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Of course Lucas had noticed when Cadugan had stormed out of the feast hall; there just hadn't been anything he could do at the time. He was the lord, and it was his job to entertain his guests, even if he thought they were pompous, arrogant windbags. That Vicount Goyet had decided to get into a 'debate' with the ranger over fox-hunting privileges in the royal forest certainly hadn’t helped matters. Goyet's hounds had the run of the hall, and Cadugan's fox friend (not, as Lucas had been corrected plenty, Cadugan's fox) had sought refuge at the head table near Lucas. The animal had slunk off with his half-elven friend an hour or so ago.

By the time he was able to escape without causing some larger diplomatic incident, Lucas wasn't sure where to look for him. Cadugan wasn't in his chambers, though he had an open invitation to be there. The room with the balcony that he liked had been claimed by Lucas’s most obnoxious guest, and there weren't many others like it. After asking some servants with no success, Lucas started to worry that he'd simply flounced off back to the forest. If that were true, Lucas would have followed him – or, at least, he would have done so if he wasn't hosting so many dignitaries who would surely notice his absence. He'd almost given up when a chance inquiry with the right matron sent him in the direction of a kitchen side-door that opened into a small courtyard.

The area was little more than an unloading zone for supplies coming in through one of the main gates, with a few stray chickens running around. Cadugan was sitting perched on a heap of firewood, looking up at the stars, the fox curled up at his side. He didn’t look up when Lucas approached, but the fox’s ears perked and the animal eyed him, so chances were good Cadugan knew he was there too.

Lucas could feel the rays of stubbornness radiating off the half-elf, and sighed. “I’m sorry. If I had known they were coming, I would have tried to let you know.”

“I hate this place.” Cadugan didn’t look at him - no doubt trying to hold on to his hurt.

“Yes, I know.” It was a broad statement, meant to encompass more than just the castle. “I’m here now, though - will you come inside with me? I can’t get up there without knocking everything over.”

Now Cadugan turned to glare at him, but it softened almost immediately. It was one of the things that scared Lucas a little. He’d thought it might get better once they’d been together awhile, but Cadugan’s soft-spot for him persisted. It wasn’t that they never fought, or that everything was always rosy, and it wasn’t that Lucas didn’t care deeply about him in return, but it was still a little unnerving, sometimes, how much he seemed to be willing to give up, or let go, just to be with him. With a little sigh, Cadugan got up and stepped lightly down the log pile, into Lucas’s waiting arms. He was still a little tense, which was something of a relief.

“You know I’m not going to let them do anything in your forest if you don’t want them to. If they venture in there, it will be at their own risk.”

“He was talking about fox hunting, Lucas. People who need to hunt - I understand that. People who do it for sport...”

“Goyet is a jerk for all kinds of reasons, I’m just sorry you had to experience it first hand.” Lucas kissed his forehead, glad he could at least give him a chance to vent.

“I don’t know how you can deal with him - the rest aren’t much better - having to be nice to people all the time when you just want to punch them in the face....”

“Well... They usually don’t want to push me too far, because of Glon. But I guess... I don’t know. I’m not great at this, but it means I can do things to help keep peace, to try and make sure people I care about are safe.”

Cadugan quirked an impish smile. “See, that’s your problem. You need to be more misanthropic, and then you won’t have to put up with so much crap.”

“I’ll worry about the people, you can worry about your forest, and that will take care of the important stuff, right?”

“Not just the forest though. Someone has to keep an eye out for you, too. I mean, I hope you don’t think I only drag myself out here for the hot sex.”

Lucas blushed this time - Cadugan had the advantage there, being much less easily embarrassed. Probably living with all those satyrs around helped. “Not just,” he managed, but Cadugan’s hands were already closing around his hips, and he could feel himself reacting. “But I’m sure it helps...”

