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Morning Rituals

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The sun hadn't peeked from the horizon, and yet Phobos was up and about, busy with his task. Every so now and then, he would pick something up from the bedside table, glance at the person sleeping next to him, and return to his work.

What could an ex-tyrant be so busy with? Why, one of his hobbies! A rare few would suspect it - even rarer are the ones who know.

Phobos was a painter.

The Escanor lineage have produced many creative minds - singers, musicians, writers, artists. Similar to his sister, he is one of those who excel in art. But, while she is an expert on pencil and paper, he holds mastery over the brush and the literal canvas.

And now, his paints scattered over his bedside table, his brushes resting next to a mug of pigmented water. His hands had smears of colors, but he was ever careful with where he'd touch. He showed a gentleness never present in his princely self.

His subject? The strongest creature in the universe, no less.

Will Vandom slumbered away next to the ex-prince, shaggy red hair framing her face. The frog on her tank top peeked from under the velvety covers. Her mouth was slightly agape with a bit of drool dipping out.

It was certainly not portrait-worthy, but Phobos understood it well. Beauty was in the eye of the beholder. If his princess sister could find beauty in his former whisperer's serious gaze and calloused hands, the prince could find beauty in this tomboy of a swimmer, who had the perfect abdominals, the toned biceps, and the brightest cocky smile.

And she liked to turn and toss around in bed. He knew that well. He also knew the process well - gestural sketch, main details, finer details, background sketch and details.

It wasn't like this for a person he once knew so, so well.

Cedric was sensitive to a lot of things, and he woke up even as Phobos was still on the gesture drawing. Cedric loved to involve himself with his partners, so he stayed awake for the painting. Their process was different - for 10 minutes, Cedric would hold his pose, enough for Phobos to proceed with his usual process. The shapeshifter would take a break for about 20 minutes, during which Phobos focused on the background.

The portrait also turned out to be different, but now that he thought of it, Phobos couldn't remember if he even finished it. Perhaps he lost focus, became preoccupied with other things; he could no longer recall what exactly happened.

But, at the very least, he would like to finish this one and make a significant difference.

Phobos glided his brush across the thick fabric. He tried to captured every hue, every figure that his eyes observed. He tried to put into his craft, all the words he could never say, all the promises he broke and kept, all the feelings he wished he could speak of. This would be the proof that he was a changed man, the mark of a new era for him and the universe.

And the universe decided it was time for the Keeper of the Heart to rouse from her slumber. Her yawn is loud and her stretched arms almost hit him. Phobos leaned his canvas against the bed, and wiped his hands.

"G'mornin'..." Will greeted, her arms wrapping around his waist.

"...yes." Phobos gazed at the windows. Sunlight filtered through the curtains. Had it been that long since he started painting?

"'s that smell?"

"My paints." Phobos slid under the sheets and cuddled Will close to him. The smell could not mask her scent, though. Cheap cologne, car freshener, and drool overpowered metallic, earthy pigments.

"The hell are ya painting so early in the morning?"

"...a picture of love."