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Prince | Knight

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Viktor Nikiforov, Crown Prince of Rus, enjoys balls. He likes mingling and chatting; has fun pretending to get tipsy and seeing who other people become after overindulging. He loves dancing.

 

But he hates official functions, filled with pompous nobles too full their own self-importance.

 

This ball is the latter sort of function. A military affair to celebrate the subjugation of the Kingdom of Ippa. The castle - overlooking the docks from which the Empire had launched its soldier heavy fleet - is studded with stuffy generals past their prime and a plethora of knights desperate to bed someone who doesn’t smell like metal and sweat.

 

Viktor slips away as soon as he’s able. He is done discussing the military budget and is determined to avoid General Leroy, who wants a governorship for his eldest son and believes that the Empire’s newest acquisition is the perfect territory for it.

 

He edges around the buffet to where the curtains billow, hoping to find a hidden balcony.Once there he slips out the open doors only to crash into another, similarly minded, body.

 

He doesn’t recognize this dark haired man, who looks up at him with eyes made large by his spectacles when Viktor catches him. Viktor takes in the ill fitted, muted doublet and shabby jerkin. Definitely not one of the normal crowd.

 

“Prince Viktor!”

 

The young man’s face turns bright red. Viktor is inexplicably charmed. The stranger is adorable, and far removed from the brazen courtiers the usually surround Viktor. Viktor opens his mouth to request a name, but the young man flees, out of his hold and sight. All that is left is a square of plain blue linen.

 

“I’ve found you at last, Your Highness.”

 

Viktor jerks, handkerchief in hand, and is relieved to find his childhood friend and retainer, Sir Christophe Giacometti, behind him.

 

“And I see that you are ever finding the newest bit of charming scenery.”

 

It takes a second for Viktor to understand who his friend was referring to.

 

“You know him, Chris?”

 

Chris has a strange look on his face.

 

“That was Prince Yuuri Katsuki.”


Oh .

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The Empire of Rus has a special way of dealing of royalty of conquered countries. It requests young members of the royal family be sent to Rus and take a position as a courtier. It’s no secret that those individuals are purely glorified hostages.

 

Yuuri Katsuki is the second child of the King and Queen of Ippa. Even though his sister is the heir to the throne, he’s chosen as the delegate to Rus because he’s younger at nineteen and Rus follows the law of primogenitor. It’s for the best since Yuuri has long been fascinated by the Crown Prince of Rus and therefore knows what to expect.

 

On his way to join the court of the second prince of Rus, Yuri Plisetsky, at the Southern Palace, Yuuri is required to attend a ball being held to celebrate Ippa being enfolded into the Rus Empire.

 

And he meets Viktor, in the flesh.

 

It makes Yuuri remember his first glimpse of Viktor, years ago at a treaty summit. Viktor had been so handsome, had spoken so eloquently on the need for peace between their countries.

 

He’s everything Yuuri remembers and more.

 

Yuuri longs to be held in Viktor’s arms, to be on the receiving end of his dashing smile. He wants to debate politics, to be complimented on his sound arguments, and make Viktor agree to help Ippa be independent again.

 

Yuuri wants, but knows it can never happen. Viktor is meant for someone more than a prince who has lost his country, whose everything is already owned by the Empire.

 

Yuuri runs into the man of his dreams and then runs away, unable to remain in the presence of someone he can’t have. He shows his face where he’s needed and stays on the opposite side of the room as Viktor. He tries to keep his eyes from straying to the other prince.

 

Once the night is over, he will depart for the Southern Palace. He will probably never see Prince Viktor again, but he will forever cherish the memory of that single moment when their bodies were pressed together.

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Viktor is donning his armor his armor, taking care that each strap comfortable and snug, when the tent flap opens and admit Chris. Viktor immediately drops his helmet and springs across the room to grip his friend’s arms.

“Is he here? Is he on the jousting lists?”

“Of course he’s here, Viktor. The object of your devotion is recently knighted. He needs to prove he’s worth the sword he’s been granted.”

“And?”

“You’ll be Sir Yuuri’s first opponent in the lanes.”

Meeting on the tilting yard isn’t an ideal way to woo one’s potential future spouse. However, this is the first opportunity Viktor has had to meet with Prince Yuuri, who hasn’t been allowed to leave the Southern Palace until the onset of the tournament season.

Viktor wonders if the real Yuuri can compare to who he’s been anticipating since their brief meeting from just over four years ago. He’s afraid to know, but he wants to find out.

Now that Yuuri has been allowed to join a jousting tournament, Viktor is determined to make a connection with the other man. It is impossible for them to meet in person; there will be hundreds of eyes on them, each of them scrutinizing their each and every movement. Nonetheless, Viktor has an idea about how to convey his interest.

