Pasco took a moment to check his surroundings, looking for anyone now making either too much or too little eye contact. There were none, the other patrons quite thoroughly involved in their own, albeit less orgasmic, revelry.
Leaning over the table, red-faced, out of breath, he simply looked like someone who’d had too much to drink. He teetered there for a long moment.
Ada tapped on his knee. “Can I come up?”
“Oh! Uh… not yet.”
Pasco waited until the table nearest them erupted in laughter at some joke, then beckoned to Ada. She popped up next to him, caught his eyes, then licked her lips.
Pasco nearly fell over again. He had no idea how she could disarm him so utterly. Nobody had ever done that to him before. Though he was loathe to put any fetters on her freedom, he hoped she’d never leave.
“I told you so,” she said, making no efforts to hide her smugness. She plucked Pasco’s mug of mead off of the table in front of her and started downing it. “Man, this stuff is good.”
“I thought that was cheating?” Pasco said.
“Well, for you, yeah. For me it’s just a good idea. You have no idea how hot that was.” Ada wiped off her mouth on the back of her hand.
“I, uh, think I do actually.” Pasco took a moment to re-button his trousers and fasten his belt.
Pem stopped by, then. She was at first surprised to see Ada there, but then between Ada’s happy theft of Pasco’s drink and the surely idiotic grin that he was now sporting, she must have decided all was well with the world. She gave Pasco an especially knowing smile, stopped her fretting, and moved on.
“Gods, you’re good at that,” Pasco said, rubbing the back of his neck.
Ada looked up at him over the mug of mead. “Chugging?”
“I meant— well, they’re related talents, I suppose.”
Ada grinned proudly. “I’m very good at both, here, watch!” She tipped back the half-full mug. As her throat flexed to swallow, the unbidden image came to Pasco’s mind of her around him, greedily drinking him down. His dick had softened but it twitched against his trousers again.
“No fair,” he whined.
“No,” Ada said, slamming the empty mug down, “What’s unfair is that I can’t sneakily come anymore. That’s one of the best things about being a woman.” Ada stuck her lip out in the cutest pout, and the best part was, Pasco was sure she wasn’t being dramatic on purpose. Her grief was genuine.
“I thought you liked your… situation.”
Ada heaved a sigh. “I mean, I do. But I’m allowed to miss some things.”
Pasco paused. “We… hadn’t had much time to talk about it but… are you really alright to leave your homeland? Will you miss… well, your family? Your home?”
Ada put her chin on her hand and looked out at the tavern, then up at Pasco. “A little bit, I guess. Definitely won’t miss my family, good riddance. Godspeed and all, but I wouldn’t be mad to never see them again. Let them think I finally died up in that stupid tower. The tower was fine, but, lonely. Maybe I’ll miss the fields, the blueberry pie, my books, but… like I said. I’m allowed to miss things. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.”
Pasco hadn’t realized how truly anxious he was about it until hearing that from her put him deeply at ease.
“Y’know, I…” Ada looked back out over the tavern. “I never really had any friends, before. I know that’s stupid to say. I know they say that it’s the power imbalance that does it, but… I feel like the truth is, it’s just me. Princess or not.”
Pasco reached across the table and lifted Ada’s chin off of her hand with his fingertips. He understood, very deeply, the sort of thing that she was talking about. He was blessed with better parents than hers, it seemed, but the expectations of royalty still weighed upon him.
He knew what it was to have to pretend to be strong, to pull on the heavy mantle of royalty, to stand tall and proud even while you ached and fretted. He was fortunate to have friends, like Teoda and Forte and Missa and Sendia, who never thought any less of him even when they saw his soft spots.
Ada had never had such friends. Despite her fiery resolve, her insatiable appetite for adventure, the way she had taken her abrupt tumble into a new life totally in stride, he expected that she sometimes found herself feeling scared and alone. He knew that he did, anyway.
Could he be so presumptuous to think that they were not just lovers now? He found her eyes and ran his fingers back through her hair, then held her cheek. “I like being your friend.”
Tears welled in Ada’s eyes. She jumped up, and for a moment Pasco panicked, worried that he’d accidentally offended her.
She stepped around the table and threw her arms around him.
He pulled her close, scooping her up onto his lap, facing him.
She hugged him, hard, her cheek against his. She nestled into the base of his neck. “And you’ll never bore me,” she whispered. “I promise.”
After a moment, she leaned back, but didn’t seem eager to leave. Pasco leaned forward and she kissed him. Gently, first, just her soft lips against his. Then hungrier, more insistent. They folded together, one of his hands against her back, his other gripping her thigh, hers tangled up in his hair. She tasted like honey mead and it made his mouth water even more.
Pasco knew that Pem swept by again because he heard the woman giggle as she went. It was a good thing that, for whatever reason, making out was fine by the tavern’s rules even though sex wasn’t. Because, if they’d taken any issue with it, there was nothing on earth that could have stopped him.