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Misery Loves Company

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The wine is swill compared to the Dornish reds Quentyn is used to, but he downs it nonetheless. He needs to have something to counteract the noise outside the pyramid as Meereen celebrates the wedding of its queen to…some guy whose name Quentyn can’t remember whose status is also somewhat of a mystery but is clearly important enough to merit Daenerys Targaryen dismissing the offer of Quentyn’s hand and an alliance with Dorne. Well, technically, the alliance wasn’t dismissed, only Quentyn, but the manifestation of said alliance doesn’t look likely to be taking place any time that could be considered soon. Not exactly the news he hoped to bring back to his father.

But at least that is not the only news he’ll send back. Quentyn arrived in Meereen to find more competition for Daenerys’s hand than the future King Whatshisname. While it was likely to expect that the Dragon Queen would have a lengthy list of suitors, Quentyn never expected one of them to be her long thought deceased nephew and his own cousin, Aegon. But there he was, the proof of his identity offered by another dead man, Jon Connington, and the fact that Daenerys’s dragons growled only slightly when he approached and then quickly went about ignoring him, which apparently constituted a dragon liking a person. It should have been a glorious reunion of family and mostly was save for the nagging voice in the back of Quentyn’s mind that was pointing out that Aegon brought the greatest sellsword army in the world with him as well as looks that matched Daenerys in both coloring and beauty. Quentyn, on the other hand, had two guys and a face that caused most women to focus on what a great personality he has.

Alas, Daenerys ultimately had the same reaction as her dragons to Aegon and pretty silver hair or no, he got the same rejection Quentyn did. Meereen and her people here were Daenerys’s priority. Westeros minded suitors would just have to relax.

So they were. On the excuse that their presence as former king hopefuls would be a tad on the awkward side, Quentyn and Aegon decided they would skip the ceremony and spend that time in Quentyn’s quarters instead. They haven’t done much yet aside from passing the large bottle of wine back and forth and making the occasional small talk about their mutual ill timing. Aegon isn’t as finicky with the wine as Quentyn. He isn’t used to drinking anything stronger than tea so the novelty of alcohol makes up for the poor taste.

His inexperience shows. Four heavy draughts from the bottle sent him slumping onto the divan where Aegon’s currently using the olives left over from the midday meal to construct a replica pyramid, muttering what sounds like the text from a history book about Meereen as he builds and occasionally giggling at some jape he finds hidden within the words. When he’s done, he finds a slice of cheese and begins scraping at it until he’s carved out a crude body with wings.

“The harpy for the top of the pyramid,” Quentyn says. Aegon waves it at him and tries to wedge the cheese harpy atop the olive pyramid only to have olives go rolling across the table. Aegon blinks at the ruins, pokes at an olive and upon discovering it will not magically roll itself back into pyramid formation, flicks it off the table. More giggling follows.

“That’s enough wine for you.” There isn’t much left anyway so Quentyn drains the bottle himself. Likely not a wise idea as after Aegon sends another olive sailing across the room, Quentyn suddenly finds the sight hilarious. “And no opening a second bottle for me,” he concludes.

Without drink to pass the time, Quentyn makes an attempt at talk. There should be a lot of catching up to do considering they’ve never met and Quentyn’s spent the last seventeen years thinking Aegon was dead and all. Unfortunately, once he gets Aegon talking about his childhood, early adulthood and the recent past, the unending spate of lessons and more lessons and still more lessons after that starts to make Quentyn’s fostering at Yronwood look like an epic adventure. For once, Quentyn doesn’t feel the need to embellish as he talks about his modest experiences. Aegon can relate to the stories about squiring since he’s been training with that Duck fellow for a few years. It’s the tales about the ladies of Yronwood that truly get his interest.

He wants to know everything about Lord Yronwood’s daughter and Quentyn is happy to relay the information. He doesn’t feel like he’s doing her beauty justice so he tries remembering the handful of kisses they shared and conveying how he felt in those moments. Perhaps the wine will help him articulate that which he is normally too reserved to speak but after saying the word ‘nice’ three times and no other adjectives seemingly forthcoming, Quentyn sighs and gives up. It’s not as if anyone has ever mistaken him for a bard.

But Aegon’s still interested. ‘Nice’ is more than he’s gotten, he confesses and he’s wheedled as much as he can get from Duck so the new source that Quentyn represents is much appreciated.

“How can that be?” Quentyn asks. “I mean you’re…” The adjective that decides to come freely and of its own accord this time is ‘gorgeous’ but he isn’t going to repeat that. He tries to make it go away entirely and come up with something that isn’t embarrassing as hell but as he studies Aegon’s features to find a more suitable term, a little voice in his head tells him he had it exactly right the first time. It’s the eyes, the voice whispers, the long lashes and the way they shift from blue to purple depending on the light. Quentyn tells it to shut up but it only starts chirping about cheekbones.

