Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


The day is uneventful. Their second day on horseback, with nothing but scenery and small talk to fill the time. Gerard doesn’t hate it. He gets to talk to Frank for the entire day and it’s nice. But it’s a boring day, especially considering the fact that it follows a previously boring day.

Gerard keeps reminding himself that they’re getting closer and closer to the castle. One stride closer to knowing where Brendon lives. One step nearer to being able to find him.

Of course, once Gerard knows where he lives, he has to go there. Brendon could live a day’s ride away, or six, or seven, or a couple of weeks. The kingdom is pretty huge, and horses are only so fast. Gerard’s mind always imagines Frell as being far from the castle but in reality, it’s close relative to a lot of the Kingdom. Gerard isn’t able to wrap his mind around how big the world is.

“If Brendon lives, I don’t know like a week’s ride away from the castle-” Gerard starts.

“I’ll go with you,” Frank finishes for him. “Don’t want you being eaten by any Ogre’s. Wouldn’t be a very Kingly thing of me to do to let you go on a suicide mission.”

“Is that why you’d come with?” Gerard asks, hoping for the answer he actually wants to hear. ¬¬

“To keep you safe, Gerard, I’d follow you across the Kingdom and beyond. Because I want to keep you safe.” Frank stops there, putting his head on the back of Gerard’s neck, which makes him feel very nice and warm inside. “And because I want to be with you.”

Gerard smiles. That’s the answer he wanted. Also, he is a little terrified to go around this kingdom alone, especially considering his party consists of two people who have never been outside of Frell and don’t know how to fight and then the absolute brick of a creature that is Pete.

“On the subject,” Frank says, looking back up, Gerard feels him stiffening slightly behind him, which is a good thing, because in fairness, Frank’s the one who knows how to ride a horse. Gerard’s been on this horse for a very long time so he might be able to maneuver her, but Frank raised Willow from a pony so he trusts Frank more. “Do you know what you’re going to do after you find your illusive fairy?”

“I… I’ve thought about it,” Gerard confesses. “But I don’t have any plan hatched out yet.”

“Would you consider… maybe, staying in the castle for a little while? Only if you want of course. Patrick and Pete could be put up there too, we’ve got like a hundred rooms.”

“I really should get back to Ray. He’s all by himself with Buggy and my stepsisters. He’s probably being driven mad. I can’t leave him all alone.”

“Well, he could come too. No need to bring the rest of your family with, if you don’t want. But like, if you wanted to stay at the castle, or in town. That way you can… help me figure out what kind of King I want to be, because you’ve got all the ideas that I want. I can’t let your knowledge and wisdom too far out of my sight or I might accidentally set the Kingdom on fire.”

Gerard doesn’t respond. Somehow, he expected a grand gesture like this from Frank. Gerard has no doubt in his mind that Frank’s feelings for him are genuine, if not a bit ill-placed. Frank wants him there, and Gerard wants to be there. But he also doesn’t know if that’s the life he wants to have. He doesn’t want to be a shadow to Frank. He wants to be himself. Gerard has never had freedom before, so as soon as he finds Brendon and gets it, he wants to take advantage of that. Gerard doesn’t want to be a puppet or a puppeteer. He just wants to be alive.

“I don’t know, Frank. Things will become clearer to me once I find him. Once I-” Gerard tries to say ‘break the curse’ but his tongue glues itself to the top of his mouth. He just tries to say it. To let the words out, even if he has to vomit them out. But he can’t say it. His body won’t let him. “Once things are different,” he settles.

“I wish I knew why you were looking for this fairy.” Those words are true to everyone around them. The others can’t really hear them, since the distance between them combined with the wind blowing past them is too much a barrier. However, every last person here wishes they knew what made this fairy so special.

“I wish I could say.” He does so wish Frank knew. He doesn’t trust him, though. If Gerard could say, there’s a chance he would. He would say it, because he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. In some ways, he thinks his mother was right. This is one order he really should follow. If people knew, it would be so easy to take advantage of him. Gerard is seeing that now. It’s becoming clearer now that he’s witnessed the real world around him.

Before, it was his tiny little world, tiny little Frell. The only times he’s left the house were for school and to see Patrick. Patrick, he trusts to be kind. School he trusts himself to be invisible enough not to be relevant. Out here though, with people he doesn’t know, people who mean him harm, people who are blind to what he is. If Frank hadn’t been there to save the day, Gerard’s curse would’ve killed him and his friends swiftly when those Ogre’s had him. He didn’t stand a chance. He couldn’t even make his peace with death because he knew he was dragging Pete and Patrick along with him. And maybe without the curse he still would’ve died, but at least he’d have been able to defend himself. Death come slow or swift, he wants to have a say in it.

