"Absolutely not," Yuuri announced, glaring at Murata. “Taking that many people at once tires me out.”
“But, Yuu-chan,” Jennifer pleaded, “I want to be there for my granddaughter’s birthday! I even got her a pretty dress!”
Yuuri shuddered, thinking of the horrors that his mother could unleash upon his poor, unsuspecting daughter. “But-“
Jennifer stood her ground. “I’ll go pack, and we’ll leave as soon as your father gets home. I’m sure he wants to see Greta-chan, too.” And with that, she flounced off, her skirt swishing in her wake.
“Mama-san sure seems happy,” Murata noted cheerfully.
“Do you know what you’ve done?” Yuuri cried.
Murata just smiled.
“Are you going to take responsibility when my mother and Cheri-sama meet?”
Yuuri watches in sick satisfaction as Murata pales slightly, but the feeling is short lived. “Well, at least Mama-san can help her plan the wedding. I’m sure Cheri-san and Mama-san will have a lot to talk about.”
Sadly, Murata ducked the remote that Yuuri chucked at his head. Instead, it came to a halting stop against Shouri’s chest.
“Now, now, Shibuya,” Murata continued sweetly, “there’s no need to throw things, right, Shibuya’s older brother?”
“Mother said we should go buy a cake,” Shouri said, ignoring Murata completely.
“But Sangria, Lasagna, and Doria are making her a cake,” Yuuri argued.
Shouri grabbed his jacket and started putting it on.
Murata hopped out of his chair and sidled up next to Shouri. “Chocolate with raspberries sounds good, doesn’t it, Shibuya’s older brother?” Murata smiled at Yuuri. “I’ll go with him, Shibuya. You should stay here and relax.”
By the time they were ready to leave, Jennifer had three bags – all waterproof, she informed them cheerfully, this way the photo books of Shou-chan and Yuu-chan as children don’t get ruined, as well as Greta’s dress – Murata was holding a full sheet cake, Shouma had a video recorder in a water-proof camera bag – Jennifer had picked it up at the same sale as the waterproof luggage – Shouri had two bunches of balloons in either hand, and Yuuri had the beginnings of a very large migraine.
“We’re ready, Yuu-chan!” Jennifer informed him.
He stared at the large party of people he was expected to transport, and the very tiny bathtub he was to transport them in.
And that wasn’t even adding in the worry that, when they did get to the other side, Wolfram would be waiting, lecture at the ready. Then there was the meeting between his parents and Cheri-sama.
Yuuri hung his head and decided that he would see if Anissina-san needed a test subject when they arrived – it had to be safer than what was bound to happen.
“You’re late, you wimp!”
Yuuri stared at the blue sky for a minute before facing his fiancé, who was suddenly very busy helping Jennifer and Shouma out of the pool and grabbing luggage.
“Mama-san! Yuuri didn’t tell us you’d be coming!” Wolfram shot Yuuri a dark look before adopting his perfect son-in-law routine. “Father, let me get you some towels.”
Yuuri continued to watch as Wolram and Gunther took off in search of towels – or, more likely, in search of maids to send in search of towels.
“Here you go, Shibuya’s older brother,” Murata said cheerfully. “Let me help dry you off.”
Shouri snatched the towel from Murata. “I don’t need your help, friend of my brother.”
Yuuri rolled his eyes and filed away Shouri’s pink cheeks for later blackmail. “Konrad, where’s Cheri-sama?”
Konrad smiled. “Mother is with Fanberlain-san. She said they’ll definitely be here for Greta’s party.”
Yuuri sighed in relief. That bought him some time. “And Greta?”
“She is with Beatrice in the garden, having a tea party.”
“Eh? A tea party?” Jennifer was suddenly right there. “How cute!”
“I’ll introduce you, Mama-san,” Wolfram said.
When had Wolfram gotten back? “It’s okay-“
“Thank you, Wolf-chan!” Jennifer interrupted. “Let’s go!”
Yuuri watched as his mother and father followed his fiancé from the bath house towards the center of the castle.
He only hoped that Greta survived.
By dinner, Greta was sitting between Jennifer and Shouma, smiling shyly and answering questions. His parents were wearing Anissina-san’s language-translator earpieces and chatting easily with everyone around the table as if they did this every night.
So far, nothing had too horribly gone wrong, although, if Gwendal’s facial expressions were anything to go by, Yuuri would have a lot more paperwork to do over the next few weeks.
Then the door to the dining room burst open, and Yuuri felt his heart sink.
