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Arranged marriages were unconventional. Smart, yes, but unconventional.

 

Although Viktor knew they shouldn’t be. God, no. He’s been preparing for this ever since he was pushed into the world of royalty, alongside with the other array of monogamous responsibilities that have been piled unto his shoulders since birth.

 

The thought always seemed to send a small churning deep in the pit of his stomach, the thought of marrying a near stranger for a mere peace treaty, spending the rest of his life with them...

 

But he shouldn’t notice or care about it, after all, what was love in the cruel world of monarchy and power play? It wasn’t like Viktor would ever get to feel that fluttering one gets in the stomach, the shine in someone’s eyes, the general warmth that the romance novels often bullshitted about. He was guilty for dreaming, of course, when it was late at night and the echoing clock ticks mimic the hollowness of his heart.

 

So he accepts his dull, monotonous future with possibly a spouse who won’t stop batting their eyelashes at him. He wasn’t too arrogant, of course, but he knows the effect he has on some people. Humans were open story books, ready and willing to be read. Viktor knew what to do, when to do it, and almost everyone falls at his feet immediately.

 

Almost everyone.

 

And then there’s Yuuri Katsuki, who was a whole different story himself.

  


 

 

There was a certain way the beautiful brown eyed man held himself, not much less graceful than his family, but like the air around him choked his very being.

 

…which was a stark contrast from his parent’s soft smiles and his sister’s cool demeanor. Yuuri bowed with a grace dubiously perfected over the years, back straight and shoulders unyielding. His feet, which were barely visible underneath his colorful kimono, stayed in a perfect V position when he stands.

 

A dancer’s stance, the Empress murmurs fondly when Viktor asks. He has a gift. He’s been practicing since he was a young boy.

 

Viktor hopes that Yuuri will one day show him a few moves, but his gaze flies away into another dimension whenever Viktor tries to smile or at least look at him. It wasn’t a shy, blushing little thing either; Viktor felt like he was a vermin and Yuuri was ready to cut his tail off.

 

I’ll take care of him, he hears himself say, I’ll make sure he’s comfortable in Russia. He doesn’t promise the man’s happiness. He can promise anything but that.

 

The Empress and Emperor smile, a little tight lipped.

 

That’s all we need to hear.

 

Before Viktor steps foot on the wooden plank that connects to the ship, a little child tugs on his tunic. He’s thankful that he didn’t accidentally dropkick the child into the waters due to sheer surprise, but he crouches down to meet the child’s sweet little black eyes and gives him a smile of his own.

 

The child shoves a little piece of paper in his hand, shaped in a… in a horse? Dog? She says something in a language Viktor does not know, and yet he listens to the foreign syllables with awe.

 

“Lutz says to come back soon.” Viktor jumps at the sudden voice, English soft and slightly accented, barely hanging on to the corners of his syllables. He turns and sees the same brown eyes with the wall protecting them, as Yuuri stands a few feet away. “A-And… And she says you’re beautiful.”

 

Viktor smiles, Yuuri doesn’t.

 

Biting the inside of his cheek, Viktor turns back to the child and ruffles his hair. “Thank you. And you know what? Maybe I will.”

 

 


 

 

 

 

They arrive in Russia, and when asked if he’d want to move into Viktor’s quarters immediately, Yuuri asks if he could have a room for himself.

 

“I… The marriage isn’t until a few months, yes?” Yuuri says, brown eyes flitting to everywhere but him. “N-Not to be rude, but I… I wish to have some time for myself. Alone.”

 

Viktor is, surprisingly, disappointed.

 

 

 


 

 

Viktor pads outside, air chilly against his night tunic and bare feet grazing he carpet. The wind sings, the moon is a stage, and there are nights like these that made Viktor want to never wake up again.

 

Insomnia was a bitch, which was a fact. It was sad to admit that Viktor often had these sleepless nights. I don’t know, maybe it was the ticking in his room. Maybe it was the blank canvas that was his bed. Maybe the calluses on his feet start to feel like rocks. Maybe it was something else.

 

There was a balcony at the end of the hallway, leading straight into the stars. Viktor would often stand by there, marble glass in his hand, drinking the night away. Yuuri’s room was in the same wing, maybe in the same hallway, he didn’t know, he didn’t know anything about the man.

 

But Yuuri was there, with his back to him and the moon kissing his clothed shoulders as he stands by the stone railing, fingers tapping against the stone. The fleshy pads of his digits act like waves, moving in a rhythm that was too coordinated, too practiced.

 

Yuuri doesn’t notice him, and for a long time, Viktor just watches his fingers.

 


 

 

For a man like Yakov, he was oddly sentimental.

 

Amidst marble statues and winter scarves, Yakov huffs out a detrimental “so how’s your fiancé?”

 

Viktor doesn’t know what to answer. How is he? Yuuri is as quiet as ever, lurking around with a steady, guarded sort of grace. Like he floated at every given interval, eyes unyielding. He was a storybook that remained shut, closed, locked by several steel chains and a wooden plank for good measure. Viktor doesn’t know what to do of him. Viktor is at loss.

 

“He’s… He’s well.”

 

“You two haven’t talked about jack shit, haven’t you?”

 

Viktor thinks hard. A few days ago Yuuri asked him to pass the salt during dinner. It was a pleasant talk all in all. When Viktor doesn’t answer, Yakov just sighs.

 

“You need to stop thinking about yourself too much, Vitya.”

 

“Who said I was thinking about myself, huh?” Viktor says, voice a little sharp. Yakov raises a thick eyebrow, raising a goblet to his mouth.

 

“Boy, I know you ever since you learned how to put your own doublet. You’re probably thinking ‘oh no, he’s too quiet and reserved. I must assume he resents me and continuously avoid him as well.’”

 

Viktor scoffs. He does not avoid Yuuri it’s… it’s just that Viktor was an ironic piece of shit. He was good with people, talking and charming and smirking his way into their shallow little hearts. But his father doesn’t even know what his favorite color is, nor does his mother, and the little secrets and the beastly wants in him were clutched close to his chest, never to be shown to the world, never to be shown to anyone.

 

Yuuri was worse. Yuuri had a heart of stone. Yuuri who fazed everyone with his untouchable beauty, the way his fingers move and the way his shoulders relax, tense and laid back at the same time. Viktor was afraid of him, like Yuuri had the capability to destroy Viktor’s entire being if he had the chance.

 

Yakov knows this, or he might not. Nonetheless, Yakov’s eyes held centuries’ worth of understanding. Viktor wonders if even Yakov couldn’t understand Yuuri. Viktor wonders if he could.

 

“Warm your way into him, boy. You are, after all, going to spend the rest of your life with him, whether you like it or not.”

 


 

 

“Do you play the piano?”

 

It was a sudden question, yes, echoed into the quiet little intervals of their study. Viktor was by his table, answering god knows what letter, and Yuuri was sitting by the flames, book in hands but his eyes in another place. Nonetheless, when Viktor speaks, Yuuri perks up in surprise.

 

He was an idiot to assume. They didn’t have pianos in Japan… at least, that’s what Viktor assumed. They had their stringed instruments and their flutes, but they didn’t have pianos… But he remembers the way his fingers moved against the cracks of balcony stone, and he figures it wouldn’t hurt to try.

 

“Huh?” It was a quiet little noise of confusion, and Viktor presses further.

 

“Do you play the piano?” Viktor asks again, eyes hopeful. Viktor hopes, wishes, that the building blocks that made up Yuuri’s wall would stop from flying in between them once again. His fingers, underneath the table, are a monogamous symphony of monotone yet anxious raps against the wood, tap tap tap.

