I have a new Website! And Other Good News!

Yup! After quite a bit of thinking and blinking and coffee drinking, I decided to split up my blog and have a separate website with only static content. I just changed it in most of my profiles, and all I have left is to change it in the books and re-upload them. I know this is probably like my third time changing the website and stuff, but I like to keep messing with these things because sometimes I feel bored with the same stuff. The new website is damn good, even if it’s just me saying it. I had a ton of fun figuring things out and tinkering with it till it came out properly.

So yeah, check it out at bit.ly/deeaditya.

And oh, oh, the other good news:

I got accepted into the Master’s Program at Drexel University!!!!!!!

Happy-Loki-GIF

I’m so excited! Things get finalized next week, but I’m super happy about it. If everything goes well, I’ll be in Philadelphia for the next two years, doing research just like I always wanted.

And that’s it from me for now. Hope everyone has a great week!!

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: The Neck

Disclaimer: The characters in this story are from “Silent Woods”, and belong to Ofelia Gränd. She has granted me permission to write senseless things with them. She is a sweetheart.
Warning: Since this is basically a sort of “what happens after?” scenario for “Silent Woods” that my inappropriate shipper mind made up, it is FULL OF SPOILERS. Basically, if you haven’t read the book yet, you might not get this. If you haven’t read the book yet, please do so.

You can find the blurb and shop links for Silent woods at
http://www.ofeliagrand.com/books/silent-woods

——–
The Neck- Thursday's tiny tales

Axel checked his backpack for the last time before he zipped it up and hoisted it onto his shoulder. His violin case was a constant black shape in his vision, but he didn’t pick it up.

“Do you have everything you need, Axel?”

“Yes, Dad. Thanks.” He gave Anders a one-armed hug before he walked out of his room and downstairs, where his other dad was still fretting about his leaving.

“Make sure to have your phone’s GPS turned on at all times, darling. And call me as soon as you get there, you hear?”

Axel smiled at Daniel, hoping to hell his dad didn’t suddenly realize that he was lying and that he wasn’t heading out to his friend’s house after all. “Dad, I’ll be fine. My phone’s all charged, and so’s my iPad, and my laptop. I’m going to the next city, not deep space. Relax.”

Daniel’s frown deepened, but he did stop pacing. Maja came out of the kitchen in her pajamas, half asleep, a piece of toast hanging out of her mouth. She gave him a wave and said a muffled goodbye before she went back upstairs.

“You should be like her,” Axel quipped to Daniel.

“A parent worries,” was his father’s response.

Axel smiled at both his dads, grateful that he had such wonderful parents, and sorry for what he was about to do. “I’ll see you guys soon. Take care.”

Daniel gave him a squeezing hug, murmuring a reminder to call back one last time before he let go. Anders hugged him after, curling a palm over the back of his head protectively, giving away with body language what he hid with his words. “Bye, son.”

“I’ll be back before you know it.” Axel gave both his dads a kiss on their cheeks, and was off before Daniel could stall him with some excuse or the other.

He walked to the station and got a ticket to where his friend lived. Boarding the bus, he felt a strange sense of apprehension welling in him, and he couldn’t decide if it was excitement or dread.

Before long, the bus was traveling through the forest, and Axel felt the apprehension in his stomach curl and form into something solid and heavy. This was where he’d intended to get off all along. But should he get down? Going into the forest was sheer insanity.

He should just go to his friend’s place, and forget about the forest and the strange creature that had taught him to play the violin.

But he couldn’t, and before he knew it, he was stepping off the bus and onto the leaf strewn forest bed.

The bus smoothly moved away, leaving Axel all alone in the woods.

The forest was just as he remembered it: still and completely silent. His memories were fuzzy, but as he stepped onto the trail, pictures began coming back to him: a tree with a weird shaped branch, a rotted tree trunk on the ground, the rocks that he’d tripped on.

The brook that led to the gravel pit.

To where the Neck was.

As he followed the brook, he thought of the Neck, if he’d even see him this time. It was a Thursday, and it was midsummer. But he was neither a child nor a woman.

He shook his head, marveling at the height of idiocy his thoughts were taking. Here he was, worried that he wouldn’t be able to meet the supernatural creature who wanted to take him to an early, watery grave when he was five.

