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“Don Gabriel!”
In one quick stride Lorenzo is hugging him, body flush against the other man’s in excitement. It’d been too long. He could barely remember what Gabriel had looked like the day before, and now he doesn’t know how he could ever forget. His auburn hair was still the same, spilling down his shoulders rather than tied up as it always had been before. The same excitement was still ripe in his eyes, though worry lInés and exhaustion plagued his face. Lorenzo keeps his hands on Gabriel’s upper arms, disliking the idea of letting go of the man.
“What are you doing here?” Lorenzo asks, grinning.
Gabriel seems to take a moment, a deep breath as he considers where to start. Joy over seeing the man in front of him again distracted him even with how they’d left each other before.
He sits and listens to Gabriel’s plans about the death rods for as long as Gabriel chooses to speak. They would change the world as the two of them had always talked about before, it leaves him in awe. It’s refreshing to listen to him go on about his work and ideas and his views of the world again. After everything in the past years it was reassuring to know people like Gabriel still existed. Despite it being barely an hour, it feels like several of them before he finishes the lengthy explanation of the rods and what they could do with them. He only seems encouraged by Lorenzo’s excitement.
“I’ll bring it to the King.” Lorenzo says finally, with the first smile to grace his face in months.
Gabriel’s face splits into a grin. He wraps his arm around the other man, no care for any prying eyes. There was them and the rods and a small shot of hope, and that was all that mattered in the moment.

Even after the years with the King and his failed engagement with the man, Gabriel becomes a beacon of happInéss in Lorenzo’s life, just as his sons had. When his sons were whisked away or with the King - as scarce time Agustín spent with them - Gabriel always seemed to be at his side, for discussion of the rods or just for the company. His reputation was the farthest thing from his mind.
“If the Sahrans could relent to Iberia, they could - “
Lorenzo barely hears the rest of what Gabriel is saying, lost in his own trance.After Agustín had agreed to endorse and supply the death rods, Gabriel had only become more eager and ecstatic with his rambling. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to listen, only that it’d become difficult to keep up. Even during his first Season Gabriel had the effect of relaxing him into pure nothingness. He could only imagine what they would have turned into if they had eloped. Would they have flourished together, under his family’s surprised acceptance? Had enough children to fill their own estate as they grew old? How Ricardo and Antonio would turn out raised by them instead rather than in the palace with Agustín becomes an amusing idea to think about.
“Your Majesty? Are you listening?”
Lorenzo hears him then, gray eyes snapping up to look at De Mendosa. Gabriel’s fingers touch his jaw just as soon as he’s back into things. It’s pushed down anyway, taken into Lorenzo’s own as more of an act of paranoia than affection. Even with the adoration he held for the man still, there were rare moment where he was aware of of the Court’s potential reaction, and the rumors that would follow.
“Yes, darling. I promise you. Go on.”
The worry fades from Gabriel’s face gradually as he takes his hand back. He notices the name and it warms his heart, something to cling to, shreds of something gone. With De Mendosa, it was easy. The birds chirp in the distance while they sit and listen to them over their own chatter. They get to sit there undisturbed for hours other than the rare castle staff offering lemonade or wine, and Lorenzo finds himself at peace and in love.

Then Sofia De Vega dies. It’s sudden, with such sharp contrast from the hour before it nearly sends the King Consort into shock. A servant comes to them and Lorenzo is prepared to tell them no, we have not finished the wine, we are fine, when Gabriel is pulled away for test exercises. He keeps a smile about it, as he should. The death rods production had been going along nicely, a testing drill was the best option for them now. A symbol that it was still a favored plan in the King’s eyes, as much as Lorenzo found he detested Gabriel leaving.
“You are welcome to come, Your Majesty.” Gabriel says before leaving, eyes telling how much he desired it. He wants him to see, Lorenzo knows. To witness what they birthed into fruition together at it’s very start.
“As much as I would enjoy seeing, I’ve lacked in time with my husband enough.” Lorenzo tells him politely, plastic smile on his face.
Gabriel’s disappointment plain as day, but he attempts to collect himself. He says nothing but a simple ‘as you wish’ to him before taking a bow and leaving, and Lorenzo smiles to himself.

Before the hour passed Lorenzo sees him again, pale faced in comparison to his usual deep brown skin.His waistcoat is burnt and tattered down at the edges, face spasming with panic as he tried to gather himself. Agustín is yelling behind him and demanding to know what was going on in his kingdom. The concept terrified Lorenzo, as Agustín’s anger always did It’s all too tempting to hug him, ask him what had happened midst his panic and fix it with the position he was in before Lorenzo remembers that’s the reason why he can’t.
“Dona Sofia,” Gabriel chokes out eventually. “The rod - it destroyed her. Death and Life, Lorenzo, I -”
Lorenzo goes pale-faced. Between having already offended De Vega, and Gabriel’s own panic, and the King’s inevitable anger, he’s terrified. Like he was a child again he wants to wake up and realize it was a nightmare, Mateo shaking him awake from fear of the panic he saw in his brother, or beside Gabriel himself, like nothing in the past six years had existed.
“I never meant for this to happen.” Gabriel tells him.

There was no denying that he and Gabriel were to blame with all of their promotion of the death rods, and Agustín knew it. All in one the week after Sofia’s death became a spiral of misery, Lorenzo nearly speaking up to keep Agustín from executing Gabriel and losing Don Luis De Vega as a friend entirely. Ricardo and Antonio noticed the tension in both their fathers faces. Still, Lorenzo chooses not to speak to Gabriel for a week after Don Sofia’s death. For rumor’s sake and that of the scandal it was best to stay apart for then. He hoped he realized this, but one of Gabriel’s cornerstones was feeling before thinking.
So Lorenzo stays, shoves it back into the depths of his conscience and spends his time doting on his King.. The death rods are stalled until Gabriel can identify and fix the issue.
De Vega doesn’t speak to Lorenzo. When he does, it’s at his wife’s funeral, spitting words at him all venom and anger. Lorenzo can’t tell him he’s wrong to blame him, or to blame Gabriel. It seemed, to him, that he felt too little over it. Through the years had he really done so much that he couldn’t feel guilt about the death of an innocent woman? Of his friend’s wife? He and Luis had been close up until then, and yet now upon the loss Lorenzo only felt numb.
Lorenzo sits in the garden, quiet, staring in the distance, unsure of what to do next.

