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Yuri!!! On Ice Cinderella!AU - What I Must Remember

Chapter Text

Many Years Ago...

"Far, far away in a land far across the great sea, there lived a prince," Yuuri's father began in a slow methodical tone.

Yuuri looked at his father wide-eyed. "That must be weally faw away." He nodded to himself thoughtfully. Yuuri had yet to learn how to pronounce his 'r's yet and tended to replace them with the much easier 'w' sound. "Cos' you said it thwee times." He intoned with all the wisdom of a child who had not yet experienced find winters.

His father glanced down to see the firelight dancing in the little one's nearly black eyes. "It is!" He insisted. "Anyways, quit interrupting. I'm trying to tell you a story!" He ticked Yuuri's sides until the little boy giggled and squirmed. He cleared his throat to get his son's attention back from where it had strayed. "Far, far away in a land far across the great sea, there lived a prince. He was handsome and strong, and well loved by all the people of the land!"

Yuuri's eyes grew wide again. "Was he an alpha?"

"Indeed he was," His alpha father told him proudly. "But one day, he came across the most beautiful princess anyone had ever seen and fell in love," He hugged the boy tight and twisted back and forth to illustrate his point. "BUT THEN!" He swiveled a startled Yuuri to face him and gripped his shoulders, playfully shaking the child. "The most terrible thing happened!"

Yuuri was jostled urgently by his father. He tried to wriggle closer to the man, seeking comfort. His little heart was beating so fast! "What happened, Papa?" He, asked, sounding afraid.

Suddenly his father was on his feet, swooping Yuuri up and tossing him up in the air as he ran about the warm parlor. "A dragon swooped in an stole the princess away!"

Yuuri stopped giggling and gasped out in fear. "No!"

"Yes!" His father set up on top of the mantel above the fireplace. "And then the dragon put the princess up in a tower where the prince would never find her!"

A tear slipped out of the sensitive boy's eyes. All the excitement was too much for the little thing to handle. He sniffled. "I don't want the dragon to take me away!" He started crying full out, to his father's surprise. He hadn't meant to traumatize the poor child. "I want to stay with the prince!"

The older man gently folding the shuddering child back into his arms and gently rocked him back and forth as he walked slowly around the room. "You don't need to be afraid, Yuuri! The prince gathered all of his bravest men and followed the dragon to the tower. They had to help the princess!"

Yuuri popped up from where he was cuddled into his father's shoulder, all thoughts of crying abandoned for the sake of the tale. "Did they win, father? Did that get the princess back?"

"Yes he did, my boy, he fought incredibly valiantly, too." He smoothed a hand through the inky black hair. It was like silk to the touch. "He rescued the princess and took her back to his palace. She fell in love with him so he made her his queen and spent the rest of his life loving and cherishing her. You see Yuuri, you must grow strong and good like the prince so you can protect your own princess someday."

Yuuri shook his little head, his hair following the movement. "No daddy, I can't do that."

"Why not?" His father held the boy close.

Yuuri scrunched up his little cherubs face in disgust. "I don't want a princess."

His father laughed heartily. "Well that's fine then, you're only four winters old after all. Perhaps you will be the princess one day and have your very own prince."

Yuuri put a little finger to his chin and thought a moment. Then he nodded. "Yes. I like that best of all I think. I want to be loved and cherished forever too."

"You must love and cherish your prince just as much, Yuuri. But you have a long ways to go until you have to worry about that. Until then, you must remember one thing above all else." He said seriously, sitting down again in their favorite armchair and positioning the tiny boy on his lap so he was facing him.

"What is it, father?" Yuuri was curious.

"The key to living a happy life is kindness, my son. Bestow it on others and they shall bestow it upon you. Prince or pauper, it doesn't matter. Be kind my son. And always seek to make the right choice." He intoned seriously

"Yes, papa!" Yuuri snuggled into his father's warm soft presence.

"What must you remember?" He couldn't help but crack a grin as he tickled the little boy until Yuuri jerked up, cackling with laughter.

"To help people!" Yuuri said through his tears and laughter.

"That's right," He smiling fondly. "We must always try to save people from their dragons."

Chapter Text

The peaceful haze of sleep faded away from Yuuri's consciences, so did the sweet memories. He rolled over and stretched out his aching muscles. His bed was little more than a few loosened hay bales pushed together to form a pallet for the young man to sleep on. The ripped sheet he'd rescued from the burn pile and the feather pillow had been a gift from Yuuko and Phichit for his last season mark. The horse blankets were easy enough to borrow from the barn stalls downstairs and return in the mornings before anyone would notice. What had woken him? It was still dark outside. He wasn't required to rise until the dawn peaked. So why-

"YUURI!"

The sound of his stepfather, Georgi's voice had Yuuri whipping off the horse blankets and hurling himself into action. He was injured from the last punishment from his step-father that he had earned, so he had to be as careful as he could with his bad leg. At least it was wrapped properly. Phichit has learned how to do it from his father and had taught Yuuri years ago. Yanking the white muslin undershirt over his head, he nearly lost his balance because he was half running, half hobbling to the other side of the room at the same time so he could grab his belt and trousers. Yuuri heard the barn door open downstairs. He shoved both legs into his pants and plopped his socked feet into his boots.

There! Yuuri mentally celebrated as he snatched his staff from the corner on his way back to the pallet bed. I'm dressed!

"YUURI!" Georgi yelled as he started to climb the stairs to the barn loft where Yuuri lived.

Scrambling over to grab the blankets he'd borrowed, Yuuri folded one neatly and then began to beat the other one with the end of his staff, causing dust to rise in the room. Hopefully, Georgi wouldn't stay long if he was engulfed in the same dust cloud as Yuuri was. Yuuri turned the horse blanket back and forth as if inspecting it as Georgi burst into the small space. I turned to look at him.

"Good morning, Georgi," Yuuri greeted quietly, lowering my eyes to the ground so he wouldn't enforce his will through the bond I'd been subjected to.

"What were you doing?" He squinted his eyes suspiciously. I could feel the dark tendrils of the bond vibrate with his annoyance.

"I wasn't dressed, so I was hurrying to make myself presentable to you," The young man intoned, doing his best not to evoke any wrath from the other man.

Georgi snorted. "Doing chores in the nude, were you? Such a common boy. I hope you weren't thinking of trying to hide anything from me," His tone was only a little menacing.

"No sir," Yuuri didn't think his head could bow any lower without his neck breaking.

If I broke my back bowing to Georgi, he'd probably enjoy it. He thought sourly.

The marriage between Yuuri's father and Georgi had been a business arrangement. To the young man, however, Georgi seemed more like a sulking adolescent who enjoyed power games and cruel ways than a respectable step-father. Part of that was because of the lack of age gap between Georgi and Yuuri. Where Yuuri was almost to his eighteenth winter, Georgi was only ahead of him by six winters. Is maturity wasn't enough to create an age gap so Yuuri had always felt strange that the omega that had birthed him, his birth father, had been replaced by a child. He tried to shake the uncharitable thought away from his head. He wouldn't spend the rest of his days whining about what he couldn't change. There wasn't a point to that. With so few days left remaining, Yuuri wanted to live as pain-free and as happily as he possibly could.

The Death Bond is taking its toll on me after so many years… I'll have to tell Yuuko and Phichit about it when I see them next. I don't want Georgi to be the one to dispose of my body. I at least want freedom in death. I deserve that much. Yuuri mentally planned.

"There's a caravan from the southern outlands going through town. I want you to go immediately and fetch me some coffee beans before the commoners have a chance to buy it all." Georgi instructed. "Be quick, now! Coffee is a rare thing to see and I won't be so uncultured that my table won't have it. I'm sure even the King's table has it."

Yuuri refrained from commenting that the table in the manor was not the King's table, but knew that not only would it make Georgi lash out at him, but it also wouldn't save him from this tiresome errand. "I'll go right away. How much would you like me to buy?"

He stopped inspecting the boy's room with disgust to jerk his head back to Yuuri, looking surprised that Yuuri would even ask. "All of it, of course."

Yuuri clenched his hands at his sides. They were already hurting for money as it is. The taxes to the kingdom were not getting paid, Yuuri had to barter and scrounge for food so he would not be beaten for the lack of it, and yet Georgi and his brothers still spent money they did not possess extravagantly and with no hesitation. They would all be enslaved at this point! "Where can I find the money for your errand?" He asked in a neutral tone.

Georgi unclipped a bag of gold coins from his waist and sniffed uninterestedly as he dropped it on the floor in front of Yuuri. Yuuri made to catch it but failed. Yuuri stared down at the bag with dread. Georgi knew that his recent beating had injured his leg even further than the last time. At this rate, he'd have to his the staff forever. Not like it mattered. Time was running out on Yuuri anyways.

"What are you waiting for?" Georgi smiled. "Pick… it… up!" He annunciated every word.

If he went down to pick it up, he'd hurt himself and take longer to get to the caravan, which would mean that most of the rare goods Georgi wanted would already have been sold to others, which meant that Yuuri would receive yet another punishment when he returned home. He hoped it was nothing more than extra work or restriction food or water. If it was another beating, he'd only receive more punishments for work he wasn't able to do later that week. It was a vicious cycle.

"Did you hear me?" Georgi snapped. "Pick it up!"

Yuuri didn't have the chance to think about a better way to get the bag. Georgi was using his influence through the bond. He forced the young man to his knees. Yuuri bit down on the side of his tongue to keep from screaming at the sharp, hot pain that stabbed through his legs when they made contact with the uneven wooden planks. He tasted blood. He grabbed the coin purse. He was released from Georgi's power at once. Yuuri wished he could hide how erratic his breath was, or the sweat that beaded on his face from the pain and the effort of rising up, but he was incapable of doing so. Rising up was difficult, and took more time than Georgi should have had to watch him. Funny how he suddenly had patience when it came to watching Yuuri struggle or watching him experience pain what was inflicted on him by Georgi himself.

"You've wasted enough time already, get going." He ordered, sweeping out of the room, his deep violet shoulder cape stirring the air as he moved.

Yuuri clutched at his staff for support before he had to start moving. He threw one of the horse blankets down from the loft and then began the painful trip down the stairs. It was slow and agonizing, but he managed to make it by scooting down on his rear one stair at a time. Saddling the horse and strapping his staff to it also took more time than he would have liked, but once he was on, he was picking up the pace quite a bit.

"Good morning, Emil," Yuuri forced a smile as he passed. Out of everyone, Emil was the easiest person to take care of and certainly the most mild-mannered of the three of them. He was a beta, which meant that Yuuri's omega side wouldn't influence him in the least which made him safer than either of his brother's Georgi and Jean Jaque who were both alphas.

"Good morning, Yuuri! Where are you off to?" The light haired man asked pleasantly.

Yuuri paused in his trek towards the driveway. "In search of a lot of foreign coffee," He stifled a sigh.

Emil shook his head and laughed. "He's rather demanding, isn't he? Georgi lives in his moon cycle." Emil turned back to the small mirror next to the washing well where he was shaving and winked at his reflection, smiling.

This was something about Emil that Yuuri could handle. His egotistical overconfidence didn't bother him as much as Jean's taunts or Georgi's cruelty did. So the fact that Emil liked to make eyes to himself in the mirror didn't bother Yuuri one little bit. Georgi's moon cycle, however, did. Unmated alphas often went through periods of time a few times a year where they experienced periods of depression. It came from their desire to care for someone special. Without a mate to satisfy their nature as alphas, they would have to deal with the sadness. Yuuri felt a little guilty about it, but Georgi was much more likable while he was going through his moon cycles because he didn't have enough energy to punish Yuuri and he had enough apathy to everything around him that he would hardly care about being cruel to his late husband's son.

"Would you look at that?" Jean's husky voice drew me from my reveries. "The useless beta and the weak omega are getting chummy," He smirked, blue eyes twinkling with mirth.

Unfazed, Emil grinned. "Glad to see your inferiority complex is alive and well today,"

"As ignorant as ever, beta." Jean retorted.

Yuuri was not in the mood to handle Jean right now. Seeing as they were both distracted by verbal sparring with each other, he clicked softly and nudged the horse with his heels. He urged the small farm horse faster than he would have normally because he wanted to make up for lost time. He made it into the city and located the caravan in a little less than an hour. Yuuri was sore. The constant jostling had caused pain to shoot up his leg with every step. Pain was exhausting. He wanted to rest even though he'd just begun the day. The sky was bright by the time he had reached where the caravan was settled. It wasn't open yet, so he'd have to be patient. He sat down on a nearby crate and took the time to rest his legs.

Georgi had not always been the cruel alpha he was now. The gods had made a mistake and made him an alpha, and not an omega. He used to be quite a pleasant person to be around with the charming, quiet air of an omega, but the charisma of an alpha. Now he was bitter and hostile, but more than that, Yuuri knew a wounded animal when he saw one, and Georgi was definitely wounded. Back when Yuuri had been just twelve winters and Georgi eighteen, he'd been a hopeless romantic. Almost as soon as Georgi had come into the house, he and Yuuri had become each other's favorites out of everyone. They had talked about the prince that Yuuri was sure he would meet one day, and Georgi talked about his desire for Yuuri's father to be his prince. They'd told each other stories to keep the loneliness away, and kept each other's company often. Yuuri's father as often out of the country on business, leaving his family behind.

Georgi desperately wanted Yuuri's father to return his affection. But he was still in love with the one that gave his son life, and he loved Yuuri more than anyone else. Yuuri knew immediately when Georgi realized that his father couldn't love him. He'd gone through a moon cycle. Mated couples didn't go through moon cycles. Of course, no one but Yuuri was paying enough attention to Georgi to know what was going on. He went through stages. Depressed turned into sad acceptance, and sad acceptance turned to anger and hatred, and that morphed into self-pity and bitterness. The Georgi that Yuuri knew no longer existed. They didn't talk or tell stories or stay up late reading books together in the library. That age was over, and a new one, a dark one had begun.

Yuuri was snapped out of his thoughts when the caravan began to bustle. The window opened on the wagons, and people came out of them to set up their shops for the day. He queried a lady selling fabrics on where he might locate the coffee vendor, and followed her simple directions to find it. Each bag was two gold pieces. The price was high, and Yuuri was hesitant to spend all the money in the coin purse on coffee. In the end, the bad only ended up having enough for five bags of it, which was extravagant enough. But he still had to barter to see if he could get more for what he had or else Georgi would go off the walls.

Six bags is better than five, I suppose, Yuuri decided after having haggled with the vendor for a good twenty minutes. Now how should I get this volume of coffee back?

He hadn't expected so much. A yell had his head jerking up from where Yuuri was studying the bags. A carriage was out of control! It came flying through the market, crashing through stalls and causing costumers and shopkeepers alike to scatter and do their best to avoid being run over. Yuuri watched in horror as an elderly man ten feet to his left attempted to get out of the way. Dropping his staff, he used all the power he had in his legs to laugh himself from where he stood. He shoved the man out of the way just in time. They began to fall, but Yuuri was clipped by the wagon and was sent flying. He hit the dirt. All the air rushed out of him with the impact that caused him to roll over twice before he stilled, laying half on his side, have on his back.

Yuuri couldn't tell what hurt more, to be honest. His legs, his ribs, or his head. But then again, the rest of him felt horrible too so who really knew? The man who he had just shoved appeared in his line of vision. Interestingly enough, so did Phichit and Yuuko. Was he hallucinating?

"Yuuri! Are you okay?" Phichit sounded frantic even through Yuuri's ringing ears.

He tried to sit up but couldn't seem to move. "I'm well," Yuuri assured them, lying outright. He was definitely dying. "Sir, are you okay?" He wanted to be sure.

"Why are you asking me that?" He grumbled. "You're not well at all!"

"He's right Yuuri," Phichit agreed.

"You need to have Phichit's dad take a look at you!" Yuuko held her fisted hands in front of her, looking worried.

Yuuri shook his head. He didn't have the money for that sort of thing and wasn't about to impose on their kindness any more than he already had over the years.

Thankfully the old man spoke up so Yuuri didn't have to. "There's no need for that, I think." He rumbled.

Yuuri nodded, shooting the man a grateful look and trying to sit up. "You see, I'm well--"

"He'll just have to take this healing potion instead." He cut Yuuri off and suddenly brought the lip of the slim bottle to the young man's lips.

Yuuri was so surprised he didn't even have time to object before the liquid was pouring down his throat. He gasped after he swallowed the mouthful, wide-eyed. "Sir, you're too hasty, how can I possibly repay for such a gift?" He breathed out, trying not to hyperventilate.

Potions were rare. Potions that worked, even rarer. Magic was not accessible to just anyone. Not even royals inherently had the ability to harness the powers of the earth. The individuals were far an few between. Yuuri's father, who had traveled all over the world in search of one had never even met one. Which meant that the potion that he had just consumed was priceless.

"Don't be silly, boy!" He growled. "You saved my life, a life is as priceless as a potion is." Yuuri could feel his body beginning to mend. He felt the pull of sleep wash over him. The man was still talking. "Don't worry, boy, sleep is normal. When you wake up in a few hours, you'll be healed."

A few hours? The healing potion will have been wasted if I'm not back to deliver Georgi his coffee!

But it was no use. Yuuri was lost to the world.

Chapter Text

Yuuri came to his senses slowly. If he'd been lucid at the time of his waking, he would have expected himself to go hurling up from the resting position he currently resided in with shock. As it was, his eyes opened first and his consciousness slowly gathered itself into wakefulness. His body jerked as he gazed into the unfamiliar grey-green eyes of the elderly man he immediately recognized as the man he'd pushed out of the way in the market.

"There, there, easy, boy, I won't hurt you," He soothed.

Yuuri calmed, settling back down on the bags of coffee, comforted now that he was aware of his surroundings. Phichit's cart was gently jostling down the familiar road headed towards Georgi's manor. "What time is it?" He croaked.

"Half past eight," Guang Hong's familiar voice informed me from where he must have been steering the cart.

"You've only been asleep for three quarts of an hour," Yuuko murmured worriedly from my side, gently clasping my hand. She was more worried than she should be. "Are you sure he should be awake by now, Nikolai?"

Her question was directed towards the man I now knew as 'Nikolai', and he shook his head. "It's hard to know for sure, potions are so rare, but you really should get more sleep."

Yuuri shook his heads, recognizing his surroundings. "I'd rather keep the effects of the potion longer than an hour," He winced, thinking of what Georgi would do.

Nikolai frowned, not understanding but wondering if he might have an idea of what could be going on, but the rest of Yuuri's companions who knew him said nothing about the statement, so he didn't feel as though he could push. He winced as he shifted next to Yuuri, who sat up in alarm.

"Sir, are you well?" His tone was so honest and urgent.

Nikolai nodded. "Ah! I have a bad back, is all," He chuckled.

Yuuri cast his eyes downwards, the very picture of guilt. "You should have taken the medicine yourself!" He gently chastised.

Nikolai shook his head. It had not been meant to be. "No my boy, the potion was for you all along, I think." He smiled gently.

Yuuri gifted him with a sweet smile. "Thank you very much, sir!" He said, getting on his knees and bowing down in front of the older man.

"You are a foreigner then? From Kroniss?" Nikolai smiled, pleasantly surprised.

Yuuri sat up and the grin that stretched across his face was blinding in that moment. "Yes! I grew up there with my father and he taught me many things about life."

His voice was so excited, so sure, so different than the hesitant man who had not known what to make of Nikolai upon waking up. The boy's eyes were almost entirely black, but now they were it up to a warm amber brown. He had never seen such an extreme change in someone's eyes before. Nikolai called upon years of experience to hide the surprise. He could sense a deep darkness what was tangled around the boy's soul, smothering him, owning him. Yet Yuuri did not smell like he belonged to anyone. On the contrary, he smelled… stray.

"Why did you leave?" Nikolai queried.

Yuuri's irises faded back to the inky black they'd been before. "My father passed on, and my step-father and his brothers wished to return to the country they'd grown up in. As I was still a child at the time, I was taken with them."

"Around back, Yuuri?" Phichit broke into the conversation.

"Backdoor, driver!" Yuuri waved his hand theatrically.

"Right away, sir." Phichit snickered. "We'll take care of Nelly for you, you go rest." Phichit lowered the back of the wagon so that Guang Hong could hop in and unload the ungodly amount of coffee beans. Phichit and Yuuko unhitched the horses that had been pulling and led them towards the watering trough before Yuuko bounced back for Nelly, the small animal that Yuuri had apparently been attempting to ride.

Nikolai was surprised when he got a good look at the house. It was the house of a lord, not a commoner as Yuuri's clothing and apparent errand boy status would suggest. He was starting to get the bigger picture; if his extra sense was correct, and it was never wrong.

"Who's your step-father boy?" Nikolai wondered.

"Georgi Popovich," Yuuri smiled politely. "His brothers, Emil and Jean Jaque live here as well."

Prying anymore would be rude, so Nikolai let the subject go. He supported his small savior as he stood upright. The boy blinked in surprise and commented to Yuuko that his leg was healed with a beam. Nikolai knew that the boy's legs hadn't been hit by the carriage. That left very few conclusions as far as he was concerned. Nikolai was led through the servants' door and into the house kitchen. It was not bustling with servants or large enough to hold more than four working employees. The house had probably been renovated when the family who owned it had their station raised. Nikolai cringed as his back locked up. Yuuri tensed and turned, concern in his face. He was obviously an omega. He sensed others' pain and emotions too easily to be anything else, even though he didn't smell like he'd fully presented yet.

"My room is up some stairs," Yuuri frowned, "So I'll go ask Georgi if I can borrow a guest room for you to lay down in for a bit."

'Some' stairs, not 'the' stairs, Nikolai thought. But the only other building on the property was a barn… sadness weighed heavily on the old beta's heart. He truly is a stray.

Yuuri turned to head further into the main part of the house, but Nikolai caught hold of the boy's hand and gently wiggled it. "Why are youngsters in such a hurry?" Nikolas asked, shaking his head. "Sit and stay a while." He fetched himself a chair from the small wooden table in the centre of the room and motioned Yuuri to do the same. Yuuri sat down on the rickety wooden chair and smiled at the older man. "You're name is Yuuri, correct?"

"Yes, sir. Yuuri Katsuki," He affirmed.

"Then you share a name with the second prince," Nikolai told him.

Yuuri blinked, obviously surprised by this. "Do I really?"

The child doesn't leave this manor much. He realized. The boy had been here for years and had yet to know much of what was going on outside his small environment. "You do indeed!" Nikolai was familiar with the protective feeling that was currently experiencing. It was the same feeling he felt when he worried about his sons. "What do you think of the princes?"

Yuuri cocked his head, inky black hair swaying gently with the movement. "I don't quite understand sir, I've never met them."

"You've heard of the future king, right? Give an old man something to think on. What does our youth think about the next monarch?"

"Prince Viktor, right?" The young man tugged on the end of his shirt, nervous that perhaps he had gotten the name wrong. But when Nikolai didn't correct him, Yuuri continued. "I don't know much about him, to be honest. I've only heard what people say about him, but if the way things work in this house is any indication, the more times words change mouths, the less like the original words they become." He struggled to put it into words.

Nikolai reached up and rubbed his bread and chin, nodding. "You're a wise man for how young you are," He patted Yuuri's head, wincing a little. Raising his arms was painful after the fall.

Yuuri gasped and leapt up from his perch. "I'll go ask Georgi about the spare room! I'll be right back!" And he swept from the room, all thoughts of slowing down apparently vanishing from his head.

Yuuri raced up the stairs, reveling in the freedom to do so now that his leg was healed. His omega whined in his mind when he thought about going back into Georgi's presence, but Nikolai was hurting and Yuuri needed a key to a bedroom on the first floor. He knocked on the large wooden double doors.

"Come in, Yuuri." Georgi's voice sounded dark and hallow.

Yuuri gulped. He hoped six bags of coffee would be enough to pacify him. He was in a mood. "I purchased the coffee you requested," Yuuri bowed his head.

"Hmm. Bring a cup up to me." He waved his hand dismissively.

"Yes, sir. One other thing, may I please borrow a key to a downstairs bedroom?"

Georgi narrowed his eyes. "What for? Are you ungrateful for your private accommodations?"

"No!" Yes. "There was an elderly man who was injured in the marketplace. I tackled him to save him from being hit by a rogue horse and wagon. I was hurt in the process, but he gave me his healing potion, so I feel indebted to him."

"You harmed a man in the market?" His voice was menacing.

Yuuri blinked, not expected the question. "Yes, but I-"

"You drank his healing potion? Do you have even a remote clue as to how rare and valuable those are?" His eyes darkened dangerously.

"Well, I didn't mean to, I-"

"And you've indebted our family to a lowly commoner!?" He bellowed. "Was he an alpha that you were so bewitched by him that you would lose your senses?"

"I believe he's a beta-"

"A beta? You risked our family reputation for a mere beta?" He snapped. "And now you want me to compensate for your misdeeds by allowing you to house a lowly common beta in my house?"

"Georgi, please!" Yuuri cried, not quite sure how he'd ended up in this situation.

"What a waste of a potion. Get out of my sight."

Pain shot through Yuuri's body as Georgi stared at him. The Dark Magic! Yuuri inwardly cried. The unwanted bond felt like it would tear him apart from the inside out.

"Didn't you hear, me, Yuuri, go now. Get you're work done!" He taunted, not releasing the young man from his will.

White hot fire sizzled through Yuuri's mind. He tried to open his mouth to scream but nothing came out. It was too much. The walls were closing in. All he could see was Georgi's cruelty mapped out across his features. A loud ringing filled my ears. It was starting to sound like screaming. Like his Omega. Just as white spots appeared around his vision, Georgi's presence in his mind suddenly retreated. Yuuri fell to the ground.

"Do not think to enter my presence until I call you. Your selfishness displeases me. How dare you ask anything of me at all. It's not you're right, ungrateful child." He was muttering under his breath.

Yuuri truly didn't care what he was saying at that moment, though. All he cared about was never provoking Georgi again. He had to crawl out of the room because standing took too much effort and he thought he might fall if he did. He leaned against the wall and breathed in deeply.

Death would be preferable to this life. Yuuri decided. I'll need to have that conversation with Phichit and Yuuko sooner rather than later...

Chapter Text

The fall morning was overcast. There was a chill in the air the swept through the glade with the breeze, causing a shiver to run through Viktor's body. He stared out at the pond and wondered when it would finally be cold enough that it would freeze over. He had dreams of dancing across the ice every night now. The anticipation resided somewhere between his heart and throat. His breathing sped up as he turns and moved with the wind. His soul may long to dance on the ice, but since that wasn't an option, the silver-haired prince settled for solid ground instead. In his mind, he was on the ice, his head filled with the music he knew he would dance to. Something soulful, and exciting. Something surprising and interesting. The fundamental dance used to train ice performers was a hard one to master, but Viktor had dedicated himself to it in his younger years. The leaps and turns were graceful and precise. His hair whipped around him as he performed the last combination of turns before he ended in a graceful pose, the music in his mind slowly fading away until there was nothing but the sounds of nature around him, and then suddenly, the sound of applause. He turned in the direction of his impromptu audience to see his friend Christophe Giacometti lounging there, green eyes twinkling with mirth. 

"Well that was sexy," He told Viktor in his heavily accented voice.

Viktor laughed and approached. "And exactly how long have you been here?"

"Oh, only since the beginning. You looked like you were about to cry so I sat down to watch."

Viktor shook his head and marveled for the perhaps the millionth time how Christophe could make everything he said sound like a sexual invitation. "Is crying sexy?" He raised a brow and stretched his arms above his head to relieve the cramps in his midsection. He hadn't danced in a while. His training with the sword had taken precedence in the past years.

"No! Passion is sexy. You were dancing there as though you had so much feeling inside of you that you would fly apart!" He clutches at his heart dramatically, looking out into the distance before a carefree smile flitted across his face again and he shrugged. "Oh, by the way, it seems your father has escaped again."

"Again?" Viktor was incredulous. "We had so many guards supervising him! How is that possible?"

"I don't know," Christoph responded disparagingly. "All they know is that he must have snuck out when that caravan from the south left castle grounds this morning."

"Are they certain it wasn't a kidnapping?" Viktor frowned, thinking about it.

Christoph grinned wickedly. "He left a note." At Viktor's expecting look, he continued. "Something along the lines of 'Try not to fuck things up while I'm gone'."

Viktor let out a rude snort, sitting down on the ground next to Christophe. "Sounds like my father all right. Do they know how long he's been gone?"

Christophe tilted his head back and forth, considering. "I happened to notice the caravan leaving roughly an hour ago." His eyes took on a mischievous gleam. "Oh, and by the way, Yuri is looking for you. He's been running around the castle like a cat running from a bath."

