Authors Notes: Okay, so I lied, this isn't the last update. Certain boys have not been as cooperative as they should be. I have no idea when the last chapter will be up, but I'll try to make it soon. (or at least, sooner than last time. ^_^; )

Son of the East Wind

Chapter 20

With Treveden dead and the army in disarray, the tide of the battle was easily turned. By nightfall the castle was secure and purged of any of Treveden's forces who didn't surrender. The gates of the city were held by the Timberwolves and Miyu's forces, small scouting parties taking communications throughout the city and flushing out the occasional band of the Tyrant's soldiers.
Zoe was amazed again at how efficient Miyu's people were, purging the castle and making sure it was secure. They set up the Seneschal's study as a temporary command centre, people from both forces coming to report, to organize. He felt a little lost in amongst it all, doing his best to try and pay attention to everything that was going on. If he thought too much about what had just happened, and what would happen, he felt very overwhelmed, and was grateful for Micheal's presence, quiet and comforting, hardly leaving his side.
At last things seemed to settle down. Leaving Nathan and Stevven in charge at the front gate, Patrik sent Drinn off with one of Miyu's people to take stock of the armoury, and he and Miyu started to look through the badly maintained records in the study, as well as some records that had been found in Treveden's quarters.
Miyu sighed, sitting down in a wood chair next to the desk, where Patrik had taken up residence, the study finally empty except for the four of them. "Getting things organized fiscally around here is going to take a lot of work, I'm afraid."
Patrik nodded slightly, closing the ledger he'd been looking at and standing, taking it back to the shelf it had been on and replacing it, selecting another and blowing dust off the cover. "We've got quite a bit of work ahead of us."
Zoe watched the two of them quietly, looking a little serious, and rather thoughtful. "Miyu..." he said, finally, ".Everything that Treveden's taken, I want it returned to its rightful owner."
She nodded. "Of course."
"And... the nobility, the lords and ladies who were loyal to my father and were killed, their lands and titles are to pass to their closest living relation.... I want everyone to know that our... that my priority, beyond making certain that all of Treveden's allies meet with justice, is to make recompense to the people for these past ten years, and then to honour those, living and dead, who have given their all to the downfall of the Tyrant...." he hesitated. "... is that all right?"
Miyu was smiling, and nodded. "It's a very wise choice of action... my lord."
Zoe flushed, shifting a little uncomfortably at the title. "Also... the lords and ladies who were loyal to my father, who are still alive... I would very much like it if I could meet them as soon as possible. If they could come to the palace as soon as it's safe.."
Miyu nodded again, standing. "Definitely. Speaking of which, I should send off messages. thanks for reminding me. Will you all be all right here?"
Patrik nodded, replacing the ledger with a grimace and taking another. "The Timberwolves are set for the night, barring some disaster. I'll sort through these for a while and see if I can dredge up any kind of accurate records of the treasurey."
"Thanks." Miyu smiled, heading for the door. "Oh! Don't forget to eat, all right? There's lots of food being made in the kitchen, I made certain."
Micheal watched her go, clearing his throat a little. "Zoe. we probably should grab something to eat.."
"Ah.. yeah.." Zoe hesitated, looking towards Patrik, who was watching them quietly over the open ledger in his hands. He looked down at the floor, worrying at his bottom lip for a moment, then at Micheal, a little pleading in his eyes. "Give me a moment, darling.?"
Micheal nodded quietly, giving him a soft smile and moving past Patrik to stand by the door, watching him.
Zoe licked his lips, trying to push away the sudden nervousness, and his voice, when it came out, was much smaller than he intended it. ". Patrik.?
Patrik closed the ledger, setting it back on the shelf slowly before looking back towards him. His voice was calm, but Zoe could sense that it was forced. "Yes, Zoe?"
Zoe looked down, hesitating a minute. "I. everything that's happened, I. I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to be messy like this. and. you and I.."
"Don't worry about it," Patrik replied, smiling, a strained tone to his voice. "Perhaps I'm going to say that I was just taking advantage of your vulnerable state to have my evil way with you."
Zoe bit his lip and nodded. "And perhaps I'm going to reply that you were amazingly good at being deceptive, and that you should - should find a nice boy, because anyone you were with would be amazingly lucky to be taken advantage of by you...." He blinked away tears furiously.
