Percival returned to the station he’d been assigned after lunch with a clearer idea of what the siblings were looking to give their mother for her birthday. It turned out that they weren’t noble but a pair that had gotten into merchant work across the world and had done well for themselves. They were looking to gift a hair ornament to their mother along with a new house in Paris to begin a brand new lifestyle.
Like him, they weren’t from Paris either, but refugees from England. They’d lost their father on the journey across the Channel and their mother had worked herself to near exhaustion trying to support the three of them in France.
The saving grace was that the Roi held no ill will towards refugees from England and did as much as was possible under the French crown for them. They changed their citizenship, paid French taxes and worked as soon as they were able. The sister was a seamstress who was looking for a stable job now that they were back in Paris as a procurer for a boutique. The man’s trade was primarily in tools and crafts.
Percival had a feeling that he’d just made two merchant connections that would last him the rest of his life.
He felt someone’s eyes watching him walk back to his own station, but they aren’t pressing on his survival instincts. The high of getting through the consultation with the siblings without incident and completely present, as well as the prospect of dinner with the handsome traveler, kept him relaxed.
Handsome didn’t quite cover what made Percival react the way he had to the man. The man was dark from the sun, and from his accent, Percival could guess that he was from Zephyrine. If not, he would have to ask how he and his family had come across such an old Spanish sword. His Spanish and Moroccan heritage showed through in his skin tone and the rhythm of his words. His brown eyes had been dark and deep enough to drown in as his voice wound a spell around his senses that Percival couldn’t resist. He was roguishly handsome in a way that Percival had not really encountered while in Paris. The son of the de Sauveterre Estate and his half-merman lover both had a boyish charm to their features though their personalities made them seem far older and more experienced.
They were both more experienced than Percival by far at least, but they retained the softness of their youth perhaps through the lives as noblemen. The man who’d openly admired him in the heat of the forge with eyes that undressed him and a voice that was at once hypnotizing and seductive had nothing but the charm of an experienced man.
Perhaps he was older than Percival? How much older, and did it really matter?
The man flirted with him and wasn’t subtle about exactly how attractive he thought Percival was leaning over his forge. There was no mistaking the sexual intent in his eyes, but it wasn’t just his expressions, his conversation, or even his scent that was bothering Percival.
It was his touch that sent an alarm through him demanding his attention.
Percival had not allowed many people to touch him since–
Don’t think about it, he thought ending the thought before it could drag him into the dark and leave him with hours lost.
The son of the de Sauveterre estate and his lover had been the last outside of handshakes and incidental touching. There had to be something wrong with him if a barely there touch had his mind reeling, or perhaps the man’s touch was as captivating as the man was for other reasons?
The hours coasted by as more and more questions began to arise in Percival’s mind about the man who had not even left him his name. At a few minutes until six, he would have been beside himself with anticipation if he had the ability to feel such things. It felt no more than a slight snag in his physical movements. He shut down his station and cleaned up just as the clock struck six. It was still the height of summer so there was no reason to bring anything more than what he had on.
He frowned, remembering that the man had been wearing little more than a traveling tunic and his cloak. If he was from Zephyrine, surely he was cold. Then again, his hand on Percival’s bare skin had felt feverish.
“Hey,” Percival turned to the voice and saw the man standing there and offering a hand. “It slipped my mind earlier, but my name is Lancelot.”
Percival felt himself relax at the sound of his voice.
How very French and how perfectly suited to this man who seemed to ooze charm and wit. It wasn’t as though Percival thought himself a Guinevere, but if the Lancelot in the old story was anything like this one, he truly couldn’t blame Guinevere for being tempted. He took Lancelot’s hand to shake but gasped as Lancelot tilted his hand to interlace their fingers with a playful and easy smile on his lips.
“Most food in Paris seems to be rubbish, but I have found that the street vendors are decent in the market not too far from here. Is that alright?”
Percival nodded and let Lancelot lead him down the street, so focused on the warmth of Lancelot’s hand around his own that he isn’t bothered by the awkward way his body has to twist to hold on and keep up with the man’s pace. When Lancelot stopped at the corner, he switched hands to hold Percival’s and grins at him.
“Can’t have you running away, gorgeous.”
Percival choked on a breath as his heart stuttered at the term of endearment and continued to follow Lancelot towards the more Parisian side of the Lower Market. From his dress, it was obvious that Lancelot had not been in Paris long enough to know much about the markets in the city. Considering that, he isn’t surprised that he picks two of the only street vendors Percival will eat from in this market. It seemed that Lancelot’s tastes were more similar to his own than to Paris.
