Horwell sat just where he always had, folding his legs and getting himself comfortable. “And do you know what I think?” He asked, tilting his head back just a little as if to prove that what he was about to say was going to be quite matter-of-fact. “I think that you’re all talk, Owlan.” His mouth formed a smug little smirk. ” I shouldn’t need to be worried about a punishment because you could not punish me even if you tried!” Strict teacher or not, Horwell had always had a way with him.
He silenced himself by pressing his cheek to Owlan’s shoulder. For warmth, and to generally be closer to him and let him speak for a while.
He sat surrounded by the night, faint cries of animals in the distance, soft breeze, and the sound of Owlan’s deep voice. He was sure that nothing could be more relaxing. “Mh….” He glanced up slightly when Owlan admitted that he would be jealous. After a moment he picked up his head entirely and just looked to him. “Assertive!” Half said, half gasped as his brows furrowed just a little— though furrowed in confusion or concentration was anybodies guess.
“You..” He finally chuckled a little. “You know you should not give me such permission.” Horwell shook his head, though he was still smiling as he moved his hand to push a stray white hair behind Owlan’s ear, then moved to cup his face by the chin, thumbing gently over the warm skin along his jaw. “You would never get anything done again.” He warned, pulling him close and brushing his lips gently against Owlan’s. “I have never denied being greedy when it comes to your affection.”
Were Horwell not so precariously perched upon his shoulder as he was, the bristling he felt could have likely shot his shoulders straight upward in defense. Instead, Owlan settled for rigid clamping to the other leg and huffing out an agitated breath from his nose. “You are just so sure of yourself. It’s as if you like to try to coax me into proving you wrong. Am I that tightly wound around your finger?” Yes, yes he was. And because he was, he couldn’t even look Horwell square in the eyes and PRETEND to be huffy with him. Not with the way he smiled.
Not only was he a promiscuous faux-geezer, but now he was a haughty to boot! Did his list of discrepancies need to get any longer?!
He laughed, grin wide and stance defeated, his cheek then meeting Horwell’s forehead. All this time, he’d forgotten to see how opened up the cloudline was before them, didn’t think to count the knights patrolling the south bend, didn’t see what phase the moon was in. Per usual, his attention was diverted, and his hands crept their way across Horwell’s nearest forearm, snaking and lacing tight into an embrace of their own. They had seen some beautiful nights together, but they likely couldn’t remember the details of any. It would be funny for anyone to ask of any one in particular— festivals, anomalies— none were memorable, but their time together during always was.
For someone who chilled easily, Horwell always had the warmest hands. Surely if he were freezing to death, he could revive with them alone; and the shock of feeling them upon his cheek always managed to draw him in. His lips fell parted, silent yet smiling within the few miniscule millimeters between the others. “I would not suggest it if I were not prepared.” He began, then settled a kiss upon his lower lip, not unlike a leaving flowers upon a doorstep.
”-..And I would not deprive you of affections I always want to give.”
No book in the world could entice him more than the man before him, and none ever would.
Horwell’s gaze lowered to their hands once more, his grip now loose on the others wrists, more so to hold him and move with him curiously rather than restrain. “And who would tell on me?” he asks, referring to his supposed indecency as one brow quirked. “As we are here, in a secret place.” They’d painted a sign and everything to ensure it’s secrecy. ‘No kids allowed’ it read, followed by something about terrible monsters. “Nobody but yourself and the goddesses are here to see or hear me…you always liked it before.” Horwell trailed off as he realized just what Owlan was reaching for.
As the talisman he carried at all times was touched, his hands pulled away from Owlan’s wrists to try and protect it on instinct, but Horwell caught himself last moment and instead moved to smooth down the bottom of his own uniform while clearing his throat and being quite flustered in the face. He would blame his impulsiveness alone on far too many years of hiding vibrant feathers from view and keeping something so delicate and old out of harms way, but only if asked.
He bit his lip, gnawing gently until he was pulled close. “It would be a blessing from her grace to give me a cold.” Horwell joked, smiling with a hint of laughter in his voice. His arms lifted once more to rest around Owlan’s shoulders as he was held. “I could get you away from those books for more than an hour and I would get you sick on purpose and you’d earn the bed rest you deserve!” And just maybe if he was lucky, Owlan would actually eat his food before it got cold for once instead of putting it off until he was finished working.
“Come now-” He gestured with his head to the smaller hollow in the rock just a bit ahead. Their true destination that had been temporarily forgotten in favor of holding one another. Though he hated to pull from his warmth, he did in hopes that it would urge the older male to follow him.
