The Tale of The Young King and The Loyal Knight (L.H) (M.C)
Where The Roses Bloom - Passage
Pairing: King!Luke Hemmings x Knight! Michael Clifford
Summary: WTRB but from the perspective of Luke and Michael as they figure out a way to survive the heartache
Warnings: Spoilers for WTRB, Language, mild smut, mentions of death, blood, alcohol and violence
Word Count: 19.7 k (yes, I know)
Author’s note: the longest fic I’ve ever written! I really think it’s worth it. Please!! Remember that Reblogs, feedback, comments and likes are very important! You have no idea how much they help 🥺💕 Hope you like it and Happy Reading 🦋🌻✨
My Materialist // wanna be part of my taglist?
Book one materialist // other passages
“Luke, it is time. We cannot have you hiding in the library for all your life” The King said with a belly laugh as he placed a hand over his son’s shoulder and started walking him through the palace.
The young prince rolled his eyes “I wasn’t hiding!” The ten-year-old muttered annoyingly “Mom said it’s important to learn about other kingdom’s politics so that I can be a dipromatic”
“Diplomatic, Luke” His father laughed again “And your mother is right, as usual. But you know that every child is meant to start their training at the Armory when they turn six, and that includes the royal family as well. Now, we let it pass for four years, but it’s time for you to learn your people’s strengths”
Luke pouted, but there was nothing he could do. He gained a lot of time since the first time he cried to his parents to not let him go to the Armory to train, and his plan worked for longer than he expected, but the fear didn’t just go away.
All children of The Vail must train in fighting at a young age. They spent hours after school training to become soldiers and warriors to protect the crown and the Kingdom’s integrity and, while Luke understood all of that, he didn’t see the point of it.
“Our Kingdom has been at peace for decades now, father. Why must we keep learning how to fight?”
King Robert sighed, “It’s not about peace or war, son. It’s about culture and tradition. The Vail is known for the quality of its warriors and the strength of its army. It makes a stance, it commands respect, but most importantly: It gives us a special power”
“Allies” The King answered “When you’re King, there will be people trying to hurt you or trying to hurt the people you love or care about. But your allies will help you defend The Vail and you will help them in return”
“Like friends do?”
“Yes, just like friends do”
Luke nodded. He didn’t understand much about friendship, only the things he read in the books of the Knights of the Round Table. He knew about loyalty and companionship, but he never really experienced it. This was also one of the reasons his parents are sending him to the Armory, so he could learn how to make friends on his own.
But Luke didn’t need any friends - at least that’s what he thought - he was going to be King someday so he needed to be ready for that, not waste his time with swords and fighting. But the Armory was just outside neighboring the palace’s garden, and his parents already made a deal with the swordmaster… So there was not much the young prince could do to get out of this one.
The Armory was an old building with walls made of rock, it had a great open field in the middle where a hundred children around Luke’s age were practicing with fake swords and shields doing all kinds of movements and elegant stances, grunting and even cursing at their opponents as they struck with a killer swing.
Luke’s face paled at the sight. He knew everything was fake, but god did he not like this game at all. He was skinny, weak as he could not even lift more than five kilograms without breaking a sweat. He was practically dead on arrival by now.
“King Robert!” A voice roared all across the field, making Luke jump as he heard it.
A big man with a long, red beard dressed in simple soldier attire came walking down between the hoard of kids fighting. He wore a big smile on his face as he opened his arms and wrapped Luke’s father into a bear hug, surprising the young Prince.
“It’s been ages since I’ve seen you down here, you old rat!” The man said with a laugh.
King Robert patted him on the back “Well, ruling a Kingdom does not necessarily give you free time, Freddy” He smiled and then turned to Luke “Son, let me introduce you to one of my closest friends, Sir Frerdinald Hault. The most loyal companion in and outside of the field”
Sir Frerdinald bowed his head to the young prince and Luke just nodded his head, still too scared to even say anything, especially in front of a man who was four times his size in every way, shape, or form.
“It’s an honor, Your Highness. Your father has told me lots about you” He said.
“And now he’s finally ready, Freddy,” The King said, putting a hand on Luke’s shoulders and smiling proudly at him.
“Is he now? Are you ready to start your training, little lad?” Luke’s cheek heated at the nickname, but he kept his head high “Alright, then I think it's time to find you a partner”
After bidding his father goodbye - quite against his will, Luke followed Sir Frerdinald through the field. He could feel the other kids start to stare as he passed them by, but he tried to pay no mind to it and play the part of a brave future monarch, something he still did not know how to manage.
“Michael!” The man yelled suddenly, making Luke stop in his steps and almost crash into him “C’mere boy!”
Then, another kid shows up in front of Luke. He had short dirty blond hair and an unhealed cut on his cheek that he must’ve gotten while training. He was wearing the training uniform but it looked worn out, almost as if it belonged to someone else before it became his. But Luke paid no mind to any of that, not when this kid had the most beautiful green eyes he has ever seen.
“Your Highness, this is my nephew Michael Clifford from Chesthire. I took him under my wing after his parents’ tragic death and now he’s the most skilled warrior we got. He will train with you and teach you all he knows” Sir Frerdinald announced proudly “Now go, there’s no time to lose”
Both Luke and Michael nodded as they headed to one of the furthest corners of the field. Michael carried a couple of swords as he handed Luke two protection shields made out of wood. Neither of them exchanged any words until they made sure they were alone.
“Grab your sword,” Michael commanded and Luke easily obliged, thinking he was doing a good job until he noticed how his new partner rolled his eyes “Not like that,” He said “If you grab it like that you’re going to hurt your thumb, making all your muscles mush after the first hit. Here, let me show you”
Michael took a step closer to the prince, grabbing his hand and putting it in the right position while Luke held his breath.
Then, they both got into position as Michael started to show the young prince different movements and strokes he could make to attack the enemy while still protecting himself. Luke could not get a single one right.
“I’m not very good at this,” Luke sighed after a while.
“No shit,” Michael said and immediately his cheeks turned red “I’m sorry, Your Highness, I didn’t -“
Luke chuckled at the sudden fear in Michael’s eyes “It’s alright, I’m pretty shit at it” He laughed “And, please, call me Luke. I’m no one special here, just me”
The shoulders of the green-eyed boy seemed to relax.
“You just need more practice”
“I’m going to get myself killed with these things!” Luke said holding his sword wrong, again.
Michael shook his head, grabbing the sword from his hands and putting it as it should be “That’s not going to happen”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I’m here and I’m not going to allow it,” He said confidently “Now, Luke, get in position or you’re going to get your ass handed to you the minute you step foot in a battlefield. Just follow my lead and I promise you’ll be fine. I’ll make sure nothing happens to you, okay?”
And for some reason, Luke believed him.
The night was quiet as the stars illuminated the sky over the sea. He always liked the view from the balcony for he always got lost in it when he needed to drown his thoughts.
The rock bridge was empty except for a few guards that were doing their rounds accompanied by the sound of the waves that crashed into the pillars that stood high above the ground, keeping the bridge together as it connected the low grounds with the castle of The Vail.
But now, neither the sea nor the stars could calm the mind of the Young King as he held another letter in his hand. All of them with the same message: a deadly threat.
He knew what he was getting into even before he knew how to walk. Born into the royal family as the only heir, Luke had to learn very quickly what it was like to be a monarch, he just wished he could’ve had a little more time before having to take the weight of the crown. Maybe just one last piece of advice from his father and a warm kiss from his mother… one last good memory instead of the image of them laying next to each other as they bled. One last breath before it all consumed him.
“It’s late,” A voice said behind him and Luke needn’t turn back to know that it was Michael who was speaking.
Michael was his personal guard since they were teenagers, his best friend since they were kids, and his close advisor since that fateful night when Luke decided not to trust anyone but him. He could not trust anyone but him.
“I know,” The young King said, hiding the letter in one of his pockets “But Cassiopeia is clear tonight and I wanted to see it”
From the corner of his eyes, he could see Micahel leaning against the balcony as well and a chill ran down his spine, just as it always happens when he is around.
“I never understood the stars,” Michael said “They’re too far away to hear a wish, too small to even admire, and just when you think you got them figured it out, they disappear with the morning light”
“But they are always there” Luke replied “Every night, as constant as the sky is blue, they’re still there despite everything. They never change, they don’t have to. And I find comfort in that”
Michael simply nodded, but Luke could tell that he understood him. It wasn’t the first time they had this talk about the stars. Truth was that Michael could never really get tired of it, not because he cared about them, but because he cared about Luke, and Luke loved to talk about the stars and to hear Luke talk about the things he loved with such passion and interest is why Michael could never really get tired of it.
Luke, on the other hand, turned his head so he could look at his advisor who was staring at the horizon with interest. They were not the boys they once were, that much was clear, but Michael seemed like a whole different person now, even though his heart stayed the same.
His green eyes were piercing, something that Luke always admired and feared at the same time. When he looked into them and saw himself reflected on those pupils, he felt as if he was actually being seen and not just looked over and the thought of that was as comforting as it was terrifying. His fair skin contrasted against his stubble and his long hair was tied in a small, low ponytail that helped accentuate his features under the moonlight and, if Luke paid enough attention, he could see the ghost of a scar right above his eye and across his eyebrow, a memoir of the first and only time Michael lost a battle against the young King.
Luke always thought Michael was beautiful, but it’s in moments like this when he sees just how breathtaking he really was.
“What did the letter say?”
Until he said things like that.
Always the observant, even more than most people, Michael could not just pretend that this was not happening. That the threats were getting heavier and that Luke was trying to hide them from him. He wished that everything could be back to normal, but he cannot let this slide any longer.
Luke always loved and hated how nothing ever escapes him. But he hoped he could spear him from this one. Still, he sighed.
“The same as usual” He started to quote “The Vail should have a strong leader, not a boy who could barely protect his family. Your last days as a King are coming, enjoy them while you can” This one is actually one of my favorites, at least they wished something good for once” He tried to joke, but Michael’s face was cold as a stone “It’s nothing”
“It’s not nothing, Luke!” The blond said, exasperated at his friend's calmness “How can you say it’s nothing when every day new letters are threatening your life!”
“Because they are just letters, Mike!”
“My duty is to protect you-” Michael said with a tense jaw.
“And you’re doing a great job!”
“But what if I can’t?!” He yelled, pushing himself away from the balcony as he stared at Luke in the eyes “What if these letters are real? What if I ignored them and then found you lying dead in the throne room?! What then?!”
Luke took a step closer to him “Nothing is going to happen to me”
“You can’t know that”
“I know I have you, isn’t that enough?”
They were standing face to face. Michael’s worried expression stayed put as Luke tried to comfort him by putting a hand over his shoulder, but the green-eyed man shook his head and pushed his hand away.
“You need to start considering King Richard’s proposal,” He said and Luke’s face fell.
“He’s promising you protection and a secure position. Not to mention that the bloodline-”
“Fuck the bloodline” Luke spat “The law says nothing about legitimate children inheriting the crown. The law says nothing about a monarch having to marry!”
“He is giving you something I can’t provide!”
Michael took a step closer to Luke, delicately cupping one side of his face with his hand. Luke felt all the air in his lungs disappear at the callous yet soft touch that took him by surprise, but it was Michael’s glossy eyes that caught his attention as he looked deep into them.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to protect you, Luke,” He said with a broken voice “If something happens to you, I- I don’t know if I’ll be able to survive it. You need to accept his proposal to marry his daughter”
The King closed his eyes and shook his head, lifting both of his hands and cupping Michael’s face in return.
“We can find another way, I’m sure of it. We can do this. We just need to look harder, investigate a little more-”
“I already sent a letter to RoseWood saying that you would do it” Michael interrupted him in one breath.