 

Yuuri blinks.

 

Tap tap tap.

 

“Yes.”

 


 

 

Their walk to the music room was quiet, and not even in an odd manner. It was… and awfully comfortable sort of quiet, like the beat of a butterfly’s wings, like the elision made by the sound of their boots on the carpeted hallways.

 

After multiple beats of silence, Viktor nearly jumps at Yuuri’s voice. His soft, smooth voice. “How’d you know?”

 

Viktor feigns a smile, putting on that mask of eloquence, the kind that he puts on before a dalliance with a glittery noble. “I just happen to quickly know people.”

 

That wasn’t a lie.

 

Yuuri’s eyes are straightforward, unyielding.

 

“Alas, you don’t know me.”

 

That wasn’t a lie either.

 

It was like someone has quickly shaved off his tongue in one quick swipe, blood filling his mouth and preventing him from saying anything eloquent. Yuuri had peeled off the butterfly’s wings, leaving the corpse cradled in Viktor’s hands.

 

(This was purely metaphorical, of course. Yuuri didn’t seem like the type of person who peels off butterfly wings for fun.)

 

He was in a daze for the rest of the walk, until he realizes they’re standing in front of the music room doors, and Viktor pushes them open. Efflorescent paintings adorned the wall, most of them worth more than the actual instruments inside the room, but that didn’t matter, because Viktor had led Yuuri to the grand piano in the middle of the room.

 

“How’d you learn?” Viktor asks, casually, as he watches the way Yuuri’s fingers move against the slick, black polish. He had the servants ready the piano earlier, except he wouldn’t admit he felt a little anxious while doing so.

 

“My dance teacher… She loves music and she travelled often. She brought home a piano when I was young; my parents were horrified when they hauled the instrument in the palace.” His voice was soft, almost like the fingers that caressed the covered keys of the instrument. It was the softest, warmest feeling the man seemed to emanate during his whole stay in Russia, and for some reason, Viktor figured there must be something deeper in the context. But nonetheless, Yuuri presses his lips together, like he just revealed a dirty little secret.

 

Viktor clears his throat, small smile on his lips. His mouth talks, unfiltered, and he’s an idiot. “Well, I hope you like it. Maybe you wouldn’t loathe your stay here as much anymore.”

 

Yuuri freezes, Viktor realizes his words, and he nearly smacks his head on the grand, polished piano.

 

Viktor’s mouth parts, nearly biting the inside of his cheek, but Yuuri beats him to it. “I don’t loathe it here.”

 

“I-I… I don’t mean-“

 

“I’m sorry, Tsesarevich Nikiforov, that I fail to be the fiancé you wish I were to be.” Yuuri says, the insouciance of his tone is blindingly frightening and his eyes flicker to Viktor, who feels the desultory processing of his brain. The butterfly corpse in his hand flutters, moves a bit, before it dies again in Viktor’s hands. And goddamn it. “I’m sorry I’m not pretty and lively and that I’m a burden enough to actually get in your way. I’m trying, really, but it seems my efforts are futile.”

 

Viktor is a lassitude of emotions, staring at Yuuri with incredulous flames in his eyes. Yuuri’s back straightens, shoulders back, and he sighs. “I thank you for the piano. I’ll try to make use of it.” Yuuri’s gaze goes downcast, and he bows. “Excuse me; I have to write a letter for my sister.”

 

Viktor is left alone with the piano and his heart, beating against his chest, louder than any clock he’s known.

 


 

 

Here’s the thing: they do get married, eventually.

 

It was both their job to look happy and pretend like the endless, monotonous voice of the priest and his useless blabber was enthusiastically informative. The kiss they share was short, close mouthed, and Viktor tried to not notice the balm on Yuuri’s lips or the kohl lining his eyes and the single strand of his hair that kissed his forehead.

 

It was an understandably big occasion, of course. The Tsesarevich of the biggest country in the world and the Imperial Prince of the sturdiest nation in all of Asia were both getting married; Viktor could hear the merry men from all the way to his balcony. Nonetheless, there were lots of polite smiles, millions of rubles’ worth of gifts, and Yuuri still wasn’t talking to him.

 

The banquet was a whole other story, however.

 

Viktor was at the royals’ table, mouth forming around the wine in his cup. His father and mother were both chatting a few seats away, small smiles on their faces. Viktor wonders if they’ve been through his turmoil of feelings before, if they’ve been scared of what the future of their heart will hold.

 

Christophe saunters towards the table, smirk wine red and stubble thoroughly oiled. He smiles, raising his flute. “A toast to the newlywed.”

 

Viktor cocks an eyebrow, raising his own goblet. “More like; a toast to the prisoner.”

 

Christophe sighs. “Yuuri’s not that bad.”

 

“Maybe not.” Viktor says, fingers playing with the loose threads of the tablecloth. “I would think differently if he didn’t absolutely resent me.”

 

“Yuuri doesn’t resent people, Viktor. God, that boy is more sincere than a whole clan of scheming councilors.” Christophe smiles a little now, sipping on his glass. “And you’ve got yourself a beauty, dear. I’ve heard of his numerous talents, it’ll be such a waste-“

 

They both jolt at the loud cheering from the other end of the massive, massive, banquet room. There was a crowd of people surrounding something, someone. The level of intoxication nearly everyone in the room has must be enough for the noblemen to unbutton their shirts, the ladies to remove their heels and dance around freely. But whatever it was at the other end of the room, it must be highly… entertaining.

 

Christophe beckons him with a slight cock of his head, and they both head their way towards the ruckus.

 

Now, Viktor isn’t saying that he was expecting everything else other than his nearly half naked husband wiping the floor clean with his grace but… Yeah. Yeah he was.

 

Christophe was… thoroughly unsurprised at the sight. That bastard. But he thanks him for closing Viktor’s jaw shut before anything could fly in. His goblet was on the ground, Viktor feels no sympathy as Yuuri launches himself in the air, the lean lines of his abdomen visible, revealing what his soft tunics and robes hid. It hid a beautiful beast, firm and soft and hard and rough around the edges. The red flush on his cheeks were prominent, framing his face like sunlight frames a flower, and yep, he’s definitely drunk. This wasn’t the Yuuri who shut Viktor down, voice quiet yet harsh and sharp.

 

“What’d I tell you?” Christophe murmurs, Viktor is too enamored. The crowd gasps as he spins, leg high up in the air. Viktor sees his cousin, Yuri, watching from the sidelines with a tired flush on his face. He looks equally disheveled, maybe not as exposed, Viktor wonders if they had a dance off. They probably did, and judging from the disdainful look on his cousin’s face, little Yuri probably lost.

 

The crowds cheer as the song reaches its end. Alas, Yuuri stops to take a quick breath, sweat sheening his skin as he shines under the chandeliers. While doing so, he sees Viktor, and the beginning of a flamenco resonates throughout the entire room.

 

Viktor gulps.

 

Yuuri holds out his hand.

 


 

 

The first time Viktor rides a horse was practically the best and most terrifying day of his life. The horse’s name was Connor, and apparently horses can grow moustaches. What a funny little thing, Viktor couldn’t stop laughing for days.

 

The first few minutes were alright, Viktor was guided by a trainer, teaching him the proper way to hold the reigns, how to not fall off and die, the usual stuff. But Viktor, being the curious little shit that he was, kicks the horse’s side and the horse rears, nearly throwing Viktor off, and it gallivants into the forest with no warning.

 

Viktor screamed as loud as any ten year old could scream, latching onto the reigns like it was his life, feeling the air and the branches scrape his skin and his back. The feeling was understandably terrifying for a child, more terrifying than the scolding his mother gives him later on, but he loved it.

