said, hand back on Sam’s back.

“Fine, you can do it, then.”

Henry sighed. “You know what you need?”

“If you say another spanking I swear to God…”

Henry started rubbing Sam’s shoulders. “Something to eat. And then maybe a nap, since you didn’t sleep much last night.”

“And whose fucking fault was…”

“Mine, and I’m taking responsibility. We’ll give you a bath too, it’ll make the soreness better.”

“Not a little boy,” Sam grumbled as Henry led him from the room.

“No,” Henry agreed, kissing Sam’s temple. “But you’re my husband and I’m taking care of you.”

“I…I hate being taken care of,” Sam said, not knowing how else to make clear that he thought those were the same thing.

“I know. But indulge me just this once and you can take it out on Derek later, okay?”

“Fine, but I’m making him scream until his throat bleeds,” Sam said, leaning against Henry. “Do you think James will rape them?”

“Course he will,” Henry said, guiding Sam in a less than straight line. There was probably still shit on the floors everywhere. “That’s what they’re for, isn’t it?”

Sam smiled at that. “Turns out Derek is also pretty good at bringing in other people for us to rape. Maybe we should start a campaign. Send him around the plateau, have him come back with a bunch of little boys in tow, we’ll fuck them until they’re good at it, then send them home for their families and neighbours, bring in more of them.”

“Eventually we’d run out of boys.”

“It’s not like people don’t keep making more,” Sam scoffed. “But I may have to institute a law saying only we’re allowed to take their virginity.”

“You’d share with me?”

“Of course I would, I share everything with you, don’t I?” Sam asked, knowing that to be true.

“You do,” Henry agreed. “Okay, keep talking. I want to hear your plans to make the world a better place.”

Sam snorted, gave up and rested his head on Henry’s shoulder as they walked. “Okay. Well first of all, most kids have fathers, and they’re still growing up not knowing how to take a cock at all. So once we’ve broken them in, we need a training regime where we bring the fathers in and start them on fucking their boys daily…”

Even before they got that food, nap and bath, Sam was already starting to feel a little better. Maybe he’d be okay getting taken care of, just this once.