“Can I ask about the magic?”
The pattern of fingers carding through his hair didn’t falter with the question. Sorey continued to comb through the short strands, brushing his bangs back and away from his forehead. The action helped cool Mikleo’s heated skin and calm the magical frenzy that had been bursting inside him earlier. It was strange, to feel the touch of fingertips there instead of his circlet, but also far from uncomfortable. In fact, as he lay with his head pillowed on Sorey’s arm, pressed flush together in the small space the inn’s bed provided, Mikleo didn’t think he’d ever felt more comfortable in his life.
“Mhm,” he hummed, not opening his eyes as he basked in the warmth that came with being so close to Sorey. “You can ask me anything.”
His magic stirred at the mention, but Mikleo found the willpower to keep it shoved down. It had already had its fun, buzzing around inside of him as it chased each of Sorey’s touches, leaving him thoroughly hazy and exhausted now that they had finished. Now, in the aftermath, was the time for it to be just between him and Sorey. His magic would have to deal with that.
Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to put up much of a fuss. It quietly went back to rest, sated by their prince’s presence and affections, leaving behind the soft murmur Mikleo always carried with him. Just as comforting as Sorey’s touch.
“How long have you had it?”
“Forever. I was born with it.”
“Are all people who have magic born with it? Because, Velvet….” Sorey’s voice trailed off, like he was unsure of how to finish the thought. Mikleo didn’t need him to.
“I can’t vouch for everyone who has it,” he said, “but I think it’s more a matter of becoming aware that it’s there. Not everyone is as in-tuned with it, and not everyone’s is the same. It just depends on the user.”
“So you’ve always known about yours?”
“Mhm. My earliest memory is of laying in my crib and staring at the mobile my mother had hanging above it. She’d leave the window open so the breeze would make it spin, but I guess it was never fast enough for my liking. I sent it flying off the hook. Scared her half to death.”
Mikleo did remember: remembered opening his eyes that day and staring up at the stillness of the mobile, remembered the tiny cloth-sewn animals tauntingly waving the slightest bit, remembered the childlike want to see them dance and the not-yet-frightening feeling that rushed to fulfill his wish.
The fright came later, long after he’d outgrown his crib, as he watched the horror on his mother’s face grow deeper and deeper every time he had to tell her he hadn’t meant to do whatever it was his magic had done.
Now, Mikleo opened his eyes and saw the dark rafters of their inn room, just out of reach of the flickering light of the candle burning on the bedside table. He turned his head and saw Sorey - saw the smile that graced his face and the dopey look in his eyes. The sight of him made Mikleo’s mouth twitch. No one had ever looked so happy listening to him talk about his magic before.
“Who else knows?” was the next question. Mikleo hummed again, thoughtfully.
“My mother and my uncle. Gramps. Zaveid found out by accident a while ago, but I asked him not to say anything. I think Eizen and Edna suspect it and just haven’t brought it up yet.” He paused for a moment. “And Velvet.”
Sorey blinked in surprise. “Velvet knows?”
“She was the first person I told, actually. Back in Camlann, when her magic was first starting to show itself. She came to Gramps and I, and she was so scared… I couldn’t act like I didn’t know what she was going through.” He sighed softly and turned to stare back up at the ceiling. “And I was afraid. Of what might happen to her if she thought she was alone. Magic is so unpredictable; it thrives off of everything. I had people who helped me make sure it grew from something good. I wanted Velvet to have that too.”
Sorey was quiet, still diligently brushing his fingers through Mikleo’s hair. Mikleo didn’t push him to speak again, letting him have however much time he needed to process everything he’d said. Sorey’s family had always been a sensitive subject for him.
“Thank you,” he said finally, and the sentiment startled Mikleo into turning back towards him. Sorey’s face was still soft, even with the tinge of sadness that Mikleo could make out along the edges of his features. “For looking out for her. I think you’re right; she needed someone like that. Like you.”
“You were that someone for her, too.”
It was the right thing to say. Sorey’s answering smile drowned out some of his sadness. “And am I that someone for you?”
It was such a baiting statement, but Mikleo took it regardless. He wiggled his arm free from where it lay trapped between their bodies and lifted his hand towards Sorey’s face. He cupped the other’s jaw in his palm, his thumb brushing against his cheek and his fingers slipping through the sweat-damp hair at the nape of his neck. Green eyes watched him expectantly; Sorey’s gaze didn’t waver at the touch.
