Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


When they enter the grand dining room, Edgar is seated at the table already. The table is long and thin, as opposed to short and wide, and Edgar sits at the head at the end of the table. There is no food yet when the two of them walk in, but there stand a few servants, or at least Gerard hopes they’re servants, next to a door on the opposite end of the room which presumably leads into the kitchen, who are awaiting the call to serve food. A few moments after they step in, Edgar stands up, though it looks like it’s through some exhaustion that he has to do so.

The man who stands up must be Edgar, and it’s the first time Gerard has ever laid eyes on him. He’s never even heard tell of what this man looks like. Gerard doesn’t know what he had expected. For Sir Edgar to have red eyes and scales? For him to have a forked tongue and venom dripping from pointed teeth? For a dark cloud around him accompanied with thunder and lightning?

Edgar is just… a man. He’s just a guy. He’s a man with black hair, pampered facial hair that surely, he doesn’t cut for himself as Gerard does. He’s not exactly attractive, but to be fair, Gerard no longer believes anyone besides Frank is capable of being attractive. His robes are a dark embroidered black, highlighted in deep red. He’s wearing his crown, which doesn’t seem entirely necessary when he’s eating dinner in his own castle with his nephew and Gerard, but he’s probably drunk with power, so Gerard isn’t exactly stunned. Surprisingly, though Gerard has always thought that he would be accompanied by an evil staff and talking snake, neither are present. He is just a man. Though Gerard knows there must be so much evil inside of him, it’s just not in his appearance.

All of this anticipation leading up meeting this man, a man who Gerard had hoped he’d never have to meet, he feels let down that it is just some guy. He would have expected to see a monster. He’s always pictured him as such. Maybe he’s just let down by it all.

“Ah, my nephew,” Edgar says, and his face might not actually be in a sneer, but his stupid mustache makes it look that way. He looks like he spends too much time grooming himself. Gerard would have thought that would make him appear better, grander, but it kind of just makes him look arrogant. Gerard might even say that the shaggy, worn state of himself is better than this man, and so surely is Frank. He looks too put together. The man in charge of this Kingdom shouldn’t have so much time to care about every single hair on his head. Frank’s hair is always a mess, but he still looks powerful. It’s funny, Gerard used to think Frank didn’t look royal at all, that he looked too small, too young. But now, Frank is the image of strong. He’s so smart, so passionate, he can’t be anything but a Prince.

There’s no real family resemblance. Gerard couldn’t tell you these two people were related if he saw them separately. Frank is too attractive to look like anyone, he thinks. Gerard looks like his mother, not so much his father. He can see almost all of his own face on Mikey, except it’s stretched over different bones. Frank looks nothing like this man, and he wonders how much Frank looked like his parents. Gerard wishes he could have met them, met the real King, Frank’s mom, who even Frank never knew because she died in childbirth. His mom would absolutely love Frank. Frank, who doesn’t order him around. Frank, who loves her son with all of that he has to love. She’d be supportive of whatever Gerard wanted from Frank. She’d probably support Gerard more than he does. A lot of her spirit lives in Ray, so he’s sure when Gerard finally gets to introduce Frank to Ray, he’ll be just as supportive as she would have been.

“Uncle, this is Gerard,” Frank says, and he ushers Gerard over to where Edgar now stands, at the head of the table, not bothering to move closer to greet them. Gerard hesitantly holds out his hand to shake Edgar’s hand. Ge hates the guy but Frank did ask him to be cordial. Edgar glances down at his hand very briefly, he might not think Gerard even sees him do it. He doesn’t attempt to shake Gerard’s hand.

The way that Edgar looks at him definitely lingers disdain, and he wonders how much of it is intentional. He wonders if Edgar is trying to retain his thoughts of Gerard but can’t hold it in, or if he simply doesn’t care that Gerard can tell. That brings out the question of just why doesn’t he like Gerard. He’d expected as much, but he thought he would at least have to open his mouth for Edgar to hate him.

“Gerard of…?” Edgar asks, like he wants Gerard’s title, wants to know his nobility. Gerard’s hand falls away, replacing it by his side. So it begins.

“Frell,” Gerard says.

Edgar is clearly not pleased with this answer. An agricultural town? Really? Frank has brought someone from an agricultural town at least five days ride from here to meet him? Brought a farm boy to the castle? What could he have been thinking?

“And your father is?” Edgar asks, hoping that something, anything might warrant the presence of this peasant before him.

“His name is Don,” Gerard says. “He’s a businessman, sort of. Sells things to people door to door.” This was clearly not the correct answer.

“You are not of noble blood?” Edgar asks, a look of disgust. The person that Gerard had expected to meet.