"Don't cry," Patrik murmured, and crossed the distance between them, catching the boy in his arms and holding him protectively.
"I wish there were two of me," Zoe whispered, so quietly that Patrik was certain that Micheal hadn't heard.
Patrik swallowed hard, burying his face in that soft blonde hair. Trust Zoe to make this harder than it all ready was... But then, that was how Zoe was, speaking his heart despite what might be best. "Ah, but what good would that do? It wouldn't change things. Lets not make a big deal out of this, all right? You and I, we care for each other, but we don't love each other. So we will be good friends in the future, and move on away from this silly romance thing. I'm not hurt. It'll be all right. I promise." The words were forced, they could both hear it.
"You're lying," Zoe whispered, in tears again.
"Don't sense me at the moment," Patrik murmured, holding him tighter, trying to ignore the feeling of Micheal's eyes on them. "I can't bare it. I'm all right, I am. Let me think that you believe it's all right, that it's going to be all right. Because it is. Even if it doesn't feel like it right now."
In his arms, Zoe trembled slightly. "Patrik, I'm sorry...."
"Shh. What did I just tell you?" Patrik pressed his lips to the boys hair briefly, then released him, pushing him away slightly. A moment more and he'd cave, he was certain of it. "Go on. It's all right." He smiled again, looking very adamantly at a spot on the neck of Zoe's tunic, and not the boy himself, not those tear-bright hazel eyes, not those soft lips....
Zoe moved suddenly, throwing his arms around his neck, tightly, catching his lips in an embrace that seemed to last only a moment, and yet at the same time, an eternity....
And then the boy was gone, catching hold of Micheal's arm and pulling him from the room before anything else could be said.
Patrik calmly walked to the study door, closing it behind them and locking it. Then he crossed back to the desk, sitting down quietly and opening another record book.
The thick, stone walls of the study blocked out any sound beyond, and seemed to amplify any noise within... the slow, monotonous tick of the clock on the mantle, the scratch of his quill pen on paper as he made notations on the ledger on a separate piece of paper. If he could only manage to focus on the information, the figures.... If he could just forget about everything that happened....
He dropped the quill back in the inkwell and let his head fall into his hands, elbows propped on the desk. Eyes closing of their own accord, he touched his lips gently with rough fingertips, and gave a soft sigh, hating himself for this weakness. And hating that he'd just given up, though he knew too well that there was nothing else he could have gracefully done....
How long his thoughts followed this pattern, he didn't know. It could have been minutes or hours... the ticking of the clock seemed distant and unreal. And then, jarring him from the revere, there was a knock on the study door. Patrik left the desk, crossing the room to open it. "Hello..."
Drinn was standing there alone, and he gave him an almost nervous smile. He looked haggard, eyes bloodshot, and Patrik could tell that the day had taken his toll on him. "Hey, Captain. Can I talk to you for a moment?"
Patrik nodded silently, moving away from the door, and Drinn came inside, shutting and locking it behind him. "I actually came to ask a favour, if you don't mind... not a big one, though you might not be able to help...."
"As long as it has nothing to do with Zoe and Micheal, I'm sure I can do something," Patrik found himself saying, and Drinn's lips tightened.
"Yeah, that.... well, it's not really about them. Well, not at all, actually. What I need to know is, do your powers work on dried plants?"
Patrik raised an eyebrow. "Dried? Yes, dead plants as well as alive... why?"
Drinn pulled a small leather drawstring bag from his belt pouch, undoing the knot carefully and shaking out a few small, crumpled dried leaves. He held them out to him. "How about these?"
Patrik stared at him for a long moment, not moving to take the offered herb. "... you do know," he said, finally, "that this little plant is prohibited in most major cities of the world."
Drinn nodded, his grin a little strained. "Oh yes, that's common knowledge. What's not common knowledge is that it's one of the few things that can prevent a mage who's almost entirely burnt himself out from doing lasting damage to his abilities, and right now..." a slightly desperate laugh. "Right now that's where I'm at. And this is all I have left." He swallowed. "Please, I... I really need it...." He looked Patrik over for a long moment, considering, then gave a slightly sad smile. "... if it works, would you like to try some?"
Wordlessly, Patrik took a leaf from his outstretched hand.


