Actions

Work Header

Leather Bound

Chapter Text

Izuku had been standing staring at the entrance to the castle for the past half hour. It was truly a magnificent sight. White stone made up the walls and columns and it was all decorated with gold and rubies and sapphires. The gold was all carved intricately in swirly, almost flamelike patterns. The rubies were set directly in the white stone in waves and peaks. The sapphires decorated the columns in spirals. The door was made of heavy mahogany and was three times as tall as Izuku himself.

 

A head popped into his vision from behind a column. He turned to look at it but whoever it was disappeared behind the column again. That made Izuku even more nervous and he felt himself tense up.

 

Izuku took a breath in and exhaled slowly, eyes closed "Okay I can do this. I can do this."

 

He raised a foot and was about to step onto the first step.

 

"You there! Halt!"

 

Izuku yelped and flinched so hard that he nearly lost his balance. He started to topple to the ground but a hand grabbed the back of his collar and hoisted him up to his feet. Izuku scrambled for balance before turning to the person, trembling.

 

The young man was dressed in a full suit of armour, helmet under one arm and a beautiful sword at his belt. His hair was short with an undercut and was a deep blue colour. His eyes were a similar blue and he had a pair of glasses on his face. His mouth was set in a line as he regarded Izuku up and down.

 

"Who are you and what is your business here?" The knight demanded.

 

Izuku was trembling "My name is Izuku Midoriya and I'm here because I-"

 

A new voice interrupted him "Iida, stop scaring new visitors. You'll give yourself a bad name."

 

Izuku turned and saw a cute girl bouncing up to them. Her hair was bobbed with bangs and two sections at the front framing her face. Her eyes were a warm brown colour and sparkles with humour. Her cheeks were slightly chubby and a pinky tone. She wore a cute black dress with a white apron at the front and a bow in her hair, a standard maid dress. Izuku noticed that Iida's cheeks had flushed a tiny bit and he was hurriedly adjusting his glasses.

 

She bounced to a stop right next to the knight and grinned at Izuku "Hi! I'm Ochako Uraraka, one of the maids at this castle. Who are you?"

 

Izuku said "I'm Izuku Midoriya. I just got a new job here."

 

Uraraka's grin widened "Really? Awesome! Which job?"

 

"I think the prince's personal attendant." Izuku said.

 

Uraraka and Iida both froze. They exchanged a worried look before turning back to Izuku and looking at him with more sympathy than Izuku would have liked.

 

"What? What's wrong?" He asked, concern rising.

 

"Nothing's wrong!" Uraraka brightened, performing an instant 180 "Let's go get you settled!"

 

Iida also shook himself and said "A warning, Midoriya, the prince is cold. Most personal attendants last a month at most."

 

Izuku went "Eep."

 

"But not to worry. I'm sure you'll do fine!" Iida clapped Midoriya on the back so hard that he stumbled forward a few steps "I'll let you get to it. Introduce him to everyone on the way, alright?"

 

Uraraka nodded and bounced up to press a kiss to Iida's cheek "Sure thing! Now get back to your patrols. Later!" She grabbed Izuku's wrist and bounced up the stairs. Izuku noticed uncomfortably that she had a knife at her belt.

 

Izuku stumbled along behind her and managed to say "What was that?"

 

"What was what?" Uraraka asked.

 

"You kissed him." Izuku pointed out "Are you two dating?"

 

Uraraka blushed "I wouldn't call it dating. Our family's have known each other for a long time and we've been betrothed since I was twelve and he was fourteen. It's been eight years now."

 

"So it's like an arranged marriage?" Izuku's brow creased.

 

"No no, nothing like that. I mean, yes it's arranged, but that isn't a bad thing. I've been in love with Iida since I was ten." Uraraka blushed "I'm happy that I'll get to spend my life with him."

 

"I'm glad." Izuku smiled and finally got his footing, walking next to her "I'm happy for you two."

 

Uraraka beamed "You are? I'm so glad. Now come on. You need to meet everyone and get settled!" She dashed down a hallway, pulling Izuku along with her.

 

In this land, betrothals were common, especially for wealthier families. It was custom for the families to consult the child that was to be betrothed about with whom they would like to spend the rest of their lives. Parents didn't always go with the child's first choice but Uraraka and Iida's parents seemed to take their child's advice. Izuku looked back and saw Iida smiling fondly at Uraraka right before the door closed. Izuku smiled at the interaction. Maybe being a newbie wouldn’t be so hard.

 

Uraraka was quite literally bouncing as she dragged him down hallway after hallway, pointing out different works of art and statues. Some areas that she skipped past were covered in burn scars and deep gashes were carved into the stone. After he asked the question, Uraraka explained in a quiet voice that those were decorative remnants of the fall of Enji, the legendary battle where King Enji had been taken down and the Todoroki rein had come to a close.

 

“Enji was a horrible man. I don’t miss him at all.” Uraraka proclaimed “However, I do miss the old queen. She died eleven years ago. She was lovely.”

 

Izuku nodded “That she was.”

 

They both paused at a blemished spot to pay their respects to the queen, for no one knew where her true grave was, before continuing on their way to wherever Uraraka was leading.

Chapter Text

"Meet our new recruit!" Uraraka barged in to one of the sections of the castle that was dedicated to servants. Izuku stumbled in after her.

 

The room was surprisingly spacious and surprisingly full for so early in the morning. There were at least a dozen if not more people in the room, all roughly Izuku and Uraraka's ages or maybe slightly older or younger. There were two middle aged men sitting together with a woman of the same age off in a corner. Izuku also noticed that there was an elderly lady sitting at a table and drinking tea.

 

He blinked at it all. So many people. And this was just one room!

 

Uraraka smiled at the group "Attention everyone! We have a new addition today!"

 

Everyone turned to look with varying degrees of welcome on their faces.

 

"This is Izuku Midoriya and he's the prince's new personal attendant." As the crowd dipped in enthusiasm, Uraraka went "I know, poor Kyoko only lasted a month. But! I think Izuku can do it!"

 

The crowd nodded, willingly but unenthusiastically.

 

Izuku noticed, once again mildly uncomfortable, that everyone had some kind of small weapon at their sides.

 

Izuku was rapidly introduced to everyone so they could all begin their daily duties. He took an instant liking to a spiky red haired knight with a heart of gold named Kirishima and a lively albeit quiet girl with long green hair down her back ending in a bow named Tsuyu. He liked the elderly woman, named Chiyo, claiming to be the head of the household and got a thorough once over from a long dark haired man with beyond tired eyes, named Aizawa. The man deemed him fit to work and sent him off with another man with long blonde hair tied in a bun on the back of his head wearing a butlers uniform.

 

The man introduced himself as Hizashi Yamada and laughed loudly when Izuku called him Yamada. Then he insisted upon being called Hizashi. Izuku flubbed it a few times but got it right by the time they reached wherever Aizawa had directed them.

 

"Okay. I'll grab your suit, give me one minute." Hizashi started rummaging through a closet "Our seamstress, Momo Yaoyorozu starting making one for you as soon as you sent your application. You were the first choice for the job, too. Well done, kid!"

 

Izuku glowed proudly just a little bit.

 

Hizashi continued "That Prince Shouto is a tough egg. He's cold and doesn't appear to enjoy any sort of human contact. But I'm sure a bright new face like you could crack him. The last one who served him was a girl named Sakura Kyoko. She was quite pretty and very confident. That is, until something happened and she left to become a knight in another kingdom. She didn't tell anyone what happened. Sad story, if you ask me."

 

"Yeah. Sad." Izuku was feeling less than excited about meeting the prince.

 

Hizashi laughed again "You'll be fine, kid! The prince doesn't insult people intentionally, it's mostly people taking things the wrong way. Now, put this on." He pushed a bundle of fabric into Izuku's arms and waved him into a small section that was curtained off to get changed.

 

Izuku pulled the curtain shut before unfolding the clothes. There was a simple pair of black pants, a white button of shirt, a dark green almost black vest with a matching tie and a black jacket for overtop. The vest had emerald green embroidery along the seams and so did the jacket. It was tiny and beautiful and impossibly intricate. Izuku liked the idea that someone had made it for him. He put on the pants and shirt and vest before clumsily trying to tie the tie. He had never been any good with knots and he ended up giving up halfway. His tie looked quite off, but the rest of him looked quite alright.

 

As he was about to leave, he picked up the jacket once more. Something caught his eye and his hand stilled on the curtain. Something white was sticking out of the corner of the pocket.

 

Curious, Izuku pulled it out.

 

It was a glove. A simple, white, wrist length glove made out of amazingly soft fabric. He liked it so he pulled out the other one and pulled them on. Then he simply changed his shoes and he was ready.

 

He stepped out from the curtain and Hizashi beamed at him "You look very spiffy. Well, except for the tie. Let me fix that for you." The man reached forward. Then he undid the tie before retying it with such skill that Izuku would have guessed him a knot master. He watched in amazement as Hizashi weaves the tie around itself until it fit to be the perfect length and tightness.

 

Hizashi stepped back, admiring his work "There. Now you look good as new. You can put your travel clothes here." He gestured to a room that lead off the hallway "This'll be your room for the length of your stay. Customize it however you like. Not now though. We need to get going."

 

Izuku followed him back to the room where everyone was. Well, where everyone had been. It was now empty, all the servants seemingly off doing chores and serving the royal family.

 

All except for one.

 

Izuku noticed a girl sitting alone at one of the many tables in the room. She appeared to be one or two years older than Izuku. Her hair was long and fell in waves down her back. It was a rich dark chocolate colour and almost looked like a waterfall. When she turned to him, he saw that her eyes were a brilliant blue colour and that her skin was a slightly tanned golden colour. She had a speckling of freckles across her nose and cheekbones and her eyes crinkled as she smiled at Hizashi and Izuku. Her outfit was a standard maids outfit but Izuku felt like something was off about it. Or something was off about the young woman in general.

 

She stood and greeted them "Morning Hizashi. And you must be Midoriya." She held out her hand to shake "My name is Enokida Yae. Just call me Enokida or Eno."

 

Izuku took her hand with a smile "Nice to meet you."

 

"You too. I'll be showing you around from here." She started to walk towards the door. Upon realizing that Izuku hadn't followed, she turned and waved him on "Well come on. Wouldn't want to keep the prince waiting!"

 

With a quick goodbye and thank you to Hizashi, Izuku hurried after Enokida, trying to figure out what was off about her. It wasn’t any of her features, that much he knew. He had seen plenty of people that looked like her around the kingdom. And it didn’t seem to be the way she was dressed, she was wearing the normal maid outfit, like Uraraka and Hagakure. He frowned, examining her as she walked.

 

Her movements were smooth and he almost felt like that should mean something. But he didn’t have any chance to try and figure it out because she stopped ahead of him and turned with a smile. His eyes snapped up to her face and he felt his cheeks burn, realizing what he had just been doing and hoping she hadn’t noticed.

 

She smiled “You probably have a lot of questions. Fire away, I’ll try my best to answer them as we go.”

 

“O-oh. Sure. Thanks.” Izuku said. Enokida nodded before turning and starting to walk again.

 

Heavy awkward silence passed. Izuku was unsure of what to ask first.

 

 

He fidgeted relentlessly with his hands, muttering quietly. He was worried. He needed to make a good first impression. He had to make sure that none of his hard work to get here went out the window. If he lost this job he wasn’t sure what he would do. Become a stable boy? A farmer?

 

His thoughts were interrupted by a melodious sound and he looked up.

 

Enokida’s eyes were shut, head tilted back just a bit, laughter bubbling from her throat. Her shoulders shook lightly and she had stopped walking. Izuku watched as her left hand flew up to cover her mouth as she quickly tried her best to stifle the laugh.

 

She opened her eyes and they sparkled with humour as she spoke “You ramble? How cute. I’ve never encountered a rambler before.”

 

Izuku flushed and twiddled his thumbs “I ramble unintentionally all the time. Some people say it’s a bad habit but my mom always said it was useful.”

 

“Oh, it is. Don’t worry, it’s not annoying to me in the least. To others however?” She raised her hands in helplessness “They might not find it as amusing as I do. But, no matter! Come on, ask me some questions.”

 

She lead him on down the hall.

 

Izuku jogged to catch up before saying “Why does everybody carry a weapon?”

 

“This is the new established kingdom of All Might. After King Enji’s fall, King Yagi took over. However, Enji didn’t die in the attack and is expected to barge in and attack at any moment. The staff all have to be prepared to defend themselves.” She explained “We’ll get you a knife soon enough. Or you could use your fists. That works as well.”

 

Izuku blinked “Enji’s not dead? But all the tabloids said-”

 

“The tabloids only say what news gets out. All the servants are kept under strict secrecy rules and everything we know is monitored. Of course, some know more than others.” Enokida said.

 

“What about the Knights of Enji?” Izuku asked, mildly perplexed. Enokida’s left hand rose and she adjusted the collar of her dress that sat around her collarbones.

 

“Disappeared or killed in battle.” Enokida waved a hand, dismissing the thought “Horrible people, all of them. The ones that were being brainwashed were killed out of mercy.”

 

“Brainwashed?” Izuku gasped.

 

“Brainwashed.” Enokida nodded “Enji had his ways of getting people to do things. I am so glad King Yagi is the ruler now.”

 

Izuku nodded.

 

“Any more questions?” Enokida asked.

 

“I’m sure I will have more later.” Izuku thought “Wait. Actually, I do have one more.”

 

“And what is it?” Enokida stopped in front of a door and turned to look at him.

 

Izuku took a breath before asking in a hushed tone “How did the prince survive? And why is he still the prince if Enji is gone?”

 

Enokida shook her head “King Yagi adopted the prince just after Enji fell five years ago. He was protected by a Knight of Enji who was slain in battle.” She turned to the door and pulled it open, showing that the conversation was over.

Chapter Text

Enokida showed him into the room and Izuku gasped. It was a massive kitchen, filled with steaming stoves and bubbling pots and spitting pans. Izuku could smell everything that was good to eat all in one room and he couldn’t seem to open his eyes any wider. He walked in a slow circle, turning around himself as he examined the kitchen.

 

“Oi! Enokida!” A rumbling angry voice said.

 

Izuku stopped spinning and stopped to stand next to Enokida. A young man was walking up to them. He had pale blonde hair that was spiky and sticking up all over his head with short chunky bangs hanging over his forehead. His eyes were a deep red colour and they gleamed with anger as he stalked towards them. He had an apron tied around his waist but that did nothing to distract from his muscular arms, shoulders and chest. Izuku could not deny that this man was attractive, albeit terrifying in the way he glared.

 

He waved a bronze ladle in Enokida’s face “You’re fucking late, shithead!”

 

Izuku gasped before he could stop himself.

 

Enokida giggled and turned to him “Preposterous, right? Katsuki Bakugou, Royal chef and best cook in the whole kingdom, swearing like a sailor? Who would have guessed?”

 

Izuku nodded wordlessly.

 

“This is Izuku Midoriya.” Enokida said to Bakugou.

 

The chef crossed his muscular arms and growled “And why the fuck should I care? Looks like a fucking runt.”

 

“He’s the prince’s new personal attendant.” Enokida explained.

 

Bakugou sent a line of colourful curses her way and looked at Izuku with pity and disgust before racing off and shrieking “If this burns because I was talking to you dipshits I’m gonna fucking murder you!”

 

Izuku whispered “Is he always like this?”

 

“Always. Even towards his betrothed.” Enokida said “Don’t worry, he doesn’t mean it personally.”

 

“Who is his betrothed?” Izuku asked.

 

“You heard about that marriage equality law that was passed by King Yagi a few years ago?” Enokida asked, eyeing him carefully.

 

Izuku nodded, a smile cracking onto his lips “Of course I did. My two aunts celebrated for a week.”

 

Enokida smiled “Well, Bakugou got permission from his family to marry a man. You met Kirishima, correct?” When Izuku nodded, she smiled and went “He’s betrothed to Bakugou.”

 

“Really?” Izuku said, eyes wide “Wow. I’m happy for them.”

 

A voice from behind them laughed and said “Hey, thanks. We appreciate the support!” Kirishima put his arm around Izuku’s shoulders “How’re you doing so far? Enokida hasn’t scared you away yet?”

 

“Nope, I’ve actually learned a lot.” Izuku said with a smile.

 

Kirishima pulled his arm away and smiled “That’s good!” Then he turned to the approaching Bakugou and beamed “Hey! It’s my favourite person alive!”

 

Bakugou blushed and stuttered a “Shut up, Shitty Hair.”

 

Kirishima laughed and put his arm around Bakugou’s waist “Yeah, love you too.” He pressed his lips to Bakugou’s cheek before starting to leave again “I gotta go. See you tonight?”

 

Bakugou barely managed his nod. Kirishima beamed before leaving the room. Bakugou had to breathe for a second to recover, Izuku nearly suggested he sit down for a while. Izuku watched Enokida send the chef a knowing smile. Bakugou sneered at her, cheeks still flushed, before stomping off into the kitchen. He returned with a silver tray in his hands, glaring directly at Izuku.

 

“Here, shitty nerd. Take the prince his breakfast and get out of here.” Bakugou growled and shoved the silver tray at Izuku who took it.

 

Enokida said “Are you that flustered from one kiss to the cheek? Are you sure you were the one who asked him to marry you or was it the other way around?”

 

“UP FUCK YOUR SHUT!” Bakugou yelled, covering his face with his arm as he fled farther into the kitchens. Izuku heard him muttering intensely colourful denials the whole way.

 

Enokida called to him “Wait! Do you have any advice to give Midoriya?”

 

Bakugou roared something about murdering her violently in her sleep.

 

Enokida snorted and left the room, waving Midoriya on to follow her.

 

Izuku followed Enokida from the room before finally going “Awww!”

 

Enokida smiled “I know. They are too cute. Now let’s get this to the prince.” She adjusted her collar and lead Izuku back down the hallway.

 

“Yae?” Izuku asked, several seconds of walking later.

 

Enokida hummed a reply.

 

“Is the prince betrothed?” Izuku asked quietly.

 

Enokida flinched and shook her head “No. He was originally going to be forced by his father to marry a princess from another land. When Enji died, the new king talked to the ruler of that land and canceled the deal. The princess is married now, happily I might add, to someone she had already been in love with. King Yagi is truly a saint.” She added something under her breath that Izuku didn’t catch.

 

“And Um…” Izuku stuttered “Would it be rude to ask who the prince is attracted to? I’ve been wondering for a while.”

 

“It isn’t rude, Midoriya. But if I am being wholly honest, I have no idea.” Enokida said “I, however, am not attracted to anyone. The prince might be like that or he may prefer women or men or both. I have never asked him. Mind you, I’ve never worked very closely with him.”

 

Izuku hummed thoughtfully. Maybe he could find out.

 

“Midoriya.” Enokida stopped in front of a door “Part of your job as the prince’s personal attendant isn’t just making sure he gets everything he asks for. He needs a friend. Someone to break his cold shell.”

 

Izuku blinked for a second, processing. Then his eyes widened and he gasped “Wait, me? I’m supposed to try to break him?” He winced “No that came out wrong, I’m the one that is supposed to try to get him out of his shell? How am I going to do that? I’ve hardly had any friends, my village was tiny, so tiny that it was hardly affected by the war. How am I going to-”

 

“I hate to inform you, Midoriya, but the prince has already been broken in ways you can’t imagine.” Enokida spoke quietly, cautiously, as if worried someone was listening “The old king was not a caring father.”

 

“W-what?” Izuku was astonished “But the tabloids said-”

 

“I already told you,” Enokida interrupted him “The tabloids only say what gets out. Again, the servants have very limited knowledge of what goes on in the castle and some know more than others. Enji was not a kind father, I experienced that first hand. Many of the other servants don’t know this and I must ask you for a favour. Do not tell them. Do not let this get out. They must believe that the prince is strong.”

 

Izuku was frozen, his sense of reality seeming to crumble beneath his feet.

 

Enokida whispered “Please, Midoriya.”

 

His lips tightened into a line and he nodded stiffly.

 

“Thank you.” Enokida said “Now, let’s bring the prince his breakfast.”

 

Izuku nodded.

 

Enokida lifted her hand to the door and knocked.

 

A warm baritone voice that was still raspy from sleep said “Come in.”

Chapter Text

Izuku was not ready to serve royalty. Izuku was not ready for Enokida to push open the door and lead him inside. Izuku wasn’t ready for the beautiful room that he encountered. And Izuku definitely was not ready to meet the prince.

 

Enokida took the tray from him and placed it on a desk under a vast shiny mirror. Then she walked over and pulled a curtain open as if she had done it a hundred times, sunshine spilling into the beautiful room, and said “Good morning Your Highness. It’s time to wake up.”

 

The prince sat up in bed and Izuku nearly had a heart attack.

 

The prince looked to be about Izuku’s age but the two couldn’t have been more different. Izuku was often told he was plain looking, that there wasn’t really anything special about his appearance. He knew he wouldn’t sick out in a crowd and he had accepted that. He even enjoyed it sometimes, it made it easier to slip by conflicts without being noticed.

 

The prince was the exact opposite of plain looking. He looked like he had been split down the middle. The left side of his hair was a blood red colour and the right was snowy white. His hair was long, not long enough to touch his shoulders, but long enough that it slightly obscured his eyes and tickled his neck. He had a large burn scar over his left eye with burn droplets flowing like light rain down his neck and thinning out along the left side of his chest and shoulder. His chest was muscular and his collarbones were starkly obvious.

 

The prince yawned, stretching one arm directly up and the other bent above his head. His back arched just the slightest bit and the sunlight from the window hit him in all the right places.

 

Then he opened his eyes and Izuku was sure he had died.

 

The prince’s eyes were not open all the way, as if he were still tired or just tired of whatever was happening. His left eye was a brilliant turquoisey sky blue and his right was a slightly dark mottled grey. He looked like a god sitting there in the sunlight, upper body exposed to the world. The dozens and dozens of scars all over his chest did nothing to lessen his beauty, in fact Izuku found himself wanting to count them like stars.

 

The prince turned his eyes to Izuku and spoke in his still creaky morning voice “Who are you?”

 

Izuku had forgotten his name.

 

Enokida saved him by putting a hand on his chin and gently pushing his mouth closed and saying “This is Izuku Midoriya, your new personal attendant. Whatever you need, he can provide.”

 

Izuku tried to shake himself out of his stupor and bowed, eyes stiffly on the floor “Nice to meet you, Your Highness.”

 

The prince rolled his eyes slowly and waved a hand at him “Stand up.”

 

Izuku did so, far too quickly.

 

“Enokida, are you sure about him?” The prince asked, giving Izuku a once over “He seems stunned.”

 

“I-I’m alright Your Highness. You don’t need to worry about me.” Izuku stuttered.

 

“Confident and yet nervous.” The prince observed “Like every new servant I meet. Enokida, what about me is so intimidating?”

 

“It could be that you insist upon sleeping with no shirt, Your Highness. That does tend to give people a strange first impression of you.” Enokida offered, adjusting her collar a little.

 

The prince shrugged and climbed off the bed and walked to a chest of drawers. While his back was turned, Izuku had to keep himself from making a noise. The prince’s back was just as beautiful as the rest of him. Izuku grabbed his face and pulled it away when he realized that his eyes had begun to wander further downward. He swore he heard Enokida stifle a laugh. He turned a deeper shade of pink and let go of his face, forcing his eyes to the head of the bed.

 

The prince had grabbed a shirt from the chest of drawers and Izuku could picture him putting it on. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to imagine anything else.

 

“There. Better?” The prince turned and faced the two “Am I any less intimidating?” Izuku’s eyes snapped open and he tried to clear the blush from his face.

 

Enokida shrugged, seemingly completely undeterred by anything that had just happened “If what you are asking is if you look better, then no, but if what you are asking is are you more modestly dressed, then yes. Midoriya brought your breakfast.” She looked at Izuku who hastily grabbed the tray and held it out to the prince.

 

“Enokida, bring Midoriya some breakfast. I would like to eat with him and learn more about him.” The prince said, face emotionless. He took the tray and set it on a table.

 

Enokida curtsied “Yes Your Highness.”

 

The prince turned to Izuku “Is that alright with you?”

 

“Y-Yes sir. It won’t be a problem.” Izuku stuttered.

 

“Well your fidgeting says otherwise.” The prince gestured vaguely to Izuku’s hands.

 

Izuku clapped his hands together behind his back and said “No, Your Highness, ignore that please. I will be alright.”

 

“Alright.” The prince nodded “Breakfast, Enokida.”

 

Enokida curtsied again and said “Yes Your Highness.” She left the room.

 

Izuku half didn’t want her to leave and half wanted her to stay out.

 

When Enokida had disappeared, Izuku turned back to find the prince staring at him. He held himself back from flinching and tried to hold the prince’s gaze to no avail. His eyes kept flitting around nervously.

 

“Sit.” The prince gestured to the table. When Izuku did nothing but fidget, the prince pulled out a chair and waved him into it “Please, sit.”

 

 

Izuku walked forward, eyes down and sat down on the chair. The prince gently pushed it forward as he did and Izuku was perfectly positioned at the table. He watched the prince pull out his own chair and sit himself down.

 

Then he gasped sharply “Oh my goodness, Your Highness please forgive me!” He bowed sharply.

 

“For what, exactly?” The prince asked, sounding bored.

 

“I did not pull out your chair and I disobeyed you when you asked me to sit down the first time.” Izuku said cautiously.

 

The prince shook his head “Are you always this amusing?”

 

“Your Highness?” Izuku looked up, his face the picture of confusion.

 

“Do you honestly think I would be mad for you not obeying me the first time for something so small?” The prince’s mouth quirked upward on one side a fraction of a centimetre “You will not be punished for small mistakes. And as for my chair, I can do some things myself.”

 

“B-but I am your personal attendant and…” Izuku groaned lightly. Was this how he was going to start his new job?

 

“It’s fine. Please don’t worry about it.” The prince said.

 

Izuku stuttered “Y-yes Your Highness.”

 

The prince nodded and leaned back in his chair “Tell me about yourself, Izuku Midoriya.”

 

Izuku shivered under his gaze. The prince seemed so at ease and seemed to know exactly how powerful he was. He was perfectly calm and Izuku bet that as soon as he entered a room, he could command all the attention and power. It was ridiculous that Izuku had had him pull out a chair for him. Izuku mentally scolded himself to be more on the ball in the future. He had to learn how to predict what was coming next so he never missed anything and so he could serve the prince to the best of his abilities. He needed to keep this job, because anyone who was fired from the castle was basically at rock bottom. It was nearly impossible to find a job once you had been fired by royalty.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince said.

 

Izuku snapped out of his thoughts and looked up “Huh? Oh, my apologies, Your Highness. Please forgive me.”

 

“Tell me about yourself.” The prince repeated.

 

Izuku scolded himself once more for making the prince repeat himself twice in one day. Then he launched into his history.

 

“My name is Izuku Midoriya. I am twenty one years old. I come from a tiny village along the Eastern border of the kingdom.” He said “I spent most of my days helping my father and mother in the fields or with the horses. When I was seven, my father disappeared. My mother continued to raise me and everyone in the village pitched in. There weren’t many kids there so I had a dozen or so honorary uncles and aunts. When I was ten, we mourned the loss of the queen. When I was fourteen, a war broke out in the kingdom. My village was so small and insignificant that it was pretty much passed by. I have wanted to work at the castle since I heard the prince was motherless. My ten year old self had been convinced that I could help cheer the prince up. I still want to serve you, but I do not have the same delusions. I am more grown up now.” Izuku finished his story and looked up at the prince.

 

 

The prince had eaten a decent portion of his food and now had his elbows on the table, resting his chin on his hands. His piercing eyes were locked onto Izuku’s face and Izuku fearfully wondered what he was thinking. The prince was impossible to read and Izuku guessed it would be like that for some time.

 

A knock at the door.

 

Enokida spoke through the door “Your Highness? I have brought Midoriya’s breakfast.”

 

“Come in.” The prince nodded.

 

Izuku rushed to stand, grateful to have the prince’s attention off of him, and hurried to open the door for Enokida. She stepped through with a grateful smile to Izuku before walking over and placing the plate on the table at Izuku’s place. She curtsied to the prince who nodded in acknowledgment. The two almost seemed to have a brief silent conversation before Enokida spoke.

 

“Midoriya, I brought something for you.” She said and turned to him.

 

“You brought me something?” He asked, mildly astonished “What is it?”

 

“Unfortunately it isn’t a gift. It’s a notebook that most of the staff use to keep a note of what needs to happen next. Since you are His Highness’s personal attendant, you must also write down the prince’s daily schedule in here.” She explained and held out a small leather bound book with a little silver pen strapped to the spine.

 

He took it and pulled the pen from its rings and opened the journal. The pages were not lined, which was convenient, and the paper was not as cheap and thin as he had anticipated. He put the pen back through its rings.

 

“Thank you.” He said and pocketed the journal.

 

Enokida nodded before turning back to the prince “Anything else you need from me, Your Highness?”

 

“Tell Kaminari to prepare my horse. I am going riding.” The prince stood up from the table and gestured to the food “Eat while I change, Midoriya.”

 

“Oh but Your Highness I-” Izuku started.

 

“-you are supposed to help me dress? Is that it?” The prince asked “I am not a child, I am entirely capable of dressing myself. And, on top of that, you must eat. So eat.” He turned to Enokida “You are dismissed. Thank you.”

 

Enokida curtsied before rushing off to talk to Kaminari.

 

Izuku watched the prince retreat into a small room connecting to his bedroom that seemed to be a large closet. He shut the door behind him.

 

While the prince was changing, Izuku got a better look at the prince’s rooms. The main room was what looked like a drawing room with couches and a small dining table off to one side which was where Izuku sat. The main room was beautiful, mostly a ocean blue in colour with silver designs curling along the walls. Connecting on the right of the drawing room was the large bedroom, the bed sitting dead centre in the room. The bedroom was a beautiful deep wine red colour that almost looked like blood. To the right of the bed was a doorway that lead to the prince’s closet or dressing room. Connecting to the left of the drawing room were two large open doorways. One lead to a smaller sitting room with the two exterior wall made completely of window with couches lining those two walls. The other doorway lead into a small library of sorts. The library’s walls were a dark emerald green with bronze designs. The four rooms that Izuku could see were beautiful, sunlight streaming in through the many windows.

 

Izuku picked at his food, too uncomfortable to eat it. He still hadn’t adjusted and the first thing he did was eat breakfast with the prince? If anyone had told him so earlier, he would have fainted.

 

The dressing room door opened and Izuku stood up on instinct. The prince exited the room and Izuku couldn't decide whether he liked the shirtless prince or the fully regal prince better. Truly, the prince’s shirtless glory was one thing but his current outfit was another entirely.

 

He had on a deep blue coat with gold thread embroidered around the hems and a high collar. The buttons were intricately carved, gold and shiny. The shirt he wore underneath was crisp and white. His pants were a pair of simple tan riding pants and yet they were more beautiful than any riding pants Izuku would ever own. He had a pair of black riding boots on and his hair had been brushed. The prince could apparently do his hair as well, judging by how some of the right side had been combed back a little while the left was styled to hang in front of his scar. He had a gold pendant around his neck and a golden crest over his heart. The crest was a star with a ring around it. There was also a bird intricately carved so it was flying across the star.

 

Before he could stop himself, Izuku blurted “You look very nice, Your Highness.”

 

“I…” The prince blinked in astonishment at him “I do?” He cleared his throat and his composure was back “Thank you. You are dismissed until I return from my ride.”

 

Izuku bowed deeply and nodded, too embarrassed to say anything.

 

The prince left the room.

 

As soon as he was gone, Izuku bent his knees and sank to the floor. That whole experience had been, well, an experience, but it had also been extremely humiliating! How was he going to face the prince now? Izuku had quite possibly never felt this embarrassed in his life.

 

“I should get out of his rooms.” He muttered to himself, not wanting to ruin the prince’s impression of him any more.

 

Izuku sighed and left the room,grabbing the tray with his breakfast on the way, feeling immensely sorry for himself.

Chapter Text

Izuku fell onto the mattress in his room at the end of the day with a huge sigh. He was exhausted and almost every muscle in his body was sore. He had done a lot of walking around the castle and his feet were killing him. He had seen the prince all of four times in the day and hadn’t been tasked with much so he had gone to find Chiyo and asked what he could help with. She had given him a whole list. Mind you, it hadn’t been that long but the tasks hadn’t been the easiest things in the world.

 

One thing Izuku hadn’t noticed about the castle when he first arrived but was now blatantly obvious was the fact that everybody expected an attack. Everyone had a weapon of some kind coupled with at least some knowledge of how to use it. Whether it be a knife, sword, axe, bow and arrow, spear or anything else, everyone had one.

 

Enokida had convinced him to ask the blacksmith for one and he had. Izuku had just gotten back from visiting the blacksmiths. There were three, one senior blacksmith named Higari Maijima and two juniors, one of whom was named Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu and the other was named Kyouka Jirou. The two younger apprentice blacksmiths had appeared almost sibling like in their comradery and had fooled around quite a bit. Harmless wrestling and bickering filled with fond smiles. Jirou was a woman but she didn’t let that stop her from beating Tetsutetsu in a wrestling match outside the hut.

 

Izuku had commissioned a simple dagger the length of his forearm (Jirou had pointed out that that was a little long for a dagger) with a leather grip if possible. Tetsutetsu had pumped his fists and cheered because Maijima said he could help make it. Jirou would make the leather handle. Izuku had bowed thankfully and left.

