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an afternoon

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Laurent was sprawled out in an unkingly manner on the simple pale yellow blanket beneath him. He stretched his body, feeling the warmth of the Akielon sun beam down on his unprotected skin, and felt the cool blades of grass beneath his out-stretched arms. He had his eyes closed to bask even more luxuriously and, just for second, he allowed himself to be fully present in the moment, to take account of his fingers and toes and the too warm flush of his skin; to feel his loose chiton brushing against his body with the flutter of the wind, and the sandals solid on his feet.

There was no one here he didn’t want, no one demanding requests, or needing him to handle kingdom affairs; in this moment, there were no plans to be made, no strategies to think up, no fights to win.

He could just be.

For a moment.

The next, a figure blocked out the sun and cast him in shadow, and he opened his eyes.

He was met with the sun-browned face of his lover—no, husband, now. His honey-brown eyes were wide and without guile, without deceit, showing nothing but the open adoration Laurent still felt undeserving of, but eternally grateful for. Damen knelt down on the grass so his face hovered over Laurent’s head. Damen's hair, longer than it had been, although still shorter than Laurent's own, framed his face and fell over his eyes.

Laurent reached up to touch the smile on his husband's face, and basked in a different type of sun, overcome with a different kind of warmth.

It almost felt like a dream, too good to be true. It felt like the kind of dream that if Laurent didn't focus all his energy on, would shatter and he would wake, again, in the cold and isolated halls of Arles, once more living under the oppressive shadow of his uncle.

Damen lightly kissed his fingers tips, bringing Laurent back into the present moment, and gently brought Laurent's middle finger into his mouth to bite.

"If you are hungry, there is still plenty left from our picnic to eat," Laurent said.

Laurent's fingers fell back to rest over his head, enjoying the feel of the grass, and Damen leaned down until their lips almost touched.

"It's not that type of hunger," he said, his voice low and amused.

Laurent felt his body immediately respond to the huskiness of his husband's voice. "What kind of hunger is it, then? Maybe I can be of some assistance in helping alleviate your discomfort."

Damen moved and now stretched out over Laurent's body, his large form encasing him. Sometimes Laurent thinks it's too much, too constrictive; entrapping. Most of the time, however, like now, he finds himself desperately yearning for Damen's warmth and protection. One of Damen's hands found Laurent's, and their fingers interlace above their heads. Laurent could feel the beginning stirrings of Damen's cock.

"Funny that you should offer," Damen said. Their mouths were close, but not quite touching, and Laurent alternated from keeping Damen's gaze, and looking down at his lips in anticipation. "You were exactly who I was hoping would be able to help me."

For once, not feeling up to more banter, Laurent closed the distance between them, and their lips met in a sweet, chaste kiss. Damen's lips were warm, and soft. Laurent catalogued the pressure, momentarily, before surging to make the kiss harder, and opened his mouth.

It was always too much, this sensation. Damen had been Laurent's first kiss, and it had opened the floodgates within Laurent; allowed for his sexual awakening. The meeting of their tongues the first time had made his cock swell, as well as every other time since, and Laurent had no doubt it would always ignite a spark in him—no doubt that Damen would always ignite a spark in him.

It was the perfect combination of passion and tenderness. The heat from their open mouth kisses, Damen pressing ever closer as if unable to do anything else, but Damen's hand holding his, his other hand softly touching Laurent's waist. It was a feeling of protection instead of domination, Damen using his strength only to Laurent's advantage, and never to undermine or control him.

Caught up in his emotions, Laurent's free hand moved to cup the back of Damen's head, his fingers twining themselves in the curls of his dark hair.

"What do you want?" Damen asked.

"On your back," he said, and Damen quickly, immediately, moved to comply.

The good thing about chitons, Laurent supposed, besides being cool in the stifling heat of an Akielon summer, was that it really was just a small bit of cloth that didn't constrict in any important ways. Laurent was sitting astride Damen’s stomach now, who looked up at him with a love bright enough that even Laurent couldn't deny it. He leaned down to kiss Damen, one hand on Damen's chest steadying him, the other reaching behind him to grip Damen's fully erect cock, chiton moved out of the way.

"Oil," Laurent said.

In the quickest of flashes, he had the phial in his hand.

"Do you need—" Damen started asking.

Laurent shook his head. Just that morning, Damen had taken Laurent, and he was still loose. The oil was merely to lubricate Damen, to ease the entering.

Hand still firm on Damen's cock, holding it steady, Laurent rose up and began the glorious descent down. The first breach was a little painful, but Laurent quickly stretched to adjust to his husband's girth. The pain was dull, temporary, fleeting. Soon, Laurent knew, any discomfort would be transformed into pleasure.

Damen was big. Laurent had both hands in front of him, one clutching Damen's chiton at the shoulder, the other scraping Damen's chest. Laurent slowly worked his way down; every move up resulted in taking Damen even further into his body on the thrust downward.

Damen was just so big, but Laurent loved the feeling of being full. He looked down at his husband, and saw that Damen's face was tense with the effort of staying still, of not touching without permission. He was allowing his body to be used for Laurent's pleasure, in any way Laurent wanted to use it.

When he finally bottomed out, they both groaned.

"Touch me," Laurent said, although his voice was breathless. "Anywhere, just touch me."

Immediately, Damen's hands ran up Laurent's thighs underneath the chiton he still wore, scratching on the way down with his nails, before soothing their way back up. They settled on Laurent's waist.