 

I’ll never feel that again. Viktor thinks, years later, when he’s old and he’s done more than enough dangerous things, his mother has grey hair at the age of thirty five. Never again.

 

But he feels it, again and again, whenever Yuuri grabs his hip, his hand, dips him in-

 

Dancing with Yuuri was far more exciting than any mustached horse out there, he concludes. There’s a certain sobriety in the whole context to it, when Yuuri looks at him with hooded eyes and that small, drunken little grin on his face. His clock of a heart was broken, not in a bad way, but the way that the arms move rapidly, the numbers falling off the porcelain, grazing the wood-

 

He’s an excellent dancer, he also notices. Like… Like his arm could be relaxed, flowing, and the rest of his body would be rigid and calculating. Yuuri was a beautiful mix of ballet and contemporary, feet blending the two concepts together. He was nothing but a scintilla in the middle of a pond, but he creates ripples, waves, tides that wash over Viktor with every step they took.

 

The night ends with a red faced Viktor, their perspective families either beet red or chuckling fondly. Viktor shows no interest in the wolf whistles and the little suggestive exclamations of the guest, because Yuuri drapes himself over Viktor and immediately passes out.

 

“Well, someone has to take him back into his chambers.” Christophe says, with… the majority of his clothing seemingly gone. “I wonder who would be valiant enough to offer such sacrifice-“

 

Viktor scoffs, but he looks down his drunken Japanese husband, legs shaking and nearly sinking to the floor if only the arms around Viktor’s neck weren’t preventing him from kissing the ground. Viktor huffs, grabs Yuuri behind his knees and rushes to leave, declining any offers from escorts.

 

Viktor keens when Yuuri shivers, burrowing himself deeper into Viktor’s touch, sighing into his shoulder.

 

He could only sigh, the hallways filled with Yuuri’s soft breathing, Viktor’s shoes on the floor, the ticking of his heart-

 

Viktor wonders where this confusing, arbitrary growling in him comes from. Not a monstrous growl, like a bumble bee hum. Quite, but thrashing. It confuses him greatly. Maybe it had something to do with the alcohol, or his drunken husband in his arms, or maybe it was because of the fact that Yuuri’s room was locked, and it’s not like he could just dump him in the middle of the hallway-

 

Yuuri mewls when Viktor attempts to detach himself from his surprisingly ironclad grip, despite being intoxicated. The moment Viktor has deposited Yuuri unto his feathery bed Yuuri chose the time to latch onto his arm, never letting him go.

 

“Agh… Yuuri-“

 

“Warm…” Yuuri murmurs, eyes still closed. Viktor chokes. He’s adorable. “So warm…”

 

Viktor huffs, taking the duvet and draping it over Yuuri’s quivering form. Yuuri sighs, his grip loosening a little as he sinks into the mattress. Viktor exhales, eyes staring at the dark hair plastered to the man’s forehead, brushing the strands away. Yuuri was apparently worse than any executioner or torturer out there, clouding Viktor’s mind with thoughts that he never had; it was a blissful sort of agony. He sighs once more. “Why do you hate me so…”

 

It wasn’t a question, but Viktor is surprised when Yuuri answers. His voice was quiet, soft, still edging onto the corners of unconsciousness. “… don’t hate you.”

 

“Yes you do.”

 

Yuuri nuzzles the pillow; Viktor’s stomach does another summersault. Whatever they put in the cake must be something. “’M… Don’t… You don’t hate… Nice things…”

 

Viktor was about to shake him awake, ask him what he meant, ask him what he feels in his heart, ask him how he does it, how he controls Viktor so easily, how he pulls him in to dance with nothing but just a beckon of his hands…

 

Yuuri is fast asleep.

 


 

 

Hangovers suck.

 

Viktor’s had his fair share of them, so you could say he’s pretty experienced.

 

Yuuri looks like he wants to die.

 

The Japanese man groans at the slight movement, pausing his ministrations, and the warm glass of water in Viktor’s hand is still untouched.

 

Yuuri had approximately 16 glasses of whatever the fuck he drank. Viktor was impressed really, but there must be a downside to alcohol immunity in a certain amount, which turned out to be terrible hangovers. And hell, Viktor would rather pass out on one beer than puke at every movement he made after ten.

 

Yuuri was… thankfully less stingy in his state.

 

Viktor had offered the help of their numerous servants to assist him in his… agony, but Yuuri had declined.

 

“I would rather drown than let them see me looking like a rat’s arse.” Yuuri says begrudgingly, and Viktor stifles a laugh. Because let’s be honest, as much as a rat’s arse he resembled, Yuuri looked good in any state. Even with his hair sticking every which way, the dark circles under his eyes, the sun seemed to worship him still.

 

“How about I’ll take care of you, then?” Viktor offers softly, putting the glass of water on the nightstand. When Yuuri gives him a look of mild fright, Viktor chuckles. “I’ve already seen you, Yuuri. It’s alright.”

 

Yuuri purses his lips, reaching out for the glass of water. Viktor slides a hand under the small of Yuuri’s back, helping him up. He could ignore the way Yuuri stills at the touch, but he reaches for the water nonetheless. He swallows, Viktor eyes the little droplet of water that streams down his neck, pooling on his collarbone. He gulps, fingers looking for the small stack of books he placed on the floor.

 

“Do you know about The Tales of the Playboy?” Viktor says, slightly nervous. Jesus Christ, why would he nervous? There’s nothing to be nervous about. Yuuri was delirious, with probably a pounding headache accompanying him right now. Viktor was mentally superior. So why?

 

Yuuri burrows himself under a duvet after hydrating himself, eyeing Viktor with watery, narrowed eyes. For a while, Yuuri doesn’t answer, and Viktor is feeling clammy again. Goddamn it-

 

“Are you going to read to me?” Yuuri says softly, voice muffled by the comforters. Viktor’s comforters. Goddamn it-

 

“Would you like me to?”

 

Tap tap tap-

 

“Yes.”

 

In an hour, Yuuri is fast asleep.

 


 

 

Approximately twenty two hours later, Yuuri is relatively fine.

 

Viktor knows this, of course, because when Viktor exits his room Yuuri passed by the hallway, both of them nearly shocking the other into dismissal. There’s the same little blush that dusts Yuuri’s cheeks, reminding Viktor of the fateful banquet night, and nearly Viktor blushes himself.

 

“Where are you heading off to?” Viktor asks, closing the door behind him. Yuuri collects himself, hands behind his back, feet still on that fateful v position. A dancer’s stance.

 

“O-Oh, the music room.” Yuuri says, bowing his head slightly. Viktor smiles.

 

“Lucky me. I was heading there myself.” It wasn’t a lie. Sure, he was planning to go to the kitchens and snatch away a few pastries, but the music room seemed to beckon for him now. For some reason.

 

For some reason.

 

Yuuri narrows his eyes a little, Viktor feels no venom towards the act and he’s relieved. “You weren’t, were you?”

 

Viktor chuckles, cocking his head to the side as they begin walking. There’s a foot of distance between them, like a tooth gap waiting to be filled. “It’s been a while since I went there; I haven’t touched my violin in ages.”

 

Yuuri looks at him, surprise in his eyes and a question on his lips. “You play?”

 

Viktor doesn’t play the violin; he manipulates it. Bends the bow, moulds the strings with the calluses on his fingers, the woods carves itself with Viktor’s name, emblazoned with his words in glittering gold and scarred permanently with his terrifyingly ethereal music.

 

But Viktor says yes to the mundane word. Play was merely a small peephole to what he can do.

