Give Him a Mask and He’ll Tell You The Truth

Colquhoun Grant was no stranger to adventure, but there were some things which he was quite content to leave undiscovered. Masquerade balls certainly placed high on this list, yet here he was, on leave in the city of Vienna, preparing for just such an event. He picked up his new cravat, silver in colour and silken smooth between his fingers, and thought that William De Lancey had a lot to answer for. De Lancey had chosen the cravat, along with the beautifully woven midnight blue waistcoat which Grant donned next. He gave himself an appraising look in the mirror and had to admit that the clothing was well chosen. It felt good to wear something other than his uniform for once.

Title: Give Him a Mask and He’ll Tell You The Truth

Author: nothinghamshire (neut)

Characters: Colquhoun Grant/William De Lancey

Summary: Major Grant and Colonel De Lancey play a game while on leave.

Archivist’s Notes: Originally published on Tumblr and then on AO3 in September 2015.  The author has now closed their accounts on both channels, but agreed to allow NPS to archive the story here.  A Very Queer Set of Gentlemen can be found here.

Author’s Notes: This fic came about following a Tumblr post that I made about Grant and De Lancey wearing something other than their uniforms. fourteenpavanes suggested that they might attend a masquerade…

Posted in celebration of The Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Society of Magicians Character Week, with today being Colquhoun Grant featuring William De Lancey or, as it is otherwise known, De Grancey Day.

I have no idea why this is set in Vienna, it just sort of happened. Oh and De Lancey’s German is purposefully basic.

Half beta’d, so mistakes are almost inevitable.

Pure unadulterated PWP.


Give Him a Mask and He’ll Tell You the Truth

Colquhoun Grant was no stranger to adventure, but there were some things which he was quite content to leave undiscovered. Masquerade balls certainly placed high on this list, yet here he was, on leave in the city of Vienna, preparing for just such an event. He picked up his new cravat, silver in colour and silken smooth between his fingers, and thought that William De Lancey had a lot to answer for. De Lancey had chosen the cravat, along with the beautifully woven midnight blue waistcoat which Grant donned next. He gave himself an appraising look in the mirror and had to admit that the clothing was well chosen. It felt good to wear something other than his uniform for once.

The mask was of course the finishing touch and had been a matter of much contention; Grant was a man of simple tastes and the flamboyant nature of these masquerades did not appeal to him. De Lancey, declaring that Grant would opt for something dull and hardly worthy of him, insisted on locating a suitable mask. He had disappeared for a few hours the previous day and was triumphant upon return, brandishing a small box and wearing a pleased smile. Grant opened that box now with a frown. It was a very fine mask, that could not be denied. The brow was the most ornate part, with a large crest positioned over the centre of the forehead, flanked on either side by a horse. Grant had decided that it was agreeably masculine and was quite touched by the thought which De Lancey had clearly put into his choice. With a sense of grim determination, he picked it up and made his way downstairs, where he found De Lancey leaning casually by the front door of the guest house, awaiting the arrival of their coach. While Grant’s ensemble was accented with silver, De Lancey had opted for gold, which was offset dramatically against his black waistcoat and made his hair seem more red than usual.

“Why Major Grant,” he said with a slow smile. “Don’t you look dashing.”

Grant arched an eyebrow, a warning to De Lancey not to push his luck. Their host, a small balding man by the name of Prock, entered the hallway.

“Ah!” he said with a smile, noting their appearance. “The masquerade!”

De Lancey grinned in return. “Ja, mein Herr. Do not expect us back early.”

Herr Prock bobbed slightly, nodding his head and making a sound of agreement. “Herr colonel,” he said, his tone more sombre. “I must ask. No ladies, if you please.”

Grant shot De Lancey a look and was rewarded with a hearty chuckle. “Yes, very good,” De Lancey said to a confused looking Prock. “Nicht Dame. You have my word.”

Soon after they were being driven through the city and De Lancey gave Grant a lingering look, tracing the finely embroidered feather pattern on Grant’s waistcoat with the tip of his finger before gently poking each button in turn.