Frank scoffs, and physically puts himself between the two of them. “He’s not, Uncle, though I don’t see how that’s relevant. He’s here with me.”

“On what business, might I ask?”

“He’s looking for someone. I’m here to show him the hall of records so that we might find the person we’re looking forward.”


“Yes, um,” Frank clears his throat, “well, what kind of a Prince would I be if I brought him all the way here and then left him to search on his own? I’m going to help Gerard until the end, and… if I must, I will return him to Frell also.” Gerard can hear something very sad at the end of that sentence. Frank doesn’t want to bring him back to Frell. If it were up to him, Gerard would stay with him forever. He’s considering how he can make that happen. Gerard will need a lot less convincing than Frank had previously thought, but that’s for another time.

What will happen when the curse is gone? Gerard won’t have anywhere to go. Surely, though, he must return to Frell. That’s where his family is, or rather, that’s where Ray is. Maybe he could bring Ray here, to this town, and they could start a new life, pretend that Gerard’s father and stepfamily don’t even exist. Or maybe Gerard can stay here, in the castle, with Frank. For as long as Frank will have him.

“Nephew,” Edgar says, and Gerard hates how he addresses Frank with that word, like he doesn’t already have a wonderful, perfect name. Gerard could never imagine a batter name than Frank, not for the life of him could he name anything better. It’s because that name belongs to the only person worth naming. How could any name every come close? Gerard is an awful name in comparison, as is Michael, Ray, Patrick, Pete. Everything. “You have so many preparations to make for your… coronation.” The way he says that word gives Gerard chills, but he doesn’t know why. It’s covered in slime, and Gerard hates how it sounds out of this man’s mouth. What is it about this man?

“Oh, that’s, it’s not like it has to be done now. We can always deal with that later, can’t we? Just push it off a little while longer. I’ll still be the Prince a few months from now.”

“I suppose,” Edgar says, and god, Gerard hates the way his voice sounds. It’s sounds so wrong. No one should have a voice that sounds like that, and it belongs to this odious being that is Edgar. Hearing it now, he can understand why such a man would enslave elves. He can understand why a man like this would segregate Giants, instigate Ogrecide. This is the only man who could decree those sorts of laws. His voice is poison, and so are the words that release from it.

Gerard grits his teeth, and he can’t bear it. How could such a man be allowed to do these sorts of things? There needs to be some sort of oversight. Kings shouldn’t have absolute power, and Edgar isn’t even really a King, he’s just a placeholder of the throne. Sure, he gets the title and the power, but Gerard has never considered him for one second to be anything more than a steward of the throne. He and Patrick have all but convinced themselves that that’s all he really is anyway. Frank, though. Frank is the King. Not quite yet, but it belongs to Frank. Frank is the person who should have that power, even if he doesn’t feel ready for it yet. Even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Frank will do so much good.

Before Frank, Gerard might have refused to call anyone a King but his father, the late King Jerrold. That was the King that Gerard was raised on, the King who was good and fair, even if he couldn’t do everything. It seems stupid now. Gerard had thought so poorly of Frank, simply because he’s related to Edgar, and now he knows Frank better than he knows anybody, more probably than he knows even Patrick or Ray, and he couldn’t have been more wrong. Frank isn’t his uncle, he most certainly isn’t this disgusting creature that Gerard now lays eyes upon. He isn’t his father, who Gerard only knows vague stories about. Frank is the greatest King to have ever lived, and he hasn’t even taken up the title yet.

Frank will do amazing things. And maybe with Gerard by his side. They can unite this Kingdom like no leader ever has before. Bring peace. Bring happiness. Together, they could do it.

What a word, together.

“I must help Gerard in whatever he needs, he’s become a very good friend to me. Very good,” Frank isn’t quite ready to say yet just how much so, but he’s sure his Uncle will be able to gleam something from the two of them. There’s more to be discussed later, much more. For at least one of those conversations, Frank needs to meet with his uncle in private.

“You can’t put off your coronation too long,” Edgar says, and Gerard just could not tell you what he hates so much about the way he says that, but he so does. “Your people might soon forget you. Might decide you’re too irresponsible for the throne.”

“I will, Uncle, I’m becoming ready. As we discussed when I first got here, seeing the Kingdom has really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I know now what I want to do, how I want to better the Kingdom. I know what I want this place to look like. Gerard has actually helped me to see all of that.”

“Good for you,” he says, in a way that makes Gerard feel like Edgar doesn’t think it is in fact good for him. “Enough on this topic. Let us now dine,” he gestures to the servants behind him with gloved hands. Why is he wearing gloves indoors, when they’re about to have dinner?