Zoe and Micheal found Miyu after dinner, with Carrie inside the shrine to Ara that connected to the palace. It had been desecrated by Treveden's men after the rebellion had first happened, the mahogany pews smashed, the velvet draperies torn and stained with blood. Then it had been shut up, left in shambles, for years upon end, used only by Miyu's forces for the occasional hiding place.
Despairing of ever restoring anything in the shrine, Miyu had simply lit fire to it, the flames obeying her command when they had not obeyed Treveden's, cleansing the inside of the shrine of it's filth, leaving nothing but bare stone walls and an ash covered floor.
Miyu stood as they entered, brushing soot off her hands, and smiled, gesturing to the shrine around her. "What do you think?"
"A bit of a fixer upper, I think," Micheal replied, smiling, and Miyu laughed.
"They've made up the queens suite for you to stay in until things get settled, Zoe. It looks like it's been shut up all these years, you might want to take a look through it when you get a chance."
Zoe nodded, smiling. "Thank-you. Um. I actually came to ask you a favour, though. if possible.. "
The priestess raised her eyebrows slightly. "Ah. sure? What is it?" "Miyu..." Zoe started, then took a deep breath. "I would like it very much if... that is... could I ask you to pledge Micheal and I?"
Beside him, Micheal squeezed his hand gently, smiling at Miyu, his bleach white hair giving him an almost serene look. "Please."
Miyu stared at the two, eyebrows raised. "Now? Don't you want to wait?"
"No." Zoe shook his head, gave a little laugh. "We'd like to do it now."
Micheal flushed very slightly, still smiling. "We've waited rather a long time all ready, Miyu."
"But... don't you want to have a celebration? We could really do with a celebration...."
"When we have all this ruling business sorted, I'll devote myself to Ara, with all the pomp and ceremony you'd like," Zoe told her.
"And... when it comes time for... an heir to be provided for the throne," Micheal said softly, "When your young king is married, as Ara allows, the people can celebrate then."

