High pitched giggles drifted over and Yuuri glanced across the richly furnished reception hall in puzzlement.
They were at a welcome reception for a new foreign ambassador and Prince Wolfram was not quite flirting with some of the court ladies. Nothing blatant, mind you. Wolfram was subtle, playing the fine edge of etiquette between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour with a skill that reflected decades of court experience. Wolfram wasn’t doing anything that would tarnish his position as Prince Consort or reflect badly on the Demon King.
It still caught Yuuri’s attention, not that he was jealous; it was obvious that Wolfram wasn’t totally into it but this wasn’t normal behaviour for Wolfram.
His husband even looked a little awkward. Yuuri was pretty sure no-one else noticed, especially the girls who were lapping up Wolfram’s attention. Every now and again, their giggles would float over as the prince said something that the ladies thought was particularly funny. Wolfram had a quick wit when in the right mood though it didn’t take much to impress those at court. Most of the castle courtiers were ambitious and they were very good at fake flattery. Yuuri remembered that well from his time when young ladies thought they had a chance with him.
None of these girls would dare try anything with the Prince Consort. Well, most wouldn’t dare. He frowned as he looked at one particularly pretty girl flutter her eyelashes at Wolfram from behind her fan. Clearly, her look was an invite. But for the most part they were only trying to get closer to the king and this would be a rare opportunity for the young mazoku ladies. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the courtiers, there were always some high ranking nobles around to play the game now that the big fish were out of reach, or had been out of reach. They weren’t going anywhere.
He looked around to catch Murata’s eye to see if he was noticing the strange behaviour forgetting for a moment that his other husband was busy with Temple business.
“Is everything fine, Your Majesty?” Conrad asked politely from his usual position, just behind to the right, the captain’s eyes flickering behind him subtly. Stay focused, Conrad said with a twist of his fingers in the ever changing series of sign language that the inner circle had set up for communication in public.
“Of course,” Yuuri gave Conrad an apologetic look and turned and smiled as Günter introduced him to yet another important official.
Afterwards, when they were retiring for the night, Yuuri brought the subject up, partly in curiosity as to why Wolfram was acting that way, partly as general conversation.
“I saw you had a nice chat with those ladies,” he said with a smile, deftly removing Wolfram’s cravat chain. Vaguely, he wondered if his husband was involved in some scheme of Yozak’s.
“Are you jealous?” Wolfram gave him a pointed look, before moving his chin higher to let Yuuri have better access.
Yuuri’s fingers stilled on Wolfram’s collar, not being able to hold back the short bark of laughter that escaped him. The dangerous glint in Wolf’s eyes should have set off warning bells, but it had been so long since they had any major fights that Yuuri was out of practice.
“No, I knew you weren’t that interested.” Yuuri untied his husband’s delicate lace cravat carefully. His eyes weren’t on Wolfram’s face so the irritated outburst that came next surprised him.
“Just because we’re married doesn’t mean I can’t find other people attractive.” Wolfram had his chin held high. Yuuri had removed Wolfram’s accessories so he could tell that the arrogant tilt was more a defensive reaction, and that’s when the rusty alarm bells started going off in Yuuri’s head.
But knowing that Wolfram was pissed off, but not knowing why could be risky, but Yuuri thought that the next thing out of his mouth would be safe enough.
“But not women, you’re totally…gay.”
There really wasn’t any word for either straight or gay in the Shin Makoku tongue and he had often wondered why that was the case. Wolfram knew the Earth word well. Yuuri had thrown it in Wolfram’s face back in the early days and Shori had used it a lot when he’d brought Murata and Wolfram home to let his parents know about his second marriage, and not in a good way.
Perhaps that’s why there was a thunderous look on Wolfram’s face.
“Take that back!”
“Umm,” Yuuri took a step backwards, not expecting such vehemence from Wolf on this subject. Maybe Shori hadn’t been tactful, but it wasn’t that bad. Wolf definitely liked men. He certainly had a huge appreciation for both himself and Murata and their “manly parts.”
Yuuri was confused and found himself falling into some old bad habits when he was angry and uncertain with Wolfram. What the hell were they arguing about anyway? He took the offensive.
