Hey Kids, here’s part 4. Keep up the feedback, it makes my everyday. All the thanks in the world goes out to Mike. Write me! Schuydncer@aol.com

Disclaimer : Don’t know ‘em, highly doubt they were fifteenth century noblemen

King and Country 4 - Shutters
by Schuyler

And somewhere inside Christopher, a dam broke. The good, quiet, reserved man of the people had gone to take a nap. Now there was someone new in charge, the heart of a teenager, easily excitable and new at love. His heart beat double and he just managed to pant out, “Do that again,” though it came as mostly squeaking.
A sly grin played across Sir Lance’s lips. “What?” he teased. “You mean like this?” He leaned down and kissed Chris harder, causing His Highness to squeal, then snaked his arm around to Chris’ back and clutched him, pressing the two together tightly. Chris clumsily locked his arms around Lance's neck and let Lance hoist him up and carry him to bed.
Chris looked up at Lance from where he lay among the sheets and giggled. “Lovely.”

It had been a few days since the incident in the courtyard and Joshua couldn’t help but notice that Lord Wainwright’s little notion had spread like wildfire; the notion of Lance sharing the Prince’s bed was on everyone’s lips. And laying beside Justin, staring down at the sleeping (boy? he didn’t really feel like a man yet) and wondered how long it would be until he threw Justin from his bed (threw because if he just asked his young lover to go, Joshua knew they’d both cry, and God how he couldn’t bear to see Justin cry). What did he have to offer a future King? And that was how he found himself sniffling on Christina’s sofa in the middle of the night. “And all of court believes Sir Lance should be with Justin.” Christina chuckled once. “Why are you laughing?”
“Because Lance has already taken a lover. He’s in the bed of your King right now. So why are you crying then, Joshua?” she said. He looked up at her, bewildered by her slightly cold tone. “I’ve known you since you came here. I saw you when you were sleeping beside the King.” There was a teasing grin on her face. “You’ve been through so many lovers. Why are you crying over this one?”
“Because I think this one’s stolen my heart.” He looked from his wringing hands into her Italian blue eyes. “I think I’m finally in love.”
Just then, the salon door swung slowly open and Justin came shuffling in, stopping beside Joshua’s sofa and rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on?”
Lady Christina, the closest thing to a mother Justin would ever know, looked up at him from her chair. “Love, Joshua was just telling me that he’s in love with you. What should I tell him?” Joshua gasped.
“Tell him I love him too.”
“Well, then.” Christina smiled and stood, her skirts swirling around her as she returned to her bedroom.
Justin leaned against the arm of the plush sofa. Josh looked up at him, Justin yawning and not really paying attention, Joshua staring at the back of the Prince’s head, eyes wide in surprise. “Do you really love me?”
Justin hissed a little. “Yes,” he replied impatiently.
Joshua pulled Justin backwards, over the arm and into his older lover’s lap. “I love you too.” And on his mother’s sofa, he was good and soundly kissed.

It was a very mild night, considering it had just turned November. The wooden shutters above the bed were open. And in the bed, two figures nestled together, covered in little more than a sheen of sweat. Both were quiet, nervous. It had been their first time. “Chris?”
He nuzzled into Lance’s thick blonde hair. “Yes?”
Lance just stared at the ceiling, unmoving. “That was...” he panted.
“Mmm, I know.” He held Lance to his chest. “Goodnight, my love.”
Lance held on to Chris’ arms, exhaled and let his pale green eyes flutter closed.

It was after dark when the page came rushing into the sitting room of the King of France. He knelt before the assembled group. “Your Highness, a man from Spain to see you, Lord of Barcelona. Says it’s urgent.”
King Nicholas got that stunned rabbit look that graced his features so often. “I will meet him in the anteroom.” A bit panicked as well, Queen Jessica let her fingertips trail over her husband’s arm as he left.
Nicholas stood in front of Lord Howard, each man unable to see the fear in the other’s eyes through the fear in his own. “Your Highness,” Howard began, then coughed. “Your Highness, in the interest of the friendship between France and Spain, my Lord His Highness King Kevin of Spain and His Eminence Alexander cardinal James sent me with a warning for you.” Nicholas swallowed hard. “His Highness King Christopher of England is planning to take back his sisters.”
“What?” Nicholas’ mouth went dry.
Howard felt his insides tremble. Lying in the service of God. “He has plans to remarry Their Highnesses Queen Jessica and Princess Amanda to German princess.”
Nicholas flushed with panic. “Do you know when this is to take place?”
“Only soon, Your Highness.”
Nicholas’ eyes cast downward. “Thank you. You will be shown to your room.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.” Howard bowed low and backed out.
Nicholas was still slumped against the wall when his young bride came rushing in. “Nick? Are you all right?” She stroked his back.
He held her waist. “I’m fine, my love,” he sighed. “The four of us just need to talk privately.”

