By the time the weekend arrived, Percival still hadn’t gotten the voices and him to come to an agreement about whether to even entertain the idea of offering Lancelot a place to stay, yet somehow, he had the advertisement he’d written a year prior for one of the rooms in his house in his pocket as he walked to meet Lancelot.
Percival understood that on some level he was simply being a horny teenager. He enjoyed having sex with Lancelot and given his life since the beginning of his teens, he deserved at least this bit of normalcy. He wanted sex, good sex preferably, and Lancelot seemed willing, happy, and able to provide it the way Percival preferred it. Offering Lancelot a place to stay was simply a means of having sex with Lancelot more convenient. He didn’t think Lancelot would pay him rent in sex, but having him nearby wouldn’t be something the man would see as a disadvantage to living with him.
We know next to nothing about him! We don’t even know how old he is.
We’re old enough that it’s legal to bend over for him. What difference does it make?
He knew he was being needy, desperate for something to keep the screaming away and not thinking about the full ramifications of even entertaining the idea of Lancelot living with him, but Lancelot also needed help. Though Lancelot could take care of himself, East End was not a place that one should stay if they could help it. He’d need stability and a place to cook hearty food to get through the Knight’s Trial with some relative amount of mental stability. It was in his blood to extend a helping hand, no matter how badly he’d been burned before.
We helped Juliette and Adolf.
Two out of five hundred and fifty-five is abysmal odds, no matter how you look at it.
Percival arrived just as Lancelot left the large house that obviously belonged to someone of nobility. Sighing and rubbing his face, Lancelot approached him looking exhausted. The woman standing in the window watched them as Lancelot slid his list in his pocket and looked at Percival.
“Really good food,” he said witheringly, and Percival pat his shoulder in sympathy before leading him to somewhere that they could sit down and talk. His back pocket felt like it was burning the entire way there, but he ignored it to the best of his ability.
Lancelot had never done anything to hurt him or make him doubt his intentions.
Or should we say two out of five thousand, one hundred and forty-nine? Make you feel better? Should we use the other number instead?
Percival shoved the thought away as Lancelot began to regale his long day of trekking around the city, some of the ads being completely inaccurate, out of date, some of them coming with perks Lancelot wasn’t interested in.
“She propositioned you?” Percival asked.
“No, her husband did,” Percival nodded as Lancelot sprinkled a healthy dose of red pepper flakes in his soup with a withering sigh. It seemed that even Lancelot’s optimism had limits. “It’s just best to go back to the drawing board for now. At least, I have a week to find a place.”
Percival swallowed and felt the words come before he could stop them. Something in him cursed his inability to completely control himself most days, but today he was glad his logical, staunchly opposed to any sort of attachment side was overpowered.
It’s better to help those you can than dwell on those you couldn’t.
“You’ve never asked me where I lived,” Percival said wishing more than anything that the statement would appease the voice that seemed to be speaking up more often, quell the argument his logic was losing, and that the adage didn’t feel like a thousand knives tearing through his chest.
Lancelot’s brow furrowed, “I got the impression that I was better off asking neutral questions until you relaxed a little more. Besides, I assumed that you had family here because your French is so Parisian.”
“I’m from Germany, and I have no family here.”
Lancelot smiled, “Could have fooled me. You sound like a proper Paris born Frenchman unlike me and my Zephyrine flourish.”
His eyes told Percival that he had questions, but not why he wouldn’t ask them.
He won’t ask, the voice said, and no other voice argued.
Whether Lancelot wasn’t interested or believed in privacy, Percival couldn’t know.
Lancelot grinned and took a drink, “Oh yeah? How nice?”
In the morning, Lancelot is grinning like a fool, he almost wished he could still taste Percival on his tongue, but settled for a clean mouth and sunshine in his brain. The man in question had left to do whatever he did besides being a blacksmith’s apprentice, leaving Lancelot with enough time to scour through the newspapers over breakfast for a housing prospect that didn’t involve paying rent with his body, but did involve access to a functioning kitchen that he didn’t have to share with twelve other people.
