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show me your teeth

Chapter Text

“That one? You’re sure?”

“Yes, him. It has to be him.”

Izuku looks up. His eyes fall on two men: one blond, muscular, broad in the shoulders with a casual sort of savagery about him. He’s bare-chested, clad in nothing but trousers and a furred red cape. The other man is almost as well-built, with red hair pulled back from his face and bright eyes; he’s wearing a simple tunic over trousers, but his feet are bare. The blond is looking at Izuku with obvious distaste, upper lip curled back in a sneer. The redhead, however, looks excited.

Izuku knows who they are, of course. Everyone in the seven kingdoms of Arden knows who Katsuki Bakugou is. The Lord of Arden is known to be violent, cunning, and almost ridiculously handsome; he’s also been ruler for less than a year. He conquered Arden in a fast, bloody coup (with the help of his enormous red dragon), wresting the throne from the previous king, a vicious ruler named Tomura Shigaraki who cared little for the lives of his subjects. No one in the seven kingdoms really knows what to think of the new king yet, but his reputation precedes him.

(Aforementioned dragon is nowhere to be found, something Izuku is thankful for. Supposedly, Bakugou takes the dragon everywhere, but maybe he chose not to bring the beast this time because it would surely have panicked the people of Pelapi, the city they're in now. Izuku certainly isn’t going to ask.)

The redheaded man is Kirishima, the king’s advisor and constant companion. Izuku doesn’t really know much about him, except that the king is seldom seen without him. He certainly doesn’t know why Kirishima would be the one making the decisions here, today.

Neither does anyone else, from what Izuku can tell. There’s a couple hundred people here as spectators, mostly milling around in the square, drawn here out of curiosity about what poor fools are willing to sign away a chunk of their lives for the right price. Said poor fools are up on the stage, some thirty people in total including Izuku—here for the opportunity to change their own fate, no matter the cost. A few people have friends or family with them, but most of them are alone.

Izuku is alone. His choice, but also necessity.

“He’s just a scrawny little peasant,” says the king, who is currently staring right at Izuku. His voice drips with scorn. “Are you sure?

“Positive,” says Kirishima. He catches Izuku looking at him, and he smiles. Izuku blinks. Kirishima has a predator’s mouth, full of sharp fangs. “See, look, he likes me!”

Izuku feels himself turn red, and tries to smile, though it feels queasy. “My lord, I am more than willing to do whatever is required of m—”

“Shut up,” says Bakugou curtly. “I know you would, that’s why you’re here, peasant.” His lip curls, and he looks back at the man beside him, pointedly ignoring the panic attack Izuku is trying to pretend he’s not having.

“Last chance,” Bakugou says to his companion. “There’s over two dozen people here. You haven’t even looked at half of them.”

“I don’t have to,” says Kirishima. He leaves Bakugou, walking over to Izuku with a smile that’s bright and warm despite his mouth full of sharp teeth. “Hello,” he says kindly. “What’s your name?”

Izuku swallows. “Izuku Midoriya,” he says; his voice shakes only a little. He bows low. “I h-hope you’ll choose me.”

Bakugou growls in disgust where he’s still standing a few feet away, but Kirishima ignores him. In fact, he only smiles wider. “I was hoping you’d say that,” he says. “Come home with us, Izuku.”

He makes it sound so nice, so welcoming. Who knows, Izuku thinks dizzily; maybe it will be. He’d thought his chances of actually being picked for this would be slim to none—right up until this moment, that is. Now, all the rumors about what a cruel, capricious master Lord Bakugou is to his servants immediately comes to mind, turning Izuku’s stomach into a bubbling morass of anxiety and black worry.

He’s so busy doing the mental math of what he might have just signed himself up for that he misses what Bakugou says to him. “S-Sorry!” Izuku jerks upright again and glances desperately from Kirishima to the king of Arden. “What, what… what did you say?”

“This one might be too stupid to live, Kirishima,” says Bakugou. “I said, do you agree to the terms?”

Izuku sucks in a breath. “State the terms,” he says, despite the fear that makes him want to dive directly off this platform and into the crowd of people. He knows the rights all citizens of the seven kingdoms have, no matter who the ruler on the throne is.

Bakugou narrows his eyes at Izuku. His scornful expression shifts ever so slightly. “You’ll come home with me, live in my castle, and be my slave in body and soul for five years,” he says. His voice is harsh but clear. “You’ll do anything and everything I order you to, without question. In exchange, you and your family will be richly compensated. Your family will have a noble title, and your city will have my protection.”

Izuku exhales slowly. Hearing it spelled out like that actually relaxes him, reminds him why he was so determined to come here and be considered for this, despite the protests and arguments of every single one of his friends and family. Only Toshinori had really understood, and even he hadn’t wanted Izuku to go through with his decision.

“I understand the terms, and I agree to them, freely and without coercion,” says Izuku. He raises his voice, speaking just as clearly as Bakugou did. He drops into a deep bow, all the way down on one knee. “If my lord wishes it, that is.”

He hears a snort. “He doesn’t, but you’ll do,” says Bakugou. “Alright, it’s done. Izuku Midoriya, you’re mine.”

The crowd is murmuring, talking, reaction spreading through the people in a wave. A few folks up on stage lift their voices in protest as they realize that the king didn’t even take the time to come speak to them. Bakugou turns, snarling something in a language Izuku doesn’t recognize, and suddenly the air is hot with a dozen snapping explosions, like a miniature fireworks display. There are screams and shouts, but the protests immediately stop.

Izuku finds himself being hauled to his feet then, face-to-face with Kirishima, who looks entirely too excited at this turn of events. Bakugou is already turning away, walking across the stage towards the rear, where he and Kirishima came from. “You can just give us the information about your family and home,” says Kirishima, clapping him on the shoulder. “We’ll arrange to have it all set up, you don’t have to worry about it.”

“Oh, good,” says Izuku weakly, because that’s one less hysteria to have to deal with seems not the best choice. He summons a queasy smile for Kirishima, who just beams at him.

Izuku just hopes he’s not going to regret his decision too much.

* * * * *

Getting back to the castle is … an ordeal. Izuku isn’t sure what he’s expecting—maybe a lecture or at least a few instructions on what’s expected of him and how he’s supposed to behave, maybe from Kirishima?—but what he actually gets is a fat lot of nothing. Bakugou all but ignores him, except to yell for him to not fall behind as they’re preparing their entourage to leave the city. When they do finally depart, Izuku is on horseback, doubling up with Kirishima. They ride directly behind Bakugou, who leads the procession on his own horse.

But they only travel about an hour outside Pelapi before Bakugou dismounts, followed by Kirishima and Izuku, and sends his entire entourage on without them—along with both of their horses.

Izuku immediately gets nervous. He has a brief but terrifying fantasy of having his throat slit and his body dumped in a ditch. Kirishima must notice, because he slings his arm around Izuku’s shoulders in what is clearly meant to be an encouraging fashion but just makes Izuku’s panic-sweat worse.

“What are we doing?” Izuku asks, because the alternative is to call a sudden thunderstorm and bolt for the tree-line, which probably isn’t the best choice.

“Traveling by horse will take almost a week to get back,” says Bakugou. He’s watching Izuku, a nasty glint in his eye that Izuku doesn’t quite know what to do with. “We’re going to get there much faster.”

“Um, okay,” Izuku says helplessly. He glances over at Kirishima, who has just let go of Izuku’s shoulders, and is surprised to see the other man walking away from Bakugou and Izuku, out into the field they’re passing through. “Uh—K-Kirishima, what are you—HOLY FUCK!”

Izuku screeches as Kirishima abruptly changes. The red-headed man disappears, toppling over onto all fours as his body enlarges, elongates, shifts its very shape—in a matter of moments, Kirishima the man is gone, and an enormous red dragon is in his place. The dragon is easily the size of a three-story house, covered in iridescent red scales; a pair of red horns jut from his temples, a long ruff of red fur lines his spine, and massive scaly wings unfold themselves from his back.

For several moments, all Izuku can do is stare—even panicking is beyond him. The dragon lifts his huge head and huffs; the resulting blast of air is strong enough to knock Izuku onto his butt. He sits on the ground, staring stupidly at the creature from the worst sorts of stories now standing over him blinking huge golden eyes and flashing those same sharp teeth at him.

“Uh,” he says, intelligently.

He hears laughter from behind him, and turns to look over his shoulder to see Bakugou standing there grinning from ear to ear. “Get up, idiot,” Bakugou says. He stalks over and hauls Izuku up by the arm, then walks with him around to the dragon’s side.

“How are we supposed to get up there?” Izuku says out loud. Bakugou doesn’t answer. Instead, Kirishima crouches down, glancing over his shoulder at them. His eyes are the size of dinner plates and slit down the middle like a cat’s. Bakugou doesn’t give him much time to contemplate, however; he just picks Izuku up and slings him over his shoulder.

Izuku squawks in shock as he’s picked up like a sack of potatoes, a noise that cuts off as Bakugou scales Kirishima’s flank as effortlessly as a man walking up the lane to his house. Bakugou sets Izuku down in front of him, straddling Kirishima’s shoulders as casually as he was riding the horse earlier.

“Hold on to his ruff,” Bakugou says. “Wouldn’t be good if you fell off before you paid your dues, now would it.”

“We’re riding the dragon home?” Izuku squeaks. Bakugou laughs in his ear and slaps Kirishima’s flank. Immediately, the dragon’s massive wings flare out to either side, and with a bunching of thick muscles and a flap of his huge wings, Kirishima launches himself into the sky.

Izuku can’t suppress his shriek of terror as the ground is suddenly, painfully distant. The grass on the field below them flattens out with the force of the wind generated by Kirishima’s wings, but that’s very quickly hard to see, becoming more so by the moment. Izuku grabs the shag of red fur on Kirishima’s back, clamping his legs down against the dragon’s side in panic. He can still hear Bakugou laughing from behind him, although the noise is swept away somewhat by the wind.

All he can think is why did I agree to this why why why WHY, a panicked refrain that fills his mind to the brink. Out loud, though, the only noise he makes is a sort of strangled wheeze. And all the while, Kirishima is taking them higher and higher, his mighty wings beating so powerfully that he generates a miniature windstorm with each one.

The panic doesn’t last. Izuku remembers how to breathe after a few minutes, but winds up having to fix his gaze on the back of Kirishima’s head in order to keep from glancing down at how far away the ground is now. Once Kirishima gets sufficiently far above the treeline, he stops climbing and begins to glide, seemingly riding wind currents. It’s a slightly less nausea-inducing ride, although at this height the wind is no less, and the air is so cold it rapidly blots out all of Izuku’s other concerns. Soon, Izuku is shivering from the chill that’s crept through his clothes into his skin and bones.

He startles as arms wrap around him from behind, Bakugou pulling him backwards against his chest. “Idiot,” he growls. “Stay close, you’re going to freeze to death.” Izuku has literally no idea how he could have been expected to know to pack a blanket for the trip, but after a few moments of anxiety he relaxes, eyes glued to the back of Kirishima’s iridescent neck.

Whatever else the new king of Arden is, he’s warm as a bonfire; Izuku had no idea a human being could run so hot. He does spend about ninety seconds agonizing over the impropriety of cuddling against his new lord and master, however. Pride and modesty loses out to fatigue and discomfort, and Izuku gives up, burrowing against that warmth for all he’s worth. But he’s still shivering, right up until Bakugou grumbles against his ear and pulls the cloak he’s wearing tight around Izuku’s chest. Bakugou mutters something like “Fucking peasant,” but at this point Izuku hardly cares.

But with the warmth of Bakugou’s body and the cloak tucked close against him, Izuku finally manages to get warm. And now that he’s warm, all the fatigue of his long trip to Pelapi and the terror at the sudden ascent catches up with him. Despite all his concerns about good behavior and wanting to make a good impression, despite the fact he’s literally riding a dragon in mid-air, despite the fact he’s leaning against the most fearsome man in all of the seven kingdoms, he still can’t keep his eyes open.

* * * * *

Izuku wakes just once on that long journey. When he comes to, he’s slumped against Bakugou’s chest, a strong arm lashed around his waist. They’re still on Kirishima’s back, but now they’re above some huge body of water instead of over endless forest. Mirror Lake, Izuku thinks dizzily. That’s a three day’s ride on horseback from Pelapi…

He must make a noise, because the arm around him shifts. “Shh, go back to sleep,” says a low voice in his ear.

Izuku shivers. The wind whips around his face and shoulders, and a sense of vertigo overtakes him as a sudden gust of wind makes Kirishima lurch. Then that warm cloak is being wrapped more tightly around his shoulders, and he’s being pressed more firmly against that broad chest, face tucked into Bakugou’s shoulder.

Izuku dozes off again after that. Later, he’ll wonder if Bakugou used magic on him to keep him asleep, or if he was just that tired, because he sleeps through the arrival at Bakugou’s castle altogether.

When he finally wakes, he’s utterly confused for several seconds, not even sure where he is or what roused him in the first place. He stares up at the ceiling, wondering why it’s so unfamiliar, and then the sensation that woke him comes a second time—the feeling of something warm and wet sliding over his stomach.

Izuku comes alert with a gasp. “What—” he starts, and then freezes.

There’s a dragon in front of him.

Izuku swallows hard. He’s on his back in some huge room, wooden rafters high up above his head, and—and there’s a fucking dragon in front of him. When his sees Izuku looking at him, his mouth falls open into a smile with far, far too many teeth. He makes a throaty noise, like a purr but ten octaves deeper and louder, and then his pink tongue appears and licks directly up Izuku’s front.

“HEY—” Izuku’s noise is cut off as the tongue slides over his face, wet and hot. He about swallows his own tongue, attempting to scramble backwards away from that enormous mouth—only to feel a pair of hands gripping his thighs, holding him firm.

“Thought that’d wake you up,” says a voice in his ear. Izuku looks quickly to the right and sees red eyes up close, a cruel smirk on Bakugou’s face, and that’s when everything comes rushing back to him: the auction, being picked as the king of Arden’s new slave, riding home on the back of—of Kirishima, the dragon. The hands holding his thighs squeeze a little tighter; abruptly, Izuku realizes he is completely naked. “Hold nice and still,” says Bakugou. “Eijirou’s a little wound up right now. You don’t want him to think you’re a snack to catch and eat, do you?”

Izuku’s breath hitches in his throat. “You got me for your dragon?” he says. It comes out an incredulous squeak.

Bakugou laughs right in his ear, low and filthy. “Don’t worry, I won’t feed you to him unless you’re very bad,” he whispers. He licks a stripe up Izuku’s neck, from his shoulder to his ear, and Izuku shudders. He sneaks another glance at the massive dragon head in front of him, a thousand things going through his head at once: is the dragon going to eat him? What does Bakugou want to do to him here? And why is he naked?

You’ll do anything and everything I order you to, says Bakugou’s voice in his memory. And then, from before that, to Kirishima—to Eijirou: This one? You’re sure?

“What is happening right now,” Izuku whispers. “Y-Y-Your Majesty, what—”

Bakugou growls. It’s not a friendly noise in the slightest. “Thought you took a vow, peasant.”

Izuku’s breath hitches. “Yes, my lord,” he says shakily.

He’s not expecting a further answer, but for some reason he gets one. Another hot breath gusts against Izuku’s neck, making the hair all over his body stand on end. “Eijirou is going into rut,” Bakugou murmurs. “He wanted to explain to you first, but it hit right after we got home.”

Rut? Izuku’s brain stutters, trying to grasp this, to connect the dots. All the stories he’s heard of dragons in rut mainly concern the devastation done to the landscape in their wake, along with any town unlucky enough to be in the beasts’ path. If that’s what’s happening, then—

The dragon rumbles in his huge throat again, derailing Izuku’s train of thought. He bumps his nose against Izuku, huffing hot air against Izuku’s stomach. The tongue flicks out again, the dragon licking slowly up his front, from his asshole up across his cock to his belly. Kirishima—Eijirou—licks all the way up to Izuku’s face, absolutely dripping with spittle. The feel of it is obscene, wet and hot and firm all at once. Izuku chokes on a moan, a few tears pricking at the corners of his eyes as fear and shock war for dominance. Again and again the dragon licks him, pressing the meat of his wet tongue against Izuku’s entire lower half, until Izuku’s thighs and cock and ass are all slick with Eijirou’s spit, until it’s positively dripping off of him.

Teeth sink into his right shoulder, sharp pain stabbing through the muscle. Izuku yelps as Katsuki bites him, the hands holding his thighs apart pulling his knees backwards, exposing his ass and cock even more than they already are. The dragon responds with an excited grunt, and he rears up, stalking forward until his body is over Izuku and Bakugou—and that’s when Izuku lays eyes on the enormous, bulbous cock, jutting from between Eijirou’s huge thighs.

The dragon’s prick is twice the size of Izuku’s arm, a meaty red the same color as his tongue. The dragon crouches, peering at Izuku from the side, and suddenly Izuku fully understands what purpose Bakugou brought him home to serve.

“S-Stop, stop, nononono—” Izuku covers his face with his hands, too overloaded to handle this situation right now. He can feel himself tearing up, breathing too fast, all of his diligent training and determination to take this on flying right out of his head in his panic.

“Calm the fuck down,” growls Bakugou against his shoulder. “You’re going to upset Eijirou.”

“Eijirou is going to kill me!” Izuku hisses. He elbows the man beneath him hard in the ribs, and is rewarded with another snarl as Bakugou grabs his elbow, releasing one of his legs.

“If you don’t hold still I’m going to chain you to the floor and let him fuck you as hard as he wants,” says Bakugou. Izuku stills immediately, though he can’t stop how hard he’s breathing. He still can’t look up at the dragon, too terrified to lay eyes on what’s about to happen to him.

But the dragon must notice anyway, because the creature above him pauses, and Izuku hears a sort of chirping noise that sounds almost like a question. Izuku swallows, then chances a glance up at the huge head. The dragon—Eijirou, Izuku reminds himself desperately—is peering at him, head cocked to the side like a curious dog. He chirps again, more insistently this time.

Bakugou snorts. “Yeah, of course he’s scared, you’re fucking enormous,” he says impatiently. “Stop freakin’ him out and change, already.”

Change? Back to a human? Izuku doesn’t know what’s going on—and then abruptly, the dragon is shrinking right in front of his eyes, getting smaller and smaller until the creature crouching above him is the size of a horse instead of a large house. Izuku is so startled he forgets to be afraid for a moment, staring up in frank amazement at the dragon standing over him.

“He can change sizes?” he says out loud. “I didn’t know dragons could do that…”

Bakugou laughs against his skin. Dizzily, Izuku remembers Ochako and Iida’s speculation about what kind of man the new king was, what he was like in person. “He’s magic,” says Bakugou. “He can do whatever the fuck he wants.” The hand holding Izuku’s arm releases it, reaching down to take hold of his thigh again and pull his legs open once more. “And right now, he wants to fuck you, so better get ready, boy.”

Izuku sucks in a breath. As if prompted by Bakugou’s words, Eijirou makes that excited trill again, planting his clawed feet on either side of Izuku and Bakugou beneath him. He lowers his back end, his thick cock bobbing lewdly from beneath his stomach. It’s much smaller than it was, thank god, but still easily the largest cock Izuku’s ever seen.

“I c-can’t do this,” he says, shaky. “Please, I can’t, I-I-I—”

“Shhh,” says Bakugou. It’s not as cruel as Izuku is expecting, for some reason he doesn’t understand. “Here, hold your legs.” Izuku hesitates, then does as he’s told. Bakugou wraps one arm around him, reaching up to catch Izuku’s face from the other side and turn it towards him. To Izuku’s shock, he immediately captures Izuku’s lips in a harsh kiss, pressing his tongue into Izuku’s mouth.

At the same time, his other hand reaches down to wrap around Izuku’s soft prick, still slick with all of Eijirou’s spittle. Izuku lets out a shocked moan, lost in the rough kissing. Bakugou begins to jerk him off, stroking him firmly as he plunders his mouth.

The dragon above them rumbles deep in its throat. Out of the corner of his eye, Izuku can see how Eijirou lowers himself onto his front legs, his chest just a foot above Bakugou and Izuku’s faces. He lowers down his back end until his cock is resting in the groove of Izuku’s hip and thigh, and then Eijirou starts to thrust shallowly, grinding down against Izuku. Izuku shudders, his breath hitching at the obscene feel of that huge prick, of Bakugou’s rough hand on his cock.

It’s too much, too overwhelming. He feels almost delirious, his whole body hot, his cock hardening despite his anxiety. Bakugou’s hand has left his chin, is roaming over his chest with a possessiveness Izuku’s brain is too overloaded to handle right now. Above them, Eijirou is grunting, a deep, hoarse noise that slides over Izuku’s skin like a physical thing. Izuku can feel more slick dripping from the head of Eijirou’s cock, adding to the mess already coating his skin.

Bakugou breaks away from kissing Izuku, finally. He takes one of Izuku’s knees for him, and then speaks into his ear, his voice full of gravel. “Now reach down and hold Eijirou’s cock for him.”

Izuku swallows. All he can think is that this is not what he was expecting when he decided to volunteer for this job—and that he’s no longer sure he would have done so, had he known what he was getting himself into. But some small, terrible part of him is deeply turned on right now, and more than a little overwhelmed with the suddenness of this. And at this point it seems next to impossible to stop, so why should he try?

So he reaches down, taking hold of Eijirou’s cock (and unable to not notice how his thumb and fingertips don’t quite meet around its thickness). He’s surprised by how wet it is, then realizes it’s because of Eijirou’s spit and the pre-come he’s been leaking, all messy in the groove of Izuku’s thigh. He guides the head to his asshole, trembling a little as Eijirou starts immediately to push against him.

“That’s it,” says Bakugou. “Good boy. Just hold nice and still for him.” He lashes an arm around Izuku’s waist; Izuku can feel the excited staccato of Bakugou’s heartbeat against his back where Bakugou’s chest is pressed against him.

Eijirou trills excitedly. He presses forward, the head of his cock pushing at the rim of Izuku’s hole for several excruciating seconds before popping past with a wet squelch. Izuku cries out, the sudden burn making his eyes water again. He loses his cool, one of his hands flying to cover his face as Eijirou continues to push in.

He can feel Bakugou murmuring against his skin, mouthing wet kisses over Izuku’s neck and jaw. Bakugou’s hand slides down, wrapping around Izuku’s cock again to slowly jerk him off again as Eijirou sinks into Izuku’s ass. Izuku shuts his eyes and focuses on the air moving through his lungs: in, out, in, out, doing his best to breathe through the strain.

Eijirou’s cock is enormous. There’s no way it could possibly fit inside him, not without splitting Izuku in two, and yet he continues to push in, until Izuku feels like his whole body is burning with the stretch, his thighs trembling from being held open, from being stuffed impossibly full. And then Eijirou stills, a huge groan rattling his body and Izuku’s.

Izuku drops his hand from his eyes, staring in shock at the sight of the dragon’s entire cock buried to the root inside him, his hole stretched obscenely wide around the thickness of the base. “Oh my god,” he says shakily. “Ah… hnnnh…”

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Izuku glances to the side, staring into those vivid red eyes in shock. Bakugou smirks at him.

“Wait, how do you know what it feels like—”

“You should feel blessed that he wanted me to bring you home for him,” Bakugou murmurs, utterly ignoring the question. He leans in, bites at Izuku’s mouth. “I’m the only other person who even gets to touch him.”

Izuku has absolutely no fucking idea what to say to that, especially when he’s still too overwhelmed by the thick cock in his ass. Eijirou growls, distracting Izuku before he can think of what to say or do. The dragon pulls back a little, his cock sliding halfway out before Eijirou thrusts in again. Izuku lets out a cry as Eijirou fills him, and then he’s being fucked, every one of Eijirou’s thrusts pushing him down against Bakugou.

Bakugou holds him firm, one hand still jacking Izuku off even as Eijirou’s thrusts come faster and harder, growling in excitement as he buries his dick in Izuku’s ass. Izuku quickly loses what remains of his self-control, a litany of gasps and cries escaping him as he shudders under the assault of sensation. For his own part, Bakugou seems driven wild by it: he drags his nails along Izuku’s sides, biting and licking over Izuku’s neck even as his dragon fucks Izuku raw.

It’s too much. Izuku loses track of things then, too overwhelmed to keep his mind straight for a while. All that exists is the beast on top of him, the impossible press of the dragon’s cock in his ass, the assault of hands and teeth and lips on his chest and neck, Bakugou snarling filth into his ear that Izuku can’t even make sense of. And through it all is a steadily-building wall of pleasure, so intense it’s riding the edge of pain.

He can’t be enjoying this, but he is. Bakugou is too, judging from the hardness pressing into the small of Izuku’s back. But Eijirou’s the most obvious by far. His bestial noises get louder, his thrusts faster and harder, until he slams home hard enough to drive a harsh cry from Izuku and stays put, growling loudly as comes. Izuku feels the flood of heat inside him and groans.

Eijirou stays inside him for several long moments, long enough for Izuku to start to ache, his own cock throbbing with want. Then the dragon slowly pulls out, his cock slipping free with a lewd slurp, and Izuku is suddenly, painfully empty. He whimpers at the abrupt lack, the muscles in his ass clenching and spasming.

Izuku finds himself being sat up by the man beneath him as Eijirou takes several steps back, out of their way. He can’t stop his noises, the way his legs tremble as he tries to reposition himself.

“Shhh, hold still, idiot,” Bakugou mutters, but his voice is gentle. He gets out from beneath Izuku before easing Izuku back down to the floor—to the feather mattress, as it turns out, with pillows and blankets scattered under it—and then takes Izuku’s leg and drapes it over his shoulder, settling between Izuku’s thighs.

Izuku does not know what is happening. The dragon settles down alongside Bakugou and Izuku, looking extremely fucking pleased with himself. Izuku is distracted by the huge cat-eyes (in a head now merely the size of a small dog, instead of a table) right up until he feels fingers probing at his abused hole. “Ah—ah, ow, owowow…”

“Damn, you really did him good, Eijirou,” says Bakugou. Izuku lifts his head, peering between his legs, and suffers a full-body shudder at the huge smear of sticky white come on Bakugou’s fingers.

Bakugou grins at him, wolf-like and feral. “Can’t have all this leaking out, now can we,” he says. And the next thing Izuku knows, he’s scooping up Eijirou’s come and pressing it back into Izuku’s ass, making Izuku twitch and gasp from how over-sensitive it is.

“F-FUCK! Stop, please, stop, hhhhaaa, it’s t-too sensitive…!”

“Nah,” says Bakugou. Izuku is seriously considering just kicking him in the face when Bakugou reaches up with his other hand to wrap around Izuku’s cock—immediately followed by Bakugou’s mouth. Izuku makes a noise no human should be able to vocalize, his head thumping back on the pillow.

He doesn’t last long; he’s too sensitive and wrung out. Izuku comes with a wrecked cry, his arm thrown across his face as he empties into Bakugou’s mouth, his ass clenching against the fingers pushing dragon come back into him. Izuku just lays there, too exhausted and sore to even think. He doesn’t move when Bakugou stands up, licking off his hand and fingers with a relish that would be obscene if Izuku had any energy left whatsoever to care about such things.

“Be right back,” says Bakugou—more to the dragon than to Izuku. Bakugou walks off, but Eijirou is apparently not done. He immediately starts to lick Izuku clean, utterly ignoring Izuku’s squawking.

All Izuku can do is lay there. Or, well; that’s not true. He has some salve in his bag he could get. Izuku cranes his head to look around and spots his clothes on the others side of the room, neatly folded with his traveling bag on top. He attempts to crawl off the sleeping area, over to his things, but only makes it about three feet before he collapses, his thigh muscles betraying him as they spasm in protest. There’s an irritable chirp from behind him, and then abruptly Izuku is being picked up with surprising gentleness in a mouth full of teeth. Eijirou deposits Izuku between his front paws and returns to licking him clean.

“Ah, calm down, you horny fuckin’ lizard,” says Bakugou’s voice. The man in question reappears at the door to the room, set in the middle of the far wall. He sounds amused. “You’re gonna break him.” He walks over to where Izuku is being licked to death by an over-eager dragon, setting down the things in his arms—what turns out to be a bundle of blankets, a large jug of water with an empty glass, a pot of some strong-smelling ointment, and some wet towels.

“Back off,” Bakugou says brusquely. Eijirou whines, but Bakugou just ignores him. He sits Izuku up and forces Izuku to drink two full glasses of water. Then he sets about cleaning Izuku with the wet towels, before finally rolling him onto his stomach and smearing some of that oil into Izuku’s ass and thighs. Izuku endures it all, mostly because he’s too exhausted and brain-dead to even question it.

Eijirou sits by the whole time, looking on with obvious interest. Bakugou finishes finally, rolling Izuku onto his back again and covering him with a blanket. Immediately, Eijirou creeps closer, elongating himself like a stretching cat as he tries to get closer to Izuku without actually getting up. “Be gentle, you monster,” says Bakugou severely. Eijirou whines and lays his ears back.

The sight is so ridiculous, so cute that Izuku lets out a dizzy laugh. Eijirou immediately brightens, leaning his head down to nuzzle at Izuku’s side, ears perked, eyes wide. Izuku smiles despite himself. He lifts a hand, hesitating a moment before reaching out to stroke the top of that scaly head. Eijirou croons in response, pushing his head against Izuku’s hand, and Izuku watches those big eyes hood in bliss.

“Ugh,” says Bakugou, but it’s not very convincing. He flops over on the mattress next to Izuku, stretching an arm casually across Izuku’s chest.

