Bayani realized then what Peter meant, why he had struggled to keep his bruises such a secret. “Peter…” He shook his head and gave his boyfriend a saddened look. “The past week, when you wanted to shower by yourself, or you hurried to change alone… It was because you were hiding this, weren’t you?”
Peter gave a slight shrug, casting his eyes down to the floor, letting his black locks cover half of his face. Bayani knew him well enough to know that he was right. Otherwise, he would have shaken his head, or even spoken up about it.
“What did they say they would do if you told anyone they were hurting you?”
He still did not want to talk, and Bayani had to prod him on. “Come on, you have to say something. We’re safe here, remember? …From those bullies, anyway.”
“Don’t tell Cerys,” Peter said. The command was as plaintive as Peter let his voice get while still sounding somewhat like an order. Bayani knew the difference, though.
“She’s going to find out eventually.”
“Not right now,” Peter insisted.
“Fine, I won’t tell your sister,” Bayani conceded with a sigh. “Now, what did they say to you?”
Peter refused to meet his eyes, acting the same way he often did around his parents when they were lecturing him. “Jace said that if I told anyone– anyone at all– that he and his friends would gang up on you. I had to let them hit me, or they’d make you pay for it. He wasn’t that specific, but he kind of made it sound like you would be scarred, or…”
“Or what?” Bayani wanted to know.
“Or hospitalized,” he finished, irritated. He turned away, but Bayani caught his arm and did not let him go.
“You let them hit you… for me?” Bayani could hardly believe what he was hearing. “These bruises are because you were protecting me?”
“Would you let go? I need to put this shirt on.”
“Peter…” Bayani let go of his hands, but did not stop staring at him. He was completely awed by the thought if it all.
“I can handle it,” Peter assured him, “but I don’t want you to get hurt. Just don’t tell Cerys. She get way too overprotective.”
“What else are big sisters good for?”
“Convincing nobles to get us back home, I hope.” He pulled on the silk shirt and added, “I don’t even know what our mother is thinking right now.”
“James said that the baroness would say something so that she wasn’t too worried,” Bayani reminded him.
“Who knows what her story was,” Peter scoffed and he began to fasten the buttons on his shirt. He was not at all impressed by how small they were, nor how many of them the seamstress had managed to use.
“Why don’t we go to breakfast and find out?”
Peter was equally unimpressed by that suggestion. He gave a long sigh as he finished the last button. “I suppose we won’t have a choice, In the end. Anyhow, you’re probably hungry and the food here isn’t that bad. Get yourself changed and we can go.”
Bayani smiled at him and shook his head. As usual, he mused to himself as he changed out of his nightclothes, Peter was pretending to be dissatisfied with his circumstances, pretending that he only did things for his boyfriend’s sake. Whereas most people would be annoyed by Peter’s methods, Bayani rather liked the quirky behaviors. He understood Peter more then almost anyone else, whether or not the young Westminster boy would have admitted it.