Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


It’s nearly nightfall when Frank decides that they need to set up camp for the night. Gerard tries to tell him that they should keep going at least until they reach Giantville, but then Frank points out that none of them can see in the dark and running a horse into a tree is the opposite of what they need. Gerard tries to convince him that watching Pete run into a tree would be amusing, but Frank doesn’t go for it.

They find a clearing large enough for them to set up camp, and start to make it the coziest you can possibly make a small field of grass.

Gerard’s got a lot of rivaling emotions after having to ride a horse with Frank for so long. Nearly three or four hours actually. There wasn’t that much talking though. A lot of it was just silence, but not in a bad way.

Gerard’s never been on a horse before. He didn’t know how cool it was. He got to see everything passing by him without half the effort it would take for him to walk. He watched as several small streams go by, ultimately turning into one enormous river, and saw dozens of deer, bunnies, squirrels, and animals he doesn’t even know the name of. It was actually kind of amazing.

Then there was the fact that Frank’s arms were around his waist the whole time. On hills, or bumpier terrain, his arms grew steadily tighter around him which was not as objectionable as he will claim it was when anyone asks him about it. Then there was the fact that Frank’s head started to lazily rest on Gerard’s shoulder which gave him goosebumps and he’s going to deny that too.

As soon as they clamber off their horses, Gerard’s legs feeling very stiff and sore from the awkward position, they start to set up some cover. Travie and the one Gerard decided was Alex start to set up some tents, though it appears that there’s only two or three.

“You ever built a fire?” Frank asks Gerard.

“Do I look like I don’t know how to build a fire?” Gerard asks.

“Do you want me to answer that question honestly, or…?”

“Yes, I know how to build a fucking fire,” Gerard says snidely.

“Great, so let’s you and I go find some kindling,” Frank says. Gerard tries to find a way to get out of doing that which won’t make it sound like he doesn’t actually know how to build a fire, but he realizes there is none. He fell into a trap and now he’s just got to persevere through it.

“Right, you go that way, and I’ll go that way,” Gerard says, pointing to opposite sides of the clearing.

“Not bloody likely,” Frank says, “You do recall that you almost got eaten by Ogre’s like three hours ago, right?”

“You’re not going to leave me alone are you?”

“Nope,” Frank says, walking right over to him, and Gerard sighs. “Everyone else, try to start setting up, and I want to make it clear that I do not want any one going anywhere by themselves. Groups of two for everything, and yeah, I mean everything.”

“Patrick and I only just met, I’m not sure I’m comfortable allowing him to watch me pee,” Pete says.

“He just keeps on summarizing his personality to you in short sentences,” Gerard says.

Frank makes an awkward nodding sort of gesture and says, “Pete, just ask him to turn his back.”

“I don’t know how I totally forgot I could say that,” Pete says, shaking his head. Frank continues to do the weird nodding thing like he’s trying to rationalize Pete’s existence to himself before he just sighs and turns away.

“You engage with very strange people,” Frank says to Gerard. He starts to guide them into the trees, turning back for a moment to make sure that everyone is helping out.

“Hey, I wanted to get rid of him, like, immediately after saving him, but Patrick was all like ‘no, let him come with, he’ll be helpful.’”

“Saving him?”

“Oh, right, yeah,” Gerard nods, “he was hanging upside down from a tree and we helped him out.”

“He just keeps getting more and more colorful,” Frank says. He looks down at the ground and Gerard only just remembers that they’re meant to be looking for kindling. Gerard trains his eyes on the ground and starts collecting twigs off the ground, Frank doing the same.

“He’s not bad,” Gerard shrugs, “the fact that he doesn’t hate you is something else though.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, any normal person, and by person, I mean any species, so any normal person, elf or not, would hate the man whose enslaved his people, and stole his family.”

“What?” Frank asks, looking concerned.

“Well, you take elves, and you, well you enslave them, as… as entertainers. You don’t even have enough respect for them to give them jobs, you just force them into demeaning troubadour and fool jobs.”