Izuku has approximately eight thousand questions to ask: why Bakugou and Eijirou picked him for this when such obvious closeness already exists between them; why Bakugou is being so… gentle towards him when he made it very clear he thought Izuku was a worthless idiot back at the stage in Pelapi; if this is what Izuku is going to be expected to—to do this for his full five years here. But he doesn’t even have two brain cells to rub together, much less the energy for that kind of interrogation.

He settles for staring blearily at the ceiling and muttering, “You could have advertised the position as ‘dragon sex toy,’ you know.” Bakugou bites him on the shoulder for his trouble. “Ow! Fuck you!”

“Relax,” says Bakugou, instead of blasting him through the wall like Izuku halfway expects him to. “You can rest for tonight. You did better than I thought a shitty peasant like you would do.”

“Uh, thanks,” says Izuku, and exhales. Then something occurs to him. “Wait, ‘for tonight’?”

Bakugou grins at him. Izuku finds himself staring at the sharp incisors he has, finds himself thinking that somehow the dragon is not the one currently making Izuku feel like prey before a predator. “Dragons’ ruts last almost two weeks,” he says in a low voice. “And his is just getting started.”

Izuku stares at him, his stomach turning over. Two weeks? “You won’t die,” says Bakugou, which is not remotely reassuring. “You won’t have the energy for anything else, though. And don’t bother trying to leave the room, Eijirou gets very possessive.”

At the mention of his name, Eijirou gets up, chirping interrogatively at them, then repositions to wrap around Izuku and Bakugou, settling his big head on Izuku’s stomach. Izuku finds himself picturing the enormous tomcat his mother had while he was growing up, the one who would always sit on Izuku’s chest or lap and look mortally offended whenever Izuku dared disturb him.

“Oh good, I didn’t need to move or anything,” Izuku says out loud. Eijirou trills at him; he sounds happy. Izuku sighs.

Less than a day in his new circumstances, and he’s already in way over his head.

Chapter Text

Katsuki was right about Eijirou’s rut: Izuku does not die. He does feel sore and wrung out enough to wish he could just sleep through the next two weeks sometimes, though.

Izuku sleeps like a rock that first night. He wakes to the unique feeling of Eijirou nuzzling his stomach, only to be distracted within moments by the sound of Katsuki snoring like he’s got a demon up his nose. Izuku spends a few moments trying to control the urge to suffocate himself laughing, but he’s only been struggling a few moments before Eijirou simply takes the blanket in his teeth and yanks it off Izuku in one go. Then he starts licking over Izuku’s lower half again, just as intent as the night before.

This time, Eijirou does all the work himself, tipping Izuku onto his stomach with one huge clawed foot and licking his ass open before fucking him. Izuku flops over onto his side once the dragon is done, breathing hard and wincing at the renewed soreness. He comes face-to-face with Katsuki, who’s definitely no longer asleep and has apparently been watching all this from his spot on the bedroll.

Instead of the moderate gentleness he showed last night, Katsuki now looks downright surly. He scowls down at the fucked-out puddle that used to be Izuku, then hauls himself up off the mattress and leaves the room. He comes back with more water, more towels, more of that soothing ointment, and a plowman’s platter of meat, bread, and cheese. Katsuki makes short work of cleaning Izuku up, then plunks the tray of food down in front of him.

“Eat,” he says curtly.

Izuku eyes him, uncertain, then picks up a slice of bread and takes a bite out of it. Eijirou attempts to steal some meat, but Katsuki snarls and bops him on the noise hard enough to make the dragon whine.

“Thanks,” Izuku ventures. Katsuki rolls his eyes and looks away.

He stomps off not long after that. Izuku thinks that’ll be all he’ll see of the king for a while and that he’ll have to somehow rub that ointment into his ass himself, but Katsuki is back in under an hour. He orders Izuku curtly onto his stomach, then sets about ministering to his aching muscles with an almost clinical terseness.

It’s bizarre. Izuku accepts it, because what else can he do, but he can’t help but wonder why Katsuki is even bothering when he seems so put out about it.

He doesn’t get any sort of answer for almost a week, during which his days pass in much the same manner: Eijirou wakes him up, either through nuzzling or through licking Izuku’s junk, and then proceeds to fuck him stupid. He’s always a cuddle monster after sex, always wants to have Izuku between his front paws so he can nuzzle Izuku and lick him clean. Izuku then either sleeps, eats, or reads the books Katsuki brings him.

Eijirou is remarkably gentle with him (when he’s not fucking Izuku through the feather mattress, that is). Izuku winds up with a number of bites and scratch marks, but it’s mostly because a beast the size of Eijirou—even a miniature Eijirou, one with a cock that won’t break Izuku in two—can only be so gentle with teeth as sharp as daggers and enormous scaly claws. But he loves to snuggle, wants to keep Izuku curled against his chest or tucked beneath a wing basically at all times. And he purrs like an oversized cat when he’s curled around Izuku. It’s actually incredibly relaxing; Izuku thinks he has never slept so well.

The only hint of how vicious Eijirou truly is comes out when the occasional servant makes the mistake of poking their head into the dragon’s chamber, presumably looking for the king. Every time, the same thing happens: Eijirou immediately transforms into a snarling, spitting monster, rearing up to full size and darting his huge head at the servant. From the side, Izuku gets a glimpse of how wide that enormous mouth is, how red the lolling tongue inside, how every single one of his murderous teeth is on display.

The servants vanish, and do not reappear. Izuku can’t blame them.

The only other human he does see is the king, whom Eijirou permits without so much as a growl or murmur of protest. Indeed, he greets Katsuki with a happy chirp whenever he appears, leaning his head over in hopes of a scratch. Katsuki always permits it; the only moment of relative sweetness Izuku sees from the king are those times when his dragon greets him. Then, Katsuki grows soft for a moment, bending his head to rub his face against Eijirou’s and stroking the long, serpentine neck.

He has no such sweetness for Izuku, that’s for sure. It’s true that Katsuki is the one who brings Izuku food, washes him when he’s too sore to move, and rubs that soothing ointment into his skin. It’s also true that he acts like every minute he spends doing so is a huge waste of his time and energy.

Izuku doesn’t understand. After the seventh day, his curiosity gets the better of him. “My lord,” he says, and stops.

Katsuki looks over at him with obvious irritation from where he’s sharpening a knife. “What?” he says impatiently. “What the fuck is it.”

Izuku winces, then forges ahead anyway. “W-Why are you bothering to take care of me when you obviously don’t like me?”

Eijirou huffs at the question, his tail lashing from side to side in agitation. He reaches out one clawed hand and drags Izuku closer to him, until he’s tucked against Eijirou’s side again. Izuku repositions himself, no longer particularly bothered by the overly affectionate lizard that’s decided Izuku is his personal fucktoy, and gazes steadily at Katsuki, still waiting for an answer.

Katsuki scowls harder at him. “Why the fuck would you ask me that?” he demands. “Are you complaining?”

“No, of course not,” says Izuku. “I just… don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to,” Katsuki snaps. “You’re just a stupid peasant and my slave, you don’t need answers.”

At this, Eijirou growls—a deep rumble Izuku can feel through his whole body, pressed against Eijirou’s chest as he is. Katsuki looks sharply at the dragon, incredulous. “What the fuck,” he mutters, and then looks away.

Again, Eijirou growls, deeper this time. Katsuki scowls, but it’s at his own hands this time. He mutters something under his breath, and then shakes his head. “You’re lucky Eijirou likes you,” he says in a dark voice. “Fine. You wouldn’t make it through Eijirou’s rut in one piece if I didn’t take care of you.”

Izuku considers this. “That’s… true,” he says carefully. “And my lord, I appreciate it. But—”

Katsuki pins him with a venomous stare, one that promises all sorts of torture if Izuku presses the issue. Izuku, who has spent the past week learning how many different muscles in his body can be sore at the same time, is less intimidated than he once would have been. It’s arguably not wise, but—but—

But the king’s dragon wants him, and the king wanted him for his dragon. And maybe it’s because of Eijirou still pressed against him, his faint growl a rumble against Izuku’s back, but Izuku does not think he’s going to be thrown away quite so easily. He keeps watching Katsuki, until it is Katsuki that looks away first.

“If I’m going to spend an obscene amount of money and royal favor on a stupid peasant, I can’t have you broken a month into being here,” says Katsuki shortly. “Don’t fucking ask me again, unless you want me to let you fend for yourself.”

“No, my lord,” says Izuku, and subsides. He curls up against Eijirou, but continues to watch Katsuki out of the corner of his eye for as long as the Lord of Arden is in the room—only another twenty minutes or so, as it turns out. But even after Katsuki leaves, Izuku finds himself with plenty to think about.

* * * * *

Finally, Eijirou’s rut passes.

Izuku wakes one day to find himself curled up against a warm body—a warm human body. Eijirou is curled around him, one leg tangled between Izuku, drooling cheerfully on Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku can’t stop the grin that spreads across his face despite the lingering soreness in his ass.

He tries to extricate himself without waking the other man—dragon—whatever—but Eijirou shifts, taking a slow breath and cracking one sleepy eye in his direction. “Morning,” Eijirou mumbles. He gives Izuku a lazy smile, made slightly less friendly by the mouth still full of astonishingly sharp teeth. Izuku is much less frightened by this after seeing Eijirou’s other mouth full of teeth, however, so he smiles back, albeit a bit shyly.

“Good morning,” Izuku offers. “You’re, uh… looking very nice today.”

Eijirou makes a happy noise in his throat. It's very reminiscent of the huge deep-throated purr he’d make as a dragon. Then he rolls over on top of Izuku and presses him into the bed. Izuku squeaks, a noise that turns into a laugh as Eijirou rubs his face against Izuku and then licks his cheek. “Oh my god!”

“You smell so good,” Eijirou says. He sounds happy. Really happy. Izuku, who after all was not initially that thrilled to find out he was brought home to be a dragon’s sex toy, now finds it very difficult to remain angry at said dragon. It’s been a long time since anyone treated him with such obvious affection or attention, and it’s… well.

It’s nice.

Izuku spends the next few minutes entangled with Eijirou, discovering that Eijirou does indeed know how humans kiss, despite the affectionate tongue-washing. Eijirou seems happy to show him what other things he knows how to do as a human, and soon has Izuku gasping with fingers in his ass and Eijirou’s mouth around his cock. Izuku is still incredibly sore and tender from the past two weeks of Eijirou’s rut, but he doesn’t want to stop, doesn’t even think of pushing Eijirou off him. He comes down Eijirou’s throat with a gasp and a shudder that tremors up his whole body.

He’s sagging to the bed, trying to remember how to breathe as he watches Eijirou lick his lips and fingers with an obscene amount of satisfaction, when he hears footsteps at the door. Even before Eijirou’s face lights up in recognition, Izuku recognized the sound of those footfalls. “Katsuki!” cries Eijirou. “Come play with us!”

“Ugh,” says Katsuki’s voice from somewhere above and to Izuku’s right. Izuku turns his head to look over his shoulder and sees the Lord of Arden glowering down at them, irritation etched on his handsome face. “Isn’t your rut done yet?”

Eijirou seems to wilt a bit. “It is,” he says tentatively, “but you haven’t—”

“I told you, I don’t have time right now,” says Katsuki shortly. “And especially not today, the Duke of Farmington is visiting and he’s bringing his entire fucking entourage of dithering idiots and kiss-asses.”

Izuku doesn’t quite understand the particular darkness that enters the king’s voice as he says this, but Eijirou blanches. Izuku glances from the still-naked dragon-man to the cranky king above him, and ventures, “My lord, could I be of service somehow?”

Katsuki glances down at him. “You already served your purpose,” he says disdainfully. “Eijirou’s rut will come around again soon enough. A fuck toy isn’t any use in state matters.”

Izuku’s stomach tightens. He pointedly does not look at Eijirou as he carefully responds, “My lord, I will of course do anything you tell me to do—”

“Then shut up and stop bothering me,” Katsuki snaps.

“—but I spent a great deal of time as a student of Master Toshinori, dealing with his visitors and his paperwork, a-and if my lord wishes it, I would b-be happy to use those skills in your service.” Izuku barely manages to get this out without wanting to dive under the covers again, but he forces it out anyway. If the Lord of Arden is paying out the nose to keep Izuku as his slave, Izuku wants to at least make himself useful.

Katsuki is frowning at him; Izuku half-expects another snarl or even a blow, but instead there’s several moments of silence. “Master Toshinori, the magus?” Katsuki says finally.

Izuku nods. “Yes, my lord. He was mentoring me in the ways of magic.”

Katsuki snorts. “Can’t have been much fucking good then, if you wound up selling yourself,” he says scornfully. Izuku drops his eyes, his face burning. Somewhere, Iida is abruptly very angry on Izuku’s behalf and doesn’t know why, but as far as Izuku’s concerned, the insult is true.

Certainly he wasn’t strong enough to protect his town when they needed him. Didn’t have the skills to save Toshinori from the sickness that even now is eating away at his guts. Izuku is here to provide protection for his city the only way he has left.

But apparently Katsuki has made a decision anyway. “Fine,” he says curtly. “You can stand around and look pretty, and see if anyone is stupid enough to gossip near you. Eijirou, get dressed and get him in something presentable, and then meet me in the throne room.”

Izuku dares to glance over at Eijirou, and is surprised to see him looking happier than before. “Okay, Kacchan,” he says brightly. “We’ll be down in just a few minutes!”

“Ugh,” says Katsuki—but it doesn’t sound quite as irritated as Izuku expects. “I told you not to call me that.” He sweeps away, his cloak a bloody swirl in his wake. Izuku sits up, staring after him, his mind full of a dozen different questions.

“Come on, Izuku,” says Eijirou. He pulls Izuku to his feet, wrapping both arms around him and kissing his forehead. Izuku freezes for just a moment, then leans into him, grateful for the warmth and affection, even if he doesn’t understand it. “We need to get ready to meet Kacchan’s visitors.”

“Okay,” says Izuku. Impulsively, he leans up to kiss Eijirou’s mouth. Eijirou lights up, picking Izuku up around the waist and kissing him happily.

There are worse fates, Izuku thinks. Maybe this wasn’t the most terrible thing after all.

* * * * *

He revises that opinion some sixty minutes later. Eijirou helped him wash up and then got him dressed in what is honestly the most outrageously slutty thing Izuku’s ever laid eyes on.

“You’re beautiful,” Eijirou tells him. His voice is reverent, and the way he’s staring at Izuku makes Izuku feel even more naked and on display than he already does.

Which, considering what he’s in, says a lot.

His bottom piece is little more than a glorified loincloth, gold link chains set over his hips from which dangle long pieces of silk that twitch and shift with every breeze. They do next to nothing to cover his ass or his privates; Izuku somehow feels more exposed than if he was just naked. The top isn’t any better, a gauzy piece of sheer silk that drapes over his shoulders and collarbone, hides exactly nothing, and whispers against his skin like a lover’s touch, making his nipples stand on end.

And speaking of his nipples, Eijirou unceremoniously sat him down and pierced both of them with delicate metal bars, telling him earnestly how important it is for him to look like “a war prize.” Izuku was too busy trying to keep from whimpering to really have an answer to that, but Eijirou soothed him with sweet kisses in between each piercing, holding Izuku securely in his lap through the whole process.

But he asks about it afterwards. “Why a war prize?” Izuku asks. “Pretty much everyone knows that the king was searching for a slave to take on, don’t they?”

“They do, but we haven’t told anyone who wasn’t at the auction that day who you are,” says Eijirou. “And he needs to look strong in front of his enemies, so a war prize will be a good display of his power.”

Eijirou tells him all this as he’s helping Izuku get “dressed.” He’s adding bracer after bracer to Izuku’s arms, thick gold bands that even Izuku has to admit show off his biceps and forearms. Matching gold manacles at his wrist have actual attachment points for chains. An accompanying golden collar goes around his throat, one with multiple D-rings attached at four points around the circular design; a woven gold-leaf pattern works its way along the length of the collar between each of the D-rings.

Finally, they’re done. Eijirou ushers Izuku over to a full-length mirror hanging from the far wall. Izuku stares at himself in the mirror, feeling his cheeks burn at the outrageous picture he makes. If there was doubt in anyone’s mind as to what purpose he serves, the outfit fixes that confusion nicely. The sluttiness of the outfit is only made worse by the fact that his entire body is covered in bitemarks and bruises in various stages of healing. The ointment Katsuki’s been smoothing on his body during the rut has helped with the recovery somewhat, but there’s no disguising the rough treatment Izuku’s had the past two weeks.

“This might not be the best outfit if we’re going for subtlety,” Izuku says. He keeps his voice even, diplomatic. Offending dragons seems like a poor life choice.

“No, you look wonderful,” Eijirou tells him softly. He wraps his arms around Izuku’s waist from behind, hooking his chin over Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku meets his eyes in the mirror, and Eijirou’s arms tighten briefly. For just a moment Izuku swears that Eijirou’s eyes have gone cat-slit vertical again, and that he can see the huge shadow of wings over Eijirou’s back. Then it passes.

There’s something deeper going on here, something Izuku doesn’t quite understand. But it seems he’s going to be put in the middle of it, regardless.

Eijirou leads him downstairs to the throne room, where a full-blown fête is already in full swing. The room is chock-full of every kind of nobleman Izuku can imagine: actual dukes and duchesses; a variety of princesses and even a couple princes; some minor marquises and marchionesses Izuku has never heard of; some better-known members of the merchant class; and with them all comes their entourages of servants and pages and knights.

Izuku’s seen gatherings like this before, though never in such numbers. Once, the Thane of Newcastle came to their city to demand Toshinori banish some dread beast or other from his land, and he insisted on bringing what seemed like his entire court, down to the damn court jester. It had been a zoo. Toshinori had entertained him with more grace than Izuku would’ve been able to muster, but Izuku had done his best to keep track of who was who, who was with who, who was sleeping with who, and who wouldn’t be caught dead sleeping on a pile of flea-bitten feathers like heathens.

(That last was the thane’s wife. She’d been unpleasant enough to make Katsuki look downright friendly.)

Izuku comes into the room alongside Eijirou, and immediately what feels like every pair of eyes turns towards them. “There you are,” says a voice; Izuku looks over and finds himself with the strange sensation of being glad to see Katsuki. “What took you so damn long?”

“I wanted to make your prize presentable, my king,” says Eijirou. He flashes a toothy smile at Katsuki, who to Izuku’s shock turns sort of red and scowls by way of response. “We are at your service.”

“My lord,” says Izuku, and drops into a deep bow. He hears murmurs from around them, whispers from their visitors. It’s far too much attention, and it has him sweating in the ridiculously flimsy outfit he’s in, too aware of the marks covering his body. Izuku hears Katsuki stalk forward, and then there’s a rough hand in Izuku’s hair, tugging cruelly at the roots.

“I don’t know what you think you’re doing in that outfit,” Katsuki says in a low voice. “But don’t get too familiar with my guests, peasant. Remember who you belong to.”

Heat streaks through Izuku like a lightning in a summer storm. He shudders, eyes hooding instinctively. “Yes, my lord,” he says.

That hand tugs once more, then releases him. Izuku dares to lift his head, and finds the king staring at him, an indecipherable look on his face. Then Katsuki walks away, joining a group of nobility who are all holding flutes of some sparkling wine. Izuku lets out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding and tries to collect his scattered thoughts.

Eijirou’s hand finds his shoulder, gives him what is no doubt meant to be a reassuring squeeze but in reality just pinches a nerve so hard Izuku can’t quite lift that arm for about ten minutes. Izuku appreciates the gesture, all the same, and somehow finds the courage to stand up and start mingling in the huge crowd.

The throne room itself is one of the most massive rooms in the entire castle, at least from what little of it Izuku’s seen. Dark stone walls rise high into the air to an arched ceiling, designed by some long-ago architect to inspire maximum intimidation in any visitors. The windows are high and narrow, permitting little in the way of natural light, the dearth of which is made up for by lit torchieres hung around the room. Tapestries drape the walls here and there, depicting everything from scenes of war to yearly festivals to a few of the high holy days. Huge fireplaces stand out at various points around the room; Izuku spares a moment to be grateful they aren’t lit now—between the early summer weather outside and the number of people packed into this space, it’s already stifling.

Izuku wanders the hall, making polite conversation with anyone curious enough to talk to him and patiently enduring the other, less polite kind of attention he gets. Sadly, the second kind is far more common than the first. Many members of the nobility outright ignore him, but Izuku doesn’t really mind that. He doesn’t love the way some of their eyes linger on his outfit and his marks, although he expected it; he also expected the murmured comments about look what the barbarian did to that poor boy and can you believe he’s parading around like that?

Worse than the scandalized looks or being outright ignored are the ones who notice him far too much. Those are the ones who slide a hand under his skirt to squeeze his ass, or touch his pierced nipples through his shirt. Izuku’s face feels like a permanently-lit torch as he endures all the groping and disgusting comments; more than one aristocrat wonders out loud just how good Izuku is at sucking cock, or “servicing” his lord in bed.

Who can blame the king, says one man. I wouldn’t let him leave the bed if he were mine.

It’s humiliating. If Izuku wasn’t 100% positive that Eijirou isn’t mean enough to do it, he would have thought the king’s dragon was out to torment him by putting him in this outfit, with these marks. But he’s damned if he has any idea what Eijirou really meant to do, or if his comment about Izuku being a war prize was really what all this is about.

Izuku bears it all, smiling valiantly and doing his best to make idle conversation with anyone who comes over to talk to him. This, too, was something he was used to doing when working with Toshinori, and he finds himself immensely grateful for the practice—although there’s little anyone could have done to prepare him for the humiliation of having his ass fondled by a lecherous nobleman twice his age.

But degrading comments and how much they’d like to take Izuku back to their rooms aren’t the only things the nobility talk about. Once they grow bored of him, they tend to go back to their own conversations, more or less ignoring Izuku as he drifts around the room. Izuku listens quietly to the gossip, and much of it is just that, speculative trash: who’s sleeping with who; which merchant’s wife up and ran off with a page boy; which second daughter of some minor nobility has come down with the hysteria and been bundled off to a convent.

It’s all very interesting, if you care about that sort of thing. Izuku doesn’t—but the king might. So as he ducks around a stone column and bends over slightly, cradling his open palms before him as he breathes on his hands. From his lips comes a delicate gold cloud, as though he’d held gold powder in his mouth; the cloud forms itself into a number of tiny, glittering birds, each no larger than his thumb.

“Bring me back a pretty song,” Izuku whispers, and clicks his tongue. The birds twitter and flutter in his hands for a few brief seconds, then take flight, whisking off into the upper reaches of the great hall.

No one seems to notice. Izuku lets out an inward sigh of relief, then resumes his idle strolling around the room. And all the while, he casts a glance back towards front of the room, checking on the king. The Lord of Arden slouches irritably on his throne as courtier after courtier approaches him, trying for a royal audience, to curry some noble favor from the most powerful man in all the seven kingdoms. Izuku feels a twinge of actual pity at the sight; it looks… well.

Not fun, that’s for sure. But it’s what Katsuki got himself into by overthrowing the previous ruler of the seven kingdoms. Now everyone and their blue-blooded brother wants a piece of his attention. Izuku shakes his head to dispel that strange train of thought before turning and wandering further down the hall.

Some thirty minutes later, Izuku finds himself staring fixedly at a tapestry on the wall depicting some ancient barbarian queen astride her war horse, a long spear in one hand, a severed human head held by the hair in the other. It’s gruesome and yet somehow captivating. Izuku has no trouble pretending to be fascinated by it even as he listens intently to the arguing merchants some fifteen feet away. They’re clearly deep in their cups, either uncaring or simply oblivious to any prying eyes or ears.

But the room is loud, and making out what they’re saying becomes hard as raucous singing breaks out on Izuku’s other side. Izuku turns, has to let his gaze stray as he wanders closer, but tries to keep his eyes down—it wouldn’t do good to betray his interest in their conversation. (Or worse, make eye contact and give exactly the wrong idea about what sort of interest he’s showing.)

“The bridge would be a disaster,” says one merchant, this one in a doublet of red and gold with hair that wouldn’t look out of place in a bale of hay. “It’d ruin the flow of trade in half the seven kingdoms!”

“You’re just mad because it would give the silk merchants in Elaris access to materials that don’t come through your port,” says the second merchant—this one with a face like a corpse, if corpses got red in the face from drinking too much. He leers at the other merchant, showing far too many teeth, and Izuku has to avert his eyes lest he do something incredibly obvious like start gagging.

“Your spice trading would suffer, too!” says the first merchant indignantly. “Have you no sense of self-preservation?”

“And just what are you doing, little bird?”

The voice is far too close, the question whispered directly in his ear. Izuku gasps, whirling around to find a tall, lanky man standing practically on top of him. The stranger is in dark, elegant clothing, dressed like one of the nobility—a duke or perhaps a prince. He’s dark-eyed and handsome in an unfriendly way, and he’s got a wicked smile on his face that Izuku does not care for the tiniest bit.

“I, I was j-just—” Izuku trips over his words, his face reddening as he tries to find an answer to the question. For a moment he’s certain the stranger saw the aerials he released into the room to spy for him, but when the man leans in and catches Izuku’s wrist with an ugly leer, Izuku suddenly realizes he’s in trouble for a very different reason. “Ah, no, you can’t—”

“Can’t what?” asks the stranger. “What’s this, a slave telling his betters what to do? Sounds like the king needs to discipline his toys better.” His eyes burn, and he steps away, dragging Izuku after him towards a poorly-lit corner of the room. Izuku stumbles as he’s pulled along. He tries to yank his hand out of the man’s grasp, panic rising in the back of his throat, but he’s not sure he’d get anything but scorn and laughter if he cried for help.

It’s more than obvious what the stranger is intending, and worse, all the things Izuku could do to stop him would no doubt land him in deep trouble. “Sir, p-please,” he gets out, and winces as the man yanks him forward, almost throwing him against the wall.

“That’s more like it,” says the man. A cruel sneer appears, and he leans over Izuku, his other hand skirting lower to Izuku’s hip. “Now let’s see if the king has taught you anything in the way of manners…”

“Why don’t you ask the king yourself?” says a new voice. The stranger freezes and goes sheet-white, while Izuku’s heart leaps into his throat. The stranger turns around, revealing the sight of the Lord of Arden standing directly behind him. He has a manic smile on his face and a dangerous glint in his eye—something the stranger can apparently detect as well as Izuku.

“M-My lord,” stammers the stranger. “I—I was just—”

“Just because I have my pets on display is not an invitation for you to touch my things, Chancellor,” says Katsuki. He steps right into the chancellor’s space; for a moment Izuku swears he can smell the stink of flame and ozone.

“N-No, no, my lord, of course not!”

“Good,” says Katsuki. “I’d hate to have to make an example out of you for your presumption.”

“Of course not, my lord, I would never dream of such a thing—”

“Get out of here and don’t let me see you again tonight,” Katsuki snaps, cutting him off. The chancellor babbles a few more apologies, backing away all the while, and then vanishes into the crowd.

Izuku lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “Thank you, my lord,” he says, and drops into an awkward bow.

“Stupid peasant,” says the king, but it isn’t as venomous as it usually is. Or maybe that’s only in comparison to how frightening he sounded just now threatening the chancellor; Izuku doesn’t know. “Tell me again why you’re wearing a ridiculous outfit like that, anyway, with all those fucking marks out for everyone to see. Why did you think parading around dressed like a piece of meat before wolves was a good idea?”

Izuku blinks, not having expected this particular sentiment from this quarter. “Ah, Ei—Kirishima dressed me, Your Majesty.”

“Oh.” Katsuki’s voice sounds strange; an indecipherable look passes over his face and is gone like clouds before the sun. “Of course he did,” he says, and shakes his head. “Come on, you have to stay close to me or more filthy assholes will try the same thing.”

“Yes, my lord,” says Izuku. His voice shakes just a tiny bit with relief. Katsuki rolls his eyes, then turns and walks back towards the throne. Izuku trails in his wake, listening to the panicked drumroll of his heart slowly winding down.

The rest of the fête passes without much fanfare. Izuku stays close by Katsuki, who is as threatening and imperious as any king could ever wish to be, and thus somehow manages to make Izuku feel much safer than a man an outfit that revealing should be able to. No one so much as dares to make a rude comment, not with Katsuki standing by glowering like he’s itching for an excuse to join battle with the first fool who crosses him.

Who knows, Izuku thinks; maybe he is. It’d probably be a pleasant change from the simpering political bullshit he’s enduring right now.

Eijirou appears from time to time, mostly to check on either Izuku or Katsuki, before inexplicably vanishing again. Izuku can’t help but wonder where he keeps disappearing to. Katsuki must notice Izuku looking, because he mutters “Eyes up, peasant.”

“Ah! Forgive me, my lord,” Izuku says quickly. He rips his eyes away from Eijirou’s back and glances up at the king, who’s watching him with an uncomfortable smirk.

“Didn’t think you’d be so lonely for him after the two weeks you just had,” Katsuki says in a low voice. There’s an edge of malice to it that has Izuku sweating under the ethereal silk he’s in. He takes a slow breath, choosing his words carefully.

“My lord, I only wondered why he wasn’t here with you, when you two seem so close,” he says finally.

Katsuki says nothing for a moment, just watches him with those red eyes. Izuku blushes and drops his gaze after a few moments of eye contact that feels far too intense. “He’d be here, but I told him to stay away,” Katsuki says at length.