"Laurent." Damen's voice was strained. "Please."

Laurent couldn’t help himself. "Please what?"

But he could feel it, too, the heat low in his stomach, the urge, the compulsion to move, to feel just how deep Damen could go, how much pleasure Damen could give him.

Laurent gave a tentative roll of his hips, a tease of movement, and felt Damen's cock inside of him. Damen was biting his lip, his hands were gripping tighter.

"Please," Damen repeated.

Laurent answered by pushing himself nearly off of Damen's cock, before taking it back inside his body. He moved so he was vertical, his hands folding behind his head and into his hair as he just gave in. He gave into the moment, to the feel of Damen, using his leg muscles to rock his body with Damen's. Damen had started moving with him, so on every one of Laurent's movements downward, Damen was thrusting up. Eventually, Laurent gave into even that, and let Damen set their pace, allowing himself to be moved up and down Damen's cock.

He hoped there were bruises tomorrow, on his waist.

One of Damen's hands had moved to the low of his back, pushing Laurent forward until their lips could touch. It was less of a kiss and more of an exchange in open mouth breathing. Laurent put his elbows on either side of Damen's head, and synched their movements again. From this angle, every thrust was like fire consuming him. He was gasping in tandem to Damen's thrusts, and he realized he had been saying Damen's name like a litany, a prayer promising endless pleasure.

Laurent was close, and he hadn't even been touched. Damen seemed to recognize this, and his hand wrapped around Laurent, his strokes hard.

"Da—Damen," Laurent stuttered.

"Laurent," Damen groaned.

Laurent spilled into Damen's hands and a few thrusts later, Damen spilled into him with a shout.

For a few moments, they just breathed together, catching their breath. Laurent could feel the pounding of Damen's heart, his hand still resting on Damen's chest. Being as they were outside, Laurent had no good way to clean himself up. He hadn't been thinking of that, earlier. It felt like a perversion to love the feeling of Damen's seed dripping out of him.

Damen exited his body, reached inside the picnic basket for a towel, and proceeded to clean them off. Feeling drowsy from the orgasm, Laurent laid his head on Damen's chest. The last thing he remembered before he drifted off was the feeling of Damen's arm wrapping around him.

Laurent was the first to wake to a sun low in the sky. He untangled himself carefully from Damen, and realized with chagrin that parts of his body, particularly his arms and legs, were burnt from the sun. He knew his pale skin did not tan attractively in the sun.

After a kiss to Damen's forehead, Laurent began searching through the nearby meadows for the aloe plant, which he knew would sooth his burns. Soon, their Guard would return to them, and they'd be whisked back to Ios, where Council meetings and border disputes and trade routes awaited them. For now, though, in an attempt to escape from what was awaiting them back at the palace for as long as possible, Laurent picked flowers.

He remembered walking through the gardens in the springtime with Auguste in Arles. Laurent would have just learned the names of some of the local flora, and would attempt to impress his older brother by sharing his knowledge. Auguste, kind and patient, would listen to the ramblings of a precocious ten-year-old, and help him pick ones to make flower crowns.

Auguste was a wound where the edges were no longer flayed, but smoothed over with time. Laurent's memories of his older brother hurt less, now, and he often allowed himself to indulge in them.

Before he knew it, Laurent headed back to their picnic area with a handful of colorful flowers, and not a single one of them was aloe.

Damen was still sleeping, deeply, on his back with his mouth open, lightly snoring. Laurent sat cross-legged beside him, and began twisting the flowers into the shape of a crown.

As he worked, he remembered Auguste making a beautiful flower crown for him, many years ago, made with blue irises and yellow sunflowers. It had sat perfectly atop Laurent's head, unlike the monstrosity Laurent had made for his older brother, which ended up being too small and unraveling halfway. Auguste had just smiled and helped him fix it, always the one with the mindset of moving forward instead of dwelling in the past.

Laurent aimed to do a little of both; his brother was no longer a forbidden memory that only caused pain, but one he could begin, slowly, to cherish and share.

With a loud yawn and a stretch, Damen's eyes opened, and he leaned up on an elbow. "What are you doing? How long was I asleep?" His voice was drowsy.

Laurent looked again at the setting sun, and gauged that they had little time to be left alone together. "I'd say you slept an hour or two. And I am making you a flower crown."

He finished the one and began working on the other.

"Oh," Damen said, and sat up until he mirrored Laurent.

"Mind you, the one I've made for you is a lot better than the last one I made for Auguste." Laurent held the first flower crown in his hands, made up of mostly orchids. Damen was quiet. "May I?" Laurent asked.

Damen answered by lowering his head and allowing the crown to be placed on his hair. "Teach me how to make one for you?" he asked.

By the time Pallas and Lazar from their Guard found them, Damen was carefully placing the second, finished crown on Laurent's head, this one made from irises. Almost as if unable to help himself, Laurent leaned in and kissed Damen.

The last of the sun's rays were shining on Damen's face, making it appear as if he glowed. For a second, Laurent tried to quickly memorize every line on his face, the shape of his nose, the exact color of his eyes, and the way the flower crown rested on his hair, before he remembered, and laughed.

He'd have this, for the rest of his life.

Damen gave him a quizzical look at the seemingly unprompted laughter, but Laurent simply kissed him again, lightly, before standing. It wouldn't do to embarrass Pallas any further, being that Lazar was clearly beyond such embarrassment.

They rode back to the palace together, renewed.