Viktor smiled at the images, letting out a little giggle. "Oh? And what does he want?"

"He wants you to go find your father, probably." Christophe looked at the hapless man, carelessly sprawled out on the cold ground. The Prince was an amusing person to have around.

"But why?" The silver-haired royal whined, stretching as though he was a cat himself. "It's not like the King isn't coming back."

"Viktor, did you forget what today is?" Chris purred.

Viktor frowned. "The second of the week?"

Christophe snickered and opened his mouth again to speak but was abruptly cut off when Viktor's name was screamed across the glade. "VIKTOR!" 

"Oh, it looks like he's finally found you," Chris smiled lazily, sitting back to watch the show from a proper distance to save his eardrums. The Second Prince was just as loud as the First was clueless.

"Well hello, Yuri!" Viktor waved cheerfully to the younger boy.

"Viktor you asshole!" The blonde hair adolescent stalked over, pointing an accusing finger. "You were late for receiving your guest! I had to receive her for you, and you may have started a diplomatic emergency with her country! Now she's, pissed off, but no one has the right to be more pissed off than me!" He huffed, breathing hard with seething anger.

"We have a visitor? Who?" Viktor smiled brightly.

"She was supposed to be a bridal candidate for you, you bastard!" He yelled.

"Oh," the First Prince put a finger to his chin innocently. "Was that today?"

"It is." Yuri fumed menacingly. "And now I have to clean up your mess. How are you supposed to remember to rule a fucking kingdom when you can't even remember to receive a fucking suitor?" He growled. 

Christoph smiled, delighted with the conversation. "Perhaps if you wish him to remember something you should make it worth remembering! Ooo! Try a man next time, I'd love to be in on that action."

"Viktor, what the hell are you doing here?" Yuri growled.

Viktor only just then noticed that royal retainer Otabek was faithfully standing at a respectful distance, fully alert.

"He just came down here to clear his head!" Christophe exclaimed, and then started petting Viktor's face playfully. "He's been working so hard." He purred.

Viktor refrained from rolling his eyes. One hundred percent, he would guess that the only reason Chris acting his forward when Yuri was around was because Viktor's younger brother's reactions were so much fun. "I have, haven't I?" He replied pleasantly, instead.

"I don't care if he came down here to wipe his ass!" The blonde snarled and pointed back up to the castle. "Go make it right, dipshit, I can't do everything for you!" And with that, he stomped away. Otabek trailing after once he had bowed respectfully to Viktor and Chris. 

Viktor stared at Yuri's long blond hair, bouncing and swaying about his back and shoulders. "Wow," he said after a moment of watching the mesmerizing shifts of colour. "Did he cut his hair?"

"Ja, he had it trimmed last night," Christ grinned. "You better go apologize to that girl."

Viktor purposefully misunderstood his friend. "Yeah, I wouldn't want her staying any longer and absolutely necessary." He agreed.

Chris shook his head. "Ja… Viktor? I don't think that's what Yuri meant."

Viktor shrugged, not really caring.

The woman was a beta princess from an allied kingdom to the west. Much, much, much too young to even consider. She must have been fourteen or fifteen years old. But why was she crying? Viktor apologized for the inconvenience of her travel but firmly stated that he was not taking any potential suitors currently. He even offered her the most comfortable of ways to travel home. So why was the girl crying? Did she not like traveling via the southern sea?

"Is there something wrong with me?" She sobbed, wiping at her tears.

Viktor's eyebrows lowered in confusion. "You are not well? Shall I call for a doctor?" Or better yet, send a doctor with her on her journey. The faster she was out of his hair, the better.

She angrily looked up from her hands to glare at him with angry eyes. "I hate you!" She shouted before slamming the parlor door right in his face, leaving him in the hallway with Christoph.

Viktor stared at the door for a moment in surprise but then smiled. "Now that that's taken care of, it's back to business as usual!" I said cheerfully, but truthfully feeling very tired. My alpha wanted a mate. Not the beta princess. But his true mate. He wanted his soulmate. But as the years passed by, it seemed less and less likely that it would ever happen.

"Wow, yikes, you are really bad at this," Chris laughed, having a jolly good time watching Viktor and his adventures.

The poor man, he thought. He is so clueless about people sometimes. 

"You're right, I should call for a doctor anyways." Viktor frowned.

"This is why I keep you around, Viktor." He grinned at the First Prince.

Viktor's eyebrows pulled together in a frown. "I think you have that the wrong way around. Who is in whose house right now?" He arched a brow. But Christophe didn't have a chance to answer because Viktor was clapping his hands together with excitement. "Oh look, it's Uncle Yakov!" They met in the middle, Viktor and Christophe falling into step with Yakov and his attendants. 

"Have you apologized to your guest, Viktor?" Yakov grumbled up at the fool.

"Of course! She should be headed home any minute now," Viktor nodded.

Yakov's eyes bugged out of his head. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out and he felt like he was about to choke. His whole body twitched.

"Yakov?" Viktor sounded worried. "Are you okay? Do you need a doctor?"

Yakov sputtered with indignance and was honestly flabbergasted. How did he even begin to explain to Viktor how he must learn to handle potential suitors?! Viktor patter his back. Yakov was so furious that he couldn't stand it. He snarled and then stomped down the hall angrily.

Viktor hummed thoughtfully, a finger to his chin. "Does he remind you of anyone?"

"Like a blonde sulky adolescent?" Christophe offered, and his companion nodded thoughtfully. "Nope!" Christoph grinned.

"Hmmm. Well in any case," Viktor murmured, turning gracefully to head back towards the staircase which led to the ground level and ultimately outside. "I should head out to find the king, I suppose."

"Probably a good idea," Chris agreed, thinking that he was a very patient individual. "Why not just have your contingency of guards do it for you?"

"How will I ever meet my soulmate if I stay in the castle all the time?"

Viktor left his visiting friend at the palace while he, Otabek, and Seung-Gil accompanied him. They rode out of the large, boldly coloured gates at a gallop. Viktor didn't take the road to town. He headed west instead. Yuri was already out searching for their father. It was lucky Viktor had managed to find Otabek before he'd gone with the boy. There were more important things to attend to. The forested hills flew by them as they made their way through the countryside. Seung-Gil had received a tip from his sources about an illegal omega auction taking place in an abandoned manor ten miles west of the capital. A bold choice considering it was so close to home. They approached the dark building. It cast long shadows in front of it and blocked out more of the sun the close they got after having dismounted. A soldier was to take care of the horses for the three while they did what needed to be done. Viktor's companions flanked him as he knocked on the door, all three wrapped in the same dark cloaks to mask their identities. The door opened.

"What's your business here?" The man asked, looking out of place in the home which was once elegant with his toughened leather hides.

"It looks like rain, do you mind if we stop for a bit?" Viktor looked around.

It really did look as though it was going to rain. It would be troublesome if they weren't quick. The comment was the reply to the code. The man hadn't actually wanted to know what Viktor was doing there, only wanted to be part of the auction. And those were the magic words to make it happen. That and his attendants and he dressed in rich fabrics ensured their entry. We were taken up the rickety stairs and into a bedroom with covered furniture. The man informed them that the 'showing' would start within thirty minutes before he left. The sofa faced the large fireplace, and the group settled down until they were sure they had been left alone.

"Sir, once again, I must advise against this," Seung-Gil repeated for the third time in his usual apathetic voice. Usually, Viktor was addressed as 'your highness' but in this situation, he was grateful that Seung-Gil had enough tact to recognize that protocol was to be thrown out the window.

"Thank you, I'll put your advice in the 'advice from Seung-Gil' box. Ah!" Viktor put a finger to his chin thoughtfully. "It is surprisingly like the rest of your advice."

There was a servants' door in the bedroom. I suspected that the omegas would be led to enter the room from that door. The room once looked to be lavish and charming but had decayed and fallen apart. Fine dust partials sifted lightly through the air, visible in the slashes of light that cut through the tall shapely windows to the right of the couch. Green ivy and moss hung from the tree branch which had grown through one of the windows and had begun to climb up the ivory walls. It was an ethereal place. Viktor wondered about the original owners but didn't have time to spare.

He motioned them to stand with him and approach the door. All three reached into the backs of their vests and retrieved their swords. They had laid them against their spines to keep them concealed under the cloaks. This tactic was both good and bad news. It was good news because you could carry a sword unnoticed when you had occasion to do so. The bad news was that the only swords that would stay concealed in this manner were either very short swords or large hunting knives. They'd opted for the swords this trip. Good to mix it up a bit from time to time after all. After securing the scabbards to their belts, they approached the door. Taking a deep breath, Viktor pressed open the latch, and the door swung open, creaking from disuse.

It was dark on the other side. A face turned to look at them. The alpha male obviously didn't take very good care of himself. It was sad. But Viktor had no sympathy for anyone who would aid in the treatment these people received. The male opened his mouth to issue a warning, but Otabek silenced him with his sword pressed up against his throat, not enough to kill, but enough to warn. Viktor stepped over the threshold after him, and Seung-Gil followed fell into step after the prince. Old rotting wood that had fallen off the walls revealed crumbling rock and did nothing to keep the hallway from feeling anything but dank and narrow.

"Where are the omegas?" Viktor whispered gently, blue glowing with menace beneath the cowl.

Otabek drew blood when the man tried to snarl. "They're in the basement!" He choked out with a pained grunt.

Otabek finished him off cleanly. None of us spared a second glance. They had no pity on men who though to abuse their power as alphas by using and selling omegas as if they were things and not living, breathing beings. They encountered three other guards on their way down the servants' staircase and two others when they got to the bottom of it. There wasn't a sound. There wasn't a plea. It was swift, clean, silent justice. It was done quickly and more humanely than Viktor would have liked. The alpha inside of him wanted to make them suffer for what they'd done to those poor people and had likely been doing for years. But the men and women held in the basement were more important than his alpha's needs at the moment. Entering the basement area, Otabek and Seung-Gil cut down the two alpha's manning that level as well and lowered them to the ground noiselessly. A cry of fright drew Viktor's attention. He turned to see several women huddled together in the corner. There were five of them. Five, helpless little ones who were barely leaving childhood, about to be sold.

No, he corrected himself mentally. They're about to be rescued. 

Pulling his hood off from his recognizable silver hair, he put a finger to his lips and smiled. They gasped in surprise but covered their mouths. The scent of fear lessened in the room. It wasn't as suffocating. Viktor could breathe normally. He slowly crossed the room to them, smiling in a way he hoped was reassuring, but stopped a respectful distance from them.

"We're here to help you, ladies." He whispered to them.

Their eyes shone with hope as they turned their bodies more fully towards the alpha in their presence, inching forwards, sensing and hoping that Viktor was a safe alpha.

"I need you to listen very carefully, and stay very quiet," Viktor hushed them gently as small whimpers escaped them. He knew their instincts had to be screaming at them to run against him and seek comfort from his scent, but they nodded instantly, quieting as much as they possibly could.

"You're going to follow me, and Seung-Gil-" I beckoned to him, "is going to protect us. If you get separated from me, follow him. Do you understand?"

They nodded again, standing slowly and trembling legs. They were malnourished. Viktor wanted to close his eyes when he thought about how long they must have been suffering. He would do his best to remedy that now. He knew where to take them.

"Are any of you too injured to walk?" Otabek asked in his calming, rumbling way which only made them relax further in his company.

They shook their heads. Anyone could see the cuts and abrasions all over their bodies, but they could still walk, which is what they would need to do if they wanted to make it out alive.

"Good," Viktor smiled. "Let's go."

Once they'd climbed the stairs to the first floor, they could tell by the frantic yelling and pounding footsteps above them that their presence was known. Viktor was not worried about it. He wasn't a simpleton. He'd arranged for back up to arrive twenty minutes after they did and arrest all those that still lived. The omegas whispered and cried out as a large man barreled through the small corridor. Otabek raised his sword and Viktor gently hurdled the women away from the coming brawl. While he handled those two pesky men, Viktor and Seung-Gil lead the women into a room. Viktor was grateful the window was already broken enough for them all to climb through; it saved time. Taking initiative, Seung-Gil jumped through the window first. The ground was solid outside and two feet below the floor to ceiling window he'd just went through.

"Out you go, ladies!" Viktor motioned them all, keeping his tone light and cheery.

The sounds of the fight were getting closer as he gently urged the traumatize women through the opening. Otabek was struggling under the weight of the attacks of three men now and by the sound of it, more were on the way. Viktor turned back to aid his friend, splitting Otabek's opponents between them. Otabek had several deep cuts that were bleeding heavily by the time their foes were finished.

"Prince Yuri won't like this," He rumbled, frowning at his cuts with a serious face as Viktor climbed through the window.

Once they'd climbed out the window, Otabek was surrounded by worried omega women who couldn't fight their instincts to nurture with how traumatized they were. They lightly flitted their hands over his injuries, gasping, and soothing.

"He won't like any of this." He repeated as two of the women rubbed their scent against him. He grabbed their hands nonetheless and tugged them after him.

All five of the women followed Otabek while Viktor guarded them from the rear and Seung-Gil took care of the two males that had attempted to follow them through the window. Viktor mounted his steed while the women were placed in a cart that reinforcements had brought per Viktor's orders. Seung-Gil stayed behind to deal with the criminals, but Otabek, ever vigilant accompanied the First Prince along with about twenty men in case of ambush. Everyone was exhausted an hour and a half later when they had arrived at Dr. Chulanont's estate. He stepped out of the house, having been expecting them.

"I see you have brought me some lovely ladies to meet," The beta smiled warmly. "What a wonderful surprise!" He smiled and offered a steadying hand down to the closest woman in the carriage. "How do you do, lady?" He asked respectfully.

The woman was hesitant, nervous to exit the safety of the cart where her saviors had placed her. She glanced over at the man she knew to be the First Prince, and then to his retainer. The Prince smiled encouragingly while the dark haired man simply nodded. So she slowly stretched out her hand, heart pounding.

Dr. Chulanont gave a hand to each of the women and guided them towards a group of omegas, mostly female, like them. They would help each other acclimate and heal. Soon the five women were swarmed by the others, tearful embracing and gentle petting. The sounds died down as they disappeared into the house which always looked to Viktor as though it was brimming with warmth. 

"I would love to visit the others, doctor, but it's not the right time for that. I shall visit again soon." Viktor smiled at the man, knowing that he would want to offer them respite, but also knowing that with the new addition to this sanctuary, he would need to get his house in order.

"Please do, my Prince. You are always welcome here at any hour so there's no need to hesitate if the mood strikes!" The Doctor replied heartily.

Viktor smiled, liking the boisterous man with kind eyes. Otabek simply bowed respectfully, then reminded Viktor about checking in with Prince Yuri about the King.

The doctor laughed. "Got out again, has he? Well, that's good. Very good. Keeps his spirits high! It's been a pleasure, your majesty." He bowed before he turned to hurry into the house.

Viktor sighed, shoulders slumping. That had been exhausting. Otabek set a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "They will be well taken care of," he promised.

Viktor nodded. "Yes, they will. I wish that I could rescue all omegas from bad situations. I know it's impossible," he sighed, running a hand through his hair as he slowly climbed into the cart. "Yet I cannot help but feel guilty living in luxury while people are treated like that every day. There has to be something more that I'm not doing," He mumbled, resting his head on his hands. "I just can't stop thinking that somewhere, my soulmate could be suffering the same fate because I'm not doing enough as the First Monarch of Regalia to stop it! It eats at me…"

Otabek said nothing because really, there was nothing anyone could say to that.

Nothing at all.

Chapter Text

Yuuri's father tells him a bedtime story...

Chapter Text

Yuuko found Yuuri in the kitchen chopping vegetables quietly with an oddly vacant expression on his face. Their weary guest was passed out in a rickety rocking chair next to the blazing fire. The knife glinted brightly in the firelight, drawing her attention to Yuuri's trembling hands. She rounded the detached counter to him and gently pried the clever form his cold fingers.

"You'll lose a finger," She said quietly. "Go sit on that stool."

Yuuko had sensed something wrong with her friend for a while now. She didn't want to recall the painful memories lurking in the back of her mind, but looking at him, at the face he was making, summoned them to the forefront of her thoughts. Yuuri, broken, bruised, and bloodied… He'd looked as though his body would literally just fall apart in pieces when she'd found him in the orchard on the manor's property. He had the same vacant look in his eyes then as he did now. Like Yuuri wasn't there at all. Even as ill-informed as Yuuko was, she'd been able to mark that incident as the day when Yuuri… changed.

"Yuuko?" Yuuri sounded uncertain, his voice cracking as though he was just waking up.

Something was seriously wrong. "How are you feeling, Yuuri?"

"I'm… fine, just tired. Why are you preparing the meal?" Yuuri still sounded confused, but Yuuko could hear the mounting panic in his voice. "I should be doing that. If Georgi saw this, he'd-"

"Hurt you?" Phichit broke into the conversation, his usually warm dancing eyes looking solemn as he peered at Yuuri.

"It's my job," Yuuri whispered. This was the time. This was the time to ask them. He hoped they would grant his wish.

"Yuuri, is there something going on?" Yuuko prompted.

Choking out a laugh, he replied, "Is it that obvious?"

They bother nodded, but Yuuko was the one who spoke. "We both know that he has some sort of hold on you. Phichit can sense it. And I can see the effects it has on you." 

Phichit shivered, as though he could feel the dark tendrils of the ritual's bond around his own heart, even though Yuuri knew that no one would ever be able to feel the darkness in full, just a small fraction. "It's not healthy, Yuuri. It's… cold and dark, all over. I don't like it!" Phichit flared irritably. The outburst was so out of character for the cheerful boy.

The ritual bond is having a negative effect on my friends. Yuuri's heart sank. How could he ask anything of them when he already owed them so much? He lowered his head in shame. "I'm sorry," He whispered brokenly, trying to hold the sobs inside of him, trying to keep his body absolutely tense so he wouldn't shake.

"Don't apologize!" Phichit suddenly flung himself into Yuuri, wrapping his arms around him. "I'm sorry for snapping. I just… I hate to feel you hurting so much. I wish there was something that we could do to help you,"

Yuuri jerked slightly. There was something they could do. He was just afraid of asking for it. He had to be strong. He couldn't wait around for a prince to come save him. This was real life, and it would be what he made of it, and no more.

"There is something, then?" Yuuko bent down and squeezed of Yuuri's clenched hands that was pressing into his thigh.

Yuuri swallowed hard. "I'm afraid to ask it of you," He confessed.

"Whatever it is, we'll do it!" Phichit offered one of his easygoing smiles with only a hint of worry behind his brown gaze. Yuuko made a sound of agreement.

He had to be brave. These were his friends. He just needed to say it. "Phichit, you said you feel the ritu- the bond, right?" The boy nodded an affirmative, so Yuuri continued. "Then… can you feel it leeching the life out of me?"

The air that the question hung suspended in was heavy for a few beats. Then there were two sharp intakes of breath, faces drawn and appearing stricken.

That night! That night I found him in the orchard! "Yuuri, you're not- you can't be-"

"Dying?" He answered Yuuko's gasping demand, and smiled sadly, lowing his head. "Yes,"

"My father is a doctor! Let me take you to him! Let me get you out of this house!" Phichit cried, pulling Yuuri up and starting to pull him towards the door, Yuuko helping to heard Yuuri towards it as well, standing in solidarity with their best friend. "Screw laws regarding an omega's ownership! I should have gotten you out of here years ago! This is all my fault." He was rambling, a habit that made Yuuri smile with the familiarity of it.

He gently disengaged from his tugging friends. "I'm afraid that even distance won't sever this bond."

They froze. "Georgi can affect you even when you aren't near him?"

Yuuri's shoulders dropped, and he leaned heavily on them, wishing that he could just fall asleep and never wake up again. "Yes, trust me, I've tried to escape."

"We would have aided you!" Yuuko grasped his scrawny upper arms fiercely.

"I wanted to know if it would work. But whatever Georgi did to me that night… it's overwritten parts of me I'm afraid I won't ever get back."

"Tell us what we can do, Yuuri. How can we fix this?" Phichit looked determined, his one-tracked mind focused on supporting his best friend.

"I don't think even the king himself could fix this," Yuuri shook his head and murmured to himself. "I died the night Georgi performed the ritual on me."

"What ritual?" Yuuko snatched the words from the air that I hadn't meant her to hear.

"A ritual that is sucking my life force away. Sucking me away. I don't know how much of myself I've lost. But I know that the spell he had cast was a powerful one, but most of all, a hungry one. It will continue to devour me until there is nothing left." Yuuri's hands were suddenly pulling on his hair as if he could pull the curse out along with the strands if he could just pull hard enough. "I don't know what will be in my place when I'm all gone! I can already feel something else taking place inside of me. Another entity. Something… other." Thick tears dropped to the ground. Yuuri had lost the battle against his emotions. "I don't know what to do," He whispered.

"This entity, can you communicate with it?" Yuuko asked as she wiped his tears.

Yuuri shook his head. "I can tell it's there. I can feel it the same way you can feel the bond, Phichit. Only more. Like it will consume me if I focus on it." He shuddered hard, even though the fire was warm and his friends' body heat surrounded him until he was in a safe embrace between the two of them as they comforted him.

"What does it feel like?" Phichit wondered, and Yuuko smacked him upside the head. "Ow!"

"Don't make him dwell in it more than he has to!" She scolded. "I'm worried it will accelerate the process!"

"Void." Yuuri's voice resonated through the room, then he stepped away from them until he could see both with his feverish eyes. "You have to listen carefully. Whatever magic this is, it's dark. When I die, you have to burn the body or I think it might take it for itself." Their protests were fast, but Yuuri caught one of each of their hands and gripped them painfully. "Promise me." 

"Yuuri I don't think I can do that," Yuuko was crying now. "You say 'when' not 'if'. How can you be so sure?" She demanded.

"Yuuko," He tried to pull her back to him but she resisted.

"Maybe nothing will happen for now,"

"Yuuko." He tried again to capture her attention.

 "And we'll be able to figure out something before anything happens!"

"Yuuko!" He shook her shoulders. "A week, Yuuko, I have less than a week!" 

"So soon?" She rasped. "Why didn't you tell us earlier?"

"Because I know you guys. I know you would have risked your souls to save mine and I had to make sure that wouldn't happen." He rocked her back and forth.

"This isn't right, Yuuri. Georgi should be tried for what he's done to you." Phichit's words were laced with venom. "I won't accept this, Yuuri, I won't!" He stormed out of the kitchen and out towards his wagon.

"Yuuko, please, please promise me so I don't have to do it myself!" Yuuri begged her. 

Her eyes filled with fear. "Don't you dare take your life before it's taken from you." She growled low in her throat. In that moment, he would have been convinced she was an alpha, if not for her neutral smell. She tried to yank herself away to stalk after the other boy, but Yuuri managed to keep hold of one arm and haul her back.

"Promise?" He hissed. "Please!"

"Fine, Yuuri. But don't think we'll give up this easily. Don't you give up either or I swear to god I will kill myself just so that I can kill you all over again in the next life." She swore.

Yuuri released her arm and with it his bated breath. "Thank you,"

"I'm going to find a cure for you!" She whipped around. "Don't think I won't!"

She thrust her shoulders back and balled her fists as she stomped over to the wagon. Her eyes were determined and had a glow of fury that matched Phichit's eyes that were filled with hurt. If there was anybody who Yuuri might believe had the capability of finding a way to break the ritual, Yuuri believed it would be these two. He wondered if he really cared whether or not they found a way.

He jerked. Another part of me… it's gone now too, I guess. I'm sure I would have cared this morning if I lived or died… He shivered. What part of me will be the next to go?

Chapter Text

Nikolai had been semi-alert as Yuuri had spoken urgently to his friends in hushed voices. He wondered how much it was so that Lord Popovich and his brothers did not happen to overhear them. He watched Yuuri go about this work minutes later from the rocking chair he'd been situated in next to the fireplace. The boy's face showed every emotion he possessed. It ranged from apathy to fear and then to exhausted acceptance. Nikolai could see how hard he was trying. But he could also see the losing battle. He'd spoken of a ritual. What ritual? He'd never heard of a ritual that could so enslave an individual. And it was his job to be aware of such things. Rolling his shoulders, he stood and groaned. His back would be the end of him, he was sure of it! He stretched gently. 

"Oh, good morning, sir!" Yuuri smiled guilelessly. "You look a bit better."

"Please, Yuuri, call me Nikolai," He offered a smile - only slightly pained, back.

"Nikolai-san it is then," The boy chirped as he slid a salted stone slab into the fire oven. It was filled with colourful vegetables that would roast perfectly seasoned and crispy. "You're not leaving, are you? You can't possibly be well enough to walk the distance to the city."

"I'm well, truly." Nikolas insisted gruffly.

Yuuri wiped his hands on the worn apron he wore and took it off. "Well at least let me help you get to wherever you're going." The boy was determined, Nikolai had to give him that.

"If you would walk me to town, I would be most grateful."

He looked surprised that Nikolai had consented, but smiled and nodded. Are you up for the walk? If you aren't, I have a hand wagon…"

The older man imagined himself jostled up and down repeatedly on the road into town. It was not smooth. "I may have to rest somewhere along the way but I'd rather make the journey on foot."

Yuuri nodded and distracted them both with chatter until the greenery was roasted and the smell of oil and seasonings wafted up to their noses. He was glad he'd prepared enough for them to eat as well as Georgi and his brothers. He'd bet his last pair of shoes that Georgi would have an errand for him to run in town. As expected, he did. He presented his desire to have a new selection of nightmare at the midday meal. Yuuri was to buy at least ten options, and return whatever Georgi deemed unfit upon later inspection. The boy didn't complain as it was handy to have an excuse to go to town even if he'd be punished for being behind on his chores later.

"Do you live with family in the capital?" He asked the older man after they'd set out on the road together.

Nikolai was using Yuuri's walking staff since Yuuri was able to get around without it after the healing potion. It was however, useful to Nikolai since his back and knees were in bad shape after Yuuri had basically crashed into him.

The man snorted. "Unfortunately. I'm a very busy man, Yuuri, But even a busy man must get out and go places occasionally."

Yuuri understood the sentiment completely. "What kind of work do you do?"

Nikolai grinned. "Babysitting, mostly. I have a lot of children."

What a coincidence, Yuuri babysat Georgi and his brothers every day. "It's exhausting, isn't it?"

"It is!" Nikolai agreed vehemently. "And most of the time, no one even listens! You would think that a figure of authority such as myself would have some more respect, but no one listens to me because I am a beta,"

"And even if they depend on you more than anyone else to ensure that their world is kept well organized and running smoothly, they still treat you as beneath them!" Yuuri continued his companion's rant.

Yuuri clenched his fists as he thought about all the times he'd advised Georgi not to spend more money than he had to spare and how many times he'd had to work off a debt in Georgi's place. Or how many times he'd asked Emil not to wear his shoes on the manor's expansive rugs. Or telling Jean for the thousandth time not the throw his dirty laundry into the well! As much as it would seem to be a given, he'd always informed Yuuri of the similarity between the well and the stone wash basin. He confused the two.

"Exactly!" Nikolai slammed the staff into the ground. "A person's worth should not be defined by their secondary gender or lack thereof but by their actions!"

Yuuri's shoulder slumped and he sighed. "Unfortunately, the world isn't as altruistic as you." He wondered if Nikolai was an omega too, but used special soaps to conceal it. "Yuuri, I heard a bit of the conversation between you and your friends. Are you in trouble, lad?"

Yuuri's friendly smile froze. "I'm fine, sir," He lied.

Nikolai hummed as he scratched his white and grey heard. "I see," 

Yuuri was grateful for the sudden distraction of the city to end the conversation smoothly. He noticed that Nikolai retrieved a ratty hat out from a pocket he hadn't noticed and tugged it down low over his face. Yuuri looked up at the sun, feeling guilty.

I hope he isn't burned. Yuuri thought as they entered through the gates.

The capital was bustling with the usual crowd of colourfully clad residence, calling out to passersby to sell their wares, calling people into their shops, or enticing them with promises of delicious food. The vegetables he had shared with Nikolai weren't satisfying him anymore, and Yuuri's stomach made its displeasure known. Sighing, he tried to ignore it.

"Where to from here? He asked his companion.

"Here is fine, lad, thank you." He tried to hand Yuuri back his staff.

Yuuri waved his hands in front of him vigorously. "No, no, please keep it! I have no need of it any more thanks to you."

Nikolai studied him for a moment before nodded gruffly. "Thank you, Yuuri." Then the man balanced the staff in the crook of his arm and was holding onto Yuuri's hands and smiling warmly at him. "I won't forget you, my friend. I hope to see you again very soon."

