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“Hubert!” Ferdinand sheathes his sword and wipes his brow with his forearm. The training grounds are empty aside from his impressive form, but that’s fine. Ferdinand takes up plenty of space all on his own, and Hubert can’t help but take a moment to admire him. “Are you here to spar?”

Hubert rolls his eyes. “Absolutely not,” he says, handing Ferdinand a folded slip of paper. “I’m merely here to deliver a message.”

Ferdinand takes it in stride — both Hubert’s blow off and the message — and shrugs, reading Lady Edelgard’s missive with a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Unfortunately, it’s a good look for him: sweaty with exertion and happy to have earned a personal audience with Her Majesty later that evening. Hubert wishes he never spotted one ambitious drop of sweat escaping from Ferdinand’s hairline and rolling down the side of his face.

As it splashes to the ground, Hubert knows he will be thinking of that droplet when he tosses and turns in his own bed that night.

Ferdinand, as it so happens, has driven him to distraction before and, regrettably, most likely will again.

*

“Hubert!” Ferdinand has been halter-breaking a filly for the better part of a month, and today is no exception. Hubert has grown used to the sight of Fódlan’s Prime Minister lovingly brushing the new arrival or gently placing a blanket on her back or singing in a clear tenor about her storied beauty. “Are you here for an early morning ride? I am nearly done! Perhaps I might accompany you?”

Hubert is there to double-check the inventory his assistants prepared, to see if the treasury can withstand the replacements and improvements the stables so desperately need. Later today, he has a secret meeting with the professor to track the movement of the remnant of Arundel’s followers. He is far too busy for any sort of ride.

Ferdinand watches him with an expectant look.

“Yes, exactly,” Hubert says. “Your company would be welcome. With the war over, my already meager riding skills have atrophied.”

“Nonsense,” says Ferdinand. “Your riding skills are fine. I promise that if you put your mind to it, you could ride anything you wished all day long.”

Hubert presses his mouth into a straight line at that, but fifteen minutes later, two saddled horses are obeying Ferdinand’s every command as Hubert struggles not to do the same. Their ride is easy, moving at a clip far slower than what the former general of Adrestia’s cavalry is capable of, but one good for watching the scenery. Hubert allows it as Ferdinand describes the little-seen beauty of Enbarr’s horse trails, even though Hubert is distracted, his attention evenly divided between keeping control of his horse and studying the curve of Ferdinand’s mouth as he speaks.

They take a break in a grassy clearing, Ferdinand producing a blanket and breakfast from somewhere. Ferdinand is nearly as enthusiastic eating the apples he brought as the horses are, and Hubert unthinkingly leans in to wipe a drip of juice from Ferdinand’s chin.

His thumb is already brushing over Ferdinand’s full lower lip when Hubert realizes what he’s done. He catches it as Ferdinand’s wide eyes flicker down to the sliver of Hubert’s wrist, visible between the end of his glove and the cuff of his jacket, bared only because Hubert is stretched toward Ferdinand. Hubert is an ambitious branch of a tree on a clear day as it reaches for the sun, and Ferdinand’s cheeks go beautifully red at the sight. Perhaps unwisely, Hubert makes a show of it, dragging the pad of his thumb back and forth, and then again for another pass, their eyes meeting as he lazily pulls away again.

Ferdinand swallows hard. He pauses, then brings the apple back to his mouth for another juicy bite, his eyes still locked with Hubert’s as he does so. Hubert licks his lips. He is hungry now, but not for that apple.

Then, they both jolt when one of the horses whuffles impatiently for the humans to hurry it up.

The whole ride back is an uncomfortable one — not in company or conversation, but between Hubert’s thighs — and, in the end, the inventory check doesn’t even get done.

*

“Hubert!” After the council meeting, Ferdinand enthusiastically waves him over. It’s as if they’re schoolboys seeing each other for the first time after a long break, instead of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Imperial Household, who have both finished attending the same meeting.

Despite himself, Hubert finds he wants to smile back at Ferdinand, and when he makes the mistake of looking over at the Emperor and Professor Byleth, he finds they’re both smiling at him, too.

“Go on and have fun,” Lady Edelgard says indulgently. It is wholly embarrassing, but who is he to defy a direct order?

“Invite him to tea,” Byleth advises. “He loves tea.”