Luke’s shoulders fell defeated as the words ran through his head, trying to make sense of them. His blue eyes were wide open as Michael averted his fearful gaze.
“What?” He asked in disbelief, dropping his hands to his sides as he took a step back “Tell me you’re joking, Mike. Please tell me you’re joking”
But Michael stood there and didn’t say a word to please him.
The young King started to pace frantically across the balcony, hands gripping the roots of his hair as he muttered curse words under his breath, trying to prevent the tears from falling.
“It was the only way,” Michael said. Luke turned to him, angry as he’s ever been.
“It was not your fucking choice!” He yelled, “You had no right-!”
“I am willing to do anything to make sure you’re safe!” The other man yelled back with more conviction “It is my job to keep you safe and gods be damned if I don’t do everything in my power to protect you”
Luke stood still, a hurt expression on his face as he looked at Michael in the eyes and said:
“Even if that choice kills me inside? Then, congratulations Sir Clifford, you’ve succeeded”
And with that, he walked away, leaving Michael alone as the night turned cold.
A month passed since that night and as they were on their way to RoseWood, Michael had regrets.
Not even two days after he sent the letter to King Richard accepting his deal for Luke to marry Princess Y/N, the threatening letters stopped coming.
It was too coincidental, too perfectly timed for them not to be correlated. But surely King Richard could not be that stupid, could he? Sending threatening letters to a King with too many possible enemies and then stopping once his proposal was accepted and his terms met. Truly, something amateur for any conspirator. But one can never be too sure.
Still, that was not the only worry in Michael’s mind.
“We are almost at the border with RoseWood, Your Majesty,” He said in a neutral tone. But Luke kept his nose in the book he was reading, ignoring him completely.
It wasn’t unusual by now. Ever since Michael went behind his back to accept the deal, Luke has been avoiding him as much as he could. Of course, Michael understood why he was acting like that, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt, especially considering that he did it for Luke. All he’s ever done has been for Luke, no matter the cost.
The young King, however, trying as he might, couldn't stop his head from spinning. He felt sick sitting in the carriage that was taking him to meet his future wife, a wife he never asked for nor even knew anything about. He felt alone, even though Michael sat beside him and said a few things during the trip, he just couldn’t bring himself to say anything. Luke felt betrayed, but he also missed his best friend.
Michael fidgeted with his hands. It wasn’t like him to be nervous, but he just couldn’t stand the silence any longer. He could not stand the idea of Luke hating him, even when all he ever wanted was to make sure he was safe, even when this decision shattered his heart as well. He was not going to lose him.
“If we keep the pace, we might arrive at the castle earlier than expected”
“Good. The sooner the better” Luke answered with sarcasm, still not looking up from his book. He always found comfort in books, always hiding in them to avoid the outside world.
Still, Michael rejoiced in this interaction because it meant that Luke might be able to talk to him for a while.
“What are you reading?”
“A recipe for an Arsenic beverage. I thought I might save King Richard the trouble”
The young King shut his book loudly “This is bullshit!”
“What are we walking into, Mike? Who is this Princess that I’m supposed to take as my wife? In a world like today one might think I’ll get the right to marry whom I love but it’s all bullshit! We might as well stayed in The Vail, I’ll be dead either way”
“Luke!” Michael said in his soldier voice, placing his hand on top of Luke’s so he could calm down “You are not going to die”
The monarch tightened his grip on Michael’s hand, letting out a breath he seemed to be holding for a while. His eyes were sad when he looked at him.
“But what about my dreams, my goals, and my spirit? They’ll all die in RoseWood as I step into the altar. My soul and heart do not belong to a stranger nor they ever will and you know that, Mike. I know why you did this, and in some sort of twisted way I understand and if the roles were reversed I wouldn't doubt it for a second if it meant to keep you safe but, gods, I’ll be lying if I say this doesn’t kill me inside”
Tears were already rolling down his cheek and Michael’s heart shattered.
The first time Luke cried in front of him was when he was ten and Michael was eleven, he had gotten hurt in one of the training sessions and was so frustrated he couldn’t help but cry. It was the first time Michael saw vulnerability as something beautiful.
The second time came when Michael heard the earth-shattering screams of his Prince all across the palace. He was supposed to be doing rounds, but Luke convinced him to sneak away for a while into the palace’s forbidden dungeons, and just when he was about to go back to his post, the yelling of his name made him run back into the throne room where he found Luke kneeling next to the bodies of the King and Queen. Michael held him that night until he fell asleep due to exhaustion and only then did he allow himself to cry for him.
And now, as they were mere kilometers away from the place that holds his future, Michael cannot help but see the beauty in those tears again, showing him that his King is nothing but human, nothing but kind, and nothing but deserving of the world. Something Michael couldn’t give but could make sure he has it. So, he gripped his hand tightly and said:
“I’m sorry, Luke”
And he meant it. He was sorry that it had to come to this. He was sorry that he couldn’t do anything to prevent it. He was sorry for all the dreams he held for each other that now had to be shared with someone else. But most importantly; he was sorry for the pain he caused him.
Luke shook his head “There is nothing to be sorry for, I told you I would’ve done the same. Just- promise me one thing, okay?”
“Anything!” Michael said eagerly, shifting so he could be closer to him.
“Don’t leave me. Not now, not in RoseWood-”
“Not ever, I promise” He smiled and for the first time in almost a month, Luke smiled back.
“I have to do this, right?” Luke asked after a moment of silence.
“It’s a King’s Promise, there really is no way out of it” Michael sighed “But at least they say that the Princess is as pretty as a rose and as kind as the morning breeze”
Luke lunged back on his seat, still not letting go of Michael’s hand. “It does beat the rumors of his father… but they also say that her brother is more charming”
Michael threw him a pointed look and they both started to laugh. Maybe everything will be fine.
Everything was a disaster.
The meeting with the Princess caused her to faint, and while she was indeed beautiful, it was very hard to admire said beauty as her brother hurried her back while being unconscious.
This, however, was anything but encouraging to Luke who thought there might be a way out of all this trouble given that the Princess clearly did not want to marry him just as much as he did not want to marry her. But King Richard insisted on a lie that Luke had no option but to believe, how stupid did that man think he was? Yet, a promise is a promise, and now, after dinner with a no-show Princess, Luke swore he was going mad.
“There must be a way out of this!” He exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air as he paced the room with frantic steps.
Michael sat at the edge of the bed as he followed the young King with his eyes as he rambled on about how bad of an idea this was and, after seeing the shitshow that was today, he had to agree.
“She fainted! She fucking fainted! I thought she knew about the arrangement and everything but she had no idea”
“Maybe it was your charm” Michael tried to joke, but he immediately shut up when Luke almost killed him with a look.
“Then she disappeared all day… Michael this is wrong! This is so wrong!”
Michael wanted to say that she didn’t technically disappear all day long, since he had an interaction with the Princess earlier this afternoon when she almost knocked him down as she ran through the palace.
Y/N was a nice girl, she had good manners - although a bit eccentric - but it was clear that the engagement took her by surprise and against her will. But he couldn’t say that to Luke, not after promising her that he wouldn’t tell a soul and after her father promised them security for Luke in The Vail against his enemies. So, instead, he said:
“Maybe her father is right and she’ll come around”
Luke stopped in his tracks and looked at Michael with disbelief “Have you heard The King? He is delusional!”
“He might be, but that doesn’t mean he is going to backtrack of the deal and neither will you”
“But there is a chance if Y/N-”
“Luke!” Michael groaned, getting up from his seat and walking up to him, grabbing him by the shoulders so he could pay attention “This is a King’s promise! And I know you hate to hear this but this is the best option you got, the best option we got if it keeps you safe. Not only you but the Princess as well!”
“The Princess?” Luke asked, confused “What does she have to do with any of this?”
“Only a fool will think that the Princess is agreeing to the marriage, yes” He explained “But only a fool could ignore the fear in the Princess’ eyes when she stepped into the room and saw her father”
Michael saw Y/N’s face as she listened to the conversation Luke and her father had in the King’s studio. He understood that look because he’s seen it time and time before in the Armory with kids who used that place as an escape from their lives at home.
“I might be wrong, but I don’t think Princess Y/N is safe here”
“And you got that from just a look?”
Michael shrugged “The eyes can tell a lot from a person”
“What are my eyes saying now, then?”
It was a challenge, Michael knew that, but still, his eyes locked with the baby blue gleam from his King’s eyes. It was impossible for him not to get lost in the sea of his eyes that reminded him of home, of the crashing waves and bright open skies, and of his best friend who he loved more than life. But Luke’s eyes held so much more than just memories, looking into them was like reading him just like an open book and now his eyes held fear and determination, and something else he couldn't quite figure out as they shined under the candle lights.
Suddenly, Michael took a step back, almost overwhelmed.
“They say that you’re about to do something stupid and that I’m going to have to follow you”
Luke sighed with a smirk “I’m not going to marry the Princess against her will, so I need to figure out a way to get us out of all of it and I need you to help me”
Michael rolled his eyes “I am not putting your life at risk again for something you think you know, Luke. I’m not”
“Look at me,” He said, stepping closer to the tall man “I cannot lose you, you understand me? I can’t. I know this deal is far from what you expect it to be and believe me, I don’t like it either, but if this is the only way to keep you here with me, with us! Then for the love of the gods, Luke… At least try”
He had his hands pressed against Luke’s chest and he could feel his heart beating uncontrollably underneath his shirt and vest, and he’d be lying if he said his own heart didn’t feel like it was about to explode, but there was nothing he could do about it. His King’s destiny was sealed and so was his.
Luke swallowed hard as Michael’s hands retreated from his body, leaving scorching marks inside his heart.
“But what if there’s a way?” He insisted “What if we can prove there is something wrong here? And you can’t tell me you haven’t thought about it, too. The way those letters stopped-”
“Of course I thought about it, but how can we prove it?” Michael retorted “Luke we are at his Kingdom, he probably has spies all over the palace and you want to do a search? It’s too risky”
But then Luke smiled with mischief “Mike, what did Sir Frerdinald say about getting information?”
“That is better to do it in plain sight when no one suspects anything but what does- Oh no,” He said once he understood the young King’s plan.
“You said it yourself, the Princess needs an out just as much as I do, and what better way to get information on King Richard’s plan than with his own daughter?”
“It will be a win-win!” Luke cheered, grabbing his jacket and walking towards the door.
“Where are you going now?” Michael groaned “It’s late and-”
“And we need to start as soon as possible. We can say we are just taking a walk, c’mon Mikey, where’s that sense of adventure you had all those years ago?”
“There is no sense of adventure when your life is at risk!” He said but still followed Luke into the hallway and through the palace.
Now, it’s been almost an hour and they didn’t find anything besides hidden roses in the walls and rusty artifacts that served as decoration. Of course, if the King had anything to hide he would not put it out there just for everyone to see.
“Maybe the library has something we could- oof” Luke’s voice was suddenly cut out as he turned a corner and Michael already had his sword out, ready to attack, but then “Princess Y/N, there you are!”
Michael let out a breath of relief and put his sword back into place. He kept himself hidden at the other side of the wall where the Princess wouldn’t be able to see him and suspect anything. But, what was the Princess doing outside of her chambers so late at night?
“I am glad to see that you are well, princess. You got us quite worried earlier”
Luke started to walk alongside the Princess, making sure she didn’t see Mike hiding as they passed him in the hall. Luke then signaled for Michael to follow them, and so he did.
Hiding in the shadows without making noise is something that could be related to “The crows” a name that’s commonly used for political spies. But Michael taught himself how to do it once Luke appointed him as his personal guard. He spent night after night trying to master this technique just to make sure that his prince will have the best security all the time. That is one of the reasons Michael was the best at his job.