Autumn whisks by and Lorenzo hardly notices it’s passing. Gabriel and him speak eventually, returning to their habit of garden walks as the leaves start to fall and talks of the rods. Lorenzo is all content to leave Don Sofia’s death as it is, but Gabriel disagrees. Again and again he mentions he mentions her throughout conversations until Lorenzo is near ready to burst. De Mendosa stops whenever he notices, but the paranoia running through the Consort’s veins always stays afterwards.
The courier gives him a letter from De Mendosa, with his own wax seal provided by the King, and Lorenzo nearly faints there. His poetry was always magnificent. Lorenzo had thought so six years ago, and he’d only gotten better. Ink smudges and paints his fingerprints as he runs his hands down the letter so many times. Absorbing the words from it take him hours - all the blatancy of the love in it, and the affection Gabriel had always shown him. They couldn’t do a thing - he knew that, and Gabriel had to know the same. He doesn’t know how he could escape the King knowing even if Lorenzo wasn’t the King Consort himself. Still he stares at it, and wonders if he’d over analyzed.
The day afterwards, as they walk through the reds and pinks and yellow petals that now lay across the garden walkway stones, Lorenzo leans close to him until their shoulders touch, and Gabriel smiles.

He assumes he’s finally ruined it all when Gabriel misses tea. Even past the man becoming an unfortunate solace, reports on the newest development were needed for Agustín. Lorenzo sleeps unsoundly, tossing in his sleep as he dreams of if he were to ever even try with Gabriel. Agustín’s anger upon knowing, his own body lying mangled and broken on the floor. His own eyes dead and lifeless as punishment. Finally past midnight Gabriel comes knocking at his door, hand heavy smacking against the door with urgency. It’s the only thing to rack Lorenzo awake from the terror, shaking and not wanting to open it. It could be anyone from the guard to Agustín himself, and he didn’t want to deal with any of them.
“I’m coming!” he calls out, slugging his body to the door.
Gabriel, he found, was a worse surprise.
It’s still nice to see him so overjoyed, even with the fear of getting caught and the inappropriate assumptions that would follow.
“Lorenzo!” Gabriel shrieks, too loud for the time of day or where they were, even as he gathers himself. “Apologies, Your Majesty. I’d busied myself until now - I’d lost the time.”
Lorenzo goes to apologize until interrupted by Gabriel more. He rambles even further, telling him he won’t believe what they’ve accomplished and he has to tell him exactly right now. Agustín wouldn’t call for him now. If he would, he’d already be at his husband’s side. The image of Gabriel coming with such news and excitement and being ignored whilst he was with Agustín flashes in Lorenzo’s mind, of the disappointment in his face, and makes his stomach twist. He nods towards the sofa before walking to it himself. His excitement pales in comparison to Mendosa, or to quite anyone. His mind if preoccupied with fear, even more so when Gabriel takes his hands.
“Lorenzo,”
He only holds him for a moment before reaching into his jacket. Out comes a rod, covered in unrecognizable sigils and twisting with magic to it’s core. It looks dangerous to the touch, Lorenzo’s stomach churning as his hands wrap around it. He swears he can feel it vibrating, or see a purple glow radiating off of it. Gabriel - and Torres and Agustín, come to think of it - had told Lorenzo he had delicate hands, but he’s disagreed until then. Everything looked fragile in comparison to the rod, and he felt powerful holding it. His thin brown fingers wrapped around the deep black ebony of it and felt pure achievement like he never had before.
“Your Majesty,” Gabriel tells him, hands gesturing around the rod as if to express the splendor. “The first death rods of Iberia.”
A grin spreads across the man’s face as he lets in the excitement he’d been holding back for mere moments flow through. It makes the same split across Lorenzo’s face. He doesn’t meet the other man’s eyes until he’s grabbed closer, whisked into Gabriel’s chest with an arm wrapped around his shoulder.
“Don Gabriel - “ Lorenzo gasps out, and turns to hug the man fully. “I knew you could.”
Gabriel only pushes him off to look him in the eye, grin never fading from his face.
“We did it.” Gabriel puts his hand onto Lorenzo’s face. “I wouldn’t have done this without your help. Life and Death, Lorenzo, can you imagine if we’d worked together all these years? What we could’ve accomplished?”
Lorenzo doesn’t bother to tell him how it would’ve been nothing, how if he hadn’t married Agustín he wouldn’t have been able to help with anything. Instead he just smiles at him, touches his cheek and joins in the excitement.
“I remember my Season.” Lorenzo tells him. “You always could’ve done this.”
Gabriel quakes when he hears that. It finally gives them both pause from the excitement. There’s a sense of victory swimming deep in the Consort. Everything he’d worked for in the past six years - marrying the King, even his mistakes with Gabriel, all leading up to one sheer moment of bliss. Gabriel is kissing him moments later.

The taller man wraps an arm around Lorenzo’s slender frame and breathes in everything he is. His other hand cups the Consort’s face, thumb stroking down his neck. Lorenzo can’t help but wonder what that would feel like against an Adam’s apple. Gabriel had learned better since the last time they’d kissed. It’s the first thing Lorenzo notices, the very action making him try to dive into immediate nostalgia. But there’s nothing to grab onto in that, Gabriel desperate where he’d been soft and affectionate, tentative where he’d once been cool and confident. There’s nothing to distract Lorenzo from the potential consequences. The image of being strapped to the executioner’s stage flashes in his mind, of looking to his side to see Gabriel in the same light smiling back at him, of Agustín and Inés as a living corpse watching from above on their thrones -
“Stop - stop, stop.” Lorenzo rambles out. The look on Gabriel’s face as he’s shoved off is barely noticed, lost in the panic and confusion of the entire scenario. “We can’t.”
Gabriel’s face falls, subconsciously frowning and trying to save it. He takes Lorenzo’s hands, a desperate plea into bringing the other man back to him and making him stay. The panic was understandable - but fixable, in his mind. They could be careful, quiet, save themselves for nights like this when they could exist for each other and ignore everything outside of that very room. Things seem to go paler for him then. The color of the walls and the silk blankets on Lorenzo’s furniture seem lesser when he feels sick to even be in it. It’s not possible for him to not argue.
“Do you understand how rare it was for us to find each other? To speak as we do - to have such a bond like that?”
“We can’t - “ Lorenzo insists, eyes shut and voice shaking. “It’s not safe>/i>.”
Gabriel rambles to him, telling him the ways they could keep the secrets to each other and stay with each other, live with one another as much as they were able and stay. He tells him to imagine getting to lay with him on nights like this, windows open as the night air flows on them, rambling theories and ideas to each other as they do in the garden. Lorenzo keeps his eyes shut the whole time and resists the urge to lean into him once again.
“I cannot. You would - “
“Lorenzo - “
“I don’t want you.”
Gabriel stills.
“When I - “
He tries to argue about Lorenzo having kissed him back and how gleeful he seemed for a few moments after. It’s all lost in his throat. All useless. Lorenzo always seemed so sure in his decisions and with the follow through of them, regardless what they were. So he shuts his mouth and stares at the King Consort for a moment, unsure if it was fear or if he knew him less than he’d thought.
“I…apologize, Your Majesty. I’d misread your intentions.”
Lorenzo nods stiffly. The buttons on his coat are fastened back up as quick as possible as he gazes at Gabriel, air choked in his lungs again as it’d been years ago.
“Leave.” Lorenzo snaps. “If I’d wanted you now then I would’ve wanted you during my Season.”
De Mendosa wants to argue, but his mouth closes. Both of them roll through enough emotions to keep them distracted from each other, Lorenzo biting his tongue to keep from doing a thing, and Gabriel reconsidering what he knew of the man in front of him.

