Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.
— The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman
Loras Tyrell is thirteen years old when he starts dreaming about Renly Baratheon.
In the three years since he came to be fostered at Storm's End, Renly is the person he's spent the most time with. He's watched him grow to manhood, trained with him, laughed with him, played tricks on the kitchen girls with him, and knows they'll be friends all their lives. "I'm going to be a knight," he'd said, once, when he was eleven. Renly had said he'd make a great knight, and perhaps one day they'd fight together.
"Side by side," he'd said, "like brothers."
"You're not my brother," Loras had said. He has two brothers, and neither of them are anything like Renly.
"Like friends, then," Renly had said, sounding sort of wounded. Loras had challenged him to a wooden-sword fight, and that had brought Renly's smile back.
Almost as soon as Loras is thirteen, he starts noticing Renly's muscles. Renly makes him his squire, so Loras spends even more time with him than before, and dresses him every morning. He's not huge, like some of the knights Loras has seen; Renly's muscles are contained, toned. He has hair on his chest, like an old man, but only a little. Loras learns how to hold himself so Renly won't notice him get hard when Renly rises from his bed in only his smallclothes. One morning, Loras dreams that Renly is naked and kisses him before dressing. He wakes with sticky nightclothes and has to work not to betray himself when he dresses Renly.
"Are you well?" Renly asks, the third time Loras turns away from him to snatch up an item of clothing.
"Yes, sorry," Loras mumbles, trying to keep his breathing even as he hands Renly a shirt. "My head aches." He doesn't look at Renly when he lies; it's not his head that aches, it's his groin. He can't stop thinking about the kiss in the dream, and he's painfully hard.
He waits to feel this way about a girl, a woman, any woman, but all he can think about is Renly. "You're such a good table squire, I ought to promote you," Renly says, one night when Loras has brought him every dish he wants before he asks for it.
"I would like that, my lord," Loras says, unable to hide a soft smile. Renly holds his gaze, returning his smile, and Loras's heart lurches.
He thinks of almost nothing but Renly — Renly and glory. He's allowed three hours a day for weapons training, and practices mercilessly on every straw and wooden foe the Baratheons have made for him. Renly trains with him, too, but Loras knows he's better than his lord, and that he shouldn't show it.
He's fourteen when Renly says, after a particularly long training session together, "I know what you're doing."
"You do?" What Loras is doing at this precise moment is fighting the urge to kiss him, but he's fairly sure that isn't what Renly means.
"You're letting me win," Renly says. "You've been doing it for years. I don't want a squire who'll bow down to me just because my brother's the king. I want a squire who'll knock me on my ass and laugh at me, because I'm not as good as him and he doesn't care what's in my blood." He checks Loras with his shoulder as he says it.
Loras sucks in a breath. "Really? You really want that?"
Renly smiles at him. "I really do."
Loras stoops down, grasps a handful of mud, and flings it in his face. "How's that for not letting you win?"
Renly growls, "You little —" and barrels into him. They fall into the mud, laughing, and roll until Renly is on top. He straddles Loras's waist, mashes mud onto his cheek, and says, "Hah."
"I didn't let you win," Loras says, breathless. "You got me that time. With your tricks."
"No, I'm just stronger than you." He's pinning him with his knees, and leans down to pin Loras's wrists with his hands. Loras has never been more turned on in his life. "My, what a sword you appear to have in your breeches," Renly says, laughing.
Loras struggles out from under him, feeling like cold water is pouring down his back. "Don't laugh at me," he says, and stalks out of the yard.
"Loras," Renly calls after him. There's running footsteps, and Renly grabs his wrist, turns him around. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh. I was just happy, that's all."
Loras chews his lip. There's a burning at the back of his eyelids, but he refuses to cry. "Don't make fun. Don't — don't make me into a jest."
"I wasn't." Renly's eyes are full of concern, holding Loras's gaze. They're the same blue they always are, those stupid beautiful Baratheon eyes. "Loras, I swear it, I wasn't making you a jest. I thought to share a joke with you, and I'm sorry for it."
"I'm not a boy," Loras says, and walks away.
That night at dinner, under cover of everyone's chatter Renly leans close to him and murmurs, "I know you're not a boy. I'm still sorry. Am I forgiven?"
"Yes," Loras whispers.
"Good." Renly smiles at him then, and it's like the sun shining out from behind a cloud. Loras can't help but smile back, his heart singing.
When Loras is fifteen, there is a tourney in the Riverlands, and Renly encourages him to enter into the lists. "Who knows," he grins, "perhaps my brother will make a knight of you." There's a look in his eyes, but Loras can't tell what it is.
He unseats four riders before being defeated, and King Robert knights him after the jousts. At the feast, Loras has a seat among the knights, and keeps looking at the royal table, catching Renly's eye and smiling. Renly talks and laughs his way through the feast, and slips down to the knights' tables between courses.
"Was this your doing?" Loras asks him, when Renly sits in the seat Ser Bryan Fossoway had vacated moments before, to speak to his brothers across the hall.
"Yes," Renly replies. "It will be a hardship to replace you, ser, but you earned this. I always knew you'd make a fine knight."
"I've only been a knight for half a day," Loras points out, though his chest swells with pride.
"And you're doing a fine job," Renly beams at him. There's a shout, and Loras looks up to see Robert standing, draining a large tankard of wine. Some of it dribbles, dark red, over his beard. "Would you care to come for a walk, Ser Loras?" Renly says. "I could do with a breath of air."
Outside, the sounds of the feast fade. There's banging and shouting in the kitchens, and they walk past in silence. The stars are out, shining brightly above the castle.
"It's a beautiful night," Loras says, when they're entirely alone, walking in the godswood.
"Not half so beautiful as you," Renly says. Loras feels his face get hot, and Renly laughs softly. "You blush like a maid."
"I — I'm —"
Renly laughs louder. "You are a maid."
Loras draws himself to his full height and says, "I'm a man grown."
Renly's laughter is almost gone, fading quickly. They've stopped walking, and Renly steps closer to him. "You're a man untouched." He hovers a hand inches from Loras's face. "Is there some girl you're pining after, some lord's daughter in Storm's End who won't have you?"