 

Now here he was, sprawled facedown in his work clothes on his bed. His shoulders were sore. Chiyo had had him carrying things from place to place; boxes of fabric for the seamstress Yaoyorozu, crates of medical supplies, hay for the stables and whatever else Chiyo had been able to find. Her motivation for making him use his arms so much was because to her they looked like limp noodles and needed some muscle on them. Chiyo had said that Midoriya’s entirety looked like a limp noodle but that she would work on it. Her tone and the gleam in her eye had made Izuku nervous.

 

Izuku rolled onto his back and flopped an arm over his eyes. Maybe he had time to sleep.

 

No, the servants would be eating soon and then Izuku would have to serve the prince and help him get ready for bed. Unless the prince refused like last time. Then Izuku would have to stand and wait for him to get into bed.

 

A small meow sound found its way into his ears and he sat bolt upright.

 

A medium sized white cat was butting it’s head lightly against the door. It’s eyes were a pretty mottled grey colour and it’s fur was a pristine white. It’s tail was fluffy and whipped around slowly, looking like it was floating.

 

Izuku stared as the creature looked at him and mewed again. He blinked in reply. The cat took this as an invitation and padded toward his bed and jumped up onto his lap. Then it proceeded to sit down on his thigh and begun to do something that baffled Izuku even more.

 

It was looking him up and down, almost like it was checking him over for injuries.

 

“Are you lost?” Izuku asked the cat and reached a hand up to pet it “Who do you belong to?”

 

The cat said nothing and nuzzled into his hand, starting to put quietly.

 

Izuku couldn’t help but let a small laugh of joy escape his chest. The cat seemed so out of place in his room. It was so beautiful, so pristine, and he was slightly scruffy looking, his room was empty and he had no possessions except the small bag he had brought with him. He stood and walked to the small desk where his bag was set. He picked up the heap of his travel clothes and walked over to a closet. He put them away nearly before going and pouring all his possessions from his bag onto his desk. The cat hopped up onto the desk and examined his things. It batted a paw at a crumpled up piece of paper.

 

“What, this?” Izuku picked it up and unfolded it “Its a picture of me and my mom from ten years ago.” The cat mewed and looked at it attentively.

 

The photo was simple, an eleven year old Izuku stood next to his mom with a huge grin on his face. His left front tooth was missing and his mother had been laughing at something the photographer had said. She had been captured mid laugh, eyes shut and crinkled, mouth open in a huge smile. She looked radiant despite her poor clothing.

 

Izuku hugged the photo to his chest and fell onto his back on the bed. He missed her.

 

“Midoriya!” Someone knocked at the door “Come for dinner!”

 

Izuku called “Coming!” Then he stood up, decided he would visit his mother eventually, petted the cat’s head, told it to stay put and left his room.

 

Almost as soon as he entered the main room, someone yelled his name. He turned and saw the stable boy Kaminari sitting with Kirishima, a girl with short fluffy strawberry blonde hair that almost looked pink named Ashido and a boy about the same age as him with straight dark hair that Izuku didn’t recognize. Kaminari and Kirishima frantically waved him over, huge smiles on their faces. Izuku walked over and sat down on the bench next to Ashido. Kirishima and the dark haired boy he didn’t recognize were across from them and Kaminari was sitting on the other side of Ashido.

 

“Midoriya!” Kirishima sounded lightly breathless and he gestured to the dark haired boy “This is Hanta Sero.”

 

Sero held out his hand to shake “Nice to meet you, welcome to the team.”

 

“Thanks,” Izuku shook his hand “Nice to meet you too. Why haven’t I met you yet?”

 

“I’m a messenger for the king so I spend most of my time away on a horse. It’s kinda lonely sometimes but I really enjoy it.” Sero explained “And, you know, I always have a place to come back to.”

 

Izuku nodded. Then he looked around the room and frowned “Why is the room only half full? Aren’t there more of us?”

 

“Not all the staff can have breaks at the same time.” Kaminari explained “The castle would stop working.”

 

“Makes sense.” Izuku said “I should have thought of that.”

 

“So Midoriya, how did you like your first day on the job?” Ashido cradled her head in her hands and stared at him with curious yellow eyes.

 

“It was interesting and tiring.” Izuku said “Chiyo had me running around all day. The prince hardly ever had me do anything.”

 

“That sounds like him. He’s surprisingly independant for a noble.” Kirishima nodded sagely “I’ve worked pretty closely with him before and he strikes me as someone who doesn’t enjoy being as powerful as he is.”

 

Izuku’s eyes widened “You’ve worked with him before?”

 

“Well, I’m a knight, right?” Kirishima smiled and rolled up the left sleeve of the shirt he was wearing to show a massive scar on his bicep “Someone almost shot him with a bow in training one day but I got in the way just in time.” He rolled his sleeve back down.

 

“How long have you been here, Kirishima?” Izuku wondered.

 

“Hm.” Kirishima thought for a second “Six years? I got the job before Enji fell and before the war started.”

 

Izuku was amazed “So you saw the war first hand?”

 

“Unfortunately so. I wish I had waited a year or two before coming to work here if I’m being honest.” Kirishima’s eyes held a distant look in them.

 

A plate was slammed to the table in front of him and he jumped.

 

“You better not be getting sad, Shitty Hair.” Bakugou growled “You’re an ugly crier.”

 

Kirishima instantly softened and he smiled “Nah you just hate it when I’m sad.”

 

“Here’s your dinner.” Bakugou passed plates to everyone at the table before sitting down next to Kirishima and starting to eat.

 

Izuku blinked. Bakugou hadn’t denied hating when Kirishima was sad. Izuku had been wondering about their relationship all day and had wondered if Bakugou actually liked Kirishima. But, based on how he was looking at the knight right now, Izuku could put the suspicions to rest and say that Bakugou was absolutely smitten. As was Kirishima who, somehow, softened even more when he looked over and found Bakugou looking at him. He leaned forward and pressed his lips softly to Bakugou’s nose before turning back to his dinner and continuing to eat. Bakugou turned pink, lightly punched Kirishima in the arm and continued to eat. After a moment, Bakugou went pinker and Kirishima’s smile took on a slightly victorious look. Izuku was confused.

 

Kaminari leaned across the table and whispered to him “They’re holding hands under the table.”

 

Izuku covered his mouth with his hands and whispered “Really?”

 

Kaminari nodded, smile huge before sitting down and continuing to eat. Izuku did the same.

 

“Midoriya? Are you finished?” Enokida stepped up behind him.

 

“O-oh. Almost. Give me a minute.” Izuku said.

 

She nodded and walked away. Izuku was once again struck with the fact that something seemed off about her. He turned back to his new friends and saw that they were all watching her walk away.

 

Ashido whispered “Who is she?”

 

“So you all noticed something was off about her too?” Izuku asked.

 

They all nodded.

 

Sero said “We never learned where she came from. Just, one day she appeared. Nobody is even sure what her job is. Some people say they see her wandering the halls at night. Some people think she’s crazy or some kind of mystical creature or a mage. Nobody is sure though.”

 

“Mage?” Izuku gasped “I thought magic was banned.”

 

“It is, and for good reason too.” Kirishima said, expression serious “Magic in the wrong hands is one of the most horrible weapons. It was banned a hundred years ago, just after the third Magic War. The kings couldn’t keep a tight enough hold on their mages so they gathered them all up and, unfortunately, killed them all. Then they banned magic completely.”

 

Bakugou scoffed “I don’t fucking know why though. If a mage appeared, the king should have taken them and made a guard of mages.”

 

“Rumours say that the Knights of Enji were descendants of mages.” Kaminari said “I don’t think they were.”

 

Ashido shook her head “Probably weren’t. Magic is dead now. No one has any anymore.”

 

“Do you think Enokida was a Knight of Enji?” Izuku wondered.

 

Bakugou snorted “Yeah, fuck no. Have you seen her?”

 

“What Bakugou means, Izuku,” Ashido said “Is that Enokida may be an expert on everything that has to do with serving people, she’s a complete klutz and cannot handle a weapon to save her life. You’ve noticed she doesn’t carry a weapon, right?”

 

Izuku though for a moment “Now that you mention it, yes.”

 

“That’s because when I tried to help her learn to fight with a knife, she stabbed herself in the arm.” Kirishima said “That girl shouldn’t be let near any sort of sharp thing ever.”

 

“Besides, the Knights were all killed in the war five years ago. It’s not possible.” Sero shook his head “It just wouldn’t work. And, you know, if any of the Knights had survived the war, King Yagi would have killed them.”

 

“Alright.” Izuku said “So it was a bit of a stretch.”

 

“You fucking idiot, it wasn’t a fucking stretch it was just completely fucking wrong, you piece of shit.” Bakugou snarled at Izuku “Seriously, how much of a fucking idiot are you, runt?”

 

“More of one than I had thought.” Izuku muttered.

 

Ashido snorted so hard it sounded painful. Sero choked on his mouthful of food and started coughing. Kaminari burst out laughing.

 

Bakugou bolted to his feet “You little shit! I’m gonna fucking kill you!”

 

“Hey, darling, calm down. Midoriya didn’t mean to insult you.” Kirishima reached up and laced his fingers with Bakugou’s “Come on, sit down.”

 

Bakugou said nothing, anger seemingly quelled, and sat down, not letting go of Kirishima’s hand from what Izuku could see. Izuku was amazed at how quickly Kirishima had gotten the rage-filled Bakugou to calm right down. It was almost like watching a candle be blown out, it was just gone in an instant and if you blinked you missed it.

 

“We have a bet going that Kiri could herd cats.” Ashido whispered to him “It has yet to be tested.”

 

Izuku smiled, eyes glimmering with humour, and he continued to eat. Then his brain fell on the little white cat in his room. Well, hopefully it was still in his room. He didn’t know the castle’s policy on cats or pets or animals at all for that matter. What if they weren’t allowed? In that case, Izuku would have to get rid of her and, he hated to admit it after only knowing the cat for ten minutes, he had a soft spot for it already reserved in his heart. He had always loved animals. When he had been younger, he had often found baby animals or injured animals and would bring them home to nurse them back to health. His mother always tried her best to enjoy the pets to the best of her abilities but after the seventh time Izuku brought home an injured pig, she had drawn the line at animals that were only as tall as his knee.

 

“Midoriya.” Enokida’s voice snapped him out of his daydream and he looked up, meeting her brilliant blue eyes as she spoke again “Have you finished? You shouldn’t keep the prince waiting.”

 

“I-I’m done.” Izuku jumped to his feet.

 

“Then follow me.” Enokida smiled lightly and started walking away.

 

Izuku turned to his new friends and waved a little “See you guys later?”

 

Kirishima grinned toothily, Sero nodded sleepily, Kaminari gave him a thumbs up, Ashido nodded with a laugh, Bakugou sent him a colourful phrase of farewell. Izuku almost responded to him but he didn’t want to keep Enokida waiting so he turned and jogged off after her.

Chapter Text

Enokida lead Izuku back to the kitchen and gave him a new tray with the prince’s dinner on it. Izuku asked why the prince wasn’t eating with the king. Enokida simply said that the king was very busy and that they didn’t eat together that often anyway. They spent time together, she claimed, but rarely had dinner together. Then she smiled at him, wished him luck, and sent him on his way. He walked forward for about seven steps before turning around to see she had completely disappeared.

 

He frowned. Enokida was strange. But he shrugged and kept walking towards the prince’s rooms. Everyone else was confused by her so it must be just who she was. Izuku smiled a little. He was glad that she was confident enough to be who she was.

 

The hallways were quiet, hardly anyone was walking around. Izuku winced as he realized just how loud his footsteps sounded as they echoed lightly down the hallways. The late evening sun spilled in through the windows and painted the floor and bathed the gold decorating the walls in orange which made the gold seemingly explode to life. The castle was beautiful in every sense of the word. Izuku’s face fell momentarily when a small self deprecating part of his brain said that someone plain looking like him didn’t deserve to be here.

 

He had always had trouble seeing his own worth, not just appearance wise. Not all the children at the village had been kind and because he was plain looking and his hair had been impossible to tame, he had been made fun of. On top of the jabs at his appearance, as they all got older and some children went off to school, Izuku hadn’t. His mother hadn’t been able to afford to send him to a school so any kids that hadn’t gone had jeered at him. They had said he was useless, that he was too stupid to go to school. When he had finally tried to stand up for himself and told them the truth about why he hadn’t gone, they had laughed hysterically and said that he was too poor to do anything. It had never gotten better and he had had no idea how to stop it. None of the adults would listen to him when he complained, only patted his curly hair and said that “kids will be kids, Izuku.”

 

Izuku sighed sadly, stopping for a moment to feel sorry for himself. Then, after five seconds, he stood up straighter and steeled his gaze. Now he was working at the castle. None of the other kids were working at the castle.

 

He arrived at the prince’s door and shifted the tray onto one hand. Then he lifted his free hand and knocked on the door.

 

Once again, the prince’s warm baritone voice said “Come in.”

 

Izuku inhaled and exhaled once to calm himself before grabbing the door handle and entering the room. Once again he was met with the dazzling rooms that the prince lived in and once again he was amazed and had his breath taken away. Late evening sunlight poured in through the windows, much like in the hallways and bounced off the silver and copper decorating the walls and sent flashes all over Izuku’s vision. They weren’t unpleasant, not in the least, and he found himself opening his eyes wider to take more of the view in.

 

The prince cleared his throat and Izuku jumped a little. He turned to the prince and bowed his head “My apologies, Your Highness.”

 

The prince nodded “If you could place that on the table?”

 

Izuku did so. Then he stood near the door.

 

“Anything else, Your Highness?” He asked, his hands were behind his back because he couldn’t stop fidgeting and he didn’t want the prince to see.

 

The prince regarded him for a moment, once again looking him up and down, eyes narrowed the slightest bit. The prince was wearing the same outfit as earlier, Izuku realized, but without the blue coat. He looked rather dashing and he almost had a sort of ruggedness to him with the way his shirt sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows. His hair was a little bit askew and his jaw seemed to be clenched the smallest bit. In the evening sun, the prince seemed to glow, but in a much different way than he had in the morning sunlight. Then, he had glowed in an almost godlike way. Now he glowed in a regal, beautiful, powerful way, like a king would if kings went around glowing.

 

Izuku blinked when he saw the prince’s mouth move but he did not hear what he said.

 

“I apologize, Your Highness,” he bowed a little “But I did not hear what you said. Could you please repeat that?”

 

“I was asking why you keep looking at me like that.” The prince waved a finger vaguely in Izuku’s direction, voice sounding mildly bored “Like I am some sort of god.”

 

Izuku opened his mouth to say something but the prince interrupted and said “Be honest with me.”

 

Izuku shut his mouth and steeled himself. Then he spoke.

 

“If I must be honest, it is because you are quite um… dazzling, Your Highness.” Izuku said, fidgeting hands speeding up in their nervousness “You always seem to reflect and refract light in just the right way. Your face is quite nice to look at, as is the rest of you. And, if I may, I am surprised you are not betrothed being someone as handsome and beautiful as you are.” Izuku knew that his face had exploded pink and he wanted to throw himself out the prince’s beautiful window.

 

“Hm.” The prince said thoughtfully, bringing a hand up to cradle his chin in thought “I suppose it is a fair question.”

 

Izuku blinked “W-which question, Your Highness?”

 

“Why am I not betrothed.” The prince said, eyebrows furrowing in thought “I can tell you if you should like to hear it.”

 

“I-I don’t want to intrude on your dinner, Your Highness.” Izuku backed towards the door “I should leave you-”

 

The prince snapped his fingers and pointed at a chair at the table “Pull that over and sit and listen. I shall tell you the story. And bring over my dinner.”

 

Izuku obeyed, walking over silently as collecting the dinner tray and the chair. He placed the prince’s dinner on the desk next to a massive old book and placed the chair at the opposite side of the desk to the prince. He took a seat at the edge, feeling not only out of place but extremely nervous. He brought his hands into his lap and started fidgeting under the desk where the prince would not see.

 

The prince lowered his pen and placed it in the fold where the pages met in the journal in front of him. Then he leaned his elbows on the table and crossed his arms.

 

“I was betrothed once.” The prince started, soft, even voice music to Izuku’s ears “Enji arranged an advantageous marriage to the second oldest princess of another land. The marriage would have unified our kingdoms and bought us an alliance that could never have been broken. But, when Enji fell and Yagi, my father, took over the marriage was reassessed. The princess and I were both asked by our parents what we wanted to do. Now, the princess and I were what one night call friends and we asked for a day to think it over. We met and decided neither of us wanted to marry the other. Part of the reason was because she preferred women, not men. The other reason was because I myself prefer men over women. Her country had already passed a marriage equality law and allowed her to marry a woman. I talked to my father and he allowed marriage equality a few years later after discussing it with me.”

 

The prince took a breath and continued “The only thing stopping me from being married now or being betrothed now is my own choice. I am convinced that only the very deepest love will tempt me into marriage. If I ever require children and I am either not married or have a man by my side, I intend to adopt a poor child out of a horrible place. Or multiple children.” He finished his tale by saying “And thus, I am not betrothed nor am I married.”

 

Izuku closed his mouth and thought for a moment. He could tell Enokida what she didn’t know, that was the first thing that came to mind. The second was that the prince was a lot more open than the other servants had let on. Then finally the fact that the prince actually preferred men sunk in and Izuku turned his wide eyes to the prince’s cold mismatched one’s.

 

“You prefer men.” Izuku said. It was more of a statement than a question.

 

“Yes. I prefer men. Of course, if in the unlikely situation that I fall in love with a woman, I would not mind it as much.” The prince said, voice impossible to decipher “Mind you, I certainly hope I fall in love with a man.”

 

Izuku smiled nervously at the prince “I-I am honoured that you shared this with me Your Highness.”

 

“And why is that?” The prince asked.

 

“W-well you seemed quite closed off to me this morning, Your Highness, and everyone else said you were cold and like you had a shell around you.” Izuku said “Kirishima even said that he had personal expérience with your coldness.”

 

“Kirishima.” The prince repeated the name “Kirishima. He’s a knight. He’s going to marry Bakugou, correct?”

 

Izuku blinked, mildly astonished that the prince paid that much attention to his servants “That is correct, Your Highness.”

 

“Why do you look so astonished? Should a prince not try to understand his servants personal lives?” The prince demanded.

 

“N-no not at all! That is not what I meant, Your Highness, please forgive me.” Izuku bowed his head, jaw clenched nervously. He had messed up. He was getting sacked. He was going to have the new record for shortest time working for the prince!

 

“I see.” The prince said.

 

Silence filled the room and Izuku felt himself start to sweat.

 

Then the prince scoffed and said “Oh do sit up. I do not wish to stare at the top of your head everytime you make a mistake.”

 

“Yes Your Highness. Sorry Your Highness.” Izuku mumbled and sat up, eyes anywhere but on the prince.

 

More silence.

 

Then a strange scribbling sound filled Izuku’s ears and he turned his eyes to the prince. He wasn’t sure what the prince was doing, it looked like he was writing but he kept glancing up at Izuku every few seconds. Izuku was perplexed. What in the world was he-

 

“Do stay still.” The prince said sternly.

 

“O-oh.” Izuku blinked “Yes Your Hi-”

 

“And if you call me ‘Your Highness’ one more time I am sending you away.” The prince snapped, eyes glued to the page in front of him as he scribbled.

 

Izuku stuttered “B-but I must call you-”

 

“You must call me that?” The prince scoffed “Not anymore. Hearing you say it so often is almost like reminding me of Enji. When there is no one else around or I tell you to, call me Master or Prince or sir. Anything but ‘Your Highness.’”

 

“Y-Yes Yo-” Izuku flinched under the prince’s sharp glare “Yes sir.”

 

The prince lowered his eyes again and focused back on his page. The scribbling continued and Izuku felt his mind start to drift off into the clouds. He thought maybe it wouldn’t be too bad living at the castle. He had friends now and he was away from his old village and on top of that he was learning so much. He knew that things between him and the prince were getting off to a rocky start but he wouldn’t let that deter him. He wanted to stay here for as long as he could.

 

“I don’t hate you, Midoriya.” The prince interrupted his thoughts.

 

Izuku blinked and refocused on the prince’s bowed head “Excuse me, sir?”

 

“I said I don’t hate you.” The prince looked up at him “You seem like you think I hate you. And I am saying I don’t.”

 

So the prince was better at reading people than Izuku had thought. He made a note of that.

 

“O-oh. Um. Thank you sir.” Izuku sent him a tiny nervous smile “I must say I don’t hate you either.”

 

The prince stopped scribbling and raised his head, giving Izuku a millisecond of a not-quite-there smile. Then he grabbed the top of the page he had been scribbling on and cleanly tore the paper from the binding of the journal. He inspected it carefully before turning it to Izuku “What do you think?”

 

Izuku’s eyes widened and he mumbled “You drew me?”

 

“I doodle sometimes.” The prince shrugged, holding the paper in front of his face a little bit “This isn’t my best work. But yes I drew you.”

 

“It’s…” Izuku trailed off. He didn’t have the words.

 

“Horrible, right?” The prince asked.

 

Izuku shook his head “No it isn’t. It’s… lovely. Beautiful. Um. Amazing. I don’t think there’s a strong enough word in my vocabulary.”

 

The prince’s voice was once again unreadable “Take it.”

 

“What?” Izuku asked, hands flying up to obey.

 

“Take it. It’s yours.” The prince said and turned to the open old textbook next to his journal, eyes focused on the text “Do what you want with it. You are dismissed.”

 

Izuku stood up and bowed “Thank you sir.”

 

Then he hurried out of the room.

Chapter Text

A week went by. Izuku spent every day the same way. Wake up before the sun. Eat breakfast with half the staff, sitting with Iida and Uraraka or Bakugou, Kirishima, Mina, Kaminari and sometimes Sero. Take the prince his breakfast and tell him his schedule. Leave the prince alone to get dressed and ask Chiyo if she had any work for him. Eat an early lunch with Uraraka while Iida was on duty. Take the prince his lunch. Help Chiyo some more. Take the prince his dinner and sit with him for a little while. Then go eat his own dinner and go to bed. It was exhausting.

 

Somehow, he noticed that Chiyo’s rigorous work she was making him do was paying off. According to her on day five he looked less like a noodle, which he hoped was a good thing. He had noticed as well that his freckled arms, back, chest and legs were much more muscular. Izuku was strangely pleased with how he was looking. In his opinion his body had always looked like a twig but now he looked a little more like a branch. A smaller branch but still a branch.

 

The cat even showed up many times in the week. She would show up mostly just before Izuku would eat dinner and nuzzle his knees, shoulders and face until he was less worn out. Then it almost inspected him for injuries. It was strange, really. The cat was acting almost like a guardian of sorts and seemed to really like him. He wondered if anyone else knew it was here then thought better of asking. He didn’t want to get it kicked out. He would feel too bad. He even felt bad thinking about it and the cat must have sensed it because when he did it bapped it’s paw on his nose which had instantly cheered him up.

 

On day two of his stay in the castle, he met the seamstress Momo Yaoyorozu who had a talent for making beautiful things out of essentially nothing. She was kind and very much a perfectionist as well as someone who forced herself to excel at everything. Her hard work paid off though because when Izuku went to visit her again on the third day, she had more of his suits there for him to pick up.

 

On the fourth day, his knife was ready and he went to pick it up. He tested it out and it was incredibly well balanced and didn’t weigh as much as he had expected. It was beautiful and Tetsutetsu and Jirou beamed at him when he pretended to cradle it like a child and say he loved it. He thanked them profusely and asked if there was any way he could repay them. Jirou whacked him upside the head with her forge gloves and said no payment required. Izuku had tried to protest but then Tetsutetsu had brought him into a rib crushing hug and had laughed jovially before claiming the two of them being bros now was enough. Izuku wasn’t really sure what “being bros” meant. When Tetsutetsu finally let him go, Izuku had winced at his complaining ribs, thanked them profusely and been on his way.

 

On the fifth day, Izuku quite literally collided with Uraraka and accidentally knocked her over. That was embarrassing and Izuku felt horrible. But his spirit was quickly lifted because in almost the next five seconds, Iida came racing around the corner and yelled “OCHAKO ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” which had been strange because there hadn’t been a crash.

 

Uraraka had assured him that yes, she was alright and then accepted his hand up, blushing lightly. Izuku had stood up on his own and made a joke about how Iida must have future husband superpowers or else he wouldn’t have known they had fallen. Iida had blushed and started making ridiculous angular hand gestures as he scolded Izuku for his teasing while Uraraka turned as red as the rubies on the wall. Then it had been time for the servants lunch and Iida joined them on their way to the servants eating hall. Izuku’s sides hurt from laughing when he went up to bring the prince his own lunch and still had a small trace of a smile on his face when he set the prince’s meal on the table.

 

“You look cheerful.” The prince said, without looking up from where he had been busily scribbling notes “What happened?”

 

“O-oh. Nothing, sir.” Izuku said, small smile still intact. He had really gotten the hang of switching from Your Highness to sir. He wasn’t sure if the prince even noticed but he was pleased that he had done it either way.

 

“You don’t have to hide things from me.” The prince pointed out “We aren’t strangers anymore.”

 

Izuku blinked and looked up at him, amazement on his face “What do you mean, sir?”

 

“Well if I must be honest,” the prince put his pen down and rest his elbows on the desk, leaning his chin on his hands “You have appeared to grow more comfortable around me and, I must admit, I have become the slightest bit more comfortable with you than most of my past personal attendants.”

 

“Oh. Thank you, sir.” Izuku said and bowed “I appreciate it but it is truly nothing of importance.”

 

The prince examined him for a moment before saying “In about three weeks time, there is going to be a festival in the city. The citizens have planned it. It’s going to be a festival of flowers because the flowers have grown in beautifully this spring. You are to attend.”

 

Izuku bowed “Yes sir.” He turned to leave.

 

“Oh, and one more thing Midoriya.” The prince called.

 

Izuku stopped walking and turned around to find that the prince had stood from his desk and was now standing right in front of him, the tiniest of smiles on his face. The prince had taken hold of him, fingers loosely wrapped around his wrist.

 

“Thank you.” The prince said “For lunch.”

 

Izuku nodded and shakily whispered “Of course, sir.”

 

The prince nodded and let go of his hand and was instantly back to his normal self “You are dismissed.”

 

Izuku bowed quickly and hurried from the room.

 

As soon as he was outside, he shut the door and spun to lean his back against the wall. He was breathing hard but he had no idea why. What was happening to him? Why was his heart racing so much? Sure this had happened when he had encountered beautiful people but never a week after meeting them. This was beyond weird and Izuku didn’t know what to do so he closed his eyes, leaned his head back against the wall and breathed slowly, in through his nose and out through his mouth.

 

“Midoriya?” A voice surprised Izuku into opening his eyes and turning to look.

 

He breathed a sigh of mild relief “Oh, Kirishima, it’s just you.”

 

“Midoriya are you alright?” Kirishima walked right up to him, concern dancing in his red eyes as he pressed the back of his hand to Midoriya’s forehead. He hummed before saying “You’re not sick. What’s wrong?”

 

“What do you mean? Nothing is wrong.” Izuku was puzzled. What was Kirishima talking about?

 

“Your face is all red.” Kirishima’s eyes searched Izuku’s “Your complexion isn’t great right now either and you were just leaning against the wall. You’re sure you aren’t sick?”

 

“I-I’m fine, Kirishima. Thank you for asking.” Izuku stood off the wall and smiled reassuringly “I’m just a little warm.”

 

Kirishima’s eyes widened “Well then take off your jacket! Usually you just wear the outfit without the jacket but you’re wearing the jacket now. You’re probably overheating! Take it off!” He grabbed the lapels of Izuku’s coat and pulled it off him before offering it back to him. Then he seemed to realize what was happening and said “I’m sorry. That was probably really awkward.”

 

“N-no it’s alright. Thank you.” Izuku took his coat and slung it over one arm. Then he sighed “Yeah I feel better already.”

 

Kirishima brightened “I was right! Oh, actually, I needed to show you something. Come with me.”

 

Izuku followed him down one of the many corridors. This one Izuku had never been down before and was a little more beat up than any of the main hallways. There were more spots of roughened and scratched up marble and there were many more scorch marks littering the floor and walls. Despite all this it was all still beautiful and Izuku marveled at the beauty of it all. Kirishima lead him up to a small section of wall before waving him closer. Izuku blinked in confusion and obeyed.

 

“This is a doorway to a web of secret passages around the castle.” Kirishima explained in a hushed whisper “Most of the servants know about it and we use one of the passage rooms to hold meetings. You’ve stayed for a while now so I can show it to you.”

 

Izuku squinted at the wall, examining it “Kirishima, I hardly think this is a door.”

 

“No no trust me!” Kirishima insisted “It’s a door! I just need to find the- ah! Here it is.”

 

Something clicked and the wall disappeared into another panel of wall, revealing another hallway. This one was dark and instead of nice marble it was bare rock and bricks. The air was wet and cold as Kirishima lead Izuku inside. Izuku sighed at the temperature change, almost thankfully. Kirishima shot him a little smile before leading him along the hallway. It varied in size, Izuku assumed it depended on where they were in the castle, and at one point the two young men even had to crawl. Izuku was almost about to ask Kirishima where exactly they were and when they would arrive where they were going when Kirishima stopped in front of him and crouched down.

 

Izuku watched as the red haired knight grabbed a handle on a slat at the bottom of the wall and pulled on it with all his might. The slat groaned once and Kirishima slapped it with his open palm and tugged on the handle again. Light spilled from the crack between the slat and the floor and flooded the hallway, casting an almost painful glow on the floor. Kirishima made a little sound of excitement before yanking until the slat was knee height from the floor.

 

“That’s as high as this one goes.” Kirishima looked up at Izuku from his spot crouched on the floor “This door leads to Yaomomo’s studio. Come on.”

 

Izuku crouched down and followed Kirishima through the door, fumbling the coat over his arm a little bit.

 

When he looked up, Yaoyorozu was standing there, hands on her hips, red dress rumpled a little around the elbows from sewing.

 

Her outfit was pretty, in Izuku’s opinion, and he couldn’t help the tiny blush that formed on his cheeks. Yaoyorozu was wearing her usual mid calf length, long sleeved red dress with a square neckline lined with little white lace, as was the cuffs of her sleeves and the trim of the skirt of the dress. Around her middle was a black corset that looked simple enough but Izuku knew concealed a vast number of throwing knives. Yaoyorozu was beautiful and when a woman was properly beautiful, she was truly terrifying when she was angry. And Yaoyorozu did not look pleased that he and Kirishima had appeared from a hole in her studio wall. Izuku and Kirishima hurriedly stood up, the former with a guilty look on his face and the latter with a mildly amused look on his face.

 

“I thought I told you not to use that entrance.” Yaoyorozu crossed her arms and glared at Kirishima “Use the door, you hooligan.”

 

“I’m a knight, not a hooligan, Yaomomo.” Kirishima snorted “And it’s my day off so I thought I would show Midoriya some of the cool passageways around the castle.”

 

“You couldn’t have shown him the one into the forge?” Yaoyorozu pleaded.

 

“Nah. As much as I love seeing my buddy Tetsutetsu, there’s too much of a risk of getting my head roasted off.” Kirishima said and turned to Izuku “You gotta time your entrances into the forge.”

 

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Izuku smiled brightly.

 

Yaoyorozu rolled her eyes “Yes yes you both are adorable now please get out of my studio. I am working on the coat the prince is to wear to the flower festival.”

 

“Oooooh that’s exciting!” Kirishima rushed up to Yaoyorozu’s sewing table “What colour is it going to be? What is it going to look like?”

 

“You don’t get to know yet. Now get out.” Yaoyorozu whacked him upside the head with a role of fabric.

 

Kirishima laughed and backed toward the door “Alright time to make a hasty retreat, Midoriya.”

 

Izuku followed him to the door and waved to Yaoyorozu on his way out. She smiled and waved back. Then Izuku shut the door behind him and followed Kirishima back to the servants dining room.

Chapter Text

It was day seven and Izuku was standing in a field, sweating, panting for air, right in front of Kirishima. The red haired knight was in much better shape than him, grinning victoriously as he pumped his fist and danced around. They had been sparring for the past hour and Kirishima kept winning. Bakugou was standing off to the side, offering aggressive pointers and praising Kirishima’s incredible fighting ability. Izuku had asked if he could watch the two of them spar but Bakugou had blushed lightly before muttering that he could never hurt Kirishima which had made Kirishima light up and press a kiss to Bakugou’s lips before rushing back over and telling Izuku how to improve. Bakugou had been mildly out of comission for a few minutes.

 

“This time, Midoriya, try loosening your hold on the knife.” Kirishima suggested “You’re holding it way too tight and putting strain on your wrist.”

 

“But won’t I just drop it? I’m kind of a klutz.” Izuku said, trying to catch his breath.

 

“You’re not a fucking klutz, dumbass.” Bakugou scoffed “I have not seen you drop anything since you fucking arrived here and that means you aren’t a fucking klutzy piece of shit. You’re just a fucking shitty nerd.”

 

Izuku blinked “Thanks?”

 

“That was his version of a compliment.” Kirishima said, gazing impossibly fondly at Bakugou “He’s saying you’re not as useless as he originally thought.”

 

Bakugou blushed and looked away, crossing his arms. He didn’t deny it.