“It’s a very pretty thing,” he said. “A wonderful colour on you.”

Grant let himself smile. “You don’t look half bad yourself.”

De Lancey’s lips twitched as he turned away to look out of the carriage window. “You’re going to meet someone tonight,” he stated simply.

Grant moved closer to De Lancey, reaching down to take his mask from him. “Am I indeed?”

“Yes,” De Lancey teased as Grant lifted the mask to his face and gently knotted the ties behind his head. “Someone eager, perhaps a little impressionable and certainly quite taken with soldiers.”

Grant chuckled quietly, brushing his fingertips over the soft skin on the nape of De Lancey’s neck. “That sounds very promising.”

De Lancey turned back to him, his blue eyes bright against the gold of his mask. Two winged lions danced across his brow, the stern face of Mithras set between them. Grant thought that perhaps he might review his opinion of masquerades.

“Give me your mask,” De Lancey said, his voice taking on a husky quality that Grant recognised all too well. “And turn around.”

Grant did as ordered, knowing it was the last time that night it would be required of him.


They had played this game before and Grant needed no further instruction. When they arrived in front of the imposing facade of the Hofburg Palace, they exited their carriage and went their separate ways. Grant hung back, watching De Lancey saunter off and disappear into the crowd. After a brief pause, he proceeded. The ballroom was cavernous inside, with impossibly large and ornate chandeliers hung from the vaulted ceiling. The light from the candles caught the gold leaf edging the frescos, giving the room a magical glow. The orchestra, situated in an alcove towards the north end of the hall, were playing a gentle waltz and already excited ladies were enticing their gentleman into the dance. Grant slowly circled the room, seeking out a good vantage point from which to observe. He hadn’t been there long before he noticed a young woman looking his way. She was wearing a delicate lilac coloured gown and had a soft tumble of auburn curls framing her face, where she wore a rose-patterned mask. He did not see that it could do any harm to indulge her interest.

“Meine Dame?” he asked by way of greeting. He held out his arm towards the dancefloor in invitation and she curtsied with a smile.

“Mein Herr,” she replied, taking his hand.

Grant was no expert when it came to dancing, especially these fanciful continental styles, but he could manage well enough. She was a fragile slip of a thing and followed his lead well, even if his turns were a little clumsy. She smiled at him and he paid her the required attention, making idle conversation while keeping an eye on the rest of the goings-on around them. A sea on stylish gowns, expertly tailored jackets and whimsical masks rippled about them. A group of young women were chatting behind their fans, clearly discussing the merits of the circle of men that stood close, feigning disinterest. Older couples twirled by, oblivious, those days of amorous plotting far behind them.

Grant danced with the girl in the rose mask until another gentleman politely enquired if he may step in. Moving aside with a gracious bow, he was immediately met by another prospective partner in the form of a blonde woman wearing mask styled in the likeness of a swan. They smiled at one another and Grant took her hand. She proved to be a little more forthright than her predecessor. When the orchestra struck up a spirited piece, she helped Grant through the faster paced dance, all but taking the lead and gently teasing him when he fumbled the steps. She was bright and witty and a thoroughly charming companion. He had no trouble in finding someone to take over when it was time for him to move on.

He made his way about the ballroom slowly, moving from group to group, watching and listening. A buxom Italian woman complained to her friends that this showy Austrian ball could in no way compare to the ridotti of the Veneto. A young Viennese gentleman begged with his mysterious dance partner not to leave him without sharing her name. A group of portly men, deep in their cups, shared a joke which made their lady companions mutter among themselves. Grant observed all of this with detached amusement. He drank and wandered and eventually caught sight of a gold-masked man with red hair upon the dance floor. He sank back into an alcove to watch De Lancey, light on his feet and moving with a grace that seemed to delight his petite, dark-haired partner. She was smiling, her eyes fixed on his until he said something which made her laugh and lower her gaze. Grant smirked in the shadows.

