Silver and Gold Ch. 10

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Hey folks, thanks for hanging in there! All feels, no sex in this chapter. XOXO, Im


The Meeting Tree had never looked more opulent. Enormous live-edge banquet tables that sat fifty had been conjured, each decorated with a riot of living flowers and vines. The flowers glowed in phosphorescent pinks, blues, and purples, filling the air with their delicate perfume. The tree was lit with twinkling lights that lined the entire interior of the towering tree. The kitchen had outdone themselves, based on the number of platters that were being placed on the tables and the heaping appetizers being passed among the faeries mingling on the dance floor. The open space had somehow been preserved, though the banquet tables should have easily filled the ordinary footprint of the enormous tree. Trying to comprehend the odd expansiveness of the space gave Feldspar a headache — surely Mal had stretched something in the fabric of reality to make the tree larger for the European delegation’s welcome feast.

Mal and Daniella would be hosting their own table with the delegation, who had arrived late the night before. He and Silver had joined Mal and Dani in meeting them at the edge of the Wood to escort them to their lodgings. He had been enthralled by how different Silver looked when he spoke French. It was subtle, but the way he carried himself was a bit taller and looser. He had been a natural with with the small delegation. They had been impressed and delighted to find someone familiar with their languages, and Silver had obliged them graciously. He had spoken a smattering of Italian, German and Turkish, though English and French were sufficient to carry the conversation.

Feldspar smiled to himself at how comfortable Silver had gotten by the end of their short walk to the trees that had been prepared for their visitors. He had offered to make some of their traditional dishes, and within minutes friendly conversation had flowed between the faeries.

That made it all the stranger that Silver still hadn’t arrived for the formal welcome feast. Cocktail hour was starting to drag on a bit, though the European faeries still appeared to be enjoying the opportunity to mingle on the dance floor. Mal and Dani sat in their twin thrones of living branches at the head of their enormous table, surveying the elegant scene with looks of regal detachment. Only their closest friends could detect the slight tension around Mal’s eyes and the tight grip Dani had on his arm. Dinner was due to commence soon, and Silver was meant to be seated next to Mal at the head of the table. It wouldn’t do to have his place empty, especially when several of the European faeries had already said how much they were looking forward to continuing their conversations with him from the night before.

Feldspar glanced at the entrance to the tree, silently begging Silver to arrive. He played with a bit of the silver embroidery at the cuff of his deep green suit jacket. He’d shown it to Silver days before, secretly delighted that the silver embroidered leaves and vines around its buttonholes and cuffs matched Silver’s hair and eyes. Marking themselves as a pair had thrilled him down to his bones. Now he wondered if he had missed or dismissed how much Silver didn’t want to attend, regardless of having Feldspar with him.

Silver had had a fit of nerves over the formality of the feast, which Feldspar thought he had successfully quelled. Silver was used to dressing for comfort in the kitchen and half his clothes were human-made. His Pizza My Heart hoodie and ratty jeans would not do when he was meant to serve as translator and advisor for Mal.

Luckily a lifetime at Mal’s side meant Feldspar had no shortage of suits. He’d made Silver spend an entire afternoon trying on everything in Feldspar’s closet. It made him unreasonably happy to see Silver in his clothes. They were very nearly the same size, and would have been exactly the same size had Feldspar not spent the better part of a year exercising himself to collapse. Silver’s body had a touch more padding over his muscles and he filled out Feldspar’s clothes perfectly. Silver had dutifully tried on everything Feldspar handed to him, flirting with him the entire time and teasingly muttering about having to attend boring political functions just to make his boyfriend happy. In the end they’d settled on a dark gray suit with deep green accents. It looked good next to Feldspar’s outfit without being too matchy, which Silver said would make him and everyone else want to barf. Perhaps his apparent good mood that day had been bravado meant to placate Feldspar.

Feldspar frowned and berated himself internally for not going to Silver’s home to escort him to the feast personally. If he had walked over with him so he’d have had a few minutes to settle his nerves.

Feldspar chewed his lip. Just then, he felt an unceremonious tug on his heart from Mal’s direction. He turned and saw the flicker of irritation in Mal’s eyes, irritation that he was sure masked unease. As if he had not a care muğla escort in the world, Feldspar turned and walked to Mal’s throne and gave him a stately bow.

“Where is your lover?” Mal hissed, his eyes trained on the visiting faeries as they mingled. “We should have been seated fifteen minutes ago. Any longer of a delay will be noticed.”

