Fic title: The Crown Resurrected
Author name: herminekurotowa
Artist name: dulcetine
Alpha: somer, junkerin
Genre: RPS, pre-relationship
Pairings: Jared/Jensen, Jensen/Matt (implied), Jared/OMC (implied)
Word count: 20,000
Warnings: hurt!Jensen, slavery, torture, implied child abuse, mention of castration and rape
Disclaimer: If I would own anything or anyone depicted in this work of fiction, believe me, I'd do other stuff.
Summary: Jared and Jensen are both noble princes. But while Jared is the successful conqueror, Jensen is mistaken for a bed slave. He is stripped of his past and thrown into a present full of pain and hurt. And his future will only bear death and destruction.
Jared is drawn to the mysterious man in his bedroom. He could use him, but doesn't want to; he wants to love him, but dares not to touch him. He tries to save his live, but instead Jared hurts him worse than ever. Maybe, though - maybe together they can heal each other.
Ruben Padalecki II is a proud king, the Crown of his people. The Ackles are his people, too, but they are a different kind, ferocious and rugged like the cold region they live in.
The whole mess with Villads is unnerving; he just wants it to be over in order to return to his young consort who told him about her pregnancy ahead of his departure. He hopes for another boy, another heir and Designated Crown, so he will be able to remove Jared from the line of succession.
Jared is a dashing young man. Ruben could be proud of him; sometimes he is, though generally speaking the boy is too soft. Some of his ideas are worth considering, but most are just plain nonsense.
With Jared's proclivity for young men and his dislike of marriage, the continuity of their bloodline is endangered. Ruben will not take it lying down.
Something is going on, and it is nothing good.
Jensen is distressed; he can't see what is happening on the courtyard and doesn't dare walking out on the balcony. Opening a window wouldn't do much good, as they don't face the yard.
All he can hear is a lot of people and horses, so he assumes that the soldiers looking for his family have returned; he doesn't yet know if they were successful.
Standing in front of the balcony door, looking out and seeing only the brick wall on the courtyard's opposing side, he thinks. What will he do if they retrieve his father? He only has a few options left and he doesn't like any of them.
He hears the room door being opened, and assuming it is the Designated Crown, doesn't turn. But it is not Jared's tall and lean body pressing against his, not his hot breath ghosting over Jensen's neck.
“He's dead, you know,” the deputy commander's voice says in a conversational tone. “They killed the rebellious bastard, Ackles, and his son. Now there's no use for you, and the Crown will have you executed, and I'll follow the order cheerfully. Cutting your flesh into ribbons will be my pleasure.”
Jensen closes his eyes, holding back the tears burning behind them. When he turns, there's no one in the room but him. The room is empty, the world is empty, Jensen is empty, and he stands there with his feet on empty ground, breathing, the balcony and sun in his back, until the room door opens again, and the tall man enters, filling the emptiness.
Jared stops dead in his tracks.
“What happened?” he asks, but Jensen has no words to express the desperation, and rage, and mournfulness in his heart.
“You know,” Jared says, taking a step forward.
“How...” Jensen whispers.
“They were hidden in a house right inside the town wall. Though they had only a handful of men, they fought, and even though my guards had orders to not harm them, the son, Eric, was killed. When only the Lordmaster was left alive, he killed himself with his own sword.
“Do you want to see them? Say goodbye?” Jared offers kindly.
On Jensen's nod, Jared hands him the veil to put on, and they start walking, a guard behind them, as always.
Halfway down the stone steps, Jensen becomes aware of the fact that he is barefooted. The cold is seeping into his feet, and he can't remember when he took off his shoes. Or did he lose them?
He is curling his toes onto the stone floor that is no longer stairs, but the prayer hall's floor. He can't face his father without shoes.
The Holy Wolves are everywhere, painted on walls and ceiling, carved into doors and chairs. In a nook, the cubs that he loved the most when he was a boy are still playing, rolling around in childlike innocence and faded colors. Jensen is too preoccupied to look and stare; he is oblivious of tugging the veil from his eyes and dropping it onto the floor, and of Jared sending everyone out and closing the double doors.
