Disclaimer: If I owned it, it wouldn't be fanfiction.
A/N: So who is ready for something completely different from me? Well, here ya go. Katma, as usual, excellent beta-reading. Way to find all my comma errors.
No one noticed. Why would they, really? With everyone's attention so focused on William and Jocelyn, who would take time to notice two others, quietly falling in love?
It had happened effortlessly, unexpectedly. It had started with his cheeky grin. Kate had always found his smile a little amusing. The men mostly treated her like one of the guys except for Geoff; he always smiled at her like they shared some great secret. It was a little flirty, a little bold, and it completely made her blush. He was ridiculously open, completely unafraid of his emotions.
It had started as a way to get around her. Flash that smile at her and she would forget why she was yelling at him or what she was talking about. Somewhere along the way it had started to mean something.
He began to seek her out. He could not even remember why or how it started but he was drawn to her. She was the most like him of all of them. She was intelligent, a natural observer. They shared a similar sense of humor and a similar passion for riling each other. He was a bit taken with her, truth be told. It wasn't just that she was lovely, though she was; it was that he enjoyed being around her.
They had settled into an easy rhythm. No passionate coming together or wild declarations of feeling, just a growing mutual respect that was easing into something more. It was simple for them. It made sense. While Wat and Roland were always with William or doing their duty as squires, Kate and Geoff were left to their own devices for much of the time. They could never say when it started, but one day when Kate was lighting her fires to begin work on some armor, Geoff wandered in and without a word sat down to write. Kate thought nothing of it, even though it was unusual for the men to be around when she was working. He came back again the next day and the next. They rarely spoke; they just did their work, content in each other's company.
They did not know they were falling in love right off the bat. Kate knew her heart fluttered a little when Geoff came near, but she chalked that up to a passing attraction, something that had happened as a result of their growing friendship. She ignored it mostly until one night when he read to her. He was writing something, having problems with a passage, said. He read it slowly, his voice taking on the easy nature of storyteller. It was not the words or the voice that had Kate smiling. It was his face. HHHHe grinned broadly as he read, enjoying his own words. This was his passion, Kate realized. Just as she was completely passionate about her work, so was he about his.
Kate felt that a bond had been formed in that instant; a new understanding had been made. She had long ago realized that he had never once batted an eyelash at her being a blacksmith. He accepted it and did not make room in his line of vision for those who did not. He saw something in her that was familiar. She loved what she did, believed in it completely even with odds against her. She knew she was talented and was not the least bit ashamed of it.
The guys had no clue that any of this was brewing. Kate and Geoff could not even put it into words. It was just so easy. They slid neatly into each other's lives and routines.
The first time they kissed was just so typical of their relationship. She was sitting and reading while he was writing. Unconsciously, he was writing about her, though the character had a different name and a sweeter disposition in his mind. He glanced up at her as he began the description of his character. So what if his character had long black hair, that was just a coincidence. And if she was a little short side, well Kate wasn't the only short woman in the world. He nearly laughed at himself at the thoughts in his head. He set the writing aside and looked her over. Her big eyes were squinting a bit, trying to get the most out of the last remaining light of the day. Her hair was braided back neatly. He had always been a little taken by her lips, even before he was taken with her; he thought she had great lips. Just now they were moving slightly as she read over the words.
Kate glanced up at him, having felt his eyes on her. "What?"
He flashed that grin, "You're pretty."
"Fancy words, writer." Her blush gave away her embarrassment despite her sarcastic remark.
Geoff could really only think of one thing more fun than having a little spat with Kate, and that would have to wait until sometime in the future. He smiled, a little dangerously. "What would you know of it, blacksmith?"
She narrowed her eyes. Only her growing grin showed him that she was ready to play, not to be angry. This was routine for them, a combat of wit and humor. "I know that 'you're pretty' sounds more like a drunken declaration than words from a fine writer."
"Hah! You think I'm a fine writer."
Kate knew that a compliment so early in the argument had her at a disadvantage. She raised an eyebrow. "Generally I think you are a bloody idiot, but occasionally you can write something fancy."
"Ah, but who is worse, the bloody idiot or the one who spends all her time with the bloody idiot?"
Kate rolled her eyes. "You spend your time with me."
Well, she had him there. "It's true, which makes me the smart one. I spend my time with the pretty girl and you spend your time with the bloody idiot."