He is from Zephyrine, Percival thought, What else could I expect?
“This is probably the best thing I’ve tasted in Paris,” he said offering a basket to Percival. “Though I admit I have not been here long enough to fully explore it.”
They walk through the market at an easy pace. They stop to get iced, cream tea at a vendor and Lancelot can only grin at him when they order the same flavor: Moroccan Mint. The quiet is filled with Lancelot asking questions about Percival, answering the few that Percival can manage to ask when he isn’t being distracted by the warmth and rush of Lancelot’s hand in his. He understands that Lancelot is telling him stories, jokes, things that are meant to make him laugh, but Percival doesn’t remember how to laugh. Instead, he manages to tell him that it’s funny and try and keep his sanity.
The longer they walk the more relaxed Percival feels and the quicker his thoughts stray to what Lancelot’s hands would feel like in other places.
At the same time, Lancelot seemed to withdraw. He doesn’t release Percival’s hand when he doesn’t have to, but he doesn’t speak as often either allowing the quiet to stand between them. From what Percival has gleaned of Lancelot’s personality, he was incredibly noble and personable. He was probably the kind of child who had friends from all over his home city and could still carry on a conversation with a cat if he wanted, so it’s strange that Lancelot was withdrawing from the conversation.
“Ice cream?” Lancelot asked as they reached the park near East End.
Percival nodded and watched Lancelot walk towards the vendor to contemplate it when it dawns on him.
It’s because of Percival.
He hadn’t thought of the fact that Lancelot wasn’t exactly accustomed to Percival’s brand of stoic.
Stoic? That’s what we’re calling this?
If he’d managed to perfect the art of glaring at the voices in his head, he would do so, but the derisive snort from the darkness had a point. It wasn’t just stoicism. Gods, if it was that easy he wouldn’t still be at the Black Hammer trying to train himself to be okay around so many people amidst the noise. He understood the limits of his powers well, he attempted to make the best of every situation and to be satisfied with the small bits of progress he made, but this was one of the things that should have been within his control and wasn’t.
Along with losing time, finding things on his person that he didn’t remember placing there, along with these voices, came the complete disconnect between him and his body. Sometimes it was like watching a movie of someone else doing things, sometimes it was like being in control. But on the whole, he couldn’t show emotion. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel it in some regard. It was all just so muted that he couldn’t express it, weighed down with a weight that Percival refused to name.
Trying to explain his lack of affect would open pathways to conversations Percival would not have with a man who was staying at East End. Only travelers, passer-throughs for a few days stayed there, a week at most. His stomach turned because Lancelot was a good man, a handsome man, that was clearly attracted to him and, even more importantly, Percival was attracted to him as well. Since arriving two years ago, that had not happened and he had walked all over the city, met with a myriad of handsome men in his time and not even a spark of attraction, yet Lancelot seemed to be pulling on every sexual instinct he possessed and the thought that he’d miss a chance, that was already so very rare, made his stomach churn and his insides shift around in something he recognized as anxiety, his hands quake and his heart speed up uncomfortably.
Oh, gods, he was afraid. Afraid of letting this little bit of relief from his struggling slip through his fingers.
Think, he urged himself, eyes darting around in the dim light of the evening.
Lancelot’s footsteps and the scent of him drew closer to where Percival remained on the bench.
It isn’t important. We don’t need this.
It is important! We haven’t slept in weeks!
We’ve gone longer without sleep–
“Lemon Mascarpone or Caramel Macchiato?” Lancelot asked holding out two cones topped with several scoops or either flavor.
Percival pulled himself out of his mind viciously and looked up at the two cones in Lancelot’s hands, then to the sexy smile on his lips. He could only guess from the names of the flavors that the one closest to Lancelot’s skin tone was Caramel Macchiato.
He licked his lips. Would that work?
Actions do speak louder than words, Percival.
“Caramel,” Percival said and took the cone from his hand.
He’d never had anything macchiato flavored, but he took it and licked it as if it was the best thing in the world. The sweetness of caramel and the slight bitterness of the espresso melted on his tongue, but Percival only tasted it as an afterthought, letting the fantasy of Lancelot’s skin under his tongue guide his actions.
Lancelot’s eyes narrowed with intent, his tongue darted out across his lips as he watched and a little thrill of success went through Percival. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t show it, but he could at least act. It would be enough for Lancelot to understand, wouldn’t it?
Lancelot’s gaze remained on him as Percival dragged his tongue up the length of the cone, slow and steady, before swirling his tongue over the top and licking from the bottom again. Lancelot, to his credit, didn’t make a sound, but there was no mistaking the way his eyelids lowered and his mouth tilted into a knowing and accepting smile.