"No," Loras says. He's having difficulty keeping his breathing even; Renly is moving closer, cautious movements, careful, his head tilting slightly to one side. Loras tilts his head and hopes, eyes flicking to Renly's mouth. He licks his lips.
"The gods are good," Renly breathes, and kisses him.
It's like all the dreams Loras has had of kissing Renly, only better. It starts out slow, a press of lips, Renly's palm settling on his cheek. Loras slides his arms around Renly's waist, hands clenching in the velvet doublet he'd handed him that morning. Renly kisses him more insistently, and Loras matches his pace; then Renly's tongue darts out to run a line over Loras's lower lip and it feels like the bottom of his stomach has fallen out. Renly eases his mouth open with his tongue and Loras tingles all over, his cock stirring, Renly kissing him deeply and thoroughly.
When the kiss ends, fading to small touches of lips, Renly leans his forehead against Loras's. "Good ser knight," he whispers, and suddenly his hand is pressing to Loras's groin. Renly's breath catches in his throat. "Oh, I could have you right now, couldn't I?"
Loras doesn't think he's capable of coherent speech, but he tries. All that comes out is, "Unhhhh." He bites his lip, squirming against Renly's hand.
"Beautiful ser knight," Renly whispers, his hand rubbing slowly, up and down. "I could make you spill in your breeches, could I not?"
Still biting his lip, Loras nods. Little sighs keep escaping his throat. His whole body is tingling, awake, like it's asleep the rest of the time, even with a lance in his hand.
Renly kisses his neck lightly, then takes his hand away. "Not here."
They don't encounter anyone but household guards, both of the castle and of the royal household, who simply nod to them. Loras walks half a pace behind Renly, as though he's still his squire and he's just going to help his lord to undress for bed. He does his best to hide his erection, but none of them would have noticed even if he hadn't. They keep their eyes level, nodding as Renly passes, a silence hovering in the air like there was talk not a moment before.
When the doors to Renly's chambers are shut, the guards told no one is to disturb him, he turns to Loras and smiles. "Tonight," he says, backing Loras to the bed, "I'll be the one taking your clothes off."
He kisses him again, stopping their progress after a second to just stand, one hand cupping the back of his head. Loras kisses back, pouring all the intensity of every fantasy he's ever had of this into it. He tugs Renly's doublet open, and feels Renly discard it, doing the same with his. They break the kiss to take off their boots, Loras nearly overbalancing until Renly steadies him. Renly huffs out a laugh, and draws him close again.
"I think you're the most handsome man in all the Seven Kingdoms," Loras blurts out. "Probably all the world."
"Oh, good ser knight," Renly breathes. He brushes his thumb against Loras's cheek and says, "I shall take care with your heart, should you ever give it."
The sincerity in his voice, and the tenderness in the movement of his thumb, make Loras lose what little of his heart he had left for himself. He kisses Renly, because the words My heart is already yours won't make it out of his throat.
Renly lays him gently on the bed, after removing both their undershirts. He unlaces Loras's breeches, pulling them and his smallclothes down, and then he leans over and fits his mouth over Loras's cock.
It's a far more incredible feeling than anything Loras has felt when taking himself in hand. Renly's mouth is warm, and wet, and he sucks hard and soft in a steady rhythm. "Renly," Loras whispers desperately, bucking and writhing under the intense pleasure from those sucks. "Oh, Renly." He comes after a few minutes of delicious, incredible sucking, and Renly leans over to spit into his shirt.
He kisses up Loras's chest, and tastes bitter when he reaches his mouth. "You sigh so prettily," Renly says. "I want to hear how you'll sigh when I'm inside you."
Loras's cock gives a twitch, spent though it is. He kisses Renly, deep, pleading.
He breaks the kiss to say, "I want to try that. My mouth, on you."
Renly's answer is to kiss him desperately. "Yes," he mumbles into Loras's mouth, pulling him closer by the waist. Loras unlaces his breeches and presses his thigh to Renly's cock. Renly grinds against it. "Please, Loras."
"Will you teach me?" Loras has his hand on Renly's cock now, working it slowly. He's pushing Renly's smallclothes down with his other hand. Renly kicks the rest of his clothes off.
"Yes," he says, arching into Loras's hand. Loras moves it away, wriggles down the bed and takes the head of Renly's cock into his mouth. Renly hisses in a breath. "Oh, yes, like — like that. Now — now take more into your mouth, as much as you can." Loras sinks his mouth further onto him, until it's full. Renly gasps softly. "Yes, now — suck." Loras does, feeling his cheeks hollowing. "Not so hard," Renly pants, then, "Oh, yes, that — that's good. Put — put one hand around the rest of it, just like you were —" Loras wraps his hand around the base of Renly's cock, and Renly breathes, "Fuck."
Loras sucks, trying to copy the hard-soft-hard-hard-soft-soft-soft-hard pattern of Renly's, but not quite managing. Renly seems to like it anyway, instructions giving way to gasps and exhaled "Oh, fuck"s, and "Loras, mmm, yes"es. After a while, just as Loras thinks his jaw will need a rest soon, Renly says, "Mm — now suck harder, oh — yes, please, that's — more of that — fuck, Loras —" Another minute or so of Loras sucking hard and Renly's gasps reaching a crescendo, and he comes, spilling into Loras's mouth, whispering his name, moaning softly.
Loras spits onto his shirt like Renly did, and then lies next to him. "Did I do well?"
"Very well," Renly says, pulling him close for a kiss. "Did you like it?"
"Yes," Loras answers, thinking of the noises Renly had made, the way he'd said Loras as he came. He squirms, getting hard again.
"Clearly," Renly says, grinning and looking at Loras's cock. "Come here. I still want to know what you'll sound like when I'm in you." Loras shivers and bites his lip, so Renly moves his mouth to Loras's ear and says, voice low, "Buried all the way inside you, taking you in hand, like I've been wanting." Loras makes a small nghh sound. "You have no idea how beautiful you are, Loras," Renly breathes, trailing light kisses over his neck. "I thought I'd go mad if I didn't kiss you soon."
"All I've ever wanted," Loras gasps, shaking with it, "is you. To — to kiss me, to lie with me, everything." He bites his lip, heart pounding, and whispers, "In me."
