“My name is [X]. I’m the heir to the throne,” says the second born heir “Or, I will be. Once you’re dead.”

“You can’t kill me,” sneers xir older sibling.

“No,” agrees the second born “But [Mercenary] can.”

“I’d prefer not to have to kill you,” says the mercenary “Stand down.”

“Oh,” grins the bounty hunter, black teethed and bloody “You’re the fae-killer? Is that who you are? Protecting your little second-born heir from the big, bad, wolf? Haha. Try and kill me then. I dare you.”

“You’re forgetting,” says the bounty hunter “I’m not human. I have no time for your squabbles.”

“So what,” says the mercenary,  standing firmly in front o the second born heir “You’re hunting us because you want to for no reason at all.”

“Money,” the bounty hunter grins “And a good fight.”

“I’m to marry the Lord’s eldest in exchange for their army,” says the heir.

“Unacceptable,” says the mercenary “We’ll have to find some other ally.”

“Impossible. This is the best way to ensure our victory.”

“At what cost? A marriage you do not desire, an ally that thinks they can own you and your kingdom through the old traditions?” the mercenary sneers “Absolutely not. I will not allow you to play such a strange game with your future.”

“You’re not allowed to harm me,” says the heir.

“You think that matters? You’re just a second-born spare!” sneers the lord who was to be the heirs ally, blade held to the heirs throat “I’ll save us all the trouble and kill you here- what can you do to stop me?”

“Nothing,” says the heir “But xe can.”

The mercenary brings the weighted end of xir spear on the turncoats head. Ze does not get up.

“Bitch.” says the mercenary.

“What do you think?” asks the mercenary

The heir, who has not being paying attention hums “Hm?” and glances up from xir paperwork for a split second. And then never looks away.

The mercenary is in well tailored formal wear- trousers and a high cut doublet instead of the robes more befitting of someone zir station, but that’s probably for maneuverability. Or what have you.

Ze looks really good.

“Uh,” squeaks the heir “You look. Nice.”

“You think?” asks the merc, tugging at zir sleeves “It’s a little tight, don’t you think.”

It isn’t, but the mercenary favours comfort over aesthetic normally, so it’s possible it feels that way. The doublet really shows off how broad xir shoulders are.

“Nope! You look great!” says the heir “Absolutely fantastic, really.”

“Come here,” demands the heir, frowning “You’re bleeding.”

“it’s fine there, princex,” the mercenary grins “Just a little scratch. No harm done.”

“Clearly there’s some harm,” xe disagrees, turning the mercenary’s face back and forth, fingers gentle along zir jaw as xe studies the wound “It’s deep, and bleeding badly.”

“Face wounds do that.”

“You need stitches.”

“I’m well beyond preserving my good looks, princex.” ze disagrees “I’ll put a rag to it when we get back to the inn, it’ll be fine.”

“I have nothing to pay you,” says the second born heir “I lied. I thought- after I took the throne, I would be able to compensate you, so It would be fine but I have nothing-”

The mercenary breathes heavily out through xir nose “You really think I couldn’t figure that out for myself, after you’ve put me out of my way to avoid bribing anyone?”

“What?” says the heir “I thought-”

“You think I’m here for money? After all this?”

“Welcome back,” says the mercenary. Xe is in a simple shift, no pants, changing the bandage on xir thigh to ensure the laceration there doesn’t get infected “You don’t look like you had any trouble?”

“The duke was perfectly polite.” the heir says, grateful zir voice doesn’t betray how hard it is suddenly to speak. Ze’s never seen the mercenary in such casual dress- not even when the heir had to bind the wound in the first place.

“Good.” says the mercenary “If the duke had tried anythin- leg be damned- i would’ve slaughtered eir.” xe glances up- shift sliding down one shoulder exposing more skin “You didn’t drink, did you? You look flushed?”

“Fool,” snaps the mercenary knight, shifting the second born heir higher on xir shoulders “Who will take the throne if you die? You shouldn’t have taken that blow for me.”

Xe is not worried. Absolutely not. The feeling in xir stomach was only rage at xir own failure to deal with the enemy before the heir had been hurt, not anything else, certainly not worry.

“H- how will I take th- the, the throne without m- my- y champion?” asks the heir, voice gone soft with pain “Need you.”