That brings Izuku up sharp. “You did?” he says. “But why?”

“Because he hates big crowds,” says Katsuki. “He’d be crawling up the walls if he had to endure this shit.”

“Oh,” says Izuku. Katsuki gives him a long look, but says nothing else.

Finally, after what feels like endless hours, the nobles and merchants leave, taking their entourages with them. The Lord of Arden doesn’t bother waiting for the exodus to complete, just sweeps off down the hall, taking his entourage with him—his entourage which consists of Izuku, a couple of his own chancellors and advisors, and the stone-faced captain of the guard.

The chancellors and advisors hang back a bit, leaving Izuku and the guard-captain to pace directly behind the king. The guard-captain is a woman with desert-brown skin, long dark hair, and a scar across her face that somehow does nothing to diminish the handsomeness of her features. She also has the distinction of appearing utterly unmoved by the king’s temper or his snarls. Maybe that’s why he keeps her around, Izuku thinks.

“Leave us,” snaps Katsuki as they approach his quarters. Izuku turns to go, but Katsuki reaches out, swift as a viper, and grabs Izuku’s collar. “You stay, peasant.”

“Yes, my lord,” Izuku says, because oh shit what did I do seems a poor choice. The guard-captain bows and unceremoniously escorts the remaining objectors away from the king’s chambers. Katsuki sweeps into the room, and Izuku trails meekly after him.

The room appears to be another one of the king’s chambers; a receiving room, perhaps, or a study. Enormous stacks of bookcases line the walls, giving the room a crowded, closed-in feeling. Another fireplace stands unlit at the far end of the room, taking up the only wall not drowning in bookcases; a desk stands in the center of this chaos, piled high with books and papers. More books and papers litter every surface in the room, every shelf of every bookcase, even the floor. Just looking at the disorganization makes Izuku’s teeth itch.

Katsuki crosses the room and sits down in the huge, carven wooden chair behind the desk. He glowers at the table in front of him, as though the paperwork there has personally offended him. Izuku lingers at the edge of the room, unsure of what the king might want with him, or what he should do.

The king answers that much for him, at least. “You cast a spell in the throne room, before I came to get you,” he says. “What was it?”

Izuku stiffens. He finds Katsuki watching him again, eyes sharp as his dragon’s claws. If he’s exhausted at all by the parade of nobility he just endured, there’s no sign of it now. “I didn’t think anyone saw,” Izuku says stupidly.

“I didn’t see it, I smelled it,” says Katsuki, which—wait, what? “And I caught one, but it just disintegrated. So what are they?”

Izuku takes a deep breath, then lets it out slow. He hadn’t planned on sharing any of this information—not yet—but it seems he has little choice. “They’re aerials, my lord,” he says reluctantly. “They’re just little summons. They can do various things, depending on what the caster asks for.”

“And what did the caster ask for?” Katsuki has a shrewd, dangerous look to him, a tension coming into his body that belies the casual slouch he’s in. Izuku realizes he’s getting a glimpse of the warrior-king, the one disguised by the bored, out-of-place barbarian on a throne too big for him. It makes Izuku’s pulse speed up, and not just from fear.

“I asked them to listen, my lord, and bring me word of anything interesting.”

Katsuki tilts his head to one side, staring at Izuku. “And what did they tell you?”

By way of response, Izuku holds out his hands, palms-up, and whistles. What comes out is not a single note, but a series of them, a quick run up and down the scale. For several seconds, nothing happens; Katsuki watches, eyebrows raised, looking more and more impatient by the moment.

“What was that supposed to—” he begins, standing up—

—and then a dozen tiny glittering birds fly into the room, alighting in Izuku’s hands.

“Sing for me,” says Izuku; the briefest hint of gold plays in front of his lips. One bird flutters in the air above its mates, and then in a whispering old woman’s voice it says, Lord Argeon’s daughter has been spending an awful lot of time with the son of his rival, don’t you think?

Katsuki startles. “That’s Matron Hessia’s voice,” he says. Izuku says nothing, just watches the aerial. It keeps talking—repeating more of that same conversation, complete with juicy details of just what kind of time Lord Argeon’s daughter has supposedly been spending, and then it simply blows away into dust.

Only then does Izuku look up at the king. Katsuki is watching him, standing in front of his desk now; his expression is inscrutable. Izuku can’t tell if he’s pissed, impressed, or some other, worser emotion. “There is more, if my lord wishes to hear it,” Izuku says, carefully.

“Come over here,” says Katsuki. He sits back down, gesturing for Izuku to cross the room to him. After a few more moments of dithering, Izuku does, coming to stand by the king’s side. He’s not expecting Katsuki to reach out and pull Izuku into his lap, or to wrap a possessive arm around Izuku’s waist, one too-warm hand slipping just beneath the gold chain at Izuku’s hip. Izuku catches his breath, but the king does nothing else. His hand stays pressed against Izuku’s skin, ember-warm.

“Let’s see what the rest of those bird-things have to say,” says Katsuki. Izuku can do naught but oblige.

It takes three-quarters of an hour to listen to all the gossip and recordings the aerials caught for Izuku. Against his better judgement, Izuku finds himself relaxing against Katsuki’s chest as they listen; sometimes he has to make an aerial repeat its recording, mostly at Katsuki’s request, as they try to determine who was talking, since some of the recordings are one-sided or missed part of the conversation in question.

Most of the conversations are details of a more mundane sort of sin: double-dealings of merchants, forgery of paperwork, adultery, gambling, the works. But two of the glittering spells repeat details of one particular conversation that has Katsuki stiffening against Izuku with tangible anger. It’s a conversation between two moderately powerful noblemen, both of whom were apparently favorites with the previous king, Shigaraki. And it seems they are not happy with the new Lord of Arden, and are looking to quietly poison his food.

“It seems I do have something to attend to,” Katsuki mutters. “Idiots.” Izuku half-expects to be summarily ejected from the room, so that the king can attend to the morons plotting his murder at his own fête, but he doesn’t move. By now he’s got his chin hooked over Izuku’s shoulder in much the same way Eijirou did earlier, when he was dressing Izuku for the king’s audience. Izuku finds himself far too aware of how warm the king’s body is, how firm his chest and arm are.

He waits, but Katsuki says nothing. He’s just thinking, probably; perhaps he finds it easier to do with a warm body in his arms. That leads Izuku to wondering why it isn’t Eijirou here in the king’s arms, and that particular train of thought does him no favors. It serves only to leave him feeling awkward and probably unwelcome, so he sets it aside.

Izuku shuts his eyes. He has never been the praying kind, so instead he simply asks the silence for a serenity and clarity he thinks he will never find.

“So,” says Katsuki, finally. Izuku opens his eyes again and stares at his hands, which are folded in his lap, now empty of their glittering bird-callings. “Why the fuck are you here?”

Izuku stiffens. “My—lord?” he says, remembering himself too late. “I don’t—”

“You’re clearly not as useless as you seemed,” says Katsuki. Izuku is suddenly very conscious of that heavy regard on him, just inches from his face. “I doubted Eijirou when he first picked you, but obviously I was wrong.”

Izuku swallows. He’d been feeling rather proud of his magic just now, the ability to show his usefulness to his master, but the emotion turns rapidly to dust in his mouth. “I fear the damage I could do to my city by answering that question too truthfully,” he says, because he has to say something and the truth is too close for him to be able to completely avoid.

Katsuki shifts beneath him. “I promised your city my protection in exchange for your service,” he says in a low voice, almost a growl. “Are you implying I’m a liar?”

Izuku shivers at the veiled threat there, at the gravel in his voice. “No, Majesty,” he says. After a moment, he sighs. “Before you slew the mad king, there was a great deal of fighting in the eastern kingdoms. One of the sorcerers in Aleksandra’s armies called a great storm. It devastated my city, Miletus.”

“I remember hearing about the storm,” says Katsuki slowly. “But that was over a year ago.”

Izuku nods. “There was a great deal of flooding and standing water after the storm,” he said. “With the still water came sickness. It killed almost as many people again as the fighting and the storm did.”

Katsuki straightens. “I know of the water sickness,” he says in a low voice. “But I have never once heard word of it in Miletus. Why was it hidden?”

Izuku can’t keep the bitterness from his voice. “News of a plague would have kept all trade and help away from our city when we badly needed it,” he says. “Who wants to put themselves at risk for the sick and dying? We kept our sick in the healers' houses, out of sight, and tried to recover, but…”

Katsuki says nothing to this. After a few moments of silence, Izuku continues. “I was Master Toshinori’s second, his most senior pupil. He fell ill caring for the sick. But I couldn’t—” He takes a deep breath. “If magic exists to cure the water sickness, I don’t know it. I can’t summon wood and metal from nothing. Miletus needs medicine and the money to rebuild, not... Me.”

Izuku drops his gaze, not wanting to see the look on the king’s face after this little recitation of misery. He’s afraid of what he’ll see there, already wishing he could take it back, that he could have come up with a useful lie to explain why he’s here, but it’s too late now.

“I suppose this sob story is what I get for asking you about it,” Katsuki says after a moment. Izuku flinches and keeps his eyes averted, which is why when the hand threads through his hair he startles as though struck. Katsuki’s touch is gentle, giving the lie to his scornful words. “Well, if you’re so hell-bent on being useful, then I will put you to work.”

Izuku takes a deep breath, his melancholia burning away in a new emotion. “Yes, my lord,” he says, eyes still downcast—mostly to hide how painfully aware of Katsuki’s closeness he is, how hot the hand in his hair is.

Katsuki must be able to tell. He leans in, his lips ghosting along Izuku’s neck, before leaning up to bite Izuku’s earlobe. Izuku shivers in his lap. Katsuki reaches around with his other hand, tugging Izuku’s face towards his, and then Izuku finds himself being kissed with lips as hot as the summer’s day outside.

Izuku freezes, then melts, twisting himself around to better the angle. Katsuki’s hand tightens in Izuku’s hair, forcing him to bend, to fold against him as he kisses Izuku harder. Izuku moans, shuddering; as soon as Izuku’s lips part, Katsuki’s tongue is in his mouth, Katsuki growling into the kiss, crushing Izuku against his chest with his other arm.

Katsuki’s whole body is a furnace. Izuku feels like he’s being burnt alive just from being pressed up against him, even through their clothes. His metal bracers dig into his arms where Katsuki has him pinned, and the fresh piercings in his nipples throb as Izuku’s silk top drags against them. Finally Katsuki pulls back with a snarl, panting up close in Izuku’s face, and Izuku finds himself gasping too, shivering all over with reaction.

“It’s a fucking miracle no one dragged you into a dark corner to ravish you, wearing this ridiculous outfit,” Katsuki rasps. “I don’t know what the fuck Eijirou was thinking.” He drags one hand along Izuku’s arm, fingers tracing over his bracers, the gauzy silk top; they linger on one of his nipple rings, and Izuku shudders. Katsuki smirks.

“I—I don’t know either,” says Izuku shakily. He should be afraid, shouldn’t want this, but he’s been attracted to the Lord of Arden basically since he laid eyes on him, and he’d have to be dead before he could ignore the fire that Katsuki ignites in him.

I thought you didn’t like me, he thinks wildly. Out loud, he says, “My—my lord, I want to…”

“Yes?” Katsuki leans in close, their lips brushing. He bites at Izuku’s mouth. He’s so fucking distracting that Izuku could scream.

Instead, he ups the ante. “Let me please you,” he says, and reaches down to press his hand against the erection tenting Katsuki’s trousers. Katsuki stiffens, then growls. Izuku finds himself being kissed breathless again, sharp teeth scraping over his lips as Katsuki pulls Izuku’s ass back against his groin, grinding his hips into Izuku. Izuku moans against his mouth, rolling against Katsuki in kind, and finds that all of his anxieties are suddenly absent from his mind.

The next time they break away from their rough kissing to gasp for air, Izuku takes the opportunity to wriggle off Katsuki’s lap. Katsuki makes a displeased noise but permits it anyway, watching as Izuku drops to his knees between the king’s thighs. Izuku peeks up at Katsuki, knowing that he’s blushing, that he paints a fairly whorish picture right now: in a concubine’s apparel, lips bitten and kiss-red, nuzzling at the king’s erection through his pants.

In that moment, he doesn’t care. Fine, he thinks. I’m his slave, so let me be good at it.

He pulls open Katsuki’s trousers, and is rewarded with that heavy hand in his hair again, pushing his face down encouragingly. Katsuki’s thick cock bobs free, and Izuku sucks in a shaky breath at the sight of its engorged length, jutting obscenely from a golden thatch of hair. He strokes his hand down its length, and the sound Katsuki makes sends a thrill of pleasure down his spine.

“I’m still waiting to be pleased, peasant,” Katsuki says hoarsely. “Don’t take too long.”

“Patience, my lord,” murmurs Izuku, because apparently he loves poking wild animals. Katsuki gives him a rough warning tug, and Izuku gives in, wrapping his mouth around the fat head of Katsuki’s cock. He can’t help but savor the taste of him: salt-sweat and musk and some strange, almost sweet aftertaste. Izuku suckles the head like a child savoring a sweet, eyes hooding in a lewd sort of satisfaction.

Katsuki groans, and there’s a bunching of muscles beneath Izuku’s other hand as he thrusts shallowly against Izuku’s mouth. Izuku gags a little as the head presses against the back of his throat, a bit of drool escaping from the corner of his mouth. He’s not very experienced at this, but the feel of the king’s prick in his mouth is amazing, heavy and hot against his tongue, filling his throat, his senses. He moans, then suckles harder around the length, wanting to stir another reaction.

He gets one. Katsuki stifles an oath, and then Izuku feels his head being held in two strong hands, and suddenly Katsuki is pressing forward, pushing more of his cock into Izuku’s mouth, down his throat. Izuku gags and coughs; his eyes water, and then Katsuki pulls back, enough to let him breathe. It isn’t long before he’s swallowing Katsuki’s cock down again himself, though, wanting to taste him, delighting in the groans it earns him and the trembling of Katsuki’s thighs against his arms.

It gets messier from there. Izuku is clumsy but eager, bobbing his head on Katsuki’s prick even as his eyes water and he drools out the sides of his mouth from trying to take too much too fast. But if Katsuki minds, he doesn’t let on. It isn’t long before he’s gripping Izuku’s hair harder and is thrusting shallowly into his mouth, forcing his cock deeper and deeper into Izuku’s throat. Izuku starts to choke, clutching at Katsuki’s pants as his eyes burn.

Katsuki’s cock makes a rough slurping noise each time it pushes past Izuku’s swollen lips; it sounds very loud in Izuku’s ears. Over his own noises he can hear the king’s rough breathing, gone shallow and fast as he fucks Izuku’s mouth. Distantly, his addled brain casting about, Izuku wonders if someone would be able to hear it if they were listening outside the door. Then the king swears loudly and shoves his cock all the way home, and suddenly Izuku is choking and trying to swallow the hot come filling his mouth and throat.

Finally, finally, Katsuki releases his hair. Izuku falls back on his ass, coughing and wiping at his messy face. He has to blink a few times to clear the tears from his eyes; he looks up and sees Katsuki staring down at him, still sitting in the huge wooden chair. Izuku is gratified to see the king looking almost as blasted as Izuku feels, but the sense of triumph lasts only a moment.

Katsuki spares a few seconds to do up his pants. Then he bends over and grabs Izuku by the upper arms, hauling him to his feet. With one arm he reaches past Izuku and shoves every book and candle and stray piece of paper off his desk in one rough go, pushing Izuku onto the desk on his back in their place. Izuku squawks, staring up in shock at the sight of the Lord of Arden bending over him, a manic expression on his face.

“My lord,” he breathes; Katsuki smirks.

“You’ve been a good little slave,” he says. “I should reward you for your diligence.”

He leans down, kissing Izuku roughly, his tongue thrusting into Izuku’s mouth in much the same way his cock just was. Izuku moans, his thighs falling open around Katsuki’s hips like the whore he’s dressed as. He yelps in surprise as one of Katsuki’s hands dives beneath Izuku’s gauzy bottom piece, wrapping around Izuku’s aching erection and stroking it, making Izuku shudder and jerk beneath him. The wooden edge of the desk digs into Izuku’s ass, but Katsuki doesn’t let him stay distracted for more than a moment.

Katsuki bites his mouth, hard enough to split his bottom lip, and Izuku cries out. Katsuki growls, ducking his face to kiss and bite along Izuku’s jaw, down his throat, along his collarbone. He bites almost as hard as Eijirou did during his rut, as if wanting to add to the marks and bruises scattered over Izuku’s pale skin. Katsuki shoves Izuku’s thighs further open with his other hand and a knee, splaying Izuku open like a doll.

“Who do you belong to, peasant?” growls Katsuki into Izuku’s throat, the collar digging into his skin. Izuku hiccoughs, fresh tears coming to his eyes as the king twists his sore nipple, sending a jolt of pain through his body.

“You, my lord,” he gets out, ragged. “I belong to you!”

Katsuki squeezes his cock in response, making Izuku groan and his hips jerk. Then Katsuki releases Izuku’s cock, his hand sliding downwards between his spread thighs, teasing along his crease. “And whose ass is this to play with, peasant?”

Izuku’s breath hitches. “Y-Yours, my lord…”

“That’s right,” says Katsuki. His voice is rough, gravelly. “I think my sweet little slave is lonely with no one to stuff his ass. It’s been too long, hasn’t it, peasant? Eijirou fucked you so well, now you can’t go without it, can you?”

Izuku feels like his face is going to burn clean off in shame and arousal. He can barely force himself to answer, despite knowing exactly what Katsuki wants him to say. “Yes, p-please, my lord,” he whispers, trembling against the desk.

“That’s what I thought,” says Katsuki. He squeezes Izuku’s thigh, and then his hand disappears out of sight. Izuku hears a drawer get yanked open, and then a pop of a lid being opened; the sharp scent of some herbal oil hits him, a spicy note cutting the room. Izuku gulps for a few breaths of air, unable to tear his gaze away from the man looming over him with those dark, greedy eyes.

Katsuki looks like he wants to eat Izuku alive. And God help him, Izuku wants him to.

It’s only moments before questing fingers are between Izuku’s cheeks again, teasing a moment at the still-sensitive rim of Izuku’s hole before pushing two fingers into his ass, slowly working into his hole. A moan hitches in Izuku’s throat; he clutches at the edge of the desk for lack of anything better to do with his hands.

Apparently, that’s not good enough. “Touch yourself, peasant,” says Katsuki. It’s not a request. Izuku reaches for his own cock, shivering as he takes himself in hand and strokes. Katsuki watches greedily, and all the while he’s working those two fingers deeper into Izuku’s ass, all the way to the knuckle. Izuku feels it when he crooks his fingers, dragging over that sweet spot inside him—Izuku’s hips jerk again of their own volition, and his head falls back to the desk with a thump.

Katsuki leans over him again, kissing over his face, his jaw. Izuku shivers and tilts his head back, offering his throat. Katsuki groans; moments later Izuku feels him bite down hard against the soft underside of Izuku’s throat, hard enough to bring fresh tears to Izuku’s eyes. At the same time, he pushes another finger into Izuku’s ass, shoving all three deeper as Izuku moans.

Barbarian, whispers a voice from the fête in Izuku’s head. What has he been doing to that poor boy?

They have no idea, no idea at all.

Soon enough Izuku is trembling, his moans and cries bleeding into each other as he starts to leak: tears, sweat, pre-come dribbling from his aching prick. He’s still stroking himself, just as the king ordered him to, but he squeezes himself here and there to back down, and doesn’t dare go too fast—Izuku isn’t dumb enough to come without being told. Not with Katsuki leaning over him and teasing every inch of his body, scraping teeth and nails over his sensitive skin, tweaking the newly-pierced nipples until Izuku cries, layering fresh bite marks over Eijirou’s older ones.

Izuku can’t help but wonder at that: is Katsuki jealous? But why would he be jealous? Katsuki bought him for Eijirou’s rut, after all, and Eijirou was the one who dressed him up so temptingly for the king’s fête, and—

Katsuki snarls something in his ear, and Izuku’s scattered ramblings blow away in the wind. Katsuki has four fingers in Izuku’s ass now, fucking him steadily on his hand while Izuku rocks down against every thrust. It’s nowhere near as thick as Eijirou’s cock was, but every shove of Katsuki’s fingers in his ass drags over Izuku’s prostate, and with the king on top of him driving him higher, Izuku is rapidly losing the last threads of his self-control.

As if he’s privy to Izuku’s inner thoughts, Katsuki presses one thick arm against Izuku’s chest, just below his collarbone, staring down at him from just inches away with a greedy expression on his face. “Come for me, peasant,” he says roughly. “Come on my fingers like the needy slut you are.”

Izuku’s breath hitches; his hand goes faster on his own prick for just a moment, rocking hard against Katsuki’s fingers in his ass. But it’s those vivid red eyes holding his gaze that tip Izuku over the edge, brings his orgasm crashing down on his head.

He blacks out for a moment, his vision tunneling as his body spasms. He comes to quickly though, and finds Katsuki kissing his mouth, pressing his whole body down against Izuku. Izuku can feel the sticky smear of his own come against his belly, can feel it being squished between himself and Katsuki, but the king doesn’t seem to give a damn. Izuku makes a wet noise, and then gives up and wraps his arms around Katsuki’s broad shoulders.

Izuku isn’t sure what he’s expecting after that. Maybe for Katsuki to send him back to Eijirou’s rooms, or to some other quarters designated for him as a slave. Instead, Katsuki gathers him up and carries him down several halls to what turns out to be the king’s private quarters. Izuku’s too blasted to notice much, aside from the fact that the bed could easily hold a good five people without trouble.

Katsuki cleans Izuku up himself, stripping him out of his stained and torn harem outfit before sending for food to be brought to the room. Izuku eats what’s put in front of him, sitting quietly by the king while Katsuki goes over yet more paperwork that gets brought to the room along with the food.

He’s glad no one’s asking much of him at the moment. He’s finding it difficult to stay awake; it’s only mid-afternoon, really, but Izuku is exhausted—not only from the sex and the warm food, but from the fact that he’s still not fully recovered from being Eijirou’s sex toy for two weeks straight.

Eijirou. Izuku bites his lip, glancing over at the king where he sits with papers scattered across his lap, glowering darkly at the ones held in his hand. Why isn’t Eijirou here?

Another question: why wasn’t Izuku sent to be with Eijirou after Katsuki was done with him? Why did Eijirou really dress Izuku up in that ridiculous outfit and then send him to be paraded around in front of not only Katsuki but his entire court? What is going on between the king and his dragon? Izuku could have sworn they were lovers, from how they’ve acted before and how they interact with each other, but Eijirou is not here.

Maybe he’ll come later, Izuku decides. Maybe it was the rut that was the trouble; Katsuki is obviously busy and couldn’t spare the time to be a blasted husk like Izuku just spent the past two weeks doing. It’s the best Izuku can come up with, anyway. He falls asleep in Katsuki’s bed long before the king finishes going through his paperwork, and he does not dream.

Izuku wakes once, in the middle of the night. Katsuki is finally asleep beside him, one arm slung across Izuku’s waist, Izuku tucked against his chest. In his sleep, he looks softer, and very tired. Izuku realizes abruptly that the other man must be about his age, which is a strange thing to think about.

But it is Katsuki and Katsuki alone. No red-headed man is snuggled next to them in bed; no pony-sized dragon is curled up on the floor. Izuku feels his heart sink, staring at Katsuki’s strangely young face in the darkness and wondering what is going on.

Izuku doesn’t know. He has no idea what the hell is going on, or what to think of the barbarian lord who bought Izuku for his dragon-companion but has now taken him to bed. All he knows is that it feels as though he has been given as a gift twice: once to Eijirou, and again to Katsuki.

It takes a long time for Izuku to get back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Over the next few weeks, Izuku finds a tolerable sort of existence. It’s not normal, exactly—he doesn’t think his situation could ever be described as such—but it’s at least regular enough for him to not feel like he’s losing his footing in thick mud every time he takes a step.

The King keeps Izuku close to him for five full days after Izuku was sent to him dressed up in a slutty harem outfit like some kind of tawdry present. During those days, Izuku doesn’t even see Eijirou once; when he asks why the king’s dragon isn’t around, Katsuki responds with a curt “he’s busy” and refuses to say more.

Most of those days are spent on state business. Katsuki clearly finds such business boring, or at least a frustrating usage of his time; Izuku, meanwhile, is fascinated and genuinely interested in the administrative aspects of managing the seven kingdoms. He asks so many questions that at one point Katsuki demands, “If you’re going to be this nosy then why don’t you do all the damn paperwork for me?”

Izuku blinks at him. “My lord, I’d be happy to help with the paperwork,” he says. Katsuki scowls at him by way of answer, but says nothing more on the subject. He does, however, spend hours that afternoon with Izuku going over some of the more obtuse points of a land ownership dispute. Izuku has plenty of experience with these matters from his time as Toshinori’s second, and takes to the problem like a fish to water. At one point he ends up just plucking the parchment from Katsuki’s fingers and going down each of the sheets, explaining each item in turn as Katsuki leans over his shoulder, scowling at the parchment as though it’s full of insults about the size of his dick and his mother’s honor.

Despite the difficulties, Izuku is pleased with how much they get through. He's more pleased with the fact that Katsuki doesn’t tell him to stop asking questions—that day, or any of the subsequent days. In fact, he encourages it. Katsuki goes so far as to glower at a visiting dignitary who looks affronted at someone other than the king requesting information during an afternoon session of court.

The evenings are a different story. Five nights running, Katsuki has Izuku in his bed, and he works him over thoroughly before letting him find any rest. Not that Izuku minds, honestly. He’s still stunned the Lord of Arden can flip so easily from treating Izuku like something unpleasant he stepped in to a possessiveness that rivals Eijirou’s during his rut.

In bed, Katsuki is an intense, attentive lover. He can’t seem to keep his hands to himself, wanting to map every inch of Izuku’s body with his hands and find new ways to make him squirm and moan. He has a few rules, all of which Izuku learns very quickly: no silencing his noises in the pillows or his arms; no coming before Katsuki has told him to; and no getting away with trying to get the king off first to end the evening faster.

The first time Izuku tried to silence his own noises, Katsuki left an angry red bite mark on Izuku’s shoulder, hard enough to make him sob out loud into Katsuki’s thick feather pillow. “Don’t hold back, those noises belong to me too,” Katsuki growled. Izuku has done his best to oblige him since then. He’s 100% certain that everyone in the castle has heard them fucking by now, but it’s difficult to care when the King obviously doesn’t—and when the King is still so mercurial that no one dares cross him.

But then a few days later, Eijirou finally reappears—he was away on some secret mission, apparently. Izuku finds this out when Katsuki marches him to Eijirou’s quarters without any fanfare or explanation.

“What did you find?” Katsuki demands. “How did it go?”

Eijirou bows low, then straightens, his face alight. “The perpetrators have been dealt with,” he says, flashing a toothy grin. “Both of the guilty parties are dead, and their successors have sworn fealty to the new king.”

Immediately, Katsuki relaxes. Izuku wonders at this, until abruptly he remembers the plot to poison the King his aerials overheard during the fete a few days ago. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down,” says Katsuki, and he walks forward to throw his arms around Eijirou. Eijirou beams, leaning into Katsuki and embracing him just as warmly.

Izuku sees Katsuki lean in, sees Eijirou tilt his head to meet Katsuki’s kiss, and then he has to drop his eyes, uncomfortably aware of the intimate moment he’s witnessing. He’s just contemplating excusing himself to give them some privacy when the two of them break away and Katsuki says, “The next time you go out on an errand, you should take your slave. You might even find him useful.”

“Uh,” says Izuku intelligently, then adds, “Yes, m-my lord!”

Eijirou laughs. Izuku looks up in time to see the complicated look Eijirou is giving Katsuki, full of equal parts affection and longing. “I’ll do that,” he says with a smile. “I’m sure Izuku will be very helpful.”

“Good,” says Katsuki. “I’ll be sending the two of you out again soon, then. There’s much to be done.” The warmth in his demeanor is gone, all business now, and he doesn’t so much as glance at Izuku as he stalks out of the room, his cloak swirling behind him like a bloody flag. Izuku stares after him in bafflement, then looks at Eijirou.

Eijirou is watching after Katsuki also, a wistful look on his face. This, combined with everything else from the past few weeks, proves too much for Izuku’s curiosity. “Eijirou,” he says, and then stops. Eijirou glances over at him. “What… what is going on?”

Eijirou rubs the back of his head, his gaze dropping guiltily. “Ah, well,” he says, giving a sheepish little laugh. “You noticed, huh.”

“Hard not to, after you tarted me up like that for Katsuki,” Izuku says. To Izuku’s satisfaction, Eijirou turns almost as red as his spiky hair. Izuku wonders if he’s pushing the boundaries here—he doesn’t exactly have any standing to demand answers, considering how he’s signed himself up to be whatever these two want of him—but Eijirou answers anyway.

“Katsuki has a lot on his plate right now, since taking over rulership of the seven kingdoms,” says Eijirou. He comes over and wraps his arms around Izuku, absently pulling him against his chest and nuzzling his hair and ear. Izuku shivers at the warmth, leaning easily into the touch. It’s been barely three weeks since they first brought him to the castle, but Izuku has quickly acclimated to the utter lack of boundaries Eijirou and Katsuki have when it comes to him.

It doesn’t hurt that he finds both of them unbearably attractive. He supposes that’s no hardship, since they’re also obviously attracted to him.

