Blogging From A to Z is a blog challenge where participants post a new item every day (except Sundays), where every item relates to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. You can find out more over at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com
Story: The Palace
Word Count: 548
Raven had never found gardening attractive before. What was there that was attractive about it? Kneeling in sludge and the gods only know what else, sinking fingers up to two knuckles deep in the filth; little more than playing around in muddy puddles.
So then why did it look so attractive when it was Tauma doing it? What was it about a slender figure, pale skin and long blond braid that suddenly made messing around in soil seem so much more fun?
Well, he’d answered the question for himself well enough. Tauma made it look fun just by being himself. It was almost impossible to reconcile the image of the polite, talented and downright sexy young man at the Palace with the reality of the man enthusiastically digging trenches in the ruin that passed for a garden behind the slightly-less-than-a-ruin that was the shepherd’s hut they lived in. Worse, his patent joy was infectious: Raven could feel himself grinning every time Tauma enthused about new seeds the farmer’s wife had let them try, and despite her warnings that they might not grow Tauma’s love and attention seemed to do the trick. Perhaps his magic didn’t only extend to the weather after all— and Raven knew better than to voice that thought. Better to let Tauma try to forget all about it, even if just for a short while.
The shout broke through his idle reverie; his hand moved to a sword he no longer wore, muscles bunching in anticipation. If they’d been found, if Tauma was taken back—
Tauma was kneeling on an old mat and staring up at him like he’d lost his mind. “Raven, are you alright?”
He sighed, shoulders slumping, and smiled weakly at his concerned lover. “I’m fine. What’s wrong?”
Tauma’s look of misgiving lingered a moment longer, then dissolved into the pretty smile Raven knew so well. “Nothing. It’s the complete opposite, come and look.”
It might be a side effect of barely ever leaving the castle when he was growing up, but the idea of kneeling in the soil made Raven’s skin crawl. Still, Tauma did it every day as he tended their fledging garden and seemed to revel in the mud that clung to his knees and bare toes. If he could do it, so could Raven—and the widening of Tauma’s beautiful grin as he gingerly settled beside him was the best reward he could have received. “What is it?”
With gentle fingers, Tauma stroked the leaves of a plant Raven didn’t remember seeing before. “I thought this was a weed, but when I looked more closely I realised it isn’t. The farmhand, he must have been planting things here too.” He smiled affectionately down at the leaves. “It’s horseradish. I didn’t think it’d grow here—probably he didn’t too—but here it is.”
It reminded Raven of Tauma. After their flight he’d been so afraid that Tauma would wither away from his fear, but instead spring brought new life to him. Impulsively, he pressed a soft kiss to his temple. “You’re amazing.”
Tauma flushed, ducking his head. “I didn’t do anything...”
He might not think so, but Raven knew better. The one thing Tauma had done, quite without meaning to, was make Raven’s life perfect.