“Of course you are,” Mikleo murmured, and his efforts were rewarded with Sorey’s trademark grin, the one that outshined the sun and made Mikleo feel warm all the way down to his toes.
Sorey’s hand finally left his hair. Mikleo didn’t get a chance to miss the contact - Sorey wrapped that arm around his waist, tugging him into what Mikleo thought was meant to be a hug given the position they were laying in. It brought them closer together, enough for Sorey to lift his chin and be able to press a kiss to Mikleo’s forehead. Mikleo’s eyes fluttered in response. Between the comforting touches and the warmth radiating off of Sorey, he found himself fading fast.
He suddenly felt himself being shaken and opened eyes he didn’t remember closing. Sorey was still watching him as intently as before. Ever the child, Mikleo thought vaguely. Of course he isn’t tired yet.
“One more question?” Sorey asked softly, hopefully. Mikleo nodded against the pillow.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sorey’s tone wasn’t accusing. “I meant it when I said I wasn’t mad that you didn’t, but I want to know why. So I can fix whatever it is that made you feel like you couldn’t tell me.”
“Sorey.” Mikleo’s heart could have burst out of several things: relief, exasperation, love. “You don’t have to fix anything. That was never it.” He adjusted his hand so it laid more comfortably against Sorey’s cheek, stroking his thumb along his cheekbone. “It was all me. My entire life I’ve been told that I had to hide who I was, that no one could ever know about my magic. So I did. I never told anyone, not until Velvet.”
He paused again. Sorey waited for him to continue, watching with ever-patient eyes. He really wasn’t angry. And Mikleo was beyond grateful for him, not for the first time since they’d met.
“I wish I could have told you first,” he admitted quietly. “I don’t regret telling Velvet, or that Zaveid found out, but I wish it was you. It should have been.”
“Mikleo.” Sorey’s voice was just as quiet. “All that matters is you told me. I don’t care who knew first. I know now.”
“I care,” Mikleo pressed on. “It never felt right, keeping it from you. I wanted you to know, but… things got so complicated.”
Which was the understatement of the century, really. In fact, hiding his and Velvet’s magic had been the easy part of it all. The complications had all come later. Artorius denouncing Sorey and having to flee Camlann and constantly running around the continent trying to find a way to right all the wrongs while also not letting Sorey get himself killed-
“There was never going to be a good time,” Sorey spoke again, bringing Mikleo’s attention back to him before his mind could go through every scare Sorey had ever given him since they’d left Camlann. “This wasn’t any better than any other time you could have told me, okay?”
“I can think of one.”
“Oh, yeah? When?”
“Can’t you guess?” He tucked a brown curl back into place behind Sorey’s ear. “It was a night just like this one.”
Sorey’s eyebrows drew together as he thought about it. He was quiet long enough for Mikleo to consider admonishing him, because really, they hadn’t had many nights together like this before. They didn’t have that kind of time. But before he could open his mouth to start, Sorey’s eyes lit up and widened with understanding.
“That night?” Mikleo nodded, feeling a tiny smile tug at the corner of his lips. He did open his mouth this time, now with a teasing remark at the ready, but Sorey wasn’t really looking at him anymore. It was more like he was looking through him.
“That’s right,” Sorey continued, sounding distant, like he was talking out loud to himself instead of to Mikleo. “You said you had something to tell me. You said it was important, but you never told me what it was. You never had the chance….”
Sorey propped himself up on his elbow, the movement so quick and sudden that Mikleo started where he was laying. He stared up at Sorey, and Sorey stared back at him, and the length of his side felt cold and numb without his prince there to warm it.
“I stole your confession.”
Mikleo snorted at how horrified he sounded. “I would hardly say you stole it-”
“But I did!” Sorey squawked. “I told you I wanted to say my piece first and- And I was just so happy when you said you felt the same way about me that I-”
“I forgot, too.” Mikleo pushed himself up on his own elbows, giving Sorey as stern of a look as he could when he had nothing but affection to back it. “Don’t blame yourself. I was perfectly capable of stopping you and telling you. I just didn’t. And the next morning, I felt awful about missing a chance to tell you again, but definitely not about what I told you instead.”
Sorey still didn’t look convinced. So Mikleo shifted onto one elbow, mirroring the other’s position and inadvertently placing himself back into the warmth he’d just been missing. He ducked his head and placed a swift kiss against Sorey’s mouth, just to make sure he really had his attention. When he leaned back again, Sorey’s eyes were bright and focused on him.