“Boat, lessons. Lessons, boat,” Aegon explains, oblivious. “I’ve only been around Septa Lemore and Ysilla for any amount of time. Ysilla’s really sweet. She makes the best honeyed cakes. And Septa Lemore…”

“She’s an attractive woman,” Quentyn says over the voice that is now extolling the virtues of silken, silver hair.

“She likes to swim naked in the river too but then she starts teaching all this stuff about the Seven and they’re not really naked river kind of gods and it gets….confusing.”

Confusing has abruptly become a very relatable subject. Quentyn blames the wine and the frustration of failing to woo Daenerys and the fact that Aegon looks so much like her. He moves to grab a few olives to get more in his stomach than that wine but Aegon grabs his hand and pulls Quentyn down beside him.

“Come on, the kissing. You were going to tell me about the kissing.”

“Um, it’s hard to explain.” For him anyway. His sister, Arianne, Uncle Oberyn and all the older (and some of the younger too) Sand Snakes, wouldn’t have any problem describing a kiss and so much more. Quentyn hasn’t even gotten to the so much more, a side effect of being his father’s son instead of his uncle’s nephew. He tries again, because being dutiful is also a side effect, but after a few more ‘ums’ and ‘wells’, ‘nice’ threatens to put in its fourth appearance, and Quentyn settles for the tried and true and ultimately, trite and useless, “I can’t really tell you about it. It’s something you’ll have to see for yourself. You’ll understand then.”

What Aegon understands now is that Quentyn has chickened out of giving him the details he sought. He rolls his eyes (blue now, from the sun shining in and the cobalt doublet he’s wearing) and slumps back into a cushion. “Something to see for myself. But I don’t ever see anything for myself! It’s always books and lectures.”

“It was always book and lectures. You’re here in Meereen now. You’re free to go about, well, not everywhere unless you want a herd of those men in the animal masks following you around, but this is a pretty big pyramid. There’s lot of stuff here.” It’s not the best inspirational speech, and it doesn’t factor in the lurking and generally disapproving presence of Lord Connington, but there’s a valid point in there somewhere. He thinks.

Surprisingly, Aegon agrees. He’s smiling as he processes Quentyn’s advice. “You’re saying since everyone is occupied with the wedding, I should use this opportunity to start seeing what I want.”

“I wouldn’t go too crazy.” Of course, I wouldn’t. He wonders what Aegon’s values for crazy might be and thinks with his upbringing they’re likely towing the low end close to where Quentyn’s reside.

“So this Yronwood girl,” Aegon says, “when you kissed her, did you just do it? Or was there something leading up to it?”

That again? The tracks of Aegon’s mind seem to be circling but at least this is a technical question that has a technical answer. “Well, we’d spent the evening talking and as I was bidding her goodnight, we sort of looked at each other, I mean really looked at each other intently and then I leaned in and…kissed her.”

There, that wasn’t so bad. Quentyn asks if that all he wants to know but gets no answer. Aegon’s staring at him, unblinking. Really staring. Intently staring, one might say. The little voice starts to snicker. “But, uh, it doesn’t always have to be like, um, that.”

“How else would you like it to be?”

The little voice has suggestions that Quentyn refuses to listen to. The damned wine, it’s artificially inflating those crazy values. He’s certain that’s it and any action taken under its evil influence can only lead to places where Quentyn fears to tread. Though this would certainly put him closer to being his uncle’s nephew, which, he has to admit, always looked like a fun thing to try for a change.

And Quentyn is not the only one in the room who claims Oberyn Martell for an uncle. With no answer on the horizon from Quentyn, Aegon decides to speak for him.

His lips taste of the wine, yet it’s sweeter somehow. Warm. Nice? asks the little voice and a flood of other words surge over his mind to answer. Strange but the curious kind of strange. A shock but a welcome kind of surprise. It’s rougher, more urgent than the timid kisses Quentyn has given. And finally, it’s disappointing when it ends.

Aegon doesn’t look disappointed at all. He runs his tongue along his lips and has a thoughtful gleam in his eyes (which Quentyn swears have deepened into purple). “You were right, about seeing it for yourself.”

“Um, yeah, well, glad I could help.” More glad than he wants to admit.

“You know, there’s still a lot I don’t understand…”

Quentyn should put a stop to this or he feels like he should. There are reasons, probably several in number, why they should stop, but for the life of him, he can’t think of a single one. As for reasons to continue, that little voice could fill a book, a book Quentyn increasingly thinks he would like to read.

“Maybe we should work on refining your understanding first,” he suggests.