“You seemed gay enough when you were riding me last night, or when you were sucking on Murata’s-“
“I’m not my mother! Just because I enjoy having sex with you and Murata does not make me a deviant,” Wolfram snapped.
“Wait, what?” This was getting beyond confusing. Wolfram was nothing like his mother. Well, he looked a little like her, but otherwise nothing alike.
Were they even having the same conversation? He took a deep breath.
“Wolf…I don’t understand. I like gay sex too, I thought…it’s totally okay.” More than okay. It was great and they were married. Up until now, he didn’t think Wolfram had any problems. Why would he?
Wolfram was looking at him as if he was the biggest idiot in the kingdom, which wasn’t a new thing, but the amount of disdain behind it was, at least lately.
“You totally don’t get it, wimp. It was bad enough…before, with my mother, but now everyone knows I’m sleeping with two men.” Wolfram’s face went red with humiliation as he said faintly addressing the floor “I’ve never had intimate associations with a woman and everyone knows it.”
Yuuri put his hand up in his hair in frustration, trying his best to not lose his temper as he said as evenly as he could.
“But you don’t like women.”
Wolfram’s eyes flashed again with anger, and he started to put his boots back on, taking them off the shoe rack with loud thumps.
“Wolf, I’m… sorry?”Yuuri held his hands out in apology even though he wasn’t sure what he was apologising for and he knew it showed. Wolfram ignored him while fiddling with the boot laces. Finally, Wolfram turned around and faced him straightening the tie on his hair with a hard look.
“I’m going to spend the night at the barracks. I can’t deal with this now.”
“I don’t understand,” Yuuri pleaded, his voice thick with bewilderment.
“I just need time alone.” Wolfram wasn’t even looking at him anymore; he turned and left the room.
Yuuri sat down heavily on the divan, knowing from hard experience how useless it was to reason with the prince when he was in a fury.
“What just happened?” Yuuri asked the empty room.
One day dragged into two and between Yuuri’s work and the schedule that Wolfram was keeping they barely spoke a word to each other. On the second night, Wolfram returned to their bed, but he was asleep when he got back from work and asleep when Yuuri woke up. Not that that was unusual in the mornings, but Wolfram would usually wake up enough to give him a kiss goodbye after he’d returned to change from his run. Sometimes, if he was lucky, he’d get something more, especially if he got back in time to catch Murata and Wolfram together. But Wolfram was determinedly asleep and Murata wouldn’t return home till later in the afternoon.
Yuuri was sure he was missing something major and he didn’t know how to raise the topic with Wolf without causing another fight. He needed to speak to Murata now.
He sent a message to the temple that morning in scrawling kanji.
“I need you!. HELP! It’s an EMERGENCY. Come see me at lunch...please?”
“So, Wolfram isn’t talking to you,” Murata announced after giving him a kiss on the cheek in Yuuri’s private office. One of the maids had set out a spread for lunch: fruit, salad and meat. Typically, it was more than they could possibly eat. He’d given up on trying to get the staff to supply him with less.
“Hello to you,” he replied sarcastically. “And how do you know these things?”
“I have my sources,” Murata said mysteriously, wagging his eye brows.
Sure, Yuuri thought, in the shape of a red-headed spy.
“May I assume that that is the emergency?” Murata said, sitting down from across from Yuuri and helping himself to some food.
“Yes,” Yuuri said miserably. “I don’t know what I did wrong. Wolf was flirting with some court ladies and when I brought it up he got weird and started telling me he wasn’t his mother. And then he got angry after I told him it didn’t bother me because he’s gay. Then, he spent one night at the barracks and we haven’t really been speaking since.” Yuuri didn’t like sleeping alone. He was relieved that Wolf had returned but the freeze-out was almost as bad.
“Oh,” Murata said, drawling out the syllable as if he knew exactly what Yuuri said wrong. “Tell me precisely what you said. Don’t leave anything out.”
Yuuri repeated the conversation.
Murata shook his head and gave him that look, the one which was, oddly, very much like Wolfram’s when he thought he was being an idiot, but Murata’s always had an amused look to it that annoyed Yuuri more.
“I don’t understand,” Yuuri concluded…pushing the food around his plate which Murata had heaped onto to it while he was recapping the disaster.
“I’m amazed that you could live in Shin Makoku so long without working it out,” Murata said, quirking one corner of his mouth up. “But then again, maybe not.”