 

It was also a peephole to what Yuuri can do, as it seems.

 

Viktor just stands there, instrument in hand as Yuuri plays almost effortlessly, it was terrifying. The piano immediately bends under his will, thrumming with life and force as Yuuri plays with a flutter of his fingers, and yet the piano sounds like it was being crashed under the waves.

 

Viktor remembers the piece, of course, played in numerous operas and Viktor knew the piece well enough to not need sheets. Halfway through Yuuri’s performance, the man jumps as Viktor’s violin begins to sing, melding with the black and white keys. All the while dragging the bow across the strings, Viktor smirks at the man, light and playful.

 

There’s a breathy little grin on Yuuri’s face, fingers hitting a G note.

 

When they finish, Yuuri is panting and Viktor’s palms are sweaty. They look like they had a night’s worth of raunchy love making, but hell, it was amazing.

 

“Holy shit.” Yuuri says, the profanity fitting his mouth beautifully. Viktor feels like he could swear as well.

 

“I know.” Viktor finishes.

 


 

 

Yuuri begins talking to him, thankfully. Conversations that weren’t filled with salt or weren’t about salt now filled their days. Well, not filled, but it was a stark contrast to the silent exchanges and awkward avoidance. Yuuri would return his good mornings, his good nights, talk to him about the weather and stuff, help translating letters... It was both mundane and oddly new to Viktor, especially when Yuuri accepted his offer to accompany him on a walk through the gardens.

 

“We received the cherry blossom plantlings your family shipped.” Viktor says casually, amidst flowers and bushes. “They’re so small and yet they smell so good.”

 

Yuuri smiles, eyes downcast, except he looks at his feet as they walk on paved grounds, his stance still almost like he’s gliding but pink petals followed his wake. “I’m used to the smell. They litter the whole entirety of Japan, basically.”

 

Viktor hums. “Do you miss it? It’s definitely a stark contrast to Russia’s old crusty scent.”

 

Yuuri laughs, another quiet growling emanates from the bottom of Viktor’s ribcage. He almost clutches his chest, not to stop it from growling, but because he’s just so utterly confused. “Russia’s great. It smells like the snow in Japan.”

 

The quiet growling in him starts to fade a little, but still there nonetheless. “Do you miss home?” He asks, mouth once again unfiltered.

 

Yuuri goes quiet, and Viktor hopes that he didn’t make a mistake. Oh god, he probably did. He probably ruined it all again. Oh god oh god oh god-

 

“Yuuri-“

 

“I’m sorry-” -Tsesarevich Nikiforov, that I fail to be the fiancé you wish I were to be. His mind remembers, horrifyingly, and Viktor expects the worst. But Yuuri had been great, and he didn’t want to ruin this. Never want to ruin this. “For being… avoidant, during the first days of my stay here.”

 

Viktor stares, the growling in him intensifying.

 

Yuuri sighs, eyes downcast once more, but they flicker up to meet Viktor’s gaze. And it stays there. “Before I was told about my engagement, my dog had died.”

 

Viktor blinks, eyes widening a little. He suddenly remembers Makkachin, who was currently under Lillia’s care for due to a nasty incident with some pork buns, and wonders what it must’ve felt. He grimaces at the sour feeling that churned in his gut at the thought. “I’m very sorry.”

 

Yuuri smiles, the tilt of his lips were sad. “I had him ever since I was a child. It was… It was a little jarring for me, to say the least.”

 

Viktor sighs as they continue walking, hands clasped behind his back. “And then later on your parents tell you that you’re going to be stuck with me. I understand, now, why you were irritated.”

 

Yuuri’s voice was laced with old fondness, like an ancient painting. “Oh no, Viktor, I didn’t know who I was going to marry until you arrived in Hasetsu.” Yuuri smiles a little, eyes soft. “My cousin got married to a fat nobleman. He wasn’t horrible, he was kind enough, but…  She said he was as interesting as a stick. So I was expecting the worst.”

 

Viktor smiles, a little sad. Did… Did Yuuri’s expectations come true? Was he the worst? Viktor couldn’t blame him. Viktor was annoying and stupid and unbelievably honest. But Yuuri’s eyes widen at Viktor’s expression, rushing in to explain himself.

 

“But… But I was wrong.”

 

Viktor looks at him, almost a little desperate, but he doesn’t care. “Were you?”

 

Yuuri looks back, eyes holding a boldness that made the growling in Viktor’s chest return, thrashing like the ocean. Yet Yuuri was soft, like ocean waves crashing over rocks at low tide.

 

“Definitely.”

 

Viktor smiles, a little relaxed now. In the future, he might ask Yuuri what he’d meant. But this, this, would be enough for now. “In a few days, will you accompany me to the assembly hall in order to greet my aunt? I have a surprise for you. Would you like that?”

 

A shine spirals itself into his brown orbs. Beautiful, and Yuuri smiles.

 

“I would love to.”

 


 

 

They greet the Grand Duchess Lilia with polite hugs as servants lug her belongings inside. Lilia assesses the Japanese man with eyes of steel, circling him like a hawk as she examines his posture, the way his shoulders relax and tense, the little flits of hair that curl on the top of his head. Yuuri is a little terrified at first, but he moulds into Lilia’s superiority. Later on he tells Viktor that no matter how softer Minako is, dance teachers are terrifying and fortunately two decades with Minako made him immune.

 

“You’re Okukawa’s student, I presume?” Lilia says, her English sharp. “I’ve heard about you, boy. You better be as good as they say you are, or Minako is going to have a word with me.”

 

“Y-Yes mam.” Yuuri says, but his voice is steady, like the tides.

 

There is a bark; Yuuri is coddled to the floor.

 

There’s an immediate grin on Viktor’s face at the sight of his dog, alive and well. Letters he received reported that the dog was alright and just needed a few days of rest and recovery, but he couldn’t help but worry. Seeing her up and around freely made him sigh in relief. The sight of Yuuri being showered with dog licks and kisses, however, made him feel a different sort of feeling altogether.

 

“Makkachin, meet my Yuuri.” Viktor says. “Yuuri, meet Makkachin.”

 

“Good girl.” He hears it, heavy and breathy in between excited barks and sloppy sounds. “The best girl.”

 

Viktor’s heart keens, and he doesn’t even try to stop it.

 


 

 

“You can’t sleep again?”

 

Viktor jolts, nearly dropping the wine glass in his hand. He turns; Yuuri is in illuminated by the billowing curtains that decorate the entrance of the balcony. Even in the moonlight, he looks terrifyingly ethereal. Viktor smiles, cocking his head to the side. “Again?”

 

“I see you, some nights, sneaking out here.”

 

“Ah, my little Yuuri, stalking me already?” His tone is playful, almost like the wine in his hand. Yuuri raises an eyebrow when he starts to walk towards him, slowly, socked feet against the stone. Yuuri had thrown a thick robe around himself, as well did Viktor, since it was cold as fuck.

 

“My room is too cold, I couldn’t sleep.” Yuuri says softly, hiding his shivering hands. He stops beside Viktor, and he remembers the night where he watches Yuuri’s fingers, waving and flowing like black and white keys. Exotic brown eyes out onto Russia, the nation he and Viktor were going to rule, side by side.

 

There’s another churning in Viktor’s gut, and it wasn’t awful either. Something he can’t explain.

 

Viktor is looking at Yuuri. Viktor can’t stop looking at Yuuri. Viktor blames the moon. It’s the moon’s fault. He couldn’t stop looking at him, or the way the moonlight caresses his lashes, highlighting his cheekbones, illuminating his eyes and his lips. There was this ineffable way that the light kisses him, like the gods worshiped the very man that was standing next to him. Unreal. Too unreal.

