Royal Growing Pains - Chapter Thirty Three
Warnings: Homophobia, transphobia, misgendering, sympathetic Deceit
Royal Growing Pains Tag
Roman could hear whispering at the edges of consciousness, which he was doing his best to ignore. "How do we wake him up?" Damien asked.
"Oh, that's easy," a voice he recognized but couldn't place yet said. "Wake up bitch, the butt-munchers are coming after your ass!"
"Shut up, Remus!" Roman exclaimed, throwing a pillow in the direction of the voice and grumbling into the mattress.
"Well that didn't work."
"Give it a minute."
Remus woke him up like this all the time, he'd realize Roman could fall back asleep after any sort of shouting. Except...except he was at the Byron's this week. And he hadn't seen Remus for over six days. He shot up in bed and tackle-hugged Remus before another second passed. "Holy shit, Remus! You're here!"
“Yep! Mornin’ sunshine!” Remus crowed. “You slept past breakfast, or at least breakfast for me and Damien. Don’t worry, I didn’t shovel talk...much.”
“Oh, shit,” Roman said, turning to Damien. “He won’t kill you, I would never let him, promise!”
“Oh, no, I know,” Damien hummed. “But he made a very explicit description of what he would do to keep me alive while he tortured me if I ever hurt you.”
“Ah, fuck. Remus!” Roman whined. “No threatening my fiancé anymore, clear?”
“Crystal. I believe he got the message, anyway,” Remus said with a little grin.
“Remus!” Roman exclaimed again, punching Remus in the chest. “Not helpful!”
Remus giggled shamelessly. “Come on, Roman. It’s not possible for me to be a brother-in-law without a healthy shovel talk first!”
“I would hardly call graphic torture ‘healthy,’” Roman snarked.
“I, for one, am merely offended that your brother thinks I would ever willingly hurt you,” Damien volunteered.
“Many a man have said that. Few have survived what happened after they fucked up,” Remus said solemnly.
“That’s a lie,” Roman said to Damien. “All of them lived.”
“Only because our parents intervened,” Remus pointed out.
“Yes, and that’s a problem because?” Roman asked.
“They hurt you. No one should,” Remus replied.
Roman snorted. “Tell that to our mother.”
Remus whistled and Roman narrowed his eyes. “Remus, what did you do?”
Damien’s shoulders shook with muffled laughter and Roman looked between them. “Remus, what did you do?!”
“Get something to eat, we’ll talk about it over breakfast,” Remus said, shoving Roman out the door.
“No, we’re talking about it now. What did you do to our mother?” Roman asked.
Damien mumbled something suspiciously like, “Live rats,” and Roman blinked.
“You wouldn’t have happened to put rats in our mother’s shoe boxes?”
“Mother and Father are moving out while I’m away. She’ll find out sooner or later where the scratching is coming from,” Remus said with unholy glee in his voice.
“That’s just cruel to the rats,” Roman said, shaking his head. “You know about Mother’s phobia of rodents. What if she kills them?”
“Eh, the rats were feral anyway,” Remus said with a shrug. “They were wreaking havoc in the sewers. This just solves two problems at once!”
“You put feral rats in Mother’s closet?!” Roman shrieked. “Without me or you there to observe the chaos?!”
“I paid Marcy five quid to sneak a camera into their room last night right before I put the rats in the boxes. It’s streaming to the cloud as we speak,” Remus said.
“For a second I thought you were indignant at what Remus did,” Damien said. “And I was about to be surprised.”
“Oh, no. Mother deserves to suffer,” Roman said solemnly. “She tortured me, she can survive a little pain herself.”
Damien nodded. “Still say we should have thrown her off the cliff.”
“That would be nice, but until I’m crowned king, that would be considered treason,” Remus said, starting to walk down the hallway. “And I much prefer living outside prison.”
“You’d be the prison bitch, don’t deny it,” Roman laughed.
“Well of course I would, everyone knows I’m a slut!” Remus boasted.
“Only in theory, of course,” Roman said.
“No, in practice my libido is outrageous, I just don’t seek anyone out to help with the problem unless I have emotional attachment first.”
“You’re demisexual?” a voice said from in front of the two.
Roman turned to find Logan standing there. “Logan! Perfect timing! This is Remus, my brother.”