They don’t talk other than short conversations to discuss the rods for a month. Lorenzo is tense at every meeting, as if he were a doll to be posed and bended as wanted. He’d compared himself to such more than once over the month alone. Once, he invites him to tea, and De Mendosa’s rejection keeps him from doing anything else. They’re still cordial as often as they can. De Mendosa’s nature was always to be polite - if not without the occasional biting comment - even in situations like this. News of De Mendosa insulting him in Court once only shocks him for unprofessionalism. Nothing to influence how the death rods were looked enough - but enough to cause rumors throughout the crowd. Lorenzo keeps his mouth shut at meetings still.
Rumors had spread before of infidelity, but nothing solid enough to cause fear or Agustín to suspect. Never had it spread through enough circles. The best choice was to stay quiet. It would do little good to outright confront him about it or try to counter them himself, he knew. The Life Mages had grown to like him more after the production of the death rods, that much was true, and he couldn’t afford to risk any suspicion he now opposed them or wasn’t committed to them.
But it takes one rumor to turn into three to turn into six, and soon enough Lorenzo has eyes looking on him all throughout the Court.

He awakes, and things are in flames and there’s nothing for him to do. There’s enough temptation to let them engulf him and just burn. Everything would fade away. He’d be dead, and maybe everything from the past six years would shift back to the way they were as if he’d never been to Court and never spoken to anyone somehow. Ricardo and Antonio become his only motivation to move at all, only remembering that it would only lead the attackers to his sons minutes later.
Lorenzo stands there, in the middle of the field outside of his quarters, and listens to the chaos around him. The people who work at the castle scream as assassins chase them, flames lick up the walls of wooden doors, he thinks he feels the same going up his nightclothes. Lorenzo is yelled in the distance, as though in a dream, barely comprehensible until it’s near screaming behind him and arms wrap around him. Gabriel is against him a moment later with his hands on his arms. He shouts Lorenzo’s name and Lorenzo knows he’s doing so but replying seems like an impossibility, lost against him. Gabriel wipes the soot off of Lorenzo’s dark blue robe and tries to pull him further along down the path. A shovel smacks down towards a black figure to Lorenzo’s left. The crack of bone rips throughout his head like a bell and doesn’t stop even after it makes him regain his composure.
The stench of death and blood spread across the yard of the property he called home for so many years. Men and women he recognized - those he knew who could defend themselves, and those he knew could not. A squire he’d seen just the day before and one of the boy’s former nannies that Agustín had forced down to the kitchens after some minor offense he couldn’t remember now. A scream rips through Lorenzo’s throat. Even as it blasts through the air no one in the distance could hear him over the flames and the commotion. Gabriel’s hand is over his mouth in a second whispering shh by his ear until he quieted. Shaking, Lorenzo stays in the other man’s embrace, listening to his instructions and being guided towards the stables with his husband and the guard. Reality is shoved onto him when the handle of a knife is shoved into his palm, the whisper of it being from the assassin killed moments before and it slipping slick with blood between his fingers.
“Ricardo. Gabriel, Ricardo and - “
“Antonio are safe, Your Majesty.” Gabriel tells him as soft as he possibly can. “I’d gone by their quarters on my way here. I’d thought you’d be there.”
What minor relief that can give Lorenzo rushes over him. His fingernails dig into Gabriel’s arm as the fear of all of it still keeps him tense.
It’s what at least feels like a long trek before going to the stables. Agustín’s arms are wrapping around him before Lorenzo even processes the events of the past few minutes completely. Conversations of what to do next and who could possibly attack the palace of Iberia like this fade out against the background for him, as well as his husband’s anger. The vague notion of praise of De Mendosa is given for saving him before De Mendosa himself steps over to him with a wet rag. Hours and hours of fear and nothingness are brought back to Lorenzo in an instant and he wants Gabriel to carry him away. The cold water on his face does him wonders and he only realizes how much soot and dirt he had on his face until it was gone.
“This doesn’t change anything.” He whispers, and Gabriel frowns.
“I know.”

