Note 1: First of all, this is pure fiction and written for entertainment only, thus I mean no harm to anyone with it. Please, read the warnings as the story may contain triggering parts to some. Second, this was inspired by Adam’s music (obviously) and a few Adommy fanfictions and writers I’ve been reading lately – especially toobusy2write’s amazing story, “Spoil of War”, which was one of the first Adommy FFs I’d read on AO3 and which made a huge impact on me. Ever since reading it I’ve been toying with this story here and it didn’t take long for my muse to give that certain spark which allowed this story to come alive. I’d like to recommend this story to my roleplayer friends, Tommy and Stefan for being the amazing persons they are, but most of all to my dear friend S. M. A. to whom I owe a lot and whom I love dearly. Thank you babes for all the support and love! <3
Note 2: As music is like air to me and I saw that many here provide a soundtrack to their stories, I’ve decided to give it a try too as I totally loved the idea. So the soundtrack I’ve put together to my story can be found HERE. I hope you’ll like it and find it fitting. You’ll see that most songs have a chapter to go with. ;)
Note 3: Without giving away too much about the plot, I think a few words are needed about this world to be easier to understand it. It’s a completely fictional and historical AU one with two kingdoms, the “Land of the Sea” and the “Land of the Desert”. The former resembles the ancient Greece, while the latter Egypt, although they are not completely like those, but I took the liberty to incorporate a few elements from those religions, mythology, and architecture and so on. I hope you’ll like it.
Note 4: I’m not a native speaker of English, therefore there might be grammatical and stylistic mistakes in it (mostly because I don’t have a beta and I correct my writings myself). So bear with me please. The illustration was made by me and the title comes from a 30 Seconds To Mars song with the same title. Constructive criticism/comments are very much appreciated! Now that the boring stuff is over, let’s get this started! ;)
Full size of the picture HERE.
Stranger in a Strange Land
Normally, he liked such nice warm days when the breeze moved the long richly decorated curtains, bringing in the smell of the salty ocean. As a child he and his older sister played a lot outside, near the water. They’d go down to the beach and try to build the copy of the castle which towered over them on the cliff. He was never really good at that, his sister was more creative with her hands. She was usually always better at things, but it never bothered him while they were growing up. They loved each other.
No wonder that now, years later, he was missing her badly. She was already married far away from their kingdom. Lisa was lucky because the man their parents chose for her when she was merely a child was good and now they were in love, having kids while ruling the small kingdom they had. Sadly it wasn’t a strong and rich enough kingdom to provide the help this kingdom needed at the moment. That’s why he, Prince Thomas Joe Ratliff was sitting next to his father, King Ron. He always respected him and his late mother, Queen Dia who had passed away a few years ago, but he never particularly liked arranged marriages. And he was the heir apparent for the throne as he was their only male heir. Tommy – as he preferred to be called when no formality was needed – found it kind of amusing that he was chosen a man to marry. It wasn’t uncommon, no one frowned on same sex marriage around the lands, but he could never wrap his head around the question how they were to produce an heir this way. He clearly couldn’t bear a child and he was sure the other prince that was chosen for him couldn’t either. Missing the sarcastic tone he used, his father explained to him once that there were ways, like making a woman bear their children, or appointing the heir they both saw fitting to be the next king.
But until recently he didn’t really have to think about such things. No, his husband wasn’t chosen for him right after his birth. He was around ten when the deal was made by King Ron and King Eber. He vaguely remembered a red-haired chubby boy with lots of freckles at that one time when King Eber and his family visited to work out the details of the future marriage. They didn’t really have the chance to talk or play so the image of that shy boy quickly faded away in Tommy’s mind. He knew though that this day would come, but he tried not to think too much about it. He could pretty much close up in his own little world and surround himself with things he liked and did what he loved. But the latest news about the southern kingdoms’ growing strength put everything in a different perspective and the two kings had decided to take action until it wasn’t too late.
And now he was sitting here barefooted, wearing a richly decorated light blue gown held together by a silver belt, the sun dancing around his blond hair that was shaved on one side of his head and let longer on the other. It was partly due to the hot climate of their land and partly because Tommy liked to be different. No one seemed to mind that and he felt satisfied that at least this choice was given to him. The life of the crown prince was regulated by many rules and he wasn’t particularly fond of obeying those rules.
The light danced on the several earrings, the heavy silver necklace, the bracelets and rings he was wearing too. While the servants were preparing him for today he found himself between the skilled hands of Sutan, whom he rather called his friend than servant, and let him apply some powder on his face and eyelids. He was no stranger to the black kohl around the eyes and the colored balm on his lips either, but this time it felt different.