The two looked each other over, sizing each other up. Neither said anything, and Damien leaned in to Roman to whisper, “Twenty says Remus breaks the silence and makes the first move.”
“Make that you wearing nothing but a jockstrap our first night together and I’ll say Logan breaks it and understatedly flirts,” Roman whispered back.
“Done,” Damien said.
The four of them stood in the hallway for another twenty seconds before Logan took a breath and said, “He’s suitably attractive, I suppose.”
Roman laughed and cheered as Damien buried a suddenly red face in his hands. Remus gasped. “You suppose? You suppose?! I could get any boy I wanted in my country with these rugged looks!” He turned to Roman. “And why are you cheering?”
“I got Damien to wear nothing but a jockstrap for our wedding night with Logan making the first move,” Roman said.
Remus looked over at Damien. “Never bet against the house of Ayer.”
“Noted,” Damien said.
“To answer your question, yes. I’m demisexual and demiromantic. I do appreciate men, but they also have to appreciate me too, and I don’t see that from you,” Remus said with ice in his voice.
“I called you suitably attractive,” Logan said, frowning. “What about that is not appreciative?”
“I feel like a dog who does tricks just well enough to pass an impossibly high standard,” Remus said.
“Well, that was not my intention,” Logan said. “I distinctly remember your application to have me as a tutor included ‘a smoking hot bod that you can drool over while we study,’ and I suppose you meet that requirement.”
Roman snickered as Remus made a noise in the back of his throat and he short-circuited. “Remus dot exe has stopped working, please wait,” Roman teased.
Damien laughed behind Roman and interlaced his fingers with Roman’s. “Come on, my dear, we need to get you something to eat, still. Then we can practice dancing, Logan.”
Logan nodded and let the two walk between him and a still malfunctioning Remus. “I feel kind of bad leaving Remus to fair on his own with Logan,” Damien said.
“I don’t,” Roman laughed. “Remus will have the time of his life trying to ruffle Logan’s feathers.”
Damien looked back towards the two. Roman glanced back as well and Remus was now talking animatedly. Roman smiled. “Will he be able to achieve that?” Damien asked.
“Knowing Remus? Probably. And knowing Logan? I’m fairly certain he’d try to keep Remus on a literal leash after the fact,” Roman laughed. “Not that it would work, of course. Remus can’t be contained unless he wants to be.”
Damien smirked. “So, what I’m hearing is that after Logan has deigned that I pass his class and I achieve my diploma, Logan will move to your home kingdom to try and handle the active hurricane that is your brother, and drive himself insane within the first two years.”
“Probably, yeah!” Roman said brightly.
Damien snorted. “If only he could do that now. I would love to have an easier grader than Logan for my thesis.”
“Oh, you’ll do fine,” Roman assured him.
“In theory,” Damien snorted. “In practice, my paper is due on our honeymoon. And I won’t be able to obsessively edit it until the very last second.”
“Who’s to say that achieves anything?” Roman asked. “Besides, I could let you work on it on the plane trip to our destination.”
“And miss a chance to be alone with me after we’ve had to spend all our time preparing for the wedding?” Damien scoffed. “You’d never.”
“Okay, you’re right, but you don’t have to say that!” Roman exclaimed.
Damien squeezed Roman’s hand as they approached the kitchen and he murmured, “You know, I had a dream we kissed last night.”
“Oh?” Roman asked.
“It wasn’t nearly as scary as I was anticipating,” Damien said, looking at Roman with a soft smile.
“Care to see if the real thing lives up to it?” Roman asked, arching an eyebrow with a teasing smile.
Damien leaned down, but before they could do anything, Remus bounded up to them in excitement. “Guys! Guys! You’ll never believe it! Logan likes two people! Me, and a member of the royal guard!”
Roman groaned and turned to Remus. “Honey, we been knew. I set them up,” he sighed.
“You did?!” Remus asked. “Saucy! What other secrets can you tell me about the castle?! What delectable rumors have been floating through the halls?”
“Remus...Damien and I were kinda in the middle of something, here,” Roman said as Damien pulled away.
“Oh, you two can make out, I don’t care,” Remus said, waving a hand.
“I do,” Roman said, punching Remus in the chest. “And you totally ruined the moment.”
