Okay. So, this is my dragon one-shot. I wrote it for Tragic and Devastated because she read part of another story with dragons and wanted more. So here it is. May be posting more dragons at some point.
Warnings: this story features male-male relationships. If you don't like it, don't read it. I'm not forcing you to read this. If you flame me for it, I'll laugh my ass off, and then send my guard dogs after you. They have nothing else to do, and more than a dozen e-mail addresses between them. Payback is a bitch.
Also: rated M for swearing, attempted rape, male-male intimate relations, and just plain evil people.
The End of Fayt
The halls were blessedly empty as Dren stepped out of his rooms, settling the bag on his shoulders before he covered himself with his cloak and pulled the hood up to shadow his face. The tunic and breeches he wore were old and dirty, worn almost completely through in some places, ripped in others. The cloth was still finer than what you'd see on all but the most wealthy, but there was nothing to be done for that. The supple leather boots that deadened the sound of his footsteps as he walked down the hallway were as worn as everything else.
His guards had done as he'd asked, taking up the posts on his escape route, and none of them said a word as he stepped past their posts. Nor would they recall having seen him when it was discovered that he'd gone missing. Hopefully, by the time that happened, he would be far away from here, in a place where no one recognized him, and the name Fasca meant little to nothing.
When Dren passed the last man, the captain of his guard, he stopped and pulled the ring off his right ring finger. The blood red garnet was set brilliantly in gleaming silver, and the stone caught the light briefly as he looked at it one more time. With a sad sigh, Dren placed it into the man's waiting palm and closed his fingers around it. His captain would find it sometime tomorrow, along with a note from an unknown, and completely fictional, faction of revolt that would, hopefully, lead everyone to believe that he'd been kidnapped. A few days after that, his guard would disappear, so as not to be blamed when his blood was found, enough that it would be assumed he was dead, but not enough to raise suspicion.
"Travel well my prince," his captain murmured, sweeping a half bow.
"And you as well, old friend."
Dren nodded once and forced himself to leave. He would miss those men, but there was nothing to be done for it. If he stayed, his father would find a way to use him, and the people would suffer even more than they already were. He didn't have the power to fend him off anymore, not like his sister, who could, and would, easily take his place.
The city was dark as he slipped out through a servant's door, carefully closing it behind him. He'd memorized the routes of the other guards and skillfully maneuvered past them, slipping further and further away from his prison. Soon, he was leaving behind ornate houses and cobbled lanes for barely standing shacks and muddy streets. It was as he passed one dark hollow between houses that Dren heard a yell, and a young man sprinted past him. A dozen guards, identifiable only by the distinctive royal black and silver of their livery, and the barely visible Fasca coat of arms on their chests, were close behind him.
It that moment, Dren knew he was facing a particularly difficult choice, a choice that would likely determine whether or not he got away and, therefore, the rest of his life. On one hand, he could forget what he'd just seen and continue walking. He would leave and never know what had become of the young man. He'd probably think about him occasionally, and wonder if he'd lived or died, what would have become of his own life had he followed them.
On the other hand, Dren could go after them and find out why the young man was being chased by royal guards, though, in his gut, he had a feeling he knew already. He could stop the guards, any of whom would recognize him even without the ring, and let the boy return to his life. Dren would likely be taken back to his father. He would do everything he could prevent it, but there was only so much that was possible against a dozen heavily armed men.
Was he willing to sacrifice his own happiness, and maybe his life, for the happiness and life of another, a person who had done nothing to deserve such a fate? Could he knowingly sacrifice another?
The answer rebounding in his mind, and knowing he may live to regret his choice, Dren turned towards the rapidly retreating figures and bolted after them.
Fayt sighed as he tucked the letter into his bag and left his uncle's small home. It was already dark and, as much as he wanted to stay, he knew his father couldn't afford to have him gone that long. They needed every hand they could get to survive this season.
Stepping out into the cold, Fayt pulled his threadbare cloak tighter around his dirty tunic and breeches. The mud squelched unpleasantly under his bare feet as he darted as quickly as possible down the street, heading towards the edge of the city and the open lands beyond. It would be early morning before he got home, just late enough to make going to bed stupid and pointless. It would just be better to enjoy the meager scenery and the chance to be somewhere besides the little farm he lived on, maybe find an edible plant or two.
He was trying to decide if he should stop by the home of another relative, albeit one far better then the rest of his family, when he saw a dozen royal guards coming in his direction. Their colors were barely visible in the darkness, but the silvery glint to their clothing gave them away readily enough.
Grimacing, Fayt nonetheless knelt as they came even with him. It wouldn't normally be necessary, but the king had become brutal in his punishments as of late, so it was better to err on the side of caution. The fact that they were out at a time such as this, when they should be asleep or on watch, signified that their mission was one of importance.
"My lords," he murmured, hoping to go unnoticed, but knowing he wouldn't.
"Peasant," the leader spat with barely a glance at him. After a moment, however, his gaze returned. "Stand up boy."
Fayt stood warily, wondering what they wanted now, why they were curious about his appearance. "Yes, my lord?" he asked, carefully keeping his eyes averted.
The leader didn't answer, simply let his gaze travel over Fayt, who shuddered at the look that slowly slid into the man's eyes. "Is your name Fayt Vanellv?"
"Yes…" he said slowly, wondering if he should being lying even as he murmured his answer.
The leader grabbed his arm, pulling him back the way he'd come. "Come on. You've been chosen for a private audience with the king, and we must make you," the leader gave Fayt a slow once over and the tip of his tongue flicked out to lick his lips, "suitable."
At the blatant innuendo in the man's words, Fayt felt his eyes widen. "W-what?" he stuttered as they pulled him along. He had to have misunderstood. He'd heard the stories about the king's preferences, and how he went about getting those he deemed suitable, but Fayt had never dreamed he'd be subjected to such a thing.
"It's an honor boy," one of the other guards said, shoving Fayt forward.
"Honor…" he murmured, before he realized exactly the predicament he was in. If he didn't run soon, there was no chance he'd get away, and he was not going to become the king's new pet. He wasn't even sure why he'd been chosen, he was poor, and nothing interesting to look upon, but he had no intention of staying here to find out.
Wrenching his arm from the man's grasp, Fayt spun away and bolted down a dark side street. The sounds of pursuit were immediate and surprisingly loud. He'd thought they would at least attempt a stealthy capture. Though, the odds were overwhelmingly in their favor, twelve combat trained men against a seventeen year old farm boy. There was no need for stealth and he stood little to no chance, but he wasn't going down without a fight, no matter how weak he was.
He yelled when he felt a hand try to enclose around his wrist, and Fayt threw himself forward, narrowly missing another person as he exploded out of the alley. He ducked into another dark lane as soon as possible, turning at random as he tried to outrun the men following him, though he knew it was a lost cause.
One of them slammed into him as he came to a junction between several of the better houses and Fayt found himself with his back against the wall when the stars faded from his eyes. Two men held him down, one on each side, and the leader stood before him with a grin that chilled Fayt to his very core.
"Running won't help you boy. This is going to happen whether you like it or not." The man reached for the front of his breeches and unbuttoned them. "Besides, you'll need the practice, and we'll be much gentler than he will." The two holding him forced Fayt to his knees, and he immediately closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. He would not be a part of this willingly.
"Open up boy. I've got something for you." He felt the leader standing inches from his face and he knew exactly what he'd see if he opened his eyes, so he didn't. Nor did he open his mouth, as he'd been instructed. Something hard connected with his right cheek, Fayt thought it was probably a fist, and he sucked in a breath sharply through his nose, still refusing to open his mouth.
"I'm going to give you one more chance, and then you'll regret denying me." The words were whispered into his ear, and he shuddered in revulsion at the thought of having the leader so close to him. Still, he made no move to give them what they wanted.
"Well, well, well, we've got us a brave one here gentlemen. Looks like we'll have to give him a bit more incentive." Something sharp was laid against his stinging cheek, the point of what Fayt thought was a knife digging into soft skin. "How would you like to have all eight inches of this lovely thing buried in your throat? Your heart maybe? Or… here?" the voice hissed, abruptly pressing the knife lightly into his groin.
Fayt forced himself not to react, not to give them the sign they wanted. He had no idea where his newly acquired set of survival techniques had come from, but he had no intention of ignoring them.
"Fine," the leader said finally, obviously having decided that idea had gone nowhere. The point of the blade disappeared and something slammed into his side, knocking the breath out of him and breaking at least a few ribs in the process, as breathing had suddenly become agony. Another fist found its way to his face again, and the sharp noise that filled the air, as well as the blood that began to slide down his face, led Fayt to believe his nose had just been broken.
"Ready to submit yet peasant?"
Flinching away from the voice, he attempted to shuffle in the opposite direction, only to be held in place by the arms still pressing down hard against his shoulders. One of them tightened their hold and he winced, feeling the bone give way under a strength that was astounding. Even through all this, Fayt refused to open his mouth. He wouldn't give them the satisfaction; he'd rather die, and was probably going to.
"I don't know why you're trying so hard peasant. It's not like you have anywhere to go. Your parents sold you to the king for a handful of coins."
No, he thought. They wouldn't do that! Yet even as he thought it, Fayt knew he was wrong. His parents had never cared a great deal about him, except for when they could use him for something. To be paid to be rid of him would be something they would view as only a blessing. Which meant he truly had nowhere to go, except to do as the men before him wanted, or die.
He chose death.
"Tsk tsk tsk boy," the leader whispered, perhaps having seen something that gave away Fayt's choice. "Wrong answer. I warned you."
Abruptly, he was pulled to his feet, and the knife shoved into his thigh. Finally, Fayt opened his mouth, only to let out a quiet scream, all he could manage with broken ribs. Just as quickly as it had come, the knife was removed and he sunk once more to his knees, his hands coming out to stop him from hitting the dirt face first.
"Now I'll have to tell the king that the toy he purchased just wouldn't cooperate, and had to be put down. 'There was nothing to be done, my king. He wouldn't stay still, kept running, and wouldn't submit to his punishment.' You brought this upon yourself boy."
Fayt screamed long and loud when something was thrust into his chest. It wasn't the knife; it was too long, too broad, to be the knife. The only thing that came to his mind as it searched for an answer, was a sword. Before he could be sure, however, it was wrenched from his chest with a sickening sound and he fell to the ground, no longer able to support himself. His blood formed a rapidly widening pool around him and, in that moment, Fayt knew he was going to die.
Dren froze when he came upon the boy. He'd somehow taken a wrong turn following them, and only the screams had drawn him back to the correct location. Nonetheless, he was too late: the guards were gone, and the boy was dead.
No, he thought, seeing the young's man chest rise slightly and then fall in a desperate attempt to keep air in his body. Instantly Dren was across the space and on his knees beside him. The amount of blood around him was horrifying, and he turned him over gently to see the wound, breath hissing out between his teeth at the sight of it. The young man would never survive unless… unless he took him to Drea.
Which would kill any and all chance of Dren getting away from his father. As much as he hoped he was wrong, he knew that, by now, his father already knew he was gone. If he turned up now, there would be no second chance at escape.
