Genre: angst. up the wazoo.
Fandom: Fire Emblem 8
Characters/pairings: Knoll-->Lyon, DK!Lyon/Knoll. Yeah. Really.
Summary/prompt: Knoll longs for more from Lyon. He almost gets it.
Notes: Challenged by Rethira to do this one, sort of, and the first one (disgusting) expanded itself into the second one (defiance). I decided to just combine them. It's a bit unpolished, and the situation, especially in the second part, is a little at odds with canon (I doubt the DK cared enough about Knoll to mess with his head), but it is there.
Warnings: non-consensual sketchiness. And really just sketchiness. I'm kind of astounded that I wrote this, actually. Also random FFIV refs. Oh, and death.
On the subject of practical applications of the ancient arts, one might consult the writings of Golbez the Fourth, who di
The words on the page, Knoll was sure, had made some amount of sense when he had written them, but the sentence stopped right there, mid-word, and he couldn't for the life of him remember where it was he was going with it. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind he remembered what it was Golbez had written about – presumably something about the practical uses of magic, given the context – but it seemed to escape him every time he tried to pin it down.
His mind seemed willing only to focus on one thing: the face of his prince, smiling at him over a stack of ancient, dusty tomes and saying his name. Why the image seemed to stick in his head was beyond him. It wasn't relevant to the manifesto he was attempting to compose, and was hardly a rational thing to consider, but-- Prince Lyon, smiling, at him. For him.
He gasped, suddenly, as he realized he was dripping ink on the paper, thick, ugly blots at the end of the half-finished word. He pulled the quill away quickly and tried to blot the stain. Perhaps he could pull it into another letter, cover up his mistake. Surely no one would notice, at least, no one who mattered. Lyon was forgiving--
Stop that. This isn't for him, it's for –
Who was it for, anyway? Knoll couldn't recall even that. All he could think was that Lyon would shake his head and smile that smile, say something sweet like “I didn't even notice, Knoll. Don't worry about it.”
But Lyon didn't smile like that for him anymore, at least, not as he once did. He saved that smile for when he was talking about those twins, the ones who'd stayed half the previous year and left over the summer. He'd get that dreamy look in his eyes when he mentioned their names – and he mentioned them often, nearly every day when they worked on their research together.
“I want to be good enough for them,” the prince would say, with an ache in his voice, and silently, Knoll would object.
You're more than good enough for me, he'd think. I'd never ask for more.
And he wouldn't. He would imagine, sometimes – imagine that Lyon smiled only for him, imagine that the prince's fingers might someday linger on his when they passed across the same book, imagine that maybe he could hold his prince close when the visions were too frightening or the loneliness was too much. But he would never dare ask.
It was impossible, of course. Foolish, irrational thoughts for a lowly scholar, a simple servant. There was nothing special about Knoll. It wasn't as if Lyon's kindness was a commodity – he gave it to everyone freely, asking for nothing in return. To blindly bid him goodbye, to leave and never write, to ignore the hopeless adoration on his face – those twins were too cruel, too caught up in themselves to see what everyone else in the castle seemed to see.
But then, even Lyon was blind to what was right in front of him.
I wouldn't leave you.
Knoll shoved the thought out of his mind and stared back at the paper, all hopes of focusing on it long gone. He couldn't manage even to care the slightest bit about whatever it was he had initially meant by it, and the ink had smudged across the words he'd gotten down.
Useless. He couldn't even a scholarly paper, never mind match the need he saw in his prince's eyes. He was nothing, disgusting, undeserving of even a common smile.
Perhaps it was best that way. After all, what would Lyon, innocent, naïve Lyon, think, if he knew what Knoll thought of? What might he say if he learned of the fantasies of himself, nude, draped across Knoll's shuddering body, of forceful, wet kisses against walls of old books, of fingers clenched tight in his beautiful hair and running down his perfect back, between his exquisite legs and –
Knoll swept the papers aside, ignoring the thick black stains spread across his fingers and sleeves, and let his head fall into his hands.
Disgusting, he thought again. You are truly disgusting.
Knoll had almost grown accustomed to the darkness. His eyes could almost make out the outline of his pale fingers stretched in front of his face, though it was little comfort to see how thin his they had gotten, how his skin was stretched so tight across the bones at the back of his hand that he could almost count them.
He didn't know how long it had been – though surely it hadn't been too long, or he'd have died of starvation already. Not that it mattered. All he had was gone, and by his own doing. If the gods had any sense of mercy, the executioners would take him soon and that would be that.
He thought, as he heard the sound of footsteps intruding on the ever-present silence, that his prayers might have been answered. It was better to hang than to stay there and starve, alone with nothing to hope for. He had forgotten how bright torchlight could be, how jarringly loud the sound of human voices often were. For a moment, his confusion overtook him. He couldn't recognize the face before him through the spots in his vision, or remember who it was the voice belonged to until it said his name.
“Knoll, wasn't it?”
Casual, detached, nothing like he remembered. Knoll suppressed a shudder – or he tried, and managed only to force it into the slightest of shivers – and averted his gaze. He couldn't face the thing his prince had become. He knew too well what it was, what it wanted.
