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Johannes never sought a partner out for something as simple as sex. The few men he had sought out had all been with the intention of becoming something more than a one-night stand. Johannes never expected forever with these men, but he did hope for months and years with every single one of his bed partners. He had the same feeling for Charlemagne. He wanted a relationship that wasn’t built solely on the foundation of sex or lust which was why Johannes was so insistent on this courting and dodging Charlemagne’s advances. And Charlemagne almost made Johannes break down and put everything on the table. The way Charlemagne looked at Maria, not in disgust but adoration, melted Johannes heart. Never before did he think he would find a man so openly accepting of his children. Even men who were normal seemed to have a dislike for Children being seen and heard.
Not Charlemagne though. Defying all odds Charlemagne turned his attention to Maria and looked upon her with true kindness. While Charlemagne looked upon Maria, Johannes looked upon the other male with his own brand of awe and adoration. He actually wanted a forever with this man. Two dates in and knew that months or years wouldn’t be enough. No, he wanted a lifetime or two to be with Charlemagne. This handsome Frenchman who was kind, intelligent, and a pure sin had officially won Johannes over.
“I would have never sent her back. No one here would have gotten any sleep from her screaming plus I do love her despite her best attempts to gross me out,” He softly said as he pulled his gaze away from Charlemagne to look at the little bundle of joy sleeping away on his chest. She was cute when she wasn’t screaming her little head off or getting poop all over herself.
Feeling a kiss to his shoulder Johannes looked away from his little demon and at Charlemagne. He longed to roll over and press a kiss to Charlemagne’s lips but the slight weight on his chest made it impossible. If Johannes moved too much she would wake up and be grouchy, something Johannes didn’t want to deal with. So, instead Johannes settled with Charlemagne’s kiss to his shoulder, a faint smile finding it way on his lips. “Good night,” He softly replied as he settled in for the night.
Johannes slept like the dead. The odd warmth to his side did not bother him and Maria had been content to sleep through the night. It was only after Charlemagne had left the bed did Maria stir. When Maria was fully awake, and ready to start her day, she let out an ear piercing cry which woke Johannes from a dead sleep.
“Maria,” he groggily said as he opened his eyes to peer at the crying baby. It took a few seconds for him to figure out what she wanted, and the smell to creep up. Hungry and wet. Sadly, Johannes didn’t have any nappies for her in his room. The last having been used the previous night and were awaiting to be brought back up. Normally Johannes wouldn’t leave his bed in sleepwear but what Maria had released in her diapers was foul. Getting up from the bed he softly hushed his crying daughter as he slid a dressing gown and a pair of slippers before making his way downstairs.
The wet nurse was out of the children’s room the moment Johannes stepped foot in the hallway and was offering to take Maria right away, not even blinking at how rumpled Johannes looked.
“I can change her,” Johannes offered, hesitant to hand off his daughter just yet.
“I have it, Sir. There is some commotion in the kitchen that you should see to.” She simply said as she took the baby from Johannes arms and went back into the room.
Johannes sighed, but went to go check in on the kitchen, not putting two and two together and realizing that it would most likely be Charlemagne in the kitchen. To be exact Johannes had forgotten about Charlemagne staying the night especially since he had more pressing matter on his mind.
So groggily Johannes made his way to the kitchen only to hear a litany of curses in Hungarian, German, and French. He was still tired enough that it took him a moment to understand what was being said amongst the two parties or even figure out who was talking. It was only when he got closer did, he even remember that Charlemagne had stayed the night and of course the man found the kitchen. Johannes then came upon the horrible realization that Charlemagne was about to see him… like this. Johannes hadn’t yet shaved and his hair was standing up in some places. He looked like a mess compared to his normal put together self and for a short moment he considered turning tail and getting ready for Charlemagne. The only thing that kept him from not leaving was Tibor, his cook, loud booming voice calling Charlemagne a dick hat with no taste and has a whore mother who was sleeping with Satan. Which made Johannes really hope Charlemagne didn’t know Hungarian at all.
In fear that he did, and fear for Johannes’ household, he hurried up and burst into the kitchen to see a stand off.
Tibor was the first to see Johannes, arms crossed and a scowl marring his face. “Freiherr, please remove your man from my kitchen he knows nothing about cooking. He insulted paprika!”
Johannes just wanted to groan. It was too early for this. Of course Charlemagne would insult a central spice in Hungarian cooking and therefore insult a large group of people. “Charlemagne isn’t my man…yet and he does know a thing or two about cooking. He is the head chef for the king and queen,” Johannes replied back in Hungarian.
“That means nothing. The French have no appreciation for spices. They are bland people,” Tibor grumbled.
Johannes did everything in his power not to roll his eyes and instead turned to Charlemagne. “How are you feeling? You shouldn’t be out of bed yet. Matthias hasn’t even checked up on you.”
[center Charlemagne’s expression of pain and fear softened considerably when Johannes had taken his hand and placed a gentle kiss on the back of it. The man couldn’t help but grip onto the other man’s hand just a little bit tighter. While Charlie knew Johannes was right beside him, he really did not want Johannes to let his hand go. But still, the Frenchman’s gazed begged the man to not let him go. However, Charlemagne understood that Johannes had to write the letter to the Queen about their predicament. Charlie hoped that God himself would have mercy on him and allow forgiveness to be granted by the royal family. Maybe even Maximilian could assist in explaining what had happened. The Queen would likely believe Max over anyone else relating to the situation that went down at the café.]
[center Johannes’ last kiss on the hand made Charlemagne heave a sigh, as painful as it was to do so. The man also appreciated how gentle the Austrian had been putting that same hand back down to rest on the bed. [#900 “I will hold you to your word.”] Charlemagne responded with a slight chuckle. He was certainly is no position to be persuading anybody to do anything. When Johannes turned to make way to the desk in the room, Charlie felt his body sink just a little bit further into the bed. The medicine was truly taking effect since he began to feel drowsy, Charlemagne yawning quietly. Despite being without a shirt now, thanks to Dr. Riedl’s examination, Charlemagne simply allowed his body to relax as much as it could on the sheets.]
[center It took a minute, though, to register what Johannes was doing. Charlie was just a second away from asking what the man was even doing because he clearly was not writing any letters. In response, the Frenchman had a furrowed brow as he just stared at the other man. Then for a split-second Charlie could feel his face flush slightly. [#900 “I can’t say this is what I imagined either. I pictured it as less one-sided and with a lot more debauchery.”] Charlie retorted before thinking for a moment. [#900 “You strike me as more of a leg man, anyways, so this makes sense regardless.”] the Frenchman couldn’t help but laugh, although that led to a forsaken coughing fit. After taking a minute to catch his breath again Charlie cursed for being injured in the first place. [#900 “I already didn’t have a shirt anyway. I don’t mind nudity, though. The pants can come off if you want them to. I can’t promise I’d be the most energetic, though.”] Even in recovery, Charlemagne was as audacious as he would have been under normal circumstances.]
[center When Johannes went to his desk to write the necessary letters Charlemagne found himself dozing in and out of consciousness. He was trying to battle sleep, but it was winning by quite a large margin. But Charlie did not want to go to sleep without ensuring Johannes was beside him. He had not been paying a whole lot of attention to the man when he himself changed into appropriate sleepwear. Charlemagne the tiredly watched as Johannes made his way out of the room, letters in hand. He heard Johannes speaking with another person in the hall. The Frenchman was confused, but too tired to really care all that much until Johannes walked back in while carrying a small infant!]
[center This captured Charlie’s attention almost immediately, the man feeling a pang in his heart. He had always had a very soft spot for babies, especially after his brother had his daughter. Charlie’s niece was his everything in the realm of children. He then gazed at the other man as he carefully got into bed with the baby on his chest. [#900 [i “Am I okay with Maria being here?”]] Charlemagne echoed, almost incredulous. [#900 “[i She’s your baby.] Of course, I’m okay with her being here, Johannes!”] his voice no higher than a whisper. The last thing he wanted to do was disturb the sleeping child. Going from looking at Johannes to Maria, Charlie was already smitten. [#900 “I would have been significantly more offended if you refused to bring her in.”] being honest, Charlie felt that it was the responsible thing to do. [#900 “She is absolutely precious.”] he added before glancing back at the sleeping Maria. [#900 “Get all the sleep you need, petite fille.”] Charlie softly said, lovingly even.]
[center He then tried to move his body over as much as it would allow him to get closer to Johannes. As much as Charlie wanted to kiss the man goodnight, he settled for bestowing the kiss upon Johannes’ shoulder. [#900 “You too. You need to rest as well.”] Charlemagne mumbled before finally drifting off to sleep himself. He felt comfortable, warm, and safe. And he couldn’t thank Johannes more for that.]