Hubert nods. “I’m definitely aware of that,” he says, thinking of the two bags of imported tea he keeps in his quarters, just in case.

Just in case of what? A missed birthday? No, Hubert has never forgotten an important date in his life. A little voice in his head, one more romantic and lonely than any voice of Hubert’s deserves to be, whispers that it’s just in case Ferdinand comes back to his room with him one night. One night where Ferdinand can warm his bed, settle his mind. Has such a thought ever crossed Ferdinand’s mind? Would he ever—? Could he ever—?

The very idea has Hubert gripping the edge of the council room’s roundtable. Byleth elbows him gently and jerks their head in Ferdinand’s direction.

Right. He bows to Her Majesty and the professor and walks over to Ferdinand, facing the sunshine head on.

Of course, Ferdinand’s smile is radiant. “Hubert, do you have any time to look over my proposal for the new Minister of Education position?” Inexplicably, he gets bashful and looks down. “My staff tells me it’s probably too wordy.”

“I’m sure it is,” Hubert says dryly, making Ferdinand chuckle. “I always have time for you, Prime Minister.”

Ferdinand looks up again at that, the wide-eyed expression reminiscent of their time in the grass. Is he surprised by Hubert’s answer? Hubert wonders what else he can say to make that expression appear again and again. Make it permanent. Burn it on the inside of his retinas. He hasn’t earned that, but he can’t help thinking it, wanting it.

He wants it badly.

“Shall we discuss the proposal over tea?” Hubert asks. “We can take it in my rooms, if you’ve no objections. Meet me in an hour?”

They have never taken tea in Hubert’s rooms. It’s always in their offices or with Lady Edelgard or in one of the Imperial Palace’s many gardens. Ferdinand has never been inside Hubert’s rooms.

Still, to his credit, Ferdinand doesn’t miss a beat when he nods and says, “In an hour.”

*

Hubert’s rooms are as austere as one might assume, lined with traps and surveillance magic should any unwelcome stranger ever cross the threshold, but little in the way of interior design. He certainly hasn’t given any thought to how they appear to guests.

What in all of Fódlan was he thinking, inviting Ferdinand here? He would have been better off shoving his way into Ferdinand’s own quarters, which probably involve plush carpeting and heavy velvet draperies and— and… a hundred ample throw pillows. Certainly he’d be less off-balance throwing Ferdinand off-balance, instead of trying to deal with the fact that it looks as though he lives inside a prison cell.

Hubert huffs out a breath, blowing his fringe out of his eyes. Goddess. The war has been over for months. Would it have killed him to hang up one framed piece of art?

All right. So maybe Hubert is panicking a bit and that just won’t do. Von Vestras do not panic. Von Vestras solve problems.

He takes a deep breath and lights his fireplace, his one warm amenity, before heading back to his office. Moments later, two of his assistants are borrowing a sofa, two armchairs, and a tea cart from one of the guest suites. Another member of his staff finds an ornate bedspread and some of those fancy plush throw pillows Ferdinand probably favors. Candles are procured and lit. Flowers in vases appear as if summoned by a spell. The kitchens produce tea, coffee, and an impressive array of snacks in no time whatsoever.

All of Hubert’s employees work quickly and ask zero questions, which is why they remain on Hubert’s staff.

*

“Hubert!” Ferdinand laughs so hard that it dissolves into indelicate snorting, something that Hubert shouldn’t find endearing and yet absolutely does. Ferdinand looks so very at home in Hubert's quarters, having already lost his coat minutes after entering the room and making Hubert do the same. It's downright scandalous how comfortable Ferdinand is around Hubert, and how much the reverse is also true. “You are very mean," Ferdinand continues. "Every third word of my proposal is not an unnecessary tangent on the glory of education. Some are perfectly necessary tangents! I promise I will edit it thoroughly, if only you take that back.”

Hubert fans the stack of papers, thumbing through them again and pretending to give Ferdinand’s words real thought. “Perhaps every fourth word,” he says. “But perhaps I’m merely feeling generous.”

“Stop teasing me,” Ferdinand says, but when Hubert looks over at him, his eyes are bright over the rim of his teacup.

“Do you really want that?” Hubert asks, setting Ferdinand’s proposal down on the small table that separates them.

Ferdinand gently returns his cup to its saucer and leans in conspiratorially. “I think that you believe I like being kept on edge, Minister,” he says.