Thank the gods, Percival thought as Lancelot tilted his head and met his gaze..
Slowly, he brought his own cone to his mouth, took Percival’s free hand and led him towards a set of secluded benches. When they sit down, Percival’s anxiety eased. Lancelot had clearly gotten the point, but he wasn’t expecting Lancelot to reciprocate in kind.
He felt his cheeks heat and his body tense. Percival had learned how to give a blow job only recently, the extent of his skills was limited to pleasuring two men who were perhaps just a little more experienced than him.
If he had to guess, Lancelot had years of experience on him easily. He didn’t know if his oral dexterity came from the number of people he’d slept with, the heady, sexy, and dangerous cadence of Zephyrinian French, or some natural talent, but Lancelot had every bit of attention Percival could spare from simply breathing and letting his heart beat.
It seemed like an eternity before Lancelot licked his lips with a smile and his eyes darted towards Percival’s hand.
Cold, he thought and turned his head to see the ice cream melting down his hand. He heard someone gasping and turned his head to see an older woman with her hand over the eyes of a small child and a younger woman at her side who was flushed in the twilight.
The older woman shook her head and hustled the child and the younger woman away, but Percival could hear her racing heart, smell her arousal on the wind, and make out the flush that colored her cheeks as well.
Lancelot grinned and wiggled his eyebrows at him before eating his ice cream as innocently as possible. Percival brought his hand to his mouth to suck the sticky cream from his hand leaving it to Lancelot to stare at the obscene display. If there was a part of him that was pure, raw sexual energy, he’d let it take over for this. He heard Lancelot whispering something that sounded vaguely like thank the gods under his breath and tried not to moan at the thought of making Lancelot breathless.
Lancelot slid closer to him across the bench as Percival managed to get the sticky mess in his hand under control. Lancelot waited until Percival’s cone wasn’t such a disaster to reach a hand out and curl his fingers around the back of Percival’s neck and meet his gaze. It’s a little too intimate for a first meeting, but Percival can’t look away. Lancelot’s eyes are hypnotizing, but his lips slightly reddened from the cold of the ice cream were distracting and smirking at him as his gaze jumped from his eyes to his lips and back again.
“Would it be too forward of me to kiss you right now?” Lancelot asked and made a pleased sound when Percival unconsciously licked his lips and shook his head.
He tugged gently, barely pressing, but Percival leaned forward without needing the pull to meet his lips. His lips were cold and his tongue tasted like lemon and mascarpone, but there was something else as mysterious and captivating behind all of that that Percival can only call Lancelot.
Sweet gods, Lancelot thought at first taste of Percival’s mouth. The caramel macchiato didn’t blend well with lemon mascarpone, but none of that mattered in the face of that familiar taste that grew stronger with each stroke of Lancelot’s tongue into Percival’s mouth.
It makes him groan and pull Percival more insistently towards him to chase it shamelessly, to cultivate it and drink it in as they kiss. It grows and grows until Percival moaned into his mouth and with it a large burst of it rushed over Lancelot’s tongue.
Magic, his mind supplied, of a different variety than Zephyrine.
He didn’t even know magic existed that strong in the north. It makes his insides quake and lick into Percival’s mouth until Percival pants and he’s sure that he’s had enough of it to hold him over until later.
He drew back earning Percival’s desperate whimper and the taller man leaned forward trying to chase his mouth. Lancelot opened his eyes to meet Percival’s soft and pleading gaze,; his cheeks were fully flushed now, his mouth open in a soft pant. Though his expression didn’t shift much, it was far more obvious this close to him to see the beginnings of what would be the most sex-drunk expression he’d ever seen.
Gods, he was gorgeous, potent and heady. Lancelot licked his lips and wondered if that sex-drunk look was because Percival had never kissed anyone with a visceral magical potency as high as Lancelot’s. He wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the case. If he had, there was a good chance that Percival wouldn’t still be single.
People without magic coveted those with magic without understanding why. It drove them nearly to insanity in their pursuit of it, needing it like a drug. People with magic were always attracted to those with magical profiles that meshed well with their own, and they pursued it with everything they had in them. From first sight, Lancelot had tried to understand why Percival was so damn attractive to him aside from his looks, but now he understood having had just a taste of what lurked beneath Percival’s apparently stoic demeanor.
Did Percival know that he had magic like that? Did he understand it?
