“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.”

“You’re a young fool with no concept of just how dangerous this all is,” snaps the mercenary “Do you truly understand what it is you’re trying to do?”

“I’m trying to take the throne-” the second born heir growls, to the mercenaries dissatisfaction

“You’re throwing a coup,” says the merc “With only you, and me. You’re thinking of going about this like a duel- it’s not. Different rules, princex”

“Listen here, Heir. You don’t have a throne. You have a sword. And me.” says the mercenary “You’ve got me. That’s it. You ain’t got authority more than you can buy on the end of that blade in your belt.”

“I’m not going to bully people into obeying me!” snaps the second born heir “The whole reason I’m doing this is so someone not like my eldest sibling is on the throne.”

“Then you’ll die. But that’s okay, princex, I got you.” grins the merc “Just tell me who you need to fall into step.”

“I am no spoiled child for you to mock,” spits the second-born heir to the throne “I’ve earned everything I have!”

“Oh?” asks the mercenary “Even that crest you wear? What about that jeweled circlet upon your brow? You think having to kill your eldest sibling counts as earning anything?”

“My name is [X]. I am the last surviving heir to the throne.”

“So you want me to take you to the capital-”

“Oh god no, I was raised by a bunch of merchants. I know shit about running a country. No, what we’re going to do is lay low and I need you to make sure no one with political aspirations finds out about me.”