Dren knew this and still, he laid his palm over the wound in the young man's chest and poured the meager power he had into it, doing what healing he could to keep him alive long enough to get him to Drea. Holding his breath, he gave all he could, throwing all the power he normally banked into the young man's wounds. It was just barely enough.
Jerking the cloak around him off, Dren wrapped him in it and scooped the younger man into his arms. He was startled at how light the man was, slim body bordering on being unhealthy. He looked to be five foot six, maybe a little less, as his clothes were too big for him. The young man's dark hair and eyes, which he'd seen for only a moment when they'd almost run into each other, made his skin seem almost unnaturally pale. He was, in a word, stunning, and would likely be more so if he were given the chance to become what he was meant to be.
Dren made his way quickly through the dark spaces and muddy streets, disregarding the few people he saw as unable to help. The houses became nicer and more ornate, in reverse of what he'd observed previously as he weaved between them, and finally ducked into the servant's entrance he'd used to escape earlier that night. His captain saw him, eyes widening in shock.
"Get Drea and bring her to my room, quickly." Though he was clearly curious, the captain nodded once and disappeared. As he passed more of his guards, they too reacted with obvious shock, and he asked the first to keep his return as quiet as he could, and to ask the other guards to do the same. Knowing his requests would be followed, Dren made his way to his room.
He'd just laid the young man down on his bed when the door opened and Drea, along with the captain, entered. Immediately, his twin sister was beside the injured man, laying her hands over the wound and pressing down lightly. Dren turned his attention to his captain, knowing there was nothing he could do now but wait.
"He already knows you're here," the captain told him quietly.
Dren pinched the bridge of his nose. "I was afraid of that," he murmured. "How long do you think I have Eren?"
"He probably won't deign you with his presence until the morning, as he knows you won't be able to get out of the palace. If you're going to attempt to hide him," Eren nodded towards the young man, "you'd best do it quickly."
"No, that would be an exercise in pointlessness. Beldrith knows about him already, that I'm sure of."
Eren was silent for several moments, eyes following Drea's movements as she slowly healed the injuries as best she could. Even Drea, with all her power, couldn't fix any of it completely, that went against the laws of their gifts. If he'd had all his power, Dren and Drea, together, may have been able to force the power to their bidding and heal everything, though it would've take several hours of intense focus.
"Then do not leave his side, unless one of those you trust completely is with him. If he is as valuable to your father as you seem to think, it would be better not to give him the chance."
Dren nodded in agreement, but did not speak again. Neither man did, nor did they move, as they watched Drea work. Time lost its meaning as the subtle moves of his sister's hands tweaked muscles and tendons, blood and tissue, into returning to where it should be, or replenishing what had been lost. Finally, when Dren had long since forgotten about his own muscles and the feeling in them, she slid from the bed and to her feet before turning to the two men. She looked exhausted, worn completely thin, and Dren knew she would need a good deal of sleep before she was even able to pretend at any sense of normalcy.
"Thank you sister," he said quietly.
"You're welcome brother. He should be all right, though it will be some time before he's able to be up and around like normal. He had four broken ribs, a broken nose, a broken clavicle, nasty little crack in his jaw, and the two stab wounds." She glanced back at the young man and sighed. "It will probably be a while before he even wakes." Her gaze returned to her brother, eyes purposeful. "You should stay with him Dren. It will do him good."
"I intended to anyway," he murmured, eyes only for the young man in his bed now. "Get some rest Drea."
"Good night Dren." With a small smile, Drea left the room, leaving the men alone.
"I'll stand guard outside, with two others tonight, and we'll switch out later. Between the eight of us, we should make it work."
Smiling slightly at Eren's words, he nodded. "Thank you, old friend."
"No thanks is necessary, my prince. It is an honor, as always, to serve you." With a half bow, Eren left the room as well, leaving Dren alone with the younger man.
With a small sigh, the prince settled in to wait.
Fayt woke slowly, his mind gradually coming back to itself, memory coming with it, as he catalogued his numerous aches and pains. His chest throbbed with every small inhale of air, though his ribs had faded to a merely annoying twinge. His jaw felt sore, and his nose slightly swollen. He shifted slightly to assess his other injuries, and whimpered quietly at the pain in his thigh and shoulder. Hesitantly, fearing what he would find, where he would be, he opened his eyes.
To find himself surrounded by gold.
The creature curled lightly around Fayt was perhaps fifteen feet long, body about the same width as his own. The muscle thick legs ended in padded paws tipped with wicked looking curved claws. Every inch of the stunning creature was covered in small scales the color of pure gold.
Shaking slightly, Fayt raised his eyes to look at the head. It was about the length of his forearm, long and slightly narrow, with webbed ears and large eyes, closed now in sleep. Overall, the creature before him, the myth, was breathtaking.
Dragon, his mind whispered, and he knew that was exactly what he was looking at. Though they were supposedly a species that had once existed peacefully with humans, only to eventually be hunted to extinction, they'd become something of a legend, a story parents told their children to keep them close and within sight. Rumors floated around that the royal family still possessed the ability to change at will, but Fayt had always dismissed these as simply untruths. Now, it seemed, he was wrong.
Thinking over the myths and legends he'd heard, while he forced himself to ignore his fear, he realized that the dragon before him couldn't be in trueform. If the stories were to be believed, a dragon's trueform was much larger and, even taking exaggeration into consideration, this could not be a full-sized dragon. Which meant that the creature lying curled around him was in its demiform, if all the legends were to be believed. Smaller and less volatile than trueform, the demiform was supposed to be something that only a man with true control over his dragon could master.
Hesitantly, Fayt moved his hand, ignoring the pain it caused, and ran a fingertip lightly down the body, finding the texture of the golden scales to be surprisingly smooth, and warm. Raising his hand again, he repeated the motion, and froze when a low rumble filled the air. Eyes flicking to the dragon's, he scrambled to move away when he saw that the golden amber eyes had opened. The fear had taken control of his mind now, and Fayt tucked himself as tightly as he could into the furthest corner, curling into a ball and whimpering aloud when the creature moved off the bed and to the floor.
The form shimmered slightly and, in place of the golden dragon, stood a man. His short hair was the same beautiful gold as the dragon's scales had been, and Fayt recognized the golden amber eyes when they met his briefly before he broke the contact. The man was about six feet even, and had a well toned and lightly tanned body. Fayt's gaze wandered over broad shoulders and a chiseled chest, a flat stomach and… he jerked his gaze away before he found himself in trouble. The man before him was as eye catching as the dragon had been, and just as frightening.
"I'm sorry," Fayt whispered, closing his eyes tightly. "I'm not sure what I did, or why I'm here, but I'm sorry." Tears sprang forward unbidden and silently slid down his cheeks slowly.
When he felt a hand touch him, Fayt jerked away, eyes snapping open. The man was knelt before the bed, a small frown marring his perfect features. Hurt flashed in his eyes for a moment before he stood. "I apologize," he said quietly, and, for a moment, Fayt was breathless at the sound of that gorgeous voice, ached to hear it again. "I…" the man's voice trailed off and he sighed. "I'll leave you alone," his whispered, voice surprisingly anguished.
With a curt nod, the man turned away and left the room, closing the door Fayt couldn't see from his position with a quiet sound. As soon as the door closed, his eyes slipped closed again and he slowly uncurled his body, stretching out on the bed. It was only then, comfortable but confused, lethargic but scared, that Fayt finally looked around the room he was in.
It was simplistic, but done in such a manner that told of the wealth and time spent making it look that way. The walls of the rectangular room were midnight blue, with several swathes of the same shade, as well a few golden ones, of cloth sliding down the walls. The enormous canopy bed on which he laid was against one wall, a dark colored wood nightstand to his left. A wardrobe of the same type was against the wall opposite the bed. The wall before the bed was taken over by the doorway, which seemed as if it had fit double doors at some time, but didn't any longer. The doorway was covered with more midnight cloth, and shielded the rest of the rooms from Fayt's eyes.
All this begged the question of where he was, and why he was here. The where was easy enough, though it chilled him to the core when he realized it. There was only one place that made sense, only one place where such wealth could be displayed so openly: the royal palace.
That realization only confused Fayt further. Why would he be brought here, when the royal guards had seen to his death so skillfully? Even if the king had wanted him alive, he couldn't have made it in time, and wouldn't have bothered. And the man who'd been with him hadn't been the king… His breath caught when the answered dawned upon him. He had not woken with the king, but the crown prince.
Fayt was startled from his thoughts when the cloth doorway was pulled back, and a woman came into his room. She was about his height, with subtle curves and a nice figure. Her eyes were dark brown, her hair a very light brown color, almost golden, but not quite. If he had lusted after women, she would've been his type.
She gave him a kind smile and approached him slowly, obviously trying not to scare him. "Hello," she said quietly. "I'm Drea."
He stared at her for several seconds before he spoke. "The princess," he whispered.
Princess Andrea winced visibly. "Yes, that would be me, but please, none of those stupid titles. Call me Drea."
Nodding, Fayt forced himself to swallow. "Fayt," he murmured.
The smile Drea gave was blinding. "You've an amazing name," she told him, kneeling beside him on the bed. He didn't respond and, after a moment, she reached out tentatively. "Would you mind if I touched you? I need to check your injuries." At his nod, she lifted the blankets he'd covered himself with and placed a hand on the wound in his chest, which was Fayt noticed was a raw pink color, and far too healed to be normal.
"How long have I been here?" he queried, fearing the answer.
"You were brought here a day and a half ago," she told him, hands hovering over his wounds one by one. "I healed you as best I could."
Fayt was silent for several moments, unsure what to make of her words. There had always been a few people around that had gifts like healing, all women, but he'd never gone to one, had never had the need, and now the princess of the country had healed him. "Thank you," he whispered finally, not sure what else to say.
"You're most welcome. I know they still hurt though, so I brought you something for it." Fishing around in the pocket of the dress she wore, Drea withdrew a small glass vial. "It should help with the pain, though it'll probably make you pretty drowsy."
She handed him the vial before she stood. "I brought some food with me. Would you like to eat it now or later?"
Fayt stared at her and then sighed. "Why am I here?"
Drea bit her lip. "That's… hard to explain…" she said quietly. "I know my father wants you, but he hasn't talked to Dren yet."
"You can't…" he trailed off, because he knew that if the king ordered his daughter to give him up, she would have to. "I don't want…" What he wanted didn't matter to the king. He was the king, he got what he wanted, regardless of the wants of anyone else.
Whoever had brought him here had delivered him directly into the hands of the king, the one thing he hadn't wanted. "How did I get here?"
"My brother brought you."
Fayt looked up, meeting her eyes for the first time. "Then I hate him for it. Keep him away from me."
Dren paced his room rapidly, turning sharply on his heel when he met the edge of a chair.
"Sit down," Eren said, a small smile curving his lips. "You've more things to worry about then why he doesn't want you to touch him."
With a soft sigh, he dropped into a chair across from his captain. "It's not that…" he murmured. At the look of disbelief on Eren's face, he grimaced. "It's not completely that," he amended. "I just want to know why he reacted that way. It's not like I've done anything to him…"
"It may not have been you. Do you stop to think about what the royal guards might have done?"
