The Painting

“Oh, hey!” Becket said eagerly, striding across the large salon, utterly oblivious to the way the other thirty or so people in the room fell suddenly silent at his outburst. He halted in front of a massive painting. “I always wondered where this one wound up.”

Halley, their prim and proper elfin host for the evening, swooped in to hover protectively between his painting and the uncouth peasant that most still regarded Becket to be. “You know this painting?” he asked frostily.

Glen shot the man a glare over Becket’s shoulder, then moved to stand beside his lover, wings fluttering briefly in a protective motion.

Becket remained oblivious to the things going on around him, laughing in reply to Halley’s question. “Oh, I know it all right. Took Missy nine months to paint the thing.”

“Missy?” Halley asked, voice growing chillier still, lifting his chin to stare down his nose. “The artist is Melissa Westmoreland.”

“We’ve always called her Missy, back in the village,” Becket said with a shrug. He motioned to the painting. “I had to sit for three months while she sketched this thing. She fussed and fussed and fussed. We were ready to kill her.” He turned to Glen and grinned. “But I got 20 loaves of apple cinnamon bread out of the deal, so it wasn’t all that bad in the end.”

Glen suddenly wanted very badly to kiss his lover, though it would be nigh on scandalous to be so affectionate in such a public setting. He settled for smiling fondly, laughing softly in amusement. “You sat for a famous painter and took only loaves of bread in payment?”

“It’s really good bread,” Becket said with an answering grin. He winked at Glen, then motioned again to the painting. “I thought Mad Finnegan was going to turn her into a frog or something, though, for making us play model for three whole months.”

The sudden sharp ring to the silence around them nearly made Glen dissolve into entirely inappropriate laughter.

“Mad…Finnegan…” Halley said cautiously. “You know Mad Finnegan?”

Becket blinked, as if puzzled by the question. “Yeah. My brother is his dragon’s Treasure. Plus, Finn’s brother and I go fishing all the time.”

“Mad Finnegan has a brother?”

“Yeah,” Becket frowned, puzzled. “Seamus. He’s a wizard too.” He grinned. “He likes to make strange bait for the fish, and cast calling charms on them. Finn says we’re cheating, but that’s because he’s a terrible fisher.”

Halley choked. “Charms? Surely you don’t mean Seamus the Charm Wizard?”

“Uh…probably?” Becket said, confused. “He’s really good at them.”

Glen barely smothered a laugh. “Does Missy make you sit for paintings often?” he asked, to give the others in the room a chance to recover from their shock.

“Not really,” Becket asked. “She says I’m not very good at holding still.” He winked again, then motioned to the painting. “Can you tell which one I sat for?”

Turning to the painting, Glen looked thoughtfully at it – and knew the answer immediately.

The painting portrayed two wizards from history, notorious for their skills and their deeds – legend had it the two tamed an infamous crimson dragon. In the painting, the shadow of a dragon was visible on the wall behind them, and both men smiled at something beyond the painting. One wizard had fair hair and a smattering of freckles across his nose. The other had deep brown hair and…

Glen pointed to the dark-haired one. “Him. She gave him a bit of your smile.”

“Oh,” Becket said softly, looking startled and embarrassed and quietly happy.

Unable to resist, acting before he thought – so very much not like him at all – Glen stooped and stole a brief, soft kiss.

Becket smiled at him, and Glen struggled not to notice that around them the silence had only grown deeper with shock and surprise.

Halley’s laughter broke it, and still smiling he stepped forward and slung an arm across Becket’s shoulders, a tacit show of friendship. “So tell me more about ‘Missy,’ because I have been trying…”

Glen let the conversation wash over him, content to stand back and watch as Becket unwittingly entranced and enthralled Halley and all the other guests.