But he was not the only smooth operator of The Vail.
“I would like to take a walk with you tomorrow if that’s okay. No guards, no maids. Just us getting to know one another” He heard Luke say, knowing that the “no guards” rules did not include him “I would very much like to get to know the person I am marrying. What she likes and dislikes and how I can be of service to her once we become husband and wife. Nothing sinister, just… me trying to be your friend”
Once the Princess went to bed, the young King turned to Michael and smiled proudly.
“Are you sure it wasn’t your charm that made her faint?” The guard asked as he came out of hiding.
Luke playfully punched him in the arm “I meant what I said, she seems like a nice girl”
“She does” Michael agreed as they kept walking “I just hope she’s okay”
“Well, if we get her out of this deal, then we’ll make sure she will be,” Luke said decisively “No one deserves to marry someone they don’t love”
The night came to pass and the two men coming from The Vail could not find anything useful as they searched through the castle. They couldn’t even find the library that King Richard bragged about. And this morning they were rudely awakened by one of the chamberlains, whose name neither of them cared to remember, to attend breakfast with The King in his main dining hall. Well, the invitation was only passed on to Luke, but it was clear that he was not going anywhere without Michael.
To say that they didn’t trust the King would be an understatement. That man was rude, obnoxious, and a bad liar with delusions of grandeur. Throughout breakfast, he kept talking about alliances, even though one was already promised when they accepted the proposal, and asking about the army of The Vail and how their politics work… One might think that if you invite another monarch to your Kingdom, you would at least have enough decency to learn about their culture.
But as they could see, Richard was not a common man with decency, in fact, it was very clear that he lacked it. Luke couldn’t understand how his two very educated, kind, and welcoming of sorts children could’ve been raised by that man. Although, that answer might be clear as the sky as he assumed the King knew nothing about his children. When Luke asked about the Princess, her father would always change the topic despite Luke’s only reason for being in RoseWood is his marriage to Y/N.
Michael and Luke exchanged glances across the table, having their own conversation as the King bragged on his own. Yet, every time he addressed Luke directly, he had to pretend to at least be interested in what he was saying, just enough so it could please their host.
“Am I in danger of starting a war if I say something bad about the King?” Luke said with a breath of relief as they walked through the castle.
“You might be,” Michael answered “I’m not. He’s a fucking dick”
Luke snorted with laughter, placing his arm around Michael’s shoulders as he tried to suppress his sudden outburst while they walked towards the stables.
King Richard offered them a hunting trip with Ashton and himself so they could get to know them better “as a family” Luke disliked the idea profoundly, not only because he hates hunting, but because spending quality time with his future father-in-law seemed like a punishment. Luckily, the King excused himself earlier today, saying he had an important meeting with an old friend.
“I still believe that I should’ve stayed in the palace,” Michael said as they walked “I could’ve gotten something, maybe spy on his meeting-”
“It’s too risky,” Luke answered “It’s one thing if I’m there, the King won’t bother you. But I don’t trust him to leave you alone with him. Besides, I wanted you here. When was the last time we went on a hunting trip?” He smiled and Michael felt as if his heart was about to burst out of his chest.
Still, he faked normality “We never went on a hunting trip. You hate it”
Michael rolled his eyes and playfully pushed Luke away as they both laughed, finally arriving at the stables where the most beautiful horses were aligned outside. Four strong stallions, ready to run.
Luke was enthralled, eyes opened wide and an open smile as he reached to caress the hair of the black stallion in front of him. He knew the reputation RoseWood had with its horses, but this one was a true beauty.
“Hello buddy,” He said with a smile “Aren’t you a strong one?”
Then, a rustling sound came from inside the stable, making Michael put up his guard as his hands graced the top of his sword. But it was only a young man dressed in a white shirt and dirty high-waisted pants who came out of the wooden structure.
He had dark curly hair and rosy cheeks, seemingly hiding something behind his eyes as he quickly gained composure and bowed to Luke and Michael.
“Your Majesty,” The stable lad said in a monotonous voice “My Lord”
Michael and Luke exchanged a look. It wasn’t unusual for people to be nervous around them, but this man was stiff as a rock, looking straight ahead and seemingly analyzing them with just one look. Something was worrying him.
“Are you in charge of the stables?” Luke asked. The man nodded, “What’s your name, mate?”
“Calum Thomas Hood, Your Majesty” He answered “I’ve been assigned to make sure you have no problems for your trip today”
Luke smiled, looking back at the horse “They surely are beautiful and look quite healthy. You’ve done an amazing job from what I can tell. Say, what’s his name?”
Calum politely hid his hands behind his back as he started to talk about the stallion and the other steeds as Luke listened intently. On his part, Michael decided to stay out of the conversation. Animals, books, stars… those were all Luke’s things, things he loved, so Michael made a point to ask him about it later. In the meantime, he concentrated on the two different sets of footprints that were left in the mud by women’s shoes. Yet, there was only one lady on sight, one of the maids from the palace that looked completely bored as yawned and gazed away. He assumed she was there to help them settle in the horses, but she kept her distance, and also, where was the owner of the other pair of shoes?
“Are there more horses in the stable?” Luke asked excitedly, looking like a child on a Summer’s day as he already started to walk towards the stables.
Michael amusedly watched how Luke didn’t even wait for the question to end to start walking, knowing that sometimes the excitement got the best of him, and at the same time noticed how the stable lad opened and closed his mouth as he helplessly watched how the young King walked away. “Everything okay, Sir?”
Calum’s head snapped in his direction, his startled expression quickly changing into something more neutral “Y-yes, my Lord” He bowed.
“Call me Michael,” He said, extending his hand for Calum to shake, which he did “I’m not a Lord, just a guard, advisor, and friend. I hold no title other than those”
“Seems very important titles to me. But, how do you know which comes first?”
“They all do” Michael simply answered “To be a guard is to protect. To be an advisor is to accompany. To be a friend is all of that and more, to be a partner in every circumstance and stand by my King. All of them include compromise, bravery, and loyalty and it’s a great honor that Your Majesty has chosen me to carry it”
“Your King must be a great one for you to talk so freely of him” Calum mentioned, his eyes drifting to the stables as his hands were still locked on his back.
“He is a great King, but he is an even greater friend,” Michael said with a faint smile. “I’d follow him willingly until the end of the line, and I know he'd do the same for me if given the chance. I gave him my loyalty blindly and he is still hasn’t let me down once or made me regret it”
For Michael, talking about Luke was like talking about the sun in the sky. So simple, yet with so much to say that he didn’t know if there would be enough letters in the alphabet to describe him. Ever since they met as kids he knew that Luke was special and he felt honored that the young prince saw something in him, a poor orphan from the lakes of Chesthire, something that no one else saw before he came into his life.
Michael was so thankful for Luke, and he feared for him. He feared bad things happening to him without Michael being there to help him. He feared losing him, in more ways than one, and he would do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen; including seeing him getting married and sucking up the pain that came with it.
But there is nothing he wouldn’t do for him, even if it hurts.
Then, as on cue, Luke came walking from the stables and Michael felt how his chest let go of a breath of relief at seeing he was okay. What he didn’t expect was to see the Princess holding his arm tightly as they walked towards them.
Trying hard not to let his confusion show or let the uncomfortable feeling at the pit of his stomach grow any stronger, Michael tightened his jaw as his eyes met Luke’s baby blues, but when he signaled them towards the Princess it was clear that she was very upset about something.
“Is everything okay, Your Highness?” Michael asked, noticing how her gaze lingered for a second too long on the stable lad whose posture changed completely at seeing the proximity in which the betrothed held each other.
“Y/N?” They heard from afar, each one of them turning their heads at the Heir of RoseWood walking towards them with a worried gaze.
Immediately, Y/N grew tense as Luke held her tight. Calum’s eyes jumped from the Princess to her brother with a mix of emotions in them that Michael could barely recognize at a distance. Luke shot Michael a knowing look, this shall be fun.
The green-eyed man observed how the Princess cuddled closer to the young King as her brother tried to approach them. He noticed how Luke’s arms protectively wrapped around her as he excused her with the tale of a nightmare she had. But Michael barely listened to the poor explanation as he concentrated on the way Luke’s hands would run up and down the Princess’ arm, feeling his own hands tight into a fist in a similar way in which the stable lad held his.
“Say, the horses in the Vail are in need of a new caretaker of the stables. Right, Michael?” Luke then said, bringing them all back to reality “Our old friend, Varian is getting too old to even hold himself without his cane and he could use some help”
The smile Luke gave to his friend was everything Michael needed to breathe properly again, turning to Calum and nodding.
“And I know Y/N will appreciate the company of someone from home at The Vail, don’t you think?”
Both Calum and Michael snapped their heads at Luke, the former one stuttering “I- I don’t know, Your Majesty. I-”
“Oh! I have an idea, why don’t you join us on the hunting trip? I’m sure we can convince you there. What do you think, Ashton?”
This was going to be a long trip.
“You’ve been quiet”
They’ve just gotten back from the hunting trip and have barely even talked since. And now, as they walk through the palace trying to find the Princess, Luke can’t handle the silence anymore.
“There’s not much to say” Michael shrugged, but Luke could see right through his bluff.
Michael stayed separated from the group during the trip, only exchanging a few words with Calum, the stable lad. But besides that, he remained distant, observant as always, except when Luke was looking his way.
The young King, on the other hand, learned a lot about the Princess and her brother. He found it endearing how the stable lad talked about Y/N, he had a way with words that made Luke like her even more as Calum told them everything the Princess meant for him, although Luke suspects there’s more to the story than just that.
But as Calum spoke, his baby blue eyes kept looking for their green companions, they’re partners of mischief and secret looks, but Michael kept glancing away, stiff as a rock. Luke knew there was something wrong, but he couldn’t pinpoint what exactly.
“The Princess seems like a nice lady” Michael then said out of nowhere, confusing the King.
“She does, she is. Not everyone could say things like that and not mean them. But I didn’t know you were listening”
“I’m always listening” Michael answered bitterly “But I didn’t know you were so interested in her, so I stayed out of it”
Michael’s tone surprised Luke. He walked faster, standing in front of Michael and making him stop in his tracks.
“Why wouldn’t I be interested in her?”
“I thought you didn’t want to get married,” Michael said, looking into his eyes.
“Then what’s all of that about bringing Y/N and the stable lad to the Vail to make her “feel like home” or how you kept asking about her so you could get along nicely?”
The bitterness in his throat was almost choking the voice of the knight of the Vail. He tried to swallow the hurt, make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, yet he was failing at it. He said he didn’t want to get married, he said he didn’t love the Princess but maybe he changed his mind. And if Luke was really interested in the Princess, then what else could he do but to wish him happiness? He’s the one who got them here.
With furrowed brows and a defensive attitude, Luke asked “Why are you acting like this? Aren’t you supposed to be happy if I suddenly want to, and believe that’s not the case, get married to the Princess?”
“You’re the one who accepted the deal. Not me. You’re the one who pushed this engagement down my throat even when I initially refused. You are the one who practically begged me to try and now you’re getting mad that I want to get to know her?!”
“I’m not mad because of that!”
“Then what is it, Mike?!” Luke loudly hushed.
But Michael didn’t know.
Yes, he should be happy that his King might want to get married and secure the alliance that would keep him safe. He should be happy that Princess Y/N is not the same as her father is. He should be happy at the fact that Luke could be happy with her as his Queen.