The situation reaches the peak of it’s tension when Tomás De Reyes comes. It was fearful enough being in Court without Tomás there - it had been Lorenzo who exposed Sahra involvement in the attack on the palace, it had been Lorenzo who’d told Agustín, and it had been Lorenzo that had lead to Agustín sending the action to kill Tomás’ husband. While the death rods are flourishing, he’d not spoken with Gabriel and lost enough favor with Agustín for it to be noticeable. Status felt unstable enough without his husband’s bastard in court. That was never to say the man wasn’t impressive, having made a life and name for himself in court in the past years. Despite all of it he looked clean and innocent. At the very least more so than himself, Lorenzo knew.
Dinner upon Tomás’ arrival is as pleasant as it can be. Agustín tosses a glare to the occasional woman or man fresh to the Court, smiling and making them swoon just as easily. It irritates Lorenzo to no end. Overall the King’s gaze is still focused on his half-son, asking for details of his journeys and accomplishments. Gabriel sits across and a few seats to the left from Lorenzo, and both of them notice the other looking, as much as either of them try to not.
“I’d like to make a toast,” Agustín announces, standing up from his seat.
Dread fills the King Consort and it’s somehow reassuring to see the same feeling displayed on De Vega’s face across from him. Lorenzo nods to him, gray eyes bugging out in fear as the wine sloshes from his husband’s cup and onto the table. The very decision making grows overwhelming for both, De Vega attempting to stand up from his seat just as Lorenzo places a hand on his royal husband’s arm.
“Darling - “
“Would you dare?”
Agustín’s challenge has no affection in it, the words spitting out towards him all poison and anger, as if he’d never met Lorenzo at all. He glares daggers down at the smaller man until Lorenzo falls back in his seat. In the distance Gabriel shifts in his seat, obviously eager to come forwards and save Lorenzo from himself as everything falls to piece. The very nature of his personality and their relationship had been such. A look is thrown his way just as he comes to his senses, and neither of them send a glance to each other again.
De Vega takes the opportunity to leap and place a hand on the King’s arm, whispering words of comfort and attempting to guide him back further into the castle. Attempts to join them prove futile, De Vega waving Lorenzo back to the table as he took care of the King. Antagonistic as they now where, Lorenzo found he trusted him with matters in regards to Agustín.
Tomás was deserving of tribute, or at the very least a nod towards his achievements and presents in the palace. It was almost as if Agustín hadn’t made him watch his husband die from the way Tomás walked around the room. Praise showered upon him and taken pleasantly between Agustín and he - and they’d both pretend nothing had happened. After pulling away from Gabriel so Agustín and no one else in the Court would lay a hand on him, Lorenzo can’t imagine being so calm in it. Whether that was proof of what life in Court did for a man or what sort of man Tomás was, he’s unsure. Chat goes back to normal in the court, bringing as much relief to the Consort as it could.
Noticeably enough, Tomás is nearly as tall has his royal father, towering a head or so over Lorenzo as he speaks to him. De Vargas and Fernandez stand at either side of him, drinking wine and laughing at one thing or another Tomás had said. It makes Lorenzo all the more tense, and all the more unsure of who Tomás was. Fear racked Mateo’s voice as he told him of rumors of his affair with Gabriel in such certainty that it was the pair now standing before him with his step-son. Swallowing his pride, Lorenzo takes a step towards them regardless. The deep blue of Tomás’ eyes make him look crazed - all determination and curiosity as his gazes shifts to Lorenzo with a smile. Agustín had provided him with many pleasures when he came home to Iberia. It was needed, with all of Tomás’ things burned in Sahra along with his husband. His tunic reminded him of the deep green of the forests he and Agustín had hunted in. De Vargas and Fernandez seem to pale in comparison not due to their dressings, simply because of the pure oddity of Tomás in comparison. Eyes the same shape as his father’s but too big for his skull, build lean but tall, smile too thin to cause anything but nervousness towards whoever it was directed. Lorenzo doesn’t remember him having been so unsettling during his Season.
“Your Majesty,” Tomás starts, taking a step back simply to bow towards Lorenzo.
Lorenzo’s fingers wrap around his wine glass as he speaks, nodding as the other man bowed before him.
“You’ve grown in the last winters.” Lorenzo tells him. “A perfect picture of your father, almost.”
Tomás smiles at him and looks down to his feet.
“I suppose I should take that as flattery from his husband?”
It’s barely a few seconds of chance for Lorenzo to respond before Tomás has his jaw in his hands. Soft fingers go down along his jawline, thumb brushing over Lorenzo’s pink lips as Tomás seems to take him in. The look could only parallel his father when finally succeeding in a hunt, holding the animals corpse in his hand as a prize.
“Look into my eyes. Tell me you’re mine.” Tomás says, and Lorenzo’s eyes fall shut.
Everything falls into a soft paleness then. They aren’t at Court, they aren’t with witnesses other than De Vargas and Fernandez, who simply stare. Lorenzo is standing in Tomás’ arms and weak to his touch, lost in it. A feeling of safeness he hadn’t felt since a child back on his family’s farm - a sheer fantasy.
“Yours.” As the words fall from Lorenzo’s mouth, Tomás grins. “Yours, yours. I swear, Tomás.”
Like a perfect paradise Tomás’ presses his lips to Lorenzo’s cheeks before backing away. Even as he feels his hand wrap around his, the King Consort is unable to do anything. Not even to look. He listens to the sweet whispers and affections as Tomás tells him to tell him all the secrets he has, to trust and believe in him. He does. Why wouldn’t he?
Lorenzo delays answering as he tries to think of any reason or any time where he wouldn’t devote himself to the man in front of him.
“Gabriel De Mendosa - I’ve had an affair with him. I always have.”
The false truth to the words is the only thing that makes Lorenzo be conscious of the words he’s speaking. No, no. He’d devoted so much to the fact he had no affair with Gabriel. He hadn’t, he hadn’t - he would’ve remembered every bit of it.
This seemingly doesn’t matter as a grin spreads across Tomás’ face. Rather than do anything else he shares presuming victory with his partners, gesturing towards Lorenzo as if it’d all been some great gag he’d put no effort into. As if Lorenzo simply told him. Had he? No. If anything was sure, Lorenzo knows he hadn’t. What little he knew of mind control magic was limited yet the very idea of Tomás’ knowing anything more made him nauseous.
Amazing!” Tomás’ cheers as loud as he can without attracting an audience from the dinner from the dark corner they were in. “You little whore - of course those rumors were true.”
There’s no argument to be had over rumors with Lorenzo’s head pounding and the uncertainty of what had even been done to him. Even if he gathered himself quickly enough, Tomás’ hand touches his face again.
“You’ll marry me.” The declaration would have sent Lorenzo into shock, had he not felt so slow and dizzy already. Tomás, still, seems so confident as he rambles on. “My father is weak. You should know that better than anyone. The throne will befall me.”
He nearly purrs as he speaks. Victory was yet to be had yet the pleasure of such still laces his voice. A hand reaches out to touch Lorenzo’s chest and it amazes both of them when he gathers the self awareness to pull back. A simple step back feels like a journey with Tomás’ clouding his head and the level of panic below that. Tomás continues his tale of Lorenzo’s son taking the throne all while the other man is in a daze, lost to his own customs and anxiety.
Afterwards, as Lorenzo claws himself forward to his aunt and uncle, he vomits in the hallway.

Sobs choke out of his throat as he’s curled up on Aunt Leonor’s chaise. It’s like he’s a child again, Uncle Pedro bandaging his sores from playing and reassuring him all would be fine, it would pass. Pedro was much more convincing when he was a that young.
“Lorenzo,” Aunt Leonor is barely heard through his tears, but he forces himself to look into her eyes.
“He doesn’t know anything, Leonor. If he had answers don’t you think we would have had them at this point?”
“De Reyes’ took his mind, and you don’t think that could have any effect on his memory as it came back?”
There had never been a time where Lorenzo wanted to hear his aunt and uncle snap at each other less. Everything in the room still felt distant from his relatives to the burgundy rug on the floor. Quietly, he turns his face back into the chaise and hopes to ignore it all. If that were possible anymore. Leonor interrupts such anyway, a hand on Lorenzo’s jaw in the same place Tomás had touched it that makes Lorenzo jump as if he’d woken from a nightmare.
“Darling?” Leonor calls to him, a ghost, and Lorenzo feels genuine concern from his aunt for the first time in so many years. “Why would he want to marry you? What purpose would that serve him? He could have anyone. Not that you aren’t valuable, but I - “
“He thinks it will get me to come to his side.”
Even as he says it Lorenzo isn’t sure of it. If Agustín was no issue to get rid of, he sees no purpose as to how he’d be relevant. Nothing made more than a simple half-sense, pieces always missing as much as he misunderstood Tomás more and more. It’s a small relief when Uncle Pedro points out such issues to his aunt.
“He must be sterile.” Leonor announces.
The pieces connect together in Lorenzo’s head. Leonor doesn’t have to say it for both men before her to get it. It only makes either of them feel ashamed they hadn’t thought of it before. Life Magic taking it’s toll on Tomás seemed so likely now, though Lorenzo can’t tell if it’s out of a desperate need for hope or not.
“It won’t matter.” Lorenzo tells them.
He rises from the chaise to stare out through the window. The snowflakes fall down on Aunt Leonor’s lawn, a fresh winter for them all. Nurses back at home used to always tell him horror tales of men freezing an ice and dying in the wilderness, never to be found. Lorenzo can only picture himself then.
“You hadn’t seen how determined he was, Aunt Leonor.” Lorenzo pauses. “I fear he will have exactly what he pleases.”
A sharp pain shoots through his cheek in sync with the sound of a slap, and he simply sighs. Even inches shorter than him Aunt Leonor tried so often to appear intimidating.
“If we have managed to teach you a single thing, It was to never give up hope. Not like this.”
Lorenzo stares at her blankly
“He could have me executed at any moment with what he knows, Auntie, please. Get out of the city.”
Aunt Leonor’s face goes pale.
“What did you tell him?”