He is in the middle of the room, Villads Ackles, Lordmaster of the Seal, laid out on the stone table and covered with a sheet, red stains on his chest where his life used to be.
Right next to him is Jensen's brother. Eric's face is pale, bloodless, but he is still good looking, with the rugged handsomeness of their father. Jensen knows that he has no resemblance to his brother, not in death when there was none in life, but Eric is close to his father.
Jensen is jealous. His brothers always were closer to his father than he, but even now, he feels left out. They are together, roaming the Woods of Eternity, and as always, he is alone and left behind.
Jensen has known it all along. Everything his father said about honor, everything he purported to do in favor of the family, was nothing but hot air; because in the end, he chose the coward's way out, leaving his youngest son alone. He ruined his family's reputation and his people's wealth and well-being, pursuing only his own ideas of pride and ambition.
It is now that he is seeing what his father, the Great Lord of Ackles, the Lordmaster of the Seal, truly is, and he is voicing it.
“Bastard,” he chokes out tearfully. “You selfish bastard.”
He is staining his hands red, hitting his dead father with powerful fists like he never hit his living father, but wanted to do for a long time. He is filled to the brim with anger, despair, disgust, and it is bubbling over now.
He screams. He screams at his father, screams the words he swallowed half his life. When he stops screaming, all he feels is emptiness, so he screams on and on until there is nothing left in him but tears and sobs.
His knees are buckling under the weight of grief and loneliness. He tries to steady himself gripping the sheet, but it doesn't help; he is going down, falling down, spiraling down until there are strong, steady arms holding him tight, grounding him.
DJ can hear the screams through the closed doors of the praying hall. They are full of hate and rage, and he is sorry for the slave.
He knows how some owners treat their property, has seen the slaves' dead eyes, but he can't imagine what the deceased Lordmaster did in order to provoke this reaction.
Jared's chest is getting wet with tears.
He never expected a complete breakdown, but maybe it was bound to happen sooner or later, festering in the meantime until the boil was ready to break.
It feels nice to hold another man without ulterior motives, without the need to bed them; it is only about soothing and comforting another person, and if Jared's dick thinks differently, he ignores it.
Jared rubs the other man's back and strokes his hair for quite some time, when finally the sobbing subsides. Suddenly, Jensen is straightening himself, looking right in his eye with his own forest green eyes.
“I am,” he says, breathing deeply, “Jensen Ackles, youngest son of Villads Ackles, Lordmaster of the Seal. I'm a rebel's son; however I cast myself on your mercy.”
Bowing his head low, he is awaiting Jared's verdict.
Jared is stunned; this is the last thing he expected. He thought Jensen would try to lay low in the role he was thrown into. Never did he think he would play the part of a slave voluntarily, not with the wounds on his back and snake bite in his blood, and he is still ashamed of himself that he believed the deputy commander's insinuations, even for a short time. On the other hand, Jensen showing backbone doesn't surprise him at all.
“I know who you are, I've known for a while.” At Jensen's wide, surprised eyes, Jared continues, smiling, “Among all these books in your father's office, there's a family chronicle. It says the members of the Ackles family are tattooed with a wolf to show their nobility. So it wasn't hard to figure out who you were.”
Jensen's head drops even lower, waiting for the blow, and Jared can't resist the urge to cup the back of his neck. The hair is soft, kind of silky; ruffling it would be difficult, though, because of its shortness.
“I won't tell your secret,” he says. “Even if I thought you were a rebel, I wouldn't tell. This country needs to heal from the war, and executing you would be adverse to it.”
“I never rebelled like my father. I tried to stop the war,” Jensen tells the stone floor.
“That's what everyone I asked about you told me.”
“My father said I was a traitor to the family. He collared me because I berated him.”
Jared's hand on Jensen's hair flinches. “He collared you because you disagreed?” he gasps.
The other man's nod makes Jared's heart clench painfully. “Oh dear,” he sighs, wrapping his long arms around tense shoulders. “It's okay now, we'll figure it out.”