So why? Why did he feel that crushing feeling inside his chest when he saw her cuddled into his arm and chest? Why did the words of the stable lad make him feel unworthy of Luke’s attention? Why when he thought about home he didn’t think about The Vail but rather the man who’s leading it?
The man who could be taken away from him so easily with just an “I do” and could leave him homeless. The man whom he swore to protect and is willing to die doing so. The man who gave his life meaning by just sharing a laugh with him when they were kids.
The man who is now standing in front of him with hopeful eyes but with a sad look in them.
Luke sighed as Michael kept quiet.
“When I said what I said about bringing Y/N to the Vail I wasn’t talking about her as a Queen. I like her, she seems nice and fun but I could never love her as more than a friend and I would really like to be her friend, it seems like she needs more people rooting for her team. And, if what you said was true and she’s not safe here I thought… Why not bring her to our home where she will be safe? Not as my wife, but as a guest. We could keep her safe”
Michael sighed, feeling like an absolute idiot for ever doubting Luke and his kind heart. He always used to tell him that his kindness might be the end of him, but Michael knew that it was his kindness what made him a great leader, to begin with.
“And the stable lad?” Michael asked, looking down in shame. Luke just shrugged.
“We really do need a new person in charge of our horses and I had a feeling that wherever Y/N might go, that Calum would follow so I just extended that invitation to him. But I don’t think he likes me that much if I’m being honest”
Michael nodded “I’m sorry,”
“Hey,” Luke said softly, placing a hand on Michael’s shoulder “it’s okay, Mikey. I just- I just wished you would talk to me about what’s really bothering you because I know that this wasn’t it, not entirely at least. You can trust me”
“I do trust you,”
And he did, he just didn’t know if he could trust himself after all, not with these feelings at least.
“Then why are your eyes troubled?” He said, finally letting out a defeated sigh as he let his hand drop from Michael’s shoulder “C‘mon, we still need to find that goddamn library”
A month had passed since their arrival to RoseWood and they still haven’t found anything that could help them revoke the King’s promise and get them out of the deal. They spent hours and hours in the library with Princess Y/N, reading as much as they could on politics and old deals but they found no luck.
They would spend almost every afternoon locked inside the library with Y/N as their only company and they quickly found a friend in her, knowing that she could be trusted even though she tried to hide the books on local politics that she’s been reading ever since they’ve met. This, however, could not be said about her father or brother.
King Richard still insisted on the marriage even though her daughter was clearly against it, not only that, but he also insisted on shared meals with the King of The Vail to discuss the army they possessed and the probabilities of joining forces in the future. It made Luke sick to his stomach to even think about going to war but they were just topics of conversation as of now. He would never lead his people to a pointless cause like the King of RoseWood would.
Ashton was quiet, too quiet sometimes that it put Michael on constant alert. He started to show bags under his eyes that weren’t there when they first met and it happened once or twice that he noticed how the Princess gave her brother the cold shoulder, never staying in the same room for a long amount of time ignoring Ashton’s desperate looks. It was always rumored that the RoseWood siblings had a close relationship after the Queen passed away when they were kids. But Y/N was the only one they could trust and if for some reason Y/N stopped trusting Ashton, they wouldn’t trust him either.
This was taking a toll on them. It was frustrating, and while they played pretend with the Princess by having casual conversations, laughing, and joking as they searched through the pages for some kind of information, it was when they were alone that their feelings got the best of them.
“It’s been weeks,” Luke complained “How could we have not found anything after weeks of searching?”
He was sitting at the edge of his bed, fidgeting with the mask he held in his hands. They were getting ready for the masquerade ball that the King offered to host in his honor, but he would’ve much rather go to bed and sleep a whole day if he could see if he could wake up from this nightmare.
“We’ll find something,” Michael answered while he changed behind a folding screen, trying to stay hopeful for his King although all hope seemed to be slipping out of his hands “There must’ve been something we missed. Something that’s just been hidden from us”
Luke shook his head “The wedding is in a month. Y/N is already trying on dresses and people keep asking me about my opinions on napkins and wine, and I have to smile at them, tell them how excited I am for the ceremony, to join the two realms and the future that awaits... I- I can’t do this, Michael. I can’t keep up with the charade. I don’t want to lie anymore and tell people that I’m happy when I’m not”
Michael was quick to get out the folding screen as he heard a familiar sniff. He found Luke half-dressed, sitting on his bed crouching over his elbows with his hands covering his face. Michael wasted no time in kneeling in front of him, softly grabbing his wrists as he said.
“Hey, hey no” He whispered “Look at me, okay? Just look at me”
Luke dropped one hand as the other one covered his mouth and nose, looking directly at Michael with eyes filled with unshed tears.
It was too much, what he was going through was too much and too big of a burden to carry on his shoulders while he had to pretend in front of strangers to be someone he’s not and Michael kicked himself for not noticing that sooner.
No one ever asked him his opinion on anything, no one besides Luke, and he failed to notice just how much pressure and stress it caused the Young King to constantly be in the spotlight. And now, as he looks into those baby blue eyes filled with fear and frustration, he realized that there are things he might not be able to protect him from.
“I want to go home,” Luke said in a hushed, broken whisper “I want for us to go back to the Vail, or anywhere that’s far away from here where they can’t find us”
“I know,” Michael answered back, softly placing one of Luke’s curls behind his ear, making him blush slightly under his hand. “I know, but we need to hang on. You need to hang onto this for just a little bit more, I promise I’ll get you out of here. But we need more time. Give me time to make sure that you’ll be safe, that I’ll be able to protect you. Just- hang on a little more, for me?”
“I know I caused you a lot of pain by bringing you here, and I promise you I hate myself for it. But we- I can’t let you go and let this all be for nothing once we go back to The Vail and the threats become a reality. I know you don’t want to marry and I’ll do anything in my power to make you happy again, Luke. But I won’t let the price of that be your life. I am your knight, your guard, your advisor, and your friend. Let me protect you”
Luke hid his trembling lip as he nodded, finding nothing but truth and fear inside Michael’s eyes as he spoke from the heart. It was always in his eyes where he found most comfort, where he felt the safest he could ever be because Michael would be there by his side. And now, when he thought he was lost in battle, one look was all it took to take his breath away and renew it with a new hope.
“We have a month” Michael continued “And if we find nothing, then we can leave and deal with the consequences after. We’ll have a plan, we’ll escape and ask for sanctuary somewhere else if not the Vail. But we still have a month”
“A month” Luke repeated “But I’m not getting married, Mikey, please promise me I won’t”
“Please,” Luke begged, now holding both of Michael’s hands in his “We can help Y/N to get out of here as well but don’t make me get married to her just to save my life”
Michael never considered lying to Luke until this moment. His loyalty was to him, to his duty to keep him safe and away from harm. Sure, they could run away but to what cost? Michael didn’t know, what he did know is that he will follow Luke until the end of the world, willing to give his life for him in an instant. He will figure out the rest later.
“Alright,” He said, “I promise. What about tonight?”
“Are you okay for tonight? Or should I call Sir Wils-whatever and tell him that you’re feeling ill?”
“Would you do that for me?” Luke asked hopefully.
Michael let out a small laugh, placing his hand at the back of Luke’s neck “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, how can you not get that?”
They were close, foreheads pressed together as they looked into each other’s eyes. No one said anything, they didn’t even dare to let out a big breath. They just stayed like that for a second, for a moment where words were not enough to say what’s inside their hearts; the words they might never say out loud.
Michael was the first one to pull away, just enough to see Luke’s face in its entirety “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in this, no matter how much you feel like you are”
He started to get up, but stopped the moment he felt a hand tug on his “And you’ll be with me?”
“Till the end of the line”
The knight pulled Luke up with him as they now stood one in front of the other. Luke sighed, letting his shoulders fall for a second before adopting the posture of a King.
“C’mon, Mikey” He smiled fondly at him “We have a party to attend”
“King Luke Hemmings from the Vail and his loyal advisor, Sir Michael Clifford from Chesthire” The chamberlain announced as they descended the steps of the stairs one by one.
From where they were standing, Luke could see the royal family staring at them from the middle of the dancefloor. Y/N let out a breath of relief the minute he saw them, and Luke guessed it was about not having to endure the company of her father alone.
“Everyone is watching” Michael whispered under his breath, suddenly feeling nervous about being so exposed to so many people.
“They’re all looking at you, darling” Luke said with a smile “You are looking quite dashing if I must say”
Michael shook his head, blushing under his mask “I’m no King,”
“No,” Luke simply answered as they reached the last step “You’re much more than that”
And for Luke, that was true. Michael really did look dashing in his uniform; his hair was pushed back in a small and low ponytail and the shades of blue that we wore made his green eyes pop with elegance and mystery under his white and gold mask. Even Y/N agreed that he looked like a Prince, making Michael blush for the second time.
Luke decided he liked to see Michael blushing, and he relished on the note that he made him blush first that night, secretly hoping he could make him blush more frequently in the future.
Despite all odds, the evening was going smoothly as the men from the Vail shared a few tips and games with the Princess, making each other laugh as they invented the gossip from RoseWood. It reminded them of their days in the palace; Luke inviting Michael to spend the night whenever his parents hosted a party while they were too young to attend and then sneaking out in their pajamas, hiding under tables, and stealing the small chocolate treats from the banquet, laughing the whole night through until the sugar rush ran out and had to go back to bed, telling each other stories till one of them fell asleep.
“And that’s another win for Y/N,” Michael said with a cheeky smile.
“You underestimated me, gentleman,” The Princess said smugly “But let me remind you that I grew on stories”
“So did Luke, but he’s still losing”
Luke glared at them as they laughed, “Very funny.” He said sarcastically “I’m going to get a drink, Y/N, Mike, you want one?” Michael shook his head but Y/N accepted “I’ll be right back”
“You two are really close” Y/N pointed out with a smile. Michael nodded, feeling comfortable with the Princess “How did you guys meet?”
“I became an orphan when I was eight, and my uncle took me in and took me to The Vail” Y/N opened her mouth but Michael interrupted her “There’s nothing to be sorry about, Princess. Those things happen. At the Vail, I didn’t feel comfortable with the other kids, and my uncle, being one of the best teachers in the whole Armory, always took that to his advantage to teach me how to be the best with the sword and secrets”
“Secrets?” The Princess whispered, amazed.
“When you become a knight of The Vail, you also become a warrior, a spy, a soldier ready to die for their allegiance to the Kingdom. I learned to keep my feelings secret, to walk carefully through the people around me so they wouldn’t suspect anything. A ghost, if you may refer to it as such. By the age of eleven, I had already mastered the craft of the fight, maybe that’s why he chose me to be Luke’s teacher”
“You were his teacher?” She asked, amused. Michael just smiled.
“Children train with a partner, but Luke had zero experience, so that meant I had to teach him all I know. See this?” He pointed to the faint scar on his eyebrow “He made that the day where I had nothing left to teach him. But the bond was already made, we became partners and then friends…”
“Then he lost his parents”
Michael nodded, “A real tragedy for everyone. They were good monarchs, but they were even excellent parents. Always treated me with respect and love, made me feel like one of their own” He smiled with nostalgia before turning serious again “When Luke lost them… he lost the ability to trust. I’m sure you’ve heard about what happened and about the man who killed them” Y/N nodded “From that point on we learned that we could only trust each other. He appointed me as his advisor and we’ve never left each other sides since them”
“Seems like a big responsibility”
“It’s not. Not with a friend like Luke. Not when you would already do anything for him, even the craziest and reckless thing you could think of”
“Pardon me, Your Highness” A voice interrupted, making them both turn around as Y/N sucked in a breath “Will you give me the greatest honor and pleasure of sharing one dance with me, Your Highness?”