King Kevin sat alone in his salon in the dark and drank Spanish wine. A maid came to refill his glass, smiling sweetly at him as she tipped the bottle. Full round curves and long brown hair, wisps falling about her eyes. He would have given anything to touch her, to run his hands along the soft skin of her pale legs. “What is your name?” he asked.
She had already moved towards the door. “Jennifer.”
Any other king would have touched her. Hell, this girl was probably beautiful enough to tempt the Pope. He smirked. “That is not a Spanish name.”
“My father is an Englishman, a servant of Prince Justin.” She smiled and disappeared.
The fire blazed up in King Kevin’s eyes and the glass shattered against the wall.

“Thank you, Aaron. That’s wonderful.” The boy bowed to Prince Justin and scurried off. The fire he had built roared in the hearth and warmed Justin’s parlor. In a carefully calculated move, Justin and Joshua settled themselves on the long sofa and Joseph and Christina sat in the side-by-side armchairs, leaving Christopher and Lance to the short sofa. The rest held back giggles as the two sat uncomfortable beside each other. Christina smiled as Joseph took her hand, remembering when she was that cautious and timid.
“Oh for Christ’s sake!” Joshua exclaimed. “Relax a bit. You’re with friends” Christopher looked to Joshua, who widened his eyes a little in prodding, then stretched out some as Lance’s arm slipped around his waist. And the group settled into an amiable discussion of the staff that Justin was finally being allowed to form and his first new hires.

In the hallway, Jennifer stood bolt upright when she heard the glass smash against the wall. The Cardinal, who had been waling towards the salon, stopped as well. The girl’s hand sprang up to cover her open mouth. “Girl!” Alexander grabbed her. “What did you do in there?”
“Nothing, I only mentioned my father to His Majesty.”
“What’s so special about your father?” Alexander shook her, frightening the girl.
“He, he’s an Englishman, in the service of Prince Justin of Wales.”
His hands gentled and a smile stretched across his face. “Really? Come then, girl. Talk with me.”

The King and Queen of France sat in their sunroom, very young and terribly worried. Jessica leaned over almost into her husband’s lap. “But he wouldn’t!” Jessica and Nicholas had never had reason to distrust Jessica’s brother before. They’d spent the year after their marriage at his side, learning to rule, and returned to France with a lot of pieces to pick up that Nicholas father had let fall as he passed into senility, but safe in Christopher’s constant, undying love and support. Now they were being told that he was betraying them, Christopher who had arranged their marriage himself, Christopher who had sent his youngest sister Amanda to accompany the temperamental promised bride, with the full knowledge that she was fond of the new King’s brother, and that Prince Andrew was fond of her. “He knows I’m with child, he wouldn’t!” Jessica was approaching hysterical.
“Shh,” he cupped her cheek. “Don’t worry. This is easy. We’ll write to Christopher!”
Jessica looked up at him, then over to her nineteen year old sister, the smartest and most level-headed of the group. “Mandy?” Her eyes were desperate, her voice shook.
Amanda sat with her husband at a tiny table in the space made by the bowed window. She stared blankly out at the darkness below, thinking. “He’s right.” She turned to the queen, not blank, tired. “We should ask Christopher. He wouldn’t lie to us.”
Jessica nodded at her. “Tomorrow then.”
“No,” Nicholas said, “I’ll send a messenger tonight.”

Hood over her head, she ran down the hall, her shoes tapping fleetingly over the marble. She paused at the Cardinal’s door and listened to him talk behind the flimsy panel. “Good God, Jennifer.” His voice was satisfied, thick with post-orgasmic bliss.
Jennifer giggled. “I thought you might like that.”
“Oh, Jennifer,” he growled, then there was muffled laughing and a clatter as something fell unnoticed to the floor. “This will be the beginning of a most rewarding relationship.”
“And tomorrow I shall write to my father and brother in England and you shall have your spies.” The way she said “you” made the eavesdropper’s stomach turn.
The Cardinal sighed. “Johnny and Aaron, two fine Englishmen, in my service.” She finally dropped her hood and knocked, loudly and impatiently, until the door opened. The Cardinal stood before her, stripped to the waist. “Leighanne, what in the name of God are you doing here?”
Leighanne turned on the charm. “I heard that there was trouble brewing with England and the prince had disappeared. I was scared, so I came to stay with you.” She moved closer to her sometime-lover.
His face was as hard as the stone in the walls. “The Prince has been sent to San Sebastian and you are being sent away.”
Leighanne was a bit desperate. Her German princes were pressuring her for information. “I don’t know who the girl is, but I’m here now.” She glanced her fingers across his taut stomach.
His words were dry, without humor. “Well, throw me a party.” He stepped away from her and let the door swing shut in her face.
Incensed, Leighanne flew down the stairs and entered the courtyard. Her attendant helped her into the carriage. “Where to, my Lady?”
“To the hotel. I want to get some rest. Tomorrow we start for Versailles.”
“Versailles, madam?” Sitting opposite her, he rapped on the wall and the driver began.
“Aye, the Cardinal has turned on me, he’ll regret it soon enough.” Outside her window, the palace retreated into the consuming shadows.