Yuuri was surprised, unaccustomed the physically affectionate Regalian way, but accepting it as best he could. "I wish for that as well, Nikolai-san!"

"I wish you well, Yuuri," Nikolai waved as Yuuri departed.

Heaving out a sigh, he began to hobble in the general direction of his home - the castle. King Nikolai had originally set out in hopes of checking on the local residences' standard of living without the rose coloured glasses of a King. When the King appeared, everyone put their best faces forward. When Nikolai appeared, he got a much more neutral look at how things really were. He'd found something just as important. Foreign little Yuuri. He fascinated the older man as much as he amused him. Nikolai may not have had the nose of an alpha or the instincts of an omega, but he did have the instincts of an old man. Those instincts told him that there was more to Yuuri than what met the eye. Not something inherently different about the boy himself, more like something had happened to him. It was a ritual that Nikolai wasn't familiar with, and that made it dangerous. He didn't believe that Yuuri was dangerous per se, but he did believe that unchecked, he would be at some point. According to him, some point in the next week. His friend Yuuko had sworn she'd find a way to break whatever curse that was set upon him. There was only one play where she would go if she wanted to learn about magic: The Great Library.

Yuuri. A funny little enigma. Things at the castle had gotten boring at late. Yuuri was just the one to spice thing up. Nikolai had a strange urge to spoil him rotten. He didn't think too much about it. It would be done. The boy had smelled like a beta, but based on all that he knew, Nikolai could make the educated guess that he was actually an omega.

I wonder what Viktor will think of him? Bah. No matter. Viktor will marry him anyways. He decided with a wave of his hand.

"HEY OLD MAN!" The voice could belong to none other than his son, Yuri. The name was a bit harsh, but it was said with all the love and affection the slender boy had in him.

It was only then that Nikolai realized how long he'd been walking a little bit off course. He didn't have long to think about it because he was suddenly tackled into a bear hug by one hundred and ten pounds of blonde sixteen-year-old. His back snapped and popped. Nikolai bellowed, prompting Yuri to get off and apologize again and again. He helped the King into the ornate carriage he'd jumped out of and settled across from him on one of the plush red velvet seats.

"You'll never guess what your Idiot Son did," He rolled his eyes, crossing his legs.

Poor Viktor. Relegated to the 'Idiot Son' by his younger brother. "Oh gods. What did he do now?"

"He forgot he had a suitor arriving today. Again." He growled irritably, accent thick with his annoyance.

Suitor?! Nikolai had forgotten about that! "Oh no, is she still there?" That wouldn't do at all!

Yuri snorted. "Viktor sent her packing the moment he greeted her.

"Good, good," Nikolai rubbed his beard thoughtfully.

"Good?" Yuuri reared back in surprise. "How is that good that potential alliance is shit now."

"Yes, yes, very good." Nikolai smiled into his beard. A plan formed in his mind. Viktor would never see it coming. "Yuri do you know where the Great Library is?"

Yuri jerked, eyes wide. "I- I do, why?" He asked, on the defensive.

Nikolai hummed thoughtfully. "There's something I want you to do."

Chapter Text

"Damn that old man, always sending me on his errands. I'm not his fucking servant!" Yuri growled, smoothing his hands down his front in an attempt to unruffle his feathers in the reflection of the looking glass. "Beka and I had plans today!" He snarled vehemently. The sound died in his throat and his shoulder sagged, fists clenched. 

He knew the real reason why he was so frustrated. It wasn't because of the ugly ass painting his father had asked him to donate at the Great Library, or that Otabek and he wouldn't spend the afternoon together. Yuri didn't truly want to see the man right now. A burst of sudden anger built up inside him and he threw his fist into the wall next to the mirror. To his annoyance, the wallpaper-clad wall didn't budge.

Beka came home his morning smelling like omega women.

He cringed at the thought, resenting the hot tears that filled his eye. He bit down hard on his bottom lip, tasting blood.

"That idiot." He spoke softly, feeling strangely drained.

Otabek was his. The man belonged to him. Or at least, he should. Yuri felt that truth deep inside his soul. So why wasn't he flying through the castle with righteous rage? Why wasn't he tearing Otabek a new one? Why didn't he just go up to the man and sink his teeth into him?

"This is stupid." He squared his shoulders. "I'm not some weak omega. I can stand on my own two feet. I don't care if Otabek sleeps with other people." He told himself firmly as he strode towards the door. "It doesn't matter, anyways." 

Yuri was escorted by the guard stationed outside his door down to the lower level where the carriage waited outside the large double doors. He climbed inside of his and tapped the front wall to signal that he was ready to depart. The carriage began to roll swiftly through the castle grounds. He stared at the hideous painting on the seat across from him, placed there by a helpful servant. The colours mashed together in a disorienting sort of way. The colours should never have been paired with one another. It was almost as though the painting was meant to make the observer uncomfortable and in Yuri's case, annoyed. If that were the case, then the artist had achieved that goal. 

"But why donate it to the Art of Magic Wing of the library?" He leaned forwards, elbows on his knees, happy for a distraction from his earlier thoughts. He winced as he realized his right fist was bruised from when he had taken his anger out on the wall.

Since I have an excuse to go to that particular Wing, I'll have to borrow a few books on spell working when no one is around. He decided.

He purposefully avoided not only the Art of Magic Wing, but also the entire Great Library as a whole. He didn't want any suspicion resting on his shoulders of his true nature. The people might revolt if they knew he was capable of wielding magic. Combine that with his omega status, and he might be in over his head. Looking back to the painting he made a sound of disgust and turned it face down on the cloth it sat on so he didn't have to look at it anymore.

"Who would even want this?! Will they even accept trash like this?" He tsked, but suspected that if King Nikolai referred to a rotting banana peeling on a wooden box as art, people would be falling over themselves to accept it.

People are complete idiots. And so is Beka! He growled low in his throat and crossed his arms. Why wouldn't he meet my eyes? He didn't even try to make an excuse for himself!

The truth was that Otabek probably was trying to say without words that he wasn't interested in Yuri as a mate. Yuri knew that and that it was for the best considering who they both were, and what Yuri was. But he couldn't stop the territorial feelings that threatened to choke him whenever he so much as thought about Otabek being near any other than himself. It wasn't just omegas, either. He wasn't that biased. It was everyone. Yuri hadn't marked Otabek yet, and now would probably never get the chance. The carriage came to a stop, and the knock at the door signaled that the footman would be opening it. Wrapping the painting quickly, he exited the carriage as soon as the doors opened. The Great Library was a huge building with two large halls crossing each other so that each Wing pointed to one of the cardinal points on a compass. The North Wing was dedicated to the Art of Magic, so it's where he headed. The grand entrance was between the South and East Wing and opened into the centre of the compass. It was a cylindrically shaped room with a grand dome arching overhead. Golden delicate metal work adorned it in leafy rivulets what flowed like water down the white pillars. Golden foliage was also pounded into the dark wood of the floor to incorporate the theme. The floor itself was an ornate mosaic of different types of wood, pieced together in a complicated compass, directing the eye towards each Wing which were all guarded by unique sets of doors. The Art of Magic, the Study of Science, the Principles of Society, and the Laws of History each had Wings dedicated to their respective studies. It was quite a sight to see, and Yuri found himself momentarily lost in the splendor he had walked into.

"Your majesty, we are delighted to have you!" The librarian of the north wing bowed deeply, a sly smile on her face.

"I am delighted to be here, Sorceress Minako." Yuri rattled off, thinking he sounded as grouchy as he felt. "I have come to present the North Wing with a donation from King Nikolai." He - as per Nikolai's request - personally handed Minako the hideous canvas.

Unwrapping it, she gasped, that smiling slipping as he gazed upon the gift. The sound was not made in horror as Yuri might have expected but in awe. "We will treasure it always, my prince! Please send the King our warmest regards!"

"I'll do that," he nodded. "Where shall you hang it?" He inquired, more so that he would have an excuse to go into the hall than so he could know where they were going to put it. 

Although, he thought, it would be useful to know which part of the wall to avoid at all costs in the future.

"Oh!" She grinned, losing all propriety, grasping his hand and dragging him through there. "Come help me decide where to put it!"

"H-hey!" Yuri shouted, but allowed himself to run after Minako. His men in waiting followed closely behind, not liking that Yuri was being pulled around, but not protesting too much since the Prince didn't seem to be in any immediate danger.

"What do you think about right here?" She held the frame up next to the door they'd just passed through.

I don't want to see that monstrosity every time I come to visit. He decided inwardly. 

"How about next to the windows that face north. The lighting will set off the colours." He suggested, willing Minako to go along with his bullshit explanation.

"You're right. It will build energy better there too."

Do what now? But he didn't voice the question. He wanted to get this over this as soon as possible so he could study. 

"We would be honoured if you would have a look around, my prince." That sly smile was back. It made Yuri a bit uneasy. It wasn't a smile with any malice behind it, just knowledge. 

Logically, Yuri knew Minako was a magic user as well. Could she somehow sense what he was? In any case, she had provided the excuse he desired, and he wouldn't argue with the fates that had obviously stepped in to intervene.

"I would be honored," He grumbled, prompting a chuckling from Minako. He squinted at her, but left her to order around his men in waiting on just how many tiny increments to the lefts she wanted the painting to centre it, no up, no not that far!

The wing was longer than it was wide with the longer walls housing floor to ceiling books; and tables, chairs, and other bookshelves situated comfortably in between them. Yuri wandered the mostly empty wing, the sound of Minako calling out directions fading as he walked further towards the great north facing windows that stretched from floor to arching ceiling. He wasn't surprised at how empty it was. After all, this Wing was less used in everyday practice and more like an archive for old grimoires and journals from past magic users. Most current day magic users kept their abilities a secret since common citizens persecuted them out of fear and often executed them eventually. Minako was incredible because she never once hid who or what she was. Yuri knew that her family and friends from her early years rejected her, but she's fought past that and had built a family of her own. Yuri respected her for that. And respect was hard to earn from the boy. 

"Short of the fates stepping in to intervene, I'll never find anything useful!" A woman spoke, moaning in defeat. Yuri heard a soft thump as he rounded the wooden shelf obscuring his view. Hadn't he thought similar words just a few moments ago? She was a brunet, and from her scent, she was a beta. Her head was on the table, shoulders tense, her body shuddering slightly.

Yuri's instincts kicked in and he approached the woman. "Are you alright?" He asked, a trifle gruffly, uncomfortable with the situation.

Her head whipped up and her large honey coloured eyes met his. She blinked her tears away fast and wiped her face with a ratty handkerchief. "Ah, please excuse me. I'm having a hard time finding what I'm looking for." She said politely, a bit less inflection in her words which attested to how hard she was trying to keep herself under control.

"Well, what is it your looking for?" He half demanded half asked.

"My friend has a curse set on him. It's… it's hurting him. And it's going to kill him. I'm trying to find a way to break it." She whispered looking around worriedly.

Yuri was confused. "A curse? What kind of a curse?"

Her eyes darted away from his. "A sort of… enslaving curse? He is forced to obey someone else, and when he doesn't, it takes away his life force at a faster rate, I think, and I just- I want to save him. I'm going to take him away from that man no matter what I have to lose to do it."

And then something clicked. "Is your friend an omega?" He asked quietly. 

She startled, eyes wide. "I- please don't say anything, I'm begging you-"

"I won't."

Yuri stared at her steadily while she searched his eyes. Then she nodded. "I can use all the help I can get. He doesn't have much time left."

"I'll help you look." He told her, knowing that his knowledge of magic was likely far superior to her own.

"I'd be so grateful," She breathed out, still looking frazzled. 

"My name is Yuri," he informed her, offering her a hand up.

She placed her warm on in his, eyes wide. "The fates truly have stepped in," Her whisper was almost indistinguishable. "I am called Yuuko."

He smiled then, making an effort not to scowl. "What you're looking for would be in defensive magic. You are in the neutral section." He pointed towards a sign where it was inscribed. "The most you'll find here are simply stirring spells to alleviate common illnesses, household remedies, etcetera."

"Really? I wouldn't have known." Her small smile was a grateful one as she followed him into the defensive magic section of the Wing farther towards the windows on the North end.

"I want you to tell me all about this 'curse'." Yuri instructed, motioning for Yuuko to take the chair facing the bookshelves while Yuri inspected the books for anything that might be of use.

"I can mark the difference in my mind now that I'm aware that there is a curse. It happened a few years ago. He was severely punished by the alpha in his house for coming home late, I think. Or some other minor annoyance that set the man on a tangent. Yuuri was broken and bloodied when I saw him next, and it took him months to recover. But looking back Yuuri was never really the same."

So her friend's name is also Yuri? He wondered, but didn't think on it long. "What was different?" He questioned, his accent completely different than hers.

She tucked a lock of hair behind her ears and continued to explain. Yuri began to get the full picture as she spoke. Her friend was in an abusive household. She described him as being cheerful and like any other fourteen-year-old despite having lost both biological parents at a young age and being moved across the world from everything he knew. The change had happened after that particular beating. It had been harsh, but certainly not the worst. Yuuri had begun to seem lifeless, uninterested in anything other than his work at the manor for fear of what Georgi might do to him if anything was not perfect. Georgi currently had some sort of authority over Yuuri that forced him to do his bidding regardless of the boy's free will. When Yuuko had spoken with him, he had described the curse as eating away at part of himself. Yuuri believed that the curse was some sort of entity that would occupy his body after there was nothing left of Yuuri to be in it and had requested Yuuko and their friend Phichit to burn his body as soon as he died later that week.

"He could have at least given you some warning," Yuri growled. "Research like this takes time!"

Yuuko looked supremely annoyed. "He didn't want to give us time! Phichit is speaking to his father and doing research on the magic users of the area while I'm here, but even with all of that covered it won't mean anything if we don't know what Yuuri is cursed with in the first place." 

"I know what he's cursed with," Yuri grumbled.

Yuuri jumped from her chair, grabbing Yuri by the shoulders and looking hopeful. "You do?! What is it?!"

He swatted her away playfully and pointed back at the chair. She reluctantly took her seat but was practically vibrating in anticipation. "I don't know for sure, but my best guess would be that your friend is in a Death Bond."

Her eyes grew wide. "That does not sound good." She murmured.

His met her eyes seriously. "It's not."

 

 

 

 

"A what?!" Back at the palace, Viktor was horrified. He was standing before his father's throne, alone in his presence within the great room. 

"You are going to host a ball, Viktor." His father, King Nikolai informed him matter-of-factly. "You are old. Look at your hair!"

Viktor's eyes widened and his hands flew up to cover his head where his hair met his forehead, a little too far back on his head for comfort. He knew it was thinning but how rude! "AH! You are too cruel, father, how could you say such things?!" He cried.

"Viktor Nikiforov Plisetsky, you will find a mate at this party. You have sent away every single suitor I present you with, every single one of them!" Nikolai pounded his fist on the arm of his throne three times to emphasize his point.

Viktor grew serious, squaring his shoulders and clenching his jaw. "One day, I will be king. A king is strongest with his soulmate by his side."

"Is a bondmate not good enough for you?" Nikolai growled.

"No, sir." Viktor stared defiantly. "I will have no other than my soulmate." 

"My son, I have grown weary of your games these past years. Our people see you as fickle and immature because you have not dedicated yourself to a bondmate. Your fanciful notions will be the ruin of you. Therefore, you will host this ball, and you will choose a mate that night. Am I understood?"

The alpha in Viktor snarled, the baser instinct of the creature to put the lesser secondary in his place. He shoved the desire down, refusing to act in such a manner. "I will only bond with my soulmate."

Nikolai grabbed a strange homely staff that Viktor hadn't noticed before closer to his body. It looked soft and well used, oiled down and free of shape edges. It was twisted and curved in a way that made it look almost like a magical item itself. "Are you defying your-"

"What is that?" Viktor couldn't stop the question from leaving his lips, reaching for the staff.

Nikolai looked strangely pleased. "Ah yes, as I thought. You would notice this. This was a gift to me from a man who aided an old beta when no one else batted an eye." He reached behind him and put a hand on his back as if feeling phantom pain.

"He gave you a staff?" Viktor wondered, running his hands along the silky birch wood. It was practically glowing from the colour.

"He did. He saved my life. Now it's up to you to save my sanity, host the ball, and choose a mate. I won't be distracted from this, Viktor." He warned his son, taking the staff back from Viktor suddenly.

Viktor frowned. "I won't-"

"If you decline to choose a mate that I approve of at the ball, you forfeit your position of first monarch and Yuri shall be king after I pass instead of you." The King intoned, and all was silent through the great throne room.

Viktor clenched his fists. "I understand, father." He spoke through gritted teeth.

"See that you do. I expect the ball to be hosted no later than a fortnight from this evening." He instructed. "If you are so set of finding your soulmate, might I suggest inviting all unmated citizens, regardless of rank?"

Viktor blinked, surprised at the suggestion. "That would increase my chances," he nodded.

"If you choose to do that, plan the party accordingly." Nikolai jerked his head at the door. "Get on then, boy, you've a ball to plan and a mate to meet."

Viktor exited the throne room and leaned heavily against the closed doors, choking out a strangled whisper. "What am I going to do?"

Chapter Text

The suppressants were hard and tasted foul. Yuuri cringed as he swallowed them down along with a gulp of water. In the end, the pills were worth it, though. While Georgi was aware of Yuuri's omega status logically, he had no idea how far Yuuri went to conceal any likeness to one.  He carefully washed his scent glands with the concealing soap in the basin, paying special attention to his wrists, face, and his neck. The water was cold, but it did the job well enough that Yuuri didn't complain. Morning had come again and unlike yesterday, he couldn't ignore his routine. He was already feeling the effects of missing his dose yesterday. The anxious neediness that rose up in him and made him want to curl up in a swirl of blankets and pillows had to be ignored. It was a luxury that Yuuri did not had access to. He did, however, have his duties to attend to no matter how ill his omega was feeling.

The poor thing, Yuuri thought. Lately, he had been seeing his omega as more of a separate entity than him. While he knew that was a sign of full maturity, he was still uncomfortable with it. It felt as though he was losing control of his baser nature.

Making up for his actions the previous day proved more difficult than Yuuri had originally anticipated. Polishing the silverware and pots had been hell of his muscles. Scrubbing the cold stone floor had bruised his knees and left him tender when he walked, wishing he had the staff he had lovingly whittled after all. Ironing their daily garbs and shining their shoes been extra trials that Georgi had insisted needed tending to. Beyond that, there was an anonymous visitor attending the evening meal and required a meal with no less than a four-courses to impress their guest. Of course, that meant that the formal dining room needed to be spotless. Yuuri kicked himself for not having kept it up very well in the past years as they did not often enjoy company at the manor that would require such a space to be serviceable. Jean and Emil would be eating in the parlor upstairs, which Yuuri wouldn't have to clean since the room was often used and so was frequently tended to. 

To accomplish these feats, Yuuri had risen long before the sun. By the time the extra chores were finished, it was time for Yuuri to start on their breakfast. He kept it simple but elegant, Poached eggs, roasted asparagus, sautéed vegetables, and thickly sliced bread, gently toasted and slathered with copious amounts of yellow butter. He served it all with a simple honey glaze for either the vegetables he'd provided or the bread. Yuuri brought it all out on a rolling tray but had to carry the plates individually once he reached the stairs. Of course, Georgi was first, and was, of course, still sleeping when Yuuri gently rapped on the door. 

"Georgi," he called gently. "It's time to find your feet if you wish to go to town before you guest arrives this afternoon," he spoke as he opened the door and padded over to the white table to set down his foot.

The man rolled over, groaning.

"I'll return after I've woken Jean and Emil to make sure you've risen," he offered.

Apparently, this idea was pleasing to the man since no further protests were issued from his half-closed mouth. Emil was easy. He had already been up and stretching. He greeting Yuuri cheerfully if a bit absent-mindedly as he stretched into his straddle. Yuuri had responded in kind and set his breakfast on the writing table before heading back downstairs to fetch Jean's meal. He was far more testy than Emil was in general. Yuuri knew that in advance but had a sound strategy as to how to avoid the freshly polished shoes the boy would likely throw at him if he attempted to rouse the boy like he had his eldest brother. He walked straight in and set the plate on the boy's nightstand before quickly opening the curtains wide and ducking low just in time to miss the boot thrown at the back of his head. Jean swore loudly.

"Good morning, Jean, you have a riding lesson at nine-thirty," Yuuri informed him, watching as Jean rolled over, grunting in acquiescence.

Yuuri paid his manners no head. He was a terrible morning person. He left his door open and walked back to Georgi's room. To his surprised, Georgi was awake, leaning against the grand headboard, tray in his lap, and fork half raised to his mouth. 

"Ah, I see you're up!" Yuuri smiled hoping Georgi's mood was better than yesterday's. 

"That I am," He muttered darkly.

It was not.

"I changed my mind about the blue doublet. I want the purple one for this evening's event. Iron it now." He pointed vaguely to the hamper of used clothes.

Of course, this meant that Yuuri would have to wash the garment as well. Holding back a sigh, he did as he was told. The omega in his was incapable of disobeying. It physically hurt to do so and would accomplish nothing. Yuuri burned himself twice while working with the iron. It was uncommon for him to do so, and he mentally cursed himself for forgetting his suppressants the previous day. Perhaps it was affecting more than just his omega's mood. Once Jean had seen Yuuri was already ironing something, he had a shirt that he also wanted pressed. Unfortunately, Yuuri had run off to put his hand under cold water and in his haste, had left the iron face down on it. He had been most thoroughly informed, that it was Jean's favorite undershirt.

That is what brought him to town. A single shirt. Something Yuuri could have avoided entirely had he been more present in his own mind. He tried not to scowl, put out with the pointless errands he'd been sent on all day, but the fact that he'd had too little sleep and little food was doing nothing to lift his spirits. He still had so much to do!

As he weaved through the street he thought about what he would make for supper. Or he tried to. He couldn't stop thinking about Nikolai. Had he made his home safely? Was he well? What if no one had come to pick him up as he'd trusted they would? Worry was his constant companion and his discontinuity on his suppressants wasn't helping.  The bell that chimed over the door brought him from his thoughts as he entered the shop. Yuuko looked up from a book she was intently studying behind the counter and smiled, looking exhausted.

"I didn't expect to see you today!" She greeted him with a hug.

"I accidentally spoiled one of Jean's favorite undershirts." Yuuri admitted sheepishly.

She cringed. "The iron again?" 

"Yes…"

"There's salve in the bottom drawer as always," She pointed. "Are all the measurements the same?"

"Add another to the overall length. I've been noticing it has been coming untucked from his trousers when he walks." Yuuri told her. 

"Done and done!"

The boy opened his mouth to ask her what she was reading, but the gathering bell sounded loudly. People began to pour out of the shops in the market square, and Yuuri and Yuuko were no exception. The opened the door and stepped partially out so they could see. A man on horseback wore the royal seal across his chest. He held a scroll. People began to settle and quiet, waiting to hear what was said. 

"An announcement issued from the royal family!" He announced loudly. "His Royal Majesty, Prince Viktor, will be seeking out his soulmate at a ball three days from now. All eligible citizens shall attend! This includes unmated individuals from the ages of eighteen and beyond. Expect informal dancing, mistrals, and a meal for all that choose to attend. Further information can be found on the official notices posted at all the assembly bells throughout the city." He finished, handing a scroll down to a stocky man who then pinned it up in the announcement board. He gripped the horse's reins and trotted off through the pathway the swarm of people had made to allow the man to leave the square.

"Oh boy," Yuuko pulled Yuri inside after her and put the closed sign on the window.

Guang Hong burst through the back door. "A MASQUERADE PARTY!" He huffed out. "I just came from the assembly bell uptown!" He heaved. Guang Hong worked as an assistant to Yuuko who was an artisan seamstress for this shop.

"Really? How eccentric." Yuuri laughed. "A masquerade party to find a soulmate? How would that work?"

"Maybe Prince Viktor doesn't want to judge anyone by how they look but instead how he connects with them!" Yuuko swooned. "That's so romantic!" She squealed. 

People were knocking hurriedly on the door, seeking entrance to the shop. Yuuri scolded his friend. "Yuuko, you're losing costumers!"

"Oh never mind that, come here I need to make sure the measurements are all the same."

"Me?" Yuuri's eyes widened, and he snorted. "I'm not going," He backed away only to be shoved forwards by Guang Hong who was currently herding him towards Yuuko who was holding the measure threateningly.

"Oh yes you are," She smiled devilishly.

"I have a bond!" I hissed to Yuuko. 

She laughed a little maniacally. "Not for much longer if I have my way!" She went to work. "Guang Hong, place Yuuri's order." 

"Done and done," He mimicked her.

Yuuri protested but allowed Yuuko to measure him and call out numbers to the other boy to write down. "If you're going to put anyone down, put Georgi, Jean, and Emil." Yuuri forced his brain to work quickly. "Georgi will want a royal shade of purple, Jean will want forest green, and Emil will want sky blue."

"What do you want?" Guang asked, scribbling in his notebook.

"I-" Yuuri looked around for inspiration. "Er-"

"He doesn't get to choose," Yuuko cut in. "It's going to be a surprise."

The pounding on the door increased. "Just choose reasonably, please," He begged her. "I've got to go before they beat this place to the ground."

Guang grimaced. "Thanks for that,"

Yuuri ran towards the back door and didn't stop running - or heaving - until he'd reached the manor.

"Georgi!" He yelled, out of breath as he barreled through the front door. Old habits died hard. Yuuri had forgotten he was forbidden from using the front door. He was to use the servants' side door.

"Do not enter through the front door!" Georgi boomed as If on cue. 

"There was an announcement in town!" He breathed hard.

Georgi hurried down the grand staircase into the entryway where Yuri had his hands on his knees from exhaustion. "What did it say?" He demanded.

Yuuri attempted to sum up the information coherently. "Prince Viktor will be looking for his soulmate at a masquerade ball in three days," he huffed, standing up straight. "He's holding it for all unmated betas and omegas who are of age, even alphas,"

"Alphas?" Georgi reared back. "He is an alpha himself, is he not?" 

Yuuri nodded. "I believe so,"

"We have to go to the tailor immediately!" His eyes lit up.

"No need," Yuuri was still wheezing, unable to catch his breath. "I went already and placed your order,"

He narrowed his eyes at Yuuri. "For your own sake, you had better hope that you did well." He stared down at the boy. "I can't always be expected to clean up your messes."

Chapter Text

It was dark inside the dining room on the request of Georgi's guest. Only one table stick was lit. It cast the man's features in darkness. Yuuri set the filled plate down in front of the shadowed figure before quickly stepping back, uncomfortable with the way the alpha inhaled his scent so obviously. He wore a long concealing coat with the high collar turned up so the sides of his face were obscured from view. While Yuuri couldn't see the man's eyes, he could feel them following his every movement. Whenever he entered the dining hall, both men would fall silent. Yuuri served Georgi next, quietly announced the dishes, and retreated back out into the hallway,  and leaned against the wall, breathing more quickly than he should have.

"Do we have an arrangement?" Georgi asked in a low tone.

"We do," The man's monotone voice replied.

Yuuri blushed, having not intended on eavesdropping, and quietly padded towards the kitchen. It needed to be cleaned. He looked at the clock. It was getting late. The guest had stayed later than Yuuri had anticipated, and because of his fluctuating hormones, it irked him. It wasn't as though he would be allowed to sleep for many hours yet even if the guest went home right away, but Yuuri had a tendency to dream about things he couldn't have. His ear twitched a bit when he heard the formal dining room door creak a bit as it was opened.

"I take my leave. You can expect the pick up in three days time in the evening. You won't be bothered at all if you're attending Prince Viktor's gala." The man's voice wafted into the kitchen.

Yuuri frowned, wondering what they were talking about. The man must be some merchant. Was Georgi selling his father's belongings again? Yuuri had a simple solution to a simple problem. Georgi didn't need to sell his father's precious belongings to these uncultured, rough-around-the-edges merchants. He just had to stop spending money frivolously unless he actually had the money. It was not complicated, and Yuuri found uncharacteristic anger rising inside him. He gripped the pot he was washing in the basin harder and gritted his teeth. He set it down in the sink and grabbed a towel as he passed by.

"Georgi?" Yuuri dabbed his hands dry as he stuck his head out of the kitchen door. "Who was that man?" He made sure he didn't sound indolent.

The older man's head snapped to face him and when he spoke, his ice-cold tone belied the warm smile still plastered on his stark features. "No one an omega such as yourself would ever need to know about,"

+

Yuuri dropped the towel and brought his hands up to his head and squeezed his skull as fire built up inside his mind. He cried out. It was intense. It blazed and he yanked at his hair to try to make himself feel anything other than the mind-numbing torture of Georgi toying with the accursed bond. 