Or had he?

It had been sixteen years since the incident that had changed him and his fathers for ever. Maja didn’t remember much of it, but he did, though not the same way as his dads. Anders had never volunteered to take them camping again, and Daniel had become overprotective to the point of paranoid sometimes. They became uneasy whenever he touched the violin. They had never actually told him to keep his violin playing a secret, but he did it anyway because he could sense that it was what they wanted.

Axel hadn’t given it much thought at the time, but as he grew older, he started dreaming of that night.

He dreamed of the mournful wail of the violin and the defeated stance of the Neck. He dreamed of despondent, black eyes and a terrible loneliness.

Always, that soul sucking loneliness that he was powerless to ease, despite how badly he wanted to.

The last dream had been unbearable enough that Axel had sat up in bed and cried because he didn’t know what else to do. That had been two days ago.

The whole forest was cool and misty, the canopy dense enough that the sunlight only dappled though it here and there. There was no wind, and there was no birdsong. There was nothing. Just like sixteen years ago.

Finally, he was standing beside the Gravel Pit.

The forest seemed darker somehow, the trees closer together. The placid surface of the lake brought memories of the Neck’s dark eyes. He could imagine hearing the violin and could remember being helplessly drawn to the beautiful man that played it. There was still that strange, magnetic quality in the air, but it was barely a whisper of the actual feeling.

The water lilies weren’t as abundant as they once were. They were clustered further away from the shore, as if cowering from the land. Axel remembered what Mr. Ahlqvist had said about putting pins in the leaves to stop the Neck, and he felt an irrational stab of anger. His dads had stopped getting phone calls from Ahlqvist three years ago. The leaves should have been free to grow since then. Or had Ahlqvist passed on sentry duty to someone else?

He set his bag down on the shore, toed off his shoes and his coat. After a second’s hesitation, he pulled off his shirt as well. He stepped into the icy water, and a full body shiver ran through him. He pulled a pen knife from his pocket and made a little cut on his thumb before he threw it away from the water. Anxious and nearly on the verge of nausea, he dipped his bleeding hand into the water, saw a tendril of red spread from his thumb and then vanish.

Nothing happened.

He waded further out into the water till he reached the lilies and the pads. They were unscathed. He looked around, hoping the Neck would show himself, and when a few minutes passed, he took a huge gulp of air and went under. But it was dark as pitch and he could neither see anything, nor hear the signature sound of the violin.

He shook his head, smiling ruefully at his reflection. He was being silly. Not for believing the existence of a creature straight out of folklore, but for believing that the Neck would come to him when he was the reason why he was discovered in the first place.

This was ridiculous. He should count his blessings and leave right now.

He swam back toward the shore.

He was slipping on his right shoe when he felt it: that ragged, bone-deep loneliness again, like a tug on his entire being. He whipped around, eyes wide. There was nothing to see, but the feeling…

Acting on a hunch, he pulled out his phone. He selected the recording he’d made of himself playing the song of the Neck and pressed play, staring intently at the water.

The haunting melody filled his ears, bounced off the trees and echoed, weighing the atmosphere down with its emotion.

He thought the Neck would come now for sure, but he still didn’t.

Then the sound of another violin resonated in the forest, its sound clearer and sweeter, much more potent than his own.

From the middle of the lake, surrounded by the lilies, the Neck looked at him, a corner of his lips crooked upward as he handled the violin with magical dexterity. Axel’s skin prickled with excitement and relief.

They started at each other till the song ended. The Neck lifted his chin off the violin and cradled it in his hands, it’s glossy reddish-black sheen a stark contrast against his pale skin. Axel vaguely registered it didn’t have a chin rest.

Axel dropped his phone onto his bag and walked toward the water, but he didn’t step inside. “Hello,” he said, and swallowed, not knowing what else to say.

The Neck regarded him with a look that was almost pleased, despite how his black eyes warped the expression. “Hello again. It is good to see you. I had been very lonely.”

“I know. I could feel you in my dreams, calling me.” He paused, looking at the Neck’s face, tracing the delicate features with his eyes. He was a work of art, and Axel couldn’t believe that he existed. “I didn’t know your kind could do that.”