He waited there for some time, watching them turn and twirl about the floor until he lost sight of them amongst the other dancers. They eventually circled back around and moved next into a playful quadrille, which De Lancey proved to be equally as skilled at. When it came to an end after a few frenetic minutes, De Lancey pressed an audacious kiss to the back of the girl’s hand. She bit her lip in a bid to conceal her smile, which faltered as De Lancey caught the attention of a tall gentleman in a bull mask and invited him to take his place. The smile was now forced, polite and not entirely convincing, as she accepted the hand of her new partner. De Lancey bowed and left the dance. Grant followed.


He found De Lancey seated in a secluded anteroom, carefully considering the glass of red wine in his hand. Grant approached and sat next to him. There was always a thrill in this moment, not knowing what would follow, or who De Lancey would be. The addition of the mask only heightened this tonight and Grant chose to remain silent for a while, enjoying the anticipation.

“Some might say it was foolish to desert such a pretty young lady,” he said at length. “Especially when you were so clearly in her favour.”

The mysterious version of De Lancey smirked, turning to acknowledge him. “Perhaps. Though others might say it is foolish to place all of your eggs in one basket.”

Grant shot a wry smile back at him. “You are something of a cad, then? Intent on breaking as many hearts as possible by dawn?”

De Lancey sipped his wine, his eyes fixed on Grant’s. “It is only a dance, sir. Besides, you are as guilty of casting aside at least two lovely women this evening yourself.”

Grant leaned in a little closer. “You have been watching me?”

“No more than you have watched me, it would seem. Anyway, you cut so fine a figure. I could hardly help but notice you.”

Grant took the glass from De Lancey’s hand and drank from it. De Lancey wet his lips with the tip of his tongue and Grant knew his words and manner were having the desired effect. “Quite the outspoken one, aren’t you?” he murmured, letting his hand rest lightly on De Lancey’s knee. “Tell me your name.”

De Lancey looked at Grant’s hand, then raised his eyes to Grant’s very purposefully. “Matthew,” he said, simply.

Grant repeated the name back at him, trying it on for size, then asked, “And what is it that brings you to Vienna?”

“I’m a painter, sir. I have been travelling about the continent for some months, looking for inspiration.”

This was a surprising new direction for De Lancey’s imaginings. He had been a low ranking soldier a few times, a naive country gentleman and once even a lowly footman. Grant pressed the wine glass back into De Lancey’s hand and watched him take a drink.

“Well,” Grant went on, a little haughtiness creeping into his tone. “You do not look like a penniless artist, so I will assume you are relatively successful.”

De Lancey – or rather Matthew – looked humbled by this. “I know it is not considered a respectable occupation, certainly not by fine gentleman such as yourself.”

A couple entered the anteroom and made for the sopha opposite them. Grant glanced at them, then stood and nodded his head, indicating for De Lancey to follow.

“What makes you so certain that I am a fine gentleman?” he asked as they wandered back out into the hall.

“I have known my fair share of fine gentlemen,” De Lancey replied, his smirk returning. “And I recognise the way you move, the way you speak. You are a military man, are you not?”

Grant laughed. “Major Colquhoun Grant of the 11th Foot.”

Matthew, because that is who he was in that moment, looked delighted at this. “A Major,” he breathed. “How very exciting.”

Grant laughed. “Tell me,” he said. “About these fine gentlemen you have known.”

“What would you have me say, Major Grant? Shall I speak of their exploits at war, or their handsome uniforms? Perhaps you would like hear the pretty words they used to seduce me?”

They paused, Grant standing very close to De Lancey. He spoke low in his ear. “I would have you tell me about their skills in the bedroom.”

De Lancey turned his face towards Grant, but kept his eyes on the floor. “You are very bold, sir.”

“And you are not nearly as bashful as you would have me believe.”

De Lancey smiled, looking up. “Perhaps.”

Grant smiled back, then nodded towards the dance floor. “I wish to see you dance again, Matthew. Indulge me.”

De Lancey assented with an ironical bow, then moved back into the dance, giving Grant a coy look over his shoulder as he went. Grant bit his lip, feeling his excitement begin to grow. He would quite happily have quit the ball there and then, dragging De Lancey along with him, but he knew there was more to be gained from being biding his time. De Lancey so loved to know that he was commanding Grant’s attention; he loved to be watched and yearned for and so Grant did just that. De Lancey would come to him when he was ready.