"I'm sorry!" Yuuri gritted out, wobbling back and forth and banging into first the door jam, and then the door in an attempt to escape the heat. It was no use. It was nothing so easy as a physical pain that could be stepped away from. Georgi was burning away bits of his soul. "I didn't mean to anger you!" He cried out, desperate to make it stop.

He was losing himself! He was falling! He was going to become nothing at all if he didn't make the man stop! He could feel the dark presence of another entity in his mind, watching, waiting until it could inhabit Yuuri's body in the event of the boy's soul melting away.

"Then you should never have opened your mouth," Georgi said darkly as Yuuri screamed, losing the battle with his legs and falling face first into the stone floor of the hallway. 

"Please! Please make it stop! I'm burning- PLEASE!" Yuuri screeched.

Then the hellfire was gone. Yuuri opened his eyes, greeted by a wide smile. Georgi's hands were stretching towards him. Yuuri shut his eyes tightly.

Chapter Text

"You want me to wear that?" Yuuri was aghast at he stared at the shimmery fabric.

Phichit threw an arm around his shoulder and laughed. "Don't look so horrified!"

"Are guys are aware that I am not actually a female, right?" Yuuri sputtered.

Yuuko waved a hand at Yuuri's very valid concern. "This costume was made to express more than one gender,"

"Are you certain?" Yuuri just wanted to clarify, but ended up ducking a hastily thrown cushion. 

"I designed it to express your masculine gender first and your secondary gender after. You'll see it better when it is actually on your body, I assure you." Guang Hong crossed his arms determinedly.

Yuuri was going to get in that costume whether he wanted to or not. Yuuri hesitated. "It looks… formfitting…"

"No more than any of the other costumes that will be worn," Yuuko's assistant assured him.

"Thanks, Guang Hong, and the rest of you," he addressed the group as a whole. "But I already told you I wasn't attending. I came only to retrieve and reimburse before the ball tomorrow. 

Yuuko glared. "Katsuki Yuuri you are not going to spoil this for us! I've been wanting to design something for you since I first met you now get in that costume.

Yuuri knew when his life was being threatened. He put on the costume. It was a beautiful royal blue. It looked immaculate. Not something that one would find on someone like Yuuri. It was so very… Regalian. Which made sense considering who designed it, but still. It did indeed represent more than one gender. It had a skirt that was lower in the back than it was in the front and to Yuuri's embarrassment, the folds of fabric over his buttocks was fluffed, layer, and formed so that he looked like he was purposefully raising it for people's notice. It did not make him feel attractive at all. Just… exposed.  The design was still classy with its high backed evening coat with the rows of gold buttons in the front and the way the blue contrasted with the stark white of the leggings and mask. Yuuri smiled at his friends. They must have worked very hard on this for him.

"I don't know how you managed to pull this off with the crazy number of orders you've been getting." Yuuri smiled.

"We all pitched in on our off time!" Yuuko bounced with excitement, seeming to be a little more herself around Yuuri than she's been in days.

Yuuri thanked them profusely, unable to stop himself from the traditional bowing he was still quite accustomed to from his homeland. After he'd changed back, he pulled the cowl up and over his face to conceal it from onlookers. The rain was a good excuse for the cloak, and for that, Yuuri was grateful. He was still badly damaged form the previous night. He had managed to keep it under wraps around his friends, but he didn't feel like he could make it back down the winding rocky road where he had come on his trip into town. In the end, he decided to make a clear cut through the woods to get back to the manor instead.

The change of scenery was actually good for him. He breathed deeply as he walked, his uneven gait the only foreign noise in the peaceful serenity that he'd entered. The paper bags that held the costumes were tucked under one arm so I was free to swing the other one for balance. Yuuri noticed immediately when the birds stopped singing. He frowned, feeling hair prick on the back of his neck as he thought of the implications. His suspicions weren't far off the mark when a sharp cry of pain alerted him of their presence. Yuuri tucked himself into the bushed for cover. Yuuri had to cover his mouth with his own hands to keep form screaming when a bound man was suddenly thrown down onto the ground where he had been a moment ago. They must have rounded the small incline after he'd taken refuge in the bushes.

"You'll fetch a pretty penny, your royal highness," The voice leered. "With a face like yours, it doesn't matter if you're an omega or not." 

"What do you think, James? Should we ransom him for an unholy amount of gold or sell his body over and over again?"

Bile rose in his throat at the words. Oh gods, there are two of them? Yuuri didn't count the man who lay still right in front of him. Was he even conscious? Yuuri couldn't tell since his back was facing him. Yuuri dropped down to his stomach silently and was greeted with the sight of two sets of heavy boots. But Yuuri counted three horses in the background. He supposed one of them could belong to the man with silver locks, but it was hard to tell. James suddenly kicked him hard in the midsection to roll him over. Yuuri found himself staring into the most beautiful set of eyes he'd ever seen. There was no fear in them, just determination. His teeth were gritted, eyes looking back towards his attacker. His skin was so white and smooth, a contrast to Yuuri's own tanned skin. Silver bangs lay on the ground beside the delicate face, and Yuuri knew that if the man were up right, they would cover half of his face. 

He drew in a quick breath. The urge to scream nearly choked him with its ferocity as the scent invaded his system. It was not painful. It was… all-consuming and overwhelming. Yuuri felt if he didn't rub against the man right that second, he just might die. He was intoxicated by the smell. He was an alpha. A strong, powerful alpha. His dominance radiated off of him in waves and made Yuuri shiver. Yuuri hadn't realized he'd clenched his eyes shut before he snapped them back open, intent on getting exactly what his omega begged for. But he never got the chance to move. As soon as his eyes focused, he realized that the alpha was staring directly at him through the leaves. He was surprised. He was... excited.

Why is he excited? Yuuri wondered. Did the man enjoy being treated that way? No, he hadn't looked that way after he was kicked, so why-

The silver-haired man jerked his head as if to tell Yuuri to leave quickly. Yuuri had no intention of doing so whatsoever. The man smelled like dessert and damn if Yuuri wasn't going to take a bite before he died. He couldn't very well leave a man who was so helplessly in danger, now could he? With wrists and ankles bound he had little change of winning anything. And with the gag they'd tied, Yuuri doubted the man would be calling for help any time soon. So Yuuri backed away out of sight. The last look Yuuri saw on the man's face was one of relief before the light rise he'd been laying on prevented him from seeing anything else. Yuuri ran his hands through his hair to get it out of the way with a slight smirk on his face, feeling a bit nihilistic with his impending death. The man thought Yuuri was leaving. He most certainly wasn't. Yuuri watched the vague forms through the shrubbery, leaving the paper bags where they were.

"You've cause us enough trouble. You meddle in places you have no business meddling. If there's one thing that pisses me off more than anything else, it's losing money. And you make me lose a lot of money." Yuuri was certain it was James talking. "Time for you to start earning back what you stole. How about you start with Lyle and me," Yuuri could practically hear the disgusting smile in his voice.

Yuuri watched carefully as Lyle hauled the alpha up into the air and tossed him about four feet to the left of where Yuuri was, first hitting, then rolling towards the bushes. The silver-haired man let out a grunt as he hit the ground. Yuuri crawled quickly over to him, grateful that the rolling had caused his back to be towards Yuuri. His breathing was harsh and heavy, even though he tried to hide the movement, Yuuri knew that the man was in quite a bit of pain. Yuuri wasn't sure what he would do once he untied to poor man.

Run, probably, Yuuri inwardly sighed, since he knew himself to be a coward.

Reaching out trembling fingers, Yuuri began to loosen the coarse ropes around the alpha's wrists. He stiffened as he felt Yuuri's muddy icicles against him. But then his warm ones curled into Yuuri's and a visible shiver rattled his prone body. The younger boy gently pushed his fingers away so that he could focus on the knot, but the man was persistent. His fingers looped around Yuuri's as he worked, prohibiting him and making Yuuri want to growl in frustration. The knot finally came undone from his wrists, but he held his arms in that position as the two predators talked to each other about what they should do with him. Without the extra fingers to clamp down on his, Yuuri managed to untie the alpha's legs much faster. Last was the gag. Now there was nothing he could do for the alpha but call for help. He wondered briefly if he was really royalty. His clothing made him look the part. Yuuri didn't know of any townsfolk who would ever wear white in a forest, especially on a mucky day like the current one. Where were his guards or retainers? As soon as Yuuri slipped the ropes from the man's wrists entirely, he sprang up, facing the men who had attacked him.

"What the fuck!" Lyle yelled just before the alpha delivered a punch to the man's neck. He wheezed and fell to his knees, clutching at his throat. The silver-haired man wasted no him in kneeing Lyle's chin so hard that he went flying back into the bushes on the opposite side of the ten-foot clearing.

James drew a hunting knife, about to attack 'his royal highness' from behind. Yuuri knew that he wouldn't be able to turn around to block the blow soon enough. On instinct, he sprang out of the safety of his hiding place, abandoning all though of disappearing into the forest. He didn't think. He just grabbed the knife on the hilt at the blade. He cried out as the uneven edge tore into the palm of his right hand. It was dull, but it still burned. Yuuri cradled the injured hand to his chest. He didn't have enough time to react when he saw the fist come flying towards his face. He let his legs drop from under him to duck to blow, but not in time. The fist glanced off his left temple. Yuuri crumpled to the ground.

Then he was being straddled. "You'll fetch a pretty penny too, omega." His breath was nauseating.

Yuuri trashed, terrified. How had he known? How had he known?! Yuuri wore scent masking soaps and applied them regularly throughout the day! Then the man let out a yell as he was torn from his perch. Yuuri lay there, his breathing erratic. He didn't sit up. He was trembling. He had never been in a fight like that before. All his experience with violence had been on the receiving end. He had no idea how to survive a brawl other than to allow the attacker to beat him until they were no longer angry. Though he could hear the fight the two men were having, he didn't look. He felt too dazed. His head throbbed, but his whole body felt like it was going to combust from the stress of adding yet more injuries to himself. Yuuri was glad when the silver-haired royal dropped to his knees beside Yuuri, a worried yet slightly awed look on his face. Yuuri no longer wondered if he was a royal because it really didn't matter either way. The man could be a grave worker and Yuuri wouldn't care because he smelled delectable. 

"Are you alright?" He demanded, cradling Yuuri's head in his lap. His voice rolled over Yuuri in pleasurable waves. The boy shivered. It was so attractive. And in that clearing, it suddenly felt as though their bodies had become magnets, pulling them together.

Yuuri attempted a nod. "I'm well," He tried to sit up, but his body was shaking from the effort and with his body in the shape that it was, it was no use. The man aided him in his quest, but it somehow ended with Yuuri cuddled in his lap, leaning against the older man, his back pressed to a muscular chest. Every single one of his curves was pressed to Yuuri. The boy quaked against him.

"Let me see your hand," The man requested quietly.

His hand was trembling as he raised it, only to be enfolded in the warm grasp of the alpha's large one. Yuuri tried to draw away, this new position settling even more of their curves against each other. Blood was running down his hand. If Yuuri kept his arm plastered to his, he could stain to older man's white sleeve. While Yuuri felt to urge to flee, his omega was purring and stretching languidly in delight. As if sensing the younger boy's desire, the royal would his arm's tightly around Yuuri's middle, pulling him further between his legs so he lay flush against his chest once more. The boy's breathing calmed.

"Sorry," Yuuri murmured, embarrassed. He wasn't sure why he was apologizing. He knew why he was embarrassed though. His entire, imperfect, boney body was plastered to his muscular sculpted one. At least the man couldn't see anything with the cloak and hood.

The man pressed the side of his face firmly onto Yuuri's head and rocked back and forth ever so slightly before he tore a sleeve at the seam to wrap around Yuuri's injured hand. He winced as it stung a little 

"This will need stitches," He whispered gently.

Yuuri nodded. "I'll stitch it,"

The man jerked. "No, no, you need to be seen by a doctor."

Yuuri smiled, liking that the man was worried for him. Then he nearly jumped out of his skin as a soft, cold nose was brushed along the skin of his neck. The man had pulled the hood back enough to gain access to the patch of skin. He inhaled, then moaned. Yuuri couldn't help his own keen in response. His legs shifted restlessly, and an unfamiliar feeling traveled through his body. The only way Yuuri could explain it to himself was that it was the knowledge of needing to go somewhere and do something but in a physical sensation. 

"A name," He growled. "What's your name?"

"My name?" Yuuri wasn't really listening. The man's hands were trailing barely touching finger tips over his sides and making him squirm and god if he could focus on anything else…

The throaty chuckle melted Yuuri at his core. He let out a moan and, without knowing why, he pushed down on his pant lacings, rocking up into the pressure. "How about this?" The man slowly pulled on one end of the bow at the tie of his trousers. "I'll give you mine, and you will give me yours."

"Yours?" Yuuri repeated lamely. His body was awash in need and squirming and sensation. He couldn't think about anything. He couldn't even feel any pain from his injuries. Where was he again?

"Viktor,"

The word reverberated in the air and Yuuri cried out, turning over and toppling the man down to the ground, shoving his cold nose into Viktor's throat and murmuring his name. "Viktor," He breathed, heaving in great drafts of the man's thick, delicious scent.

He didn't realize that his buttocks was in the air until Viktor hands ran down the length of his back, causing him to arch further into the touch, and then finally jerk when those hands rounded over his ass, gently cupping, feeling. He fell face forwards into the man and keened. He was breathing hard, for Yuuri, he couldn't stop moving or rocking or rubbing, but Viktor seemed to be the opposite. Like he was paralyzed with the cascade of sensations.

"A name!" He gasped out desperately.

But it was too late.

"YOUR HIGHNESS!" A frantic voice bellowed from not too far away.

Yuuri was snapped back to his senses so quickly he was left reeling. His body, however, was moving. He was running.

Chapter Text

The paper bags would have crunched in his fist if they hadn't been damp from laying on the ground.

Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods, oh gods, that was Prince Viktor Nikiforov! Yuuri inwardly shouted, grinding his teeth and trying not to audibly cry. And I was about to go into heat! Yuuri wanted to die from embarrassment and shame. His omega let out a distressed keen as Yuuri made his escape through the mud-slicked terrane. 

"WAIT! STOP!" Viktor cried out, and Yuuri could almost sense that the man was giving chase to his fight. 

He uttered a small sound of fright and shot a glance behind him. Viktor was nowhere in sight. But judging by the clear indentation in the soggy earth that Yuuri was leaving behind, that wouldn't last for long. Something was wrong with Yuuri. No one was supposed to be able to scent him or identify him. Yet the man who had attacked Viktor had easily done so. James had called him an omega. Even if Yuuri didn't have any tracks, Viktor would be able to follow the scent trail left behind. He heard them in pursuit as he splashed down into the freezing muddy stream. 

"Do not run from an imperial retainer!" It wasn't Viktor's voice that issued the order.

Oh gods, oh gods, they're going to take me away! Then the bond, oh gods, the bond, and I'll- and then Yuuko and Phichit- they won't be able to- Yuuri couldn't formulate complete thoughts, everything coming through his mind as vague, blurry ideas.

He had to be smart about this. He had to use his head. Yuuri bit down on the paper bags and then jumped up out of the water, reaching for the branches above. His right hand stung and burned as it made contact with the rough bark even through the fabric of Viktor's shirt sleeve. He held back a cry of pain even as he began to feel light headed from the combination of the searing pain and the adrenaline. He clamped down harder over the material between his teeth. It was an enormous effort to heave himself up onto the branch, and the feat could only be attributed to the panic that was flooding his system. If he could just get up there, if he could just hide within the safety of the leaves, he would be safe. The entity in his head was agitated. It wanted Yuuri to be caught. It desperately wanted his earlier thought to be the outcome of this scenario. It wanted to take control. It wanted to use Yuuri's body Yuuri couldn't let it. With one last final spurt of overwhelming panic, he hooked a leg over the tree branch and rolled himself on top of it, clinging to it for dear life.

Even with his mind so fried from his encounter, Yuuri had been able to make a hurried plan. He knew he didn't want to leave anymore tracks betraying where he went. The answer was to travel where there he couldn't make obvious tracks, the trees. Then came the issue of his scent being strong and easy to follow, so a tree that had a strong scent of it's own to cover the smell from the oils on Yuuri's hands and the perfume his scent glands were releasing into the air. He had chosen an ancient cedar. It had been a wise choice. Viktor and two others, both with dark hair and eyes burst through the tree line and the two stopped abruptly to avoid splashing into the freezing water while Viktor splashed across it a few feet upwind of Yuuri and looked along the shoreline for tracks.

"I just found him!" Viktor was frantic. "How could I had lost him so soon?"

"I can't scent him at all," the short of the stoic men intones, looking around with sharp eyes. "And there are no sign of tracks on the banks."

Yuuri didn't breathe.

"He must have taken the stream as a road to avoid leaving prints," The second suggested. "Otabek take Viktor and go downstream. I have Leo meeting us there with the horses. I will search upstream. It's downwind of here."

Viktor nodded, looking a bit haggard, eyes still wild. Once the other man had left, Viktor and Otabek stood silently for a moment before the prince spoke. "Otabek, he smelled…" Viktor lowered his voice to a whisper as he said the last words. "He smelled like stray." 

What? Yuuri's breath hitched. He should not smell like stray. A stray had no home. No belonging. Yuuri had a home. He'd worked hard to make it his. Or at least he'd thought he had. He didn't belong at the manor? What did that mean? It was his home… it was the only place he had! If he didn't belong at the manor, then where did he belong?

Do you really belong anywhere? The entity whispered through his mind.

Yuuri couldn't move. His whole body was frozen in shock.

Stray. I'm… a stray. 

His omega whimpered. Yuuri had no home. His home had been the house on the hill with the pools of hot mountain water. His home had been the room where his father had told him bedtime stories. But that home had been sold off long ago. And no matter how hard he'd tried to make the manor his own, he now knew just how unwelcome he was in Georgi's house. He wasn't even pack. He was just stray.

His companion turned fully to the prince. "Is that the reason you are desperate to find the young man?"

Viktor shook his head. "His is mine,  Otabek. My soulmate. I knew it as soon as I looked into his eyes. He belongs to me."

Yuuri jerked at the words, wanting to believe them, but not sure he could. 

Viktor had a smiled, but it had a feral glint to it. His alpha was showing face. "And I'll catch him."

 

 

Yuri leafed through the pages of the ancient grimoire, happy for the excuse to soak up the knowledge. He'd already catalogued many useless enchantments and spells in his mind for later experimentation and use. But he was looking for something in particular, and he could sense that he was getting close. The knowledge thrummed through him. It was midday, and as usual, the North Wing of the Great Library was completely deserted. Not ever staff were working the Wing. Yuuko was sitting across from him. The girl had bags under her eyes and a scowl on her face. She'd been neglecting any form of rest in favor of pouring over the tomes in the Great Library with Yuri.

"You look gross," Yuri commented, sitting back in his chair a bit more so she was in full view. "You need sleep."

She smiled at him. "So do you but yet you've still met me every night since I met you."

"Yeah, well, it's good for Beka to worry anyways." He grumbled. Beka currently thought that Yuri was having some sort of elicit affair. Yuri hadn't corrected him, and may have encouraged the idea…

"Beka?" Yuuko raised her eyebrows and leaned forwards, suddenly excited. "Who is this Beka?"

"None of your business, hag!" Yuri snapped.

Yuuko giggled. "Oh he's your alpha isn't he?" She squealed. "Is he handsome or homely? Had you mated yet? Where did you meet, that's so romantic!"

"What's romantic, I haven't told you shit yet!" Yuri fired back.

"Oh he is your alpha," She coed, making a disgusting noise.

"Stop awwwwwwing, it's gross." He grumbled.

"So why are you here with me each night? Isn't your alpha angry that you aren't with him?" She was worried about him. It was annoying.

Yuri smiled evilly, still pawing through the book. She opened her mouth to speak again but Yuri suddenly shouted. "I FOUND IT!"

She nearly toppled the table climbing on top of it and yanking the book out from his hands. 

"Hey!" He snapped, but his surliness had no effect on her.

"The Death Bond?" Yuuko's eyebrows pulled together, completely distracted from their earlier conversation.

Yuri snatched the book back. "You filth witch, if you'd let me look at it I'd tell you!"

She aggressively shoved her pointer finger onto the pages repeatedly, gritting out through her grinding teeth. "Then tell me now!"

"Alright, alright, I'll tell you just sit back and don't murder me!" Yuri growled, clutching the book to his chest like a lifeline." 

She sat back and waited expectantly. "Well?"

Yuri ran a hand through his hair, feeling exhausted. "Right, well, to understand what I'm about to tell you, you're going to have to understand the basics of magic."

"Which is?"

"This for that. An equal trade. Nothing is taken without something of equal value being put in its place. Magic is all about balance. If you have too much of one thing, and not enough of the other, then the entire spell will go awry and you could hurt a lot of people, including the spell caster." Yuri explained, balancing his hands back and forth to demonstrate.

"Okay, so what does that have to do with the Death Bond?" Yuuko cocked her head to the side, confused.

"As soon as you told me all about Yuuri and how he's changed, I had an idea of what was going on. But I have to analyze the enchantment in order to know if it was the spell that was cast onto him."

Yuuko was impatient. "If you had an idea of what enchantment was used, then why couldn't you just act according to that assumption? And beyond that, how did you even have an idea of what Yuuri's curse is?"

"I reverse engineered it."

Yuuko blinked, obviously not getting it.

"Based on what you told me able him and about what he said, I could tell that the enchantment was cast in order to eventually take his life." 

Yuuko nodded and swallowed. 

"Magic is all about balance." Yuri reminded her, waiting for her to understand.

Her eyes widened. "Georgi is trying to bring someone back," She whispered in realization.

He nodded seriously. "Yes. It's against the law to trade a life like that." 

"You say that magic is all about balance. Why did Georgi have to put a curse on Yuuri and make him miserable? Why couldn't he just kill him with magic quickly and then have someone else revived? It's the same concept isn't it?"

Yuri shook his head, staring down at the ancient text. "It doesn't work that way. Plenty of people over the years have been killed with magic. But that doesn't mean you get to trade in their lives for someone else's. It doesn't work that way." 

"Why not?" Yuuko was angry. She was also crying. 

Yuri knew it wasn't directed towards him, so it was okay. He didn't reach out to comfort her. She should be angry. She should be allowed to have enough rage in her to tear down the whole fucking world with her own bare hands! Yuri inwardly championed her. She didn't need comfort. She needed space to feel the rage and something to put the rage into. Yuri had just the thing. She'd have her own part to play. There would be information to gather very soon. 

"Because magic isn't so vague. The balance has to be absolute. Which is why it's so difficult to revive anyone. There are requirements. Firstly, you have to be as similar as possible. An alpha cannot take an omega's body and vice versa. Same goes for betas. Physical attributes don't matter as much, but mental mindsets do. Which is why you have to replicate as close as possible the environment to the one the person you are trying to revive was in before their death. It's nearly impossible, But Georgi seems to be pulling it off."

"So everything he's been doing to Yuuri has been because it's what happened to that person?" For a moment, Yuuko's eyes embodied all the rage of an alpha's. It was hard to believe she was just a beta. Her spirit was that of a dominant creature's. She was not docile in the least. She took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and then opened her eyes, calm again. "It can't be Yuuri's father than because he doesn't meet those requirements."

"No," Yuri agreed. "Do you have any idea on who it could be? Someone dangerous?"

She shook her head. "I doubt it. Georgi is not… cynical. He's very emotional and self-serving. And based off Yuuri's situation, he's trying to bring back an omega servant who was abused physically and mentally. That doesn't sound like someone dangerous, and I can't think of anyone I know of who's died that fit those requirements."

"Then you may have to do some digging," Yuri told her, looking down at the text. He scrunched his eyebrows together. "That's so cruel," He grumbled, unhappily. 

"What?" Yuuko was brought out of her train of thought.

"According to the curse, anyone that Yuuri bonds to will… well, it won't end well for them either." He gulped.

Yuuko leaned forwards quickly. "What? What will happen?"

Yuri scowled. "Don't be so eager. It's not pretty, okay?"

She grabbed onto his ear and pinched, pulling it and twisting it ever so slightly. "Tell me, you brat, I've been trying to set Yuuri up with a mate forever so I've got to know!"

"Ach! Fine, fine, you win!" He shouted, covering his ear with a hand and frowning. "They will be attached to the spell as well."

"What does that mean?" Yuuko threw her hands up, wishing Yuri would just spell it out. She was short on sleep and on patients. Her normally even temper was acting up far too much for her peace of mind.

"You know that alpha and omegas have two parts, while betas have only one. As an omega, Yuuri has his soul and his omega. When the curse is complete, Yuuri as you know him will cease to exist. His soul will be exchanged for another's, and his will go wherever the revived soul was before."

Yuuko clutched at her chest, caving in on herself at the thought. 

Yuri continued. "If he bonds with someone, then their soul will be lost too."

Yuuko frowned. "Does that mean that the revived soul will have two bodies to inhabit?" She asked.

 Yuri shook his head. "It means that the one he bonds with will become an empty shell. The only thing left inside of that person would be their secondary gender. Or if they were a beta and didn't have a secondary gender, then they would just be an empty husk." He explained.

"What happens when all that's left in your body is your secondary gender?" Yuuko whispered, imagining it. 

Yuri met her eyes, the cold light from the north facing window illuminating back at her, but didn't ask her.

She took in a shuddering breath and laughed a little nervously. "But what are the chances of that happening?"

Yuri grunted. "If the way my life is could be considered any indication, I'd say they're pretty high. You need to find out who it is Georgi's trying to revive, and I have my work cut out to me with this mind fuck." He dropped the book on the table with a resounding thunk. "Go get find your pillow and rest a bit before you do." He advised.

Yuuko stood from where she was sitting and motioned towards the book. "Can the enchantment be broken?" She asked.

Yuri ran his hands through his hair. "I guess we'll have to see."

Chapter Text

Viktor was going to wear a hole in his floor, Nikolai just knew it. He had been snarling and mumbling ever since he'd returned earlier that morning with a missing sleeve. Nikolai hadn't expected his plan to work out so swimmingly.

"Why would my mate run from me, father?" Viktor collapsed on the stairs leading up to the throne that Nikolai currently sat on. "He… he had a bond already," He whispered, laying down across the step.

Nikolai stopped himself from rolling his eyes with will alone. The boy was so very feeling and so dramatic. He had a good heart, though. Yuuri would be a perfect match for him. Excitement swelled in his chest. Viktor was clutching the staff Yuuri had given to him like it was his lifeline. No doubt the rejection of his mate would send him into a moon cycle and Viktor would be depressed and lonely for quite a while. Nikolai knew Yuuri was hiding a secret. He also knew what his second son, Yuri, was up to. He approved. Perhaps as a gift to Yuri for researching the Yuuri's curse, he would give him Viktor's retainer, Otabek. They were an adorable couple and Nikolai just knew that Yuri would grow taller than Otabek and they would look beautiful in portraits together. Nikolai was old and quite bored. Matchmaking was the most fun he'd had since he abolished the Omega Auctions. What a day that had been, turning the economy upside down. But the golden days were in the past and he now wished to look towards the future: grandchildren.

"I didn't even get his name!" Viktor moaned. "Are you sure you have no idea who the staff belonged to?"

"I have no idea," Nikolai told him.

He was peeved with the boy for all his bemoaning and wailing, so Viktor would learn about patients that day and the next. Viktor had highjacked his entire day so he could cry about his beautiful mate. Nikolai already knew how everything would turn out, so he wasn't worried. Yuuri would come to the ball, beautiful and bewitching and then Viktor would toss him over his shoulder and carry him off to get started on those grandchildren. Or Yuuri would not attend the ball, in which case, Nikolai would simply tell Viktor where he lived, and then Viktor would toss him over his shoulder, carry him off, and get started on those grandchildren. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of that, Yuri would break Yuuri's curse. In either of those scenarios, he got little baby Viktor-Yuuri's running around all over the place, so either way, Nikolai did not care what Viktor was moaning out.

"Enough, get out, go plan that ball so your guests can enjoy it while you're bonding with you mate," Nikolai rumbled.

Viktor perked up, rolling to his feet. "I'll need to prepare everything in my quarters so it will be perfect! He'll love it!" Then he put a finger to his chin and tilted his head. "Or do you think that he won't want to live here?!" Viktor gasped at the thought but quickly brightened again. "In that case, I will renounce my title and live with him wherever he wants!" He said cheerfully.