The Neck laughed lightly. “My kind cannot do that.”

Axel blinked. “Then how did I feel and see you so clearly?”

“I do not know. But I am glad you did. I have missed you, and I hoped you would return one day.”

The words pulled a warm ribbon of happiness and pride through his chest. “You did?”

The water rippled and the lilies shivered, despite the complete lack of a breeze. The Neck smiled a small, fond smile. “Very much.”

Axel stepped into the water, his whole being full of nothing but the need to be closer to the man that had haunted his dreams for years.

On the Neck’s lovely face, the smile widened.

———

Well. That went somewhere unexpected. But I’m still satisfied with how it turned out.
Happy One Year Anniversary of Silent Woods, Ofelia 🙂

I’m (barely) alive!!!

I had great plans for 2016. I swear I did. Then Uni, or more precisely, my final year project happened.

I mean, I really like my project. I get to spend all day in a lab, measuring things out and inoculating microbes into nutrient broths and washing test tubes and Petri plates (a lot of washing to be done, to be honest) and feeling very self important.

The downside is that it completely wipes me out by the time I get back home.

Unfortunately that means  I barely have enough energy to do my college work by the time I get home, let alone write. I missed two of my TTT instalments, and the worst part is that I had stuff ready to upload, but I fell asleep and forgot to do it.

I also haven’t started on Kaapi, which is really terrible because I had a whole month for it and I just wasted it. But I promise it’s going to be out by May.

In other news, I have a 10k word story that I wrote for an Anthology that’s coming out! Not sure when, exactly, but it’s in the editing stages right now. So that’s one proper achievement for this year so far. I’ll share more ddetails about that later!

Hopefully I’ll be writing more and sleeping less in the coming months, and keep up with my TTT instalments. Hope you all have a good week!

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: Sunshine

There he goes, smiling and happy, talking animatedly with the people who flock to him. They can’t help but be drawn to him and his charm and warmth. He’s the sun and they’re all sunflowers, following his radiance wherever he goes.

He looks like it too, with his golden skin and golden hair and dancing blue eyes. The studs in his ears are golden too, and it’s easy to imagine him in a swirling silk robe instead of the jeans and button downs he usually prefers. A benevolent Sun God, eager to share his bounty with those less fortunate.

He opens his locker to find someone has secreted a note in it. He looks bewildered, and quickly glances around. He opens the folded up piece of cheap notebook paper. He reads what’s written in it and smiles like the rays of the morning sun, quickly stuffing the note into a compartment in his bag.

His smile is beautiful, and it makes my heart stutter when I see how pleased he is to get the note. His friend notices and asks about it, but he shakes his head. They pass me in the hall, his face turned away from me as he tries to look at his friend’s face while she pushes him to class.

He is the sun and I am not worthy of his attention, not after what I did. But I can make him smile, and that will have to be enough.

 

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: Saffranine

Ichigo tried not to state at the sopping wet man who was currently panting next to him, having run almost an entire block to get to the safety of the bus stand’s awning. The man’s pale yellow Tshirt almost see through at this point, and sticking obscenely to the curves and ridges of his muscled body. When the man sneezed, sending droplets of rainwater everywhere, Ichigo cut his eyes away and tried to be a decent human being, one that did not ogle a poor man who was probably sick and now that he thought about it, looked like a drowning cat with the way his blue hair was plastered to his face, and oh crap, was he shivering? He dug around in his backpack and retrieved his lab coat so he could perhaps offer it as a makeshift towel, but goddamnit, Keigo had spilled saffranine all over it so it now looked like Ichigo had tried to wipe away a grisly murder.

This was when he realised that the blue haired Greek god-type-man was looking at the cloth in his hands with a WHAT THE FUCK expression on his face. And then he turned around and hoofed it out of there, walking as fast as humanly possible away from him. It was a moment before Ichigo could gather his wits and scream, “I’m not an axe murderer! Come back! You’ll get sick in the rain!”

I was too tired to write anything but I didn’t want to miss a post, so have old fanfiction I wrote instead. Whoops?

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: Access

Michael looked pissed, to say the least.

“You hacked into the mainframe?”

“I merely accessed it without proper permission, that’s all,” Zachariel shrugged, typing out a set of commands on an imaginary keyboard on the glass wall of the temporary holding cell.

