If this is the last chapter, then I hope you'll love the conclusion. If this is the one before the last, then I'll see you next time? If it ends, you know the drill. I always write three stories at a time, so I'll be starting a new one soon. Enjoy!
Ethan did not know how he'd managed without Benjamin. He was so used to his presence in the castle that, despite his previous attempt to kill Ethan, he found himself missing the taller man. A day passed, and another, and another, and so on, each one being sadder than the previous. Before he knew it, his sister had arrived and a sliver of happiness was finally present.
As usual, her husband did not come as he feared Ethan, but he had nothing to fear anymore. It didn't matter what he thought of Ethan, though, because his sister made him smile when she was around. She ran to him and hugged him with her arms tight around his neck. He wrapped his arms around her chuckling. "I missed you, sister," he said.
Jane let go of him, looking into his eyes carefully. "Is this really you? Smiling in front of others? Laughing? No, it cannot be." She grinned. "I knew you would change for me."
"Of course I would." He cleared his throat. "What I meant was that I despise you and would never dream of changing for you." He kept his smile to let her know that he wasn't serious.
She slapped him gently on his arm. "You do not know how happy I am," she said.
"And you show your happiness through slapping your older, wiser, more handsome brother?"
"You are only right about being older, you fool," she said, now wrapping her arm around his, which meant she was ready to go inside. When they did, he noticed her looking at him – truly looking at him. "You seem happier, but you are still sad. Why is that?"
He hated that she could read him so well even though they didn't always see each other. "Being alone is not something I particularly enjoy."
"Does Lord Rory not come?"
"He does," Ethan said. "But he does not understand me the way you do."
"No one could understand you the way I do." It sounded like she was bragging, but it was, in fact, a sad statement. They both understood each other because they went through the same pain. They both had no one left in their family, except each other.
He wished he still had Benjamin. Jane will stay for a while, but she had to leave eventually. After that, he would be a lonely king again. Could he forgive him? He felt that he already had.
At the moment, he wondered how he was doing. Perhaps wondering was not enough. He had to know. So, once he'd separated from his sister so she could rest, he requested that a guard finds out how Benjamin was.
The first few days outside of the castle were hard. People had started turning their heads towards Benjamin, whispering as if he couldn't hear them. He could. They would always talk about him serving the king as if it were an insult.
He was not successful in finding a job during those days. Even his old job would not have him back. Then, they'd noticed that the money they had was not enough to last them the whole week. He hated doing this, but Benjamin was forced to steal again. He'd pretend as if they were gifted to them, but he carried the burden of knowing he was doing something he'd promised the king not to do.
As if things could not get worse, Benjamin one day found himself coughing. He was ill. The worst had come. He could not get medicine even if he wanted to. They did not have enough money, which meant they could not buy it, and if Benjamin was healthy, he would steal some medicine, but he couldn't. His death was near. That was the only thing that was in his future.
He'd spend most of his time lying down in his bed, pain in his throat and body. What hurt more than his illness was not being able to sleep at night and hearing his grandmother's cries. His grandmother would sometimes come to give him food. She used to have this sickness long before but she'd recovered from it, so she could get near him. She would not get sick. He was grateful for her, but he could see the pain she bore.
"Grandmother, everything will be all right," he told her, trying to assure her, but even he could hear how weak his voice was. He could not escape the fact that he would die soon. He would leave her alone.
And one night, he heard a faint knock from the house's door. He wanted to hear what was happening, but his weak body could not stay awake for long. He'd rest for the night.
"Your Majesty, I have been informed that Benjamin had gotten ill," said the guard once he was called the next day.
"He is ill?" he asked, not particularly waiting for an answer. "Do you know how long?"
"I am unsure, Your Majesty, but he could have been sick for a week. At least, that is how long he'd not been seen," said the guard.
A week? This was not good news. A week meant he was sick without medicine. A week meant he was possibly awaiting for death to come. It will not happen. Ethan would not allow this to happen.
"I will have some medicine bought for him by tonight," he said. He would let the guard or anyone else to deliver it, but he had to see Benjamin. If he couldn't see him, the at least he wanted to give it in person. And so he informed the guard that he would go.
It did not take long for his sister to find out what he had been planning. She came into his chamber and said, "I was told about your heroic task that you plan to do tonight." He did not say anything. "Who is this lucky person, receiving medicine from the oh-so-kind king?"