It takes a few moments, and then two hands grasp Jared's biceps, clinging to him as if Jensen's life depends on it.
The evening's events were exhausting. However, Jensen can't sleep, too wired to rest peacefully, and too tired to do anything other than rolling from one side of his cushion to the other. He keeps on turning the situation over in his mind.
He believes Jared kept his secret. What he has seen from the Designated Crown's actions and decisions led him to believe that he really wants to stop the civil war and mend the country's wounds; and now that the Lordmaster and his oldest sons are dead, Jensen can disregard the deletion of his name and come into his father's inheritance as a Great Lord. If he would shed the collar and declare himself as the heir, he could join Jared in his efforts.
That is, if the Crown would accept Jensen's offer. In all likelihood, though, he would be treated as a prisoner of war or, in the worst case, executed as rebel. His tired brain is imagining all possible ways to die, and none of them are good.
He needs to talk with Jared as soon as he returns from his discussion with the council.
A quiet creaking draws his attention to the door being opened; he knows immediately that it is not Jared returning since the person is trying to sneak in. It is dark in the room, there are only embers left in the fireplace, and he can't recognize who is coming inside.
For appearances' sake, Jensen gets up from the cushion and kneels on the floor beside it. Also, he has more maneuvering room on the floor than under the blankets.
When the person stops right in front of him, Jensen can see that it is the creepy deputy commander, Mason or Massif. Massee, that's it.
“Well, bug,” he says, and Jensen ducks his head while watching his opponent as closely as possible. “It looks like your time is over. I don't know what kind of spell you cast on the Designated Crown, but it stops now. I'll just save the hangman the trouble.”
Jensen dives forward, evading the blow of the man's blade, simultaneously grabbing his ankles and pulling. With a loud crash, the man, wearing heavy armor, goes down, and immediately, Jensen launches himself on him, trying to disarm him.
A hard blow to his temple leaves him disoriented; it is only half a second, but it is enough for his adversary to strike. Jensen knows that he was hit, but he can't feel any pain yet due to the adrenaline coursing through his veins.
There is not another chance for Massee to strike with his weapon as Jensen disarms him in two seconds flat, tossing the blade across the room, so they fight hand to hand, dealing blows and taking hits. The lounge chair and a mirror are smashed to pieces when Jensen is thrown against them; in retaliation, he throws Massee against the wardrobe that stands the impact.
However, the fight takes too long. Jensen can feel the blood loss impede his movements, he is getting tired. There are only a few minor wounds and bruises all over his body, but to his side is a wound that is bleeding profusely.
So he goes for broke, bracing himself for a last attack. Jensen leaps at the deputy commander, dragging him to the ground, wrapping his fingers tightly around his throat.
Massee is thrashing, his blunt fingernails digging painfully in Jensen's forearms and wrists, but there is no way Jensen is going to lose his hold. The Wolf is with the fearless, and soon, Massee's movements become sluggish, until his hands drop, his eyes fall closed, and he lies unmoving on the floor, breathing shallowly.
Completely exhausted, Jensen drops onto the floor. Lifting his bloodied and torn tunic, he examines the wound in his side. It is deep and painful, though no vital organs seem to be injured. Bundling his tunic and pressing it onto his side, he rises with an effort. He needs to get help, preferably find Jared, since he didn't dare kill his attacker. He doesn't want to imagine the consequences if he had killed a deputy commander; it is bad enough what he has to face now, as it is.
There are no guards in front of the room doors. There is a good case to believe Massee sent them away, but this also means that Jensen has to search for someone.
Staggering on wobbly feet, he wills them to make one step after the other, supporting himself against the wall. He doesn't look back to where he only would see his blood staining the stone floor; instead, he concentrates on the stairs just behind the next corner where he can hear women chattering.
With the last of his strength, he turns the corner. There are two or three servants in the hallway, and Jensen thinks he knows them; his vision though is too blurry to be sure.
“He's not dead,” he tells them; then the Wolf is devouring him enthusiastically, rendering the world dark.
“You don't know that!” Jared says loudly. He would never dare scream at his father, still less at the Crown, so he is just talking loudly.