Michael recognized that voice, not only that bus he recognized the eyes behind the mask. What was he doing here? Didn’t he know how dangerous it could be for him to sneak up at a party just like that and-
Then, Michael saw something that made his train of thought completely disappear. He looked into Y/N’s pleading eyes, saw the happy tears gathered around them and the pure happiness that radiated through them. And he understood.
He understood what she was doing that day at the stables. He understood why they caught her walking alone at night through the castle with childlike joy. He understood why she read book after book on RoseWoods politics.
It was the same reason he had. The same motive. The same feeling.
So, the knight smiled complicity, “Just another secret between us, Princess” and walked a little bit further so they could have this moment.
The Little Princess and the Stable Lad. Who would’ve known? But at the same time, who could’ve questioned it when they looked at each other like that? With the uttermost joy and love, a young couple could have, the one that would leave goosebumps of passion with just a simple touch, or even just a glance. There was no one in the world for them, just them as they walked through the middle of the dance floor and got into position, ready to defy everything and everyone that could come their way.
Michael looked at them with proud eyes, secretly hoping that he could one day have that amount of bravery in him instead of just dreaming of the day where he could love freely, unapologetically in front of everyone. The day where he could stop fearing rejection or just accept his fate. The day where it could be only him and-
“Where did Y/N go?” Luke asked as he arrived with two drinks in his hands.
Michael simply smiled as he looked forward, catching the way the Princess’ eyes gleamed with something he’s never seen in them before.
“Ah,” Luke said, immediately understanding the situation “Do you happen to know who that man is?”
He passed one of the drinks to Michael, who simply answered.
“It’s a secret”
Luke smiled into his drink “I thought we didn’t have secrets. But I think I’ll let this one slide”
Michael raised his eyebrows “And why is that? If you care to explain”
“When someone looks at another person like that” He pointed to Calum as he mouthed something to Y/N that only they could hear “You don’t question anything, you just know it’s real”
“And you know everything about things that are real…”
“I do, actually,” He said, sipping on the last drops of his drink “I know everything I have with you is real, so why question it?”
“Are you drunk already?” Michael asked with a laugh, hoping that the mask was wide enough to cover his pink cheeks.
“Ugh, not nearly enough” Luke complained “If I were, I might actually say that King Richard is a nice company”
“And that’s when I’ll know you finally lost your mind”
The two men laughed, feeling just like the old times. It was nice to have a break, a moment to just relax and be themselves after so much drama.
Then, the music came to a stop as the crow started to applaud the dancers and the orchestra. Both Luke and Michael joined as they watched with a smile how Calum said goodbye to the Princess with a kiss on the back of her hand.
“I really hope she’s happy,” Michael said in a hushed breath.
“Yes, I- wait, what is the King doing?”
All eyes froze in the middle of the dance floor as King Richard approached his daughter with a cynical smile. Y/N herself froze on the spot as well, looking around for some way to escape.
“Michael…” Luke whispered, tugging on the younger man’s sleeve as they watched a few guards coming their way, or more specifically, for Calum.
Without a second thought, Michael stepped forwards, clashing with the first guard, making the whole line of officers stop.
“What the-!?” The general asked, confused as to why his pathway was blocked.
“Sorry,” Michael said, pointing to his drink “Had a little bit too much of these”
The guard, annoyed as can be, pushed Michael backward and with a grunt of disapproval, he kept walking. Luckily, Luke was there to catch him before he fell on the floor.
“Did it work?” Michael asked as he stood up straight again, looking at where Calum was standing right after the dance.
“I think so,” Luke replied with a hand over Michael’s chest “Are you okay?”
But before Michael could answer, a voice resonated throughout the room.
“I believe it’s time for a father and daughter dance!”
The crows started to cheer as a sudden chill ran through Luke’s spine, drifting his eyes from Michael and Y/N as they stood there in horror.
“What is he doing?” Michael asked with gritted teeth as he saw how the King grabbed her daughter and practically dragged her to the dance floor again.
Throughout the dance, both their heartbeats were loud and frantic as they feared for their friend who helplessly tried to get away from her father’s harsh grip as they talked in hush voices accompanied by the King’s fake smiles.
Luke caught a glimpse of Ashton who was now standing as close as he could to the dancing duo, trying to interfere in the dance but second-guessing his movements. Michael must’ve thought the same thing because, with one simple look at him, they knew what they had to do.
Together, Michael and Luke pushed through the crowd, trying to get to Y/N and steal her from a dance. It didn’t matter that it was a father and daughter dance, if anything Luke’s her fiancée so he might as well interfere whenever he seems fit, but how could anyone look at Y/N’s face and claim that the tears gathered in her eyes were anything but of sadness.
“Stop the music!” The King said, just as Luke was about to take a step forward “My daughter, Princess Y/N, just had the most wonderful idea! She told me she cannot wait to be married, just like any other lady. And who am I to deny anything to my beautiful, beautiful little princess?”
Luke turned to Michael, a desperate look of fear set upon his eyes as the King proclaimed:
“The wedding ceremony will take place in two days!”
The people started to cheer and shout their huzzahs. The room started to spin and Luke tried to keep his two feet on the ground with Michael standing close by and grabbing him by the arm to keep him straight and steady. Y/N half-whispered shout of “leave me alone!” Resonated on their ears as they watched the Princess run away from the party.
“Go, I’ll follow you” And with that, they ran.
Luke took the lead, calling for Y/N as his feet flew over the marbled floors of the castle, his chest pounding faster and faster each time trying to understand what just happened back there. His mask fell from his face as he turned a corner, catching a glimpse of her dress as she stepped away from the palace.
“Y/N!” Luke’s voice was all Michael could hear right now as he ran behind them, but stopped the minute he saw her sobbing against Luke’s chest while he hugged her.
That image alone shattered Michael’s heart. He knew Y/N didn’t say anything to her father, she couldn’t, not after what they witnessed on the dance floor with the stable lad. This was just a trick by the King, it must be. But still, as he watched the doomed couple from just a few meters away, he saw no way out of it.
Michael picked up Luke’s mask from the floor, softly patting on it to get the dust off it and taking off his own as well. What is there to do? He lifted his gaze helplessly and found Luke already looking at him as Y/N tugged on his hand, and, with just a single gesture, he commanded Michael to stay up guard at the door.
Michael wanted to yell, to shout a curse to the skies because that was the last thing he wanted to do. He wanted to go to him, to accompany the grief of this news and make sure that he was okay, not guard the door as his fianceé took him away towards a secluded part of the woods where he couldn’t see them.
What is he to do now? What could anyone do now? Even if Y/N had a plan, how could it work in just two days? Were they to just give up and send Luke to the altar, or escape and risk a secure death for the Young King? But at the same time, who could guarantee any security coming from The King of RoseWood?
Richard had a plan, and it killed Michael not to know what it was or how to stop him. How could someone personify death and still pretend to be a saving grace?
He gripped the mask in his hands, enough to actually break it if he dared but with enough delicacy on his fingers brushing against the plastic under the eyes imagining it’s Luke. He couldn’t protect him, he failed him and he didn’t know what to do.
Should they run? Should they stay? Who's to say what the right choice is when all the pathways have no end? Michael was supposed to take care of him, and while doing so he craved the grave of the only person who could show him just how kind and beautiful the world could be. The only one who he truly-
No, he has a duty; a compromise to keep his King safe no matter what. Feelings don’t matter, the infinity of what if’s don’t matter, his heart won’t matter unless Luke is safe, his heart won’t beat unless Luke is safe. He is all that matters right now, and that’s all Michael could care about.
So when Luke came back from the woods, he tried to avoid his glossy eyes as he remained seemingly emotionless on the outside while he was breaking on the inside.
“Where’s the Princess?” He asked, “Is she okay?”
“No, she’s not” Luke sighed “But I hope to god she will be. I promise her we will keep the entrance to the woods safe”
“She went to him?”
“I told her to. She needn’t stay here, and neither do we” The young King said seriously, his teary blue eyes now glowing in anger.
“We need to leave. The four of us, we can leave tonight and-“
“We can't,” Michael breathed, looking down at the floor.
Michael shot him a glare, looking around to see if anyone was listening “Let’s walk. We’ll guard the woods better if we keep moving”
Without waiting for an answer, Michael stepped out of the palace and walked through the gardens, never once looking back to see if Luke would follow, but he knew he would.
“What do you mean we can’t?” Luke asked, walking up and standing in front of him, making him stop completely for a second before he pushed past him. But Luke kept insisting “Michael, we need to leave”
Still, no answer from the knight of the Vail as he turned one of the corners from outside the palace, ignoring Luke’s footsteps hurrying up behind him as he tried to catch up.
“Michael!” He called “Are you listening to me?”
“Are you?!” Michael finally caved “Are you listening to yourself right now?! Do you know the kind of situation we have?!”
Luke was taken aback by his tone of voice. Michael never yelled at him, even when he was mad or when they were kids and he hurt him by accident. Never once did he raise his voice at him. But, at the same time, he never looked at him like that; so desperately defeated.
“We have a plan” Luke tried to say, but judging by the way Michael rolled his eyes he guessed he just made a mistake by trying.
“We had a half plan that needed time to work. What you had was an idea. Suppose we ran away, and then what? Where are we supposed to go? To the Vail, where the high society sees you as a traitor to the crown for firing them? Where the threats might become a reality? Do we stay in the woods with Y/N and her forbidden love, living day by day with King Richard breathing down our necks until we are eventually found and judged for treason? He will kill us, all of us, if we decide to run”
This is what Luke feared the most; the moment where everything seemed lost and now even Michael was turning his back on him. He didn’t care that Michael had a point, he didn’t care about the risks, not as long as they stayed together but now…
“Are you leaving me alone in this, Michael?” He asked with a broken voice and cold steel eyes.
And there it was; that same feeling Michael felt when Luke left him alone in the balcony the night it all fell apart, the night that sparked this whole mess. But something cut deeper this time, whether it was the inevitability of the situation or Luke actually believing that he could ever be apart from him.
“Never” He answered, offended that he could even ask that.
“You promised me you wouldn’t give up!”
“And we’ve been told one month, Luke, not two fucking days!”
Luke was at the brink of tears, trying to keep it together as he confronted his best friend. He wondered if this is how his parents felt when they realized that the person who became close friends with them betrayed them. He wondered if they ever felt as scared as he was in this moment; scared to lose it all, to lose Michael and himself in the process.
If they were here, this wouldn’t have happened. If they were here, he wouldn’t have to feel the weight of the crown upon his head and the heaviness on his shoulders. If they were here, he could have a chance at a normal life before having to face the world with this much uncertainty.
Luke cursed the crown that got him here. The crown he inherited while his parents’ bodies were still warm, the one that was set upon him since birth. If he wasn’t King, Michael would never have had to protect him, he would have never been his burden to carry and he would have never had to marry someone he doesn’t love.
Michael’s hands shook as he gripped them in a fist and placed them to the sides so his King wouldn't notice.
“I failed you as a friend,” He said, looking at the grass that crumbled beneath his boots, too ashamed to even look at him in the eyes.
“But I haven’t failed you as a knight, not yet” Michael raised his gaze, locking eyes with Luke as he parted his lips in fear of his next words.
“I think you should marry the Princess”
It was the first time he uttered those words out loud. He always referred to the marriage as King Richard’s proposal, the plan or the alliance, never once mentioning the marriage itself or the Princess. And as he said them, Luke felt his heart draining of every ounce of blood it once had.