“I trust you.” Frank’s words surprise him. He doesn’t know why Frank would trust him when he’s lying to him, or at least, not telling him the entire story. Patrick knows him better than anyone, which is why he came with Gerard in the first place. Even after Gerard had said the terrible things Hattie had told him to say. Patrick trusts him. Why should Frank? It’s easy to love someone without trusting them. Gerard loves Frank, for instance. Gerard has given Frank no reason to trust him. “If you say it’s important, it’s important.”

“I don’t know why you do.”

“You’re pure of heart,” Frank says, laughing softly to himself. “I knew it the first time I met you. Sure, you chewed me out, but what were you yelling at me about? Degradation, prejudice, enslavement. You were angry with me because you thought I was a poor leader to other people. Not just yourself. And I know my Uncle has let you down as well. But on the behalf of others, that’s where your heart is. That’s what you were angry with me about. You’re pure, Gerard. Face it. As sarcastic, and snotty as you try to be, you’re so very good.”

Gerard has never thought of himself that way. He cares a lot about other people, a lot about people he’s never met. He cares about Giants, and Elves, and even Ogres. He cares so much that it hurts. He knows he’s a good person. He’s a very good person, but he doesn’t know if he’s an enjoyable one. Gerard can’t see why anyone would want to be near him. He finds himself annoying and a pushover. The latter isn’t really his fault, but it’s still who he is.

“You’re kind of decent,” Gerard says. Frank laughs. Like, a belly laugh, from deep down until it explodes outward. Gerard smiles to himself, because he likes hearing Frank laugh. He loves it, actually, It’s his favorite sound in the world.

“Thanks, your highness,” Frank says. Gerard had almost forgotten about that little nickname. He likes it though. He likes it a lot. Especially, since it’s Frank calling him that. If it was Patrick it would just be demeaning. It reminds Gerard of when they first met. How ever many weeks ago, with Frank’s foot caught in a fucking fox trap. Gerard grilling him about the issues with the Kingdom, and Frank resisting at first, but eventually listening to him. Frank not wanting to be called ‘your highness’ so Gerard asking if he could have it. Frank obliged instantly.

Frank had said everything then, Gerard realizes. Laid everything out for him. He doesn’t like having girls fawning after him. He asked if Gerard shared the same passion his sisters had for him. Gerard’s a fucking idiot, Frank had said that he met someone he liked recently who he made an idiot of himself in front of. Gerard had brushed it off because when he met Frank, his foot was stuck in a trap, so he must be an idiot. He was an idiot in front of everyone he met. It was a coincidence. The person Frank liked who he made an idiot of himself in front of was Gerard all along. How did he miss that?

“Fucking hell,” Gerard says, more to himself than to Frank, but Frank still asks him what he’s on about. “That day we first met.”

“What about it?”

“You already liked me.”

Frank makes a face that Gerard doesn’t see. “Uh, you didn’t already know that?”

“No! Of course not! You were the Prince! You are the Prince. Why would I think you liked me?” Gerard says. “And I’d only just met you! I didn’t know you. I’m a peasant! I live in a shack held together by nails and glue. You live in a castle of beauty and permanence. I’m not funny, or attractive, or worthy of your glance, let alone a stare.”

“You’re worthy of so much, Gerard. You’re absolutely gorgeous, and the fact that you don’t see it is ridiculous to me. And how did you not notice? I made it pretty obvious.” Frank says, disbelieving how dumb Gerard is.

“Well I didn’t know that, did I?”

“Clearly not. But you liked me too.”

“I did not!” Gerard replies.

“You did,” he says matter-of-factly.

“I didn’t even know I could like you, so I definitely didn’t.”

“Oh, I know you weren’t trying to or anything, but you weren’t subtle about it. Well, apparently subtle enough that you didn’t notice it yourself, but like, I knew you liked me. I also knew that you either didn’t know you liked me yourself or you were really adamant in thinking I hated you. Either way, like, I knew. I wasn’t laying it on so heavy for nothing.”

“No…” Gerard says. “But how did you? I don’t get it.”

“I love that about you,” Frank says, and Gerard feels those same things in his stomach. Nice pleasant fluttery feelings. Frank loves him. Gerard’s heard it several times, but he’ll never grow tired of it. The prince loves him. That guy! “You’re kind of a stupid sometime, but you’re always adorable.”

Frank doesn’t expect him to say it back. He knows that Gerard’s not ready to be in love, or to be with Frank the way he wants him to be. But he knows that he’s making some definitive progress. A few days ago, Gerard wouldn’t admit wanting to be near him. But now, he’s not quite the same as he was. He’ll let Frank hold him, kiss him. Yesterday morning… He’s starting to give in to how he feels. Frank knows it’ll be a slow process, but it’s definitely faster than he thought it would be. Gerard can’t hide the way he feels like he wants to. Frank is breaking down the barriers Gerard set up to keep himself away from the rest of the world.