Nikolai nearly choked. "Here, here, you must live here!" He shouted. His scheme meant nothing if his little Viktor-Yuuri's weren't living with him! Oh, and Viktor had to take over the throne for him so he could have time with the little munchkins too. 

Viktor shrugged. "Hmm?" He didn't appear to realize that he had been thinking out loud. "I don’t really care either way, just so long as he's happy." Viktor gasped again, "What if he doesn't like my colour scheme! I'll have to change my entire wardrobe!" He cried, racing out of the throne room.

The sound of Nikolai slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand echoed in the throne room. Perhaps, this would be harder than he thought…

 

 

 

 

The air was too thin. Yuuri felt as though he was about to pass out at any minute. He was hyperventilating, unable to control the sudden panic attack he was having. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Everything felt off. He wanted to go find his mate. He had sensed it with every fiber of his being. His mate was First Monarch, Prince Viktor of Regalia. Yuuri choked on a sob that rose in his throat before he could stop it. The keening sound was lost in the deluge of rain that pounded into the tile roof of the house. He huddled deeper within the small alcove where the servants' door was located. His hand stung. He had already soaked through the strip Viktor had torn from his own sleeve. Yuuri counted silently in his head as he thought about this home across the sea. The exotic, nameless island that he still thought of as home. His heart sank to bedrock as he realized that he would never again have the chance to see the cherry trees bloom in the first season, nor swim in the ocean in the second, nor eat the traditional celebratory dishes in the third, or sit underneath the warm blanketed table in the fourth. Those precious things were nothing but memories now. His breathing eased as his desperation settled into cold acceptance. The end was near. He could feel it. He could take comfort in it. It was for the best that he never saw Viktor again. Nothing could ever come of it. Yuuri was… dangerous.

The old wooden door screeched as it opened and Yuuri pushed his way inside. Yuuri was glad for the warm comfort of the little stone kitchen. He quickly removed the costumes from the bags and draped them over the drying string that hung two steps from the fire so nothing would catch flame. With his own costume, Yuuri hung it in his closet, suddenly sad that he would never get the chance to use it. It wasn't smart for him to be anywhere near Viktor. He shut the door on the closet and left his hopes of meeting the man to hang with the costume there.

The stinging sensation in his hand heightened as he bent it a bit. "I have to stitch this up," Yuuri shivered.

He could have gone to Dr. Chulanont, but he could not pay the man and would not take advantage of his kindness. Thankfully, Yuuri had the necessary equipment for the task. Cleaning the wound had been painful, but was an easier task than the actual stitching. Yuuri had silenced his cries of pain by biting on the piece of Viktor's sleeve that hadn't gotten bloodied. The procedure took a long time because he'd had to stop every few seconds to dry heave over the compost barrel, the smell of aging food doing nothing to help his nausea. The following panic attack took a good ten minutes before Yuuri could rebandage his hand. He set the strip of cloth to soak in a cleaning solution in hopes of getting the blood stain out. He wanted to keep it and hold it when he took his dying breath. It was the closest he could ever be to the man again.

Placing the warmed costumes into new dry paper sacks, Yuuri entered the main part of the house. "I'm back!" He called. "I've brought the costumes!"

The house practically shook as the three fully grown males raced to his location from various positions within the manor. Yuuri quickly set the bags down on the table and stepped back as Georgi barreled into the room, snatching up the bag and withdrawing its contents. He immediately singled out the black and purple one, as Yuuri had thought he would. Jean gravitated towards the black and emerald green costume, and Emil's was a black and blue costume. I knew he would have preferred white and blue, but Georgi would have hated it because they wouldn't have all matched. Emil's opinion hadn't seemed to matter on the subject. Without any thought to modesty at all, they all stripped down to their undergarments so they could try on their costumes. Yuuri looked away, embarrassed. How could anyone take their clothing off so freely, even if they were amoung family?

"Tomorrow night seems too far away!" Georgi moaned, turning his back on Yuuri as a signal for the boy to fasten the hooks that would hold the costume in place. It looked amazing of course.

Yuuri desperately wished he could go see Viktor. But part of him felt dread at the prospect. He wondered why? 

"What will you do, Yuuri?" Emil asked as Yuuri aided Jean with his hooks as well.

"Yuuko and Phichit were hoping that I might be able to stop by later on in the evening to dance at the footmen's celebration," Yuuri lied, "But I haven't decided if I will go yet."

Georgi smiled. "Of course, the footmen's celebration would be the only appropriate place for you to dance,"

And Jean laughed along with his older brother. Even though it had been a lie, Yuuri's heart still felt as though it had been stepped on. His smile fell, and he focused on his task.

"That's uncalled for," Emil clenched his teeth and his fists. "What makes you think that saying that is at all acceptable?" He glared at them.

"Oh don't be common," Georgi warned.

Yuuri laid a hand on Emil's for arm, offering a small smile of thanks. "It's okay, Emil. Thank you."

"It's not okay!" Emil stepped away from Yuuri and put himself in front of Georgi. "Alpha's are supposed to protect omegas, and your treat Yuuri as if he's the dirt underneath your shoes, Georgi!"

Georgi's presence suddenly filled the room, and Yuuri cried out as pain wracked through his entire body.

Oh gods, it's happening again! Yuuri sobbed. His body had taken too much today. He couldn't handle anymore.

"Do not think to challenge me, beta," Georgi snapped at his younger brother. Jean fled the room. "You will regret it if you do."

Emil was not a fighter. As a beta, his secondary gender was beta, and thus was not affected as much by Georgi's show of power. But he was, in fact, afraid. Emil retreated as well, leaving Yuuri alone with Georgi. Yuuri now wished the man had said nothing at all.

The alpha knelt down next to Yuuri, and gently stroked his hair. The boy curled in on himself farther. "Do you think that trying to turn my own blood against me will help you in the end, Yuuri?"

Yuuri shook his head, trying to get out an apology, but his mouth was covered by Georgi's hand.

"Nothing will change your fate now, Yuuri. It will be over by tomorrow night, don't you know that?" Georgi continued the tender ministrations. It sent a chill down Yuuri's spine. "Why don't you go to the footmen's celebration." His hand suddenly fisted in Yuuri's hair and used his hold to haul Yuuri up close to his face. "One last made memory," He dropped Yuuri and let him clatter to the floor. "Before I take everything away."

Chapter Text

The newly formed bruises that adorned Yuuri's body made a restful night's sleep absolutely impossible. He could sense the end was tonight. The entity inside him felt too close to the surface. Too restless. It was excited. It was waiting. Yearning. He wished he could feel at peace with the end, but all he could think of were the things he'd never have the chance to do again and… and Viktor. He'd never have the chance to hold his soulmate  or to fall in love with the beautiful man. No lazy morning kisses or horsing around in a hot spring. Yuuri hadn't been able to sleep a wink. He contented himself with imagining those scenarios, blushing when his body responded in ways that had never happened before. He'd risen when the sun broke, and set about his morning tasks.

"Yuuri! Com fix Jean's hair!" Georgi ordered, upon swishing into the kitchen to find Yuuri scouring the pans he'd used to cook their meal. 

Yuuri moved lifelessly to do so, depressed and disheartened. It was a blessing in and of itself and Georgi didn't comment on his attitude, allowing him the time to feel what he was feeling. Perhaps it was Georgi's farewell gift. He waxed and shaped Georgi and Jean's hair, while their brother was nowhere to be found. Yuuri had only to send them off now. It would probably be the last time he'd see them.

"Yuuri," 

It should be cause for celebration, he thought, so why do I only feel sad when I think of it?

"Yuuri!"

But sad wasn’t the only thing Yuuri was feeling. There was one other emotion that was starting to claw up his throat and grip his heart like a vice. Fear. Gods, he was so afraid! He was terrified of whatever was about to take over his body. Terrified of what was going to happen when he died. He didn't want to die. He wanted to live. He wanted to live and go back to the beautiful island he called home and run the hot springs just as his father had, and have his mate right beside him! He wanted the chance to fight with Viktor over where the would live, over their future, but Georgi had stolen that from them before they had even had a chance.

"YUURI!" Georgi snapped. "This is the third time I've called for you, boy, are you deaf?"

Yuuri hunched in on himself. "No sir," he whispered.

"I ask if you were going to go the footman's celebration later tonight." He sniffed.

Why does he care?

Georgi never cared about anything Yuuri was interested in doing unless it was to tell him he couldn't go, but Georgi had given him permission the previous night to go, so Yuuri was sure he would be allowed.

"Yes," Simple answered were best. He didn't make eye contact. He didn't want to seem disrespectful.

"And what will you wear, your best scouring shirt?" Georgi put a finger to his chin, his laughing expression telling Yuuri that in Georgi's eyes, he was basically a bug. 

"Yuuko, Guang, and Phichit gave me a costume," Yuuri explained, then wished he'd told them he'd been lent the costume, not outright given.

Georgi clenched his jaw. "Who's coin did you spend, Yuuri?"

Oh gods. He said my name in an actual sentence. Yuuri knew well what that meant. He curled further into himself and put Jean between them as he continued to shape the boy's hair.

"It was a gift from my friends," Yuuri whispered.

"A gift?" He exploded. "Are you saying that we are no indebted to a couple of lowly betas with no social standing?!" He took hold of Yuuri's hair. He cried out. His scalp was already so sensitive from similar treatment Georgi had bestowed upon him the night before. "How dare you!"

Yuuri saw the raised palm and looked toward Jean for help. He was looking at his hands in his lap, averting his gaze from what was happening in front of him. The slap was loud in the room, and so was the clatter as Yuuri fell to the floor. He held his ear. Georgi had slapped him and boxed his ear at the same time.

"Please stop," He whimpered, eyes fixated on the floor as he tried to keep himself from crying out.

Georgi set his foot back on the floor and took a deep breath. "For today, I will." Then he knelt and whispered so his brother couldn't hear. "Wouldn't want your body to be too damaged after all. Perhaps I'll have you healed before they come," He said nonchalantly. Then the man stood. "Go. I want to see this costume of yours." He commanded.

Yuuri scampered up off the floor and streaked from the room and into the quarters off the kitchen where he slept. He applied no makeup, nor did he shape his hair. He simply stripped and pulled the costume on. There was no one to help with his hooks, but he fastened them easily enough. He was used to doing things alone. 

"Don't keep me waiting, omega," Georgi sang. 

Yuuri ran out of the bedroom, hoping that whatever Georgi was planning on doing to him wouldn't damage his costume beyond what he could quickly repair himself. Georgi and Jean were waiting in the entryway, both just putting on their masquerade masks. The stopped and turned to Yuuri, two pairs of eyes peering at him from behind black masks that left nothing but shadows where their eyes should have been.

Georgi made a sound of disgust. "That is the costume you plan to risk our family's reputation on?"

"I wasn't aware I could ever be mistaken for your family, Georgi." Yuuri regretted the words as soon as he said them. 

Georgi stiffened. Yuuri could feel him about to use the bond against him, as payback for the words. The man had been called out, and he didn't like it. Yuuri was only saved by Jean's snide remark.

"Georgi's right. You look like a vanilla cupcake."

Yuuri could only think about the hard work his friends had put into this costume, knowing he'd only ever have the chance to wear it once. It would be perfect attire for his death. He could wish for no more than leaving this place with the love of his friends surrounding him. He hoped they would burn his body as he asked, and that his ashes would find their way home across the sea to that hill by the ocean where his home still sat.

"We wouldn't want you disgracing your father's name," Georgi said pityingly. "Perhaps it just needs a bit of modification," 

Then he grabbed hold of the fabric that made up the skirt and yanked. Yuuri was knocked off balance by the action, and cried out as he heard the fabric tear. Then the jacket was torn open, sending the faux gold buttons flying to every corner of the room.

"Stop!" Yuuri cried as more pieces of the once lovely costume were torn to shreds, and a puddle of black and white pieces lay around their feet.

"What's going on?" Emil demanded racing down the stairs. He looked horrified.

Emil clenched his jaw, feeling shame for what he had allowed to transpire within the walls of his own house. He hadn't been able to aid Yuuri the previous night or any of the nights before. But he would this night, no matter what it cost him. He'd had enough of this behavior from his brothers. He shoved Georgi off Yuuri, and the boy's body crumpled. It had been abused too much the past few days. Jean snarled at him along with Georgi, able to be brave against his own brother, but not against the laws that were supposed to protect omegas. Towards that, he could turn a blind eye. He squared his shoulders and stared Georgi straight in the eyes.

"You will not hurt him anymore. You're finished." Emil's voice was low and snarling. He never lost his temper, but gods if he knew where it was at that moment.

Georgi snarled right back. "You have no right to stand up against me!" He beat at his chest twice with a fist and walked towards Emil, aggressively crowding his space as he said. "I am an alpha!"

Emil mimicked the move, walking forwards until Georgi had to walk backwards. "You are an asshole!" He yelled in the same tone. "Haven't you done enough to him for tonight? Go get in your carriage you purchased with Yuuri's belongings and go to your grand ball in the costumes he chose for you."

"Why are you saying this?" Georgi hissed. "I'm doing all of this for you!"

"No." Emil couldn't remember a time when he'd been brave enough to tell his brother 'no'. He stood a little taller, and tilted his chin up. "You're doing this out of your own filthy hatred." Emil pointed at the door and spoke with all the resolve he had in him. "Now get. Out."

Yuuri was astonished when, after a moment of measuring up his youngest brother, Georgi turned and left. Jean, of course, followed. The door bounced back open when Georgi attempted to slam it, making Yuuri flinch. Emil crouched down next to the boy huddled against the wall and reached out to pull the younger boy into his arms. Yuuri shuddered. An omega needed constant physical contact, and Yuuri was touch-starved.

Stray.

That is what Viktor had said. Yuuri couldn't deny it. This was the first time that Emil had ever hugged him. It wasn't Emil's fault he was afraid of his brother. After all, Yuuri was too.

"I'm so sorry, Yuuri," He separated from the boy to look down into his eyes. "You should never be treated this way. I wish… I wish I could stop it." His jaw clenched again, and that same fire lit his eyes as it had earlier. He was determined. "Yuuri, you're going to go to that ball." 

"The footmen's celebration?" Yuuri whispered with a smile, not truly believing him.

"No, I mean the actual ball."

Chapter Text

Yuuri's father had always told him that the key to happiness was kindness. Maybe, on the last night of his life, that was paying off. Emil was determined to get Yuuri to the ball. All Yuuri could think about was seeing Viktor. It couldn't be avoided. Yuuri was torn. Half of him wanted to kill himself right that second just out of spite so Georgi wouldn't be able to go through with whatever horrifying plan he had, but something told him to wait.

Something is going to happen tonight. Something incredible.

"We're here, Yuuri." Emil's words surprised him.

We're where? What is he talking about?

"It's not much farther." the man assured him. "She'll be able to heal you and fix your costume."

'She'? Who is 'she'? 

Emil pulled him from the horse they'd been riding, reminded Yuuri of just how much pain he was in. He couldn't even hold his eyes open. They lolled into the back of his head as he was carried into the large building. He could only make out the difference of shadow and light from behind his now closed eyelids. He knew he was fading fast.

Emil watched as the boy he was carrying fought to stay conscious. The ride had been too intense for him, but Emil hadn't had any other choice. Georgi and Jean had taken the only carriage they had. He wished now he hadn't been so hasty in sending them off. They had gone more willingly than Emil would have expected but he didn't have time to think about that now. Yuuri was dead weight in his arms, and he was glad he'd made a conscious effort to stay in shape over the past few months. He hurried inside the Great Library and directly into the North Wing. He didn't bother to waste his breath and call for Minako. Minako was aware of everything that ever happened in her library. She owned the entire building after all.

"So this is the famous Yuuri," She spoke, appearing out of nowhere beside him as he walked. 

Emil let out a high pitched scream and dropped Yuuri while he scrambled back from the woman. She waved her hand gently as if beckoning the air to cushion the boy before he ever it the floor.  Even when she dropped her hand, the boy was still held suspended four feet off the ground. She walked around him.

"You give me this to work with?" She scowled at Emil, who was still catching his breath. "Look at him, he's torn to shreds!"

"He needs help," Emil gasped as he stood up, chest pounding.

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "But that's not why you came,"

Emil should have known he wouldn't be able to hide his intentions from her. "He has to go to the ball, Minako!"

"Don't whine at me, tell me why you want an injured boy who is mere hours from his death to attend a ball."

"Hours?" Emil's heart sank.

She nodded. "He has until a bit after midnight, I'd wager."

"Can't you heal him?" 

"Yuuri isn't only suffering from physical injuries. His omega is badly injured as well. Can't you feel it? How suppressed his baser nature is? You can barely smell the poor thing, and it's not the cheap soaps thats causing it either. Gods, has he even had his first heat?"

Emil frowned and wished he'd been paying more attention. "I don't know,"

If Minako had seen the look of shame on the young man's face, she'd been kind enough not to openly notice. "I can feel his injuries," She said, starting a brisk walk into the north wing before turning sharply into an annex he'd never noticed before.

"What about his omega?" Emil brightened at the thought and followed her through the door.

His jaw dropped. He'd never seen a magic caster who was so openly unapologetic before. It was frightening the sort of obscure objects that hung from the walls and ceilings. The room smelled like herbs and spices that he'd never tasted. He briefly wondered if he had brought Yuuri to safety or to his doom. 

"That I cannot do. I'm afraid that his condition is out of my hands. I am not the right sort of magic caster for casting curses or lifting them. I am a healer and an enchantress, nothing more than dress up and makebelieve, I'm afraid." Minako rambled as she grabbed a collection of assorted items from every corner of the room and busily mixed things together over one of the many stone plates with sigils chiseled into their surfaces. 

"Then what do we do?" Was there any hope at all? Had Emil's fear kept him from saving the boy before he could be saved? 

"You take him to the ball of course," The healer snorted.

"What good will that do him now if he needs to find a cure?" 

"I'm positive you'll find someone who can help you at the ball." She waved a hand dismissively.

"What do you-"

"Hush now, I'm working."

Then she waved her hand with a flourish over Yuuri's body. Gentle white-blue whisps trickled over his body like water rolling from tanned leather. They seemed to run over every bruise and abrasion the boy possessed, encasing it with the gentle luminance. She stood at is head and combed her fingers carefully through his locks to cradle it. Closing her eyes, she seemed to allow the blue light to fade just as golden light seeped from her hands through Yuuri's hair to warm his skull.

"Awaken," She whispered with an echo not even a step behind her as if she had two voices that were speaking at once.

A loud gasp for air burst into the room as Yuuri snapped his eyes open. He fell forwards and scrambled away from the golden light Minako still emitted. He seemed disoriented, running into the bookshelves with all the tiny glass bottles lined up neatly. They clinked together delicately and would have fallen from their perches entirely had not Minako waved her hand at them too to float them back to where they were. 

"What- Where am I?" Yuuri was breathing hard. He turned around to face the two other occupancy, eyes widening. "Emil? Who- I don't understand what's going on, I-" 

"Shh, relax, Yuuri, Emil brought you to me so I could heal you and get you ready to go to the ball." Minako soothed.

Yuuri latched onto the only thing about that sentence that made any sense at all. "The ball? I can't go to the ball, Georgi and Jean will be there and I-"

"Bah. No matter. A little concealing magic will fix that."

But how would Viktor recognize him if he had a concealing spell on him? No, no, I am not going to go see Viktor. NYuuri tried to convince himself. "Would my friends recognize me?" Yuuri decided that was a safe question to ask. Of course, he wasn't actually going to the ball and even if he did he wouldn't go see Viktor, but he just wanted to know. That was all!

"I can make it so anyone who doesn't feel any animosity towards you would see you as you are if that is agreeable." 

"That would be perfe- wait, no! I'm not going to the ba-"

"Well then it's all decided!" She clapped her hands together. Then she turned on Emil, who hadn't spoken yet. "What is this that you've brought him in, it's horrific. What happened?"

Emil snorted. "Georgi didn't like it either."

"I'm no seamstress. But if you describe it to me, Yuuri, I'll be able to recreate it." She told the younger boy.

Yuuri was beginning to get frustrated. "I can't go to the ball,"

Her friendly brown eyes met his. "Why?"

He hadn't expected her to actually listen, so when the question was voice, he wasn't sure if he could find an answer until one tumbled out of this mouth. "Because I'm afraid,"

"Of what?"

The same compulsion influenced him once again to answer as starkly as before. "Of being seen."

Then she smiled fondly and cupped both of his cheeks. "I think it high time that someone actually saw you, Yuuri." 

He was so transfixed with the strangely familiar smile and how relaxed he was in that moment that he couldn't argue. Because I want to be seen. I want to be seen by Viktor. Yuuri could be honest with himself in that moment.

"Perhaps we'll make you a new costume altogether. How about it Yuuri?" Yuuri was pulled back into the present moment by her question. "What do you want to look like for your big night?" 

Yuuri blushed. "I want…" Then he squared his shoulders and tipped his chin up. "I want to be fluid, and beautiful, and graceful. I want to draw their eyes so they can't look away."

"They?" Minako asked with a sly smile. "Who is 'they'?" Apparently, that was as far as Yuuri's courage would take him in that moment because he ducked his head and blushed again. She laughed and ruffled his hair good-naturedly. "Oh fine, I won't make you answer out loud. I already know who it is anyways!"

That only made him blush harder.

Chapter Text

The ball itself was exactly what Viktor would have wanted for his guests. It was fun and joyous more than elegant and stiff. Due to the mixed crowd, Viktor had brought local musicians to the palace to perform jaunty folk songs for his guests to reel and dance to. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the food made by a chef he frequented in the capital as well. He'd decided that he was going to represent as many small shops and trades as possible. This gave familiarity to the guests who weren't drowning in money, and something new to the aristocrats who had previously thought they'd seen it all before. Viktor loved surprising people. He wished he was more excited about the night, but the entire time he had his eyes glued to the door from where he sat at the head table next to his father and brother. His mate had yet to come.

"This is spectacular, boy!" Nikolai patted Viktor's back a little too hard. "Even the footmen have the chance to celebrate inside tonight!"

Viktor turned a weary smile towards his father but his eyes couldn't stray for long. It was as though the door and his eyes were magnets that couldn't seem to be parted.

The ball has been in full swing for near an hour now and he hasn't shown, Viktor's shoulder drooped.

He knew he should show a strong face to his people and try to be happy, but unlike his stoic, sarcastic younger brother, Viktor wore his emotions on his sleeve. He couldn't hide anything from anyone even if he wanted to.

"Why don't you go dance, Viktor? It will put you in a better mood." Even though Yuri's voice sounded annoyed, Viktor could hear an edge of concern woven in as well.

Yuri was right. He hadn't danced all evening. It was a bad face to show his guests. He needed to be stronger for them. Viktor stood up, eyes once again making their journey passed the colourfully donned people and to the massive double doors. That's when he saw him.

"He's here!" Viktor wanted to shout for joy but all he could do was whisper. He would have recognized the boy anywhere with or without the ornate black mask he was sporting.

Mate! Viktor's alpha whined within him. His secondary gender had been sulking for the past two days. He'd heard nary a peep until now. Black fabric clung to every single curve he had and shimmering silver stretched from his right shoulder and tapered down towards his left hip, the lighter fabric decorated with large, roughly cut clear, bluish stones. He would be the death of Viktor. The prince gulped, and only then realized that he was scrambling towards the boy, weaving his way through the crowd. Their gazes locked, cerulean blue to melting chocolate. Then his mate was just as urgent to get to Viktor as he was to get to the boy. They stopped mere inches between them, both utterly unaware of the stillness in the room.

"Would you do the honour of a dance?" Viktor held a hand out, not caring that his fingers were trembling or that his accent had gotten thicker.

A small, cold hand slipped into his. Viktor let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. He hadn't thought the boy would show. He's run from him, and he hadn't sought Viktor out. But he was here now and the gods help anyone who tried to take the boy out of arms reach of Viktor again. He felt a wolfish smile stretch across his face. The boy's breath caught. Viktor pulled him as close as he could get him, and swayed him from side to side, allowing him to understand the rhythm. He smelled a bit like fear and desperation, but loneliness drowned out any other scent Viktor might have detected.

I wish we were the only people in this castle right now, Viktor was glowing with pleasure. His soulmate was in his arms. The one who was made just for him.

"I've found you," Viktor smiled at him from behind the light pink mask he wore.

"So you have,"

Viktor's hands tightened on his mates as they swept through the ballroom. "Why did you run?"

He ducked his head. "I- I was scared, am scared," He sounded vulnerable.

"There's nothing to be afraid of in my arms,"

His mate smiled, almost indulgently. 

"I'm glad you're here," Viktor pressed his forehead to his as he slowed their dance again, holding the omega as close as he could.

"Somehow, I couldn't stay away." A pink hue rose on the raven's cheeks.

The blush did him in. Viktor swept him up in his arms eliciting a squeak from his soulmate. The crowd parted for Viktor as he carried his omega towards the doors leading further into the castle. Viktor needed to lay claim to his mate now. Everyone had been looking at the boy, not a pair of eyes in the room hadn't been on him, and it was killing Viktor that there was no mark or scent to identify their bond.

"Um, please put me down?" Yuuri's voice shook a bit, part fear, part hesitancy. "I can walk on my own,"

Realizing what he'd done, Yuuri tensed, waiting for the Prince to lash out at him for questioning him. The alpha will be mad! His omega cowered inside of him and he just knew that if his mate treated him the same as Georgi had, he wouldn't survive it. He wouldn't want to survive it.

He was surprised when his feet were suddenly on the ground. His majesty's breathing was ragged. Yuuri held very still and let the older man bury his nose in his hair and inhale deeply. Viktor repeated this several times because his muscles began to relax and his fingers began drawing little circles on Yuuri's lower back. The omega wanted to purr.

He pulled away to look down into Yuuri's face and smiled sheepishly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you or smother you. Please don't be afraid of me."

Afraid of him? He'd actually set Yuuri down when he'd asked, and then actually touched Yuuri. The man had nothing to apologize for. He allowed himself to wrap his arms tentatively around his alpha, liking the feel of all the lean muscle under the navy blue costume he wore. The prince made a sound like he was in pain as an arm wrapped fully around Yuuri's waist and one sent his fingers curling into the soft black hair on the boy's head. Their lips were barely a breath away from brushing.

"I want a name now," Viktor's voice was husky. His body fit perfect against Yuuri's. It was heaven.

"Yuuri,"

He smiled and tested the name out of his soft-looking lips. "Yuuri," He rumbled.

The boy shivered and began to pull away, needed control of the situation again. "Your majesty, I-"

He laughed. It was a joyful sound. "That's not my name, Yuuri,"

"I-" 

"Say my name,"

Dear gods, his voice was smooth as silky and Yuuri wanted to roll and bathe in the sound.

"Viktor," It was a breathy sound. 

Yuuri was still backing up, and Viktor was still following, a sultry smile adorning his handsome face. He wasn't even a step behind, maintaining their close proximity even as they moved. There was no choice but to stop when Yuuri felt the marble at his back. A leg slowly slid between his as Viktor snaked an arm around his waist again, using his other hand to cup the younger boy's face.

"You're not trying to run from me anymore, are you?" His tone was chuckling.

"Hmm?" Yuuri could only register the melodious tone that belonged this his soulmate and the firm pecs underneath his wandering fingers. 

"Yuuri?"

"Hmm?"

"I need- I need my scent on you." He breathed against Yuuri's neck. "I need to bite you." 

When his tongue flickered out to sweep lightly up Yuuri's throat, the boy cried out, legs going limp beneath him. Such a simple touch sent the boy's senses reeling.

"My poor omega, you're touch starved, aren’t you?"

He pinned Yuuri against the marble to stop his descent to the floor. That only added a new sensation of not enough pressure against Yuuri's groin. Viktor's lips were on an adventure around the top of the skinny boy's neck and jaw. Yuuri wondered if he might be able to convince the prince to go on a crusade in other places as well. Viktor lightly nipped up to Yuuri's ear and sucked on the soft lobe. When he released it, his warm breath tickled against the raven's ear and chilled his neck where Viktor had been taste testing.

"I'll be sure to remedy that," He breathed wetly. 

Yuuri let out a little keen as Viktor drew away from him. But the man didn't go far. He brushed Yuuri's lips once, twice, and then leaned his forehead against his, their masks pressing together.

"I'm going to kiss you now, Yuuri," He murmured, lips moving lightly against the weak-kneed omega's. "And then, I'm going to claim you."

