Hey hey, guys, I'm BACK AGAIN!
*holds up hands* I know, "At the Stroke of Midnight" was supposed to be a one-shot, but I just wan't ready to let go of it yet - I had way too much fun writing it! So I decided to rewrite it from Jack's point of view, because of... I dunno, reasons. It was fun, at any rate :D This one is also twice as long, soooo...
If you haven't read the original (which desperately needs editing), I suggest you do so here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/5350940
I hope you enjoy~ :D
Another party, or ball, or whatever they were called. Fantastic.
It was crowded.
It was stuffy.
Jack could barely move around without bumping into someone, or spilling something, or both. He came dangerously close to spilling wine down a noblewoman's gown at one stage.
Needless to say, he quickly apologised and got the hell out of there.
He made a beeline for the nearest balcony, weaving in and out of people, trying not to bump into anyone else, mumbling apologies when he did. He ignored the stares he knew he was getting from his parents and his sister and made his way towards fresh air.
Sean "Jack" McLoughlin was a rich nobleman, the fifth child of the duke, and he hated parties with a passion.
Once the outside air hit his face, he sighed with relief, brushing his short fringe off his brow. He moved out of the light, to the side, and into the shadows. Almost on instinct, he gripped the railing of the balcony and swung his legs over it, so that he was facing out over the fields as he sat down. He'd always loved climbing trees at his home as a child, so balancing himself on a balcony railing was no trouble at all.
Subconsciously, he rubbed his wrist, where his tattoo was. He hated the time on his tattoo.
Everybody was born with a tattoo on their wrist with a time on it, and this was the time that they supposedly met their soulmate. Jack didn't really trust these, because this was a world of arranged marriages for a dowry, no matter what the tattoo said. This meant that being a noble sucked, especially as the third son and fifth child, because he would just be married off to some girl he had most likely never met, and he hated it.
But despite this, his parents had tired again and again to have Jack meet his soulmate by hosting parties of their own. He hated all the parties he'd been forced to go to, all because of the fact that his timer was late at night - parties that were for him, or for his four elder siblings that he'd had to attend.
Not that this was one of said parties. No, this was a party in the village next to his, for a very important figure in the country: the Prince.
Prince Mark Fischbach, second son of the late King, and third in line to the kingdom's throne, which was now taken by the Queen.
This party was another one of the queen's for his son, in the hope that the Prince would meet his soulmate among the women that attended, Jack's sister included. Somehow it had become apparent that Prince Mark's own tattoo said 00:00 - midnight. A special time.
Because of this, the Queen had held many parties that led hours beyond midnight, endlessly hoping that her son would find his true love.
He would say that he couldn't imagine how hard it would have been to keep it a secret, if they even tried, but that wouldn't be true. Jack had a few secrets of his own.
Personally, Jack had never met the royal family, and he only ever laid eyes on the Prince from afar. He'd seen Prince Mark wandering around the party, mingling with the people, smiling like he loved all the attention, which he probably did.
Jack stared out over the green, green meadow, wondering what it would be like to be a beloved prince, and not just a nobleman that was constantly pushed aside for the favour of his older siblings.
So he was very surprised when he heard footsteps to his right, and saw the man himself walk onto the balcony, running a hand through his raven hair, breathing deeply. He leant on the balcony railing and stared out across the very lawn that Jack himself had been mere seconds earlier. From the hair to the dark tone of his skin and to the way he held himself, this was undoubtedly Prince Mark.
It took only a second for Jack to study the way the light from the ballroom hit the prince, and the way it shimmered in his hair. The way his muscles could be easily seen through his tunic, and he could easily see that his dark skin tone greatly contrasted Jack's own pale complexion.
His natural, friendly and talkative instincts took over as he asked, "Needed some time out too, my lord?"
The prince looked over at him, startled, and squinted. Jack smiled, amused.
Then a bell tolled, and he looked up at the sky.
The bell tolled twelve times.
Jack was very confused. The Prince's timer said midnight, so what was he doing out on the balcony?
"And, you are?" The Prince asked.
Jack smiled, and swung his legs back over the railing, and dropped back onto the balcony. "Of course," he said. "I apologise." He walked out from the shadows so that he was only a few paces away from the prince when he stopped. Putting a hand over his heart, he bowed to him. "My name is Sean McLoughlin, your majesty," he introduced himself politely. "I am here with my elder sister, who came to celebrate your sixteenth birthday."
He remained in that position as the prince was silent for a moment, presumably figuring out who Jack was.
Jack and his family, the McLoughlins, were quite a rich family from the next village over, and they had quite a lot of land to call their own, which he had mixed feelings about. The Duke and Duchess, Jack's parents, had two daughters and three sons, of whom Jack was the youngest, and was about a year younger than the prince himself. Their youngest daughter, his sister, was here with him, hoping that the Prince would accept her hand in marriage.
Her, and every other eligible young woman at the party.
"Please, you don't have to bow to me," the prince said, breaking the silence. "Stand up."