Mainly, because as they were waiting for the ocean to bring their visitors from the desert closer, he felt himself on display. Like a ware to be sold for the buyer with the highest bid. He knew it wasn’t completely like that, but his ego was hurt once he was put into this situation without any right to say no. He wanted to make his own choices but he knew a lot was at stake. He had responsibilities towards his family and future kingdom whether he liked it or not.
The doubts were always there too, of course. What if Prince Adam became a cruel asshole during the years? What if they won’t like each other at all? Tommy wasn’t sure if he could live on the side of a man to whom he wasn’t even attracted to or liked. And hell, he won’t let him touch him if that was the case.
The sounds of the trumpets brought him back from his reverie and his hands tightened on the silver armrests of his throne that was of course smaller than the king’s. He let his brown eyes travel across the throne hall. At the far end he saw movement through the open two-winged door. From the corner of his eye Tommy saw that the guards became more aware but he knew it wasn’t because of their guests – who supposedly meant no danger to them – they just tried to be prepared to anything. He liked the men that served under his father. They were treated well and for that the royal family got the most important thing they could give: their loyalty. Tommy had read and heard of many kings who didn’t pay enough attention to their men and servants. Many mistreated them even or forced them into slavery and sooner or later it cost them their lives. No, here the servants got paid for their services and treated well and he planned to do that as a king as well in his future kingdom where he was to be taken after the wedding. He really hoped that this wouldn’t be an issue between him and Adam.
This wasn’t the actual wedding yet, just the traditional courtesy visit of the suitor before the wedding where they were officially introduced to each other. Tommy knew that there was a week between this visit and the wedding itself and until then the royal family of the Land of the Desert and their escorts would be their guests. Once the ceremony was done, Tommy was to go back to that foreign land with them and be greeted as the spouse of their new king while the current one, King Eber (and his own father in this realm) would resign and remain as the counselor and right hand of the new rulers. If Tommy was a woman, he’d have the status of the new Queen, which pissed him off to say the least. He was no woman and he really hoped this Adam wouldn’t treat him as such either. He wanted to have equal rights to rule that neighboring kingdom. He didn’t want to be only the connection to his home, the Land of the Sea. He was determined that he’d make sure he wouldn’t be suppressed only because of his small built or because he was a stranger in a strange land.
Despite the determination that he felt and clearly showed on his face, his stomach flipped from excitement and nervousness as the first men appeared carrying the golden flags of the House of Lamberts. It had a black eye and a skeleton-key underneath it. Tommy knew from his father and the history books that the eye symbolized protection, royal power and good health, while the key meant ancient wisdom that the royal family beheld in a sacred library. Tommy knew too that while blue and silver were the colors of their own kingdom, gold and black were the colors of their guests. He watched as the delegacy came closer. After the flag carriers, a double line of men and women came carrying all kinds of gifts from food to gold and expensive drapes. Then a handful of their best warriors marched in their fine golden and black armor. Right after them the royal guards followed surrounding two palanquins carried by men with olive skin. As a matter of fact all of them had darker, sun-tanned skin – which wasn’t a surprise since they came from the land of the sun and desert.
Tommy was wondering if the royal family looked anything like these people. He couldn’t trust his blurry memories of them anymore, but he thought he’d find out soon enough as the march stopped. Following his father’s example Tommy stood up too and stepped forward to the edge of the top stair of the podium their thrones were situated on while they waited for their guests to get out of the palanquins.
First he saw King Eber and Queen Leila emerge. The king was a tall man with light blondish red hair and white skin, his wife had dark brown hair with sun-kissed skin. They were clearly from royal blood, Tommy could tell from the way they carried themselves and to his relief they weren’t too serious or strict looking as they both had a small smile on their friendly faces. They were already walking towards them, Eber leading Leila on his arm. By the time Tommy’s eyes moved behind them the two princes were already out of their palanquin. The shorter one had short dark hair and a slightly muscular built. He must be Prince Neil, Tommy thought as he had some cloudy memories of a smaller prince. And then another dark-haired prince was walking behind him, which confused Tommy a little as he expected a red-head like in his memory. But once Prince Adam lifted his clear blue eyes on Tommy, he had no doubt that it was him. He could clearly remember that look.
Slightly nervous and very aware of the fact that he was looking into the eyes of his future husband he stopped himself from fidgeting or looking aside. He pressed his lips together and kept the eye-contact until the prince turned his head to look at King Ron.