 

“Alright let’s keep going.” Kirishima said and bent his knees into a fighting stance “Come at me.”

 

Izuku stood up and raised his knife, loosening his grip the littlest bit. Then he bent his knees, matching Kirishima’s stance and charged. He swiped at Kirishima’s chest and didn’t notice the arm come up beside him. Kirishima grabbed the right side of his right wrist and darted to the side. Then he grabbed Izuku’s right shoulder and twisted his arm to force Izuku to drop the knife. Izuku groaned and went limp in Kirishima’s hold. Kirishima yelped and tried to support him from collapsing then propped him on his feet.

 

“I’m no good at this.” Izuku grumbled “I haven’t improved at all.”

 

“Now, Midoriya, that is not true.”Kirishima let go of him and wagged a scolding finger in his face “You have improved. You’re holding your knife better and with more confidence. But you seem almost distracted. Anything wrong?”

 

Bakugou walked over and casually put his arms around Kirishima’s waist in a back hug. The two of them seemed impossibly bonded. They were almost like they were made for each other. Izuku noted how one of Kirishima’s hands came up and he pried one of Bakugou’s hands off his body to lace their fingers together. Bakugou’s only reaction was a tiny blush and a little squeeze of Kirishima’s hand. They were truly perfect for each other.

 

“Any more pointers?” Izuku asked, picking up his knife from the grass.

 

A warm baritone voice from behind him said “I have a few.”

 

Kirishima and Bakugou separated so fast Izuku almost didn’t catch it. He cocked his head to the sides at their mildly spooked faces before his brain made the connection, realizing that neither of them had spoke, and his eyes widened sharply. He turned and found the prince walking toward them. He was wearing a deep blue coat with darker blue swirling wave designs going vertically up and down the coat. His hair was loose, combed straight and Izuku was mesmerized by the way it swished and swayed with the prince’s steps. The prince’s face was filled with something that Izuku couldn’t quite make out.

 

“Y-Your Highness!” Izuku squeaked and bowed hastily “What are you doing here?”

 

The prince waved for him to stand up “I was on my way from the stables and saw you three. I noticed that you and Kirishima were sparring and I came to give pointers.”

 

“Excuse me for my rudeness, Your Highness, but you fight?” Izuku asked.

 

Almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth, the prince had darted forward, grabbed and twisted the wrist holding the knife and appeared behind Izuku. The knife clattered to the ground. Izuku gaped at it. Then he whipped around to look at the prince. He saw that Kirishima and Bakugou had similar faces of astonishment. Well, Kirishima was openly astonished, Bakugou was more subdued and Izuku saw his left hand twitch in Kirishima’s direction.

 

The prince adjusted the collar of his left sleeve “Yes. I am trained to fight.”

 

He didn’t explain how, when or by whom. Izuku could guess and it made him feel sad for the prince.

 

“If you would like, Midoriya, you may try to spar with me.” The prince offered “I may not be a better fighter than Kirishima but I may be able to help you find a fighting style that suits you.”

 

Kirishima awkwardly scratched the back of his neck “I’m not the best teacher, sorry.”

 

“You’re a great teacher, Shitty Hair.” Bakugou muttered, almost defensively. Kirishima shot him a grateful look.

 

The prince turned to face Izuku again and started unbuttoning his blue coat. When he finished, he slung the coat off his shoulders, revealing a crisp white shirt underneath. He lay the coat on the ground to his right and gestured to Izuku’s knife, still in the grass “Well?”

 

 

Izuku bent to once again pick up his knife, sending a wary look up at the prince before clasping it and holding it loosely at his side.

 

“Have you tried feinting a strike yet?” The prince asked.

 

Kirishima smacked his open palm to his forehead “That’s what I was forgetting.” Then his eyes widened and he bowed a little “My apologies, Your Highness, I interrupted you.”

 

“It’s alright, nothing to worry about.” The prince waved a hand, dismissing the apology. Then his attention turned back to Izuku and he pulled a small knife from his boot. He raised it up in front of himself and pointed it loosely at Izuku “If you would stay still, I can demonstrate a feint.”

 

Izuku hardly had time to exhale before the prince was moving. Once again, Izuku didn’t see it coming. The prince started to slice at his right shoulder and Izuku’s knife hand rose up to block it instinctively. Then the prince swiped the knife away and jabbed in the direction of Izuku’s left shoulder. The blade stopped a hair from Izuku’s clothes.

 

Izuku froze, knife hand halfway between hanging at his side and touching his shoulder.

 

Kirishima and Bakugou were frozen, jaws on the ground.

 

The prince lowered his knife and stepped back a bit from Izuku “As you can see, a feint is when you pretend to strike somewhere so that your opponent lowers their defences on another part of their body, giving you a chance to strike.”

 

Izuku’s mouth fell open. He quickly recovered and said “That was amazing, Your Highness.”

 

“Was it?” The prince said thoughtfully “Well, why don’t you try?”

 

“But, Your Highness, I don’t wish to hurt you. You have much more control than me so I have a higher chance of inflicting damage in an unexpected way.” Izuku fidgeted with the knife, shifting from foot to foot.

 

“Just do it.” The prince said. When Izuku only flinched lightly and his fidgeting continued, the prince said, a little more forcefully “Do it. You will not hurt me.”

 

Izuku looked up and nodded. He made eye contact with the prince and raised the knife, holding it the way Kirishima had taught him. Then he darted forward, blade raised. He angled the blade toward the prince’s right shoulder, just like what the prince had done. Then he went to stab at his left shoulder. An idea struck him and once again he feinted to the right before swerving and jabbing the knife toward the prince’s right shoulder again. Something nagged the back of his brain telling him he was going to hurt the prince. He ignored it to the best of his abilities and tried to focus.

 

The prince’s eyes widened minutely at the change in tactics before his mind caught up. He ducked to the side to avoid the strike, caught the blade with his own and flicked his knife. Izuku’s knife flew away, landing a few feet from the two of them. It nestled into the green grass and reflected a sunbeam into Izuku’s eyes, making him blink quickly, trying to rid his vision of the random colourful spots.

 

“Well done.” The prince said, flexing his wrist “Using two feints at once is a good tactic. But you have to remember that if your opponent is fast enough and you’ve already used a feint, it probably won’t work. Keep that in mind for the future.”

 

Izuku retrieved his knife and nodded “Yes Your Highness.” At some point in the fight, Kirishima and Bakugou had disappeared.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince said, voice suddenly lower, and stepped forward closer to Izuku “Why were you so nervous about hurting me?”

 

“Because I don’t want to hurt anyone,” Izuku’s voice was hushed “Least of all y- um. Least of all the prince. I really don’t want to hurt anybody though, ever.”

 

“I see.” The prince nodded, eyes steeled again. He stepped back again and retrieved his coat and began to put it on “Well, if you like, I can give you fighting lessons.”

 

“Really?” Izuku’s eyes lit up “You’re serious, Your Highness?”

 

The prince shot him a look that Izuku couldn’t make out. Then he turned away again and refocused on his coat “If you would like.”

 

“If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to!” Izuku sheathed his knife at his belt “You are certain though?”

 

“Sure.” The prince said and started walking away.

 

Izuku felt his smile slowly fade. Had he done something to offend the prince? Was it something he had said? Did the prince think he was useless enough to require knife training?

 

Izuku’s head spiralled with worries and he felt his lips start to move. He was muttering again.

 

Hopefully he would learn quickly, then the prince wouldn’t be annoyed with him. Yes, that was it. He would learn well and quickly so the prince would not have to waste time with him. His job was to make the prince’s life efficient and for everything to happen smoothly. His lessons would surely get in the way but if he was a fast learner and put a lot of work into it then the prince could get back to his normal life sooner. Excellent plan!

 

Wait.

 

If it was an excellent plan why did Izuku feel guilty? Why had the prince seemed almost annoyed just a moment ago? Now that Izuku thought about it he hadn’t spoken a word to neither Kirishima nor Bakugou. Did the prince not like them? Did he not like talking with them? Did he not want to be around them? Izuku guesses it had something to do with status. Neither of them were directly connected to the prince so he must not want to spend too much time with them for fear of being associated with someone of the lower class. But.. then why did he seem so intent on knowing about their personal lives?

 

“Midoriya.” Izuku whipped around to see Enokida “How has your first week been?”

 

Izuku smiled in welcome “It was busy to say the least.”

 

“I heard Chiyo had you doing everything from hauling jewels to running fabric to Yaoyorozu.” Enokida smiled lightly “And how is the prince?”

 

“Um.” Izuku cleared his throat “He’s difficult to read but he seems to be able to read me like an open book. It’s… frustrating? No that’s not the right word. Irking? No. Um. It’s a little aggravating.”

 

Enokida nodded “That is understandable. For the years I have been here, he has always been a closed book. Mind you, I’ve never worked closely with him.” She reached up and adjusted her collar.

 

“I envy you.” Izuku said “You know everyone and everything about the castle and everything else. On top of all that you seem to know how to read people much better than I do.”

 

“I would offer to teach you but I don’t think it’s an acquirable skill. My apologies.” She smiled, humour dancing in her eyes “May I ask what was just going on?”

 

“Kirishima and I were sparring and the prince was apparently going to the stables and saw. So he came over and gave me some pointers and sparred with me a little bit.” Izuku said “He taught me about feinting and a little bit about disarming.”

 

“Ah, I see.” Enokida nodded.

 

The two fell silent.

 

Izuku started to fidget nervously.

 

“You haven’t told me about the cat.” Enokida said.

 

Izuku jumped and stuttered “U-um what cat? I d-don’t have a cat, what are you t-talking about?”

 

“You’re a horrible liar, Midoriya.” Enokida pointed behind him “That cat.”

 

Izuku turned around to find the white cat strutting up to him like it owned the entire field. When it saw that he had looked over, it perked up and ran up to him and leaped up into his arms. Izuku fumbled to catch it but when he managed to steady himself, it curled up against his chest and started purring. Izuku smiled gently at it.

 

“I see she’s taken a liking to you.” Enokida said and reached forward to rub the cats head “She doesn’t usually pay this much attention to new people.”

 

“Is this your cat?” Izuku went to hold it out to her. The cat meowed and crawled up so it was curled around his shoulders and went to sleep again.

 

“No, she isn’t mine. She’s more of a castle pet.” Enokida said “Of course, the king doesn’t know she’s here. We kind of have to keep her a secret. Not that tha king dislikes animals, he just would prefer not to have a bunch of small house animals running loose.”

 

“I… guess that makes sense.” It really didn’t “I should go see if Chiyo needs me to do anything.”

 

“Are you taking the cat with you?” Enokida asked.

 

The cat refused to let go of him when Izuku tried to lift it off him so the answer was no.

 

Izuku jogged away, feeling Enokida’s eyes drilling holes in the back of his head.

 

Something was definitely off about her.

Chapter Text

It was day ten and Izuku was confused. He stared at Aizawa, jaw hanging open in disbelief. Aizawa continued to adjust the contents of a closet.

 

“I’m sorry, what?” Izuku blinked in utter surprise.

 

Aizawa sighed and shifted his weight “I said, the prince has called you to his rooms.”

 

Izuku’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates “B-but why? What does he want?”

 

“Look, if I knew what he wanted I would tell you.” Aizawa said, voice sounding exasperated and yet kind at the same time “Just go. He’s not going to murder you.”

 

“That’s not what I’m afraid of.” Izuku said quietly.

 

“What are you afraid of, then?” Aizawa asked, pausing in rearranging the closet to turn to face Izuku. He crossed his arms, tired eyes reflecting something akin to sympathy in Izuku’s direction. The man looked exhausted and like he hadn’t slept in six years so his eyes looked like they could hardly focus on anything at all.

 

“I think…” Izuku hesitated “I think I’m afraid of the prince?”

 

Aizawa sighed and turned back to the closet.

 

To Izuku’s surprise, the man shut the closet doors, grabbed Izuku’s elbow and pulled him gently to one of the long tables in the servants dining room. The room was empty and Aizawa gently pushed Izuku at one of the benches. He sat down and Aizawa planted himself across the table from him, resting his elbows on the table and resting his chin in his hands.

 

“Why are you afraid of him?” Aizawa demanded.

 

Izuku blinked and sat down “Huh?”

 

“Don’t ‘huh’ me.” Aizawa scolded “Tell me why you’re afraid of the prince.”

 

Izuku took a breath and said “W-well. I think part of it is because he’s, well, he’s the prince. I’ve never had much experience with royalty or nobility. It’s strange to say the least. And on top of that he’s so cold and so closed off to the world. I hate to imagine what made him that way. I can’t help feeling sorry for him sometimes. But I’m also scared of him because he is an excellent fighter and can disarm me without a knife in the blink of an eye.”

 

“Hm.” Aizawa said “Well, if it helps any, he’s much more open with you than the rest of us.”

 

“That’s not actually comforting at all.” Izuku muttered quietly “Thank you for trying though.”

 

“I expected as much.” Aizawa muttered. Then he said “The only way to get over your fear is to do what you’re afraid of. For example, Uraraka is afraid of heights. To overcome her fear, she travels around the castle in the upper floors and looks out the windows for a few seconds at a time multiple times a day. She’s teaching herself to get used to heights and therefore getting over her fear.”

 

“Uraraka is afraid of heights and yet she’s working mostly on the top floors?” Izuku asked “Why?”

 

“I just explained that she wants to overcome her fear of heights. To do that you have to make it a regular thing that happens in your life.” Aizawa stood up from the bench “I need to get back to work. Sorry if I didn’t help much. Don’t keep the prince waiting.” He walked away.

 

“No actually that was very helpful.” Izuku called after him.

 

Aizawa waved a hand to wave over his shoulder to say he had heard him.

 

Izuku stood up with new purpose and marched to the door. He grabbed the handle, pulled it open, stepped outside and closed the door behind him. Then he started walking to the prince’s rooms. His footsteps echoed around the hallway as he walked, head held high, posture straight as it would go. He was going to get over his fear of the prince even if it killed him.

 

Then he paused momentarily. Izuku wasn’t even sure if it was a fear. He enjoyed the prince’s company and yet felt incredibly nervous the whole time. He always felt his nerves jump when the prince spoke. Was this truly a fear? Or something else entirely?

 

Izuku came to a full stop in the middle of the hallway.

 

“Am I actually scared of him?” He whispered.

 

He puzzled over it for another moment. What was he actually afraid of? He was decently sure it wasn’t the prince himself. Maybe it was how much power the prince held over him? Maybe it was something the prince was doing or how he spoke? Maybe he was scared that the prince didn’t like him? His mind flashed back to the sketched drawing hanging in his room. Why had the prince drawn him? And why did it make Izuku so nervous? The prince himself had even said he didn’t hate Izuku. But what if he was lying?

 

Izuku shook his head, trying to get the thoughts out of his head before they tumbled out of his mouth. Then he continued on his way to the prince’s rooms. The hallways were quiet, save for when one two or even more servants scurried past him. He greeted each of them as they passed and they smiled and greeted him back. Izuku had noticed that smiling and saying a quick hello to passing acquaintances was a common thing among the servants of the castle and Izuku was more than happy to take part in it. He liked the idea that everyone liked everyone and that everyone knew everyone. It made the staff seem like one big happy family. Izuku had once craved a big family, when he was much younger, and he was kind of glad he almost had one now. He liked having actual friends for once in his life.

 

A few minutes later, Izuku arrived at the prince’s rooms and he lifted his hand to knock on the door.

 

“Who is it?” A rich baritone voice that Izuku recognized very well said.

 

“It’s me, Your Highness.” He spoke through the door.

 

The knob turned and the prince opened the door. Izuku almost didn’t catch the tiny smile flick across his lips when he opened it. Then the prince’s face was neutral as ever and he invited Izuku inside.

 

Izuku shut the door gingerly behind him and asked “What did you call me for, Your Highness?”

 

“I offered you fighting lessons.” The prince said, voice indecipherable “And, if I remember correctly, you seemed rather excited about that idea.”

 

“O-oh, right! I almost forgot.” Izuku smiled “I would like to learn, Your Highness.”

 

The prince hadn’t turned to face him since he came in the door “What happened to ‘sir’?”

 

“Oh my goodness I’m sorry, Your- um, sir.” Izuku fumbled his words “I forgot. My apologies, sir.”

 

Izuku thought he heard the slightest hint of warmth in the prince’s voice “It’s not a problem, Midoriya.”

 

The prince turned around, once again completely neutral and raised a knife in his hand “You have yours, I’m assuming.”

 

“A-ah. Yes I did.” Izuku pulled his own knife from the sheath at his belt. He held it up so the prince could see.

 

“It’s a beautiful knfe.” The prince took it lightly from him and examined it. He raised a finger and pointed at a set of ridges along one side “These are so you can inflict as much damage as possible with the least amount of effort. Maijima probably saw how small you are and added this as an extra precaution.”

 

“I’m not that small.” Izuku muttered, mildly offended.

 

“I did not mean that offensively.” The prince continued “I am just stating a fact. Compared to myself, you are quite small in every sense of the word.”

 

“I am not that much shorter than you, sir.” Izuku said, pulling himself up taller.

 

“I believe that a height difference of approximately ten centimetres indicates that you are decently short.” The prince pointed out.

 

Izuku pouted.

 

The prince smiled minutely, a tiny sparkle of humour lighting in his eyes “Of course, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

 

Izuku gasped lightly and looked up.

 

The prince came closer, eyes never leaving Izuku’s. The fabric of his shirt moved with his every step and his hair swished lightly. He stopped so they were maybe a foot apart and slowly raised a hand upwards.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s voice was quieter, richer than normal.

 

The prince lightly took his wrist in his hand and Izuku felt his breath hitch and get caught in his throat, unable to take his eyes off the prince’s.

 

“Here’s your knife.” The prince pressed the handle of his knife into his open palm and gently curled Izuku’s fingers around it. Then he stepped back, face once again completely neutral.

 

Izuku felt his heart pounding in his chest. He scolded himself for it. There was no need to get flustered when someone was just handing you a sharp weapon. Maybe he was more scared of the prince than he thought. Nevertheless, he shook himself lightly and faced the prince.

 

“Try coming at me. Use what you know and instinct and we’ll see how far you get.” The prince said.

 

Izuku nervously raised his knife. He really didn’t want to hurt the prince. He wouldn’t mind so much if he was the one getting hurt, he would rather he get hurt than the prince get hurt, but he was still worried. The prince had more experience and control than Izuku so he had a lesser chance of doing something accidentally.

 

He charged at the prince, aiming to swipe at the prince’s knife wrist. He very nearly got a hit, which made his brain begin to freak out, but the prince swerved just in time. Izuku whipped around just in time to duck under a strike from the prince. This gave him an opening to strike at the prince’s chest so he took it. He raised his knife and went to jab it at the prince’s chest from his crouched position. The prince dodged once again, knife coming up to clash with Izuku’s flinging it away. Luckily, Izuku kept a tight grip on his knife and it didn’t leave his hand. He spun around and caught the next strike the prince sent his way with his knife.

 

Izuku tried to fling the prince’s knife away but only managed to get himself pushed backward. He stumbled away from the prince who darted forward, direction a new strike at Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku raised his knife and pushed the prince’s knife away. The prince gave him a mildly impressed look and let him come in for a strike. Izuku swiped at the prince’s waist only for him to hop backwards out of reach. Finally able to catch his balance, Izuku stood straight and faced the prince, knife raised and ready. He darted forward and he swiped at the prince’s right shoulder. The prince’s knife came up to block but Izuku feinted at the last second and swung his knife around to the prince’s left shoulder.

 

The prince’s eyes widened and he switched his knife from one hand to the other. He grabbed Izuku’s knife wrist with his open hand and pulled it away from his body so Izuku couldn’t use it. Izuku yelped in surprise, dropping his knife as his body was whipped around. His back was pressed to the prince’s chest and he could feel the prince’s breath hitting the back of his neck as he panted.

 

Izuku tried to be able to breath which wasn’t easy when you had someone panting hot breath at the back of your neck. Especially when this person is immensely attractive and powerful.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince spoke slowly, as if the word weighed a tonne, his rich baritone voice flowing through the air like molasses.

 

Izuku shivered “S-sir.”

 

They stayed standing like that, as if neither of them could process what was going on and neither of them could catch their breaths.

 

Izuku came very close to finally catching his breath, only to feel the prince gently lean his forehead into where the base of his skull met his neck. Izuku’s breath got caught in his throat and he stayed carefully still, arm still being held out of his reach by the prince’s own hand. The prince’s knife clattered quietly to the ground and Izuku’s breath caught again as he felt the prince’s knife hand gently touch his waist and slowly find it’s way around him. The prince pulled his back flush with his chest and buried his nose into Izuku’s fluffy hair.

 

What was happening? Izuku couldn’t breathe. He should move, he should definitely move! But he didn’t want to move. He felt almost… warm? Safe? Whatever it was, it made him not want to move ever again.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s voice was hushed and slightly muffled from Izuku’s hair. He said nothing else, just Izuku’s name.

 

A tiny piece of Izuku’s brain thought that he never wanted to hear his name said any other way.

 

Then the prince whispered “Are you alright?”

 

Izuku swallowed heavily before whispering “I’m alright.”

 

The prince hummed deep in his throat and said nothing else.

 

Then Izuku felt something warm and soft press lightly into the skin at the top of his neck. His breath hitched and his cheeks exploded in pink.

 

Just as soon as it had happened, it ended and the prince let him go and retrieved his knife from the floor. Izuku’s hand fell back to his side and he panted lightly for breath. His cheeks felt really hot and he was still trying to process what had just happened. He shook his head in a desperate attempt to clear it and bent to pick up his knife.

 

“You’ve improved.” The prince said.

 

Izuku stood up and turned around to see the prince had already been facing him.

 

The prince sent him a look that maybe had the smallest hint of concern “Are you alright?”

 

“I-I’m alright, sir.” Izuku stuttered.

 

The prince nodded “Alright then. I need to finish what I was doing. You are dismissed.”

 

“Y-yes sir.” Izuku sheathed his knife and hurried to the door “D-do you need anything b-before I g-go?”

 

“No, thank you.” The prince said, already seated at his desk, eyes on the page in front of him “You may go.”

 

“Yes sir.” Izuku scrambled out the door.

 

When he arrived in the hallway, he sank to a crouch and put his face in his hands. What had just happened? Had the prince kissed him?

 

Izuku violently shook his head back and forth. No, it wasn’t possible.

 

Izuku sat there in the hallway until he had convinced himself that that hadn’t happened. When he had finally chalked it up to his imagination, he stood up and headed back to the servants dining hall. Maybe Chiyo needed him to do something.

Chapter Text

It was day fourteen, first day of the second week, and things had been awkward between Izuku and the prince ever since their first and only fighting lesson.

 

Izuku tried his best to act normal, like nothing had happened but somehow his efforts to convince himself the lesson hadn’t happened didn't work and the little incident was always on his mind. The prince was as stoic and neutral as ever. Izuku almost felt like the two of them had grown more distant since and that made him almost sad. Sure, he had never anticipated being close at all to the prince but it was almost disappointing to think that one fighting lesson had put them at odds. He was mostly disappointed in himself. If he hadn’t been such a horrible fighter than it certainly would be easier.

 

“Midoriya! Wake up!” Someone poked him in the forehead.

 

He jumped and lifted his head from where it had been hanging. Kaminari smirked at him from across the table. He, Ashido, Sero, Kirishima and Bakugou were sitting with Izuku for dinner.

 

“R-right sorry. Spaced out for a moment.” Izuku said and shook himself a little “What were we talking about?”

 

“The upcoming flower festival!” Ashido said, bouncing with excitement “The staff gets to go as well! I’m so excited!”

 

Sero smiled at her “Knowing you, you’re going to ask Yaomomo for a new outfit.”

 

“Of course I am!” Ashido smiled brightly “But if she’s too busy then I won’t but if she isn’t I will!”

 

“Oi, Shitty Hair.” Bakugou turned to his betrothed.

 

Kirishima turned his head to look at him, eyes wide in wonder.

 

“Wanna go with me to the festival?” Bakugou asked “You know, together?”

 

Kirishima beamed at him, cheeks flushing the tiniest bit “I would love to.”

 

Bakugou’s mouth quirked into a smile bright enough to rival Kirishima’s “Awesome.”

 

The two got lost in each other’s eyes for a moment.

 

“Oh, Midoriya.” Sero caught his attention.

 

Izuku turned to find him leaning across the table to speak quietly into Izuku’s ear “We’re having a special meeting tonight in one of the passageways. Aizawa, Hizashi, Iida and a whole bunch of other people will be there. We’re discussing defence at the festival. Want to come?”

 

“Sure.” Izuku whispered back “How would I get there? I don’t know the passages.”

 

“Meet me out here just before midnight.”Sero said “I know them like the back of my hand and I can show you the way.”

 

Izuku nodded and asked “Is it like a war meeting?”

 

“I guess. Just don’t tell anyone else. Especially not Enokida. She came once and ripped a really important map.” Sero said.

 

Izuku nodded with a snicker “I won’t.”

 

Sero sat back down and they all continued to eat.

 

Izuku finished his meal and stood up “I should go. Thanks for eating with me.”

 

They all wished him well and he went on his way.

 

Izuku headed out into the hallway.

 

Once again, his brain was bombarded with worries and anxiety.

 

The prince hated him, he was sure of it. He hadn’t been called to the prince’s rooms once since his first lesson, he only ever saw the prince when he was bringing him meals and very very rarely in passing in the hallways. The prince never made eye contact or even acknowledged his existence. Izuku knew it shouldn’t hurt but it did in the smallest way. Enokida had said that the prince had needed a friend and here he was, being ignored after all his attempts to warm the prince up. He had almost felt like he had gotten somewhere but apparently not.

 

Izuku had always believed he was kind and likeable. His mother had always told him so and so had all the other parents and adults back in his village. He used to open doors for everyone and he would almost always receive a pat on the head and a “such a nice boy” before whoever it was went on their way. As he had gotten older, that had changed to be claps on the shoulder or people clasping his hand to shake. The village elder, Torino, was immensely short but always made an effort to pat Izuku on the head, no matter how old either of them had gotten. Before Izuku had left for the castle, he had had to bend down to let him pat his head. But it had always been something about himself that he liked, his kindness. But now he felt like he was losing his touch.

 

He arrived at the kitchens, still sulking.

 

Izuku went to grab the tray with the prince’s dinner and turned back to the kitchen doors. He exited the kitchen, feeling surprisingly sorry for himself and went on his way.

 

Footsteps.

 

Izuku froze, eyes widening as he turned around. The hallway was empty. Nervousness rising, he examined the white hallway, looked past every column and every which way he could from his spot in front of the kitchen doors. The hallway was eerily empty and quiet.

 

The footsteps got louder.

 

Izuku felt himself start to sweat.

 

His hold tightened around the handles of the tray.

 

Izuku could hear his heart pounding in his ears.

 

The world started to spin.

 

A hand landed on his shoulder and he jumped with a yelp. He spun around, raising the tray in a defensive position.

 

Izuku nearly dropped the tray when he saw who it was.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s rich baritone voice soothed his brain, slowing his heart rate. The prince lowered his hand from where it had once been on Izuku’s shoulder “Are you alright?”

 

“Your Highness.” Izuku’s voice came out as a choked accusatory gasp “You frightened me.”

 

The prince’s face took on the features of a confused puppy on a molecular scale “I frightened you?”

 

Izuku panicked and waved his hands around “N-no! That’s not what I-”

 

The tray crashed to the floor.

 

The dish on top cracked and shattered. The cutlery flew off. The food sprayed upward.

 

“Oh my goodness I’m so sorry.” Izuku immediately knelt and began to pick up the pieces of the cracked dish and the cutlery “I’m so sorry, Your Highness, I was just nervous for a moment and you startled me and I dropped this and I’m sorry.”

 

The prince said nothing and knelt to help.

 

“No no no no no, Your Highness, I can do it. I’m fine.” Izuku said, picking up more pieces “You don’t need to help.”

 

“Midoriya.” The prince said.

 

Izuku looked up, which was a mistake.

 

The prince’s face was inches from his own. The prince’s blue and grey eyes pierced his green ones, making Izuku feel incredibly small. His eyes held power, and so much of it, that Izuku felt utterly infinitesimal. His breath caught in his throat and his hands slowed until they had frozen completely.

 

The prince’s eyes were absolutely stunning this close up. They almost seemed like jewels that gleamed in the young evening sun, reflecting the orange light like polished metal. Izuku marvelled at the colours that danced in the prince’s eyes. He realized that the blue one wasn’t just blue. It had stripes of yellowy green with swoops of purple and ice blue in and around the brilliant turquoisey blue colour. His grey eye looked less like a block of steel and more like mercury. His eye was shiny and beautiful and had swoops of silver and black dancing along the edges of the iris. Toward the pupil it lightened to almost white.

 

Izuku subconsciously felt the prince take his hand. He hadn’t realized his hand had been floating upward.

 

The prince then closed his eyes and whispered “Midoriya.”

 

Izuku shivered. The prince’s voice was intoxicating.

 

Then the prince was on his feet, Izuku’s hand clasped in his and he was walking away, pulling Izuku behind him. Izuku squeaked as he stumbled to his feet, shards of the cracked dish falling from his hand clattering to the floor.

 

“Y-Your Highness!” Izuku yelped “The dish-”

 

“Someone else will clean it up.” The prince said, voice loaded with something that Izuku couldn’t figure out “You are coming with me.”

 

“B-but-” Izuku stumbled and nearly fell.

 

The prince turned just in time and caught him on his chest. His arms held Izuku in place and he said “No. You are coming with me.” He righted himself, set Izuku back on his feet and was off again.

 

They walked, the prince much faster than Izuku who stumbled to keep up, for quite a while, taking twists and turns. There were so many of them that Izuku lost count, his mental map becoming all jumbled up.

 

Finally, the prince stopped, pulled him forward and pushed his back against a wall.

 

Izuku had no idea where they were. He had never been in this hallway before. There were many fewer large ruby and sapphire swoops and swirls. There was even a fist sized chunk of ruby on the ground, cracked and half shattered.

 

Izuku looked up at the prince who had one hand pressed to the wall behind Izuku, right above his left shoulder.

 

“Why have you been avoiding me?”

 

The prince’s eyes widened minutely.

 

Izuku clapped his hands over his mouth. He had NOT meant for that to slip from his mouth.

 

“I…” The prince trailed off “I haven’t been. I was about to ask why you had been avoiding me.”

 

“I haven’t been avoiding you.” Izuku looked down, hands falling from his mouth “I-I honestly wasn’t, Your Highness.”

 

The prince stepped closer, hand still pressed to the wall, cornering Izuku “And why haven’t you come to any more fighting lessons?”

 

“B-because you never called, Your Highness.” Izuku shrank into the wall behind him “You never called for another lesson so I never came.”

 

“You think you need to be called for a lesson?” The prince sneered lightly, voice low “They are lessons, Midoriya, which means that you didn’t need to be called.”

 

The prince subconsciously stepped closer.

 

Izuku felt trapped.

 

“I-I’m sorry, Your Highness, I-I…” He felt tears burn to life in his eyes.

 

The prince’s eyes widened “Why are you crying?”

 

Izuku shook his head, looking anywhere but at the prince which was getting continuously harder because the prince had come closer still.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s voice was dark now “Tell me why you are crying.”

 

“B-because.” Izuku gulped “B-b-because I-”

 

“Because what?” The prince demanded, eyes slowly filling with anger.

 

“Because you’re scaring me!” Izuku cried. Then he raised his hands and covered his face to conceal his flushed face and the few tears beginning to roll down his cheeks.

 

The prince backed away as if Izuku had struck him. His face showed hurt, anger and then realization. He stepped forward again and tried to gently place his hand back on Izuku’s shoulder but Izuku shrank away. The prince lowered his hand, eyes falling to the floor between them.

 

Izuku ran for it.

 

The prince didn’t even call out to him.

 

Izuku raced through the hallways, trying to get back to a place he recognized. Finally he arrived near the servants dining room and he burst through the door. He ignored everyone and hurried to his room, ignoring Aizawa when the man tried to grab his attention. Izuku closed his door and leaned his forehead against it.

 

Why was he so worked up about this? He and the prince weren’t friends so why did his opinion matter so much? It frustrated Izuku so much that he wasn’t sure what to do.

 

He lay on his bed, ignoring the world and letting himself wallow in a little self pity until the moon shone through his window. Izuku stood and walked to the window, pulling open the curtains to bathe in the silvery light. Then he opened the window and stuck the front half of his body out the window and just breathed in the fresh spring air.

 

Finally, when the moon was nearly at its peak in the sky, and Izuku was fighting to stay awake, he put on his jacket that went with his suit and left his room. He walked quietly into the main room, avoiding any creaky floorboards so as not to wake anyone else up. He spotted Sero in the main room with his back turned and headed toward him. Izuku tapped him gently on the shoulder and Sero turned. He smiled at Izuku in greeting and waved for Izuku to follow him as he walked over to a corner on an interior wall in the main room. He knelt and pulled open the cupboard door and pulled back a small curtain to reveal a passage, much like the one Kirishima had shown him.

 

Izuku crawled through and stood up in the taller passageway. Sero crawled through next and closed the curtain and cupboard door which plunged them into darkness. Luckily, Sero reached to a wall, flicked his wrist and a match lit up in his fingers. He grabbed a torch off the wall and lit it with the match.

 

“Good evening, Midoriya.” He smiled “Still awake?”