But if Eijirou’s willing to talk, Izuku wants answers. “I thought Katsuki got me for you,” he says, when it becomes clear that Eijirou will just stand there nuzzling his hair if Izuku lets him.

“He did,” says Eijirou. He sounds a bit reluctant; Izuku half-expects him to stop talking again, but he doesn’t. “It’s been going on for awhile. He has some—I don’t know, this idea that he can’t be a good mate and a good king at the same time, so he’s focusing on being king and beating himself up about it.”

Izuku blinks. Hearing Eijirou say it out loud like that, it makes perfect sense, in a sad sort of way. “So he got me to keep you company,” he says slowly. “For your rut?”

“For the rut, and because he’s not around much,” says Eijirou. He pulls back a little, staring down at Izuku with a rueful expression on his face. “But he’s busy pretending he doesn’t need sleep or companionship, either. I tried to convince him to let me be there for him, but he hasn’t really let me.”

“So you sent me to try to get him to relax,” Izuku says out loud. With the realization comes a painful lurch of his heart. He’s little more than a stand-in, just as he suspected.

Eijirou nods. “Sorry you got stuck in the middle,” he murmurs. Izuku looks at him, sees the softness in his eyes, and relaxes just a little. “I don’t think we were expecting to find someone so special to step in.”

Izuku’s face heats. “You d-don’t have to say that just to make me feel better,” he says, trying to grin at Eijirou. “I signed up for this, remember?”

It’s Eijirou’s turn to blink at him. “I know,” he says blankly. “Why would I lie to you? You’d do it anyway, right?”

“Uh… yeah,” says Izuku. “That’s—I mean, I’m your slave.”

“Right,” says Eijirou. He tilts his head at Izuku, looking far too much like a quizzical dog. Izuku laughs despite himself, and earns himself a pleased smile by way of response. “Anyway,” says Eijirou. “I missed you. If the king doesn’t need you back right away, could we maybe catch up?”

Oh, thinks Izuku, and feels his heart thump hard in his chest. Special, Eijirou called him. He swallows. “It’s been less than a week,” he says, letting a playful note creep into his voice. “Were you really that lonely for me?”

Eijirou makes a distressed noise, wrapping his arms more tightly around Izuku; Izuku almost swears he could see flattened ears against Eijirou’s scalp. “Izukuuuu,” he whines. Izuku laughs and wraps his arms around Eijirou’s neck too, leaning up to kiss his mouth.

Eijirou kisses him back, warm and eager. A moment later one of his hands are sliding into the back of Izuku’s pants, greedily cupping one ass cheek. Izuku shivers, opening his mouth to Eijirou’s questing tongue. Eijirou’s teeth scrape over his lips, and Izuku moans, feeling his cock throb in anticipation.

It might have only been a week, but Eijirou seems hell-bent on showing Izuku that he was serious about how much he missed him—and how happy he is to see him again. They spend another few minutes standing there, kisses growing more and more heated as their hands slip under each other’s clothes, and then Eijirou simply picks Izuku up to carry him over to the feather bed. Izuku obliges by hopping up, wrapping his legs around Eijirou’s waist, the better to continue kissing him.

They end up getting naked and rutting against each other like horny teenagers just discovering someone else’s body for the first time. Now accustomed to being loud, Izuku’s excited cries echo off the rafters as Eijirou takes them both in hand with rough strokes. Izuku shoves his own hand down to tangle his finger with Eijirou’s, and the two of them come to a wet, messy finish soon after, spilling all over each other’s stomachs.

“Mmmm, you are so gorgeous,” Eijirou purrs. His voice is throaty and deep, his eyes heavy, half-lidded. He beams at Izuku, who can mostly just lay there and smile dazedly back up at him. Izuku gets another jolt of arousal when Eijirou decides to scoot down Izuku’s body and start licking the come up off his chest. His wet, pink tongue makes a very lewd picture as it swipes through the mess of sticky come on Izuku’s stomach.

Meanwhile, Eijirou’s expression is that of a man eating the most delicious chocolate the world has ever made. Izuku would swear his face becomes more draconic—his eyes a little wider, his tongue longer and thicker, his teeth a little sharper.

“Eijirou,” Izuku chokes out, stunned. His spent dick twitches with interest despite the orgasm he just had. Eijirou blinks up at him through long lashes. “Gods…”

“You taste good,” says Eijirou, and he smiles. Izuku’s heart flip-flops in his chest at how sweet and happy he looks, even as he goes right back to licking their mixed spend up off Izuku’s belly.

When he’s done with that, he sets about licking Izuku’s overstimulated cock clean. Izuku twitches and groans, his dick slowly stiffening again under Eijirou’s ministrations. Izuku hiccoughs, his thighs splayed wide as Eijirou pushes his legs back, the better to tilt Izuku’s ass up and shove his face down into it. “AH!! Eijirou—!!”

“Mmmmmmph,” comes the muffled response. Eijirou sounds very satisfied with himself, and does not even listen to any of Izuku’s weak, garbled protests before he starts to eat Izuku’s ass open like it’s his new job. Izuku throws his head back, thighs trembling, moaning as Eijirou’s thick tongue presses into his ass. He can feel some of Eijirou’s copious spittle slipping down along his ass crack, some of it dripping down in front to coat Izuku’s balls.

Izuku doesn’t know what it is about Eijirou’s mouth—maybe it’s the fact he’s a dragon?—but when Eijirou finally sits up and wipes his arm across his mouth before lining himself up at Izuku’s ass and pushing in, there’s almost no burn at all. (Or maybe he’s still slick from how well Katsuki used him this morning before they went down into the hall for courtly matters.) Either way, Izuku is more than happy to pull Eijirou down on top of him, to wrap his arms around the other man’s shoulders and kiss his mouth.

The aftertaste is musky, strange, more than a little dirty. Izuku of a month ago would have been horrified to let Eijirou lick his ass at all, much less kiss him afterwards. Meanwhile, the Izuku of now drags his fingernails across Eijirou’s back, trying to get him to fuck Izuku deeper. Eijirou moans against his lips, folding him backwards onto the bed, and Izuku surrenders himself to being fucked stupid for the second time that day.

Afterwards he dozes off for a little while, snuggled against Eijirou’s warm chest. (His pierced nipples are still tender, but the faint throb is lost in how comfortably sore the rest of him is.) His last conscious thought before he drifts off is to wonder how the fresh hell he ever fell asleep between Katsuki and Eijirou—the combination of the two of them would be like sleeping inside a roaring fire.

He spends the rest of that afternoon cuddling with Eijiro, naps interspersed with more rounds of messing around. Izuku has never spent as much time naked with another person in his life, and it seems a bit like he’s spending much of his time with Katsuki and Eijirou making up for it.

Well—maybe not all of it.

* * * * *

The next morning, Izuku and Eijirou rise early. Katsuki has sent a messenger to them with several pieces of parchment, instructions on an urgent mission that will take them far to the north of the seven kingdoms. As Izuku reads, he finds himself grateful yet again for all the time spent with Toshinori, learning the art of diplomacy and how to read between the lines of things. He also finds himself in shock at the thought that Katsuki actually trusts him enough to go with Eijirou on a mission like this.

Eijirou gets him clothes—real clothes like a normal person would wear, pants and shirt and tunic and a traveling cloak, not a slutty outfit meant to titillate—and then leads him out a side door of the palace. They walk out past a seemingly-abandoned stable to a field bounded on four sides by woods. Only there does Eijirou let go of Izuku’s hand, walking out a small distance before crouching.

As before, the gigantic red dragon erupts from where stood Izuku’s new lover. This time, though, Izuku isn’t the least bit scared. He runs forward, putting his hands on Eijirou’s large snout and rubbing his face against his scaly nose. His scales are incredibly warm, like the outside of a furnace; Eijirou rumbles deep in his throat, pushing gently against Izuku’s embrace.

“Okay,” says Izuku, and he comes around Eijirou’s side to climb up.

It takes him four attempts to finally get up the dragon’s side. Katsuki had made it look so easy, but in reality it’s like scaling a warm, smooth mountain. The third time Izuku lands flat on his ass, Eijirou crouches and hunches up his front right leg awkwardly, holding it at just the right height for Izuku to use it as a ledge.

Finally, finally, they’re on their way. Izuku is glad that Eijirou pressed a thick cloak on him this morning before they left, because without Katsuki’s warm body against his back, the ride is spent with cold wind whipping his face and chest. And he’s glad Eijirou knows where they’re going, because Izuku certainly has no idea.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not thrilling.

Izuku leans forward, clutching at the ruff of hair along Eijirou’s shoulders, his heart pounding with fear and excitement. Eijirou roars, and with a few beats of his massive wings, they erupt up and through the cloud cover. Izuku’s yell echoes along the tops of fluffy white clouds, lost to the world below them.

The flight after that isn’t long, which is good, because Izuku’s thighs get sore quickly from how he’s hard pressing then against Eijirou’s flanks. As they drop down below the clouds again, Izuku spots a city beneath them, a sea of tall buildings made of burnished red rock. It’s Maralthea, the capital of one of the seven kingdoms. The city straddles a massive gorge, at the bottom of which roars the deep blue course of the Abaddeon River. An enormous stone-and-steel bridge connects both halves of the city, wide and sturdy enough to allow trade caravans to cross four abreast.

The Abaddeon cuts south through four of the seven kingdoms, about half of it contained in a canyon that bisects the landscape. The river itself is deep, fast, and cold, coursing down from its source hidden beneath the glacier-covered mountains in the far north. As it runs south of Maralthea, the river emerges from the gorge and widens, becoming impossible to cross except for the tall boats that run up and down the river where there are ports to stop at.

As Eijirou descends towards the city, Izuku finds himself recalling the argument he overheard last week at Katsuki’s fete, the discussion between two nobles about a new bridge over the river. Maralthea currently possesses the only place to cross the Abaddeon in the entirety of the seven kingdoms, short of venturing all the way south to where it finally reaches the delta of the Azure Gulf; all trade between the east and west half of the kingdoms has either to go through Maralthea, or pay for ferrying across the river on one of the boats that move between port cities along the Abaddeon.

It occurs to Izuku, as they descend, that Katsuki is lucky enough to have one of the few things that lets him travel fast anywhere in his new kingdom—Eijirou can get him anywhere he needs to go, days or weeks faster than it would take a rider on horseback, to say nothing of having to deal with the barrier of the river.

All of this is abruptly pushed right out of his skull as they descend, followed by the realization that they aren’t setting down in a field far outside the city—they’re going down in the city. “Eijirou,” Izuku says loudly; Eijirou does not react. “EIJIROU,” he yells, and sees Eijirou’s ears flick back towards him, but the dragon does not change course.

All that’s left for Izuku to do is hold on.

They alight in the middle of Maralthea, right smack in the center of a town square. People shriek and jostle to get out of the way as Eijirou comes winging downwards; Izuku squeezes his eyes shut and holds on tight, braced for the worst. He almost falls right off Eijirou’s shoulders as they collide with the ground.

A crowd of people have surrounded the dragon, though they’re keeping a safe distance from him, a radius of fifty feet or so. (Well. ‘Safe;’ Eijirou could lay waste to half the city before soldiers would finally be able to stop him, but the citizens can probably recognize the king’s dragon when they see him.) Through the crowd comes several soldiers, accompanying a man in the long robes of a magistrate of Maralthea. “My king,” calls the magistrate as he approaches—and stops when he sees who’s actually astride the king’s dragon.

Izuku is already climbing down Eijirou’s side, doing his level best not to go tumbling down to land in a sad little heap at the magistrate’s feet. He’s pretty sure Katsuki would just chain him to the bed as punishment if Izuku embarrassed him like that. “Didn’t realize you’d be leaving me here to fend for myself,” he hisses as he climbs down. Eijirou’s head is probably too far away for him to hear, but Izuku can’t help himself.

“Who do I have the pleasure of hosting today?” asks the magistrate, as Izuku manages to get down without totally eating shit. “I was not aware the king was sending someone in his stead.”

“His Majesty is busy,” says Izuku brusquely, with an authority he does not truly feel. “He does not have time to spare from the business of running the kingdoms, so he sent me to attend to matters as needed.”

“I see,” the magistrate says. He’s older, perhaps mid-sixties, with thin greying hair and a sharp face, and he fairly radiates disapproval. “I did not realize His Majesty valued Maralthea’s welfare so little.”

Izuku straightens, leveling a stare at the magistrate. He’s all too aware of how short and unimposing he looks, but since apparently Eijirou intends to have him do all the talking, he’ll have to make do.

“I would counsel your lordship not to second-guess His Majesty’s judgment,” Izuku says. He injects some ice into his voice, resting a hand on Eijirou’s flank as he does so. His other hand he extends, palm upwards; lightning flares to life in his palm, energy crackling in the air around his hand.

The magistrate’s eyes widen, and he takes an involuntary step backwards. “I—I see,” he says after a moment, and bows. “Forgive my ignorance, honored guest. I should have known the king would not send his dragon with someone of little regard. Please, come with us, we will host you and honor you as any trusted servant of the king’s should be. ”

Izuku says nothing, just lowers his hand, quelling the miniature storm he called. Inwardly, though, he’s sweating. He doesn’t know how long he can keep up the facade of being the king’s trusted servant, as opposed to his pricy sex-slave.

And he can’t help but wonder why in the names of all the gods Katsuki and Eijirou would want him to be the one to do this.

* * * * *

Izuku gets the answer to his question only once they get back to the castle, after some seven hours of feasting and negotiating and listening to the magistrate list every single complaint or concern Maralthea has (and wants the king to fix). Eijirou clearly understands Izuku while in dragon form, but he can make no answer without a human’s vocal chords, and Izuku is honestly very tired from the long hours of negotiation. So he just rides back on Eijirou’s shoulders in silence, wishing more than once that Katsuki was here to hold him so he could just fall asleep and not worry about falling clean off Eijirou’s side.

Once they’re back at the stable outside the castle, Eijirou changes back. Izuku punches him in the shoulder.

“Hey!” Eijirou rubs his shoulder, giving Izuku a wounded look. “What was that for?”

“Why the hell did you leave me to do all the talking and negotiating?” Izuku demands. “Since when do you two trust me enough to do that? And with no warning, even!”

Eijirou blinks at him. “Isn’t it obvious?” he says after a moment. Izuku raises his fist again threateningly, and Eijirou puts both of his own up hands in surrender. “Stop stop stop, I’ll explain!”

“You better,” Izuku says, scowling.

“I thought it was obvious,” Eijirou says, sounding a little sheepish now. “You’re the only one who knows that I’m the king’s dragon, so you’re the only one he trusts enough to ride out with me anywhere. And you’re new to the castle and to all its politics, so Katsuki knows you aren’t involved with any of the double-dealings or machinations Shigaraki was involved in.”

Izuku stares at him, taking this in. “He’s been having that much trouble?” he asks after a moment.

“Yeah,” says Eijirou. He continues to explain as they head back inside to his quarters, his voice low so as not to carry. It turns out there’s a lot of court members who have loyalties and goals that don’t well-align with the new king’s, and Katsuki—being a barbarian, and the new ruler by force—has found it difficult to suss out who he can and can’t trust.

“He’s replaced a lot of people, but it’s still difficult for him to know for certain that someone he sends in his stead will actually be trustworthy or not,” says Eijirou, as they make their way to the king’s quarters. “But you don’t know anyone at court but us, and you already know I’m the king’s dragon, so.”

“Huh,” says Izuku. Hearing it put that way, it does actually make a fair bit of sense. But he’s still wrung out and tired from the experience. All he wants to do is fall asleep in someone’s bed—preferably snuggled against either Eijirou or Katsuki, although considering it’s not yet 7 in the evening, that seems unlikely. But any warm bed will do.

Which is too bad, since they get all of ten minutes’ respite before the Lord of Arden himself comes barging into Eijirou’s quarters. “Well?” he demands. “How did it go?”

Izuku winces. “Exhausting and complicated,” he says. “Also, one of you might have warned me you were sending me to do all the talking.”

Katsuki stares at him like he’s just sprouted a second head and asked Katsuki for a hat. “Why would I bother having you read all those notes I sent over if you weren’t going to do anything useful? Are you actually complaining? If you’re sad you didn’t get to spend today sucking my cock, I can certainly fix that, peasant.”

A month ago, Izuku would probably have dropped on the ground quaking in fear at a rebuke like that. But he already spent all day listening to the most odious sort of politician complain in his ear about state matters, and he’s developed something of a tolerance for the Lord of Arden’s particular attitude problem. So he just levels a stare at Katsuki before saying, “Do you want to hear about what happened or not?”

Katsuki stares at him, outrage warring with something else that Izuku can’t identify. “Watch your mouth, peasant,” he says after a moment, but Izuku would swear he sees the corner of Katsuki’s mouth twitch.

Beside him, Eijirou is grinning widely. Izuku gets the feeling that acknowledging Eijirou’s amusement wouldn’t win him any points, so he doesn’t mention anything. Instead, the three of them curl up on the couch, Izuku settled firmly between Katsuki and Eijirou as he talks.

“Maralthea doesn’t want you to allow the new bridge construction to go forward,” he says. “The magistrate made it very clear that doing so would ‘damage Maralthea’s faith in the goodwill of the crown’ and ‘irrevocably harm Maralthea’s economic well-being.’” He makes air quotes around each of these statements, and sees Katsuki’s scowl return in full, poisonous force.

“I could have told you that without bothering to send you all that way,” Katsuki says darkly. “With how much trade goes over that bridge, it’s no wonder Maralthea doesn’t want to share the goods with the rest of the seven kingdoms.”

“I think there’s more to it than that, though,” says Izuku. “Having the only bridge that spans the Abaddeon meant that Maralthea could be diplomatically neutral during all the fighting the past few years. They looked the other way with a lot of what Shigaraki’s soldiers did, as long as the crown was willing to pay their passage fees.”

“We heard a little about that,” says Eijirou, speaking up for the first time. “Even as far out as the Iron Mountains. Kacchan, aren’t there people who want you to hold the chancellor of Maralthea responsible for war crimes?”

Katsuki’s lip curls, his eyes dark. “Yeah,” he says. “There are. But Maralthea is the most powerful city in the seven kingdoms, practically a city-state by itself. If I pick a fight with them, I have to be ready to back it up.”

“But if there was an alternative to their bridge, they wouldn’t be able to keep their neutrality as easily,” Izuku says. “You’re threatening them economically and politically.”

Eijirou hooks his chin over Izuku’s shoulder, sliding arms around Izuku’s waist. The casual intimacy during the middle of such a serious conversation throws Izuku a little, but Katsuki looks unbothered, so Izuku says nothing.

The conversation continues for awhile longer after that—more about the bridge and its ramifications, but also about other trade issues and border disputes that the magistrate Izuku saw today brought up. To Izuku’s unending gratitude, Katsuki sends for food to be brought to them in Eijirou’s quarters. Izuku eats ravenously as the conversation continues to flow around him.

It seems everyone and their brother have been sending delegates and messengers to the Lord of Arden’s court to bend his ear—even a representative from the dragons that dwell in the wild reaches of the western edge of the kingdom. The way Katsuki tells it, a tall, blue-haired man walked into the court this morning before transforming before the court’s eyes into a dragon of shining blue scales and middling size (so only the size of a small barn). It was only Katsuki’s strength of personality that prevented his soldiers from attacking the representative.

“What did he say?” demands Eijirou; he sounds more than a little alarmed.

But Katsuki just shakes his head. “He just said, ‘we are very interested to know what the Lord of Arden decides to do about the new bridge,’ and that was about it,” he says. “Don’t ask me how the fuck the dragons even found out about it.”

“Or why they care,” Eijirou says, but Izuku straightens.

“Isn’t one of the locations the builders are considering right near the edges of their land?” he asks. “The Brittermore highway would run west right past their borders.”

Katsuki nods. “And I can’t tell if they’re happy about that or not,” he says, sounding disgusted. Izuku wants to ask what Eijirou knows about it, but the king’s dragon seems eager to change the subject, and Katsuki doesn’t stop him.

They talk long into the night, eventually moving to other topics Izuku is less well-versed on; politics about the barbarian tribes in the Iron Mountains (one of which Izuku is almost positive Katsuki actually came from), some nomadic groups at the edge of the seven kingdoms that want to better facilitate trade with the seven kingdoms, and a number of other topics.

Whatever Izuku had heard about the barbarian king before becoming his slave, it seems there was much he didn’t know—including where he gets his energy. Izuku falls asleep against Eijirou’s chest while Katsuki and Eijirou keep talking.

He wakes a few hours later, nestled in bed between two warm bodies, sweating like he’s just run a marathon. It takes him a few moments to realize that’s because Katsuki actually stayed with them tonight. Izuku feels a flutter of warmth in his chest at the thought.

He shifts just a little, resigning himself to a sweaty night, and hears a low grumble of protest from behind him; warm hands shift on his hips, hot breath gusting down the back of his neck. “Sorry,” Izuku whispers.

“Go back to sleep,” murmurs Eijirou from in front of him.

“M’trying,” grumbles Katsuki in Izuku’s ear. Izuku just smiles and shuts his eyes again.

* * * * *

Two months into his new position at the Lord of Arden’s castle, and Izuku is finally starting to get the hang of things. Well, to a degree.

In keeping with the mission Katsuki sent him on with Izuku, he’s now helping Katsuki daily with the business of running the kingdom. Katsuki finally gave him permission to reorganize the royal office, a task Izuku set to with an eagerness bordering on mania. He reorganizes all the books in alphabetical order as well as by subject, he creates a filing system for the endless stacks of paperwork and parchment, and he starts actually answering the neglected missives that have been piling up on Katsuki’s desk.

(Izuku spends a great deal of time by that desk: bent over it, with Katsuki fucking him from behind; on his knees beneath it, sucking Katsuki’s cock while the king works; sitting in a chair before it, thighs spread wide apart as he plays with himself for the king’s viewing pleasure. Izuku is just lucky that the desk is large and thick enough to hide him completely from unexpected visitors.

Katsuki isn’t the only one to be liberal with his hands on Izuku’s body, either. Eijirou is just as greedy, just as demanding, though perhaps less aggressive than the king. Eijirou is also more willing than Katsuki to fuck Izuku over any given surface he can find in the castle—on the grand banquet table, in the stables, out in the great gardens behind the castle, in the library, in the servant’s quarters. Izuku is just glad that most rooms in this castle have functioning locks, or someone would have walked in on him mid-coitus within two weeks.)

He also continues to accompany Eijirou on diplomatic trips away from the palace. If Izuku wasn’t aware of exactly how huge a mess Katsuki was wading through at home (between the daily visitors to the palace asking for favors or for old wrongs to be made right), he would’ve thought that Katsuki was just being lazy, the number of trips he sends Izuku on. But now he’s starting to understand how Katsuki felt he had no time for Eijirou—even with Izuku’s help, the three of them are insanely busy.

Eijirou and Katsuki continue to send him back and forth from one to the other. He almost always spends the night in one of their beds—and, every once in awhile, all three of them will spend the night together, although in Izuku’s opinion those nights are all too rare.

That isn’t to say he never gets any time alone. Despite ostensibly being a slave, Katsuki and Eijirou seem content to let him do what he wants in his free time, when he gets some of it. Izuku finds and claims a modest room for himself in the eastern wing of the palace that appears unoccupied—it’s technically in the wing that houses guests, although it hasn’t been used that much lately. He scrounges for linens and pillows for the bed, and sets about collecting some of the more interesting books he’s found elsewhere in the castle, setting them on shelves in his room to return to later when he has time. And in the chest of drawers and the closet, he stashes the clothes he’s slowly been collecting that Katsuki and Eijirou have given him to wear.

He doesn’t tell either of his lovers, but somehow, they find out. Izuku comes back to his room one day to find an inkwell and several quills set on his desk, and several new sets of clothing folded neatly on the bed. On his shelves are a half-dozen new volumes, ranging in subject from the history of Arden to a tome of magic. Izuku can’t help but be delighted by the presents, and the implicit endorsement of his private space.

(The desk is the thing that gets used the most in that room. He hardly touches the bed—only now and then does he sleep alone, when circumstance takes both Eijirou and Katsuki out of the castle. Izuku sleeps poorly on those nights, and he tries not to read too much into that fact.)

And continuing in that vein, his lovers continue to treat him less like a slave and more like a …he doesn’t know what, exactly. Izuku doesn’t wear a collar except when one of them wants him to during sex; he can go where he likes in the castle, and what’s more, no one bars his way or gives him a hard time, or dares lay a hand on him.

Okay, not no one: there is exactly one incident of harassment. The day it happens, Izuku is just walking down the western corridor towards the libraries when a guard’s hand shoots out and drags him off down a hall, the other digging greedily down the back of Izuku’s pants. Izuku reacts before he can stop himself and sends green lightning arcing through the other man before fleeing back to Katsuki’s quarters.

Katsuki is in the middle of a conversation with his captain of the guard when Izuku comes flying into the room. He stops short, jumping up from the desk with bared teeth. “What happened?” he demands.

“Your Majesty, I—I electrocuted a guard,” Izuku blurts.

The guard-captain Elena has her hand on her blade, her expression hard. At this, she relaxes slightly, her expression flicking to Katsuki.

“What did he do?” Katsuki is looking at Izuku with narrowed eyes.

Izuku suddenly finds it hard to talk. He clears his throat. “Majesty, he—that is, he, um—he tried to…”

Izuku falters, but Katsuki’s expression darkens all the same. “You have my permission to do whatever necessary to defend yourself, Izuku,” he growls. “Who was it? I want him brought here.”

“Was he in the western corridor?” Elena asks. Her voice is quiet, hard, like the weapon sheathed at her hip. At Izuku’s nod, the guard-captain turns towards the king. “Majesty, I ask that I be permitted to discipline this man. It is not his first infraction and I would make it clear to him that this will not be tolerated.”

“I want his discipline to be public,” says Katsuki. “Make him a lesson for the rest of the guards about what happens to anyone who lays a hand on someone they shouldn’t.”

Elena bows deeply. Then she turns and stalks out of the room. Izuku has about half a second of watching her leave and being glad that he’s not going to be on the receiving end of her wrath before Katsuki is hauling him up and over the desk onto his back, and then there’s very little else on his mind aside from Katsuki’s mouth for awhile.

But aside from that incident, Izuku is undisturbed by the other inhabitants and workers of the palace. After a few more weeks, other servants and guards even start to come to him when they have something they want to broach with the king but don’t know how to approach him. Izuku finds this impossibly weird. He’s not even been the king’s pleasure slave for three months, and did he mention he’s a slave—okay, maybe kind of an unconventional one, but still!—and yet somehow people think he has the ability to bend the king’s ear?

Then again, maybe they’re not wrong. Because more than once, it’s not a servant or a guard, but Katsuki asking him, “Can you tell Eijirou to remember to go out into the woods so he can shed his scales, it’s that time of year for him and he forgets,” or Eijirou snuggling his face into Izuku’s neck and asking apologetically, “Can you try to get Katsuki to get some sleep tonight? He looks like he hasn’t rested in almost three days, it’s getting bad.”

Even weirder than the requests is that his lovers seem to listen to him—although Izuku isn’t stupid enough to tell either of them what they need to do. It’s more about knowing that chamomile tea makes Katsuki sleepy, and that it’s hard for him to resist a bed when Izuku’s in it making sad eyes at him. It’s about knowing that if he asks, innocently, if dragons shed their hides the way snakes and lizards do, that Eijirou will light up and babble at him all about dragons and half-dragons and their natures, before sheepishly admitting that he probably does need to go shed his scales before his skin gets scratchy and dry.

No matter what Eijirou’s said, Izuku still doesn’t know if he’s a stand-in, a go-between, or something more. All he knows is that Katsuki volunteered himself for far more of a mess than he probably realized when he slew the previous mad king, and that Eijirou and Katsuki have somehow let a chasm open between them—and it seems to have somehow fallen to Izuku to build the bridge they need.

So he does his best. But he has no idea just how difficult and dangerous that task is going to be.

Chapter Text

Of all the many issues Arden faces, the question of a new bridge across the Abaddeon is by far the most controversial.

Katsuki makes no formal announcement, but somehow the news that the king is considering funding a new bridge across the great river spreads all the same. Constituents arrive daily to demand the king cease this troublesome nonsense or to encourage him to get started immediately. The former are mostly from Maralthea’s many wealthy merchant-nobles, although some are also from her allies or the port-cities that make the bulk of their trade from ferrying merchants across the river; the latter are from various other cities and parts of the kingdom that would benefit one way or another from better access to the other side of the seven kingdoms. A few—including yet another emissary from the dragons—simply want to know the status of the bridge and hint that some locations may be more preferable than others.

(The dragons call themselves the Subutai, a discovery Izuku has only recently made. So little is known about the wild regions the dragons inhabit that things like their culture and customs leave Izuku mystified—and though Eijirou theoretically knows much about it, he’s curiously quiet on the topic of dragon culture and customs. But since Izuku’s new role has lately been less a personal concubine and more one of the king’s representatives, he’s done his best to make sure he knows all the business Katsuki needs him to know.)

As for the bridge, Izuku knows where he stands. He despises the Maralthean nobles for their greed and their casual indifference to how much good more passage across the great river could do. Izuku’s own city, Miletus, is near one of the spots the builders are considering for placement of the new bridge and would benefit immensely from the flow of trade and goods.