He shuddered thinking of it as he got dressed and stopped, seeing a piece of paper on the floor. Thinking that Percival dropped it on his way out, he picked it up and proceeded to fold it before realizing that it was an ad for a housemate, a bedroom in a house near Versailles for a price well below market value, ran by the owner it looked like. Lancelot read on and got ready to head out. It was too good to be true honestly, and if he factored in food, he was pretty sure he’d be right at what he’d had to call his budget since Paris had the most expensive markets he’d ever visited.
He smiled a bit wondering how long Percival had been looking on his behalf. It was hard to tell outside of the bedroom how he felt sometimes because all of the cues he was used to weren’t there. Percival wasn’t stoic. He completely lacked affect and the ability to express emotions normally. He’d seen it before in some of his uncle’s who came back from the borders screaming at ghosts in the middle of the night. Just as they had to relearn their humanity, Lancelot had a feeling that Percival would have to as well. The curiosity about what Percival could have experienced tingled at the back of his mind, but he had faith that eventually Percival would be open to speaking about it.
Despite that, Lancelot was beginning to learn him through body language and diction, his pronunciations and gestures. His French lost its Parisian flair when he was being sarcastic or sassy. There was a bit of old German in his speech when he was upset about something, usually when speaking about the people who would stare at him while walking around doing his normal business. His diction turned elevated, the flow of his words more flowery when he was mocking people of the court. Percival may not have shown his emotions, or even be aware that he really had them, but his words carried enough of his meaning for Lancelot. He was proud to say that he’d gleaned quite a bit from the very subtle cues that Percival showed. He knew Percival wasn’t into the habit of lying, he also knew that once upon a time humor was not lost on him.
From his clothes and the scent that lingered in Lancelot’s cheap East End room when Percival left, he knew Percival was well settled wherever he lived and probably fairly well-off even if he did live alone. He wasn’t sure how old Percival was, but he was old enough to sleep with and old enough to work so he was at least eighteen. Lancelot guessed that Percival was no older than Lancelot.
It also helped that since their first night together, Lancelot had developed a limited sort of empathy with Percival. It usually felt muted, but there were blinding flashes of feeling that let Lancelot know exactly where he stood in a conversation.
He checked his map before finishing packing and heading out to start the next day of house searching. He’d wanted to go sightseeing a bit before he found a place to live, so he wandered around town, checking pricing and looking at wares before heading to the address on the paper Percival left in his room. The neighborhood was beautiful, full of people peeking out their windows at him as he looked up at the house and checked his map. It was the right address but how such a beautiful house could have a room for rent for so cheap was beyond him.
There has to be a catch, but nothing ventured nothing gained.
The gate opened easily, and he walked up the steps to knock on the front door.
He expected an older couple maybe looking to have someone keep an eye on the property while they travel or just someone who didn’t want to live alone. What he wasn’t expecting was for Percival to be on the other side. From his stillness, he knows that Percival was just as surprised as he was.
“Hello Percival,” he greeted lifting the ad and realizing that Percival wasn’t relaxing in the slightest. “Well, you dropped this in my room, but looking at you now, that didn’t seem to be intentional.”
Percival hesitated, his gaze jumping between the advertisement in Lancelot’s hand and Lancelot’s face. After a few moments and a flicker of resignation in Percival’s eyes, Percival stepped aside and gestured for Lancelot to enter.
“Come in. I’ll give you a tour.”
Lancelot nodded and walked in letting Percival lead him through the house. There were several rooms to choose from, and two of them had their own bathrooms and large closets. The workshop wasn’t what Lancelot expected because of its eclectic nature. He expected a forge or some sort, not a room that looked like a general craftsman’s workshop. The kitchen was perfect, and Percival told him that they could negotiate for whatever he wanted.
“This is amazing. Better than the ad said.”
Percival didn’t turn to look at him, continuing to busy himself in the kitchen.
“You didn’t mean to give this to me,” Lancelot placed the page on the bar.
“I drafted it two years ago.”