The moment the carriage door was shut behind behind them, Grant pulled De Lancey into a desperate kiss. He felt consumed by lust after another hour of watching De Lancey move from partner to partner, charming and flirting as he went. He felt an overwhelming desire to assert himself now, so he pushed De Lancey into the carriage seat, letting him feel precisely how excited he was. De Lancey moaned against his mouth.

Grant broke off and gave him a warning look. “You must be quiet, Matthew.”

The carriage pulled away and De Lancey bit his lip, the very picture of mischief. “Forgive me,” he murmured, letting his hands wander quite freely over Grant’s body. “But you have inspired such want in me, Major Grant.”

Grant pushed his fingers into De Lancey’s hair, pulling his head back to expose his pale throat. He leaned down to kiss and lick at him there, feeling De Lancey’s pulse flutter under his lips. “You are a dreadful tease,” he breathed. “Letting me watch from a distance as you were admired and pawed at.”

De Lancey exhaled slowly, shakily. He untied Grant’s mask and looked at him as though seeing him properly for the first time. “I was thinking only of you,” he said, pressing his fingers into the thick muscles in Grant’s shoulders. “Of the things you might do to me. And how very commanding you seem.”

Grant couldn’t hold back a possessive little growl. He reached out, aiming to divest De Lancey of his mask, but De Lancey caught his hands and shook his head. “Leave it,” he said and Grant claimed De Lancey’s mouth once more, taking him by the hips and lifting him into his lap. De Lancey’s hardness answered his own and they rubbed together for a brief moment, pausing when it proved too much.

“Is that what you want?” Grant asked between kisses. “To be commanded?”

De Lancey caught Grant’s bottom lip between his teeth and gave it a tug. “Mm,” he sighed. “Yes.”

Grant took a firm hold on De Lancey’s hips and drove up against him once more, causing them both to gasp. He raised one hand to grasp De Lancey’s jaw, forcing him to look him in the eye.

“Open my breeches,” Grant breathed. “And suck it.”

De Lancey’s breath caught in his throat as he paused to fully register what Grant had ordered. After a moment or two, he was clambering awkwardly off Grant’s lap, his movements lacking grace with the carriage in motion. He settled on his knees in the small space, his fingers the only part of him that he commanded with confidence as he unbuttoned Grant’s trousers.

“Oh my,” he said, brazenly eyeing Grant’s crotch. “Major Grant, you are…”

Grant looked down at him, amused. “Yes?”

De Lancey bit back a grin. “You have a very fine prick, sir.”

Grant smirked. “Perhaps you would care to sketch it, Matthew? Although I would be obliged if you might wait until later. As much as I might enjoy having my prick praised, I should rather have it pleasured.”

That was all it took for De Lancey to cease his teasing and set about his task; Grant knew that nothing spurred him on like being told what to do and he did so love to use his mouth in this way. He set to running his tongue all along Grant’s straining length, following it with small open mouthed kisses before applying himself to the crown. Here he stayed for a while, alternating between suckling with his plump lips and tracing with the pointed tip of his tongue. He turned his eyes up to meet Grant’s as he sank down, taking as much of Grant’s prick into his mouth as he could. Grant cursed under his breath. He reveled in this sweet torture for as long as he could and although reluctant to make De Lancey stop, he did not wish for things to end so soon. He took a hold of De Lancey’s hair, urging him up and off his prick.

“Have I pleased you?” De Lancey asked, his voice ragged.

“You are a very skilled cocksucker, Matthew. You have clearly had your fair share of practice on that long line of very fine gentlemen.”

De Lancey, his lips swollen and hair mussed, smiled up from between Grant’s knees and the sight left Grant’s mouth dry. He pulled De Lancey back up into his lap and they kissed again, more leisurely this time. De Lancey ghosted his fingers over Grant’s aching prick and whispered devilishly, “I cannot wait to have this inside me.”

