Category: SLASH, Story, Angst, AU
Fandom: Guiding Light - Richard/Edmund
Rating: R (for adult situations between two men, implied incest)
Summary: A tale of the royal Brothers Winslow.
WARNING & Note: Richard & Edmund are half brothers, so this
makes this fic half-incest, or something like that. If this
upsets you, please GO NO FURTHER! Also, it takes place at
some imaginary pre-GL time, so if there are inconsistencies
with current canon, mea culpa.
Title: All The King's Horses
It was a royal rage, one I'd never seen the likes of before,
lining Richard's normally serene face, twisting it morbidly
as pale and crimson washes of color fought for dominance. He
was infuriated beyond measure ...
And to think, all I'd done was kill his horse.
Normally I have as much respect for horseflesh as any other
gentleman, but this beast, he was Richard's and obviously hated me
as much as the rest of my so-called family. The animal
fought my mount desperately but I'm not one to be outsmarted
by anything, let alone a fool horse. I ran the creature
hard, true, but it was his stubborn refusal to accept me as
his rider that lead to his downfall and it was through no
fault of mine he skidded across a rocky stretch, his front
leg cracking beneath the violence of his fall.
Really, it wasn't my fault at all.
But try explaining that to our good Prince Richard. "It was
an accident," I insisted.
"It was no accident. You knew you were forbidden to ride
him." My brother's upper lip twitched, a novel, rather
amusing sight. "You knew that his temperament wasn't suited
to your ... style." The last word was spat out is if it
burnt his tongue.
"It's a horse, Richard." I pulled off my riding gloves
casually, hoping to make him look foolish in his fury. "You
can get another."
"How dare you!" he cried furiously. "It's a living creature."
"Not for long." I laughed, not caring how cruel the truth,
and I, sounded.
The slap across my face came so quickly and was so violent, I
For a long moment I was dazed and fought to catch my balance,
the initial sting turning into a burning flush of heat along
the entire side of my face. To my horror, my eyes began to
tear, first from the shock ... then from the memories the
I'd been hit many times like that -- by my parents, my
tutors, the courtiers -- it seemed as though anyone who came
in contact with me in the palace had given me a crack across
my face at one time or another. So many of them, taunting
and hitting me, and there was no escape, except for ...
Except for Richard's room, where he'd place his cool hand
along the welt, soothing it with his soft touch. Sometimes,
I'd receive kisses as well, his lips gentling the hurt away
and I remembered those caresses clearly -- they often burned
as much as the wounds, but in a much better, brighter way.
Embraces followed, a favorite toy shared and he'd walk me
back to my tiny room downstairs, his arm slung protectively
over my shoulder as if daring anyone to hurt me again. Oh,
they always would, eventually, but a silent warning from the
Crown Prince was always good for a few days worth of peace.
Then, it would all start again. God, how they hated me, the
bastard son, the inconvenience, the whipping boy for all and
sundry, except for Richard, who, for whatever reason, loved
me dearly. He never joined them, he stayed far away, and as
for his kindness -- I knew better, didn't I? It was just
another way of proving himself better than all the rest,
aloofly staying above my tormentors, proving himself royal
with his blasted benevolence.
It's a wonder then I didn't rejoice when Richard finally
broke down and hit me across the face, proving once and for
all his life of lies. I ran instead, staggering away from the
trail and took off toward the woods, tripping over roots,
getting thrashed and cut with sharp overgrowth. The slap
still stung and I could hear Richard yelling my name, telling
me to stop, but I wasn't going to obey him because I knew the
I knew that he hated me too. Finally.
My boot caught on a tangle and I went crashing toward the
ground, hitting more than a few rocks. I heard Richard
panting breathlessly and telling me that it was going to be
all right, that he'd take care of me. He knelt beside me and
took me into his arms, still babbling, his voice filled with
"Get off!" I cried, struggling to escape his touch. "Damn
you, Richard ..."
"Hush," he whispered angrily. "Be quiet, Edmund. You're
I shoved at him, wishing I carried a dagger on me at all
times, just like Father did. "GET OFF!" I screamed, a
thousand scars tearing through me at once.