Do you? Hubert wants to ask, but doesn’t.

“Your rooms are lovely,” Ferdinand says, looking around instead of saying whether he wants Hubert to continue teasing him — a tease of his own, in its own way. “I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.” He laughs. “With the vague way you speak of your work, I thought I might find manacles bolted to the walls. A bloody surgeon’s gurney. Maybe a scold’s bridle or an iron maiden.”

“And yet, you still readily agreed to visit?” Hubert snorts. “Maybe you need to exercise more concern for your person.”

“Well, you tell me so little about your… additional work!” Ferdinand nearly bounces in his seat, making his long hair shift with the movement. “You cannot blame a person for growing curious.”

This isn’t the direction he foresaw their conversation going when he invited Ferdinand to his personal quarters, and Hubert grows suddenly serious. “Ferdinand, you know I can’t give you more detail about the less savory aspects of my position,” he says. “Fódlan needs its Emperor and Prime Minister pristine so that your reform can be carried out without incident.”

“You say this as though I do not know,” Ferdinand says. “You also say this as though Edelgard and I haven’t killed people!”

“But that was war,” Hubert says. “The public kind, the kind where the victors are celebrated as heroes and now lead our fledgling nation.” He closes his eyes tight and clutches the arms of his chair, trying to banish the useless tremble he feels buzzing underneath his skin. “The kind where those war heroes should only worry about too-wordy proposals for a new Department of Education to guide the next generation, not a secret war performed in the dark. Bright jewels shouldn’t be tarnished.”

“Hubert. Open your eyes.” Ferdinand’s voice is soft, insistent, and just like the other day at the stables, Hubert finds he wants to obey him. When his eyes slip open again, he is still shaky and draws a low breath, for Prime Minister Ferdinand von Aegir has slipped out of his chair and fallen to his knees. “I do not want every detail,” Ferdinand says. “Believe it or not, I understand much of your work must be done in secret.”

“Ferdinand, please get up,” Hubert says desperately, but instead of listening, Ferdinand shuffles closer, until he is kneeling in front of Hubert, his cheeks dyed a deep pink but his chin tipped up defiantly. “You don’t belong there.”

“Don’t I? It is all right if you can’t tell me everything,” Ferdinand says, biting his own bottom lip the way Hubert desperately wishes he could instead, “but that doesn’t mean you have to tell me nothing. Unload your burdens with me, if you wish. Haven’t you ever thought I might enjoy being tarnished?”

“Never,” Hubert breathes. “Not even once.” But that doesn’t stop him from reaching out and pressing his gloved fingers against the side of Ferdinand’s face.

Ferdinand closes his eyes and leans into Hubert’s palm. “Adjust your worldview, Hubert.”

“I’m trying,” Hubert says in a small voice, more naked and broken than he ever intended.

Ferdinand’s eyes flutter open again at his words, and he smiles up at Hubert, encouraging and beautiful and good, and so much better than Hubert deserves. He turns his head, his teeth catching on one fingertip of Hubert’s glove, tugging at the material until Hubert’s hand is bare. He opens his mouth and the glove drops onto Hubert’s leg, even that slight contact making him jump.

“My hair,” Ferdinand says, less words than a breathless exhalation. “You can touch it, hold onto it, or what have you.”

What have you, Hubert thinks dizzily, pulling off his other glove himself and dropping both onto the floor. He can scarcely believe what is happening, as if this is all happening to another person entirely. Someone more worthy of Ferdinand, even if the look in Ferdinand’s eyes says that the only one he wants is him.

Hubert’s hands itch, dying to plunge into those sun-scorched locks now that they’re on offer, and he moves before Ferdinand changes his mind. In his eagerness, his fingers tangle up with Ferdinand’s own hands as they reach for Hubert. Ferdinand has removed his own gloves himself already, and his hands are warm and strong and everything Hubert already knew them to be.

“You want this?” Hubert asks, less a come-on than open disbelief, stroking across Ferdinand’s knuckles with his thumb. He runs his hands up Ferdinand’s arms and reaches for his prize, sliding his hands into Ferdinand’s hair and marveling at how soft it is, how pretty. “Us? Truly?”