He eyed her. She truly did love trying to make him feel inferior, didn't she? "It is … someone who used to work in the castle."
"Used to? Those are not few people," she said. "You must understand that I want to know the details."
He shook his head, his arms crossed. "I will not tell you any details, my dear sister. I will tell you that he is poor."
She looked sideways in contemplation, then her eyes widened. "Is it the poor man who used to steal?"
Ethan hated how smart she was. He guessed he'd given her information that was very clear. Servants in this castle weren't usually as poor as Benjamin appeared to be, so perhaps that was what Jane used to find the answer.
"I have been meaning to ask you, but why is he not here any longer?"
Because Ethan felt betrayed when he'd known that Benjamin had wanted to kill him before. "He almost did something I could not forgive. But he didn't." Benjamin had changed in the castle more than Ethan had thought. He knew Benjamin did not have malicious intents any longer, but he still stopped Benjamin from being his servant. He wished he hadn't.
He noticed that Jane did not say anything, but she was deep in her thoughts. He wondered what was on her mind.
At night, once he's made sure that medicine was bought, he headed to Benjamin's house. He was scared to go there today. He did not know how badly Benjamin was sick and he did not want to think about how well his grandmother was handling this.
Once he'd arrived, he knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer. As he expected, it was Benjamin's grandmother who had come to greet him. "Your Majesty," she said, surprised by his presence.
He did not have it in him to pretend that he was happy to see her. He was saddened, just as she was. "I heard of what happened." He could see the defeat in her eyes. She should not be feeling this anymore. He could help her. "I could not bear to hear that he's ill. So, I come with a gift." He took the medicine from the guard who had come with him and handed it to Benjamin's grandmother. It made him realize how even his efforts at making it cheaper could not help them. Who else could it not help? How many poor people had died because they could not provide for themselves?
She looked at it for a bit before looking at Ethan. "Thank you," she said. "Whatever the price is, I-"
"It is a gift," he said. "There is no price. But if I may ask for a favor, once he recovers, I would like to speak to him."
She nodded. "How shall I inform you?"
"I will send someone every few days that you can speak to. And if you need anything, you can tell them. I can provide you anything you'd like." He did not know if he was speaking out of kindness or guilt for what he'd done to Benjamin's parents.
"This is kindness enough," she said.
"I would still like to provide more," he said.
She seemed to think before she answered. "All right. If I need anything, I will inform you."
It made him smile. She might have said this only to make him happy and not because she meant it, but regardless, he felt a little satisfaction from the verbal acceptance.
Benjamin did not realize he'd been having medicine until he started recovering. His grandmother had told him that she'd been putting some in his food. He also did not realize that the king had gifted them the medicine until she told him.
He was most surprised when he saw the amount of food they had. "Where did you get all of these?" he asked.
"The king asked if I needed anything and I requested food."
"Do not raise your voice at me. He was gracious enough to provide with more than I asked for," she said. "Since I mentioned the king, I should tell you that he requested to speak to you."
"He did?" He did not know why, but he felt scared.
"Yes, and he seemed concerned for you," she said. "If you had told me a while back that you would be close to the king, I do not know what I would have done to you. But now … yes, I see why you grew attached to him." She took in a breath then let it out. He could not imagine what her mind had been going through these days. "Does he know?"
About his mother and father. "Yes. I told him." He told Ethan when he found the knife, which he'd gotten rid of.
She nodded. "He will come in two days. Do not cause more trouble, Benjamin."
Two days could not come any slower because it felt as if a lifetime passed before King Ethan had come. It felt strange seeing him once again, feeling so close yet so far away from him.
He'd remembered that Princess Jane was in the kingdom these days. How important was Benjamin for the king to come and visit him while his sister was here?
"Benjamin," Ethan said. "May we speak alone?"
Benjamin nodded. The only place he was willing to go to was his room despite the memories of what had happened the previous time.
Once they were alone, Ethan spoke first. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I am," Benjamin said. "Thank you for helping me get well."
"Of course I would. If only I'd known before, I would have helped you sooner."
It made Benjamin's heart beat fast. He did not want to hope for a better future with the king. Hope led him nowhere. "Why did you want to speak to me?"