“I didn’t know…” Frank starts, “I didn’t know it was enslavement.”

“How so?”

“Do they not get paid?” Frank asks.

“Well they’re taken against their will, live under horrible conditions, including scarce food and shelter, and they don’t get any money for it. Enslavement is not so wrong a word.”

“Gosh. I just never knew.”

“You didn’t read that book I gave you did you?” Gerard asks.

“I um,” Frank starts, “Well, I didn’t not read it.” Frank ducks his head down as he picks up twigs, not looking at Gerard, doing his best to keep that up.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, it’s just that, oh god I don’t want to… will you promise not to tell anyone if I tell you something kind of, well, embarrassing.”

“Depends on how juicy it is,” Gerard says, but when Frank’s eyes glare into his pleadingly, he says, “relax, I’m only joking.”

“You promise?”

“Yeah, I promise.”

Frank nods, and he stands up straight, edging closer to Gerard and lowering his voice so that even the others in the clearing a little ways behind them can’t hear. Gerard’s all curiousity, and focuses his attention on Frank’s words, forgetting about kindling altogether.

“Okay, well, the thing is. It’s not that I can’t read, because I can. I just, well, I can’t read very well.”

“Hold up,” Gerard says, looking at him aghast, “You can’t read?”

“No I can!” Frank insists. “It never came very easy for me, okay. I have a little bit of trouble, that’s all. It’s not that I haven’t read the book you gave me, it’s just that I’m a slow reader, and it takes me a long time to just, well, read. It’s just hard for me.”

“I-I don’t know what to say,” Gerard says, because he honestly doesn’t.

“Look, it’s not something that I want to go around. I’m not, it’s not that I’m stupid, I just, I have trouble. That’s all. Some people are bad at math.”

“I’m not judging you, I’m just… you’re the prince. Surely, there’s teachers, tutors?”

“There are,” Frank nods, “there just comes a certain age when you can’t admit to others that you can’t do something. With something as tiny yet huge as this, it’s not easy to own up to.”

“But you’re telling me?” Gerard asks.

“Well, I like you.”

Gerard goes pink, and doesn’t know how he’s supposed to respond to that. He knows that Frank thinks he hates him, or at least dislikes him, and he’s got too much pride to admit that maybe he was wrong to Frank’s face. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say.

“I don’t need you to say the same of me,” Frank says, as if reading Gerard’s thoughts, “I just think it’s something you already know. You’re kind, Gerard, even if you try to pretend it isn’t true. I don’t know why, but there is something very good, and honest about you. You’re different to other people I know. You’re real.”

“I don’t actually hate you, you know,” Gerard says.

Frank smiles sheepishly and replies with a simple, “good.”

Gerard’s way of avoiding eye contact is to go back to looking for sticks on the ground. He can’t bear to let Frank look at him like that with his deep brown eyes. Gerard only really knows people with brown eyes, he can’t think of anyone he’s close to who hasn’t got brown eyes, but there’s something special about Frank’s. Like, they’re just different somehow. They’re ethereal, like they’re from a different planet.

Gerard doesn’t remember when Frank got this close. He doesn’t remember Frank ever being this close. He’s had Frank completely on top of him twice now and he doesn’t feel like they were as close as they are now. They’re so close Gerard’s sure they could hold a paper up between their chests.

Frank’s stuck looking at Gerard’s eyes, but every few seconds his eyes dart down to his mouth, and Gerard doesn’t know why. He doesn’t know anything right now. Nothing he knows about life can help him with whatever is happening right now. Because, simply put, nothing in his entire life has ever prepared him for what’s happening right now.

Suddenly, all the words in Gerard’s vocabulary vanish. There’s nothing he knows besides Frank.

Gerard’s not sure what this tension is. He’s not sure where it comes from, why it’s here, or what purpose it serves. He just knows that there is a tension, and it’s making his heart beat a thousand times per second.

Gerard’s eyes close in anticipation. All he knows now is that he can feel Frank, even without seeing him. Frank’s hand is on his forearm, he doesn’t know when it was put there but he knows it’s there. He can feel Frank’s breath, can feel Frank’s warmth radiating into him. He can feel everything but the world around him. He’s not even sure his feet are still firm on the ground beneath his feet.

