His Royal Highness, Prince of Italy
The Italian Prince had anticipated some level of surprise within his childhood companion at his change in station. After all, it was not often that someone of his social rank climbed through the aristocracy quite as dramatically as Sebastian had done. The courts would have been abuzz with the scandal of it all, in his day. Now, however, it was only the Duke whom he had to truly astonish with the news of his still relatively newfound position in life, along with his visitation to England to meet with the Queen personally, his own English titles finally restored to him as a result. It was the vampire's utterance of the country that now had his fealty, however, that seemed to truly take William back - his spine perfectly straight as he sat up abruptly, the Dark Hunter clearly struggling to comprehend all the changes that had occurred in the mere few years in which he had been gone. How quickly his companion strove to write off the whole thing as some twisted sense of humor though Sebastian failed to see why such a thing would be funny, or why the change in his position might affect his childhood friend so. The Englishman's head tilted slightly to the side as he observed Will's features and the hint of desperation that seemed to linger subtly within.
Nevertheless, Sebastian offered some shred of proof to that new station, his hand lifting to display the signet ring that so declared him the Prince of Italy. He watched as Will's features seemed to fall, those words slowly sinking in. That silence suddenly seemed to persist between them and yet, for once, Sebastian made no effort to break it. He knew William well enough to know that the Duke needed time to align the chaos of his mind and that, when he was ready, he would share those thoughts, whatever they may be. It was several moments longer before, finally, William's hand reached up to rake through his damp brunette hair, those quiet words upon the Hunter's lips spoke of an anguish that Sebastian hadn't truly anticipated. Of course, it would be his relationship status that seemed to affect the Duke so. He was well aware that there had always been something...more to the duo's friendship beyond a platonic comradery. Somewhere, beneath it all, there had always been a lingering desire - one that had been fostered in silent exchanged looks and nearly flirtatious hushed comments in the courts of England. It was a desire that William had finally admitted the first time they'd refound one another and the Duke's lips had graced his own or the time Sebastian had shown William exactly what his abilities were capable of. He had been clear, even then, that his interest had rested in another, and yet...there was a distinct difference between courtship and marriage.
He was aware of the hurt his answer would cause and yet...Sebastian could hardly discount or deny the utter, unending love he had for his husband either. His confirmation was swift, the vampire merely offering two simple words in affirmation. He was married, and frankly, he wouldn't change it for the world. The last two years of his life had been the happiest Sebastian could ever remember being, even despite all the stress that came with running a country. Nevertheless, the Englishman hardly allowed his companion a moment to dwell upon the despondent thoughts he knew well could capture William with a vice-like grip. He remembered what it was like to be on the outs with the Duke over a mere engagement! Sebastian was quick to insist that things between them would hardly change. After all, it wasn't as if their relationship had progressed in the slightest since their Victorian days - such...flirtatiousness entirely within the realm of what Dorian allowed the Incubus to partake in...even if part of Sebastian suspected well that this was somehow...different then Sebastian's tendency to flirt for food.
Still, Sebastian leaned forward, his breath warm against William's ear as he insisted that he still had every intention of enjoying the sounds of the Englishman's moans. He was well aware of that tenseness to William's body, the way the man seemed to freeze at his very proximity. He watched as those words seemed to sink in, that surprise blatant upon the Hunter's features as a small simper tugged at Sebastian's lips. The Prince leaned back to his position, only for his companion to reach out and grab his hand. His eyebrows rose almost inquisitively as William pushed his fingers in between the vampire's own, only to gingerly squeeze his hand. The navy hue of his gaze shifted upwards towards William's features as the Hunter gave him a glimpse of a simper. That teasing lit to the Englishman's voice prompted a soft snort from Sebastian's own. "Yes well, luckily I am extremely wealthy now." He admitted, his bank account had grown...substantially with his marriage, enough to pay whatever nonsensical amount William wanted to remain within the halls of the vampire's home. His companion's insistence that he hardly needed to be hired was a notion Sebastian was quick to wave off, quite literally. "You need a job, Will, and if you're on the payroll of the Monarchy, the Council won't make any direct moves against you." It was a practical offer as much as it was one for selfish reasons. His explanation, however, seemed to be brushed off in the same manner as Will insisted he would fight his way back to the vampire, only to lift his hand - William's lips brushing against his fingers in a very gesture that declared the Duke's loyalty...to the Italian crown, no less.
The very last thing the vampire anticipated, however, was William's insistence that he'd always remain, in whatever capacity that Sebastian desired. That declaration of love only further caught the Prince off guard - those words that William offered were ones that he was incapable of returning. It was Sebastian's own morals that kept the Englishman from ever uttering those three words to any beyond his husband...and perhaps the ghost of his ex-wife. He offered the Hunter an almost weak simper, the Incubus wholly unprepared with how to brush off that. After all, with his victims it was easy enough, those words so often distracted by whatever feelings Sebastian provided them before he left, never to see them again. But with Will...things were...different. "I...um....thank you, William." He offered, entirely certain that his lack of response would hardly be well received. Slowly, Sebastian pulled back his own hand, letting it casually settle behind his head as he flopped comfortably back onto his plush mattress. That playful simper upon William's face was hardly missed as the Duke relaxed beside him.
A soft chuckle reverberated upon his lips at the very mention of William's father. Oh, how well he knew the previous Duke, and exactly what the man had thought of Sebastian in turn. "He always did think I was a terrible influence." The Prince responded as a small smile tugged at his lips at the memory. A terrible influence that he had to deal with one way or another. It was almost funny that after two hundred years, he'd still failed to separate the two men, even in spite of all his efforts. It was the mention of his Queen that drew Sebastian's attention back towards the present. The vampire blinking at his companion for a moment before the Hunter's words settled in. "Hm? Oh...Italy is still agnatic primogeniture, Will." He answered easily enough, only to lift his arm up to glance at the watch on his wrist. "My King should still be in a meeting with the WHO coordinator in Nepales for another hour, at least." God, how he wished he could be there to help Dorian, the pair sure to discuss the meeting at length later, and yet, he hated leaving Dorian to handle the mess of the pandemic on his own all for the sake of appearance.
His head shook ever so slightly, his thoughts so quickly redirecting to 'work', even if it was hardly easier to handle than William's unexpected announcement of affection. "This pandemic has been an absolute shit show and His Majesty is...not well versed in epidemiology and the Interior Ministry has been facing backlash from the curfews that were put out for some of the districts last night. The WHO is saying we need to be stricter to get it under control, it's just a bloody mess." Sebastian lamented with an audible sigh. In this, there seemed to be no correct answer, the pandemic was determined to ravage their country regardless of what steps they took and yet, for every day the nation was shut down, so too did their economy quickly begin to crash into a state that worried Sebastian more than he cared to admit.