Royal Celebration

by llamajoy

"What infinite heart's ease
must kings neglect that private men enjoy!"
Henry V

How unpleasant, mused Edward Geraldine, listening to the clamor of his magistrates. To listen to them, one might think they were wrangling with the details of some particularly delicate issue of state, not planning for a royal birthday celebration. Smoothing the unfamiliar satin of his dress tunic, the King of Eblan listened, albeit restlessly, to the muttering around him. Would His Lordship prefer the banquet or the ball? Well, certainly His Lordship would be insulted by anything so presumptous and crass as the ball; he would prefer the subtleties of the banquet...

Actually, Edge thought, mired and sinking in that ebb and flow of chatter, His Lordship would rather nothing of the sort. He sighed, supposing, after a moment, that he should be glad that Eblan was back on her feet, a healthy country enough to drown herself properly in the wine of pomp and circumstance. Of course, the necessary corollary to the recent disasters was that, since this was his first birthday since succeeding to the throne, naturally his ministers would have to assure its unparalleled magnificence.

With a vague sort of longing he thought about clouds, and long smooth stretches of grassland nestled against sweeping foothills. The way a chocobo would feel between his knees, strong and warm and fast.

He'd seen his guest headed for the chocobo stables earlier, hadn't he? That ambling line of thought was easily distracted by the memory, as he had, quite to his surprise, found the dragoon training in the south courtyard that morning. It had been barely sunrise, Edge himself blinking awake and headed to the councilrooms for the preparations to come.

And there had been Kain, shoeless and in only his trousers, executing flawless technique with his spear-- against nothing more harmful than the cobbled courtyard paths. Edge, on the second floor walkway, had leaned into a shadow of a pillar and watched him, wondering if he had ever seen the dragoon fighting out of armor before. The play of morning light in Kain's bright hair was certainly memorable, Edge had decided; he would not have forgotten such an image so soon. See, how the sunshine melted like butter along his fair skin. No self-respecting ninja would ever be so... golden. Far too noticeable, nothing of subtlety.

But still he found himself watching, and it was not quite with the captivation of a child by something flashing bright, or of a greedy man by something rich and golden.

Spin, and strike, a swift goldenhaired twist, spear a precise clash against a courtyard wall. And pivot and sweep, honey-colored skin, two strides back and leap...

When it had occurred to him that Kain was most likely training so that he might train a new corps of dragoons, in Baron, Edge shook his head and set his footsteps, rather belatedly, to his councilroom. Out of the corner of his eye, well-trained to noticing such peripheral things, he saw the dragoon halt-- too abruptly?-- pushing hair from his eyes, shouldering his spear. He might have been heading for the stables, judging by the angle of his stance, but Edge had not been given much time for speculation.

Zanrithal, with ill-disguised impatience, called his attention back to the matter at hand. If His Majesty wouldn't mind, certainly, would he care to peruse to the menu selections? After all, it was his royal celebration.

Edge, dutifully nodding and pretending to listen-- native cuisine, to highlight the nation's success? or imported goods, perhaps, to establish proper symbolism of good will to neighboring lands?-- found himself drumming his fingers against the arm of his chair, the quiet patter of fingertips sounding counterpoint to his heartbeat.

But when someone in the doorway cleared his throat, Edge was so wildly grateful that he could have kissed him. Until he looked up and saw who it was, of course.

Zanrithal spoke the dragoon's name, with respect, Edge noticed, by way of official greeting and acceptance into the gathering present. And the King was grateful, not sure he could trust his own voice to the same... imagining that chest beneath that fine Eblan tunic, the play of those shoulder muscles beneath the decorative and damnably concealing embroidery there...

Kain's tone was blissfully dry, bemused on the ornate formal words. Would-- His Majesty-- care for an afternoon outing? To relieve the tension, perhaps, of a morning spent in tedious council? In his hands were two pairs of leather riding gloves, and on his lips was the promise of two freshly saddled chocobos.

And Edward Geraldine found himself smiling, feeling that the whole broad sky outside was waiting.


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