[center Throughout the night Charlemagne slept like a rock, not moving a single inch. Waking up, though, was not as pleasant. Charlie’s body was [i sore]. It definitely did not hurt as bad as last night, but the man winced as he tried to stretch the drowsiness away. Compelled by habit, Charlemagne rubbed his eyes and carefully shimmied himself out of bed to avoid waking up Johannes and Maria. Charlie just knew that his bruises were going to be nasty for a while. But the man forced himself upright to at least compose himself enough to walk out of the room. He wanted to find the kitchen, but where was it? Charlie was still drowsy and bleary-eyed from his night’s sleep. So, lazily he wandered around the estate. He had passed by a few people, but most of them had been speaking Hungarian from the sounds of it. At least that is what it sounded like to Charlie. He had such little experience with the Austro-Hungarians that he had to focus extra hard to understand their German. But Charlie was hopeless with Hungarian. He did not know a single word!]
[center Eventually Charlemagne did begin to smell pungent spices as he walked along an open hallway, figuring he was finally nearing the kitchen. But when he walked in all he saw was the kitchen staff stopping to stare at him and shouting at him in Hungarian. They were wondering who he was, but Charlemagne had no idea on how to respond! The man Charlie assumed to be the head chef kept on shooting rapid fire Hungarian at him, and in response Charlemagne responded in what became equally annoyed French. Then one of the staff said something in German about French arrogance. That really ticked Charlie off! While the French and Hungarian were already explosive enough, the German getting thrown in brought it to a whole new level. Constant piss-taking out of one another and defensive protectiveness of their equally sized egos and prides.]
[center [#900 “There is no way that Hungarian cuisine can be better! You clearly don’t understand the complexities of flavor and how to manipulate them to your will!”] Charlie exclaimed, aghast that someone truly thought that there was cooking out there better than what his country had! [#900 “You might as well just stick your face into a fire with all of those peppers! You cannot even enjoy what you’re eating because you might as well just be acquainting your mouth with the pits of Hell.”] the man rolled his eyes heavily. It just made no sense! He didn’t even care if this man was clearly his senior. Pride and honor were at stake! And Charlemagne was not about to let someone just trample all over it…]
The carriage ride was making Johannes nervous. He knew that Charlemagne was in pain and the umps in the road couldn’t be helping at all. Sadly, this was the fastest route to get Charlemagne the help he needed. There was something that Johannes hadn’t even thought about and that was Charlemagne’s job. Royalty was rarely known for being understanding and in this economy, everyone needed to hold onto their jobs as tightly as possible. The only problem was that Charlemagne was not in a good shape to go back and work. Charlemagne was holding onto Johannes’ arm like his life depended on it. There was absolutely no way that Johannes would be letting Charlemagne leave. If the King and Queen did fire Charlemagne then he would offer Charlemagne up a job or even find one for him if need be, but he wasn’t letting Charlemagne leave without Matthias checking on him.
“Charlemagne,” Johannes softly began. He reached up to the hand that was tightly gripping onto his own arm and stoke Charlemagne’s fingers. “I’ll send the Queen a letter. There is no guarantee that she will care for what I have to say, but it is worth a try. What is more important is that we get you help.” Johannes hoped that his wife’s friendship and dedication to the now Queen would at least let Johannes put his foot in the door and get her ear. Worst case Johannes would use underhanded methods and use his kids, the kids that the Queen had demanded to see upon birth, to get her to listen.
Thankfully, they pulled up to Johannes home and Hans was instantly out and opening the door for them. Hans only needed to look at the sorry state that Charlemagne was in to say he was getting Matthias and spinning on his heel to get the family doctor.
The wait wasn’t long and soon Matthias was approaching the carriage. “It isn’t me,” Johannes quickly assured, hoping to alleviate any concern his friend and doctor had. Not that it helped Johannes. He was hopelessly worried about Charlemagne. Once Charlemagne was extracted from the carriage Johannes followed, leaving Hans to pay for the carriage.
“I’ll tell you the story later,” Johannes said after Charlemagne pitiful attempt to explain what happened. All Johannes really cared about was Charlemagne getting check out as soon as possible and it seemed lie Matthias agreed because soon enough they were making there way to Johannes room. A small smile twitching on his lips and Charlemagne glared at him and told him not to leave. “Don’t worry, ‘ll be in the room with you,” Johannes replied, leading Charlemagne to his bed.
While Johannes had plans on Charlemagne being in his bed this wasn’t the situation Johannes had imagined. He would court Charlemagne until the man was frustrated and finally demanded that Johannes bed him. Johannes would happily oblige, sweeping up Charlemagne, and taking him to his room where he would utterly destroy the smaller male. After there time rolling around the bed Johannes and Charlemagne would cuddle, and everything would be great. Too bad some idiots had to ruin everything and Charlemagne’s first time in Johannes home and bed was not going to end in anything spectacular.
Johannes took a few steps back, giving Matthias free reign to loo over Charlemagne. The whole time Johannes did his best to keep his face impassive, knowing that his worry wouldn’t help Charlemagne. Hs efforts weren’t that great, and his concern shone in his eyes and posture as he catalogued every bruise. Thankfully, Matthias was there to help Charlemagne and soon he was passing Charlemagne a tea that Johannes knew from experience tasted horrendous. “Thank you, Matthias,” He said as he finally began to hover over the side of the bed.
Once Charlemagne took his tea Matthias took his leave, leaving the two of them alone. Johannes heart even broke a little as Charlemagne reached out to him, asking him to lay down with him. Johannes had planned on sleeping in a chair, but he really couldn’t deny Charlemagne this little request. Taking Charlemagne’s hand Johannes pressed a chaste kiss to it. “Give me a few minutes to write that letter and then I will lay down with you,” Johannes gently said, needing to at least get the letter to the Queen done in hopes of ensuring Charlemagne’s job.
Pressing one last kiss to Charlemagne’s hand he laid it down on the bed and moved away. As he took a moment to look over Charlemagne he noticed that his shoes were on and so were his stockings. While neither bothered Johannes, especially since Charlemagne was in pain, he doubted he would be comfortable. At least Johannes wasn’t when he had occasionally fallen asleep in feel dress. Going to the foot of the bed Johannes took off Charlemagne’s shoes before deciding to remove his stockings as well. “This isn’t how I imagined I would be undressing you,” Johannes light heartedly said as undid the bottom buttons of Charlemagne’s breeches so that he could remove the man’s stockings. Once the leg of the pants were open Johannes gently removed the white stockings, exposing Charlemagne’s beautiful legs. Johannes had to stop himself from thinking about what Charlemagne would look without his breeches and instead carefully laid the stockings down next to Charlemagne’s shoes.
With some of Charlemagne’s comfort seen to Johannes went over to the desk and true to his words it only took him a handful of minutes to compose the two letters he needed to write. Maximillian’s letter was nothing more than a quick, we made it home and Matthias looked Charlemagne over. The Queen’s, that took the longest to write and was filled with so many apologies and promises to bring the children over. Once Johannes was done with both letters he sealed them and took the time before dropping them off to change into his night shirt. The last time he had changed in front of Charlemagne he had been cautious, but this time he threw caution to the wind and carefully stripped and changed into his night shirt.
When Johannes was done he gathered the letters and was a foot out of the door when Hans materialized with Maria.
“She was starting to fuss again and was waking Johannes up. I know that you have someone in your room with you but you are the only one that calms her down,” Hans whispered. As if n cue Maria shifted and started to let out a small whine, her precursor to full out crying.
“I will take her. Could you please see these letters delivered,” Johannes said as he handed over the letters before taking his daughter. Almost instantly her sniffles stopped, and her little head found its spot on the small portion of bare chest.
“Of course, Freiherr. Maria has been fed and changed; she should be good for the rest of the night.”
Johannes nodded as he walked back into the room. “And it looks like we will have to share the bed with someone else,” Johannes stated as he went over to the bed. He was a pro when it came to getting comfortable with Maria passed out on his chest. With ease he slid underneath the covers, a hand pressed to Maria’s back to keep her in place. Maria, content to finally be laying on her papa, had instantly fallen asleep.
Johannes watched her for a few moments before rolling his head and looking over at Charlemagne. A part of him growing worried that Charlemagne wouldn’t be okay with their intruder. A lot of men that Johannes knew wanted nothing to do with the kids. If Charlemagne didn’t like children, then Johannes wouldn’t know what he would do. “Are you okay with Maria being here? If not, I can go lay down somewhere else. She gets fussy when she doesn’t sleep with me.”
[center Maximillian’s stare sharpened immensely when he saw Johannes’ gaze stay on him for a moment. Their current situation did not afford them the luxury of time to just stand around and play staring games. The prince also did not want to waste time by arguing with Johannes about what he needed to do. Maximillian was quite relieved in that moment when he saw that Johannes was relenting by turning his attention towards Charlemagne. The poor man truly looked like he was going to be in need of some serious assistance. Max nodded, though, at the other’s statement. [#c2a900 “Please do. Now hurry up and get him out of here.”]]
[center Still on the ground with broken pieces of table, Charlemagne was struggling to catch his breath. Everything from the waist up hurt like hell. The man was trying to move as little as possible to prevent further suffering. He also felt hot tears well up in his eyes, Charlie cursing to himself. He really hadn’t been able to focus on what anyone else around him was saying. But, through the mental fog he could hear Johannes trying to talk to him. Charlie felt like he couldn’t entirely understand, but he did feel a sense of calm knowing that Johannes was still there. But [i help up]? Then it registered what Johannes was trying to do when the Frenchman felt his hand being gripped by the other man’s. [#900 “I can’t!”] Charlemagne coughed, grimacing in pain. He just wished he could detach his arm when Johannes began pulling his body up onto his feet. But Charlie could feel himself relying heavily upon the bodily support Johannes was providing with the arm around the waist.]