No, Lancelot thought. He couldn’t understand it, otherwise he wouldn’t have looked so surprised when they touched and the way that it felt. Percival’s eyes had glossed over as if dazed with the warm comfort of lazing in the midday Zephyrinian sun when Lancelot had taken his hand earlier, a glaze look that hadn’t faded until Lancelot left him to get ice cream.
He couldn’t have been with a person with as much magic in his blood as Lancelot did, or as much as Percival did. It wouldn’t have bubbled up like that during their kiss if he had.
Oh Gods, Percival was going to be trouble.
He should back away. It was crazy, dangerous, and reckless to get involved too deep with someone who didn’t understand their own magical potential and whose magic had been suppressed and isolated. It could take him over without meaning to, it could turn them both into slaves of passion, it could thwart Lancelot’s entire reason for being in Paris.
It would be damn good, though.
“Too forward to take you back to my room?” He asked, meeting Percival’s gaze, and he shook his head. “Good.”
He finished his ice cream cone and waited for Percival to finish his before standing and pulling out candy from his bag to hand to him.
“In case,” he said with a lascivious grin before popping his piece into his mouth and taking Percival’s hand.
He could hear his mother’s warning about the magic of the Du Lac men, of Zephyrine, of being reckless and potentially hurting someone, but all of her warning had been about sleeping with people who had no magical affinity whatsoever, and Lancelot had never been attracted to anyone who didn’t at least have the some level of magic in their blood.
Percival was no exception.
Percival put it in his mouth obediently and let Lancelot lead him away from the park.
In case of what? He wondered.
The candy was sweet with a touch of something that reminded him of mint. He guessed it was a mint of some kind while following Lancelot through the streets towards East End. Lancelot led him into one of the smallest inns in the area, through the foyer, past the front desk, and up the staircase. The doors they passed were all closed and from within he could hear sighs of passion, grunts of exertion, and the hurried knocking of headboards against walls.
Lancelot laughed and scoffed, “Amateurs.”
His gut jumped at the word. What did that mean? Percival already knew from the kiss that Lancelot had more sexual experience than Percival did, but he still couldn’t ascertain exactly how much more. They reached a room and Lancelot produced a key to open the door. He turned it, but Percival didn’t hear the bolt slide out of the door.
Lancelot scoffed, withdrawing the key and pushing the door open to usher Percival inside. He closed it behind them, locked it and set his bag beside the small bed, and slid his sword beneath it.
“Come here,” Lancelot said, his accent heavy and the flair of the words was definitely more Spanish, or Portuguese, than French.
Percival couldn’t really think about the difference given the rush of power that came with it.
What is that? Percival wondered. It reminded him vaguely of the tone the half merman would use with him when he had a hand in Percival’s hair and Percival’s face pushed into the bed.
Let me, Percival. All you have to do is bend over and take it.
Percival pulled off his boots and walked to where Lancelot could get his hands on his hips and tug at his clothing. His shirt out of his pants, the laces of his shirt undone with quick and efficient fingers that made Percival’s muscles tighten with want. Lancelot’s hands barely skimmed his bare stomach and already he was nervous.
“You have a preference?” Lancelot looked up at him, “Because I, honestly, just want you anyway I can have you.”
Percival licked his lips and stepped back. Lancelot immediately lifted his hand as if to seem nonthreatening. Percival thought it was an odd reaction considering their size difference and the fact that Lancelot was closer to a blade than Percival was. Then again, Percival had only had one other lover in his life, two if you counted when the half-merman would join them, and there was no telling what Lancelot thought of his flat affect. His eyes searched Percival’s eyes looking for something, but Percival didn’t know what he was looking for and so couldn’t give it.
“It’s okay if you’ve changed your mind,” Lancelot said. “Really, it’s up to you.”
Percival shook his head; he hadn’t changed his mind at all. If anything, his head was swimming with the possibilities that Lancelot’s eyes promised, but there was just a little bit of reservation because Percival wasn’t a fool. The young heir in Troyes and his lover may have enjoyed the things they did, but Percival’s size and stature usually came with certain assumptions as he figured from the number of people he’d interacted with in Paris.
Not to mention the scars that covered his body and had the penchant to glow at the strangest times. What if he lost consciousness and hurt Lancelot? What if Lancelot wanted something that Percival wasn’t sure he could give him?
There was a reason why he liked it the way he did.
“I do, but you may not like it.”
Lancelot chuckled, “Do I get to have you naked, no matter what it is?”
“Then I’m going to love it, so,” Lancelot took his hands, “Am I bending over or are you?”