Ferdinand laughs, bright as bells, and presses his palms to Hubert’s knees. “Truly. I do not know how I could have made my intentions clearer before,” Ferdinand says, “but it seems that you require direct action.” At that, those strong hands continue their slide up Hubert’s thighs, making him shudder, and do not stop their relentless quest until Ferdinand’s fingers are hooked into the waistband of Hubert’s trousers. It is either an impressive show of strength or an intimate familiarity with clothing that has Ferdinand pulling apart the fastenings with deft quickness that makes Hubert’s head spin again.

He may faint. He can’t faint. He nearly asks Ferdinand to pass him the smelling salts when Ferdinand reaches inside and wraps his hand around his length to pull him out.

“Goodness,” says Ferdinand, licking his lips as he stares — which really, really, he must stop doing immediately — while stroking him to full hardness. It's embarrassing to admit that this takes an embarrassingly short amount of time. “Have you been hiding that from me all along?”

Hubert makes a choked sound and pulls one hand from Ferdinand’s hair so he can cover his eyes, hiding from his overwhelming mortification and pleasure. His face is so hot that he feels as though he might immolate into a pile of ash, but as his hips jerk into the tight circle of Ferdinand’s fist, he hopes that he might be able to hold off on that until he spends all over Ferdinand’s noble fingers.

Not the end Hubert thought he would meet, but still, what a way to go.

“Hubert, look at me,” Ferdinand murmurs, his voice softer than Hubert has ever heard it, but still commanding and irresistable.

Hubert drops his hand at those words and looks down. Oh. That was a grave mistake on his part. A blush the color of the sunset sits high on Ferdinand’s cheeks as his eyes flicker between Hubert’s face and his cock, hard and leaking. In this position, kneeling in front of Hubert, Ferdinand looks like a stained glass shrine come to life, something destined to be worshipped. Hubert has never been religious, not when the Church has damned so many and so well, but now he thinks he can see the appeal.

“I want you to watch this. Watch me,” Ferdinand continues and bows his head to take Hubert into his mouth.

Fuck,” Hubert cries out, the word dragged from him as if by force, but no, no, it is only because of the soft heat of Ferdinand’s mouth. Where did he learn this? Where did he learn this? Hubert wants to kill whoever got to experience Ferdinand first, wants to praise them for taking Ferdinand’s natural enthusiasm and honing it as though forging a blade under hellfire.

Or — he barely wants to think this as he watches Ferdinand’s head sink down and then raise up again, one hand tight around Hubert’s base, keeping him steady — what if it’s just innate talent? A mental exercise Ferdinand has made reality? Has Ferdinand stayed up nights with his blankets twisted around him, sweaty and flustered as he thinks of Hubert, just as Hubert has spent so many nights thinking of him?

Ferdinand,” Hubert gasps, swaying forward to press his fingers into Ferdinand’s scalp, urging him forward again as Hubert’s hips twitch up. Silky liquid heat surrounds him, a languid caress contrasting with the resonating cry that spills from Ferdinand’s lips when Hubert tightens his grip on Ferdinand’s hair and pulls. “You are so— I am— this will not last if you keep, oh, doing that.”

Hubert cannot hear Ferdinand’s laugh at that, but he can feel it, he can feel every vibration because Ferdinand only takes him deeper into his mouth, into his throat, and redoubles his efforts. Ah, damn, Hubert realizes his mistake, even as he tips his head back to stare unblinkingly at the ceiling and moan as his higher brain functions cease; he issued Ferdinand a challenge.

It is with that thought that a deep, rumbling groan is pulled from him, nearly inhuman in its volume and intensity, and Hubert comes onto Ferdinand’s waiting tongue.

Ferdinand pulls away and swallows, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and grinning up at Hubert, at once guileless and calculating.

Hubert lets out an unsteady breath. “How are you a real person?” he asks, but if Ferdinand intends to answer, Hubert doesn’t know because he gets his hands underneath Ferdinand’s arms and hauls him up into his lap to finally, finally kiss him.

They are doing this in the wrong order, Hubert thinks, tasting himself inside Ferdinand’s mouth, his own bitterness somehow tempered into tolerance because of Ferdinand’s influence. Their first kiss will forever come after the first time Hubert has come down Ferdinand’s throat, but somehow doing things without a typical courtship suits Hubert just fine. None of this should have happened, really, and now Ferdinand’s clever hands are digging into his shoulders, his sweet voice moaning and muffled by Hubert’s mouth, his impressive ass pressed against Hubert’s legs.

