Dec 02, 2022 12:39 AM
We make no promises about finishing this before Winds of Winter comes out
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"Then I shall wait for you at the salle," he replies with a small smile.

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Zakary discharges his social obligations, bids his men a good night, and then catches up with Alisander.

"How are you, brother? We have not had time to talk in a while, you and I."

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"And we can talk later. For now, be on your guard."

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Translation: he's having feelings that he wants Zak's help processing and they are not ones he's allowed to express while they are in public. And the sword practice is just an excuse (although Zak is pretty sure at this point that Alis just actually loves seeing him in physically strenuous activities, though Alis would never admit such aloud).

Very well, they can spar. And Zak will predictably lose; Alis is the better swordsman of the two by far, one-on-one like this, and the last time in Zak's life he was able to consistently defeat his brother-in-arms was before Alis had come into his full adulthood - Zak is a year older, and held onto that advantage for as long as it lasted. What he does excel at is strategy and battlefield tactics, and that is one of the main reasons why he is the head of this insurgence.

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Once Zakary has found himself on the ground one too many times Alis clasps his arm to help lift him up and starts dusting himself. "Your technique needs work."

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"You have been saying that to me for years but I do not feel like more practice has helped with that."

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"That is defeatist attitude."

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"Fitting that you've defeated me, then, is it not?"

He starts walking towards the armoury to store his sword, with Alis on his heels.

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"Hm," is all he has to say to that. "You need to shave."

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"Do I? I'm not so sure, I think the beard suits me." And he winks at Alis as he says that.

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It is dark and they probably have no eavesdroppers, but Alisander still glares at Zakary for that, plausible deniability notwithstanding. Of course the asshole noticed Alis's appreciation. Of course. Whenever he thinks he's getting the hang of not showing his emotions Zakary destroys this illusion by seeing right through him.

"Let us get cleaned." And maybe he's not giving himself enough credit, here, because even though Zak seems completely unbothered by the suggestion Alis is certain a dozen different innuendos crossed his mind. But at least those would be too unsubtle for him to risk saying in public, so Alis is safe. For now.

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The baths are also public, and he has more self-control than he did when they were both young.

Alisander leaves first, and bids him good night, but once Zakary is done he finds his way to Alis's temporary chambers and knocks a specific way he'd recognise.

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A few seconds later Alis unlatches and opens the door, pulls Zak in, shuts it, and immediately presses him against a wall to kiss him as if he needs his mouth on Zakary's in order to breathe.

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They do not talk for the next while. Both of them want to make up for all the lost time they've spent apart preparing for this war - and at times fighting it.

Once they find themselves panting in exhaustion, lying naked in the enormous bed, Zakary says, "I hear you are to have a Northern wedding."

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Which makes Alisander immediately freeze. "Yes," he says, in a tightly measured voice. "With the lady Anavett."

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"She's pretty," Zak observes, a small smile playing on his lips.

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"Yes, as Brandon has told me several times at unreasonable length. This is irrelevant."

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"Is it? I don't know, I'm pretty, she's pretty, maybe you do actually -"

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He elbows Zak hard enough to send him coughing.

"Why are you bringing it up?

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After he's recovered he says, "Northern vows are a lot less strict than Southern ones -"

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Which earns him another elbowing. "Zakary Baratheon you cannot be thinking about whether we'll be allowed to fuck after I get married."

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"I'm not," he says, turning more serious. "You are. You were thinking it. About how this is going to change things between us. You'll have a duty to your wife, and your keep, and your House. And the whole North, really."

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Alis spends a while in silence, at that. Not really thinking about anything, just... feeling. He lifts his right arm to cover his eyes with the crook of his elbow and says, "The gods take you, Zakary, why are you always right about this stuff?"

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Zak turns to lie on his right side, propping his head up on his arm and looking at Alis. "Because I know you better than anyone else. Because I am and will forever be your brother. Because I love you."

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Alisander scoffs and lowers his arm to look at Zak again. "You are an idiot and will get us both killed. ...but I also love you."

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