A/N: Oi! Done. And never again will I start a multi-chaptered fic when I'm so busy. And now there's also the EURO 2008 and I must watch four to five hours soccer daily. I love it, true, but I feel bad for having taken so long updating.


The black knight


"That's all he said? 'We'll talk later'?" Saphira stomped a foot on the ground while absentmindedly gathering her assortment of pens and pencils and sheets that she had scribbled on during biology. Only on one of them were words, though, the rest was littered with drawings of dragons and caves and an occasional bunny here or there, all of the latter a bit more clumsy, clearly Eragon's doing. "He can't do that!" She slammed her backpack on the desk for emphasis before grabbing it again, more gently, and heading for the door.

Eragon followed suit, focused on the blond locks whipping in front of his face. "That's all that's bothering you? That it wasn't the farewell it should have been?" He tried to catch her eye, but his passing manoeuvre was hindered by the doorframe.

Saphira whirled around on hearing her friend moan in pain. "Eragon!" He was holding his nose, which sure enough began to bleed right away, and Saphira's hands dived in the pockets of her jacket to emerge again with a clean hanky after a second. "Here." She pulled him to the side of the hallway. "You alright? What are you doing?"

"I'm fine," Eragon assured, annoyed with himself. "I just ran into a door, that's all." He saw Saphira staring at him and could not decide whether she was looking angry or concerned. "But what I was saying… after all I told you, you criticize what's happened this morning? Nothing else?"

Saphira's half-frown was erased and she was pensive for a moment. "I just… oh, it's difficult, Eragon!" Her eyes already darted along the length of the corridor, estimating the time she would need to her locker and then to her next class. "You know what I've always thought about this, but now that he's basically said that he's… well, literally just like you… things are different I guess."

Eragon looked away and lowered his voice. "Different as in… disgusting?"

"Don't ask me that, please." Saphira was desperate. "I'm ignoring the family connection right now. All I see is that for some mysterious reason your old dream has already partly come true and that's what's important." She rubbed a hand over her face, her ears twitching at the sound of the bell. "Look, I have to go. But remember this: your happiness comes first… as does mine." Her eyes were sparkling and she was grinning helplessly at this. "See you for lunch!" She breathed a kiss to Eragon's chin and was gone.

Eragon smiled a little while he watched her go, not exactly feeling the need to hurry to his English class, hanky still pressed to his nose. He could not hold it against Saphira that her date with Thorn had gone perfectly yesterday, and some little part of him was cheering along with her, but his own problems were occupying him far more.

He was falling for his brother.

And said brother, sweet as he had been all weekend, and definite as he had been yesterday, had barely woken up this morning when Eragon had said goodbye. By unspoken agreement he knew they had to take their time, but this? He had tried to hug Murtagh briefly, but had not received more than a tired pat on his arm as response. Let alone any coherent sentence.

Eragon sighed and swallowed down the lump in his throat. They would talk on the phone later; matters would be alright. Murtagh would say that he was sorry for not seeing him off. At least that was what he wished.

xxx

"I just met Steve and he… avoided me." Eragon stood perplexed in the middle of the cafeteria, his tray of food in front of him. He did not mind, but his ex' behaviour was different than expected.

"Oh," Saphira remarked innocently, arriving at her friends' side.

"Oh?"

"Oh!" She led the way to a little table, squeezing through a throng of guys on the way, oblivious to their low whistles. "Pfff, weaklings."

Eragon smiled and followed her. Saphira had in fact walked right through the athletic crowd, boys that were role models for the rest of the male high school population in terms of muscle. Then again, when he thought of Thorn, they shrank in front of his eyes, looking indeed a little weak.

"I had sort of prepared myself for being jeered at today, I've thought he'd make fun of me. But – nothing!" Eragon sat down and immediately pulled at his jeans. They were low on his hips and he was afraid that people could see more of him than he would ever care for.

"Hmm." Saphira was stirring her yoghurt with a plastic spoon, avoiding to look at Eragon. "Well, I guess that's what he would have done… if I hadn't just run into him, too."

Eragon froze and granted his sandwich another minute of life. "What did you do?"

Stirring some more, Saphira tried unsuccessfully to divert his attention away from herself and towards the yoghurt. When she looked up, though, she saw bright blue eyes fixed on her and smirked. "I went for the truth. Or rather, my cell did. I saw him approaching and simply played the file… he heard it, and some of his friends heard it, too." Her smirk widened. "I mean, they're probably on his side and everything, but still it looked like they didn't like it. And Steve…" She sniggered. "Steve turned into a stone golem. Then it looked like he was coming for me, so I informed him that I'm seeing Thorn this afternoon… and he was gone." Saphira was triumphant and she finally started eating. "Seriously, if he's going to stir up trouble, this sound file will stop him. He really doesn't like it. You should've seen his face. Priceless!"