As the servants lined up to the left and to the right with the gifts, the royal family walked closer. Now Tommy could tell that Prince Adam wasn’t chubby or short anymore. At all. Growing up suited him for sure. He was tall, not exactly muscular but his wide body was nicely toned. Tommy swallowed hard. He had to admit that his suitor was a gorgeous and handsome man. While they approached the throne the blond prince stuck out his chin and lifted his head as if he wanted to look taller. He knew that it was probably a childish move, but he was already intimidated by the prince’s beauty that was enhanced by make up too. The clear blue eyes were painted with thick black lines that formed the same eye that was on the Lamberts’ flag, and the full lips were glistening from some balm. Although they were already standing in front of the stairs that led up to the throne, Tommy couldn’t see any freckles on the prince’s face and the rest of his body was hidden under the loose golden fabric of his tunic. Tommy knew he wasn’t ugly either – many had told him before, both family and his lovers that he was pretty – but for a moment he felt like a gray mouse compared to Prince Adam’s beauty and presence.
“My dear friend, welcome to our kingdom. It’s been too long,” his father’s voice brought Tommy back from his thoughts as the king walked down the few steps to shake hands and hug King Eber, who returned the gesture with a friendly smile.
“Indeed, my friend. I hope you remember my lovely queen Leila and of course our sons, Prince Adam and Neil. I am sorry that your queen is not among us anymore. She was a true blessing,” he added with sympathy as this was the first time he could express his condolences in person since Tommy’s mother had passed away.
“Of course I remember. Queen Leila, it’s always a pleasure for the sore eyes to see you,” King Ron bowed and kissed the offered hand, which was rewarded with a warm smile and a small nod from the Queen. “Thank you Eber, I appreciate your words. Her loss was hard on the whole kingdom. Come, meet my son, Prince Thomas again,” he waved behind him and Tommy slowly walked down the stairs, just like they rehearsed. The bracelets and the other jewels he was wearing made soft clinging sounds as he moved a little stiff but gracefully still.
Tommy could feel all eyes on him as he joined his father. He hated it. He preferred to keep to himself most of the time. Being on display like this made him uncomfortable but he tried not to show it as he was reintroduced to the royal pair. He shook hands with Eber, kissed Leila’s hand like his father did, greeted Prince Neil with a handshake too, but was taken by surprise when he wanted to do the same with Prince Adam, but the prince changed his hold on his hand and slightly bent down to kiss the back of it. The brush of the soft lips on his skin sent a shiver down his spine and he was glad that the powder Sutan had applied on his face hid most of his blush. Now he hated his traitor body too as he felt more confused from his reaction to the prince.
“I hope you had a pleasant journey” he said just to say something and break the spell the hand kiss caused. He pulled his hand back and resisted the urge to rub the back of it against his thigh as he could still feel his skin on fire where the dark-haired prince kissed it.
“Yes, we did. Despite the heat of course. Luckily there were no inconveniences along the road,” the queen smiled at Tommy friendly and he instantly liked her. Her future mother-in-law. It was still so strange for him to think of them like that. His new family. He forced himself to return the smile as he stepped back, letting his father take charge.
“Thank you for the wedding presents. Please, let our servants lead you to the rooms we’ve prepared for your stay and feel free to refresh yourselves and rest a little before dinner is served in the dining hall. In case you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask the servants,” he waved to a group of men and women lined up close to the door.
“Thank you Ron, some rest and a cold drink would be appreciated, indeed. During dinner we can discuss the matters of the upcoming wedding and the latest news about the southern kingdoms,” Eber nodded and squeezed Ron’s shoulder before their guests headed towards said servants.
Tommy refused to look at the princes while their fathers were talking. He could feel Prince Adam stare holes into him, which annoyed the blond and made him clench his jaw. When he finally was left alone with his father and they both watched the servants carry the expensive wedding gifts away, Tommy finally let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding.
“What do you think, son?”
“They seem nice. I didn’t sense any ill will on any of them. But you know them better,” he said shortly.
“The Lamberts’ have been our allies for long years now. They are the very few rulers who actually care about their people and their kingdom. They are good people. You’ll grow to love them just as much as I and your mother did, you’ll see.”
“If you say so.”
“You’ll grow to love Prince Adam too. He is just as straightforward and caring as his parents.”
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t oppose the idea of arranged marriage,” he turned to look into his father’s eyes.
“Tommy… we’ve been through this several times,” he sighed “You know that I don’t want to force this on you, but the traditions…”
“… yeah, the traditions, your promise and the state of our kingdom make it necessary. I know, father. It doesn’t make me feel happier about this.”
“You don’t trust my decisions, son?”
“You know that I do. It’s just not easy.”
“I know, Tommy. You are a free spirit like your mother was,” he put a hand on the side of his son’s neck. “You remind me of her a lot,” he said with fondness in his voice. “You’ll do well. I trust you. You’ll be an important link between the two kingdoms. My eyes and ears over there in their land.”