“I don’t know, my Lord. We agreed to meet here.”

“We shall have to proceed without him,” Mal said tightly. It was a small bit of magic to make Silver’s place at the table disappear, so easy for Mal that Feldspar almost missed it. Seeing his chair disappear so easily made Feldspar’s gut twist. Silver was essential, if not truly essential to the success of the diplomatic visit, then at the very least essential to him. He couldn’t let his place at the table disappear without comment. Still, he didn’t know what to say to Mal. Silver was supposed to be here and he wasn’t. It felt foolish to say out loud that something might be wrong. Still, Feldspar couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad had happened to Silver.

“Let the feast commence and I will find him in the meantime.”

“No,” Mal said sharply. “Your place is here. It will be too conspicuous without you at the table. If you leave, the delegation will surely notice seeing as you have been at my side for long enough that some of them remember you from before we settled the Wood. Silver will make his way here or not. We, however, must stay with our guests.” Mal’s voice was low and tight, coiled and controlled.

“Silver knows how much you wanted him here. How much I wanted him here. He gave me no reason to think he wouldn’t attend this evening. Something is wrong, Mal. Something must be wrong for him to not have arrived by now.” The words tumbled out of Feldspar hastily, tripping over each other in his anxiety to get them over with so he could move on to the point.

“Fel, if he were in danger I would know, and I promise you he is not,” Mal said so evenly that it came out patronizing.

Feldspar shook his head stubbornly. He knew intellectually that Mal would sense if there was danger in the Wood, and that Mal was too good a friend to lie to him about something so important. It didn’t matter in the face of not knowing why Silver was missing. “You removed his place setting, you can just as easily remove mine. I’m going to go check on him whether you like it or not.”

Mal’s green eyes flashed so dark for a moment they were almost black. Feldspar saw the maelstrom of emotions Mal held just beneath the surface of his skin and wasted no time. If he thought any longer about it, he’d lose his nerve. He bowed deeply and turned on his heel, walking as quickly as he could toward the exit while maintaining decorum.

The second Feldspar had been certain no other faeries would see him he’d started sprinting to Silver’s tree. A sheen of cool sweat covered his skin as he stood panting outside Silver’s door, waiting for the faery to respond to his frantic knocking. There were no sounds from inside. Feldspar’s stomach soured. All the reasons Silver might have for abandoning him ran through his head in quick succession.

He stuffed those thoughts down and peeked through the window. Food and cookware were strewn all over the kitchen. That was odd. Silver’s love of his kitchen bordered on pathological. No matter how many hours he’d spent cooking, he always, always took the time required to lovingly clean and tidy the space for the next day. It was one of his favorite things to complain about when he wanted to get a rise out of Silver.

Feldspar pushed open Silver’s door and called for him again. When he got no response he crossed quickly to the ladder to Silver’s bedroom next to the eerily messy kitchen. Silver’s bedroom was empty as well, the bed a mess of balled up sheets and blankets. The suit Silver had borrowed to wear was still laid neatly over a chair. The room smelled sour and stale, Silver’s usual spicy rosemary scent noticeably absent. Feldspar’s adrenaline spiked as he took in the scene.

Then Feldspar heard a low groan coming from Silver’s bathroom. He found him curled over his toilet, clearly having been vomiting. “Baby,” he cried out in shock as he rushed to the faery’s side. Silver was curled in on himself. His skin was sickly pale and covered in goosebumps. He groaned and made a weak gesture that Feldspar suspected meant he wanted to be left alone.

“Go away,” Silver barked hoarsely. Feldspar recoiled at the harshness of his tone and the faint stench of whiskey on his breath. He stared at Silver, dumbfounded. The Silver he knew would never drink himself sick, especially not if it meant letting him down.

“Sweetheart? What happened?”

“Oh God,” Silver moaned. Feldspar saw his body spasm and without hesitation knelt to wrap a supportive arm around him as violent retching took him. Feldspar held him through it, stroking his back and murmuring a string of soothing words even as he tried to imagine what had caused Silver to get this muğla escort bayan drunk. Nothing was coming out, not even bile, but still the retching continued. Feldspar’s heart ached at his powerlessness to stop Silver’s torture.