 

Izuku forced down a yawn “Hardly.”

 

Sero laughed and started walking “Come on, we don’t want to be late for the meeting.”

 

Izuku jogged to catch up.

Chapter Text

After ducking his head to avoid bumping it on the doorframe, Izuku looked around and gasped quietly. Inside was a small cubic room composed of expose brick with a wooden table in the middle. On the wall opposite the door was a massive map of the kingdom with several places circled. On the left wall was a wall to wall bookcase with dozens if not hundreds of old books and new books and rolled up maps and pots with pens in them. The right wall housed more smaller maps than the one on the far wall, illustrating in more detail some of the circled areas on the large map. One of them, Izuku noticed, had a large tear in the side. He assumed that that was the one Enokida ripped.

 

Izuku looked around at the people in the room and realized he recognized most of them. Aizawa was talking to Hizashi at the head of the table, Yaoyorozu was stitching something while she spoke with Jirou, Iida, Kirishima and Uraraka were discussing something, Bakugou was talking about something with a blonde girl Izuku didn’t recognize, Sero went over and joined Kaminari and Ashido.

 

“Hello.” Izuku turned and saw another girl he didn’t recognize.

 

She was cute, that much was obvious. She had short, raspberry coloured hair and big warm brown eyes. She was wearing a dark ocean green short sleeved blouse with a purple gem pinned in the middle of her chest and a long high waisted wine red skirt that went down to her feet. Under one arm she had a leather bound book. Sticking out of a pocket on her wine red skirt was what looked like an off white cloth and the edge of a feather pen. Izuku searched momentarily for her weapon and saw a bow and quiver of arrows in a corner of the room leaning against the wall. Based on the little mark on her right cheek, he assumed the bow and arrows were hers.

 

She smiled at him “You’re new here, right?”

 

Izuku blinked “Yes, sort of. I’ve been here for a little while though.”

 

“I know.” She smiled again and raised a hand to wave “My name is Akane Shimizu. What’s your name?”

 

Izuku noticed that the fingertips of her right thumb, index finger and middle finger seemed to have been dyed black. There was also a large smudge of black on the outside of her hand leading up the side of her pinkie finger.

 

“I’m Izuku Midoriya.” He smiled “Why haven’t I met you yet?”

 

“I’m the royal scribe so I spend a lot of time around the king and in meetings.” She wiggled her blackened fingertips “That’s also why my fingers are always black. Ink gets everywhere and is impossible to get out.”

 

“That makes sense.” Izuku nodded “And is that bow and those arrows yours?”

 

Shimizu blushed lightly and looked down a little with a small smile finding its way into her lips “Yes they’re mine. I’m too scared and weak to fight with a knife and I’ve always been a pretty good shot.”

 

“Are you joking?” It was Jirou who walked up and stood next to Shimizu, smiling at her “You're an excellent shot. Probably the best here.”

 

Shimizu squeaked and fiddled with her feather pen. She obviously could not take a compliment and Izuku was struck with how cute she was again.

 

“Y-You’re an excellent fighter, Jirou.” She stuttered wildly “One of the best.”

 

Jirou grinned and nudged Izuku “Did you hear that? One of the best.”

 

“D-don’t tease m-me!” Shimizu pouted, still stuttering.

 

“You make it way too easy, you always have.” Jirou said and turned to Izuku “Ever since we were kids. She cannot take a compliment to save her life.”

 

“You two are childhood friends?” Izuku asked.

 

Shimizu nodded, eyes bouncing around the room and never landing on Jirou or Izuku.

 

“Are you two betrothed?” Izuku wondered.

 

Shimizu sat down hard on the nearest stool and hid her face in her hands.

 

Jirou laughed at her “No no, nothing like that. Neither of us are betrothed.”

 

“And you aren’t in love with each other?” Izuku asked.

 

Shimizu shook her head as Jirou said “No, I am hoping to soon be betrothed to someone else, actually.” She didn’t elaborate so Izuku didn’t ask for details.

 

Aizawa stood up and called for attention “Alright everyone sit down please. We need to get this meeting underway.”

 

Shimizu waved to Izuku, not really making eye contact and still slightly flushed, before hurrying over and taking a seat at the table next to Aizawa. Jirou smiled at Izuku before walking over and taking a seat near Yaoyorozu. As everyone pulled out chairs and sat down, Izuku saw Shimizu place her book on the table, flip it open quite a ways past the halfway point and pull out a small sack from her pocket. She untied the string and unscrewed the lid of a pot of ink inside. She dipped her pen in the ink and set about scribbling as people spoke.

 

“As you all must know by now, the city will be hosting a large flower festival in two weeks time. By now this news has to have reached Enji and he might be preparing to attack.” Aizawa said “Kirishima, Iida, anything seem out of the usual recently?”

 

“I haven’t noticed anything that would constitute suspicion.” Iida said seriously “Although, about two days ago, I did see a falcon fly in from the West and then disappear towards the North mountains.”

 

“Falcons are nothing to worry about.” Aizawa said “One bird won’t carry enough information to make a difference. And even if it did, they don’t have a mage so it wouldn’t matter anyway.”

 

Izuku frowned but Yaoyorozu beat him to it.

 

“You say that like there are still mages nowadays.” She said “Magic was eliminated a hundred years ago.”

 

“Magic wasn’t just eliminated, it was annihilated. Nobody has magic anymore.” Kaminari said. Then he muttered under his breath “As much as we want magic.”

 

Aizawa nodded “You’re right. There is no magic.”

 

“So why did you mention it?” Sero asked.

 

“Trying to lighten the mood.” Aizawa shrugged, looking immensely tired “We are discussing a possible invasion and another war.”

 

Hizashi patted his shoulder, usual smile completely gone “Don’t.”

 

“I try one time.” Aizawa grumbled and continued “Anyway, Enji is alive and quite possibly searching for a time to invade the city again and reclaim the throne. Naturally the weakest point in near time would be the flower festival. Expect an attack on that day. Your weapons must remain on you at all times.” He turned to Shimizu “Got everything so far?”

 

“My wrist has not started cramping yet.” She muttered, seemingly not hearing what he asked “Keep talking.” Her scribbling continued.

 

Aizawa turned back to the group “Jirou. We’ll need extra knives and swords. If Tetsutetsu asks why, tell him you got an order from me.”

 

“He won’t ask, he’s too dense.” Jirou nodded.

 

“And what about Enokida?” Yaoyorozu asked.

 

Everyone groaned except for Shimizu who huffed.

 

“We will have a weapon on hand for her just in case. Even if she is hopeless with it, it’ll be more useful to defend herself than her fists.” Aizawa grumbled “Anything else?”

 

“If something does happen,” Shimizu cut in, not looking up from the third page she had turned “What will you do?”

 

“We avoid combat if we can help it and get all the citizens we can to safety. The youngest servants who are not Knights will accompany the prince to the nearest safehouse.” Aizawa said.

 

Hizashi added “If anyone is kidnapped we will go after them later. We can’t separate just to save one person. We all agree on that, correct?”

 

Everyone nodded.

 

“Wonderful.” Aizawa stood up “Meeting adjourned. Get some sleep and be ready in the morning. Remember; no one else hears about what happened in this room.”

 

Everyone stood up and the room slowly dissolved into chattering conversations.

 

“Hey.” Shimizu appeared next to Izuku, quiver of arrows newly strapped to her back and bow slung over her shoulder. She grinned at him “What did you think of your first meeting?”

 

“It was eventful.” He said “The idea that Enji is going to attack is kind of scary.”

 

“We’ve been preparing and waiting for an attack ever since the war ended. Enji is definitely planning something.” Her eyes turned serious “I’m scared too but we need to protect the prince.”

 

“I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s scared.” Izuku admitted, sheepishly.

 

Shimizu blinked in surprise “Oh we aren’t the only ones. Everyone is scared, that’s what makes us human. If you’re not scared then you’re crazy.”

 

Izuku snorted a laugh before cutting himself off with a yawn that nearly split his face in half.

 

“I think you need some sleep.” Shimizu giggled behind a hand, eyes sparkling “I guess you aren’t used to staying up too late.”

 

“No I guess I’m not.” Izuku smiled sleepily at her “I’m glad I finally got to meet you.”

 

Shimizu grinned and shifted her weight from her heels to her toes like a child “And I you, Izuku Midoriya.”

 

The crowd in the room had already begun to thin out and Izuku turned and joined the fray of people leaving. Shimizu bounced ahead of him and he instantly lost her in the dark corridors. He tried to find Sero but it was hopeless and ended up following a set of footsteps. He had no idea who it was but whomever it was would eventually lead him out and he could get to a hallway he recognized. Then he could go back to his room and sleep.

 

When he followed the person quietly through the tunnel door, he realized that he had in fact ended up following Shimizu. She hadn’t noticed him yet.

 

He was about to call out to her but she squared her shoulders, her smile fell away and she marched off to the left. Mildly perplexed, Izuku followed her quietly and quite a ways back so she wouldn’t know he was following her. He was fairly good at keeping quiet. On top of that, she seemed to be muttering to herself as if she were lost in thought.

 

After several minute of following Shimizu through the hallways and up two flights of stairs, she stopped at a ladder and climbed up. Izuku waited until she had disappeared up it before walking over and looking at it.

 

It was a standard ladder fastened to the wall. Nothing special.

 

Izuku rushed over to a door on his left that lead to a nearby balcony. He opened the door and stepped out, breathing in the fresh night air. Then he turned to look up at where Shimizu was perched.

 

She was sitting on one of the cubed things at the top of a tower, legs dangling off the side and kicking lazily. She had seemingly placed her book on the floor behind her and her pen had been stuffed back in her pocket. Her bow was sitting in her lap and her quiver was still strapped to her back.

 

Izuku sat there and watched her, wondering if there was anything in particular she was waiting for or needed to do. A few times he had to duck out of sight so she wouldn’t think he was creepy. That would just be bad and Izuku didn’t really want a cute girl like her thinking he was creepy. He wasn’t! He was just curious as to why, so long after midnight, she was out sitting on a tower watching the sky with her bow and arrows. It was a perfectly reasonable curiosity to have, especially since she was a new friend.

 

After quite a while, the sky even started to lighten. Izuku started to tell himself that he had stayed out for no reason, that this was not a good idea and that he would be horrible tomorrow because he had gotten no sleep. Then something happened.

 

A falcon cried in the distance.

 

The sound echoed around Izuku, floating almost magically into his ears. He almost thought he had imagined it until an actual bird flew into view.

 

Shimizu saw the bird and Izuku saw her light brown eyes flash. She lifted her bow, retrieved an arrow from her quiver and knocked it. Then she pulled the string taut and aimed for the bird. Her left eye fell closed.

 

Izuku watched as she inhaled and exhaled slowly.

 

Then she let the arrow loose.

 

The bird squawked as the arrow hit then fell silent as it plummeted out of the sky, dead on the wing.

 

Shimizu stood up from her perch and stared out in the direction of where the bird had fallen. Her eyes were hard and emotionless and her jaw was clenched. Then she turned and disappeared back down the ladder.

 

Izuku was left gaping, staring at where the bird had plummeted to its demise.

Chapter Text

It was day sixteen and Izuku was still tired.

 

Izuku flopped over onto the table with a groan.

 

Uraraka poked him in the shoulder and laughed “You’re still not recovered from the meeting?”

 

“I’m not even sure this is still because of the meeting.” He muttered.

 

He didn’t mention that he had followed Shimizu and witnessed her shoot a bird out of the sky from over 100 yards. He also didn’t mention that this fact had kept him up at night. He was, to say the least, newly afraid of the royal scribe. True, all the servants had weapons and surely knew how to use them but that fact tended not to sink in until he witnessed someone use their weapon.

 

He sat up and looked at Iida and Uraraka “What do you know about Shimizu?”

 

“The scribe?” Iida blinked.

 

Izuku nodded.

 

“She’s adorable isn’t she?” Uraraka smiled.

 

“I met her for the first time last night.” Izuku said “Do either of you know her well?”

 

Iida shook his head “I hate to say it but no I do not know her well at all. Why do you ask?”

 

“I saw her with a bow and quiver of arrows last night at the meeting.” Izuku said “I was wondering if she was any good with the bow?”

 

“She accompanied the prince and the rest of the guard on the last hunting trip.” Iida said, angular hand gestures as enthusiastic as ever “She shot a full grown moose from 60 yards. The animal was absolutely massive. It took three men just to carry it’s head.”

 

“She was still apologizing about making their jobs harder when everyone got back late that evening. Bakugou very nearly smiled when he saw the thing.” Uraraka added.

 

Iida continued “Shimizu strikes me as a very nervous and kind person. She mutters like you and apologizes profusely and unnecessarily all the time.”

 

“Her hair is a strange colour don’t you think?” Uraraka asked “I’ve never seen someone with her hair colouring before.”

 

“It’s almost similar to Ashido’s hair but Shimizu’s hair is much darker and warmer in colour.” Iida said “Her eyes are not abnormal at all though.”

 

Uraraka nodded “Her eyes are almost like mine.”

 

“I noticed that as well.” Iida said.

 

Izuku sat there and blinked. The two worked like a well oiled clock, the conversation moving seamlessly back and forth between them like they shared one mind.

 

“So you don’t know much about her?” He asked.

 

“No.” Uraraka shook her head “But Jirou is her childhood friend. Maybe she could tell you something.”

 

Izuku grinned and started to stand “I’m going to go talk to her then.”

 

“Midoriya.” Iida said, looking skeptical “Why do you want to know so much about Shimizu?”

 

“Curiosity?” Izuku mused and started to leave.

 

He headed into the hallways and, almost as soon as he stepped out into the halls, his mind went ‘wait hold on.’ and he froze. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he really did not want to run into the prince on his way to the forge. Izuku still felt nervous and kind of scared whenever he was around or thought about or talked about the prince. It was ridiculous in his opinion that he was so scared of the person he was working for despite everything that happened but then he remembered everything that had happened and he realized that his fear was kind of justified in the strangest little way. He certainly didn’t enjoy being scared of the prince, if that was what you could call it, but what could he do? He couldn’t exactly tell anyone and they wouldn’t be able to help him because most of them were as scared of the prince as he was.

 

Izuku hurried through the hallways along one side, eyes zipping around and ears on high alert so as to detect the prince.

 

As he walked, he started to wonder if it was actual fear.

 

Then he arrived outside and he pushed open the door. The outside air was beautiful and he inhaled deeply. His lungs filled with the fresh air and he sighed happily, simply breathing and relaxing in this small moment of peace. Then, mind cleared, he continued on his way to the forge with a little bounce in his step. He had almost completely forgotten his dilemma.

 

Izuku reached the forge and he knocked on the door and called “Jirou? Testsutetsu? Are you guys there?”

 

At that moment, there was an explosion in the shop followed by shouts of surprise. The door banged open and black smoke billowed out. A figure stumbled out, coughing and hacking the smoke from their lungs. Izuku raced over to Jirou and caught her arm.

 

“Are you alright? What happened?” Izuku yelped “Is anyone else in there?”

 

Jirou wheezed “No, just me today.” She coughed again, saging against Izuku as she hacked her lungs out “Oh my god I did not think that this would happen.”

 

“What exactly did you try to do?” Izuku asked, helping her sit down well away from the smoke.

 

“I left something for too long in the forge.” Jirou explained, voice scratchy “It had a massive air bubble in it somehow and, well.” She waved behind her “Bang.”

 

“Are you alright?” Izuku asked, checking her over.

 

Jirou waved him away “I’m fine. I was all clear of the blast, behind a counter. The only problem for me would be smoke inhalation and, as you can see, I didn’t inhale too much of it.” She turned to him “Why did you come out to the forge?”

 

“I actually had some questions about Shimizu.” Izuku said.

 

“Oh?’ Jirou scooted around so she was facing him and put her hands in her lap “What kind of questions?”

 

Izuku crossed his legs in front of him and said “Well, to start, I wanted to know if she is actually any good with a bow and arrow?”

 

“She was the best in our village growing up.” Jirou said “Outshot everyone except her father.”

 

“Alright.” Izuku continued “What kind of person was she when she was a kid?”

 

“Shy, reserved, quiet, didn’t really like talking to anyone. She spent most of her time in the forest shooting with her father or reading and writing, hence her scribe job.” Jirou said.

 

Izuku took in a small breath for courage “And what kind of a person is she now?”

 

Jirou pursed her lips and wiped at the smudges of soot on her cheek “She’s a tough egg. No one is ever sure what to say about her. Yes she is normal enough but once you have spent enough time around her you realize that she has these silent spells where all emotion drops off her face and out of her eyes and she clutches whatever is in her hands and whispers to herself. Her eyes usually go wide and I’ve noticed that her pupils shrink if you look closely enough. This tends to weird people out so they try to avoid her.”

 

Izuku was reminded of back in the hallway where Shimizu had seemingly turned to stone. He said “Do you have any idea what started these silent spells?”

 

“Her father wasn’t a kind man.” Jirou said quietly “He wouldn’t beat her but he was very manipulative and threatened her all the time. I only know this because I found her in one of her silent spells and got close enough to hear her muttering. It’s really eerie.”

 

Izuku nodded, feeling sorry for the raspberry headed scribe “Have you ever confronted her about this?”

 

“I’m ashamed to say I haven’t.” Jirou shook her head “But I really think she wouldn’t appreciate you going and talking to her. Or anyone for that matter. She’s quiet and reserved for a reason. And she just in general is terrified of human interaction.”

 

“But she spoke to me just fine at the meeting.” Izuku’s sentence sounded more like a question.

 

“She tends to push herself to talk to people a whole lot in an attempt to get over her fear but it hasn’t worked.” Jirou sighed sadly “She broke down in a library in our village. She had just finished talking to the old lady who owned the place and had reached a back shelf and found her way into a corner to find her book. She didn’t come back out for quite a while and I went to see if she was okay. I peeked in and she was on her hands and knees shivering like a wet dog. Her eyes were blown wide and terrified. I was so surprised that I froze. Then, after a minute, she blinked and saw me standing there. She laughed nervously, said she must have tripped, picked up her book and bolted.”

 

Izuku felt his compassion for Shimizu grow immensely “Poor thing.”

 

“But you have to give her credit for trying.” Jirou muttered “If I were that terrified of human interaction I might just run away and live in the mountains for the rest of my life.”

 

“It’s remarkable that she hasn’t driven herself insane by this point.” Izuku marvelled “Anyway, thank you for answering my questions, I appreciate it. I should be going.”

 

Jirou stood up with him “Oh, it’s not a problem. See you around.”

 

“See you around.” Izuku waved as he headed back to the castle.

 

Almost as soon as his back was turned, his smile fell away. Part of him really wanted to ask Shimizu about herself and try to help her even just a little bit. But the other, more logical part of him told him he would just end up hurting her more than he would help her.

Chapter Text

It was day twenty two and Izuku was bored. Nothing interesting had happened since the small forge explosion. He hardly ever saw the prince, only saw Enokida in passing, and hadn’t even caught a glimpse of Shimizu in the past five days. Sero had left to deliver messages and would be gone until a few days before the festival. There was no meeting for a long while. Kirishima and Iida were constantly on duty patrolling the castle. Yaoyorozu was working hard on the outfits for the spring festival. Uraraka, Hagakure and several other maids were all decorating and gossiping about the festival. Bakugou spent all of his time in the kitchen. Izuku had met several other servants but they were all elsewhere. Ojiro was a knight with a particular knack for hand to hand combat of any kind, Shoji was an absolutely massive young man that accompanied the hunting party, Satou was an absolutely fantastic baker and was very serious about his art, Tokoyami was a part of the night patrol and slept throughout the day, Kouda was the strangely silent and kind hearted stable hand and Aoyama was the royal jeweller and was currently working on some golden accessories that the prince was going to wear at the festival.

 

When Izuku had asked to see them on day twenty, Aoyama had struck a melodramatic pose and flung a sheet over his work and declared that beauty took time.

 

Izuku had also met a woman named Kayama with long spiky dark midnight blue hair, deep blue eyes and fair skin. She was pretty and wore a long almost black dress that floated around her feet. The dress had a plunging neckline lined with creamy white lace which did nothing to distract from her considerable bust. Around each wrist she had a steel bangle and a ruby necklace around her neck. She took a liking to Izuku instantly and introduced herself as the dungeon master. Izuku saw the dozens of vials of something hanging off her belt along with a whip coiled at her hip and decided he didn’t want to be put in the dungeons.

 

It was mid morning, a little while after Izukid had given the prince his breakfast. He was sitting at one of the long tables in the main servant room and pondering over the interaction he and the prince had just shared.

 

It had gone like this:

 

Izuku raised a hand and knocked on the prince’s door. Then, he grabbed the knob and twisted, letting himself in as he usually did. He placed the tray on the prince’s usual eating table in the main room and went over to the curtained window. He pulled it open which spilled bright crisp sunlight into the main room. Then Izuku walked quietly into the bedroom section and went to the massive window. He took a moment to admire the sleeping prince before pulling the curtain open, spilling sunlight onto the prince’s face.

 

As usual, Izuku’s breath caught at the sight of the peacefully sleeping prince. This was nothing new.

 

Izuku chirped a happy “Good morning, Your Highness!”

 

The prince sat up, blankets pooling around his hips as he rubbed his eye sleepily. His hair stuck up a little on his right side which tended to be the side he was most comfortable sleeping on. Izuku always found that the prince fell asleep facing the window.

 

The prince stretched, stomach and arm muscles rippling. He mumbled “Good morning.” His voice was the prince’s usual morning voice, deep, creaky and sultry in a way.

 

Izuku rattled off the prince’s schedule to him as the prince pulled himself from his bed, bare feet stepping onto lush carpets. The prince was only wearing a pair of shorts at the moment and Izuku consciously tried to avoid imagining anything. He listened as the prince went over and opened the chest of drawers and pulled out a large white shirt. The prince pulled it over his head, back muscles contracting, and sat down at the table to begin to eat.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince called.

 

Izuku blinked “Sir?”

 

“I was thinking you should learn to ride a horse.” The prince said, not looking up from a paper sitting on his desk “Do happen to know how to ride already?”

 

“No, sir, I don’t.” Izuku admitted.

 

“Well you should learn. Kouda, the stable hand, can teach you. He’s a kind, but strangely silent, young man.” The prince mused and turned his mismatched gaze on Izuku.

 

“Sir?” Izuku started fidgeting under the prince’s stare and couldn’t seem to hold eye contact for longer than a second or two. He felt his cheeks grow slightly warm. He stuttered “Sir? Might I ask a question?”

 

The prince straightened in his seat and put his elbows on the table. His voice was warm and his eyes almost seemed soft “Of course you can. What is it?”

 

“Why do you think I should learn to ride a horse?” Izuku asked. He met the prince’s eyes, finally, and tried to distinguish the little fuzzy feeling rising in his stomach and blooming in his chest.

 

The prince’s eyes did something that resembled what it looked like when someone was smiling “I believe that everyone should have the ability to ride a horse just in case anything happened or even just if one needs to blow off steam. From my own personal experience, riding a horse is very stress relieving.”

 

Izuku took a note of that. Then, he cautiously pulled up a chair and sat down across from the prince. He spoke carefully “Your Highness?”

 

“Sir, Midoriya.” The prince said “We agreed you wouldn’t call me Your Highness.”

 

“R-right, yes sir.” Izuku said “Um. I had another question for you.”

 

“Fire away.” The prince said.

 

“I-if it isn’t too prying, I’d like to um… uh.” Izuku dropped his eyes away from the prince’s and fidgeted his hands in his lap “I’d like to know about you. I-if that isn’t too strange a request.”

 

The prince frowned lightly “It is not too strange. What would you like to know?”

 

“Your mother.” Izuku started “What was she like?”

 

The prince’s eyes widened slightly before appearing to look off into the distance, not quite seeing Izuku in front of him “She was beautiful. I don’t remember much. Most of my memories of her have her crying. My father was not a good man. He married my mother for her looks, money and power. She was so traumatized all the time. One day I found her in the kitchen late in the night. She called my left side, my red hair and blue eye, unbearable before she poured boiling water on my face.” The prince’s hand raised and he cupped the massive burn scar over his left eye “My father locked her in the queen’s rooms and wouldn’t let me see her after that.”

 

Izuku gasped quietly and whispered “I'm so sorry. I should never have asked…”

 

The prince seemed to remember he was there, having gotten lost in his head “N-no. It’s alright. I got carried away. And…” he mumbled something quietly under his breath.

 

“What did you say, sir?” Izuku asked.

 

“N-nothing.” The prince said, hand still cupped around his scar “I said nothing.”

 

Izuku frowned lightly and the two fell silent.

 

Then, slowly and cautiously, Izuku lifted a hand from his lap and started to lift it toward the prince. His eyes never left where the prince’s hand was clasped around his scar. He wanted to help.

 

Izuku’s hand faltered a few inches from the prince’s wrist. The prince had opened his eyes and was staring at Izuku. For a moment, Izuku feared that the prince was telling him to back off. But, after another moment of analysis, he found nothing hostile in the prince’s grey and blue eyes so his hand stuttered back into motion. He gently twined his fingers around the prince’s wrist and extremely delicately pulled the prince’s hand away from his face. He lowered his hand and gently let go so his hand fell to his lap.

 

The prince never broke eye contact.

 

Even more slowly and timidly than before, Izuku began to raise his hand again. He was entranced by the prince’s eyes, getting lost in their depths. It was almost as if the prince had him under a spell or something of the like. This was one spell that Izuku hoped would not break.

 

What shocked Izuku the most about what happened next was not how horribly it went wrong. In fact, it didn’t go wrong at all. It was quite the opposite. No, what surprised Izuku the most was how well it went.

 

The sunlight filtering in through the windows cast glowing brilliance through the prince’s hair. His hair was still the smallest bit messy from sleep and looked delightfully natural in the way it sat. Izuku noticed that the right side had the tiniest bit of curl to it and this had a tiny smile almost play across his lips. The prince’s left eye, the blue one, practically glowed in the sunlight while the right one glimmered like mercury. The toughness of the prince’s scar looked impossibly soft in this moment. The prince looked absolutely ethereal and supernatural. Izuku nearly believed he was imagining this.

 

Izuku’s hand met the prince’s right cheek so softly that he wasn’t even sure it had made contact. He felt like if he even added the littlest pressure, the perfect porcelain beauty in front of him would break because there was no way in heaven or earth that someone this beautiful existed. He softly cupped the prince’s cheek with the smallest bit more pressure. Then he gently, impossibly gently, drew the pad of his thumb across the edge of the prince’s scar, where soft fair skin met rough ridged scar tissue.

 

“It’s unsightly.” The prince’s voice came as a faint whisper of hot breath that swept across the edge of Izuku’s palm and flitted across the inside of his wrist.

 

“It’s beautiful.” Izuku whispered. He watched, enraptured, as the prince’s eyes fluttered shut. As the prince accepted the pad of Izuku’s thumb softly lining the edge of his scar. Beautiful, that was the only way he could describe it all. The combination of the prince’s ethereal beauty and the sheer pain that must have been coupled with the scar made for a truly bafflingly beautiful image. Izuku was enchanted by it all.

 

“Your Highness.” His voice was the quietest whisper, like gentle summer wind through the leaves of a tree “Your Highness, listen to me.”

 

The prince opened his eyes, staring into Izuku’s with something in them. Izuku couldn’t know what it was but it filled them with something and it was an answer and Izuku kept talking.

 

“Never call yourself unsightly.” He whispered “Please, sir, never call yourself unsightly. You are many things but, you may ask any servant in the castle and they will attest to this, unsightly is not one of them.” He felt a soft smile flit across his lips as he swept the pad of his thumb once more along the lip of the scar “If I may only request one thing from you, let it be that you never call yourself unsightly. You, Prince Shouto, are anything but.”

 

The prince’s eyes fell shut much faster than before.

 

Izuku nearly swore he saw something sparkle in them, whether it be good or bad.

 

Deep deep in his chest, Izuku felt something quiver. This prince in front of him, this absolutely broken porcelain young man that was held together with string and sheer willpower completely baffled him. How had he survived? Why, he must be the strongest person in the world to have survived everything. Especially being in the heart of a war. Izuku felt such immense sadness for the prince.

 

But he also felt hope. Hope that, maybe some day soon or maybe some day way in the future, the prince could be whole again. That one day he could laugh and smile and never feel like he needed to restrain himself. One day maybe he could truly be himself and find himself and do whatever he wanted without fear of judgement. Izuku hoped that this beautiful prince could one day know happiness. Happiness like Izuku himself had known with his mother. He hoped that the prince could know familial, unconditional love. Not for his throne or his looks or his power or his money or his kingdom. For who he was beyond all that. For the broken young man with a kind heart. For an excellent fighter. For who he was on the inside.

 

Izuku thought the prince was beautiful.

 

Inside and out.

 

A tear slipped from beneath the prince’s eyelashes and rolled down his left cheek. It reflected the sun and sparkled like the most beautiful diamond. Izuku caught it with his thumb and realized that he had said everything he had just thought very much out loud. The prince’s eyes opened and they sparkles with tears, meeting Izuku’s emerald eyes perfectly.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s voice was softer and quieter than Izuku had ever heard it.

 

He only said Izuku’s name.

 

But it sounded like a vow.

 

The prince’s right hand rose and touched Izuku’s cheek. His hand was soft like freshly fallen snow and slightly colder than average. The prince’s fingers danced across Izuku’s cheek, softly wiping away the tears there.

 

The prince then stood from the table and took Izuku’s right hand in his left. He gently rugged so Izuku stood and guided him away from the desk so they were standing, face to face, inches apart. Izuku felt his heart quicken and he was certain the prince could hear it.

 

Ever so slowly, the prince took Izuku’s left hand in his right and laced their fingers together. Then did the same with their other hands.

 

Izuku watched as the prince raised his right hand and brought Izuku’s left up towards his mouth. The prince bent his head down, eyes sliding closed, and pressed his lips to the tops of the knuckles on Izuku’s left hand. The kiss was as soft as anything Izuku had ever felt and he gasped quietly at the action. He felt his hand being lowered and he turned his eyes nervously up to the prince’s. He expected to see certainty but he only saw doubt and anxiety in the prince’s eyes. They were asking Izuku if the prince had done something wrong.

 

Izuku felt a smile grow on his lips and he squeezed the prince’s hands. His smile grew when the prince squeezed back.

 

Then he broke the silence, voice almost as quiet as it would go “That was the second time you’ve kissed me.”

 

The prince’s cheeks turned pink “You felt the other one?”

 

“Of course I did.” Izuku smiled “I remember everything you do to me.” Then his smile fell in place of a face of horror and he flushed furiously “I-I mean, um, th-that c-came out e-entirely wrong I-I j-just- agh!” He let go of the prince’s hands and pressed his hands to his face, covering his eyes and furiously pink cheeks.

 

A soft sound found its way into Izuku’s ears. He peeked through his fingers.

 

The prince had a hand in front of his mouth, eyes glimmering with humour, blush still high in his cheeks and he was laughing.

 

After a long moment of Izuku staring as the prince laughed quietly at the simple thing Izuku had said, the prince’s laughter died down into a tiny tiny smile.

 

“Thank you, Midoriya.” He said, voice clear as the beautiful morning sky outside “You may go.”

 

“A-ah.” Izuku bowed hurriedly “Yes sir.”

 

He hurried toward the door but not before the prince’s cold right hand cooled around his wrist right at the door. Izuku turned his head and looked back at the prince.

 

“I mean it.” The prince’s eyes shone like nothing Izuku had ever seen “Thank you.”

 

Izuku smiled gently “I meant it as well.”

 

The prince’s smile grew minutely and he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Izuku’s freckled cheek. They were impossibly soft and slightly warm and they lingered on his cheek for a moment before he pulled away. Then the prince smiled at him again, slid his hand down into Izuku’s, squeezed lightly and let go. He turned back into his room and disappeared into his dressing room.

 

Izuku may have stood in the doorway for a solid two minutes before snapping out of his stupor and running to the servants room.

Chapter Text

It was day 24 and Izuku was face down in the grass.

 

He groaned pitifully and hauled himself to his knees, sending the most offended look he could muster to the beautiful horse that was standing above him. The quiet stable hand, Kouda, was standing a little ways away, laughing at him. His laugh was gentle and adorable and Izuku thought that this laugh in particular shouldn’t offend him but it did. This was the… sixth time he had fallen? Seventh? and he wasn’t even close to mastering even climbing on the horse, let alone ride it.

 

Mind you, the horse was not the problem. The horse was an older work horse mare. She was a chestnut colour with a black mane and tail and a white patch on her muzzle. She was soft and large and friendly and had the kindest mannerisms of any horse Izuku had ever met. She had taken a particular liking to him two days ago when they had met the first time. Izuku had spent that afternoon and all of yesterday bonding with her and learning from Kouda how to brush her and saddle her and clean her hooves and everything else. Izuku had certainly enjoyed all of that, despite getting kicked in the back by a lively young mustang with a brilliant orange brown coat. And getting knocked in the head by an overly affectionate black horse and getting knocked over completely by an even more affectionate white speckled horse. Most of the horses liked him.

 

There was one horse though, that hardly took an interest in anything. He was a beautiful white mustang with dark eyes that stood proudly in his stall. He never made a fuss, never complained, never showed affection. Sure, he responded to people and took food and thanked them appropriately with a little nuzzle in the shoulder but other than that? He just kept to himself.