Richard didn't love me, no, not ever ... not even when we
were children. It was all a lie. He was just like them, my
tormentors, those who wished me alive so they could hurt me
for one more day. "You're the bastard, Richard," I snarled,
half mad with pain and shame. "So high and mighty, but I
know the truth and you can't deny it. You're just like they
are. Admit it, Richard! Admit it!"
Richard stared at me and I winced beneath his sharp blue
eyes. Then suddenly, his lips were atop mine, harsh,
demanding silence and acquiescence. My heart faltered, then
began to pound wildly as Richard's hands, those smooth,
perfect hands that had never known labor of any sort, brushed
against my cheeks and his long fingers carded through my
hair, eliciting fire everywhere they touched.
He pulled away, breathless, his lips puffy and wet. "Now will
you shut up and come home with me?" he asked quietly.
Stunned, I nodded. "Yes," I murmured, touching a finger to
my mouth, wondering if it had all been a dream.
He helped me up, his arm encircling my waist protectively and
I winced as I walked, my right ankle twisted. "Lean against
me," he commanded and I obeyed, my face hotly flushed, my
body warming where we touched. "Watch your step."
We limped out of the woods together and the courtiers were
waiting for us with a car. One of the attendants was
carrying a gun, obviously to put Richard's horse out of its
misery. Shame suddenly flooded me, and I was near tears
again. Riding a helpless animal into the ground ... maybe I
was the monster of San Cristobel.
The monster who deserved everything he got. "I'm sorry," I
whispered thickly, as we got into the Rolls.
Richard slid in next to me and turned away toward the window,
giving a signal to the groom to go ahead and shoot his
beloved steed. "I know," he said sadly. "You're always
sorry, Edmund. As am I."
For some reason this undid me, and I turned away, fighting
against full blown sobs. It ... it was wrong, everything was
wrong, and I heard a grinding sound as the bullet proof
window shields descended and the black partition that
separated us from the driver rose. We were alone, ensconced
in metal and darkness, my princely brother and I, the lowly
monster that had to be kept in the palace basement, even now,
lest he destroy everything he touched.
Richard didn't say another word and I didn't ask for one. We
rode in silence and as the horse trail faded behind us, the
castle of San Cristobel grew closer, larger and more ominous,
as ever my castle, my home ... my prison.
Weeks passed and no mention of the incident was made, not
that I saw Richard all that often. He was always in his
office, surrounded by his ministers all of whom acted as if I
simply did not exist. They brushed passed me wordlessly,
looked through me even when I stood in the same room; they
virtually made an art out of ignoring my presence.
The only courtiers who even bothered with me were the
outcasts, the various losers who'd been sent down from the
tower or the ambitious climbers who thought that befriending
me was their way into Richard's good graces.
Those delusions didn't last very long.
The only one who visited regularly was my royal brother
himself, popping his head into my so-called office, a dusty
room in the very back of the palace, asking if everything was
well to which I invariably answered "yes" in as bored a tone
as I could muster.
He'd look annoyed, I'd get my tiny ration of smugness for the
day, and that would be that.
But even those visits had stopped and I wondered what was
going on. While I relished the quiet, too much silence in a
palace was an ominous sign. Even my usual toads, the one or
two hangers-on I could count on to irritate me daily were
avoiding me and I knew from long experience that something
rotten was in the air.
One didn't survive the Royal Family on one's good looks alone
and I soon realized that I was at the center of something
dangerous. The next morning, I raced to Richard's office and
cursed myself for not paying better attention to the latest
undercurrents. Royal politics had a bad habit of ending
men's lives, even under the so-called rule of law and I had
no intention on meeting the business end of the hangman's
noose any time soon. Fortunately, Richard's hard-earned
standoffish sensibility would invariably save my ass, if it
was my ass that was on the line this time.
Then again, it was always me, wasn't it?
But by the time I reached Richard's office and saw the grimly
happy faces surrounding his desk, I knew I was too late. I
glanced from face to face, noting the ministers' malevolent
glee as Richard stared at me from behind his desk, looking
torn between rage and despair.
I focussed on him, trying to dissect his thoughts through,
God help me, our bond as brothers, as slim and tenuous as
that was. But I could read little, except that he was angry
at me, very angry, as well as bitterly disappointed.