[center Once they were outside Charlemagne had just focused on trying to breathe more deeply. The coolness of the night air was refreshing, but Charlie still felt great pain in his back and chest while respirating. He simply just followed Johannes’ lead. He appreciated the assistance, although Charlie had no idea where they were going once they were seated inside of the carriage. The bumps in the road shot jolts of pain up his spine. During the ride Charlie had attached himself to Johannes’ arm to steady himself. The man could only hope that nothing too serious had happened to him. But then a sensation of panic consumed him. [#900 “The King and Queen are going to be furious if I’m not back at the palace in the morning!”] he stressed, worried about how they’d react to his predicament. Charlemagne knew he could easily be dismissed over not being in attendance at the palace as it would be viewed as an inconvenience to the royal family. [#900 “Christ, how am I going to tell them?”] Not only would his livelihood, but also his brother’s could be at stake. The royal family had invested heavily in their family’s winery that if they no longer had that patronage, it could seriously threaten their ability to survive. Charlemagne knew that he was skilled in his art with food, but the man also knew that the king had made it a point to the entire staff of the palace that they were expendable. They could all be fired and replaced at a moment’s notice. Charlie did not know where else he could go if the royal family decided he was inconveniencing them.]
[center The tears that had been threatening to spill over from the pain finally began to roll down Charlemagne’s face from the sudden increase of stress. The man just wanted the carriage ride to be over with already. Charlie forced himself to stare out of the carriage window. While watching the scenery move by outside was a welcomed distraction, Charlemagne was drawn out of his bubble when the carriage came to a halt. While he had most of his wits about him at this point, Charlie was surprised when the door was opened by a man dressed as a butler. Charlemagne had made eye contact with the butler before that other man made a hasty mention about something with a doctor. The Frenchman couldn’t really tell as the butler had spoken too quickly for his rattled head to decipher.]
[center After that it hadn’t taken very long for another man to come outside. He looked like he had just been sleeping since he was dressed in the appropriate shirt and pants for such an occasion. [#1a7584 “Johannes?”] the man spoke, as he approached the carriage. He had been immediately called out of bed, but he hadn’t quite heard what for. All Matthias had heard was the butler mention Johannes and a carriage, so he immediately assumed that Johannes was injured or ill. But then he had seen Charlie, who clearly was not in the best of shape in the slightest. [#1a7584 “Let’s get this gentleman inside, yes?”] Matthias mentioned as he assisted in extracting Charlie from the carriage. For the Frenchman, this was not a fun affair as he could still barely stand on his own two feet by himself. [#900 “Who even are you??”] Charlie mustered as he tried to walk while leaning on Matthias. [#1a7584 “Dr. Riedl, at your service.”] Matthias replied calmly. He had been the family doctor for Johannes’ family for a few years now. Before this position he had served in the capacity of a military doctor for men wounded out in battle. It was by no means an easy or glamorous job as it had included a lot of messy surgeries, amputations, infections, and casualties. To simply work for a wealthy family had been a fantastic change for Matthias. While he was more invested in the specialty of bones and their relation to the musculature of the body, Matthias didn’t quite care if he did not have to be in bloody war zones anymore. Caring for Johannes and his family allowed for more time to dedicate to research and literature.]
[center [#1a7584 “What on Earth happened to you?”] Matthias asked before Charlie rolled his eyes disdainfully. [#900 “Idiots. That’s what happened.”] he had replied sharply. Dr. Riedl certainly didn’t take offense, though. [#1a7584 “I would imagine so. But I need to know what actually happened to you to help.”] Charlemagne then tried to explain the best he could that he had been thrown against a wall and through a table. Matthias then looked at Johannes before going back to Charlie. The doctor had known about Johannes’ preferences ever since he began working for the von Hügel’s. Matthias knew of this because he was also of the same orientation, although he did have a partner from Switzerland that he tried to see as often as his schedule would allow. But with urgent need to privately examine Charlie’s physical condition, Matthias directed that Charlie be taken to Johannes’ chambers. Initially Matthias was instructing Johannes to wait outside of the room, but Charlie had given the Austrian men the sharpest glare. [#900 [i
“Don’t you fucking leave me.”]] Charlemagne had said before allowing Matthias to remove his shirt.]
[center On Charlemagne’s back were a collection of splotchy bruises in their early stages of development. Another concern of Matthias’ was about Charlemagne’s spine. He had found a spot towards the lower portion of the Frenchman’s back that felt out of place. A few times he had seen colleagues use physical manipulation of a patient’s body to ‘reset’ certain bones in limbs and vertebrae in the back. And that is what Matthias wanted to do for Charlie here. But God was it wretched! Charlie had let out a string of colorful expletives shortly after Matthias adjusted his lower back. But other than his back being banged up, Matthias had decided that the only other issues were a minor concussion and contusions on Charlie’s ribs as nothing felt broken or out of place there. [#1a7584 “I’m going to step out for just a moment. I will bring you some medicinal tea and medication to assist with pain management. Otherwise I’d advise you to lie down in bed so you can rest and begin to heal.”] Matthias stated before Charlie voiced his concerns about his work at the palace. [#1a7584 “I can send over a letter, so they at least will know. But I cannot guarantee how they will interpret that information.”] Charlie deflated slightly. He just didn’t want to lose his job over what some idiots did to him. [#1a7584 “We just need you to rest for now. We will take this one step at a time. Johannes, if anything changes please let me know. You know where I am, okay?”] Matthias nodded before putting Charlemagne to bed himself. [#1a7584 “Fair warning, though. The tea will likely taste horribly bitter. So, I suggest you drink it as quickly as you can with the medicine.”]]
[center As if it weren’t one thing after another, Charlie did detest the flavor of the tea Matthias brought back. He felt like he was gagging trying to down the medicine too. It was all just purely disgusting. But it didn’t take very long to feel the effects of whatever Dr. Riedl had given the Frenchman. Charlemagne felt more fatigued than anything. He had been examining the room a bit before he found himself staring at Johannes. [#900 “Lay with me, please? Don’t leave me alone. I’m really cold.”] Charlie said, his voice much softer and quieter now the medicine was kicking in. He simply reached out with a single hand in hopes that Johannes wouldn’t deny him. [#900 “I promise I won’t hoard all the blankets.”] a whisper of a plead. Charlemagne just really didn’t want to be left on his own, at least while he was still awake. He just hoped that Johannes would afford him the privilege…]
The Café did smell absolutely amazing. Johannes, in his anxiety, had hardly eaten anything because he was so focused on his and Charlie’s date. Now sitting down, with a Prince and the man he wanted to court, surrounded by the delicious aromas his hunger made it’s presence known and his stomach grumbled.
For a moment Johannes worried that the growl was too loud and alerted his companions but as he pulled his eyes away from his surroundings to look at Charlemagne, he noticed the man staring at him. A few seconds later a blush spread across his cheeks and he was quickly pulling his gaze away. Johannes couldn’t help the faint smile that fell on his lips. Charlemagne’s attention was all Johannes wanted and he was so happy to receive it. Even his heart did a little flip from the small interaction.
[i] ‘I’m doomed,’ [i] Johannes thought to himself as he glanced over to see Maximilian’s reaction. Johannes had a feeling that the prince knew on some level that Johannes was attracted to men. It was never discussed and there was only one rumor that had been floating around the palace around the time Johannes had gotten married so not many knew. Maximilian, however, was rather observant in Johannes’ opinion and probably picked up the subtle looks Johannes had shared with men in the palace. All Johannes saw was a raised eyebrow from Maximilian and that was it though that just couldn’t be enough for the Prince. No, he had to ask Charlemagne if he was flushed. Charlemagne only got more flushed as Maximilian teased him over the flush and obvious lie. Johannes was about to jump in and save Charlemagne from Maximilian’s teasing when Maximilian finally told him that he wasn’t being serious. Instead Johannes rolled his eyes at Maximilian and turned his attention away to the waiter.
He listened to the other two order as he thought over his options. Shrimp sounded delicious but you couldn’t go wrong with a chicken soup. Or he could get the pot roast that he saw on a few tables. Such a hard choice. After a few moments he decided on the roast, wanting that delicious mix of tender meat and vegetables. “I will have the roast. Thank you,” he replied.
With their orders in the waiter began to leave and Johannes turned towards Maximilian to ask him how he was doing. It had been awhile since he had last seen his favorite—not that Johannes will admit it—Prince. Before the words could fall from his lips a cup went soaring across the room and into the wall, dangerously close to Charlemagne’s head. Johannes spun around quickly to see who the angry patron was only to see the men from the market. “Seriously?” Was the only thing Johannes said.