Lancelot swallowed the question he wanted to ask. Percival had a way of answering his questions without truly answering them when it pertained to certain things. Lancelot had learned quickly that the misdirections were signals to turn around.
This was no exception.
“Let me pay you six hundred more for board. On the condition that our landlord-tenant relationship remains separate from our pleasurably athletic relationship.”
Percival remained silent, and his gaze slowly drifted to meet Lancelot’s. His eyes seemed to not believe that Lancelot was real, more a figment of his imagination. Lancelot couldn’t tell if that was a good thing or not.
“I’m a man who doesn’t sell sex,” Lancelot said. “I pay fair price for everything.”
“Six hundred is a bit much.”
Lancelot snorted, not from what he could tell, “Where do you shop?”
“I’ll show you. Then, we’ll talk. I believe in being fair.”
Lancelot grinned, “Sounds great. We’ll go get dinner?”
“I already started making dinner,” Percival gestured to the stove. “You’re welcome to join me.”
Lancelot followed him back into the kitchen and watched him check the pots. The scent of tomato sauce and garlic drifted through the air as Lancelot made an executive decision to come up behind him. Percival’s hand gripped the chopping knife too tightly to be preparing to chop anything. Lancelot wrapped a hand around his wrist and the other arm around his waist as he pressed his hips against Percival’s. The larger man gasped, releasing the knife, but not moving.
“How much time does that need to be edible?”
He hummed, “If you’re up to it. I’ve got an idea for something to work up an appetite in twenty minutes.”
Percival’s assent was barely loud enough to hear, but the nod of his head is unmistakable. Lancelot unlaced his breeches and tugged them down with his underwear. He pulled his shirt over his head to get his tongue on Percival’s skin and bringing that strange glow to the surface of his scars. He moved Percival out of the kitchen and towards the living room with quick feet and wandering hands before bending Percival over the couch. It’s revelry and death, heady and damning, as Lancelot fingered him open carefully, hissing at how tight Percival always seemed to be.
He can hear the screaming just beyond the thudding of his heart in his ears as Percival forced his hips back against Lancelot. It sounds like pleading for something else beyond the next thrust. When Lancelot’s hips meet his and Percival draws in stuttered puffs of air everything is quiet for a few blissful moments.
“Percival? Are you okay?” Lancelot asked pressing a kiss to his shoulder blade.
Percival let out a low moan, bending his knees a little more to accommodate Lancelot’s height and telling him to move. Shaking with each thrust and trying to cling to the coherency for as long as possible, Percival pressed his face into the cushions of the couch, smothering his moans. Lancelot found himself incredibly pleased with himself as Percival’s cries went mindless, his legs weak, and he couldn’t even hold himself up all of ten minutes in.
Percival reached out, writhing. His cries panicked and pleasured.
“Shh,” Lancelot soothed, wrapping an arm around his waist and lowering them to the living room floor. “I have you. I won’t stop, I promise.”
A choked sound came from him and soft whimpering, “P-Please.”
Lancelot smiled, sure that he’d never heard anyone sound so desperate for it. It was exhilarating to hear Percival’s usually neutral and flat voice, expressive and unburdened with whatever kept him from inflecting his words most of the time. He kissed Percival’s spine and put a hand on the back of his neck as Lancelot leaned over him to thrust into him, slow and steady. It was an absolutely obscene view: Percival’s face pressed against the floor, body relaxed, his ass tilted high in the air and open. By the gods, Lancelot would die of sheer eroticism and magic overload from the way magic practically sparkled beneath Percival’s skin, making the scars across his back glow.
A timer went off sometime after Percival came and long before Lancelot was satisfied, but Lancelot pulled out of him and lifted him off the ground. He carried Percival around the couch, set him on the couch, and wrapped him in a blanket by the fire. Percival seemed dazed, shuddering at the kiss Lancelot pressed to his head.
“I’ll get dinner. Hang tight, okay?”
