There was a rumor among the servants that there was no room in the palace that didn’t have eyes and ears peering in at all times. The spy network of the King was vast, enough so that just about anyone could secretly be apart of it. The servants couldn’t trust each other, the guards never knew if something they said was truly safe between them, and any visitors were careful of everything they did for fear of it being used against them. Lucas was one of the few who knew that it more rumor than truth. A useful rumor though, one that made it easier for him and the few real spies to do their job. They didn’t have to focus as much attention on the inner workings of the palace when everyone was scared stiff of trying anything.
Lucas knew for a fact that, at that moment as he walked through the corridors to meet his King, he was the only spy actually within the palace. Normally it would have frustrated him to not have at least some of his team around. He didn’t like to delay sharing news that could potentially be vital to the kingdom. But right then he was grateful. It meant he would be alone with Peter for the first time in months, able to relax and enjoy time with his near lifelong friend. They could drop the formalities of a King and his Spymaster and just be them.
Peter was in one of his work rooms when Lucas finally found him, the small one that they typically only used for large meetings since it was sparsely furnished and could fit a larger number of people. Peter wasn’t working when he entered. Instead, he was lounged out on the couch that faced the door, a glass of wine in his hand. He was a beautiful boy, Peter. Always had been. He had a sweet face framed by golden blonde curls. And his eyes. A grey blue that reminded Lucas of mornings when a storm was rolling in. They had enchanted Lucas from the moment they met, when Peter had found him hidden in a pear tree in the royal garden. A pest that wasn’t supposed to be there, swiping fruit he most certainly wasn’t supposed to touch.
The door wasn’t even closed yet when Lucas started to the couch. “I’ve missed you.” Peter said as Lucas got closer, placing the wine glass down on the table in front of the couch. It clinked against a second, already full and waiting. The door shut just as Lucas pressed a gentle kiss to Peter’s lips, leaned over him using the back of the couch for support. “I love you too.” Peter said when they parted, laughing slightly.
“You don’t know how much I’ve missed you.” Lucas said as he sat down, Peter moving his legs to make room for him. Peter grabbed up his wine again and gave the other glass to Lucas, pressing it into Lucas’s slightly shaking hands.
“I can guess.” Peter commented, reaching up to swipe a hand gently through Lucas’s hair. He played with it for a few minutes, Lucas melting into the touch. When he stopped, Lucas nearly whimpered. “Drink.” Peter ordered. Not unkindly but firmly.
Lucas smiled though his nose wrinkled. It was nothing to Peter to drink burning liquor and thick wines, but Lucas had never been fond of any of it. Still, he cheekily said, “Yes, my King,” and took a sip. Peter gave him a look so Lucas took a few proper drinks, wincing when the liquid slid down his throat but flashing Peter a grin so he’d think Lucas liked it. Peter liked it when Lucas liked the drinks and Lucas wanted to make Peter happy.
“You haven’t been sleeping much.” Peter stated.
Lucas took another drink to prepare himself for the lecture. “You know me too well.” He said in answer. It was true, he hadn’t been sleeping that much. Infiltrating the wizards’ tower and pretending to be on their side for months had been a difficult task. The worry that someone would find him out had kept him up, fretting into the early morning over the idea that maybe he’d let something slip that would give him away.
“Well, you look like shit, love. It wasn’t hard to figure out.” Peter teased. He smiled and Lucas smiled back, feeling warmth spread through his chest at the genuine love he saw in Peter’s face. Which was why he was confused when the smile fell a little and Peter gestured towards Lucas’s glass, urging him to take yet another drink.
He did take the drink but he did so while watching Peter, an eyebrow raised at him. The glass was half empty now and it had barely been a few minutes since he’d received it. “Are you trying to get me drunk?” Lucas tried to joke but he didn’t quite manage it. His head was starting to feel heavy and Peter was stiff beside him, clearly uncomfortable.
“What if I am?” Peter asked, clearly also trying for lightness. But he didn’t meet Lucas’s eye. He looked over for barely a second before focusing on his own wine.
Lucas was getting a headache. “Could just say that, if you are.” Lucas replied in irritation. He didn’t like when Peter treated him like everyone else, when he played at being cryptic and made Lucas do things just because he was King. Peter rarely did it, however, so something had to wrong. “Is everything alright?” Lucas questioned, frowning at the strange feeling in his mouth. Like oil had been poured in and had thoroughly coated his tongue.
“Do you remember when we met?” Peter asked. It felt out of the blue but everything Peter said always had a purpose. Peter was looking at him now, gaze far more intense than it needed to be. Lucas felt a prickling sensation move down his back. He felt hot, uncomfortable.
“Of course.” Lucas said, his brow furrowing. “You found me in your favorite pear tree, stuffing pears into a bag. I was stealing them because we were starving and I thought the royals didn’t deserve them.” He’d been so young. So stupid. Lucas winced as he realized what he’d said. He’d told Peter that before but he hated mentioning it. He wasn’t sure why he’d said it. “You should have ordered my hands cut off but instead you declared me your best friend. A peasant’s son who’d broken in. A no one.” Lucas’s hands hadn’t stopped shaking but now he noticed they’d gotten worse. He watched the wine slosh around in the cup. “I fell in love with you that day.”
Lucas tried to put the glass down. He missed the table, vision swimming, and the wine spilled onto the ornate carpet beneath the table. He cursed and tried to kneel to clean it but ended up falling off the couch. Peter caught him so he didn’t fall too hard but he didn’t try to help him up, leaving Lucas kneeling on the ground as he stood above him.
“What did the wizards tell you?” Peter interrupted. Lucas could barely see his face, though they weren’t that far apart. He could just make out those eyes he loved.
Lucas shook his head and tried to ask what Peter meant. But the words dissolved on his tongue and the truth slid out. “They told me about things you’ve done. Some I knew about, others I didn’t. Like the massacre at the Red Bridge. And the magic you’ve been dipping into.” Lucas groaned, placing his head in his hands as his vision started going in and out of blackness. His body felt too heavy and he felt himself fall to the side, though the pain from hitting the stone floor was far duller than it should have been. “I don’t feel good. Peter. I don’t feel good.” He whimpered. Still able to talk. Truth escaping him unwilling.
“What do you think of me, Lucas?” Was Peter crying?
“I love you.” Lucas was crying. He knew he was crying. Why was he crying? He couldn’t think clearly. He tried to push himself up but he couldn’t get his arms under him. But he managed to open his eyes, his vision clearing just enough to recognize what was in front of him.
Peter was kneeling beside him and yes, he was crying. His face was red and Lucas knew he was angry. Why he was angry though was a mystery. Lucas tried to touch his cheek but his arm barely lifted. “I can’t lose you, Lucas. You understand that right? I can't lose your trust. Your love.” Peter said, voice cracking and raised an octave. He always sounded like a little kid when he cried. It sent pain racing through Lucas’s chest.
“I love you.” Lucas’s body shuddered. A small part of him knew what was happening. He had shown Peter how to mix potions of truth into drinks, he had taught him how to make it seem invisible in the glass’s contents. Lucas tried to chase that lucid part of himself but it couldn’t be caught. Truth potions broke a person down until all they could do was speak, making it easier to interrogate them. “I love you, Peter. I love you.”
“I love you too.” Peter said. Lucas could just barely feel Peter’s hand in his hair. He could just barely feel the sharpness of steel against his throat. “I love you too. And I will not lose you to them.” Peter leaned forward and Lucas tasted the wine again on his lips. “I’m sorry.”
His neck stung, something warm spread down the side of his neck, and Lucas’s vision went black.