God, what did Percy do to deserve this? Knowing that Monty has his hands up some girl's skirt in a side room while Percy’s sitting here hiding outside the fancy ballroom, surrounded by the extravagantly trimmed hedges, makes his heart twist. And it's not fair for Percy to feel like this, he knows it's not fair, he can't pin the blame on Monty for his own feelings-
He remembers what Monty had said a few moments before he had slipped away with that girl- Theodosia Fitzroy, it was, Percy resents her and then immediately feels awful for resenting her, none of this is her fault- "Don't wait up for me, darling!", tossed over his shoulder with a wink and sly grin. Percy knows that it isn't fair to be upset, it's not like he's ever told Monty about his feelings or even implied anything, but how could he? Monty didn't fancy him that way, no matter what all the times he had called Percy "darling" or all of the casual but lingering touches might have implied to the contrary. Percy couldn’t set himself up for rejection, that was one pain he couldn't have handled, especially not from his best friend.
Still, Percy can't help but wonder what it would be like if he was the one who Monty slipped away with at a party, when he was drunk and flirty- well, he was always flirty, but that wasn't the point. Would it even mean anything more than a silly fling to Monty? Would he be able to tell how Percy was truly in love with him? Would he even care?
Stop, Percy tells himself, none of that will happen, and it's no use torturing yourself with what-ifs.
But his mind can't simply let it go, so Percy does what he does best- shoves his feelings deep down so they don't show on his face, the way people do when they've managed to fall for the last person they should fall for.
Everything had been easier when they were both young and knew nothing of what their futures would hold, hadn't it? They had played pirates and fake dueled and tried to slide down banisters on serving trays and laughed at jokes only they could understand. Everything was easier when Percy hadn't known how he would soon fall in love with Monty, his best friend and the one person he could absolutely never have.
Leaning back against one of the hedges, he tries valiantly to think of anything but Monty- really, he does. But his mind wanders the way it always does, and he ends up mentally composing a poem:
You go after anyone who'll have you
oh boy with eyes of blue.
But you don't know,
and you can't see,
so it's never me.
And it'll never be.
Percy almost laughs out loud and lies down on the cold cobblestone next to the hedges. If there was one person who wouldn't be won over with poetry, it was Monty.
It’s another letter from Monty about the oh-so-dreamy boy at Eton- Sinjon Westfall, his name was, how could Percy forget- with the blue eyes and chin dimples, the one who occupies most of Monty’s thoughts, judging by the letters he writes Percy about him.
When Percy opens the latest one, despite knowing what it will say, it of course reads, Dear Percy, today blue-eyed Sinjon-
That’s where Percy stops reading, opting to instead to throw the letter into the fireplace. He can’t bear to read another letter about Sinjon and how much Monty fancies him, another letter of Monty telling him where exactly he wants to put his hands (it was not on Sinjon’s knees), another letter of Monty asking him if he thought that Sinjon Westfall fancied lads as well. He just can't do it.
Percy sits down at the desk in the corner of his bedroom, putting his head in his hands. He should be happy for Monty, he knows this- his best friend has fallen for someone who makes him happy, and God knows Monty deserves to be happy.
It's just that Percy wants to be the one to make him happy, wants to be the one who Monty would wax poetic about in letters.
But he's not the one, and he never will be, so there's nothing else he can do.
Sitting up straighter at the desk, Percy reaches to grab a sheet of paper from the corner of the desk. Dipping a quill in the nearby input, he scribbles out a poem:
that he's the one for you
with his eyes of blue
is that really true?
Darling, you could do so much better
if you would only see-
Crumbling up the paper, he throws it into the fire, the way he did with the letter before it. Poetry and focusing on his own feelings will get him nowhere. Monty doesn't need to come back from Eton to a best friend who can barely look him in the eye without thinking about the poetry that he wrote about him.
Slumping down on his desk, Percy wonders if it's almost better that Monty's moony over Sinjon- at least he won't miss Percy too much when he finds out about the asylum, not if he has someone else to fill up his time. He won't feel the loss of a best friend and the most important person in his life, not the way Percy feels it every day. He can write Sinjon love letters back and forth, like a maiden in one of those romance novels that Felicity has in her room, and soon he'll forget about Percy entirely.
Percy can almost hear the voices taunting him. Oh, poor Percy, they say, with a dead father and a mother you never knew.
Poor Percy, with an aunt and uncle who ship you off to an asylum.
Poor Percy, who can only talk about his feelings, through poetry.
He thinks of Monty, how he's probably being tied to a headboard by Sinjon Westfall right now, how he's not thinking of Percy, he never is when he's with someone-
Poor Percy, in love with your best friend.