She laughed then before she could stifle it. "Good one."
Geoff smiled. She had conceded the battle. He stood then and stepped closer to her, grasped her hand. That was not so unusual, she figured he wanted to show her something. He tugged her to her feet and drew her closer. "I am thinking of kissing you." Well, that was unusual.
She wasn't nervous. This was her friend, probably her best friend, and she trusted him with her heart, with her body. "I am thinking of letting you." There was humor in her eyes and his. That was how they operated, with humor and laughter, tinged with feeling and emotion.
He leaned his head down, wishing their heights were a bit closer even though it was one of his favorite teasing points with her. The first contact was just a light touch of his lips to hers. His blue eyes stayed open, watching her for any negative reaction. Seeing none, he wrapped his arm around her and deepened the kiss. The fingers of the hand that still held hers twined through her own fingers. Her other hand came up to lose itself in his short blonde hair.
When the kiss ended, when they pulled away, she glanced up at him. "Are you trying to convince me that you aren't an idiot?"
He chuckled; trust her to try to get the last word. "No, I'm trying to convince you that you are pretty."
She swatted his chest lightly. "Idiot." She said the word with such an underlying tone of adoration that he had to laugh at her.
Neither even thought to discuss what the kiss meant. It was not necessary, they both knew. If the men happened upon them now, they would be shocked. The relationship had been growing for months and no one even noticed. They had a hundred inside jokes and often shared secret smiles in front of the men, but they were too wrapped up in other things to notice.
Geoff and Kate didn't care. Sometimes it felt like they were the only people in the world and that suited them just fine.
The kisses became a frequent occurrence. Sometimes they were a little more urgent, sometimes they were just as playful as the first, and sometimes they were incredibly sweet and tender.
An evening at the pub had led to one of those urgent kisses. The men and Kate were all sitting around a table sharing stories and making each other laugh. Kate's hand had, at some point, crept under the table to grasp Geoff's. He smiled at her warmly, a silent exchange that again went unnoticed.
He released her hand when he began to tell a story and she settled her hand on his thigh, contenting herself by letting her fingers make aimless patterns on his leg. He flashed a look at her and she grinned, a little wickedly.
He finished his story and drink and stood, saying he was tired and needed to get back to camp. He smiled meaningfully at Kate who made similar excuses and moved to follow. They didn't make it very far. In the darkness of the alley outside the pub, Geoff pushed Kate against the building and kissed her frantically, his hand running over her. He had long since discovered that she hid quite a little body under all those baggy dresses, and though he had never actually seen it in all its glory, he was infinitely fascinated by it.
For her part she grasped his arm, put one hand on his chest. He had sinewy muscles that were disguised by his lean lankiness but just now, they tensed as her hands played over them. He pulled away when he started to feel dizzy from lack of air. "You are an evil woman." He said, referring to her casual caressing of his leg in the pub.
"And you love me for it," she said, before thinking it through.
An elephant should have entered their space at that comment but there was nothing awkward about it. Just because the words had never been spoken didn't mean the feelings weren't there. "That is true." He touched her jaw, gentle now, and whispered, "I am thinking of making love to you."
Kate smiled up at him at the words he chose, knowing that it was her choice; he would never push her. "I am thinking of letting you."
The next day, William strolled into Kate's makeshift workshop, hoping to ask her about the armor for the horse. He stopped short when he spotted them. Kate and Geoff were wrapped around each other. Geoff was kissing his way up her neck while Kate was gasping, her eyes tightly closed, her hands playing gently at the nape of his neck. Geoff's own arms were wrapped around her, one hand drifting dangerously low on her back.
William was torn between amusement and shock, embarrassment and interest. His eyebrows rose as Geoff said something in her ear that caused her to laugh and swat him on the back of the head.
Had he not seen that exchange, he would have assumed this was a random thing, a sudden fit of passion that he had stumbled upon. The easy way Kate laughed at his words, his little chuckle when she rapped him on the head showed an easy intimacy and was far more telling than the passionate embrace. He cleared his throat and grinned as the two leapt apart. He expected them to look embarrassed but they just looked startled. "Well, well, well. How long has this been going on?"
Geoff spoke up with a grimace, his voice dripping with sarcasm and annoyance. "About five minutes, thank you for interrupting."
