schizoauthoress: (A Spark in the Dark)
[personal profile] schizoauthoress
Title: Kaí Emoí (I, Too)
Author: D.L.SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: none, AU challenge
Prompt: Anonymous askbox prompt "Arthurian au Jason/Kon"
Warnings: forced cross-dressing, pre-slash
Word Count: 2138
Summary: Sir Dinadan, Squire Conon, and Iason. Like attracts like. And they're all dorks.
Note: adapted from incidents within "The Fyrste and the Seconde Boke of Syr Trystrams de Lyones" in Le Morte Darthur (Sir Thomas Malory)

Word of the Day: crasis, noun:
1. Composition; constitution; makeup.
2. a type of contraction in which two vowels or diphthongs merge into one new vowel or diphthong — making one word out of two.


Kaí Emoí

"Oh, God," Conon groaned, hiding his face in his hands. "I'm so embarrassed."

"Come on," his companion tugged at his elbow. "Don't hide."

Conon watched as the rabble, drunken and laughing, carried Sir Dinadan off the jousting run. With Iason, they were only two against a sizeable crowd. And the crowd's will was to humiliate Sir Dinadan even more.

Still. That was his master. Conon hurried forward, toward the crowd. Even if he couldn't stop them from putting women's garments on the defeated knight, he could make sure that no one actually hurt Sir Dinadan more than he already was -- it had been quite a tumble off the back of his horse, after all.

Iason followed along beside him, keeping his thoughts to himself as usual.

"Maybe a bit of makeup, darling, if you have it..." one particular joker was saying to the woman on his arm.

"Enough!" Iason said loudly. That got him a few glares. Conon pushed aside one of the men close to his master, and knelt beside the knight. Sir Dinadan gave him a dazed, completely lost look.

Conon felt his heart twist. He looked up at Prince Galehault's people, some of whom were still snickering and jesting amongst themselves, and asked, "Have you had enough fun at my master's expense?"

That quieted most of them.

"I fear Sir Dinadan will be poor entertainment for you any further. His wits seem rather scrambled by the fall he took. Will you allow his servants to tend to him, kind people?"

"Eh, do what you like!" The first speaker replied. "He was good for a laugh, but it'd be a shame to damage him."

Iason, for his part, didn't relax until it was obvious that the crowd was dispersing. He glanced around at the scattered armor -- Sir Dinadan's helmet, cuirass, vambraces, cowters, and they'd even got the haubergeon off somehow -- and probably would have started gathering it up, had Dinadan not spoken.

"...nicely done, squire. A battle won with words, for once."

"Oh!" Conon wasn't sure how to feel -- to see his master hurt was a terrible thing, but to hear him speak, and the praise he gave, was wonderful. Conon quickly wiped away the tears that threatened. He carefully felt along Sir Dinadan's head and neck for the injury as he replied, "I'm glad it pleases you. I could think of no other option..."

"Mm," Sir Dinadan acknowledged the response, but made no futher comment. Then, as Conon's fingers went to the back of his head, the knight hissed with pain.

"That's the culprit," Conon said. "and I'm sure you'll have a beauty of a bruise where the lance hit you. Sir Lancelot was going so fast..."

"Conon, Conon, you're focusing on the wrong things, as usual." Sir Dinadan grinned up at the two young men. He switched to Greek to address the other, "Iason, tell me true... do I look better in this dress than Lancelot did in his?"

The Chinese man replied as he often did to Conon, with a single raised eyebrow and a look of long suffering, but no words. He moved closer and grabbed one of Sir Dinadan's arms, waiting for Conon to take hold of the man's shoulders. Conon got the message and took his own place in a moment, supporting Sir Dinadan's neck as they got him to his feet. The pair of them practically carried the defeated knight out of the wooded area with little visible sign of effort, moving quickly to avoid attracting attention.

Once they were within the tent, away from the jousting run and other people, and Sir Dinadan was seated and steadied, Iason spoke. It was in Greek, so Conon only got the gist. "Unfortunately, sir knight, I think that Lancelot exceeds you in the arena of feminine charm as well." Iason unlaced the back of the gown with quick fingers, and carefully peeled it off the knight's form.

Sir Dinadan laughed loudly as was his habit, then winced at the very sound he'd made. His head still ached from that last strike landed by Sir Lancelot. "No wonder you held your tongue." He switched back to Anglo-Saxon for Conon, "Squire! Is my head to be nursed by you, or someone prettier?"

"Ah, now I'm not pretty enough for him," Conon sighed with mock-wistfulness. He finished folding a cloth, soaked in cold water, into a compress to hold against the bump on the back of Sir Dinadan's head. "How easy it is to fall out of your favor, master!"

"Iason, get a dress for Conon. He should match his master."

Iason grinned. (He was not confident in his ability to speak more than simple sentences in Anglo-Saxon, but he could understand enough.) Conon caught sight of that grin and he pouted outrageously, letting his blue eyes go wide.

"Oh, that you understand! My friend, I thought you were on my side!"

Iason rolled his eyes at that, reaching out to give Conon's arm a reassuring pat before he exited the tent. Sir Dinadan chuckled, and brought one hand up to hold the cold compress in place. Conon, recognizing the cue, knelt to start unfastening the pieces of the knight's armor covering his lower body, which the rabble had left untouched earlier.

"He isn't really going to find a dress for me, is he?"

"He might." Sir Dinadan gave Conon a knowing glance. "I'm sure he'd appreciate the view."

Conon flushed at the suggestion, fumbling slightly with the strap he was currently loosening on the schynbald. "P-Perhaps, master..."