Zoe pressed closer to Micheal, holding his hand more firmly. "I... want to do this, just as Zoe," he told Miyu, voice soft. "Before I get caught up in everything, in doing things for the good of my people. I want to be with Micheal for me."
Carrie had brought back a new bucket of clean water, and was watching them, a soft smile on her face. "You know Ara smiles upon their union," she said to Miyu. "I don't think it would be wise or kind to deny them pledging any longer."
"I know," Miyu replied, smiling. "And I'd be happy to do it. With Carrie to witness to the proceedings, we have everything that we need here. I was just hoping for a bit of a party, that's all." A smile, and she turned, moving towards the door to the inner shrine. "Come with me, please."


Patrik wondered, as he looked around the study sometime later, air now a bit smokey and thick with the scent of the burnt herb, how obvious it would be as to what they were doing if someone were to come in. But then, he realized, he didn't really care. It was oddly comforting to be sitting here smoking with Drinn. The herb made him feel very mellow and comfortable, and he was more than content to sit back and listen to the mage. He was vaguely aware, in the back of his mind, that he was being horribly irresponsible, given the situation, but considering the alternative.
Drinn, all ready seeming much better, was chattering about whatever seemed to come to mind, though he seemed to keep wandering down paths related to sex. Patrik chuckled, finding the younger man somehow very endearing.
"So," he said suddenly, "Why did you break up?"
Drinn stopped halfway through a rather rambling sentence about a one night stand at a summer festival, raising his eyebrows slightly. ". break up? Micheal and I?"
"Mm." Patrik nodded. "You can smack me for asking, it just strikes me as odd. You get on so well together."
"Yeah, I guess so." Drinn shrugged. "It was a mutual thing, really. Didn't think we'd really see each other again, so it was easier that way. Said we'd have great ex-sex if we ever managed to meet up."
Patrik raised an eyebrow. "Really. Did you?"
Drinn chuckled. "Would I be so giddy about it if we hadn't?" He puffed on his pipe. "What about you?"
"Oh, it was pretty much all bad." Patrik leaned back in his chair. "Great at first, really good sex, you know Micheal."
"I trained Micheal." The mage waggled his eyebrows.
Patrik laughed. "Nice. In any case... we didn't fit well together, really... he's very clingy, you know that, and at the time I was very not. To put it in the least complicated way, I had an affair with Claire, which didn't make him too happy, and he broke up with me."
"A woman?" Drinn raised his eyebrows.
Patrik shrugged. "Yeah. I liked her. It's not really about male or female, you know. It's more just... who. The person. I was very fond of Claire. I still am."
"Hmm." Drinn was silent for bit, contemplating that. "You know, it's funny," he said quietly. "I don't think the idea of being with a woman ever even crossed my mind, until... until I'd lost the opportunity to be with one I really cared about." He fell silent again, almost melancholy.
Patrik picked up a piece of dried leaf from the desk and grew it, pushing it in Drinn's direction. "You haven't had enough yet."
Drinn chuckled, taking it from him. "Too right, Captain."
An hour later found the ledger and notes carelessly pushed aside in favour of Drinn's hysterical ink squiggles, which, he assured Patrik, would be a real hit in the art world one day. Patrik didn't care to argue with him. In fact, he didn't care to do much more than continue to fill both the mage's pipe and his own with the crushed herb, which he'd managed to multiply in plenty, filling Drinn's drawstring bag to bursting, and then a nearly-empty tobacco pouch that Patrik had found in one of the desk drawers and decided to repossess.
Drinn was in the middle of explaining the artistic significance of a particularly chaotic squiggle when a knock came at the study door. He froze, uttering a soft curse, and quickly swept the shards of crushed leaf off the desk, scattering them on the floor.
Unconcerned, Patrik crossed the room and unlocked the door again. "Yes?"
The now-Lord Stevven surveyed the room with a raised eyebrow.
"We were smoking," Drinn told him firmly, and if his intention had been to claim that they were smoking nothing but tobacco, he somehow forgot to mention it. "Smoking."
"I can see that," Stevven replied slowly, and looked at Patrik. "Do you know where Zoe is?"
Patrik gathered himself up to his full height, looking up at the young lord. "Zoe, if all is well, is off getting his brains fucked out, by someone other than me."
Stevven's mouth quirked slightly, though whether he was trying to hold back a smile or a grimace, Patrik didn't know and, he realized, he really didn't care. "Yes, but do you know where? Your scouts have found something - someone - he should probably see quickly...."
At the mention of his scouts, Patrik sobered considerably. He quickly emptied the ashes of his pipe in the bucket beside the fireplace, then crossed back to the door. "Drinn, stay here. If you see Zoe or Micheal, please send them..."
"To the infirmary," Stevven supplied.
"Yes," Patrik agreed. "There." And with that, he started out and through the halls of the castle.
Stevven quickly caught up with him, long strides carrying him in front of the merc captain. "This way, he's outside. Elysse was afraid to move him. She's sent people out to look for Carie, but both her and Miyu seem to have disappeared somewhere...."

Patrik nodded, following. "Take me there." He was vaguely aware that he probably wouldn't be of much help in whatever situation was happening, but the now-ingrained urge to take charge and organize things was too strong to ignore. It could have been his continued desire not to think about Zoe, or it could have been the effect of Drinn's plant, Patrik was never certain.
Stevven took him out through the back gate of the castle, and they hurried along the wall towards a cluster of torches. Elysse came out to meet them. "Captain... any news of Zoe or a healer?"
Patrik shook his head. "What happened?"
The small cluster of scouts parted for their captain, and he came forward to see the twisted body they were gathered around at the edge of the moat, half in the putrid water and covered in filth. Someone had half- covered him with a cloak, and Patrik assumed immediately that the man was dead, but as he dropped to one knee in front of him, he drew a shallow, rasping breath, and hazel eyes ridden with pain flicked up to look at him, afraid.
Zoe's eyes....
He was vaguely aware of Elysse speaking behind him, something about Stevven having recognized him as a prince of the blood, and how the moat must have broken his fall, how they were afraid to move him to the infirmary in case he'd injured his spine, and they didn't think he'd last much longer, but Patrik was hardly paying attention. He touched a mud- stained cheek ever-so carefully with the tips of his fingers, and under his tunic, the sentinel medallion grew almost painfully hot against his skin. This had been the blonde that he'd seen from a distance, fighting with Zoe on the castle wall. And he'd used his powers to crumble the stones under his feet, to make him fall....
"You wanted to die, didn't you?" he murmured, so softly that he could barely hear himself, not even really knowing what he was saying. "A struggle between love and duty... and you felt your heart would break if you did the right thing.... But you don't want death anymore. Perhaps the goddess...." he stopped, looked up at Elysse, this course of action the only thing clear through the drug-induced haze around his mind. "Elysse. Everyone. Leave us for a moment, please. Stevven, please stay."
"Now, Elysse."
Well-behaved despite their curiosity, the scouts retreated back to the rear gate of the castle, leaving Patrik and the tallest sentinel with the dying prince and a single torch. Patrik looked up at Stevven. "What's his name?"
"Eden," Stevven replied, watching him with an unplaceable expression. "And if he survives, he will stand trial as an accomplice to the murders of his own family."
Patrik touched the man's cheek again, gently, and gave a slow nod. Then, dropping to both knees he leaned forward, face almost touching the matted blonde hair, and pulled his medallion out from inside his tunic.
"To this you must swear.... to change the path that your life is on, and atone for what you have done in whatever way the goddess sees fit."
Hazel eyes closed slowly, then opened again, bright with tears now as well as the pain.
Patrik smiled gently, somehow knowing that his request had been granted. "In Ara's name," he said softly, trying to recall what he'd seen Carie do that night this had all started, when she'd healed Zoe, though he knew somehow that it didn't matter exactly. "In Ara's name I swear to live Her teachings, to obey Her principles, my devotion to Her service an exchange for this boon that I ask."
Stevven, if this startled him, said nothing, standing quietly with the torch.
Patrik leaned closer, pressing his lips gently to the prince's temple, the medallion to his forehead. "Let me be a vessel for your power, dear Goddess," he murmured. "And in this matter, act as thou seeth fit."
There was a sudden surge of heat, like fire rushing through him, and Patrik blacked out.