 

The mare Izuku was working with was immensely strong and held completely still whenever Izuku has tried to get on her. She even seemed to clench her muscles so as to stay still better, as if she dealt with many a beginner. But, here Izuku was, on his knees, sighing as he picked himself up yet again. He just wasn’t quite flexible enough to swing his leg over the top of the horses back. Kouda had assured him that it came with practice and that he was doing really well for a beginner, all while laughing at him quietly.

 

Izuku frowned as he stood up and fiddled with the edge of his tunic. He wasn’t wearing his usual suit outfit thing that he wore while he worked. Instead, Yaoyorozu had somehow found out about him learning to ride with whatever magical powers she had that allowed her to sew an entire outfit in a day and had made him a dark olive green tunic, a pair of pale tan riding pants, a below the knee-length dark navy blue riding coat and she had even found him a leather belt and knee high riding boots. The outfit fit him perfectly and the tunic was amazingly soft and comfortable, roomy even, despite the belt cinching it in the middle. His once clean riding pants had grass stains all along the sides of his legs and the tops of his knees. They would probably never be the same but, when Izuku had approached Yaoyorozu yesterday about the issue she had laughed and told him that it was nothing to worry about.

 

Kouda walked over and took hold of the horse’s reins and petted her muzzle. Then he gestured for Izuku to try again. Izuku walked up and stuck his foot in the stirrup. Then he grabbed the front edge of the saddle and, preparing himself for another fall, he put his weight into the stirrup and attempted to swing his other leg over the horses back.

 

He could see it now, him falling over again.

 

But he didn’t.

 

He felt his hips come in contact with the top of the horses back and his free leg swung and gently tapped the stirrup on the other side. Izuku’s eyes widened and he smiled brightly and looked at Kouda. The stable hand was smiling proudly at him and gave him a thumbs up. Izuku returned the gesture.

 

Then he said “So now what?”

 

Kouda held up a finger for him to wait and turned. He stuck his thumb and middle finger in his mouth and let out a shrill whistle that made Izuku’s ears ring for a moment. Then, before he knew it, another horse was cantering over. He was a beautiful dark grey, nearly black work horse with fluffy white fur hanging down over his hooves and a long black mane and tail. He already had a saddle and blanket on and Kouda climbed on top of him as easily as Izuku would splash water in a pond. Izuku was mildly envious.

 

Kouda then showed Izuku a simple way to get a horse to move. He simply squeezed his feet inward, delivering a gentle jab to the horses sides. The horse whinnied and began to walk. Kouda directed him to walk in circles around Izuku.

 

Izuku leaned over one side, clutching the reins tightly, to look at his left foot. Then he tried to replicate the gentle jab to the horses sides. The horse immediately responded and meandered into a slow walk. Izuku felt his face light up with a smile and he looked up at Kouda who nodded encouragingly. Izuku directed the horse to mirror the circles that Kouda was riding around him. Kouda smiled and gestured for izuku to follow him. Then he urged the horse into a light trot. Izuku hurried to follow.

 

This whole ‘horse riding’ thing was much easier to do once you were actually in the saddle. Izuku was really enjoying himself. It was a nice day on top of that, the sun was out but wasn’t too hot and there was a nice breeze with birds singing in the trees. It was absolutely picturesque and Izuku momentarily closed his eyes before reopening them because he remembered he was supposed to be following Kouda and not daydreaming.

 

Kouda turned on his horse, holding the reins with one hand, to check on Izuku. Izuku offered him a confident grin and Kouda smiled gently back. Everything the quiet stable hand did was gentle, from urging the horse to go faster to turning his head.

 

Izuku nudged his own horse a little faster so as to keep up with Kouda. He felt his smile grow like a plant in direct sunlight. The prince had been right. Riding a horse was lovely, even if Kouda was just leading him on a tour of the castle grounds. Yes, Izuku had seen the grounds all before but now he was atop a beautiful horse and he seemed to be seeing everything from a different light. The trees were more alive, the birds songs sweeter, the sky bluer, the sunshine warmer, the grass greener. His head felt empty of its usual ramblings, clear like the sky above. The breeze was slow and warm and smelled like sweet fresh cut grass. It ruffled his hair and he brought a hand from the horse's reins to push his hand through it. His smile widened even more when he and Kouda went trotting past the massive gardens. He waved to Hagakure and Ashido. They smiled and waved excitedly back, Ashido accidentally tossed leaf trimmings into the wind.

 

Then, a loud sound filled his ears and his smile dropped. It sounded like stones hitting the ground and staying there, repeatedly, over and over.

 

The pure white horse thundered past him, the prince atop it.

 

Izuku could have said he looked regal but that was an infinitesimal way of describing it.

 

The prince’s red and white hair flowed and jumped with every slight bounce, floating upwards and flopping downwards, tickling the back of the prince’s neck. His back was straight like steel. His deep indigo shirt he was wearing had thousands of the tiniest silver beads sewn into the fabric and they reflected the sunlight beautifully, making the prince sparkle. He looked like a king, sitting there as the beautiful white horse galloped ahead. Izuku’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. The prince seemed to radiate beauty and the sunlight complimented him every possible way.

 

Then the prince whipped around, faint smile caressing his lips and he caught sight of Izuku. He turned back around and steered his horse around before slowing down to match Izuku’s speed right as he caught up.

 

“You’re doing well for your first ride.” The prince nodded to him.

 

“H-hello Your Highness.” Izuku said, getting ahold of his gaping.

 

Kouda turned and bowed his head in greeting to the prince, who nodded to him, before turning and focusing on riding.

 

The prince turned back to Izuku and asked “So what do you think?”

 

“What do you mean, Your Highness?” Izuku asked, eyes flicking back to facing forward and hands tightening on the reins as his horse made an unexpected turn to follow Kouda’s horse.

 

“What do you think of horseback riding?” The prince asked “I suggested you learn, remember?”

 

“Y-Yes I remember, Your Highness.” Izuku felt a smile curl onto his lips “It’s amazing.”

 

The prince nodded before urging his horse forward so he was right next to Kouda. Izuku saw him open his mouth to speak with the stable hand but the wind snatched away his words before they reached Izuku’s ears. Another moment later, Kouda bowed his head again and sent Izuku a little wave before steering his horse away and heading back in the direction of the stables. The prince gestured to Izuku to slow his horse and Izuku did so, trying his best to not hurt the horse at all in the process.

 

After almost a full minute, the horse was at a full stop and he was facing the prince.

 

“What is it, sir?” Izuku asked, the switch in honorifics nearly instinctual.

 

“I’ve asked Kouda to let you join me on my ride.” The prince explained.

 

Izuku felt his nerves rise and his hands tightened on the reins “A-Are you sure?”

 

The prince cocked his head to the side, eyebrows furrowing a little.

 

“I-I mean I only started learning yesterday. Are you sure I am the companion you should have?” Izuku fidgeted with the reins in his hands “Someone more qualified should accompany you, I’m only a beginner fighter and couldn’t- um. Kirishima or Iida or Ojiro or Shoji would be better options, they’re all knights and have lots of training.”

 

“Are you suggesting I cannot take care of myself?” The prince asked, tone unreadable.

 

Izuku was horrified “No of course not! That’s not what I meant at all! Your Highness I’m so sorry I-I did not mean to offend you in the least-”

 

The prince cut him off “I was joking, calm yourself. And yes a knight may be more qualified but you are my personal attendant so you are obligated to listen to me and you are here now and have a horse.” The prince pointed out and urged his horse toward the woods that spread from the north outward towards the east and west of the castle “Come.”

 

Izuku blinked and opened his mouth to respond but the prince was already too far away to be heard. He felt himself panic just the tiniest bit before he hurried to urge his horse forward. He hoped he was good enough at riding horses that he wouldn’t make a mistake of lose the prince. After looking up, he noticed that the prince was going slowly. The prince’s horse seemed to be straining to go faster, pulling gently at the prince’s tight hold on the reins. But, every time, the prince gently tugged back, whispering something to the horse and patting its head between the ears. Some tiny section of Izuku’s brain swooned and suggested he was doing on purpose so Izuku wasn’t too far out of his element. Izuku shook his head and pushed the thought away. There was no way.

 

It was almost silent and wholly peaceful as soon as he and the prince broke the tree barrier and were enveloped by greenery on every side. The forest smelled wet and cold and Izuku inhaled as much of it as he could. The quiet thumps of the horses hooves and the rocking of the horses bodies was making him feel a little sleepy. But the thought of tumbling off a horse in the middle of a forest did not sound like a good idea so Izuku stayed awake to the best of his abilities.

 

Once or twice, the prince would make a remark or point something out, like a squirrel jumping along the branches or a rabbit hurrying out of their way, and he had a soft look in his eyes when he did. Izuku guessed that the prince had a soft spot for small fluffy animals and it made him smile. He would offer his opinion or even a possibility of what the animal could be thinking, the latter causing the prince to send him a look filled with warmth. Izuku was enjoying this walk enormously. Not only was it peaceful and he felt relaxed, but he also felt like he was finally succeeding at what Enokida had instructed him to do on his first day: be the prince’s friend. He knew he couldn’t possibly be as good a friend as another prince or maybe a sibling, but he would certainly try his best, just like he did with helping Chiyo or supplying Yaoyorozu or learning fighting techniques with Kirishima, not that that had happened recently.

 

Izuku decided he liked living at the castle.

 

Then everything changed.

 

Something rustled the leaves in the tree above him. Something much bigger and heavier than a squirrel. Instantly, fear struck him. He automatically looked toward the prince and above and around the prince, hand floating toward the knife at his belt. He would protect the prince from whatever was about to happen.

 

The prince pulled his horse to a stop and Izuku followed suit.

 

After a moment of listening, the prince raised his voice “Whoever is out there, show yourselves.”

 

No response.

 

Izuku felt himself start to sweat, ever so slowly detangling his feet from his feet from the stirrups just in case he needed to leap to defend the prince. He would protect the prince. He had to.

 

The prince turned to him and opened his mouth “Be ready for-”

 

He didn’t get to finish his sentence.

 

Someone landed on the back of Izuku’s horse and slammed a bag over his head. Izuku shouted and writhed but the person wrapped their arms tightly around his middle. His horse screamed in terror before it was abruptly cut off. Izuku felt the horse slowly start to collapse under him but his attacker jumped off the dead horse just in time. Izuku wriggled as hard as he could as his attacker leaped onto another horse and took off. It all happened so fast Izuku couldn’t even process it.

 

“MIDORIYA!” The prince yelled. His horse screamed as the prince kicked it to race after Izuku and the kidnapper.

 

“Your Highness!” Izuku shrieked into the bag, voice coming out muffled.

 

The horses hooves thundered through the forest.

 

“Midoriya!” The prince yelled “Stop!”

 

The kidnapped holding Izuku laughed “Not gonna happen, princey.”

 

Izuku heard a shout and then more rustling of leaves, people in the trees. Then he heard bowstrings being drawn.

 

He yelled as hard as he could “Your Highness, go back!”

 

“WHAT?!?” The prince sounded outraged, horse still racing after the kidnapper’s “I am not leaving you to be kidnapped!”

 

“Go back and get help!” Izuku yelled “You can’t get hurt!”

 

“Midoriya!” The prince sounded desperate “Midoriya, I’m not leaving without you!”

 

“Yes you are!” Izuku screamed at him “I won’t be able to forgive myself if you get hurt because of me! So go back to the castle!”

 

The prince’s voice came out choked and filled with an emotion that Izuku had never heard in his voice before “I-I’ll come back! I’m coming back to get you! I promise!”

 

Izuku said nothing and listened as the horse yanked on the reins and spun his horse around. He breathed a sigh of relief when he couldn’t hear the prince’s horses footsteps anymore.

 

Then a massive, sharp, blinding pain slammed hard into the back of his head.

 

Izuku was out like a smothered candle.

Chapter Text

The world came back to Izuku piece by piece, like some sort of weird puzzle.

 

First, he could hear things. His brain didn’t process any of the sounds fully, everything sounded like he was hearing them through a foot wide layer of insulation and moss. It sounded muffled and distorted and haunting and Izuku felt fear crawl up in his chest and claw at the insides of his ribs like a starving wild beast searching for a meal.

 

Then he could taste, which was a strange thing to come next. The air inside the bag over his head tasted musty and gross, like the bag’s air circulation was bad and sloppy. He could almost feel the particles of mild and dirt hitting his lips and tongue. When he opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out it came in contact with the bag and he found that it was musty, moldy and kind of wet and old burlap. He retracted his tongue and closed his mouth, nose wrinkling in disgust.

 

Then he could smell and his nose confirmed everything his mouth had learned. It was moldy and musty and the bag absolutely reeked of dead fish and mildew. He could feel the particles flying into his nose with every breath but he couldn’t stop them because how else would he have breathed?

 

Then he could feel his body. He was slumped against someone’s back, rocking back and forth slowly. He was on a horse, based on the shape of what he was sitting on and the rhythm of steps. Izuku’s hands were tied behind his back and another thin rope that sat over his thighs kept him loosely tied to the horse. From what he could tell, the thing of the rope holding him down had been quick and sloppy, probably because he had been knocked out and his kidnappers hadn’t wanted to be caught by anyone.

 

Finally, he peeled open his eyes, which was about as useful as drinking piping hot apple cider to cool down on a hot summer day. Afternoon sunlight lazily filtered in through the tiny holes in the bag and Izuku guessed he had been out for several hours. Maybe four or five? Based on the intense ache in the back of his head, they had had to knock him out again several times.

 

Newly determined to not get knocked out again, Izuku relaxed his muscles from where they had been clenched and focused on his breathing to keep it even and deep like he was asleep. He closed his eyes against the strange dots of light in favour of concentrating on listening.

 

His ears began to clear more and he could distinguish four voices over two horses slowly waking before stopping completely.

 

A voice that sounded like snakes who had swallowed sandpaper hissed “I still can't believe you idiots were seen.”

 

“Sorry captain.” This voice sounded disinterested, like the way a newspaper headline might sound if they could speak “You just said catch him.”

 

“I believe he said catch him and don’t be seen. That was incredibly risky.” This one was deep and almost seemed to echo the slightest bit. It reminded Izuku of an unpleasant game he had played as a kid, they would take a massive hollow horn and speak into it and command the other kids to perform ridiculous tasks. Whoever laughed first lost and they had to switch.

 

The final voice sounded young, chipper and kind of like she was trying to be cute “Aw but not getting seen at all is no fun! I always like leading people on wild goose chases. Besides, our catch is so worth getting seen for. He’s so cute, I could just eat him up!”

 

Izuku fought down his instinct to stiffen.

 

Two sets of feet thudded to the ground, one lightly and delicately and the other loud and carelessly. Izuku’s relaxed state resulted in him falling forward and leaning heavily against the horses mane. The edge of the saddle dig into his hipbones and he could still feel his knife at his belt.

 

“Oh, boss.” Disinterested voice said “Why did we kidnap this kid?”

 

“Yeah!” Cutesy chirped “Why didn’t we catch the pretty little prince? He would look so good drenched in blood!” She paused. Then she giggled and Izuku felt something cold and sharp trail down the side of his arm, not quite cutting the skin “Although, our cute little friend here wouldn’t look too bad either. Can I cut him? Please?”

 

Echo voice sighed dejectedly “No, Himiko, you can’t cut him. We need to set up camp and set up a boundary.”

 

“You still haven’t told us why we captured the kid.” Disinterested pointed out lazily “Why not the prince? Wouldn’t getting him make more sense?”

 

“We were hired to put a crack in the foundations of the kingdom.” Raspy voice said “We’ve been watching for weeks and this kid seems to be the closest to the prince friendship wise. Our spy on the inside even confirmed that he is supposed to be his friend. This kid is most likely the most valuable piece on the board. He’ll be our… bargaining chip.” The man said this last sentence as if he were speaking about a delicious dish that he planned to eat later.

 

Izuku shuddered involuntarily, accidentally alerting his kidnappers that he was awake.

 

“Oi, Kurogiri.” Disinterested voice said “The kid’s awake.”

 

“Can we knock him out again?” Cutesy chirped “Or can I cut him? Pleeeeeeease?”

 

Izuku flinched and squeaked “Please don’t.”

 

“Oh so he can speak.” Raspy voice mused “Whats’s your name, kid?”

 

“I-I’m Izuku Midoriya.” Izuku said, fear spilling into his voice “What are you going to do with me?”

 

“Oh just hang you by a string in front of the castle and demand things.” Disinterested voice said.

 

A smack sound followed by a shout found their way into Izuku’s ears.

 

Raspy cursed “You fucking idiot!”

 

“Shigaraki, stop.” Echo who might be called Kurogiri said “We must remain quiet, the prince might still be nearby.”

 

“Ooooh or he could be bringing us some cool playthings!” Cutesy giggled “I’d love to cut up some knights.”

 

Izuku’s brain zipped to Kirishima, Iida and Ojirou and he felt panic rising. He had to get himself out of this situation and run away. Or he had to fight his way out with the knife that was still sheathed at his belt. He could feel it poking lightly into his thigh and felt comforted at the slight pain telling him it was there for him to use whenever he needed it. To use it he needed to be able to see. And to be able to see he would need to get his hands untied. And to get his hands untied he would need to distract his kidnappers which would not be easy. He almost sighed out loud but settled for doing so internally, breathing in the dank scent of the sack. He needed to think up a plan.

 

A hand closed on his shoulder and yanked him down from the horse, scaring him out of his plan making. Izuku made a sharp groaning sound as he fell, sprawled on the forest floor. He bounced twice, head thumping the ground before he settled on his side with a thick root digging into his left hip.

 

He heard the sound of a knife coming out of its sheath and started to panic. He couldn’t die yet! He needed to see his mother and tell her how much he loved her! He needed to see his father and punch him in the face for disappearing without a trace! He needed to say goodbye and thank you to Uraraka, Iida, Ashido, Kaminari, Sero, Kirishima, Bakugou and all his other friends at the castle! He needed to find out who exactly Shimizu was and ask if she wanted help with her anxiety! He needed to thank Enokida for all her help and training! He needed to talk to Hizashi and Aizawa and Chiyo and Kayama and say how grateful he was for them taking him in! He needed to learn to use his knife he needed to go on a hunt he needed to see the flower festival!

 

And…

 

His breath caught in his throat at this last thought.

 

He needed to tell the prince just how beautiful he was, inside and out.

 

Someone stood over him and pulled him onto his back. The root now digging harshly into his lower back as the person seized the collar of his vest and yanking him up. Sunlight appeared in strips in his vision, the bag roughly ripped and torn through with the knife in the person’s hand. Izuku opened his eyes and immediately regretted it. The light was so bright that it seared his eyes and he hissed in pain.

 

“Hey, open your eyes, kid.” The angrier version of disinterested voice growled “We can’t use you if you’re dead.”

 

Izuku momentarily contemplated playing dead but reasoned that his kidnappers wouldn’t fall for it and start to hurt him or kill him to get him to break his act. So he slowly starts to crack his eyes open.

 

Over him was a young man, maybe five years older than Izuku himself. His hair was spiky and pitch black and stuck up at random almost like a crown of thorns around his head. His eyes were a harsh sky blue that was almost insultingly pretty. His skin would have been perfect and pale and unblemished if it weren’t for the patches of purple, wrinkled, mangled skin under his eyes, under his mouth and extending to above his ears and all along his arms. Each of the patches of mangled purple skin had what looked like tiny strips of metal holding them to the pale unblemished skin.He wore a loosely collared white shirt with what had once been crisp white slightly poofed sleeves but he had roughly cut through them and they sat at an awkward length somewhere between his wrists and elbows. He also had a pair of loose black pants and a dark navy coat with the collar and both sleeves roughly cut similarly to the shirt sleeves. He was also wearing a simple pair of black shoes.

 

He smiled, which caused the gnarled patches of purple skin around his eyes to crinkle strangely “Rise and shine, kid.”

 

Izuku numbly looked over and inspected the other three people.

 

One was a girl, maybe just a little bit younger than Izuku, with a giddy smile and a heavy pink blush high in her cheeks. Her hair was pale blonde and pulled into two buns on the crown of her head that were messy and had dozens of sections of hair sticking out. Her bangs hung in her face, nearly reaching her eyes. Her eyes were a crude yellow colour, almost like a platinum gold mixed alloy that glowed with malice and hatred despite the smile on her lips. Her skin was peachy and glowed with youth and her shoulders and general build were slim. She was wearing a white blouse with all the buttons done up. Over top of that she was wearing a creamy coloured cardigan with an absolutely indecently short dark blue skirt that showed off nearly her all of her legs. Around her right leg was a brown leather holster with a knife stuck in it. She had knee high navy socks and brown shoes. She giggled and waved, blushing, when she noticed Izuku looking at her.

 

Izuku turned away quickly, searching for the owners of the other two voices.

 

Another man stood across from the girl. He was incredibly hunched over and had his hands stuffed in the pockets of a dirty pair of black pants. His skin was sickly pale and looked as dry as a lizards who had been sitting in the sun for at least four days. His hair was a pale muted blue and was slightly long, as if it had once been cut nicely but he had grown it out or ignored it completely. He had a loose collared, long sleeved, black shirt and no coat and his shoes were dark red and extremely dirty. His eyes were a dark muted red and they bored into Izuku’s green eyes, daring him to make a move or try anything. His arms were crossed across his chest. Over the front of his face was a metal mask that was carved and painted to look like a hand that Izuku found strange.

 

The final man was probably the strangest looking. He was tall and skinny and wore what izuku quickly identified was an old butler’s suit: a white pressed shirt, a dark grey vest, long black dress pants and black shoes. His eyes were large and seemed to glow with how brilliantly yellow they were. His hands were large and his fingers were long and skinny and slightly bent out of place and crooked. The strangest thing about him was his skin. His entire body was covered in dark purple and black tattoos that looked like he had been painted with large stroke and then had someone paint in tiny designs that looked wispy, like smoke. His entire body was covered in the colours.

 

“Kurogiri.” Blue haired man spoke and Izuku labelled him as Shigaraki “Get the kid standing.”

 

Giddy girl jumped to her feet and giggled “Where are we going, Shigaraki?”

 

Shigaraki slumped and started walking into the trees “We need to get going back to camp, get the kid tied down somewhere. Then we can start pestering him for information.”

 

Izuku gulped lightly. Kurogiri walked over and yanked him to his feet.

 

“What about the horses?” Disinterested guy asked.

 

“Take off their saddles and make ‘em leave, Dabi.” Shigaraki said “It’ll make us harder to follow. Now let’s get out of here.”

 

Dabi nodded and walked over. He yanked the saddles and blankets off the two horses and then gave them each a hard, sharp smack to their haunches. They screamed and galloped away. Dabi snickered as he watched them run. Izuku looked at him, horrified. Then Kurogiri gave a good hard yank on his arm and the five of them walked onward into the forest. Giddy girl bounced over in Izuku’s direction and started talking.

 

“Hi there! I’m Toga. Toga Himiko. Nice to meet you!” She held out her hand to shake for a moment before giggling like this was a hilarious joke and retracting her hand “You know, you’re really cute! Your freckles are so cute and your eyes are so cute and your hair is cute and your whole face is cute! You know what? I bet you’d look better in a little blood. In my opinion, everyone looks better in a little blood. OOOOH or a lot of blood! You in a whole bunch of blood with cuts running along your arms and face tracing your freckles! That would be soooo cute andI bet you’d look sooooo good!” She pulled out her knife and looked ahead to Shigaraki “Can I cut him? Pleeeeeease?”

 

Shigaraki said nothing.

 

Toga pouted and brought the knife up until it made contact with Izuku’s shoulder “Come on, Shigaraki, don’t be a fun sucker! Let me cut him!”

 

“Only if you promise to shut your damn mouth.” Shigaraki sighed. Izuku gasped, eyes widening in fear. Then Shigaraki added “Only one cut.”

 

“Awwwww Shiggy!” Toga pouted and swung her knife around in front of her like a toddler having a tantrum “I wanna cut him nowwww!”

 

“You can cut him more when we get to camp, you annoying little cow!” Shigaraki groaned and started frantically scratching at his neck with short sharp nails “You’re so annoying.”

 

Dabi snickered “You got that right, boss.”

 

Toga shrieked with excitement and immediately turned to Izuku, murderous glee glowing and shining in her muted yellow eyes. She shoved her knife at his clothed shoulder and made a slit in the cloth. Then she wrenched it downward so his shirt now had a gaping hole in the shoulder. Izuku whimpered.

 

She licked her lips as she stared at his bare shoulder, eyes never wavering “You’re gonna look so cute, I just know it.”

 

Izuku could do nothing but watch as she plunged the knife into the muscle of his shoulder. He screamed in pain as the blade seared into his skin and sliced in towards his chest then redirected it’s path to the other side of his arm. Kurogiri’s other hand came up and clapped over his mouth, muffling the pain noises coming out of his mouth and catching the tears of fear and pain dribbling down his face. Izuku writhed like an angry python in a sack but this did only a few things and none of them were good. It made the rope around his wrists tighter and it made the knife in his arm jiggle and dance in the wound. Izuku screamed again as Toga pulled the knife out of his arm. He could feel warm liquid leak from the wound and trace down his arm. He saw it reach his hands and drip from his fingers. More and more kept coming.

 

He watched, utter horror and terror in his eyes, as Toga raised the knife to her mouth. She sniffed it like it was a beautiful rose and sighed happily, blissed out smile never leaving her face. Then she poked her tongue from between her lips and lapped at the blood on the knife. She moaned, almost sexually at the taste and swallowed. Then her eyes found Izuku once more and she slipped even further into bliss and heaven.

 

“Oh, little Izuku, my darling, you look absolutely gorgeous in blood.” She slowly reached a finger to the wound on his shoulder and slowly pressed it inside, revelling in the awful squelch and the ragged scream that leapt from Izuku’s throat “You look so cute right now I could just eat you up!”

 

Izuku didn’t doubt this for a second.

 

Toga gleefully yanked her finger back out of Izuku’s arm, once again sighing blissfully at the sounds of pain that Izuku cried into Kurogiri’s palm. Then she put her knife away and licked at the blood on her finger, turning back to walking normally.

 

Izuku felt his head spin. He couldn’t do this!

 

But he had to.

 

He steeled himself to the best of his abilities and started mentally repeating the list of reasons he had to be alive over and over and over in his head.

 

They were almost at the camp, Izuku could just see tents in the distance. Shigaraki raised his raspy voice and yelled into the camp. People came running, several people in all dark clothing and many different types of masks and weapons came out to meet them. When Izuku saw the wide range of weapons that the people were carrying, he knew he was absolutely doomed. He blinked hard, more tears falling from his eyes. He started to let himself give up.

 

He’d never see his mother again, he’d never tell her he loves her. He’d never tell Uraraka and Iida that they were the best friends he could have ever asked for. He’d never thank Kirishima for his training, he’d never tell Ashido, Kaminari, Bakugou and Sero that they were excellent friends. He’d never thank Aizawa and Hizashi for taking him in. He’d never thank Chiyo for keeping him busy. He’d never tell Kayama how beautiful she was. He’d never get to thank Jirou, Tetsutetsu and Maijima again for his beautiful knife. He’d never get to tell the prince that he-

 

Horse hooves.

 

He could hear horse hooves.

 

He could hear horse hooves behind him.

 

Galloping horse hooves…

 

From back the way that they had all come.

 

Izuku sucked in a breath at the speed of lightning.

 

Shigaraki heard them too and yelled at his thugs to be ready for a fight and to take no prisoners.

 

An arrow sprouted from one of his thug’s neck.

 

And the horses were on top of them.

Chapter Text

The thug with an arrow in his neck fell to the ground, spluttering and making dry dying coughing noises. Then another thug had an arrow in his neck. Then another. Three of the five thugs that had rushed out to help were now lying dead or dying in the grass.

 

Shigaraki screamed at everyone to get their damn weapons out and keep the hostage at all costs. Toga laughed gleefully and shrieked happily about having more blood to spill. Dabi grabbed a long spear at his side and raised it, muttering about how he had hoped he would get to kill someone today. Kurogiri grabbed Izuku by both arms, making Izuku scream through gritted teeth when he grabbed his wounded arm, and shoved Izuku behind him.

 

Izuku gaped and looked around Kurogiri to try and figure out who had come to his rescue.

 

It was the prince!

 

It had to be the prince!

 

It was…

 

It wasn’t the prince.

 

A horse was racing towards them. It’s coat was black and it’s mane was black. It looked incredibly muscular, like it spent most if not all of it’s time running. There was a single person on top with a bow in their left hand. They were wearing a brown cloak that was buttoned up in the front and only went down to just below their hips. The hood was pulled up over their head, obscuring their face. Their body was so hidden by the cloak that Izuku couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman or otherwise. The person was wearing black riding pants and black leather riding boots that came up to above their knees. Izuku could also see a quiver of arrows strapped to the horse’s side and a smaller one strapped around the person hips at their belt. There was also a small dagger at the left side of their belt.

 

Another horse was galloping behind the black horse. This one was a dark chestnut brown with large splotches of black decorating it’s coat. It’s mane and tail were such dark shades of brown that they almost looked black in the strange forest lighting. This horse didn’t have a rider, only two massive baskets strapped to its sides, Izuku assumed they held supplies for the rider.

 

Shigaraki raised a hand and called the villains off “This one we can’t kill despite the fact that three of my men died because there’s new information.”

 

The person pulled their horse to a stop and scoffed “I should hope not. Is that how you’d treat your informant?”

 

Izuku’s eyes widened. The traitor! If he could figure out who it was then maybe he could protect the prince. The informant jumped down from the horse and reached up to grab their hood to pull it down. Izuku couldn’t believe his luck.

 

And then his hope was crushed when Toga giggled and said “Oh I wouldn’t remove that hood, pretty little archer. We’ve got a hostage.” She gestured to Izuku and giggled again, eyeing him up and down and licking her lips “Isn’t he just adorable.”

 

“Izuku Midoriya.” The informant said “Yes I know him. Of course, him recognizing me is highly unlikely. But, I guess I will need your warning, Toga, for I do not want anything to happen to my cover.”

 

Izuku blinked and almost sighed in defeat. His plan had been foiled. But he couldn’t give up yet. He had to at least learn something before he tried for an escape. Or died.

 

He shook himself, lightly so the villains wouldn’t notice. No! He refused to die. Not yet. He had to see everyone and thank them and ask if there was any way to serve them for the things they had given him before he could even think about accepting death. He would not die. He could not die.

 

Newly determined, he turned his attention back to the villainous scoundrels in front and all around him. He turned his brain to listen to everything they were saying and started filing it away for later use. The informant had taken the baskets of supplies off the chestnut horse and had handed them to Dabi and Toga. Then they had pulled the saddle and blanket off the horse and sent it away into the forest to live the rest of its life out of human reach.

 

“And as you know, Yaoyorozu is making the prince’s outfit for the spring flower festival, which I am dreading. So many people.” The informant shuddered lightly, sending ripples down the cloak they were wearing “And, of course, the snobby little princey is going to make a speech to his people as the king looks on because we all know the king prefers to listen rather than take action. Oh, and-” The informant abruptly stopped talking and turned toward Izuku “You’re still awake.”

 

Izuku was so surprised that he jumped a little and made an undignified squeaking sound.

 

Toga bounced happily “Can I knock him out? Please Shiggey? Can I can I can I?”

 

“No, Himoko, shut your everflapping mouth!” Shigaraki turned on her, hands curling into claws “I swear, sometimes I just want to flay you alive!”

 

Izuku saw his chance and took it.

 

He spun and started running into the woods. Shouts behind him, alarm, confusion followed by realization and pure, unfiltered rage. Shigaraki bellowed at Toga for distracting him, Dabi cackled that this is all her fault, Kurogiri started trying to get them all to calm down. Then he turned on the Informant.

 

Izuku felt his pulse skyrocket. He was doing it! He was getting away! He was almost there, if he just made it past those trees then he could be-

 

Wait.

 

He stopped in his tracks and looked around, hands still tied.

 

He had no idea where he was.

 

And this was where he went wrong.

 

Two things happened at once.

 

The villains all screamed “HE WENT THAT WAY GET HIM DEAD OR ALIVE.”

 

And the Informant fired an arrow.

 

Izuku heard the arrow before fully processing what was happening. Then he felt a ridiculous pain his his left thigh and suddenly he was on the ground. The steel arrowhead buried itself into his hamstring like a burrowing badger, tearing at his skin and muscle. He felt something snap, releasing the feeling of pure acid into his leg. Izuku’s face thumped into the ground as he fell. Pain like nothing he had ever felt nor imagined spilled into his leg, like fresh acid being poured straight onto his skin. Then he made a sound of pain that didn’t quite sound as human as it should have. Somewhere between a howl, a screech, a mewl and a roar so powerful it shook the trees. It didn’t sound like it could possibly be coming from his lungs and exploded with what felt like a shockwave from Izuku’s chest. The sound was painful, even to Izuku’s ears and it didn’t stop, only kept flowing from his lungs and vocal cords, ripping them apart. It kept coming and coming and it didn’t stop. Izuku could feel tears rolling down his cheeks.

 

The villains behind him shouted in confusion and pain at the noise. The faint sound of metal clattering to the ground somehow found its way into Izuku’s ears. Numbly, he realized that at least some of their weapons were on the ground if not all of them.

 

Slowly, slowly, the noise died down until Izuku was lying on the ground, utterly exhausted, face buried in his arm as he cried. His tears fell to the ground.