The eye drops run the Castillos a fortune not their own. Lorenzo can feel his aunt’s eyes on him as he spills a sum of money onto the table towards Ramona. It was never prideful how he’d accumulated wealth, but that wasn’t a matter for him now. It’d almost become funny to him now how advantageous his position had become in dealing with issues revolving around and caused by it. Purchasing eye drops to help him identify those mind controlled seemed like the peak of it.
His first discovery is Agustín himself.
He thinks about Mateo under mind control the entire journey to go see him. His baby brother - so soft, fragile, too kind to have made it through Court with anyone but Felix, possessed by that man. Ramona had simply told him to look each suspected person in the eye. Never had he felt more of a sense of relief and contentedness than when Mateo as clear and safe.
Learning Gabriel was took a very close second. Fear radiated off of the King Consort like a plague and Gabriel had always known how to read him too well. It’d been too long since they’d spoke for it to not come off as odd to begin with. So even with the corpse-like appearance he sees in Lorenzo, face pale and bags deep under his eyes, he simply places a hand on Lorenzo’s arm.
Gabriel had always been too good of a man to do anything less than help, even when they both knew of the tension and hatred Gabriel held for him as he pushed him away. There would always be sentiment.

It’s Pedro’s idea all together to cure Tomás’ lackeys, to see how much they could turn them against him. In the end it’s futile - all efforts are. Their first and only capture, a small man named Amadeo, refuses to do anything to Tomás’ and rambles on his own. Mind control had broken him, leaving him a shell of a man, and Lorenzo isn’t sure if it’s a direct effect or sheer incompetency of the man from the impression he’d given. Aunt Leonor had never been anything but determined, however, still spitting ideas and theories into the wind as Ricardo and Antonio played. Lorenzo barely listens. Yet Gabriel’s name comes up through the mist, and he snaps back to glare at his aunt. Too many he’d cared for were in danger as is, he could barely see the point in involving Gabriel. As he says this, Leonor’s face stills.
“So you do care for him.”
“Yes.”
She seems to understand it. Nothing had happened still, and it’s clear. Instead, the woman simply sinks into a chair. “So what do we do?” she asks, so full of fear and paranoia. It makes Lorenzo’s body sick with conflict.
“Nothing.” He says, and Leonor sighs.

“You’re not my real father!” Ricardo hisses, toy tossed forward towards his father.
It hits Agustín right in the knee. Such familiar eyes now taken far away glare up at Lorenzo as he pretends not to know a thing, smiling at him gently. Children say the funniest things.
Even as the topic fades and Lorenzo is far from the room, it’s not over. Nothing in the Court is truly over, and even with the stress of Tomás he continues reminding himself that he should know that.Gray eyes scan the room for anything to fight with as if any of it was physical. Deep down, he wishes it was. Mateo’s face only shows sympathy when he comes in and sees him. Where Lorenzo’s face was sunken in and pale Mateo was bright and lively, as always was each of their natures in personality. A hand touches Lorenzo’s face and he sighs until he runs out of breath. Mother had always told them to breathe deep and all would go away, as silly as either brother found it now. Lorenzo doesn’t disturb him still, letting his younger brother run his hands down his cheek and care for him even with his doubt of it having any effects.
He hated red. He hated it, hated the dark crimson floors he stood on. Agustín had chosen the color as symbolism of his hunting when it was meant to be a trophy room that had never happened, and Lorenzo tried not to enter the room for the very purpose. In contrast to Lorenzo’s realism and lack of innocence over the years Mateo had never lost either, resulting in the suggestions revolving Gabriel helping even as he tells him of further rumors of their affair.
“They think I’d betray my husband! During the boy’s conception!”
Lorenzo points it out again, nearly mirroring Mateo’s words from mere seconds ago. He scrambles for more arguments but Lorenzo doesn’t hear a single word of it. For all of him and Gabriel’s pleasures, they’d only laid together once, and that having been so many years ago made his children’s conceptions impossible. Ricardo and Antonio were, in every right, to Lorenzo’s great chagrin, Agustín’s by blood. The same blonde tuft of hair covered their head to match the shape of his eyes. Antonio had even gotten the same curve in his face, Ricardo the smile Lorenzo hadn’t seen in so long.
Would the rumors lead Agustín’s rage to Gabriel himself? Had he heard them at all?
The threat of Tomás we clear, still: they will all burn down with him.

“How awful,” a voice smooth as silk cuts through the air and shoots tension through Lorenzo’s body. “And where your dear husband could hear? Children always seem to cause such issue, I’m almost glad I’ve fathered none of my own.”
Mateo stares just as his elder brother does. Where Mateo looks fearful, Lorenzo displays pure anger, glaring at Tomás with daggers in his eyes as he tries not to lash out at the man. Everything in the past years had been too hard-won and he’d sacrificed too much for a bastard to take it from him. He knew a spell or two - so did he and Mateo. To be stuck in such a position by a man like Tomás after he’d done so many sins of his own to get where he was, it seemed almost unfair. Mateo seems to notice the anger in his brother’s features and swallows his pride, stepping up to Tomás.
“You have no proof of anything of his Majesty and De Men-”
“Since when has my dear father the King cared for proof?”
They looked so different next to each other. Mateo was short whilst Tomás towered above both brothers, Tomás’ skin ivory where Mateo’s was a deep brown. Even their clothes seemed opposite, Mateo having always favored comfort over making first impressions where Tomás’ goal for then was cementing his reputation as much as possible in such a short time.
Lorenzo’s paranoia sets in as Tomás bites back at his younger brother. After the debacle with Lucio De Vega’s attempted affair with his dear husband, their marriage hadn’t been where he’d prefer. Tomás had taken Agustín’s mind before he could even do a thing about it. Playing it all out in his head was all too simple. He was sure Tomás’ knew that. He would burn, as would his children, swords through the chest if not worse. With his own mind and without Tomás’ influence Agustín might had simply forced Lorenzo to see his children smothered and family shot for something as outrageous as an affair, and he couldn’t think of what he’d do now. Tomás’ takes Lorenzo’s hand as he’s frozen in place. Green flashes in the corner of Lorenzo’s eyes before an emerald ring is pressed into the palm of his hand.
“You’d best consider my proposal whilst I’m willing.”
He leaves as quick as he’d come in, and Mateo looks sick.
Over the years he’d become accustomed to Aunt Leonor’s yelling. Even then with the outrage and terror in his aunt’s voice it was all noise in the background to Lorenzo. He was sure of this. There was no other way to keep them safe - if the plan were to pan out correctly. Their only option entailed risk. His eldest son would get the throne, his family would remain in power and wealthy to support them through generations. Even if he were to die, it would be worth it, with his family in the palace or leagues away from it. Overthrowing Agustín and his son was the only option for them.
“You think you have any chance of taking over Agustín’s kingdom? Agustín’s army? We’ve not raised you this stupid, Lorenzo!”
Uncle Pedro is calmer in his arguments, always the diplomat albeit unsubtle in his desires behind said diplomacy. Lorenzo doesn’t listen to those arguments either. Mateo’s lack of opinion is the surprising thing to him. With his brother’s own family he expected some degree of protest, or at the very least fear. Whether it was better than the dead silence Mateo was giving him he was unsure. Only when Aunt Leonor requests he tell his brother what an idiotic plan he has does Mateo speak at all. Gathering himself, he leans towards Lorenzo and clears his throat, blue eyes sleep deprived and sad.
“How do you plan to combat Agustín’s army?” he asks, and Aunt Leonor gawks.
“Gabriel.” Lorenzo tells him, immediately before his Aunt can say a thing in protest.
Mateo mulls this over for a second and Lorenzo can almost see it. The image of death rods used against the very King that funded them rolling over in his head, the image of what were to happen if they were to succeed, and if they were to fail. It feels like a lifetime before he speaks.
“I’ll send Felix and Rosa over to Felix’s mother’s estate - Rosa has been wanting to go back for months. Perhaps it will keep them from being implicated.”
“Mateo - “
“I’m with you.”