“I know you have the kind of soul that always wants to take the burden so no one else has to,” Mikleo said softly, “but don’t, not with this. My magic isn’t yours to carry.”
And Mikleo could tell that was a point Sorey still wanted to argue. He could also tell that Sorey couldn’t stop the smile that took over his face.
“So on top of being the most powerful sorcerer to ever live, you can read souls, too? What else are you hiding from me, Mikleo?”
“Nice try, but that was your last question.”
“Good thing I don’t need to ask about this anymore, then.”
Sorey reached out with his free hand and cupped the back of his neck. He guided Mikleo in for a proper kiss, one that was soft and unhurried and made his magic sing. Sorey kissed him until every bit of him was warm again. Mikleo clutched at the bed sheet covering his hip and let him.
They fell back to the bed in opposite positions, Sorey now stretched out on his back with Mikleo’s head pillowed on his chest. But Sorey’s hand found Mikleo’s hair again, fingers twisting into the strands at the back of his head. It was grounding, and Mikleo was helpless against it. He didn’t bother trying to keep his eyes open.
“I’m really glad you told me.”
Sorey’s voice was quiet once more, laced with a newfound grogginess. Even he was getting tired now. Mikleo didn’t want to think about how late - or early, more likely - they’d stayed up together, and definitely didn’t want to think about how annoyed Velvet would be with them if she found out about it in the morning.
He pressed his face further against Sorey’s chest, hoping it brought the same sense of comfort that the other had been lavishing him with all night.
It must have. Sorey only shifted - carefully, doing his best not to disturb Mikleo’s head on his chest - enough to blow out the half-burned candle. He tipped back into his previous position and cradled Mikleo close like he was something precious. “Night, Mikki,” he mumbled.
With his head rising and falling in time with his prince’s steady breathing, Mikleo fell asleep, his magic humming beneath his skin.
The next morning, after he’d finished dressing, Mikleo was trying to get his hair to look some semblance of presentable when he realized his fingers weren’t bumping against the cool metal of his circlet. He hadn’t even noticed he’d forgotten something that had been such an integral part of his morning routine for most of his life.
Silently chiding himself, Mikleo turned back towards the bed, only to find Sorey already standing behind him. The prince was dressed sans his cloak and had Mikleo’s circlet balanced between his fingers.
Mikleo nodded dumbly. Seeing Sorey so comfortably integrating himself into the magic world was apparently going to take some getting used to.
He kept his eyes trained on Sorey’s as the other came forward, stayed still as Sorey used one hand to brush his bangs out of the way and the other to guide his circlet back to its proper place. He fiddled with it for a moment, making sure it was settled firmly against Mikleo’s forehead, then swept his bangs back over it - hiding his deepest darkest secret away once again.
But now that Sorey knew, how deep and dark could it really still be?
“I’m glad it was something you didn’t feel like you had to bring up last night,” Sorey said suddenly, Mikleo blinking at the sound of his voice, “but I just want to make sure you know.” He reached down and grabbed Mikleo’s hands, clasping them and holding them between their bodies. “Your secret is safe with me. I won’t tell anyone, not even the others. Who knows and how they find out, that’s up to you. I’ll always be waiting right here if you need me. Okay?”
Mikleo could have cried. His magic sparked to life in his chest, and all he could do was croak out a simple okay even though there were a thousand things he wanted to say instead.
But somehow, Sorey seemed to understand every single one of them anyway. His smile was like sunlight and filled Mikleo with warmth just as fiercely as his kisses did - at least, that was what Mikleo told himself when he felt the burn in his cheeks as Sorey brought their joined hands to his mouth and kissed them.
“You ready?” Again Mikleo nodded, and again Sorey took the lead, dropping his hands in favor of wrapping an arm around Mikleo’s shoulders. “Then let’s go. I’m sure the others are already up and waiting for us.” He guided Mikleo across the room, grabbing his cloak with his free hand as they passed it. Leaving the room felt like walking away from something sacred - something Mikleo wished he could keep forever and take with him because it was theirs and no one else’s.
But at least, he considered as he wrapped his own arm around Sorey’s waist, wanting to be as close to his prince as possible, that’s the only thing I have to leave behind.
And that something would stay behind in that room forever, waiting for the next occupants to share their stories and add to it.
Maybe, at least, it could help somebody else tell someone they loved their own deepest darkest secret.
Hopefully their ending would be just as good as his.