 

Someone’s heavy footsteps near his head stopped abruptly. Then someone yanked on the arm with the aggressive wound in it. Izuku yelped at the movement and sudden flare of pain in the wound.

 

The Informant looked at him from under their hood. Within the dim lighting, Izuku could only see that they had pale skin, nearly milk white in this demented forest lighting, and a stoney faced expression. He couldn’t see their eyes and he wasn’t sure he wanted to. His misfunctioning brain briefly wondered how the Informant was seeing him if he couldn’t see his eyes.

 

“Looks like old princey has got himself a little mage.” The informant spoke quietly “Bit of a late bloomer, huh?”

 

Izuku could only produce a dry, raspy whimper to reply.

 

The Informant nodded and licked their lips before smiling creepily at Izuku “That’s alright. I was too.”

 

Then Izuku felt something hard slam into the back of his head and the world was aggressively ripped out from under his feet like a rug.

 

When he came to, the world once again came back to him piece by piece. He could smell wet air flying freely into and out of his nose. He could hear slow horse steps, quiet chattering voices and the rustling of trees above him. He could taste something in his mouth. It tasted like fabric. He was gagged. He could feel his slack body was draped across something that shook lightly with every horse step sound he heard. He was on the horse, he realized, completely numb and at the mercy of his captors. His arms were still bound behind his back, tighter than before, the rope digging painfully into his wrists and slicing into the already raw skin. Then he opened his eyes and could see the grass below him and the horse’s legs walking and his own curly green hair dangling in his face.

 

He tried to listen more to the muttering coming from the villains.

 

“So the kid’s a mage.” Shigaraki said.

 

Izuku hated to admit it but he didn’t like being called a kid. He was twenty one years old, thank you very much!

 

“I thought mage’s weren’t as common as before.” Toga mused.

 

“They aren’t.” Kurogiri said “Nowadays only a hundredth of the population of the whole world are mages. Even then most of them are too weak to realize or aren’t put into any horrible enough situations to suddenly display magical abilities. Pain is a common way to improve a mage’s magical abilities.”

 

Izuku could hear the frown in Dabi’s voice “So you’re saying it’s our fault this kid suddenly displayed the truth about his abilities?”

 

“Not ours.” Shigaraki must have looked pointedly at the Informant.

 

“How was I supposed to know the kid’s a mage?” The Informant growled “He hasn’t shown any such abilities for his entire three and a bit weeks at the castle. Nothing has been out of the ordinary, that’s why I suggested kidnapping him.”

 

“You also said he would be a good option because the prince cares about him.” Dabi said, voice accusing “And the prince isn’t here yet so you must have also been wrong about that.”

 

“Well excuse me if I haven’t seen much of the prince.” The Informant grumbled “I spend most of my time around the king and the servants.”

 

Izuku gasped quietly.

 

Shigaraki heard “Everybody shut up. The kid’s awake.”

 

The voices went quiet.

 

Then someone was at Izuku’s side. They grabbed his injured arm, drawing a small whimper from his throat, then they wrapped their fist in Izuku’s hair and yanked so he looked up at them. It was the Informant. Izuku still couldn’t see anything about their face above their mouth.

 

“What did you hear?” They growled.

 

Izuku whimpered into the gag in his mouth.

 

The Informant’s fist collided with his wound and he shrieked. His shriek was muffled by the gag and tears spiked into his eyes.

 

“I asked you a question.” The Informant said, voice sinister “Did you hear anything important?”

 

Izuku shook his head, eyes pleading.

 

They obviously didn’t believe him and took the knife from their belt. Izuku caught the way their hand was clamped on the handle and the way the knife shook as they raised it. Izuku realized that whoever this was was very uncomfortable with using a knife. He was starting to paint a pretty clear image of who this person might be.

 

The knife pressed against his cheek and the Informant snarled “If you don’t want me to slice you open, tell me the truth. Did you hear anything?”

 

Izuku kept up the act, whimpering and shaking his head side to side.

 

The Informant stayed there, knife shaking lightly.

 

Then, finally, they removed the the knife and put it away.

 

“Oi, kid.” Dabi called “We’re almost there. You should get back.”

 

The Informant looked up, directing their gaze away from Izuku’s, and said “Alright. Keep him gagged. Well, unless you want your weapons being forced out of your hands.”

 

“He would have to figure out how to use his magic again to do that.” Shigaraki grumbled “Now get the hell out of here.”

 

The Informant bowed mockingly and said “As you wish, oh great leader.”

 

Shigaraki threw something at them. They dodged effortlessly, pulled Izuku off the horse, passed him to Kurogiri and climbed on the horse. Then they turned and kicked the horse into a gallop off into the trees. The sounds of hooves hitting the ground disappeared completely in about thirty seconds. Then Izuku was left alone with his four kidnappers and two thugs out in the woods once again. He lifted his head from where it was hanging and glared at Shigaraki.

 

He noticed “Oh, don’t get cocky, kid. You’re still really injured. I’d wager something in your leg snapped, you’ll never get to walk again if we’re lucky.”

 

Izuku sighed through his nose when he remembered the sharp stinging pain in his leg. He flexed his back muscles and twisted to the best of his abilities to be able to see even a glimpse of his leg. He could only hold the position for a second or two at a time because he couldn’t use his hands to hold himself there. But he caught glimpse after glimpse of his injury and made the necessary deductions. His kidnappers had been kind enough to pull the arrow out while he was unconscious and had even bandaged him up. Apparently the wound hadn’t been deep enough to warrant stitches but when Izuku tried to lift his leg he bit back a sharp cry and released the muscle once again. That hurt. Walking would be a struggle.

 

With a sigh of slight defeat, Izuku let himself flop back down and relaxed all his muscles. The horse was still walking wherever his kidnappers were taking him and… wait. Hadn’t they already been close to their camp? This didn’t make any sense… Izuku’s brain hurt and he wanted to sleep for a hundred years.

 

Maybe he could sleep. The kidnappers didn’t seem all that interested in him in that moment so he let himself relax and tried to get as comfortable as he could be while lying across a horse’s rump. Yeah, sleep sounded really good right now. It would help his headache.

 

Wait. Since when did he…? Oh. Getting hit in the back of the head who knows how many times couldn’t be good for him.

 

Izuku let his eyes flutter shut and he snuffled sleepily.

 

Yes, he could definitely fall asleep here.

 

A faint shout in the distance caught his attention.

 

He lifted his head again, slightly sleepy this time, having almost been about to doze off. He processed the sight of another two horses.

 

His kidnappers must have seen and heard them too because they were getting ready for a fight.

 

Izuku just wanted to sleep.

Chapter Text

Izuku was tired enough at this point that he wasn’t quite sure he was actually seeing what happened or not. Either he was hallucinating or he was dreaming already.

 

The prince was riding his white horse at top speed toward them. He looked mad, sword out and in his hand while the other was gripping the reins of his horse. His eyes were narrowed, his mouth was set in a tight line and Izuku swore he could see a vein popping in his neck. Izuku would definitely not want to be the focus of the prince’s anger. There was another horse behind him. The horse was white with grey slashes striking across its body. Its mane and tail were dark grey and its body was streamlined and muscular. Its rider was wearing a silver and black mask and a black suit of leather armor with a thick silver strip around their middle. They had knives in each of their hands, not even holding the reins as the horse sprinted right along with the prince’s horse without needing any direction.

 

Shigaraki once again shrieked “DON’T LET THEM GET HIM! KILL THEM IF YOU HAVE TO!!!”

 

Izuku started to struggle in Kurogiri’s hands, determined to at least help a little bit in his rescue. He knocked his head back into Kurogiri’s chest and started to thrash.

 

The prince charged the villains, the two horses splitting off from each other.

 

Izuku watched, enraptured.

 

The prince launched a knife from his hand and it sank into one of the thugs chests. Then he leaped down from his moving horse and dashed on foot at the villains. Shigaraki met him head on with a shout. Their swords were locked together, the prince shoving with all his might as the metal slid together and clanged against each other. Toga giggled gleefully and raced up to the two of them, knife flashing. She leaped to stab the prince but he ducked under Shigaraki in a roll, knocking him forward. Toga’s knife sliced into Shigaraki’s arm. The prince smirked and took his opportunity to disarm Toga. She giggled maniacally and leaped at him, bare handed. He dodged to the side, barely having enough time to dodge again when she caught herself and jumped at him again. Shigaraki swung his sword at the prince who caught the blade effortlessly with his own. He twirled his sword and sent Shigaraki’s flying. It landed softly in the grass. Shigaraki darted to pick it up but by the time he spun around to face the prince again, the price had sheathed his sword and was running in Izuku’s direction.

 

The prince’s companion leaped off their own horse, masked face completely covered and unreadable. They grabbed Shigaraki and Toga’s attention from the prince and pulled out two single edged swords. As Izuku watched, they fought like a demon, blocking strike after strike and dodging attacks like it was child's play. Their dodges and footwork was light and almost a blur of movement with how quickly they were moving. The two people they were fighting tried again and again to leave to attack the still running prince but the fighter kept seizing their attention.

 

Izuku watched, eyes wide as the prince raced toward him. Kurogiri had his hands up and ready to fight, ready to receive any blow. Izuku realized that he was free to move, save for the rope tying his hands behind his back.

 

He gathered his courage and, with all his might, swung his leg upward between Kurogiri’s leg and landed a square, solid hit to right where the sun doesn’t shine.

 

Kurogiri bellowed in pain and crumpled down to his knees.

 

Izuku swore he heard the prince bark a laugh but he ignored it and fell to the ground, wrestling with the rope binding his hands. He struggled roughly, growling in anger, eyes narrowed. Finally, finally he got his arms around his legs so they were in front of his body. He shouted victoriously through the gag and stood to race around Kurogiri toward the prince. He felt himself smiling.

 

The prince raised his hand to his lips and whistled harshly. His horse whinnied and galopped over. The prince didn’t even hesitate to grab hold and leap into the saddle. He spurred the horse back toward Izuku.

 

“Grab my hand!” The prince shouted, leaning over precariously in the saddle to reach over for Izuku.

 

Izuku nodded and raised his hands.

 

He would miss, surely he would. This was impossible! This would never work, could never. The prince would miss his hands and he would either be tackled by Kurogiri and knocked out again or killed by the much less merciful Shigaraki. Or the prince would leap down to save him and get himself hurt. Izuku couldn’t have that.

 

So he reached desperately, determined to not miss. And if he did, he would never blame the prince for it, never. He could never blame the prince if he missed. It was his fault he was kidnapped in the first place.

 

Time seemed to slow down to barely a crawl of what it used to be.

 

The prince’s face was open, more desperate and scared than Izuku had ever seen it. His porcelain hand was outstretched, open, arm fully extended to his full reach. But he also looked trusting, like he knew that Izuku could do it.

 

Izuku lifted his hands and-

 

Time went faster, everything happened in a split second.

 

The prince’s hand touched the rope binding Izuku’s hands and instantly snapped closed around it. He roared as he yanked with all his might, pulling Izuku bodily up into the saddle of the horse. Izuku landed, sprawled on his stomach on the horse, right in front of the prince. He thrashed, clumsily albeit relatively effectively and managed to swing one leg over so he was straddling the horse’s back. He was small enough that the prince didn’t need to do anything too difficult to see past him and the horse whirled again and sprinted off toward what Izuku assumed was the direction of the castle.

 

Izuku’s ears started ringing. Everything all of a sudden felt foggy, like his mind was not quite right.

 

The prince turned his head and shouted something at his companion who leaped effortlessly away from their opponents and raced toward them. They put their fingers to their lips and let loose a shrill whistle. The other horse came running and they effortlessly jumped into the saddle and raced after the prince’s horse. Their horse easily overtook the prince’s and they sped ahead, keeping a lookout into the trees. Izuku’s ears cleared of the ringing as they galloped onward.

 

Everything seemed to be going their way until an arrow shot from the trees.

 

Izuku started to scream, terrified that it was aimed at the prince. He leaned over, in front of the prince, to block the arrows path.

 

But it wasn’t aimed at the prince.

 

The steel head of the arrow sank into the muscular neck of the horse in front of them.

 

The horse screamed and bucked, nearly sending the rider atop it flying. But the rider held on and urged it to keep running. The prince made a choked sound behind Izuku, watching as more and more arrows flew from the trees. They were all aimed at the horse carrying the prince’s companion, drawing more and more blood. Somehow, despite all this, the horse was still running and running and running.

 

The person on top was on their feet. How they had gotten there was beyond Izuku. They were crouched, as if they were about to pounce on someone the way a cat would.

 

The prince opened his mouth and yelled “Jump, you idiot!”

 

The person obeyed.

 

Time seemed to slow once again as they leaped up and away from their horse, body curving backward in midair like a swan. It was beautiful and seemed almost like they were flying. Izuku watched, mouth open in astonishment as they sailed above him and the prince.

 

Then they landed gracefully in a crouch on the back of the prince’s horse.

 

The horse ahead of them crumbled to the ground, dead. The prince steered his own horse around it and galloped onward.

 

The person behind the prince wasn’t holding onto anything more than a loose grip on the edge of the saddle and yet they were perfectly balanced. Izuku gaped back at them, mouth and eyes wide.

 

Izuku didn’t let himself breathe a sigh of relief until the prince had started to pull the horse to a stop. The horse scoffed and slowed down until they were at a standstill in the middle of a clearing that Izuku didn’t recognize. To be fair, Izuku hardly recognized any of the forest. He hadn’t spent much time in it after all.

 

When the horse stopped fully, the prince’s companion hopped easily off the horse’s back and landed softly in the grass. Izuku noticed that their suit had the back end of a skirt wrapping around their waist from their right hip around to their left hip. It was black and triangular shaped and fluttered with every move the person made. It was almost pretty in a strange way. Izuku got a better look at the person’s suit. The suit was fitted black leather with squares of shiny silver scattered around: one over their heart, one wrapping around each of their biceps, one on their left forearm and two more on each leg. And, of course, there was the thick band of silver around their middle. Their mask was plain black with a silver band across where the person’s eyes would be, that was probably where the person saw through. Izuku also noticed that they had long dark hair flowing from the back of their head.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince said quietly to him “Are you alright?”

 

Izuku was zapped back into the present and realized, in horror and mild flustered embarrassment, that he was securely sitting in the prince’s lap. He squeaked and started to struggle to let the prince get down. The prince grabbed his upper right arm with a strong hand, the one that had pulled him to safety, and steadied him.

 

“I’ll get down first.” The prince said, climbing down from the horse effortlessly.

 

Then he turned and offered a hand to help Izuku get down. Izuku blushed lightly, much akin to a princess accepting a hand from her prince, and accepted his help to get down.

 

Unfortunately, as soon as Izuku was on the ground, his knees gave out from under him.

 

“Midoriya!” The prince was surprised and tried to catch him under one arm.

 

But the force with which Izuku collapsed was superior to the effort with which the prince assumed it would take to catch him and Izuku found himself sitting on the forest floor with his legs tucked under him.

 

The prince looked down at him, eyes filled with concern, before looking up at his companion and ordering “Secure the perimeter and keep watch.”

 

From what Izuku could hear, the person bowed and left.

 

Then the prince was kneeling in front of Izuku, concern lacing its way through his features. He raised his hands, one falling on Izuku’s shoulder and one coming up to brush the hair out of his eyes. The prince’s eyebrows were knit together in concern and his blue and grey eyes were flashing around Izuku’s face and neck and shoulders, examining him. With a similar tenderness to a mother’s embrace, the prince reached behind Izuku’s head and drew him slightly closer. Izuku felt his breath catch in his throat. With nimble fingers, the prince undid the knot at the back of his head, the strip of fabric that held the gag in place fell into Izuku’s lap and Izuku spat the gag out of his mouth with a cough. Then the prince drew his hands back down to Izuku’s hands and took hold of his wrists. He grabbed a small knife at his belt and sliced clean through the rope binding Izuku’s hands. Eyes shot down to look at Izuku’s wrists, much like he had examined his face. The prince lifted one of Izuku’s wrist and saw that it had been rubbed raw by the ropes and all his struggling.

 

Izuku was extremely taken aback when the prince bent his head forward, closed his eyes and pressed the softest kiss to the tender skin on the inside of his wrist. Then he raised Izuku’s other wrist and did the same, each connection of the prince’s mouth to Izuku’s skin softer than the last. The prince’s breath was gentle and warm against Izuku’s skin and it made him flush.

 

Izuku finally managed to stutter a “Y-Your Highness. W-what are y-you d-doing?”

 

The prince said nothing, only clasped Izuku’s hands in his.

 

He still had yet to open his eyes.

 

“Your Highness?” Izuku’s voice was barely a whisper “Your Highness what’s wrong? Are you alright?”

 

The prince let out a shaky breath before whispering “I was so scared that I had lost you.”

 

Izuku’s voice would not work. The words he wanted to say were caught in his throat. Why would he, the crown prince of the kingdom of All Might, ever fear for his safety? Why would he, a meer servant at the castle, matter so much to the prince? It didn’t make sense.

 

But somehow it did, at the same time.

 

His voice cracked as he spoke, feeling tears burn in his eyes “Why?”

 

The prince’s eyes flew open. He stared, utterly incredulous and mystified at what Izuku had said. Just the single word he had spoken made the prince so confused. A tiny slice of his brain was amazed at this.

 

“Why?” The prince sounded perplexed and the tiniest bit outraged “Why? You’re asking me why I was afraid I had lost you?!”

 

Izuku shrunk under his gaze but was unable to go anywhere because the prince was still clasping their hands.

 

The prince squeezed his hands, nearly painfully tight “I was afraid I lost you because I care about you, alright?”

 

Izuku gasped softly.

 

“I care.” The prince repeated himself “I care about you and-”

 

His voice broke and suddenly the prince’s face held more emotion than Izuku had ever witnessed. The prince’s eyes were the slightest bit closed, narrowed if you will, and tears started to form in the corners. His frown was small, mouth turning down just a touch at the corners. His jaw was clenched so hard Izuku could see the muscles in his neck flexing.

 

Without warning, the prince huffed a sigh, seeming to deflate. His eyes closed as he fell forward, forehead coming to rest on Izuku’s right shoulder. The prince’s hair gently tickled Izuku’s jaw.

 

As he spoke, the prince’s breath ghosted along Izuku’s neck and collarbone: “I don’t know what I would do without you.”

 

Izuku gasped, deeper this time, tears finally falling from his eyes. Not even thinking about the fact that this was the crown prince leaning against him, he wrapped his arms up and around the prince’s shoulders. He pressed his face into the joint between the prince’s neck and shoulder. He took in a deep, shaky breath, tears still falling slowly down his face.

 

“Midoriya?” The prince’s voice was tiny, scared.

“Just hug me.” Was Izuku’s reply “Sir.”

 

The prince obeyed, timidly. His arms came up and he slowly and carefully wrapped them around Izuku’s middle.

 

Then, all of a sudden, the prince pulled him closer and almost into his lap. He hugged Izuku tight, squeezing like his life depended on it. His face was buried into the juncture where Izuku’s neck met his shoulder.

 

Then he started to tremble.

 

The movements were small, tiny little things that hardly shook his frame at all. But Izuku felt them and held him all the closer for it. He started to mutter, letting his thoughts run wild.

 

“Your Highness, Your Highness.” He whispered into the prince’s red hair “Your Highness it’s alright, everything is alright now. We’re safe, I’m safe, you’re safe. No one is leaving, we’re all here. Everything is better now, you’re alright. The trees are beautiful, don’t you think? They’re green and plush and full of blossoms because of springtime. The one right behind you has dark green leaves and tiny little flowering blossoms all over it that are all white until the very tips of the petals. Then they’re pink and purple. Pretty, don’t you think, Your Highness? There’s another tree behind us and it’s flowers are bigger and fluffier. The leaves are pale green and the petals are red with white shapes that almost resemble splats of paint. Isn’t that pretty? It reminds me of you, those flowers. Red and white, beautiful. You’re beautiful, Your Highness, very beautiful. It took my breath away the first time and it still does every time. Did you know that I’ve already worked at the castle for three and a half weeks? It’s been a while now, hasn’t it? I like working at the castle, it’s nice, everyone is nice.”

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s voice sounded choked and Izuku registered the warm wetness dripping through his shirt at his neck.

 

The prince was crying.

 

Izuku stuttered to a stop and apologized, voice still as soft as a kitten’s fur “I’m sorry, Your Highness, I ramble a lot and I know it’s strange and annoying but I can’t seem to stop it. I’m sorry.”

 

“No. Not annoying.” The prince shook his head, desperately clinging to Izuku like he might disappear if he loosened his grip in the least “Calming. Your voice it’s… calming.”

 

A small pause as the prince drew in a breath “I like your voice.”

 

Izuku felt his cheeks heat up and he buried his face deeper into the prince’s shoulder “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

 

“I don’t just say things.” The prince said “You should know that by now.”

 

“I-I do know that b-but…” Izuku stuttered “People only ever tell me they like my voice when they want me to feel better so I’ll be quiet. No one has ever…” He trailed off.

 

“No one has ever meant it?” The prince asked, raising his head from Izuku’s shoulder and looking at him as Izuku did the same “Well I mean it. I like your voice.”

 

The prince looked soft, soft like a kitten, like a baby’s laugh, like a husband looking at his bride on their wedding day.

 

Izuku sighed happily “I meant it too. That you’re beautiful.”

 

The prince’s eyes widened and a few stray tears fell from them. His face was a mess of drying tears and new ones kept rolling down his cheeks and his nose was beginning to run and his lips were chapped and his hair was a mess and Izuku had never been more in love than he was now.

 

Holy mages on a stick.

 

He.

 

He was.

 

He was in love with the prince.

 

To steal something from the ever famous chef Bakugou’s vocabulary: fuck.

 

Fucking hell.

 

Izuku was frozen, still staring into the prince’s eyes.

 

He was in love with the crown prince.

 

Cue internal screaming.

 

“Midoriya?” The prince asked, concern beginning to find its way into his eyes and voice “Are you alright?”

 

Izuku nearly blurted everything he had just thought but managed to mentally slap himself across the face. Blurting ‘I’m in love with you!’ right in that person’s face was not the way to go about this type of thing. He wasn’t experienced in the area at all but he had read some books and seen it happen a few times, both in the right and wrong moments. It could be catastrophic if he said it now, or ever.

 

The prince had said he cared. But Izuku couldn’t be sure if he meant romantically.

 

Romantically. Hooooooly fuck.

 

Izuku felt panic start to rise in his gut but he lashed at it with all his might.

 

“I’m wonderful.” He told the prince, voice slightly shaky.

 

The prince smiled, which sent Izuku’s heart reeling because that smile could cure diseases, and stood up, offering him a hand. Izuku took it gratefully, albeit nervously, and he was on his feet.

 

The prince called his companion back, collected the horse and then the three of them started to make their way back to the castle on foot. Apparently they weren’t that far away and that the horse wouldn’t do well with three people on his back. The white horse seemed to agree with that statement and kept giving the prince’s companion the side-eye, as if he expected them to leap onto him again.

 

As they walked, Izuku soon realized that as they had stood up and started walking back to the castle, the prince had not let go of his hand.

Chapter Text

The more they walked, the more the back of Izuku’s left thigh hummed in pain. After a mere few minutes of walking, it was bad enough that he was limping. The longer he walked, the more heavily he limped and the more his hamstring complained. The pain was hot, almost like acid was being dropped into his leg, directly into his muscle. It was strange, yes, and it reminded him that he had just been shot with an arrow.

 

He mused to himself that maybe that had just been a dream or a trick.

 

Then his leg gave a particularly sharp flare of pain and Izuku knew it was real.

 

Izuku reasoned that he hadn’t been able to feel or at least properly process the pain because of all the adrenaline from the chase and rescue. This made sense and he remembered a time when he was younger and had severely broken his arm from falling out of a tree and hitting the ground at a bad angle. This had, of course, happened during a big game of tag with the village kids and he was being chased and oh my god he’s going to catch me I have to run now were the only thoughts going through his young brain. His body had therefore been pumped with adrenaline and he had simply gotten to his feet after his fall, not feeling anything from his immensely broken arm, and running off to escape. After a while, once the game had ended and all the children were going home for supper, Izuku’s arm had felt like it was freshly broken. His mother took him, sobbing, to the village doctor and got it set, splinted and bandaged. It healed in just under two months and then he was back to normal.

 

But, now the adrenaline and fear fuelled energy was fading, leaving him quickly realizing how much walking hurt when he put weight on that leg and wow that was way more painful than he remembered it being.

 

With a cry, Izuku fell to his knees midstep and fell forward and landed clumsily, barely catching himself on his hands in the grass. He huffed in pain, trying to regain his bearings and get back up.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince crouched in front of him “What’s wrong? Are you alright?”

 

Izuku lowered himself onto his hip so he was now sitting with his legs out to the side and twisted his back to take a look at his hamstring. He brought a hand around and touched the bandages, examining the fresh blood that had begun to soak slowly into the misshapen bandage job. The villains that had kidnapped him certainly hadn’t cared how well they wrapped the bandages. They were starting to unravel and slip down his leg and he noticed that the villains had simply cut his pant leg off. How he hadn’t noticed this earlier was beyond him, but he just chalked it up to adrenaline and fear blinding him.

 

“I’m not sure.” He said, not looking up.

 

The prince saw the bandages wrapped around his leg and Izuku could hear him suck in a breath sharply through his teeth. Izuku almost made a joke and said that he must look utterly beautiful like this but thought better of it. Then the prince was beside him and had placed his own hand on Izuku’s leg to examine the bandages better.

 

Izuku’s ears once again started to ring and he could only watch as the prince called the person over.

 

Strange.

 

The prince’s companion knelt at Izuku’s other side and must have been looking at the bandages. They lifted their head and must have said something but Izuku’s ears were still ringing and he couldn’t hear anything.

 

The prince looked back at him, Izuku’s ears cleared of ringing instantly, and he said “We need to get you back to the castle as soon as possible.”

 

“He cannot walk, Your Highness.” The prince’s companion said. Izuku recognized the voice, he was sure of it, but he couldn’t make out who it was. His brain had begun to be taken over by the pain in his leg as it grew and grew.

 

Izuku winced sharply and gasped in pain when he felt someone gently place their finger next to his wound.

 

“One of us will have to carry him.” The prince’s companion continued and moved to start lifting Izuku up “I can do it.”

 

“No that’s alright.” The prince said “I’ll do it.”

 

Later, Izuku would flush furiously at what the prince had said but right at that moment he was too focused on being able to see the individual blades of grass in front of him and not panic. He remembered the villains mentioning that, if the informant did their job, then Izuku may never walk again. Izuku had been walking for a while and so he hoped that the informant’s arrow hadn’t done its job but it was certainly starting to feel like it had.

 

The companion nodded and once again stood up and away from Izuku, allowing the prince clear access to lift him, which the prince did. He asked Izuku to roll onto his back and sit up and bend his legs. Then he slipped one arm under Izuku’s bent knees and one behind his back and lifted him clean off the ground as if he weighed barely more than a book. Izuku made a small squeak of embarrassed fear and his arms instinctively snaked up to wrap around the prince’s neck to hold on. Then he winced and closed his eyes when the prince shifted his grip of his leg. That had hurt.

 

“Did that hurt?” The prince asked, voice quiet, almost like he didn’t want his companion to hear.

 

“It’s alright.” Izuku’s voice came out choked and it cracked on his next words “I’m fine, sir, really.”

 

“Hm.” The prince hummed skeptically “I doubt that.”

 

Then he turned and told his companion “Bring the horse over.”

 

The companion said nothing.

 

Izuku’s only indication that they had heard the prince was the sudden sounds of the horses hooves hitting the grass as they lead it over.

 

“This might hurt a bit.” The prince warned him “I apologize in advance.”

 

Izuku clenched his jaw and braced himself.

 

The prince lifted him higher and set him on the horse, side saddle. The impact was light and jostled his leg. He squeaked in pain and squeezed his hands onto the prince’s shoulders. His leg was throbbing now, he hissed a little and flinched to lift his leg up and away an inch or two from where it was resting on the horse.

 

“I’m so sorry.” The prince said quietly, eyeing his leg “Did I hurt you?”

 

“N-no I’m okay, sir.” Izuku stuttered in a choked voice “It’s alri- AH!”

 

The horse had shifted, making the sharp edge of the leather saddle dig into his wound through the bandages.

 

The prince sharply placed a hand on the horse’s shoulder and his eyes widened in concern “Midoriya!”

 

“I’m okay.” He said, more to convince himself than the prince “I’m alright, sir, it’s fine.”

 

“No, it’s not.” The prince said firmly and held out his hands “Come here.”

 

Izuku’s eyes widened and he blinked incredulously “What?”

 

Before he could say anything else, the prince had pulled him back down from the horse and into his arms. He was holding Izuku with much more care and attention to where his injury was and, later Izuku would find this incredibly sweet, his hands were linked together to keep Izuku in his hold.

 

“I-I.” Izuku’s voice cracked and he ducked his head to stare at the ground across the clearing “Thank you, sir.”

 

The prince’s eyes did that thing where they look like, deep down inside the cold exterior, the prince was maybe possibly smiling and he said “You’re welcome.”

 

He turned to his companion, who had politely turned their back on the whole exchange which simultaneously made Izuku feel better and more nervous, and said “You ride the horse back. Then get back to your duties. No one can know you’re here. And I mean nobody. You’ve already told one of them and believe me when I say I am not happy about that.”

 

The person didn’t flinch.

 

“Go away.” The prince ordered.

 

The person did a strange bow, left knee on the ground, right knee up, left hand pressed to their chest and right hand on the hilt of their sword. Their head was bowed which gave Izuku a better look at their hair which was a dark brown now that he got a better look at it. Then the companion stood up, nodded to Izuku in farewell and effortlessly climbed onto the horse. Without a word, they kicked the horse into a gallop and they had disappeared into the trees before Izuku could count to four.

 

The prince made a soft sighing sound and looked up to the sky. Izuku followed his gaze.

 

He gasped softly.

 

It was nearly night, sunset at least. The slice of sky that he could see through the trees was a deep blue colour that was streaked with fiery oranges, brilliant pinks and deep reds. The faintest glimpses of stars off to the east peppered the sky like freckles. The trees perfectly framed the view and Izuku felt his eyes widen as he tried to take in more of the view.

 

“It’s beautiful.” He whispered.

 

“That it is.” The prince said. Izuku could hear the softness in his voice when he said “You’re beautiful.”

 

Izuku yipped in surprise and hurriedly covered his burning face with his hands.

 

After another moment of silence, Izuku whispered “What was that for?”

 

“What, the compliment?” The prince asked.

 

Izuku nodded vigorously.

 

“Well.” The prince said “First of all, it’s the truth. And second of all… I thought you should know.”

 

“I-I.” Izuku took a breath “Why are you so nice to me?”

 

The prince made a confused humming noise.

 

“I mean why are you always so good, kind, generous, easy around me? I don’t understand. You’re not what I expected at all.” Izuku rambled “Everyone said you were cold and isolated yourself and that they were afraid of you but you’re not like that at all! You’re kind, caring, talented, smart and so many other things. And beautiful! Heavens above, you are beautiful. How in the name of the gods do you think I am beautiful when you’ve looked at yourself in a mirror before?”

 

The prince was silent.

 

Izuku swore under his breath. Finally. He’d really done it now. He was getting fired.

 

“I’m beautiful?” The prince’s voice was so small and timid that Izuku didn’t think it had actually come from his mouth. Izuku raised his head from his hands to see that the prince’s mismatched eyes were wide and he was blushing high in his cheeks.

 

“Well, yes. It’s a fact.” Izuku said, staring unabashedly “I’ve said it before, haven’t I?”

 

The prince closed his eyes and exhaled. When he opened them again, they were sparkling with something “I think you’re the beautiful one.”

 

“How?” Izuku demanded.

 

“You’re kind, caring, energetic. You’re probably the nicest person I’ve met. Your smile lights up any room you’re in and you always exude this positive energy that draws people to you.” The prince whispered.

 

“You draw people in too.” Izuku protested.

 

“That’s because I’m royalty.” The prince brushed the remark away “And have you seen your eyes?”

 

“Have you seen yours?” Izuku was flabbergasted “They’re- you’re- AGH your eyes are the coolest things ever! Have you ever met anyone else with two different coloured eyes?”

 

The prince blinked before saying “Well your look like every single leaf, blade of grass and plant of an entire forest was taken and compressed until the colour could fit in your eyes. They’re beautiful and so many different shades of green all at once.”

 

“Well your blue one looks like a beautiful blue sky in the middle of summer and your right one looks like polished silver.” Izuku said.

 

“Your freckles are so cute that I’ve wanted to trace like like constellations and count each and every one of them for weeks.” The prince countered.

 

Izuku blinked “You have?”

 

The prince answered without hesitation “Obviously.”

 

They both froze.

 

And then their faces exploded red. Izuku cowered behind his hands, making a terrified and extremely embarrassed squeak in the process. The prince cleared his throat and coughed. Then he cleared his throat again.

 

Neither of them looked at each other.

 

Izuku very much couldn’t decide between wanting the prince to put him down so he could sprint off into the forest and scream his lungs out or wanting the prince to just pin him against the nearest tree and kiss him silly.

 

His face burned redder after that last thought.

 

Izuku had fallen and he had fallen hard.

 

This was not good.