Eragon had listened quietly, the rational part of his mind saying that Saphira had done well, that Steve would not bother him anymore. Meanwhile, another voice in his head had been telling him constantly how unimportant all of this really was, that he should find solutions for other problems. Actually, that voice had only repeated one word, over and over. Murtagh… Murtagh… Murtagh. The mere thought of the older one made Eragon's heart race. "Saph! What do I do?"

"Huh? As I said, I think it's all good."

"With Murtagh…"

She needed only a second to direct her thoughts to another direction. "Call him when you get home."

"I want to see him!" Eragon exclaimed rather loudly. Until now he had not realized how strong that desire had been. Then his shoulders dropped and he lowered his voice. "And he's just… gone. Mom said they'd have breakfast together this morning before he was leaving."

Saphira reached over the table and took one of Eragon's hands in her own. "For a short while Thorn and I touched on the subject yesterday. No, no," she interrupted her friend opening his mouth, "not about you being brothers or anything." She quickly gulped down more yoghurt. "Only about something going on, and he said that Murtagh's quite persistent. And I think that if he's been – for his standards – so very open about feelings and such, then he'll make sure of you two staying in contact. After all, he offered you a cookie – in bed!" Her eyes began to sparkle once more.

"I hope so," Eragon muttered, picking out a slice of tomato from his meal and swallowing it without chewing, unaffected by her positive attitude. His eyes turned sad. "I guess that I had truly hoped to see him this morning…" He shoved the remaining sandwich around on his plate, thinking only about his the raven-haired, remembering how close they had been last night, how good Murtagh had looked in that tight T-shirt... He, Eragon, had spent almost twenty minutes in front of his closet this morning, dressing and redressing, wanting to look good in the eyes of the one who mattered.

Eyes that had not even opened.

Saphira opened her mouth to respond, but was cut short by the bell signalling the end of their lunch break. She scowled at Eragon's unfinished meal before smiling at him encouragingly when the noise was over. "Don't worry so much. If this is already so hard for you, what do you think it will be like if… you know, if it gets serious?" Her smile was gone. "There'll be stress to no end, Eragon. I mean, friends, family…" She left the sentence unfinished and got up, taking both of their trays.

"I know," Eragon whispered to himself.

xxx

"So, you're going to see Thorn today?" Eragon tried in vain to hide his jealousy.

Saphira shrugged. "I'm not quite sure, but yeah, we might have a date later. Thorn was talking about some surprise." She dumped an armful of books and folders in her locker and smiled at Eragon, who was leaning against the wall next to her.

"That's good," he commented without any enthusiasm, frowning at her for taking so long.

Saphira laughed. "You're impossible. And yes, I'm done," she answered his unasked question. "I'll get you home and you'll get the phone. Things will be fine, believe me."

"Whatever."

Saphira jabbed Eragon in the ribs and led the way to the parking lot, her keys already in her hand. Then she stopped dead in her tracks. "Err…"

"What the-" Eragon fell silent, staring at the distant spectacle on the parking lot. "Something's going on…" He saw people clustering in groups, all looking the same direction.

Suddenly Saphira squeaked and hurried on. Her eyesight had always been better than Eragon's. "Oh my God!" She halted again, now everything in clear sight.

Eragon was at her side in an instant, feeling close to squeaking himself. Someone was attracting the attention of at least half the people walking to their cars at that moment. Plus the attention of those already at their cars, who could not force themselves to get in just yet. Someone that did not even do anything special. Someone who simply stood there, clad completely in black, leaning casually against his likewise black Mustang. Someone whose eyes glanced from face to face without any interest, though obviously searching for someone.

Murtagh.

Saphira rolled her eyes. "Hell no!"

"What?" Eragon asked while pulling her along, stomping through the mud of snow on the ground, rushing towards his brother.

"Eragon!" She stopped and forced him to face her for a second. "That's so… Hollywood."

Eragon grinned, his entire face glowing. "No, Saph. It's hot!"

"Only because he's got a fancy car…"

"…and looks better than anyone else…"

"… and is evidently waiting for you. Gah! I get it." Saphira made yet another funny noise. "It's cute, I guess! So… cliché, but cute. The black knight and his black horse, here to save the heroine…"

Eragon ignored the comment, having finally caught Murtagh's eye. The other's face lit up and he pushed himself away from the car, standing tall and erect, expecting him.

"Hey, little one," Murtagh greeted when Eragon was finally at his side, his low voice sending shivers down the younger one's spine.

"You're here," Eragon pointed out in bewilderment, his eyes wide.

True concern flashed over Murtagh's face for an instant. "You don't want me to be?"

"No!" Eragon laughed quietly, the tension that had been building inside of him finally subsiding. "I mean, I want you to be here. I thought that… well, never mind. Saph? I'm going with-" he looked to his right where his friend had been a moment ago, then looked left, then over his shoulder. "Where is she?"