Micheal was standing over him when he awoke, and he found himself on one of the infirmary cots. He looked up at Micheal blearily, feeling the haze around his mind clear, finally, and he gave a sigh of relief to find that the drug had worn off. He could see daylight through the closed curtains, and gave a grimace. "How long have I been out?"
"Quite a while. It's almost two." Micheal gave a slight smile. "How are you feeling?"
Patrik sat up slowly, giving a small moan at the myriad of aches and pains that had sprung up in his body. "I'm feeling like I hope to hell that damn prince lived, because if I went through all that just to have Her off him, I'm so going apostate."
Micheal chuckled, helping him up and handing him a clean Timberwolves tunic, which Patrik put on over top of the shirt and breeks they'd thankfully left on him the night before. "That bad, huh?"
Patrik nodded. "I don't remember seeing Carie half this bad off when she healed Zoe."
"Perhaps because she's a healer," Micheal supplied. "Your system is far from used to working with large amounts of energy, Patrik." He paused. "That, and Miyu suggested that the Goddess may have taken the opportunity to smack you upside the head for getting high with Drinn last night."
Patrik chuckled despite himself. "Damn. I guess I've sworn off sex _and_ drugs. Please tell me he's still alive."

"He's alive," Micheal assured him, though there was a strange note in his voice. "He's been up and about for hours... Zoe's with him. Come with me."
Patrik followed him out of the infirmary and through the halls. He thought for a moment that they were going to the royal chambers, but Micheal passed them, going into the stairwell beside it and up one flight to stop in front of another elaborately carved set of doors. The Queen's suite, Patrik realized.
Zoe's laughter reached his ears as Micheal opened the door, joined with a similar laugh of slightly lower timbre. Patrik followed Micheal inside silently, surveying the scene. The furniture had been covered in dust-cloths, apparently unused during Treveden's occupation of the castle, and half of them had been pulled off, drawers and cupboards opened and things pulled out half-hazardly.
Zoe and Eden were kneeling on the floor like young boys, their backs to the door, pouring over what looked like a photo album. Miyu, who sat beyond them in a rocking chair, looked up as Micheal and Patrik entered. "Hey. How are you feeling?"
"Much better," Patrik replied. Both Zoe and Eden turned, Zoe exclaiming happily and greeting them. It was entirely lost on Patrik, however, who suddenly found himself lost in the hazel eyes he'd seen the night before....
The older prince smiled, sweet and somehow entirely innocent, seeming to shine as he looked on Patrik, murmuring softly, "It's you...."
Patrik smiled gently, coming forward and offering a hand to help him up. He was entirely healed, some light scaring on one cheek and the palm of his hand the only testament Patrik could see to the night before. He was clean and dressed in a Timberwolves uniform... one of Micheal's, probably, and in the light of day looked much younger, perhaps in his mid twenties, though there was something in his manner that was somehow boyish.... "How are you feeling?"
Eden paused. "Much better," he replied. "Thank-you, sir." Again, that smile, shining and innocent, impossible not to return.
Zoe was watching them, an almost wistful expression on his face, though he smiled broadly when Patrik glanced over at him. "Eden, this is Patrik, the captain of the Timberwolves."