He knows how Eijirou and Katsuki feel, also. Eijirou is perfectly human about some things but strangely draconic about others; it makes Izuku wonder at his upbringing, and whether he spent more of it amongst humans or dragons. He dislikes large cities and crowds; he would spend every day out in the wilderness if Izuku or Katsuki would be willing to accompany him; he eats enough red meat to fell a normal human, and his sex drive is just this side of obscene. But on this particular topic, he feels just as Izuku does—and so does Katsuki.

“Maralthea is being selfish,” Eijirou says, as matter-of-fact as he might state that the weather is sunny. “Their trade won’t dry up just from one other bridge hundreds of miles south of them on the river, they have too much industry for that. They just don’t want to share any of their good fortune.”

“I know,” Katsuki growls. “They’re also powerful enough to make my job a fucking nightmare if I’m not careful.”

The three of them are in his office, sitting on the floor staring at a new set of blueprints spread out between the three of them. The blueprints show the structure of the bridge—massive pylons sunk deep into the frothing water of the Abaddeon, reinforced with stone and steel and magic. Its spires rise to high pointed arches, built tall enough to allow for the ships to pass beneath. Alongside the blueprints is a huge map of Arden, the border of each of the seven kingdoms drawn in black. The great blue snake of the Abaddeon winds down the middle of the map; several spots along the river are marked, indicating possible locations for the bridge.

Izuku’s eyes are drawn again to the spot closest to Miletus. He bites his lip, trying to decide how best to pitch his argument for that location, and as he considers the topic, an idea occurs to him. “You can’t act as though you don’t care for Maralthea’s welfare, they’re too powerful for that,” he says out loud. Katsuki and Eijirou both look at him. “So instead you have to frame it in a way that makes Maralthea think they can benefit somehow, or at least not just lose out.”

“How do we do that?” Eijirou asks.

Katsuki scowls. “What do you think I’ve been trying to do?” he demands. “If you have any bright ideas, feel fuckin’ free to enlighten me.”

Once upon a time, he wouldn’t have had the courage to even bring this up, much less pitch an idea at them. But the past weeks and months have changed him, the trust and responsibilities they’ve given him bolstering his confidence.

“I do have an idea.”

His lovers look at him expectantly. Izuku leans forward and sets about explaining, an act which takes perhaps five minutes. By the end of it, Eijirou looks excited, but Katsuki is even more irritated than he was.

“That’s too risky,” he says flatly. “We can’t just lie to Maralthea and tell them the dragons want the bridge and not have a Subutai ambassador to back it up. And I don’t want the dragons waging war on the seven kingdoms because we did something in their name they don’t approve of. We’re not doing it.”

Izuku swallows. He’d thought Katsuki might be wary of his approach, but he wasn’t expecting flat-out refusal. “Your Majesty, I know it’s risky, but the dragons have already expressed interest in the bridge. Won’t you at least consider trying to get them to—”

“I said no, peasant,” Katsuki snaps.

“I think it’s worth thinking about,” Eijirou says, but Katsuki just levels another glare at him. “Kacchan, don’t you think you’re being—”

“This isn’t your call to make!”

“Isn’t it, though?” Both men look at him, the heat of Katsuki’s glare burning now at roughly the temperature of the sun. “We need an in, and Eijirou’s a half-dragon. Wouldn’t he have the best idea if this would work?”

But at this, Eijirou looks crestfallen. “I’m worse than useless, actually,” he says. “Half-breeds are outcasts. The Subutai think of someone like me as tainted, an abomination. They chased me out and threatened to kill me if I ever came back.”

“They did what?” Izuku is aghast. Eijirou grins at him, an expression as brittle as it is cheery.

“It’s fine,” he says. “Katsuki found me when I was just a kid. We grew up together.”

“Shut up,” Katsuki says, but there’s a note of fondness to it. “Their stupid loss.”

“Anyway,” says Eijirou, “I still think it’d work. You’d just have to convince the Subutai to go along with it, but if you did, no one would argue with you!”

“Are the two of you deaf? I already said we’re not doing it,” Katsuki says. There’s a warning tone to his voice, but Izuku doesn’t heed it.

“You haven’t even really considered it,” he says indignantly. “It’d work, no one would argue with the dragons—”

“It’s a stupid idea, and we’re not doing it,” Katsuki snaps. Izuku sits back, stung. “It’s my decision. And if I fuck it up, the whole kingdom is going to pay for it, so both of you do me a favor and just back. Off.

Izuku drops his gaze, trying to smooth his face, to hide the sudden prickle of tears at the corners of his eyes. He can feel himself going hot, shame burning his cheeks and ears. It’s incredibly stupid, but he’s quickly accommodated to a level of intimacy with Katsuki that was probably not wise. The sudden push-back leaves him raw.

“Katsuki,” Eijirou says. His voice is low, disapproving. Izuku hears Katsuki growl in frustration. There’s a rustling noise, as of papers being gathered up, and then Katsuki’s warmth intrudes into Izuku’s space.

“Come here,” Katsuki says in his ear. Izuku hunches backwards for a moment, but then he feels arms wrapping around him, feels Eijirou’s chest against his back. He looks up to see Katsuki right in front of him, his expression inscrutable.

“Don’t make that fuckin’ face, it turns my stomach,” Katuski murmurs. His voice is infinitely softer than his words. Izuku tries to smile, but it comes out watery, and he sniffles. “Shhh. Come on. We’ll talk about it later, okay? No more right now.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Izuku whispers.

Katsuki leans in, kissing him with a tenderness that never fails to shock Izuku the handful of times he’s experienced it. Eijirou nuzzles Izuku’s ear as Katsuki’s lips envelop Izuku’s, and after a few moments Izuku sags, leaning into their touches, their mouths.

Before, when he first arrived, they’d simply take their pleasure from him without much concern for how he was acting or feeling. Over time, though, that’s changed. Instead of demanding, their touches now are gentle as they are warm. Izuku can’t help but melt under the attention—not that he’s ever given much resistance, knowing damn well he doesn’t have the choice of saying no in his current position.

But lately, he hasn’t wanted to. More and more, he wants whatever they’re willing to give him, no matter how dangerous such sentimentalism might be.

His hurt is not gone, but under their attention it soon fades from the front of his mind. Soon Izuku is squirming, panting as their hands drift lower, slipping under his shirt, dipping into his trousers. He doesn’t know if it’s because he’s been having so much sex the past weeks or just because he’s this sensitive to their attention now, but he’s already getting hard, already wanting more.

Katsuki laughs in his ear, pulling back to eye him with greed writ large on his handsome face. “Tell us what you want, Deku,” he says. He purrs out the nickname, as if savoring a sweet melting on his tongue, and Izuku shivers.

For better or worse, Izuku’s been opening up to his partners about himself, and Katsuki especially seemed delighted by this nugget of information. Or maybe he just likes how Izuku reacts when Katsuki calls him by his childhood nickname.

“Please fuck me,” he breathes. “Please, I need both of you.” Izuku is rewarded by Eijirou turning his face towards him and kissing him hard. Katsuki leans in, hovering in front until Eijirou breaks away and Katsuki can take his turn kissing Izuku breathless.

They strip him of his clothes with greedy hands, and soon Izuku is naked between them, Eijirou and Katsuki both still clothed; maybe they want to remind him of his dependent position, or maybe they just enjoy having him like this. For a few minutes more, they don’t get any further than that, Eijirou with his arms lashed around Izuku while Katsuki pushes Izuku’s thighs open, biting and licking at every inch of skin he can reach. He drops down, licking over Izuku’s hardening cock; meanwhile, Eijirou’s hands are busy with Izuku’s chest—teasing at his nipples, his stomach, dragging nails over Izuku’s sensitive flank.

“Please, please, please, p-please,” Izuku babbles, as hot mouths and hands torment him. He strains against Eijirou’s arms, twisting to one side like an bowstring, and groans as Eijirou bites down on the exposed length of his throat. Rather than make him kneel on the stone floor, Eijirou picks him up and carries him over to the desk, laying him on his back. Izuku’s thighs fall eagerly open, tilting his head back as he reaches backwards for Eijirou.

Katsuki comes around the other side of the desk to settle between his legs, hands stroking up and down the insides of Izuku’s splayed thighs. Eijirou pets Izuku’s face, leaning down to kiss his mouth and cheeks again before gently helping Izuku to tilt his head back and open his mouth and throat. He guides his cock into Izuku’s mouth, even as Izuku feels Katsuki’s fingers sliding along the crack of his ass, probing at his hole.

Eijirou cradles Izuku’s face in both hands as he leisurely fucks into his mouth. Izuku closes his eyes, trying to breathe through his nose; it’s made more difficult moments later as the blunt, slicked head of Katsuki’s cock presses into him, and Izuku chokes. Soon he’s full of both of them, Katsuki fucking steadily into his ass as Eijirou’s hips rock harder against his face. Izuku surrenders to it, willingly loses himself in the sensation of being used for their pleasure.

He reaches up, grabbing Eijirou’s hips to steady himself as he starts to rock against them both. Eijirou swears, makes a noise like he’s swallowing gravel, and then he starts fucking Izuku’s throat in earnest, hard enough to bruise and choke. The sight must be really good for Katsuki, because Izuku hears his lover snarl and then suddenly Katsuki is fucking harder into his ass, fingers digging welts into Izuku’s hips, the three of them making the desk creak and groan with their exertions.

Katsuki finishes first. Izuku feels him stutter, hears his loud oath as he slams in and then stills, but Eijirou face-fucking him hard enough to bruise is too distracted to notice more than that. Izuku gags and coughs, eyes watering harder as Eijirou loses some control. He’s suddenly aware of a warm body crawling up his, kisses raining down over his ribs and chest, hot hands on his hips. Then Eijirou thrusts home, spilling hot down Izuku’s throat with an oath Izuku can’t even properly hear.

Izuku chokes, some of it running out of his mouth and down past his ears. He does his best to swallow, trying to gulp some air at the same time. Eijirou pulls out, grabbing Izuku’s head and shoulder and gently guiding him to sit up. He finds himself at the center of attention of both men, the focus of their touches and kisses, and it isn’t long before Izuku finds his own pleasure under their ministrations: Katsuki sucking his cock, two fingers in his ass, while Eijirou kisses him within an inch of his life until Izuku falls apart with a loud cry.

He sags between them, Eijirou at his back, Katsuki on top of him, crawled halfway up onto the desk to sandwich Izuku between him and Eijirou. Izuku kisses Eijirou, then Katsuki, then pulls back and tugs Katsuki forward, close enough for Eijirou to lean in and kiss Katsuki’s mouth. Izuku watches them kissing in dazed satisfaction, his brain too fried to think past how hot and nice it is.

That is, until Katsuki pulls back, staring at Eijirou with such raw longing in his eyes that Izuku abruptly feels like he shouldn’t be seeing this at all. “Eijirou,” Katsuki whispers. “I…”

“Stay with us tonight,” Eijirou says. He leans forward, one arm still lashed around Izuku’s waist. “Please, khairt. I’ve missed you so much.” The word he says is one Izuku doesn’t recognize, harsh and throaty in a language he’s never heard. Draconic, maybe?

Katsuki hesitates. He glances from Eijirou down to Izuku, and Izuku’s stomach tightens at the helplessness he sees in those red eyes—there and then gone. “I can’t,” he says finally, and pulls back. “I can’t let myself be distracted.”

“Kacchan,” begins Eijirou, but Katsuki is already doing his pants up, his gaze averted. The warmth and sweetness in the air is rapidly dissipating in favor of a chill Izuku doesn’t know what to do about.

“I’m sorry,” Katsuki says. And to his credit, he sounds like he means it. He casts one last look over at Izuku and Eijirou, and the longing there is something Izuku never expected to see in the eyes of a man feared across the seven kingdoms. “But I can’t stay. I have to get this done.” And with that, he turns and stalks out of the room.

“Katsuki!” Izuku calls before he can stop himself. But Katsuki doesn’t stop. He sweeps out of the room without looking back, leaving Izuku and Eijirou there holding each other and staring after him.

Eijirou sighs. “Let’s go get cleaned up,” he says, before Izuku can think of a damn thing to say. He helps Izuku off the desk, grabbing a robe from the closet, and walks with Izuku to his own quarters at the other end of the palace.

And all the while, all Izuku can think is that if he’s here to serve the king, he’s really going to have to get that bridge built.

* * * * *

His opportunity comes just a few days later. One of the magistrates from Maralthea arrives at the palace on a day when Katsuki is elsewhere in the kingdom, having left with Eijirou to investigate a barbarian incursion on the southern edge of Arden. (Izuku can’t help but find this development ironic, considering the king’s roots, but no one can accuse Katsuki of not taking his duties to the kingdom seriously.)

The magistrate—a rat-faced man by the name of Florin—not only takes Izuku seriously, but also asks for him by name as he arrives. Izuku has gone to Maralthea many times now as Katsuki’s ambassador, which helps; Guard-Captain Elena accompanies him to the meeting room, which also helps, since the only person more intimidating than her is the king himself.

Now Izuku just has to figure out what he’s going to say to the man.

He meets Magistrate Florin in the east wing receiving room, a rather cramped space full of tapestries, heavy wooden furniture, and a fireplace that takes up one entire wall. The fire is currently banked, thank goodness; Izuku doesn’t want to have to entertain an unpleasant man in an even more unpleasant room if he can avoid it.

Magistrate Florin does him the favor of spending only a little while on pleasantries before he cuts right to the chase. “I have come today to inquire after His Majesty’s state of mind,” he says brusquely. “Has he seen reason yet? Does he understand the weight of the decision before him?”

This is his chance. Izuku has a few moments of deep internal panic at the idea of what he’s about to do, but he lets not an ounce of it show in his face. Inwardly, he’s thinking of what Katsuki said just last night: that he was thinking of tabling the bridge altogether, until he can think of a better way to achieve it that wouldn’t incur such stiff resistance from Maralthea. The heaviness in his voice and eyes as he’d told Eijirou and Izuku this had broken Izuku’s heart.

Izuku glances at the door, then at the Magistrate.Then he leans forward and pitches his voice deliberately low.

“His Majesty’s mind is made up, yes,” he says in a low voice. “He won’t announce it for some time, however.”

Magistrate Florin’s eyebrows lift ever so slightly, though his expression otherwise does not change. Izuku has to give the man credit where it’s due; he has a good poker face. “And what has his Majesty decided?” asks Florin, voice neutral.

Izuku answers the question with another question. “Is Maralthea aware of all the other factions who have voiced an interest in the possible bridge?” He has to walk a fine line, here. He can’t come out and state anything definitive on Katsuki’s part—he has to merely make an implication, and allow the quick-thinking magistrate to come to the conclusion on his own.

Florin studies Izuku for several seconds. “Maralthea is aware that there are many cities and city-states who are jealous of her prosperity,” he says after a moment. “If there is a new player in question, we would of course be grateful to His Majesty and His Majesty’s ambassadors for making us aware of such a thing.”

“Then your excellency would be well advised that the lands from whence comes His Majesty’s greatest asset in battle has sent messengers to the Lord of Arden’s court on the subject of the bridge.”

Florin stares at him for several moments, frowning; Izuku starts to wonder if he’s made his politico-gibberish too opaque, and then the magistrate’s eyes go wide. “The great lizards?” he demands. “Surely you jest.”

Izuku spreads his hands. “One of their messengers came to court,” he says. This much is true, at least; the blue-haired messenger returned a third time, yet again to inquire as to the status of the bridge deal. Katsuki sent him away empty-handed to inform Khan Temujin of the dragons that Katsuki would tell him when a decision had been made. “They have a very strong interest in the building of the bridge.”

This, too, was true; it was part of what gave Izuku the idea in the first place—for not only had the dragons’ ambassador come to inquire after the bridge, he had also made other strange inquiries, all relating to the flow of trade and goods. Katsuki had been sure the dragons were after something in particular, but the ambassador had remained frustratingly vague on what exactly it was they were seeking. Now, though, it remained to be seen if the Magistrate would take Izuku’s words in the intended direction.

From the splotches of red appearing in his face and throat, Florin appears to be taking Izuku’s hint and running with it. “What interests do the Subutai have in a bridge?” he demands. Izuku’s estimation of Florin as an ambassador rises another notch at hearing him use the name the dragons have for themselves. “Never once did Khan Temujin send an ambassador to Shigaraki’s court.”

“King Shigaraki also did not have a dragon as his loyal companion,” Izuku says mildly. Florin blanches.

From there, it’s a matter of deflecting Florin’s questions so as to avoid giving him any more concrete statements about what has or has not been decided and about what, exactly, the dragons would want or benefit from a bridge being built near their kingdom. But thanks to what he knows about dragons from Eijirou, and the recent visit of the blue-haired draconic ambassador, Izuku is able to drop enough hints to make the Magistrate sweat.

Finally, it’s time for the last stroke. Izuku leans forward, once again dropping his voice to the whisper of a co-conspirator. “Maralthea has long been an ally of the throne,” he says, trying to inject some warmth and concern into his words. “I’m telling you this so that she can maintain her position. If Maralthea finds a way to support the bridge, His Majesty might even secure funding and supplies from her builders, and cement her as an ally of the Subutai and the crown.”

Florin pauses at this; he wipes some of the sweat that’s started to accumulate along his brows and jaw with a damp handkerchief, considering this information. “I will take this news to be considered by the Duke,” he says at last. “On behalf of my people, Ser Midoriya, I thank you for your consideration. And His Majesty, as well.”

“I am a servant of the people, like yourself,” Izuku says. It’s true on the face of it, even if Izuku would rather kick Florin in the shins and push him down a flight of stairs than willingly work with him. But there are people in Maralthea who don’t deserve to be the casualty of a bloody civil war, and Izuku will not deliberately throw them to the wolves just because of his dislike of Maralthea’s wealthy nobility and merchant classes.

Izuku has the magistrate served lunch, then walks him to his carriage personally. Then he retreats to Katsuki’s chambers to await his lovers’ return… and to break the news.

He only hopes Katsuki won’t be too mad with him.

* * * * *

Izuku was wrong. Katsuki isn’t mad: he’s furious.

“You told him what?” Katsuki advances towards Izuku from where he had been going through paperwork, eyes wild in his livid face. Magic snaps warningly in the air by his ears. Izuku thinks of the bright shower of sparks Katsuki summoned the very first day they met, and is genuinely afraid of his king for the first time in weeks.

“I, I d-didn’t state anything outright, I just—implied—”

Katsuki shoves his wooden desk chair to one side, out of his way. It clatters to the floor, its noise barely covering the snarl he makes as he stalks across the room towards Izuku. Izuku keeps backing up until the backs of his knees catch against a stool, and he stumbles. Katsuki’s hand darts out, grabbing Izuku by his shirt and hauling him in close, teeth bared like a rabid animal.

“I told you that we weren’t going to try that gambit, peasant,” Katsuki growls. Izuku wishes uselessly that Eijirou were here, but the king’s dragon is already gone on another errand, too far away to be able to help defuse this particular disaster. “You disobeyed a direct order from your lord and master. And you might have gotten me into a mess that will destroy the whole kingdom.”

Katsuki’s red eyes gleam like embers in his manic face. In his panic and distress, Izuku obeys his best, first instinct: tell the truth. “My lord, I had to!” he blurts. “You, you were—”

He slams his mouth shut, but too late. Katsuki’s eyes narrow. “I was what?” he repeats, voice low and dangerous. “What have I done that made you think this was your only option?”

Izuku’s cheeks burn. He’s done it now, he thinks; if he wasn’t in trouble before, this will do the trick, but now the only way out is through. He grits his teeth. “You’re destroying yourself,” he says. His voice shakes, but he doesn’t drop Katsuki’s gaze. “You’re, you’re working so hard it’s a miracle you haven’t gotten sick—you’re breaking Eijirou’s heart by keeping him at arm’s length like you are, and you don’t sleep, you don’t eat, you won’t let us take care of you—”

During this Katsuki’s expression goes from merely furious to incredulous, something tight and complicated shifting behind his eyes. But at take care of you, he breaks, shoving Izuku hard enough to send him sprawling to the floor.

“So you think you’d make a better king than me,” he snaps. “You think I need your help, peasant? You think you know anything about what’s between me and Eijirou?”

“I know he misses you!” Izuku can feel himself tearing up, his voice shaking despite his best efforts to quietly endure this confrontation. He can’t help it. Having Katsuki angry at him is so much worse than he was expecting; he’s become too used to having the king’s attention and affection that he’s forgotten how mercurial and explosive the Lord of Arden can truly be. “I know he’s worried about you, that he wishes you would let us help you! And I’m worried too!”

Katsuki snarls, grabbing a saucer from his desk and hurling it at the far wall. It shatters, broken pieces flying everywhere. Izuku jumps at the violence, fresh tears escaping down his cheeks; he looks up to see Katsuki bent over the desk, hands gripping the edges so tightly his knuckles are going white.

“Get. Out.”

“Your Majesty, I’m—”

“Get out,” Katsuki snarls. He whirls on Izuku, eyes too wide, his hands spitting sparks like open flames about to burst to life. “I don’t need a stupid fucking peasant trying to help me! Especially when that ‘help’ makes my job that much fucking harder! Now GET OUT!”

Izuku’s mouth trembles. He wants to fall on his knees and weep, wants to cry and beg and apologize until Katsuki relents, wants to make a dozen different promises—anything to please his lover, to make this right. But he knows it won’t work. Not with Katsuki as he is right now.

“Yes, my lord,” he whispers. He scrambles to his feet, bowing once in the king’s direction before fleeing from the room, so blinded by tears he can barely see his way.

Izuku makes it all the way to his quarters—his own quarters, the little room he scrounged for himself. He shuts the door, pushes the desk in front of it to block anyone’s entrance, and then has a small, spectacular breakdown on the floor. Izuku weeps until he’s exhausted himself, until he’s cried out all his terror at the prospect of having ruined this thing he barely allowed himself to believe he had with Katsuki and Eijirou both. And even though he hasn’t quarreled with Eijirou, he’s is devoted to the king that Izuku believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he loses one, he loses them both.

It isn’t until exhaustion sets in that he’s clear-headed enough to let his tired mind fall into planning mode again.

He has to fix this. Maybe if he can finish what he started, Katsuki can stop running himself into the ground and actually let Eijirou close again. The possibility of him forgiving Izuku is too painful to even hope for, so Izuku pushes it to one side. He rubs a hand over his face, considering his options for managing this in a way that will actually solve the bridge problem instead of only postponing the mess.

It takes him a little while, but eventually Izuku decides on a plan. Once he has it, he wastes no time, stuffing a bag with some clothes and some equipment he thinks he’ll need. Izuku moves the desk out of the way, then hesitates—he doesn’t want Katsuki to think his sworn slave has run off with no explanation, but neither does he want either of his lovers to try to stop him. Izuku made this mess; it’s his job to fix it, for both Eijirou’s and Katsuki’s sakes.

So he takes out a sheet of vellum, sitting down at his desk to leave them some kind of explanation. Izuku chews on his fingernail for a few moments, then writes,

My Lord,

I know I’ve wronged you grievously, and believe me when I say I am sorry with all my heart for abusing your trust. But I swore to serve you in any way I could, and I won’t rest until I’ve righted this wrong and fixed this problem for you.

Ever yours,
Deku

He pauses a moment, then reaches for another sheet of vellum. On this one, he writes,

Eijirou,

I’m sorry for leaving without telling you good-bye first. I promise I’ll be back as soon as I’ve made this right. I’ll dream of both of you every night I’m away.

Yours,
Izuku

He rolls both of them into tubes, then seals them with the wax sigil Katsuki gifted him with in order to perform duties for the throne. He attaches labels to each one, then leaves them on his desk—his lovers will come looking for him at some point, or send for him, and this way they’ll know he hasn’t just abandoned them.

Now he just has to make good on his promise.

* * * * *

Izuku steals from the castle within the hour. He rides on the back of one of the king’s best horses, wearing a long green riding cloak to hide his face. He pins the sigil to his cloak that Katsuki had made for him, the one that signifies that he’s out on the king’s business, and every door opens before him without question. There’s no avoiding being stopped by the guards at the gates, but he’s spent too much time running errands for the king for anyone to really remark upon his departure.

He has to be fast. He left his messages deliberately vague so that Katsuki wouldn’t necessarily know where to send forces after him—then again, knowing how shrewd the king is, Katsuki might well guess immediately. But he’ll have to split his forces between hunting for Izuku in Maralthea and hunting for Izuku near the border of dragon country, where the Subutai station their drakes to descend on any invaders.

Assuming the king sends anyone at all. The thought of Katsuki not even bothering to fetch him home has Izuku urging his horse ever faster, riding the roan mare late into the night along the road the runs south and west from the king’s castle, to where the Forest of Midnight rises along the western border. He has to succeed at his errand. He has to.

Izuku leaves his steed at an inn near the border, not wanting to risk the animal becoming dragon food. He can defend himself—he thinks—but he won’t risk anyone or anything else on this venture. He casts a glamour over himself, a conjuring of shadow and quicksilver that wraps night around him like a second skin and lets him slip unnoticed through dark places.

(He’s grown rusty in some of his magic since coming to live with Katsuki and Eijirou, but Izuku has done his best to practice when he does have down time. Katsuki dislikes Izuku demonstrating any of his magic in front of strangers or guests—something about not wanting to let possible enemies know about Izuku’s skills, he thinks—but that’s resulted in Izuku not having as much time to keep up his magic study as he would have liked. He just hopes what he can recall will be enough to get him by.)

The dragons have been making more overtures in the past few months, but historically they’ve kept to themselves. Their lands are wild and uncharted by human eyes, overgrown with enormous oaks and pines and firs, the underbrush thick with foxglove and fennel. Izuku makes his slow way through the trees and overgrown bushes, wanting to get as far as he can under cover of night; his cloaking spell works best when there’s not direct daylight, and he wants to get as far as possible before he makes himself known and requests an audience with the Khan.

Assuming Khan Temujin is even willing to see him and doesn’t just kill him on sight. The lord of the dragons is a mysterious figure, even to someone who’s as spent much of his time doing the king’s ambassador and diplomat work as Izuku has these past few months. This is the part where Izuku’s plan starts to fall apart; he hasn’t entirely worked out how he’s going to achieve an audience with the oldest, most fearsome dragon in the seven kingdoms, much less what he’s going to say even if he succeeds. But as he travels through the darkened Subutai lands, Izuku starts to notice something else, something so strange that it manages to draw his attention from his present concerns.

He finds a dragon corpse.

He smells it first, a wretched stink of death and decay he knows too well from his times dealing with the victims of the flood waters in the wake of Shigaraki’s wars. Izuku creeps through a glen of trees and finds the rotting carcass of a huge wyvern, its once-shiny scales now dull and peeling off its hide. (Wyverns are the workhorses of dragons, or so Izuku has been told; larger than the swift, vicious drakes but smaller than the high dragons who rule their subordinates, wyverns are still easily the size of a two-story building.) Izuku squints, and in the moonlight puddling across the body through the break in the tree branches, he can see strange spots along the wyvern’s side—large white spots the size of a human hand, almost like moss or algae.

Izuku gives the corpse a wide berth, and wonders to himself whether the wyvern was just abandoned in the woods by his compatriots, or if dragons were concerned with such things as burials and funerals and the like. It’s a question he’s never considered before; he’ll have to ask Eijirou. But the lonely puddle of moonlight on the body deep in the woods stays in his mind long after he leaves the clearing behind.

As he journeys deeper into Subutai lands, that night and the next four days, he encounters more dragon corpses—some small, at least by dragon standards, just the size of a draft horse; others enormous, the size of a three-story house or larger. Izuku counts five dragon corpses before he’s journeyed three days into their lands, all of them abandoned in some desolate space, all of them covered in those same strange white spots. What’s even more interesting is that Izuku sees signs of recent flooding—half-dead trees sunk up to their lowest branches in huge standing pools of water; the banks of a river swept almost completely bare by what must have been furious rapids, leaving nude dirt and shifting soil.

He sees the drowned trees, and the standing water, and the corpses, and he wonders.

Izuku also encounters some live dragons—but thanks to his magic, he’s able to avoid them. One lone human traveling on foot is easily masked by a nullification spell that dulls his warmth and his scent to predator senses; Izuku hides in caves and tree-tops, and listens to the too-near cries of hungry drakes, out hunting in the deep woods. He tries to come up with a pitch to make to Khan Temujin, and he tries not to think about whether Katsuki and Eijirou are missing him, or care at all that he’s gone.

The nights are the worst. At night, his doubt creeps in, heavy and bitter enough to choke. He thinks of Eijirou and Katsuki finding comfort in each other’s arms, reunited at last and without the least bit of concern for their wayward slave. And why shouldn’t they? Izuku was only ever a substitute, a go-between for the two of them; maybe with the magnitude of Izuku’s gesture, Katsuki’s realized what an idiot he was for pushing Eijirou away, and gone back into his dragon’s willing arms.

Izuku cries himself to sleep thinking about that, masking his noises in his arm in an effort to not draw the attention of any nearby predators. It’s fucking stupid of him to have let himself get so attached to Katsuki and Eijirou. He knows it’s stupid, but he misses them like a lost limb, an ache that no amount of hard traveling and magic can dull. He misses Katsuki’s fierce temper, his strength and his shocking tenderness in quiet moments. He misses Eijirou’s laughter and bright smile, his sunny personality that never fails to cheer Izuku up. He misses their kisses, and the touch of their hands, and the warmth of their arms, and the too-real possibility that they might not even care that he’s vanished devastates him.