"Oh, calm down. As if I care what you and your Chinese friend get up to in your own time. As if anyone would. You know that no one says a word against Sir Denys and his Sir Justinian." Sir Dinadan flexed his right hand and arm, then switched position so it was now against the back of his head. His squire silently continued to remove chausses, poleyn, and the dress, directing him to stand. Dinadan sighed, "Honestly, Conon. I don't understand why everyone seems to expend so much energy on romance, but it's fine if you do."

"I don't know if he wants me to court him," Conon admitted in a low voice. "I'm so hopeless at Greek, and I can't be sure he understands me..."

"God's thumbs, Conon. Don't act stupid."

"Sorry, sir," Conon mumbled.

That wasn't the reaction that Sir Dinadan had been aiming for, but he knew better than to push. Luckily, the awkward silence between them was short-lived, as Iason soon returned. Not, Conon was relieved to see, with another dress -- he had one of the apprentice healers beside him.

****

Once the healer was satisfied that no permanent damage had been done, she left. Conon and Iason saw her do so, as they returned with the remainder of Sir Dinadan's armor. The heralds were blowing on their horns again, this time as the signal to return to lodgings. Conon entered the tent.

And nearly dropped the helmet when he got a good look at how Sir Dinadan had dressed himself.

"Master!"

"Not so loud, squire." Sir Dinadan said, fussing a bit with the long skirt of the maidenly attire. "You'll give me a headache."

Iason slipped into the tent behind Conon, and snorted once he got a good look at Sir Dinadan. He asked simply, "Why?"

"Well, I did lose. And the people wanted to see me so. Why not?"

Iason shook his head at that answer, but he was smiling. "Your choice."

Conon groaned. "Why did I get the strangest master ever?"

Iason said something Greek that was too advanced for Conon's meager knowledge. He gave Sir Dinadan a helpless look, and Dinadan translated with a grin,

"Like attracts like, squire."

****

"He made the Queen fall down laughing..." Conon marveled.

Sir Dinadan had insisted upon Conon acting as his 'escort' to supper, and their entrance had been the source of much hilarity among the nobility. Conon, as a low-ranked squire, was allowed to make an escape into the kitchen soon after, where most of the servants were eating their own evening meal.

Conon accepted the bowl that Iason held out to him, and one of the cooks' assistants passed him a hunk of bread torn from a large loaf. He nodded his thanks and took a seat beside Iason on the crowded bench (and tried very hard not to focus overmuch on how their thighs were pressed together).

"Your master causes a scene wherever he goes," one of the castle maids said, in a mild tone.

"Well, it's never boring, that's for sure," Conon replied.

"Painful," Iason volunteered. When that got him some confused looks, the Chinese youth elaborated, "When he sings."

Conon laughed. "Oh, God! I was trying to forget that, Iason!" To their fellows at the table, he explained, "Sir Dinadan can compose songs rather well. But he cannot carry a tune to save his life."

"Not even in a bucket," Iason agreed, with a sage nod.

****

Iason sat in the dark. Sir Dinadan and the other nobles had still been talking and laughing when he noticed Conon starting to nod off, so he'd escorted the squire back to the tent they'd been using during the tournament. They wouldn't take it down until morning anyway, and Iason felt far more comfortable not imposing on the castle staff for a bed. Conon had snuggled into the blankets Iason spread on the ground and was snoring lightly.

Iason wanted to curl up beside him, but he didn't feel right doing so. They were friends, and only recently such, for all that he'd been owned by Sir Dinadan for two years, and Conon had been the knight's squire for a little longer than that. Perhaps when his indentured servitude was over...

There was a flap high on the tent wall that he'd pinned open earlier. He could see the stars through it, and the distant circle of the moon. It was a familiar sight, one he could recall from the long journeys at his father's side, as the two of them travelled the Silk Road trade routes between Yecheng and Constantinople. Iason remembered those days fondly, when his current name had only been an alias bestowed by the Byzantines to make communication easier. When he'd been Lei Junjie to the people around him, as well as in his heart.

He had been an impetuous young teenager, desperate to protect his family's livelihood. No doubt the Orthodox monks who had interceded for him -- following his threats against them for their theft of silkworm eggs and the mulberry plants that would feed the hatched, precious insects -- with the Byzantine soldiers had thought they were doing him a kindness. Getting him sold into slavery rather than killed on the spot for trying to attack holy men of the empire...

It wasn't that Iason wanted to be dead. But he missed his old life, and he missed his family. Lei Junjie was as good as dead, living in this cold and distant island nation where no one spoke his native language, and few had mastery of the Greek he knew.

Sir Dinadan was an exception. He was very well-read in Greek and Latin, in addition to the Anglo-Saxon widely spoken. Iason knew that the knight had not needed to arrange an indentured servitude for him, or even purchase him from his first master in Britain. Sir Dinadan had done so because he was a good, kind man -- and Iason would protect him with his life for that. He would not betray his master's trust, nor take advantage of Conon's affection and gentle nature.

Iason watched the stars until his eyes drifted shut, and the stars danced on the inside of his eyelids instead.

****

It was dark. Conon had no idea why he'd woken up. It took him a moment to recognize the interior of their tent, and he peered into the darkness trying to see where Iason was.

"What in the world..?" he muttered to himself, realizing that Iason was sitting a few feet away, without even a blanket. Conon was loath to move from his own warm 'nest' of bedding, but if his fellow servant was determined to be foolish, then Conon was just as determined to mitigate it.

Iason was asleep. Conon had no idea how he could be asleep, without lying down, in the cold. No matter. Conon nudged the young man into a prone position and flung one of the blankets over him, then turned back to his own sleeping place and dragged the rest over beside Iason. He wrapped an arm around Iason once he'd rearranged things to his liking, keeping that layer of cloth between them.

"Stubborn mule," he said fondly -- something he'd only dare because Iason was asleep -- and cuddled close.

*-*-*-*-*
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