Chapter Text

Hands. Lips. His nose. His breath. Viktor showered Yuuri with every sensation he could. The boy's skin was tanned from working in the sun, and the pads of his hands were calloused. Viktor wanted those hands to touch him in every place imaginable. Yuuri's legs were wrapped around the small of his waist, his pelvis rocking into Viktor's abdomen. Arms were twined around his neck, crushing Viktor's face into the younger man's chest. Shapely muscles rose and flexed as he squirmed against the Prince's hold, not in a way that would encourage Viktor to release him, but in a way that threatened to make the man's knees weak. Yuuri imagined them ending up tightly wound around on another on the thick rug Viktor was traversing through. 

"Where are we going?" Yuuri half asked, half moaned as Viktor sucked at the soft skin just bellow his hear lobe.

"Into the garden," he husked. 

It was evidently hard for both of the men to get any semblance of words out. Their instincts were ruling their actions. The omega inside Yuuri wanted to entice the alpha, and the alpha inside Viktor wanted to lure the omega into a secluded space so he could mark him. The soft grass within the private gardens was acceptable. It rustled beneath them as they fell to their knees facing one another. Seeing Viktor on his knees in front of him elicited a primal response within Yuuri. Oh yes. He liked the man there. And suddenly nothing mattered but what they were doing in this moment. Yuuri couldn't think of anything else. He pushed on the alpha's chest until he allowed himself to lay on the grass with Yuuri kneeling above him, over his pelvis but not touching.

Yuuri felt strands of his slicked-back hair fall down into his face as he leaned forwards to steal a kiss. Viktor's lips curved upwards in a delicious smirk as Yuuri tentatively explore his mouth. The hesitancy didn't last long. Yuuri sipped from the Prince's lips, angling his head back and down just right so that Viktor had no control. He could only take what Yuuri was giving him. Viktor moaned at the thought. His little omega was dominating him in a way he had never even thought was on the table of possibilities. Viktor allowed his control to slip away and gave it freely to him. Licking. Sucking. Laving. Tasting. Savoring. Yuuri's tongue danced along his drawing out a keen from the alpha's chest. Yuuri broke apart, breathing heavily. Viktor fell back onto the grass and looked up into the warm eyes staring down at him.

"I want to see you face when we make love," Viktor breathed, reaching up towards Yuuri's mask.

Yuuri hesitated for a moment before bending his face down within Viktor's reach. The smile bestowed upon him stole his breath from his chest.

"Oh,"

That startled Yuuri out of his haze. "'Oh'?" That couldn't be good, could it?

"The way you look at me," Viktor sucked in a breath and opened his mouth to say more but could say anything at all because his body was moving of its own accord, gently switching their positions. "I love it," He finally whispered, lips against Yuuri's. 

Their mouths began to move against one another's. Before this night, Yuuri hadn't ever kissed anyone before. He hadn't even thought about kissing someone. Every touch, every look, every second was new and exciting to Yuuri and he had no idea how to handle all the wonderful things he was discovering. Sparks traveled between them, arousal rising high above them like a beacon to the two men.

I didn't think I'd ever want someone's tongue in my mouth, Yuuri thought languidly, completely relaxed and happy right where he was. His tongue is sliding against mine; he's tasting me and marking my mouth with his essence. I love it.

After one final swirl of Viktor's tongue around his, the Prince traveled to the ticklish area of the roof of his mouth. Yuuri traced the underside of Viktor's tongue with the tip of his before he turned his head away, laughing.

Viktor tickled Yuuri's neck with tiny, light flicks of his tongue. "What are you laughing at?" 

Yuuri could hear the smile in his voice. His heart felt so full. "It tickles," he explained.

"Oh?" Mischief. That tone was definitely mischief. "Are you ticklish?"

Yuuri's relaxed body suddenly tensed and spasmed as Viktor's hands descended to his sides. He nearly screamed with laughter as he tried to roll away from Viktor to escape the breath-stealing joy that was choking him. They were playing. He was rolling around with his mate in the grass and Viktor was touching him, laughing with him. When the Prince finally relented, he returned his mouth to the servant boy's seemingly unable to stop tasting, as though he was starving and Yuuri was actually food he could eat. It had started out playful but quickly turned carnal. 

Viktor's hands traced down Yuuri's sides lightly and grasped onto his hips. He lifted them with ease and pulled the lower half of Yuuri's both up into his lap so his groin was pressed against the apex of the boy's thighs. Viktor rocked against him, mimicking the motion of what the act would actually feel like. Yuuri moaned. His costume was wet between his legs. Yuuri wanted to close his legs in embarrassment, but as though his mate sensed his intention, he leaned over him, opening his legs further and pressing harder. He soothed the squirming boy by rubbing his hands up and down his side, over his arms, and pulling his hands above his head as he dominated his mouth.

Yuuri let out a needy whine when Viktor rolled his hips again. "Ugh! Viktor!" He bucked up, seeking more of that pressure. "AH!" He cried out as Viktor pinched his nipples.

He surged up and pushed Viktor down so he was straddling the man's hips. He couldn't stop himself from grinding and twisting over Viktor's erection. Viktor let out a cry of his own, fingers scrabbling at the fastenings on Yuuri's costume. 

"You're so soft, Yuuri!" He groaned reverently.

Yuuri wasn't sure what happened between one moment and the next, but he was suddenly on his knees, the fabric of his costume being pulled away from his damp skin. Viktor's palms worshiped Yuuri's toned back. He pulled the cloth over Yuuri's buttocks and bared Yuuri's legs to his view too. He rumbled low in his throat. 

My alpha likes my body! The boy's omega was well pleased with the fact.

Yuuri preened, arching into his touch. Viktor's roaming hands made a beeline for his most sacred place. Fingers ran down between Yuuri's cheeks before the tips brushed his entrance. Without his consent, his anus tightened against the intrusion. Viktor drew away but used his thumbs to spread Yuuri's cheeks and bare him to Viktor's view. Yuuri buried his face in his hands, embarrassed. Then something wet and probing was there. Yuuri jerked, trying to pull away, knowing what that feeling was and feeling all the more ashamed. Viktor chuckled against his hole and rolled his tongue around the rim, gently probing. Yuuri had never been so aroused.  Then his tongue pushed inside. 

"Ah!" Yuuri couldn't help but yelp at the sensation. "Mmf! Viktor!"

"Hmm? Yes, Yuuri?" Viktor asked innocently as he popped a fingertip inside Yuuri's entrance.

It circled, slowly going deeper and deeper, aided by the natural lubricant his body created. Yuuri could do nothing but writhe and moan. There was a little stinging, but it was so intimate, something sacred done with his mate. It was special. Then there were two fingered, and Yuuri felt the pain turn the corner to pleasure. The deep moan could not be stifled, Yuuri stretched like a cat. 

"Has anyone ever touched you here, Yuuri?" 

Yuuri shook his head.

"Never?"

"Never," Yuuri promised.

The third finger was a surprise that caused Yuuri to shove back hard, wanting more, wanting a rhythm to tie him to the ground before he sifted away into nothingness. That's what it felt like. It felt like if Viktor didn't do something, Yuuri would just cease to exist. He needed this. He needed this badly. 

"Shhh, I've got you," He murmured.

When those fingers curled up and stroked Yuuri's secret place, Yuuri lost it. He writhing, desperately, mindlessly trying to get closer to whatever was building up inside his abdomen. Then those fingers were yanked out of him. He cried out at the loss and reached back to place his own digits inside of him. Yuuri pumped wildly, reaching, searching for that place that Viktor had brushed with his fingertips just moments ago, but to no avail. Yuuri pressed his face into the grass and tilted his hips up, hoping that if he changed the angle, he would find it.

"Yuuri," Viktor whispered against his spine, causing his toes to curl and his body to shiver. "I need you to take your fingers out now,"

Yuuri only groaned in response.

Viktor chuckled again. "I have what you need, little mate." He gently pulled the boy's fingers from his slick entrance.

Then there was something much bigger at his entrance. Yuuri's' eyes barely had time to widen before the huge width was being pressed inside of him. Viktor let out an inarticulate groaned as he stopped, just a single inch inside his mate. He had to let Yuuri get used to him before he went any further.

"Relax, Yuuri," He ran hands over the man's small back and hips. 

After stroking Yuuri's erection and cupping his sack, the muscles that gripped his length slowly relaxed and his mate began to rock his hips, needing more. Viktor took care not to shove inside roughly, but to slowly stretch him, watching carefully for any sign that he was hurting the man. Yuuri's body was so honest. He was moaning and wriggling and contorting to try and get Viktor in deeper. Once Viktor bottomed out, he stilled for a moment, letting Yuuri feel him. Then he began rocking in and out in a slow, relentless rhythm.

"Faster," Yuuri panted. "Please! I need- I need-"

Viktor knew what he needed. He increased the tempo, slamming into him aiming for his sweet spot over and over again. Yuuri exploded into climax, releasing a primal scream. Viktor pulled all the way out, loving the way Yuuri snarling at him in warning, not knowing that Viktor only wanted to see his face while he bonded them forever. The snarl turned into a satisfied moan as Viktor shoved back inside of him, not being gentle this time. This time, Viktor nipped and marked and rubbed his scent aggressively on Yuuri. Viktor could feel his knot expanding. Yuuri cried out at the sensation, so Viktor pulled away, intending not to knot him. Yuuri cried out in agony. Viktor feared he had hurt Yuuri by pulling the quickly forming knot out of him, but he hadn't. 

Yuuri needed Viktor to knot him. He wouldn't be whole after this if he didn't. He laced Viktor's fingers with his and wrapped his legs around the Prince's waist, dragging himself up and popping himself onto his mate's knot. They both let out their pleasure filled cries into the empty garden around them as Viktor spilled his seed deep inside. They slowly sank to the ground, connected, and utterly content. Yuuri took hold of the man's face and dragged him downwards, wanting his taste on his tongue. 

"Bite me!" Yuuri begged, shoving the alpha's face into his neck.

Viktor only response was to sink his teeth into the crease between Yuuri's shoulder and neck. The keen Yuuri released could not be smothered as another orgasm tore through him. Then Yuuri's teeth were embedded into Viktor's neck, an impulse that he could not stop. Omegas did not mark their alphas, but gods help anyone that tried to stop Yuuri from marking his. This alpha belonged to him. He was Yuuri's soulmate. His knot was inside him and his teeth were injecting his scent and essence into Yuuri's blood stream. His hands were gently massaging the scent glands on his wrists all over Yuuri's body. This alpha was his.

"I came twice," Viktor shuddered and hauled the boy closer, worshipping eyes running all over Yuuri's face. 

Yuuri smiled serenely. He had completely sated his alpha. Him omega stretched lazily and yawned inside of him. He had never been so in touch with his omega in his life.

Viktor chuckled, "Can you move?"

Yuuri didn't answer. He just rubbed the scent glands on his wrists lazily over the sides of his neck and face. Viktor let out another low laugh before turning them both on their sides. Yuuri curled into him, at peace. With Viktor's hands in his hair, warm breath feathering across his face, and warms wrapped securely around him, Yuuri was sure that for once, his nightmares wouldn't be able to reach him.

Chapter Text

Yuri watched Viktor sleep peacefully under the night sky. His chest pale chest rose and fell gently, a contented smile on his face. The Prince was curled around him, head resting on Yuuri's right peck. He still had an hour to enjoy his mate before the enchantment was broken. He wasn't sure what that would do. The clothing that the Sorceress Minako had made for him would fade away, and he would be recognizable once more to Georgi. He shivered at the thought. He wished he could keep the spell on forever. He wanted to stay with Viktor. The resigned feeling that had cloaked him was gone and all that was left in its place was a burning desire to be by this man's side forever. He wasn't to take care of Viktor.

He had always assumed that the Prince would be a very put together person. Someone regal, and powerfully sexy. But the man that he was holding on his arms right now was not that at all. His angelic features were almost childlike in sleep as he clung to Yuuri as a child might to their mother. His soft smile held no malice or pessimism at all. He was sexy in a playful sort of way. But with the gullibility that radiated off him, he needed to be protected. Yuuri carded his fingers through his mate's silky hair, grinning when the man practically purred.

He's so beautiful. I don't want to move from this spot.

His bladder had other ideas. Yuuri stifled the groan that would rouse his sleepy lover and he gently shifted out from under the naked man. Putting on his costume but didn't bother with the mask as he hurried back into the main building where Viktor had carried him through on their way to the garden. Then he stopped, looking back at his lover.

Should I wake him? I have no idea where the water closet might be.

"Hey, you!"

Yuuri turned towards the voice and saw a slender boy, perhaps a few years younger than himself standing there, scowling. "You aren't supposed to be in this part of the palace. What do you think you're going wandering around?"

"I'm sorry!" Yuuri tensed. "I was just looking for your water closet but I'm not sure where to go!" 

The boy rolled his eyes. "Follow me. I'll take you there." He grumbled, turning and stalking down the hallway.

"Uh- thank you!" Yuuri hurried to catch up him.

"Yeah, yeah, make it quick, I don't trust you to find your way back to the ballroom without getting lost." The boy really was surly, but Yuuri didn't take offence. It was actually sort of endearing since the boy obviously seemed to care enough to personally escort him.

Yuuri bowed quickly and entered the wainscot clad door that blended in with the wall. How had he found that? It looked exactly the same as the rest of the wall! After he had finished, he stopped by the mirror to look at himself and blushed. His hair was slicked back and his eyes were bright. How would anyone look at him and not know immediately that he had just been made love to? The thought made him blush harder so he washed his hands vigorously. Opening the door, he stepped back out into the hallway. The boy wasn't waiting for him. Had he taken too long?

"Um- excuse me?" Yuuri called, hoping for an answer.

None came.

"I guess I'll just make my way back to where I came from myself, then." Yuuri decided.

Smiling a bit as he thought of cuddling back in with Viktor. Once he got back to the garden, he would wake the other man so they could search for a bed. Snuggling sounded amazing at that moment. He would pile all the pillows up in a large mound and make an empty space for them in the middle. Held even arrange the blankets perfectly for his mate. That thought stopped him short. Was he… was he in heat? Had Viktor triggered it? Yuuri put a hand to his mouth and turned back to hurry towards the garden. He ran into someone right away. Was it the boy? No, this man was too large for that, but not by much. 

"Oh, excuse me," Yuuri apologized, making to move around him.

Then he was grabbed. Yuuri screamed as hands scraped over his sensitized skin in an effort to keep him still. Hands that did not belong to his mate.

"Let me go!" Yuuri cried out.

"Hold him still, Granger." A cool, measured voice came from the man who was gripping him tightly. It was a voice he vaguely recognized from a few nights ago when Georgi had company for dinner...

How is this happening? The Sorceress Minako told me that anyone who meant me animosity wouldn't be able to recognize me! 

Yuuri was not above begging for assistance. "HELP! SOMEBODY HELP!"

"It's not personal," The man assured.

Then he was silenced by a gag that was thrust into his mouth and tied behind his head. He gagged as the cloth was stuck in too far and he couldn't get it away from the back of his throat. He struggled more urgently. Darkness shrouded over his head, and his arms were being held behind his back as the harsh feeling of rope rubbed against the sensitive scent glands which were swollen from the beginnings of heat.

"You were harder to find than I thought you'd be. It was luck that I happened upon you," The main remarked, sounding indifferent. "Very bad luck on your part."

"HEY! STOP THAT!"

That was the boy's voice! The one that had lead him down this hall way! He'd come back!

"LET HIM GO HIS INSTANT, SEUNG GIL!"

Seung Gil. Seung Gil. Seung Gil!

Memories that Yuuri had desperately block flooded into his wakeful mind. That voice! How could he had forgotten that voice! He was back! And he was going to kill Yuuri this time! He had started the process long ago. The pain. The memory of the pain was nearly blinding. Yuuri screamed himself hoarse through the gag, throwing his weight against his captors and then away in an attempt to escape.

"Prince Yuri," The note of shock in the Magician's voice was satisfactory. Things weren't going according to plan. Yuuri hoped it irked him to no end. Then the man sighed. "You were not supposed to see this. But now that you have, I'm afraid nothing can be done. Take him." 

A cold stab of fear pierced Yuuri's stomach. They couldn't mean to take him too! That boy - Prince Yuri - had done nothing! He didn't deserve this! He didn't! Yuuri screamed through his gag.

Let him go! Let him go, damn you!

But the sound of Yuri's screams as he too was treated much the same way was all the answer he needed to know what was going on.

"Just be quiet, my Prince. I promise you will not remember this tomorrow."

"Just be quiet, omega. I promise you won't remember this tomorrow."

The words… so similar… so stark in Yuuri's mind had Yuuri screaming louder than before. And then he remembered. Like the memory had been on the tip of his tongue for so long and he was only just finding it. 

The ritual.

That dreaded ritual on the floor of the Grand Library. Right in the middle of the compass mosaic in front of the giant glass windows.

To bring back someone else.

Someone to take Yuuri's place.

A bond.

A bond that was started between himself and Georgi.

A bond that could not be broken.

The ritual had to be fulfilled. 

A bond that would belong to someone lost to the world of the living and Georgi. 

Through his body.

White hot rage tore through Yuuri even as the pain and the intensity of the emotions that waged war in his mind and in his body would not allow him to stop screaming. He couldn't tell anymore if he was screaming in rage or in pain. 

A bond that would destroy his mate if they bonded!

Yuuri sucked in a terrified breath as the thought entered in mind. No. No, no, no, no! they couldn't do this! They couldn't hurt his mate like this! But they hadn't allowed Yuuri to remember. They had stolen that from him too. That had stolen his future. His right to live out his mortal days in the world of the living. His right to love and be loved.

They even sealed away my omega! That is why I am only just now feeling the affects of my secondary gender now that I am so close the ritual! Yuuri thought furiously.

They had sealed it off from him so Georgi wouldn't take Yuuri's body before someone else was inhabiting it. Yuuri burned with fury. He was going to rip them limb from limb at the first opportunity. They had done this to him. And they were about to do something to his mate. His precious mate who had so trustingly allowed Yuuri to hold him as he slept. His beautiful mate with his childlike joy. His sexy alpha who had stopped when Yuuri had asked him to. And they thought that Yuuri would let them get away with hurting him? Cold determination gripped him.

They will burn for this.

Chapter Text

When Viktor woke naked, alone, and slightly chilled from the night air, he was not in the best mood. When he heard his younger brother had been reportedly kidnapped by one of his retainers, he had not been in a good mood. But when he heard that his younger brother had been reportedly kidnapped by one of his retainers along with another omega, Viktor had been furious. The powerful animal between his thighs pounded against the earth as they sped full-speed towards the town. He kept low, hunched over the animal and suspended above the saddle as though he were racing.

They would have had to pass the cardinal station. The guards there reported an unmarked high-end two-horse carriage heading North, towards the academic district. Viktor thought of all the places his Yuris might have been taken to.

His alpha was pacing restlessly within him. Yes, the typical anger was there, but it was nothing compared to the anxiety pouring off his secondary gender in his soul. Viktor should have been clued in by that. The creature whined and tucked its massive head under its tail. Viktor blinked. He had never before had such a clear picture of his alpha in his mind. It was a wolf. A powerful, huge wolf. Except the wolf was whining pitifully and cowering.

"Sire, I checked with the station in the centre of the North district. They described a carriage exactly as the cardinal station had that headed towards the Great Library!"  Otabek informed him, the stoic demeanour gone, replaced by that of a man possessed.

Viktor would have smiled if he'd had it in him. He'd been watching Otabek yearn for Yuri for years, and now, he'd been watching Yuri antagonize Otabek to make the alpha step up and tell him what he wanted. But Otabek had been too slow. He had not been able to see past the veil of what he thought was best for Yuri before Yuri disappeared. Viktor knew that the man would never be the same if Yuri was not returned to them safely. 

I do not know if I will ever be the same either. Viktor shuddered.

"Then that is where we will head!" 

Otabek hesitated. "My prince, you should know, Prince Yuri has been spending his nights in the North Wing of the library for the past three days."

"The North Wing? That can't bode well for what we're about to walk into." Viktor snarled. "None of us are mages. Our main objective is to get my mate and my brother out of there. We'll consider that a victory if this involves mages."

His loyal retainer nodded. They veered off the road and into the gardens surrounding the Great Library. His horse was well trained enough that when he leapt off it without reigning it in, the white mare stayed in place. Viktor paid no heed to anyone else as he took the stairs three at a time to approach the intimidating visage of the Great Library. Double doors both beckoned to him and detained him. 

"Locked!" He yelled.

SHWING!

Otabek's sword cut through air and door with frightening speed. "Not anymore."

"How did you-" 

The man gesture to his sword. "Yura spelled it."

Yura? That's it. I'm confining those two to a romantic tropical island after this mess is done with. Viktor promised himself.

Even as they ran towards the North Wing and Otabek took care of that door as well, Viktor had to believe that his brother, who had just barely come of age and had not yet had time to celebrate the fact would be okay, and so would his Yuuri, his new, precious mate. Even if it was all hidden behind jokes. He settled his nerves by thinking about the specifics of the trip. How he would fool them both into going to the castle island in the south, and then strand them there with alcohol and oils from the east. By the time he'd return to them in two weeks, they would finally be mated and he'd probably be on his way to being an uncle. They spilled into the North Wing, empty and dark. Subtlety was out the window.

"My Lord! You are not supposed to be here!" Seung Gil's usual blank mask showed… annoyance.

"Release them, Seung!" Viktor roared.

Yuuri was naked, in the middle of the delicate design depicting the cardinal points with ornate inlays of different grains of wood. He was unconscious and so vulnerable. So very vulnerable.

"Where is the second Prince?" Otabek demanded.

Seung Gil sighed. "You keep getting in my way, my Lord." Viktor moved to charge towards his prone omega. Seung Gil tore a piece of paper with a spell enchanted onto it. "Viktor," he directed it, and Viktor was halted, unable to move.

Two men were pouring some sort of solution around the inlaid compass, enclosing them inside. By the time that Otabek and Viktor's men rushed them, the compass was sealed off. For the first time, Viktor noticed another man there as well. One who was walking towards Yuuri. He knelt down next to his head and cradled it in his lap, looking dubiously at the guards.

"How is this going to work, Sir Seung Gil?" The man had obviously just come from Viktor's masquerade ball questioned. 

"You've trusted me to come this far, Georgi. This is nothing that hasn't happened before. I just keep having to wipe their memories." Viktor's previous retainer, soon to be executed retainer waved a hand airily.

"You've done this before?" Viktor croaked.

Seung sent a cold smile towards the first prince. "If only you could remember how many times I've bested you."

"Release Viktor from this spell now!" Otabek bellowed first to Seung Gil, and then turned to the soldiers. "And find Prince Yuri!"

"Sir!" They responded smartly, hurrying to do as they were told.

"The spell will wear off long enough. Your precious prince won't be harmed. Everything will be just the same as it's always been." Seung Gil was drawing sigils in white chalk around Yuuri.

"Enough," Georgi rasped. "Can we get on his this already?"

"We're almost finished with the sigils." He responded.

"Where is the Sorceress Minako?" Viktor murmured to his companion while the two in the circles spoke. "Check in the annexe,"

The lady could not be unaware of what was happening in her territory. The question was why she was waiting. Viktor knew her wel enough to know that if she was on their side, then all would be well. She was waiting for the right moment or had received instructions from her oracle friend. However, if she was bent on raising her hand against them, they were as good as dead. Otabek nodded and joined a group of soldiers passing by without being noticed. Seung Gil grabbed hold of a dish with black paste inside and began painting new sets of symbols directly onto Yuuri's skin.

Viktor roared. "STAY AWAY FROM HIM!"

He was ignored. The anxiety he'd been feeling earlier was subsumed by the fiery rage that consumed him. 

Then the chanting began. Cries sounded from all that were present. Viktor wished that he had use of his body so he could cover her ears. It was the most horrible music he'd ever heard. A subtle breeze took up in the space and blew everyone but Georgi's hair about, which contained so much wax it didn't budge an inch. The sound of the chanting was just as much something to recoil from as it was to be lured in by. The sounds were all wrong. Grating. The notes too close together, somehow sounded as though they were being sung on top of each other until it combined to one, terrible,drawn-out noise. Yuuri's body was shaking, levitating off the floor only to be smashed back into it and Georgi's lap. Viktor screamed out in terror as a new pain bloomed within him too. Then he realized that his body was mirroring Yuuri's Slammed up and down. Pulled up as if something was about to be ripped from his chest, and then slammed down as though the force were trying to send him down into the underworld. Over and over again. Viktor's head throbbed. His limbs were not accessible for his use. The wind was deafening. Not even the chanting could be heard any more, and neither, he thought, can my screams!

He went up. Then he went down. Then he went up. Then he went-

Wait-

This was the part when he was supposed to go down!

I want to come down now! He tried to cry out.

But his mouth wouldn't work.

He didn't... 

He didn't have a mouth!

I can't feel my body!

Viktor could see his body beneath him, lying still as a statue on the floor, eyes staring right through him and up at the mural on the ceiling. Viktor wanted to scream desperately in that moment. He wanted to have a mouth to scream out of!

Everything is gone!

But not everything was. There was a terrible tearing sensation that was not physical in the least. His body was no longer attached to him. He was soaring. Uncountably flying upwards towards the painted ceiling above.

I WANT TO STOP! I WANT TO COME DOWN NOW! He wanted to scream to the world. 

There was nothing to help him get anywhere. He was formless and soundless. No one would see him or touch him. He could do nothing! And nothing happened. 

Until something did.

A pulling sensation. 

Tug. 

Tug.

Viktor's attention was pulled towards a strange painting on the wall just above the centre window that looked… off. There didn't seem to be any seeming shape to the masses of badly chosen colours. Then he knew what he was seeing.

Sigil on top of sigil on top of sigil. Painted with what?

If he could have gasped in horror, he would have, as realization dawned within him.

Oh God! Viktor moaned, suddenly sickeningly aware of just what he was looking at. Painted with- 

YANK!

It was as though his whole body was being sucked into the unnerving piece of art. Viktor wanted to fight, wanting to get away. But he had no legs to kick! No mouth to scream! No eyes to-

Oh. It's… dark.

Chapter Text

Yuri couldn't breathe. He was trapped. He couldn't move. The space was so confining that he couldn't even shift from his curled position. It was as if the walls had truly closed in on him and were pressing, seeking to curl him tighter. He ached with the need to stretch. Panic overwhelmed him.

Air, by the gods, air! He mentally shouted because he did not have the oxygen to waste on screaming right at that moment.

He consoled himself that he would most assuredly have the air for it later, and would thus air his grievances with the gods then. He pushed with his feet against the invisible wall that held him.

I won't call for help, not this time!

The snarling words did nothing but infuriate him more. Panic mixed with anger like potions in a witches cauldron. If only it could create magic he could use to escape!

"Yura!" The voice… so faint in the darkness and had crowded in on him caused him to pause in his struggle, his soul resting a bit at the sound.

Beka…

He wanted to open his mouth. It was okay to ask for help from Beka. But he knew that once he did, there would be nothing left for him to breathe, and if he couldn't make his Otabek hear him, then he would lose consciousness and quite possibly die. 

Fuck it. I'm not staying here any longer either way.

"Beka!" But it came out breathily, voice not raspy from disuse but some sort of damage that had been done to his throat. Was there something around it? Is that why he couldn't breathe?

It was too quiet! He'll never hear it, I can't breathe, I-

"Yura!" The light spilled in, the illusion of darkness and pressure shattering as Otabek lifted the lid of the small chest Yuri was crushed in. "By the gods," He murmured, urgently pulling his arms out first to make wiggle room for the rest of his body to follow. "I found you,"

Yuri wound his arms around the older man's neck tightly and buried his face in his shoulder.

Otabek, I-

But he still could speak. Relief turned tables to panic once more and he wriggled, scrabbling at his neck.

Oh gods, something is squeezing it, something is causing my skin and muscles to bulge over it!

"Yuri, Yuri, stop trying to escape, hold still!" Otabek tried to calm him. "Let me see, I can get it off! Stop- Yuri-"

But his words were like rain pelting on a window. They could not penetrate the slender prince's distress. 

"MATE," Otabek boomed.

Yuri's entire body stilled at the word. His omega taking notice and stared intently up through Yuri's eyes into the brown ones of Otabek's gaze. He gasped in a breath to fill his burning lungs and began coughing violently. The strap was gone. It was gone and he could breathe and-

"Beka!" He gasped fingernails scrapping the older man's back through his attire. He could not begin to stop saying the man's name. "Beka!" It was a mantra- a binding spell between them. The man belonged to him and Yuri was done allowing him to think anything else.

"I'm not letting go, Yuri," Otabek crushed the younger man against his chest. "What was that thing? Why couldn't I find your scent?"

"Enclosure spell," Yuri rasped. "A magic caster did this, one that can cast curses and blessings. Fuck! The bastard didn't have to choke the life out of me if I was in that chest with the spell."