It takes Gerard too long to realize what’s happening. Frank is about to kiss him. He’s actually going to actually kiss him with his mouth. And Gerard is… Gerard is somehow not bothered by it. He’s not pulling away, he’s not scared, he’s not trying to stop it. He’s just waiting. Waiting for the inevitable and thinking that maybe he actually wants this to happen. Maybe the rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms aren’t a bad thing. He thinks he might actually be craving it, he actually wants to kiss Frank.

There’s a moment when Frank’s lips brush Gerard’s, and Gerard feels a shock run through his veins. He doesn’t know what it is, but it feels like someone just hit him in the gut, because he can’t breathe. He doesn’t remember how to breathe. He can’t feel anything besides the fact that Frank is almost kissing him but not quite and he just wants it to happen already.

“Hey you got that kindling?” Travie shouts into the woods, with his voice like a clap of thunder, totally disrupting the moment. Not seeing them from the thickness of the trees, he continues, “We’re starting to get kind of cold over here.”

The moment is gone. Like a bitter snap of reality, there’s nothing left of what was there a moment ago. The air is cold, and bitter, and broken. Just like the moment that is now lost.

“We should, um, yeah,” Gerard says, backing up and straightening himself, feeling different. His body is numb, he doesn’t feel his own feet, but he knows that they’re moving away from Frank. His brain is dizzy, nothing seems like reality, it’s all a dream, the kind that he woke up from right before it started to get good.

Gerard starts walking away, forcing his eyes straight ahead, because when they’re straight ahead, there’s no chance they’ll accidentally make eye contact with Frank.

Incidentally however, Frank is stood frozen in place. He’s pretty sure that what he thinks almost just happened actually almost just happened. He’s fairly sure of it. Frank almost kissed Gerard. And Gerard didn’t pull away. He didn’t say anything. He just stood there and waited for it to happen. This implies that if Frank had gotten the chance to actually kiss him, Gerard might have liked it. Gerard might not have stopped it. It might have actually happened.

Frank is going to fucking skin Travie alive later for being the reason that Frank missed out on kissing this perfect boy. Not actually, but he’s going to give the dude a stern glare all the same.

Gerard makes it back to the clearing, he sees that the others have made the basic setup of the fire, with a triangular shape. Gerard adds the tinder he collected, and Frank returns very slowly after him, looking dazed.

“You okay?” Travie asks him seeing the glossed over look on Frank’s face.

“Fine,” Frank says, his voice breaking, before he whispers so Gerard can’t hear, “I’ll, uh, tell you about it later.”

Travie just nods, though he knows that it’s got something to do with Gerard, because they were alone together which can only mean a few things. Either Frank’s day just got infinitely better or colossally worse.

“Alright, I’ll do it,” Hayley says when at least a few minutes pass and no one actually makes an attempt to start a fire. The scary thing is that Gerard looks away for what he swears can only be a few seconds and when he turns back, Hayley’s literally already got a small flame spurting from the center of the pit, and he doesn’t know how she could possibly have done that so fast. He decides that she’s probably just so pretty that all she had to do was ask a twig to set fire and it gladly obliged. To be fair, Travie could also probably accomplish the same feat.

Gerard isn’t overly enthused to see that what Frank’s knights have supplied for dinner is stale bread. Apparently that’s about all they have. Ryan keeps trying to tell Frank that one of the reasons they need to get back to the castle is because they’re running out of provisions. Frank just says that they’ll stop at a market in Giantville, and they’ll get way more food for their money because giant food is bound to be huge. Gerard’s not sure that’s how the system works but he’s not going to argue when he knows that he doesn’t know.

Frank takes a seat next to Gerard, and all Gerard can think is of course he’d sit next to Gerard. Frank has nothing better to do than to torture Gerard. In so many different ways, Gerard can’t even name all the ways that Frank tortures him. He’s annoying, and fucking adorable to name a few.

