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An Endless Summer

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Renly never really paid attention to the septons when he was alive, and there are no septons here now he's dead. He knows there are seven hells, just as there are seven gods, and that there are likewise seven heavens. The septons never say much about the heavens, though; it's all obey this and honour that and escape the hells. No one really talks about the heavens.

He never thought about what would happen after death — he thought he'd have time to consider these things when he was old and he and Loras were comparing creaking joints, that they'd talk about it together — but he would have expected there to be more people. Here, there's just him. Not even Robert, not their mother and father, not anybody.

He supposes Robert must have gone to the Warrior's heaven, if he didn't go to one of the seven hells. He tries to remember, in the long stretches that aren't time, anything about the heavens. He remembers the Mother's is great halls and knowing your children are safe; the Father's is a long hall and a long rest by the fire; and the Warrior's is always a victorious feast after a battle. Some say it's a long battle you can never lose, but Renly rather hopes there's wine there for Robert.

Renly's heaven is a pleasant grove of trees, peaches and apples and grapes springing up everywhere. Delicious berries he never tasted while alive flower in beautiful bushes. The breezes are gentle, the colours are luxuriant.

It's almost exactly like Highgarden.

He doesn't need to eat, but the fruit is always ripe and it tastes better than anything in the Seven Kingdoms. It is as though these are the true fruits, the fruits of heaven, and all the fruits in Westeros or across the Narrow Sea are merely pale imitations. Renly is never hungry, never thirsty, and no matter how many peaches he eats he never has to shit. He supposes it's the lack of a body, though it feels and looks as if he still does. Perhaps in the heavens bodies are different.

There is no time here, but he's still holding on to the things he knew while he was alive, so he portions up existing here into units. The space of one peach is ten minutes (he savours every bite, as he once savoured the taste of Loras's skin), the rustling of leaves above his head half an hour. The breezes aren't regular, but at first he pretends they are. Everything smells green, growing, wonderful. One self-defined day, he remembers what he was told of the Maiden's heaven: that it is a pleasant place, of peace and tranquillity, and blissful solitude. He laughs, then, wondering how he managed to get into the Maiden's heaven with all the fucking he's done. All for love, and never with a woman. Only Loras. Perhaps all men who lie with men are as maidens in the gods’ eyes.

He doesn't sleep, but sometimes he closes his eyes and sinks into memories. Piece by piece, he's going through his whole life, and the majority of what he cares to dwell on is Loras. How his hair would sweep across his forehead in a breeze and make Renly think that no beauty was ever so fine as his Loras. How he would smile and light the whole world up, how Renly could think of little else when he was around him. Sometimes he just goes over and over the memories of his last months, the long leisurely march gathering men, Loras always at his side, and Margaery smiling fondly at them both. He hopes they're safe now.

Love feels different here. When he was alive, he loved Loras as though it would take his breath. There were days he spent merely waiting until the night, when he could get Loras alone and kiss him and kiss him until they were both panting and hard and tearing at each other's clothes. When they fucked, Renly would feel as though his whole chest was filled with such love that he could hardly stand it. At times he thought the intensity of it would stop his heart, that one day he'd be buried inside his love and become so overwhelmed that his body would just give out.

Here, he loves Loras even more than that. He loves him with all of his being, loves him as though it's what makes him exist. Where his heart used to pound at the thought of him, now there is a warm glow that goes to every corner of his entire body and spills out of it. He feels bigger than he is, and if he were to fuck Loras here, he knows the feeling would fill this entire grove.

He wanders the paths, climbs the trees, and finds comfortable branches to stretch out on. Every tree has conveniently-placed ones, soft as silk sheets and feather pillows. He sits with his legs stretched in front of him, feeling the breezes on his face and eating fruit, the juices running down his chin.

He's been here for long enough that he's stopped counting in time when he wakes from a memory and knows someone else is in the grove. He thought he'd always be alone here, a gentle place to rest. He softly jumps down from the tree and walks the pathways until he comes to the clearing in the centre. There's a sundial here, beautiful and ornate, and warm stone benches that he lies on to watch the clouds pass.

Loras is standing next to the sundial, his back to Renly. The sunlight plays in his hair, lighting it to gold, and if Renly could still breathe he'd have forgotten to. "Loras," he says.

Loras turns. "Renly?" he says. There's a shocked look on his face. "Truly, I am dead then."

"Loras." Renly rushes towards him, pulls him close by the shoulders. He feels solid, just as real as everything else in this grove. "My love."

Loras is frozen, and Renly feels a tear fall onto his shoulder. Then he moves, wrapping his arms around Renly's waist, holding on tightly. "I lost you," he whispers.

"I was waiting here." He knows it now, suddenly, has always known it if he'd thought to wonder. "This is our heaven, sweet Loras."

"My face," Loras says. They pull apart, and Loras's eyes are searching. "Is it burned?"