“The whole damn time. For fucks sake,” Gerard mumbles to himself, and Frank laughs again, nestling his head into Gerard’s neck. “Even Patrick knew.”

“Yeah, he definitely knew.” Frank leaves out the part where Patrick kind of pushed the two of them together, because Gerard probably already knows that and doesn’t need to be reminded. Patrick is their biggest fan. He’s been supportive from day one. From before day one. From when he knew Gerard liked boys before Frank was a concept in Gerard’s mind.

“All this talk of who likes who makes me feel like I’m back in school.”

“You know, for a smart person, you’re kind of dumb.”

“For a dumb person, you’re kind of smart,” Gerard says. Frank laughs against him and Gerard likes it a lot. He likes it a lot a lot. To be physically against Frank in anyway, that’s the dream. So many girls would kill to be in Gerard’s position.

He’s said it so many times, but Frank wants to tell Gerard that he wants to be with him. With him in every way. With him in the morning, at night. In the castle, on the countryside. As a friend, as a confidant. As a partner, romantically, so on. He doesn’t think Gerard can handle all of that though. Gerard knows Frank loves him. He won’t stop saying it, but he has no idea just how much or in what way.

Frank’s coronation is not far off. His Uncle isn’t really the true successor to the crown after Frank’s father died. It has always been Frank. That’s why Frank’s been touring his own kingdom, to prepare himself for what his people want and need, and to understand more about the place he’s going to rule. His coronation has no set schedule. Simply when the powers that be decide he’s ready. And Frank is feeling ready. He thinks he knows what he has to be in order to be a king.
He never planned on Gerard. Never could have imagined him. He came out of nowhere, hitting him by surprise. But Frank can feel his world turning, changing, molding itself into what it’s going to be.

Before Gerard, Frank never even cared about being a King, because he never really considered that there was anything wrong with the Kingdom. Never considered that he might actually have a role to play. He just figured he’d sit in the castle all day, as usual, and things would sort themselves out. But now he understands why he’s so necessary. Gerard has shown him things he was completely blind to. Prejudice, slavery, tax efficiency, education reform. Things Frank never would have considered. Freedom. That’s what Gerard stands for. The freedom to be who you are, whatever you are.

He thinks about how weird it is that he’s been sheltered entirely from these issues. Like there’s been a hand in the castle keeping him away from learning about it. Maybe Frank just wasn’t paying attention, or maybe someone doesn’t want Frank to know the state of his own Kingdom. Maybe Gerard’s onto something in his complete distaste for Frank’s uncle.

He’d never say him and his uncle are close. But he would say that he sees Edgar as family if nothing more. Edgar is the closest connection he has with his father, but it’s not the same. Frank has raised himself, more or less. The closest things he’s had to father figures have been tutors, knights, servants in the castle. But no one really as a role model. He starting to realize how much of a loss that really has been.

Gerard. It all comes back to Gerard. Frank looks up to him, and also wants him. Gerard is so smart, so incredible, so beautiful. He’s never known what it’s like to want something so much. To really want, with all of his heart and soul.

There’s few laws pertaining to royal marriages. Frank’s studied them profusely. It’s the one law he’s ever cared about, because he’s known for many years it would affect him more than any other. Nowhere is it stated that a King can’t marry another man. Nowhere is it stated a throne can’t be held by two men.

The more and more him learns about him, the harder it becomes to fathom being away from Gerard.

Get Gerard to the castle, he thinks. Ask Edgar what to do. He’ll know. Even if their relationship isn’t strong, Edgar will know. Edgar’s role is to prepare Frank for his future reign. He’ll be able to tell Frank. But even if Edgar is against it, Frank won’t care. If he can find a way to be with Gerard, he will, so long as Gerard will have him.

How few times in this Kingdom’s history has a royal married for love? His father didn’t even know his mother when they agreed to get married. She was from a noble family, the daughter of a Knight. Gerard is of no consequence at all. However, Frank sees him as something more important. He’s a voice of the people. A real, true, insider to what it’s like to live here. Never before would a more influential person take the throne.

The kingdom might not be ready for it. But it’s not their decision to make. So what if people might not agree? They will learn to understand that the world is changing. Some people won’t care. Patrick is proof of that; his own Knights are proof of that. The world is ready to change. Frank is ready to be the one who changes it.

Frank holds Gerard a little bit tighter. He knows what he wants for the Kingdom. He knows what he wants for his future. And he knows that both will be better off with Gerard.
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