“Gerard we should-” Frank starts, quietly.

“Not right now,” Gerard says, knowing exactly what Frank’s going to say. Frank thinks they should talk about it. Gerard doesn’t want to risk it now.

“Okay,” Frank nods, “well, I hope that, maybe if you have extra time, you might want to, like, I don’t know, read some of that book with me?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” Gerard says, nodding.


“Sure. Anything to get you to educate yourself,” Gerard jokes, “You’re going to rule the kingdom someday, it’d be nice if you knew what you were doing.”

Frank’s about to speak when he’s interrupted by Patrick walking over, looking serious. Pete’s on the other side of the circle around the fire, chatting with Travie. Sometime in the last couple of hours, and Gerard can’t believe it’s only been that long considering how long those hours have been, in those few hours Pete and Patrick have become somewhat of a duo. They’re like a package deal. They’ve known Pete since yesterday, but now all of a sudden, it’s like he and Patrick are attached at the hip. The fact that he’s not with Patrick now leads Gerard to believe that whatever Patrick has to say, it has something to do with Pete.

“Gerard,” Patrick whispers, looking nervous and fidgety. “Can I, um, talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” Gerard says, looking concerned.

Frank leans in, eager to eavesdrop before Patrick says, “in private.”

“Right, sorry,” Frank says, standing up and walking over to sit next to one of his knights. Gerard couldn’t say which one, it’s too dark to see more than a couple feet in front of him.

“What’s on your mind?” Gerard asks.

“It’s, uh, it’s about Pete,” Patrick replies. Gerard remembers the look that Patrick had had on his face not long ago when Gerard had found them behind the tree, and wonders if this has to do with that.

“Is it something bad?” Gerard asks.

“No!” Patrick says hurriedly, “not bad. Just… I don’t know. Unexpected.”


“Well, so,” Patrick sighs and looks up like he’s trying to find the courage in himself to say what he’s trying to say. “Well, the knights, they, like they came and they cut us loose, in like a second. So we just ran behind the tree to stay safe and… I don’t know.”

“Patrick?” Gerard asks, looking anxious.

“Well, it was barely anything. It’s not important, I shouldn’t have bothered you with-”

“Patrick,” Gerard warns him.

“Alright, well,” Patrick says, “I mean, it was nothing though. It was like a fraction of a second.”

“What was?” Gerard asks.

“Well, he just sort of, like, kissed me?” Patrick says, and the way he says it is like a question. It’s almost like he’s not sure himself if that’s what happened.

“He did what?” Gerard asks, not sure how he’s supposed to feel about that.

“It was like barely a second, I think it was just adrenaline, he was just happy we weren’t dead and it sort of happened and then it was over and then you came and we haven’t talked about it.”

“Wait, but,” Gerard starts, not sure. He’s not sure of anything anymore. Everything he thought was true has turned out to be wrong. Everything he thought of the people around him isn’t what he thought, and this is Patrick, his best friend in the world, for most of his life, and it’s like he doesn’t even know him at all. Everything he thought about himself is looking to be going in the same direction.

“It’s seriously nothing, it’s stupid,” Patrick shakes his head.

“No, it’s not, like not if you want to talk about it,” Gerard says.

“Yeah, but you’re dealing with your own stuff,” Patrick says, “and you don’t like the idea of two boys anyway so-”

“I mean, Patrick, if, like, if you were into it, or whatever, then I guess, that’s all that matters right?” Gerard asks, trying to convince himself of the same thing he’s trying to convince Patrick.

“But,” Patrick says, “I don’t know, I never considered it. Not before Pete. Not for myself. I guess I was so focused on the fact that I thought you… I just never thought to consider myself.”

“Tell me about it,” Gerard says, “up until recently, I didn’t know it was an option.”

“So the thing is, I want to, I guess, kiss him again? But I don’t know how to get that to happen. I’m already awkward as it is, it doesn’t help that Pete thinks I’m mad at him.”