Lorenzo is met with wide eyes and confusion when he meets Gabriel in the garden of his family’s estate. There’s only so many places they could speak privately, and so little time. All of the chaos was almost comforting in a sense. Once again it was the Castillos against the Court, Lorenzo at the center of it, and Gabriel at his side. There’s a hollow feeling in his chest that hadn’t been there before, the Court and the shine and the people no longer amazing him as they had at sixteen.
The lack of sleep had made him daze off, thinking of his first year there and staring at a lily.
“Lorenzo,” Gabriel calls out to him, hand gently on his shoulder. “Why did you summon me here?”
The ice in his voice doesn’t go unnoticed, and Lorenzo doesn’t feel any anger towards it. What affection and offers of reconciliations Lorenzo had been offered he’d shunned. Gabriel hated him, he could see it in his eyes. Not that a man like Gabriel never looked particularly angry upon feeling such, he was too much of a gentleman to ever do so. Instead all of the kindness he had looked at you with before was missing, the warmth to him gone. You no longer had the safe feeling you’d get just by existing around him, and he blended into every reaction with every other person in the background. It’s an odd way to see him, in Lorenzo’s eyes.
“I want to take Iberia from Agustín.” He says bluntly, and Gabriel stares at him for a moment.
“You - “ Gabriel starts. He runs a hand over his face, trying to comprehend the other man’s intentions. “Why would you think to do that?”
Lorenzo represses the pang of hurt that comes from the rejection and shock, despite knowing what a ridiculous concept it was at first. But they had always encouraged each others ideas and theories no matter how silly or far-fetched that it makes Lorenzo pause for a moment. Everything is different in reality, he has to remind himself. In one long ramble he tells Gabriel of his plan to take the death rods and put them in the hands of the commoners, for the commoners to fight against their corrupt king and the king’s son. Gabriel looks intrigued in some areas - namely those which mention freedom for the people, and the production of the rods themselves - and frowns in others. He had to think the worst of him, Lorenzo knew that. There was no reason for him not to despise him. Affection still shInés through Gabriel’s eyes as Lorenzo tells him of Tomás, of the threats and the control over people.
De Mendosa finds himself having to put effort into not looking touched when Lorenzo mentions having been relieved to find Tomás’ hadn’t touched his mind. It still shows in his tired and aged face.
They’d both aged. Both their expressions were plagued with worry lInés and Lorenzo had lost color in his face where Gabriel was still vibrant and alive. Their attire didn’t match each other’s anymore, not that it’d ever been too close. Gabriel had never put real effort into dressing his status, but now Lorenzo was laden in jewels down his seams and they both knew the difference now.
“What’s the purpose in sacrificing people so power can shift from one untrustworthy man to another?” Gabriel asks.
The words fall off his tongue as casually as breathing but they make Lorenzo still. He’d only accepted Gabriel’s hatred because of never having dealt with it personally. To hear such things come from the man who’d rambled sweet affections to him months before, begging him to listen and insisting they were it, they were fate even, made the entire situation feel all the more heavier.
“People will die for less if Tomás takes the reigns.” Lorenzo argues. “My husband will die. Then Tomás will take the throne, and me to marry, or kill my children. I’d have no choice. If I were to take the throne I could change how Iberia works, Gabriel. Do you remember when we’d talked about how to implement death rods into the security of villages? I would have the power to do that!”
Gabriel scoffs as he speaks, in disbelief, and breaks eye contact with the man. Lorenzo speaks further still, tone growing more desperate.
“I’d never be so low as to bait you, Don Gabriel. I can make things better with your help here and after. You haven’t seen Tomás, Gabriel. He grabs for leverage and all he’s gathered is me and my children. It’s all he needs.”
Gabriel seems to consider it, rolling over the aspects of each issue in his head. While having death rods in towns could cause issues, it would cut down on the crime per region. He and Lorenzo had talked about the safety regulations and how to implement such an idea smoothly at length one afternoon. But for people to die to get the rods out and Lorenzo on the throne - the idea made him nauseous.
He runs a hand through his hair before looking at Lorenzo and speaking.
“I will help Iberia, not you.” He begins. “Neither your husband nor his son have been nor will be competent to run the country. You are indebted to me from this, yes?”
Slowly, Lorenzo nods. The gaze between the men is broken again as Gabriel stares at a violet flower by his knee, running his thumb down the petal.
“Iberia’s nobility cannot be ruled by you. Not by any one monarch. There must be no executions by one person’s petty wish. If I and my colleagues write an agreement - a writ, more so - claiming such, that they must be judged by their peers, you would agree?”
The purple flower is plucked from it’s stem. The small crack makes Lorenzo jump in his skin even then, and he curses silently at Tomás’ for driving him to such small fears and paranoia. A writ was no surprise, no more than the general condition for his help was. It would have been more shocking had he asked for nothing. Such an idea wasn’t horrible - the opposite, to Lorenzo. Another topic Gabriel had gone on about at length. He’d agreed with him then, as he does now.
“Anything you wish.” Lorenzo tells him, and he means it sincerely.
He can see Gabriel attempting not to look shocked at such an easy agreement. Lorenzo stares at him without realizing he had, eyes staring up at him as he tries to take in the man again. Their relationship had shifted so many times but he’d never managed to look at him with anyone but the utter awe and affection he stared at him with now. As he gathers his mental state together Lorenzo reaches out, plucking the violet from Gabriel’s hand and twisting it between his fingers. Dew spreads across his fingers as he rips the stem apart. It nearly makes Gabriel ask if he’s alright, seeing the man more broken than he had before.
Lorenzo looks up at Gabriel and, ever so hesitantly, leans up on his toes and kisses him. So chaste and Lorenzo still finds himself desperate. Gabriel’s kiss tasted like morning breath and cheap wine he could only presume was from the night before. He places a hand before Gabriel can do a thing, and tries to stay as long as possible. Blue, he thinks as Gabriel touches the deep navy fabric of his waistcoat. Gabriel had always loved blue.
He’d kill for this man. In that moment, with the small hours of sleep he had, he couldn’t get himself to remember if he hadn’t already. Through the years Gabriel had taken him away from family and from the Court - simply made him himself again, and Lorenzo loved acting so in the short scraps of his life where he had the luxury of it. Anything to keep the man safe, alive, even throughout this revolution.
He wants to sign the writ for him nearly more than anything else. There would have to be one thing he could do for him with the wreck he’d made of the man’s life - the death rods weren’t enough. He’d stalled that for him and caused issues every step of the way. He needed the writ, and Lorenzo needed to sign it. In truth, he thought he’d be dead when the time came.