Luke’s face was of disgust and apprehension “No,”
“You can be happy with her” Michael kept going on a rant, not even listening to what Luke had to say “You can secure the crown, the Vail, you could live a hundred years and never once have to worry about something bad happening to you. You could live, have children that would inherit your blue eyes and curly hair, watch them grow, and become the best people in the world. She can give that all to you and-”
“And I don’t want it!” Luke yelled “Not with her, nor with any other princess! For fuck’s sake, Michael, stop trying to decide what’s best for me! Just stop it”
“What the fuck do you want me to say then?! What am I to do when everything around us is crumbling? I can’t lose you!”
“How?!” Michael yelled, his face now red and with glossy eyes “How can I not lose you when I knew from the start that I can’t have you?” His voice broke “I can’t give you anything, Luke. I can’t protect you, I can’t- I can’t give you what she can and it fucking kills me that you’re not selfish enough to see it. Y/N could give you everything and you still refuse it and I don’t understand… I don’t understand why you wouldn't just accept it and just be done with it. Let us both rest, let me know you’re safe and that’ll be enough”
Luke froze, his breath caught in his chest as he took in Michael’s words accompanied by his unshed tears that clouded his eyes and made them look greener than ever, letting Luke get lost in them one more time.
“Then tell me to do it”
“What?” Michael asked.
“Tell me to do it,” Luke said defiantly, taking a step closer to Michael “Tell me to do it. Tell me to marry the Princess”
“I just did,”
“No, you told me you think I should marry her. Not that I have to”
Michael had to take a few steps back as Luke kept coming closer and closer, eyes never leaving each other as they did this dance under the stars.
“Tell me the truth, Michael” Luke pressured with a soft but commanding voice, just like a King “Tell me you want me to marry the Princess, tell me to marry her and I will”
They were standing one in front of the other, just a meter apart with nowhere to run if they wished to. Michael could smell his perfume mixed with the smell of paper and ink, he could feel the heat coming from his own cheeks as Luke’s body almost towered over him, looking at him with something he’s never seen before.
“I- I,” He stuttered in a whisper “I can’t”
Luke grabbed Michael’s face in one swift movement, cupping his cheeks as he took a leap forward and crashed their lips together. The surprise made Michael take a few steps backward until his back was hitting one of the outside walls from the palace, but once he realized what was happening he fell like Icarus from the sky, first not realizing and then all at once.
His eyes were closed as he placed his hands on each side of Luke’s waist, bringing him closer as their lips moved in sync against each other. This simple touch made Luke gasp, allowing Michael to deepen the kiss by brushing his tongue on his lower lip, requesting more access that Luke was more than happy to oblige.
Their bodies felt hot as Luke pressed himself against Michael, earning a low moan from the knight as his body molded itself against him and the wall. “The stars got nothing on us right now,” Luke thought as Michael’s fingers dug deeper into his skin over his clothes “Fuck, the stars could be burning right now and I wouldn’t care. Not if I get to hear those sounds again”
The years of secret mutual pining came over them in a rush, giving all they have into the kiss that could last a lifetime if they had a choice in it, but eventually one of them had to pull away.
“Fuck,” Luke breathed, panting heavily due to the lack of air with a smirk after noticing how Michael chased his lips until they knocked their foreheads together.
Luke was still cupping Michael’s cheeks with both hands, looking into his eyes with the uttermost joy he felt in years, especially when he noticed Michael looking up at him in the same way.
“I don’t need a kingdom,” He said, not moving an inch “I don’t need a crown, I don’t need an heir. I don’t need anything as long as I have you, Mike. She couldn’t give me anything I could truly want, not when everything I want, everything I need is here with you. You give me more than I could ask for; you gave me your friendship and your trust even when I had nothing yet to offer you, you gave me countless laughs and held me when I felt like my world was falling apart. You are my home, my love, the only one I could ever know; so, I don’t care what happens to me, not as long as I have you by my side because I can’t live without you, I don’t want to live without you. I would rather live my truth for one more night than having to spend eternity living a lie and if I shall die because I didn’t fulfill my part of the deal then so be it; my heart would’ve been dead either way if it didn’t have you”
Michael shook his head, looking at the floor “Don’t say things like that. Don’t cast a prophecy upon your death with the stars as a witness, not when they are present in your eyes to take your word from it. Don’t say you would rather be dead when my only purpose is to take care of your heart so it could keep beating. So, don’t say things like that when you know I’d die with you the moment you do”
“Okay, I won’t” Suddenly, one of Luke’s hands came to grab one of Michael’s, placing it on his chest above his heart while the other one rested against the wall next to the knight’s head “Can you feel it beating? How fast is it going? Michael, you’ve owned my heart since the moment we met, it beats for you so it’s only yours to take, now and forever. The moment you leave… the moment they take me away, it’ll be a carcass of a worthless beating. So, take care of it, don’t leave, and don’t make me. Stay with me,” He breathed, placing a hand over Michael’s heart, feeling it beat “Our hearts are in sync with the same beat, we are one and the same again and again and again. Don’t make me kill us both by shattering our hearts”
Michael gripped Luke’s shirt, pulling him closer till their lips could meet again. He didn’t know if the wetness on his cheeks were his or Luke’s fault, but at this moment he didn’t care, not when he felt the heartbeat of the man he loved so close to his own chest, making both their hearts beat in harmony, just as one.
The kiss turned passionate, violent as Luke tangled himself between Michael’s legs, leaving bruising kisses along his lips as the flame of passion overtook them.
Michael’s fingers traveled from his waist and into the young King’s curls, tugging them slightly and making him groan against the corner of his mouth.
“I want you” Luke moaned, pressing their lips together one more time “I want all of you”
“My King,” Michael breathed, tugging on the golden lock a bit more so he could look straight into the eyes of his beloved as he said “You have me, all of me, you always did”
And if the eyes told a story, Michael’s eyes were writing sonnets at this moment, making Luke think that the brightest star was on earth hidden between that soft green sea; a star that would shine just for him if he’s lucky enough.
“Let’s run away, together” He proposed again, and just before Michael could say anything, he added: “I know. I know, love, and I get it. I understand it’s risky. But let me talk to the King. Let me see if I can get the dates pushed back again”
Michael thought about it for a second “How are you going to do that?”
Luke smirked “Wouldn’t be the first time I’d have to bullshit my way into a conversation with another monarch” He said, placing small and long kisses along Michael’s neck.
The knight smiled, letting out a sigh as the young King left a soft mark underneath his ear. Luke could ask him the world right now and he would just give it to him without a second thought. It was intoxicating to finally feel free inside his own mind, his own heart. He was impressed with how much happiness he missed out on for not letting his walls fall for just one moment.
Luke, on his part, could not get enough of the small sounds and soft touches that burned his skin like the fire of Prometheus itself. He lowered his head just enough to nibble at the soft skin of Michael’s neck, creating a trail of kisses and bites till he created a necklace around the knight’s throat. Once he was done, he lifted his head just enough to look him in the eyes again, placing his palm on the warm cheek of the man who owns his heart.
“I haven’t felt happiness in such a long time,” He said with a small smile “But I know it can’t compare to this, nothing could and nothing will”
“It might not last,” Michael said, grabbing the collar of the Royal uniform until he could whisper against his lips “We might be dead by tomorrow”
“Then let’s make tonight our forever”
Luke leaned in, head spinning as he felt Michael smile through the kiss and feeling like he could laugh joyfully again right there and there. But then, his hand slipped from the wall, making him press it again against one of the outstanding rocks from the premise.
Suddenly, Michael was leaning backward and his eyes immediately shot open with a confused fear written in them. Luckily, Luke held him by the shirt seconds before he could start falling, catching him and helping him stand straight.
“Are you alright?” He asked, only concentrating on Michael.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just- what the fuck is that?”
In front of them stood a crack on the wall that was not there before. A peculiar crack that had the shape of a small door.
The two men looked at each other and then back to the door. Michael had his hand already placed over the handle of his sword as he took it out of its sheath while Luke ventured himself forwards, opening the secret passage.
But Luke couldn’t see anything “It’s dark”
“Well, it’s a passage inside of a wall, not very candle safe…” Michael retorted, earning a glare from his King “Let me see”
Inside, there was not a straight passage but rather an iron staircase in the shape of a spiral, rusty and easily breakable, that led to several stores down the palace -or at least that’s what they imagined given that the bottom was pure darkness.
“Where do you think it leads?” Michael asked, putting the sword back in its place.
Luke shrugged “Want to find out?”
The green-eyed man turned to him “You have got to be joking”
The young King smiled “Luckily for you, I am” He said as he leaned to point to the staircase “This leads to the dungeons, they’re placed underground to serve as torture for the prisoners given that this realm relishes the sun and its famous because of their crops and gardens, making the underground a very depressing place for someone who’s used to let the sunshine in. And, going back to the staircase, I believe this was built around the time where King Gregory was ruling, about a hundred and fifty years ago? I believe? He had his brother imprisoned by traitors, but they still held secret meetings and this was the only way to enter the dungeons without being seen. I thought they closed this entrance years ago and by the smell of it, they should have”
Michael blinked a couple of times, staring at Luke with a frown.
“Now, why on earth do you know that?”
“Never visit a kingdom without having at least a proper knowledge of their culture and history” He shrugged “It’s common courtesy. Now,” He said, closing the door and cupping Michael’s hand in his and pulling him closer until they were chest to chest with his other hand cupping the knight’s cheek “Where were we?”
The sunrise looked beautiful over the trees, almost like a painting from one of the most renowned artists of the time. The pink and orange skies covered the woods in a faint light, letting all things come to life as the sun started to peek its way through the hills of Rose Wood.
The cold morning breeze made its way through the window, welcoming a new day as it softly brushed the hairs on the young King’s head who was already awake, saying goodbye to the stars that listened to his wish. He took a deep breath, a soft smile playing on his lips as he felt the weight of an arm wrapped around his naked torso; a warm touch that brought butterflies into the pit of his stomach.
Luke’s back was pressed against Michael’s chest, feeling the soft intakes of breath he took as his face was pressed to the back of his neck, lightly tingling Luke with his stubble. The young King placed his hand over his lover’s, caressing over the callous fingers as he tried to move it away for just one second without Michael noticing it.
“Don’t you dare” The knight grumbled against the space between his shoulders and neck, closing his fingers on Luke’s hands and tugging it.
Luke smiled softly, loving the sound of his morning voice “I’m just going to close the window, my love. I don’t want you to get cold”
“Then get closer and keep me warm, your Majesty,” Michael said, placing soft kisses onto Luke’s neck, trailing them to his shoulders “Isn’t your duty to make sure your subjects are satisfied?” He teased.
“I didn’t hear you complain last night, my Lord”
Michael rolled his eyes, feeling Luke’s smirk even though he could not see it. He gently pushed the young King on his back and prompted himself upon his arms, placing them at either side of Luke’s face.
For a second, it was impossible for Michael to say anything as he looked into the angelic baby blue eyes of his king, still sleepy from the restless night but with the same starry gleam that made his knees grow weak. Even in the morning, he was capable of taking his breath away with little to no effort.
“Stay,” He asked in a whisper, caressing Luke’s face with the back of his hand “Stay with me for just a little while longer”
Luke grabbed Michael’s hand and kissed his knuckles “I’ll stay as long as you want me”
“Forever then?” The knight asked, leaning over his lips.
“And longer than that”
Their lips met again, just like they had done a thousand and one more times the night prior where they learned to memorize each touch, each spot, each sound, and each kiss; getting drunk on one another as their souls connected and became one.
A sheer feeling of euphoria ran through the men’s minds as their soft touches brought back memories that they would never forget, loving on one another as they whispered promises to each other as the candlelight died, leaving this moment just for them.
“Michael…” Luke half-whispered, half moaned into the kiss; feeling how their legs tangled beneath the silk sheet.