“I know my role and obligations, father,” he nodded, letting his long bangs fall into his eye.
“Good. I’m counting on you, son,” he gently patted his shoulder and turned to retreat to his chambers. “I expect you to show up for dinner in time,” he said over his shoulder.
“I will, father,” Tommy sighed. Despite the curiousness he felt because of their guests, a part of him just wanted to skip that dinner where people would decide over his future while he was very much present. All set out for him. He felt the rope tighten around his neck and wrists and he could do nothing against it.
Tommy was sitting by the table quietly and a little stiff. His father took the seat by the head of the table, Tommy to his right and King Eber, his wife and sons on the king’s left. The rest of the table was filled with the court’s nobility. Of course they were curious about the Lamberts and how things would change for the kingdom with the upcoming marriage. While Ron and Eber were discussing the details of the wedding – like how the Lamberts and Tommy will head back to the Land of the Desert the following day, or how the ceremony will mix together the traditions of the two nations – Tommy fixed his gaze on his plate, trying to feel the taste of the clam soup he was eating but failing miserably. He was still nervous and uncomfortable about this situation he found himself in.
The queen must have read it from his stiff moves too, because while her husband and Tommy’s father started talking about the situation in the south Tommy heard her address him, which made him look up and meet her kind expression.
“Prince Thomas, I was wondering if you remembered us from our last visit. You and my sons were still small when we had the time to travel to your beautiful kingdom,” she said smiling encouragingly at him. Clearly she tried to ease the tension in Tommy and he appreciated it. She could’ve ignored his discomfort.
“My memories aren’t too sharp of that visit anymore. But I remember your kindness and that you seemed to be good friends with my mother, Queen Leila.”
“No need for formalities now. Just Leila, please,” she asked and her eyes clouded over a little at the mention of Queen Dia. “Yes, we knew each other with your mother quite well. Over the years we forged a deep friendship and when we couldn’t meet we kept sending letters to each other. She was a wonderful woman. I’m sorry for your loss too.”
“Thank you. Call me Tommy then,” Tommy nodded and pressed his lips together, eyes wandering back to his plate but he was just stirring the rest of his soup. It still hurt thinking about his mother. She was an open-minded and consistent queen. Everyone could go to her – just like to Tommy’s father – if they had any problems. The fever that took her came from the blue and sadly their healers couldn’t help on her.
“I’m sorry for bringing it up. It clearly upsets you, but I understand. I hear your sister is about to give birth to her second child?” she tried to change the subject and Tommy was grateful. He noticed that Prince Adam was listening to their conversation while eating and exchanging some quiet sentences with his brother.
“Indeed. They are excited about it. My niece is going to be three this year. They sometimes visit and then I can be the favorite uncle… not that she’d have another uncle,” he said smiling now as the little girl came into his mind.
“You like children then?” Leila smiled wider again.
“They seem to like me,” Tommy shrugged “But yes, I like to have them around. I plan to have… well… before this arranged marriage I planned to have a few of my own too once I found the right woman,” he confessed letting his bangs fall into his eyes for bringing this up. Nicely done. As the reality of the situation hit him again and he realized that having his own children wasn’t likely to happen anymore his mood took a downward turn again. So unfair. He really liked children.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t have children with Adam. He is good with them too, right, sweetheart?” she turned to her left, probably knowing that the prince was eavesdropping.
“Mother, please… you are embarrassing me,” he snorted.
Tommy couldn’t stop to stare, hearing the prince’s voice for the first time was too interesting not to. Their eyes met for a brief second and Tommy could’ve sworn that the prince was blushing under the make up.
“Why? You are great with Neil’s son and mentioned before that you’d like to have kids on your own too, even if you only prefer to lay with men,” she elaborated and Tommy couldn’t tell if she was teasing him, wanting to ease up Tommy some more, or it was about pure motherly naivety.
“Mother! I think talking about kids is a little too soon. We don’t even know each other yet,” Prince Adam glimpsed at Tommy and there was something in his look that made the blond man turn his attention back to his plate.
“You’ll have time to get to know each other. Your father and I and Tommy’s parents were in the same situation and we’d learned to love each other. You know how much I love your father. You two will be just fine,” she shrugged smiling and thanked the servant who took her plate before the second course was served. “Besides you are just his type,” she said to Tommy grinning and now he was sure she was teasing his son.
“Mother! Pleaaaase!” Prince Adam growled and turned to his brother, clearly wanting to end the conversation.
As Tommy looked up he was biting his lip to stop a smile and he could’ve sworn that the queen winked at him. Although he still hated the situation, he started to like Leila more and more. He could see what his mother liked in her. Maybe… just maybe he won’t hate it so much in that other kingdom.