Yuuri gave Murata an exasperated look. “Just tell me what I did wrong and how I can fix things.”
“There aren’t any gay mazoku in Shin Makoku,” Murata explained simply, and before Yuuri could protest he continued, “There aren’t any straight mazoku…at least, that’s what people believe.” Murata poured some milk into his tea and mixed it in. His eyes held an inward reflecting gaze before he blinked and looked at Yuuri candidly. Yuuri, sometimes, wished he could see where Murata’s mind went to from time to time, but then when Murata eyes became very cold, he was glad he didn’t know.
“Most mazoku are bisexual, pretty much the majority. But some…aren’t. They are considered abnormal, deviant. Young mazoku are encouraged to have relations with both genders before they settle down with one person. Lady Cecilie is a bit of an embarrassment to her sons and the subject of cruel gossip. Only her favoured position has protected her. Surely you have noticed?”
Yuuri shook his head. No, but he was now starting to get the idea.
“Yeah, but I thought…I thought it was because she was, she was…” Yuuri tried to think of a word that his mother wouldn’t berate him for using. “A little too outgoing with her affections,” He finished awkwardly.
Murata shook his head. “No, mazoku don’t care about that,” Murata paused “Well, maybe her sons do, but it’s not that that embarrasses the mazoku Aristocracy. It’s because she only sleeps with men and makes no secret of her attraction to men only.”
“Oh…” Yuuri said.
“I’ve heard gossip about Wolfram too, but not for years. It doesn’t help that he looks like his mother; a lot of people think such deviancy runs in the family. He’s right. Our marriage has probably brought the rumours back. Not that anyone could prove anything, or dare try.” Murata paused and took a sip from his cup and twisted his mouth thoughtfully. “Wolfram married you young for a mazoku, legally of age, but the majority of young nobles spend their eighties and nineties socialising. That also increased the speculation.”
Wolfram’s marriage to him was a little bit like his mothers position. It afforded him protection, but not from innuendo and gossip. This also explained so much about Wolfram’s issues with his mother. The more he thought about it, the more Yuuri realised that there was a lot he’d missed over the years.
Another dismal thought hit him. So what happened to common mazokus who didn’t conform? He guessed that was his next depressing research project.
Yuuri pushed his plate away. He really wasn’t feeling all that hungry.
“I’m sure that Wolf is gay. I mean, apart from liking us, he didn’t really seem that much interested in women,” Yuuri said.
He wasn’t the most observant person in the kingdom, present topic in point, but he had watched Wolf closely for years. His husband did find men far more interesting. He’d seen the looks the prince had given some of the soldiers on the parade grounds occasionally, and yes sometimes he was jealous, but marriage didn’t stop anyone from looking.
Moreover, when he caught Wolf looking at Murata, or sometimes himself, there was attraction and love. And he knew that nobody else held Wolfram’s attention like they did and that satisfied the Maou’s possessiveness.
“It’s likely. Which makes it even worse for our prince. He’s always been one for doing what is proper, but doing what is right and being true to who he is, in this case…” Murata trailed off, leaning back in the chair and giving Yuuri another sad smile.
“Wait a moment,” He tapped his finger on the table. “I’m pretty sure Günter is gay and nobody says anything…oh,” Yuuri said as Murata gave him another look. Günter was always the brunt of ridicule in court circles, very few people took him seriously and he was such a great advisor. It actually explained a lot about how little influence he had during the war.
“It’s not right,” Yuuri said. “How could I possibly have missed all this?”
Yuuri remembered on the day he’d met Wolfram how embarrassed his future husband had been when Lady Cecilie had told her youngest son that all the big boys were lusting after him, at the time Yuuri thought that was because Wolfram was straight. It had taken him a long time to realise otherwise, was in fact the major reason he didn’t believe Wolfram had loved him. But now he knew it was because Wolfram was trying to fight the reputation he’d gained for...well, being gay.
Murata took a deep breath. “Sometimes, it’s hard to see prejudice when you aren’t part of the group being discriminated against.”
Another thought occurred to Yuuri. “I’ve never slept with a woman.”
“You also never made any secret of liking girls,” Murata said flatly. Yuuri dipped his head, remembering one time where he had hollered it down the hallway when Wolfram was being particularly annoying…before…well before he knew better.
