( Here comes the bromance…)
As he finished speaking, Horace looked down at his hands. He ran them through his hair, as men will do when stressed.
Will simply stared at him in astonishment.
"So you were sorry?" He was barely audible.
"Yes." Horace said simply.
"But I thought…"
Horace smiled a tiny bit.
"Who gave you permission?"
Annually, after the Ranger gathering, when duty permitted it, Will rode to castle Araluen to visit his childhood friends, Evanlyn and Horace, who were now married. They'd started the tradition because they were all too busy to go riding across the country to see eachother during the year, and the gathering brought Will half way there anyway. It was too much to see his friends so irregularly, and infrequently. Before they'd gotten the idea, some years Will didn't get to visit at all; so everyone was ecstatic when Evanlyn came up with the idea. When she could, Alyss would meet them there, as she wasn't allowed to attend the gathering.
This year, they, Alyss, Will, Horace, and Evanlyn, had all been up late, laughing and recalling old times. Horace made an allusion to something that had happened at the ward, and Evanlyn asked what he meant. She never knew about her Knight's turbulent past.
"What are you talking about Horace? You and Will fought?"
She was all but shocked. The three former wardmates froze.
"Um, well, yeah. We weren't really the best of friends back then." Said Horace uncomfortably. He was still haunted by his ill treatment of Will, and never told her about it, ashamed of what she would think of her "stainless Knight".
Hands akimbo, Evanlyn looked around the group sternly. Meeting Horace's eyes as he looked up after what seemed an eternity, she saw incalculable sorrow and guilt. Softening in sympathy, she said his name gently.
Sighing, he turned to Will.
"You tell her Will."
Will had long since been told the rest of what happened while he was unconscious; all but who the drawing belonged to, and what Horace said while Will slept.
After the tale, Evanlyn looked at Horace unbelievingly.
"Is that true? Oh Horace."
He didn't look up this time, afraid of what he'd see in her eyes: disappointment? Shame? Rebuke? Hardly trusting his own voice he said:
"Yes, it's true. But, there's something you should know."
He directed his statement, and at last, his eyes, to Will.
"I drew the replacement. I don't know who you thought it was; but I did. Pitiful as it was."
He laughed humorlessly.
Will started visibly.
"Y-you did? But why? Don't feel guilty about it-"
Horace's eyes were laden with it.
"-but I thought you didn't like me until after the boar hunt? We were almost the same as always after, after that." Meaning the fight.
"I never hated you Will. I was immature and childish, and thought nothing of putting others beneath me. I was a pig. But, I wasn't totally shameless."
He told the last part of the tale which had been unknown previously to all but Horace himself, and Alyss.
"But, I thought…"
"Who gave you permission?"
None could help but smile at the old joke, but the mood quickly became sober again.
"I didn't know Horace! We suffered all that for nothing?"
Will regretted the words as they left his mouth.
"S-sorry, I-I didn't mean…just shoot me now, alright?"
Shaking his head, Horace said:
"No, you're absolutely right. I could've manned up and told you to your face, but I didn't. I could've stopped myself, but I didn't. It took seeing you so selflessly risk your life for me to change my stubborn self. I know I've said this before, but I'm so sorry Will."
He didn't want to make the situation any more uncomfortable, and was slightly embarrassed himself, but Will stood up and walked over to Horace. Sitting by him, he grabbed the huge man's shoulder with one hand, and the other arm behind his shoulders, hand on Horace's head, pulling his face close to Will's, waiting until Horace's eyes met his own.
"As I told you then, I never hated you. Never will."
Speaking so quietly that only Horace heard, Will continued:
" I don't blame you for the past; I was largely at fault myself. You always had the good in you, it just took a revelation on both our parts to bring it out, and take away our blindness."
Horace started to protest, and both their faces were warm at the display of sentimentality, but Will interrupted him to finish speaking.
"Yes, it was too my fault. I goaded you on. Neither of us had parents or family to guide us out of our stupidity; it's not all your fault."
Horace was tearing up; he pulled Will into a crushing bear hug.
Pushing Will away suddenly, he gruffly wiped the tears away.
"Now get off me you sot."
He smiled, then started full out laughing. Will started to laugh too, and soon all of them were laughing joyously.
The two women had been watching the touching scene with concern for their hurting husbands. Looking at eachother, their eyes said it all:
They must be in so much pain at the memories.
How long will this continue? Will they ever get over their past?
But now they laughed in relief, in ecstasy. Both hated seeing the ones they loved in pain, and it hurt worse not to be able to help; but joy overcame all that at last.
Horace grinned and launched himself at Will, who was still on the floor where Horace's shove had landed him. They wrestled like boys again, finally able to do so without remembering the less playful scenes that had been like this.
They ended up side-by-side, man-giggling like five year olds with deep voices.
Alyss and Evanlyn shared a devious look, and jumped their husbands.
"Oof! Get off us!"
The ladies squealed un-lady-like-ly.
And that's what they did, each a loyal comforter of the other.
A/N Ahhh! It's over! And I thought this would be a threeshot. Huh. Wow, thank each and every one of you who reviewed. I wouldn't have continued it, and updated so quickly if it wasn't for you guys! Give yourselves a round of coffee! X3
You all are amazing. And to those of you who I can't pm:
Alyss Mainwaring: Thank you so much for your lovely reviews! They always made i hazing a happy. X) You were loyal in reviewing throughout the story: I grant thee, the reward of awesomesauce reviewers. *Presents potato chip solemnly*
Tessi: No prob about not reviewing the other chaps! Here's the epilouge, and fanks soooo much for loyally reviewing. I'm glad you reviewed at all! You are also granted the potato chip of loyal reviewers. *iz solemn*
curiosity killed catdog slif: glad you like it! ;)
All of you who reviewed multiple timez get ze 'tatoez!
(what is tatoes, precioussss?)
p.s Review one more time everybody, I'm counting on ye! *scowls fiercely* I need to know how it was; esp. the bromance-y part. Was it too mushy-fluffy? How'd you like it as a whole? Kfanksbai.
p.p.s oh, and ik I called Cassie Evanlyn, but, as this is Will's story, and he thinks of her as Evanlyn, I wrote it that way. Also cuz I can't think of her as Cassandra either. Unless its a Horace story; but even then it's Cassie.
p.p.p.s Will I ever stopmaking punny comments about "loyal reviewers"? Idk.:3
God bless, Mychele
Luv ya!;) 3