Harrow doesn’t want to admit it, but this probably the last year before his responsibilities are thrust fully on his shoulders. He looks forward to the heavy burden, bold and decisive. But he’s a young man, goldenrod prime. He wants to make a last long summer with Viren and Viren alone, his friend and advisor. So they ride away from the border to the familiar winter palace with creative excuses and a list of rare herbs. They’re able to go off together with the retinue left behind for the last time. When they arrive, Viren complains about the dust, but lights a feather in the hearth to air out the rooms. The Banther palace is smaller, but without a fleet of servants seems pollen covered in the few months the court has left it. Harrow’s laughter travels through the halls as he teases Viren’s cat like sensibilities.
“As if you’ve ever cleaned!” Viren scoffs.
“My sword, my boots, my horse!”
“If Opeli has her way, your attitude too.”
“Good thing I have you to polish my words for the council,” Harrow slaps Viren’s back.
The halls are quiet without the other servants in the off season, just the whispering wind of the spell blowing. A rare moment alone for them. There’s no one to see Viren lean into his prince’s touch, or the softness of his smile, or the proprietary way Viren pulls him close for a kiss. It’s spring, and with no one to see, they can enjoy each other.
They wander through the rooms together. So many memories seep into the wood of the lodge, years of winters and the slow warming of their friendship. At the throne room, Harrow pauses. His dark brown hands hover over the doors. The high wood door is painted green with winding knots. He pushes them open decisively and walks forward. Viren trails behind him, fingers twisting in the wind to gather away the dust. Harrow strides to the throne. Viren is focused on unwinding the tapestries, muttering about whether butterfly wings or moths would be more appropriate to beat the embroidered fabric clear of dust.
“Leave the tapestries alone. We’ll hardly need them in summer,” Harrow insists. Harrow yoinks Viren on his lap. “Come here,” he laughs, curling around to get a better hold as Viren tries to escape.
“This is not --” But Viren can’t break the hold of his sword strong arms.
“No one’s here but your prince,” Harrow kisses behind Viren’s ear.
Viren sighs, pokes a bony elbow at Harrow’s side, but ultimately subsides into Harrow’s grip.
“Give us a kiss,” Harrow says.
Viren narrows his eyes. “The plural is for kings. I’ll give you singular a kiss…” He does, brushing stubble to kiss Harrow’s jaw. He drags away to look across the king’s hall, eyes gray and stormy. “Once you are high king, you will kiss the queen consort, not a book reading advisor.”
Harrow turns Viren’s face back to him. “You will always have a place with me, Viren, my friend.”
Harrow follows his gaze to the end of the hall. Harrow can’t yet see that future queen before him the way Viren gazes at the specter future. Harrow gets the idea to have Viren in his royal portrait that they can be inseparable across the seat of power, that he may always rest his eyes on his beloved friend and companion. Perhaps, Harrow will wonder later, this is where Viren’s resentment begins: on the wooden throne in the warm days of late spring with his fingers twisted in his prince’s circlet and a terrible loneliness in his eyes. The same distant look settles on Viren when considering a new combination of spell work, a look Harrow admires and adores, so he settles Viren more comfortably on his lap. Best to let Viren think when he’s like this. Harrow has learned patience is princely.
Viren’s spell stirred up the dust and pollen, air warm. Little speckles filter down. The afternoon sun is warm and bright on Harrow’s brown skin, drips with honey warmth and sweetness. The hearth crackles the last of the feathers as the cleaning spell finishes. Viren’s gaze settles on the gold crown.
“The mage and advisor to a king,” Harrow says. “My lifelong companion.”
Viren smiles back.
“You will always have my magic at your back, Prince Harrow,” his voice is pressed to Harrow’s ear, a promise from books dusty and inked with magic. Harrow shudders. “I serve the true High King of Katolis with honor and pride.” His fingers twist in the dreds.
It shouldn’t -- He really shouldn’t -- but the title makes Harrow’s cock thicken, and Viren squirms as Harrow pulls at his jacket which only makes it worse, better but worse. Harrow’s going to outlaw wooden chairs as his first act. He stubs his elbow on the arms of the chair shrugging out of his outer jacket.
“Do you like the title, King Harrow?” Viren giggles, creases from reading and squinting at maps.
Viren knows full well, can feel how well he likes it pressing against the laces of his pants.
Viren tugs again, pulling his neck. Harrow knocks against the chair back.
“High mage, my highness, by decree of the king,” Viren says. Viren holds the base of his neck, keeps Harrow there at arm’s length. His other hand strokes his cheek, then plucks the circlet off his head.
“Viren!” He tries to startle forward.
Viren slams his head back again. His fingernails dig into Harrow’s scalp but he uses his hand to cushion the impact on the wood.
“Hmm. This crown is not for a king,” Viren teases.
He twists the golden ring in the light. Simple gold with no gems or asymmetry. Heavy but still thinner than the king’s parallel crown.
Harrow is so hard, sitting on the throne with his Viren and the crown in his mage’s hand. He tries to buck up but he’s got no leverage, and Viren expects it, just lets him rub against his ass without being unseated.
“Just sit back on your throne, King Harrow,” Viren says. Viren puts the circlet on his own head. “I’ll take care of you.”
Viren grinds his hips down, slow. He’s not as strong as Harrow, just lithe and with better leverage. Harrow knows better than to try to unseat him again. But he does slide a hand to unbuckle Viren’s belt and into his pants.
“Harrow,” Viren laughs. “Impatient.”
“Doesn’t the council serve at my leisure?” Harrow manages to get both hands into the trousers and a good grope.
“H-h-ha-high king,” Viren groans. He’s riding in earnest, grinding against the hands and stomach of his king. Harrow knows how wet and messy Viren will get in his pants, dripping precome, if allowed to continue to front against him.
“Viren, sweetling,” Harrow says,”Let me see you.”
Because he’s lovely, with the gold crownlet pushing his auburn hair back and setting off the hint of gray in his beard, with his pants tight because his king has both hands groping his ass. But Harrow knows it’s better for a king to see his territory laid out. And Viren serves his king.