“My, my!” Cheri-sama exclaimed. “It sounds so lively in here!”
Wolfram, Konrad, and Gwendal all shot to their feet as Cheri-sama approached the table and greeted them.
“I thought you weren’t due to return until tomorrow afternoon, Mother,” Konrad said, kissing her on the cheek.
Cheri-sama sighed dramatically. “Fanfan received an urgent letter and he had to return home, so I thought I’d come back a day early, too.”
Yuuri felt a sharp kick to his shin and looked across the table to see his mother smiling at him meaningfully. Yuuri sighed softly and stood up.
“Cheri-sama, I’d like to introduce you to my parents,” Yuuri began. “Shibuya Shouma and Miko.”
Jennifer stood up and bowed. “My friends call me Jennifer,” she said.
“Heika’s parents?” Cheri-san grinned.
“This is our mother, Cecilie von Spitzweig,” Wolfram added.
“Please, call me Cheri,” Cheri-san insisted.
From the way Cheri-san’s and Jennifer’s eyes were sparkling at each other, Yuuri could tell that his imagination couldn’t even begin to envision the horrors that the two of them together could concoct.
He glanced at Wolfram and was glad to see that he wasn’t the only one.
Greta was happily running around in her new dress – green and white frills, with a huge bow in back – and Shouma was eagerly recording every second.
The huge cake that the maids had baked had barely been touched in favor of the cake that Jennifer insisted they bring, even if it was a bit roughed up from the transit. Gunther, of course, fawned all over it even though it was quite obvious he didn’t like the taste very much.
Jennifer and Cheri-san sat in chairs – Jennifer had a large legal pad in her hand and a stack of bridal magazines on the grass between them. Cheri-san was animatedly pointing out dresses and cakes and anything else that caught her fancy.
Wolfram and Konrad were looking at the photo books with huge smiles on their faces, while Murata helpfully pointed out all of the naked baby pictures.
“I was wondering what else she’d brought with her,” Yuuri grumbled as he went back and forth watching his dignity die a slow, painful death. “Three suitcases for an overnight stay? I should have known.”
Shouri handed him a piece of cake. “Father said the last time they went on an overnight trip, she brought two things of luggage.”
Yuuri shook his head. “Wolfram does the same thing,” he admitted. “We had to bring an extra horse just for his clothes.”
“Yuuri! Yuuri!” Greta and Beatrice were circling around him now, looking up at him with big grins. “Come play with us, Yuuri!”
He laughed and grabbed their hands, letting them lead him around.
“Do come again soon!” Cheri-san exclaimed, giving Jennifer a hug. “There is still so much to do!”
“Of course,” Jennifer agreed. “And please, don’t hesitate to come to our house.”
Greta stood next to Wolfram, holding his hand. “Thank you for the dress, Jennifer,” she said politely. “It is very pretty.”
Jennifer grinned and gave her a big hug. “I’ll make sure to send more for you with Yuu-chan,” she promised.
Yuuri sighed and ushered his mother back into the pool as everyone called their goodbyes.
Wolfram grabbed Yuuri’s arm before he could jump into the water. “When will you be back, Yuuri?”
Yuuri could feel Murata’s grin and quickly pulled away from Wolfram. “We’ll be back tomorrow, okay?”
Wolfram nodded his approval, and Yuuri jumped into the pool. “Everyone ready?”
Yuuri nodded, closed his eyes, and waited.
Yuuri peeked his head out of the water and silently sighed in relief that Wolfram wasn’t there. He didn’t think he could handle another lecture.
He and Murata quickly dried themselves off and pulled out a change of clothes from the drawer they kept in the bath house and changed.
It took fifteen minutes before he finally found anyone, and, when he did, he immediately turned around and started running toward the bath house.
“He went that way!” he heard Murata call helpfully, and, suddenly, there was the sound of feet pounding from behind him.
Arms wrapped around his waist, and Konrad smiled at him. “Sorry, Heika,” he said, though he didn’t sound the least bit apologetic. “Mother wants to make sure you fit into the dress that she and Jennifer-san designed.”
Konrad carried him into the room, and Yuuri saw it.
And behind it was a beaming Cheri-san.
Yuuri suddenly realized that this was only the beginning when Wolfram stepped into the room, wearing nothing but lace and frills.
“Make sure to bring Jennifer with you next time, Heika,” Cheri-san said. “We have to finish planning.”
Yuuri shook his head and resigned himself to his fate – one on one, he could probably take them on. But together? He had no chance.
“Okay,” he agreed.