The men seemed happy enough to ignore Johannes, this time angry at their fellow countryman, but that didn’t mean Johannes was spared from their anger either. As the larger man pulled Charlemagne across the table Johannes was standing up. His chair slammed into a solid mass right behind him. Only two men had come up to the table, so Johannes was confused at first about why his chair ran into something until he realized there had been a third party, lurking on the sides. Before a fist could come down on Johannes he ducked out of the way. The fist only met empty air as Johannes crouched behind the chair. He had no plans on a fair and honorable fight especially with Charlemagne being attacked. He just needed a way to end this one quickly.
Then an evil, cruel, idea popped into Johannes mind.
The plan was a simple one and something he would normally not do but they threatened not only a member of the Royal Family but the man that Johannes wanted to be with. Neither of those things were acceptable in Johannes opinion so he took a cheap shot. The first thing he did was pick up the chair, throwing the other man into a loop of confusion, before sing the chair as a weapon and jamming a leg of it into the man’s nether region. Almost instantly the man went down, vomiting all over himself as he fell into fetal position. Johannes, only adding insult to injury, tossed the chair at the man and spun around to check on Charlemagne only to see Maximilian having the situation in control.
For a moment Johannes almost argued with Maximilian. It felt wrong abandoning a Prince in favor of his love interest especially when it had been ingrained in Johannes brain that the royal family came first. But as he gazed over to Charlemagne, trying to catch his breath, Johannes knew they had to go and Maximilian could handle himself. “I’ll send you a letter tomorrow,” He simply said to Maximilian as he approached Charlemagne.
“Charlemagne,” Johannes softly said as he crouched next to the man who still just trying to breath. “Let me help you up.” He offered up a hand and when Charlemagne finally started to get up Johannes gently helped him to his feet. An arm wrapped around Charlemagne’s waist to keep him steady as he led the man out into the cool night. For a moment Johannes was at a lost on what to do next. Did he take Charlemagne back to the palace? This time of night Johannes wouldn’t be admitted in but they would let Charlemagne go. But would he get the care he needed? Johannes wanted Charlemagne checked over to make sure nothing major happened. So did he take Charlemagne to his home? These circumstances were not how he wanted to take Charlemagne home with him. He always thought Charlemagne’s first visit would be either because of a party or because a date led to fiery passion. Instead it was because some xenophobic asshole beat the shit out of Charlemagne and Johannes was worries about the other man. With his decision made he flagged down a carriage.
“Faubourg Saint-Germain, 105 rue de Grenelle,” Johannes awkwardly said. It felt weird giving his address to someone who didn’t know it. He was so use to drivers knowing where he lived that the words almost felt foreign. This thought, however, got pushed to the side as he helped Charlemagne into the carriage.
[center Charlie did quickly glance around to see the theater staff lurking about. [#900 “It’s a shame we have to leave.”] he sighed. The man had wanted to be sly and tease Johannes more out of the sight of others just to torture him. But unfortunately, this idea just was not feasible. Especially since Maximilian was now going to be expecting them outside. Charlemagne knew the struggle all too well of needing to tidy up an area after an event, so he definitely didn’t want to cause any unnecessary problems for the staff at the theater.]
[center Silently, though, Charlemagne brooded over his frustrations about Johannes, but at least it was not all too painful thanks to awe of having actually met Maximilian. For a prince he truly did not seem all that bad! He was surprisingly normal for a man of such high status, and Charlie felt pleasantly shocked by that revelation. Once outside, though, the man felt the fine hairs on the back of his neck stand up when Johannes closed some of the distance between them. Although they weren’t visible thanks to his clothing, Charlemagne could definitely feel goosebumps tickling his arms. [#900 “Why must you play with my heart like that?”] the Frenchman responded quietly, huffing out a sigh. He then looked at Johannes, examining him briefly. [#900 [i “One of these days I will get what I want, Johannes.”]] The man then straightened himself up when Maximilian had reappeared to meet up with them.]
[center The man only laughed at Johannes’ remark about the speed in which he had changed. [#c2a900 “After so long in theater and dance one has be to quick at changing for the sake of the performance!”] Maximilian patted Johannes’ shoulder. [#c2a900 “I’m pretty sure waking around with tear-smeared makeup and ripped clothing would not be appropriate for public outings with men such as yourselves.”] he added, gesturing lightly towards both Johannes and Charlemagne. [#c2a900 “Although I will have to admit this outfit is particularly plain, so I might even be [i underdressed] compared to you two! But at least you don’t try to tell me it’s ‘disgraceful to the crown’ like some people we know, Johannes.”] Max rolled his eyes. The nerve some nobles had were far too much in Maximilian’s opinion. And rarely did they ever had the audacity to try and say it to his face. But the prince was all too aware of what others thought of him. The disrespect angered Mac, but c’est la vie. He tried to not let it aggravate him too badly.]
[center The subsequent stroll to the Café was not all that bad. Maximilian was careful to match the paces of Johannes and Charlie to stay with them as he had a bad habit of not paying attention to just how fast he was walking. While the outside of the Café was not too crazy with foot traffic, the inside was fairly packed with hungry theater goers and casual night owls. Maximilian politely held the door open for his two companions, though, taking a deep breath as the warmth of the café enveloped him and the delectable smells teased his senses. [#c2a900 “I don’t know what that smell is, but it is to die for!”] Maximilian remarked as he got settled down with Charlie and Johannes. He could already see looks being thrown their way, but the prince honestly hoped that they could at least eat and lounge in peace.]
[center Charlemagne was starving, but also stoked beyond belief. He could not believe that he was actually sitting down with Maximilian to share a dining experience with him and Johannes. He knew he probably looked like an overexcited child on Christmas. Did Charlemagne care about that? Absolutely not. He was living in the moment and loving every single second of it. And to share all of this with Johannes made it feel even better! Charlemagne did look over at Johannes, attempting to hide his growing smile despite feeling so incredibly starstruck.]
[center Despite this awe caused by Maximilian, Charlie felt as if time suddenly moved in slow motion as he gazed at Johannes. The Frenchman felt like his heart was threatening to beat out of his chest and onto the table! The Austrian sitting on the opposite side of the table look so radiant in the warm lights within the café. Charlie felt like he was staring at a masterpiece that could easily be on display at prestigious art gallery. So captivated did Charlemagne feel, he felt a distinct warmth spread over his cheeks. [i A blush!] Almost immediately after Charlie’s realization he averted his gaze.]
[center Maximilian raised an eyebrow at this behavior. While he had never directly asked Johannes, he had heard of his escapades with other men. He then wondered for a moment if Charlemagne was suddenly flushed for similar reasons. While he could not relate to those kinds of feelings, Maximilian honestly didn’t care all that much. He felt that what a man did on his time and in his own bed was his own business. Max honestly felt that he wasn’t even in a place to judge anyway as he used to have awfully high levels of promiscuity before becoming engaged to a wonderful Hungarian princess. Initially, their relationship was honestly to continue strengthening Austro-Hungarian bonds within the empire, but over time Maximilian had grown quite soft for his fiancée, Ágnes. She was a fierce woman who refused to be trifled with. And Max respected that fiery passion greatly as it only made him love her more. He was super excited for there wedding that was to take place in the following Autumn! Maximilian truly couldn’t wait, but he knew that the time would come soon enough.]
[center [#c2a900 “Are you okay, Charlemagne? You look awfully flushed there.”] Max inquired. This caused the poor Frenchman’s posture to stiffen. [#900 “[i Flushed???] I’m not flushed! I feel just fine.”] Charlie quickly objected although he felt like he was only turning more red. [#c2a900 “It almost looks like that is a lie… Are you [i lying to me, Charlemagne??] And to think! I thought we were going to be such great friends!”] Maximilian teased, a hand of betrayal grasping his shirt for the dramatics. Charlie probably looked as though he had seen a ghost after that exclamation, though, because Max patted Charlie’s shoulder whilst cackling. [#c2a900 “I’m not being serious in the slightest, Charlemagne. Please don’t pass out in your chair.”] Heaving a sigh of relief Charlie tried to relax some as a kind enough looking waiter approached them.]
[center [#175612 “Welcome, gentleman! Were you all ready to order your food and refreshments?”] the kind man greeted, Maximilian giving a thoughtful hum. [#c2a900 “How about your finest wine for us here? And I will take anything that has shrimp in it. Maybe with noodles? I would like to try something new.”] Max was not much of a picky eater despite growing up as a royal. [#175612 “Understood. I believe we have just the thing for you tonight! And you, monsieur?”] looking over at Charlie. [#900 “I could go for a hearty chicken soup.”] [#175612 “An excellent choice! And for you?”] the waiter asked Johannes.]