When Silver’s body finally stilled, Feldspar leaned him back against his chest. He had the strongest urge to squeeze Silver tight and never let go. It didn’t matter that he was sweaty and smelled like whiskey, sour sweat and sick. He needed Silver to feel better, and the only thing he wanted more than that was to be part of the reason Silver felt better.

As soon as Silver was able to manage it, Feldspar helped him sit back against the wall. All the fight had gone out of him and he stared blankly at the toilet. It scared Feldspar to see a look of such desolation on Silver’s face.

“Shall we clean you up, Sweetheart,” he asked gently. He waited several moments too long for a response from the other faery. With a sigh Feldspar gently lifted one of Silver’s arms. When he didn’t object to being touched, Feldspar proceeded to strip him. He tossed the soiled clothes into a corner to see to later, infinitely more concerned with his catatonic lover. He leaned Silver against the wall briefly to get a cloth and warm water. He washed the smell off Silver’s body, unnerved at how limp he was.

Feldspar paused to consider how to get Silver back to his bed. Silver was his height with a slightly less defined middle; he probably weighed about the same as Feldspar. He crouched down and hooked an arm around Silver’s ribs, grunting with effort. Silver whimpered pitifully, but he managed to get his own legs under himself as Feldspar pulled him up.

Silver sighed as Feldspar lowered him into the bed. Feldspar couldn’t tell if it was a sound of relief or misery. On the short walk from the bathroom to his bed, he’d broken out in a light sheen of clammy sweat. Feldspar gently pulled a light sheet over Silver’s lower half and returned to the bathroom for a fresh washcloth. He wiped Silver’s neck and face tenderly and left the cool cloth folded over Silver’s forehead. He started to ask Silver again what had happened, but stopped himself. It was apparent just looking at Silver’s expression that he wasn’t ready for communication yet.

Instead Feldspar went to the kitchen to mix up a tonic for Silver’s stomach. He frowned when he opened Silver’s cold storage. The ginger and lemons were both covered in mold. They looked like they’d been moldering for days, large tufts of white and teal fluff rendering them nearly unrecognizable. That wasn’t like Silver at all. Feldspar had never known him to keep ingredients long enough for them to go moldy, let alone leaving the mess in his kitchen to contaminate everything else. He opened a few more cabinets, finding the same thing everywhere he looked. Only the cinnamon, turmeric and other powdered spices were usable. Something had obviously gone very wrong with the magic that governed Silver’s kitchen. He retrieved a bowl and glass of water, and brought them back to the bedroom where he placed on the bedside table.

He knelt down next to Silver. Mercifully he’d closed his eyes, looking almost asleep. “Sweetheart,” he whispered. Silver opened his eyes hazily. “I need to gather some things from my kitchen. If you feel ill again there is a bowl here beside you.”

Silver’s eyes moved slowly to the bedside table and he winced. “Not that one,” he mumbled. Feldspar followed his glance to the bedside table, confused for a moment. “Metal one,” Silver elaborated. Feldspar smiled ruefully. The wooden salad bowl he brought for Silver to throw up in was one of Silver’s favorites. He kissed Silver on the forehead and exchanged the bowl for a metal one in the kitchen. As soon as he saw that the proper bowl was ready for him Silver closed his eyes again.

Feldspar sprinted down, up and across the rope walkways from Silver’s tree to his own. He didn’t want to leave him alone for any longer than strictly necessary. He burst through the front door to his tree and crossed the room to the kitchen and began filling a bag with the herbs and spices he’d need. He contemplated the ingredients he’d gathered. He wished he had more ginger root, but it would have to do. Feldspar placed a few pre-mixed vials of his most potent pain tonic into his bag for good measure. Satisfied with his stock of supplies, he hurried back to Silver’s tree.

When he peeked into Silver’s room he was relieved to see the metal bowl was still empty. Silver was lying on his side staring blankly at nothing. Feldspar’s heart squeezed. He’d never seen Silver look so small and careworn.

He knelt at Silver’s bedside and unloaded the contents of his bag onto the floor. It felt decidedly wrong to mix up one of his renowned tonics on the bedroom floor, but there was no way he’d risk mixing them in the filth of Silver’s kitchen. He worked quickly and automatically, letting years of experience flow through his fingers until he had an anti-nausea tonic to escort muğla pair with his pre-mixed pain draughts. Silver barely looked at him when he pressed the drink into his hands, but drank it automatically when Feldspar nudged his hand toward his mouth.