He thinks very seriously about just abandoning his fool’s errand, of sneaking out of Subutai lands without ever confronting a dragon and disappearing into the countryside. But Izuku discards that idea as utterly untenable. The only places he’d want to go are where he’d be immediately discovered: back to Miletus, where his family and friends would want to know why his tenure as the king’s slave had ended so soon, or back to the castle, to face the lovers he abandoned.

And besides, Izuku can’t bring himself to give up his mission. He can’t bear the idea of making Katsuki’s job harder than it already is without also doing his level best to fix this new knot he’s added to the tangle. And even if he fails—if Khan Temujin doesn’t eat him alive for his impudence, that is—even if Katsuki throws him into prison to rot, or casts him out of the castle for being disobedient, Izuku wants to return to him and be able to say, My Lord, I gave my all. He wants to lay himself at Eijirou’s feet and beg for forgiveness, to apologize for vanishing without a proper good-bye.

Even if he didn’t already owe Katsuki and Eijirou for the chance they’ve given him, Izuku would want to do this for them. But on the fifth day, Izuku makes a mistake.

It’s bright daylight out. He should have re-cast his cloaking spell as he left the cave he stayed in the night before, but he simply forgot, too preoccupied with wondering if Katsuki has already smoothed things over with Maralthea and undone Izuku’s bid to have the bridge built. So he’s making his way down a ravine in the middle of the deep woods with an inadequate shielding spell covering him, and with shrieks like a pair of tormented ghouls, two drakes fall on him from above.

Izuku narrowly manages to dodge out of the way, so close he feels the rush of lethal claws through his hair. The two horse-sized dragons landing heavily behind him on the spot he was just standing in. “Stop!” Izuku cries, in Common. “I’m here on an errand for the Lord of Arden!”

The nearest drake—its scales like emerald fire, with teeth as big as Izuku’s thumb—rears back its head on its serpentine neck and snarls. “Liesssss,” it hisses; its words are sibilant and thick, but understandable. “You have ssssnuck in here to ssssteal or murder, human!”

“I have his sigil here!” Izuku thrusts out the hem of his cloak, to which Katsuki’s badge is still pinned. “I have a message for the Khan!”

“We will not trouble the Khan withhhh your liesssss,” snarls the other drake, this one with scales so dark a brown they look like burnished earth. “We do not recognizzzzze your king’ssss authority, human!” With that, they spring at him.

Izuku flings his arm up, shouting a word of power that brings lightning crashing down between him and the drakes. The strike is powerful enough to fling both him and the drakes backwards, the grass along the base of the canyon catching fire. Izuku scrambles backwards, hand scraping on a sharp rock, but Izuku has no time to worry about his injury, because the drakes are airborne again, soaring high above the flames and circling above him, clearly intending to dive bomb him a second time.

Izuku grits his teeth. He flings both hands above him this time, shouting another word of power, and two gouts of flame erupt from his palms. The flames widen, blossoming into plumes of fire three feet abreast; they strike the drakes in mid-air, sending them shrieking and wheeling in a dizzy gyre around the flame tornado. Izuku knows the spell has bought him only moments, and he’s already scrambling down the incline of the ravine, avoiding the flames both above him and spreading rapidly down the grassy way.

He has to get to cover. If he can find a cave, he can keep the drakes from aerial strikes, and he might be able to stop them or at least hold them at bay. But he doesn’t have enough firepower to defend against them both in such a vulnerable place as this, and he doesn’t actually want to kill them—few things will endear him to the Khan less than slaying two of his defenders.

Izuku gets perhaps another two hundred feet down the ravine, at a spot where the walls veer in close in a narrow throat of stone and sand, when he feels the rush of air above his head and ducks, instants before razor-sharp claws rake the spot his head just occupied. He throws himself to the ground, trying to scramble away on all fours, but the second drake lands directly in front of him, blocking egress.

He gets up, slowly, knowing that he’s trapped and has exactly one spell option left. “Don’t make me do this,” Izuku says. He tries to inject some warning into his voice; he doesn’t want to use his last spell if he can avoid it—doesn’t want to kill the drakes and knock himself unconscious in the process.

If he summons the daystar, it will burn everything in the canyon in one bright, fiery burst, will consume everything in a 500-yard radius, even the air. The only thing it won’t kill is the caster of the spell, but Izuku saw Toshinori use this spell exactly once, at the very last battle of Shigaraki’s war. The star he summoned decimated the entire army bearing down on Miletus, along with half the wall of trees along the edge of the field and much of the field itself. Toshinori had been unconscious for three days in the wake of that spell, and Izuku isn’t sure he’ll fare any better—but he has no other choice left.

All the response he gets is a vicious snarl. At that moment, three things happen at the same time: Izuku shouts the first word of invocation, the drakes lunge at him in unison, and a deafening explosion sounds directly behind Izuku, knocking him flat on his face.

Izuku drops the spell, fumbling the last half of the daystar invocation, and summoned magic slips from his fingers like sand. He tries to scramble to his feet, tries to recall the spell, but his head is ringing and he’s seeing double. And now he must even be hallucinating, because he swears he sees a too-familiar figure with a blood red cape swirling from his shoulders standing directly in front of him.

Then a voice speaks, and Izuku’s heart stops. “Tell your king that unless he wishes to make war with all seven of the kingdoms, that he’ll think twice before hurting what’s mine,” says the Lord of Arden—standing right in front of him, in all his impossible glory.

“Katsuki,” he breathes. Izuku glances quickly behind him, and sees the emerald green drake gathering itself up, wobbling slightly on its feet—apparently still stunned by the enormous singed boulder that must have just struck its head, now lying on the ground just feet away.

Renewed snarling makes him snap his attention back to the front, just in time to see the brown-scaled drake lunge at Katsuki, jaws snapping, wings unfurled, claws bared with lethal intent. Katsuki meets it with a snarl of his own, and before Izuku knows what’s even happening, Katsuki swings his hands up and out—

—And an explosion erupts in front of him.

Izuku shrieks in shock and alarm as the drake vanishes in a plume of sudden smoke. A chunk of rock breaks away from the nearby cliff wall, crashing to the ground right in front of Katsuki. Katsuki vaults backwards, effortless as a dancer mid-spin, grabbing Izuku by the shoulder and hauling him away from the cliff wall. “Are you hurt?” he demands. “Can you walk?”

“I, I’m f-fine,” Izuku stammers. His head reels from the sudden change of events. “Your Majesty, what—”

“Shut up, peasant,” Katsuki snaps. “You can cower later, now we need to run!” He straightens, Izuku trying to get his feet under him as they start to run back up the canyon the way they came.

They make it all of twenty feet when a blur of green scales lands on them from above, a flash of fangs and claws. Katsuki bellows, hurling the drake forward off him in one fluid movement before drawing the vicious, curved sword that hangs at his hip. Izuku sees bright red slash marks across Katsuki’s shoulder and back, and his heart lurches in fear. “KATSUKI!”

“Get down, Deku,” snaps Katsuki. He crouches, teeth bared, heedless of the blood streaming down his injured shoulder—there’s one impossible moment where Izuku sees him like that, sees the coiled power in his muscles, the savage creature he’s become, and is rendered speechless.

Then Katsuki strikes.

He launches himself at the drake, screaming a war cry at the sky, a long violent scream that sets Izuku’s hair standing on end. He slashes his sword across and down, another explosion erupting in the drake’s face at the same time. Izuku hears the drake scream in fear and panic, and then the noise cuts off in a wet gurgle. The drake falls to the ground in two pieces, greenish-black blood puddling around it in a grisly display. Katsuki lands in another crouch, then turns and stands, wiping his bloody sword on the grass.

“Let’s go,” he says shortly. “Before more reinforcements come.”

Izuku swallows hard. He scrambles to his feet, rushing to Katsuki’s side. “You’re bleeding,” he blurts. “Let me look at it—”

“Not here, peasant,” Katsuki snaps. “We have to go, now. More will come at the commotion, and we’re five days deep into Subutai land. Now come on, you’ve caused me enough trouble as it is!” Saying so, he grabs Izuku’s wrist and yanks him hard enough to make him stumble.

The two of them fall into a run together, Izuku hurrying along at Katsuki’s side. Izuku’s mind whirls with a hundred questions, each more pressing than the last. How did Katsuki find him? Did he travel this whole way by himself? Does this mean he wants Izuku after all? Is he just trying to keep Izuku from making the political mess worse?

But one jumps to the front of the queue. “Where is Eijirou?” Izuku demands. “Did he come too?”

“He’s waiting for us on the outskirts, outside Subutai lands,” Katsuki says curtly. “I wasn’t going to let him run headlong into danger, too, not when you already did it.”

“I was going to fix it!” Izuku says. Heat flares in his face, his voice. “I know why the dragons are interested in the bridge—”

“What did I fucking tell you?” Katsuki snarls. “Not now, Izuku! I almost had to watch you get mauled to death by fucking dragons, we’re leaving and you’re never, ever doing this to me again, you goddamn stupid idiot!

Izuku opens his mouth to protest again, but before he can, Katsuki stumbles. He sways on his feet, going white as a sheet; his hand rises to his slashed shoulder, drawing Izuku’s eyes. To Izuku’s horror, he sees that the raw red edges of the wound have grown a darker purple, a contagion that he can see spreading in his lover’s skin before his very eyes.

“Fuck,” Katsuki hisses. “Eijirou warned me the war-drakes dip their claws in poison, how could I fucking forget—”

“Poison?” Izuku’s stomach drops into his shoes. “Katsuki—”

“It’ll have to wait,” Katsuki says flatly. “We can’t stop.”

“I’m not watching you keel over from poison,” Izuku snaps. “Come on, I sheltered near here last night. Let me clean the wound and see what I can do for it before we keep going.”

It’s a sign of how badly his wound must be hurting him that Katsuki doesn’t even argue with this. He follows Izuku through the wild landscape to a sheltered hollow made in the belly of an enormous, ancient tree stump. The wood has long since fossilized to be almost as hard as stone, but the interior is dry, and elevated enough to have escaped the recent flooding. Izuku lays out his traveling cloak for Katsuki to sit on, then casts a warding spell at the mouth of the shelter, meant to divert all but the most determined investigation.

Then he turns his attention to Katsuki’s wound. Katsuki hisses as Izuku’s fingers probe the slashes, approximating the edges of the wound as he tries to gauge the damage. “It’s poisoned, all right,” he says grimly. The skin is tight, purple; the bloody drainage that leaks from the wound is foul-smelling and too dark. “I’m going to clean it and gather some medicine for it.”

“We don’t have time for that,” Katsuki says shortly. “Eijirou will come looking for us if we don’t get back soon, and there’s a diplomatic meeting with the Arl of Dunnswick in two days—”

“Shut up, you stubborn ass,” Izuku snaps. Katsuki stares at him in outrage, eyes wide. Izuku jabs a finger into his chest. “This looks like mortflower poison,” he says. “If it isn’t treated in the next two hours, you’re going to lose the arm. And if it’s left untreated, you’re going to die before the sun rises tomorrow.”

Katsuki’s jaw tightens. He stares at Izuku, who stares right back, unfazed, and finally it is Katsuki that looks away first. “Fine,” he says. If he’s at all scared by what Izuku just told him, he doesn’t show it.

Izuku doesn’t have time to analyze the situation, or to ask questions. He dumps his bag out, getting out cloth and his waterskin and setting about cleaning out Katsuki’s wound. Katsuki grits his teeth, his fingers flickering with poorly-controlled sparks, but he holds still and lets Izuku minister to his injuries without another word of complaint. Izuku leaves him to rest in the hollow, stealing out into the nearby fields to gather his supplies.

Mortflower is a lethal poison still widely used across the seven kingdoms, although recently it’s been falling out of favor due to the newly-discovered antidote that’s easily procured from common ingredients. Izuku is able to find the three plants he needs in under thirty minutes, and he hurries back to the hollow in the great tree, his heart lodged in his throat from his steadily-worsening fear.

He’s been gone less than 45 minutes, but Katsuki is already visibly worse. He’s gone a pasty grey, his eyes unfocused, his breathing shallow and too rapid. The purple stain on his shoulder is spreading down his arm; when Izuku feels for his pulse in that limb, it’s already threadier than it should be, the hand cool and white. Izuku sets a pot to boil and starts furiously mashing the ingredients into paste, before scooping boiling water into his mixing bowl to mix with the pulped plant leaves.

It’s less than 30 minutes from the two-hour mark before Izuku’s finally got the antidote prepared. He heats the blade of his knife on the fire, then glances at his lover’s face. “This is going to hurt,” Izuku says; Katsuki’s fevered gaze flick up to meet Izuku’s, and then he nods.

Izuku cuts the wound open further, trying to ignore the way Katsuki swears and shudders in pain. He has to slice down the arm as well, opening the poisoned skin to relieve swelling and give him the access he needs. Then he starts working the paste into the wounds, using his entire mixing bowl of bitter-smelling plant goo. Once he’s done, he wraps Katsuki’s shoulder and arm up in more clean bandages.

Now all he can do is wait.

Katsuki drinks all the water and rations Izuku presses on him, but his usual acidic temper is absent, vanishing as he fights the effects of the poison. To Izuku’s great relief, the color in Katsuki’s arm improves not two hours after he administers the antidote, but Katsuki continues to slip into what is clearly a fever state as his body overreacts to the poison pulsing in his veins. Soon he only responds in grunts and slurred words, unable to even keep his gaze focused, and by nightfall he’s unconscious, shivering and moaning in pain as fever wracks his body.

Izuku never leaves Katsuki’s side. He cleans the mess when Katsuki vomits, wiping his brow and keeping him covered with his red traveling cloak. He casts every healing spell he’s ever learned, trying his damnedest to cool Katsuki’s rampaging fever and calm the poison still wreaking havoc inside him.

Katsuki surfaces from his delirium just once. Izuku has Katsuki’s head in his lap, stroking his sweaty temple and murmuring to himself as he wracks his brain to try to recall some other spell that might be of use, some herbal remedy he hasn’t tried yet. Katsuki moans, and his eyes fly open, staring up at Izuku in seeming lucidity.

“Katsuki!” Izuku strokes Katsuki’s face, searching for any sign of recovery. “Are you awake? How are you feeling?”

“Eijirou, I’m so sorry,” Katsuki blurts. Izuku’s heart clenches painfully. “I didn’t… I should’ve… I’ve been such a bad mate…”

Izuku squeezes his eyes shut against the sudden sting of tears. “Shhh,” he whispers, stroking Katsuki’s sweat-damp hair out of his face. “It’s okay, Katsuki.”

“It’s not,” Katsuki says. He tries to sit up, but he only gets halfway before Izuku pushes him back down. Izuku hates the weakness under his hands, aching for the strength that’s always been there whenever they’ve touched before. “It’s not okay, Eijirou. I love you so much, you have to promise—you have to wait here, you have to stay safe, I can’t lose you both—”

Izuku’s throat closes. He tries to find words, but he can’t make his mouth work, has no idea what to say. “I have to find Izuku,” Katsuki continues. His voice is rough, slurred, almost impossible to make out. “I, I should’ve, I never told him that he’s special… if he gets killed, it’s my fault, I have to find him—”

Izuku blinks as a tear falls from his own jaw to Katsuki’s cheek; he wipes a hand across his eyes, trying to clear them. Katsuki moans again. The anguish in his voice tears Izuku’s heart in two, more devastating than poison or dragon claws.

“It’s okay,” Izuku whispers, though whether if it’s to himself or to Katsuki, even if he doesn’t know. “I-It’s okay, Kacchan. You did it.”

“Promise me,” Katsuki says, ragged. “Promise me!” He fixes his eyes on Izuku’s, reaching up one shaking hand to touch Izuku’s face. Izuku wonders what he’s seeing right now.

He swallows. “I promise,” he says. “I promise, Kacchan.”

Katsuki stares at him a moment longer, then nods. His eyes fall shut, and he goes still again after that, slipping deeper into unconsciousness. Izuku strokes his hair, rocking back and forth over his lover’s feverish body, and in the wee hours of the morning he can no longer put up a front against the helplessness and sorrow that creep into that dark hollow in the wilderness. He cries over Katsuki’s unconscious face, shaking with fear, with regret and self-loathing.

Finally, he quiets, exhaustion winning out in the end. All Izuku can do now is watch over his lover and wait for the morning.

It’s going to be a long, long night.

Chapter Text

That night is a long one.

For hours, sleep is the furthest thing from Izuku’s mind. Then exhaustion creeps up on him when he least expects it and he passes clean out. He wakes some unknown number of hours later with a crick in his back from sleeping upright, his mouth as desiccated and foul-tasting as if he’d gotten ripping drunk and then stuffed his mouth with cotton before passing out.

Izuku doesn’t know at first what woke him. He looks down at Katsuki, whose head is still pillowed in his lap, and his heart gives a great leap as he realizes his lover looks much better than he did the night before—still dead asleep and too wan-looking for Izuku’s liking, but no longer as sweaty and grey as he was. He’s clearly turned a corner. Izuku bends low, kissing Katsuki’s brow, murmuring a prayer to any and all of the gods who might be listening: thanks for the safety of the man in his lap, and that no one seems to have found them here, as deep into dangerous territory as they are.

Then a flicker comes from the direction of the hollow entrance, and Izuku has to revise that last bit. He sits up, coming on full alert, listening for any noise. Magic tingles silently along his skin, and now he knows what woke him: the warding spell he put on their hiding place is being activated by whatever is outside.

Izuku swallows hard. Katsuki is still unconscious; Izuku doesn’t even know if Katsuki would come awake if Izuku tried to rouse him, much less if his lover would be able to put up a fight. And he wouldn’t be injured at all if it weren’t for me. Izuku grits his teeth against the bitter taste of self-loathing. He has to set that aside if he wants to get them both out of this alive.

He slides out from under Katsuki’s still form, laying his head onto a folded blanket Izuku was using as a makeshift pillow for his own butt. Izuku gets to his feet, wincing at the cramps in his leg muscles as he unfolds them. Another flicker comes from the direction of the entrance. Izuku bends down, drawing Katsuki’s sword from its sheath as quietly as possible, then creeps towards the front, raising the weapon with both hand.

Izuku is about as good at armed combat as Katsuki is at singing lullabies, but if he can surprise whatever’s outside, he might stand a chance. He’d cast a spell, but if he does, the warding spell will break and anything nearby will be able to sense them—especially if it’s sensitive to magic. Izuku steels himself, inching closer and closer to the mouth of the hollow. He hears a noise outside; the warding spell hinders whatever’s outside from detecting him as long as he stays within its area of effect, but it’s not perfect, and he only has the one chance. Izuku tenses, gathers all his strength, then lunges forward—

—and is immediately tackled by something large and heavy. Katsuki’s sword goes tumbling down the hill, and Izuku has a moment of panic before he registers the red-haired man on top of him, along with his scaly red wings.

“IZUKU!” Eijirou’s voice is a furious snarl in his ear.

“E-Eijirou!” Izuku winces, looking up at his other lover. He’s not sure if it’s because his head is spinning from being tackled or for some other reason, but Eijirou seems larger and heavier than he normally does. It takes Izuku a minute to register that Eijirou is still talking to him, and he tries to snap himself back to attention.

“What the fuck were you thinking, running off into Subutai lands? You could have been killed!” Eijirou grabs him by the shoulders, baring teeth that are too sharp for a human face. His eyes are wide and strangely shaped, the pupil a vertical slit like a cat’s. His ears are pointed, too, long and almost elfin, and the hands gripping Izuku’s shoulders are tipped in sharp claws. His hair tumbles down his back in a shaggy red mane, darker red horns jutting out from his forehead. Abruptly, Izuku realizes that his lover his half-transformed, partway between human and dragon shapes.

And he’s very, very naked. Izuku can feel just how large and how naked Eijirou is, a weight resting against his thigh, and it makes his exhausted brain twist itself into a pretzel. Eijirou keeps right on talking, heedless of Izuku’s mental gymnastics. “And where the hell is Katsuki? I tracked him here, but I haven’t been able to find him—”

“He’s inside,” Izuku says, interrupting. “He was injured and he got sick, Eijirou, he—a pair of drakes found me, and he helped me fight them off, he found me just in time—”

Eijirou hisses, and this time Izuku can actually see his ears move, flattening against his scalp. “Poison?” Izuku nods, and Eijirou makes a wounded sound.

“He’s recovering,” Izuku says quickly. Eijirou relaxes just a little. “I think he’ll be okay.” He tries to sit up, but is shoved back against the ground by Eijirou, teeth bared in obvious anger. “Eijirou, please, it’s not safe out here—”

“It’s not safe anywhere here! You ran right into danger! You came where I couldn’t protect you!” To Izuku’s utter shock, fat tears start trickling down Eijirou’s cheeks; he notices, almost distractedly, that the teardrops seem to glitter a faint green, as if Eijirou is dripping magic right out of his pores. “Why did you leave without even talking to me?”

Izuku is speechless. Guilt fills his lungs with dead air, his chest tightening painfully. “I’m,” he says, and swallows. “I-I, I didn’t m-mean—Eijirou, I was just trying to fix the mess I made, I wasn’t upset at you or something—”

“You’re stupid and I’m mad at you,” Eijirou snaps. He stands up, hauling Izuku upright with him, shaking him once more for good measure before setting him back on his feet. “Now show me where Katsuki is.”

Belatedly, Izuku realizes that the warding spell is still working. He waves his hand to dissipate the spell, and can see Eijirou’s nostrils flare, scenting their lover. Eijirou pushes Izuku in front of him, clearly hell-bent on not letting him out of his sight again. Izuku would be happy if he wasn’t so busy feeling guilty and scared for their continued safety.

He does let go of Izuku as they come inside, hurrying past to get to Katsuki’s still form. Izuku finds himself distracted by Eijirou’s graceful wings, the way they fold against his back as he drops to the ground by Katsuki, reaching down to stroke Katsuki’s slack face. Eijirou even has a tail in this form, long and red and as thick as one of his arms. It’s swishing back and forth now in agitation, exactly like a large cat, and so mesmerized is Izuku by the sight of it that he misses Eijirou’s question at first.

“Izuku!” Eijirou’s sharp tone snaps Izuku back to attention. “Did you make him an antidote?”

“I did,” Izuku says hastily. “S-Sorry, I…” He exhales, coming over to Katsuki’s other side. The rush of thinking a predator was stalking their cave has started to fade, leaving only exhaustion in its wake. “I was up most of last night taking care of him, so I didn’t sleep much,” Izuku admits.

Eijirou softens a little. “Well, I’m glad he’s had the antidote,” he says. “But you’re both too weak to make it out of the area safely, and I can’t fly out us without attracting the airborne guards.” He bites his lower lip, his gaze dropping to Katsuki’s face again, clearly thinking hard.

Then he nods, as if coming to some decision, before sitting up and bringing his wrist to his mouth. Izuku yelps in shock as Eijirou drags his wrist across his own razor-sharp teeth, slicing the skin open. “Eijirou! What the fuck are you—”

Eijirou ignores him, bending over Katsuki again. He puts his wrist to Katsuki’s mouth, smearing blood against their unconscious lover’s lips. For a moment, nothing happens. Then Katsuki lets out a low groan, rousing out of his dead sleep and latching onto Eijirou’s wrist like a babe to its mother’s breast.

“What are you doing?” Izuku hisses again.

Eijirou’s gaze never leaves Katsuki’s face. Katsuki lifts a hand, grabbing hold of Eijirou’s forearm, pinning it in place. He’s drinking from the wound on Eijirou’s wrist, a little bit of blood trickling down his jaw. Izuku watches in shock as Katsuki’s face floods with color, a healthy flush spreading down through his throat and chest. Eijirou finally pulls his hand away, and now Katsuki’s eyes are wide open, staring up at both of them with a vitality that shocks Izuku to his core.

“Now you,” Eijirou says. He turns to Izuku and holds out his wrist expectantly.

“What? No—what? Why?

It’s Katsuki who answers. “Dragon blood has magic,” he says, sitting up. “Healing properties, increased strength, longer life, quicker reflexes.” He wipes the back of his hand across his mouth, eyes flicking from Izuku to Eijirou. “I told you to wait at the border.”

“And I told you not to get hurt,” Eijirou snaps. “Izuku. Drink.”

Izuku opens his mouth to tell Eijirou he doesn’t need healing, but something about the look on Eijirou’s face makes the protest die unsaid. Eijirou looks—not just concerned, but wounded, grieved on a level Izuku is only starting to appreciate. He exhales, then nods, leaning forward obediently as Eijirou brings his bleeding wrist to Izuku’s mouth.

He has to brace himself not to grimace in preparation for what he’s sure will be a foul taste. What he’s not expecting is the heat, a fire that dances over his tongue the moment Eijirou’s blood fills his mouth. With the heat comes a wave of pleasure and a hunger so ravenous that for several seconds all of Izuku’s higher brain function just blacks out. The blood in his mouth is bitter but addictive, and Izuku lurches forward, sucking harder at the wound on Eijirou’s wrist.

Izuku feels hands on his shoulders, feels Katsuki’s chest at his back. “Steady,” murmurs Katsuki. “Don’t let him take too much, Eijirou.” Izuku hears Eijirou’s breath hitch, and then the two of them bodily pull Izuku away from Eijirou’s wrist.

Izuku loses his balance, would have fallen backwards if not for Katsuki behind him. He finds himself panting, almost delirious. “Wow,” he says. “Uh.”

“Yeah, it’s a rush,” says Katsuki. Izuku glances up at him, suddenly remembering that until five minutes ago his lover was unconscious, fighting off the effects of one of the most deadly poisons known to man. Now Katsuki looks, if not the picture of health, then more than hale enough to go about his normal business. The effect is remarkable.

And Izuku himself feels amazing. His fatigue is gone, replaced with enough energy that he’s ready to go running out of the tree hollow for the sheer joy of it. Gone too is the soreness of sleeping only for a few measly hours while sitting upright on the floor of a dead tree. It’s incredible.

“How did I not know about this before?” Izuku asks.

“Because dragons hunt and kill any humans who are known to have tried drinking dragon blood,” says Eijirou. “Also, the effect only works if the blood is taken from a live dragon. Makes it easier for us to keep it from happening.” Eijirou flashes a particularly toothy smile, and Izuku has to suppress a shiver.

“Okay, enough chatting, the reunion can wait,” says Katsuki brusquely. “We’re going home, now. Both of you are in deep shit, by the way. ”

“Hey!” “Fuck you!” exclaim Izuku and Eijirou at almost the same time. “I saved your arm from falling off!” Izuku says, indignant.

“It wouldn’t have needed saving if you hadn’t run into dragon country without anyone to protect you,” Katsuki snaps. He grabs Izuku and pulls him in against his chest, hands tight on Izuku’s hips, eyes like burning embers in his face. “Stupid fucking Deku, making us guess where you’d gone. You were almost impossible to track, you little shit.”

“I could have tracked him if you’d let me come,” Eijirou says, and he sounds pissed, too. He crowds against Izuku from the other side, seeming keen to press as much of his bare body against Izuku as he possibly can. “We’d be home by now, and you wouldn’t have been poisoned.”

“No, you’d be dead, and I’d probably have been eaten,” Katsuki says. “It’s a fucking miracle you made it this far without being attacked.”

“It wasn’t right for you to make me wait while both of you went into danger without me,” Eijirou growls. His voice has dropped almost an octave, now a deep rumbling baritone that Izuku can feel in his belly from having Eijirou pressed against him. “Don’t make me do it again.”

Katsuki shifts; Izuku is now wedged between the two men, so he can no longer see the king’s face, but the delayed response makes him think that Katsuki is re-evaluating the right thing to say to an angry dragon. Before he can figure it out, though, there’s a great ripping, crashing noise, and the tree above them lifts clean up, torn away from the base.

Eijirou snarls, turning around and planting himself in front of Izuku and Katsuki. Izuku hears Katsuki swear, feels the heat of his magic right by Izuku’s head. But as Izuku turns to see what’s happening, he finds himself looking up, and up, and up, and realizes that even Katsuki and Eijirou combined can’t stop what is about to happen.

A dragon just tore the dead tree trunk that they’ve been hiding in open—and not just any dragon. The beast is bigger than anything Izuku’s ever seen in his entire life, as tall as one of the towers of the castle, muscular and thick. Its scales are a burnished copper red, its black claws each as large as Katsuki’s sword. A massive triangular head sits atop a serpentine neck, topped with massive twisting black horns and a shaggy black mane. But its eyes are bloodthirsty red and black, and fixed right on the three of them.

Fuck. They’re dead. They’re so dead.

The dragon rears back, its mouth gaping wide in a deafening roar. From all around come answering roars—more dragons, nearby or on their way. Oh, fuck. Fear makes gooseflesh hump to life all over Izuku’s bare skin. Katsuki yells something, but Eijirou’s wings flare wide, putting himself more physically between the dragon and his partners.

Then, without warning, the dragon changes. It shrinks, sucking in on itself in a way that’s somehow familiar, and as it shrinks its shape changes also, right in front of their eyes, until what’s left standing in front of them is an enormous man with shaggy dark hair, black horns, and copper-colored wings and tail. He’s eight feet tall if he’s an inch, his eyes blazing in his face, skin the color of red earth.

He’s also naked. Izuku peers over Eijirou’s shoulders, and feels his face heat immediately at the size of the dragon-shifter’s cock. Fuck, why do dragons always have to be naked when they transform?

“Explain yourselves,” says the stranger. His voice is dark and deep as the empty places beneath the mountains. “Why have you come into my lands without my leave? You have slain one of my drakes, and you travel with an exile. You will answer me now, Lord of Arden.”