 

The growling is back again, hungry, thrashing, Viktor gulps back more wine. Yuuri looks at him, smile soft enough to send Viktor hurdling over the edge.

 

“The view is great, yes?”

 

Yes.

 

“The trees get in the way, though.” Yuuri says, mentioning the grove of foliage that grew. It wasn’t an ugly sight, but the trees were tall enough to ruin things in the slightest. “It would be great to see all of Russia. I bet it’s beautiful.”

 

“Do you want to?”

 

Yuuri looks at him like Viktor was going to make him fly. “What?”

 

Viktor finishes the wine in unsteady gulps, the wine glass on the balcony for it to freeze. He doesn’t care.

 

Viktor holds out his hand.

 

Yuuri’s hand is cold in his, but warmth blossoms as soon as they touch, and Viktor whisks him off into the night.

 


 

 

“I haven’t been up here in years.” Viktor says, amongst stairwells and torches. “Yet I still remember every step.”

 

“Why’s that?” Yuuri asks, their hands still locked firmly together. Viktor smiles, looks over his shoulder.

 

“I was too scared, actually, so I stopped.”

 

Which was a lie. Viktor didn’t get scared. He was the beloved Tsesarevich of this damn kingdom, undeniable in his skills and loved by all. But… Maybe he did. Maybe he did get scared, Scared of the quiet echoing of the palace roof tiles and the loneliness, the ticking of his heart at maximum volume when he lounges there, on top of the world.

 

“Now you’re not?” Yuuri asks as they reach the tallest tower they’re both panting, but red flushes stain their cheeks. Viktor smiles, free.

 

“Now I’m not.”

 

They stop by the windowsill of said tower. It used to be a watch tower of a gate that was no longer used anymore, and Viktor found solace at the abandoned area. Yuuri coos at the higher ground, the better sight, but he gasps when Viktor climbs out the windowsill and hops onto the ledges that adorned the side.

 

“Viktor!” Yuuri exclaims, eyes wide. “What-“

 

“There’s a price to pay in order to see the whole of Russia, sir.” Viktor says, feigning a dark, growling voice of a guard. Yuuri grins a little at that. “A whole bag of bravery, maybe?”

 

Yuuri humors, him, arms crossing. “And what if I don’t happen to have enough payment?”

 

Viktor grins, holding his hand out and winking. “Perhaps I could make an exception for such a lovely man?”

 

Yuuri is blushing when he takes Viktor’s hand, hops out on the ledge with surprising agility, and they both sprint down the incline of the palace’s roof, illuminated by moonlight.

 

“Almost there.” He helps Yuuri up on a tall slab of stone, the highest point of the palace, and once Yuuri is up Viktor hears a little gasp of wonder.

 

“Viktor…” Yuuri gasps out. “Viktor, you have to see.”

 

“I’ve seen the view more than a hundred times, darling.” He jolts at the word, the… the darling sounding so effortless and right, like it was his favorite word. Like Viktor has said it a hundred times. Yuuri looks over the ledge, cheeks blushing from both exertion and… something else, but he hauls Viktor up with surprising strength.

 

Viktor is greeted by the familiar sight of his favorite spot, on the highest point of the palace, in probably the whole of Russia. He smiles, sits against an incline of stone and pats the spot beside him. Yuuri deposits himself, feet swinging over the ledge, hundreds of feet above the ground. His eyes hold no fear, no regret, nothing but awe as he stares at the vast expanse of land, illuminated by the moon.

 

Viktor is filled with nothing but awe.

 

“It’s wonderful.” Yuuri says, mouth slightly parted. He wanted to kiss the frost away He tells Yuuri about his first time discovering his place as a young child, climbing and seeing the view and knowing that he would keep this place close to his heart. He often came here when he was afraid, alone, or if he could simply not sleep. Either way, the stones know him, the roof knows him…

 

Yuuri knows him now, as well.

 

They talk and talk, the words from their mouths never stopping, the laughs never ceasing, the distance between them ever so shrinking, until Yuuri is pressed up to his side, searching for warmth. And Viktor gives it to him; hand on the stone behind where Yuuri’s sitting.

 

Viktor couldn’t stop himself, wouldn’t stop himself. They talk about his favorite color, book, play, musical piece (apparently they both had interests in Bocquet, and Viktor, once again, keens) all the things nobody knew, not even his parents, not even the one night stand who left bruises on his hips. It was refreshing, it was terrifying. Like he was giving cannon balls to Yuuri before standing freely in an open field, willing to be hurled over by Yuuri’s force.

 

It was like giving your life away to someone, willingly.

 

And Yuuri listens, all soft eyes and understanding, understanding, smiles. He tells Viktor about Vicchan, Mari and Toshiya and Hiroko, Yuuko and Nishigori and Minami and Phichit, the broken down castle that was Yuuri’s favorite hiding place. It’s a ninja house, Yuuri whispers secretively, a mischievous glint in his eyes. His favorite drink, his favorite food (he’s got to find a way on how to make katsudon, one way or another).

 

And later, when the cold becomes a little too unbearable, they make their descent without separating their hands. They sprint down the carpeted hallways, ducking and hiding from servants and guards, giggling like two schoolgirls.

 

“My room.” Viktor breathes out, slightly panting, blushing as his mouth babbles once more, unfiltered.

 

“W-What?” Yuuri says, eyes wide and glossy, like the stars painted themselves over his orbs. Viktor’s blush continues, searching for ways to not sound like a pervert.

 

“A-Ah… My room is warmer. You said it’s too cold in your room?” Viktor says, looking down at Yuuri with some hope in his eyes. He hopes he doesn’t sound too desperate, maybe he was. “I can share.”

 

We’re married. He wants to add. I can share everything, if you ask.

 

Yuuri breathes out, mouth parted.

 

Viktor wants to kiss the frost away

 

“That would be nice.”

 


 

 

Yuuri scoots to the farthest part of the bed of course, away from Viktor. Viktor can’t blame him. Yuuri was opening up, sure, but Viktor hadn’t completely removed the cinder blocks that made up Yuuri’s wall. He was, though, slowly, one by one.

 

Nonetheless, as every hour that passes by, they get closer, and closer, until they lie a few inches away from the other, legs nearly touching.

 

Viktor’s eyes are wide open.

 

It’s the damn moon’s fault.

 

Yuuri’s eyelashes are fanned on his cheeks, a dark contrast to the milky white of his flesh. Like an eclipse. God, Viktor wouldn’t mind getting his eyes seared off. Yuuri curls up in a ball when he sleeps, Viktor concludes, and it’s adorable-

Goddamn it-

 

One of Yuuri’s hand rests between the space in between them fingers half curled on each other.

 

Without thinking, Viktor slides his fingers in between Yuuri’s, warm flesh mixing with cold.

 

Yuuri murmurs contently, scooting closer, tucking his head under Viktor’s chin.

 

Maybe, Viktor thinks shakily, his hands shaking as he wraps an arm around Yuuri’s comforter-clad form. Maybe you’ll be the death of me. One day. One day.

 

The clock chimes, Viktor goes to sleep.

 


 

 

He is.

 

One night Yuuri barges in his room, dragging a multitude of blankets and pillows with him and directly deposits himself on Viktor’s bed, face down, passed out. Viktor, who was by his desk doing some late night work, drops his quill in shock.

 

“Mm, you’re room… warmer.” Yuuri murmurs, when asked, barely hanging onto the edges of consciousness. “Russia very… very cold.” Blearily, Yuuri opens one eye, looking up at him. “Can I stay?”