“So in essence, you hacked into the MAINFRAME?”

“If you want to call it by such a term, then yes, I did hack into the mainframe. But I only just logged in and then I immediately logged out. I didn’t even look at any confidential information or anything, so I think arresting me is a bit extreme, really–”

2006-men-volume“Mr. Lamb?”

Zachariel and Michael turned as one.

The man cleared his throat. “Zachariel Lamb. The one that accessed the Mainframe.”

Zach shot a smug glance at Michael before he turned to the man. He was older, mid forties, maybe, and dressed in a suit as bespoke as Michael’s. He was sexy. “Yeah, that’s me.”

The man stepped forward, returning Zach’s gaze with just as much intensity. “I’m Richard Kress, Director of Information Security.”

“Ooh. Nice. Was it your team’s work that I poked holes into three hours ago?” Zach cocked his head a little and smiled his best I’m-a-brat-but-you-love-me-anyway smile. “I didn’t mean any harm. I was just proving a point.”

Richard smiled. “Yes, it looked like no data had been modified or copied. May I ask what the point was that you were proving?”

Zach grinned. “That there isn’t a challenge I can’t win.”

Michael muttered in the background.

“My, you’re a driven one, aren’t you?” Richard chuckled. Zach saw it clear as day in his aristocratic face: desire.

Naturally, he played up to it, cocking his hip and lowering his eyes, affecting coyness. “Maybe.”

Richard smiled appreciatively and retrieved his phone from his coat pocket. “I’d like to offer you an internship position with my office. We can discuss how exactly you bypassed all the security firewalls, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again, yes?”

Since Zach’s phone had been seized when he got dragged into the lock up, Richard transferred his contact card to Michael’s phone.

“I look forward to seeing you on Monday, Zachariel.” Richard smiled and turned to leave.

Zach panicked. “Hey, aren’t you going to tell them to release me?”

The older man laughed and shook his head. “You did commit a crime, young man. You’re working with us instead of serving a sentence, but your brother still has to bail you out.” With one last smirk and a wave, he was walking out of the room.

“No hoverboard for the next six months,” Michael grumped as he looked at his phone, presumably telling a client he was going to be late for a meeting because he had to help out family. “And restricted infonet access for the next three.”

Zach would have protested, but he chose to let it go, focusing instead on his memory of Richard’s broad shoulders and tapered waist. He couldn’t wait to start working with him.

The image used is for illustration only. The image does not belong to me.

This story is part of the Indelible Universe, and takes place before book 1 and 2. Book 1, Scar, can be accessed here. The second book, Stain, will be out sometime in late 2016 🙂

Follow me on Twitter @deeromance or sign up for my newsletter here to get updates!

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: Attention (Love Like Coffee Universe)

Thursday's tiny tales Dee Aditya

Alan hadn’t noticed his boss standing behind him until the man cleared his throat and asked,“What are you reading?”

His fingers automatically hit the minimize icon on the browser, revealing the picture of a rain forest that was his wallpaper. His first instinct was to fly to his feet, but he couldn’t, since there were hands on his shoulders. They were just resting there, not applying any force, but Alan still felt like a butterfly pinned to a board under their warm weight. Doing some throat clearing of his own, he looked at his monitor, where Vaibhav’s reflection was faintly visible. “It’s not really any of your business,” he said, soft but firm.

Vaibhav responded with a faint little snuffle of laughter. “Oh? Whatever it was you were doing, you were doing it during office hours. I think that makes makes it my business, doesn’t it?”

Alan said nothing.

Vaibhav shrugged. “Okay, now you’ve made me curious. You can tell me yourself, or I’ll just get IT to dig it up for me.”

Alan couldn’t see his boss’s face clearly, but he knew exactly how he looked right now: smug and amused; the look of a person sure of victory. It was a look he’d been seeing in the boardroom for nearly three and a half years now, and been attracted to for almost just as long. And he really didn’t want anyone in IT knowing what he read for leisure. “It was just Fanfiction.”