The realization of who this dragon must be hits Izuku like a bolt of lightning. At almost the exact same moment, he notices that a fine trembling has taken hold of Eijirou—he’s afraid. That knowledge makes the realization of the dragon’s identity that much worse.

Katsuki comes around Eijirou’s spread wings, as tall and confident as if he were in his own castle. He pulls Izuku with him, something that prompts another growl of warning from Eijirou, but Katsuki ignores it, and Izuku has no choice but to go along with him.

“I sent my consort to you to discuss a matter of great import to the future of the seven kingdoms,” says Katsuki. Izuku freezes. Katsuki continues talking, heedless of the panic sirens sounding inside Izuku’s skull. “Then an omen came to me that he would never make it to you alone, so I came to collect him, so that we could parlay in person. We were waylaid by your drakes. They attacked us, I warned them off, they didn’t listen. So I defended us.”

Izuku starts to sweat. The word consort is burning a hole in his head, threatening to annihilate everything else, but he forces himself to focus up. The king is walking a fine line; if the Khan finds out that Izuku acted of his own will instead of actually being sent by the king, this could go rapidly south. But unless Izuku speaks up, they’ll miss their chance to actually make the deal Izuku came here to make in the first place. Worry for his partners supplanted his determination to reach his goal for a little while, but now he’s finally standing in front of the dragon—person—that he came here to meet.

He casts his mind back to the research he’s done about the Subutai, wanting to know more about their customs and politics as their interest in the bridge became clear. He’d already wanted to know more, because of Eijirou, but the research had never seemed so urgent as it does in this moment. Just the fact that the Khan is here signals at least some willingness to investigate their parlay, Izuku thinks; the fact the dragon lord transformed into a half-human shape to converse with them seems like a good sign, also.

He hopes.

The Khan rumbles deep in his chest, a noise that sounds like boulders rubbing together. At the same time, more creatures start appearing around the perimeter of the ruined tree stump—dragons perching on the edges of the bowl the tree base now makes, all of their eyes fixed on the humans (and half-human) cornered inside the empty hollow. Izuku can’t help but notice one that has an acidic yellow cloud streaming steadily from its nostrils; another appears to have blood smeared along its muzzle. All of them are the size of a wagon or larger.

The Khan folds his arms, staring at the three of them with those terrifying eyes of his, and then nods. “On what business did you send your consort?” he asks.

Katsuki opens his mouth to answer, but Izuku gets there first. “I know how to treat the water sickness,” he blurts out.

Everyone stares at him. The weight of all those eyes is enough to make every hair on the back of Izuku’s neck stand at attention. He can feel the daggers Katsuki is shooting his way, but he steps forward anyway, dropping into a deep kneeling bow before the Khan.

“My Lord Dragon, I was sent by my King to speak to you of the bridge that’s soon to be built over the Abaddeon, but I recognized the signs of water sickness as I traveled through your lands. I have seen it before in my own city.” Izuku has to fight to keep his voice clear and steady, makes sure that his words carry to every man or dragon listening in. “It is a terrible affliction, but there is treatment for it.”

He dares a glance up at the Khan’s face, and is both terrified and gratified to find those glittering eyes fixed on him. “Speak, human,” says the Khan.

Izuku swallows. He stands up, and tells his captive audience about the only medicine he’s ever seen work for the scourge that killed so many people in Miletus. It’s a paste concocted of herbs mixed with a mold that grows on a specific type of tree, boiled together and then aged for two weeks to maximum potency. “The ingredients can be hard to come by and the creation process is time-consuming, but with enough manpower, a great deal can be made at one time,” Izuku says. “There are magics that can ease the symptoms during recovery, as well, but the medicine is what cures the affliction. More than half will die if they don’t get it.”

“Does this medicine work for dragons?” The Khan’s voice is dark, doubtful.

Izuku can’t entirely blame him. Luckily, he has an answer to this particular question. “The medicine works on horses, birds, dogs, and cats,” he says, and privately thanks Iida for being so kind and determined to save every afflicted animal as well as the people of Miletus. “The dosing has to be changed based on weight, but I have every reason to think it would work for dragons.”

The Khan says nothing to this. Izuku stays where he is, too aware of Katsuki and Eijirou flanking him, of the suffocating presence of at least a dozen dragons surrounding them. He knows for a fact that if the Khan decides this information is false or worthless, that they won’t survive more than a few minutes. Everything—their lives, the kingdom, the bridge, their citizens—is hanging in the balance.

“What will acquiring this medicine cost us?” asks the Khan at last. Izuku takes a deep, shaky breath. He glances over his shoulder at Katsuki, who’s still watching him with those diamond-hard eyes. Katsuki nods once, and Izuku turns around.

“Give us your support for the bridge being built over the Abaddeon, at the location we’ve discussed with you before,” Izuku says. “We would ask for a visible demonstration of your favor.”

“In exchange, we’ll send medicine and healers to your people,” says Katsuki from behind him. His voice is steady as a rock. If he’s nervous about this parlay, he doesn’t show it, and Izuku spares a moment to be grateful for the strength of his lover, for his indomitable will.

Khan Temujin rumbles to himself again. His gaze flicks from Izuku to Katsuki and finally to Eijirou, still standing just behind Izuku’s other shoulder. “Are those your complete terms?”

“One other thing,” Katsuki says. His voice hardens. “You will guarantee the safety of these two, my consort and my dragon. I will not send them into your lands fearing for their lives, should I need to reach you.”

Izuku swallows. There’s that word again. He’s going to up and faint if Katsuki keeps calling him that; his heart aches, full of a terrible hope that he’d thought he’d killed good and dead during his journey through Subutai lands.

But it isn’t Katsuki that the Khan addresses next. It’s Eijirou. “I smell your blood, khuuli bus,” says the Khan slowly. The words ping in Izuku’s memory: outlaw, they call Eijirou. The Khan directs his vivid eyes at Eijirou, mouth slightly open; Izuku cannot help but notice how sharp his teeth are. “Have you let these humans drink of you?”

Oh, fuck, thinks Izuku.

“I have, my Khan,” says Eijirou. There’s no tremor in his voice at all. Pride swells in Izuku’s chest at Eijirou’s bravery, mingling with his fear at bringing Eijirou here to where he’s been expressly forbidden from coming.

“Did they ask? Or did you offer?” The Khan tilts his head slightly.

“I offered freely, because they were hurt and needed my protection,” says Eijirou. “And I would do it again. I would give my blood, my claws, and my life for them.” The words have an almost ritual sound to them, though Izuku doesn’t know the significance.

But somehow the answer seems to please the Khan. He bares his teeth in a smile for just a moment. “Are both these humans yours, then? Being with them in their lands, this is your desire?”

“It is, my Khan,” says Eijirou, instantly. “And yes, they are. They are both mine.” Izuku’s stomach cramps with longing and hope, and he shoves it viciously aside.

“If you would blood-bond with them, then you should claim them as your mates, so there will be no more doubt as to who they belong to,” says the Khan. In a human, Izuku would have said he sounded satisfied, though he has absolutely no idea why Eijirou having human partners would please the dragon lord.

“Lord Bakugou, I accept your terms. I will send my delegates to demonstrate that I favor your bridge, and I will guarantee the safety of you, your consort, and the one who has claimed you. And in exchange, you will send medicine and healers and aid for my people.”

“We have a deal,” says Katsuki. “We will send aid.” His voice is clear and crisp. If he’s bothered by hearing the Khan described him and Izuku as belonging to Eijirou, he makes no sign.

“Let it be done,” growls the Khan. He looks at Eijirou again, baring his teeth and clacking them together in a mock bite. “Chulunbataar, you are exiled no longer. I declare you daichin khün. Let all know you and your mates are friends of the Subutai.”

So saying, he snarls and claps his hands together. Immediately, the dragons in the clearing bellow their affirmation, lifting their heads to the sky and unfolding their great wings. Izuku’s ears ring with their roars. The Khan himself transforms back into his full dragon form, and he adds his voice to the uproar, like a peal of thunder rolling through the hue and cry.

But his lovers don’t wait around for the end of the outcry. Katsuki pushes Izuku and Eijirou backwards, and they gather in the center of the dead tree’s belly. Izuku quickly gathers up their things, scurrying to retrieve Katsuki’s sword where it rolled down the hill earlier, and then, as the roaring ends and the Khan looks on, Eijirou transforms into his dragon form. Izuku can’t help but notice that in his fully transformed state, Eijirou is larger than all other dragons but the Khan himself.

Then Katsuki hauls him up onto Eijirou’s back, lashing an arm firmly around Izuku’s waist, and they’re erupting into the open air, the beating of Eijirou’s wings summoning a miniature gale. Four dragons take flight with them, an honor guard that accompanies them all the way to the edges of Subutai lands.

Izuku is too distracted to pay much attention to their flight. As soon as their honor guard wings away, Katsuki grabs Izuku by the jaw and turns his face around, and then they’re kissing, enough teeth and tongue to take Izuku’s breath away. Katsuki’s other hand digs into Izuku’s hair, pulling hard, bringing tears to his eyes. He sobs into Katsuki’s mouth, clutching at Katsuki’s shoulder, the muscles hard beneath his questing fingers.

Finally, Katsuki releases him. His eyes blaze in his face, his expression savage. “Don’t ever do that to me again,” he growls. “You can’t run headlong into danger like that, it’s going to fucking kill me.”

But Izuku is no longer the awkward, trembling slave he once was. Not with the word consort ringing in his ears like a bell. “I did it for you, and for Eijirou,” Izuku says; he’s proud of the fact that he can meet Katsuki’s eyes, that his voice doesn’t shake. “You were eating yourself alive trying to fix this, and you wouldn’t let me help.”

“You’re a terrible fucking slave, you don’t do anything I tell you to do and all you do is make me worry about you,” Katsuki snaps. “I didn’t want you to throw yourself on this sword for me, Izuku!”

“Well, if you really want me as your consort and not as your slave, then you’re going to have to get used to me helping!” Out of the corner of his eye Izuku sees Eijirou’s ears flick backwards towards them, though he doesn’t swing his head around, just focuses on flying. “Or were you just saying that that for the Khan’s benefit?”

He can hardly believe he’s daring to ask for this, but the idea has lit a torch in his head that no storm or gale could put out. In truth, his heart has belonged to Katsuki and Eijirou for months now. But the chance to be able to put a claim on both of them in return is something so precious that not even his fear and self-doubt can make him pass it up.

Katsuki meets his eyes levelly. “If you’ll be mine, then yes, I want you at my side,” he says. His voice is so low Izuku can hardly hear it with the wind of their flight. “But I won’t force you into it. If you want your freedom, you’ve more than earned it. You could go home tomorrow if you wanted.”

Izuku suppresses a full-body shiver, tears springing to his eyes in reaction. “What does Eijirou want? Don’t you want him as your consort? Doesn’t he—”

Katsuki shakes him, enough to make him break off with a yelp. “Stop that,” he says fiercely. “Stop being so fucking blind, Eijirou is so fucking obvious with how he feels about you and you’ve just ignored it!”

But the tears refuse to listen. They slide down Izuku’s face, drying almost immediately in the wind and leaving cold spots all over his cheeks. “Neither of you ever said anything,” he cries. “How was I supposed to know?”

Katsuki looks at him as if he’s grown a second head, a particularly stupid-looking one. “He gave you his blood,” he says, as if speaking to a drunk, or a very young child. “He claimed you in front of his Khan. He would die for you, Izuku.”

Izuku shivers. Once again, he notices the way Eijirou’s ears keep flicking back as Izuku and Katsuki talk, and he feels a little guilty that they had this conversation without waiting for Eijirou to be able to join in verbally.

He thinks back to what the Khan just declared Eijirou to be, and the title he used for him—or was it a name? ‘Rock’ something, or maybe stone? He’ll have to ask. But the other word, daichin khün, he knows that one. It’s the term dragons use for themselves, something between ‘citizen’ and ‘warrior.’

“I’m tired of guessing of what everything you two do actually means,” Izuku says. “You don’t get to keep me in the dark for months and then act like I’m supposed to know what you’re thinking.” He has hopes, he thinks he knows, but he wants it spelled out. He’s tired of the uncertainty, and he won’t let this go forward without hearing them say it to him.

“Well, you’re about to find out,” says Katsuki. “Because I don’t think Eijirou is taking us home.”

Izuku stares at his lover, then turns to face forward again. Sure enough, the country they’re in doesn’t look like the green fields just outside the castle. It’s more rocky mountains edged by forests, some unfamiliar territory Izuku hasn’t seen before. “Where are we going?” he wonders out loud.

The question was rhetorical, but Katsuki answers anyway. “If I’m right, it’s the cave we spent his first rut in,” he says.

Izuku’s heart skips a beat. “Is his rut coming up? I thought—”

“No,” Katsuki says. “But you heard what his Khan ordered him to do.”

Claim them as your mates, so there will be no more doubt as to who they belong to. Izuku swallows. “Oh,” he says.

Katsuki says nothing else. He doesn’t need to. As they wing their way over increasingly wild country, Izuku can only wonder what the claiming of mates actually entails.

It looks like he’s going to find out very soon.

Chapter Text

Some three hours after leaving Subutai lands, Eijirou finally takes them down.

He descends into what at first blush appears to be thick forested terrain, too difficult to pass through. But he seems to know his way and wings down into a clearing so small it’s almost impossible to see from above. The clearing is directly in front of a large cave mouth. Izuku clambers down from Eijirou’s side, followed by Katsuki, and then Eijirou transforms once more into the half-dragon form he took back in dragon country: taller than normal, with tail and wings and horns, his red hair spilling down his back like a fiery mane.

“Eijirou—” begins Izuku, but Eijirou snarls at him. His normally cheerful expression is gone, replaced by something dark and feral. Izuku swallows his tongue and marches into the cave with Katsuki, Eijirou prowling behind them like the predator he is, no matter how cheerful and sweet he can be at other times.

Eijirou corrals them in the cave, warns them not to leave, and then vanishes. Izuku has all of five minutes to wonder where he’s gone before he’s back, carrying a huge armload of what appears to be freshly-broken wood. He dumps the wood into a pile near the front of the cave, where Katsuki waves his hand and uses a spell to suck all the moisture out of the green wood. Izuku half-expects Katsuki to use his magic to actually start the fire, but Katsuki just sits himself cross-legged on the ground and watches.

So it’s Eijirou who opens his mouth and exhales a huge gout of flame, engulfing the pile of wood and kindling. The wood ignites instantly, a large cloud of dark smoke ballooning up from the new conflagration, but the cave mouth is wide and a breeze outside the entrance pulls the smoke out. Still silent, Eijirou goes to their bags and digs out several blankets, flinging them open onto the cave floor.

“Eijirou,” Izuku begins, nervous about opening his mouth and breaking the tension. That’s all he has time to get out before a large, angry dragon shifter is bearing him to the blanket-covered ground. Izuku finds himself on his back with Eijirou on top of him for the second time that day, wings spread, teeth bared, claws out and digging into his shoulders.

“Do you not want to be mine?” Eijirou demands. His cat-slit eyes are too bright in his face. “Do you want to leave? If you do, you have to tell me now, Izuku!”

“W-What?” Izuku knew they were going to have this conversation, but he still somehow wasn’t prepared for how it would go. “Eijirou—”

“Answer us, Izuku,” Katsuki says, from somewhere close by Izuku’s left shoulder. “We took you into our house and our beds, and you ran away in the night without saying goodbye. We came after you because we want you. As my consort—

“As my mate,” Eijirou hisses.

“—Do you want to be with us, or not?”

For a moment, Izuku can’t even breathe. Then a wall inside him cracks, splinters, comes tumbling down, and all of the things he’s been suppressing for weeks and months burst forth all at once. His breath hitches on a sob, and his head thumps back against the blanket beneath him.

“Of course I do!” he yells, unable to keep his voice from breaking. “Why the hell do you think I snuck into dragon country alone for you? I w-would do anything for you!” Fresh tears burn his eyes, sliding messily down towards his ears, but he doesn’t care. Now the dam is broken and there’s nothing left to save him from this.

“Then stay,” says Eijirou. He licks over Izuku’s face with a sandpaper tongue that has Izuku hiccoughing and shuddering under its warmth. “Don’t run away from us again, Deku. We thought you were going to die before we could find you.”

Katsuki comes over, sitting down by Izuku’s head; he looks down at Izuku from above, lifting Izuku’s head to settle it in his lap, Eijirou still perched atop Izuku’s chest. “You should have said how you felt,” Katsuki says gruffly.

This is too much. “Fuck you,” Izuku spits, and he has the satisfaction of watching Katsuki’s eyes widen in affront. “Why would I have said anything, I’m your slave! You’re the king! And, and he’s your dragon, and I-I thought that you, that I was just a toy, I didn’t think that you would want me when you a-already had each other! And you never said—”

“We’re saying it now,” Eijirou snaps. His voice is an octave deeper than normal. Izuku’s mouth clacks shut, staring teary-eyed up at his lovers. He finds that he’s trembling from reaction, from the stress of the past few days, particularly the past couple hours. “Say it out loud. Say that you’ll be ours.”

Izuku swallows. Something about the way Katsuki and Eijirou are staring at him, something about their words, makes him realize that this isn’t just a love confession he’s being asked for. He thinks again about the Khan instructing Eijirou to claim his mates, and realizes that the entire course of his life depends on the next words out of his mouth.

Well, he better make good, then. “If I’m going to be yours, I need to know that you’ll listen to me when I want to help, and not just blow me off,” Izuku says. His gaze shifts from Katsuki to Eijirou. “And don’t pass me back and forth like a party favor when you’re having trouble taking to each other. I want to be your partner, not your pet.”

Katsuki’s lip curls at the admonishment, an ugly red smearing his face, while Eijirou’s ears lay back against his head like a scolded dog. “You already know I’m bad at listening, but I’ll try,” Katsuki says after a moment.

“Me too,” says Eijirou. Izuku supposes that’s all he can ask for.

Katsuki’s not done, however. “Speaking of things to not fuckin’ do, I need you not to fucking run headlong into danger because we disagreed on something, either.” His voice darkens, hand tightening on Izuku’s shoulder as he glowers down.

“Especially not without even talking to us about it first,” Eijirou adds. He nips at Izuku’s wrist, making him yelp; Izuku is starting to understand just badly how he wounded Eijirou by fleeing in the night with only a note to explain his departure. He suspects Eijirou won’t soon forget it, either.

“I promise,” Izuku says. He reaches up, catching Katsuki’s cheek in one hand, Eijirou’s in the other, watches them both lean their faces into his touch. His heart lightens. “I’m already yours,” he says, voice softening. “I’ve been yours for months. All I want is to call you mine in return.”

“Then you shall have it,” says Katsuki. Two pairs of eyes are watching him, one fiery red, the other cat-slit and golden. “You’re ours, and you’ll stay with us and be a slave no more. You’ll be the royal consort and have anything you want.”

“I’m yours, and you’re mine,” Eijirou says. His voice is husky. “You’ll be my mate, and I’ll protect you until the day I die.” Then he lifts his head and fixes his bright eyes on Katsuki, and adds, “And you’re mine too, Katsuki. Don’t turn me down again.”

“I won’t,” says Katsuki. He exhales. “I should have let you bite me years ago. I’m sorry for making you wait. But you should finish Izuku first.”

Biting? Waiting? Izuku opens his mouth to ask, but he gets an answer before he can even get the words out. Eijirou leans down, sinking his sharp teeth into the meat of Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku cries out in shock, jerking at the sudden pain—

—And then color and light and sound wash over him, and he’s drowning. Izuku moans out loud, insensible to anything but the heat of Eijirou’s mouth on his neck and the sensations riding him. Golden warmth sings through his veins, wild magic more potent than any drug; it tingles along his tongue, in his ears, making every hair on his body stand on end. He shuts his eyes, and suddenly he’s flying, soaring high above the earth on wings wide as the horizon, his body huge and powerful. In that dizzying flight comes a wash of possession and love, leaving him breathless with the strength of it.

Then the pain in his shoulder is gone and he’s coming back to himself to find a mouth on his. Eijirou is kissing him, as hard and needy as he was just biting Izuku; there’s a faint copper tang to his lips, and Izuku knows it’s his own blood he’s tasting. He kisses back, wrapping his arms around Eijirou’s neck, pulling Eijirou down against him. Emotions slither over his skin, safe and sweet and mineminemine, and he realizes he’s feeling what Eijirou is feeling, somehow.

Izuku blinks at the realization, and reality slips. Suddenly he’s in a room somewhere in the castle, a fire blazing in one corner. A corner, not a fireplace—a bookcase has been shattered into pieces and set ablaze, and the culprit is obvious: Katsuki stalks back and forth in front of where Izuku stands, his face a mask of fury. Hurt and worry pulse inside Izuku’s mind like an open wound. Two crumpled pieces of parchment lie half-open on the floor, his own familiar handwriting on them.

When are we leaving? Eijirou’s voice demands. We have to find him! Izuku abruptly realizes that this is not a vision he’s experiencing, but Eijirou’s memory: the memory of the night his lovers discovered him gone.

Then it’s over, and Eijirou’s mouth is on his again, his mind swimming with fresh relief at being safely reunited. The bite—it has to be. Izuku knows very little about dragon bonding, but there’s no other explanation for the sudden wash of light and color and sound.

He’s still busy drowning in the wash of Eijirou’s transferred emotions when his lover starts undressing him without so much as a by-your-leave. Izuku is honestly only surprised Eijirou takes the time to remove the clothes, instead of just tearing them off. He’s naked in moments, and then Eijirou is on him again, biting and licking all over his bare skin, drawing blood here and there with his teeth and clawed hands. Izuku finds himself moaning and shivering, trembling at every sharp bite or welt worked into his skin by Eijirou’s hungry mouth.

Then Eijirou pauses, looking up to stare at something behind Izuku. Izuku cranes his neck back, following his gaze, and is shocked to see Katsuki already naked—and not only that. Katsuki is on all fours, reaching around with one hand, two fingers in his own ass. He meets Izuku’s eyes with an obscene smirk.

“Better get yourself ready too,” Katsuki says, which answers the question of what he’s been doing while Eijirou ate Izuku alive. Izuku’s eyes fall on the jar of what looks like oil that’s uncapped on the cave floor by Katsuki’s hand. “Unless you want to be really fucking sore tomorrow.”

Izuku opens his mouth to ask one of the eighteen questions on his tongue (starting with how the hell did you know to bring oil with you?) but he doesn’t get the chance. Eijirou all but launches himself at Katsuki, pushing him down to the floor and kissing him hard. Izuku sits up on one elbow, watching in amazement as Eijirou’s tail lashes back and forth, like an animal excited to stalk its prey. He shoves Katsuki’s arm down and lowers his head, sinking teeth into the spot where Katsuki’s neck meets his shoulder. Katsuki lets out a ragged moan, a noise that goes right to Izuku’s dick.

Again comes that rush of emotion, but tempered this time with fire and steel and a passion that Izuku knows intimately. Izuku nearly faceplants on the cave floor at the realization that he can feel Katsuki through whatever bonds Eijirou has just forged. He masters himself after a moment, scrambling for the pot of oil now abandoned a few feet from Katsuki and Eijirou.

It’s hard to stay focused. Katsuki’s moans scald his ears; the wet noises of their kissing, the ragged breaths Katsuki takes as Eijirou gives him the same treatment of bites and kisses and scratches he gave Izuku—it’s all very distracting. Izuku bites his lip, dipping his fingers in the oil before reaching around behind himself to start working himself open. He shudders at the stretch, shoving his fingers in too roughly but unable to wait or take his time.

Izuku can’t resist peeking over at Eijirou on top of Katsuki and finds himself riveted. Katsuki’s legs are splayed wide, Eijirou biting along the inside of one muscled thigh as Katsuki groans and jerks. Izuku is just starting to wonder if he should go insert himself somehow when Eijirou pauses and lifts his head again. He turns around, fixing those piercing eyes on Izuku, and then he growls. The noise sends a shiver down Izuku’s spine.

“Come here,” says Eijirou. “Want you.” Izuku scrambles over to them, pausing next to Katsuki. Eijirou leans in and kisses Izuku again, then pulls back, glancing from Izuku down to Katsuki and back. He growls again, baring his teeth; Izuku gets a flare of want, and need, and a great more desperation than he was expecting, and he abruptly realizes that Eijirou wants to claim both his partners at the same time and doesn’t know how to proceed.

“Step back, Eijirou,” Katsuki says. Izuku glances at him and finds himself staring at the raw-looking bite mark on his shoulder—does his own shoulder look like that? Holy shit. Then Katsuki is sitting up and grabbing Izuku, kissing him hard in turn, and suddenly Izuku is finding it hard to care about the state of his shoulder.

Katsuki breaks away after a moment, tugging Izuku in towards him. Izuku finds himself being laid flat on his back, Katsuki moving in to kneel over him. “You can be on top of both of us like this,” Katsuki says, twisting around to look back at Eijirou hovering anxiously next to them. “You can use your tail, too.”

“Can I? Izuku, is it okay?” Eijirou crowds in, crawling on top of Katsuki so that his chest is to Katsuki’s back, hooking his jaw over Katsuki’s shoulder as they both kneel over Izuku where he lays on the blanket. He bares his teeth again, eyes wild and face flushed; Izuku can see how he keeps flexing his fingers, like he wants to dig his claws into something and is barely managing to keep himself restrained.

“Y-Yeah, whatever you want to do,” Izuku says shakily. On impulse, he reaches up, cradling Eijirou’s cheek in his palm. “We’re yours, Eijirou,” he says. “You can have us however you want us.”

Eijirou softens. He croons, pushing his face into Izuku’s hand, eyes hooding just for a moment. Katsuki smiles, watching Eijirou’s reaction from the corner of his eyes. Then Katsuki turns his head, kissing Eijirou’s other cheek, a heat in his eyes to match the desperation still coming off Eijirou in waves. “No more holding back, khairt,” Katsuki says in a low voice.

The word is still alien, but with their new connection singing hot and golden inside him, Izuku can feel the intuited meaning. Beloved, they say. Behind that word is the devotion of years together, and a loyalty to each other that takes his breath away.

Izuku’s stomach cramps with longing, unable to keep from a little envy at the glimpse he’s feeling of their bond. Then both Katsuki and Eijirou turn their heads to stare at him, and Izuku realizes with a stab of horror that they can feel him in kind. He covers his face with both hands, appalled at himself and hideously embarrassed at being seen so intimately. Suddenly, the closeness of their new bond seems to have some drawbacks.

“You dumbass,” says Katsuki’s voice. Someone is prying Izuku’s hands away from his face, and then Izuku is staring at his lovers again, but this time from even closer. Katsuki has dropped down to his elbows, Eijirou just above him, and they take turns kissing Izuku, biting at his lips and drawing wet, shaky noises out of him.

Izuku squirms, his cock aching at the warmth of Katsuki’s chest against his. Katsuki is still balanced on his elbows—to save Izuku from being crushed, Izuku realizes—but his hard cock is a distracting weight against Izuku’s belly. Eijirou starts to rock against Katsuki from above, growling as his questing mouth moves between Katsuki’s and Izuku’s shoulders.

Katsuki jerks against Izuku with a stifled groan. At the same time, a wave of satisfaction rolls off Eijirou, along with the sensation of being buried in tight heat, all of it loud and clear through their new bonds. Arousal cramps Izuku’s stomach. For a moment he’s too distracted to register that Katsuki is telling him something. “Deku,” Katsuki snaps, and Izuku jumps. “Reach down and slick Eijirou’s tail for him.”

Tail? Izuku’s brain stutters and sparks like a fire in a high wind, utterly uncomprehending. Then, abruptly, he gets it. “Oh,” he says, and then, “Oh.

Izuku reaches out, groping blindly for Eijirou’s tail, which Eijirou helpfully whips around to be within Izuku’s reach. The tip of Eijirou’s tail is thick, scaly, and much smoother than Izuku was expecting. He gulps, reaching for the pot of oil (which is luckily still in arm’s reach) and smears a large glob of it onto Eijirou’s tail.

Trying to do this with Eijirou steadily fucking Katsuki right on top of him might be the most difficult thing he’s ever done. Not being it’s hard, but because it’s so incredibly distracting to feel the two of them groaning and rocking against him, especially with the waves of lust and joy and longing rolling through Izuku like the ocean against the shore.

It’s drawing out all kinds of answering feelings in Izuku, and he arches up against his lovers, jerking his hand along Eijirou’s tail like it’s his dick. Eijirou snarls in pleasure, and he rocks down hard against Katsuki and Izuku beneath him. Katsuki pushes back to meet his thrusts, his face wild, mouth open and panting; a bit of drool escapes from the edge of his lip, dripping down his chin.

His eyes meet Izuku’s, and he smirks. Katsuki grabs Izuku and pulls his face up to kiss him, biting at Izuku’s lips. Izuku kisses back with a greed he’s never permitted himself, dropping Eijirou’s tail in favor of sliding his arms around Katsuki’s and Eijirou’s shoulders, pulling them down on top of him.

Izuku still has no idea how this bond works or how it’s going to affect them, but he’s just been given permission to reach for all the things he wants so desperately. Mine mine mine you’re finally mine! goes the refrain in his fevered mind. And if the noises Katsuki and Eijirou make in return are any indication, they’re definitely getting what Izuku’s putting out.