Percival nodded, unable to do much else from how heavy his body felt with pleasure. Something told him that living with Lancelot could be dangerous, but he felt so good that he couldn’t bring himself to listen. Lancelot fed him with gentle touches, affection, and care that melted him into the couch. When they’d eaten and were full, Lancelot climbed on top of him and went back to turning him into an unconscious, thoroughly pleasured mess with his mouth, sucking, licking, trying to figure out and devour Percival all at once. He couldn’t know how long he remained conscious, but he’s sure it wasn’t long enough as he woke up in a cold sweat long before dawn.
Percival was gone when Lancelot woke up to the sound of his scrye mirror chiming from his bag. He frowned realizing that it was a bit of a problem that Percival could move around him and not wake him up, potentially dangerous even, but he could only smile, run a hand through his hair, and tug on a shirt to answer the call. His mother appeared on the face of the mirror as he kneeled on the floor, setting the mirror on the table.
“Is that Lancelot?” A tiny voice asked. His mother gave him a smile and turned to lift a little girl onto her lap, and he smiled.
She had to be the newest addition to the Du Lac family, adopted and otherwise. Her Spanish heritage was strong in the dark, thick curls on her head and her features.
“Aren’t you adorable?” Lancelot asked. “And what’s your name, little one?”
She looked at him shyly, “Luna.”
“Hi, Luna, I’m Lancelot. It’s my honor to meet you.”
She smiled at him, her tiny teeth missing in places, “Are you really my big brother?”
“Unless Mom’s adopted someone older than me, I am your eldest, big brother.”
She smiled and nodded, “You have to promise to be safe and eat a lot of tomatoes okay? You have to come back and meet me in person.”
Lancelot grinned, “I don’t think I could ever go without tomatoes–”
“I am winter!”
A peal of screaming followed as his mother let out a helpless sigh and set Luna on the chair before going to corral the brood of children of the orphanage she ran. She had only been taking children in out of the kindness of her heart before the Grande Duc approached her and several others to open orphanages for the children whose parents were lost in the border fights. It had kept their new home in Madrid lively and distracting from the painful loss of Adrian Du Lac, Lancelot’s father.
He and his siblings all dealt with it in different ways. His eldest sister had been downright rebellious, refusing to date anyone from Zephyrine, going so far as to date a “Southern Frenchmen” who didn’t seem to understand the basics of dating etiquette or chivalry, let along geography.
He shook his head and only offered a prayer of thanks that she’d snapped out of it and begun to mourn their father and move on.
“Marco says that winter will get you, and the only way to fight it off is to eat tomatoes.”
Lancelot nodded sagely, “I will eat all the tomatoes possible, I promise, and meet you in person soon okay?”
She nodded as his mother returned, kissed her head and told her that the sopapillas were done. Luna waved him goodbye and headed towards the kitchen.
“She has to be the tamest,” Camilla laughed. “They’re still telling horror stories about winter are they?”
“She is and very excited about having an older brother who is going to be a knight. They’ve been packing your care package with all the tomatoes possible. Dried, pickled, jarred: the list goes on.”
Lancelot laughed, “Well, then I should be fine.”
“So what’s the verdict?”
“I am officially a knight in training, and I’ve even managed to find a place to live.”
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously, “No one’s taking advantage of you, are they? Where is this place?”
He rolled his eyes and gave her the address which only made her more suspicious, “Lancelot, you understand that Le Chesnay is right outside of Versailles, don’t you?”
“Yes,” he said. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him. “Don’t look at me like that! Would I do anything dishonorable?”
She huffed, “No, but reckless perhaps. You must be paying a fortune, I’ll–”
“Don’t even think about it,” he said firmly. “We talked about this, madre.”
She sighed and shook her head. Her eyes went misty for a moment. He hadn’t seen that look on her face since his eighteenth birthday when he announced that he was leaving home and walking to Paris to enter the Knight Trials earlier that year. She hadn’t tried to stop him, no doubt knowing that just like every Du Lac man before him he had made up his mind long before he’d announced it. She’d only held him tightly and begged him to return home in one piece so she could see her youngest blood child again.