“If it was just fanfiction, you wouldn’t have reacted like that.” Alan wasn’t expecting to hear that low tenor so close to his ear, or feel hot breath ghost the top of his cheek in a soft exhale. His stomach tightened with nerves and arousal. Vaibhav reached past him for the mouse, and Alan kept his hands firmly on his thighs, fighting the urge to simply swipe the monitor off his desk when Vaibhav pulled up the browser.

The silence was tense.

Alan closed his eyes, but he could still see the words he’d been reading behind his eyelids. Yes Daddy, and harder, and Do you like how good I fill you up, baby boy?

Alan had done a lot of things during work hours and gotten away with it, but he hadn’t ever thought his perfect record would end with Vaibhav thinking he was a perverted freak.

Behind him, his boss straightened a little, taking his warmth with him, but he still loomed overhead. Was he disgusted? Enraged?

When he spoke though, he just sounded… Curious. “So. Daddy kink, huh?”

“It’s not— I just like reading it,” Alan insisted, indignant. And then, “There’s nothing wrong with it, either way.”

“No, there isn’t,” Vaibhav agreed, sounding sincere. Then he closed the window and leaned back down again, and the tightness in Alan’s stomach came back tenfold. “You were so busy you didn’t even notice me.” A pause, an exhale, and then came the rumbled, “I didn’t like that.”

Alan felt goosebumps erupt on his skin and his breath catch in a stuttered inhale.

Then like the intimate moment had never happened, Vaibhav pulled back, patted Alan’s shoulder, and turned, tossing a “Remember to book Kenneth for the party on Friday, and a muffin basket for Lillian’s birthday” as he walked back out the office, leaving Alan dazed and more than a little turned on at his desk.

——

I hope you enjoyed this little short set in the Love Like Coffee universe, featuring the heroes from the  second book, Kaapi. Follow me on twitter @deeromance, or sign up for my newsletter here to get notified when the book comes out 🙂 

If you liked the story, please consider leaving a comment to let me know. I like getting feedback!

The Year That Was & The Year That Will Be

Wow, it’s 2016 already?! I hope you guys had a great time over the holidays and you partied/ got drunk/ had hot monkey sex/ read tonnes of books/ watched lotsa movies or did whatever made you happy. I slept through the new year and… yeah, basically I just slept. And ate cake. And watched LGBT short films on YouTube. And ate cake.

I guess it’s time for that previous year/ upcoming year round up that I kept putting off. This was supposed to be up on December 30, but I don’t call myself a procrastinator without reason.

2015, especially after March 2015, was a great year for me, and a particularly important one too– because this was when I discovered Goodreads, and the MM Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event. I wrote 2 stories for the Love is an Open Road event, both of which, different as they are, got good responses. I’m pretty thrilled about that. I also made a lot of friends– cool people who have been at this longer than I am–and I feel like this is what really made my year better. All the people I’ve met so far are friendly and helpful and so nice, I feel happy and blessed to have them in my life. Hopefully, my friends circle will expand further in 2016. I’m looking forward to meeting new people.

One important lesson I learned the past year– it never hurts to ask. I asked the DRitC mods if they could change some stuff in my books, and they did that for me. I asked Debbie McGowan if I could design covers for authors who needed them at BTP (just because I was bored and felt like doing something on Photoshop), and I got 4 gigs: two for JP walker, and 2 for Larry Benjamin. I wasn’t doing it for a fee, but I did get paid, and I’m thankful for that.

More information on covers can be found at decorousanarchystudios.wordpress.com!

Apart from writing and photoshopping, I also read a lot of books– almost 250+. A lot of them were great, a few were bad, because of course, not everything you read is going to be super-duper awesome, and that’s okay. The important thing is to read. When I read a really great book, I analyse what I like about it, and try to imporove my own writing skill based on that. When I read the bad books, I see what I shouldn’t do. Basically, the more I read, the more I learn, and hopefully, the more I improve.

But of course, I also need to write a lot to improve. Which is why I have plans to write more this year. I’m writing one 10k word story for an anthology, and then there’ll be Kaapi, the second book in the Love Like Coffee series (which I’ll have available for free). The sequel to Scar (titled Stain) will be out sometime later, I think, perhaps in June? And then I’ll probably try writing for more anthologies.

I also might convert a few of my AU fanfics into stand alone stories. I don’t want to remove them from my fanfiction.net account, so I’m going to self publish them for free. So that’s two more stories to look forward to from me.