Renly groans and kisses him hard. Loras kisses back desperately, sliding one hand into his hair, rolling so he can grind onto Renly's hip. He works his other hand on Renly's cock, wanting it hard again right now, hard and inside him, and it doesn't take too long to stiffen. Renly rolls them over again and breaks the kiss to roll further and reach for something under the bed. He emerges with a jar in his hand.
"What's that?" Loras asks. Renly unscrews the lid and dips two fingers into it.
"Oil," he says, "so it doesn't hurt. Turn over." Loras does, biting his lip. Renly kneels between his legs, and Loras feels cold, slick fingers over his ass cheek. One of them presses against his hole, slides in. "Relax," Renly says, and Loras does. Renly slips another finger into him. A soft sigh escapes Loras's lips as Renly works his fingers inside, adds another as Loras relaxes around him. "So pretty," Renly whispers, planting kisses in the small of his back. "Sigh for me again, Loras."
Loras does, a tiny sound of want in it, and Renly gently parts his fingers. Loras relaxes against the pressure, starting to shake again with how much he wants it to be Renly's cock. "Please," he whimpers, "please, I want —"
Renly bites the cheek of his ass, softly. His fingers leave, and there's the sound of oil on skin, and then he's saying, "I need you up on your knees for this."
Loras almost collapses when he tries to kneel up, but Renly catches him around the waist. "Are you well?" he asks, sounding worried.
"Yes," Loras says, nodding for emphasis. "I just — I want you so much, and the wine —"
"We could find another way, or wait," Renly starts.
"No," Loras says. "No, please, it's only that I've been shaking —"
"Oh, my darling Loras," Renly says, kissing up his back, pressing close. His cock is hard and slick, and nestles between Loras's ass cheeks. "I forgot, you're a trembling maid."
"Don't laugh at me," Loras says, feeling small.
"I'm not laughing," Renly says. He kisses Loras's shoulder. "Do you really want me that much?" He sounds almost awed. Loras relaxes.
"Yes," he says. Then, "Please."
With a groan, Renly shifts and pushes in. Loras gasps, doing his best to relax, but Renly's cock inside him is overwhelming and he can't think. It burns for a minute, but Renly whispers, "Relax, my Loras," and then he's relaxing and Renly is all the way in, and they just stay still for a moment. "Oh, I've dreamed of this for so many moons," Renly murmurs. He's still holding Loras around the waist, but now he shifts his arm so he can wrap his hand around Loras's cock.
"Renly," is all Loras can say. It's a small desperate sound, and Renly starts moving when he hears it.
The rhythm is slow. It doesn't burn now, Loras growing more and more relaxed, Renly staying gentle. He kisses along Loras's back, over his shoulder blades, and rests his cheek on the skin there sometimes, groaning softly. "Let me know," Renly pants, "if you want me to change anything about what I'm doing."
"Deeper," Loras pleads. Renly pushes deeper into him, the motion moving Loras up the bed slightly. "Please, deeper," Loras sighs, and Renly thrusts, sending him a little further to the pillows.
"That's as deep as I can go," he whispers, and when he pulls out to push back in again, he barely leaves him. His thrusts stay deep, moving Loras every time.
Loras has never felt so awake, completely aware of his body. Every particle in it is humming with the bone-deep pleasure, the rightness of this. He makes small noises as Renly works him with his hand, thrusts deep and slow, and when he comes, Loras moans out, "My Renly."
"Sweet, sweet Loras," Renly murmurs, kissing along his back as Loras's afterglow sets in. "May I go faster?"
"Yes," Loras says, and Renly changes the rhythm; faster, thrusts not so deep, and Loras feels him spill inside him as Renly shudders and moans his name.
After, when they're lying together, Loras's head pillowed on Renly's chest, Loras says, "Shall I dress you in the morning? You haven't found a new squire yet, have you?"
"No, I haven't." Renly strokes his fingertips through Loras's hair. "But you're a knight now. Who's going to dress you?"
"You could," Loras smiles, sleepy.
Renly kisses his hair. "Then I will."
Loras dreams that he's standing in Storm's End with Renly, watching the sea from his chambers. "It's so angry," Loras says. Renly's hand finds his and their palms slide together, fingers automatically interlocking. Renly holds his hand as they watch the storm.
"The Ironborn would say it's the Storm God," Renly says. For half the sentence they're ten and fourteen, the rest fifteen and nineteen. Loras smiles at him, Renly's face flickering between young man and man grown. Loras feels like they've had this conversation before.
"Is it always storming here?" he asks, in a ten-year-old voice.
"Sometimes," Renly answers, his voice older. It changes back to fourteen-year-old as he says, "Don't worry, the walls can't be breached. And I'm here to protect you."
"Will you always be here to protect me?" ten-year-old Loras asks. He looks at Renly with fifteen-year-old eyes, draws him closer. "My lord and his knight," he says, and wakes up.
Renly is still asleep beside him. Loras lets his eyes drift over the planes of Renly's body as the dream fades. It had been half a memory, the first storm Loras ever saw in that holdfast. Renly had held his hand all day, never once asking if he was afraid, even when the thunder crashed and the sea roared. "You're safe," he'd said, and Loras had never feared a storm since. Not when he had his brave lord to protect him.
I've been in love with him since I met him, Loras realises, and of course that's the moment Renly opens his eyes.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" he mumbles into the pillow. Loras has seen him abed many a time over the years, but he's only been sharing his bed for six weeks, and he isn't used to the sight yet. Nor Renly's curtness upon waking.
"Like what?" Loras brushes the hair out of Renly's eyes.
"Like I'm first prize in a tourney and your opponent's hurt his lance arm." Renly rolls over and squints at the daylight.
"I was just thinking about how I love you," Loras says, and Renly freezes.
He turns to look at him. "You love me?"
"Yes. Passionately, hopelessly, completely. I think I always have."
Renly moves closer, pulls Loras on top of him. "I'm sorry about the breath," he mumbles, and then he kisses him.
Renly tastes sleep-fuzzed, but Loras doesn't care. He opens his mouth and kisses him, deep and honest, his whole heart in it. By the time the kiss finishes, Renly has his arms wrapped completely around him, their bodies settled flush.
