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matters of loyalty

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Some days are longer than others for Jakob, and some days Gunter gives him so many tasks that he barely has time for himself. Usually, he follows Jakob around or frequently checks up on him, and he always finds some sort of flaw that, no matter how hard Jakob tries, he isn’t able to fix to the knight’s standards. On days like this, he feels much more like a slave than a butler, and he can’t help but feel guilty for not being at Corrin’s side. He supposed to be serving her directly, not Gunter!

But there isn’t much he can do, and he spends the day deep cleaning, trying to get every area of the fortress as spotless as he possibly can, though every time Felicia has a mishap, Gunter decides to call him away to clean up after her, rather than making her sister deal with is, like usual. He must be in a mood today, or perhaps he’s still mad about the evening before, when Jakob mouthed off, though he’s rather proud of how sharp his tongue is becoming. But he can’t say he’s proud of the punishment it’s earned him, especially as it keeps him away from the princess, while Felicia tries to do everything for her, only to create even more work for him in the process.

The day passses both sowly and quicky; each task seems to take an eternity to finish, but the more he wants to get finished in time to see if Corrin needs him for anything, the closer to the end of the day it becomes. He’s running out of time, and he doesn’t even stop to think about the fact that he hasn’t had a single break, save for a quick lunch. Jakob hasn’t paused to relieve himself even once since when he first woke up, and when he does finally think about that, he realizes that his bladder has grown heavy throughout the day.

Wincing, he shakes his head and tries to ignore the full sensation. He’s in the middle of dusting, his third try on one particular shelf, and he doesn’t want Gunter to accuse him of slacking off again. Once he’s done with this, he’ll make his excuses, regardless of what Gunter may say, and he’ll take care of his growing need. And once he’s managed to get free of Gunter, he’ll go check up on Corrin.

The plan seems pretty flawless to him, and soon enough, he loses himself in his dusting, making sure to get every corner, to get absolutely every speck of dust. There’s no way Gunter will have any complaints this time, and he’s sure that his third time will be the charm. He’s so confident in this that his need is far from his mind, barely a concern since he’s certain it’ll be taken care of soon.

But when Gunter inspects his work, he slowly drags his finger along the shelf, and Jakob squeezes his thighs together when the knight isn’t looking. He sighs impatiently as Gunter scrutinizes his finger, and when he says, “Absolutely filthy. Try again and don’t be so sloppy this time,” Jakob wants to scream.

“How on earth-?! Your vision must be going bad, old man! That shelf has never been more clean, I made sure to-”

“Do it again,” is all Gunter says, with a look in his eyes that dares Jakob to talk back.

He does realize I’m not a child anymore, doesn’t he?

~X~

It takes him two more tries to get the shelf dusted to Gunter’s standards, and even then, all he says is, “I suppose this will do,” before dragging Jakob along with him to check on dinner preparations. The butler’s bladder is aching by now, but he hasn’t been able to get a word in edgewise as Gunter continues to lecture him on his supposedly “lackluster” cleaning.

At dinner, he at least gets to see Corrin, even if he isn’t able to really talk to her. He’s  at her side to offer his service, and that’s all that really matters. After the meal, he’ll get away from Gunter for sure, and even if he has to return to chores once he’s relieved himself, he can do better for Corrin tomorrow. Right now, he can’t afford to risk wasting any time, or worry about anything other than taking care of this.

Dinner becomes more torturous for him as time goes on, as he has to stand stiffly and wait for an order of some sort. He does feel a bit better, having the princess in his sights, and he’s always quick to refill her glass, even though the sound of liquid is hardly welcome right now. Perhaps he may move a bit too quickly sometimes, as his overfull bladder gives pangs of protests more and more often. He never allows his expression to betray him, however.

Once Corrin’s meal is over, he and the other servants are able to have a quick dinner, and Jakob eats a bit more quickly than usual, his bladder so full that he barely feels hungry. He’s definitely not thirsty, and ignores his water completely. When he stands up to excuse himself, Gunter looks up at him and Jakob can feel dread washing over him.

“Felicia broke a cup and saucer just before dinner. Please go clean that up before you call it a day.”

Well, at least he said please!

Really, it’s a minor task, and Gunter says it politely enough that Jakob assumes he isn’t mad anymore, and that the punishment is over for now. Each step hurts a bit, as his bladder is jostled, but the cleanup is easy enough, and he’s finally done with his long, trouble some day, and not a moment too soon!

But as he wanders the halls, he comes across Corrin, of all people, and she breaks out in a relieved smile when she sees him. The kind of smile that makes his heart hurt, but he tries not to dwell too hard on that.

“Jakob, are you busy right now?”

“Of course not, milady,” he replies, forcing a smile and hoping that she can’t hear the strain in his voice. “Is there something you need?”

“Well, I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep for the past couple days, and I was wondering if you could brew some of that tea you do? It always helps me fall asleep,” she says.

Jakob honestly feels like crying, but he just keeps smiling and says, “Absolutely! Give me just one moment.”

“I’m sorry to bother you. I’m sure you must be tired.”