"No…" Dren said slowly and then squeezed his eyes closed. "I'm a complete and utter idiot."
"No," Eren disagreed, "you're just prone to overlooking the obvious."
"I need to talk to him then," he said, standing.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Drea whispered as she entered the room.
"Why not?" he asked, brow furrowing in confusion. "I need to apologize to him at the very least. It didn't occur to me that the guards would…" he trailed off, unwillingly to continue.
"Apologizing will get you nowhere. He hates you."
Dren had no chance to reply as a sharp knock sounded at his door. Frowning, he strode forward and opened it, to find one of his father's favorite messengers standing there.
"His majesty requests your presence immediately."
With a sigh, he nodded. "Tell him I'll be along in a moment." As he moved to close the door, the messenger spoke again.
"I was told you bring you now, and to accept no excuses."
Raising a brow, Dren shook his head. "And I'm telling you that I'll be along in a moment."
"Just go Dren," Drea murmured behind him. "You know what it's about already. It's best we get this over with now, instead of later."
"You're right," he sighed, running a hand through his hair in annoyance. "Very well," he told the messenger, stepping into the hall and closing the door behind him.
Dren followed the messenger through the palace, though he'd long since passed the need to be guided anywhere. When one tried to escape one's prison, one made sure they knew everything about it, lest one need to change plans quickly. He was led into one of his father's private rooms, which in no way surprised him. That he was taken here instead of one of the minor audience halls said his father was doing something he didn't want others to know about.
His father, King Beldrith, sat in one of the large chairs situated around the room, a tea tray on the low table before him. The man's brown hair had become streaked with gray, his dark brown eyes seeming to gain even more cruelty as he grew older. He was an inch or so taller than his son, but his body had begun to lose some of its strength with age.
Raising the teacup to his lips, he took a sip as the messenger bowed low and left the room, closing the door behind him.
"Sit," Beldrith said, nodding towards the seat across from him. Reluctantly, Dren did as he was instructed and took a seat before his father.
"There are several things I need to discuss with you, my son. Things of great importance. Things that I find… most displeasing," he said with a grimace.
Dren chose not to respond, and instead poured himself tea, though he made no move to drink it. He was merely waiting his father out, forcing him to make the moves and show his cards.
"Let's get the easiest one out of the way first, shall we?" he said nonchalantly, setting his cup down lightly. "You've been holding back with me."
"I have not," Dren said quietly, eyes never leaving the tray before him.
"You have," the king insisted, voice deadly soft, "but I have no use for it at the moment, and you cannot use it, so I'll leave the matter for now and I'll speak to you about it later."
The tone of his words made Dren shudder hard. The line had never been crossed, but his father had always hinted, always threatened. The thought continuously loomed before him, this man constantly reminding him what punishment awaited should he cross the line, should he push just a little too hard. Well, Dren had every intention of pushing past that line today, consequences be damned.
"Now…" Beldrith murmured. "About your little escape attempt." He shook his head. "Tsk… tsk… tsk…" he said slowly, enunciating each sound carefully. "Another mark against you. You came back however, so…" He leaned forward, looking almost eager.
"Give me the boy, and I'll let your current transgressions slide."
Blowing out a breath slowly, Dren finally met the eyes of the man before him. "No."
His father blinked, his only sign of surprise. The normally docile Dren had grown a backbone, and he knew his father would not be pleased when he realized there was nothing he could do this time. "Give me the boy Andren."
It was odd to hear the man use his full name, as he usually called him only, 'my son' or 'my heir'. To hear his name spoken was startling, and in no way a good thing. "No," he repeated. "You cannot have him."
Beldrith sat back in the chair, arms going to rest on each arm as though he were simply relaxing, but Dren could clearly see the tension in the man. "Why not?" he asked with a deceptively lazy tone.
"Your guards almost killed him once. He's dead to you now anyway. What does it matter if I use him instead of you?" The lie was bitter in his mouth, but he forced the words out. He had too few cards to play to do this nicely. His father needed to believe that Dren wanted the young man only to use him. If he could convince him of that, things may actually work out.
"Begun to share my tastes, have you?" he asked, looking at his nails absently. "That's flattering, and a vast improvement on the last person you took to your bed," his father shuddered, "but…"
His father looked up, meeting his eyes again. "You're lying."
Dren made himself scoff. "About what? He's nice to look at, and could be fun. He's not a natural submissive, and it would be fun to break him, see what it would take to make that steely resolve crumble, to make him scream."
Sitting forward again, his father searched his gaze, obviously trying to feel his son out, see if he truly was telling the truth and not lying through his teeth. It was several moments of deep scrutiny, and Dren could only hope he passed the test.
"If that's how you feel," Beldrith said slowly, gazes still locked, "then I have a suggestion: we can both play with him."
Feeling bile rise in his gut, Dren forced it down to speak. "No."
"No?" the king asked, raising a brow in obvious question.
"I don't share," he said simply. "What's mine is mine, and mine only."
"Even with me?" he asked, a small slowly curving his lips.
"Even with you," Dren said flatly.
The smile became a cruel grin. "Very well, my son. I'll allow you to keep this one, but I'll have to find a toy for us to play with together soon. Even if you don't share, it could be fun to experiment."
He made himself nod, pushing the thought away for now; he'd have to cross that bridge when he came to it. "Thank you," he murmured, inclining his head.
"You're most welcome." Picking up his cup again, the king emptied it before returning it to the tray. "It seems it only took the right person for this side of you to come out. I'll have to choose our playmate carefully, I see."
The smile Dren managed had to have looked strained, but he doubted his father noticed. "Maybe it would be best if I chose him, so—"
"Oh no," he said, flashing his son that spine tingling grin again. "It's my job to surprise you with one that will take your breath away."
He shrugged, hoping his father would find the response acceptable. At his look, Dren forced more words past his lips. "I'll enjoy it immensely, both the surprise and the… enjoyment itself."
"I'm sure you will. Now, however, why don't you just go play with your new toy, hmm? We'll talk again later."
Nodding once, he left the room, going into the first empty room he found, ducking into the bathroom. Dren managed to make it to the toilet before his stomach finally revolted completely, and he lost his meager lunch to his nausea. It was several minutes before the dry heaves stopped, and he felt safe rising to rinse out his mouth before he left, slowly making his way back to his own rooms.
Drea was gone, but Eren was lying across his bed, eyes on the door. As soon as he entered, the captain sprang up. "Well?"
He sighed. "I managed to convince him that I want the young man for the same reasons he does. I don't think it will stop him from trying to take him, but it was the best I could do."
Eren nodded, relief evident on his face. "Good. Fayt doesn't deserve what would come at that… at his hands."
"Fayt?" Dren questioned, though he thought he already knew the answer.
"I thought so," he murmured, sighing. "Where's Drea?"
"She left shortly after you did."
Dren was silent for a moment before he turned back to the door. "I'm going to go and try to talk to Fayt. I need to a—"
"Don't," Eren warned, eyes wide. "You need to give him some time. Drea told me what he said, and he… doesn't like you much right now."
"I know," he said quietly, "but I have to try."
Eren followed him across the room and through the doorway, to the rooms Fayt had been put in. Dren glanced at his captain when they came to the entrance. "I thought you had guards…?"
"I did," he murmured, voice as confused as Dren's. When he abruptly when pale, Eren stared at the prince. "What is it?"
"No," Dren whispered, voice filled with anguish as he suddenly bolted into the room. He searched the rooms quickly, his knees folding under him when he found it empty. "He took him while I was with him. I didn't think—"
A soft yelp interrupted him, and both men's eyes snapped to the doorway as Fayt was tossed into the room. Two guards glanced into the room and then disappeared. Dren simply stared at Fayt, wondering what had happened.
When Fayt's eyes fell on him, they widened and he slid away from Dren as quickly as his injured body could manage. "Get away from me," he whispered, hate and disgust ringing clearly in his voice.
"…what?" Dren asked, confused. It took several moments, but realization dawned. "Oh, god. No! I didn't—"
"You're just like him, just like the others," he spat, tears slowly sliding down his face. A hand came up to brush them away quickly, as though he were ashamed to be crying, yet again, in front of Dren.
"Gods, just let me explain—"
"That you're the king's perfect son? You're, god, you're worse than him. She almost had me convinced…" Fayt shook his head. "She's wrong."
Dren finally rose from his position on the floor, starting towards the young man. When he flinched and scrambled away, he froze. The protests, explanations, died on his tongue. The look in Fayt's eyes told him all he needed to know. There was nothing he could do. He was convinced Dren was a monster like the king, all because his father had probably thought it amusing to force the young man to listen to their conversation, to hear what would be done to him. Inadvertently, he'd done what Dren had wanted so badly to prevent.
Fayt would never trust him, not after that.
As soon as the prince left the room, his guard in tow, Fayt sagged against the wall, allowing the tears to run free as he sobbed, knees pulled tight against his chest, arms around them. It hurt, agitating his still healing wounds, but he ignored it. It would be the least of his worries when the prince started in on him.
He'd been stupid enough to listen to the princess' words when she defended her brother, told Fayt what a good man, a good person, he was. Now, it was obvious that she was blind to the crown prince's darker side, the side that called people, living beings, toys. It almost made him sick all over again, but he'd already puked twice as the guards had dragged him back to his rooms, and he refused to do it again.
Instead, Fayt forced himself to his feet and through the doorway, going to the left and into the bathroom. If he was going to be the prince's toy, he should at least take advantage the amenities he was being offered. He needed a bath.
Turning the hot water on, he adjusted the temperature until it was where he wanted it, and then he stepped back, pulling off the tunic and breeches he'd been hastily forced into. Dropping them to the floor, Fayt waited until the tub was full, and then shut the water off before sliding into the large tub.
It felt divine. The warm water relaxed stiff muscles, soothing away some of the remaining aches. He let his head fall back, simply lying there for some time, allowing the water to cool, before he finally reached for the soap. He quickly washed in the now tepid water and then rinsed off before pulling the plug in the drain and stepping out.
Drying himself quickly, Fayt padded back into the bedroom, releasing a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding when he found it empty. He proceeded to the wardrobe, and grabbed a pair of soft, loose pants, pulling them on.
After that, he dropped immediately into bed, tugging the blankets tightly around him. Despite his raging thoughts, and his fear about what would happen in the coming days, Fayt fell asleep within minutes.
Dren walked past his rooms, not even bothering to grab an extra set of clothes. He made his way quickly through the palace and out the same servant's door he'd attempted to escape through less than two days before. It felt like it had been so much longer, for some reason.
Eren was silent behind him, only having spoken when he'd come across one of his guards, ordering him to continue guarding Fayt, and to have the others do the same. Even as he cut straight across the square and out of the city, directly into the large forest that ran parallel to the city, starting at the same place the roads ended, nothing was said between the two men.