Percival met his gaze, searching for something like a warning, a resistance, anything, but Lancelot’s face revealed nothing but patience and general desire. His hands were warm and that heat was making its way up Percival’s arms, taking over his senses until he breathed his answer.
Lancelot’s eyes fluttered closed, and he groaned; his hands tightened on Percival’s hands. His voice was a low whisper of a praise that made Percival blush as Lancelot looked up at him with his smoldering brown eyes. His lips lifted into a smile.
“You have no idea,” Lancelot said, working at Percival’s belt, pulling it free and throwing it across the room before getting the rest of his clothing off and across the room. Percival swooned at every graze of Lancelot’s hands on Percival’s bare skin and the efficiency at which Lancelot got him naked.
He didn’t have time to even realize that he was naked until after he’d fallen back across the bed from Lancelot’s gentle push against his chest. He had to give the bed credit for not caving, then again this particular inn was known for the cheapest hourly rates and the most customers using rooms purely for sex, so it made sense that the beds were sturdy.
“You’re okay with this?” Percival asked, crawling back across the bed as Lancelot crawled over him still fully clothed and looking at him as if he were prey in the forest.
He could eat us alive, and I’m sure we’d be okay with it.
He would have rolled his eyes, but the more clinical voice in his head’s scoff seemed to have the exasperation covered. Percival’s face was hot, his stomach churning with anticipation, and the very teenaged part of him was more excited than he probably should have been at the prospect of having sex with a practical stranger.
Live a little.
After all, what was the worst that Lancelot could do to him? Kill him?
“The first thing I thought of when I saw you was bending you over, Percival,” he grinned, “But we’re going to have to work up to that.”
“What do you mean?”
Foreplay wasn’t exactly what he expected from an encounter like this. Lancelot gave him a wry smile before taking his hand and pressing it to the front of his pants. Confused, Percival squeezed tentatively, and his entire body stiffened at the low grunt that came from Lancelot.
Thick was what he surmised and, given the size of Percival’s hands, long too. Rather than find out exactly how long, Percival withdrew his hand and blinked furiously in an attempt to process the number of speculations running through his mind.
Gods be praised and feared.
Lancelot smiled at him, a touch of indulgence at the corners of his mouth. He leaned forward to kiss him and push Percival to lay flat on the bed. Though Lancelot’s hands slid gently, caressing and teasing with a wicked warmth that made Percival squirm, it wasn’t enough to completely stop Percival’s mind from wondering how big Lancelot was. His body jerked as Lancelot took him in hand and stroked, slick by some magic, or perhaps lube while Percival wasn’t paying attention. Lancelot leaned over him to meet his gaze.
“Welcome back to the festivities,” he said, turning his wrist and squeezing, drawing shaky and soft sounds from somewhere in Percival that the man had forgotten existed.
It felt a bit like magic, feeling the usual chill melt away and the gates open a rushing flood of warmth and primal need. He felt his body relax and with it his mouth opened to let out a soft moan; his brow furrowed, and his vision blurred with pleasure. He had no idea what he looked like to Lancelot, but from the man’s expression he supposed it was a surprise.
The son told him once that he wasn’t without expression when he was splayed out on a bed or engaged in sex. He was an entirely different person when he was overwhelmed with pleasure, and he was so sensitive that it didn’t take much to get him in the state where he could show emotion.
Percival could feel his expression but had no understanding of whether he looked like a fool or a wet dream. Lancelot’s hand on his cock, sliding slow, sure and precise over him, made his head fall back and his breath come out in pants. His body relaxed back against the sheets as he squirmed, and Lancelot’s expression grew hungrier.
“You’re so sensitive,” Lancelot groaned, “Been a while?”
Percival couldn’t respond, focusing on drawing in breath after breath around the growing pressure building in his body, added to by Lancelot’s touch. The son and his lover hadn’t prepared him for this. It had been good, but this was world’s different. He’d been told that the first time was never the greatest, but he would be the most sensitive then.
It had been a lie. He felt a thousand times more exposed beneath Lancelot’s gaze, his dark brown eyes held a touch of light in their depths. Percival threw an arm across his face.
Lancelot pushed it over his head and leaned forward to press it firmly to the bed.
“I want to see you.”
I’m going to die, Percival thought at the spike of pleasure those words sent through him.
He was going to die from a handjob in an East End inn at the hands of a Lancelot from Zephyrine.
He supposed that there were worst ways to go. Lancelot released his cock right before Percival could tumble over the edge and leaned back to move a small bottle beside Percival’s hip and drag his gaze over whatever picture Percival made across the bed.
“You look good like this.”
I’m going to die.