 

Yes, is what Viktor says.

 

You can stay forever, is what his heart screams.

 


 

 

When Yuuri is to set sail for Japan for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, it’s the moment when Viktor realizes how utterly, incandescently, and unequivocally fucked he is.

 

“It’s my mother’s name day in a few weeks.” Yuuri says when he informs Viktor, all bright eyes and soft smiles. “It’s also going to be a national festival in the same week as well.”

 

Viktor lets Yuuri go, because 1.) Yuuri is not a damn prisoner 2.) He’s a damn adult and 3.) It’s alright; Viktor can endure a few weeks without Yuuri.

 

Here’s the thing: He can’t.

 

Viktor makes Yuuri linger by the port, asking him repeatedly on things that he already asked for god knows how many times. Have you packed everything you need? Is the ship comfortable enough? Will you miss me? Yuuri laughs, the sound echoing throughout Viktor’s chest as he brushes away the fringe that covers Viktor’s eye and wraps him in a hug. I’ll be just fine.

 

Hugs were a normal thing now, between the two of them, alongside with the… um, the cuddling they do in the middle of the night. Hugs were shared in the middle of deserted hallways, rainy evenings, and when either just generally felt like shit. For some reason, the feeling of the other’s arms around each other felt… terrifyingly comforting.

 

Nonetheless, Viktor knows he’s not going to get another hug anytime soon. So he stands on the port, watching Yuuri’s waving figure until the ship gets swallowed by the horizon.

 

The castle is empty.

 

But it’s not, really, because there are hundreds of servants, approximately two thousand fifty three guards on duty, and Yurio with his cat alongside with his parents. Oh, and Lilia and Yakov, too. The castle was anything but empty…

 

Viktor sighs at the familiar, echoing ticking. His chest cowers, frozen solid, and it’s jarring, that it’s been weeks since he’s felt that… hollow, like a clock. Tick tock, tick tock. Like an old wound being reopened in the midst of battle, cowering amidst broken swords and dead men.

 

Tick tock, tick tock.

 

“You’re pathetic.” Yurio says (when Viktor calls him that, the boy attempts to claw his eyes out ruthlessly. Yuuri is unfair, of course, because Yurio always blushes first, before attempting to claw his eyes out ruthlessly as well) with a scowl, watching Viktor slumped over the massive dining room table with a glass of wine in his hand.

 

Viktor pouts, but he doesn’t rebuke Yurio the way he always used to. He’s tired. Maybe from the council meeting yesterday, or the sword drills he endured this morning, or maybe the wine he was drinking wasn’t his favorite. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

 

“Can’t a man just enjoy a glass of wine?” Viktor rasps out, eyes unfocused.

 

Yurio lets Potya prance around on the table, knowing full well that the servants hate when he lets the feline do that.  “You’ve been drinking less now, ever since your wedding.”

 

“Mhm.”

 

“I was thinking that the piggy is making you less of a whiny baby.” Yurio scowls. “I was wrong.”

 

Viktor just sighs and swigs.

 

Yurio makes a face of disgust. “You’re far too gone.”

 

Viktor narrows his eyes at him. “You’re ten years old. You know nothing.”

 

Green eyes roll, sharp enough to nearly cut his own eyelids. “I know well enough that you’re too much of a wuss to actually make a move on him.” Viktor sputters out interjections, droplets of wine spilling over the rim of the glass. Nonetheless, Yurio continues. “And that you’re worse than that mutt of yours, following the little piggy around like a cloud, kissing his ass at every given interval.” Yurio scowls. “I’m too young for this.”

 

Viktor just sighs, knowing full well that he’s… right. God, he’s right. His stupid pride is now crumbling like dust, resting on his feet in piles of shame. It comes out in three words, one sentence, exiting his mouth like smoke.

 

Tick tock, tick tock.

 

“I miss him.”

 

“Wrong.” Yurio frowns. “You love him.”

 


 

 

They said there was a massive storm.

 

Viktor lies awake, tick tock, tick tock, worry courses through him, and he clenches a hand, nearly ripping his sheets.

 

They said there was a massive storm.

 

Yuuri was supposed to return days ago.

 

He didn’t think of the possibilities much, except one morning, when his father accidentally mentions the weather forecast over breakfast. Over eggs and juice, he nearly drops his fork at the news. A cyclone, washing over the pacific where ships travelled. Where Yuuri’s ship travelled.

 

“He’s going to be fine, darling.” His mother says, trying his best to reassure him. “There are no distress letters. He’s going to be fine.”

 

But… God, what if Yuuri never gets to return? What if a broken ship comes back with no survivors? What if he was stranded on a wooden plank somewhere, forced to survive on a desolate island? What if what if what if-

 

A strangled growl escaped Viktor’s mouth; the hammering in his heart was slow but torturous. He sits up, wrenches the sheets from him before grabbing a lantern and exiting the room, hoping that choking himself with wine would bring himself to rest.

 

He traverses down the familiar hallways, passing late night servants who bow at his presence before scurrying off. His feet are quiet, practiced, his hands shaking-

 

Except when he continues to travel down the quiet hallways of his home, finding that he didn’t even need a lantern due to the bright illumination of the moon through the windows, he rounds the corner and sees that he wasn’t alone.

 

The moon’s shrine was there, pale skin and big brown eyes, glowing in the darkness. Hair slightly damp, eyes a little tired, but face determined. His eyes widen at the sight of Viktor, who probably looked as equally shocked as he was.

 

Yuuri was home, he was home and he was safe and oh God, he probably just arrived and was about to go up to their room, a servant in his tow helping him with his luggage.

 

Viktor drops his lantern and breaks out into a sprint, like a riptide, Yuuri follows his ministrations.

 

Yuuri crashes in his arms, smelling like the ocean, burying his face in Viktor’s shoulder. The impact was nearly enough to send the both of them to the floor, but Viktor catches them both, arms winding tightly around his husband, never letting go.

 

“I was worried.” Viktor rasps out, burying his face in Yuuri’s hair. He smelled like the ocean and the smell of cherry blossoms, freshly bloomed. “God, I was so worried.”

 

“The storm wasn’t as bad as they thought.” Yuuri murmurs softly, but Viktor couldn’t mistake the quiver in his voice. “We just arrived half an hour ago.”

 

Viktor nods. It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. God, nothing else mattered.

 

“I missed you.”

 

“Wrong.” Yurio frowns. “You love him.”

 

“I missed you too.”

 


 

 

Next time, he goes to Japan with Yuuri.

 

The Empress and Emperor greet them both at the docks, warm smiles and all. Viktor jolts when they don’t hesitate to wrap him in a hug, them smelling like flowers and cherry blossoms, like home.

 

Yuuri holds his hand as they traverse down the Palace gardens; he lets Viktor pluck a cherry blossom petal from the highest tree he could reach, teasing Yuuri of his height. Viktor, to his delight, gets fed Katsudon by Yuuri and his glorious chopsticks while the Imperial Family sent knowing looks to each other across the table. They meet Yuuko and her husband, and it seemed like Yuuri was wrong. The two looked at each other like the other hung up the stars, while their children ask if they could braid flowers into Viktor’s hair. They sneak into the abandoned castle Yuuri keeps telling him about, the view from the top almost mimicking Viktor’s palace hiding place, and he sighs as he drinks up the sun.

 

They walk, hand in hand, across the beach. Barefoot with their pants rolled up to their knees, Yuuri kicks water at him. They both end up drenched, rolling on the sand, laughing their lungs out.