[center But the warm jovial atmosphere soon turned sour, however, when a glass cup was hurled across the café. The glass narrowly missed the waiter’s head before it shattered against the wall behind Charlie. [b “You think we came in here wanting to see your disgusting face in here too???”] a voice yelled. Many patrons began to scurry out the door as to avoid any trouble as an angry man stormed to the back of the café. It was the same man from the other day who threatened to attack Johannes, but he was followed by a different henchman friend of his this time. Charlie immediately grew angry as the poor teenage waiter was roughly shoved off to the side. The kid was clearly confused and frightened. Maximilian was immensely confused as well as Charlie tried to shake of as much broken glass off of his body as he could. [#900 “Are you seriously trying to come in here and restart an already unnecessary argument??”] Charlie hissed, swiftly standing up from his seat. Unfortunately, this triggered the bigger grunt of a man to snatch Charlie by the collar to drag him across the table to pin him against a wall. This was followed by much shouting before Maximilian stood to at least attempt to negotiate. But the man from the original conflict was livid and not willing to talk, thus throwing a pretty hefty fist at the prince. Despite his usually open and kind personality, Maximilian was not an easily stunned man. He was hardened in the sense that his pain tolerance was quite high thanks to his father demanding he serve time in the empire’s military for the sake of experience.]
[center Maximilian was quick to dispose of the man right out the back door into the alleyway, though. A very colorful string of expletives coming from both men as their squabbled continued outdoors. Max did come back soon enough though, but only quick enough to see Charlie get tossed like a rag doll right back into the same table he had been dragged across. At times like this he cursed being of such small stature, but there was little he could do as he fought to catch his breathe among the pieces of broken wood. [#c2a900 “Johannes, take Charlie and get out of here. I’ll handle this situation and see to it that they are properly punished.”] Maximilian didn’t mean to make it sound like such a strict command, but he was furious that his night out and dinner were ruined because of some xenophobic fools. But the man knew he would have to check up on Johannes at the embassy soon to make sure Charlie was okay…]
Charlemagne’s little comment about a night of debauchery had caused Johannes to lightly blush. The thought playing in his mind as he talked to Maximilian, hoping, if not praying, that the man would leave so that he could reply to Charlemagne. His prayers, however, were ignored and it appeared that Charlemagne’s attention was now on Maximilian instead of Johannes.
[center There was still hope though! ]
[center [i Until there wasn’t.]]
What little hope Johannes had felt about being alone with Charlemagne was harshly destroyed by Maximillian excitedly saying that the Café was an excellent choice and that he was hungry. A part of Johannes really wanted to suggest that Maximilian not come with them but as he glanced over at Charlemagne, who was obviously starstruck, he couldn’t find it in his heart to squash this one thing. Perhaps later he would have some time alone with Charlemagne to respond to his inquiry. “Of course. We will be waiting for you,” Johannes plainly responded before the Prince up and left to change. Just like Charlemagne the Austrian hadn’t expected their night to go like this either. “So, it seems, and we probably should go. It appears the staff is anxious to clean up the theater,” Johannes said as he eyed the group of men and women that were peaking around the corner; ready to swarm the theater and clean it.
Following Charlemagne, and moving through what lingered of the crowd, Johannes did his best to be a gentleman and keep his eyes on Charlemagne’s back. His earlier words about keeping Charlemagne lonely and frustrated made a grand reentrance into his thoughts. Slowly, his eyes trailed down Charlemagne’s figure. Johannes was just as frustrated, and he knew that it was all his fault. There was a hang up where Johannes just couldn’t let go and be as open as Charlemagne. He wished he could be though. Charlemagne’s proposition during the banquet had nearly broken Johannes and his return home was filled with regret for not taking up the offer. At the same time Johannes knew he wouldn’t have been able to just give in. He liked knowing his bed partner, courting them, the best a man could with their own gender, before sleeping with them. On the small list of bed partners that Johannes had only one of them had never been courted and that had been near disastrous. It was only the fear of Johannes father, the true Freiherr von Hügel, that stayed his bed partner’s lips from spilling their deeds. Did Johannes believe that Charlemagne would do the same thing? Absolutely not. Still he liked the idea of courting Charlemagne and leaving him wanting because when, not if, they fell into bed together the reward would be that much sweeter.
Once they were outside Johannes basked in the night air and he considered just abandoning Maximillian and whisking Charlemagne away but squashed that thought. While he was peeved that Maximilian was ruining his date, he couldn’t be that rude to the Prince though he did find that he could tease Charlemagne a little bit. Shifting a little bit closer to the handsome man Johannes softly said, “There was a chance that I wouldn’t leave you alone and frustrated tonight but then Maximilian came along. He will hardly want to leave us any time soon.” His words were a little bit unfair to Charlemagne and Maximilian because Johannes had planned to leave Charlemagne frustrated anyways but the other man didn’t need to know that. With Maximilian’s intrusion Johannes was given a scape goat.
As Johannes moved away from Charlemagne Maximilian reappeared, void of all makeup, and looking nothing like the Prince he was supposed to be. “We just got outside. That was impressively fast of a change,” Johannes commented, “And I wasn’t intending on taking a carriage. The weather feels amazing tonight, so I had full intentions of taking advantage of it and walking the short distance.” Johannes had only been to Café Procope a handful of times, but he knew the path well enough to lead their group through the last of the people lingering outside the theater.
The walk to the Café was rather uneventful and only took a few minutes. The moment they approached the door it was clear that the Café was busy and filled with people that had come for a drink after the show. Johannes opened the door for his two companions while scouting out a spot to sit. The back part of the Café was devoid of people, with everyone centered near the door and open windows, loudly talking about the play. Johannes had full intentions on taking a seat towards the back though he feared that they may be harassed by the other patrons since Maximilian was with them. That was a bridge that Johannes would cross later.
[center Upon hearing Johannes’ retort Charlemagne’s brow automatically cocked itself up upon his face in intrigue. The gall of the Austrian before him was so astonishing, but Charlie was indeed pleasantly surprised by such a development. [#900 “Only in the right ways.”] the Frenchman winked impishly. [#900 “Soft enough for affection, but not too soft that I cannot do anything fun.”] Charlemagne chuckled. The man felt fairly lustful, so he was not too sure how Johannes would deal with this sudden influx of demand. And on top of that, Charlemagne also felt frustrated because all his previous attempts to bed the man were thwarted in some way that forced him to wait even longer. The Frenchman was not accustomed to waiting very long, if at all when trying to sleep with someone. But Charlie did not think it was too bad because he was genuinely enjoying Johannes’ presence and company by itself, no sex required.]
[center Regardless, Charlemagne was pleased to hear that Johannes could confirm that he had no curfew to strictly abide by since he was a man of rules and order. At least that was the impression that Charlie had been given this entire time. [#900 “Ten in the morning?? So,”] Charlemagne began to muse, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, [#900 “Theoretically, I could keep you for a sordid night of delightful debauchery?”] the man inquired, probably a little more excited than he should have been. [#900 “Or would you rather I be lonely and even more frustrated, Johannes? I do not like going to bed alone. Would you really do me like that?”] Charlemagne asked, although most of it was in jest. But the man was honest in saying that he did not like going to be by himself, though. Charlie much preferred the presence and warmth of another person, even if it were for only one night. Just the feeling of having another person with him was relaxing and soothing to his soul.]
[center But, when Maximilian inserted himself into the conversation Charlie felt his lust for Johannes turn into being starstruck by the Austrian prince. The Frenchman could feel himself staring, honestly. But Charlemagne was just such a huge fan of Maximilian’s work and could not help himself! Luckily, though, Maximilian’s attention seemed to be on Johannes for the moment. [#c2a900 “Unsavory characters…”] the man huffed and rolled his eyes. [#c2a900 “Drama. He seems to have nothing but drama surrounding him no matter what.”] Max shook his head disapprovingly. [#c2a900 “Such is life, I suppose.”] he then shrugged. [#c2a900 “At least there are several showings this week for the play so he can come whenever he is able if he would like to.”]]
[center Running a hand through his hair, Maximilian grunted lightly in frustration. Before he came to France to live and work the prince had well-groomed short hair, often skipping on wigs as he often found them too uncomfortable to wear. But since arriving in France the culture rubbed off on the man. He had grown out his hair and truly immersed himself into the arts. His immediate family did not mind so much, although some thought he looked foolish with his long blond curly hair. With an arched brow, the prince looked between both Johannes and Charlemagne. The man smiled widely, always loving the opportunity to personally meet new people! [#c2a900 “It is a great pleasure meeting you, Charlemagne!”] If the Frenchman was not already flustered enough, the man could muster nothing more than a nod of acknowledgment. The prince genuinely chuckled and patted the shorter man on the back. He could easily tell that Charlie was all types of awestruck. Maximilian found it hilarious, honestly. [#c2a900 “Thank you so much for your kind words, Johannes. You know many of the other nobles do not approve of my interests and activities, so I am thrilled to hear that somebody appreciates the effort it requires.”]]
[center [#c2a900 “That café is an excellent choice if I dare say!”] Maximilian exclaimed before thinking about the location for a split second, [#c2a900 “I am quite famished myself… Would you mind if I came with you? My treat.”] he added. [#c2a900 “I would have to clean up really quick, but it wouldn’t take too much. I will meet you two outside.”] the man explained before disappearing back into the bowels of the theater. The prince knew the workings and passages of the building like the back of his hand! After Max has disappeared Charlie looked over at Johannes. [#900 “I surely was not expecting that at all.”] he chuckled, straightening out his posture while he recovered from his case of being starstruck. [#900 “But it looks like we have an addition now.”] Charlemagne mentioned. [#900 “Shall we get moving then?”] Charlie then turned to begin leading the other man down the hallway so they could meet Maximilian outside as suggested by the male.]