She fretted, though she knew full well that his father had been teaching him how to handle the sword he’d bequeathed to him since he was a child. She couldn’t help it, he was her child after all. She worried for all of her children equally as they all held a touch of the Du Lac reckless streak in one way or another.
“Must you be so stubborn? Le Chesnay, let alone Paris, is not inexpensive.”
“I am well within budget for what I worked for and for the salary I’ll get during training.”
“And how is that?”
“I know the owner,” he smirked. “He’s interesting. Kind for sure–”
“Lancelot, are you sleeping with your landlord?”
Well, that didn’t last long.
He grinned, “Yes, but I do pay rent, madre.”
At least, he would once he’d officially signed a contract with Percival sometime that day.
“Not fair rent I’m sure.”
“One room, a bathroom, and access to the kitchen,” he said. “I did look, but it’s hard to stomach living in a house where the husband or wife want to take me to bed in lieu of rent.”
She smiled, “Well, you did inherit all of that from the best.”
He smiled and met her searching gaze, “I am fine, madre.”
“I want to meet him.”
He sighed, “Any other demands, senora?”
“Give me the full address of where to send this rather large care package and to visit in the spring.”
Lancelot shook his head but gave in. Camila Du Lac was not a woman to be refused. She tamed even the most unruly and stubborn of knights into bedrest over the course of her career as a healer. In comparison, her children were like eating paella on a cool day. Lancelot jotted down the address in his scrye book as a message to her.
“Just give me a week or two’s notice?”
She smirked teasing and devious at him, “It must be good that you’re giving in so easily.”
He flushed as she laughed, “I couldn’t just have learned that it is impossible to deny you?”
She gave him a sly look, “Sweetheart, I was there for all the boys and girls you tumbled with remember? I know what you’re like after sex.”
He hung his head and groaned desperately, “Madre, you have to promise not to embarrass me.”
“I’m your mother, dear. Call it payment for the years of strain on my heart you’ve single-handedly caused.”
He huffed and looked up as Percival came down the hall scrubbing his short hair with a thick towel in nothing more than breeches and a tank top. Lancelot licked his lips, watching a drop of water slide down Percival’s neck and then up to his warm blue eyes.
Gorgeous, he thought and did a quick calculation of if he could–
“I’m still here, Lancelot,” his mother said with that teasing tone, snapping him out of his trance. He flushed.
“Right, sorry,” he said before looking over to Percival who seemed just as frozen as he’d been. “You up to meeting my madre unofficially? I’d hate to leave you alone with her, but I’m pretty sure I could use a shower.”
“A cold one?” she teased as Percival came closer. Lancelot stuck his tongue out at her as Percival kneeled beside him.
Camila gasped as the man came into view beside Lancelot. Trust her son to inherit his parents’ good taste. There was not a single feature in the man’s face that spoke of France. She’d bet Germany or somewhere more North than that with mountains from the broadness of his shoulders and his honey blonde hair.
Lancelot rolled his eyes as she beamed, “Well, aren’t you, sweet? Hello dear, I’m Camila Du Lac, that rascal you’ve let live in your house is my son.”
Lancelot pressed a kiss to Percival’s temple and told her to be nice before leaving the view of the scrye mirror. Percival watched him go and then turned to face Camila through the mirror.
She had not seen that lack of expression since Matias, Lancelot’s uncle, had retired from service and went to work as a farmer. Percival was anything but a threat to Lancelot, though having Lancelot in the house could be a threat to Percival’s well-being.
Be fair, Camilla, Lancelot is far more capable than reckless. Her lips twitched at the thought. Most days anyway.
“Tell me about yourself dear? Got tired of living alone?”
Percival hesitated for a moment but told her that he’d been thinking about having a roommate for a while given that the house was so large. He’d grown up in a house full of people, so it was unnerving to be alone in the house by himself. Camila swallowed the question about his family and surmised that whatever reason he wasn’t with them was the same reason that he had no ability to make an expression and his eyes were practically screaming for help.
Her heart ached, seeing him. Another child lost and in need of something more than a house to live in.
“Well, I can promise Lancelot won’t ever let you feel like you’re alone in the house. He’s not being mean to you, is he?”