Sharply, Owlan straightened, in utmost of amusement and tone bereft of any subtlety. “Well I will have you know,” He began, chortling and reassuring the hands that fumbled to secure his talisman away (The defensive creature-of-habit he tended to be toward it being touched— no less endearing), “I am a man of stature and say within the Academy walls. If the need be, I would not need to report to anyone, aside from myself.” Certainly he was aware of the lacking ferocity in his throat, with the way it’d clench up— like he was still learning just how gentle or how sharp to make his wit while trying to cut just deep enough for him to get beneath his skin. Just enough. The faded citrine of his gaze fixated on the hand leading him.
“If I were in your situation, I would be terribly worried about what punishment that would connotate. How dastardly you are, with your..” He’d hang on the word, while instead getting situated in the center of the enclave, sitting first on his knees and waiting for Horwell to follow suit into the wallside that he always tended to take to. To Owlan, being centralized gave him a more keen look forward, in case of the freak chance he would need to defend them— always thinking by the book, he mentally damned himself; yet this never changed. Into his spot, he shifted and sat, hands knitting tight over his thighs, “—With your sideways glances and subdued promises of scandal and mayhem.” He laughed quietly, knowing full well that he himself was not goddess-sent.
The convex end of their fluid conversation stream left the elder diminishing his laughter into a chuckle, and then resorting to have to cover his cheek with four fingers and rub away the warmth that permeated. Like a charm— “You could write books, you know. About endearments. I think you would do quite well— but I wouldn’t let you do it.” He cleared his throat and let his side wriggle into Horwell’s, hand slipping to cup over his knee no sooner had he gotten himself comfortable.
“I would be jealous.” He would admit before asked, “Because I appreciate your words far too much, and you know it. But it’s the thought that counts, right?” He could allow himself to be selfish, even just for a moment— it was a subject he held rather dear to his heart.
“You know I would make time for you, work or not, you simply need to be assertive is all.” Be it with words or actions.
If there had been one way to calm his breathing after that jog, this certainly was not that way.
Horwell froze, glancing down and following Owlan’s hands as they reached to feel him. His lips parted to gasp a breathy sigh, his toes curling within his sandals as slender fingers felt along the fabric of his coat, jostling the beaded necklace and pushing aside the sash. The light coloured uniform had felt much thinner right then than usual and instinctively the brown haired male leaned into his palms if even just slightly. For warmth, he would use in his defense.
“…Such a sweet young man, offering to keep such a—” what was the word he used? Oh yes “scandalous old man warm in such frigid weather!” His lips tugged into the most playful of smiles, a bit of pink tinging his cheeks and warming his flesh. “I would be a fool to deny such generosity, Instructor.” His own hands now felt along Owlan’s, thumbing over his knuckles down to his wrists to grab them gently and affectionately, to hold them in place.
“And should I fall ill, it is no bother to me.” Class was out of session after all, and there had always been the most darling of little birds to keep him company and pamper him any time he had become sick since childhood.
“Scandalous.” Owlan parroted the word dubiously, the usual stony appearance of his tired eyes cracked and shattered with the formation of an equally questionable grin. “You throw around that word one more time and you’ll end up held for indecency, sir.” Though, he had already done so for him, it’d make them both culprits in their trial farce, and he would happily be revered guilty as charged. The instant their bodies became within range— without fail— that was when they were no longer official coworkers.
There was the talisman now, he’d moved one hand an inch to the right beneath the loose, obscuring sash and there it lay. The prickling of golden feathers and daintily affixed metalwork. This caught his attention away from his partner just for a moment, to glance upon it and tenderly trace around the ridge of the ornament base. It was worn, as was his own now, as they both were getting; the memory and the significance causing him to reflect far too long and perhaps swallow his tongue mid-flirtation.
They had something special— Horwell and Owlan, did. Have. Have always had. Now was not so different from ten years prior, and more. Maybe now honest speculation and ingrained wisdom thrust upon him throughout the years quelled his rambunctiousness to a degree, but never too much to be unrecognizable— yet thankfully, through it all, Horwell remained unchanged. A true testament to time, a pristine example of happiness. Happiness that he was good at projecting.
“Nor I.” He insisted, hushed voice almost like a sigh with words integrated, “As you know I would not let you bear it alone.” Feather-light, he let his digits move slowly beneath the grip of his hands, then tethering and grappling to the ridge of his sash and around to the small of his back. “I will still try to prevent it, to save you discomfort.” Instead of a hand separation, it became a loose embrace, “I will pretend to be surprised if you play sick on me.” Just as he will pretend to be fussy about it, while brushing his hair and giving him tea like a proper housewife..