I swallowed hard and drew myself up. I was still a prince in
my own right, no matter how hard they tried to deny it. "Are
we still upset about Flaubert?" I asked lightly, kicking
myself even as the words came out. It was pretty obvious
this wasn't about the damned horse, but for the first time in
my life, I was at a loss for sensible words.
Silence followed and I could see Richard's throat working as
he struggled to speak. He rose, opened his mouth, then
closed it again, before simply throwing a paper onto his
desk, silently motioning for me to pick it up and read.
Slowly, I approached the desk, feeling every eye in the room
on me. I picked up the sheaf and studied it, immediately
confused by the sight of my own handwriting on something I
knew for a fact I'd never written.
It was an outline of a plot to end Richard's life and take
over his throne.
It was incredibly detailed, masterful even, with payoffs and
promises, strategy and deceptions, and I'd almost had to
admire it, except for the fact that I wasn't its author.
No thanks for small favors, I suppose.
"I've never seen this in my life," I said haughtily, and
tossed it back onto Richard's desk. I didn't expect him to
believe me, it was one of the few truths I'd ever told in his
presence, but I was very surprised to see a wash of relief
immediately fill his eyes. He did believe me, straightway,
or maybe it was just something he wanted to believe ... I'm
One of Richard's ministers, the insufferable Carter, glared
at me. "Does His Highness deny this is his handwriting?"
I snorted. Now I was "His Highness," was I? "Yes," I
smiled sweetly. "His Highness does." I flopped down into an
empty Queen Anne chair and casually put my feet up on
Richard's desk, enjoying their shocked faces.
The minister continued. "Does His Highness deny that he has
plotted to kill Prince Richard?"
I examined my fingernails. "Absolutely not. I think about
killing him half a dozen times a day." I paused, ignoring
Carter's scowl. "But I'm certainly not stupid enough to
commit it to paper."
I peeked up, expecting Richard to be furious, but to my
surprise he still looked relieved rather than otherwise. I
suppose my rare candor was good for a few things, perhaps
even saving my life.
Dax, one of Richard's wilier ministers leaned in toward him,
speaking in that infuriating quiet voice of his. "Your
Highness, there is proof of treason here, and until this
matter can be resolved, it is best to think of safety first."
"Ah, but it won't be resolved, will it, Dax? Not until we're
both dead," I said, feeling a droplet of sweat trickle down
my back. The game was afoot and I was quickly turning into a
Frenchman on St. Crispian's Day. "There is a plot here,
Richard, but it's not against you ... yet. I'm to be removed
as a distraction, while the real traitors wait for you to let
your guard down and then strike." My mouth was dry with fear
but I kept rambling, hoping against hope that Richard would
see the plot for what it truly was. "If you don't listen to
me, we're dead men, both of us."
Richard stared at me, his expression unreadable. Silence
hung between us for what felt like an eternity, until he
nodded toward the door guards. "Place him under arrest."
The goons hauled me to my feet and I was unceremoniously
dragged out the door, kicking and screaming at the top of my
lungs. I was never much for decorum, it's far overrated,
especially for the bastard son who was headed toward the
castle prison, just as he knew he'd been fated to since the
day he was born.
My cell was freezing and the similarities between it and
my old "bedroom" were too close for comfort. San Cristobel
had only one jail, with only one comfortable cell, obviously
not fit for royal prisoners. So I was taken to the ancient
castle dungeons where I was locked behind rusted bars without
the any of the conveniences of modern day living such as
heat, bedding or hot food.
I paced for hours, my fury keeping me warm. That eventually
faded and I was alone in the darkness, with cold and hunger
gnawing at my gut. I huddled in the corner and shut my eyes
tightly, trying to will away the demons that circled. How
many nights had I spent alone as a child, hungry and cold,
still aching from a day of relentless abuse? Too many, and
this was the final straw, as far as I was concerned.
Damn them, damn them all to hell, especially His Royal
Asshole, Richard the First.