“My King,” Michael groaned when Luke’s fingers tangled in his hair, tugging on them as he kissed down his throat and chest “Tell me what you need”
Soft moans came from Luke’s throat as Michael kept trailing lower and lower, tugging on his hair as the knight’s mouth left marks upon his stomach “Y-you” was all he managed to say once his lips were inching closer and closer to his already hard cock.
Michael’s lips ghosted over Luke’s shaft, a smirk playing on his face as he saw the desperation on his King’s eyes when he softly kissed the tip, tasting the precum that was already leaking from his slit “I’m already yours”
But just before Luke could respond to the mischievous look in Michael’s eyes, a series of loud bangs came from the other side of the door.
“Your Majesty,” Willsburg’s annoyed voice called “Are you awake?”
Luke was going to kill him.
In the span of a second Michael was already up looking for his clothes to open the door somewhat decently. But before he could put on his pants, Luke raised his hand commanding him to stay put. He grabbed his pair of pants from the night before and put them on as he walked to the door with the most annoyed face Michael has ever seen him wear.
The knocks on the door didn’t stop until Luke opened it as he obliterated Willsburg with just one look.
“Don’t you think that if anyone knocks on the door like a mad man, the guest of the room would already be up?” He reprimanded.
The chamberlain face redden as a tomato “I-I’m so sorry, your Majes-”
“Honestly, it seems like the horses have more manners than you, Sir” Luke closed his eyes as he pinched the tip of his nose “Now, would you mind telling me why, in the name of all gods, you rudely awaken me so early in the morning?”
Michael hid at the other side of the door, trying hard to hold back his laughter as he could only imagine the face of that poor man being told by Luke, one of the most patient people on the planet that just had enough.
“Y-yes, Your Majesty. I’m sorry, Your Majesty” Willsburg stuttered “King Richard wants to see you and have a meeting as soon as possible”
Luke sighed “Tell him we’ll be there in a-”
“No, your Majesty. He wants to see you alone”
The sound of their boots echoed through the palace. Luke walked fast alongside Michael whose hand was already at the handle of his sword.
“I don’t like this,” Michael said for the fifth time “It must be some kind of trap”
“Maybe,” Luke answered calmly as they took a turn towards the King’s office “Or maybe he just wants to talk about the wedding and it could be our chance to convince him to push back the dates” He turned to Michael “He can’t do anything to me, he’s crazy but harmless”
“I’m not worried about what he might do, I’m worried about what he might order someone else to do. And I’m worried about you! What are we going to do if he refuses?”
“Then we stick to the original plan and run,” Luke said, taking a step closer to Michael and cupping his cheek “We are men from the Vail, we don’t give up. We’ll be fine. Go, take a walk, see if you can find anything to help us get out of here sooner or find if he’s planning something else for the ceremony” He said, placing a kiss on Michael’s forehead before stepping into the office of his supposed father in law.
King Richard’s office was anything but inviting. A large wooden table was placed in the middle of the room, filled with papers, maps, dried spots of ink, and rings of alcoholic beverages he once forgot he put there. The shelves surrounding the darkroom were stocked with books and bottles of alcohol, most of them already empty when they were almost filled when Luke first stepped into the room a few weeks ago.
The room reeked of alcohol, smoke, sweat, and humidity and no matter how long Luke would sit there, he could never get used to it or stop finding new smells that hurt his nose. It had only one source of light that came from the candles that hung from the ceiling, giving it a gloomy look to it that Luke found accurate to match its owner who was now sitting on some kind of chair that resembled a throne but was far from it.
“Take a seat, boy,” Richard said with a commanding voice.
Luke’s eyes scanned him up and down, sensing something was wrong “I’d rather stay on my feet, thank you”
The King tensed his jaw “So you don’t know how to follow orders,” He commented grimly “Did your parents not teach you manners, boy?”
“They taught me a King never bows down against a command he deems unnecessary. So yes, they did teach me manners, and protocols, and decency…”
Richard banged his fist on the table “Are you mocking me?!” He roared, but the young monarch didn’t even flinch. He just smiled softly.
“No, why would your Majesty think that?” He asked “I was just answering the question you gave me with no means to disrespect your authority, I could never dare to do that, not to someone that holds a respectful image over a Kingdom”
Lying is something that Luke never felt comfortable doing, but he admitted that sometimes it was a necessary means to get what you want, especially with the people who are so narcissistic like King Richard. But now, he knew that a plain lie wouldn’t get him anywhere unless he used his most powerful weapon: His charm.
“I must say, your Majesty, that I was not surprised to hear from you this morning” He continued “After what happened last night at the ball…”
Richard smiled “You know how young women are, always so impatient”
“Indeed they are, but I never took Y/N to be one of them”
“What can I say? My daughter is full of surprises” He said, not even trying to hide the venom in his voice “So when she asked if we could move the wedding closer, how could I say no?”
“As any good father would” Luke nodded, feeling sick to his stomach at hearing the lies that easily spilled from the King’s mouth about Y/N “Any maiden would be lucky to have a father such an attentive father that cares for her so deeply”
“It’s a talent”
Luke smiled “Say, I spoke to the Princess yesterday about the engagement and her decision”
Richard laid back on his chair “Did you now?”
“I spoke to her as we walked through the gardens - they are lovely, by the way - and you could see that she was very emotional about it, I supposed it was because of the joy she felt, and I’m afraid I must’ve said something she didn’t expect”
The King of RoseWood raised his eyebrows, prompting him to continue “You see, your Majesty. I was very excited for the ceremony to take place next month since it was close to my parents’ anniversary and in the Vail that is a sign of a good marriage. So I asked Y/N if she didn’t mind waiting a little longer till all of our plans were made when they were supposed to and she was very understanding of it.”
Which wasn’t technically a lie, the dates of his wedding and his parents’ anniversary were really close, and in the Vail that did mean good luck. He just twisted a little bit of the story to fit the narrative he and Y/N created for the night so no one could suspect anything.
The King, however, did not seem very convinced.
“You want to move the dates back?”
“Yes,” Luke answered confidently with a smile.
“So it could bring you and my daughter good luck in your marriage…”
“To respect a tradition from the Vail”
“And it’s got nothing to do with your little affair with your advisor?”
Luke’s smile flattered in an instant, his breathing got caught up in his chest as the hairs at the back of his neck raised in fear. His eyes widened while he froze in his spot, caught completely out of guard by the King’s words. How did he know?!
King Richard smiled with sufficiency, just like he did with Y/N the night prior, for he seemed to have read the young King’s mind and sensed the utter fear he was unable to hide.
“I have eyes and ears on every wall, boy. So this act of bullshit can get you nowhere” He said in a rough tone, still smiling cynically “What a pathetic excuse of a man you are… How disappointing”
“I have no idea what-” Luke tried, but was interrupted by the sound of a fist colliding with the table.
“Cut the crap!” Richard yelled “I know what you are trying to do. What you’re both trying to do and it’s not going to work. You gave me your word, boy, don’t you forget it! I could have you killed by morning under the crime of treason”
“Then do it!” He challenged, feeling how every vein in his neck tensed in a sudden act of bravery and defiance “Kill me, sentence me to death”
Richard laughed loudly “Do you think I’m that stupid? Of course, I will not kill you when you still need to stick to your word. You promised you would marry my daughter and that’s exactly what you’re going to do”
“You can’t make me”
“Really?” Richard asked, very amused, “Tell me, boy, where is your little knight right now?”
In a split second, Luke drew his sword from its scabbard pointing it directly to the King’s throat as he smiled at him, not even caring about the pointy weapon being too close to his face.
“Ah, ah, ah” He teased “Let’s not get too hasty, here”
“Where is he?!” Luke shouted, chest rising and falling forcefully as he tried to keep his composure and not kill the King at that moment. His eyes were opened wide and filled with rage “What have you done to him?!”
“I don’t know. Maybe nothing, or maybe something…” Luke pressed the point of the swore to the King’s neck “But you won’t find out unless you do as I say”
Luke hesitated, his mind divided on killing the King right here and there, risking the start of a continental way; or stand down and hope for the best, hope that Michael is alright.
Tears were already starting to form in the corner of his eyes. His jaw was tense as he clenched his teeth together, holding back a scream that’s dying to get out. But his mind was on Michael, wondering where he was and if he was okay, knowing that there might not be another choice but to listen to the madman on the chair.
With a groan, Luke put his sword away.
“Good boy” The King smiled like nothing happened “This is what we are going to do. You are going to marry my daughter tomorrow and you’ll stay true to our part of our deal without complaints unless you want to see your lover’s head on a spike as a wedding gift”
Luke swallowed thickly but said nothing, how could he? It was already decided.
The King clapped his hands two times and a couple of guards came into the room “Gentleman, please escort King Luke back to his chambers. I’m afraid he feels under the weather so better let him rest and not let him wander around the castle so he could be in better shape for the wedding tomorrow. Now, if you excuse me, I have an important meeting with an old acquaintance”
Luke was pacing desperately around his room, tears falling free from his eyes as he gripped his hair tightly, almost pulling them all off.
Michael was not back yet, it’s been hours since they left the room for the meeting and he’s still not back. He should be back, he has to be. The King wouldn’t hurt him yet, would he?
He could feel his heart beating painfully on his chest, almost as if it wanted an out on all this pain. The guilt was consuming him slowly as he muttered curses under his breath, hitting his head a few times to stop himself from crying even more.
This was all his fault, he should’ve never provoked the King. He should’ve never let this go too far. He should've told Michael how he felt years ago instead of bottling it up like an idiot and they might have never been in this situation.
They could’ve been free back in the Vail. They could’ve had a life together, a future. But now everything is clouded, everything is wrong and he doesn't know if there is anything any of them could do about it.
But then, the door opened.
“Luke! Where are-”
Michael’s words were cut out when the tall body of his King crashed into him and pressed him against the wall. Luke wasted no time in clashing his lips onto Michael’s, kissing him roughly as he held the knight’s face in his hands.
Michael welcomed the kiss, having missed the feeling of Luke’s lips on him. But even from this act of love, he could tell something was wrong, so he lightly pushed Luke away as he tried to catch his breath.
“My King, what-? What happened?” He asked immediately upon noticing the tears and the worried expression his beloved wore. Michael’s hands flew to Luke’s face, wiping the tears from his eyes with his thumb as he started to examine if he was injured “Are you okay? What happened? Did he-?”
The knight froze. “What?”
Luke’s eyes filled with tears again “He knows, Mikey. He knows about us” He cried.
Without a second thought, Michael wrapped his arms around Luke, holding him closer as he cried into his shoulders while Michael whispered softly against his hair, patting and kissing it softly as he tried to comfort his love as he told him everything that happened.
“He-he said he was going to kill you and then I-I didn’t know where you were”
“I’m here,” He cooed, running his other hand up and down Luke’s back “I’m here, my King, I’m here. I’m okay,”
“I can’t lose you, Michael”
“But what if-?”
Michael pushed him back a little so he could look into his eyes when he said: “He could try to take me away from you and he won’t succeed. I won’t let that happen. And if I have to kill every crow in RoseWood to make sure I’ll stay by your side, I’ll do it. There is nothing, no one, that could separate me from you. I’m yours”
“And I’m yours” Luke breathed through a trembling lip, kissing his love one more time and letting the action speak louder than his words ever could.
But then, Michael was the first to pull away again “Luke, wait” He said, “What did you say he said again?”
Luke shook his head “Something about having eyes and ears on every wall…” He felt Michael tense “Mikey, what’s wrong?”
“Honey,” He said and Luke could’ve melted with the nickname if it weren’t for the situation “A crow was watching me and Y/N today”
“What?!” Luke shouted, taking a step back “And you didn’t tell me?!”