That done, Feldspar paused, unsure what else Silver would let him do. He felt useless in the extreme. He was used to the kind of threat he could cut in half. Whatever plagued Silver was much trickier to slay. After a long debate he followed the insistent pull of his heart. He stripped and climbed into bed behind Silver. He stopped shy of touching the other faery, waiting for a sign from Silver. Feldspar could barely breathe as he lay on his side staring at the back of his lover’s head. Silver could crush him if he wanted to, grind his aching heart into dust.

It was agony to wait, but eventually Silver shifted backward in silent invitation. Feldspar wasted no time scooting close and hooking an arm over Silver’s chest. For a few breaths Silver remained stiffly curled in on himself, seeming not to feel Feldspar’s touch. Then Feldspar felt him let out a little sigh and let go. His shoulders relaxed and he leaned back into Feldspar while rearranging their arms so that he could intertwine his fingers with Feldspar’s.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Silver said, his voice hollow and devoid of feeling despite accepting Feldspar’s touch.

Feldspar frowned, genuinely confused for a moment. He had Silver’s body curled tight in his arms; there was no better place for him at that moment. From the way Silver had moulded his back to Silver’s front, it seemed Silver agreed with him. “What do you mean?”

“The welcome feast.”

The shock of realization sent a cold rush through Feldspar. As soon as he’d seen Silver in a bad way he had completely forgotten about the feast, Mal and all the rest. He kissed the back of Silver’s neck and squeezed him closer to reassure him. “Neither of us is needed at the welcome feast, if you were worrying about it. I am precisely where I should be. I only want to know what’s wrong. Let me help.”

Silver sighed. Feldspar waited. Something had clearly happened to Silver and he couldn’t imagine leaving until he knew how to make it better. He breathed in Silver’s rosemary scent and exhaled slowly against him. Silver’s breathing slowly fell into rhythm with Feldspar’s and his body softened further into Feldspar’s.

He drew in a shuddering breath and held it, filling the air with tension as he prepared to speak. “It’s Brody,” he mumbled. “He’s dead.”

It took Feldspar longer than he liked to put meaning to the words. Brody. Brody, Silver’s friend who had taught him to make some of the most brilliant food Feldspar had ever tasted. Brody, who Silver had as many colorful descriptions for as stars in the sky. The human who ‘had a few too many bats in the belfry,’ and was ‘crazier than a fish in the fryer.’ The leading man in nearly every one of Silver’s stories that left them both crying with laughter. In short, the magically talented, slightly unhinged, larger-than-life human who Feldspar had come to realize was Silver’s best friend.

“What? When?” Feldspar said, aghast, when he had finally processed what Silver had said. Humans were fragile and short-lived compared to faeries, but Brody had been young.

“A few days ago. I just found out.” Silver drew in another stuttering breath.

“Oh Silver, I’m so sorry,” Feldspar said. The words were deeply inadequate, only worth saying because he knew there were no words adequate for Silver’s loss. His chest was tight with helpless misery. He wished he could take away Silver’s pain but there wasn’t a magic for that.

Living as long as he had, he was no stranger to loss. When it was someone you loved it still hurt every single time, no matter how long you’d walked the earth. The thought of losing Gneiss Nephrite, or even Mal was so terrifying that he had always superstitiously refused to hold it in his mind even for long enough for it to be a complete thought. What could he possibly say or do in the face of that? There wasn’t anything he could give in comfort aside from his presence, and so he waited, offering only himself.

“You don’t have to stay here. You should go back.”

Feldspar didn’t dignify that with more than a hum of disagreement. He wasn’t going anywhere. Silver rolled over to face Feldspar and buried his face against his chest. Feldspar pulled him closer and held him, until his shoulders dropped and his breath whooshed out of him in a long exhale. The sound drew out until it rebounded as his entire body shook with silent sobs. Feldspar’s heart felt like it would burst with grief and tenderness as Silver cried against him. He was so grateful Silver was taking comfort in him, even if there was nothing he could do aside from hold him and listen.

Silver’s voice was shredded and his face was red and swollen by the time his sobs finally subsided. He mumbled quiet thanks against Feldspar’s chest, tacking on a belatedly apology. Feldspar squeezed him in response. He would rather be here with Silver than anywhere else with anyone else. The thought brought into focus the unspoken end of Silver’s sentence: thank you for choosing me over the Lord. He was unsurprised to realize there was no contest. Silver came first, unquestionably.

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