Even before Asbel led his tattered group into the clearing, Augustine and Cassius were waiting. The eldest prince stood beside the sorry attempt at a tent, his hand resting protectively, possessively on the dragon's shoulder. And while Asbel shrank instinctively beneath the man's stony gaze, Augustine's resolve broke the moment he saw his brother: the general stepped forward without a word, and took Frey's face in his hands to check him for injuries. Never mind the new visitor and never mind the past: all he had attention for was Frey's well-being, and Asbel bit his lip to fight back the lump rising in his throat. Frey was unbelievably lucky; with his past attitude, he didn't deserve someone who cared about him so much. But the phoenix squeezed back all the same as Frey tightened his grip, sending tendrils of encouraging warmth through the young prince's arm, hating himself for being so envious.
"You can't keep running away, brother," Augustine murmured. His quick examination of Frey complete, he still kept both hands firmly on the young man's shoulders, as if afraid Frey, drop-dead exhausted or not, was about to make another break for it. "I didn't... mean to hurt you. We're on your side, Frey. We want to help you. Chasing us away solves nothing."
Cassius, meanwhile, had drawn closer as well, and studied the dark elf with a thoughtful frown. He knew far better than Asbel did what the royal family had done to the dark elves in years past. While this one seemed... decent, there was no guarantee that he wasn't going to hurt either Frey or Augustine. "What do you mean to accomplish by traveling with us?" he asked, voice deep and low.
At the dragon's voice, Augustine started and glanced in his direction, then dropped his gaze to the remains of the tent beside them. "You're about off your feet, Frey. We'll sleep outside tonight; there should be enough blankets." For the first time, the general took in Sverre, young and shy and roguishly handsome. "Enough for all of us, though you, young man, I'll put between myself and Asbel."
"You can stay next to me," Asbel whispered to Frey, voice soft though surprisingly steady as he cast another uncertain glance in the dark elf's direction. "I can warm you enough to dry your clothes." And I'll be after you like a shot if you run away again.