Then something slick and hard pushes against his ass. Izuku yelps in surprise, followed hard by a wave of lust. He spreads his legs wider, moaning raggedly as the end of Eijirou’s tail presses into him, splitting him open so wonderfully. He spares a moment to wonder at the fact that Eijirou has that much control over his tail, and then that hot length pushes deeper, filling him fuller, blotting out higher thought.

Izuku lifts his hips, pressing back against the thickness breaching him. Eijirou groans, a gravelly noise of utter satisfaction. Izuku turns his face into Katsuki’s as Eijirou bites down on Izuku’s shoulder again, barely aware of the fresh tears wetting his cheeks as strong arms hedge in on either side of his shoulders and the two people who matter most in the world turn all of their considerable attention on him.

Things get hazy after that.

Izuku will never know if it was the strength of two new bonds or the dragon blood he and Katsuki both drank that overtook them, but Izuku loses all ability to differentiate what’s going on. He’s swamped by the simultaneous sensations of Katsuki and Eijirou on top of him, of Eijirou inside him, of kissing and biting and clinging and being kissed and bitten and held in turn. Katsuki is grinding his dick against Izuku’s, both of their cocks trapped between their bellies, the messy friction too much and not enough.

But on top of that, Eijirou is bleeding through their bonds. Everything their dragon lover is experiencing soaks through their mental connection; Izuku can feel the heat and warmth of Katsuki’s ass clamped around his cock (Eijirou’s cock), the clutching heat of his own ass around Eijirou’s tail. And Eijirou is ravenous to claim his mates, to mark them both irrevocably as his with teeth and claws and the desperate strength of his love.

Izuku can feel Katsuki’s mind too, which he never would have expected somehow. And inside, Katsuki is crowing. He burns with a savage heat, just as eager to claim and be claimed as Izuku himself is. And Izuku can’t get enough of either of them, biting at their messy lips, sobbing his pleasure against their skin as he rocks against both of them, drowning in their all-consuming fire.

Izuku comes first. It hits him out of the blue, pleasure making his hips lift up off the floor as he clamps around Eijirou, gasping and clutching Katsuki against him. Then Katsuki is yelling, a strangled noise that might be someone’s name, and more sticky come paints their bellies. Eijirou follows last, shoving both of them down against the ground with hands that are now more dragon than human. He comes hard, and Izuku is not the one with the dick in his ass but he can feel it anyway right through Katsuki’s bond; Izuku and Katsuki moan as one, trembling with reaction at the wave of possessiveness that rushes over them.

For a moment Izuku has to just lie there. His mind is blank, pleasantly so; he shuts his eyes, head thumping back against the cave floor. He spares a moment to be glad they wound up on one of the blankets Eijirou threw down, because otherwise his back and ass would be absolutely shredded.

He feels a weight slide off him, and opens his eyes to see Eijirou climbing carefully off of them. Katsuki might as well be dead; he’s slumped on top of Izuku with his face buried in Izuku’s neck. Izuku catches a glimpse of his lover’s back, and is vaguely horrified at all the red welts and bruises and scratches he sees—right up until his own arms and back start to throb. Well, maybe the blanket didn’t treat him as well as he’d thought.

“Horny fuckin’ lizard,” Katsuki mumbles into Izuku’s neck, and Izuku has to laugh.

Eijirou doesn’t seem upset at this comment. He stretches, reaching his arms above his head, body languid and long, and he’s got this look on his face, like—like—fuck, is he preening? Eijirou flexes his wings, looking down at Katsuki and Izuku with the smuggest expression Izuku thinks he’s ever seen in his entire life. He catches Izuku looking at him and greets him with a broad smile that’s all teeth.

“I hope one of you has some salve or something in your bag,” Izuku says. Katsuki mumbles something else that sounds vaguely obscene but does not move. Eijirou squats next to them, leaning down to drop a gentle kiss on each of their foreheads in turn.

“Don’t need it,” he says cheerfully. “I’ll clean you up.”

Katsuki finally lifts his head at this. “Nuh uh,” he says. “We have to get back to the castle before our absence makes this bridge shitshow worse. Bad enough we took this long to come find Izuku.”

“Hey,” Izuku says. “How about a ‘thank you’ for fixing your bridge situation?” He’s trying to sound defensive, but it mostly just comes out sounding fucked-out and happy. He giggles, letting his head flop back against the blanket.

Katsuki squints down at him. Like Izuku, he’s having trouble coming across as particularly scary; his mouth is too kiss-swollen, features too soft. Then he smiles, ruining his attempt completely. “Thanks for being such an unstoppable pain in my ass, Deku,” he says. It’s the gentlest Izuku’s ever heard him sound. He turns and looks up at Eijirou, still crouched next to them. “And thank you, for helping me bring him home, and for waiting so long for me.”

“I would have waited even longer, if things had gone differently,” Eijirou says. “But after today I couldn’t let it go any more.”

“Why did you make him wait?” Izuku asks.

Katsuki sighs. He takes a moment to haul himself off Izuku, settling next to him on the blanket, Eijirou next to them both. “I’m the only companion Eijirou’s ever had,” he says. “It didn’t seem fair. He’s never known anyone else. So I wanted him to be sure.” His eyes are on Eijirou’s face as he says this. Izuku would be worried that this conversation would be upsetting for them, if not for the contentment and satisfaction coming off Eijirou in waves.

“Dragons aren’t like humans,” Eijirou says. He looks from Katsuki to Izuku as he says this. “I knew within the first week of knowing him that I wanted Kacchan as my mate, just like I knew when I laid eyes on you that I wanted you too, and not just for my rut. But humans need time to figure these things out. So I waited.” He says it so matter-of-factly that the full weight of his words takes a second to penetrate Izuku’s consciousness. Then suddenly his heart is in his throat.

Katsuki rolls his eyes, but it’s fond. “Bet it made you feel real good when the Khan told you to just go for it, huh,” he says. Eijirou beams, happier and sweeter than any mouth full of that many sharp teeth should look.

This, too, Izuku doesn’t get. “What did the Khan call you, anyway? The words seemed important.”

“Before, I was an exile, an outlaw,” Eijirou says. “But today he called me the word Subutai use for one of their own. The closest human term would be ‘warrior.’ I think it’s because I said you were both mine.”

“Okay,” Izuku says, uncertainly. “But why is that significant?”

“Because it’s very rare that Subutai are able to claim and bond with more than one mate,” says Katsuki. He’s looking pretty smug himself at this exact moment, watching Eijirou with heavy-lidded eyes. “It’s a sign of the strength of their spirit. The Khan recognized him as a two-souled dragon today. It’s a high honor, even more so for an outcast.”

Oh. Izuku digests this for a moment, and then decides it’s no real surprise that Eijirou would immediately choose to claim both of his partners in the wake of that particular encounter. But his stupid brain can’t leave well enough alone.

“I’m sure he’s happy to have one of his citizens mated with the Lord of Arden,” he points out before he can stop himself. He clamps his mouth shut immediately, but Katsuki just laughs. All Eijirou does is shrug.

“You’re not wrong,” Eijirou says, still sounding happy. “But he’s still not as happy as I am.” So saying, he crouches next to Katsuki, rolling him over onto his stomach. Then Eijirou sets about licking Katsuki’s back clean, long wet laps of his tongue over the abused skin that have Katsuki groaning into the meat of his forearm. Izuku can feel the satisfaction and renewed lust coming off both of them in waves, bleeding right through their new bonds.

Katsuki shoots him a meaningful look over his shoulder, throwing out a hand to grab Izuku and tug him in closer. “Come here and kiss me, asshole,” he growls. Izuku can do naught but oblige.

So much for getting back to the castle in a timely fashion.

* * * * *

Izuku slides down Eijirou’s flank, alighting nimbly beside his mate’s front right leg. Eijirou turns his great scaly head, nuzzling at Izuku’s shoulder, eyes bright.

“It’s fine, I’m fine,” Izuku says, and he grins. It’s a lie and they both know it. Eijirou could surely smell the anxiety on him, even if they didn’t have the bond. Even with the unfamiliar smells of the wildwoods around them, Miletus just a mile down the road from where they’ve landed, Eijirou is too sharp to miss what’s going through Izuku’s mind.

Of course, Eijirou isn’t the only one feeling things through the bond. Katsuki jumps from Eijirou’s shoulders to the ground, landing light as a cat on his feet. He wraps his arms around Izuku from behind, biting gently over his throat and ear. “Stop worrying,” he says into Izuku’s ear, voice low. “We’re with you.”

“I know, it’s not that, it’s just…” Izuku leans back into Katsuki’s warmth, eyes hooding automatically at being soothed. Katsuki tugs Izuku’s shirt collar to one side, licking at the faint pink scar on Izuku’s shoulder just as if he were the one to leave the bite mark himself. Izuku shivers.

“It’s just,” he says, lowering his voice, “I never wrote to tell them anything, after I came to live with you two. I never knew what to say.”

There’s a moment’s pause as his lovers digest this. “So they still think you’re my slave,” Katsuki says. “So what? We’re doing this to introduce you formally, aren’t we? Problem solved.”

“I hope so,” Izuku says. Katsuki bites down again, harder this time, and Izuku shivers as reaction rolls through him in a warm, slow wave.

Eijirou takes this moment to transform back into a human, shrinking swiftly until he stands up naked as the day is long. Katsuki crouches, grabbing the bag of clothes they brought for him and passing it over. Eijirou opens the bag and starts pulling out the garments, making a face at how fancy they look; on Izuku’s say-so, he’s wearing an outfit significantly more formal than how he usually dresses, complete with furred cloak similar to Katsuki’s and an embroidered vest.

Katsuki and Izuku are also well-dressed, silk shirts and brocaded vests in bright colors: Izuku in greens and blues, Katsuki in purple and wine red topped with his crimson robe. Izuku is 100% certain that Katsuki would have come bare-chested in rags if he thought he could get away with it, so thoroughly does he loathe the fancy clothes the role of king requires of him, but he endured Izuku dressing him with something resembling grace, and he looks very handsome at the moment.

“Katsuki’s right, you don’t have to worry so much,” says Eijirou. He struggles into the fancy trousers one leg at a time, hopping on one foot and nearly toppling over with an oath. “Besides, these people are your friends, right?”

“And my family,” Izuku says. He steps forward, bending down to grab Eijirou’s tunic and help him into it. “And Master Toshinori, my mentor..”

“Okay, so you’re gonna have to kiss a lot of ass and make sure to fill them in on everything you didn’t bother telling them before,” says Katsuki. He comes around the other side, re-arranging Eijirou’s vest for him with curt, efficient gestures. “It’ll be good practice for when my mother comes to visit the palace to scream at me for not telling her Kirishima is a dragon before now.”

“When your mother what—”

“Not now,” Katsuki says, and flashes a toothy smile at him. “Right now we have to go meet the people of Miletus and introduce ourselves.”

Izuku swallows. “Right,” he says weakly.

They finish getting dressed—Izuku and Katsuki pull on their more formal outfits in turn, bundling their travel clothes into the saddlebags. Then they head out and down the road, where an attendant with three horses awaits them, it being unthinkably improper for the Lord of Arden and his partners to meet any of their royal subjects walking up a dusty road in their finery.

From there, they head along the road towards Miletus, as Izuku tries in vain to get his nerves under control. He’s braced for the formality and attention that’s inevitably coming to their party in the wake of the recent royal announcements—hopefully with less scandal and gossip now, at least.

It was bad enough that Katsuki is taking more than one partner as the King; multi-partner marriages are so rare that no official ceremonies exist for them, among other things. But so terrifying and so unorthodox is the barbarian king, and so ruthless was his ascension to the throne, that few people are brave enough to protest along those particular lines.

(Those who do are quickly and unceremoniously ejected from the palace. Guard-Captain Elena is all too happy to show them out and to make clear how unwelcome and unimportant their complaints are. Similarly, the public reveal of consort Eijirou Kirishima to also be the barbarian king’s war-dragon goes a long way towards quieting the protests. More than one would-be protestor makes it as far as the throne room, only to quail at the sight of Eijirou in his half-dragon form smiling toothily from Katsuki’s left hand—they always leave soon afterwards, mysteriously tongue-tied.)

But while the court of public opinion can’t budge Katsuki on the topic of two consorts, it doesn’t stop them from latching on to how scandalous his choice of partners is. The formal announcement of a new bridge being built over the Abaddeon coupled with the endorsement of Khan Temujin would have been enough to have tongues wagging by itself, without the scandal of marrying a former slave and one of the ferocious Subutai. As it stands now, Izuku thinks his ears will be burning for the next ten years.

Even Katsuki making a formal declaration of Izuku’s worth and social status doesn’t fix the wagging tongues, much to Katsuki’s outrage and Izuku’s despair. Eijirou threatens to eat whoever dares speak a bad word about Izuku—a solution Katsuki is thoroughly in favor of—but Izuku shouts both his partners down on that front. He hates the mocking glances and the snide comments, but he’s not going to have anyone murdered over it. And having Katsuki and Eijirou bully people into silence doesn’t really make him feel any better, either.

It’s actually the Khan himself who solves Izuku’s problems. Izuku has spent a great deal of timing flying back and forth between Subutai lands and the castle in the run-up to “our ass-kissing tour of the kingdoms,” as Katsuki calls it. He’s been there not only working to heal sick dragons, but showing the shifters how to administer the medicine (being sent now in bulk from the Lord of Arden’s lands) and what to do to manage the worst symptoms. He’s grown to be on speaking terms with Khan Temujin, although the enormous dragon king is intimidating no matter how many times Izuku meets with him.

Somehow, the Khan must catch wind of Izuku’s political situation. His gossip problems vanish almost overnight, and it isn’t long before the reason why presents itself: every single courtier and ambassador is shortly scrambling to come present themselves to Izuku, falling over each other to kiss his ass and make clear how highly they think of him, how impressive he must be to earn the title of Itgesen Naiz, Friend of Dragons.

Oh. Well. That’s one way of solving the problem, Izuku supposes. He wonders if there was a threat that accompanied that particular bit of information, then decides that he’d rather not know.

All of this drama Izuku has prepared for. What Izuku’s not ready for is the sight of Uraraka and Iida on horseback waiting with the rest of the formal entourage. He nearly falls clean off his horse at the sight of his oldest friends, both of them at front of the vanguard of soldiers. Only his quick reflexes save him, but he still gets a concerned look from Eijirou as he grabs the pommel of his saddle to save himself from an inglorious spill to the dirt road.

Reflexes don’t save him from anything else, however. Izuku’s heart crawls up into his throat, lodging firmly in his windpipe and immediately turning to lead. He’s going to have to face his friends sooner or later, he tells himself sternly. Might as well get it over with.

Iida’s posture is rigid, shoulders set like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders; he’s seated on horseback, reigns held loosely in both hands. Uraraka is next to him on her own horse, a roan mare, but as they get closer Izuku can see that she’s not doing as well as Iida is at remaining formal. She’s fidgeting, shifting back and forth in her saddle, and when Izuku gets close enough for them to make eye contact she loses it altogether.

“DEKU!” she yells, throwing her arm up in the air and waving frantically at him. “WELCOME BACK, DEKU!!!”

Katsuki snorts, but Izuku ignores him. He breaks into a huge smile and raises his own hand, waving in return. “Ochako,” Iida hisses, and Uraraka jerks her hand down with a guilty sidelong glance.

That’s it. Izuku’s careful plans of formality go flying out the window. “Please, no, don’t be embarrassed!” He all but vaults off his horse and hurries forward, his anxiety melting swiftly away like snow in the spring sun. Uraraka’s half-assed solemn expression breaks into one of utter delight, and she’s swinging her leg over the side of her own horse and darting down the road to meet him before Iida can say another word.

“Deku!” she cries, hurling herself into Izuku’s arms. Izuku swings her up and around, laughter bubbling out of him even as tears spring to his eyes. “You came back! You got MARRIED!”

“Sort of,” Izuku says—they haven’t actually had the ceremony yet, because they haven’t actually figured out how it should go—but that doesn’t matter that much. The three of them are bonded, and that’s all Izuku cares about.

“I apologize for my countrywoman’s uncouth behavior,” Iida says loudly. He’s turning red, eyes blazing in a way that warns Izuku his friend is about to burst a vein in his temple. He dismounts from his horse, along with all the other members of the entourage, walking over to where Izuku and Uraraka are standing, stopping a few feet away to dive into a deep bow from the waist. “We’ve been having a difficult time containing our anticipation of your arrival.”

“It’s okay, I’ll take it out of Izuku’s hide later,” Katsuki says, as he and Eijirou catch up. There’s a few choked noises from the entourage, and Izuku turns to give his lover a dirty look. Katsuki just grins at him from where he’s still seated on his coal-black stallion.

Enough of that. “My friends,” Izuku says. He turns back to the people before him, scanning their faces; in addition to Iida and Uraraka, there’s several other people he recognizes from Miletus. His heart lightens. “Please accept my warmest greetings. I’d like to introduce you to my lord fiance, the King of Arden. And this is my mate, Eijirou Kirishima, warrior of the dragon clans.”

Almost all of the entourage drops to their knees, heads bowed low. As the most senior representatives of Miletus present, Uraraka and Iida stay on their feet, though both of them make formal bows from the waist as well. “We welcome you to our fair city, and hope you find it well,” says Iida, the picture of solemnity.

Izuku gets a wave of mixed exasperation and pleasure from his partners, and spares a moment to be grateful all over again for their bond. “We accept your hospitality and look forward to knowing better the people of Miletus,” says Katsuki, voice raised. “Rise, and lead us home.”

Uraraka can’t smother her delight as she straightens, beaming from ear to ear at Izuku before she turns and scurries back to her horse. Iida bows again, whether for good measure or out of embarrassment at how undignified Uraraka is, Izuku isn’t sure. But soon enough they’re all on their mounts and headed onwards towards the city Izuku was born and raised in.

They emerge from the wildwoods and approach the bridge over the Greenveldt, a small river that meanders its way west until it joins the Abaddeon. The last time Izuku saw it, last spring, its banks were still a sodden mess—not yet recovered from the terrible flooding during the wars, newly swollen with spring snowmelt. Gone are the diseased and dead tree-trunks, skeletons of the old woods that drowned in the flooding. Now the banks are verdant with new growth, rich with end-of-summer flowers and freshly planted saplings, branches swaying in the light wind.

Beyond the Greenveldt the road widens, gentle hillocks parting to reveal the first glimpse of Miletus. Izuku’s eyes are caught by the tall spire of the clocktower at the center of town, and suddenly his eyes burn. He blinks a few times, sitting up straighter in his saddle as they round the bend and start the procession into town.

It’s hard. Miletus has changed dramatically since the last time he was here, mostly for the good. Brand new buildings of clean-cut wood and sturdy stone have risen up on the bones of the ones destroyed in the storm and the fighting. With the influx of money and timber and manpower brought in by Izuku selling himself to Katsuki, the town was finally able to clear out the ruined buildings and raise new ones in their places. This much Izuku knew from the letters sent to him by Iida and Uraraka; it’s not a surprise, exactly. But seeing it with his own eyes is a different story.

Izuku squeezes his eyes shut for a few moments, fighting the lump in his throat. Warm spots burn on the back of his neck—one of his partners is looking at him. Izuku opens his eyes and glances over to find Eijirou watching him. His expression is kind.

“Hold your head high,” he says. “You did what you set out to do.” I know how long the road home can be, Eijirou adds, this time through their link, and Izuku suffers a pang.

He has a moment of feeling deeply unworthy of how kind and loyal Eijirou is, and foolish for being so overcome when Eijirou was banished from his home for far, far longer. What did he ever do to deserve someone so good?

Then another pair of eyes bores into the back of his neck, and Izuku has to check himself. “Get a grip, Deku,” says Katsuki, gruff but not unkind.

“Right,” says Izuku.

It’s just in time. They ride into town, and are greeted by quite literally the entire city’s population. People crowd the edge of the road in their festival finest, bright dresses and tunics piped with gold and silver, flower garlands in everyone’s hair. The cheers start as soon as the townsfolk lay eyes on the procession, and get louder as the entourage winds its way towards the town square. Izuku feels his face start to hurt as he waves and smiles at seemingly every person he’s ever known; his eyes burn and his throat is tight, and it feels like his body is tingling from head to toe, but he keeps it together.

Till they get to the town square, that is. Another surprise waits there, and this time Izuku can’t contain himself.

Standing side-by-side before the fountain that takes pride of place in the town square are the two people Izuku owes the most to in life, and a friend he loves whom he hasn’t seen in years: his mother, his master Toshinori, and the Firelord’s son, Shouto Todoroki. Izuku actually gasps out loud at the sight of them.

“Izuku!” Inko’s radiant smile is too wide for her face; she’s carrying a bouquet of flowers the size of her torso, and an intricate flower crown sits atop her unbound hair.

“Welcome home, Midoriya,” says Todoroki. He’s wearing his royal blue-and-gold vestments and the small smile that Izuku remembers so fondly. Izuku hasn’t seen him since the Firelord of Kostër Oblast called his son home from being taught under Toshinori to come fight alongside him against the barbarians of the Iron Mountains. It’s a wonderful shock to have him here today.

“Midoriya, my boy!” calls Toshinori, waving his hand enthusiastically. “Welcome home!”

“Master!” Izuku gets out, and bursts into tears. He hears Katsuki grumble, but just then he can’t find it in him to care.

The reunions and formal presentation takes the better part of two hours. Izuku delays everything for about ten minutes in having to get off his horse to greet his mentor and his mother, while Todoroki politely stands back to wait his turn. Izuku doesn’t miss the prince and his king eyeing each other with obvious mutual mistrust, but he’s too busy dampening his mother’s dress with his tears and marveling at the recovery Toshinori has made.

And it’s quite a recovery. The last time Izuku saw his master, Toshinori was just skin and bones, clinging to life by the thinnest of shreds. He’s since moved into Izuku’s mother’s house, and between her care and the medicine sent to Miletus since Izuku’s departure, he’s made a return to health that’s nothing short of miraculous. He’ll never be the one-man hurricane of a magus he was in his glory days, but his eyes are bright and his smile is strong, and that’s enough for Izuku.

Once Izuku’s managed to collect himself a bit, the formal presentations start. Technically, Miletus has a mayor—who is here, and more than happy to mingle—and aside from Katsuki, Todoroki has the highest status of anyone present, but no one bats an eye at Toshinori doing the honors of formally welcoming the king and his two partners to Miletus.

Iida is the one who does the presentation of the King and his consorts. The titles roll off his tongue perfectly: His Majesty, Lord Bakugou of Arden, of the house of Still-Mount Hold, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and Regent of the Westing Coast, Heartflame of Chulunbataar is Katsuki’s formal title. Eijirou’s is His Grace, Grand Duke Kirishima Ejirou, of the Great Sand Forest of Subutai, Ambassador to the Crown and First to the Right of the Throne. And Izuku’s strange and somehow wonderful new title is His Lordship, Izuku Midoriya of Miletus, First Magi of Toshinori The Almighty, Consort to the Lord of Arden.

“Try to say any of that drunk,” Katsuki mutters in Izuku’s ear. Izuku’s laughter is lost in another round of applause.

From there, ceremony takes over. One person after another has to make a political speech, we look forward to renewed alliance with the Lord of Arden this and we eagerly anticipate a closer friendship with the mighty Subutai that. Katsuki has his own speeches to make, most of which are almost brutally short and to the point. But he does go out of his way to state that Miletus has special standing with the King, and will continue to receive his blessing in order to return it to its previous state before the war and flooding.

Along with the speeches is feasting and music and dancing and drinking—lots and lots of drinking. Izuku is careful not to drink too much until after he’s already made his own speeches, but after that he can’t really turn down the flagons of cider and mead and wine being pressed on him at every turn, or resist being dragged out by his friends to dance in the square.

Iida chooses a particularly lively reel to come shout his praise at Izuku. To be fair to Iida, it’s one of the only moments he has away from being master of ceremonies.

“We are all so grateful for what you did for Miletus!” Iida says. He has to yell in Izuku’s ear to be heard as he dances with Izuku, the two of them arm-in-arm. “And I have missed you! But I’m glad to see you’re happy!”

“Thank you!” Izuku yells back. He can’t stop himself laughing as they keep going, breaking off into a yell as Iida picks him up and swings him around like he weighs nothing at all.

Izuku retreats from the festivities shortly after that, needing a few minutes to breathe and let his delightfully swimming head catch a break. He looks around for his mates, but they’re both busy—Katsuki is deep in discussion with Toshinori, talking about battle strategy unless Izuku is much mistaken, and Eijirou is busy chatting with one of the shifters who came with Todoroki, a very nice woman with long dark hair who seems to be about half-frog, judging from her tongue. Eijirou is talking with his hands, huge excited gestures as he relates some story, and the frog-woman laughs.

Izuku smiles. He grabs another flagon of mead and retreats to a cut log to sit down. It isn’t long before someone new approaches him, but this face is very welcome. Shouto Todoroki studied alongside him when they were younger, along with Iida and Uraraka, all of them students under Master Toshinori. Todoroki is taller now, shoulders broader and hair grown out long enough it needs to be tied back from his face.

“Congratulations on your marriage,” Todoroki says. He considers a moment. “Marriages,” he corrects himself.

Izuku has to laugh. “We haven’t actually had the ceremony yet, you know,” he says. “I was, um. I was wondering if you’d like to come, when we do.”

Todoroki’s eyes widen, just a touch. “I would be honored,” he says firmly. “And I would like to hear how you managed to charm not only the barbarian king and his dragon, but Khan Temujin as well, when you have time to tell me.”

Izuku groans. “Oh, that last one’s a story. You got a few minutes?” He wonders for a moment if it’s wise to tell Todoroki the full, unedited version of how that came about—the three of them have been careful about what details they let spill to the public—but right now with the haze of drink and festival and the joy of seeing his oldest friends, Izuku wants to share.

So he does. Todoroki sits down next to him on the log as he starts to talk. Soon they’re joined by Uraraka, who’s miraculously spirited Iida away from his duties again, and Izuku finds himself telling them all about how strange and wonderful his last few months have been.

He doesn’t tell them everything—some details are too special (or dirty) to share, of course—but Izuku can’t stop the way his emotions seem to overflow, spilling out of him like fresh spring water. He tells them about how thorny managing the politics of the entire seven kingdoms is, and how much he’s come to relish the challenge. He tells them how mercurial and smart and intense Katsuki is, how strange and kind and loving Eijirou can be, and how difficult and wonderful it is to get to be with both of them. He tells them about how close he came to losing Katsuki in the wilds of the Subutai lands, and the near-catastrophic face-off with the king of all dragons.

“Wow,” says Uraraka. Her voice is full of admiration. “That’s a lot. Bet you had no idea what you were signing up for when you left home, did you?”

Izuku has to laugh. “None at all,” he says, and he smiles. His face hurts from smiling. His face hurts from being drunk, probably. “But how can I complain? I’m the luckiest man in the seven kingdoms. I got to fall in love twice and save my home.”

“I’ll beg to differ,” growls a voice in his ear. Izuku jumps a little, then looks up and over his shoulder at Katsuki standing behind him. Katsuki puts his hands on Izuku’s shoulders, his soft touch at direct odds with his gruff voice. “That title is mine.”

Izuku needs a second to work out what it is Katsuki means. When he does, he feels himself melt. “You,” he says. “That’s not. No. I am. I’m the one. Me.”

He beams at his lover, reaching up to touch Katsuki’s face in a gesture that’s probably too intimate for the mixed company, but oddly Katsuki doesn’t seem bothered. Katsuki huffs but leans into the palm against his cheek anyway. Meanwhile, all of Izuku’s friends are momentarily frozen; Izuku thinks maybe they don’t quite know how to act around Katsuki—maybe because he’s kind of scary? No wait. It’s because he’s king, isn’t it.

“Are we celebrating over here now?” asks another voice. Eijirou bounds over, plopping down next to Iida and Uraraka and looking from person to person for his cue. “Is it time to go take Izuku somewhere private?”

Uraraka giggles nervously and covers her mouth with her hand; Iida looks either scandalized or vaguely constipated. But Izuku’s got a point to prove, first. “Tell them how lucky I am,” Izuku says loudly. “Iida! Come on!”

“I think he’s had too much to drink,” notes Todoroki.

“No shit,” says Katsuki.

“Hey! I have not! I’m celebrating,” says Izuku. “Because I’m lucky. I’m happy.” He tries to lean up to kiss Katsuki’s face and nearly falls off the log.

“Right,” says Katsuki. “I’m taking you back to our lodgings.” With that, he picks Izuku up bridal-style, one arm behind his shoulders and another under his legs. “Kirishima, come on. We can come back in a bit, we’ve got to get him settled first.”

Eijirou obediently jumps to his feet, coming around to walk next to Katsuki. There’s a round of goodnight’s and farewells called despite Izuku’s protests, and then Katsuki is carrying him in the direction of… a tent. Izuku is pretty sure it’s a tent. Oh, Katsuki cares enough to carry him to a tent in the middle of a big party! Izuku really is lucky.

Or maybe he is just really, really drunk.

“You are that drunk,” says Katsuki, answering him. Izuku doesn’t know if he spoke out loud or if his partners heard him through their bond, but it doesn’t matter much. “It’s just a good thing you’re as lucky as you think you are.”

“We got lucky too, you know,” Eijirou says. His voice is so soft, his affection singing sweetly in the back of Izuku’s mind. Izuku smiles, shutting his eyes and nestling in against Katsuki’s chest, in his warmth. He feels Katsuki’s hands tighten on him for a moment in answer.

“I know,” Izuku murmurs. It’s all the response they need.