“I don’t think Lancelot has the capacity to be mean.”
She laughed, “No, I suppose you’re right dear. Tell me, I haven’t even gotten your name yet.”
“Percival Leonhard, and I promise I’m not taking advantage of your son.”
She laughed, not sure if it’s the sincerity of his words in contrast with his flat affect, or perhaps the subject matter that made it humorous. Percival’s eyes were almost enigmatic in that they expressed so much at once. They were trembling, a tad hurt, and timid, his words were the same though his voice and expression reflected nothing. Rather than truly feeling nothing, it seemed that he’d lost the ability to express himself. What could have happened in Percival’s short life to do that? She didn’t think she’d ever find out.
“How old are you dear? You seem quite young to be staying alone in Le Chesnay.”
“I’m not yet eighteen,” he said.
Camila eyes lifted, hearing a door shut in his voice. There was a line, she felt, she was about to cross and rather than test to see what was on the other side, she turned right to see where else this line was.
“Well dear, I’ll have to get the kids to pack another box.”
“Stop adopting people without their permission,” Lancelot’s voice came through to Percival’s left. He leaned into view with the towel on his head with the necklace he’d had since he was a child dangling from his neck.
Every Du Lac child had one, imbued with a touch of the family luck and all of the protection spells possible. She’d buried Adrian’s with him and knew that if he’d been wearing it that day he would still be here. Instead, the child he’d given it to that day in Zamora had grown up to be a fine healer and ever thankful for her husband’s sacrifice.
Camila pouted at Lancelot and then Percival, “You don’t mind being adopted, do you? It comes with lots of tomatoes and fresh honey, soft bread, and cheese–there are perks.”
Percival shook his head, “I-I don’t mind. I-I should finish getting ready. I’ll let you two talk. It was nice meeting you, ma’am.”
Percival had not managed to say his farewell in its entirety before he was escaping from the view of the scrye mirror. Camila called out a goodbye to him as the sound of his footsteps faded and Lancelot turned back to the mirror.
“The poor dear,” Camila said. “I may have overwhelmed him.”
Lancelot smiled, “It’s okay. Better he knows how you are now rather than find out later.”
Camila nodded and told him that she had to go wrangle the children and to expect the first of many care packages by next week. After she disconnected, she went to check on the kids only to find all of the snacks eaten, the dishes stacked neatly where she’d told them to stack them, and them outside playing. She went to the kitchen, pulled down her old mortar and pestle, and checked her cabinets.
Rosa came in and flopped into a chair. She was her second eldest daughter who had taken on an assistant position at the orphanage that Camilla ran as well as an understudy to Camila’s healing practice. She, like all of Camila’s children, took after Adrian’s side of the family much stronger than Camila’s side in facial features. Lancelot excluded, the rest of her children had Camila’s eyes. Lancelot took to being a man of the Du Lac line as strongly as his father, his uncles, and every other man in the family before him had much to Adrian’s joy.
He looks just like me!
“Madre, must you have so many children?”
“Rosa, if I did not I would not have you.”
She smirked, “What are you looking for?”
“Ingredients,” she said as Rosa leaned up to see the mortar and pestle on the counter.
“Lancelot?” She asked, sitting up. Her brow furrowed in concern.
“Goodness, no. He doesn’t need any more relax than he’s getting right now.”
Rosa smirked, “He’s sleeping with his landlord, isn’t he?”
“Yes, but I worry more for his landlord, Percival Leonhard, than I worry for Lancelot.”
There had been something in Percival’s eyes that reminded him of knights who’d come back from the border covered in blood and just needing a moment of sanity. She went to the kitchen and opened the cabinet looking for the ingredients and her old recipe book. Opening the old yellowed pages, she flipped until she found the entry she was looking for. It had been years since she’d last made this blend, but she remembered most of the steps easily.
Rosa came to stand beside her and ask her questions.
“That says extra strength…” Risa met her gaze, “Was it that bad?”
“Better this be too strong and help him sleep than too weak and do nothing.”