I wanted to cry, but couldn't. The tears refused to come and
I smacked my fist into the dungeon's bricks, crying out
against the pain I'd just caused myself. Idiot, such an
idiot, I thought miserably, when the cell bars creaked open
and a familiar figure snuck in, carrying what looked like a
It was Richard, no doubt hoping to carry my head out with
him, and I lunged for him without thinking, flailing away at
whatever parts I could reach, pummeling and rolling with his
punches. I tried my best to kill him, would have settled for
hurting him badly, but he was still stronger than I, a big
brother to the last.
I ended up beneath him, squirming under his heavy length,
hating him more than I thought one human being could hate
another. "You son of a bitch!" I yelled, struggling against
the rough hands that held me against the cold stone floor.
"I wish I knew who wanted to oust you! I'd be first in line
to help them!"
"Be quiet," Richard hissed, as his hand clamped tightly over
my mouth effectively silencing me. "Stop being a fool before
you get us both killed." I blinked with surprise, and
slowly, he took his hand away. "I know you're innocent, so
there's no need for this idiocy."
"Then why the hell am I in here?" I snarled, spitting at him
for good measure. "Explain that!"
Richard glared at me. "You're in here so whoever it actually
plotting this coup thinks they've succeeded in putting the
blame on you. With you incarcerated, they'll get careless
and I can weed them out, thus saving both our hindquarters.
Besides, it's safer for you in here than anywhere else at the
moment." He huffed, then painfully sat up, brushing my saliva
from his shirt with a grimace of distaste. "Idiot."
"Oh," I said sullenly, feeling not quite as bright as I did
just a few moments before. "You could have placed me under
house arrest then."
"Edmund, this is house arrest," Richard sighed. "Unless I
locked you in a closet."
My anger waned. I knew he was right, but I wasn't ready to
give up the fight, not just yet. "It's freezing in here," I
grumbled. "And your friends have forgotten to feed me." My
tone edged toward whining, but I didn't care. I was tired,
hungry, cold and no longer angry at Richard.
Things don't get much worse than that.
"I know," he said, with surprising gentleness. "That's why
I'm here." Richard tugged the fallen basket open, pulling
out things that looked suspiciously warm and comforting. He
draped a blanket around my shoulders, then handed me a tall
thermos. "Hot chocolate. I can't vouch for it, I made it
myself. But there's brandy in it, so that might make up for
what it lacks."
I opened the thermos and sniffed at its contents. "You made
this? When did you learn how to boil water?"
"This evening. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Here, I found where Cook keeps the leftovers."
"Isn't this lovely," I scoffed, rolling my eyes at the
offered sandwich. "A family picnic in the family dungeon."
I grabbed it and took an angry bite, my stomach rumbling
appreciatively. "I hope you know how utterly ludicrous this
Richard nodded. "The irony isn't lost on me, have no fear.
But we have to protect the kingdom, as well as ourselves, and
this is the only way we can. "
"No, it's not. Why don't you just kill them all?" I said, the
brandy hitting my empty stomach running. Nothing like a shot
of Dutch courage to get the gears grinding. "I'll get the
rope, you get the scaffold and we'll be done with them."
"You can't be serious."
"I've never been more serious." Another long slurp of cocoa,
a pleasant thought of Dax and Carter's execution and I felt
warmed to my toes. "Or we can just shoot them if you like."
Richard gave me an incredulous look. "You know as well as I
do it doesn't work that way. This isn't a tyranny, Edmund
and I don't plan on making it one anytime soon."
"Then you're a damned fool. I wouldn't let anyone get away
with anything if I were the ruler."
"Thank God you're not then," he replied gravely. With a
sigh, he settled in besides me, leaning against the stone cot
that was supposed to serve as my bed. "Edmund, how did we
get like this?"
Here we go, I thought, my throat tightening. "Don't make me
nauseous, Dr. Freud," I said acidly. "I'm not in the mood to
discuss our traumatic childhood at this particular moment.
And if there's another sandwich in there, I suggest you hand
it to me before I bite your nose off."
"Because talking about it will make it end and you don't want
it to end, do you? You feed off your hatred of me, like a man
at a banquet." He handed me the second sandwich, which I
devoured in nearly a single gulp.
"And quite a delightful banquet it is too." I wiped my mouth
on my sleeve and finished off the thermos. "Unlike your moldy
leftovers and watery chocolate."