"I told you once I would take care with your heart if you gave it," Renly says. "Now you've given it, and I promise, I will take the greatest care."
"And what of your heart?" Loras asks, suddenly unsure.
"My sweet Ser Loras," Renly sighs, "you have had that this past year or more. I have been quite dying of love for you." He's trying not to smile.
Loras tries to move away, but Renly's arms are still around him. "You're laughing at me," he says, and for a few moments he is utterly miserable.
"I'm not. Truly." Loras stops struggling to get up and looks at Renly. The gaze he meets is more open and vulnerable than he's ever seen on him. "The jest was at my own expense," he says, "I assure you. I'm not in the habit of displaying a depth of feeling, or of risking so much. I don't want to frighten you. I thought to make light of my love for you, in case — oh, it was foolish. I'm sorry."
"Did you think I would reject you for loving me too much?" Loras laughs, his heart light again, and kisses Renly softly. "Never."
"I thought," Renly breathes. His voice cracks, and he clears his throat, closes his eyes. "I thought sometimes my heart would break away from my chest to fall at your feet. I thought I might die if I didn't get one kiss from you, just one, before you went off to be a glorious knight and rescue maidens and have songs written of your gallantry. I thought I'd have to watch you love some woman, and be there always as your friend, knowing how close I would be to everything I couldn't have. I would watch you train by yourself and know you would become so much greater than I could ever hope to be, and I was so proud. You became truly beautiful over a year ago, and I gave my heart without the smallest scrap of hope —"
Loras halts Renly's outpouring by kissing him. It's not altogether a gentle kiss, as he had intended; his heart is pounding in his ears, and Renly's words keep circling in his head. He feels an enormity of love, and whether it's his or Renly's or both combined, he couldn't say.
Renly's new squire finds them like that, still abed, still kissing. They haven't even progressed to anything else yet.
"Leave us for a while," Renly commands his squire. The lad squeaks.
"You're wanted at the small council, my lord," he says. He's a Tyrell cousin, and averts his eyes.
"Find me later, my lord," Loras whispers, and kisses him one more time before slipping out of the bed and pulling his clothes from last night on.
Lorent Flowers, his own squire, is waiting in his chambers. "Will you be needing to bathe, ser?" he asks. It's what he asks every morning, even the ones when Loras doesn't creep back into his own rooms. There's never a hint of judgement in his voice, so Loras never minds, though he keeps a sharp eye on him. Acknowledged and highborn or no, Lorent is still a bastard, and the things he knows may be worth a pretty penny.
Or may have been, if his grandmother hadn't already known them. Loras reminds himself to relax, and waits for Lorent to heat some water up.
It's the dream that sends him there, that day. He's visiting Highgarden, and Renly is with him, paying his and the crown's respects to Lord Mace Tyrell. Loras's sixteenth name day is approaching, and Renly had promised to be there for the celebration. "There'll be a feast," Loras had said, to coax him. "All my family. You can bring tales of Margaery's beauty back to Robert."
"You're the only Tyrell beauty I have eyes for," Renly had said, flipping them over and pinning him down in the way that always gets Loras hard. He'd forgotten all about his name day then, or anything else except Renly, half-naked above him, kissing him like they'll drown if they don't.
The day before his name day, Loras dreams that they're back in the godswood where they first kissed, only this one has a weirwood heart tree. Its eyes are reflecting the setting sun, glint of light on dried red sap. Renly has his arms around him from behind, holding him, his chin propped on Loras's shoulder. They're standing in front of the heart tree, and Loras says, "Do you think the old gods still listen?"
"I don't know," Renly says, tilting until his nose is brushing Loras's cheek.
Loras smiles, leaning back against him. "Do you think the children of the forest would mind that we're two men?"
"You'd have to ask the wildlings." And just then, someone emerges from the wood. In the surety of dreams, Loras knows he can trust this man, whose skin is green. He's wearing tattered furs and an eagle sits on his shoulder, both small and huge at the same time.
"When you stand before a heart tree," this man says, "all your heart is known, and the gods judge you by it. There is no one to condemn you, only your own heart and the wind in the trees, for that is the gods speaking."
Renly smiles. "I've heard that," he says, still holding Loras close, swaying gently as though he's a tree and there's a breeze.
"Do you think it's true?" Loras says. The wildling, or child of the forest, or dream-spectre, has vanished. "What does the wind say?"
Renly's lips against his ear are soft, the most real part of the dream. "Come back to me, my Loras," he says, and that's vivid. Too vivid. "Good ser knight, we won't have enough time."
Loras wakes. Renly is murmuring in his ear, "You look so beautiful sleeping, I cannot wait until we can escape your relatives."
"You will have to wait until I've pissed," Loras mumbles, rolling out of his bed and barely opening his eyes on the way to the privy. He grew up here, he used to sleepwalk the way.
"The romance has gone," he hears Renly sigh as he leaves the room.
When he slips back into bed, he greets Renly with a kiss. They sleep naked here, Renly's guest chambers a mere formality. It seems the whole household knows that Renly shares his bed. If there are any who object, Loras doesn't know about it; he suspects his grandmother has made it known that objection will not be tolerated in Highgarden. One day he'll finish thanking her.
"Lemon water," Renly observes. "You have the advantage."
"I could wait for you to find some," Loras teases. He never minds the taste of Renly first thing in the morning, not his mouth and not his seed. His hand is on Renly's cock and he's trying to decide what he most wants when Renly rolls them over and pins him.
"No waiting," he says. Loras licks his lips, bucking under him so his hardening cock will rub against Renly's. "I want you now," Renly says.
"I am yours, my lord," Loras says, arching. "Tell me what you want."
Renly kisses him and whispers, "Turn over." A delicious shiver runs through Loras. He starts to turn, but Renly says, "No, wait. I want — I want to kiss you, too."
"Well." Loras shifts, and Renly lets him roll them until he's on top, straddling him. "I'd like to try like this."
Renly sits up, and that shifts his cock into a much better place, against Loras's ass. Loras bites his lip.