 

“Ehem, well.” The prince tried to speak but his voice cracked multiple times throughout each sentence “We should probably get back so you can be checked on and healed.”

 

“R-right.” Izuku’s voice had gone up at least two octaves.

 

The prince didn’t move and they entered into the sole most awkward silence Izuku had ever had the privilege to witness.

 

Then, Izuku yawned so hard he nearly split his face in two.

 

The awkwardness was effectively broken and the prince laughed softly.

 

“You can sleep on our way back.” His voice was soft and sweet again.

 

“I don’t need to-” Izuku yawned again before sighing and giving up “A-alright. Thank you sir.”

 

The prince smiled softly at him, their eyes meeting in the darkness “I do believe we’ve moved past the honorifics, Midoriya.”

 

Izuku blushed and curled into the prince’s warm chest, nuzzling his face into the crook of the prince’s neck without a word. The prince started to walk, Izuku closed his eyes and suddenly all he could hear was the prince’s soft heartbeat.

 

Slowly, Izuku was lulled to sleep in the prince’s arms.

 

As soon as the prince was sure he was asleep, he stopped walking for a moment to press his face into Izuku’s soft curly hair and gently press a kiss to the top of his head.

 

Then he kept walking.

 

Izuku may or may not have been pretending.

Chapter Text

“N-no, sir, you don’t have to-” Izuku cut himself off with a squeak as the prince lowered him onto his own bed in his own room.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince sent him a look “Be quiet.”

 

Izuku’s mouth snapped shut and he viciously swallowed his next protest.

 

The prince had brought him back from the woods and woken him up when they had begun to approach the castle. He had discovered Izuku’s arm wound and had seemed very hurt that Izuku hadn’t shared it with him. Izuku had protested that he himself had forgotten with all the adrenaline and that it was nothing to worry about, just a scratch. The prince had sighed and told him that it could get infected and an infection could easily kill him. Izuku had shut up right quick. The prince had kept walking through the trees and, under the cover of darkness, had snuck him through the castle and up to his own rooms. He had called Chiyo to come heal Izuku and was now sitting, watching Izuku fidget while sitting on the pristine white sheets. Izuku was absolutely terrified that he was bleeding on the sheets.

 

He brought it up out loud, nearly sweating with the stress of this whole situation.

 

The prince shook his head “Don’t fret, Midoriya. The sheets can be washed.”

 

“B-but!” Izuku didn’t know what else to say so he resorted to clamping his mouth shut and pouting.

 

He rarely pouted but at the moment he felt like he had a right to pout, even just a little bit. He had a knife wound on his right arm, the prince called it severe while Izuku called it a scratch, and he had an arrow wound in his left hamstring, neither of them could seem to decide how deep the arrow had gone.

 

Izuku sat on the bed, fidgeting. He was nervous, and rightly so. He was staring all around the room, eyes wide like he had never seen this room once. The ceiling was interesting and distracting and a good place to stare at when you didn’t want to catch yourself accidentally staring at the object of your affections for extremely extended periods of time. He knew for a fact that the prince was trying to get him to look at him, he kept clearing his throat and was looking at Izuku like he needed to say something, but Izuku carefully kept himself occupied examining every square inch of the room. He knew he was being rude and kept mentally chiding himself for it but he didn’t know what would happen if he simply let his eyes go where they wanted to go. He’d probably try to touch the prince, his shoulders and his chest mostly. His chest had been so warm to curl up on. Izuku found himself fantasizing about curling up against the prince in this very bed with sunlight pouring in through the windows as the prince ran his fingers through his hair. He huffed at himself and hastily swiped the thoughts away.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s voice made him jump.

 

Izuku turned to look at him and instantly felt extremely guilty for trying not to.

 

The prince’s eyes were sad, filled with fear, and his mouth was turned down at the corners. His hands were in his lap and he kept clutching them together and then letting go, fidgeting. His right leg was bouncing and his eyebrows were upturned, sending gentle crinkles down his scar on the left side of his face.

 

The guilt felt like a stab to the gut.

 

“I’m sorry.” To Izuku’s surprise, those words didn’t leave his mouth.

 

Instead, they had fallen from the prince’s.

 

Izuku looked up at him, astonished.

 

“I’m sorry it took so long to find you. It was my fault you got captured. I should have been paying better attention to our surroundings and I should not have brought you into the forest.” The prince stood and lowered into a bow “Please accept my apologies.”

 

Izuku’s jaw hit the floor.

 

“W-wha…” Was the sound that Izuku made then “Why are you… what are you… what are you doing?”

 

“Apologizing?” The prince’s voice was small, timid.

 

“Please stand up.” Izuku was so incredibly flustered, staring as the crown prince bowed to him, a lowly servant “Please, please stand up. This is kind of…”

 

He didn’t know what he wanted to say next. Wrong? Embarrassing?

 

The prince obeyed and stayed standing, not looking at Izuku as his hands found each other and he continued to fidget under Izuku’s gaze “I’m sorry.”

 

“No, no, I’m sorry.” Izuku wanted to stand up but he couldn’t so he simply awkwardly scooted toward the edge of the bed “I should have been paying attention and tried to fight back.”

 

The prince looked at him. Their eyes met and Izuku gasped softly, unable to stop himself.

 

Then Izuku felt a sharp spike of courage and he started to blurt “Your Highness, I-”

 

The door opened.

 

“Well Young Midoriya, let’s see what has happened to you.” Chiyo bustled in and quietly shut the door behind her. She was carrying a medical bag that may as well have been larger than she was. She walked toward the bed and the prince offered to carry her medical bag. She swatted his hand away and told him not to patronize her just because she was an old lady. He sheepishly apologized and withdrew his smacked hand.

 

Izuku figured that the head of the household and resident best healer could speak to anyone she wanted however she wanted.

 

“Well, dear, what happened?” Chiyo put the medical bag down on the bed and gazed at his knife wound on his shoulder “My, that’s a lovely one. What kind of psychopath gave you this?”

 

“A girl.” Izuku admitted.

 

“A girl, eh?” Chiyo rummaged around in her medicine bag “She must like you.”

 

Izuku’s mouth fell open.

 

Chiyo noticed and said “I’m teasing, dear. Now, this is bad enough that I’ll have to stitch it up. Put this in your mouth to scream into if you need to. Do me a favour and don’t look?”

 

Izuku gulped, put the wad of fabric she had held out to him in his mouth and clamped his teeth around it. Then he swallowed his fear to the best of his abilities, closed his eyes and turned his head away.

 

Then he felt a slightly colder hand slide into his and his eyes flew open again. The prince had perched on the other edge of the bed and had timidly placed his hand on Izuku’s upturned palm. He wasn’t looking at Izuku’s face, instead he was staring rather intently at the bedsheets. Izuku blinked in confusion at him.

 

The prince mumbled “Squeeze my hand if it hurts. It helped when I was younger.”

 

Izuku examined the prince’s hand for a moment. It was his right one and was as pale and perfectly porcelain as the rest of the prince. His fingers were slender and longer than Izuku’s. Izuku’s fingers were slightly gnarled and scarred from working with tools all his life while the prince’s were relatively scarless, save for a scar or two scattered around the tips of his fingers and one in the skin between his thumb and his forefinger on his hand.

 

The prince, obviously feeling extremely awkward with his hand simply lying on Izuku’s, started to pull his hand away. Izuku gripped the tips of his fingers right as they slipped from his grasp. He tugged gently, for the prince to look at him.

 

And look at him he did. Oh, gods above, Izuku felt like a puppy gazing up at a possible playmate who was staring down at him and cooing. The prince’s eyes were filled with something that Izuku could only describe as adoration. The corners of his eyes softened and the corners of the prince’s mouth had quirked slightly upward.

 

Izuku swallowed whatever lump had formed in his throat and slid his hand up into the prince’s. He laced their fingers together.

 

He swore he heard the prince sigh happily.

 

“May I start?” Chiyo’s voice was softer, easy.

 

Izuku nodded.

 

The needle going into his skin was a feeling that was beyond weird and was definitely a feeling he would never ever forget for the rest of his life. He promised himself in that moment that he would never get a wound worthy of stitches if it meant this particular feeling. It was cold, tiny, painful and weird and then even weirder when he felt the string moving through the small puncture in his skin. He shuddered awfully and closed his eyes, groaning softly into the fabric in his mouth. Chiyo kept going, pulling the thread across his wound before she reached the other side. Then she put the needle through that skin and Izuku squeezed the prince’s hand lightly. The needle poked through his skin and it was cold, tiny, painful and weird and then the string moved through the small hole and it got even weirder. Izuku could almost feel the contours of the string as it slipped through the skin.

 

“This will hurt.” Chiyo whispered “I’m pulling the ripped skin on the two sides of the wound together.”

 

Izuku nodded, eyes still closed to the world.

 

He thought he was prepared.

 

He was not.

 

Chiyo pulled the two sides together, using the string as leverage for it to be an easier job. She was calm, collected and focused on the task at hand, doing it as carefully and slowly and gently as she could to make sure she did it right. Izuku meanwhile let out a pitiful whimper into the fabric in his mouth and tried to loosen his grip on the prince’s hand. His hand had started to sweat and he felt all clammy and he was sure the prince wouldn’t want to hold a clammy hand. Feeling slightly guilty, Izuku started to pull his hand away.

 

But, to Izuku’s immense surprise, the prince had somehow gained mind reading abilities and squeezed Izuku’s hand reassuringly. Izuku opened his eyes, clearly feeling the small tears that had built up in them, and stared at the prince.

 

The prince had a small smile on his face but his eyes betrayed how he was feeling. He was scared, scared for Izuku and scared of what was happening. Izuku had never seen him like this before, terror flitting into his mismatched eyes and making them flash every time a small sound of pain or discomfort left Izuku’s mouth. Izuku was astonished. So he squeezed the prince’s hand and tried to smile around the fabric in his mouth unsuccessfully. It probably looked more like a broken piano trying to smile than a person, but it made the prince’s eyes soften and his chest rock slightly at the ridiculousness and ridiculous simplicity of it. Izuku felt himself smile internally at this. He had made the prince laugh.

 

Then Chiyo continued to stitch him up and his eyes were closed again. He whimpered again and felt a single hot tear trace its way down his cheek. Chiyo kept going, movements completely rhythmic, Izuku’s small whimpers of pain followed in the same pattern.

 

Finally she said “I’m almost finished.”

 

Izuku felt relief start to wash over him, as if it was a group of animals all collected at the edge of a cliff, waiting for something to shove them all off.

 

With one last tug and twist and pull, Chiyo tied the final knot in the string that held Izuku’s wound together.

 

“Finished.” Chiyo said.

 

The wave of relief crashed over him, the animals all tumbled off the cliff all at once. Izuku sighed.

 

“But there’s still your leg, dear.” Chiyo reminded him “Don’t go and get comfortable now. Depending on his deep it is, you might need more stitches.”

 

Izuku gulped.

 

The prince squeezed his hand “You’re going to be alright.”

 

That wasn’t the problem here. Izuku knew he would be fine, to some degree. He didn’t mind so much that he might be bleeding on the prince’s sheets.

 

No, what worried him now was that fact that the prince was witnessing him show so much… weakness wasn’t the right word.

 

Pain.

 

Yes, that was it.

 

The prince had already seen and witnessed and experienced so much pain and heartbreak. He had watched people die, soldiers slaughtered for him. He had watched his mother die. He had fallen victim to everything a child could and more. And now here he was, holding Izuku’s hand and whispering sweet encouragements that Izuku couldn’t quite hear. Here the prince was, watching as another injured person was stitched up and rolled onto their stomach. Here he was, seeing the healer tut at the wound on Izuku’s leg and tell him that he would need a few stitches.

 

Izuku didn’t want the prince to have to see anything else. He wanted to throw himself in front of him, spread his arms and scream at the world to LEAVE HIM ALONE! because he didn’t deserve this. No, he was too kind and caring and compassionate for any of this to be fair. But life wasn’t fair, not to anyone, no matter who they were, good or bad.

 

Another tear slipped from Izuku’s eye and rolled down his freckles cheek to fall to the sheets below him. It created a tiny dark spot that Izuku stared at.

 

Chiyo finished the last stitch on Izuku’s left hamstring and patted his leg “There you go, dear, all stitched up. Take it easy for a few days so the wounds have time to heal.”

 

Izuku rolled onto his side, pulled the fabric from his mouth and smiled at her “Thank you Chiyo.”

 

“Oh, it’s nothing, Young Midoriya.” She waved it away “And I won’t tell anyone, if you don’t want me to.”

 

“O-oh. That would actually be nice. Thank you.” Izuku stuttered.

 

She smiled and nodded “No worries, dear. Now get some sleep. You need it.”

 

With that, she whisked away, disappearing through the prince’s door and closing it behind her.

 

For a long moment, it was silent.

 

Then Izuku rolled onto his back and sighed unhappily.

 

The prince noticed and squeezed his hand lightly “Midoriya? What’s wrong?”

 

“I-I just.” Izuku hesitated. He really really liked how easy it was between the two of them and he didn’t want to ruin anything. It was delicate, this kind of friendship. But he also wanted to tell the prince how he felt. No matter what he said this was not going to end well.

 

Izuku had been silent for long enough that the prince turned to look directly at him, scooting around on the bed and crossing his legs. He stared at Izuku for a moment before saying “Are you alright?”

 

“No.” Izuku blurted and then immediately blurted “Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.”

 

“Is itsomething I did?” Izuku heard the prince’s or didn’t do that went unsaid.

 

“No it isn’t you. It’s me.” Izuku sat up “I-I just…”

 

“You just what?” The prince’s voice was calm, smooth, but Izuku could hear the undertones of concern and something akin to fear down beneath the surface.

 

“I-I…” Izuku couldn’t say it.

 

So he laughed lightly and said “I have no idea how you found me. I would have thought that it would have taken longer and would have been harder. You continue to amaze me.”

 

The prince seemed to sigh almost and his posture relaxed the slightest bit “It wasn’t easy. But I had to find you. I had to.”

 

“Why?” Izuku whispered, eyes meeting the prince’s “I still don’t understand why? I mean… why me?”

 

The prince’s left hand came up and he caught Izuku’s right cheek. His eyes were as soft as a kittens fur and the caress of his hand to Izuku’s cheek was as gentle as a feather falling to the ground.

 

“Because I care about you. More than I had ever been able to predict.” The prince’s voice was quiet, low, raw with emotion “I've never… felt attachment like this before. To anyone. And I hate the thought of losing you. I hate it so much that, when you were kidnapped, I wanted to scream and cry and demand the sky why it hadn’t been me. I wanted to curse the heavens that someone like you could ever be hurt in this world, that they dared to create someone so perfect and yet place them in a world where terrible things befall them. I can’t bare to think that someone so kind could ever care about someone like me.”

 

“Someone like you?” Izuku demanded quietly, leaning his cheek into the prince’s hand “Someone like you means someone who is kind, compassionate and has had more than their fair share of awful things happen to them. You deserve so much better than you have received and I can’t believe that all those horrible things have happened to you and yet you are so beautifully kind. It blows my mind.”

 

The prince flushed lightly.

 

The two fell back into silence.

 

Then “Midoriya.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Call me Todoroki.”

 

“P-pardon me, sir?”

 

“Call me my name when no one else is around. I’d like to hear it used, especially by you.”

 

Izuku blushed and stuttered “I-I will, s- ah.” He stopped himself before speaking so timidly that it was beyond quiet and almost too quiet for even himself to hear “Todoroki.”

 

The prince tackle hugged him, wrapping his arms around Izuku’s shoulders and pulling him down onto his uninjured side on the bed. Strong arms encircled him, the prince almost completely engulfing Izuku’s smaller size in his embrace. Izuku couldn't breathe in the best of ways.

 

Timidly, oh so timidly, Izuku began to bring his arms up and around the prince’s middle. In doing so, he accidentally dislodged the prince’s already disheveled white shirt and dragged it up his side a few inches. Izuku didn’t pay that any attention at all, he was too busy making a small relieved sound of joy and nuzzling into the prince’s chest. He squeezed the prince securely around the waist and pulled him closer. The prince was warm, so unbelievably warm, and Izuku felt safe and he never wanted to leave the prince’s arms. A soft thump thump was emanating from the prince’s chest and Izuku pressed ever closer, desperate to hear more of the prince’s heartbeat. He made a whimpery sighing sound and listened intently. Oh how he had longed for just this, to be held. It was incredible, really, that one could gather this much pure happiness from simply sharing physical contact with someone, but Izuku wasn’t questioning it at all.

 

The prince pulled him closer, curling around him. He had pressed his face into Izuku’s hair and was whispering things that Izuku couldn’t hear because he was too taken up with the prince’s heartbeat and oh this was just like he had imagined but so so much better.

 

“Midoriya.” This was the first word Izuku could make out from the prince’s whispers “Midoriya, Midoriya, Midoriya, Midoriya.”

 

“Todoroki.” Izuku’s lips were heavy and his voice was muffled by the prince’s chest.

 

The prince continued to babble incomprehensibly to himself, voice quiet enough that Izuku couldn’t make it out. But that didn’t matter, all that mattered was how warm the prince’s chest was and how safe Izuku felt here in his arms and how much Izuku never wanted to leave.

 

Izuku inhaled deeply, trying to stamp this moment into his brain forever.

 

The prince smelled wonderful, like roses and campfires and fresh mountain air and freshly cut grass and blooming trees. Izuku wanted to implant him into his memories, he never wanted to forget just how present he was right in this exact slice in time.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince said, voice taking on a desperate sound to it “Midoriya look at me.”

 

Izuku loathed to pull himself from the prince’s chest but he obeyed and turned his face to look up at the prince’s. He gasped quietly. The prince looked… Izuku didn’t think he had the words.

 

The prince was whispering “Midoriya. Midoriya there is something I have to tell you.”

 

“I’m listening, Todoroki.” Izuku whispered back “I’m always listening.”

 

The prince opened his mouth to say something. No sound came out. He tried again. Nothing.

 

After another three tries, the prince got frustrated.

 

Izuku was about to open his mouth to tell the prince to take his time, that they had all night technically, when the prince was suddenly surging down toward him. For a split second, Izuku was terrified.

 

Then he felt a pair of lips on his own and realized.

 

The prince was kissing him.

 

Oh, glorious skies!

 

Izuku’s eyes snapped shut and he eagerly pressed his lips up into the prince’s, returning the kiss readily and happily. It was soft and sweet and slow and Izuku wanted more.

 

When the prince pulled away, they were breathless and staring at each other. The prince’s eyes were open, pupils blown wide, drinking in the sight of Izuku in front of him. Izuku was doing the same, asking whoever was listening how he had managed to have this prince in his life.

 

“Midoriya.” The prince’s thumb caressed his cheek “Are you alright?”

 

“More than.” Izuku beamed up at him.

 

The prince smirked lightly “Did you expect this would ever happen?”

 

“Me being this close to you?” Izuku shook his head “Never.”

 

“Can I kiss you?” The prince whispered “Again?”

 

Izuku closed his eyes “Please.”

 

The prince obeyed, sealing his lips over Izuku’s with a soft sigh of bliss. Izuku made an identical sigh and kissed him with all the strength he had left after trekking through the forest with an arrow wound in his leg.

 

He murmured against the prince’s lips, never moving far enough away to be out of reach “Todoroki.”

 

“Shouto.” The prince corrected.

 

“Are you sure?” Izuku’s words hardly got out between desperate kisses.

 

“Positive.” The prince kissed him again.

 

Izuku paused for a moment, letting the prince ravish his lips with his own for a moment before pulling away a fraction of an inch.

 

He whispered against the prince’s lips “Shouto.”

 

The prince made a tiny growling sound and kissed him again, stealing whatever words Izuku had been about to say next. He whispered “I love it when you say my name.”

 

Izuku whimpered and whispered “Oh holy shit.”

 

The prince laughed into their next kiss “I didn’t know you swore.”

 

“Bakugou is rubbing off on me.” Izuku whispered “And call me Izuku. Please.”

 

“Izuku.” The prince agreed, kissing him again and again.

 

Izuku’s mind had gone as completely blank as the white sheets they were lying on. He was so far gone that his mind felt like a fog had settled around it. It was the best kind of fog though, the kind that made him make this tiny little gasp or that small whimper in reaction to the prince’s movements. The prince drank up every sound Izuku made with another kiss and a mumbled compliment that may have even just been his name.

 

“Shouto.” Izuku’s voice was a whisper.

 

The prince moved away so they could look at each other. His voice was smooth, deeper than normal when he spoke “Izuku?”

 

Izuku shivered before saying “I-I.” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat “I-I’m…”

 

“You can tell me.” The prince pressed his forehead to Izuku’s, lovingly “You can always tell me anything.”

 

“I-I’m…” Izuku took a deep breath “I’m tired.”

 

The prince blinked. Then he laughed lightly and kissed Izuku before saying “You have every right to be. I’ve kept you awake long enough.”

 

“N-no, that’s not what I meant.” Izuku shook his head “You’re not keeping me awake. I-I am loving this, trust me. I-It’s just that…”

 

“Just what?” The prince bumped their noses together, encouraging him to speak.

 

“I feel like I’m about to fall asleep.” Izuku admitted, eyes blinking heavily.

 

The prince kissed his forehead, Izuku was realizing that the prince was extremely physically affectionate, and said quietly “Lets get you out of your coat and vest and shoes. Then you’ll be able to sleep comfortably.”

 

Izuku whined and nuzzled back into the prince’s chest, clutching him “But I’m comfortable here.”

 

“I know, I know.” The prince carded his fingers through Izuku’s hair “But you’ll sleep better.”

 

“Fine.” Izuku pulled himself from the prince’s hold, ignoring every cell in his body telling him to go back and let the prince hold him. He sat up, carefully so as not to rip his stitches, on the edge of the bed and started fumbling with his shoes. They fell to the floor and Izuku sighed. Then he pulled off his coat and folded it and placed it nicely on the bedside table. He unbuttoned the vest and placed it with the jacket, haphazardly folding it. Then he scooted around.

 

His breath stuttered in his throat.

 

The prince had his back to him and was unbuttoning his shirt. Izuku had forgotten he slept without one. He watched as the white fabric fell from the prince’s body, revealing shoulders and then shoulder blades and then his entire back. His porcelain skin was as beautiful as Izuku remembered and he nearly gasped. He wanted to touch the prince’s back, feel the prince’s skin beneath his fingers.

 

So he did.

 

Izuku scooted forward until he was directly behind the prince and timidly pressed his hands to the prince’s shoulder blades. The prince made an undignified little squeak of surprise. Izuku only took this as encouragement and he leaned forward, wrapped his arms around the prince’s back and pressing his chest against him. He nestled his face into the back of the prince’s neck and inhaled. The prince still smelled wonderful, comforting and everything good. With a contented little sigh, Izuku pressed his mouth into the soft tender skin at the base of the prince’s neck.

 

The prince’s breath hitched lightly in his throat and, faster than Izuku could process, he had spun around and pinned Izuku on his back.

 

Izuku gasped raggedly “Shouto.”

 

“Izuku.” The prince said and surged forward to capture Izuku’s lips.

 

Izuku hurried to reciprocate the kiss, bringing his hands up and cradling the prince’s face. It felt so nice, lips moving together.

 

And then the prince pulled his mouth away and Izuku whimpered at the loss.

 

He stared up at the prince, to see his pupils blown wide. He was panting lightly, hot breath tickling Izuku’s face. His lips were sparkling, wet and thoroughly used. Izuku wanted the prince to kiss him again and again and again.

 

So he begged, quietly “Kiss me. P-please kiss me.”

 

“I will, I will.” The prince promised.

 

“Now please.” Izuku begged, voice weak.

 

“Let me look at you, love.” The prince said and Izuku melted at the pet name.

 

He must have made a small noise because the prince smiled, eyes dancing “You like me calling you love?”

 

Izuku could only nod.

 

The prince’s smile deepened.

 

“Please, please kiss me.” Izuku begged, weakly, arms moving circle the prince’s neck “Please, Shouto.”

 

“Izuku.” There was so much emphasis on his name that Izuku gasped. The prince finally leaned down and sealed their mouth together. Izuku whimpered and kissed him back, hard.

 

The prince separated their lips just enough that Izuku couldn’t reach him and said “You like kissing me, hm?”

 

“Oh, god, Shouto.” Izuku shivered “Just kiss me.”

 

The prince gave him one kiss before pulling back again and saying “You’re adorable.”

 

Izuku finally found his strength and rolled them over so he had the prince pinned beneath him. He smirked and spoke teasingly “And so are you, Your Highness.”

 

The prince keened “Fuck, Izuku. You’re never allowed to call me that ever again.”

 

Izuku leaned downward so they were nose to nose “And why not, Your Highness?”

 

“Because I might lose control.” The prince smirked right back up at him.

 

“You what?” Izuku squeaked, smirked falling away.

 

The prince chuckled and pulled him down into a kiss which Izuku gladly accepted. Izuku felt the prince’s hands find his hips and he hummed.

 

He spoke against the prince’s lips “Is that what you meant?”

 

“Yes. But only if you wanted it.” The prince said, kissing him in between every word.

 

“I’ve never done anything like that before.” Izuku admitted, words jumbled between kisses.

 

“We’ll make it special, not hurried or when you’re injured like tonight.” The prince lightly pushed Izuku’s chest up so they could look at each other “Does that sound alright?”

 

Izuku beamed down at him “More than.”

 

“Wonderful.” The prince caressed his cheek with soft hands “Now, you should get some sleep.”

 

“I-I can go back to my room.” Izuku said.

 

The prince pulled him down to the bed next to him “You, my love, are not going anywhere.”

 

Izuku cuddled into his chest, wrapping his arms around the prince’s middle “Okay.”

 

“Izuku.” The prince whispered, wrapping his arms around Izuku “I think I’m in love with you.”

 

“I think so too.” Izuku said, nuzzling into the prince’s neck.

 

“Good night.” The prince whispered, kissing his forehead tenderly.

 

Izuku pressed his lips to prince’s neck before saying “Good night, Shouto.”

 

Izuku fell asleep, more comfortable than he had been in a long time.

Chapter Text

It was day 25 and Izuku had just woken up and nearly had a heart attack.

 

He had gained consciousness a mere few minutes ago, comfortable and warm. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet and realized that he was lying face down on something with his arms wrapped around it. Whatever he was lying on was warm and the surface was soft and Izuku nuzzled into it a little more, not wanting to have to get up yet. He could feel the shirt he was wearing and he could feel the sheets that had been pulled up over his hips. Whatever he was lying on smelled wonderful, like roses and fresh air and baking chocolate cakes. It was comforting and Izuku sighed happily. It reminded him of home.

 

The events of yesterday came back to him piece by piece and he frowned lightly upon realizing his right shoulder was throbbing a little. He lowered that arm a tad and hummed as the throbbing ceased. He smiled lazily again, left hamstring not complaining yet.

 

He could hear birds chirping outside the window and he could hear someone’s heartbeat.

 

Wait.

 

Someone’s heartbeat.

 

Izuku’s eyes flew open and he propped himself up an inch or two.

 

The prince was asleep below him, in all his bare chested glory.

 

Izuku stared, mouth open, eyes wide.

 

“Hm?” The prince hummed as he woke up, voice deep and gravelly like it was every morning “What’s going on?”

 

Izuku meaped and shot away.

 

But he overdid it and started to tumble backward off the edge of the bed. The prince yelped and he jumped to sitting up, reaching his arm out, trying to catch Izuku. Izuku desperately latched onto his hand but his attempt to steady himself was futile and he simply ended up dragging the prince down from the bed with him. Izuku landed with a thump and a groan on his back, legs propped up on the bed. The prince may as well have been lying directly on top of him, his bare chest was firmly on Izuku’s own clothed chest and his face was being forcefully shoved into the crook of Izuku’s neck. His arms were draped over Izuku’s, effectively pinning them to the floor below them. His legs were tangled in Izuku’s and his hair had flipped up and was tickling Izuku’s nose and mouth. Izuku sneezed.

 

“As adorable as that sneeze was, Izuku.” The prince began with a laugh “I have to wonder why you leaped away from me just now.”

 

Izuku flushed furiously. He would have covered his face but his arms were a bit pinned by the prince’s own arms. He said “I-I’m sorry, sir.”

 

The prince laughed against him and pressed his mouth to Izuku’s neck “It’s Shouto, Izuku.”

 

“R-right. Shouto.” Izuku stuttered.

 

“Perfect.” The prince hummed contentedly, he hadn’t moved from his awkward position draped over Izuku.

 

Izuku said “Well, if I’m being honest I thought at first that last night was a dream. But then I opened my eyes and discovered I was sleeping on your bare chest and almost had a minor heart attack.”

 

“Because you thought it was a dream?” The prince asked, voice positively drenched in sarcasm “Or was it because I’m too dashingly handsome?”

 

“Both are the truth, Shouto.” Izuku said and sighed “May I sit up now?”

 

“Of course, love.” The prince started crawling off him and the two awkwardly climbed back onto the bed and into a simple embrace very similar to the one Izuku had just woken up in.

 

Izuku sighed happily as the prince stroked a hand through his hair “I still can’t believe that this is real.”

 

“And why not?” The prince asked, voice content.

 

“Because it’s too perfect.” Izuku smiled up at him “You’re too perfect.”

 

“Ah, Izuku, if only you knew that you were the perfect one in this moment.” The prince smiled and cupped his cheek.

 

Izuku blushed and averted his eyes “I-I think you need to stop talking about yourself.”

 

“Izuku.” The prince flushed lightly.

 

“Just accept the compliment.” Izuku laughed into his chest “Please.”

 

“Alright fine.” The prince kissed the top of his head “Thank you.”

 

Izuku smiled “You’re welcome.”

 

A knock at the door.

 

Izuku nearly jumped out of his skin.

 

The prince gently clapped a hand over Izuku’s mouth and whispered “Quiet. How embarrassing would it be for you to be found in my bed?”

 

Izuku’s face burned and he nodded.

 

The prince called to the door “Yes? Who is it?”

 

“Oh, Your Highness, you’re already awake.” The voice said, identifying itself as Uraraka’s “May I come in? I have your breakfast.”

 

“Not yet, my apologies.” The prince said.

 

“No, no that’s alright Your Highness.” She said through the door.

 

“May I ask why you are here?” The prince called to her.

 

“Of course.” She sounded sad now “Unfortunately, Midoriya has fallen ill. Chiyo has sentenced him to bedrest until he is better. She didn’t say how long it would take but no one has seen him this morning because Chiyo has forbidden us from seeing him to avoid getting sick as well. I hope he feels better.” She admitted.

 

The prince responded “And as do I. Please tell Chiyo to send him my condolences.”

 

“Yes, Your Highness.” Uraraka said “Where should I put your breakfast?”

 

“You can leave it just outside the door. I’ll pick it up in a moment.” The prince said “Thank you Uraraka.”

 

She sounded flustered “Of course Your Highness. Is there anything else you need at the moment?”

 

“No, thank you.” The prince said “You are dismissed.”

 

The only indication that she had left were her quiet pitter pattering footsteps darting away from the door.

 

The two in the prince’s rooms waited in complete and utter silence until they were sure that the hallway outside was empty.

 

Izuku dissolved into giggles and cuddled into the prince’s side, shaking with laughter. The prince smiled warmly at him and carded his fingers through Izuku’s hair.

 

“Poor Midoriya, he must be so sick.” The prince said, voice entirely fake and sarcastic “I do hope he feels better.”

 

“Whatever has befallen him sounds dreadful.” Izuku agreed, still giggling.

 

The prince smiled at him and kissed him, Izuku happily pressed back against his lips. It was so simple and yet Izuku felt like he could die happy in this moment.

 

“Izuku.” The prince whispered as they separated “The flower festival is coming up in a few days.”

 

Izuku smiled “I can’t wait. Everything will be so beautiful!”

 

“I was wondering if you would like to spend some time with me, specifically me, at the festival.” The prince suggested “We could use the excuse that you are my personal servant and therefore must stay by my side the entire time. How does that sound?”

 

“It sounds lovely, Shouto.” Izuku kissed him and murmured against his lips “I love you.”

 

The prince sucked in a breath and kissed him harder. For a long moment, they were lost to the outside world, completely floating in their own version of reality where it was just the two of them and the beauty of this moment and nothing else.

 

Then the prince pulled back a tiny bit and opened his eyes to stare into Izuku’s “I love you too.”

 

Izuku beamed at him.

 

“I also love your smile.” The prince added “It’s beautiful.”

 

“Oh.” Izuku flushed and stuttered “I love your smile too.”

 

The prince laughed and hugged him to his chest “Ah Izuku. You’re too adorable.”

 

Izuku sighed “It’s a blessing and a curse.”

 

The prince laughed again, louder this time.

 

“I love your laugh.” Izuku blurted.

 

“You do?” The prince sounded incredulous “I don’t… do it often.”

 

“Well I guess that makes it extra sweet.” Izuku turned his head up to look at him, beaming.

 

The prince flushed “You’re too much.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Izuku said, not sounding sorry at all.

 

The two fell into a comfortable silence, simply holding each other. Everything was fresh for the two of them, like an open wound. It was deep and cut Izuku right to his core. He didn’t want this wound to heal, though. He wanted this one to last for as long as it could because if it healed then it might mean he didn’t love the prince anymore and Izuku had no idea what he would do if that happened.

 

“Izuku, my love.” The prince said quietly “Unfortunately I have to actually get up and do things today. Important things that benefit the running of the kingdom. And you need to go rest in your bed and heal and not rip the stitches out.”