“Repetition is a valid learning technique.”

This seems like a good time to say something witty or get some sort of captivating rapport going of the like the rest of his family is so good at. But then he realizes he doesn’t care because actions can be better than words. They sure as hell are more enjoyable.

He is the one to start the second kiss, emboldened by being, well, bold. Quentyn could laugh if it didn’t mean he would have to slightly pull away. Aegon manages to laugh anyway, a bright, joyful sound Quentyn can feel on his lips and in his teeth. Repetition is good, but sometimes you have to push yourself further to get the most out of an experience.

Their mutual inexperience shows as Quentyn’s hands fumble over Aegon’s back and down to his sides. Aegon repays him in kind only now there are four hands clumsily trying to find the best purchase and after an unintentional slap, Quentyn can’t fight his laughter any more. Enthusiasm is wonderful; putting some thought behind that enthusiasm should be even better.

“Here,” Quentyn says and takes hold of Aegon’s hands to guide them to his waist. He listens to the instructions for a bit, but not long after the kissing’s resumed, his hands migrate down to Quentyn’s hips. Quentyn has no desire to correct him this time. He’s too occupied with working his hands under Aegon’s doublet and then in the opposite direction up his body. What he finds are muscles toned after hours spent in training, more time than Quentyn’s put in, yet when he rubs against them, Aegon quickly yields to the touch and lies all the way back on the divan, inviting Quentyn to join him.

He’s in uncharted territory now but he and the little voice are one in eagerness to explore. More fumbling ensues though this time hands are joined by chests and legs as they rub against each other to find the perfect way to fit against each other. They no longer limit themselves to each others lips when the kissing resumes. Cheeks, necks and even shoulders, a location that is nicer than Quentyn ever would have thought until he feels Aegon’s teeth sink into them.

“Sorry,” he mumbles in response to Quentyn’s sharp ’ouch!’. He does it again mere moments later but no exclamations of pain or apologies come after it. It still hurts, but it’s a good kind of hurt and it pales in comparison to the pleasure he feels from everything else that they’re doing.

Told youuuuu the little voice sings. It’s not so little anymore though. It’s grown into something more like a rousing shout one would give to cheer a rider on during a tilt and Quentyn has to stifle his laugher again as various metaphors about lances and jousting pop into his head because that voice isn’t the only part of him that’s gotten bigger.

Between the wine and the blood rushing from his head to parts due south, a giddy delirium settles over Quentyn to the point where he’s no longer aware of anything beyond the divan and even that small area is kind of hazy. He’s vaguely aware of Aegon hissing a word at him over and over again and when he focuses, it sounds like he‘s saying ‘Dorne‘, which is beyond strange because he’s fairly certain cries of one’s homeland aren’t really pillow talk but it’s kind of reassuring that Aegon’s less smooth at this than he is. It’s not until Aegon jabs him in the ribs that Quentyn’s realizes the word is, in fact, ‘door’.

As in someone is knocking at the door and would like to gain entry and he and Aegon are probably not in the ideal position to be welcoming company so maybe they should attend to the knocker lest they give Meereen something to talk about other than Daenerys’s wedding.

“Uh, maybe you ought to get that,” Quentyn says once they’re both upright and he needs a strategically placed pillow to hide the evidence of their activity. Aegon tries by weaving a wobbly path halfway towards the door before he gives up, plops down on a chair and yells at their visitor to come in. There’s a deep blush on his cheeks that Quentyn hopes can be explained away by the wine.

Lord Connington enters and that general air of disapproval becomes really specific as he takes in Aegon’s disheveled appearance and the empty wine bottle and a lecture begins brewing. Thankfully, it’s only about the alcohol and the need to comport themselves better and it goes right over Aegon’s goofily smiling head while Quentyn offers excuses about underestimating Meereenese wine and overestimating their tolerances. That’s enough to change Connington’s scowl into a light frown and get him to leave to go back to the wedding.

It’s still a call too close for comfort and sanity finally resettles into Quentyn as he says they shouldn’t do that again.

“Why not?”

“If we get caught…”

“He was just checking in. It’ll be hours until he comes back.”

Hours echoes the voice. You can do a lot in hours. Contemplating the exact quantity of a lot as well as the form it would take threatens to unsettle sanity again. Aegon staggering back to the divan while waxing philosophical on the possible educational value of a lot sends sanity scurrying right out the door to follow after Connington. Quentyn chucks the pillow away. He isn’t going to need it.

Elsewhere in Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen and Whocareswhathisnameis are greeting their people as husband and wife for the first time. When Quentyn woke this morning, he wanted to be that husband. On this divan at this moment, Quentyn decides he really couldn’t care less about that.