“Wolf was right. I am an idiot.” Murata didn’t contradict him. “So what should I do to make it easier for him?”
Murata reached over and covered his hand over his lightly.
“Nothing?” Yuuri repreated sadly.
“Except love him. You do that well already. Accept him for who he is.”
Murata pulled his hand back, but Yuuri captured it in a gentle grip and he looked his second-husband in the eye. “We love him.”
“We love him,” Murata repeated with a small smile. “And, tonight, when Wolfram is calmer, you will explain to him why you were an idiot and tell him that you love him.”
“We love you too, Ken-chan,” he sing-songed in Japanese, deliberately using his mother’s pet name for his second-husband, partly as a tease, but more affectionately. Murata rolled his eyes at Yuuri’s sappy declaration, but looked pleased nevertheless as Yuuri let go his hand so Murata could continue eating.
Feeling a little better about things Yuuri bit into some fruit and chewed thoughtfully.
There was a comfortable silence for awhile as they ate.
“I don’t think Wolf accepts who he is. But, I guess, those things take time, huh?” Yuuri said eventually, going back to their original conversation.
It had taken Yuuri a long time to realise he could be interested in girls and also be into guys. It seemed Murata was able to follow his thought processes.
“But you had the entire world here to support your choice, Shibuya,” Murata told him gently and reached over and squeezed Yuuri’s hand.
That night, he had a moment alone with Wolfram in the bedroom. Murata had said he had paperwork to deal with. He was fairly sure that was an excuse but it was appreciated.
“I’m sorry for making you angry,” he told Wolfram who was reading a book in bed in a peach silk nightgown, hair unbound and hanging in curly waves around his shoulders, newly brushed and glossy. He crawled onto their large bed next to Wolfram.
“Murata explained why you were upset,” Yuuri said.
Wolfram gave him a weary look, still slightly reproachful.
“I don’t care if you’re gay, or if you like girls, too. It doesn’t matter, as long as you want me and Murata only,” Yuuri said. He pulled one side of Wolfram’s unbound hair behind one delicate ear and kissed the edge of Wolf’s jaw in a way he knew that the prince liked. He could feel Wolfram thaw out slowly.
Yuuri raised his face, his fingers curling around one silky soft lock of hair and looked into Wolf’s green eyes sincerely. Wolfam’s beauty still amazed him. Yuuri was such an ordinary guy. He never thought he’d grow up to find two such beautiful people to share his life with.
Wolfram blinked and made a little huffing noise.
“You’re a wimp,” Wolfram told him closing the book and putting it on his side table, but there was no ire in his voice.
Yuuri shot him a bright smile, the one he kept in reserve for when he really wanted to make Wolf happy.
“Yes, but I’m the wimp who loves you. In fact, both your husbands love you. You know that, right?”
And he snatched Wolf into a kiss before he could protest about how it was Murata who was Yuuri’s husband. His prim and proper Wolf always worried about what was official when the heart knew better.
The kiss started gently enough and Yuuri enjoyed the feel of Wolf’s hair and the scent of scented soap on his skin. But the kiss didn’t stay gentle and he was quite happy, more than happy, to let Wolfram push him down.
This one little contradiction was one of many things he loved about Wolfram. His beauty looked so fragile and his recent growth spurt had given him a slimmer appearance. But it hid real strength, the product of years of sword practice. Pushy prince, he thought fondly as he rubbed his hands over the silky nightgown and slipped one hand up to caress the heat beneath. Wolfram shifted his hips and he moaned, feeling the Maou’s awareness rising to share this most instinctive act with Yuuri. He welcomed it and Yuuri-Maou stopped thinking.
Hours later, Wolfram was sleeping soundly, one leg and arm propped at an uncomfortable looking position over Murata’s chest and legs. Murata was sleeping between them, one arm flung across his chest.
Yuuri wasn’t asleep. He was, instead, thinking furiously, steadily chewing on a thumbnail.
Tomorrow, he’d have a long, private, and, most likely, embarrassing talk with Günter to see what he could do to make Shin Makoku a much more accepting place. It wasn’t going to be easy, but then nothing worth it was. He snuggled up against his husbands and nodded off.
Comments/reviews are always appreciated.