He pulled his shirt over his head as he walked, tossing it to the ground. He paused long enough to pull off his boots before shucking off his pants. As soon as he was naked, Dren took on his demiform, reveling in the release of his dragon. He glided through the trees, knowing Eren would follow him, until he came to a large clearing several miles from the city, just far enough that they wouldn't be visible when they took on trueform.
Now, he returned to his human form, waiting for Eren to strip out of his clothes. As soon as he had, Dren became the dragon, shooting into the sky immediately, large wings flaring out to pull him up, high enough that he would be hidden by the clouds. Seconds later, a large blue dragon soared into the sky near him.
It was their greatest kept secret. If the king ever found out that Dren had given Eren his dragon, Eren would be killed, and who-knows-what would happen to him. Even Drea didn't know what Dren had done. He'd had to create an elaborate glamour for his captain, one that hide his true appearance, something that always took on the dragon's colors at the first change, as well all as the power he had, but it had been worth it. Eren understood him better than anyone else, as they both understood the power they wielded, the things they and so few others could do.
The only thing that still bothered Dren was that his captain couldn't take demiform, but he understood. He'd grown up with his dragon, had changed the first time when he was only six months old, and had never had a reason to fear it. He'd sent almost as much time in trueform, and later demiform, as he had in human form. He was equally capable in all forms, whereas, at times, Eren was still uncomfortable with it. It had been done with his complete knowledge and cooperation, but Dren's captain just didn't have the same experience, and would probably always fear his dragon, just the slightest bit.
They had often discussed giving the rest of Dren's guard their dragons as well, but, every time, it came down to the fact that it was too much of a risk. One person was manageable, eight people was impossible. They would never be able to keep them all a secret, and chances were high that something would go wrong. So, instead, they had decided to slowly reform the guard, replacing them with people they were sure could handle it, could take the stress and keep the secrets. Dren intended to give two of his current guards their dragons very soon, but they weren't completely ready yet, and he still needed to find a way to give them both glamours. They would all benefit if he waited a few weeks more. Eventually, the entire guard would be dragons, but it would be years before that happened.
Dren wasn't worried about it. Powerful dragons lived hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and he had more than enough time to find people suitable to the task.
Forcing his thoughts away, for he did not want to continue with that line of thought right now, Dren did several quick loops in the air, stretching his wings. It had been some time since he'd last flown, and he mourned the loss. His father seldom let him take trueform, though he was allowed his demiform all he liked. It wasn't a fair trade-off, but he'd taken it, as it had been the only choice he had. Now, however, things had changed. Fayt had changed everything.
Dangerous thoughts, he told himself. Eren seemed to know that, and suddenly veered toward him, pulling them both into a tight roll through the air. Dren laughed, though the sound came out as more of a growl in this form, but his captain, and friend, understood.
They flew for several hours, gliding up whenever they saw a town or village. By the time they came to a medium sized town, it was pitch black outside. Dren started to glide down towards part of the always never-ending forest, taking care to not be seen as he flew into the trees. When Eren had landed as well, they both changed to human form, and stretched regretfully.
"It's been too long since we last did that," Eren said, following Dren as they walked through the trees.
He nodded. "Too long indeed."
They were silent as they came into the town. They'd both taken on quick glamours, easily seen through if one knew what they were looking for, but they looked nothing like themselves, and had clothes on. It didn't matter, as each man could see through the other's magic, but the people they passed could not.
Dren stopped outside an inn that they'd visited before and stepped inside. The innkeeper greeted them warmly, calling each man by the names they'd chosen to use, and eagerly offered them a room when asked if anything was available. Dren paid him more than the room was worth, grateful that he always kept a few coins secured to him through his magic.
They accepted his offer of dinner and thanked the innkeeper. The food was good, and they ate quickly, both men knowing this was not the reason for their visit. As soon as they were done, Eren led them upstairs, closing the door behind Dren and quickly dropping his glamour.
Lips met lips in a hungry kiss, one that was filled with passion and fire, and, at the same time, tenderness. They'd known each other for years, their friendship surviving, even though Dren's father hated it. That friendship had eventually become more, a relationship between two people that understood each other as well as they understood themselves.
Though they would always be the closest of friends, this part of their relationship had come to an end. Even as they fell to the bed, hands searching, they both knew this was goodbye.
Dren sat on the desk in his personal library, legs crossed under him, his elbows on his knees, face resting on his fisted hands. Drea sat in one of the chairs before him, face absent of its usual smile. Eren leaned against the side of the desk, face troubled over what he had just told them both.
Fayt had tried to escape three times in the last week, after he'd finally been deemed completely healed by Drea. Once had been through a window in his room, once by going through Dren's rooms via the door that connected their rooms, and once dressed as one of the palace guards. They still weren't sure how he'd managed to get ahold of the necessary garments.
"You're going to have to let him go, brother," Drea said finally, voice shockingly quiet after the long silence.
Eren shook his head before Dren could speak. "The king would just track Fayt down."
"I can't anyway," Dren murmured. "Neither of us would survive the break. Even if he hates me, he still wants me, though he probably has no idea why." He refused to use that to his advantage. If Fayt didn't want him completely, didn't understand exactly what they were doing, then things would stay as they were in that respect.
"Maybe you should explain it to him then," Drea said. "Let Fayt make the choice."
"No, he wouldn't understand, not completely. Even you, as close as you are to me, don't understand the dragon. It takes living it to know what losing it would do."
Eren nodded. "I've never experienced it, honestly hope I never do, but I'll trust that you know what you're talking about."
"So what are you going to do?"
Dren sighed. "He has to stay here. As long as I know he's here, that I can see him when I want to, it doesn't hurt," he told them, touching a hand to his chest absently. "It won't go any further unless…" He trailed off, unwilling to voice what was on the tip of his tongue, and looked towards his sister.
"It's going to happen soon brother," she warned, "even without the stimulant, with all the trauma he's endured recently, and what'll probably endure in the near future. If you don't prepare him for it, you know what will most likely occur."
"Yes," he said softly, "and I won't let it happen."
"I can try talking to him," Drea offered.
"As can I," Eren murmured.
"No. He has at least a few weeks, and I'll talk to him soon, but he needs to have some freedom," Dren mused, nodding after a moment. "Bring Emory and Brandy here please Eren. I'll have them be his guards, and they can go with him around the palace, maybe into the forest. If he trusts at least one person, it will make the knowledge that he's stuck here for the rest of his life slightly easier to swallow."
Fayt sighed as he turned the page of the book he was reading, one of the few useful skills his parents had taught him, along with writing. It was a history of the royal line, going back several thousand years, and detailing the sickness that seemed to kill every male born of the line, with the exception of the current crown prince, for approximately the last millennium. Countless men, as well as a few women, had come forward, claiming to have found the cure, be it magic, herbal, or medicinal, only to have the child die anyway.
Usually, he was glued to the pages, looking some clue as to how the crown prince, and cause of all his currently problems, had survived. However, Fayt had been stuck in his rooms for the last two days, as the two guards assigned to accompany him had both become sick, and he wasn't allowed out of his rooms without them. He'd grown to enjoy the company of the two men, despite his initial anger at being constantly followed, and missed their company.
Fayt looked up, startled at the sound of a voice he didn't recognize, and then returned his gaze to the book before him, uninterested in conversation with the captain of the crown prince's guard. He was friends with all of them, better friends with Emory and Brandt, but he hadn't gotten to know Eren, because the man always seemed to be with the prince, and because he didn't trust him. If Fayt were to be honest with himself, he didn't trust anyone at the palace, though Emory and Brandt were fast earning it, despite his reluctance to give it, but no one else had.
"You won't find the answer there, if that's what you're looking for."
Still ignoring the captain, Fayt turned the page and continued to read. He glanced up, glaring, when another book was set atop the one he was reading. Knowing he'd been caught by his curiosity, he studied the book before him. It was smaller than the one under it, though the size of an average book, with a pure white cover, and slightly yellowed pages. He examined the cover closely, confused about its smooth texture and iridescent appearance. It looked almost like… scales.
"What…?" Fayt looked up at Eren, hoping the man would answer his half spoken question.
"Queen Amalira's diary. She died when Dren was only a few months old, almost nineteen years ago. If you want the answer, it's in there. She started it a week after he was born, and she wrote in it everyday."
"What's it made of?" he asked, running his fingers over it lightly.
"The skin of her lover."
Fayt gasped and dropped the book abruptly, looking at Eren with a horrified expression. Eren nodded slowly and sat in the chair across from him, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped before him.
"When Amalira became pregnant, everyone was surprised, as it was thought that she could not conceive children, though it was most likely the fault of her husband, the king. The marriage was an arranged one, for the man's family to gain power and influence, nothing more. Nevertheless, it was a grand occasion, for the child would be the heir to the throne.
"About a week before the queen gave birth, the king discovered that she had taken another to her bed, a man who loved her as completely as she loved him, and who was the true father of the children who would later become the crown prince and the princess. In his rage at not having fathered the heir, he took the life of her lover, while he was in trueform, though the diary doesn't tell how he managed the feat.
"He skinned the dragon and made this journal, as well as several other things you'd see if you were ever unlucky enough to find yourself in the king's bedchamber. The queen gave birth a few days later, to Dren and Drea, which you know. She lived only long enough for Dren's first change, to tell her husband why her son had survived the first change, when no other had, and then took her own life.
"Dren survived because of his bloodline. The royal blood is a powerful line, capable of siring the most powerful of dragons, dragons rarely born outside the bloodline. By mixing it with diluted bloodlines, and because the father was, most often, a very weak dragon, though the current king searched for the most powerful he could find for his daughter, the first change killed the child, for their dragons were far too weak for the blood they carried.
"As Dren's father was a white dragon, the most powerful variety that exists, his dragon was a gold, second only to the white, and he was able to survive, to make the first change, and to continue doing it. Dren has even become capable of the demiform, a thing so few men are ever able to attain, which I know you've seen…" Eren trailed off, and then shook his head after a moment.
"That's why Dren lived."
"If you were going to tell me all this, why give me the diary?"
The older man smiled slightly. "Two reasons," he said, holding up two fingers to emphasize his point. "One: the diary may help convince you that the story I've told you is true."
"And the second?"
"Amalira talks almost solely of her children, and she wrote in the diary every day. This diary may help show you that Dren is not the evil you seem to think he is."
"He's a child in it," Fayt said flatly. "He's not a child anymore. He's a grown man with—"
Eren held up a hand, silencing the younger man instantly. "I didn't come here to talk about that. I wanted only to give the diary, and to ask if you'd like to leave your rooms for a bit."
"Emory and Brandt are sick."
"I know." Eren fell silent, and Fayt took the chance to get a good look at the man before him. Eren was good looking, he supposed, with pale blue eyes and tawny hair, as well as a fit body he decided the guard had obtained from his training. Fayt judged him to be about six foot two.
"Then why are you here?" he asked finally, knowing he sounded rude, but not finding it in himself to care. Even if the man had answered a few questions he'd had, it didn't mean any of the answers were the truth, and it didn't change a thing about the crown prince. The prince was still a demented individual who enjoyed torturing others for the fun of it, who used people to suit his purposes, who was no better than his father; even if he hadn't come within ten feet of Fayt since the night he'd overheard the conversation between the king and the crown prince…
"I'm here to offer you a little freedom, a chance to get out of your rooms for a few hours, if you're interested. I know you've been through most of the palace, but I suspect the royal gardens have been overlooked."