 


 

 

On the way back, Viktor catches Yuuri alone on the empty ship deck. He suddenly recalls the first time he encountered Yuuri on that balcony, with his back to him. Stone cold and illuminated by the late moonlight, Viktor is canonballed with an endless, churning, want.

 

“W-What…” Yuuri asks when Viktor laces their fingers together, brown eyes illuminating the moonlight, lips parted. “What are you doing?”

 

I don’t know. “Can…” Tick tock, tick tock, his heart breaks free. He pulls Yuuri closer as the other man immediately molds into his touch, watching his parted lips, the chiming in his chest enough to wake the entire crew. “Can I have this dance?”

 

Yuuri nods, a little bit shakily, and if only Viktor had focused enough he would’ve heard the rapid chiming in Yuuri’s heart as well. But alas, Viktor had always been selfish; there were many things he wished to keep to himself. Like this moment, right now, for forever.

 

Their bare feet barely make a sound on the wooden ship floors, yet every step was thunderous. At least to Viktor, who felt his diaphragm shake and rattle. He wondered what was going on in Yuuri’s little mind, what he thought, if he also wanted to stay like this forever.

 

Yuuri begins to hum to their steps; Viktor’s favorite song. God. The want in his chest erupts, burns, soldering him completely and Viktor stops.

 

Stay close to me-

 

Yuuri blinks, eyes half lidded. Viktor’s eyes are on his lips, never wavering.

 

Don’t go-

 

“What-“

 

Viktor kisses him, then and there, like the way he’s been wanting to for the past few days, weeks, months. Like moonlight washing over you, bright and heavy and Yuuri’s lips are kissing back, an arm snakes around his neck, pulling him closer. And Viktor sighs, never having kissed anyone like this before. No amount of feisty one night stands could replace this. No amount of fiery, desperate nights filled with passion could come up to this. Nothing could compare to this.

 

They separate and Viktor’s heart yearns, cries even, at the small little whine Yuuri lets out. Nonetheless, he prevents himself from coddling Yuuri then and there, especially when Yuuri is looking at him like that, a dazed, beautiful look in his eyes.

 

The moon witnesses everything, and Viktor kisses him some more.

 


 

 

There are times when Viktor feels this want, a want that he’s felt more than once before, when some pretty eyed noble catches his eye in a banquet or when Christophe flaunts his eight pack. A ravenous hunger, fiery and burning. He’s been feeling more and more wants ever since Yuuri had come along, the next one more confusing and terrifying than the last.

 

Most of the time it was the deep, intimate want. Like the flutter of Yuri’s eyelashes or his smile, yearning and never ending.

 

Then sometimes Viktor remembers the banquet, buzzing and lively, and he remembers the soldering look in Yuuri’s eyes and the way his fingers grip his bicep, tight and unyielding. Yuuri does this thing when he stretches out on their bed, the cotton of his top revealing the silver of skin by his abdomen, teasing and pale. Or when he slicks his hair back, letting a few strands kiss his forehead, illuminating more of his beautiful, narrow, soldering eyes.

 

And he shocks himself at the discovery of this want. He wasn’t saying that he didn’t find Yuuri attractive, because honest to God, a painting could barely hold up to that man’s etherealness. But Viktor had been chasing the twinkle in his eyes, making him laugh, so it was jarring when his eyes chase the pale stretch of his neck or the soft swell of his hips-

 

Yuuri was, surprisingly, an excellent fighter.

 

Viktor didn’t know that. His parents didn’t know that. Almost everybody didn’t know that.

 

But Yuuri was there, in the training grounds, half naked and panting and sweeping the floor with a graceful swipe of his sword.

 

Viktor watches the sweat bead off him, throat tightening at every flex of firm muscle on Yuuri’s abdomen.

 

When Yuuri, yet again, beats another trainee, sending the young man to the floor, he pants and sees Viktor watching from the sidelines.

 

“You wanna fight?” He asks, a slight cock of his head, and Viktor wastes no time in grabbing a sword.

 


 

 

Apparently, there is no winner between them.

 

He found that a reoccurring theme between the two of them, no one could completely win over Makkachin’s love, nor could they both keep Yurio sit still for more than two minutes. They were both equally good and equally bad at something, and Viktor found that comforting.

 

Sure, there was no winner during their rather… intense sword duel earlier, if only Viktor hadn’t been too… distracted, he might’ve actually won. But nobody won, and they cut the duel short. If they hadn’t, they’d probably still be fighting until sunset.

 

“You’re good.” Viktor says, sweaty and all, as they walk back to their room. He tries his best to keep his eyes off the muscles on Yuuri’s back, strict lines and toned features of a dancer evident. Yuuri smiles at him, a ruddy flush on his skin and Viktor gulps.

 

“I’ve heard about your skills.” Yuuri says, a little breathy. “I heard you beat your own teacher after two weeks of training. And hell, you were amazing.” Viktor hopes that the red on his cheeks don’t intensify at the praise. “You seem a little dazed, though.”

 

Are you trying to kill me? Viktor wants to scream, scream, scream and scream and scream and push Yuuri up against the wall-

 

He nearly collides into the door in front of them. Saving himself from embarrassment, he lets Yuuri into their room before shakily locking the door behind them.

 

“Should I take a bath?” Yuuri murmurs aloud, he looks over his shoulder to look at Viktor questionably. “What do you think?”

 

Viktor doesn’t think. Nothing is processing in his brain right now. But his feet move, his strides slow, the pace an obvious show of restraint. And hell Viktor is trying-

 

“Vitya?” Yuuri murmurs, concerned at the look in Viktor’s eyes. Burning and almost predatory, the sweet little nickname that came out of Yuuri’s mouth sent another stack of firewood in Viktor’s burning chest. He doesn’t stop until he’s standing directly in front of him, towering over Yuuri, lips parted and mouth dry.

 

“W-What…” Viktor reaches out, cups the side of his face, thumb grazing the skin of cheek. Yuuri melts in his touch instantly, leaning into his palm. Viktor has learned that physical affection was the key with Yuuri, that lightly running his fingers through his scalp can send him to sleep, that soft caresses between intertwined fingers could calm him down, that he yearned to be loved and to love back.

 

His thumb catches on Yuuri’s bottom lip; it falls pliant under his touch, parting his mouth even more.

 

“I’m…” Viktor rasps, voice grating and low. “I’m trying… really hard… to not jump you, right now.”

 

Yuuri laughs, hoarse, bare shoulders slightly shaking. The sunlight kisses his shoulders, travelling the milky pale expanse like a traveler. There was a freckle by the junction of Yuuri’s neck and shoulder and Viktor really, really wanted to kiss it.

 

However, one of Yuuri’s hands find Viktor’s cheek, fingers fluttering over his jaw, feeling the pulsating heartbeat in Viktor’s neck. He pulls him closer till Viktor could feel his hot breath on his lips, inviting and open, and Viktor’s legs were shaking-

 

“Don’t try.” Yuuri commands, voice low, eyes still in the same half lidded state. But Viktor could finally feel the hammering in Yuuri’s chest, loud and hard enough to be felt through the one layer of clothing in between them. Viktor feels a little lighter, knowing Yuuri felt this, felt the same way. “Stop trying.”

 

He does.

 

Viktor kisses him, harder, faster, deeper and filthier. Yuuri’s grip on him was tight, almost like a lifeline as those toned arms wound around him, pulling him closer and deeper. Viktor lets out a contented hum, almost like a moan, resonating through the both of them, making them both shiver in heat. Viktor feels the hot expanse of Yuuri’s skin, soft, under his fingertips, tracing every vertebra on his spine with his hands, making Yuuri shudder and twine his fingers through Viktor’s hair, the grip needy and sending pulsating waves throughout Viktor’s body.