Knoll had never been defiant before, though he certainly knew what the word meant. He was quiet, passive, timid, not defiant. But he managed to tilt his chin up, to level the most even of glares at the demon, and add an edge of so what if I am to his soft, scratchy voice as he said, “Yes.”
The glint he imagined he'd put in his eyes was certainly gone when the demon stepped closer, smiling faintly, and Knoll retreated to the corner of the cell, wishing he could just disappear into the shadows cast by the harsh torchlight.
“Oh, I remember you now,” he heard, and it did sound like Lyon, almost. “You were the one who unsealed the stone for me, weren't you? I never did thank you.”
Knoll swallowed back the words of protest welling in his throat. He knew it was true, every word of it, and had nothing left in him with which to deny it.
The thing wearing his prince's skin laid a platter down on the floor, a dish of water, a hunk of bread, what smelled like it might be a soup of some kind. Why he had come, and not some guard, like the ones who sometimes came by to jeer, was beyond Knoll completely, though it wasn't as strange as a man condemned being afforded such a meal.
“Your prince would want you to eat,” he heard, and the mocking edge made him want to retch. “Though, you know . . . he doesn't think about you, really.”
Of course he doesn't. He isn't there.
“Oh, he's here.” The grin grew wider, and Knoll pressed back tight into the cold stone. “He's just thinking of other things, important things, like how much he wants to see those twins – I think it will be fun to see them burn when I take Renais. A shame you won't see it; you might enjoy it too.”
Despite the almost gentle edge to the voice, Knoll forced himself to recall who it wasn't. Lyon, his Lyon, would never talk like that. It was harder to remember when he felt hands upon his face, running through his ragged hair and down his hollowed cheeks, so close to the way he'd shamefully imagined.
“He did think of you recently,” the demon cooed softly, his voice perfectly matching the one Knoll remembered. “He thought of you, and how best to execute you, actually – he thought hanging might be too quick, you see, and I do agree, though we couldn't come to a consensus on how– ”
“You are a liar.” Knoll managed to find defiance again, despite the hot breath hitting his cheeks and throat, the bared white teeth inches away from him. “He does not think like that.” Did not, he thought, and the pang in his stomach was not from hunger alone.
“Oh, doesn't he?” As if aware – as if? no, it was certain that it knew – of every shameful thought Knoll had ever had, the demon pressed Lyon's lips to the curve of his jaw, slid them up the side of his face and to the tip of his ear, giving the lightest of nibbles there. Even the subtlest nip gave the feeling that if he wanted, in a second, he would tear the ear free and swallow it whole. “I think I know him better than you ever did.”
The words stopped for a moment, and Knoll barely managed to hold back a gasp – it was Lyon's tongue flicking out and caressing him, Lyon's fingers winding down his neck and throat. If he closed his eyes for a moment, he could just imagine it was real, that he really had something –
And before he could move, the thing in Lyon's body pulled away with a laugh that was almost familiar.
“Eat up,” it said. “You'll need your strength, won't you?” And the torchlight and the voice and the footsteps were gone, leaving Knoll alone in the dark once again.
It was only when he heard the door slam closed that Knoll pulled the platter to himself and ate as he'd never eaten before, as if ending one hunger could silence the other.
It's over, Knoll thought, as he heard the too-familiar voice cry out in pain, watched the body before him crumple into Ephraim's arms. Eirika was there, too, both at Lyon's side, as he would have wanted.
Knoll felt his hand reach instinctively for the staff he'd finally mastered, but he forced himself to stop despite the rising ache in the pit of his stomach.
Your prince died more than a year ago. It is not worth it.
And it wasn't. As he quietly came closer, clutching the sacred tome to his chest, he saw there was no way a staff could fix that wound – gaping, ragged, horrible – and yet, he couldn't bring himself to look away from it.
I would never do that to you.
He couldn't, not even out of mercy. He had tried, at first, of course, for he knew it was his prince's wish. He'd opened the ancient tome, read the words aloud – though his voice had quaked, and his fingers had trembled – sent the surge of magic flying toward everything that had ever mattered to him. Perhaps he had hesitated, or his strength was not enough, but the spell refused to connect, and, without a word, Lyon had retaliated.
The pain hadn't left Knoll. It lingered in his limbs, throbbed at the base of his skull, sent waves of nausea racking through his weakened body. But it was nothing compared to the wound in Lyon's chest. Nothing at all.
Knoll swallowed hard and ran his fingers across the spine of the tome, remembering that it had surely been left for him, that surely there was a reason he had not been killed sooner. He tried in vain to catch his prince's eyes with a weak smile. Perhaps it was true. Perhaps he had not only imagined that bit of thought.
But Lyon's gaze and gentle smile were for two people, and two people alone. A quiet, strained apology, the softest whispers of affection, all given freely to the people they were meant for – the same two people who had started it all with their ignorance, their selfishness, who had robbed Knoll of the death for which he'd longed.
Not for the first time, Knoll closed his eyes and imagined. He imagined the words were for him, that his forgiveness was important, that perhaps in death Lyon had realized what it was he had all along.
I would forgive you, he imagined himself saying in return, his arms around the prince rather than Ephraim's or Eirika's, his fingers wiping the pained tears from those perfect eyes, but I was never angry.
When he opened his eyes, his prince was still and silent. Defeated at last, blind even to the very end.