Jack stood up, smiling. So far, the prince seemed like a nice enough guy - or maybe that was l formalities, Jack didn't know.
He took this opportunity to study him further. Despite Jack being a year younger, he and the prince were roughly the same height, but that was about as far as similarities went. His own voice was much higher in pitch than the prince's, and their appearances were almost opposite. Jack had light brown hair, while the prince's was raven; Jack's baby blue eyes were greatly different to the prince's dark brown; and Jack's Irish ancestry meant that they spoke quite differently as well.
Was there anything about the two that were similar?
Well, Jack thought. Maybe one thing.
"It's midnight," he said, and the prince blinked. "I thought you would have been at the party - I hate to say it, but the fact that your timer says midnight is common knowledge by now." He really hated to say it.
The prince seemed to grimace as he looked away, out at the garden again. "I know," he sighed. "I'm sick of it, which is why I came out here. I lost track of time anyway." Jack was surprised. Maybe they did have more in common than he first thought. His heart warmed.
"I see. My sister will be disappointed." Jack grinned at the thought of his distraught sister.
"Please tell her that I apologise," Prince Mark replied.
"I shall." Jack continued to smile, and went back over to the railing and hoisted himself up onto it. But this time, he was close to the prince. "I can understand why you're tired of it, though," he said, as he swung his feet back and forth. "Midnight is a special time."
"I suppose," the prince said almost absently as he leaned on the railway, eyeing how Jack was sitting.
At first he was confused, but then he understood, and grinned. "I'm not going to fall, y'know," he insisted, but the prince still looked wary, so he went on. "I've been climbing trees for as long as I can remember, so I've got good balance. I'll be fine." Jack gently assured the prince of this, trying not to be too forceful with his words.
The prince nodded and looked out at the garden again, a silence filling the air again fir a few moments. As Jack absentmindedly studied him, the prince looked sideways at him. "Why are you out here, then?" he asked.
Jack sighed, and thought. "I hate parties," he said truthfully after a moment of silence. "I truly, honestly, hate parties. I mean, I like talking to people and I get along with people easy enough, but I hate parties. It's hard to explain." Then he stopped, and bit his lip, suddenly unsure why he told the prince this much. He'd never said two words to the guy before, and suddenly he was pouring his heart out to him? What?
He swung his legs over the railing again, so that he was facing out, half as an excuse not to look at the prince.
"No, I get it," Prince Mark replied, seeming like he meant it. "Honestly, I've been around parties and balls my whole life, so I'm used to them, and I don't mind them. But tonight, it's as if everyone was avoiding me until midnight. So I left."
"Too late now," Jack instinctively joked.
"Thank god," the prince returned, grinning himself. It suited him, like he was made just to smile.
They fell into a comfortable silence for a few moments as they enjoyed the cool summer breeze.
"Y'know," Jack said suddenly. "About the party thing..." he trailed off, biting his lip again.
He saw the prince tilt his head to the side a little, and turned sideways so that he was facing Jack "What about it?"
Jack hesitated, before looking down at the prince, who was looking at him patiently, attentively. "I don't know why I'm telling you this, but you're the first person I've told that. Nobody else seemed to care."
The prince suddenly hoisted himself up onto the railing, so that Jack was at eye level with him, even though their legs were on opposite sides. "What do you mean?" he asked gently.
Jack couldn't quite explain it, but there was a fuzzy feeling in his stomach when the prince was this close to him, and he could describe it as butterflies dancing in his stomach. It was s nice feeling, and he was grateful to the prince.
He sighed. "My parents are always busy," he said. "I've got four older siblings, we got a shit ton o' land to look after, and they never really had much time for me anyway. I was always forced to go to parties. My timer's late at night, too," he admitted, without giving away too much. "Which is probably why I hate them so much. My four older siblings are so perfect, they do everything they're asked to do, and then there's me." He sighed again, and looked down. "And I still don't know why I'm telling you all this." Which was true.
It was almost annoying. He'd only just met the prince, and already he had begun laying all his cards on the table - the cards he usually kept hidden safely away.
He realised that he had looked down at his hand, which was only inches away from the prince's. Never in his life had he had such a strong urge to hold someone's hand as he had in this moment.
"It's okay," the prince said softly. "I'll always listen."
Jack smiled, almost sadly. "Thank you."
The prince was silent for a few seconds."Hey," he said softly, and Jack looked up at him inquiringly. "Seeing as you hate parties so much, want me to show you something?"
Jack broke out into a grin again. "Sure," he replied.
He watched as the prince hopped off the railing and walked over to the side of the balcony, before climbing over the railing.
"Where are you going?" Jack asked hesitantly, bringing his legs back over the railing and dropping onto the balcony.
The prince grinned that charming grin of his. "Who was the one not worried about falling?" he retorted. And then he dropped.
Jack's eyes widened, and he ran over to the railing and looked over where the prince had dropped, his heart racing. But he relaxed when he saw the prince safely standing on a rock below him, smiling up at Jack's most likely bemused face.