He nodded slowly. "Whenever I asked about them, Emory or Brandt dissuaded me from the idea."
"I'm not surprised," Eren sighed. "While she was alive, Amalira spent a great deal of her time in the gardens, tending the plants, or just enjoying the solitude. After her suicide, the king took to spending his time there, and people avoided the gardens after that, which is a pity, as they really are quite breathtaking."
"If he caused her death, why does he care so much?"
"I don't know…" the guard said slowly, shaking his head. "I have no desire to understand the man, nor do I think I ever will. You on the other hand…"
Fayt decided to ignore the last sentence, and closed the book before him, trying to decide what to do with the diary as he moved to his feet. After a moment's deliberation, he moved across the room and slipped it under the mattress, reminding himself to move it later.
"To the gardens then? I asked one of the cooks to have lunch brought to the two of us there in about twenty minutes."
Though he was reluctant to be around the captain for more time than strictly necessary, Fayt decided that a few hours couldn't hurt much, considering his current position, and nodded. "To the gardens."
"It's beautiful," Fayt breathed, voice filled with awe. There were plants of every conceivable shape, size, and color scattered across the ground, climbing up trellises and winding around the periodically placed benches, or tangled with other plants. Eren led him forward, weaving around the flora as he made his way to a comfortable bench off to one side, hidden almost completely by several large plants, where he sat down, directing Fayt to do the same.
"This is just a small part of the garden, Queen Amalira's personal area. It is, by far, the most beautiful part of the entire garden, and there are some species of plants found here that are found few other places in the country. There are sections of the garden for exotic plants, trees, water plants, and several others…"
Eren's voice trailed off, and neither man spoke again until their lunch had arrived. The captain finally broke the silence, asking about what Fayt liked to do for fun.
He shrugged and swallowed his mouthful. "Nothing much, I never really had the chance to explore my hobbies. I like to read, that's about it really."
"Nothing else?" Eren asked incredulously.
Fayt bit his lip and looked away. "I use to…" His voice trailed off and he sighed. "I use to draw when I had the chance, though I always did it in secret. I couldn't manage to get away with it very often, but I've always enjoyed it."
Watching the young man squirm nervously, Eren's heart squeezed painfully. The boy had been forced to hide his pleasures, to spend what little extra time he had carefully scraping together his meager supplies to do something he enjoyed, something he had every right to pursue. He was truly perfect for Dren, and he had no idea…
"I'll have art supplies sent to your room, if you like," Eren offered hesitantly, hoping he wouldn't offend Fayt. At his wide eyed expression, he knew he'd done something to startle the boy, and opened his mouth to inquire further, when he heard the sound of quiet footsteps. He listened for a moment, and, upon recognizing the careful tread, sighed quietly. "It's Dren," he murmured.
Fayt nodded slowly, but made no move to leave. The chance to observe the crown prince was one he intended to take, regardless of the consequences. Everyone he knew seemed to think he was a good person, that what Fayt had heard was not the truth, and the chance to prove them wrong was not one he would give up.
Also, if he was willing to be honest with himself, he wanted to understand the prince, to know what made the man tick, and Fayt hoped it would help put him into perspective, hoped it would reveal the reason that he was inexplicably drawn to Dren.
When the crown prince came into view, Fayt found it hard to breathe for a moment, and was startled to find that he was more than a little aroused. He hadn't seen the man since the night he'd overheard the conversation between the prince and the king, had been glad he hadn't had to face him. There was nothing he could do to avoid the man, but Fayt suspected the prince had been avoiding him, though he had no clue why.
It was torture to see him now, to know what lurked under such an attractive mask. His heart was as dark as the king's, and Fayt desperately wished he was wrong, but knew he wasn't. The words he'd heard had come from the man's own lips, and there was no way to refute them.
Dren shed his clothes in two quick moves, tunic and breeches falling to the ground. Fayt froze, shocked at the action, and trying to think of anything besides the glorious naked body standing only twenty feet away. The image didn't last long, as the prince's form shimmered, changing to the small golden dragon, his demiform.
The change barely registered in Fayt's mind, as the sound of another set of footsteps startled everyone, and the dragon disappeared, becoming the man once more. Fayt looked at the captain, whose gaze was directed towards the rapidly approaching footsteps, listening closely. His eyes widened after a moment, his voice oddly hoarse when his whispered words met Fayt's ears.
"Oh gods no." Eren sat frozen for a heartbeat, and then abruptly shot to his feet, pulling a startled Fayt up with him. The captain tugged him the opposite direction of the prince, taking the younger man down a path he hadn't noticed before. Just before the sight of the prince disappeared completely, the king strode into the gardens, and Fayt saw what he thought was a brief flash of disgust, tinged with hatred, before the prince's face went blank.
He allowed himself to be led through the palace, Eren taking seemingly random turns as he took them back to Fayt's rooms. He nodded at the guards as he pulled them both inside, closing the door behind him and leaning heavily against it. He made an obvious effort to control his breathing, which seemed to be more from relief than his quick pace, and Fayt couldn't resist asking.
"What was that about?"
Eren glanced at him, expression guarded. "That…was not a conversation that either of us needed to overhear," he said slowly.
Fayt sank into a chair behind him with a sad sigh. "That's what I thought," he murmured, "though it makes no difference to me. I know exactly what the crown prince intends to do with me but…" He looked at the captain with curiosity. "Why does it bother you? You've known him for years; you have to know about…"
Anger flashed briefly in the captain's eyes, and Fayt was startled when he saw it. The emotion soon faded, a deep sadness taking its place. "You have no idea what you're talking about," he said quietly. "You didn't need to hear it because the last thing you need is to think even worse of Dren. I didn't want to hear it, or see it, because it hurts to watch such a good person lie, for any reason. Dren hates to lie, but he's willing to do it for you, to protect you."
Eren stepped closer to Fayt, eyes hard when their gazes met. "You have no idea what that man has given up for you, to keep you safe, and you refuse to even give him a chance." He left the room before Fayt could formulate a response.
When Emory and Brandt entered his room the next day, healthy again, Fayt was lying in one of the chairs, back against one arm, legs flung over the other. He had the queen's diary in his lap, and he was reading a page in the middle of it, with a finger stuck between two pages at the end.
He barely glanced up when they came in, gaze going back to the diary immediately. "Hey guys. I'll be done in a sec, hang on." He finished the page he'd been reading, and then flipped back to the end, reading the last page one more time before he closed the diary and set it on the low table before him.
"It's nice to see you too Fayt," Emory muttered.
"Sorry," he apologized, standing and stretching happily. "I've been reading that since yesterday, never went to bed."
"What is it that's so important about that book?" Brandt asked, picking it up and looking at the cover. He made a choked noise. "This is…"
"Dragon scales," Emory breathed. "Fayt… what is this book?"
"Queen Amalira's diary," he told them with a yawn. "I'll be back in a minute; I'm going to go change into some clean clothes." Fayt ducked into one of the other rooms, changing quickly, and emerging back into the room to find the two guards talking quietly between themselves, the diary still in Brandt's hands.
"Fayt, where did you get this?" Emory asked immediately.
He shrugged. "Eren gave it to me. I have something I want to ask you two."
"Okay…" Brandt said slowly.
"What's the crown prince like?"
They were both clearly surprised by the question, and neither answered. Fayt needed to know now, he needed to know if, somehow, he was wrong, and the person he thought Dren was, wasn't who the man was. After reading about Dren as a child, he couldn't make that cute, intelligent, and kind child into what he knew of the man now. Granted, the child he'd read about was, at his oldest, six months, but, he couldn't connect the two, regardless.
Fayt wondered absently when he'd started to think of the man as Dren instead of the crown prince.
"He's a good person," Emory said finally. "Brandt and I have both been with him for about five years now, and he's always been nice, friendly. He's never lost his temper with anyone that I know of and he's frequently giving his guards free time, extra money, free food, anything we need. Though, the last few weeks, we've all been on extra shifts, since you got here. None of us mind keeping you safe though, because Dren rarely asks anything big of us, and we all know that you mean a lot to him."
He absorbed the information, knowing that it was the truth, regards of his perceptions. "Keeping me safe?" he asked finally, brow furrowed in confusion. "Why'd you say it that way?"
Emory looked confused, but answered nonetheless. "That's how the prince always says it, what he said when he assigned the two of us as your personal guard. 'Keep him safe, above all else.'"
"Oh," Fayt murmured. Keep him safe… "From whom?" he asked quietly.
"The king," both guards chimed together. They glanced at each other, and smiled. "When the king found out that the prince hadn't done anything, like he convinced him he would, he was pretty angry. The king told him a week ago that if the prince didn't start something soon, he'd take you for himself." Emory grimaced as he finished, obviously as against the idea as Fayt.
"I don't know how much of the palace gossip you hear, if any," Brandt said slowly, "but, yesterday, they got into it in the queen's personal garden. The king informed Dren that you were his now, because Dren hadn't done as he'd been instructed. Dren told his father that he couldn't have you, period. Half the palace heard the king shouting, and Dren just walked away."
Fayt was stunned speechless. From the few things he'd heard about Dren around the palace, he'd discovered that the man never stood up to the king, for a reason no one knew, though many had suspicions. Most of them centered on the king's inclination towards beautiful young men, a category Dren most certainly fit into. A few others stated that the king had something to hold over Dren's head, something he couldn't give up.
Whatever the case, it didn't seem that it mattered anymore. Dren had stood up to the king, had told him that he couldn't have Fayt. He'd risked the most powerful man in the country's wrath, for Fayt.
"Listen," he said finally, "I need…" Fayt had to clear his throat, lapsing into silence for a moment before he spoke again. "I need you two to tell me everything you know about Dren, and to get as much information you can from whoever you can, but make your inquiries discreet. I'm asking for a big favor, I know, but—"
"Fayt," Emory interrupted, "its okay." He glanced at Brandt, the two sharing a smile. "We'll do it for you. We're your friends, and friends do favors for each other, right?"
"Right," he said, unable to keep the smile from his face. "Thank you."
"Not a problem."
"Now," Brandt started, "everything we know about Dren… this might take a while. We should probably sit down."
Nodding, Fayt returned to the chair he'd been in when the two guards had arrived, and settled in to listen.
Over the next two weeks, Fayt learned more about the crown prince than he'd ever need to know. From his favorite color, pale green, to how he liked his steak prepared, medium rare. Emory and Brandt had talked to all the other guards, as well as all the servants they could find, and the few people from the city that had regular contact with him. A few days into the information hunt, Drea had found out about it, and had come to Fayt's room. She'd told him more stories than he'd ever remember, as well as a few he'd have preferred to never know about.
Everything he'd learned had only reinforced his new belief that something was off in the situation between he and the crown prince. He knew he should hate the man who was supposed to use him only for his own pleasure, but Dren had never come to his room, never even spoken to him, despite the king's repeated demands for Fayt to be handed over to him, as well as a dozen attempts to just take him, all of which had, thankfully, been thwarted by the guards outside his rooms.