Hmm, what else, what else… oh yes! I’m going to try to be a bit more regular with my Thursday’s Tiny Tales installments. It’s nice to write those things (and it adds content to my blog/website), and people seem to like them. The plan is that once I have a sizeable number, I’ll combine them into a volume and publish them, so people can have all of them in one place.

I’ve also spoken to a friend about making a website (I like my current one, but I won’t deny a professional website will be better), so that’s another thing to look forward to (for me atleast, haha)!

The upcoming year is packed full, especially since I’m also graduating college this year and applying for Master’s programs, but we’ll see how things turn out, eh?

Follow me on twitter @deeromance to see what I’m up to. I don’t blog regularly, but I do tweet at least once every 2 days, so I guess that’s a more reliable method of keeping updated. I also share interesting stuff I see on the net, so you should follow me for that at least, if you’re not interested in my boring life 😛

That’s it for now, and I wish everyone a very happy and productive year ahead!

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: Miracles

Miracle“I cannot believe I let you talk me into this,” Sylvan grumbled, irately squashing the elf hat he had in his hands.

“Oh shush,” said Carlos, plucking the abused hat from out of Sylvan’s hand and straightening it before setting it on his head. “It’s for a good cause.”

Thrust was having their first holiday party, and donating the proceeds of the night to the local LGBT youth centre. Yeah, it was a good cause, but the elf costume was driving him crazy. It had little bells stitched on everywhere, even on his pointy shoes. He looked like a goof, totally unlike Carlos who was wearing the sexy boy version of a Santa’s costume with fur trimmed boots, red booty shorts and tight red tanktop with a Santa hat.

“My shoes fucking jingle when I walk, and these pants are giving me a wedgie. And this stupid shirt! It’s so. Damn. Itchy!” He let out a frustrated little roar and practically ripped the gaudy green shirt off. “I’m not wearing this piece of crap!”

Carlos laughed and kissed his shoulder before standing on tiptoes to kiss his lips. “Alright, alright. You don’t need the shirt then. But the shoes are festive and charming, and the pants make your ass look great.” With a sweet smile, he placed both his hands on Sylvan’s hips and slowly trailed them down to his ass and squeezed. “Feels great too.”

Sylvan blushed and ducked his head. “Whatever.”

Carlos’s answering chuckle was drowned out by a loud and slightly drunken “Merry fucking Christmas, motherfuckers!”

Smoke, one of their regulars and the one who had come up with the idea of the party, had just made his entrance, looking very much like a pornstar muscledaddy Santa Claus, replete with thigh high boots and the jacket open so his furred chest was framed by, um, the furry trim of the suit.

“Uhm,” said Sylvan, unconsciously rubbing against Carlos and shuddering, before he realised what was happening and pulled away. “Shit, sorry.”

“Nothing to apologise for, baby,” Carlos chuckled, looking between Smoke and Sylvan, a plan forming in his head. “Would be great to get him between us, wouldn’t it?”

Sylvan went very, very red. “Are you serious?”

“Do you want me to be?”

Sylvan looked at Smoke smugly collecting donations in his waistband and found himself nodding and biting the inside of his cheek.

“But it’s not like he’d pick us anyway. It’ll probably take a miracle.”

Carlos smirked. “Good thing it’s the season for miracles then, isn’t it?”

Have a very happy holiday season, everyone!

The picture used does not belong to me. it is used for illustrative purposes only.

Thursday’s Tiny Tales: Royals

[This is quite a bit longer than the usual ‘Tiny Tale’, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless 🙂
The picture used does not belong to me. The artist is Fusanosuke Inariya.]

Tsujimura-san_is_a_secret_01cover_Hertz Phillip bursts into into the prince’s room, only to find no prince in it. Hurrying back out, he runs into two guards, the ones who were supposed to be with the prince at all times.“Where’s the Prince?”

They look chagrined. “We were searching for him ourselves, sir.”

Phillip barely resists the urge to tear his hair out in frustration. “Little chance of him still being in the palace, then. You go to the stables, and I’ll look in the gardens.”