“Think nothing of it, milady. You know I live to serve.” And it’s true; no matter how badly he may need to piss, he would never neglect Corrin for second. If she has need of him, then she is his top priority, no questions asked. This is why he goes directly to the kitchen, rather than stopping along the way to empty his throbbing bladder.

Preparing tea is even harder on him in his current state, but still he tries for perfection. He would never dare to give Corrin anything less than the best, even if it means taking longer and drawing out his own suffering. Finally, he finishes up and prepares the tray, taking a deep breath before shakily carrying it to her bedroom. When he’s outside of her door, he steadies himself to hide any signs of desperation and he knocks. Once again, Corrin gives him that smile when she sees him and he knows that every extra bit of effort he puts in for her is more than worth it.

“Thanks so much,” she says. “If you’d like, you can stay with me for a little bit. Unless you’re too busy.”

As much as he wants to leave, he wouldn’t leave her until she’d finished her tea under any other circumstances, so he won’t be leaving her until the tea is gone tonight. His bladder feels like it’s at its very limit, but Jakob forces himself to stay strong, standing near Corrin’s bed while she sits and sips at her tea. He pours her another cup at her request, his legs pressed so tightly together that he hopes it isn’t obvious.

“You must be exhausted,” she says after a moment.

“What? Of course not.”

“You just seem out of it, is all. Are you feeling okay?”

He could kick himself for doing something to let on that he isn’t feeling one hundred percent. Instead, he forces another smile and says, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I am just tired.”

“Well, I’m really sorry for keeping you up. Have you had a long day?” She offers him a sympathetic smile.

“You know how Gunter is,” he replies.

“I’m sure he’s just hard on you because he cares.”

“Oh, is that what he calls it?” Corrin laughs at his works, so Jakob laughs with her, but he immediately regrets it. A pang shoots through him that is so sharp he gasps, and when he feels a spurt of liquid escape, he can feel his blood running cold.

No, no, no, not now! Not now, not now, not now, please , just a little bit longer!

“Jakob?”

“Y-yes, milady?”

“Is something wrong?”

“Not at all!” He knows now that his voice is strained, and he can’t stand up straight anymore, and he squeezes his thighs together desperately, doing whatever he can to stop it for just long enough to take his leave. Anything to get out of here, before he...before he…

But he can’t move; if he were to take even a single step, he knows he would be done in, but Corrin is right in front of him, staring at him in concern, and one hand drops between his legs for a second before he quickly drops it, knowing that it will do him no good now. He tries to tell her not to look, or to apologize, or something , but the only sound that comes out of his mouth is a pathetic, broken moan as he begins to piss himself.

There’s so much, and it comes all at once, in a hot wave that soaks through his pants quickly, running down one of his legs. The room is so quiet that the sound of splashing is nearly deafening to him, and he closes his eyes, feeling tears pricking, threatening to fall, but at the very least, he doesn’t want to cry in front of Corrin.

After all these years he’s spent, trying to prove himself to her and show that he was worth the chance she gave him, he’s disgraced himself in such a way that he knows she won’t want him around anymore. He just knows it, because what use would she have for a butler who does something like this? And he isn’t sure how he’ll ever be able to face her again anyway.

It feels strange to finally have his bladder empty, after spending the whole day growing used to the ache, but the relief is far from his mind as he finally opens his eyes to see Corrin, still staring at him. “I-I...I’m so sorry, milady. I promise, I’ll have this cleaned up quickly and-and then...I can be gone by morning, if you wish. I won’t...I won’t…”

He doesn’t know where he’ll go, and he doesn’t want to go; he wants to stay here with her, more than anything in the world, but she wouldn’t want that now, not when-

“What? J-Jakob, don’t say that! You can’t just leave, I….I need you!”

“M-milady?”

She rises suddenly, and before he has the chance to react, pulls him into a tight hug. “Please, Jakob, you can’t go away. I’d be so sad if you left…”

“After doing something like this?”

“It was my fault, wasn’t it?”

“Wh- of course not!” He struggles in her embrace, not wanting her to hug him too tight, lest she get wet as well, but she won’t let him go.

“Yes it is. You’ve been working hard all day, and then I made you stay here with me. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for me.”

“That’s ridiculous. You can’t blame yourself when you didn’t know any better…”

“Well, then, you can’t blame yourself for being devoted to your work!”

“Milady…”

“Please, Jakob,” she says, her voice more sincere than he’s ever heard it. “Just try not to be sad, okay? It happens! It’s not your fault, and I’m not upset, and I won’t tell anyone, or anything. I can even help you clean up if you want!”

“Now, what kind of butler would I be if I couldn’t handle a little mess by myself?”

“Please?” She pulls back from the hug, but only partially, staring up at him while still holding him. Silence descends on them for a moment and there is something in her eyes, something that he knows isn’t pity, though he isn’t quite sure what it is or why he feels a heat pooling in his stomach. “Let me help you.”

“I-if you insist,” he replies, though the two of them stand like that for a while, not quite hugging but not pulling away, and he finds that it’s very hard to breathe. Finally, Corrin pulls back with an awkward laugh and gets to cleaning, leaving Jakob to wonder what’s transpired.