Further conversation was cut off by a kiss, and Lucas found himself backed up against the woodpile. He grabbed his lover by the shoulders, kissing back hard even though a little voice in the back of his head screamed that the duke of the castle probably shouldn’t be having a fuck in a woodpile outside the kitchens. Another voice chimed in that really, as he was the duke and this was his castle, he could do whatever, whoever, and wherever he wanted. Usually when they were in the castle they kept things in the bedroom. And Cadugan seemed to know all the most comfortable mossy glens and clearings in the forest (fucking in the dryad cabin had been ruled out on a number of counts). But maybe, given the way the rest of the evening had gone, and also given how Cadugan was already unbuckling his belt and reaching into his breeches to stroke his hardening dick, this would be an acceptable compromise. He hoped a little compromise would be in order, anyway, as Cadugan preferred to be naked when they fucked, and Lucas wasn’t that comfortable in his lordly reputation.

Lucas sighed as his lover’s hand curled around him, enjoying the feeling of being touched, and of a hungry mouth on his. But soon enough, he slipped his hands down to Cadugan’s waist, reaching around to fondle his ass, toned and lean from running around the woods constantly. Cadugan moaned against his mouth, showing his approval by stroking Lucas faster, flicking his thumb across his head and spreading around the slick dribble of precome.

“You wanna do it right here, right where anyone could walk out and see us...” Lucas murmurred his words against Cadugan’s ear, surprising himself. Maybe it was residual tension from earlier in the evening, but things were escalating quickly, and the idea of just having his lover right here and now made him excited despite his nerves. “I could just turn you around...”

“Fuck, Lucas, yes,” Cadugan panted his words, shoving Lucas’s breeches down further, helping unfasten his own. “I don’t care about that, I just want you inside me now.”

Cadugan turned himself around, letting Lucas push open his legs, leaning his head against the cut wood and digging his fingers into the splintered bark. He moaned eagerly as Lucas pressed his dick up against his ass. Lucas spit in his hand, rubbing it along his shaft before pressing himself into Cadugan’s hot hole. His lover didn’t need much lubrication - he liked the roughness, even, but Lucas didn’t quite trust himself not to hurt him. They came together, Cadugan pushing himself back onto Lucas as he thrust forward, meeting hips to ass with a simultaneous sigh. They stayed that way a bare moment before Cadugan squirmed impatiently, and Lucas responded by thrusting eagerly into him.

It was a quick, hard fuck that built rapidly in its intensity. Lucas fumbled for Cadugan’s dick, finding him stiff and ready. He stroked him a little, trying to keep up his hard thrusting, but it was easier when he could hold the other man by both hips. Cadugan wouldn’t come from the ass-fucking anyway - that had been surprising when they’d been together the first few times, that he should like it so much even if it didn’t get him off. But eventually Lucas had gotten over the anxiety that he must be doing something wrong, and that Cadugan’s lack of complaint was simple politeness. He should have known better. Now he simply bent over the smaller man, breathing in the scent of his hair, reveling in the hot, tight grip of Cadugan’s ass around his dick, letting it bring him to, and then over, the edge. Nerves made him strangle his own cry, though Cadugan seemed to feel no such shame or fear. They leaned together, panting and still joined, until they recovered their breaths, Lucas started to soften, and his legs quit shaking quite so hard. Cadugan drew Lucas’s hand back to his still-stiff member, and Lucas stroked him slowly.

“How do you want it?”

Cadugan slid off him, turning in his grip to face him. His sun-weathered skin was flushed. “In your mouth?”

The uncertainty was uncharacteristic, but if Cadugan thought Lucas might baulk at cocksucking after they’d just fucked right outside the kitchen door he was mistaken. Maybe it was the post-orgasm rush, but at that moment he didn’t care who might see them together, or what they might say. He bent his head for a kiss while tucking away his own spent dick, loosely buckling his belt, before sinking to his knees.

Cadugan pushed Lucas’s hair back out of his face, tangling his fingers in it, green eyes wide, staring down at him. There were flecks of bark in his red hair, and red marks on his cheek and forehead from where he’d pressed up against the wood, but he didn’t seem to care. He smiled broadly, watching as Lucas sucked first on his head, licking around his shaft so that it could slide more easily into his mouth. He still felt like a sloppy cocksucker, like the little tricks of the tongue his lover demonstrated for him were just beyond his skill, but Cadugan never seemed disappointed.