When the heralds announce the start of the runs, Viktor is sitting tall on his white destrier, helmet on and visor raised. Across the field he can see Yuuri clamoring up onto the back of his own horse. It’s a slightly awkward display. He’s clearly not quite used to moving under the weight of a full set of plate armour. But occasionally Yuuri moves just so and Viktor can read his grace in those moments.

“Here, Viktor.”

Viktor looks down and receives the lance Chris is handing up to him. He lowers his visor and settles his shield lance. At the top of the lance’s handle, just above where Viktor grips it with his gauntlet-covered hand, is Yuuri’s handkerchief. Viktor has treasured the cloth and is now ready to display his prize.

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Yuuri spends a couple of years in Rus training with Prince Yuri under the critical eye of Duchess Baranovskya. He’s considered a fairly accomplished considering his age, and sometimes Her Grace even nods at him when he finishes a sparring session with one of the palace guardsmen. Yuuri gratefully accepts the offer of knighthood and the chance to leave the Southern Palace to participate in tournaments.

 

Yuuri sets out with the intentions of doing his best at his first jousting event. Then he finds out his first opponent will be Prince Viktor, and Yuuri knows that he’s going to lose.

 

Back home, Mari had said that Yuuri knew an excessive amount about Prince Viktor, but Yuuri feels like he knows so much more now due to the way Prince Yuri frequently rants about his elder brother. In Rus, Yuuri hears about Prince Viktor’s military prowess, and how he’s gone undefeated at any tournament he’s entered for the last five years.

 

Yuuri clambors onto his gelding, and then he sees Prince Viktor sitting tall on his warhorse across the field. Yuuri doesn’t believe that his polished, gold-plated, armor is the only reason that Prince Viktor is shining (Prince Yuri has recently complained that his brother commissioned matching gold-plated horseshoes for his destrier).

 

Prince Viktor hefts his lance and a gust races across the field, causing something blue flutter above Viktor’s gauntlet. Yuuri’s breath catches. Was that?

 

A herald calls them to their starting positions. Yuuri’s first tournament ends with him breathless and on his back after his first pass. He’s so preoccupied getting back to his feet and breathing that he doesn’t notice Prince Viktor riding over to him.

 

“Well met, Sir Yuuri. I have something to return to you and would like for you to come by my tent later.”

 

They say brief farewells and Prince Viktor departs. Yuuri can see that Prince Viktor now has the handkerchief that was once on his lance in his hands. Yuuri wondered what what Prince Viktor could possibly want with him. More importantly, Yuuri wants to know who’s favor Prince Viktor had accepted.

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Halfway through the tournament season Yuuri becomes Prince Viktor’s lover, in secret. If it wasn’t so bewildering, Yuuri might’ve suspect witchcraft, but Viktor’s efforts to woo him are clumsy and precious. Yuuri is easily won over.

 

They find time to be alone at the end of one of the last jousting tournaments of the year. Viktor is the winner, as usual, and Yuuri is beginning to show some good results as well. They decide to sneak off and hold their own, private, post-tournament celebration in the nearby town - a port town, several days travel north from the coastal castle where they first met.

 

Yuuri’s disguise is easy. He wears his spectacles. It is impossible to fit them beneath his jousting helm. Bespectacled and on his most worn clothing - still far finer than anything he had brought from his homeland - he looks very unassuming, like the son of a merchant, and in no way like a jouster on tourney.

 

Viktor still looks like a prince, even in his plainest doublet with a cap covering his distinctive hair. There’s no way to disguise his fair looks and courtly mannerisms.

 

As a pair they aren’t exactly inconspicuous despite their intentions. Yuuri finds it easy to blend into the crowds. Viktor tries to follow his example to some success. They keep their hands intertwined.

 

Viktor escorts Yuuri on a tour to all the notable sites he can remember. A stone statue of a mythic hero. A bridge under which tiny one-man boats zipped back and forth beneath carrying cargo inland. A plaza brightened by the lilting voices of a choir of children. A bronze statue depicting Viktor’s many times great ancestor who founded the Empire.

 

Yuuri enjoys himself immensely. They act as though they are ordinary people and the only thing that matters is being together. Viktor tries to explain the story behind the grand fountain that is the centerpiece of the city, and Yuuri does his best to distract the prince by whispering suggestive words in his ear and pressing their shoulders together.

 

They laugh and carry on, drunk on each other’s presence.



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Yuuri doesn’t know who saw him and Viktor gallivanting about town. But he knows something is wrong when Sir Otabek Atlin, Prince Yuri’s personal guard, storms his tent, and drags him out and onto his gelding. Sir Otabek spares a few words to tell Yuuri that there is a rumor going around about Yuuri seducing the Crown Prince. Yuuri must return to a place beneath Prince Yuri’s eye, where he can be protected from the trouble brewing amongst a certain sector of ill-content nobles.

 

Yuuri wishes he was able to say goodbye to Viktor. He wonders how Viktor will deal with the rumors and discontent, if it is even possible.