"It was placed on you to restrict your oxygen enough to put you to sleep. Makes you more pliant. I want to get you out of here right now but first, you need to tell me what happened." 

What came out was a fracture line of thought in between Yuri's wheezing. "In the hallway- a man- he was- he smelled like Viktor and I- and then-" Then he was furious and found his coherency once more. "Gods damn those fucking extortionists with their cheap tricks and cheater's talismans, I'm going to rip our his fucking jugular and-"

"What did he say, I need to know- Yura, stop rambling and focus!" Otabek gripped Yura's shoulders. 

"He said that I wouldn't remember what had happened by tomorrow morning. Like he could erase my memories. He wanted the young man-"

"Yuuri," Otabek corrected.

"Yeah, what?"

"No," Otabek shook his head. "The young man's name is Yuuri."

The young prince paled and whispered out a curse in the ancient language. "Please tell me you're jesting."

Otabek's frown was enough to cause Yuri to scramble to his feet and lurch towards the only door he saw. He was caught around the wrist by the large hand of his friend.

"We need to get you out of here, now, Yura, they're doing some sort of ritual in there and-"

"I know!" Yura cut him off, pulling from the older man's grasp. "I've been studying how to stop it for the past few days!"

Otabek's jaw clenched. "I'm sorry, Prince, but my first priority is to keep you and Viktor safe. I'm sorry about Viktor's mate, but-" 

"You don't understand! This ritual is about to kill them both because they've bonded!" Yuri yelled and wrenched his arm away from Otabek, whose face had turned a pale shade of grey. "Show me where they are, now." 

"Can you stop it?"

Yuri was silent for a few beats. "I guess we'll see, now won't we."

CRASH!

Another beat of silence.

"What the fuck was that?" Uncharacteristically, Otabek swore.

Yuri grimaced. "If I had to guess, Viktor." 

"Can you fix this?" He asked again, intently, needing an answer.

Yuri snorted. "Oh yes, sure thing, all I have to do is reverse engineer a spell while Viktor's alpha form has manifested itself in place of Viktor's body to try and recover two souls from the underworld for the price of one! No problem at all!" He was snarling by the time he finished, Yanking off the shoulder cape he wore and throwing it behind him to Otabek. "I'm going to need you to buy me some time. Do not let Yuuri or Viktor's body leave the North Wing."

"Understood." 

Otabek stepped in front of him and opened the door of what appeared to Yuri to be a small annexe. Strange that he'd never noticed it before. He wondered what in the name of all the deities she was doing and why she wasn't there helping them. He'd chew her out later. For now, he'd have to focus. Otabek gave him the go-ahead to follow him. No one was supposed to know that he could cast magic. An omega who ad that sort of power would start a panic in the city. Seung Gil had implied there was a way to wipe people's memories. He would have to figure out how to make that happen by the time they had finished. Everyone but Beka, Yuuri, and Viktor would have to be dealt with. The North Wing was a vision. Not a good one. Not a vision in beauty. It was a vision in war. Seung Gil's guards had all rallied against- against what?

"Gods protect us, is that Viktor?" Otabek breathed.

Yuri didn't bother to answer. The creature was eight feet tall and letting out a wounded, animalistic keen. It was matted in fur. The creature was a study in silvers and whites but was splattered by crimson flowers that had taken to blooming on the planes of its body from the blood of its' victims.

"Yura, what do you want me to do?"

But before he could answer, he was swatted with a large white paw. Claws dug into his skin across his torso. He let out a scream at the pain and was sent end over end towards the wall. His head cracked back against the dark wooden wainscoting. He groaned, the ache and the spots that swam in front of his vision all there was for a few seconds. He heard Otabek yell for him, but in that moment, he couldn't move.

Hot breath.

Moist heat rushed over his face. Viktor was sniffing at him. Yuri's vision cleared and he found himself staring directly into the open mouth of a very large, very angry wolf.

 

 

 

Yuuri was underwater. That had to be the only explanation for the deafening silence and the fact that he could not breathe or scream or move. He wondered if the fathomless water was cold or not. There was nothing to reach out and touch. There was nothing to see. No light source. No way to find out which way was up and which way was down. Yuuri wanted to get out of the water. He wanted to breathe!

Where am I? Viktor?

Then it was like he was peering out of the window, down onto a strange scene. His body was moving without him telling it too. Was it his body? No… he couldn't control it anymore. The sexy smile that quirked his lips but didn't reach his eyes was never one that he'd made, and the way his mouth formed words, sultry, contemptuous, ingenuine… that wasn't his mouth. No. That couldn't be his body down there at the centre of the compass. Yuuri would never allow Georgi to hold him like that even if the other man wished to. A surge of anger rushed through Yuuri's blood - soul? - at that moment. 

Georgi.

He wanted to take him away from his mate. He wanted to send Yuuri somewhere else. He wanted to- 

Oh. I-I see. He… he already has. That's my body down there, but it's not MINE anymore. It's… hers.

Yuuri found that he could hear the conversation from where ever he was floating. Her voice sounded like his, but beguiling and full of contempt and disdain.

"You brought me back," She murmured, her body appearing to slither on top of Georgi's from Yuuri's vantage point.

Georgi cupped the back of her head shakily and the smile that split his face in half was tremulous. "I promised, didn't I? I promised that I'd find a way for us to be together. Now I can take you home and we can-" 

"Home?" She snapped her head up to stare into his eyes. "What home?"

The smile became less certain. "The manor, of course."

Coarse. Brittle. That's what her laugh is. Like broken glass that's being swept across a stone floor. 

It hurt to hear. 

"I am not going back to that filthy place," she shook her head. "I have a new body now. I can be or do whoever I want, Georgi, don't you understand that?"

Georgi gulped and clutched at her tightly. "Anya! But we are fated mates!" He cried, but quickly changed tactics. "We don't have to live there, we can move! We can go anywhere you want just so long as we're together everything will be wonderful because we're fated and we love each other!"

She detangled herself from his body and stood, stretching languidly even as he wrapped himself around her leg.

"You think we're fated mates? Don't make me laugh. You're a fool to think that I'd let you lay with me for any reason other than desperation, Georgi Popovich." 

"But the bond!" He scrambled to his feet and grasped her shoulder's too tightly, his body coiled tight with eager despair. "You said you felt it! You said you loved me!"

The smile she gifted him with was cruel. "I lied," she sang cheerfully. "Even if I had a bond with you in that body, I do not in this one." Her tone became dark. "What makes you think that I would ever choose to bond with the son of the perverted bastard to raped and enslaved me?" 

"Anya, please, I am not my father, I gave you this body! Aren't you pleased with it?" He was breathing hard, smiling even through his fear. He looked crazed. Like a mad man.

She reached up and patted his hair with the flat of his hand, causing the stiff style to loosen and fall around his face. "You've been a very good dog, just like always, Georgi," she cooed. "I have everything I need. I'm free, now, don't you see? And for that I thank you."

He was staring with rapt fixation at her, as though she were water and he had been wandering on planes of sand with the sun beating down upon him for an eternity. Those worshipping eyes widened with horror. Yuuri strained to see what had happened. She stepped away, and what was left in the space that she'd previously occupied was a large shard of glass, embedded into Georgi's belly. Blood streamed from his body at a steady pace. He fell to his knees. He looked like a lost child, staring up at her with confusion and hurt and pain. 

"But I'm finished with you now." She knelt down next to him and nipped at his ear lobe, speaking with a husky voice. "I have much to do, little dog, so many things I never did get to finish in my life. Now I can continue doing what I've been trained to," 

"Continue what?" He rasped, his breathing laboured.

She tenderly lowered him to the floor and swept the unruly bangs from his face, the stroke tender as a lover's and because of that, cruel as a killer's. "Purging of course."

Chapter Text

 

Feet pounding the floor, blood pumping, a dull screech in his ears, Yuri was headed towards the door that lead out of the annexe. The sounds that emerged, the screaming, and the thud of wood that shook the building, and the ever-present snarling made it impossible not to notice the smell of burning wood. 

"Is the North Wing on fire?" Yuri asked Beka.

He shook his head, concern creasing his determined brow. "It wasn't when I was there last."

Yura shook himself. He was about to walk through fire anyways, literal or not. The scene that awaited him was one of chaos. Yuri noticed right away about Seung Gil was missing. The robed guards that the previous royal retainer had brought with him were screaming in terror at the sight in front of them. There was a huge wolf in the room, snarling at anyone who dared to approach the circle where Yuuri's body was. But it wasn't Yuuri. 

"Dammit," He cursed, knowing he was too late.

Otabek shoved him behind his larger frame protectively. "What is that?" He gasped.

"It's Viktor, Beka. It's his alpha."

"That's his alpha? What happened to his body?"

"The magic morphed his shape into that of his secondary gender's." Yura explained absently as he tried to think. Whether or not Otabek responded to him was completely lost on him.

How to get their spirits back… whoever is in Yuuri's body now is the soul that was traded by Georgi and Seung-Gil in exchange for Yuuri's. But there is an imbalance now because there was no soul exchanged for Viktor's, thus his alpha's appearance as he is the sole occupant of Viktor's form.

"Not good, not good, fuck!"

"What are you muttering about?" Otabek questioned as he pulled Yuri behind him to get to the barricade of bookshelves that Viktor's men had set up.

Yuri hadn't even realized he was moving. "There's an imbalance. That's not good. Magic is always equal trade. This for that, and when this system is disrupted, nature steps in to right the wrong."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that nature will likely try to implant a soul into Viktor's body if we don't get him back in there pronto. We don't have much time,"

"How are we going to do that? We don't even know where his soul went?"

"He is essentially dead, Beka. His soul was supposed to head to wherever the dead are supposed to go."

"Supposed to?"

"Can't you sense it? He's still here. He's been drawn into some orifice in here. Likely an artifact that draws in magical energy for storage."

"What artefact? Do you need it?"

Yuri shook his head. "It's that ugly ass painting I brought here a few days ago. But I can't be distracted by it. If It were near me, it would be trying to draw in the effects of whatever spell I cast into itself. Viktor and Yuuri were headed to wherever it is that the dead go. To bring either of them back would be…"

"Necromancy," The whisper sent chills down their spines.

"But who can do that?"

"Minako?"

"No, she's an enchantress. A scary one, at that, but she's not a necromancer. She doesn’t have that kind of power. I don't know any and there isn't time to find one!" Yuri was beginning to panic. What was he going to do? His brother was a giant wolf who wouldn't recognize him, his brother's mate was dead and possessed by a sultry soul, and the North Wing was in shambles. There was no way he'd find anything to help them in this mess. He'd have to know exactly where what he was looking for was. And, for a moment, he thought that somehow, he did... Clenching his jaw, he stepped forwards towards the circle.

"Where are you going?"

"I only have one shot at this. It might work."

Otabek hissed and grasped his arm painfully. "If you try to use a dark magic spell like necromancy, you could be swallowed into an abyss is you can't pull it off."

"He's my brother and that bastard isn't going to leave me with an entire fucking kingdom because he's lovesick!" Yura girded himself up to do what he had to do as he spoke. 

"Stop trying to look like you're not terrified," Otabek ordered softly, turning to boy towards him. "And promise you'll come back."

Green met brown eyes. Yura swallowed. "I'll come back to you, Beka." 

Otabek leaned down, and Yura closed his eyes, lifting for the kiss he'd been craving since his body had first started to awaken around his brother's retainer. But the larger man's lips never met his. Instead, they brushed over his forehead, feather light. Yura had never felt more treasured than at that moment.

"You'll have to live to be of age if you want a real kiss," Otabek smirked slightly, but the effect was lost in his trembling voice.

Yura frowned. "I could be about to die and you won't even kiss me?" 

Beka shrugged. "You're worth waiting for." 

Yuri couldn't breathe for a moment. Otabek playfully, but forcefully shoved Yura away from him, as if he wouldn't be able to let Yura go if he didn't get him out of arms reach. Yuri understood. So he searched for what he was looking for. The huge black tome was easier to find than he'd thought it would be. It was as though the book was singing to him. He knew what page to turn to, somehow, like the words on the page were just calling to him, offering up their cadence for his use. He knelt before the circle. The wolf was occupied by Otabek, who seemed to serve as a good distraction. Georgi was wrapped around Yuuri's legs in the centre of the compass.

"You can't leave! Tell me what you mean!" He cried desperately.

Yuuri's voice was cold when he spoke, kneeling in front of the distraught man. It was a tone that did not belong to the boy. It was slurring… almost sultry in cadence. It sounded wrong. "Do you have it in you, Georgi?" He ran a fingertip up the man's neck under his chin. "Are you to be part of the Purging?"

"I'll do anything, Anya!" He promised hoarsely, clutching tighter.

'Anya' had no problem shirking the alpha's hold. "No. No, you will be purged with all the rest, I think, my poor alpha," she sighed through Yuuri's lips.

What the hell is this Purging that she's going on about? Yuri wondered, even as he placed his hands down in front of him to connect with the compass. He couldn't spare a second thought for this Purging.

He felt the song coming up out of him, the gentle cadence of the melody as he sought for the right sounds, the right tempo, the right key, humming softly to himself, as of yet unnoticed by his surroundings.

Show me the way, he prayed silently, intent on picturing the compass in his mind and remembering every detail.

He had only to glance at the book, to listen to it's calling. It was calling him to speak the words of the spell. No, sing the words. Ancient sounds that had not passes anyone's lips in decades. He sought out Otabek's warm gaze. When he found it, he nodded. The man would protect him while he did this. Anya would not be excited about going back to whatever realm she'd just come from, but there was nothing to do about it now.

 

Hold out your hand, Death.

Meet me half way.

Return to me the souls which I seek

That they might die another day.

 

Reach for me, O Spirits of all Nature.

Lend me your strength to mend this.

To right what has been wronged,

To end this.

 

Hear their cries, O Spirits down bellow,

Take back what is yours.

Open your arms to this soul of the crow.

Bring back to me that which is mourned.

 

Yuri was not using the book as a guide anymore. The spell formed in his mind, not so much as words, but as ideas, ideas that flowed like poetry off his lips in an ancient, long forgotten language.

CRASH!

The sounds did not jolt Yuri from his haze. Wood splintering in all directions, swords swinging, claws slicing, and a roar that split through the air. Yuri didn't look, and he never broke the endless loop that carried him through the song. He could not care for anything that was happening around him while he chanted. He felt the earth reach up and cradle him in their grasp. Death was a looming darkness in his mind, regarding him with curiosity. Hand reached up to grasp him from somewhere. They were like physical hands that he could not see. He did not know where they would grasp next. He felt as though he was about to be swallowed whole. Suddenly the words he's been chanting and singing in his head began to be heard out of his own lips.

Louder.

Louder!

LOUDER! 

He was so close! He could feel it! He could feel their souls! They were reaching back for them, Viktor was calling his name! Yuuri was warning him. Something was happening. Someone was coming towards him.

Anya. 

She would try to stop this. Feeling Yuuri's hand around his throat, lifting him from the floor with the strength other than the omega's body, hands as cold as ice, and eyes empty and devoid of feeling jolted him. He croaked out the verses, struggled. 

"YURA!"

Beka. He's watching this. He's going to take this out on Yuuri's body to protect me! He can't hurt Yuuri's body or this might now work!

As if the thought had physical power, it erected a physical barrier between everyone else, him and Anya.

"You've stopped your loyal dog from running to your rescue, fairy prince." She said, a cruel smile twisting her lip. "Are you to be the first in the Purging? Or shall your precious alpha? Decisions, decisions."

"My love, what are you doing? Let him go, that's the Prince!" The pale confusion and desperation that coloured Georgi's voice was hard to hear. It was worse when Yuri looked into his eyes and saw the deranged smile that clouded his vision. The man was falling apart.

She ignored the man clamouring for her attention. "What will you do now, Prince?"

Then Yura smiled because he knew what he would do. He wrapped his legs around Yuuri's waist and threw his arm forwards into Yuuri's chest, instinct driving him. His flesh passed through the omega's as if there was nothing there at all keeping him from reaching inside and grabbing Anya's soul. Anya let out an inhuman screech as Yuri grasped it in his hand, crushing it in his fist. The pain forced the soul to stop crushing his windpipe.

Yuri smiled. It was not a nice smile. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

And with that, Yuri yanked the soul right out of Yuuri's body. Wind rattled the windows, glass shattered all around them. Wood burst open and pelted them with shards and splinters. Yuri reached, grasping hold of Yuuri and Viktor's souls with his own, pulling them out from the prison that had sucked them in.

The painting that the King donated to the North Wing. That's where I'll store her. She won't be able to reincarnate or be summoned back here without her whereabouts being known.

Then it felt as though the two men were holding onto him to keep from being sucked back in. Yura released Anya's soul, shuddering as she let out airy screeches into the wind as she was consumed by the painting. The results of Georgi's spell had been extended into it, and it wanted a soul in return for the magic. Yuri gladly gave it.

The chanting stopped.

The wind stopped.

There were no sounds.

It was over.

He had just enough time to loosen his hold on his brother and his brother's mate before he fell back against the hard-wooded floor of the intricately inlaid compass before the blood that had been leaking from his eyes clouded his vision, and he was dropped into a freezing pool of deep burgundy red.

With his last thought, he weakly intoned to whatever deity would listen. For the love of all that's holy, don't let those bastards fuck up getting back into their own bodies.

Chapter Text

Hey, guys! I am so sorry I didn't update last weekend. I'm having some medical issues and I am unsure if I'll be able to post again this weekend. I promise I am still writing this story, it's just taking a little longer than I'd anticipated. There will be a new chapter out soon - maybe during the weekdays this coming week. I hope you're all well! Thank you for being patient with me. <3

-The Author

P.S. The coming chapters will be hot and fluffy as we near the end of our tale. Looking forward to sharing it with you! ;)

Chapter Text

Yuuri's head pounded. That was a very good sign because it meant that he had a head. The feel of flexing his fingers was one of relief. He had control over his body again. He was on the floor. All his senses were heightened. He felt as though he could hear every single little sound around him. He groaned and tried to open his eyes. He relished the uncomfortable feelings of feeling displaced and alien inside his own body because he could recognize the miracle for what it was - the Second Prince Yuri of Regalia had, for all intents and purposes, raised him from the dead.

Then there were hands on his face. Stretching, pulling, gently slapping, as if Yuuri was in a daze and needed to rise. But Yuuri still felt like he was underwater. His eyelids fluttered with the desire to open them and look on the face of the boy prince who'd just rescued him and Viktor.

Viktor… why isn't he the one trying to rouse me? Yuuri wondered, but it took too much brain power to keep up the thought and all the connotations it held.

"Yuuri, gods be damned, wake up!" The second prince's voice was sharper in Yuuri's ear that time like he wasn't so immersed in the languid waters.

"Viktor?" Yuuri murmured, the thought clawing it's way up his throat without his conscious thought to bring it so. 

The other boy was yelling, a stark contrast to the slightly drugged quality to his own voice. "Viktor fucked up getting back into his body and he's about to fucking murder us all if you don't fucking wake up and show your fucking mate that you're alive and fine!"

That's a lot of fucking. Yuuri thought. 

"Yeah well, let's hope you get the chance."

Oh. He'd said that out loud.

"Viktor, you shitty drama queen. Did you have to grow fucking wings?" The boy growled, then his voice grew serious. "Yuuri, open your eyes. Open. Your. Eyes."

Even though Yuuri couldn't make sense of the words, the command was what caused the waters to recede further. Yuuri's eyes snapped open and locked onto the emerald green ones of his mate's younger brother.

"You need to wake up and go claim your mate."

Each word, spoken with such intention, such authority, was what caused Yuuri's body to rouse from whatever slumber the spell had cast upon him. He was on his feet, though unsure of how he got there at first. There were so many things he was seeing that was visually screaming at him to understand. Terrified soldiers, the captain of the guard holding them back from sticking their spears into- into what?  Yuuri's head swivelled to see what they were so scared off. 

A giant wolf with wings

White. Majestic. So beautiful. My alpha. My mate. 

The growling in his head surprised him. His wolf was generally quite mild mannered. But this wolf- no- this man in the form of this wolf was his mate, and since the beginning, his omega had made it very clear what he wanted in that regard. The sense of possession and longing hit him like a tidal wave and he could do nothing to fight against the tide. He didn't try. He stared at the giant white canine who was crouched on his haunches, snarling at the captain and his men who were still ten feet below his giant white muzzle.

Yet Yuuri could not make himself fear this man.

He looked like a fluffy, huge dog. He wanted to rub his body against that fur and bask in the scent coming off the beast. So he did. The North wing went utterly silent as soon as Yuuri sank his fingers into the long fur on Viktor's wolf's chest. Yuuri sighed in contentment at hearing that heartbeat. He knew what he needed to do. His head was clearer. He needed to bring his mate back. He had to say all the things that had been bottled up inside him. He had to apologize and make this better and pray Viktor would forgive him. He had bitten Viktor without his constant. That was a crime in and of itself. He could only hope that his mate would forgive him. He'd spend the rest of his life trying to make it up to him if he would just come out from inside that wolf.

"Your majesty?" Yuuri murmured against the fur, feeling embarrassed and bold at the same time. There were so many people watching. He wanted them to know just how much power he held over Viktor. How much the first prince belonged to him. Those feelings were intense. He couldn't focus on them right now. This wasn't a show. This wasn't a contest. This was about bringing Viktor back, so he put his wolf in check.

The sound the creature made wasn't so much as a growl as it was a grumble at the title Yuuri had addressed it by. 

With a small, hesitant smile, he corrected himself. "Viktor, I know you're in there. I also know I scared you, and I'm so sorry." Yuuri was trembling. The low whine made him smile and bite back tears at the same time. He needed to feel Viktor's skin beneath his and hear Viktor's voice in his ears and see the man's smile or his tears or whatever else he would give Yuuri. 

The wolf lowered its carriage-sized head, bright, intelligent eyes regarding Yuri with interest and clear affection. That tongue darted out and brushed against Yuuri's right hand. Without hesitation or fear, Yuuri reached up and petted the fur around Viktor's muzzle without thought that Viktor could possibly bite or hurt him.

"I was… so scared. I never meant to leave you. I never want to leave you!" Yuuri fisted that fine hair.

The wolf chuffed and pushed closer into Yuuri, listening closely. Yuuri wasn't sure if it was the man or the beast so intent on his, but both were Viktor and Viktor was his mate.

"I'm so happy you came after me, came to save me even after I-" Yuuri quieted his voice so only the huge puppy could hear. "Even after I bit you."

Apparently, Viktor didn't mind that at all if the acceleration of the previously slowly wagging tale was any indication. Yuuri laughed, no longer feeling like he wanted to cry. "Oh really?"

The little anxious shift of weight from leg to leg answered Yuuri.

"Oh? You would? Well," Yuuri lowered his voice and looked at the wolf from under his eyelashes, backing again a few steps. "Sorry big guy, I can only do that if you un-fur."

The wolf growled playfully and followed Yuuri's retreat.

Yuuri continued to back up. "What do you say? Want to come out and play?" Yuuri ducked under the large head, unable to curb the desire to play with the big dog.

Viktor had his big wolf's forehead press against the ground, watching Yuuri wing around his legs and pet his belly. The playful swats to herd him wherever Viktor's wolf wanted him to go made Yuuri giggle, which only encouraged the big canine.

"The beast is playing with the omega!" An unfamiliar voice intoned with awe and a trace of amusement as well as fear. 

"Do not disturb or distract them," The tightly whispered response came.

There was no movement from anyone in the room. The second prince was firmly in the arms of the captain of the guard, who was obviously ready to sacrifice everything to protect the boy. They still watched Viktor with wary, narrowed eyes, not that the first prince would have noticed. He was busy pawing at Yuuri from multiple sides, trying to keep him in the little room his body had created in the large, now completely destroyed North Wing. It was obvious that both men were enjoying the little game they were playing but with his head like that and his legs moving about the way they were, Viktor lost his balance and tumbled to the side. Yuuri wasted no time and patted his belly and scratched under his chin, laughing when the first prince of Regalia's tongue lolled out, and those huge blue eyes grew comically large as gravity pulled Viktor's eyelids towards the floor even while he was focused on what Yuuri was doing.

"I see you all had it handled," A feminine voice caused Viktor to jump to his feet, hackles raised, standing in front of Yuuri. "I'm glad."

The wolf had obviously not deemed the captain of the guard or his men or his younger brother any sort of threat to him or Yuuri. His woman, however, was different. The wrinkled muzzle, eyes narrowed to slits, and extended claws were all very good indications that he did not want to be approached by this woman.

"Come now Viktor, I wouldn't want to have to muzzle you." He frowned at him.

Yuuri growled. "Minako, don't joke like that right now." Viktor snuffled at Yuuri's clothing, breathing in his scent but never looking away from the woman.

"He's all beast right now, darling. Not a trace of the man who is trapped within him. That curse was only meant to carry one soul. That's why Viktor's hasn't been fully able to reintegrate itself with his body. He has to do it manually, or someone has to do it for him."

But Yuuri didn't want Minako near Viktor, and he couldn't put a finger on why yet. "Something tells me he doesn't want you near him,"

She laughed. It was the sound of bells ringing. "Oh not me, my dear. I'm an enchantress. I deal with appearances, not the soul. You need a witch who can manipulate the location of the soul."

Prince Yuri was suddenly standing next to Yuri. Viktor surprisingly allowed it, even though he nudges Yuuri away from his younger brother as though his mate was a toy the boy might just decide he wanted.

"I'm not going to let any other with touch my brother!" His heated statement was backed by the captain of the guard's approving nod.

"You are a necromancer, are you not? Just do it yourself?" Minako yawned, waving a hand to the destruction in the North Wing idly, and watching as all the books, papers, and the even the chalk marks on the floor from the sigil that Seung-Gil and his acolytes had used all rose into the air and then scattered to their various allotted locations, or in the chalks case, the waste bin.

"A necromancer raised people from the dead and Viktor's alive. I can't do a thing." Yuri scowled, obviously furious at his helplessness in this situation.

"A necromancer is just a scary name that people use to describe a with that can call souls back into their bodies. It's just influence. Think about what raising someone from the dead is. It is returning their soul to their body. That all it is. You have the unique ability to touch souls, to sense them, and the manipulate their locations even when they themselves can do nothing back go with the wind. You can fix… this." She waved a hand at the beast Viktor had become.

Yuuri frowned. He disliked that she was treating Viktor as though he was some unsavoury creature. He was Viktor. This winged wolf was the being that lived inside of the man. This kind, gentle, playful wolf was who had held him a few hours in the past and dancing away with his entire being in tow. This beast was precious, not an eyesore. But he kept his lips firmly shut. Arguing semantics with Minako would not make he spit out how to turn Viktor back into a human any faster. The tips of those wings curled protectively around Yuuri. Interestingly enough, they also curled around his younger brother and the captain this time as well. A chuff of something between annoyance and suspicion made the woman laugh at him. 

"Oh, are you telling me you don't want your little Yuuri to play with you again, then?" She taunted.

Yuuri blushed furiously and pressed back against the fur of Viktor's chest.

"Hey, old hag, just tell me how to fix this!" Yuri demanded, taking an aggressive step forward.

She used a hand to cover her smile. "I can't tell you exactly how to do it. I can only tell you what I've observed so far. It's understandable you wouldn't have noticed this since you've hidden yourself and your talents away from anything having to do with magic until three days ago. So you really are just a babe,"

Yuuri would practically hear the other boy grinding his teeth in agitation. "What did you observe?"

Minako spread her arms out. "After the man was taken from the wolf, the man's body disappeared, and thus, what was left, was the wolf. Subsequently, once the man was returned to the wolf, you might expect the reverse to be true, but the man did not reappear. What did appear are those wings." She pointed a long-fingered hand at the white feathery haven that Viktor had created for them. "That would lead one to believe that the man's soul took form as the wings, would it not?"

"Why wouldn't the man just reappear?"

"His mate was injured, Seung-Gil is still in the building, even if he is unconscious, and his own men were pointing spears at himself and now his mate. His baser instincts are coming to the surface to protect the ones he loves. Thus, there was no place for the man in the wolf's battle." 

"Okay, so how do we make a space for the man?" Yuuri asked. 

"It's not like that. Yuri should be able to just draw out the energy of the man's soul and reinject it in a central location in his body. Though, I'm not sure where best would be…"

Yuri rolled his eyes. "Next to his heart, duh. The man always refers to his wolf as though the beast were in his chest."

She smiled. "Well, then it seemed you've found your answer."

Yuuri stepped forward to stop the retreat he could sense she was about to make. "But I don't have mine."

"Did you have a question I didn't answer, Yuuri?" She cocked her head to the side.