They salute him and rush off, and Phillip heads to the gardens, walking as fast as his ceremonial armor allows him to. Of all days for the prince to go missing, it has to be on the day of the royal wedding.

Muttering under his breath and swiftly dodging all the other palace staff who’re running about, making last minute preparations, he makes it out into the gardens. Since all the garden staff are busy decorating the banquet hall, the garden is deserted, making the prince easy to find.

Not that he’d have had any trouble anyway. The prince’s ceremonial armor has been polished to such an extent that it sparkles like a mirror in the cheery sunlight.

Now there’s a battle tactic, he thinks, smiling to himself. Blind the enemies with excessively sparkly armor.

Prince Gerard looks up from where he’s sitting on one of the many benches placed around the gardens.

“Prince Gerard, everyone’s looking for you so they can start the ceremony. What are you doing out here?”

“I shan’t say. You will laugh at me,” the prince responds, staring down at the grass.

The prince thought he’d laugh at sincere words? Phillip wouldn’t have that.

Crouching in the grass, he gently cups the prince’s chin. “Now, young prince, why do you say that? Do you really believe that I would laugh at something that has upset you so?”

Gerard looks into Phillip’s eyes through a fringe of golden hair, and he looks away. “No, you wouldn’t.”

“I wouldn’t.” Phillip nods. “Now tell me, what is the matter? You don’t want to go ahead with the wedding?”

“Of course it’s not about the wedding,” Gerard says, and Phillip lets out a breath he isn’t even aware of holding. “But… I am afraid.”

Phillip is quite surprised. He knows the prince has been feeling upset lately, but he didn’t think the prince would be afraid of anything, not when he has Phillip and and and entire army to protect him. He tucks a lock of hair behind a delicate, royal ear. “Afraid of what, my prince?”

“Afraid that I won’t be good enough for the people of this country. I’m afraid I wont be any good at diplomacy, or strategy, or any one of those things that a prince and vassal is supposed to be good at. I am only good at painting, and drawing, and mixing herbs and tending the horses. I am afraid I… I’m afraid I will be a great disappointment to everyone who thinks I am a good choice for any royal undertaking.”

Phillip saw right through the rambling, of course. He’d known Gerard long enough. “Who told you that, Gerard?”

“No one,” he says, not meeting Phillip’s eyes.

“I promise I won’t yell at anyone, my prince. You can tell me.” Phillip wouldn’t yell at them, but he would have rather severe words with them, no doubt. Even if what they’d said was true. There was something to be said for tact, after all.

Gerard wasn’t suited to military strategy and death and violence. He was more suited to teaching and medicine. He would rather spend time with the palace healer than hold a sword in his hands.

“You cannot yell at the Queen Mother anyway,” Gerard says.

“Ah.” Well, no, he wouldn’t be able to yell at the Queen Mother at all. Perhaps, though, he would have gentle words with her. But had the Queen Mother really said that about her cherished Gerard, the golden lad who could do no wrong? “Are you sure you didn’t mishear her, Gerard?”

The prince shook his head. “No.”

Phillip considers this. “Do you want to be good at diplomacy or strategy?”

“You know I would rather clean the stables,” Gerard scoffs. “But when I am prince, it will be expected of me to fulfill certain roles. I don’t want to let anyone down, I don’t want to let you down—”

“You will never let me down, my sweet,” Phillip says, cupping Gerard’s cheek and placing a tender kiss on his forehead. “I only ever want you to be happy. I know you’d rather be a healer than you would a prince, but our fates are so that we cannot be anything but royals.” He strokes the bottom of Gerard’s soft, pink lips. “But you can use your power as prince to help our people. Set up a library like you always dreamed of. Train more healers. There’s more than one way to be a good prince, sweet Gerard, and you are one already.”

Gerard smiles shyly. “Do you think so?”

“Of course, dear heart. You are quite simply the best prince in all the land, by the sole virtue of being your sweet spirited self.” Phillip stands up, accompanied by the creaking of his armor, and holds a hand out for the prince to take. “Come, Gerard. Our people are waiting, and I for one don’t want to be yelled at on my wedding day by the Queen Mother. You know she gets awfully upset when we don’t keep time.”

Gerard smiles brightly and places his hand in Phillip’s. “Of course, my King.”

[End]