And, even if he didn't want to admit it, Fayt was undeniably attracted to the man, wanted him badly. All the information he'd acquired had only strengthened it, made him want to go seek Dren out and demand answers to the questions he had, the consequences be damned.
"Damn it," he murmured, sliding out of the chair he'd been sitting in and standing up. He began to pace quickly, ideas bouncing back and forth in his head as Fayt tried to decide on a course of action.
A low groan interrupted his thoughts, and Fayt froze, wondering where the sound had come from. When he didn't hear it again, he moved to the door that connected his and Dren's rooms together. He hadn't known the door existed until his second escape attempt several weeks ago, and he'd never had a reason to use it. Now, however… the groan could only have come from one place.
Slipping through the door, Fayt closed it behind him, inching into the room. He didn't see anyone, so he crept forward, gaze searching for any sign of movement. He found nothing in the room he was in, and cautiously entered the next one.
His eyes immediately fell on the form on the floor near the door. Fayt was on his knees beside the crown prince in a heartbeat, reaching for the visibly shaking man, even as he reminded himself of his still lingering doubts, however small they were.
"What's wrong?" Fayt asked quietly, hand dropping away. Dren was curled tightly around himself, back against the wall, breaths choppy and quick. His clothes were soaked with sweat, and the shaking had only grown worse while Fayt sat there.
At his words, Dren looked up slowly. He seemed shocked to see who sat beside him, and then he shook his head slowly. "There's nothing you can do," he said, his normally enchanting voice hoarse.
"How do you know I can't help if you won't tell me what's wrong?" Fayt countered, raising a brow in challenge.
In response, Dren slowly pulled his shirt over his head, grimacing. Fayt choked at the sight of that perfect chest, and the crown prince gave him a small smile tinged with pain. He yanked his boots off, and then struggled out of his pants. Before Fayt could register that the man was sitting naked before him, Dren shimmered, and the golden dragon's demiform took his place.
The dragon curled around the still sitting Fayt, who ran his hands lightly over the dragon's back, eliciting a sound oddly close to the purr of a cat. Laughing softly, Fayt continued his ministrations, noticing with growing concern that the dragon's breathing was still uneven, and the form still shook with occasional tremors.
"What's wrong with you?" he asked quietly, all laughter gone from his voice. He continued to stroke the dragon, sensing that, in some small way, it helped.
He's stealing my power.
The words were whispered into Fayt's mind, and he jumped slightly, startled. The dragon looked at him, golden amber eyes solemn, and he had his answer.
"Who's stealing your power?" he asked finally.
The dragon seemed to heave a mental sigh. Because I refuse to do as he asks. I will not hurt you, for any reason, and I will not give you to him to be hurt.
For some reason, even though he knew he shouldn't believe the words, Fayt believed him. "How is he stealing your power? Can you stop him?"
The dragon shifted, revealing a part of his stomach to the young man. At first, he didn't understand, and then he noticed the small spot that was off color. He has one of my scales, freely given. With that, he can take as much power as he wants, and there's nothing I can do.
"How did he get one of your scales?" Fayt asked, confused. "Why would you give one to him if you knew that he could do this to you?"
I was a child, and I didn't know what power he would have if he possessed one of my scales, while he did. When he asked for one, I gave it to him.
"Oh," he murmured. "I'm sorry. You were right; there isn't anything I can do."
Just your presence is helping.
Fayt was silent for a moment, unsure of how to respond. "How about we get you somewhere more comfortable then? The bed would be a million times better than the floor, I'm sure."
As you wish.
The dragon uncurled from around him and padded, somewhat shakily, across the room, leading Fayt through the door and into another room. The dragon went through another doorway, emerging into the bedchamber. Sliding onto the bed, the dragon heaved another mental sigh, this one of obvious relief.
"Better?" Fayt asked, kneeling beside the bed. There was no response, but he hadn't been expecting one, as the preference was obvious. "Sleep well," he murmured after several minutes, rising to his feet. He'd just turned to go when the golden dragon spoke again.
The request was so soft that Fayt thought he'd imagined it, but, even he turned back around to look at the creature, he knew he hadn't. He also knew he was insane for even considering it, but Fayt's doubts seemed to have vanished. It was obvious that Dren would not harm him, would not do anything that he did not welcome.
So Fayt padded over to the bed again, pulling the soft shoes he wore around his room off. He normally slept in just loose pants, but he kept his tunic on as he slid into the bed. The dragon curled around him slowly, as if expecting him to protest. When Fayt didn't, the dragon settled around him, and he resumed the light stroking of the dragon's back. Between that, and the rhythmic sounds of the dragon's almost-purr, Fayt fell asleep in minutes.
Fayt woke all at once, immediately wondering where he was. The memory came back to him, and he shivered, hoping he'd made the right choice. He opened his eyes warily, and smiled at the sight of the dragon still curled closely around his body. Looking up, he was surprised when he met the golden amber eyes.
"Feeling better?" he asked after a moment.
Yes. You helped a great deal, thank you.
"You're welcome," he murmured, a small smile curving his lips.
Would you be angry with me if changed back?
Fayt shook his head. "No. I think we need to talk about a few things anyway, and it would be better to do it when you can speak normally."
The dragon shimmered, and he found himself looking at the human form of the crown prince once again. Dren pulled a blanket tightly around him, covering most of his body with it, as he sat up. Fayt shivered at the cold of the room and pulled his own blanket tighter as he did the same, facing Dren.
"Thank you," Dren said again, voice quiet.
"You're welcome." Fayt looked away and sighed, not sure he wanted the answer to his question, but knowing he had to ask. "Why are you defying the king? You told him what you intended to do with me, I heard it. Why defy him, when you seemed so ready to go through with it?"
Dren sighed as well. "I never intended to do any of those things. Beldrith wanted you, but I knew what he would do if I gave you up. I didn't want that, so I lied, and told him what he wanted to hear, so he would let me keep you." Dren bit his lip, seeming to debate his next words before he spoke again. "I wanted to keep you anyway, but when you overheard the conversation, I knew there was nothing I could do to convince you of the truth, so I allowed you to hate me. As long as I knew you were close, it didn't hurt."
"…hurt?" he asked finally, still trying to process all of what Dren had told him. It made sense, and he wanted, so badly, to believe him.
Dren nodded. "I know you've felt it too, the pull towards each other, the attraction. We're…" he sighed softly, "we're mates."
He did feel it. "Mates?" he questioned, unsure of what that meant.
The prince bit his lip. "Two dragons that are meant to be together, who mesh completely, mind, body, and soul. The bond between us is strong, and will only strengthen if we continue it, complete it."
"…oh," Fayt whispered, the implications of those few simple sentences mind-boggling. Questions flooded his mind, but one seemed the most important, for now. "But I'm not a dragon," he said, looking up.
Dren smiled softly. "Yes, you are. Though they don't know it, almost every male in the country has the ability to change. Most of them would be weak dragons, after so many generations of not changing, but stronger dragons are born occasionally, like you." He reached out hesitantly, brushing the hair away from Fayt's face when he didn't pull away. "You're quite strong, most likely a green dragon." His soft smile returned. "A very pretty green dragon."
Fayt was frozen, stunned completely speechless by the prince's words. He sat there for several moments before he finally found his ability to speak again. "…I'm a dragon…?"
Dren nodded. "Yes. It requires one of two things to instigate the first change: either a stimulant, or severe trauma. As I'm quite reluctant to traumatize you, I could give you the stimulant, if you'd like…"
"All right," he agreed. At least this way, Fayt would know for sure, one way or the other, and his mind wouldn't continue to tell him how stupid the whole idea sounded. "When?"
Dren thought about it for a moment before he spoke. "We could go now, if you want. I'll have to get the stimulant, as well as a few of my guards. Eren, Emory, and Brandt are all dragons, and it will help to have others there for your first change." At Fayt's surprised expression, he laughed quietly. "That's why Emory and Brandt were sick for three days. It was their first change, so they were getting used to it."
"That's…" he trailed off, not knowing what to say to that.
"I know." Dren stood, pulling on a tunic and breeches. Fayt noticed he was still somewhat unsteady, and got to his feet, going to the prince.
"We can wait, if you want. I can tell you're still not completely recovered."
Dren shook his head, but gave Fayt a grateful smile. "No, it's all right. I'd rather suffer some, and have you believe me. Besides, it will be a while until I'm myself again."
"Okay," he murmured. "Thank you."
"No need to thank me. I owe you quite a lot, for what you've been through." Fayt had no chance to respond, as someone else spoke before he could.
"You told him, then?"
He glanced backwards, surprised to find the captain behind them. Eren flashed him a smile, raising a brow. Ignoring his unspoken question, Fayt turned his gaze to Dren. "Told me what?"
"Everything," Dren said with a smile of his own. "And, yes Eren, I did."
"Emory and Brandt are in his rooms," the captain told them helpfully.
"Bring them in here, please," the prince requested. Eren nodded and left the room, reappearing a few moments later with the other two guards in tow. They both looked surprised to see Fayt and Dren in the same room, looking happy to be there.
"…he told you the truth then?" Brandt asked finally.
Fayt nodded. "About everything."
"Then he wants to take you to the forest for your first change, right?" Emory asked, visibly eager.
"Yes," Dren murmured, taking something out of his wardrobe and slipping it into a pocket somewhere. "Let's go."
It was dark as the five of them wound around trees and stepped over protruding roots, Dren leading them through the forest with an ease that spoke of frequent visits.
"Here we are," he murmured, stepping into a relatively large clearing. Fayt stopped beside him, glancing around.
"What's so special about this place?" he asked, curious despite his anxiety.
"Nothing really," Dren said with a shrug. "It's just big enough for several dragons in trueform. I came here with Eren changed the first time, as well as when Emory and Brandt had their first change."
"It's amazing how different the last few days have been," Emory muttered, kneeling on the ground and digging a hand into the earth. "In a good way though," he added, looking at Brandt, who flashed him a quick smile.
"Being lovers and mating as dragons are two very different things," Dren said, stepping forward and taking a seat beside Emory.
"True enough," Emory said a wide grin. Fayt's eyes widened, and he glanced between the two men, surprised. He'd never suspected they were more than friends, but, now that he thought about it, the looks the two so frequently shared should've given it away.
"It's one of the reasons I gave you two the stimulant at the same time. To find your mate, but be denied the chance to complete the bond… it hurts," Dren said simply. The other three all gave Fayt significant looks, and he winced, feeling the sting of the words, though he knew Dren hadn't meant them that way. The prince didn't notice, too busy digging in the bag he'd set in front of him.
"Sit down," Eren said after a moment, tugging Fayt down between the captain and Dren. "It'll be more comfortable, trust me. That stuff," he gestured to the small bottle Dren had finally found, "tastes horrible, and you'll feel very weird after a few minutes."
