Oh, The Places You'll Go

Better Than a Cloak

Notes: An Allegoriverse fic. Kind of story 2.5, set between Further On Up the Road and Consummate Desire. Written because someone had to explain why Chaucer is always in that coat. mrs_laugh_track ate it for breakfast and it didn't give her indigestion. Yay!

Title from the phrase: Love keeps out the cold better than a cloak. Aww, sappy.

They tease him about it — it is high summer when they meet after all, and he clings to his coat when others are rolling up their sleeves and throwing themselves into the nearest available stream at every opportunity.

The truth is, Geoffrey has always felt the cold. He had been a sickly child — 'delicate and dainty', his beloved wet nurse had put it — and it is a miracle he had survived infancy, let alone become the fine specimen of manhood he is today. Cold and croup, fevers and fits had all sought to end his tenuous grip on life, and he had spent his early childhood cooped up in a room where the fire always roared and his scrawny body was swaddled in so many layers the weight was near more than he could bear.

And, while he may now be as hale and hearty as one of his ancestral-yeoman stock might expect, the exigencies and indignities wrought by a night or two sleeping naked in forest and ditch are enough to make him wrap his new found coat around himself and swear never again to leave it off.

He concedes the fur might be taking it a little too far.

Later, months later, he sits in a dark corner of a tavern, huddled into his coat, scratching away at parchment by candlelight until numb fingers rebel against holding the quill a moment longer. He swallows the words that boil and froth on the tip of his tongue; there'll be no more writing tonight.

The fire's embers barely wash his face with heat as he tamps it down, and the candle is a mere guttering stub. The hour must be very late. Shoving his writing hand under his coat for warmth, Geoffrey picks up the chamberstick with the other and hopes that the light will last him to bed. He has enough vivid memories of bruised toes (and, on one occasion a nose) to shudder at the prospect of its loss.

It does last, and Geoffrey quietly closes the chamber door behind him, setting the candle down on the small table by the bed. Gazing at the bed's occupant, he remembers the other reason he takes pleasure in the candle's glow. Sleeping Wat is beautiful by candlelight. He's a force of nature, this one. Tempests roil in him always, storms of anger, blizzards of passion tumble under his skin and scud across his face, as changeable as the English climate.

But in sleep he is at peace, and the soft radiance from the candle settles on him like a mantle of gold. He is a prize, and he will never understand it — not if Geoffrey tells him every day for eternity. Geoffrey is drawn to him, then, not by the bawdy lust and back and forth of their daily rhythms, but by love, as sure and unending as time itself. It is a marvel, and one Geoffrey dare not question.

He takes one last look and blows out the candle. The sharp bite of the night air worries at him once more, and he scrambles under the covers without undressing. He buries in close to Wat who shifts in his sleep, opening up to let Geoffrey push a leg between his. Wat is a furnace, throwing off heat as if he has it to spare. Geoffrey shoves his frozen nose against Wat's neck.

"Fl'min' nose," complains Wat, sleepily, but takes Geoffrey's hands one by one with practised ease, placing them in his armpits, before sliding his own hand under Geoffrey's coat and drawing him closer, pressing their bodies together. Geoffrey can feel the heat seeping into him, warming him through and through. There's no need for a wasteful night fire here, not even in the worst depths of winter. He has Wat, and needs nothing more.

After a little while, Wat mumbles, "Take off your coat."

So Geoffrey does.

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