"No, I don't think he meant that," Kate said on a laugh. Her eyes met William's boldly. "For several months."
Hurt flashed in William's eyes, though he had already concluded it had been going on awhile. "You kept it from us?"
Geoff smiled down at Kate. "Why would we hide it?"
"None of us knew." It sounded slightly accusatory.
"We weren't about to go making a grand announcement. If you didn't notice, it's because you never took the time to look." Kate said rather calmly.
William thought back to his busy months of jousting. When he wasn't jousting, he was with Jocelyn. When he wasn't with Jocelyn, he was with Roland and Wat. He usually did not spend much of his extra time with Kate and Geoff, but he did consider them all close, members of his family. Members he had sorely neglected. William nodded once, agreeing with Kate before smiling broadly. "So, you two…and this is for real, this is…serious?"
Kate shrugged a shoulder, shot a telling grin at Geoff. "Until I can find someone better."
Geoff rolled his eyes, let out a sound of disbelief. "Someone better? Try looking for someone else who'll put up with your smart mouth."
William braced for Kate to lash out but instead she laughed a little, grinned easily. "That will be harder to find. I'll stick with you."
Geoff and Kate were smiling openly at each other, their eyes locked. William suddenly felt like he was intruding once again on something private but he didn't move away. This was just so interesting.
When Geoff finally looked away from Kate, he realized that William probably had a reason for coming here. "You probably came to see Kate, I'll get out of your way."
"Do you want to take your writing?" Kate called after his retreating form, having noticed his book and quill and ink sitting on an overturned crate.
"No, I'll be back shortly, love." Kate didn't seem to notice the endearment but William certainly did.
As soon as Geoff was out of earshot, William spoke up. "This is all very strange."
"What's strange about it?"
"Maybe strange was the wrong word. Shocking. This is shocking."
Kate just shrugged her shoulders. "It's good. It's…right."
"I can see that." And then, overcome with a brotherly need to protect, "He treats you well?"
She held back a burst of laughter on seeing that he was serious. "Of course, William. It's Geoff."
"If he doesn't, Kate, you just let me know."
Kate did laugh now. "I'll do that. I'd have to anyway so I could invite you to his wake."
William grinned. He knew she was right. He had never met a woman more capable of taking care of herself. "I'm happy for you, Kate, for both of you."
Later, after he had spoken to Kate about the armor, he went back to camp to find Geoff sitting there with Roland and Wat. He nudged Geoff and sat beside him. Quietly, without any preamble, he said, "She is a part of us, Geoff. Treat her well."
Geoff nodded once, knowing it would be enough. "It's love, William."
Roland raised an eyebrow. "You and Kate?"
"That's interesting." Roland said, without a hint of surprise in his voice.
Wat looked from face to face, understanding. "Kate? Our Kate? And you?"
Geoff nodded, grinned, looking for an opening to tease Wat. "Are my entrails going to become my extrails?"
William and Roland laughed, remembering. Wat's face just turned red. "Only if you hurt her." It was strange to see Wat serious, but in that instant his eyes were steely, sober.
Geoff sighed, feeling slightly frustrated. Didn't they know that he would never intentionally hurt Kate? "Well, you can all stop worrying. I want to marry her."
Three pairs of eyes widened in shock. Marriage seemed ridiculously final and far too adult. "Well, that's something," Roland muttered quietly.
The days went on and the guys grew very used to Kate and Geoff's relationship. They weren't overly affectionate in public in order to avoid making themselves or their friends uncomfortable. Their frequent little arguments, however, were often more intimate and uncomfortable for others to observe than even the most passionate kiss.
The men had made bets with each other on when Geoff would ask her to marry him and if she would say yes. Geoff was going to be so mad that he didn't get any money in on that one.
One night, while he was stretched out in bed, Kate warm beside him, he decided the time was right. The candlelight was softly illuminating her face and she looked happy, content. Her hair was spread across his chest where she had unceremoniously dropped her head sometime earlier. He twisted it through his fingers, trying to collect his thoughts.
"What are you thinking?" She asked quietly.
"I am thinking of marrying you."
It wasn't much of a proposal but to her, it was perfect. It was perfect for them. She turned her lips into his chest before grinning up at him, already picturing their future. "I'm thinking of letting you."
Note: Push that review button! ~Brynna