“Neither do you. He attempted to escape and nearly killed the deputy commander. You can't doubt it.” His father replies.
“Yes, I can. There's something fishy about this story. Jen-... Peach-... he wouldn't do that.”
“Just call him what he is – a slave. Your property. And he wouldn't do what?”
“Attempt to escape. I told him I wanted to manumit him, why would he jeopardize it? And he is nobody's property. He's a freeman as soon as I can make him.”
“He will be executed. Period. When the Lordmaster and his son's bodies are buried, the slave will be executed as a rebel.”
“He's not a rebel, he never was! And you say that he's my property, so then I can do with him what I please.” Jared states calmly.
“Jared!” the father roars. “I'm the Crown! My word is law! You will do what I say.”
It is the first time since Jared was sixteen that his father roared at him. Angrily, he flashes his eyes at Ruben Padalecki II, then turns and strides out of the office with his head held high. Unfortunately, he can't bang the door as there is a door guard; so he just leaves it wide opened.
Still striding, he enters his room, banging that door at least.
There is still chaos in the room; some furniture is broken, there are shards everywhere, and blood on the bed cover and rugs.
Sighing heavily, Jared sinks into the arm chair. He had the feeling Jensen would open up a little bit but now, there is no hope left that he would ever be willing to work with Jared even for the country's sake.
Or be willing to be kissed.
Jared remembers his pale lips while he was being treated by Armstrong, still unconscious. They looked so soft, and kissable, and unattainable.
Being the Designated Crown feels like the worst fate now. If he was just a simple lord or peasant, he could woo Jensen without the requirements of his status. If Jensen wasn't the Lordmaster's son. Or if Jared was the Crown, he could... what? What could he do? What would he do?
'Dils, what a damned situation!
There's a knock on the door. “Come in,” Jared says, glad about the distraction.
A guard is entering, saluting. It is Qualls, always eager and loyal, who did a great job guarding Jensen when he still was a slave.
“Your Royal Highness,” he says with his head bowed. “I came to apologize and await my punishment.”
“Punishment? Why?” Jared enquires.
“It was my duty to guard the prisoner, and I failed.”
“You followed your deputy commander's orders.” Jared sighs. “There's no failing in following orders.”
“Yes, Highness.” Qualls replies. “But I should have known that he wasn't right in his mind.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well, his demeanor changed even before we left for the campaign. He acted weird, especially towards the prisoner, but I couldn't put my finger on it.”
“So it was to be expected? And no one noticed but you?”
“I don't know if it was to be expected. The deputy just snapped, I think.”
Jared sighs again. “Where is the commander?”
“He's breaking the fast, Highness.”
Is it already time for breakfast? A glance out of the window confirms that it is late in the morning, and Jared didn't even notice owing to the commotion.
Heading for the dining hall, Jared passes the room where Jensen was being treated and where he is still sleeping now. Two of his men are guarding the door; another couple are inside, watching the casualty. The thought that Jared is keeping Jensen safe now makes him breathe easier.
His father still doesn't know about all these guards.
The dining hall also serves as recreation and multi-purpose room, so there is hustle and bustle all day long. There are people eating, flirting, laughing, playing cards, mending clothes, and Jared can't remember when he last ate with the commoners, guards and soldiers.
Holding a plate full of bread and meat, he sits down opposite Penikett, stopping his salute with a wave of his hand.
Both of them eat silently for a few minutes, then Jared starts talking.
“Apparently, Massee lost his mind. Qualls said he had been acting weird for some time.”
Penikett puts his knife down. “He did? 'Dils.”
“I want Armstrong to examine him closely. If he really is insane, Massee falls under his jurisdiction. If not... he's yours. I don't want to see him ever again, so my verdict couldn't be unbiased.”
Rubbing his hands over his face, Jared sighs.
“Your Highness...?” Penikett enquires.
“Tahmoh, this is a mess,” Jared says. Once again, he is glad that Penikett usually doesn't eat in the middle of the room where he can be easily watched. In the presence of his trusted adviser, he feels safe enough to let slip his cool a little.