"I wanted to make sure you were well." Benjamin doubted that. He knew Ethan cared, but he had other reasons. "And…" Here they were. "… I could not bear being away from you." Benjamin did not know what to say, so he kept quiet. "I want you back in the castle."
He did? "Back in the castle?"
"Yes," Ethan said. "But not as my servant. I do not want you to serve me."
"I would like to come," Benjamin said. "But I cannot remain without work, Your Majesty."
"Then perhaps you would like to work alongside the physician? Or maybe you would like to help me with the kingdom? At least, the things you know about," Ethan suggested.
Maybe? Benjamin was not sure if this was the best idea. Benjamin could help inform Ethan about the state of the kingdom, but it felt as if there was more to Ethan's request. "If you did not want me there with you as a servant, then why did you want me in the castle?"
"I merely want you there with me. I terribly miss you."
Benjamin swallowed. "And I, too."
"Then come back to the castle."
He wanted to badly. Should he say yes? His life was miserable now that he was outside of the castle. "All right. I will come to the castle and be by your side." He felt even happier seeing Ethan smile. "You do promise to give me something to do in the castle, correct?"
Ethan nodded. "I do," he said.
As Benjamin opened his eyes, he saw a sliver of sunlight coming through the room, so he turned to look at Ethan. He was asleep. How long had it been since he's been back to the castle? Well, it was most certainly more than twenty days.
More than twenty days of being around Ethan. More than twenty days of Princess Jane pretending she did not care for Benjamin's presence when he knew she'd expressed her happiness to her brother. And there will be more days to come.
He felt Ethan move slightly, his head, which was leaning on Benjamin's neck, moved away. Benjamin noticed that Ethan's eyes were open now. He smiled tiredly, closing his eyes again but speaking regardless. "Did morning come?"
"Yes, my king," he said, kissing him on the forehead.
"Mmm," Ethan grunted, now fully opened his eyes to look at Benjamin. "My physician."
Benjamin smiled slightly. "I wish I could be a physician. I could only dream."
"Please, do not dream. Your dreams are always strange."
"Yours are not?"
"Not as strange as yours are," he said. Ethan was silent for a while, staring into Benjamin's eyes with fondness that he'd never gotten from anyone else before. "Why do you not want to train to become a knight?" They've spoken about Benjamin not caring to be one, but he realized that he never said why.
"I may be the best at sword fighting," Benjamin said, exaggerating how good he was at it, "but it is not my calling. I would like to help others more, make people happy and well." His way of making sure people were well was to work alongside the physician, sometimes even helping the king in matters concerning the lower class.
"That is wonderful," Ethan said. "But do you know what is more wonderful?"
"Being in bed with you?"
"Yes, and waking up," Ethan said, parting from Benjamin to wear his clothes. "I need to make sure that your grandmother's new house will be built soon."
"Ethan," Benjamin said. "You do not have to rush it." He knew Ethan still felt guilt over what he's done, but Benjamin and his grandmother had both forgiven him. His way of making things better was to make a new place for her to live in quickly.
"I know," Ethan said. "I am not doing this for myself, Benjamin. I am doing this for her."
Benjamin did not know how much he believed that, but he chose to trust Ethan's words for now.
"Will you not leave the bed? You do not want to be unprepared before he arrives," Ethan said.
Oh, the physician? He did not care. He was an old man – a wise old man, but an old man who did not care for Benjamin being prepared or not. "He does not notice me half of the time." He stood up, knowing that he should be prepared regardless.
Ethan finished putting on his clothes, kissed Benjamin once more, then left, his colorful kingly clothing making him seem so different and confident. He was sure that if Ethan was not royalty or was not noble, he would not be the kind to catch people's eyes. But even then, Benjamin felt as if he would catch Benjamin's eyes.
As Benjamin walked through the castle that morning, he knew how lucky of a man he was. He'd never thought he was end up with the king, but here he was, in the castle, not hiding his love for Ethan. A kind lover, a wonderful grandmother, and a reachable dream? What more could he wish for?
It's the end! I hope you guys are satisfied. I know the ending is a little rushed, but I didn't really want to pad it out with useless things. Also, I just wanna move on to another fic idea. Which one from my twelve other ideas (which you can view in my bio if you're on Fanfiction) will I chose? Who knows! I don't know. Random dot org knows cause God knows I use that for every decision I can't make.
Reviews and comments appreciated and …
Until the next story!