"Captain..." Eden repeated, and smiled again. "Yes, that's perfect."
Miyu cleared her throat and stood. "We met this morning with any of the nobility that were available on what to do about... the situation. With Ara's judgement apparently all ready passed, and the sword quiet in the matter, and it was unanimously decided that, under the circumstances, all charges against the Prince have been dropped. Though he is no longer eligible for the throne."
Patrik raised his eyebrows, trying very hard not to look at that smile, to keep his attention on Miyu. "I'm sorry... under the circumstances?"
"Eden has severe amnesia," Zoe told him.
His older brother gave a little laugh, and shrugged. "Yeah, well... they tell me I do. I suppose I must, because... I keep having to remember that I'm twenty-six, and six foot one...." He looked sad suddenly. "Though... from what Zoe tells me, I think I'm happy to forget...."
Patrik felt himself nodding. "Things weren't too pretty in your country."

Eden nodded seriously, the smile fading, then looked up at him. "...I owe you a life debt, sir. I'm yours."
Patrik stared at him dumbly. "Excuse me... what?"
A very small smile, nervous. "I'm yours, to repay you. Anything to repay you, though it can never be repaid, what you've done for me."
Patrik stared at him, entirely dumbfounded for a moment, and said the first thing that came to mind. "But... I've just sworn off sex."
Zoe choked, and Eden turned very pink, giving a little laugh and looking down at his feet shyly.
Patrik flushed as well. "Ah, forget I said that. Er. Look, I - I appreciate the thanks, but really, don't think on it. You're very welcome, I'm very glad you're all right. I don't want any kind of repayment, it's all right."
Eden looked rather distressed at that. "Sir... please, I must repay you."
Miyu caught his gaze. "Patrik... what the goddess gives, if it is not repaid, if the receiver is ungrateful... who knows but that She might take it again? Please...."
Behind him, Micheal voiced agreement. "They're very serious about their debts here, especially life-debts. How do you think I ended up with my horse?"
Zoe's brother looked so distraught that Patrik couldn't help but reach out to him, touching the side of his arm gently. "Here, lets not agree to anything yet, all right? We'll be here in Saqqara-Etam for quite a bit longer while things get settled. You can come with me and help out, do reports and such for me, and if you like my company, perhaps you can come with us when we leave, I'll sign you on. Is that all right?"
Eden smiled, almost heartbreakingly sweet. "I promise. I won't let you down, Captain, I swear it."
Patrik laughed. "Whoa, I'm sure you'll do fine, there's no need for promises. And please call me Patrik. No Captain."
Eden nodded, flushing again. "Of course... Patrik."
Micheal watched the two of them leave the room, followed closely by Miyu, who caught his eye and gave a little smirk. He stepped closer to Zoe, slipping an arm around his waist. They'd scarce been pledged five minutes the night before when Elysse's scouts had found them, and after that they'd been caught up in the buzz of dealing with Eden and Patrik. Zoe hadn't left his brother since he'd been brought in the night before, napping on the cot beside him, then taking him with Miyu to the council meeting in the morning, while Micheal had stayed with Patrik. With the very small amount of sleep he'd gotten the night before that, he was nearing zombie state.
"Dear," he said, voice unconsciously taking on a bit of a pleading tone, "Do you think we can go to bed now? Preferably before I fall asleep on my feet?"
Zoe leaned into him, gave a little laugh. "Oh, yes please... sleep, and then we can think about... doing other things... when we're both in a state more... capable of... yes."
"Yes. And coherent." Micheal chuckled, turning with him and guiding him into the bedroom, which had been half-cleared of the dust sheets, the bed made up fresh for Zoe to use while things got settled in the royal suite. He pulled off his tunic and linen shirt, laying them over a chair, and climbed into the bed, holding the covers open for Zoe.
His lover gave him a soft, sleepy smile, taking off the simple velvet tunic that someone had found for him, and his shirt as well, then crawled into bed with Micheal, giving a soft, happy sigh as the older mage tucked the blankets around them, holding Zoe close to him. He rested his head against Micheal's chest, closing his eyes, and listened sleepily to the faint thud of Micheal's heart.
"I love you," he said, softly.
"Mmm..." Micheal tightened his arms around him briefly, kissing his hair. "I love you, too," he replied muzzily, closing his eyes and falling asleep almost instantly.
Zoe smiled, and followed him.

~ Continued .. ~