Jack sighed in relief. "Bastard," he muttered, but couldn't keep the smile tugging at his lips. "What's down there?" he asked louder.
The prince held up his hand. "Do you trust me?" he asked. Jack smiled, and nodded. Because he did. For some unexplainable reason, he trusted this man, Prince Mark, more than he'd trusted anyone. He didn't know why, and there was no point in trying to figure it out right now.
He climbed over the railing himself, and slid his hand into the prince's as he dropped. His hand was big and rough, but still gentle. He liked it.
Prince Mark grinned. "Good," he said, and tugged at the Jack's hand. "Come on," he said, and Jack had no choice but to follow as he took off at a run.
They ran through the dark garden, past trees and plants and closed flower buds, which looked like they bloomed beautifully during the day. It was beautiful.
Soon enough, the prince slowed to a walk as they reached what Jack guessed was the centre of the garden, a bench under a Willow tree. Jack, who still held tightly onto Prince Mark's hand, looked around in wonder. "There ain't anything like this back home," he admitted.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the prince smile. As they peacefully continued their walk to the Willow tree, he decided to test himself and the prince by interlocking their fingers, and it worked. Their hands seemed to fit together so perfectly, and the butterflies started dancing again. He looked at the prince out of the corner of his eye, and even in the darkness he could see that his face was slowly but surely turning red.
"Mark," the prince said, breaking the silence again, and Jack looked over at him. "Mark Fischbach. I figured I should probably introduce myself properly."
Jack smiled. "Sean McLoughlin," he replied. "But I prefer Jack."
"It's nice to meet you, Jack."
"Same to you, Mark." Jack's Irish accent pronounced Mark's name differently than the man himself did, but he didn't try to change it. He liked the way Mark's name rolled off his tongue.
Should I tell him? he wondered.
They eventually reached the willow tree and stopped in their tracks. Jack looked up and around at the tree, and how they danced in the breeze, and how the garden around them seemed to compliment the dance.
He somehow saw Mark staring at him, and Jack turned so that the two boys were facing each other, at perfect eye level. As he stared into the beautiful brown of Mark's eyes, he felt like his heart had decided for itself this time, and he smiled a little.
"Can I tell you something else?" he asked quietly, hesitantly.
Mark nodded slightly. "Of course."
Jack smiled, and stepped in, so they were mere centimetres apart, their noses almost touching, and he was relieved when Mark made no move to back away.
And he knew that he was right.
"My tattoo says midnight, too," Jack whispered, and bridged the gap between them, gently pressing his lips to Mark's.
Even though it was only a light touch, Jack knew that he had finally done something right. He could almost feel the electricity spark where their lips met. He had never felt happier.
He pulled away after a few seconds, suddenly full of worry, and of doubt. He looked into Mark's eyes, trying to find something to tell him to stop.
But instead of finding the disgust he almost expected, he saw Mark nod, then they were kissing again. Jack couldn't stop his free hand from coming up to cup Mark's cheek, trying to convey the love he felt in that moment. The older boy's free hand came to rest on Jack's waist, and he found himself being pulled into Mark as gentle fingers gripped his shirt.
Neither of them let go of their entwined hands.
Jack's hand moved up from the boy's cheek to run through his soft, raven hair. Their lips moved in sync against each other's, and Jack knew that this was right.
He felt Mark smile against the kiss, and they pulled gently away from each other, slightly breathless.
"Midnight is a special time," Jack found himself repeating his earlier statement, gently pressing their foreheads together as Mark hummed his agreement.
Mark gently pulled his hand out of Jack's grip, holding it up so Jack could see the tattoo. Jack gently took Mark's wrist in his hands and studied the tattoo, lovingly running his fingers over the jet black ink, finally grateful that his own tattoo said 00:00, too. He then tugged up his own sleeve so Mark could see his tattoo. They placed them next to each other, and they could both plainly see that they were identical, in time, colour and cursive.
They both smiled, and Mark brought up his hand to caress Jack's cheek. Jack leaned into the warm hands, bringing up his own to trap it there.
"I guess we're both romantics, then," Mark murmured.
"I guess so," Jack agreed, then grinned cheekily. "My sister will be disappointed." He grinned even wider than he did before at the thought.
Mark grinned to match him, and his hands dropped to go around the younger boy's waist, pulling him as close as possible. Jack responded by winding his arms around his soulmate's neck, one hand going through his hair again. They were suddenly so close that they could feel the heat radiating off of each other.
"Well," Mark began. "I'm not sorry anymore."
Jack laughed softly, and pulled Mark's lips to his own again, gripping at his hair. He felt Mark's thumbs brush his back under his tunic, and he grinned.
"Maybe this party wasn't so bad after all," he murmured, and Mark chuckled.
"And maybe the whole midnight thing isn't all that bad," he responded, before resuming the kiss.
They stayed like that for a while, with the willow still slow dancing happily above them, leaves falling around them and littering the grass.
For that little while, everything was perfect in their little world, and nothing could ruin that moment.