Grant groaned. “God, yes. That’s what you want, isn’t it? To be bent over and fucked.”

By way of response, De Lancey gave Grant’s cock a squeeze and matters might have got out of hand again very quickly had the carriage not began to slow then. Sensing that they were nearing their destination, Grant tucked himself back into his breeches with no small amount of regret. They used these last few moments of privacy to regain their composure, straightening clothing and collecting their thoughts. There was a danger of the game failing as reality threatened to break the spell, so Grant leaned over, pressing a quick, hot kiss to De Lancey’s mouth as the carriage came to a halt. “Just wait until I get you upstairs,” he said, even as the door was pulled open.

Grant swiftly paid the coachman and got them into the guesthouse with little more than a nod of the head to the night porter. De Lancey followed close behind, his rapid breathing betraying his state. They took the stairs two at a time and all but tumbled into Grant’s room, pulling at one another’s clothes as soon as the door was locked behind them.

“You won’t remember any of those other gentlemen by the time I’m finished with you,” Grant said as he loosened De Lancey’s cravat.

De Lancey chuckled softly at this, clearly taking it as a promise rather than a threat. They worked swiftly, loosening fastenings and shedding layers. Grant disturbed De Lancey’s mask as he divested him of his shirt and wondered if now was the time to remove it. De Lancey straightened the mask on his face and gave a quick shake of his head to make his intention clear, so Grant moved instead to De Lancey’s breeches, palming at the curve of his erection through the fine material before turning his attention to the buttons.

When they were both naked, Grant pushed De Lancey onto the bed and laid over him, pressing his hips down and their mouths together. De Lancey moaned into the kiss, his hands coming up to take a firm hold on Grant’s rear. He pushed his fingers into the taut muscles of Grant’s buttocks and pushed his own hips up, desperate for contact and friction.

“Is this how it always is for you?” Grant breathed against his ear. “Are you always so desperate for a soldier’s cock?”

De Lancey practically whimpered at this and pushed his fingers into Grant’s hair, gripping hard. “One as thick and hard as yours, Major Grant? How could I not be desperate for it?”

He bit at the sensitive skin beneath Grant’s ear, then laved the same spot with his tongue. Grant sighed against him. “Turn over,” he ordered.

They were neither of them in the mood to draw this out. It has been hours since De Lancey had set the game in motion and they had both harboured their desires all evening, knowing it was leading to this. The time for subtle flirtation and gentle play had passed. Grant shifted his weight, allowing De Lancey the room to roll onto his belly. He watched for a moment, simply enjoying the sight of De Lancey rubbing himself against the bed in a bid to find some relief.

“Now now, Matthew,” he said, stroking a hand down De Lancey’s back and letting it come to rest on his arse. “Patience.”

He parted De Lancey’s buttocks and leaned down to rub the wet head of his prick against him, just for a moment. De Lancey made a low keening sound.

“Please,” he rasped. “Don’t tease.”

Grant was not nearly as composed as he seemed. This was something that they didn’t often have an opportunity to indulge in and he found himself trembling slightly as he rose to his feet and went to retrieve the oil that they had packed for precisely this purpose. De Lancey looked back over his shoulder, watching Grant approach with the small bottle in hand. He was biting his lip and the sight caused a wave of desire to wash over Grant. God, he was beautiful.

“Matthew,” he murmured as he settled back down. “Spread your legs for me.”

De Lancey complied, gasping as the first cold drips of oil slid down between the crease of his arse. The tip of Grant’s forefinger followed, circling the rim of De Lancey’s hole before pressing in. The sound he made was almost enough to end Grant there and then.

“Quiet,” Grant soothed, leaning over to cover De Lancey’s mouth with his other hand. “You must keep quiet.”

De Lancey nodded and Grant moved his hand away. “Forgive me. It just feels so good. So very good.”

To his credit, De Lancey did a sterling job at keeping his silence as Grant proceeded. He writhed under him, breathing heavily and burying his face in the sheets when it all became a little too overwhelming. By the time Grant was stretching him around three fingers, he was softly pleading. This was more than Grant could stand. He slowly withdrew his fingers, but De Lancey did not protest. Instead he shifted up unto his knees, presenting his arse.