Lorenzo hardly sleeps the night after speaking to Gabriel in sync with every night since Tomás had come to Court. His quarters away from the King were decorated with the fInést things possible - jewels from Sahra and gold from everywhere else, silk drapes a rich plum color to match the deep green sofa. A bear rug lie on the floorboards that Lorenzo used to enjoy imagining the life of before it’d been killed. When he’d first married Agustín it’d left him in such awe that a single thing in the room could belong to him.
“All for you.” Agustín had told him. “And only for you.”
The thought of his aunt and uncle’s estate had become a much more comforting thought than his own quarters now. His family’s farm, even. Agustín had allowed him to go thrice since their engagement. Once to father his things, once for his younger brother’s birthday, and once when Lorenzo was homesick and had enchanted him just enough. For a moment he wonders where Gabriel lays his head at night, and how it would feel to do the same before he lets the concept slip from his mind.
Iberia’s palace made him feel sick now. What safety he had there was stripped from him, and now he only felt like a wounded animal knowing it would get eaten. His family was safe at the estate, yet still felt leagues away. Ricardo and Antonio were with him still, albeit how to get them away from the castle safely when Gabriel and he launched their plan into motion he was unsure.
He pulls Antonio into his lap, mussing up the boy’s blonde hair. The child giggles, and it makes a green spread across his father’s face. Everything would be for them, everything he does, everything he ever would do. Were they old enough to remember him if he would die today? He hoped that they’d have even the vaguest memories. Anything but them being left with only a reputation and rumors of him and his death to know him bye. If the revolution as a whole were to fail than they would know him even worse. Their beloved father, who’d gotten their entire family killed in such a pointless grab for power. Tomás would control them like marionettes for as long as he lived.