[center In what felt like record time to Maximilian, he had cleansed his face of any makeup he had on and changed into his regular clothing which was fairly plain by the standards of nobility. The one thing that Max did not like to do in public was flaunting his wealth around in other people’s faces. The French public had been very kind to him and he did not want to betray that trust or make anyone feel terrible about their status. That was not what Maximilian was there for. He knew that he was there by his own choice as an actor. But he was quite excited to see Johannes around along with Charlemagne, a familiar face along with a fresh and new one. After doing one last check of his attire Max pulled all of his long curly hair back into a typical ponytail secure with a ribbon. He then bid his fellow co-stars farewell before hurrying outside to prevent Johannes and Charlemagne from waiting too long.]
[center [#c2a900 “Hopefully I did not keep you two out here for too long! The café is not too far away so I figured it would have been ridiculous to summon a carriage for us. Is that okay with you two?”] the man asked, not wanting to put the two into an odd position is they had not planned to walk themselves…]
Johannes had been called many things in his lifetime but he had never, ever, been called soft. For a second he thought about it and considered if Charlemagne was right about his assessment. He was. For such a cold exterior that he had been trained into showing he really was soft especially emotionally. His wife use to call him a woodland creature and he never thought much on the meaning of her words until Charlemagne called him soft. Maybe in the past he would have been a little bit annoyed with the observation that Charlemagne made and try to argue otherwise but now it didn’t matter. Also Charlemagne said he liked it so that was a plus. “Hopefully you mean that in all the right ways,” he jokingly said, feeling a little ballsy.
He listened to Charlemagne’s opinion about the play and gave his own but eventually it was time to leave and Charlemagne answered him about the curfew. “Only the nobles with spouses at home waiting for them have curfews. For you, my good sir, I have none,” Johannes responded with a small pause afterwards. “Well that is slightly incorrect. I do have a curfew that is 10 in the morning. Someone had to keep the embassy functioning.” Did Johannes need to really be at the embassy by ten? Probably not but he was going to go to make sure the two hard headed ambassadors don’t murder each other. Johannes tended to act like a buffer between the two of them.
Charlemagne’s response about the cafe caused Johannes’ heart to flutter and joy fill him to the brim. He was so happy that they would be spending some more time together and with them being at the cafe gave Johannes a chance to learn more about the handsome French man. While the play was nice there wasn’t much leeway in talking to each other. “Hopefully by the end of the night you won’t be singing a different song,” he said as they got up. Sadly, they had to let go of each other’s hands as the went to leave the small sanctuary they had been graced with. Johannes actually felt sad that they had to let go of each other. If one of them had been a woman the world really wouldn’t care, they would just think of them as immodest.
As they were about to leave he heard a loud voice and all of a sudden something clicked on Johannes head. The lead actor was [i Maximilian]. The beloved, but really hated by most nobles, prince that was far enough down the line to not be as visible as some of his family members but everyone knew about him at least. Johannes had actually met Maximilian a few times but it hadn’t clicked that the lead actor was actually the well known Prince. “Maximilian,” he calmly said, addressing the man without a title because he knew the other man’s preferences. “Ambassador Von Wächter sadly couldn’t make it today. There was some issues with, and I quote, ‘unsavory’ characters. He plans to see the show tomorrow. I know he has been looking forward to it. If you want Comte de Mercy-Argenteau is here,” he informed the Prince.
Johannes glanced over to his date and was surprised that the other man was somewhat starstruck. He, however, didn’t say anything about it. “Maximilian, this is my friend Charlemagne Marquis,” He said deciding to introduce the two of them. “I enjoyed the play. You did a splendid job portraying such strong emotions,” Johannes said, carefully complimenting the Prince. “Charlemagne and I aren’t really busy. We were about to head to Café Procope,” he informed the Prince, hoping the Prince wouldn’t invite himself to their next date spot. Johannes had a feeling that he wouldn’t get any time with Charlemagne if the other man came with them. He also didn’t want to compete with Maximilian for Charlemagne’s attention because he knew he would lose.
[center Charlemagne had found it thoroughly amusing Johannes’ reaction to his hand being taken to hold. The Frenchman had said nothing as the play was happening, but he did smirk a bit to himself. Charlie already knew that he was going to have the time of his life making Johannes absolutely [i squirm]. If something as simple as a gentle hand holding shocked him, then just about anything else was fair game in Charlemagne’s eyes. He wanted nothing but to reduce Johannes to a blushing, breathless mess that begged for more attention. [#900 [i ‘Now that would be interesting to see. I guess that will be my goal for now.’]] Charlie thought, trying to not erupt into a full blow mischievous smile right where he sat.]
[center [#900 “I’m glad to hear you liked it! I think it was a nice first date night out.”] Charlemagne winked at the other man. He then found it endearing, Johannes’ small token of affection, bestowed by rubbing gentle circles on his hand. [#900 “For an Austrian man, I never would have known you could be so soft.”] he smirked. [#900 “But I think I like it this way.”] the man admitted, sighing softly. After the two talked more about the play itself Charlemagne shook his head. [#900 “Oh, no. I can stay out as long as I would like. Question is, what about you?? Do nobles have their own curfews?”] Charlie asked with an inquisitive arched brow. It would have been comical if nobles did, but the Frenchman figured that if you were rich enough nobody would care to tell you what to do with your time.]
[center [#900 “But we should get going to that café, though. I’d like nothing more than to spend the whole night with you.”] Charlie was sure to be careful of how loudly he spoke. It made him sad that they had to be so secretive, but it was what had to be done, unfortunately. Charlemagne reluctantly let go of Johannes’ hand before opening the curtains to their viewing box. But then a familiar voice sounded off at the end of the hall around the corner followed by a few surprised gasps. [#c2a900 [i “Where is he?? Johannes.”]] Charlie immediately became concerned, looking back towards the taller male. But it did not take long for that voice to be matched to a person as it was quite distinctive because it belonged to the lead actor from the play that the audience had just watched. Maximilian was still in costume, but he was swift with his search.]
[center After sighting Johannes, Max zeroed in on the man automatically. [#c2a900 “Johannes! I heard that you were here! Where’s the Ambassador? Usually, he is a patron of the arts based on what he told me!”] Maximilian huffed, but still happy to see one of his own countrymen so far from home. Meanwhile, Charlemagne was starstruck in Maximilian’s presence. The other man was such a fantastic actor, in Charlie’s mind, and wished to be as talented as the Prince with the art of theater. However, Charlemagne wasn’t sure how to address Max not because of his ranking, but because of how casual the other was with his greetings. [#900 “Your Highness??”] Charlie sounded confused, which only made Maximilian laugh and pat the Frenchman’s back. [#c2a900 “Please, just Maximilian or Max. Sounds less responsible, which is how I like it. And nobody cares about titles unless in Court. And it’s not like I’m the crown prince or anything, thank god.”] the man laughed. Flustered, Charlemagne nodded in acknowledgment.]
[center Maximilian then turned back to Johannes with a wide smile on his face. [#c2a900 “What did you two think of the show? I hope it was as exciting for you as it was for me! Are you two busy tonight?...”]]
“I’m glad I didn’t keep you waiting for long,” Johannes said once Charlemagne informed him that he had actually just gotten to the theater. “An older lady needed help to her seats so I decided to help. If she hasn’t needed help I would have been here to greet you and save you from such a long wait,” he jokingly said as they walked into their box. It wasn’t the best view in the theater but it was pretty darn close to it. Johannes was actually surprised by that fact, having expected Franz to chose a cheaper seating arrangement.
“I’m going to be honest, I didn’t even know it was a drama. I just heard everyone raving about how good it was and two tickets just happened to be for the taking,” Johannes said as he closed the curtain behind them and took a seat after Charlemagne.
The seats were close enough to border on intimate. With Charlemagne in such proximity Johannes was very aware to his presence. The best reassuringly radiated off Charlemagne’s body and Johannes found himself get comfortable with Charlemagne’s presence. He was so comfortable that when Charlemagne slipped his hand into his he stiffened for a short second. He had, honestly, not expected Charlemagne to be so bold. They were in public! But then again no one could see their hands behind the bannister. Johannes glanced behind him as well, double checking that the curtain was pulled shut. Happy that no one would bother them and that they would have time to part did he relax. A small smile played at the corners of his lips as he turned his attention over to the play that was about to begin all while holding onto Charlemagne’s hand.
The play was absolutely riveting. Johannes really did enjoy every second and did have to give the lead actor some credit. The anguish that man displayed was astonishing. Johannes had been so enthralled with the play he had even forgotten that he was loosely holding Charlemagne’s hand in his own. With the play over, and the actors and actresses taking their bows, Johannes had returned to reality.