They've got the preparation down to a good routine now. Renly stretches him and Loras slicks Renly up, leaning down to kiss a line across his chest. When they're both ready, he lines them up and sinks carefully down onto Renly.
It feels incredible from this angle, and Renly kisses him slowly as Loras pushes up with his knees, down with his hips. "We don't have much time," Renly whispers, and Loras nods. He speeds up a little, Renly thrusting up to meet him, his hand on Loras keeping a steady pace. Loras's legs are shaking before long, and no matter how many times Renly kisses him, Loras keeps having to break it so he can arch, panting and gasping. It's not as deep as usual, but it still feels amazing. "You're so beautiful," Renly says, kissing his chest while Loras throws his head back and makes soft ahn sounds.
"Renly," Loras moans. He can never be coherent when Renly's inside him; all words fly out of his head, everything but Renly and yes and fuck. Renly kisses him, thrusts into him faster, and comes a few minutes later.
Renly kisses his neck, riding out as much of his climax as he can. When he's softening, he pulls out of Loras and turns them over. Loras comes not long after, Renly's mouth on him, hands holding his hips in place.
He doesn't remember the dream until the middle of the afternoon, and excuses himself from Margaery and Willas. "I'm going to have a walk," he says, and Margaery smiles like she knows what's on his mind.
The godswood is quiet, and full of roses. This far south, there's no weirwood, no heart tree, but it's a pleasant grove, full of afternoon breezes and beautiful smells. He's been there for ten minutes when he hears footsteps behind him, feels arms around his waist.
"Margaery said I'd find you here," Renly says, lips brushing Loras's ear. Loras leans back into him, half expecting a child of the forest to step out.
"Am I dreaming?" Loras asks.
"No," Renly says. "Unless I'm dreaming too."
"Perhaps we are." He listens to the breeze in the leaves, but can't hear any words in it. "I had a dream about a godswood. It had a heart tree, and a child of the forest said the old gods wouldn't care that we're two men." He pauses. "I think that's what he said."
"I don't suppose the Seven give a flying rat's fart if we're two men either," Renly says. "It's only other men who care."
Still half in the dream, Loras says, "I wish I could marry you."
"What a match that would be. Your father's gold and my brother's power, Baratheon wed to Tyrell. Well, isn't that what we're trying to do with Robert and Margaery?"
"Yes, but love, Renly. I'd marry you for love."
Renly turns him around in his arms, keeping them looped over his waist. "Even the Master of Laws can't make such a marriage legitimate. I'd try to persuade Robert, but my dear brother hates petitions, and if we allow marriage to open like that, the potential alliances would triple. There'd be no end of House This petitioning to settle a grievance with House That having wed their power to House The Other using only their trueborn daughters and some cunning."
Loras sighs. "Stop thinking as a member of the small council and start thinking as a man in love." He leans in for a kiss, gets a soft one and a smile. "If I were a woman, would you marry me?"
"If you were a woman, I wouldn't want to bed you," Renly points out. Loras rolls his eyes. "But if two men could wed," Renly says, voice softer, "I'd marry you in an instant."
Loras feels like he's swallowed sunlight. "You would?"
"Why don't we say some words, here in the godswood?" Renly says. He's not making a jest, Loras can see it in his eyes. "It would be no true marriage, no legitimate claim, but a pledge of hearts counts for something."
Loras starts to smile. "Like in the songs."
"You're a beautiful, brave knight, sure to make yourself a hero," Renly says, nudging their noses together and kissing him lightly. "You don't quite love a princess, but a king's brother, that's just as good."
"And we'll pledge our hearts before the gods," Loras says. "Can I wear your favour into battle?"
"I don't have a favour," Renly says. "Maybe I'll wear yours into battle."
"Just don't die a tragic death, and neither of us has to waste away from grief," Loras says, and Renly laughs.
"A fine song we'd make. Now come on. Let's find a likely-looking tree and pledge."
They find a good strong oak, its trunk old and knotted. "In the sight of the gods," Renly begins, taking Loras's hand, "I, Renly Baratheon, pledge my heart to you, Loras Tyrell. I pledge my life to you, my arms and alliance to you. May we be one heart, for now and for always."
Loras can't speak for a second, then clears his throat and repeats the words. Renly kisses him, and a breeze whispers through the trees, wordless.
"There," Renly says, lacing their fingers together. "Now our hearts are pledged, and you must promise not to marry. Unless it's of tactical advantage to your family."
"I'm a third son," Loras smiles, "and so are you."
"We still might be called on to make alliances."
"True. But I promise to marry for no other reason."
"I promise it too." He smiles then, the purest joy in it. "We should probably go back inside, before the Queen of Thorns sets out to find us."
Loras keeps hold of one of his hands as they make their way back to the castle, and neither of them stop smiling for weeks.
Renly's been gone for days, meeting Robert on the road back from Winterfell. Loras is coming out of the training grounds, his day's sword practice done, when Lord Varys approaches him. Loras hasn't spoken much to him since he came to King's Landing, so he's surprised when Varys begins, "Ah, Ser Loras, just the man. May I speak with you?" He glances around. "Perhaps in a more suitable setting?"
Loras makes a polite reply and leads the way to an alcove few will notice them in, Lorent following timidly in his wake. As they walk, Lord Varys says, "I hear you are quite unmatched with a sword, ser."
"I practice daily, my lord," Loras answers. He isn't sure where to put his hands, nor if Varys will read anything into the placement of them.
"My little birds have been most impressed. A great knight, they tell me, the greatest in the realm."
Loras blushes, but it's all he's wanted that isn't Renly's kisses, since he was a boy. "Thank you, my lord. You are kind to say so."
When they reach the alcove, and Lorent has left them with Loras's instructions to wait nearby, Varys says, "I bring a message from Lord Renly. There has been a short delay upon the road, a few days or more. He sent also a message of love."
"Thank you," Loras says, startled and suddenly fearful. Varys smiles.
"Do not fear, Ser Loras. My little birds informed me that you are lovers many moons ago. Young love," he sighs dramatically, "it is so beautiful." He smiles again, a disconcerting smile. Loras can't tell whether it's genuine or calculating. It could be both, or something entirely different. "You, the greatest knight in the Seven Kingdoms, would be a terrible enemy for me to make. I'd like you to think of me as your friend."