"That's not water in there." He smiled, in spite of my
insults. "But I think you're feeling it already, aren't
I hiccoughed then shrugged. "Water, cheap brandy, what's
the difference?" I shivered and hiccoughed again before
leaning against him, my drunken anger turning into sloppy
sentimentality at an alarming rate. I snuggled closer,
ostensibly to steal whatever heat I could, but in truth being
cuddled beside him looked more attractive than I'd have cared
To my surprise, he wound a tight arm around me and pressed a
soft kiss to my temple. Amazing. The man I'd wished dead
almost my entire life, the brother whom I considered less a
brother than a mortal enemy, the one whom I insulted,
degraded, plotted against and scorned ... still seemed to
love me. Deeply, honestly ... passionately.
How wonderfully ridiculous.
"Why are you doing this?" It was the brandy talking at that
point, but it sounded enough like me for me not to care. "Why
do you insist on being noble with me? Isn't there some other
slob you can be benevolent with, one more deserving than I?"
"I'm not being noble," he protested. "And I think you're
most deserving of all my care, especially ..." He hesitated.
"After that traumatic childhood you don't want to talk
I scowled at him. "I don't need your pity, Richard. God,
that's the last thing I need or want. If you hated me, life
would be a lot easier, mind you. For both of us."
"Sorry, I'm not up to hating you at the moment," he shrugged.
"I don't pity you either." He laughed mirthlessly. "As if a
man like you would need my pity." A narrow glance. "Or
should wish for my hatred."
My teeth grit so tightly, my jaw began to ache. "Why?
Because it's only by your gracious goodness I'm being kept
"No," he replied and tilted my face up toward his. I could
see his eyes in the dim light and they were blue, bluer than
a spring sky and twice as hopeful. "Because I love you.
With a part of me that no one else will ever possess, a part
of my soul that no one else can touch. And no matter what
you do or say, that love will remain."
My heart skipped a beat and the blood rushed through my ears
in hot, pounding waves.
"You've sorely tried me, Edmund, many times, but never have I
hated you for it. Not because I've pitied you, but because
you do something to me I can't understand. You're my other
half; you complete me. You're the part of me I'd deny if I
could, but embrace instead, because I must. Do you
"No," I whispered. "But don't let that stop you."
He smiled crookedly, his eyes crinkling beautifully in the
corners. "Stop me from doing what?"
"From doing this," I said, before capturing his lips with my
own. Oh, I'm sure it was wrong and that we were going
straight to Hell after all was said and done, but that didn't
matter. What mattered was that he returned the kiss, sweetly
at first, then with growing hunger after I made it clear I
was no lady to be wooed or won.
I was his dark side, the half he'd deny if he could and there
was no escape, for either of us.
I reached for him, tugging viciously at his clothes. He
fought me, cautiously at first, then grabbed my wrist and
squeezed it to the point of pain, stopping me in my tracks.
"No," he gasped. "Not here, not now."
"Why not?" I asked, yanking my arm away angrily.
"Because I want it to be ... good," he stammered, more
flustered than I'd ever seen him. "And here's not the place
I laughed bitterly. "There's no good place for what we're
doing, Richard. Don't you know that?"
"There is," he said solemnly. "Don't you remember?" He
kissed me again and I could taste his lips -- terrifically
sweet, part peppermint, part scotch ... all Richard.
"Remember when we first spent nights together?"
I inhaled sharply. Those were memories I didn't want. "We
were children then." And we were, two terrified teenaged
boys, lost in a maze of mortar, stone and hatred, huddled
beneath a single blanket, entwined together for what we
prayed was eternity. "That was different."
"It was the same," he intoned. He pulled me closer and I
could feel myself tremble with fear, or with lust, I wasn't
sure. "Except we knew nothing then, we were all the other
had. Hate me as you will, Edmund, I was all there was,
wasn't I? And for all your deception, you were all I had.
It's the same now."
"Is it?" The walls wavered before me and my stomach churned.
"Have you looked at us lately, Richard? When was the last
time we shared anything, let alone our bodies and a bed?"
"We share our souls, every day. Whether we know it or not."