After all, who cares about order when all Hubert wants is to see what Ferdinand’s face looks like when he’s screaming someone else’s name?

Ferdinand twists his body without breaking the kiss, straddling Hubert’s legs, but Hubert must break away to look at him.

“You are breathtaking,” Hubert says, looking down the length of him. And he is. Ferdinand’s hair is a mess, a wild cloud of unruly ginger waves, his face pink with exertion. His lips are swollen and red, a giveaway of what he was doing to Hubert a moment before, the collar of his shirt loosened and askew, his chest heaving. Perhaps the edge has been taken off Hubert’s need, but he still nearly moans as he takes it all in. He is so unused to this — this unbearable selfish wanting, something all for himself and not for the good of the bigger picture. He can get down into the dirt for Ferdinand, but only because Ferdinand makes him want to stay on his knees. “I need to take you apart,” he breathes, his hands tight on Ferdinand’s hips.

Ferdinand lets out a sob. “Please,” he says and drops his head to Hubert’s shoulder, his arms going around Hubert’s neck. “Do not make me beg.”

“That’s for later,” Hubert murmurs, a hot whisper against Ferdinand’s ear. Ferdinand shivers as Hubert’s teeth find his earlobe and sink down, sink in, and he’s still shivering as Hubert kisses his jaw, his cheek, before finding his mouth again.

Hubert keeps one palm pressed to Ferdinand’s back, the other undoing the fastenings on his breeches, and Ferdinand is bucking forward and whimpering before the deed is even done. “Be patient,” Hubert chides against Ferdinand’s mouth, making Ferdinand practically sob, though he softens his words by taking Ferdinand’s lower lip between his teeth, a slow drag where he can feel all of it. Hubert kisses Ferdinand again then, prising his mouth open wide, sliding his tongue in between noble teeth, twisting and searching just as his fingers complete their quest inside Ferdinand’s smallclothes.

Oh,” Ferdinand says, a broken sound as he pulls away from Hubert’s mouth. “You do not know how often I’ve thought of this.” He doesn’t go far, though, instead breathing the words sweetly into Hubert’s cheek, even though Hubert’s hand is at a clumsy angle and there’s no way his inexperienced stroking can compare to what Ferdinand did for him. This can’t be anything like the wet, welcome heat of Ferdinand’s mouth.

Ferdinand does not seem to care, however, rocking his hips into the tight grip of Hubert’s fist, and seeing him get into the rhythm has Hubert picturing what else they can do to make Ferdinand work up a sweat.

It is an easy thing to picture himself flat on his back on his bed with the borrowed bedspread. It’s easier still to picture Ferdinand over him, fucking him, using him. He wants it so much that he aches from it, aches for something he’s never even had, and even though he is spent, Hubert’s hips naturally follow Ferdinand’s rhythm at that thought, a ghost imitation of that intensity.

“Hubert!” As if reading Hubert’s mind, Ferdinand moans again, louder, and this time it is Hubert’s name. It’s fascinating to hear the syllables of his own name, something he’s heard all his life, something he’s heard countless times from Ferdinand himself, shaped into something new. No one else will hear Ferdinand say his name this way; this frantic, aroused thing — well, that is to say, unless Ferdinand’s volume increases more. Then, anyone will hear.

He should not like that thought and he knows it, but that doesn’t stop his grip from tightening, his speed from increasing. It does not stop him from capturing Ferdinand’s mouth once again to drink those syllables down.

Ferdinand is barely able to respond to Hubert’s kissing, weakly trying to react to Hubert’s persistent tongue. That’s all right, though — Hubert does not mind taking Ferdinand to the brink. He doesn’t mind him senseless and wanting. He will do it again and again, as often as Ferdinand wishes.

“Tell me,” Ferdinand says, pulling his arms back to cup Hubert’s face with gentle hands.

“Tell you what?” Hubert’s voice is low, rough, the gravel beneath other people’s feet. “I’ll tell you whatever it is that you wish to hear.”

Ferdinand cries out and throws his head back. “Tell me that you’ve wanted this,” he says. “Tell me you want it again.”