"I'm not going to regret this, am I?" he asked, taking the glass bottle and turning it in his hands. The liquid inside it was cerulean blue, and had a few bubbles in it. He examined it closely, but couldn't see anything odd about it, besides the color.
"I hope not," Dren murmured.
"Well, who knows? You could all be wrong, and I'm only a boring human. Here's hoping." In a single quick move, he pulled the stopper from it and downed the liquid in a few swallows. Grimacing, he set the vial slip from his grasp to fall to the ground. "Ew," he muttered darkly.
Eren chuckled, getting to his feet. "I warned you." Emory and Brandt had both risen to their feet as well, though Dren stayed at his side. They stepped away, obviously giving him space.
"I feel weird," Fayt muttered, scratching skin that suddenly felt tight and itchy and off. He looked closer and gasped aloud when he saw a fine sheen of pale green scales across his skin. "Is this normal?" he asked Dren, resisting the urge to scratch further.
Dren nodded. "Itchy, tight, just generally weird? It won't last for long, but, yes, that's normal."
The feelings were already fading, to be replaced by an overwhelming feeling of wrongness. That feeling lasted even less time, as Fayt felt his body changing, growing, becoming more. His vision sharpened, colors coming alive under his gaze. Sounds he'd never noticed before were loud in his ears, and he could name every living thing for a hundred feet in any direction. Closing his eyes, he realized that his body felt oddly right, like being human had been wrong all these years.
Through all this, Fayt expected fear, but, to his surprise, felt none. He was completely comfortable, in control of this new form, this new vast consciousness he'd never realized occupied his mind. He had baser instincts, desires he'd never felt before, but Fayt controlled them effortlessly, knowing that he couldn't hand control over to the dragon in him, that it wouldn't end well.
The words were whispered into his mind, as they had been when Dren had been in demiform. He opened his eyes again and realized that Dren was standing before, softly stroking him as he sat there. He noticed with surprise that he was making the same purring noise the prince had. It gave him an idea, and Fayt concentrated, wondering…
He felt his form change again, and he knew he'd successfully taken a demiform, somehow. He was shocked he'd managed something that so few others could do, especially so easily, but decided not think about it. Instead, he wound himself around Dren, doing the exact same thing the prince had done to him.
Dren laughed quietly, obviously pleased, and ran his hands down Fayt's long body, smiling slightly. There was a wicked gleam in his eyes, and he suddenly changed as well, the golden dragon demiform suddenly taking the place of the man. The dragon curled around Fayt, and two twirled together, the sparkling pattern of pale green scales against gold bright in the near darkness.
Fayt wondered if he could blush in demiform, and then decided he didn't care. I'm nothing compared to you.
Fayt didn't respond, simply content to lay there with his mate. He didn't know how long he laid there, he and Dren curled together, as time ceased to have meaning in the face of such utter happiness, a happiness he couldn't explain, and didn't want to try to. Another voice finally broke into his thoughts.
"All right you two. Now that you're done showing off and playing, we need to head back. It's almost midnight."
Fayt sighed but complied, effortlessly taking his human form again. Dren did the same after a moment, and Fayt took the chance to admire that beautiful body for a heartbeat before he stretched, feeling bones pop and muscles flex. He knew he too was naked, but couldn't find it in himself to care right now. He could feel a wealth of new power flowing through his veins, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.
With two quick steps, Fayt was standing in front of Dren. He stood on his tiptoes and brushed their mouths together tentatively, seeking a response from the other man. Dren gasped in surprise, and Fayt took a chance, sweeping his tongue into Dren's mouth hesitantly, still unsure of the prince's reaction. Dren stayed frozen a moment more, and then he began kissing back in what started in a lazy duel for dominance, but quickly became something filled with heat and undeniable passion.
Fayt twined his arms around Dren's neck and pressed their bodies flush together, feeling Dren's arousal against his stomach, spurring his own even further. He felt a connection to Dren, something he'd never experienced before, and poured everything he felt for the man into it, surprised to find Dren do the same. With his feelings, however, came something else: a handful of thoughts, explanations, and Fayt knew in that moment, with absolute certainty, that Dren was nothing like the man who acted as his father, nothing like the king. Dren was a good person, a great man, and Fayt trusted him, completely.
Awareness flooded through him with the realization, and the power in his veins suddenly thrummed to life with a pulse of its own. Fayt knew what he wanted, what he needed to do with it, and he poured it all into Dren, giving him what had been so cruelly taken. He gave all he could, knowing instinctively that it wouldn't affect him the way it had Dren, that power freely given in this way, for this reason, couldn't have adverse reactions. Even if it would have affected him badly, Fayt would've done it anyway, he couldn't allow Dren to suffer because of him.
Dren finally pulled away, dragging much needed air into his lungs, eyes flashing with a golden light when they met Fayt's.
"Wow," Fayt murmured, closing his eyes and licking his lips. He could taste Dren there, and realized, opening his eyes, that he wanted to again.
"Thank you," Dren whispered, meeting his gaze. The sincerity and genuine happiness in those eyes rocked Fayt to the core, and he whimpered softly.
"I couldn't let you suffer because of me," he said finally.
Dren smiled slightly, brushing his fingertips across Fayt's face. "It was worth it," he told the younger man honestly, and then glanced up. "Now, as much as I'd love to continue this, I don't want to do it in front of them."
Fayt grinned and stepped away. "Do you have some clothes?" he asked. "I think mine might be unusable."
Dren tossed him the bag, pulling on clothes of his own. "There's some in there that should fit you."
Nodding, he pulled out a tunic and breeches, tugging them on quickly, before he finally faced the others. Emory and Brandt weren't paying attention, locked in an embrace of their own, but Eren was smiling slightly. He nodded when he noticed Fayt paying attention, clearing signally his approval.
"Here," Dren murmured, handing Fayt a small mirror. "You'll need this, so I can show you how to cast a glamour over yourself."
Fayt glanced at himself, and then returned his gaze, startled at the changes he saw. His dark hair was now a pale green, perfectly matching the scales that now covered him. His eyes were a mix between sea foam green and aqua blue, and he noticed that the fine sheen of pale green scales extended up his neck, stopping about halfway up and fading into normal skin.
"What…?" he asked, looking up at Dren.
"It happens after the first change," he explained. "You get your colors, and your scales. I glamour my scales, but not my appearance, because it looks semi-normal. The rest of them have to glamour everything, because their new appearances would alert Beldrith to their first changes. You'll have to do the same, unfortunately." He gave Fayt a slow once over. "I like the new look…" he murmured.
Telling himself he wouldn't blush, but knowing he had anyway, Fayt cleared his throat. "So I need to create a glamour?"
Dren nodded. "You should be able to do it on your own, if you can take demiform already."
Shrugging, Fayt tried, focusing on laying a second skin over himself, altering the color of his hair and eyes, as well as making the scales disappear. It took a moment, but he soon looked like his usual self, dark hair and eyes, scaleless. He felt uncomfortable, however, oddly stifled.
"It feels like shit, I know," Eren said, obviously noticing the look on his face. "But you can take it off when you're alone, or we're the only people around," he told Fayt, gesturing to the group.
"Sounds good," he muttered, handing the mirror back to Dren. "I don't like it." Fayt shrugged his shoulders, trying to get used to the feeling.
"It's just until we get back to the palace, and back to our own rooms. Then you can drop it," Emory said, stepping forward. Brandt was behind him, and both looked a little ruffled.
"Then let's hurry."
There were numerous chimes of agreement. They left the clearing soon after, making their way through the trees, eventually emerging into the dark city. They wound their way through the houses, barely noticing as they got nicer, as the roads became cobbled. They finally came to the palace, and ducked into a servant's door.
Dren explained their presence easily to the few people they encountered, citing a disturbance in the city they'd had to deal with. The excuse seemed to work, and they were soon outside Dren's rooms.
"Well, we're going to bed," Emory said, grabbing Brandt and beginning to pull him away towards the door to their rooms further down the hall. "I'll see everyone tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon," he muttered as he rounded the corner.
Fayt shook his head slowly, a small smile curving his lips. "They really want some alone time, don't they?"
"They're mates. It's to be expected," Eren said with a shrug, and then a yawn. "I'm going to find my bed as well. Good night." He gave the two a brief look that clearly said, 'Now finish what you started' and left the two alone.
As soon as Eren was gone, Fayt grabbed Dren's wrist and pulled him through the door into the room. "You know," he murmured, stopping once he was inside the room, "I think being a dragon is going to be more fun than I thought." After a moment of concentration, he dropped his glamour, releasing a sigh of happiness as the overwhelming stifling feeling faded.
Dren smiled slightly, eyes only for the young man before him. "It has its advantages."
"Will you drop yours too?" Fayt asked, meeting Dren's eyes. The golden dragon looked at him in surprise, and then nodded slowly.
"If you'd like…" In a blink, the glamour was gone, the golden scales now visible. Fayt smiled, running his fingers over them lightly.
"Why doesn't the king want everyone to be able to become dragons? Why has the fact always been hidden?"
Dren sighed quietly. "I don't know. I doubt we'll ever know for sure. I suspect it was because the royal line wanted to be able to decide who became a dragon, to feel like they had the right to do so. I've never believed it was right, and I intend to change it once I become king, but it will take a long time to do so. If I just suddenly told everyone, there would be panic, and nothing good would come of the situation. Luckily, I have time in spades."
"What'd you mean?" Fayt asked, confusion clear in his voice.
"A dragon that has changed at least once will live a long time, hundreds of years, at least." He hesitated, and then continued. "Mated dragons live even longer," he said quietly.
Fayt bit his lip, sitting down slowly and bringing his knees up to rest his chin on, with his arms wrapped around his legs. "If we do this," he gestured between the two of them, "what does it mean?"
Dren sat down beside him, turning so he faced Fayt. "It means everything," he said quietly. "That we want to spend our lives together, that we're willing to bind ourselves together because we…" His voice faltered, and he closed his eyes. "Because we know we belong together," he whispered.
Fayt's breath caught. Was Dren saying…? "How do we…?" he asked.
Dren's eyes opened. Fayt had obviously surprised him, but he meant what he said. He knew a great deal about Dren, from all the information he'd had Emory and Brandt gather, and he was deeply attracted to the prince. Just looking at the man, Fayt knew he was falling for him, which he knew was irrational, after everything he'd been through because of the prince, but it was happening nonetheless.
Fayt leaned forward, pressing his lips against Dren's hard, knowing the man would respond, and he did. Their tongues met, caressing slowly and exploring each other's mouths. Fayt's arms slipped around Dren's neck, pulling him closer, as Dren's wound around his waist. Soon, Fayt was in Dren's lap, hands dropping to slide under Dren's clothes, seeking skin.
"Fayt," Dren whispered, pulling away. His breathing was uneven again, coming in gasps. "We can stop now, leave things as they are, and the bond will stay incomplete. If we continue with this, there's no going back. This is forever."
Fayt looked at him, sea foam green locking with golden amber. "I want forever," he told him honestly, twining their hands together. He was about to say more when he heard a quiet noise near the doorway, and glanced up in surprise to find Eren stepping inside.