Looking down at their joined hands for a split second he then looked up at Charlemagne as he asked Johannes what his opinions were. “I very much enjoyed it,” he began. His thumb started to rub small circles on Charlemagne’s hand as he continued. “The full cast did an amazing job throughout the whole play but I think their shinning moment was the end. They portrayed the betrayal and anguish so well it felt real. How about you? What are your opinions?” He asked.
Johannes silently listened to Charlemagne. It was only when people started to leave that he tore his eyes away from Charlemagne’s handsome face. “Do you need to go back right away? I know a decent cafe nearby that is open late if you wanted to maybe continue tonight. If you can’t I completely understand,” Johannes nervously asked. He didn’t want to end the night at all but he did understand that work came first and if Charlemagne has to be up early then Johannes didn’t want to keep him up.
[center Charlemagne spent a good minute just observing pedestrians as they just passed by him on the sidewalk while carriages ambled along the streets. Sometimes it surprised the Frenchman just how much there was outside of the palace. This did not mean that Charlie did not get out of the palace. But sometimes the man did get enveloped so much by his work that he was not able to leave the palace as much as he would have initially liked to. However, work was work and Charlemagne understood the importance of it, and even the privilege of having been chosen over countless other chefs when the King and Queen could have easily chosen another individual for the coveted job he currently possessed.]
[center But as the Frenchman was getting lost in his thought his attention was then quickly captured by the familiar sounding soft lilting voice of another man. Charlie turned to see Johannes approaching him. [#900 “I have been waiting here [i all] day!”] Charlemagne exclaimed sarcastically as he rolled his eyes. [#900 “Honestly, I just arrived here only a few minutes ago. Looks like we are both on time!”] The Frenchman could not help but smile when looking at Johannes. Quietly Charlie followed the other man to the theater box that they would be seated in.]
[center [#900 “I heard nothing but good things as well! The lead actor is actually one of your people. He is quite popular here and is very nice from the exchanges I have shared with him.”] Charlemagne nodded. [#900 “I am pretty excited as it’s a drama about a king and his mistress and family. I do look forward to seeing what happens!”] the Frenchman noted before settling into his seat, adjusting his coat. Charlie’s face held a soft smile as he waited for Johannes to seat himself by his side. Carefully did Charlemagne reach over with a single hand to gently take hold of the Austrian man’s hand. Tenderly so did he do this even Charlie felt like he developed goosebumps on his skin! Even though he liked to think of himself as a confident man, Charlemagne could not help but feel a sense of anxiety in addition to his initial excitement. He hoped that Johannes did not mind.]
[center The play was quite the spectacle in Charlie’s opinion. The drama, the scandal, and the emotional torture each character went through was beautifully portrayed throughout the play. The Frenchman admired the lead actor, Maximilian von Eisenbach, for his innate ability to translate the grief of the King in the play into real life emotion to make the theater patrons feel what the King feels. The fresh tears of agony upon seeing his mistress dead by the command of the Queen and then the rage he felt before condemning her to death was raw and real to the audience. The King’s ensuing spiral into insanity and suicide was shocking and practically tangible! Maximilian had come from a wealthy family who was not too pressed on the strict laws and etiquette of Austro-Hungarian nobility, thus allowing their only son to do whatever it was he wanted. It just so happened to be acting that Maximilian loved to do! Charlemagne believed the performance from everyone was spectacular and was glad they had been able to see it with each other. [#900 “Your country certainly does produce some of the most exquisite actors, I must admit.”] Charlie murmured to his Austrian companion. [#900 “Thank you for inviting me out tonight, too. The play was absolutely thrilling!”] he added as the actors all lined up for the final bows on center stage. [#900 “What did you think?...”]]
Johannes was anxious about his package as he got ready for work. What would Charlemagne think? Would the man think him to forward to send a sleeping shirt? Or would he love it? A multitude of questions ran through his mind in rapid succession as he walked into the embassy. All thoughts rapidly came to a halt as he was greeted with the sight of Franz standing there with an annoyed look on his face.
“Herr Von Wätcher?” Johannes asked. It was rare that he ever saw his father-in-law so angry and quiet honestly it was frightening.
“Johannes. I need you to deliver these letters to the Queen. Comte de Mercy-Argenteau left them on his desk before storming off,” Franz said.
Franz and Florimond Claude’s relationship were frigid at best. While Franz agreed with being there for the Queen and act as a support for the Queen but not to meddle into French politics. Florimond on the other hand was meddling in Franz’s opinion. He was whispering words in to the Queen’s ear and had too much power in the French court. What Franz absolutely hated was that it wasn’t helping their cause with Florimond being so powerful in the court. The French hated then, and Franz had no interest in causing a bigger divide between the people and their Queen. But it wasn’t Franz’s place to say a thing because ultimately Florimond was in charge since he had the Queen’s ear. Normally to avoid having to interact with each other they tried to deal with different duties of the embassy. Franz worked predominately as an ambassador for his people that lived in France while Florimond played a very political and dangerous game. Sometimes their duties overlapped like today, where Florimond wasn’t in and things needed to be done in the Palace.
“I’ll take them right away,” Johannes replied as he took the letters. He didn’t want to be here when Florimond returned because there would just only be yelling. Especially if he had stormed off.
Franz, still heated from his argument, just nodded and let Johannes leave.
Johannes walked through the palace gates in a hurry. His thoughts on his own letter far from his mind when he heard a voice call out to him. Spinning around he saw Antoine rush over to him.
“Monsieur Von Hügel! Monsieur Marquis responded to your letter,” He said as he went through his bag and pulled out a plain letter. There was nothing spectacular about the letter with the only remarkable thing being the seal. The seal was, also, the only distinguishing feature of the letter with the palace’s seal on it.
“Thank you,” Johannes said as he took the letter and reached into his coin purse and gave the man a few coins. His services were invaluable. Slipping the letter into his breast pocket he approached the palace, the pocket burning a hole in his chest pocket, making him anxious. He wanted to read it. Only when he eventually gave the Queen her letters did he step out into a secluded corner and read the letter.
A small smile played on his lips as he read the words on the page. Charlemagne said yes to going out with him! Johannes heart did a small tumble every time he re-read the letter. And the smell… it was like Charlemagne was in the same room as him. Letting out a soft sigh he slipped the letter back into his breast pocket and went back to the Embassy, ready to write his reply.
Johannes was anxious as he stood outside of the theater. He had spent the last four hours getting ready for Charlemagne. Normally he didn’t put such effort in getting ready. His wife never received such treatment and his last lover also never received anything close to the amount of time Johannes had spent for Charlemagne. Johannes had gone through every article of his clothing and carefully picked the best pieces that didn’t flaunt his wealth but still looked good on him.
He had eventually settled on one of his favorite waistcoats. It was burgundy with beautiful gold detailing across most of the coat but especially on the collar. Johannes jumped back and forth on what to do with his hair after finding his chosen outfit. It was too short to pull up into a ponytail but too long to leave down without some manipulations. Eventually Johannes, and by Johannes it was really Hans, decided to push his hair back with pomade which took the biggest part of Johannes’ time. It almost made Johannes wish that he wore wigs more often than just for work because the pomade wasn’t going to come out any time soon especially if Hans had his way. Then there was the parfum. Johannes really didn’t like parfum, but he had a large amount of it. Most of it was from his wife and all of them were scents that she loved on him. Johannes was about to spend an unforgivable amount of time trying to figure out the best smell to wear was. This time it was Han’s wife who saved them from a choice and Eleonore picked a parfum that smelled like cedar that Johannes liked. After that debacle they sent him off on his way.
Now Johannes was nervous. It had been a long while since he had shown interest in anyone and even longer since he had taken someone out. Johannes ran a hand across his face when he saw an older lady struggling to get out of her carriage. Deciding that action would help his nerves he approached her. “Excuse me Madame,” he began, “May I help you?” He asked after noting that there was no one else in the carriage to aid her. A smile crossed her ancient face and she accepted his help. Johannes helped her out of her carriage and into the theater which took him longer than expected. Rushing back out he was greeted with the sight of Charlemagne. The man looked handsome as ever.
Fixing his coat, he approached the man. “Charlemagne,” he gently called out. “Have you been waiting long?” Johannes asked as he forced himself to not ogle at the handsome man before him. Johannes was about to say something else when he noticed the crowd was starting to thin. “If you will follow me, I can take us to our seats. Ambassador Von Wätcher was kind enough to let us take his box seats since he was unable to come,” He said. The true reason why Franz refused to go to the theater was because Florimond was going to be there. Which worked well for Johannes since he was originally going to weasel his way into tickets before he found out that Franz was going to just leave his spot open. “Have you heard anything about this play? I’ve only heard good things,” He said as he went up the stairs to the box.
[center Charlemagne had spent a lot of time thinking about Johannes, honestly. Out of all the people the Frenchman knew and got to meet, rarely did he ever get stuck on one particular person. While Johannes’ denial of his advances frustrated Charlemagne, he also found them endearing and funny in a way. The cultural differences around Europe never failed to intrigue Charlie. Although, he had to admit that he was definitely outside of the norm to begin with, so the rigid structure and discipline that Johannes came from definitely perplexed Charlemagne. But this did absolutely nothing to soothe the unresolved tension that was created a few nights ago. At least it was clear that Johannes was also interested. It would have been immensely awkward if the other man had no intentions of actually getting into bed with him too.]