Remus smirked. “If you’re that much of a prude, Roman, how are you going to make out at the altar tomorrow?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure you won’t be shouting about polyamory in the middle of the wedding ceremony,” Roman said with an eye-roll.
“Don’t give him ideas,” Damien hissed to Roman.
“If he values his life, he will not ruin the ceremony,” Roman said, giving Remus a meaningful look. “He can save that for the reception.”
Remus made a fist-pump. “I can work with that! Can’t wait to fling you across the floor!”
Damien paled. “No, death by Remy is worse than death by you,” he told Remus. “Do not fling Roman anywhere!”
Remus rolled his eyes. “If I say I promise not to, would you feel better?”
“You’d be blatantly lying to my face, so no,” Damien said.
Remus turned to Roman. “You taught him well, young padawan.”
Roman smiled sweetly. “No, you just have Mother’s stubbornness in droves and Damien can pick up on it.”
“The graphic descriptions of torture gave it away,” Damien said drily.
“Damn,” Remus said. “Well, whatever, then. I make no promises and you can try and hoard Roman all you want during the reception, but I will steal him away for chaos at some point.”
Logan strode up and looked between all of them. “Some rather serious conversation going on,” he said.
“Remus is trying to have us killed by Remy’s hands,” Damien said.
Logan paused. “Remus, I will go into the exact process of rapid tooth decay complete with pictures if you keep Roman’s suit pristine until the end of the night.”
Remus considered. “Deal,” he agreed. “I didn’t expect you to break that easily.”
“Neither did I,” Roman said, impressed. “Either Remy really is that terrifying, or you’re really desperate to flirt with an attractive man.”
“Both?” Damien offered.
“Both is plausible,” Roman agreed.
“I am not desperate to flirt with Remus,” Logan blustered.
Roman and Damien shared a look. “Definitely both,” Damien said gleefully. “You two can head to the ballroom, I need to get some food into Roman and we’ll be there shortly.”
Logan was blushing and stammering excuses and threats while Remus gleefully trotted him away. “Either you tell me where the ballroom is or I’ll drag you all over the castle looking for it, Loganberry!” Remus threatened.
Roman laughed a little as Damien swept him into the kitchen, where Patton was seemingly waiting for them, an arrangement of fruit at the ready. “Morning, Roman! Nothing fancy today, unfortunately; I sent out for more ingredients for the wedding tomorrow and neglected to mention I might need certain things today. So the waffles I had planned for might have to wait until tomorrow morning.”
“That’s fine, Patton, I function on fruit just as well,” Roman said, taking a banana and peeling it.
Damien snuck a couple grapes before Patton smacked his hand away. “You already had breakfast, Damien!” Patton said. “Roman gets the first choice of this fruit!”
“He already chose!” Damien said petulantly. “Besides, I could hardly eat with Remus’ graphic depictions of violence this morning.”
“He always deserves an ‘Archive Warning,’” Roman muttered absentmindedly.
“Agreed,” Damien said, straightening his sleeves. “I would go so far as to suggest an ‘M’ or ‘E’ rating, based on the archive’s descriptions.”
Patton looked between them. “Are you two talking about AO3?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah. Remus writes tons of fanfic, and we developed a joke where we’d refer to each other using AO3 tags. His most common one was ‘Graphic Depictions of Violence,’” Roman explained. “Coming in close second was ‘Dead Dove: Do Not Eat.’”
“Terrifying,” Damien said. “I just figured you were making a one-off joke and played into it. Do I need to understand fanfiction culture to understand a bulk of your and Remus’ conversations?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t read fanfic, Damien, I know you do,” Roman said.
“Yes, but I don’t delve into much of the culture surrounding it.” Damien huffed. “I never could keep up with all the acronyms and portmanteaus.”
“Suffer, then,” Roman said, taking a particularly large bite of banana. “Because Remus and I will frequently have non-sequiturs surrounding fanfic and use AO3 tags in the middle of them.”
Damien sighed. “My love, I want you to know that I do love you, with all my heart—”
“—But?” Roman asked.
“But what the fuck?” Damien finished. “That makes no logical sense. There is no universe where that sort of thing just happens naturally.”