 

Yuuri returns to the Southern Palace burdened with a feeling of hopelessness, and the feeling festers. He’s restricted even more now than when he had first arrived in Rus. If he’s not in his room, he’s shadowed by one of the prince’s close associates, or even in the grumbling presence of Prince Yuri himself.

 

No one mentions Viktor at all. Yuuri feels like he might go crazy waiting for some kind of news, just the smallest tidbit of information to reach his ears and let him know if he should be despairing or hopeful.

 

He throws himself into training, testing the limits of his stamina, not knowing if he will ever have the chance to display his martial skills in a tournament again, to deliver on his vow to unseat Viktor.

 

An assassin worms their way into the Southern Palace and onto the kitchen staff. Yuuri is bedridden, and the Palace is on high alert because although Yuuri was likely the target, the poison might have been meant for Prince Yuri.

 

Yuuri lingers in a state between consciousness and fevered dreams, has visions of family and home, tournent tents and Viktor. In a moment of lucidity, he wakes to find Prince Yuri asleep at his bedside and Sir Otabek standing guard in the doorway. Yuuri remembers the brief time he had spent with Viktor, and wonders if those short days of happiness are worth allowing everything to fall into chaos.

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Viktor wishes he could keep Yuuri by his side, wants to be the one to stand before Yuuri like a shield. But he receives a firm letter from Lilia insisting that Yuuri play least in sight until things blow over. She includes a list of persons Viktor should sway to his side.

 

Viktor’s trying to hang on. He clings to the memories of his time with Yuuri and struggles through the isolation, snide comments, and hostile looks that have surround him since their relationship became known. He does his best to turn enemies into allies, working towards that day when he will be able to reunite Yuuri.

 

Chris stay at his side, acting as a friend and as a guard. Lilia has forbidden direct contact with Yuuri, but Chris somehow manages to correspond with Otabek and get a little in information for Viktor.

 

“Any progress?” Chris asks one night while they are polishing their armor.

 

Viktor shakes his head. “General Leroy won’t budge. He wants Yuuri gone.”

 

“He’s bitter that your brother has been granted governorship over Ippa. I don’t see anyone siding with Yuuri over him.”

 

That is unfortunate but true. Yuuri is a mere knight, a dethroned prince. To the Empire he is an expendable token. General Leroy’s family has deep roots in the history of the Empire; he commands the largest standing army in the country.

 

Viktor will choose Yuuri over any of the Leroys at every opportunity, but he doesn’t know how to make all of Rus love Yuuri half as much as he does.

 

Chris puts a hand on Viktor’s shoulder. “Viktor, what will you do if you can’t be together?”

 

Viktor doesn’t know. He sets his sword down, and rubs at his eyes. Tears are welling in his eyes and he doesn’t want to let them fall, he wants to be strong for Yuuri, even if Yuuri isn’t here to see it. Remaining separated isn’t an option. Viktor would throw away everything before he’d let that happen. That’s all it takes.

 

He drops his hands from his face and looks at Chris, decision made.

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It takes Yuuri two weeks to get back on his feet and an additional one for him to convince Prince Yuri that he doesn’t need an attendant every moment of the day. He alone, at long last, walking through courtyard and heading toward his chambers when Viktor gallops through the front gates.

 

Yuuri rushes forward, and Viktor jumps from the back of his mount and into Yuuri’s arms. Normally Yuuri would’ve been able to support Viktor’s weight, but he’s still recovering. The two of them hit the pavement, and Yuuri’s breath is forced from him between the stones and Viktor.

 

Viktor’s arms squeeze beneath his neck and head, and there’s nowhere else Yuuri would rather be.

 

“Viktor, you’re here.” Yuuri can’t believe it. His back aches too much to be a dream, but being together like this is too good for reality. “Why are you here?”

 

“Yuuri.” Victor sounds like he’s the one who had the breath knocked from him. “I can’t stand being separated any longer. Let’s run away together.”

 

Yuuri stares. Viktor beams, brushes his lips against Yuuri’s then sits up. He perches on Yuuri’s hip bones like some sort of elegant, mythical bird.

 

“If the problem is that I’m the Crown Prince, then I’ll renounce the throne. Make Yuri be the Crown Prince - he’ll love it, I’m sure. We’ll go govern Ippa instead.”

 

Yuuri is rendered breathless again. He would give up what little he has to be with Viktor but had never considered the opposite.

 

“Viktor…”

 

Yuuri can read something fierce but soft in Viktor’s eyes.

 

“Yuuri, come with me.”

 

There are millions of things that need to be settled. Prince Yuri must be notified, and who knows what complications will arise when Viktor tries to abdicating the throne for a lessen position. Even if they flee to Ippa their struggles won’t be over. They will have less resources to shield them from danger. But there is only one answer for Yuuri to give, a single word that can convey the enormous emotion rising from his heart as though it could burst through his skin.

 

“Anywhere.”