Frank points to a seat, the one right next to Edgar which Gerard would ideally not take. Frank pulls out his chair for him, which is cute and makes him smile just a little bit until he actually sits down, looks up, and sees Edgar looking directly at him. He’s picking Gerard apart like bones on a fish. Gerard can’t look at him at all. He instead looks at Frank who has taken the seat on Gerard’s left, so that he is now sat between the two of them. This is not the ideal scenario. Ideally, he and Frank would be dining alone. Nice food, no servants, just the two of them, and the light of candles.

He does take note that Frank is probably supposed to sit on the other side of Edgar, so that he’s directly across from Gerard. That would make a lot of sense. But then there would be one of those stupid enormous centerpieces in the way and Gerard would barely be able to see Frank over it. What a crime it would be not to be able to see Frank.

It takes almost no time at all for food to be laid out in front of them. He looks at Frank for one moment and then there’s a plate in front of him. Gerard looks down at it and his mouth waters instantly. He’s never even seen food that looks like this. Ray is an excellent cook, and he would by no means say otherwise. Ray makes the best food that is possible to be made using the ingredients he has access to. But this is a whole different thing entirely.

Gerard is looking down at what appears to be half of a roasted chicken, an assortment of greens that he’s sure Ray could have made better than they are here, a large helping of some roasted potatoes, and some bread that looks like no bread Gerard has ever eaten. A majority of Gerard’s diet in his life has been bread, he thought he had had every type there was, but this is the softest, and purest looking bread he’s ever seen. Beside him, someone fills a goblet with a red liquid, far darker than blood, but just as rich looking.

Gerard has honestly never seen so much food that’s all for him. This is how much food Gerard would expect to share with his entire household. He can’t even picture how it will be possible for him to eat all of this. Gerard is a peasant, yes, and he would say he grew up poor also, but he never thought that he didn’t have enough food. Now, looking at this, he appears to have been mistaken.

“Gerard,” Edgar says, and the way that his name sounds from Edgar’s mouth makes him physically shiver, he just hopes it isn’t noticeable. Edgar has already started eating his food. Patrick once told him that rich people use a whole set of cutlery that Gerard had never seen or heard of, but that was clearly a myth, because there’s only a knife and spoon in front of him which he has seen before.

“Yes?” Gerard asks, picking up his knife, and trying to find a starting point on this one-person feast.

“What do you do, exactly?”

“I’m… well, nothing just yet. I’m still in school.” Gerard takes a bite of potato and he sees stars. This is not a seasoning he has ever had the delight of experiencing. He doesn’t even know what it is. If it’s not salt, though, Gerard probably doesn’t know of it.

“You’re still in school?” Edgar asks, and Gerard wonders if he’s supposed to feel self-conscious about that. He’s only in his early twenties, how old are you supposed to be when you stop going to school? Gerard missed two or three years when his mother got sick, maybe he’s just making up for lost time? Is Frank not still in school? From what he’d heard, it seemed like Frank was still being given lessons in various subjects, so surely, it’s not weird.

When are you too old for school? Patrick’s a few years younger than him, just as Frank is, but neither by more than two years. Is Gerard… old? He’s never really considered it before. He can’t be old. He’s a few dozen years younger than Ray, but Ray is a fairy so he’s got that whole eternal youth thing going for him. He’s almost the exact same age as Hattie, so clearly, he can’t be that old. He doesn’t know why he’s letting Edgar make him feel self-conscious about this. He’s not too old for school. He can learn however much he needs to learn for as long as he wants to, even if he is the oldest person in his one-room schoolhouse, which he is not.

“I’m,” Gerard starts. Just be honest. “Yeah, I am. I feel that there’s still more for me to learn.”

“What do you intend to do when you finish school?” he asks. That is a tricky question. Ray has all but forbidden Gerard from working most places. He’s worried that if Gerard were to find a job in town, he’d be pushed around too much. A few months out of the year, Gerard helps Ray out with the crops that grow on their land, but there’s small window where they can do that.

Gerard supposes that he was probably going to go into farming, find an all seasons crop and make that his business. That always felt safe, because in a store or working for someone, he might be pushed around and spit on, but working for himself, he won’t have that. However, since he is on the road to becoming curse free, there are more options open. He doesn’t know what he wants to do with that freedom. He would like to do something to help people. He doesn’t think he would be crazy or hungry with it, but Gerard does like the idea of having some power, maybe even a lot of power. He’d like to have the ability to change things.

“I’ll know when I decide that I’m ready for it,” Gerard replies. He hopes that’s a clever answer.

“You’ll be good at anything,” Frank says, looking at him with the softest little expression. Frank wonders if maybe Gerard would want to try out being a King. Just something to think about.