He nuzzled my cheek and I groaned, unable to resist his
touch, feeling as if my heart was tearing in half. "I love
My throat burned as the brandy tried to force itself back up
and I pulled away frantically, gasping for air. Too much,
too soon and I didn't know how to reply. If I loved him, I
could no longer hate him and without my hatred, I was as good
as dead. I wanted to plead with him, tell him to turn away,
to take back what couldn't be erased, but instead, he rose
and stood over me, the Prince of San Cristobel once again.
"Rest, Edmund," he said, bending down and touching my cheek.
"And have no fear, not tonight, not ever." His thumb traced
the outline of my chin. "You're not alone."
The cell door creaked again, and like a phantom, Richard was
gone. I huddled in the blanket, the darkness settling in
again, my spirit shattered, its jagged pieces lying on the
dungeon floor and I heard a children's rhyme singsong
through my mind ...
// ... and all the King's horses, and all the King's men
would never put Edmund Winslow back together again.//
Richard came back the next morning, with ten trembling ministers
standing behind him. He opened the cell door with his own
hands and inclined his head toward me in an unheard of show
of humility. The Crown bows to no one but that day it
appeared I was the exception.
The ministers behind him bent themselves double at me, but I
ignored them, waiting for my brother to speak.
"A mistake has been made," said Richard finally. "The letter
was a forgery and the traitor has confessed, been tried and
is no longer among us." Formal tone, and I blinked.
Discovered, tried and "no longer among us" -- all in one day?
"That was fast," I said mildly. "Are you sure you got the
"Quite sure," replied Richard edgily. "However, if he did
have accomplices, I'm sure they'd do well to remove
themselves from our island, post haste. If they value their
I wanted to laugh, wondering how many ministers we'd be less
in a few hours, but questions still nagged at me. Even
trials for traitors usually take a couple of weeks, but ...
"So, is our traitor banished?" I asked, walking beside
Richard down the hall to the staircase that lead to the upper
floors and freedom.
"Yes," replied Richard. "To heaven or hell, may God rest his
The blood drained from my face. "I see." I swallowed, hard,
feeling a sudden bout of queasiness. "Sire, may ... may I
speak with you alone for a moment?"
"Of course," said Richard as the ministers gladly scattered
away from us. He smiled, his eyes still blue, still
beautiful, but something was missing, or worse, something
new had invaded their clear depths and I was afraid I knew
what it was.
"Richard, are you telling me you executed the man without a
trial?" I asked, hoping, no praying, I was wrong.
"There was no need for a trial, Carter confessed outright.
And as for death, he deserved it," Richard replied darkly.
"I heard what you said last night, Edmund and I thought about
it. I think you're right ... I think these things need to be
dealt with a more timely and absolute manner."
"Richard ..." My hands raked nervously through my hair, and
it took a moment, but I steeled myself against the weakness I
knew would inevitably come. "I ..."
"You'll be joining me in my room tonight," he finished for
me, smiling so brightly, I thought I would melt at the sight.
"I've missed you so much." He touched my cheek and I had to
force myself to pull away, because, there was to be none of
that ... never again.
Because Richard, my Richard, had no need for the darkness I'd
bring to him.
It would only destroy him, just as I destroyed everything
else I ever touched.
"No," I replied stonily. He recoiled at the harshness of my
tone, but I averted my eyes, not willing to lose my nerve at
the sight of his hurt face. "I've been doing my own thinking,
and it's madness what you propose. We can no sooner go back
to our childhood than we could leave our stations here and
live some other life. Go, go back to your throne and
cronies, Richard, and leave me to do what I do best. " I
smiled grimly. "Which happens to be hating you."
He blinked, then paled a terrible shade of white. His mouth
opened, then clamped shut and he made no move to stop me as I
tripped carelessly up the stone stairs, without a backwards
glance. "Oh, and another thing, brother mine," I called down
without turning around. "Next time you find a letter like
that, it will most likely be mine. But you'll find it too
late, I assure you."
And I slammed the door behind me, willing my knees to carry
me just a few more steps so I could collapse out of sight,
and cry, out of Richard's earshot, least he call in all his
horses, all his men ... and try to put what I knew was the
love of our lives back together again.
Something that I was never going to allow to happen ... ever again.
Reviews are welcome.
Flames used to turn my cat's farts blue.
Thanks for reading, mako.