“What do you mean, Jared? The Crown says the slave is to be executed...”
“That's what I mean! I don't want him to die. I want... He is...” Jared has no words to express what he wants or what Jensen is to him.
“He's special. I know who he is.” On Jared's astonished look, he continues smiling, “I picked up a childhood friend of Jensen Ackles who helped finding the Lordmaster. He told me some interesting things about the Ackles family, so I figured out who the 'slave' in your room was.”
“And you didn't tell the Crown?”
“No. I thought if you knew you had your reasons to not tell, and besides, there won't be a chance of saving him if the Crown finds out who he is.”
“Saving...? You don't want him to die either?” Jared asks in surprise.
“No. Concluding from what I've been told, I think Jensen Ackles was born into the wrong family. I wouldn't want him to suffer because of his father's crimes.” Leaning forward, his voice drops to a whisper. “Did you know that the members of the nobility are tattooed with a kind of crest?”
“Yes, the Ackles' one is a wolf.”
“He was about ten or eleven years old when his mother died, and his father said he needed to man up and stop being coddled. He had him tattooed to show the world what 'kind of wolf' he was. At the age of ten!”
Jared's heart clenches. The story explains a lot about Jensen's behavior in the praying hall, and he doesn't want to imagine what else young Jensen had to experience through the hands of his father.
And the Lordmaster dared to call the Crown family cold-blooded like the crocodiles they worship.
“What does General Beaver think about Jensen?” Jared asks.
Penikett hesitates. “I don't know for sure. But I think he's disgusted about the Lordmaster's governance and not happy with your father's plans to basically keep it up. If you could somehow build an alliance with the last remaining Ackles...”
“I need to talk with Beaver,” Jared says resolutely, standing up.
Once again, he is on his way through the castle. By now, he knows its corridors and hallways. It is a sturdy structure, built long before the Ackles' became the rulers of the northern part of the country, but it still is a functional building. There are only a few building alterations needed to make it more comfortable.
When Jared enters the general's room, he is sitting in a comfortable armchair, his leg propped up on a stool. A young slave girl is massaging the old man's limb.
“Sit,” Jared says, when Beaver gets ready to rise, waving the girl to leave them alone. “How's your leg?”
“Better, thank you for your concern, your Highness. That girl has healing hands.”
On Jared's tilted head and questioning look, he explains, “She was the Ackles' sons' bed slave – yes, they shared. It's disgusting, isn't it?”
“Unfortunately, I can't abolish prevalent customs overnight.” Jared says, sitting into the opposite armchair, sinking deep into the soft leather. “I mean I can abolish them, but it still takes time for the people to change their ways.”
Leaning his elbows on the armrests, steepling his fingers, he continues, “General, I know you're not a friend of slavery. What do you think of the Lordmaster's bed slave?”
There's a short break while the general collects his thoughts. “He definitely is not the Ackles' bed slave. I asked around; Ackles owned no personal slaves, he just used anybody the way he wanted. I suspect him to be a family member, left behind as a distraction.”
“But you don't know who he is? And you didn't tell the Crown?”
“Not for sure. If I could confirm my suspicion, I'd have to tell the Crown which would mean his immediate death.”
“Who do you think he is, general?”
Beaver is scrutinizing Jared for a moment, then replies, “Jensen. I think he is the Ackles' youngest son, Jensen.”
Jared's heart misses a beat. Is it still a secret when everyone knows about Jensen, figuring it out on their own?
It means in any case he has to act quickly now, before his father learns about it.
“Your Highness?” Beaver says which makes Jared look up and into earnest brown eyes. “I don't know what you're planning, but I highly suggest considering an alliance with young Ackles. He's loved and highly esteemed by his people, it would save us a lot of time and trouble if he would work with us.”
“Thank you, general. I'll consider your advice,” he says, standing. The general acknowledges him with a nod, and Jared leaves.
Now he needs to talk with just one man before he can work on making a plan.
He returns to Jensen's room, greeting the saluting guards with a nod. But what he sees entering makes him stop dead in his tracks.