"Yes, my lord," Loras says. "I thank you for giving me this message."
"Should you wish to send one to Lord Renly, you need only say the word, and my little birds will take to their wings," Varys says, his smile almost simpering.
"I — thank you, my lord," Loras says, thinking quickly. He concludes that he can't trust Varys, but that a message sent would get to Renly, and that is worth the risk. "Please tell him to remember what was said in the godswood, that it is still true."
Lord Varys bows. "It is as good as done, ser."
Loras dreams, a few days later, of Renly struggling through thick snow. It falls like rain, the wind blowing it into Renly's face until he's almost choking. Loras is struggling towards him, but with every step they take, the distance seems greater. "Renly," Loras calls out; the wind snatches it, the snow swallows all sound. His breath is icy, his arms and legs numb, but still he struggles on. Renly holds a hand out to him, and Loras tries to move his body to reach it. He stretches, holding his own hand out —
He wakes in the sweltering heat of another summer's day, his squire pulling the curtains away from the window, and the cold of the dream melts away. His heart aches, but he gets out of bed, wondering if Renly will return that day.
He does; Loras hears a commotion as he's walking to the training grounds, and doubles back to see who it is. Renly is striding along to Maegor's Holdfast, pulling his riding gloves off and calling orders to his guards. His squire is rushing ahead of him.
Loras meets him just inside the tower. "My lord," he says, annoyingly aware of the eyes on them.
"Ser Loras," Renly greets him warmly, clasping his arms in a fond gesture. "It is good to see you. I have only time to bathe the dust of the road off and change my clothes, I'm afraid, but we shall speak later."
"I look forward to it," Loras smiles. He watches Renly and his guards sweep past, and forgets where he was going.
He slips into Renly's chambers when he knows he will be dressing. Sure enough, he has breeches and boots on, and his squire is handing him a shirt.
"I wish to speak with you." They use it, sometimes, as code, denoted by tone of voice. Loras stops hiding his lust, and Renly swallows audibly.
"Mathis, see that my horses are being tended," he says, and his squire bows and leaves.
Loras steps close. "We do not have time," Renly says, though he's staring at Loras's mouth.
"I'll make it quick," Loras says, and drops to his knees.
"Gods be good," Renly exhales. Loras unlaces his breeches but doesn't pull them down much, just enough for what he wants. He sinks his mouth onto Renly's half-soft cock, sucking it to full hardness before he wraps one hand around the bottom of the shaft, stroking the other over Renly's balls. "Loras," Renly sighs, leaning back against the bedpost.
Loras has missed the feel of Renly's skin against his tongue, the weight of his cock in his mouth. He uses everything he's learned about what Renly likes; firm, small strokes with his left hand, swirling with his tongue, sucking hard, his right hand reaching back behind Renly's balls to stroke the skin running from it to his ass. Renly arches and gasps as Loras runs his fingertips over that skin, light touches that make Renly shake. He pulls his mouth off to suck at the tip of Renly's cock, then sinks it down on him again, and Renly makes a desperate noise. "You," he pants, "will be the death of me, Loras."
Loras hums contentedly, stroking with his fingertips, hollowing his cheeks, swiping his tongue, tugging with his hand. Renly comes after another few minutes, comes hard, moaning and shuddering into Loras's mouth. When Loras stands up, Renly is still gripping the bedpost for support.
Loras laces Renly's breeches. "I missed you," he says, leaning their foreheads together.
Renly kisses him. "I'll find you later," he says, wonder in his voice, and Loras smiles.
The day after his seventeenth name day, Loras wakes sore and hard. His ass stings from the sound fucking of the night before, and the dream he was having lingers for a second. He's very hard.
Renly is lying beside him, staring at the ceiling. "You look troubled," Loras murmurs.
Renly turns his head, as though rousing from deep thought. "I am troubled. You," his eyes flick down and a smile starts, "look aroused." He curls into Loras's side, one hand sliding over his stomach, a twinkle in his eye. "Were you dreaming about me?"
"Yes," Loras answers honestly. "It was a very good dream."
Renly leans down to kiss his shoulder. "Tell me about it."
"We were," Loras feels himself flush, "in a throne room. Not in King's Landing, in a castle I didn't know. The whole court was there, and you," he stops.
"Go on," Renly says, kissing over his chest. "What did I do?"
"You made me kneel," Loras says. He needs to clear his throat before he can finish the sentence. "In front of everyone, and — keep my hands behind my back. You said if I couldn't keep them there myself you'd tie them for me."
Renly lifts his head to look at him, eyebrows raised. "What did I do then?"
"You made me pleasure you," Loras says. "With my mouth. You were sitting on your throne, I was kneeling in front of you so no one could see — but everyone could see me."
Renly looks thoughtful for a moment. "Is the entire court necessary for this?" He palms Loras's cock, making him arch.
"No," Loras says. "I — I'd prefer no one else were there. But I'd do it for you, if you asked."
"Because I'm your king?" Renly says.
Loras shakes his head. "Because you're my Renly," he says, and Renly's face softens into a warm smile, his eyes almost glowing.
"It is quite a thing," he says, kissing Loras lightly, "to have your heart."
"You will have it all my life," Loras whispers.
They're staying one more day in this castle, gathering more swords. Loras stands at Renly's side as he accepts more lords' fealty, as more men pledge their loyalty and declare him their king. They dine well, and when all the talking is done, Renly takes Margaery's hand and leads her away to the bedchamber set aside for them, Loras following, his rainbow-striped cloak billowing in a gust of air from an open door.
Margaery smiles at them both, kisses Renly's cheek and then Loras's, and slips away to Loras's chambers. They're next to Renly's, with an adjoining door, and she has assured them that they are quite splendid enough. Renly takes Loras's hand when they're alone, and leads him to the bed.
"You look so beautiful today," Renly murmurs, as he unbuttons Loras's doublet. "I didn't know how I could wait until now." He kisses Loras with purpose, and Loras grasps at him with his hands, his mouth, his tongue. He gets Renly half-naked by the time the kiss ends, and then Renly smiles at him. "I could make your dream a reality," he says, untying Loras's shirt and brushing his hands over his shoulders until it falls to the floor. "Shall I tie your hands, or can you keep them behind your back?"