[center The Frenchman couldn’t help but linger on the thought more as he ended up watching the clouds in the sky roll on by at their own leisure. The gentle white fluffs of cotton were at the mercy of the winds which happened to be delightfully mild that day. Charlemagne shook his head, though. While he was not one to deny himself such pleasures, Charlie also did not want to get stuck on fantasizing about a person, let alone a foreign nobleman. Johannes had a life and duties, and Charlemagne understood that entirely. It was different to pursue him instead of fellow palace staff members or other royal subjects outside of the palace.]
[center But the man was taken out of his reveries when another individual approached him with something in his hands. Charlemagne’s gaze directed itself upon the man whom he recognized as Antoine. They hadn’t been friends, per se, but Charlie had seen him come and go with duties as a postal runner. The Frenchman stood up to face Antoine, filled with curiosity. [#900 “He sent something to me?? Interesting.”] Charlemagne had perked up. Upon receiving the parcel Charlie opened the carefully sealed box. It had been wrapped in simple, but luxuriously smooth paper and tied with a golden colored ribbon. Charlie couldn’t help but smile as he undid the packaging to find a note on top of what appeared to be an expertly folded shirt. The man quietly read the note and felt a new-found sense of excitement when it turned out that Johannes hadn’t lost interest. Charlemagne smiled back at Antoine, though. [#900 “Thank you very much, Antoine. I’ll need to send something back to him, so I’ll go prepare it and find you when I’m done.”]]
[center Going back into the palace Charlie made a beeline to his room to start writing a letter in response to what Johannes sent him. Thoughtfully Charlie made sure to pen a loving letter, but one that still has the other man to linger on; something satisfying, yet still teasing because Charlemagne never liked to play his whole hand in one go. Part of the letter read as.]
[center [#900 [i It was torturous, you leaving me to my devices like this over the past days, Johannes. That is quite rude and unbecoming of you, sir. Thus, I accept your invitation to see the play with you. I look forward to seeing you once again. Think of me as I surely will think of you especially with the nightshirt you so generously gifted me. Never in my life would I have thought that an Austrian could simply smell so divine! I do not think anyone can compare.’]]]
[center Then Charlemagne signed at the bottom before spritzing the paper with his favorite parfum scent. The man waved let the paper sit for a moment, allowing it to soak in the scent before folding the note and inserting it into a regular looking envelope. He then carefully closed said envelope with a wax seal that signified it came from the French palace. Other than the seal it had no identifying marks on it. Yes, Charlemagne did want to charm the man, but it irked Charlie that he could not openly seduce Johannes without potentially risking both of their lives. Despite this inconvenience, Charlemagne was set on at least flirting with the man and making it his while.]
[center Once the letter was in order Charlie worked on tracking down Antoine so the man could deliver the response to Johannes. As fate would have it, finding the man was much like a game of cat and mouse; Antoine was hard to find. One palace staff member would tell Charlie where Antoine was, and then the man in question would be gone by the time Charlemagne arrived. It took some running around, but Charlie did manage to find Antoine and give him the envelope intended for Johannes. [#900 “Be sure that this gets into Monsieur Von Hügel’s hands, please. I would greatly appreciate it, Antoine.”] Charlemagne spoke, giving a kind head nod before going back to business he needed to attend to around the palace. But despite having things to do most of what was on the Frenchman’s mind was the play he would go see with Johannes in just a few short days.]
[center [b ~~~]]
[center When the day of the outing with Johannes Charlie couldn’t help himself. He was just so excited to finally see the man again! Their work had been keeping them apart, much to Charlemagne’s dismay. But Charlie made sure to plan accordingly so he could go see the play with the Austrian man. During the day Charlemagne did his best to have his duties completed as soon as possible so he could spend a proper amount of time preparing. [#900 [i ‘I do not want to look like trash! That simply will not do!’]] the man thought while digging through his wardrobe. He compared different outfits meticulously. Charlie contemplated the texture of the fabrics, the colors, even the hassle of getting in and out of the outfit. The Frenchman wanted everything to be coordinated. No detail was left unconsidered. The cuffs on his shirt to the buckles on his shoes, Charlie demanded perfection!]
[center In the end, though, Charlemagne chose a dark red and black ensemble. It was a fairly typical choice on his part, but Charlie felt he was a creature of habit more than anything. The outfit was comfortable and looked quite fine, in his opinion. He even got Francis’ opinion on it; he thought it made Charlie appear quite bespoke. Charlemagne then carefully combed through his incredibly long locks of hair before tying it all back with some matching ribbon. As much as he loved letting his hair down to do whatever it wanted, Charlie did not want to look unkempt in the slightest.]
[center With a careful dab of parfum Charlie set out to get his short carriage ride out of the way. Thankfully the theatre was not so far away, but a lot of people were out that night, so the time it took to get there was a little longer than Charlemagne had initially inspected. But upon arrival Charlie carefully exited, not wanting to break his leg, swiftly straightening his coat out. He proceeded to thank the carriage driver before sending him on his way, finding himself among the many pedestrians and theatre patrons coming and going as time went on. [#900 [i ‘Hopefully this will go well. I know the company putting on the play, they are quite magnificent! I’m sure Johannes will like it.’]] the Frenchman thought, sighing softly. Now it was just a waiting game to see when the other man would arrive…]
Life just wasn’t fair. Johannes really wanted to give into Charlemagne and find out if he really was an Incubus. To be fair Johannes doubted it but still Charlemagne was really tempting him down the path of sin. It was a path that Johannes was familiar with so it wasn’t too hard to tempt him. Curse Anne. Curse her to the fiery depths of hell. She was ruining absolutely everything.
A small shiver ran down Johannes’ spine as Charlemagne came up to him and whispered in his ear. The handsome man was so close to kiss and his lips looked so tempting but if he fell into that temptation he wouldn’t leave at all. “You aren’t being fair Charlemagne,” he softly said to the other man.
His eyes were on Charlemagne as the cruel temptress sauntered off. “Have a good night Charlemagne,” he said before making his run to safety.
Johannes was rudely awoken to bright light streaming into his face. With a soft groan he rolled onto his side and buried his face under the plush pillow. Last night was the first night in a long time that Johannes had a kid free bed and he enjoyed every moment of it. No tiny feet were jammed into his ribs and no snuffling baby was crying in his ears for attention. Life was good with the exception of him being woken up by Hans.
“Freiherr, you have several letters that need to be addressed right away,” the man bluntly stated as he moved around.
Johannes wanted to bury his head further under the pillow but knew he also had things to do. For a few more seconds he contemplated his options before his sense of duty won out and he sat up, propped against the head board. Before he could fully wake up he felt something on his lap and he groggily looked down. A tray filled to the brim with breakfast and letters greeted him. “No dining room today?” He sleepily asked as his hand gravitated to a cup that Johannes was hoping to be coffee and not tea. As he brought the glass to his lips he was graced with the bitter sweet smell of coffee a content sigh left his lips before he took a sip.
“The maids are cleaning the dining room today. Maria and Johannes have already eaten and are playing in the garden. Freiherr Von Wächter sent a runner and requests your presence at the embassy once you are free. He wants you to deliver some letters to the Queen,” Hans replied.
Johannes let out a hum of acknowledgement as he began to eat his eggs. “Did my packages get sent out this morning?” He asked between bites. For the last few days Johannes had been tossing the idea around to sending Charlemagne something as a thank you and to show his interest. It was only the other day did he finally decide on what to send to Charlemagne. Recently Johannes had bought a sleeping shirt that he rather enjoyed. It was the softest thing in the world and it was the perfect size for Johannes. For Charlemagne it would be more of a sleeping gown than a simple shirt but Johannes liked that idea a lot. Since Johannes was slightly territorial he liked the idea of Charlemagne wearing something that was his even if Johannes hadn’t really made a claim in the Frenchman. Along with the shirt Johannes had sent a letter apologizing for his recent absence and asking if Charlemagne would be opposed to going to a newly opened play with him in a couple of days. Johannes hoped Charlemagne would say yes so they could kick start their relationship. Johannes also sent off were the cleaned clothes that he borrowed but that was sent off to Francis with a small note of thanks.
“Yes sir we sent them out this morning as you insisted,” Hans said as he went to Johannes wardrobe and began to pull out the man’s clothes for the day. Johannes may be able to get dressed by himself but that didn’t stop Hans from laying out Johannes outfit for the day.
Johannes let out a small hum as he continued to eat his breakfast. Hopefully he didn’t wait too long and Charlemagne didn’t lose interest in him.
“Mr. Marquis,” a voice asked. Antoine had been on the hunt for Charlemagne for the last hour and was finally thankful that he had finally found Charlemagne. This man was a master of hiding. It took Antoine harassing the staff to finally be sent out to the garden where he caught sight of the described male sitting under a tree. “Sir, there is a parcel for you from Mr. Von Hügel.” The man said as he approached who he was hoping was Charlemagne Marquis.
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