“I was about to!” He said defensively “I thought the crow was after Y/N, but now I think-”
“They’re after us” The young King finished the sentence for him.
Michael nodded “I sensed their presence today, it was barely a glance but I can assure you I saw someone lurking in the shadows and even heard some footsteps… I told Y/N to run back into her room and then I spent hours trying to distract him. Although, now it makes sense why he was following just me”
The shoulders of the young King fell defeatedly as he walked back to the end of the bed, sitting silently and hiding his face in his hands.
His world was falling apart again just when he thought he’d be able to build it again. The weight on his shoulders became unbearable as he saw no way out of this one.
“What are we going to do?” He asked softly. Then, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Michael was crouching in front of him, smiling softly to distract him from the uncertainty his green eyes held.
Luke snapped his head “And get yourself killed?!”
“It’s not fun to be at the other side of that discussion now, is it?” Michael couldn’t help but laugh, earning a glare from his King “We need to get out of here soon, no one is safe here. Not you, or me, or Y/N or Calum-”
“Calum?” Michael mentally kick himself for that slip, but then Luke just smiled “I fucking knew it”
“The point is, we need to go”
“Where are we going?”
“Does it matter?” Michael asked, cupping Luke’s chin and tilting it so he could look at him better “Wherever you go, I’ll go. I’m with you till the end of the line. We’ll make another place our home”
Luke shook his head, pressing his forehead against Micahel’s.
“You are my home, Michael, no matter where we are. I’m always home when I’m with you”
They shared another kiss, holding each other close as they smiled despite the uncertainty because they knew they’ll be fine as long as the other one is on their side.
This was so much more than just love; it was companionship, loyalty, friendship, and compromise that only grew stronger with each moment passed. They were ready to face the world together and fight for what took them so long to have and call theirs. Ready to tell the tale of the Young King and the Loyal Knight.
“You start packing,” Michael told Luke after pecking his lips one last time “I’m going to go tell Y/N to do the same. We leave at midnight”
He got up from his spot and started to walk towards the door when a knock came from outside.
The men from the Vail stood there quietly for a second and then, at the same time, the two of them drew their weapons and positioned themselves for an attack.
Michael walked slowly to the door, opening it to find just one guard who took a step back the moment he saw the two men with swords.
“Sorry to interrupt,” He said with a gulp, having known the reputation of the Vail when it came to fighters “But the King command me to share the news”
“What news?” Luke asked.
“The Princess was kidnapped. They captured Sir Hood as the perpetrator”
* 6 months later *
The soft morning breeze brushed through the curls of the King of the Vail as he stood on the balcony once again. The sun was shining way up high in the middle of the bluest skies he’s seen this year, so he let himself close his eyes for a moment as he basked in the sunlight.
It’s been months since they left RoseWood for good, but he could not shake the feeling of warning about something bad that’s going to happen. Michael blames it on the awful experience they had and how those kinds of memories don’t usually go away that easily, and he might be right, Luke just wishes everything would be alright again.
“How can you enjoy the view if you have your eyes closed?” He heard a voice say, and just like that, all his overthinking went away.
He turned his head to see Michael smiling at him from the big glass doors, he was wearing his uniform, the one that Luke loved the most because it brings out his eyes, and he was holding something in his hands.
“I don’t know,” Luke said with a smirk as he eyed his lover up and down “I like this view better”
“Hush, my King” Michael said with a roll of his eyes but a blush in his cheeks “It is too early for those kinds of comments”
“Never!” Said Luke, planting a kiss on his cheek once he was close enough “You know I’m more charming in the morning”
“Whoever said that clearly hasn’t seen you right after you get out of bed”
Ever since they came back they have been open with their relationship, enjoying all the moments they have, whether it was in private, professionally, or just hanging out, they were never out of each other’s sight - not that they ever were in the first place.
It felt good to be back home with the person that holds your heart, learning how to grow together as they go, one step at a time but filled with all the love they had to give.
“We got a letter” Michael finally said, holding the little envelope in his hands.
They were right in the theory that King Richard was the one who sent those letters, for they never appeared again once Luke swore loyalty to Ashton instead of the crazy monarch of RoseWood.
It was a weird moment of peace. They never heard of the King of RoseWood again, nor from his son. But at least they have the security that Y/N was safe in the arms of her husband all the way back in The Crimson Islands since they’ve exchanged a few letters in the past few months.
“It’s from RoseWood”
“Is it Ash?” Luke asked, taking the letter as Michael held the envelope.
“No…” He said, examining the signature of the messenger “It’s from a guy named Sir Dawson. Do you know him?”
Luke furrowed his eyebrows as he scanned the page “No, I don’t think I-”
Michael noticed how pale his King turned after he stopped talking. His blue eyes flew over the pages over and over again before letting it slip through his fingers and onto the floor.
“Luke?” He asked when he noticed the dizziness of the young King’s movements, quickly holding him by the arm before he fell “Are you okay? What’s wrong?!”
“Something bad is happening,” Luke said “We need to warn Y/N and Calum now!”
i hope the next boy that you kiss has something terribly contagious on his lips
He’s singing again. It’s fucking 8:42 on Tuesday morning and Luke is singing. Loudly. Michael pulls the corner of his pillow over his head and groans.
It’s not that Luke sounds bad. Of course he doesn’t sound bad; maybe if he did, Michael could at least find some joy in that. But no. He sounds amazing, because he’s talented and lovely and Michael fucking hates that someone who bothers him so much is also lucky enough to be good at things and look like that and be funny and shit. Life’s not fair.
on ao3 here.
fic exchange! it's time!
this is for peyton @escapesos, who i know has been in a bit of a muke mood lately. so i saw enemies to lovers, college au, hurt/comfort, fluff and humor in their reader profile and it was screaming muke, so i just...did it all. i've never really written anything in the realm of enemies to lovers and it came surprisingly easily and was a lot of fun!
a huge shoutout to hazel @allsassnoclass for organizing this whole thing and @cringeycal and @pixiegrl for being my hype machine! 💜
“That’s what I want,” Michael tells him, resting his head on Luke's shoulder as he looks fondly up at the stage. “That’s where I want to be. Everything I’m doing, everything I’ve been through — I just wanna be on a stage, with a loving crowd singing my songs back to me.”
Luke smiles, kissing his forehead and speaking with his lips against Michael's skin. “It’s going to happen. I know it is.”
Luke's an aspiring artist, and Michael's a traveling musician. They cross paths in Hillvue in the summer of ‘95.
#my writing#muke#drabble #i had a day with gregory where we went back and forth trying to come up with the gift #i had no clue what to do for it #i actually was going to try to do a mix cd that michael made but then i might have to come up with each of the songs and i don't want to #so luke gets a drawer instead #i have one (1) more november prompt #(besides the undeniable you fic) #but that other prompt is going to be a bit longer i think so i've been saving it and letting it marinate #i have a couple things in my inbox that are going to be longer #since some of the college prompts will be like that too
according to your heart, my place is not deliberate (falling for you) a muke fic by mikeycliffords on ao3
god, michael's pretty sure he's going to die kissing luke hemmings, but maybe that wasn't so bad.
― luke hemmings is kind of the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen, or that's what his roommate, michael says. but honestly, he isn't really sure how michael can talk when he manages to get himself kidnapped during their last year at watford school of magicks, (although, luke doesn't find out he's been kidnapped until much later.) it's not like he doesn't already have enough to worry about, with the magic-eating monster that runs around wearing his face, and his stupidly perfect boyfriend that's in love with his nemesis. now he has to worry about the fact that said nemesis doesn't even bother showing up.
(or: the carry on fic.)
part three is posted now, parts one and two have been updated. please reblog and let me know what you think if you give it a read x
#*mine #carry on fic #5sos#luke hemmings#michael clifford#calum hood#ashton irwin#5sos fic#5sos edit#muke#muke fic #aaa i’ve completely forgotten how to tag these idk #if you see this and decide to read pls give it a rb after you’ve finished #i’ll appreciate it :) #half of the reason why i’ve struggled posting is bc i feel like my fics don’t do well hdjska #anyway !! yeah #updating w a 20k chapter after not updating for six months is just funny imo #i’ve acc been working on this for #yeah. six months #it’s called mental illness luvs x #i had a cheeky breakdown and didn’t write for a sec but then i had an even worse breakdown and now i’m back !! #hoping to actually get this finished this year
someone tell me to stop reading longfics that i know will make me cry at 3-5 am
#first i reread peyton's midnight muke fic which is so good and completely guts me #and then i reread a 50k lashton wwii au that also gutted me #and i read that one for the first time two nights ago so the fact that i'm rereading it again so soon #maximum brainrot fellas #however it may become my 3rd comfort fic #after helen's soulmate au and hello hello #y'all can psychoanalyze me for having those 3 as my comfort fics i know i'm crazy #anyways if anyone wants to read a beautifully written longfic about wwi soldiers falling in love during wwii that will 100% make you cry hmu #i think tomorrow night i'm going to binge read the rest of the author's works bc i have no restraint #anyways i should probably go to bed now since i have to clean the entire kitchen *and* organize the pantry tomorrow #truly nightmarish tasks our kitchen is actually disgusting and the pantry is almost as messy as my closet which is saying something #goodnight everyone catch you on the flip side ✌ #the trash talks
hehe i have a piece of writing due at midnight :) and i’m not done :) and i haven’t proofread half of it :) so i have 3 hours and 40 minutes to finish it in under 30 pages :) i had literally a week to do this :)
#and MAYBE it’s a 5sos muke fic under cover #but teach doesn’t need to know that #i’ve had it started for like 2 months #i just didn’t finish it bc i kinda don’t know where to go #anyway i’m doing this instead of writing :) #ethan.txt
#michael clifford#luke hemmings#muke#muke fic#5sos#5sos fic#fic#my fic #god i havent been to a bookstore in a long time i feel like #also i didnt really care for cursed child in case anyone was wondering MY opinion #sorry about the hp stuff #ari and dante is such a good book #it's on my shelf of favourites even though i havent read it in a while #maybe i should reread #i really enjoy book geek muke honestly #question for the class if you worked at a bookstore what book would be your Staff Pick #mine would either be paradox of vertical flight or a little princess #i realise a little princess is a lame answer but honestly i think everyone should read it #hmm my stomach hurts maybe i should eat #my only class today got cancelled so i'm suddenly randomly Very Free #but idk how to feel about that. feel like i should be responsible and read a play or start my final or smth #but i dont wanna soooooooo #we'll just See. #lmao #TOMORROW I GET TO SEE MY FRIEND THOUGH!!! EXCITING STUFF!!!!! #omg wait fam dinner tonight so there's that at least #okay i gotta go lmfao #i was gonna draft this but now that i've talked all about my plans i kind of can't huh. oh well that's fine #anonymous#ask
#michael clifford#luke hemmings#muke#muke fic#5sos#5sos fic#fic#my fic #as i was editing this to post it i got FOUR new asks. i am Nervous and Stressed omg #i have literally written four fics in the past. like. how many hours has it been? four? five? #SIX? i don't know but point being Stress ! #enjoy this friend i liked writing cute muke #im not sure ive necessarily ever written a cute muke like this #i like them #oh my fuckign god i have YET ANOTHER ask in the time it took me to draft this to ao3 #STRESS EMOJI !!!!! :STRESS: #everything is fine nobody panic #ptv-etc#ask#answered
i have a heavy preference for playing michael and i like detailed paras including thoughts/feelings/actions. third person only, present tense preferably and you must be 20+. i love smut and i won't write with minors, so please keep this in mind!
like this if you're interested and ill msg you. :)