 

Izuku groaned and leaned in to press his face into the crook of the prince’s neck “I want to just stay here with you.”

 

“I know, I know.” The prince kissed the top of his head “But we both have prior engagements to attend to.”

 

“Shouto.” Izuku said, a thought occurred to him “Who was that with you when you came to rescue me?”

 

The prince shook his head “An excellent fighter who is good at keeping secrets.”

 

“Hm.” Izuku knew he wasn’t going to get any more of an answer out of the prince than that so he moved on “Oh, and the villains had an informant who apparently lived at the castle.”

 

“Oh? And who was it?” The prince’s tone was dangerous now.

 

“I-I didn’t get a good look at their face or body.” Izuku admitted “But based on evidence, what was said about them and my own observations, I think it was Shimizu.”

 

The prince hummed “The scribe?”

 

“Yes, her.” Izuku nodded against the prince’s chest “I-I don’t like the idea of accusing a friend but if there is a possibility that she’s a traitor…”

 

“Then we must take the necessary precautions.” The prince finished his thought “I will definitely look into it and I will have one of my best watching her every move. We cannot accuse her of something so grave quite yet. We’ll need more evidence.”

 

“Are you saying you don’t trust my judgement?” Izuku asked, playfully.

 

“Obviously.” The prince deadpanned.

 

Izuku barked a laugh and pulled his face back, hitting his shoulder playfully “Shouto!”

 

The prince was smiling at him, eyes soft and filled with admiration “Of course I’m not saying I don’t trust your judgement, darling. Why would I?”

 

Izuku melted.

 

“I see you like the pet names.” The prince said, voice filled with humour.

 

“D-don’t laugh at me.” Izuku stuttered, slightly flushed

 

The prince laughed at him and said “I’m not.”

 

Izuku kissed him. Partly because the prince looked beautiful, partly because he hadn’t in a little while and mostly because he wanted to. The prince sighed and brought his hand up to stroke it from Izuku’s cheek and into his hair.

 

“Looks like you love kissing me as much as I love kissing you.” Izuku giggled against his mouth.

 

“How could I not?” The prince kissed him again “It’s so nice. And you’re just really cute.”

 

Izuku blushed “What are we going to do about…”

 

“About…” The prince prompted him.

 

“About everyone else.” Izuku asked quietly “I don’t think I want everyone to know that I’ve fallen in love with the crown prince yet.”

 

“We can keep it quiet for as long as you want, love.” The prince kissed the space between his eyebrows “I will do anything you ask.”

 

Izuku cuddled into his chest and said nothing. He felt small here. He should feel comfortable and warm and safe but he suddenly felt vulnerable and scared. He didn’t want the prince to have to lower himself to be with him. He didn’t know how the public would react to any of it. And if they ended things then how would the kingdom react? What would be said? If they made things public then people would talk and if they ended a public thing then people would chastise Izuku. Izuku was more worried about how they would forget that the prince was a human and demand answers. He felt his eyes burn at the thought of losing him. He didn’t want to. He really didn’t want to. They’d gone through so much together and he didn’t want the stress of the public knowing to wrench them apart.

 

The prince must have sensed the tension in his shoulders because he whispered into Izuku’s hair “What’s wrong, Izuku?”

 

“Nothing.” Izuku said, nuzzling into the prince’s neck “It’s nothing at all.”

 

The prince grabbed Izuku’s hands tightly in his and wrenched them up and away from his body. Then he pushed his weight forward and bodily shoved Izuku backwards onto the mattress. He hovered above Izuku with a look that he had never seen before in his eyes.

 

“Izuku.” The prince said, voice low “If I have to pull every answer from you with brute force I will. But that would mean a failed relationship, whether it be platonic or romantic. You can talk to me. You have to talk to me or this will never work between us.”

 

Izuku felt his eyes burn with a fresh set of tears and he whispered “I’m afraid.”

 

“Of what?” The prince’s voice was sharp, aimed at whoever or whatever had hurt Izuku.

 

“I-I’m afraid of how people will react. I don’t want anyone to chastise you for lowering yourself to me and I don’t want them to forget that you’re human too and demand answers.” Izuku muttered “I don’t want us to make this public and then split and then have everyone be mad. I-I don’t want you to hurt anymore. I don’t want-”

 

The prince surged downward and pressed their mouths together, harshly. Izuku meaped and his eyes snapped shut and he tried to reciprocate but the prince’s pace and force was unmatchable so he let him have his way. Izuku whimpered lightly at the sensation of the prince’s white teeth sinking into his bottom lip. His breath hitched when the prince sucked his bottom lip into his mouth. And then the prince was kissing him again, hard. Izuku opened his mouth to try to gasp and catch his breath but the prince stole it from him, gently pressing his tongue into Izuku’s mouth. Izuku made a sound unlike any other he had ever made as their tongues brushed gently together. The prince still had their hands laced together to keep him still beneath the prince but Izuku so wanted to touch him, to feel his shoulders and arms and back and chest and stomach.

 

When the prince finally let go of his lips, a tiny string of saliva glittered between them for a moment before falling away. Izuku was panting, gasping for breath underneath him and desperately trying to get his bearings. He opened his eyes to see the prince staring at him, eyes glowing and filled with something almost predatory in a way. He was flushed high in his cheeks, his lips were shiny and slightly bruised, his pupils were blown wide. Izuku watched as he sucked his own bottom lip between his teeth and held it there for a second. Izuku wanted to be the one nibbling his lip. But then the prince was releasing it in favour of speaking.

 

“Izuku.” The prince’s voice was less of a voice and more of a growl, emanating deep from within his chest “I love you. No amount of people shaming me for my choice is ever going to change that.”

 

Izuku whined and stuttered “I-I’ve never…”

 

The prince waited, still staring at him.

 

“I’ve never…” Izuku whispered “I’ve never been kissed like that before.”

 

The prince’s laugh was deep and quiet “Did you at least enjoy it?”

 

Izuku simply lurched upward and caught the prince’s bottom lip in his teeth, nibbling gently just like he had just wanted to. Then he let himself drop, tiny nervous smirk on his face.

 

“You liked the biting?” The prince smiled mischievously.

 

Izuku could only nod a little.

 

“Well.” The prince kissed him gently “I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

Izuku giggled “I love you.”

 

“And I love you.” The prince smiled earnestly. Then he shook his head and said “I do believe you have distracted me for long enough. I must start getting ready.”

 

“Oh. Right.” Izuku almost accused the prince of distracting him but held his tongue.

 

He watched as the prince stood from his bed and walked to the side where the door to his dressing room was. The prince disappeared behind the door, not without giving Izuku a little smile, and he closed it gently behind him. Izuku sighed and went about checking his injuries.

 

His shoulder was feeling much better and he could move it rather comfortably in a slow wide circle. His left hamstring was still throbbing lightly and he winced when he tried to move it. How he was going to get back to his room was a mystery to him. Maybe he could ask Chiyo for help? Or reveal it to one of his friends and get them to help? He didn’t really like the idea of telling even one of his friends that they were being lied to because being lied to hurt a lot and Izuku really didn't want to hurt any of them. He liked his friends and he really really did not want to get them involved in whatever was happening.

 

Newly determined, Izuku scooted gingerly toward the edge of the bed. He would stand. He would try his best. He wanted to be back to normal as soon as possible. The flower festival was in a few days after all and Izuku had a duty to serve the prince. And, of course, be his companion at the event, but one could never stray too much on the details, lest they start blushing the colour of a beautifully ripe tomato.

 

Izuku squeaked as he felt his face burn. Of course he was blushing.

 

With a vigorous shake of his head, he wiped the thoughts away from the front of his mind and lowered his bare feet from the plush white covers of the bed down to the beautiful floor. There were furs all around the bed, that he hadn’t noticed before. Mind you, he had never spent too much time observing the prince’s bedroom before now. He had tried his best to ignore it, for fear of seeing the prince and turning to flee before his mouth could spout all his thoughts. There had been a lot of things he hadn’t noticed about the prince’s rooms, now that he was looking at them from a completely different perspective. They were slightly cold, not uncomfortably so, just enough to make him notice it. It was… refreshing, almost like a cool mountain in the late afternoon. Izuku was beginning to realize he associated a lot about the prince with the mountains, the snowy colour of his hair, the temperature of his room, the way he spoke to other people, the way he smelled of roses and fresh cut grass and cold fresh air, and many more things that he wouldn’t get into now. He hummed softly to himself, content. He decided he like the mountains.

 

Izuku could feel his nerves rising as he started to put his weight into his feet. His right foot was completely fine, but as soon as he put just enough pressure on his left foot, he dropped himself back onto the bed with a hiss of pain. That hurt. It felt like the arrow was slowly digging back into his flesh.

 

Once again, with that lovely little image in his mind, he surged back upward, aiming to hold most of his weight on his right foot. It worked, marginally. He was upright, which was more than he had just achieved, and at least three quarters of his weight was in his right leg and foot but his left hamstring had engaged in his standing motion, jostling the stitches and making him yelp in surprised pain. Trying his best to ignore it, he started to shift his left leg forward, to take a step. The pain flared up like a small inferno and Izuku nearly let himself fall backwards onto the bed. Instead, he grit his teeth together and told himself that he could do this, he could do this, he could do this!

 

He let his left foot settle several inches in front of his right, the size of a small step, and started to slowly allow a little more of his weight into it. That hurt a lot. As fast as he could, he hopped and dragged his right foot forward.

 

Fortunately, his right foot came close to his left to take a new step. Unfortunately, his right toes connected with his ankle in mid air and he went down like a stone.

 

He landed on his knees, hands coming forward to catch himself on the floor, and he cried out in pain and dismay. The wound on his left hamstring had not liked his fall, not one bit. Now it was throbbing harshly and angrily as he tried to catch his breath and psyche himself up to stand up again.

 

“Izuku!” The prince skidded almost comically out of his dressing room “Are you alright? What are you doing on the floor?”

 

“I’m walking, can’t you tell?” Izuku muttered under his breath.

 

The prince walked over and knelt in front of him and caressed his face tenderly, a slight smirk on his face “You poor thing.”

 

“Please don’t patronize me, Your Highness.” Izuku tried for a smirk before it dissolved into a slightly pained squeezing of his eyes “Have you ever had stitches before?”

 

“Once. When I was very young. A stray arrow on a hunt nicked my neck, just here.” The prince leaned his neck to the left as far as it would go and pointed out a small, almost invisible slashing scar on the right side of his neck “Thankfully, it didn’t hit the artery or I would not be here, living and breathing.”

 

Izuku kissed his scar, lingering for a moment. He heard and almost felt the prince’s breath hitch in his throat and he smiled. When he spoke, his lips brushed his skin “I’m so glad you’re here, living and breathing.”

 

The prince hugged him “I’m glad to be here too.”

 

Izuku smiled dreamily. Then he shook himself and said “Alright, I need to get up. I need to get back to my room and you, sir, are really not helping.”

 

“Am I really that distracting?” The prince marvelled, carding a hand through his slightly curly red hair. Izuku loved how his right side tended to curl the littlest bit after a nights sleep.

 

“Yes, you are.” Izuku reached a hand up from the floor and stroked it through the prince’s red hair “I love it when it does this.”

 

The prince blinked at him “Does what?”

 

“Your right side, your red side, always curls a little after you’ve slept. I think it’s really beautiful.” Izuku said with a smirk.

 

“Oh. Well. Thank you.” The prince flushed lightly, a tiny amount of pink appearing high in his cheekbones which was the equivalent of him dissolving into a puddle of embarrassment “Your hair is beautiful too.”

 

“Oh please.” Izuku rolled his eyes playfully “My hair is nothing special. It’s messy and curly and crazy and sticks up all over the place and I have never been able to control it.”

 

“I don’t think you need to.” The prince pushed his hair back and kissed his forehead “I like it.”

 

Izuku blushed “Thank you.”

 

The prince took hold of his uninjured shoulder and said “Alright, let’s see if we can get you upright.”

 

Izuku let him help him to his feet. This time he stood comfortably on his right foot, nearly all of his weight on his right leg. He smiled at the prince.

 

“There we go.” The prince smiled back “Now how are we going to get you back to your room?”

 

“I’m not sure.” Izuku admitted “I thought about it while you were dressing but I didn’t come up with any ideas.”

 

“I’ll call Chiyo. Maybe she has an idea.” The prince mused.

 

Izuku’s eyes widened a little in panic “No no no don’t. She’ll scold me for not being healed already.”

 

“Oh, bah.” The prince waved his unoccupied hand absentmindedly “If you don’t want Chiyo then who should I call?”

 

Izuku thought for a moment. The person had to be trustworthy and strong and good at keeping a secret and keeping up a lie. The lie being that he wasn’t injured but sick in bed.

 

“Iida?” He suggested after a moment.

 

“Alright, Iida it is.” The prince smiled at him.

 

“What will we tell him?” Izuku asked, timidly.

 

“The truth.” The prince looked at him, eyes meeting easily, as if they were puzzle pieces meant to fit perfectly together “Iida is trustworthy and he’s next in line to be the captain of the guard. I trust him.”

 

Izuku smiled “I trust him too. He’s a good friend.”

 

The prince’s face softened a little, eyes smiling warmly “I would expect nothing less of him.”

 

A few minutes later, Iida knocked on the door. Izuku was sitting in a comfortable chair near the door, and he sat up when the prince walked over to open the door. Kids stepped through, armour glinting, hair in its permanent helmet head style and eyes hard like usual. He had his glasses on and his helmet was clipped to his belt.

 

He bowed to the prince “Your Highness.”

 

“Hello, Iida.” The prince waved for him to stand up.

 

The prince was fully dressed now, a deep ruby red coat over a black blouse with a high collar and black pants and boots with his hair in a small but elegant twist on the back of his head. Some of the shorter strands near the front had fallen out and were delicately framing his face, almost as if they knew how powerful he was and were bending to his will. He had a sword at his belt, a gold ring on one finger with a small, and elaborately carved, golden pin keeping the twist in place. He wore his outfit extremely well and commanded the power in the room like he had been doing it for decades. Izuku felt his instincts tell him to kneel before him, or even run up and kiss him, but he dared not move or do anything. Iida was here and he was injured and could hardly stand.

 

Iida stood up from his bow and turned his head slightly to look at Izuku before looking back at the prince and calmly asking “May I ask why I am here?”

 

“You are to take Midoriya back to his room. He is injured and cannot walk.” The prince said calmly. Then he walked over and softly pressed his lips to Izuku’s forehead and whispered against his skin “Until I see you next, love.”

 

Izuku stiffened the tiniest bit.

 

The prince straightened, expression once again completely impassive and neutral, and he turned to Iida. He spoke, voice commanding and powerful “You did not see or hear anything you saw or heard in this room. Am I understood?”

 

Iida bowed his head, glasses glinting in the light as he did so “Yes Your Highness.”

 

“Excellent.” The prince strode from the room “Excuse me, gentlemen.”

 

Both Iida and Izuku were completely silent until the door shut quietly and securely behind the prince.

 

Then Iida looked over at Izuku with a tiny glint in his eye “Well that was unexpected, I must say.”

 

“Iida.” Izuku tried to sound threatening but it simply did not work when his voice cracked and his face erupted link, as if he hadn’t just been lying in bed with the prince after spending the night “You heard and saw nothing.”

 

“Oh I am completely aware.” Iida said “But this will not stop me from indirectly teasing you about it.”

 

“Iida.” Izuku groaned “Just… please take me to my room. Without anyone seeing or noticing. As fast as possible. Please.” His sentences were choppy.

 

“Alright, alright, I will.” Iida walked over and scooped Izuku up in his arms as effortlessly as breathing “Shall we take a passageway?”

 

“So long as no one sees me, it’s fine.” Izuku tried not to be more embarrassed that one of his best friends was carrying him “If a passageway is the most secretive, than a passageway it is.”

 

Iida hurried from the room, closing the door behind him, and quickly opened a slat in a wall. He stepped into the cold and comforting darkness and slid the slat closed, never jostling Izuku’s injured leg once in the process. Then he began to hurry down the passageways, peering around corners for other servants or anybody else that might be using them.

 

“May I ask what happened?” Iida whispered, about halfway through their escapade.

 

“You can’t tell anyone. This entire conversation stays within these walls.” Izuku begged. When Iida nodded in the darkness, he continued in a hushed whisper “I was kidnapped by some people who wanted leverage over the prince. I tried to escape and one of them shot me in the leg. It was light enough that my muscle wasn’t severed but I will probably take a little while to be able to walk again and then I’ll probably always have a limp.”

 

“A limp.” Iida repeated “Like Bakugou.”

 

“Bakugou limps?” Izuku’s eyes widened.

 

Iida nodded, looking around another corner “Yes. Haven’t you ever noticed it?”

 

Izuku thought for a moment. Had he? No. No, he hadn’t. Now that he really thought about it, he couldn’t remember seeing Bakugou walk for more than a few steps at a time.

 

“No.” Izuku whispered.

 

“I will let him tell the story. Him or Kirishima.” Iida said quietly as he stooped to duck below a low hanging beam “It is a sensitive topic so be careful how you ask about it.”

 

“Alright.” Izuku puffed out his cheeks. He would definitely ask.

 

For a few more minutes, maybe three or four, Iida pushed open a slat of wall and poked his head out. For a whole long moment, Izuku held his breath as Iida examines their surroundings. It was impossibly silent in the passageway and it was dark and Izuku was facing away from the light from the opening and he couldn’t see anything that was happening.

 

Finally Iida pushed the slat open more and carried Izuku into what he recognized as the hallway that split off into all the servants rooms. With a small kick, Iida shoved the slat back into place and walked to Izuku’s room.

 

“Here we are.” Iida said as he gently placed Izuku on his bed “I apologize for the slightly embarrassing methods of getting you here.”

 

“No, no, it’s alright.” Izuku rubbed his face with both hands “I understand it was necessary.”

 

“Do you need anything while I am here?” Iida asked.

 

“Iida you are not my servant.” Izuku groaned “Thank you for bringing me back but I don’t need or want anything more.”

 

Iida smiled “So I’ll show myself out then?”

 

Izuku threw one of his pillows at him.

 

Iida retreated with a laugh and shut the door behind him.

Chapter Text

It was day 26 and Izuku wanted to stab something.

 

As a kid he had always spent as much of his time outside, or at least up and around, as physically possible. He had always had and still had much energy to spare and his mother often joked that he had stolen all her energy when he was younger. He had often found this funny and had laughed. When he had energy he had always managed to stay well away from boredom, he had always found something to be doing whether it be climbing a tree, trying the bakers new bread recipe, petting a horse or playing with the village kids. Or he could have been reading or writing a story of his own.

 

But now here he was, lying in his bed after a whole day of it already with all the energy in the world. He was bored out of his mind.

 

He groaned out loud “I’m so bored!”

 

There was nothing he could do either. Chiyo had ordered him to stay in bed and not move. The flower festival was coming in two days. He wanted to be able to walk with the prince.

 

Oh, skies above.

 

The prince.

 

Izuku pressed his hands to his face, which was turning pink with blush, and squealed to himself before dissolving into happy giggles. He felt something akin to butterflies burn to life in his stomach. So this was what it was like to be in love with someone. He loved it. He loved the prince.

 

“I love him.” He whispered to himself.

 

“Who do you love?” A voice at the door asked.

 

Izuku jumped with a little yelp. Then he looked over to the door. The handle turned and it swung open.

 

Kirishima smiled at him from his place in the doorway “Hello Midoriya. How are you feeling?”

 

Izuku sighed and smiled at his friend “Hi Kirishima. I-I’m feeling better, thanks.”

 

“That’s good.” Kirishima pulled the chair at Izuku’s desk up and sat down in front of the bed “Iida told me you had a question for me?”

 

“Oh. Yes, I suppose I do.” Izuku propped himself up on his elbows “I was wondering about Bakugou’s limp.”

 

“That fucker.” Bakugou stepped around the doorframe, arms crossed “Iida said it was fucking important.”

 

“You were outside?” Izuku asked.

 

“He didn’t want to come if it wasn’t gonna be a useful conversation.” Kirishima explained “But I begged him to just stand in the hallway so he could contribute to the conversation if he wanted.”

 

Bakugou walked into the room, Izuku could see his limp now that he was looking for it. He would step heavily onto his left leg and he stepped lightly and more cautiously onto his right leg. His black pants were slightly fitted and allowed Izuku to perfectly determine that he had once injured his right leg. He hopped a little and sat on Izuku’s desk, leaning his elbows on his knees. His usual scowl was curled across his lips as he stared at Izuku.

 

Izuku stuttered “Um.”

 

“Just tell me what the fuck you want to know so I can go back to work.” Bakugou scowled at him “And just so you know, stupid, I don’t want to be here right now. I’m only here because Shitty Hair is making me.”

 

Izuku sat up and said “Well. Iida mentioned you had a limp a-and I’ve never noticed before so… I was going to ask what happened? Like how you got it?”

 

“It’s kind of a sad story.” Bakugou said, tone calmer and kinder (if you could call it that) than Izuku had ever heard it “You’re fucking sure you want to hear it?”

 

Izuku nodded, determined.

 

“Okay.” Bakugou took a slow breath.

 

Kirishima put a hand on his leg and said “If you don’t want to share, I can.”

 

“I’m alright. I can do it.” Bakugou’s tone was slightly harsh but the soft way he place his hand over Kirishima’s spoke volumes.

 

“This may be a bit of a surprise, idiot, but I was a knight a few years ago.” Bakugou said, not looking at Izuku’s eyes “I was a fighter, always on the front lines of anything and always first pick. Kiri here was and still is a knight but he wasn’t as sought after as me. The king had a small troupe put together to protect a small border village because there had been rumours of an attack. The troupe consisted of me, Kiri, Shouji, Aizawa, two people you don’t know and one you will never know.”

 

Izuku’s eyes widened but he stayed quiet.

 

Bakugou kept talking “The village was tiny, barely a village. It had four town buildings and tiny cottages scattered around, as if the villagers had simply built a new one wherever they wanted without considering what would happen if they needed to expand and be more organized. While we were there, the villagers through a festival. There was dancing and music and probably some of the most excellent home cooked food I’ve had in a long time. They were the ones that taught me to cook like I do now.”

 

Izuku nodded. Bakugou was an incredible cook.

 

“The rumoured invaders appeared in the middle of the festival.” Bakugou looked at the floor “They grabbed a few villagers and the person you will never meet and put a sword to their necks, saying that if the knights didn’t leave and let them do what they came for, they’d kill them. One of the people you don’t know shot at the leader with a crossbow from the other end of the crowd but missed. The invaders started pillaging while the knights and myself started ushering people toward town hall. We couldn’t do anything but let them have their way.”

 

Izuku saw the way Kirishima’s hand squeezed Bakugou’s thigh as he continued.

 

“One of the villagers that had been caught was a little girl. Adorable, strawberry blonde hair, big brown eyes. She was crying and trembling, calling out for her mother.” Bakugou tensed “She reminded Kiri of his little sister.” He hesitated “I turned around and saw Kiri charging over with his sword raised. I ran for him. Someone was aiming a bow at him. I tackled him to the ground by jumping in front of him. The arrow hit me in the knee.”

 

Izuku flinched, hard.

 

“Luckily the distraction was enough and the rest of our troupe could take out the invaders before anyone else got hurt. The invaders were arrested and we brought them with us to the castle.” Bakugou took a shaky breath, more vulnerable than Izuku had ever seen him “Kiri stayed by my side all the way back. He helped me move and eased my pain. When Chiyo told me I might never walk again, Kiri held me. Kiri helped me learn to walk again, helped me develop a way to walk that didn’t hurt my knee too much. I fell in love with him and he fell in love with me. About six months ago, I asked him to marry me.”

 

Silence.

 

Then Bakugou sniffed and wiped furiously at his eyes with both fists “Fuck.”

 

Kirishima stood and put his hand on Bakugou’s back “It’s my fault he can never be a soldier again.”

 

“Shitty Hair, if you don’t shut the fuck up right now about it being your fault I am shoving you off a fucking bridge.” Bakugou snarled.

 

“But it was.” Kirishima said, looking at Izuku “There you go. You sure that’s what you wanted?”

 

“I…” Izuku wasn’t sure what he was going to say “I kind of thought it was a cooking accident or something.”

 

“Never.” Bakugou said “I’m way too careful now.”

 

Kirishima laced their fingers together, golden engagement ring glimmering in the sunlight filtering through Izuku’s window.

 

Then Bakugou stood abruptly from his place on Izuku’s desk and started to drag Kirishima from the room.

 

“Bye, Midoriya.” Kirishima said “Feel better.”

 

“Thanks.” Izuku said.

 

The door closed.

 

Izuku lay on his back, arms splayed.

 

He felt bad for Bakugou. He must have been an incredible knight if what he said about being the most sought out was true. No wonder he missed it. If Izuku was that good at fighting and then had it ripped from his hands, he’d be miserable.

 

A quiet meow found its way into his ears. The bed dipped a bit when the cat sprung up from the floor onto his bed. She padded over to him and bumped her nose into his side, almost asking what was wrong.

 

“I’m tired.” He told the cat, scratching her head gently “Not physically, just mentally. And I’m tired of being injured. And… I feel bad for Bakugou. He’s probably kill me if he heard me say that but it’s still true. He seems devastated.” He paused for a moment before laughing quietly to himself “And now I’m talking to a cat. I bet you have no idea what I’m saying.”

 

The cat curled up against his side, purring, proving his point.

 

Izuku sighed and draped his arm over his eyes. He was surprised to feel wetness there. Had he been crying? Yes, he had. He was crying for Bakugou, because of Bakugou, because of the bad things that had happened to him.

 

He wiped his eyes. Bakugou would really not appreciate him crying for him or pitying him or whatever this pressure in his chest meant.

 

He took a shaky breath and tried to direct his mind elsewhere.

 

The prince.

 

His cheeks turned pink.

 

He wanted to see the prince. But he couldn't. The prince shouldn’t come down here to where the servants were, he couldn’t. He was higher than that, higher in stature and rank and everything else.

 

Izuku heard himself sigh. How in the name of All Might had the prince fallen for him?

 

He had no idea.

 

He wasn’t anything special.

 

A knock at the door.

 

“Come in.” He hastily tried to push the blush from his face while simultaneously trying not to look like he had just been crying. The cat lazily stood up and stretched, leaping easily onto his desk.

 

Chiyo opened the door. Behind her was Uraraka but she didn’t move from the doorframe.

 

“You have seen that he is alright.” Chiyo told her gently “Now get back to your duties.”

 

Uraraka sighed sadly, face falling and her eyes fell to the ground, then she turned and trudged away.

 

“You’ve built up quite the storm of worry from your friends.” Chiyo shut the door behind her before turning around to face him and saying “So how are you feeling, dear?”

 

“Better.” Izuku said, rolling onto his back so she could get a better look at his leg “I’m bored though. Really bored.”

 

“I know, dear, I’m sorry about that.” Chiyo’s voice was as gentle as her fingertips brushing the bandages on his thigh. She fell quiet, peeling the bandages off to peer at the wound. Then she gave a short, breathless laugh and said “It’s already mostly healed. This is incredible.”

 

Izuku bit his tongue to not spout what he’d heard the informant say about him being a mage.

 

“I would say give it another day.” Chiyo said “Just to be safe. Tomorrow evening you can try to walk and, based on how quickly you are recovering, I think you will be perfectly alright to go to the festival.”

 

Izuku nearly shrieked in joy. He settled on smiling really big at her and saying “Thank you, Chiyo.”

 

“Oh don’t thank me.” She waved a hand, dismissing his thanks “Thank your body, it is doing all the work. And it seems to be doing an amazing job.”

 

“Yeah.” Izuku said, trying desperately to sound normal “I’m amazed.”

 

Chiyo nodded “So am I. Now let me just rewrap your leg and then I’ll leave you here wallowing in your boredom.”

 

The room fell silent as she wrapped his leg again. He was still wearing the pants with the cut leg, simply for easier caring, but they had cut the other leg off too so as not to arise suspicion.”

 

Finally, Chiyo finished and patted the back of his knee “Alright, you’re all wrapped. Try to bend and flex your knee when you can to test the functionality of your hamstring. Don’t be lazy and lie there like a dead fish all night and all day tomorrow.”

 

“I would drive myself insane if I did that.” Izuku said “Thank you, Chiyo.”

 

“Not a problem, Young Midoriya. I’ll close the door behind me.” She nodded and left, the cat followed her.

 

And Izuku was alone again.

 

He rolled onto his back again and puffed out a long breath. What was he supposed to do now? Sleep?

 

He closed his eyes and hoped for the best.

 

And was still awake fifteen minutes later.

 

Izuku groaned again and flung his arms wide on the bed. It was the middle of the day, sunlight was streaming through his window, he was supposed to be sick but actually had a leg wound, he couldn't get at his tiny bookcase and he couldn’t spar or run errands or do anything. He was bored out of his mind, his muscles screamed to be doing something, anything at all. He would even opt for just running in circles if it meant something to do.

 

Another knock at the door, this one softer.

 

He groaned “Come in.”

 

The door cracked open and a head poked through “Hello Midoriya.”

 

Izuku felt himself smile “Enokida. Hi.”

 

She stepped into the room, long dark brown hair swishing down her back, and she shut the door behind her. Then she smiled at Izuku “How are you feeling?”

 

“Bored.” He said “I can’t do anything!”

 

She giggled softly “I know what that's like.”

 

Izuku immediately felt bad “Oh Enokida that’s not what I-”

 

“And that’s not what I meant either.” She interrupted him quietly, reaching up and adjusting her collar. Izuku was beginning to realize that this was a common occurrence for her. She always adjusted her collar. Why?

 

“Enokida?” Izuku sat up slowly.

 

She hummed and looked up at him, eyes wide.

 

“Why do you always adjust your collar?” Izuku gestured vaguely to her hand that was still lightly clutching the fabric of her dress near her neck “You always seem to do it. I was wondering if it’s some sort of nervous tic?”

 

Enokida’s hand fell from her collar as if she’d been burned and she shook her head “No no it’s just a habit of mine. I didn’t realize I did it so often…” She sounded nervous and was looking at him like he could see through her.

 

“No no it’s okay!” Izuku said, a little frantically “It’s fine it’s not weird!”

 

“Oh.” She blinked owlishly at him “Thank you?”

 

“Uh.” Izuku lowered his hands. Then he asked “So what are you doin here?”

 

Enokida said “Well… I’m not sure.”

 

“Is there something you needed?” He asked.

 

“Not that I can think of.” She frowned, looking frustrated with herself “I don’t know what I came here for.”

 

She turned and left the room without another word. As she walked out, he thought he saw her form flicker for a moment, showing something else below it. The new image looked just like her except her back was straighter, her posture was more confident, her hair was up in a ponytail, she was wearing a black suit.

 

And then it was gone.

 

Izuku blinked.

 

What the-

 

Was she a-

 

Izuku gasped sharply “A mage!”

 

He clapped his hands over his mouth, praying that no one had heard, least of all Enokida. When nothing happened and his door stayed shut, he let his hands fall into his lap.

 

He started mumbling “Mages on a stick! I didn’t think that anyone else here was a mage! What are the chances! Holy stars what the- I wonder if she could teach me… or maybe she doesn’t know she’s a mage. Well she doesn’t know that I’m a mage I wonder if anyone else is a mage at the castle. The prince? No I would have noticed by now. Would I have though? I didn’t know I was a mage until a few days ago.”

 

Oh this was a dilemma. What was he supposed to do now? Pretend he hadn’t seen anything?

 

Well he knew some part of what he was going to do: not tell anyone. He would protect her secret for her. Being a mage was illegal, using your magic was even worse, and Izuku didn’t want Enokida to get kicked up.

 

His brain was going a mile a minute.

 

Izuku flopped onto his back, letting his arms fall open. He sighed. There was so much going on in his head.

 

Bakugou.

 

Kirishima.

 

Enokida.

 

The prince.

 

Chiyo.

 

Iida.

 

Uraraka.

 

Shimizu.

 

Nearly everyone.

 

The flower festival.

 

Enji.

 

Oh god. Enji.

 

The old kings plan to overthrow the kingdom.

 

Izuku pressed a pillow over his face and screamed into it.

 

That was what he should be focusing on! The villains that kidnapped him might have ties to Enji and they had Shimizu spying in the castle. He wondered if she was already locked up. Hopefully. But he also felt bad for getting her locked up. She had been kind to him and she seemed like she had such a tragic past-

 

But she’d also shot him and then punched his shoulder wound and knocked him out and treated him like dirt.

 

He sighed unhappily and lowered the pillow from his face. He could feel tears begin to bubble to life in his eyes. He was so confused, his brain was full, he was scared, he was injured, he was in love, he missed his mom, he was worried, and everything else. Izuku sniffed and rubbed the back of his hand across his cheeks. He was crying. He pressed both hands over his eyes and let himself cry. He was frustrated with it, sure, but what else was he supposed to do?

 

He missed the prince. He wanted to hold him, to be held by him, to kiss him, to be kissed by him. God, he just wanted to see him.

 

Izuku rolled onto his stomach, teeth gritting together, and he closed his eyes to try to stop the slow flow of tears dribbling from his eyes. He sniffed again, burying his face in his mattress for the sake of being hidden. Then he pulled his blanket up and around him so the only thing visible was the very top tuft of his fluffy dark green hair.

 

And he fell asleep.