"You knew this was going to happen but you didn't stop it. Why?" Yuuri ground his teeth. 

She regarded him for a moment before sighing and looking toward the huge windows looking out onto the beautiful fore-sunrise scenery. "I'm an enchantress, Yuuri. I can make things appear to be what they aren’t. Unfortunately, I can change very little. Only influence. I can see, but I cannot control. That is the curse of an enchantress. I can see the future, Yuuri." 

"Then why couldn't prevent this from happening? Why couldn't you have stepped in with illusion magic and found another way?" Yuuri cried, feeling betrayed for some reason. 

She shook her head. "Because whenever I would decide to do that, the future would shift and change, and people would die. Even telling you influenced your actions enough that it changed what will come to pass so significantly that tens of thousands of people will die."

Yuuri went cold. "You said what will come to pass, not what has come to pass. What else aren't you telling us? There is more still coming?"

"You know I cannot say one way or the other." She shook her head. "But know this. This was the only outcome in which everyone who entered this room survived. And it was crucial. I repeat, crucial that the outcome of events was this." She waved a hand around the room. "There will be more to come, princes of Regalia. If not for you, then for your children. The Purging is coming, and you all must be prepared."

And with that, she disappeared.

Chapter Text

The feeling of having his soul sucked out of his body was a combination of two things. When he and Yuri were younger, Viktor had the great idea of pouring grape juice they'd brought home from their summer trip to the southern palace over the thick white snow they could gather from outside. The result was delicious, and painful if they ate too much too quickly. That pain mixed with the feeling of being sucked towards the ground from a tall height was exactly how it felt to have his exasperated little brother pull his soul from the wings that had manifested on the physical representation of his alpha. While before it had been the helpless drifting sensation, this was different. Viktor wondered if it had anything to do with how annoyed he looked.

"Right, so this little ball of light is his soul," Yuri brought it up to look at.

Viktor could tell that because he was looking through his wolf's eyes, strangely not from the light. The first time he was able to see the events from where his soul was drifting. Viktor would make sure to inform Yuri later. Maybe it could be a peace offering.

"I heard that asshole," Yuri growled at the ball of light. "Don't think I'm so easy."

"You can hear him? What's he saying?" Otabek questioned, standing slightly in front of Yuri to keep himself between the younger boy and Viktor's alpha, though there was no need to worry, the alpha was currently entertained with the notion of having a tail.

Viktor would have responded but his beautiful soulmate suddenly caught his attention and held it. He stood worriedly by his wolf's side, shifting from foot to foot and looking uncertain. Mussed, frightened, and a bit haggard looking the costume which had been beautiful just hours before but had been torn somewhere in between their lovemaking and their later altercations, he looked exhausted. He also looked in danger of running. While Yuuri seemed perfectly at home petting the large beast next to him, it was obvious that there was some trepidation in seeing the man again. Viktor would have to remedy that. He wasn't Yuuri to associate him with pleasure and comfort and home.

"Soulmate?" The incredulity in his younger brother's voice was palpable.

Viktor wondered if Yuri could hear all his thoughts.

"I can,"

And with that simple, disgruntled confirmation, Viktor knew how to hurry this train along. The slew of images he brought to the forefront of his imagination of his younger brother and Otabek made his little brother redden. Hand holding. Nose kisses. Cuddling. Then he pictured Yuri as a tiny kitten, hissing and scratching at his captain of the guard. The teasing was so much fun that Viktor was about to go deeper into the rabbit hole, but was suddenly flung straight towards the alpha wolf's chest.

"I AM NOT A CAT!" Yuri's hackles rose, negating his point.

"But you look like one!" Viktor giggled. Then gasped. "I can giggle!"

"Just when I was starting to enjoy the quiet," the boy grumbled.

Otabek staggered towards Viktor slightly and fell onto his knees. "Forgive me, my lord for prioritizing another's safety over yours."

Yuri's temper was flared, too raw and frayed to put up with any more of this utter bullshit. "Fuck that, Otabek's mine!" He grabbed the captain of the guard by the ear and dragged the surprised man up out of his deep pose. "You bow to no one but me, do you understand?"

The growling was not what made those brown exotic eyes widen. "I understand," he murmured.

"Good. We're going home. Viktor, get your shit together." Then he turned on his heel and stalked out of the North Wing with his man trailing after him, dazed.

They and the soldiers escorted Georgi, Seung-Gil and his assistants out of the North Wing, leaving the two alone. Free to finally give his full attention to his soulmate, he turned and looked for him. He was standing two meters away in a similar position that Otabek had just been dragged out of. Viktor was a mind to do the same thing his brother just had, but stretched his patience a little farther because this was his mate, and he needed softness.

"Yuuri,"

Yuuri shuddered. The way the man said his name… it undid him. "I'm so sorry," he forced himself not to tack on an honorific. He needed Viktor to stay focused on the conversation, not on correcting the way he addressed him.

"What are you-"

Frantic rambling. "I'm sorry for endangering you I had no idea that it was going to be tonight or else I would have ended it-" No no no, that isn't what I mean to say! I don't want his pity, I just want to make this right! Can I make this right? "And I knew they would come for me at some point but then you- in the woods and- at the ball and then your hands and mouth and-"

Then Viktor was kissing him, and something in Yuuri shifted. Long buried desires. The forbidden abomination that Yuuri loathed to admit to himself came to the surface. The desire to dominate this powerful alpha. Yuuri was not an alpha. He shouldn't want that. But with Viktor's tongue exploring his mouth and the sensual way Viktor wrapped his body around Yuuri's just made him want to pounce on the man in a way an omega should not desire. Viktor gave the slightly shorter man his weight and Yuuri had to start chanting to himself in order to curb the rush of forbidden desire.

But I have I under control. I have it under control. I have it under-

Viktor moaned.

Letting out a cry Yuuri wrenched apart from the man forcing Viktor to catch himself with his hands on the floor. Viktor looked dazed, confused, and hurt.

"Why are you over there?" He gestured to the meters separating them. "Come back!"

Yuuri was breathing hard. "I just- I need a moment to get it under control and then-"

"Get what under control, Yuuri?" 

God, the way the man said his name. "Viktor don't come any closer or I might- might…" The way his hips rolled and eyes smouldered and he approached was very distracting. 

"Might… what…" Viktor was just as distracted, feinting left to dive his face into Yuuri's neck. The action pressed the bite mark Yuuri had placed on him against his chin. Yuuri moaned and bent down to taste the mark that would forever be stamped into his soft, otherwise flawless skin. That he had put it there- Yuuri took in a shuddering breath. It made him crazy.

"Viktor," He whispered hoarsely, unable to stop his hands from roaming down the man's back to the swell of his ass.

"Yes?" The word could no longer be classified as 'speaking'. It was purring. 

"If you don’t stop, I'll…" Yuuri gulped, but with a final push of courage finished his sentence. "Devour you."

The full body shudder that wracked the other man's frame made Yuuri catch his breath. Did Viktor want- no, it couldn't be. Maybe Yuuri wasn't specific enough.

He tried again, feeling a little more confident, even if he wasn't sure Viktor would actually want this. "I'll lay your body out on this floor right now and make you submit to me." 

Viktor mewled. The man most definitely wanted that. "Yuuri please!" He gasped out, clutching at Yuuri's shoulders.

Yuuri was small and malnourished. The grip hurt, but he liked it. He liked that this powerful, healthy alpha somehow, inconceivably had the desire to submit to him. And that turned him on. Arousal burned bright between them as Yuuri reversed their positions, gently steering Viktor back until he was pressed up against the nearest table and Yuuri stood between his legs. Yuuri leaned back far enough so he could look his love over.

"Are you hurt?" He asked, surveying the torn and tatter remnants of Viktor's clothing that were twisted around his toned body and not entirely covering all the necessary places. He began to remove and shift the pieces so he could get a better look at the prince.

God if anyone has hurt him I'll make them wish it was their souls taken to the afterlife and then I'll send them there.

"Slowly," Yuuri muttered darkly.

Viktor chuckled a little uncertainly. "That sounded scary, Yuuri. What are you thinking of doing?"

Yuuri's scowl transformed into an aroused, adoring look at his mate. "To you? I'll make you take you home with me and then I'll check over every single inch of your body."

"And then?"

"Then I'll make love to you." Yuuri husked, pressed his closed lips to Viktor's in a sweet kiss, still a bit hesitant to take the lead.

Viktor wasn't sure which part he wanted to comment on, the part where Yuuri had been thinking of doing something very scary to someone else or the part where Yuuri would make Viktor take him home. As if Viktor needed to be forced. Yuuri didn't even have to ask. It was just a given. From this moment on, wherever Viktor was living, Yuuri would be too. Or the other way around. Maybe the other way around. Having the small man give him directions and expect Viktor to obey him awoke a strange desire Viktor didn't know he had. While Viktor had always loved the idea of a soulmate, had waited all his life to meet his, he didn't like that it was already decided what that relationship would look like. Viktor wasn't aware of just how much that bothered him until now. But with Yuuri dominating him and telling him what and how things would be, Viktor felt like for the first time in his life, he could relax. Yuuri would take care of him. He would make sure Viktor took care of himself. While the shell of the boy was small and scrawny compared to Viktor's, the prince knew that with the proper care and attention, Yuuri would grow into his full potential. The thought of a deliciously toned Yuuri caused a whole other idea to pop into his head. How arousing would it be when Yuuri was stronger than Viktor and then Viktor would just have to do what Yuuri wanted? The thought caused and interested for of purr to rise out of his throat and into Yuuri's mouth, which was now open and welcoming to Viktor's visiting tongue. He was thinking of all sorts of delicious ways Yuuri could punish him if he was naughty when his thoughts were interrupted by a throat clearing. Viktor could tell Yuuri was trying his best not to glare at Otabek, but the result was a rather disgruntled pout. It made Viktor laugh heartily.

"We'll be out in just a minute," he promised his second. 

The red-faced Otabek nodded stoically and turned smartly to walk towards where Yuri was waiting outside again, shoulders slightly stiff with embarrassment, but otherwise unruffled. 

Viktor liked making the unflappable man uncomfortable, so he didn't bother to wait until they were alone to ask Yuuri in a sultry tone, "Is this the part where you make me take you home with me?"

Yuuri just groaned.

Chapter Text

Viktor's back was slammed up against his bedroom door as soon as it was shut. Yuuri's hands were all over him, mapping, touching, wherever he could reach on the Prince's bowed body. Their harsh pants mixed together in the room and Viktor moaned. His alpha was purring at the hands of their mate on them but was eagerly encouraging Viktor to get rid of the clothing aspect of this situation. The first Prince could not have agreed more.

"Clothes," he gasped, shuddering at the feeling of Yuuri's cat-like tongue, rough against the delicate exposed skin of his neck.

Yuuri hummed against the column. "You taste good, Viktor. Is your alpha okay with this? With me… on top of you?"

He let out a shaky laugh. "It's purring and rolling around inside my chest right now. It thinks we're playing. I'm not in a rut right now so it's okay."

Yuuri nodded and released the breath he'd been holding against Viktor's jaw. "My omega's content to just be in the same space as you and making sure you aren't injured."

Their eyes met as Yuuri pulled away a bit uncertainly.

"What is it, Yuuri?"

"I'm not… I'm not always… on top of you," he struggled to explain. "But right now, you were almost hurt and my omega needs to make sure you're okay and-"

Viktor pressed a chaste kiss to Yuuri's mouth. "I understand. I'm not always 'beneath you'-" he quirked a grin. "But tonight I just want you to have me in any way you'll take me. I want to feel how strong you are, Yuuri, my mate," He whispered the last two words against his forehead, hands soothing down Yuuri's back and his hair.

"So you'll still push me down and have your wicked way with me even if I want to have you like this?"

"I'm not sure anything could stop me," Viktor confessed, pulling away so he could lead Yuuri to the bed.

Yuuri was quick to take charge against the positioned Viktor as he wanted him, sprawled out on his back so that his lean muscular body was stretched out for Yuuri's consumption and his hair had fallen out of his face so Yuuri could see the man's eyes. He was smiling beatifically up at the raven-haired boy who was looking down at the remnants of what used to be Viktor's clothing like Viktor was a feast he wanted to eat. He was quick to divest the older man of his confinements to get to the treasures beneath.

When Viktor was bare and his hot breath ghosted over Viktor's beaded nipples, he mewled and shifted his legs restlessly. When that mouth descended and that rough tongue flattened on his hard nubs, Viktor's hips bucked. His chest had always been so sensitive to touch, and now the way his mate's tongue was swirling and laving it like it was a treat to be eaten as too much for him to handle.

"Yuuri, you have to stop!" He begged. "I won't be able to hold back much longer,"

The soft, wet popping sound as Yuuri pulled off was decedent. Those dark eyes were hooded and his pale face was flushed. His attention was firmly focused on Viktor's cock in its thick nest of straight silver hair. He ran his fingers through it. Viktor bit down on the back of his hand to keep from screaming at the sensation. The prickling of his hair follicles in the sensitive skin around his genitals was both arousing and embarrassing. 

"It's wiry," Yuuri murmured, and then buried his nose there at the base of Viktor's member.

"I usually shave it before I do anything with anyone," he confessed, blushing a bit in spite of himself. Never had a lover seen him so unprepared. Viktor was by no means embarrassed by his body, but it was strangely intimate to have a lover see him as he was without him being perfectly groomed and prepared for the encounter. He felt more naked in this moment than he ever had before.

"Sounds itchy," Yuuri grinned up at him as he swiped his tongue over the thick vein on the underside of his shaft all the way up to the tip.

Viktor nodded, chuckling. "Second day is hell,"

"Don't shave then,"

The advice was good, but it's not what Yuuri was really telling him. This shy, beautiful boy was coming alive like a dry plant that had just been given a few drops of water. Viktor would give him the whole damn ocean. This boy was telling him that he liked Viktor's body without him doing anything special to it. The thought was very appealing.

"You either," Viktor sat up and pulled Yuuri up from his cock, unable to let the boy explore it any longer with his mouth if he wanted to live past this moment. "You're perfect." 

Yuuri looked a little lost for a moment but nodded. "Would it be okay if I made love to you? Right now?"

Viktor laid back down and pulls is needs up to his chest and spread his legs wide, exposing all of him to his mate. No words were necessary, only action. Viktor reached under his pillow and grabbed the oil orifice he kept there to pleasure himself. He handed it to Yuuri who took it without question. Yuri held it high above Viktor's cock and dribbled it own. Viktor's shaft twitched in anticipation as it slid down the underside of his cock, over his sac, and between his cheeks. Yuuri poured some into his left palm and capped the bottle. The slicked his fingers and knelt down between Viktor's legs. When the younger man's fingers pushing inside the tight ring of muscle, Viktor let out a sigh. He revelled in the stretch and the burn even as his erection flagged slightly. It meant that he was in his body and that Yuuri was right here with him. Another finger was soon added with the first, and the twisting and slight scissoring motion brought Viktor's cock back up to full attention.

"Hnn!" Viktor nearly choked on the sound when Yuuri found his prostate.

The look of wonder on his mate's face was easy to see. "It feels good here?"

Viktor nodded, finding it hard to breath when Yuuri was repeatedly rubbing that nub with his fingers. "'S my prostate," he half explained, have slurred to the curious boy. "You need to- NNN! Aim for that when you're inside of me," he wheezed, grunting as he found the perfect pressure for a moment. Yuuri nodded and added another finger. More heat coiled inside Viktor. "Now, I'm ready, please," Viktor tossed his head back and forth on the pillow, not above begging for what he and his alpha both needed. Reassurance that their mate was strong and healthy and here. And more pressure on Viktor's prostate. That was right below reassurance on the list.

When the head of Yuuri's long, slender rod kissed Viktor's opening and gently pressed inside, Viktor released the breath he'd been holding and focused on relaxing all his muscles and letting the younger man inside. The feeling of being stretched was less than it was when Yuuri had been fingering him, but it felt more like a slow heat than a burn. Yuuri bottomed out, pressed his sac to Viktor's ass. They both relaxed. Yuuri buried his face in Viktor's neck for a moment to just breathe the scent of his mate into his body. When he rose and began slowly dragging his cock in and out, getting used to the motion, Viktor keened. Yuuri was trying to find that place again. He was so close, he just needed to tilt his angle just a bit- there! Viktor shouted and scrambled at his mate's back which was still clothed. Why was he still in clothes?! Viktor nearly flew off the bed when Yuuri pulled back and thrust in harder, pegging him just where he wanted. It was too much. Viktor screamed as his release hit him. The sounds Yuuri was making as he thrust in and out were so very arousing. Yuuri was close behind, coming after just a few more pumps into his mate's body. 

The both collapsed together onto the bed, their hasty love making exhausted them. Viktor wound one hand into that inky black hair and the other he weaved between Yuuri's fingers. They kissed languidly.

"That was fast," Yuuri murmured.

Viktor nodded. "We had a bit of a wild day. I think I'm okay with filling the rest of it with you in my arms at this point."

Yuuri, having assured himself his alpha was well and strong and virile, was perfectly content to give the reins back over the Viktor and his alpha. Yuuri still couldn't believe the alpha had allowed him to do that to him. Yuuri had explored forbidden desires that went against nature itself, and Viktor had only screamed for more. The man was truly made for him. Yuuri nestled himself more firmly against the prince's body.

"Was that okay?" Yuuri found he needed to have a little more assurance.

Viktor breathed out a happy sigh. "It was more than okay, Yuuri. I always hoped that when I found my soul mate that they would be as wild and adventurous as I am in bed. We've only just scraped the surface of the things we can do,"

Yuuri was distracted from the predator's gleam in Viktor's eye when he said that by a phrase he'd never heard before. He pulled back so he could fully see his face. "Soulmate?"

Viktor stilled, searching Yuuri's eyes. They stared at one another until Yuuri wondered if he'd said something wrong. He looked down. Viktor gasped, and suddenly, Yuuri was rolled beneath him. "Yuuri do you know what a soulmate is?"

Yuuri blushed and was tempted to lie considering the strange reaction he'd just gotten. "I-I- yes,"

Viktor squinted. "Just how isolated were you in Georgi's care?" He growled.

Yuuri's shoulder scrunched up, forgetting about the peaceful bliss he'd just been basking in before this conversation. "It's not anything to worry about now," he whispered miserably. "I know there are things I still need to learn, and I promise I will!"

Viktor's arms wound around him tighter and he pressed a kiss onto his hair. "Yuuri, I'm not angry with you, love, I promise. I'm just worried at how much you were kept in the dark about your own body."

Yuuri wanted to feel as confident as he had when he'd been thrusting in and out of the prince's body and making the man he adored make sounds he'd never heard before in his life. But he was feeling weak and vulnerable. "I'll learn everything, I swear," there was no way Yuuri could have felt less sexy in this moment.

Viktor stole his mouth for a deep, toe curling kiss. "I'll teach you everything. Let's start with lesson one," he gave Yuuri a mischievous grin. 

Yuuri was sure that they at least had to be on lesson five or six by this time after the night they'd had, but he didn't argue.

Chapter Text

They woke in a tangle of limbs. Viktor's breathe ghosted over the top of Yuuri's head. Yuuri smiled against his lover's chest and gently strokes his hand through the light silvery hair there that he hadn't noticed before. His mate was still asleep.

Soulmate, Yuuri corrected himself mentally.

It was a word he was unfamiliar with. Never had he heard it before. Viktor was shifted against him, half stretching, half trying to rub up against Yuuri's body. He chuckled and sat up to look into the deep blue-green eyes. They regarded him with utter happiness and a sense of calm and Yuuri could relate to. He felt delirious with it. Never in his life had he ever felt this way. It was all Viktor's doing. He was so safe here in his mate's room. Safer than he'd ever been before.

"What are you thinking about?" Viktor popped up to brush his lips against the underside of Yuri's jaw.

"Soulmates," Yuuri responded. "What did you mean last night when you said that?" 

The older man's mouth halted its journey towards Yuuri's mouth and he pulled back. The languid look of happiness was now tinted with concern. "A soulmate is your once in a lifetime, Yuuri. It's the person who is made for you. Just you."

Yuuri frowned, reaching out to tuck a strand of silvery hair out of the prince's eyes so he could look into them fully. "Then what's the difference between a bondmate and a soulmate?"

"A bond mate is someone you choose," An unfamiliar voice piped in. "A soulmate is someone fate has chosen for you." 

"Yurio, when did you get here?" Viktor smiled wide at his younger brother.

Yuuri pulled the covers up over his exposed chest and shoulders, blushing.

"The fuck is with that name? I just got here." The thunderous frown startled Yuuri, but only seemed to amuse Viktor. "It's almost supper time and you two are still in bed. Father is worried because you haven't allowed anyone to come in and give you medical attention and that means I have to hear about it!"

"Sorry, sorry," Viktor placated, but the satisfied smile did not make him seem apologetic in the least. "I needed time with my mate."

"Great. You've had it. Not get the fuck up and do your job! Father's going insane and as usual, I'm drowning in your paperwork." The surly teen stalked out of the room leaving the door agape. 

Viktor had no qualms of getting up and closing it himself in the nude. Yuuri thought it risky, but perhaps this was normal for the two of them. One the door had clicked close, Yuuri was up and scrambling for his clothes. Once he found them he realized how filthy they were.

And torn, he regretted. 

"Missing something?"

The sultry hum next to his ear caused him to jump three feet in the air. Putting a hand to where the breath had tickled his shoulder, he turned to acknowledge the prince. "I-I don’t have any clothes, Viktor."

The sound he made was anything but displeased. "Oh no," he murmured, backing them both up towards the bed with a lascivious grin on his face. "Whatever will we do?" 

The knocking at their door had Viktor sighing and drawing away. Yuuri hauled the sheet up from the bed and wrapped himself in it, preparing to make a beeline into the bathing room. A soak in the beautiful claw foot tub he and Viktor had… made use of the previous night sounded heavenly. Yuuri didn't know what he'd expected when the door opened, but the reveal almost made him drop his sheet.

"Nicholas?"

The booming laughter must have shaken the room. "Don't sound so astonished boy. Didn't you see me at the ball last night?"

The ball had seemed so long ago and he'd been quite distracted, so no, he hadn't. "Did the guests spend the night?" He sounded worried. He was. He was not… good with people. He liked quiet and privacy. He worried now that any chance of that might be gone.

"No, my boy, I live here!"

Live here, but why- 

"Good morning, father," Viktor kissed the man's cheeks.

Yuuri may have managed to keep hold of the sheets, but his legs dropped from beneath his body and he stumbled to the floor. "You're the king?" He wheezed. "I complained to the king in my step father's dirty kitchen?" 

Oh gods.

"You took care of me in Georgi Popovich's kitchen, yes. I'm not sure I would call what you did complaining, though. You were quite complacent."

If only the man had known his last act of rebellion was to have killed himself before Georgi had had the chance to kill him for his own purposes.

"I'm so sorry I didn't recognize you!"

The scraggly face went soft as Viktor stepped in to wrap his arms around Yuuri. "I gather you were quite restricted."

Yuuri gulped. "I… yes."

Instead of asking the slew of questions he knew must be coming, the old man invited him to eat. "You look hungry. Come and eat. You'll need to put on more weight so you can make little Viktor-Yuuris."

Yuuri coughed. "Excuse me?"

Viktor was unfazed, completely nude, and declared. "You're right, he does need to eat, but I can't get pregnant, so I don't know how soon we'll be having any Viktor-Yuuris as you call them!"

Yuuri looked at his lover in horror. They had discovered last night that they had quite enjoyed switching the roles. Viktor enjoyed being surprised and for whatever reason, Yuuri's dominance just did it for him. Nicholai - as Yuuri now knew him - stared at them with a blank face. When he understood, it dawned across his face. 

"What?"

"I don't even know if we want children," Viktor went on, not pausing long enough to care what his father was saying. "We'll have to think about it." 

"Are you guys coming to eat or-" Prince Yuri was cut off by the sputtering from his father.

"Are you saying that after all this preparation and scheming I won't even get grandchildren out of it?" The poor man looked so upset.

Yuuri felt inclined to comfort him. "It's possible that in the future we may-"

"Oh," Viktor held up a finger as though he'd just remembered something. "I'm renouncing my claim to the throne and giving it to Yurio!"

"WHAT?" Both Yu(u)ris voices joined Nikolai.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Yuri snarled. "You're the first born, you're-"

"Tired of playing first prince," Viktor sighed and sat down on the bed, pulling Yuuri to sit between his thighs, thus hiding his manhood. "It's not like you haven't been doing the work, Yurio. My interest is more vested in dismantling the omega auctions and dancing. It's the obvious choice."

King Nikolai looked astonished, but surprisingly, not upset. "Viktor you realize you are saying you don't want to be king, right?"

"Yes, I know." That sweet smile was altogether too guileless.

"And that you're giving it to me. A necromancer." Prince Yuri clarified. "An omega."

"I don't know what any of that has to do with you being king, but yes, I understand exactly what I'm saying. I'm taking Yuuri away from here. He doesn't belong in this kingdom. I want to show him how beautiful the world is outside of that house." Viktor pressed a kiss to Yuuri's head. 

Yuuri felt dazed. The man was so perfect. So beautiful. Yuuri wanted to find the right words to thank him, but-

"Great, can you stop swooning over your mate long enough to sign the papers?" Yuri shoved a  folded paper at Viktor with a scowl suppressing the hope.

"You just happened to have these?" Viktor laughed delightedly. 

Yuri waved a hand at his silent attendant. "No, Beka did."

"Oooooo, Beka," Viktor taunted as he skimmed over the paper. It was simple. It was simply asking Viktor to relinquish his claim to the throne and his status as first prince to his younger brother in favour of a title of 'brother of the king'. Viktor raised his pen.

Yuuri tried to cut in. "Wait, Viktor-"

Viktor signed without thinking about it too much. Yuuri nearly fainted.

"Shut up, Viktor." The boy snapped, snatching the paper back. "You can hold this again," he said in a much gentler, slightly seductive tone to his bodyguard.

"My pleasure, Yura."

"You didn't say anything about this," Yuuri murmured through numb lips.

"What? Only wanted to be my mate for my throne?" Viktor teased.

"Don't be an idiot. What if you regret this and blame me?" Yuuri choked out.

Yurio snorted. "Too fucking late, the title's mine. I earned this shit."

"It's true. The paper's already been signed and stamped by the king." Otabek gesture towards Nikolai who was just stamping the bottom of the paper.

"Your majesty, so quickly?" Yuuri was surprised. He didn't mean to question the king or be disrespectful but this was just too much. 

"I think it's for the best," the man admitted. "I know the boy has postponed taking a mate because that would mean he'd take the throne too."

"Hasn't he been brought up to be King?"

"Both my sons have," Nikolai smiled. "Because of tradition, Viktor was in line for the throne by rights. But he often passed his duties as first prince off on Yurio so he could pursue his priorities."

"Are you sure about this?" He just had to check one more time.

Viktor was smiling so big it might have split his face. "I couldn't be more happy with my decision, Yuuri."

"Me either," Yurio snorted. "Finally, I'll have recognition for all the shit I do."

"You'll also have a class on diplomacy," Nikolai gave his son the side eye.

"Start with the beginner level," Viktor suggested helpfully.

The prince opened his mouth to go off at his family, but Otabek stepped in and squeezed his hand. It was like a light switch. He went from a hissing cat to a young man waiting for his lovers next words with baited breath. His big green eyes watched Beka was the older man smiled.

"Congratulations, Prince Yuri." He murmured, dropping to one knee and still holding on to that hand. "I'll stay by your side for the rest of my life."

"Yura," the boy said back.

Otabek tipped back his head to look up at him. "What?"

"You get to call me Yura."

"Yura," the attendant smiled, the word slipping of his tongue in an unintentionally sultry way. "I swear my loyalty to you."

"What happened to your loyalty to me?" Viktor asked dryly.

"I swore my loyalty to your family, and it encompasses you as well." Otabek shrugged as he stood. "But Yura is my priority." 

"Awww I want to come up for pet names for us, Yuuri!" Viktor squealed. 

"Don't even think about it."

Nikolai sighed as he watched his oldest son banter with his peculiar mate. They were a match made in heaven. No one else would have been able to handle Viktor as Yuuri could. As for his second son who was now heir to his throne, the boy was rough around the edges. He was tempered only by the strong, stoic man who stood by his side, and likely would until the day he died. He released all the stress he'd been holding inside. Everything was set now. Everything was in its place. The only thing he was still missing were grandchildren. Though, looking at his heir again, it might not be too long until there were little Yuri-Otabeks running around. He smiled. He'd have to get to work on that straight away. In the meantime, everything was as it should be. For now…