A shiver goes through Loras. He bites his lip. "I can do it."
"Good." Renly kisses him quickly, then takes the rest of his clothes off while motioning to Loras to get on his knees.
Loras clasps his hands behind his back and kneels before the bed. He looks up at Renly, still half in his breeches, and says, "Shall I help you undress, Your Grace?"
"No," Renly says, smiling. "Keep your hands where they are." Loras shivers again, delicious anticipation building. Renly, fully naked now, sits on the bed, and Loras shuffles forward on his knees until he's settled between Renly's legs.
Loras holds eye contact as he wraps his mouth around Renly's cock. He's never pleasured him just with his mouth before, and he finds he has to close his eyes after a minute, lost in the sensations. There's an exquisite frustration that wasn't in his dream, making it even better; he needs to use his hands, he's desperate to, but he keeps them where they are, clenched against the temptation to touch himself, to touch Renly. He uses only his mouth, sucking and licking. It takes longer than usual for Renly to come, and the build becomes almost unbearable for Loras. He starts whimpering when his jaw is aching and Renly is making the noises he makes when he's still a little way out from getting there. He wants to touch himself so badly, but he doesn't even rub against the bed, doesn't even move to get some friction from his smallclothes. He stays perfectly still, his mouth and head the only things moving, as Renly writhes and arches and gasps in the slowest crescendo Loras has ever heard.
When Renly does come, it's with a satisfied sigh and a small groan. Loras nearly starts sobbing, he's so desperate to be touched. "Please," he says, trying to swallow, unable to catch the trickles of seed running down his chin, "please, Renly, please."
Renly pulls him up onto the bed, says, "You can move your hands now," and undresses him quickly. Loras is rubbing against him, rolled over on top, and Renly wraps his hand around Loras's cock before he's even got his smallclothes off. Loras moans and buries his face in Renly's neck, bucking into his hand. He comes after less than a minute of Renly's steady strokes.
"You're wonderful," Renly says, kissing Loras's temple. Loras can't even breathe properly, he just moans into Renly's skin.
On the retreat, after the worst day of Loras's life, he dreams every night that he's burying Renly again. Sometimes, as the dirt is covering him, his eyes open — but they're unnatural, a wight's eyes, and as he struggles to climb out of his grave Loras has to continue to bury him, beating him with his spade when he gets too close, weeping. Other nights, Renly's eyes open and he's alive, but when he tries to speak blood gurgles from his throat.
Loras wakes every morning, alone, his pillow wet with tears, and talks himself into facing another day. He must reach his father. Renly must not die in vain. His entire life shrinks to this one goal, one thing he has left to do.
Some days, it's not enough. There's a concealed dagger in his armour, and some evenings, after a long, quiet, relentless march, Loras takes the dagger out, sits on the bed in Renly's pavilion (now Margaery's) and stares at it. It takes him a while to talk himself out of using it.
One night, it doesn't work. The road is long and bleak, and his thoughts have begun to whisper of after, when he's reached his father, when he's avenged his love, what then? Life stretches long and barren before him, and he raises the dagger to his throat. He should die like his king.
Renly's voice, distinct and firm, says, "Don't." Loras drops his arm and curls onto his side.
Margaery finds him there later, almost worn out from weeping. She takes the dagger from him gently and says, "Clean your blade."
Loras blinks tears away and looks. There's a drop or two of dried blood on the point of the dagger. He feels along his throat until his fingers find a nick; just a small one, the cut long scabbed.
"He was my everything," he sobs. Margaery puts the dagger down and lies next to him, her arms wrapping around his chest.
"I know," she says. "Oh my poor dear brother, I know."
He can't sleep, most nights, at first. He lies awake until his head is pounding and he's nearly cried himself dry, and only then does sheer exhaustion take him. The night he holds the dagger to his throat, he's half-asleep when he feels arms around him. He thinks at first that Margaery has come to hold him, to make sure he does nothing else to himself, but then he smells Renly. That combination of velvets and sweat and the indefinable thing that only Renly ever smells of.
"Renly," Loras murmurs, too sleepy to move his lips much.
"I'm here," Renly says. It's his voice, so exactly his voice, and Loras feels kisses pressed to his shoulder, along his back.
He slips into sleep, and immediately into a dream. Renly is standing in what looks like Robert's chambers, nineteen years old, looking at his brother with a small amount of apprehension. The Kingslayer stands behind Robert, face impassive.
"You want me to make your squire a knight, is that what you're saying?" Robert asks.
"He's a good fighter," Renly says, "much better than me. He's entered the last two tourneys and done well."
Robert is looking closely at him. "Is he your lover, then?" He laughs as Renly makes a clumsy movement. "Don't worry, dear brother, you can bugger whoever you like."
"It's not —" Renly sputters, bright red. "We're not —"
"Ah, put your tongue away before you choke on it. I'll make the boy a knight."
The dream dissolves, and Loras half-wakes. He's sure, in the unquestioning state of sleep, that Renly is here, showing him a memory. "You did that for me?" he mutters.
"Anything for you," Renly says into his ear.
Loras sinks back into sleep.
He dreams, the next morning. Instead of the grave, he dreams of Renly, twenty and standing alone in a strange stable yard. "I know Lord Varys has his little birds out here, and Littlefinger his whisperers. If you're listening, would you please take a message to Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers? Tell him his lord loves and misses him, and there's been a few days' delay."
Suddenly, he's in Highgarden. He knows, without knowing how, that it's his sixteenth name day. The sun is rising outside the window, and in the bed, they are on their sides, Renly inside him. The rhythm was slow that morning, delicious. Loras remembers how incredible it felt, how his whole body tingled. He sees, now, that Renly is mouthing words, breaking off every now and then to kiss Loras's back. He shifts closer to the bed, and realises that Renly is mouthing the vows they spoke in the godswood. The day before this, he remembers, and the look on Renly's face is love, and wonder, and joy.
The scene changes again. He's in King's Landing, in Renly's chambers in Maegor's Holdfast, and he knows it's Renly's twentieth name day. It was two moons after Loras's sixteenth, and on the bed, they kiss and roll, one on top of the other, a tangle of legs and discarded clothes.