The captain grimaced. "I hate to interrupt, but one of the king's guards just ran into my room to tell me that something has happened. He won't get more specific, but I think you should see what all the fuss is about. It could be important."
Dren nodded, looking at Fayt regretfully. "I'm sorry," he murmured, releasing Fayt's hand to stand.
The younger man shrugged. "We can finish this later," Fayt said quietly.
Looking at down at him for a moment, Dren bent and gave the younger man a quick, hard kiss. "I don't want to wait," the prince whispered against his lips. Then he was standing again, leaving the room with Eren.
Fayt sighed, flopping back onto the couch. Just when they'd gotten to what they truly needed to talk about, Dren had to leave. It was frustrating, even though he knew there was nothing to be done about it.
The knock at the door surprised Fayt again, and he sat up, quickly laying down another glamour before glancing at the door as someone stepped inside. It was one of the guards, with a tray upon which sat a glass filled with a pink liquid, as well as a plate with small round cookies. Fayt smiled slightly; he loved those cookies and had them for a snack almost everyday before he went to bed.
"Thank you," he murmured, taking the tray and setting it on the low table before him. The guard left with a nod, and Fayt grabbed a handful of cookies, popping them into his mouth one by one as he thought over what would happen when Dren returned. He wanted to continue where they'd left off, and complete the bond, but some part of him was hesitant, saying that now was not the time to do such a thing.
Downing the pink drink, Fayt sat back, the glass cradled between his palms, bottom lip caught between his teeth. He sighed and let the empty glass slip from his fingers as he ran a hand over his face before standing. The room tilted alarmingly, and Fayt grabbed the arm of the couch behind him, sucking in a deep breath.
What the…? Fayt thought as his legs folded under him, his knees hitting the floor hard. He struggled to hold to consciousness as his vision darkened around the edges, knowing it was a lost cause. The last thing he saw before he black out completely was a half dozen of the king's guards entering the room.
Dren blinked repeatedly as his mind reawakened, confused for a moment before the memory surfaced. The 'emergency' had been a fluke, leading he and Eren into a trap, one that resulted in the both of them being knocked unconscious by one of the royal guards. He knew it was the king, and he hoped that Fayt was all right, and uninvolved, but as his eyes scanned the room, he saw his mate on the bed, still unconscious.
"Oh, you're awake. Good."
The prince easily recognized the voice, glaring at King Beldrith as he stepped forward to look down upon him. Though he was chained to the wall, he lunged forward, putting all of his unnatural strength into the motion, to find that his restraints were more than capable of keeping him away from the man he so longed to kill.
"Tsk tsk tsk my son." With a flourish, Beldrith pulled something from his tunic, dangling the necklace before Dren's eyes. He recognized one of his own scales instantly, strung through the miniature links. "Now, what should I do with such a prize?" he murmured, eyes betraying that he already had a plan in mind.
"If you touch him," Dren said quietly, nodding towards his mate, "I will kill you." Gone was the mild mannered prince, his place taken over by the dragon within him, almost completely. To anger a dragon was stupid; to hurt a dragon's mate was suicide.
Beldrith gave him a slow smile, one that chilled the prince to his very core. "You'll do nothing of the sort. I have complete control over you, and I intend to use it." The king reached forward, trailing a finger down Dren's face slowly. "And you'll enjoy every minute of it, whether you want to or not."
Dren clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut. There were only two outcomes to this situation, and both ended in death, either his own, or the king's. He would not submit to the torture Beldrith planned, he'd sooner kill himself. "No," he said quietly, voice hoarse.
"We'll see," he murmured, stepping forward. "What will you do to save your toy?" The king strode forward, pulling a small knife from his tunic as he did so. "What torture will you force him to suffer through before you submit?"
Fayt murmured something, turning away from the king as he approached. Beldrith merely smiled slightly, grabbing his arm and wrenching the boy back around. He slid the knife into his tunic, pulling up, and watching the fabric part before his eyes.
"It's too bad, really," Beldrith murmured, eyes roving over the young body. "He would've been so much fun to play with, but you wanted him to yourself. You truly had me convinced that you shared my desires, my son. It saddens me that it must come to this."
"I'm not your son," Dren snapped. He tried to change, and gasped when, instead of the shift of forms he'd anticipated, he instead met with a burning sensation that trailed down his spine.
"You really didn't think I was that stupid, did you?" Beldrith asked with a grin. "Those chains are binding, and they keep you from taking any form but the one you're already in. Of course, it will be some time before I trust you enough to let you take even demiform."
Dren forced himself to take several slow, deep breaths. He needed a clear head to get both of he and Fayt out of this situation alive. Acting rashly, and letting the dragon take over completely, would only eliminate their chances of getting away unscathed.
A groan had both men turning towards the boy on the bed. Fayt was slowly coming back to himself, and, with another quiet groan, he opened his eyes. His gaze slid over the room before coming to land on the king standing beside him. Eyes widening, Fayt quickly began to scoot away, trying to put as much distance between the man with the knife and himself.
A firm hand closed around his right arm, squeezing tightly, and making Fayt yelp. "Don't bother boy," the king snapped. He wrenched Fayt's shirt down to reveal another necklace, along with another of Dren's scales. It was only then that the prince noticed the throbbing in his arm, and the spot of discoloration that said Beldrith had taken one of Dren's scales without his permission.
But it didn't matter, because Fayt and Dren were mates. Dren's magic wouldn't bind Fayt's, like Beldrith thought it would, but Fayt wouldn't realize that. He'd think he was just as bound as Dren, and there was nothing he could do to tell Fayt the truth, with the chains binding him like they were. Which meant that Fayt needed to be angry enough to force a change, the backlash of which would, hopefully, give Dren enough of what he needed to get free himself, and end this, once and for all.
"Now…" Beldrith murmured, pulling Dren away from his thoughts. "What should I do first? What would hurt you the most, Andren?"
Dren closed his eyes tightly, knowing he'd hate himself for this later, but also knowing it was a something he had to do. He just prayed Fayt would understand. "Nothing. Do whatever you want to him. I don't care." Fayt's eyes snapped to his, and Dren simply stared at him, willing the young man to understand, praying that he hadn't just lost his only chance with Fayt.
"Changing your tune so soon?" Beldrith asked with a grin. "Think that giving him up will gain you leniency?" The king shook his head slowly. "Not a chance, my son. You care for him, and, as much as I wish you did, you don't share my tastes. You'd never use him properly."
"I was letting him get comfortable," Dren said through his teeth. "And I knew he was awake when you and I were just talking. Didn't you realize that? I was hoping you'd let me keep up the game, but you've spoiled my fun. So, have at him. I don't care."
Fayt's eyes narrowed, fury plain on his face. Dren closed his own, forcing back tears. He had to do this, had to continue, or they'd never survive the night. "Go ahead and play with him. I'd like to watch, actually."
Dren knew that did it. He felt the dragon's fury at the edge of his consciousness, felt his own dragon, so close to the surface, snarl in response, his own anger barely restrained. With half shout, Fayt changed, his demiform shimmering into existence. Dren was ridiculously proud that Fayt had such control, that, even in this situation, he was able to realize that trueform would be pointless here.
The backlash swept over him, the energy from Fayt's change sweeping through his, magic racing down his spine and setting his hair on end. He knew it wasn't enough though, as Beldrith sapped his magic immediately, the king readying himself for the fight with the green dragon. A fight that Dren knew Fayt couldn't win. Beldrith had more experience and, unfortunately, more power.
Beldrith spun magic around the green dragon, forcing it into stillness for a moment before Fayt broke away, lunging forward to sink a mouthful of razor sharp teeth into the king's arm. He ducked away, raising the blade in his hand to slice down the dragon's side as Fayt whipped around, throwing himself back at the king.
Dren watched in horror, knowing there was nothing he could do. He'd forced Fayt to change, thinking it would be enough to shock the king and break the bindings. He'd been terribly wrong, and he was made to watch as Fayt was slowly brought down, from knifes wounds as well as those inflicted by magical means. Finally, Fayt couldn't hold the change any longer, and took his human form again. The wounds were larger here, easily enough to kill him within a few minutes.
With a grin, Beldrith knelt beside the boy. "So, Dren gave you your dragon… how kind of him. Unfortunately, you won't live long enough to learn to enjoy it." Turning slightly to meet Dren's eyes, Beldrith brought the knife up again, and plunged it into Fayt's chest. The scream that filled the room was full of pain, and it sent Dren over the edge, red tingeing his vision as the dragon took complete control.
The next moment, Dren was free, his demiform launching itself at the still gloating king. He wrapped himself around the man, this embrace nothing like the one he'd often held Fayt in. Dren used everything he had, feeling bones give beneath his body as his mouth sunk into the king's neck, ripping away the necklace there, as well as most of the man's throat. Blood sprayed across him as he continued to tighten his hold, the king quickly going limp in his clutches.
Within moments, the king was dead and Dren released him, forgetting the man the moment he was free of him. Instead, Dren went immediately to his mate, shimmering back to human form as he dropped to his knees beside Fayt. Though his dragon still retained much of the control, his blood lust was sated, so his movements were gentle as he desperately searched for some sign of life. Though none was forthcoming, he sensed some small part of Fayt hanging on.
Placing his hands over the young man's chest, he flooded him with healing magic, doing all he could, but, even as he saw the effects, the prince knew it wouldn't be enough. There had just been too much damage done to the boy. The only thing that would save him now was…
Dren didn't stop to think about the consequences as he grabbed the knife on the floor near Fayt and sliced open his right palm, before doing the same to Fayt. Pressing their hands together, he whispered a string of words under his breath, ancient words that held unimaginable power. He felt it spiral up and over him, encompassing him completely as the bond between he and his mate solidified and completed.
Dren's magic poured for him, meeting Fayt's in a wash of golden light as the two magics intertwined and multiplied, building off each other. At the same time, Dren felt his mind loosen and collide with Fayt's, a lifetime of memories, thoughts, emotions and so much more being shared between the two. It was near overwhelming, the whirl of things that passed between them in those scant heartbeats, before it ended abruptly.
The connection between them stayed however, even as the magic exhausted itself, retreating back into the two of them. Dren gasped aloud as he felt it, felt all his power for the first time in almost fifteen years. Beside him, he heard Fayt inhale sharply as well, and his eyes shot down to his mate.
Fayt's eyes were wide as he stared at Dren, emotions whirling through him so quickly that Dren couldn't hope to identify them. He didn't dare look away, praying that Fayt understood, that, through everything they'd shared, he'd realized what Dren had done, why he'd done it.
In a flash of sudden movement, Fayt threw himself at Dren, sealing their mouths together in a hard kiss. The prince responded immediately, sliding his tongue over Fayt's heatedly, breaking the kiss only when the need for air pulled them apart.
"Don't ever do that again," Fayt said quietly, resting his forehead against Dren's as he sucked much needed air into his lungs.
"I promise," Dren whispered.
"Good," Fayt said with a small smile. "Now, where were we?"
All done. I hate everything after Dren wakes up, but Mel liked it, so... there you go. Story dedicated to Tragic and Devastated.
-Shadowed and Shattered