“Oh, Lucas,” he breathed now, “you’re so... so... nnngh..”

Lucas wasn’t such a terrible student though, and he knew some tricks, like to fondle his balls, or the sensitive skin behind them. Cadugan’s eyes snapped shut for a moment as he did, then snapped back open quickly, as if he couldn’t bear to look away, needed to watch Lucas down on his knees for him in the muck of the courtyard, sucking him off. The grip on Lucas’s hair tightened, and Lucas nodded, grabbing a quick breath before Cadugan began to thrust more wildly down his throat. This part was easier - to give up control and let his lover work himself against his mouth. He lapped against the cock that penetrated him, eyes locked on Cadugan’s face as it contorted in pleasure, the intensity of their earlier fuck still with him, matching that quick and desperate energy. Cadugan groaned more loudly as he neared his orgasm, babbling needily about his mouth, his lips, muttering his name. When he came, Lucas swallowed the hot spray hungrily.

“Good?” he asked, licking his lips, and Cadugan nodded, releasing his tight grip on Lucas’s hair. His coronet had been knocked out of place, but had managed to somehow stay on his head. Cadugan reached out to straighten it, smiling down at him with an enraptured look.

“Always,” he breathed, then looked sharply away. Lucas was confused until he heard the growling, and a quiet yip from near the kitchen door.

“There - you hear that?” It wasn’t a voice he recognized, but it probably belonged to one of the kitchen staff. Blushing furiously, Lucas rose quickly to his feet - just in time to see a young maid peek her head out the doorway, followed quickly by a stout-looking older man he recognized as one of the castle chefs. He wasn’t sure they’d seen him yet, but it seemed inevitable as she stepped into the courtyard. “And see - something’s been into the chicken coops, they shouldn’t be--” She cut off her comment as the man laid a gentle hand on her arm, directing her attention to the two men. It was her turn for furious blushing, complemented by an awkward curtsey. “Oh - Your Grace!”

He grinned wildly, knowing how ridiculous it must look but not having any other instinct to guide him while he fumbled for words, which all seem to have flown in a panic. Of course they couldn’t have seen anything, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t guess, and Cadugan’s glaring (was he just doing up his breeches now?) probably wouldn’t help. “Erm! Don’t, ahh, mind us! I was just ...having a word with the warden! About... poaching! Yes, the dangers of poaching in a protected forest - a perfectly normal conversation...”

“A private conversation,” Cadugan snapped behind him.

Lucas coughed. “Well, yes, anyway,I think we’re through here, good night!” Still smiling goofily, he grabbed Cadugan by the arm to steer him past the pair, who seemed briefly distracted by the satisfied-looking fox trotting at their heels. Cadugan’s glare was briefly turned his way, but it died with a snort as the ranger snatched his arm away, and sighed. “I hate people.”

“Well... then come up to my rooms where no one will bother us?”

He smiled his assent, linking his arm through Lucas’s. “I was thinking about what you just said though - about the dangers of poaching.” His smiled turned sly. “Maybe you shouldn’t warn Goyet away. Maybe you should just let him bring his hunt to my- I mean, the Royal Forest, and see what happens.”

“...You’re not going to do anything to him, are you?”

“Me?” Cadugan widened his green eyes innocently. “Oh, I’m not going to do anything.”

Lucas though for a moment about what he knew about the forest - the nymphs and satyrs, the crazy dryads, the occasional owlbear, and who knew what else the unwitting might stumble across without proper guidance. “That’s somehow not entirely reassuring...” But Cadugan just smiled and leaned his head against Lucas's shoulder as they made their way upstairs. Lucas thought about how much he disliked Goyet, and how obnoxious he’d been at dinner, and how it might be nice to be able to let people get what was coming to them, especially it they were willing to walk right into it. Really, Cadugan probably deserved to dish out a little comeuppance, as long as he could convince Cadugan not to let things get too out of hand...

Lucas looked down at the red-haired man on his arm and smiled, thinking of the way his glare had melted away earlier that night. Well, maybe they were on more even footing than he’d realized.