The Loras on the bed sits up, his thighs either side of Renly's hips. Loras remembers the sensation of their cocks almost touching, smallclothes still on. "We should return to the feast," the Loras on the bed says. "They will be wondering where you are."
Renly sits up to put his arms around him. "I don't want to return to the feast. Let them wonder, I don't care, I want to be here. With you."
Renly appears at Loras's side, looking at the Renly and Loras on the bed. He looks just as he did on the day he died, in his full armour, but his throat is whole. "These were the times I felt most alive, abed with you," he says. "This was one of the happiest moments of my life. Away from everyone, knowing I didn't intend to go anywhere or do anything but bed you all night. We didn't sleep much. We watched the sun rise, do you remember? Robert had my hide for missing the feast, but I said he probably enjoyed it enough for the both of us, and he laughed and said he hoped I'd enjoyed my Knight of Flowers as much as he'd enjoyed the goose." Renly smiles sadly. "I looked for him, but I couldn't find him. After I died, I mean."
Suddenly, they're in the godswood. "I dreamed this before," Loras says. "Before we pledged our hearts, this is the wood I dreamed about."
Renly takes off his helm, lets it drop to the ground. It doesn't make a sound, landing soft on the springy wood floor. He takes Loras's face in his hands and kisses him.
Loras kisses back. He hopes everything from that awful day onwards was just a bad dream, but he wakes up still kissing Renly, and when his eyes open no one's there.
"I should wear his armour," he says to Margaery that day. They're almost at Highgarden, the long weary march finally nearly over. "When we crush Stannis, his people should know he hasn't forgotten them." Margaery looks like she wants to say something, but instead she pats his arm and nods.
When they reach Highgarden, Loras goes to his chambers. His squire prepares a bath for him, to wash off the dust of the road. He hasn't washed his hair since he buried Renly, and he's sure there's some grave dirt still in it. It feels like losing him all over again to wash it out, but he can't dine with his family with dirty hair. Lorent doesn't say anything as he weeps, washing out the only thing he has left that touched Renly's body.
He talks with his father and brothers after dinner, going over plans. It's too like the councils Renly had, too many of the same words and the same stupid pointless intentions. He pleads a headache and retreats to the godswood, temples throbbing insistently.
The sun is low in the sky as he makes his way automatically to the tree they pledged in front of. He sits against its trunk, drawing his knees up and curling in on himself, and lets some tears fall.
He's cried so much these past weeks, he keeps thinking there won't be any more, but he knows there will. He leans his head against the trunk and whispers, "I miss you. I even miss how you'd come to me still angry from some council meeting or Robert being stubborn. You'd be so tense, and I'd put my arms around you until you smiled again. I want you to come back, say you haven't really died. I'll do just as you did, when Gregor Clegane almost killed me, I'll kiss you and say the gods are good and not let you leave my bed for three days." He sniffs, closing his eyes and listening to the breeze.
He's half-asleep when he feels a hand on his cheek, hears Renly's voice. "Oh, my good ser knight. I never wanted you to be in a song, dying of a broken heart. Live, my Loras. Fight for me."
The next thing Loras knows, there's a hand on his arm gently shaking him awake. "Renly?" he mutters.
He opens his eyes. It's Garlan, who looks at him with anguished sympathy. "It's late," he says. Loras stretches and looks around; the sun has gone down, night set in. "We were worried," Garlan says.
"I'm sorry." Loras stumbles to his feet. "I didn't mean to worry you."
Garlan pats his arm one more time, and Loras follows him back to the castle.
The first morning Loras wakes in his new chambers in the White Sword Tower, he struggles to let go of a fading dream, a day in Storm's End years ago. Caught between waking and sleeping, he feels arms around him, kisses along his shoulders. "I pledged my life to you," Renly says, "and that's done. I also pledged my heart to you, and that endures." His hand moves down to Loras's cock, which stirs at the touch. Renly begins stroking it, gentle and sure movements, until it's hard and aching. Loras feels him kiss along his skin, feels Renly's erection pressed to his ass cheek. He shifts, sure that it's all he need do, and feels Renly slip inside him. He knows there's no solid cock there, but it's no less real for it, and Loras fights off wakefulness to feel this just a little longer. Renly is pushing in deeper than ever, his hand working deliciously slow, and it feels incredible.
"I will never leave you, my Loras," Renly says. Loras hears himself sigh, a whimper in it. "You'll be as old as Ser Barristan and I'll still be here, when you dream, when you're half awake. I'm here with you when you're awake, you just can't see me. But you can when you dream, and you always will. My heart is yours."
"Renly," Loras whispers, arching his neck sleepily. "My Renly."
His orgasm wakes him up fully. He can still feel Renly inside him, his hand on him, and holds onto the feeling for as long as he can. It fades, and he opens his eyes. "I love you, my Renly," Loras says. "My lord and my true king." He hears nothing in answer, feels nothing, but he has no more doubts about whether Renly really is here. "I should have known you wouldn't leave me," he says, and for five minutes as he lies abed, it's enough to almost give the day meaning.
Then the knowledge that he can't see or hear Renly during the day crashes in on him in a fresh wave of grief, and for a second it's almost worse. I'd rather have him in sleep than not at all, he thinks, steeling himself for another day of guarding Joffrey, of walking and talking and eating despite there not being a single point to any of it.
For a second, he gets goose bumps on his arm, as though a hand brushed against him, though he couldn't feel it. He nods, decides to be glad for what he has, and gets out of bed.
The maester gives him milk of the poppy. When he's awake, it feels like his face is still burning, and he can feel Renly holding his hand, murmuring something Loras is in too much pain to catch. When he sleeps, he dreams of fire, and the charge, the hatch above him opening. A ring of fire, moving ever inwards to claim him, but Renly is by his side and he beats back the flames with his sword.
"I'm here to protect you," Renly says.
"Will you always be here to protect me?" He feels ten years old when he says it, the fire suddenly crashing like waves, crackling against rocks. An ocean of fire, the tide rising.
Renly takes his hand, looks into his eyes, and says, "Yes."
Loras takes up his sword and together they beat at the flames.