Hubert’s lips find Ferdinand’s throat. “I’ve wanted this,” he confirms, moving over heated skin. “I want it again. I want you as often as you’re willing. I want you, Ferdinand, and it keeps me up at night.”

Goddess,” Ferdinand exhales, his eyes to heaven, even though it is only the two of them there. “Me too,” he says, lowering his head so their foreheads touch. “Me too,” he repeats, his arms going around Hubert’s neck. “Hubert,” he sighs and he pulls back again so their eyes meet. Ferdinand’s hips stutter up and he moans again, long and low, but his eyes never leave Hubert’s as he comes. Hubert drinks in every detail, not wanting to forget a single thing about Ferdinand von Aegir come undone, especially when it is his fault.

He wants to do it again. He can do this all night.

Ferdinand’s mouth is on his again, pushing Hubert back into his chair and not allowing him to take a single breath of air. What is breathing anyway? A trifle, a useless biological need. But he can’t help the long breath that leaves him when Ferdinand pulls away and asks, “Shall we move to the bed now?”

The “yes” is barely out of his mouth when Ferdinand leaps from the chair and pulls him upright, heedless of the mess staining Hubert’s hand. They finally lose their clothes as they go, and when Ferdinand next lets Hubert up for air, exhausted and sated, the candles have nearly extinguished themselves.

*

“Hubert!”

The next day, Hubert tries not to smile when he hears Ferdinand calling his name across the grounds while rushing toward him. He fails, but he manages to look down before the expression can overtake his face. Can’t let just anyone know he has feelings that don’t revolve around cold-blooded revenge.

He certainly can’t let anyone know that he has tender feelings, not even his two lunch companions.

“Is something interesting in your lap, Hubert?” asks Lady Edelgard innocently.

“Maybe he spilled something on his clothes,” Byleth suggests, and even though he refuses to lift his head, he knows the two of them are exchanging amused glances at his expense.

Of course, Ferdinand completes his quest then, practically skipping over to the Emperor’s garden table. Hubert’s head snaps up, almost against his will, and Ferdinand’s cheeks are red with exertion, reminding Hubert of last night.

“Hello, Hubert,” Ferdinand says, his tone very nearly shy, but they lock eyes anyway. “You’re looking well. Very healthy. The fresh air suits you.”

“Hello, Ferdinand,” Lady Edelgard says pointedly.

Ferdinand’s head whips in her direction and he goes, if anything, redder. “Edelgard! Professor! Um. You both look well also.”

Lady Edelgard and Byleth both burst into laughter and stand at once. “Thank you. And on that note, we’ll take our leave,” Edelgard says.

“Very busy, you know,” Byleth says.

“Yes, many things to discuss.” Edelgard briefly covers her mouth, the corners of her eyes crinkling. Then she winks at Hubert, and he wants to sink through the ground. “Not here,” she adds, and she and Byleth walk off arm-in-arm.

Ferdinand drops into Lady Edelgard’s vacated seat as soon as they’re gone, something that would have annoyed Hubert unreasonably just a few years ago. Well. Times change. They’ve all changed — for the better, he thinks. Hopes.

“Do they know?” Ferdinand asks, too loud to be a whisper but no doubt what he’s aiming for. If Hubert hadn't known that Ferdinand has trouble remaining quiet before, he sure as hell knows now. But Ferdinand leans in and puts his hand on Hubert’s knee, softening with gestures what he can’t with words.

Hubert leans in, too. “With all your shouting, I don’t know how they couldn’t.”

“You didn’t seem to mind my shouting last night,” Ferdinand retorts, unfazed. His fingers tighten on Hubert’s knee, and Hubert needs to bite down on his bottom lip to stop himself from a greater reaction. “I am glad they know.”

“You are?”

Ferdinand tilts his head. “Of course! I want everyone to know,” he says. “I have wanted to shout my feelings from the rooftops for months now.”

“Please don’t,” Hubert says, pained. But his stomach flips at Ferdinand’s words and he knows he likes that idea more than he dare say out loud.

“I will refrain, but only for you.” Ferdinand lets go of Hubert’s knee so he can run the back of his gloved hand down the side of Hubert’s face. “My Hubert,” he says, and Hubert’s eyes go wide. “Too much?” Ferdinand asks.

“No,” Hubert admits, shaking his head. He checks to see if they’re being watched, then brushes his lips against Ferdinand’s forehead. “Just right.”