Or house-husband, as the instructor so insisted. Aliquando.
To his hips his hands went, shifting his weight onto one foot and cocking his head back just a little to look down at Owlan when he’d arrived at his side. Horwell tried to keep some look of cockiness but was literally unable to keep from smiling at the fact that he had just seen Owlan… dignified, the ‘mean’ teacher, thick-skinned Owlan…skipping across rocks in the lake as if he were a teen boy with nobody there to judge him. Horwell was knocked from his perch of cheekiness and distraction however, with a shove that nearly caused him to topple backwards into the water. He guffawed as he caught himself rather ungracefully on one knee.”Hey! You got a head staaart!” He whined, dusting the dirt stain from the front of his coat poorly before darting after his opponent.
The cave was where the light bounced off of the puddles and coloured rocks in both a beautiful and ominous way at the same time, where he could hear their combined breathing and chuckles echoing and where they had so loved to practice sword fighting with Eagus all those years ago. Horwell stopped just barely behind Owlan as they exited, being sure to mind his step in this place where there had only been thin and old bridges constructed by his very own childhood friends. “Seems—..aha, it seems like I’m the geezer then, doesn’t it?” Truthfully though, he could be called anything and still be happy right about then.
Predominantly the laughter came from his chest, rather than his throat, the leaping and bounding around like a pair of flying dutchmen— or youth Remlits, were this Horwell’s fantasy— diving to their finish line and guffawing at his secret victory with his fists balled, strained breaths not stopping his grinning for a moment. This was the most fun they had, those few shared moments alone they got; those unjudged instances they could shred the disguises they wore all day and just be themselves. Themselves. This sort of concept was so vastly different and coveted when you become an Instructor. Some just forget who they are entirely. But they didn’t, they wouldn’t.
“—Crotchety and old. I’m sure you will take up bird feeding on the porch soon enough. Have you suspenders under that coat of yours? Long Johns?” His hands unbound, and Owlan felt along the front of Horwell’s coat, just beneath the beads, and under the fabric of his shouldersash— no sign of any suspenders there, and his brow quirked. “Neither! What sort of old man are you? That is rather scandalous, you know.” It was obvious it was nothing more than an excuse, just to keep his hands form-fitted to the curve of his chest and memorizing the way he breathed. Yet still, he thought it rather clever, no less; obvious or not.
The vestiges of his qualms sooner catapulted themselves off of the ridge the instant he got within his vicinity, and Owlan sighed as they went. Goodbye, godspeed, until the morrow. But now belonged to freedom. Now they belonged freely.
“Are you certain that you won’t get sick out here?” He pursed his lips and tore his gaze from the below-shoulder flirtations, instead fixing properly on his partners. “Old jokes aside. Because you know that I am at liberty to keep you warm regardless of if you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I cannot be swayed otherwise.”
Just a small warning and apology for our lack of activity!
Horwell and I will be away until next week because of MAGfest, and won’t be able to actively RP. Sorry about that! ;; We’ve been kinda running around and getting ready for it. But we’ll be back really soon, promise! ♥ See you all then!
His lips pursed as he curiously looked over at the other in a way of silently asking if he was sure. One brow arched as his hand felt for Owlan’s arm, to grip the fabric of his sleeve and pull him toward the direction he had decided upon. “I’ll hold you to that promise I hope you know.” he said as they stopped right before the thick stones that were meant for jumping across submerged in deep water. Owlan likely knew just where they were headed already…the ledge with the poorly constructed bridges and the hollow in the stone behind the cave; where you could look out at the stars or clouds, yet still hear the water. They’d shared many memories there, and though the location was not quite their own private place anymore, it was still a place that many of the knights on patrol would not bother looking.
“Your health is fine!” Horwell released him and stepped rather gracefully across each stone rather than jumping as he’d always been blessed with height. He knew very well that Owlan had health problems, but maybe if he believed that he was fine then he would be fine forever. “So stop saying otherwise, unless you want everybody to think you an old man!” He called, his hands cupped around his mouth so Owlan could hear him from the other side of the stones.