“You’re right. It wasn’t natural. Remus started talking in AO3 tags to annoy me. To annoy him back, I started figuring out what he meant. And then we realized our parents had no idea what we were talking about, and fanfiction became our preferred mode of conversation when our parents were around and we needed to have a serious talk. Pretending to be Remus’ characters helped immeasurably. It’s only when Remus slipped up and we clearly weren’t in character when he called me ‘Roman’ that this whole mess started,” Roman said.
“You’re telling me that this whole situation started in part because the two of you spoke in AO3 terms?” Damien asked skeptically.
“No, I’m lying through my teeth about most of this,” Roman said with a grin. “But parts of it are true. And the world may never know which parts are and which parts are simple fabrications.”
“Wha—but?! You can’t do that!” Damien sputtered.
“Clearly I can, because I just did!” Roman said, sticking his tongue out at Damien and tossing the banana peel away, sprinting out of the room. “The world will never know!”
He made it to the ballroom before tripping on his laces and face-planting into the floor. Damien collapsed on top of him, aggressively nuzzling the back of his neck. “I will not let you stand up until you tell me the truth!” Damien declared.
“Okay, your butt’s kinda cute!” Roman said. “Off!”
“That’s not what I’m talking about!” Damien snapped, before blinking. “Only ‘kind of’?!”
“What did my brother do to annoy you?” Remus asked with a sigh.
“He said that the reason he’s here is because you and him spoke in AO3 tags in your home kingdom!” Damien said.
Remus blinked. “Huh. You know, I never considered it that way.”
“Don’t tell me you’re in on this joke!” Damien groaned.
“I mean, it set up the dominoes, in a way. Probably not in the way Roman described, but...”
“I told a wild tale,” Roman said with a shit-eating grin. “You’d be proud of me, Remus. Don’t tell Damien the full story.”
“I won’t,” Remus said. “This is far too enjoyable.”
“How has your fanfic been doing, Remus?” Roman asked.
“Oh, everyone’s screaming at the two main characters to shut up and kiss already,” Remus said. “Kinda like you two, except these characters are still in the ‘Pining and Stupid’ phase. You guys are just in the ‘Idiots in Love’ phase.”
“Nice tag reference,” Roman said, making finger guns towards the ceiling.
Logan cleared his throat. “Endearing as this is,” he said in a voice that implied he found this whole situation tiresome, “You two need to practice dancing. Damien, get off your fiancé, shut up about Archive of Our Own, and show me that the two of you can dance without too much instruction.”
Damien huffed. “What if I don’t want to?” he asked petulantly.
“Then I suppose I’ll have to drag you off him by force,” Logan said calmly. “And you should know that Virgil has been teaching me some sparring tricks as well.”
Damien scoffed. “You still couldn’t beat me,” he said with far more confidence than Roman thought he should have.
Logan strode over, looked Damien up and down, stabbed him in the side with two fingers, and offered Roman a hand up once Damien had instinctively scrambled backwards and fallen off Roman’s back. “That was a little mean,” Roman said, squinting at Logan. “Still, thanks.”
“No problem,” Logan said with a smile. “And your brother is delightful company. A little graphic at times, but charming nevertheless.”
“Yeah, he’s a little much sometimes but he always means well,” Roman said. “Whether or not what he means well about is a good thing is up for debate.”
“Okay, you got me there,” Remus admitted. “I can go to the ‘Dead Dove’ category pretty often.”
“Shut up about AO3 and dance,” Logan said.
“With who?” Remus challenged.
Logan promptly turned and got into a dancing position with Remus and Remus blushed dark red. Roman laughed and followed suit with Damien. “This is perfect!” Roman crowed. “Enjoying yourself, Remus?”
“Not particularly,” Remus said as all four of them began the steps to the waltz.
“If you wish me to stop being so forward, all you need to do is say so,” Logan said.
“No, no, it’s fun to flirt with you. I just...want you to know not to expect anything serious for a while,” Remus said.
Logan nodded. “I will wait however long you need me to. And in the meantime, I enjoy our reparteé.”
“Remus and Logan, sitting in a tree,” Roman sang softly.
“I will kick you in the shins,” Remus threatened.
“I’d love to see you try, lover boy,” Roman said.
Remus tried to get a kick in but Logan led him away in the waltz. “Both of you, behave,” Logan sighed. “I swear, this is worse than herding toddlers.”
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