“You gotta tell him,” Gerard says, “because the worst thing you can do is have him think you’re angry with him, because then he definitely won’t kiss you again and then everyone’s upset, and I’m overly empathetic, so even I’ll be upset.”

Patrick sighs, “it’s not something that’s easy to bring up. Pete’s kind of an idiot.”

“Yeah, he most definitely is,” Gerard nods. He almost wishes Frank were as shy and passive as Pete because the fact that he’s more forward means that Gerard’s got to actually address how he feels instead of suppressing it to the point of self-destruction.

“But he’s a sweet idiot.”

“Frank’s just an idiot,” Gerard says.

“Oh, I almost forgot to ask,” Patrick starts, and Gerard knows what’s coming, “how is that going?”

“I don’t know,” Gerard says, “I’m still not sure I’m okay with… with him being a boy.”

“But you’ve made your peace with the fact that you like him?”

“I can’t fucking deny it, can I?” Gerard groans, “I just do. I want to not, and I don’t like liking him, but I do. It feels wrong, and I’m surely going to hell for it, but I like him. I like him a lot. And he knows it. He can sense it, and he’s so, he’s just, well, he’s hard to resist.”

“Maybe you should just give in and accept that you can’t resist?”

“That’s easier said than done,” Gerard says. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s terrified of how he feels. He’s scared of what others will think, and he’s scared that it’s not normal, because it’s not. No one is like that. No one. Boys just don’t like other boys. It doesn’t happen. The only stories Gerard’s ever heard of it happening are ones with bad endings. It’s just not something that happens to you. It’s something that other people go through. It never affects you. It just doesn’t.

But it does affect Gerard. He’s never known anyone who liked another boy and now he’s confronted with his own thoughts about boys, and this instinct in his soul telling him that this was always meant to be and yet he’s trying to deny it. It’s impure, it’s wrong, it must make him impure and wrong.

But when Gerard looks at Frank, it makes him feel like the impurity isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe it’s okay to be wrong. Because the feeling Gerard gets in his stomach, this elated little feeling like a manifestation of a hug, it makes him feel like not only is it worth it, but that all the glaring problems with it aren’t actually there at all. It doesn’t feel wrong when Gerard looks at Frank. It’s only the part of his brain telling him how he should feel that tells him it is.

“You have to confront this narrowly, Gerard. It’s up to you, but the decision has to be made. Either you and Frank get together or you don’t. It’s as simple as that. You have to face the consequences of either decision. But you got to make the decision sooner rather than later, because if you don’t, Frank will be forced to move on. Maybe the easiest way to decide is to consider how you’d feel if he did move on.”

“Honestly, Patrick,” Gerard says, “if he moved on, I’d be fucking shattered.”

“Well what does that tell you then?” Patrick says, with a shrug. Gerard hates it sometimes that Patrick is the way he is, because he’s always, without a doubt, the smartest person in the room, but he’s not a bitch about it, so he’s basically perfect which is aggravating. He’s sweet, sincere, and if he weren’t Patrick, Gerard’s best friend in the world to a point that he’s practically his brother, Gerard would probably like him the way he likes Frank. Except he is Patrick, and he is basically Gerard’s brother, and also, he’s not Frank. Not being Frank is turning out to be a deal breaker of everyone.

“I wish I understood how he makes me feel,” Gerard says, and he means it. He doesn’t understand anything. He doesn’t know why he likes Frank, he doesn’t know why Frank likes him back, he doesn’t know why everyone is so sure they like each other when Gerard wasn’t even sure until recently, he’s not even sure when he started accepting it. He’s sure he doesn’t like how he feels, but he knows that sometime in the past few days he’s had to face the fact that he can’t deny it. He feels the way he feels. That’s a fact.

It feels like only in the past few hours that Gerard has been able to even grasp the concept of what he wants. It hasn’t seemed entirely real, even though he’s known it ever since Patrick forced him to say it out loud. It just didn’t seem real, not until just now.

“Fuck,” Gerard says, simply, and that’s all that needs to be said.

Patrick just nods, “I know precisely what you mean.”
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