 

“V-Vitya…” Yuuri pants, a silver of spit connecting their lips. His cheeks are ruddy and more flushed than before, eyes dilated completely. “Bath-“

 

Viktor picks him up effortlessly, holding him up by the back of his thighs and Yuuri gasps at the friction as they stomp to the washroom, a mix of messy, needy kisses.

 

 


 

 

 

Needless to say, they ended up taking a ‘bath’ together, and much longer than the average human would.

 

Of course, Viktor took his time. He took his time, gently lowering Yuuri into the water, letting his fingers travel the territories they’ve been wanting to travel for days, taking his sweet, sweet time with his mouth, raining praises and the words of a madman onto Yuuri’s skin and lips.

 

“Look at you.” Viktor says, disbelief tracing his tone. Yuuri blushes under Viktor’s heavy gaze amidst the warm water and the mist, tracing Viktor’s collarbone with his damp fingers, before going in for another deep and needy kiss.

 

The whole ordeal, in the end context of things, ends them up in bed; except their need is a little saturated at this point but not diminishing in heat. They were softer this time, slower, their touches and caresses more loving, affection spilling in between the sheets and onto the floor. Soft gasps and little whines of need contrasted with loud moans and pants. Viktor had seen the stars more than once during every orgasm, fingers bruising Yuuri’s hips as Yuuri shudders underneath him.

 

It all ends here; when they’re both satiated and tired, sleep edging onto the edges of their consciousness. Yuuri purrs, pressed closely to Viktor’s side with his hair tickling Viktor’s neck, his teeth nipping at his collarbones from time to time. Viktor plays with his hair, the chiming, echoing thing in him content, seeing the perfect view of Yuuri’s pale shoulders littered with hickeys, the marks of Viktor’s lips still evident and strong.

 

Yuuri murmurs something that jolts Viktor back into reality. “What is it love?”

 

“I love you.” Yuuri says, voice low and soft and Viktor freezes.

 

That was it.

 

The final nail in Viktor’s goddamn coffin.

 

Yuuri shrieks when Viktor attacks his neck, feeling the dopey, lovesick smile on Viktor’s face against his skin. Viktor feels his chest thrum, hammer, chime like the broken clock that it is as he whispers his feelings into Yuuri’s flesh, hoping that they get embedded into him forever.

 

“I love you too.” Viktor whispers like a prayer. “For a long time now, actually.”

 

Yuuri stares down at him, the same old adoration in his eyes, mirroring Viktor’s. “Really now?”

 

Viktor nods, hands trailing Yuuri’s skin, fluttering and light. “I’m actually more scared than you think.” 

 

Yuuri pouts, bottom lip pursing. Viktor moves to catch it between his teeth before Yuuri pulls back with a grin. “You can’t be more scared than me, at the very least.”

 

Viktor chuckles, eyes fond and soft. “This conversation could go two ways. One, we could spend the next few hours on who’s more scared or…”

 

Viktor tilts his chin up, the moonlight filters through the curtains, illuminating the way the duvet curls around Yuuri’s hips and the way his marked skin shone, Yuuri’s brown eyes meet his, and Viktor’s heart hammers with another need, and he embraces this need completely with open arms.

 

“Or…?” Yuuri finishes, lips parted.

 

Viktor smiles, not saying anything further and just kisses him with all the love in the world.

 


 

 

“I don’t see anything… interesting about the ballroom, Vitya.”

 

Viktor just grins, leading Yuuri into the massive space like an excited child, never letting go of his hand. Viktor had just suddenly barged into their room and swept the other man up on his feet. Yuuri giggles as Viktor twirls him around, their laughs echoing throughout the empty space, until Viktor has them smack dab in the middle of it all.

 

“What is it, Viktor?” Yuuri says, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow teasingly. He was in the midst of doing some late night work when his doof of a husband suddenly kidnaps him all of a sudden. Viktor just sighs, and snakes a hand around Yuuri’s waist.

 

Viktor smiles fondly, adoration in his eyes as he takes Yuuri’s right hand, thumb running over the flesh and kissing his knuckles daintily…

 

Yuuri gasps when Viktor slides off the glittering, jeweled wedding band on his finger and tosses it to the side.

 

“Viktor! What-“

 

Viktor proceeds in taking his off as well, the jewels and metal too extravagant and obviously for show. Viktor didn’t like it, didn’t like seeing the accessory on his Yuuri’s finger sometimes. It was when they were distant, forced and unknowing. They’ve grown now, better and bigger and smarter.

 

And Viktor was in love, so, so in love.

 

 “I was terrified of arranged marriages before.” Viktor says, pulling Yuuri close, the slight confusion in Yuuri’s eyes diminishing as he yields to Viktor’s touch. Viktor smiles, looking deep into his eyes. “I… I was afraid of what’ll happen to me, of who I’d marry, if I’d be happy and…”

 

Viktor trails off, remembering those fears and those late night thoughts. Oh, how crushed they were now, how contrasting and different to what Viktor has achieved, what Viktor will achieve. He was at his happiest and lightest, especially when this man, his love and life, is with him, always there and never leaving.

 

“Now… God, Yuuri, I can’t… I can’t imagine life without you.” He whispers out, the reality of his words heavy and true. Yet he embraces every syllable, every word. “You’re… You’ve been everything to me, you are everything to me.” He feels his words shake, thunderous yet quiet. “Marrying you, being with you, has been the best miracle of my life. And… I just want to ask you myself, not as some arranged proposition or some goddamn peace treaty between our two countries, but as Vitya.”

 

Viktor sighs, digging into his pocket, holding up a plain golden wedding ring, passed down from generation to generation, immaculate and never ceasing in its shine. Yuuri gasps when the snowflake inside the interior gleams in the light. Viktor goes and takes Yuuri’s hand, ready to slide it on, when he looks up with unsure eyes.

 

“I… I understand if you want the other ring more-“

 

“Viktor.” Yuuri breathes out, eyes wide and glossy. “It’s perfect.”

 

Viktor sighs in relief, sliding the ring onto Yuuri’s finger perfectly. It was snug, perfect even, and Viktor felt like he was going to burst from happiness.

 

However, Viktor gasps when he sees the tears that start to run down Yuuri’s face.

 

“Wha- Oh no.” The inner, animalistic side of him growls, wanting to protect him and hold him and keep him safe, not make him cry. Viktor cups his cheeks, thumbs brushing away at the thin streams. “Darling…”

 

“Do you have the other ring?” Yuuri whimpers out, hands moving over Viktor’s hands. Viktor nods shakily before fishing out the other one. Yuuri takes it in shaking hands, yet his fingers always seem to be oh so steady, before taking Viktor’s hand and sliding it onto his finger.

 

Viktor felt like he might cry himself.

 

God.” Yuuri wipes away a tear. “What I feel is… terrifying, compared to what you just told me.” Yuuri rubs a hand down his face, his eyes still glassy. “I’m… I’m terrified, sometimes, that my love will disgust you.”

 

Viktor coos, closing his eyes and resting their foreheads together. They have transcended from the ballroom into a whole different plane of existence itself. Viktor felt like he was floating. “Yuuri… Darling, nothing will ever disgust me as long as it’s about you.”

 

Yuuri smiles, basking in Viktor’s presence as he twines their fingers together. “I love you, more than you can ever imagine.”

 

“And I love you.” Viktor murmurs, finally opening his eyes. “Will you marry me?”

 

Viktor is certain that he’s crying now as well, but Yuuri’s soft giggle is enough to distract him from that.

 

“I do.”