“Then hold me to it, my word is good!” The elder cawed, a mock-defensive stance splayed across his form as his strides approached a halt at the bankside. He’d gathered their destination— or hoped, rather— as it was the furthest point from their tight-knit civilization. This would be where he went if he were the one leading this outing, after all, and the night had become so much quieter lately. It would be welcomed. So he gathered the fabric of his coat at the thigh for ease of maneuverability and stepped over each stone. He may not have been blessed with impressive height (As Horwell’s family had been rather notorious for being giants, he mused. All in the legs, no less!) but where he lacked, he made up for in grace and poise. There were no fumbles, this time, and neither of them would need picked out of the body of water. It was a good start.
His health had been a concern, before. It had been a concern his whole life, but Owlan had long since been one to defy odds and put his best face forward. His mother had fallen ill young and passed away before he reached five, there had been worry that he would end the same way— but seeing as how he was still walking at twenty-eight, and merely suffering from cold symptoms and slowly degenerating hearing, he could say he was pretty well-off on that front. Horwell had the right idea, and he would not worry him further with talk of it, as it was not important in the slightest. He approached his side and inhaled the sense of liberation that came from being across the banks, the only torch lighting the area around was by the massive tree— everything from henceforth would be reliant on celestial bodies.
“Old man..” His nose crinkled in distaste, moments before giving Horwell a playful shove with his forearm, “Don’t even get me started on that assumption. Old age will have to catch me before it can claim me!” And the challenge was on, his grin cracked and lift in his step giving him the first advantage, “Last to the ledge is a rickety geezer!”. It was either that or a ‘loftwings arse’, but he preferred to stay relevant while dashing ahead to the mouth of the cave.
It was as if breaking away just for a moment meant he could shed the callous shell that had been building up, without fail. The days may have gone by too quickly, but the light of vigor in him never went out. He’d give Horwell a hard time, yet!
Though this is not something I.. generally disclose, I will be turning 29 within the coming month.
Not too old, not too young, still humble enough to know I have much more wisdom to attain yet in the coming stretch of my life, nevertheless.
Horwell gave him a playful nudge as they parted. The brunette bowed slightly before passing through the held-open door. The damp grass soaked through the light fabric of his shoes just enough to startle and cause his toes to twitch. “Ah—I just wanted to walk, if that’s alright. We usually come across somewhere nice to sit, tonight will probably be no different.” Horwell paused, waiting until they were side by side once more before continuing to move.
“Wilt? Me? I certainly will not! I get outside plenty with the students… It’s you I worry about, if I may be honest for a moment.” His mouth turned into the smallest of frowns. “You’re nearly as pale as I am these days.” Not that Horwell was a shining example of fair-skinned or anything, but in comparison to the dark tan that Owlan had wore as a boy they were normally quite the contrast. “Has something been bothering you, Owlan?” He glanced down as their fingers brushed for a split second, only to instinctively pull his hand away a little.
Usually the end resulted in them ambling across the island’s inlet, hopping stones and sitting within or beside the place they used to hide most in their childhood. With scuffed knees and wet shoes from falling into the waterway, chortling and whispering about their find behind the waterfall; the best sitting place of them all. They were daring kids, it didn’t matter if they hid out there until people worried, because it was theirs. Or perhaps they would brave the sting of cold that clung to the metal boxes upon their fingertips and climb to the roof of Owlan’s old childhood home, now neglected and dusty from disuse and abandonment. They’d spent the years after his father’s death on that very roof, flat and accommodating, held fast like the sky would up and take them away someday, too.
This didn’t change, for them. There was a memory on every inch of the island, and they made more frequently. Again, he reminded himself that he just ‘didn’t get out enough’, as to be so silently sentimental wherever he looked when he did. But maybe it was just in Horwell’s company alone.
The decline in the dirt set them southwest at first, away from the abundance of population, and he’d let their feet take them to wherever they wanted to stop. Long strides and slow pace, with the lantern light catching them in bursts beneath, and occasionally his pinky catching the others, ever gently, in the most secretive of affections. To the untrained eye, they were normal men at personal distance. Normal, happy men. And they were. “The term, is all—” He began, shaking out his fascination and thoughts; these feelings alien due to repression, “Terms. They have gotten very demanding, and my health hasn’t been at it’s best, I guess. This is likely due to my inability to get outside, as I once did. Inhaling dust all day does more harm than help, I would guess.” Owlan cleared his throat and deepened his tone every slightly to reflect how disconcerting it was to weigh this all out.
“I’m not worrying you, am I? I have gotten in a bit over my head sometimes, but nothing I haven’t pulled through with. I’ll be alright.” He gave him a reassuring nod, “I promise you that.”