"Over there." Murtagh had raised a hand and waved at Saphira who in response blew him a kiss, shortly after followed by a second directed at Eragon. Then she jumped into her car. Murtagh smiled before turning to Eragon again. "Does that mean she approves?"

"I'm not sure whether she really does - yet. Right now, though, I think she approves of everything in this world. Thorn's fault."

"As long as she approves of him, too… Do you want to drive?"

Eragon cast a look around involuntarily, seeing that there were still more than a few people eyeing them. He felt himself grow an inch or two. "Hell yes!"

Murtagh tossed him the key, laughing, and walked over to the passenger's side. "Show-off," he mumbled, loud enough for the other to hear.

"Ha!" Eragon snorted, in one swift movement opening the door and seating himself comfortably behind the wheel. "Look who's talking! You'll be topic number one for days to come at Carvahall High."

"Will I?"

"Most definitely." Eragon revved the engine, bathing in the sound. He was beaming at Murtagh with only the slightest glimmer of tease in his eyes. "Notorious heart-throb returning, looking better than ever before. You're not yet forgotten here." A swift glance to the mirror told him he was hardly flushing today. Very good!

"Oh, so you think I was the only one attracting looks?" Murtagh had raised an eyebrow and could not help but smile when Eragon threw him a glance. "Well, I guess it should be a compliment for me if you haven't noticed anything else…"

"Murtagh!" Eragon shook his head. "It's really nice of you to imply that… what you're implying. But you had the undivided attention." His face was eventually warming a little and he grabbed the wheel forcefully, trying to concentrate solely on the street.

"Not quite. My car had most of it. Apart from that, I did see some heads turning when you passed them."

Eragon only snorted, deep crimson.

"Have you made the acquaintance of a mirror lately, Eragon?" Murtagh watched the other closely, again taking in every detail. His brother had put on a pair of dark jeans, which only stayed on his hips due to a broad belt. And the open jacket did not hide the blue shirt underneath, clinging closely to Eragon's body. Murtagh was openly checking out his brother – lustfully so!

Eragon was staring straight ahead, trying to calm his racing pulse. "Yeah, this morning, actually." He felt that the air between them was on fire, but did not dare to look over at Murtagh. "So… do you like what you're seeing?" His throat was dry.

"Yes. Delicious."

Eragon began to grin like a maniac. He should have known better than to be anxious all day long. "But what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be going back to Daret? You have lots of lectures, right?"

Murtagh waved a hand dismissingly. "Maybe, but most of all I have priorities. I've behaved impossible this morning. It was just that… I have kind of been awake almost all night."

"You have?" Eragon was glad for the red traffic light, glancing at Murtagh. "Why?" He himself had fallen asleep soon after their TV session, no without being obscenely happy, but still very fast.

"Thinking." Murtagh stared at his hands, flexing the muscles of every finger. "Thinking and imagining." His voice turned authoritative. "Pull over!"

"What?"

"Over there. Parking lot behind Sally's Pizza Place."

Reluctantly Eragon left the street and came to a stop. He turned off the engine, his mind trying to catch up with the conversation. Murtagh's expression did not give away anything. "You're talking nonsense."

Murtagh smiled apologetically. "I'm nervous."

"You? You are nervous?" Eragon laughed quietly, shaking his head. "Never knew you could be. Try my tactics: act all cool and pretend that everything is normal. I mean, it's not working for me, but maybe you can pull it off." He was still chuckling when he noticed Murtagh stiffen. "What is it?"

Murtagh scanned the surroundings briefly and found the parking lot deserted. Then he looked back at Eragon and swallowed hard. "What would be normal in a situation like this?"

Surprising everyone present, Eragon leaned forward and pressed his lips to Murtagh's. The kiss was as fleeting as the wing beat of a butterfly, but the impact rendered both silent for a while. Their eyes were locked, faces only inches away from each other.

"At least that's what I would do," Eragon murmured after a moment.

"Is it…" Murtagh hesitated. "Does that mean that is it okay with us? For you? Because... for me it is."

The words were out of Eragon's mouth before he even thought about his answer. "How can this be wrong?" He closed the distance between them again, slowly this time, closing his eyes. He had not moved much, though, when he felt a hand behind his head, pulling him forward. He buried his hands in Murtagh's hair and crushed his mouth on the other's, desperate for the contact.

"You know," Murtagh gasped after a while, breaking their kiss shortly, "I'm not always this rough, I can be more-"

"Later," Eragon growled. He used the chance presenting itself by the slightly parted lips of the other and quickly deepened the kiss.

"Alrigh'" Murtagh mumbled into Eragon's mouth. His hand found their seatbelts and he unbuckled them. "Alrigh'" he mumbled again. Keeping their lips glued together, he tugged at Eragon, who got the clue and began to scramble to the other side of the car awkwardly. Murtagh pulled him onto his lap, so that Eragon was straddling him, blue eyes blazing. "Alright," Murtagh said one last time, voice husky. "Later it is."