"Why would it be burned?" Loras looks just as he ever did, only his beauty here is more vital, more brilliant. Renly brushes fingertips over Loras's cheek.

"There was an attack," Loras says. "On Dragonstone. I led it. There were — murder holes, boiling oil — I got hit." Renly hugs him again as he continues, "I was dying for so long — I thought the pain would never stop, and you weren't there, I didn't think I'd ever see you again. My face was burning, I —"

"You're here now," Renly says, as Loras cries and holds onto him. He strokes his hair, murmuring, "You found me again. All is well, my love. The pain is gone."

When Loras calms, Renly takes his hand and shows him the paths. "I buried you," Loras says. "Where no one could find you. I did it alone."

"You were always the person I loved most in the world," Renly says. "We did so much alone, I suppose it's fitting my burial happened that way. I only wish I could do the same for you."

"My father will bury me," Loras says, sounding sad. Renly squeezes his hand.

Every tree he hasn't been able to find a comfortable seat in, it was because it had branches only comfortable for two people lying entwined. Renly climbs up one, Loras following, and they settle on the branches. They wrap their arms around each other, Loras's head pillowed on Renly's chest. "I missed you," Renly says.

Loras kisses his shirt, then works it open to kiss his chest. "I missed you more than I can put into words. Do you think we can lie together here?" He looks up. "Fuck, I mean?"

Renly laughs. "You always did have the most voracious appetites. Do you remember that time you were away winning every tourney for a moon and when you came back to King's Landing you fucked me for four days? I could barely keep up with you."

"I'd missed you," Loras says. "What about that time I got drunk at Lord Baelish's ball and you had me right in the corridor outside the Great Hall, on your knees?"

"You were teasing me all night, licking drops of wine off your goblet as bold as you please." Renly laughs. "Be glad I could wait until we got to the corridor."

Loras laughs then, a sound that always lightened Renly's heart. He kisses Loras, the laugh still on his lips, and the feeling of love spreading out from them is beautiful. Renly cups Loras's face in his hands and Loras shifts on top of him, pressing their bodies close.

The branch rocks, and they break the kiss. "Perhaps we shouldn't be in a tree for this," Loras says, grinning.

"We can't be hurt here," Renly points out.

"Yes, but all the time falling and collecting ourselves is time we could be fucking," Loras says, and Renly laughs so hard they almost do fall out of the tree.

They climb down instead, and settle against the trunk, Loras straddling Renly's lap. Renly hasn't had an erection since he died, and wasn't sure if he could, but it seems much like the food. He doesn't need to fuck or get hard or take himself in hand, but he can. Loras makes short work of their breeches, no smallclothes underneath, and wraps a hand around Renly's cock to stroke it to hardness. "Do you remember the first time I did this?" Loras asks.

At first, here, there was a flood of memories and he couldn't stop thinking about his life. Perhaps that's the point, to reflect on what has been. "Yes," he says. "You were twelve years old, a precocious squire, lovely as a summer's day. I'd wanted you since you came to manhood. I was sixteen and so cautious of abusing my position."

Loras shifts on his lap to rub their cocks together. "What position was that, Your Grace?"

"I was your lord, you were my squire." Renly tilts his head back, Loras taking off Renly's shirt and kissing over his chest, undulating his hips against him. There's delicious friction with their cocks. "I couldn't take advantage of you."

"You were always blushing and dropping things around me," Loras says, in between kisses along his shoulder to his neck.

"Some of that was me being terrible with a sword," Renly points out, "until you taught me."

"Your hands shook when I got close," Loras says. "It was the most obvious thing in the world. I kept waiting for you to kiss me, but you never did. So I waited until you'd had some wine and we could be alone —"

"— and you backed me into a wall and put your hand in my breeches," Renly finishes.

"Well," Loras rolls his hips against Renly's and wraps both hands around their cocks, "you were never going to do it."

"That's not true. I was going to wait, until the time was right."

Loras smiles and keeps rolling his hips. It feels more vivid, more sensual and incredible, than it did while they were alive. "The time was right," he says, and kisses Renly deeply.

When they come — almost at the same time, Renly a few seconds behind — the seed fades and then vanishes. "Mmm," Loras says, pressing light kisses to Renly's lips. "Much less messy."

Renly can't actually speak. His orgasm was so intense that he feels as though he's vibrating with it still.

"Are you well?" Loras asks, and Renly finds his voice.

"It's — more intense if you've been here for — you'll stop thinking like you're still alive, eventually. And when you do, this place seeps into you and everything's brighter, more sensual. Pleasure is ecstasy."

Loras smiles and kisses him lightly. "I can't wait," he says.

Renly takes Loras's face in his hands again. "I am going to kiss you until the end of time," he says, and the look in Loras's eyes is worth dying a thousand deaths for.

"Until the end of time," Loras repeats against his mouth, and they begin.