Gerard takes a sip from the goblet with the red drink in it, and immediately gags on it, spitting some back out, which he knows is very inappropriate and unseemly of him. It’s the most awful taste, he knows immediately it must be wine, and it must surely be a strong one for it to taste that bad. Gerard has always been too poor for wine, so the new taste is bitter and acidic, and honestly it’s just kind of evil.

Frank smiles at him, and whispers, “I don’t like the taste of it either.” God, the way Frank’s voice sounds when he whispers makes all of Gerard’s hairs stick up.

“What business have you here?” Edgar asks, ignoring the scene, as he skewers a piece of chicken and eats it predatorily. “Who is it you seek from the hall of records?”

“Um, just someone. An old family friend, if you will.”

“It must be of some importance,” Edgar’s face curls into a villainous smile. Gerard has to stop thinking that way. He can’t actually be as evil as Gerard’s mind is making him out to be. He has to be pulling these things out of nowhere, or else everyone would surely see he’s deranged.

“It is, I suppose.”

“It had better be after all this time we’ve spent looking for him,” Frank says, and Gerard gives him a glance. He doesn’t want Edgar to know more than he already does. Gerard does not trust him. For good reason. First it was elves, Giants, Ogre’s, but who’s to say that “lower class” humans aren’t next? Frell has already grown poorer since Edgar took power; education, and trade have suffered. There could be worse things to come if Frank doesn’t take over soon.

“My guardian, the fairy who raised me, Ray, he told me I should seek him out.” It’s not even really a lie. Ray did tell him that. It was kind of Ray’s idea to begin with. So maybe he can get away with saying only that.

“Where are your parents, what do they think of this? You’re very far from home.”

“Uncle, why is this important?” Frank says. He’s trying to save Gerard from having to talk about his mess of a home life, which means a lot. He wishes he could kiss Frank right here. Wouldn’t be a great idea. Frank looks so pretty right now, though. Maybe it’s because he’s defending Gerard. Maybe it’s because of his eyelashes. Who knows?

“Nephew, what’s your stake in this?”

“I already told you. He’s my friend, and I’m a man of my people. He needs my help, and I am intent to give it.”

“Is that all?” Edgar asks and Gerard doesn’t know what he’s implying, but surely nothing good. Can Edgar tell? He doesn’t feel like he and Frank are obvious, or at least not to this man who doesn’t know how much they’ve been kissing each other. If there’s anyone he doesn’t want to know that he and Frank have been kissing, it’s Edgar. He knows that it’s kind of inevitable, because the entire Kingdom will know very soon that Frank was kissing a boy, word isn’t going to remain in Giantville for long. He’s not ready for it, though, Gerard just doesn’t want to deal with that.

“I’m on like… well, it would have been a deadly mission if it hadn’t been for Frank. He saved my life, quite literally. And after that, he was worried that I’d find some other way to get myself killed. Frank saw that I needed help and has so given it to me. I don’t know what other terrors I could have encountered had it not been for him, and for that, I owe him so much. He’s been a very good friend to me.”

Edgar doesn’t quite roll his eyes. That’s not quite what he does. But he doesn’t not do it, either. “My nephew, always the hero.”

“I plan to be,” Frank says, apparently not sensing the tone of the room. Gerard just takes a deep breath and tries to remind himself that he needs to be civil. He would like to climb over this table and smack Edgar right in his ugly face, but he won’t, because Frank would be angry with him, and also Gerard might be executed, which would suck.

Frank senses this, and he grabs Gerard hand under the table. Obviously, he blushes. Gerard blushes so fucking much these days. Whenever Frank looks at him a certain way, he blushes. Whenever Frank tells him he likes him, or compliments him, he blushes. When other people can tell how he feels for Frank, he blushes.

He’s held Frank’s hand a few times, but never just to hold it. Frank has pulled him along behind by the hand, he’s helped Gerard off a horse by the hand. He’s never just held Gerard’s hand to comfort him. It’s definitely working though, because Gerard feels the fingers that aren’t his own and then grips them tightly. This is what he needs to keep him grounded. Keep him here. He looks at Frank, only for a second, because he knows if it’s any longer Edgar will see the way they look at each other. Gerard just needs a reminder. That beautiful face. No one else could ever be as wonderful as he is.

“I’ll help anyone,” Frank says, “not just Gerard. That’s what a good King should be.”

“Of course,” Edgar says. “And I’m so very glad you have been able to help this boy, my nephew. He must surely need it. And from you, it is much more than it would be from any other.” So now Gerard is just ‘this boy’ to him? A boy who needs Frank’s help, because, what? He’s just a dumb peasant without it? Does Edgar even see him as a human?

“Anything for him,” Frank says offhandedly, looking at Gerard who refuses to look at him back because Edgar will see that look so clearly.

“Well, Gerard, as long as you are a guest in my castle, I am happy to have you here,” Edgar says.