“My God,” Grant breathed. “God, I want you.”

De Lancey dropped his head down towards his chest. “Do it,” he said. “Take me.”

So Grant did. With one long, exquisitely slow push of his thick cock, he filled De Lancey and left them both fighting for air. Grant could do little more than breathe for a while, feeling as though the heat and tightness of De Lancey around him might drive him to madness. He held De Lancey’s hips, his thumbs rubbing there in soothing circles. De Lancey, for his part, was quieter than Grant had ever heard him. It wasn’t until Grant finally moved that De Lancey made a choked sort of sound and jolted forward like a startled animal. Grant groaned in response, catching De Lancey and in two quick motions sliding his hips back, then ramming in. He set a pace of slow hard thrusts, urging De Lancey’s body to yield to him. De Lancey was gasping like a man who had just run a mile and Grant could see him balling his fists in the sheets, his knuckles turning white.

He thought about De Lancey, posing as Matthew, seducing other men. Other soldiers. He pictured De Lancey in a studio in Paris, sketching a nude man, then sinking to his knees to pleasure him. Jealousy burned low in his gut. He reached down, hooking his arms under De Lancey’s to bring him upright. De Lancey let his head fall back against Grant’s shoulder. His lips were parted, his eyes closed.

“Mine,” Grant said, bringing his hips up hard.

De Lancey moaned, reaching back to thread his fingers into Grant’s hair. He brought Grant’s face down towards his own and they kissed like that, De Lancey twisting back awkwardly to meet Grant’s mouth.

“Yours,” he breathed back.

Grant took De Lancey in hand, fisting his cock with a precision and accuracy that only he could muster.

“Mine,” Grant said again. “You’re mine, Matthew. My little painter whore.”

De Lancey writhed and crooned, his grip on Grant’s hair becoming unbearably tight. “Please,” he begged, his voice strained.

Grant turned his attention to the sensitive tip of De Lancey’s prick, working the underside roughly with the pad of his thumb.

“Matthew,” Grant breathed, pushing deep and sure with his hips. “Matthew…”

De Lancey gasped one, twice, then shuddered all over as he spent. Grant flung one arm tight around De Lancey’s chest, holding him upright as he rode him through his release. De Lancey tightened around him and Grant was defeated. He pressed his forehead against De Lancey’s shoulder and the truth of his desire made itself know.

“William!” he cried out as he released. “Oh, William. Oh, God.”

Grant kept rocking his hips, chasing the last little sparks of pleasure as he fumbled to untie De Lancey’s mask. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to see his face. They slowly separated and Grant dropped the mask to the floor before pulling De Lancey into a kiss and urging him to lay down beside him.

“Christ, Grant,” De Lancey said when they parted, all traces of Matthew vanished.

Grant laughed breathlessly and De Lancey grinned at him, dropping his head back onto the pillows. Grant rolled onto his side and looked down at De Lancey fondly.

“A painter?” he asked.

De Lancey quirked an eyebrow. “It got you worked up enough, didn’t it?”

You got me worked up. Where did you learn to dance like that?”

“My sister. She said it was the only way I’d attract a woman.”

Grant dropped back onto the bed with another laugh. De Lancey shifted closer, laying his head on Grant’s chest. “Mine,” he said, imitating Grant. “I rather like it when you get all possessive.”

“I thought you might need reminding after being passed around by all those admirers. It was very cruel of you to flaunt yourself like that, knowing that I could scarcely cut in.”

De Lancey turned his eyes up at Grant and smiled. “My dear Major Grant, are you jealous? I’d dance with you now, only… well, I shan’t imagine I’ll even walk straight for a few days.”

Grant shook his head in feigned disapproval, though a grin threatened. “Then it is fair to say that my work here is done, is it not?”

De Lancey pushed himself up onto his elbow and pressed a lingering kiss to Grant’s waiting lips. “Oh, I am not through with you yet Major,” he said. “Certainly not yet.”



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