A heavy knock on the door nearly sends him into a flying panic. Even with his son on his hip he reaches for the knife on his thigh, hidden under his nightclothes. It’d been a habit to keep it under his pillow since before he’d even come to Court, though he never thought he’d use it until now.
“Come in.” He calls out, and attempts to sound as put together as possible.
Three guards flow into the room expressionless and charging towards him. As Lorenzo puts his son to the side to deal with them it only gives them the chance to grab his upper arms, two doing so as the other stood behind him. It takes all the resistance he can not to lash out at them immediately, knife at their throats even as he knows they’d fail.
Agustín had taken him once like this before. All by surprise he’d wanted to pretend Lorenzo was a thieving outlaw attempting to seduce his way out of prison, only to be displeased when Lorenzo hadn’t immediately caught on. Gabriel wouldn’t rat him out. Uncle Pedro might have if it would save himself - but he wasn’t so sure when it came to the rest of his family. Aunt Leonor only cared about the safety of her family and could keep him from it entirely.
“Let go of me.”
The tone of his voice is desperate, but he’s ignored by the seemingly animated guards as he’s dragged off. In his nightclothes it’s all the more humiliating and he prepares for it as they leave his quarters, yet the guards take specific routes for no one to see them as they went to the throne room.
“Ricardo and Antonio need to be fed and dressed. They don’t let the nanny do it! They will - “
The booming sound of the doors to the throne room opening cut off his speech and he’s thrown onto the red marble floors of the throne room. Blunt force of the floor shoots pain through his arms as he leverages himself to keep his face from hitting the ground. The cutting room floor - thats what the Court had come to call it. The red cracks in the marble paralelling blood so close, and Juanita and Queen Consort Inés having both faced their deaths here.
Lorenzo nearly vomits on the floor.
Early morning sun shInés down on him through the tall windows that covered the wall. He can almost hear the birds chirping. There’s such a desperate want to, to sit and listen and feel the sun on his face as he holds Gabriel’s hands and plans further things for the rods. Instead, it takes all of his power to look up at the throne.
Agustín sits there, not himself, but still laden in all the extravagant clothes Agustín would wear for such an event. Tomás stands beside him and grins. While his attempts to look subtle were no longer needed he evidently saw no need to cover himself in the riches his father had, instead taking a few jewels to his fingers and rich colors in his clothing and leaving it at that. Don Luis De Vega was there too, but didn’t seem mind controlled in the least, exhibiting no behaviors Lorenzo had noticed was a pattern between those taken. He supposes De Vega hadn’t needed to be. Everything for Iberia for such a man, and after Sofia’s death, everything against the Castillos he once respected.
Lorenzo was below them. He knew it, Tomás knew it, the few scarce people that made for witnesses in the room knew it. The guards still stood tall above him and made him paranoid to even attempt standing. So he sits instead, small and pathetic, down on the marble floor as he looks up to beg his husband long lost to him.
“Stand.” Agustín commands, voice booming through the room.
Ever so hesitantly Lorenzo does, guards still behind him. There is no love or affection in his husband’s voice anymore. There hadn’t been for years, but this wasn’t his husband now. In the oddest sense he longed to hear his true husband’s voice now, even if for a last time, even if it was to condemn him.
“You stand accused of attempting to launch an assassination attempt on my son and your step-son, Tomás De Reyes.”
“I - “ Lorenzo starts, and stops just as quickly.
“As well as an attempt to launch such an attempt against myself in a mutinous plot to take Iberia for your own selfish purposes.”
All color drains from Lorenzo’s face as a grin spreads across Tomás’. There was no way out of it. His only plan had failed, stupidly lost to Tomás’ spies or the king’s own and now under Tomás’ control. However it had been simply didn’t matter now. The long pause between King Agustín’s announcement and Lorenzo’s begging, Lorenzo himself turning the end hems of his nightclothes between his fingers in anxiety.
“Darling,” he begins, forcing a light smile on his expression. “We have been married for years. Seven coming in a few months, don’t you remember? I’ve already been planning the celebration for months, as have you. Why would I ever launch an attack against you?”
Charm and affection had always won his way out of any trouble with Agustín, though he had no idea how to woo his husband out of anger when his husband wasn’t his own. The attempt might have not even worked while Agustín was himself. Lorenzo knew better than anyone, except possibly Inés, that there was no way to drag anger out of Agustín once he passed a certain line. It takes all his power not to bitterly laugh when he remembers he triggered such anger so Inés could be sentenced to death.
Tomás leans down towards his father and whispers in his ear. Lorenzo almost yells at them to stop, launch off one final effort to expose Tomás’ deeds. Everyone in the room aside from De Vega could be under Tomás’ control. He thought he would die, and now couldn’t argue. Too many things ramble through his head - whether or not Gabriel would lead off the mutiny without him, whether or not his sons would still have their rightful chances for the Iberian Throne, whether or not Mateo and his family would be killed along with them. It’s what makes him snap his head back up, scanning the room for his younger brother. He couldn’t watch. Mateo had never found hiding his feelings easy, once again evidence of being guided through Court life by his husband and by extension his husband’s influence. He would scream, he would cry,a nd he would get the entire family killed if that wasn’t the ending of Lorenzo’s day as is.
Then he sees his sons, small and panicked, dragged in by their arms into the room by two more guards, whining and crying for their fathers and nanny.
“They’re children!” Lorenzo shrieks back at his husband, back at Tomás with as much anger as he can manage. “You cannot possibly think they could plan any sort of mutiny!”
Tomás simply grins back at him, hands crossing in front of his chest as he looks down at the man.
“They are simply here to watch, Your Majesty.”
The patronization in Tomás’ voice over the words Your Majesty makes Lorenzo want to claw at him even more - to leave him to shreds until he was representative of the cowardly snake he was. He tries to reach out to his sons as they look at him, whining out a call to their father, only to be held back by guards. Lorenzo hisses at him, staring out at his children and softly promising them it would be alright. He tries to convince himself everything would be fine and perfect and tomorrow they would go for a picnic under the big tree at Grandma Leonor and Grandpa Pedro’s house, just as he promised they would.
Still Agustín’s booming voice is heard throughout the room and everything is shattered. His face stayed animated and emotionless except the undertone of anger that never been rare for his husband anyway. His blond hair still reaches his shoulders, but his eyes look more worn and lifeless.
“Take him outside.” Agustín says simply, and with that Lorenzo is dragged away.
He screams, just as Inés had, dragging his heels across the floor and screaming begs in attempts to get his husband to listen to anything he had to say. Ricardo and Antonio are crying, snapped at to shut up by a guard as they’re carried out with one of their fathers. The backwards view allows Lorenzo the sight to see Tomás smiling still, a mocking wave given to him as he’s taken away. Only after the palace doors are shut behind them does Agustín step out to his throne, coming out into the field and looking regal as he could. De Vega and Tomás closely follow, De Vega looking less pleased with himself than the latter. Lorenzo would’ve thought of all people Luis would say something, yet he hadn’t, and the pain of finally losing him hits him on all ends right there. An eye for an eye had always been Luis’ viewpoint, and Lorenzo felt stupid to forget it.
There are more people gathered in the yard than there were inside. Most were townspeople coming to beg Agustín for gold or defense of their farms as so many flooded into the palace every day, the other half men and women who had worked in the palace as long as he could remember. He recognized faces, attached the names, prayed, and none of them did a thing to help him. Neither would he, were he them.

The time it takes the guards to take him to the stake surrounded by the firewood in the yard all goes by in such a blur he hardly realizes it’s happening. A commotion begins in the crowd but not in defense of him, in confusion and fear of what had been going on in the King’s mind and what that meant for them. While his personal marriage with the King had always had it’s issues, Lorenzo had made progress in his reputation with the citizens of Iberia in the past years. Between the production of the death rods and simply his sons being born making him seem more sympathetic, he wasn’t as hated, he looked like a genuine person to the public rather than an amalgam of hate and prejudice and their own misery. Now even he was being strung up, and this struck them to their core as to what that meant for their safety in their small positions in the kingdom.
Tears fuzz up Lorenzo’s vision as he feels guards pressure his back into the stake in the yard. Down below he sees Ricardo and Antonio, scared and knowing. In one quick dive Lorenzo manages to break from the guards as they get the ropes for him and kneel down in front of his sons.
“Look away,” he whispers frantically, pressing a kiss to Ricardo’s cheek, and then to Antonio’s. “Promise Daddy you’ll look away.”
The boys quickly nod as the guards yell and drag Lorenzo back. They look to Agustín still, not fully understanding and wanting their other father to help Lorenzo. As much as they pulled on his robes and yelled questions up at him in their confusion Agustín did nothing, not even to glance at them.
Rope burns Lorenzo’s skin as the guards give no care to his comfort when tying it around him, stake behind him bracing his back and leaving his arms useless. So he attempts to give one last pull on it instead, even with not knowing what he’d do we’re the escape to work. Lorenzo looks to the sky instead, not wanting to see his son’s tears or husband’s lifeless face, or Tomás’ joy, or the mixed reactions of the citizens. The sound of fire cracking onto a torch still scares him. Sunlight burns down on his skin for the added impact of discomfort, not even allowed his final moments of peace before death.
He only bothers to look down when he hears the one person in the crowd call his name out of the mixed names of ‘Consort’ and ‘His Majesty’.
Gabriel stood there, fear plain on his face, and Lorenzo hoped he’d burn quick. For all the animosity between them or Lorenzo had caused Gabriel to give him it, he stood stood there with his expression frozen in terror. There was no purpose in hiding it now. Lorenzo could see the gears shifting in his head, the conflict in feelings towards him now and how he could ever get Lorenzo off of the stake, and it only makes him bitter. He’d lost all hope was Agustín had said the word ‘mutiny’ and he hoped for the man’s own sake Gabriel would do the same, even if just so he wouldn’t be disappointed in himself as Lorenzo died.
The logs are set to fire quickly and Lorenzo feels warmth swarm his body immediately. The townspeople in the front and Gabriel move their arms in front of their faces to shield themselves as if it would hit them. The children are forced to be there but they look away, just as Lorenzo had told them, just as they promised him they would in panic. Agustín does nothing still, harboring no affection towards his husband, and Lorenzo knows not much would change were his mind his own.
Panic still flashes across Gabriel’s face as he tries to think of what to do, but the flames lick up Lorenzo’s nightclothes and burn his leg and his shoulder blades, spark at the ends of his hair, and he screams out in pain.