Victor is the kind of child that can charm people whether or not he uses magic to do so—and he would have you know he does not use magic to accomplish it.
First, he appreciates the challenge of doing things for himself and proving everyone wrong.
Second, royals are the only ones with magic so they need to use it responsibly, for the people. Not to mention that magic comes from emotions, but that doesn’t mean that they make easy to manipulate emotions.
Third, in this particular case, the Katsuki boy has so thoroughly charmed Victor without using any magic himself, that Victor’s making it a point of pride to do the same in return.
You see, despite having a knack for wooing others, Victor isn’t very good at people. Yes, he can talk to them, he can get what he wants from them, but life is easier when he lets his family name, and his charm and power draw them to him. He’s not lonely, per se, but he wouldn’t say that he’s the sort to seek out others’ company. He focuses on his work, and people come to him.
But not the Katsuki boy.
He’s even more of a child than Victor is, with about four years separating them, give or take. In all reality, Victor shouldn’t give him a passing glance, and yet…
It all starts when he passes by one of the empty dance studios at their boarding school. Victor had just finished practicing, since Aunt Lilia would have his head if he gave it up—honestly, probably literally.
There are lessons he could take here. The art programs are very good according to his mamas, but what does it matter? His future is already set in stone for him. Art, including dancing, will only ever be a hobby for Victor to entertain in his indulgent moments. Just like the friends he makes will become political pawns to him, same as he will to them.
It’s the life he was born into. He shouldn’t resent it.
The soft hush of movement shakes Victor from his thoughts, and draws his attention and his feet into the empty room.
Well, almost empty.
In the slanted light of the afternoon, another boy moves to a melody that he weaves out of dust motes and light, and the delicate sounds of cloth against cloth and ballet slippers against the floor. He’s so small, soft around the edges, short hair mussed with sweat and exertion, and the way he moves…
He would be a dream for Lilia to teach. He shouldn’t be in some school to learn how to survive politics and magic, he should be creating art with his body, he—
The boy turns and nearly topples over when he sees Victor.
For a moment they just stare at each other, and Victor can’t help but notice the kid’s eyes, wide and earnest and filled with an emotion that Victor can’t really make heads or tails of.
Victor could just wave and keep walking, play it off like he’s just passing by. But something begins to burn in him.
His life is out of his control, and the kids here have their own agendas. He shouldn’t get attached. He shouldn’t be curious. He should go back to his room and continue studying since exams are going to be coming up soon.
But he doesn’t.
For the first time in years, curiosity whispers to Victor. What sort of royal spends the time learning to move like that? What sort of family allows that? What sort of person is he? Victor needs to know. And he’s aware of the reputation that he and the power that his family has, so even if this boy is only concerned with political connections, befriending Victor would be in his favor. He doesn’t want to slip through someone’s fingers as just another talented mage, again.
So, Victor takes a deep breath, puts on his best smile, and says, “Hi, my name is Victor! What’s yours?”
For another second the boy just stares at Victor, and it takes all his effort not to let his smile fall. Then the boy mutters something too quick to make out, and brushes past Victor so fast that it takes a moment for him to process that he’s alone again. Something that Victor didn’t even realize could be heavy falls in his chest and sinks down to his feet.
Well he was just a kid, a small boy. Maybe Victor freaked him out. Maybe he’s scared of the older boys. Maybe… Maybe he doesn’t want anything to do with Victor?
But… not all is lost. The boy left something on the floor. His bag. And his phone on top of it.
And it would only be the gentlemanly thing to do to make sure that he got his possessions back, wouldn’t it?
If only things were that easy.
Using the help of his best and, well, only sort of friend, Christophe, he can at least find the boy’s name: Katsuki Yuuri.
As sweet a name as the boy seemed, in the glimpse he caught of him. And, really, without having a name, Victor would think he were a ghost. When he manages to try and watch the crowd coming out of Katsuki’s classes, he never sees that head of black hair. When he tries to stick around the cafeteria for an entire meal, he doesn’t show up. When Victor finally gets Katsuki’s dorm number and knocks, there’s no answer.
Maybe he’s being a little creepy.
Okay, a lot creepy.
Maybe Katsuki has a point in avoiding him. But Chris gets his information from a friend of Yuuri’s, and whoever it is wouldn’t be telling Chris—and therefore Victor—if he didn’t want Yuuri to be found. Or at least that’s what Victor chooses to believe.
If only he could call Katsuki’s phone, but Victor has his cell and with no way to returning it…
He sighs, flopping down on the edge of a fountain and blowing a few strands of long hair from his face. His mamas have been encouraging his to cut it so it’s easier to manage, maybe he should…
What would his mamas think of him now, sitting here, chasing a boy that obviously doesn’t want to be chased?
It had been a couple of weeks, and Victor might be persistent, but he can get a message. He doesn’t know how to do this. He doesn’t know how to reach out for a friend without scaring them away—gods know Chris is only still around because he’s the one typically annoying Victor. Of course no one wants to be around Victor, otherwise.
It’s time to move on.
A phone vibrates in his back pocket—not the one in the bag he always carries around, that had stopped making noises after the first day or so, and he never looked at the notifications or tried to read anything… despite the temptation—and he heaves out another sigh before pulling it out.
Where r u?
Victor frowns at his screen. Chris should be in class right now, and he doesn’t usually skip.
What are you planning?
Don’t spoil the surprise
Victor bites his lip. It can’t be about Katsuki, Chris hasn’t had any leads for a while, but maybe… Well, maybe Victor can use whatever the distraction is.
At the fountain in the courtyard.
He hits send, and then waits.
And waits some more.
And even more.
Victor’s frown deepens. Chris doesn’t normally do things like this. If he’s doing Victor a favor it always, always starts off with him trying to weasel Victor into changing Chris’s name on his phone. If Victor didn’t know any better, he’d say he finally gave up.
But he knows better.
Maybe Victor should go somewhere else. Whatever Chris is planning can’t be good. He may look and act innocent, but Victor knows full well the terror that lurks underneath. The last time Chris pranked Victor, it took him months to wash out the pink hair dye… even if Victor had kind of liked it. But it wasn’t colored evenly, it was a disaster, and—
Victor jumps, and nearly falls back into the fountain.
“Sorry! Oh no, I’m so sorry, I—“
Right in front of Victor, in the flesh and somehow not a ghost at all, is Katsuki Yuuri. He’s biting his lip and wearing some baggy clothes that don’t fit his frame at all—he must not have classes today if he’s out of uniform—but it’s him.
What did Chris do?
“I’m so, so sorry.” Katsuki bows his head, keeping his eyes on the ground. “You’ve been trying to give me back my things, and I…”
And he what? Victor’s dying to know, but he doesn’t push; sometimes, occasionally, he has tact. He clears his throat. “I’m so happy I finally found you! Here.” Victor holds out Yuuri’s bag.
Yuuri quickly snatches if from his hands with a furrowed brow. “Th-thank you. You didn’t… you didn’t look inside, did you?”
Victor shakes his head. Oh, he wanted to. If Chris hadn’t gotten Katsuki’s information from whatever sources he found, Victor would have. But he wanted to be good and he’d done his best, and it pays off in the way that Katsuki’s shoulders relax. “I’m happy I finally got it back to you.”
“I-I’m sorry, I should have come to get it sooner. Or not left it. Thank you for doing… so, so much.” Katsuki keeps his eyes focused anywhere but on Victor.
And, well. That won’t do.
Victor stands up, at least a head taller than the younger boy, and steps forward until Katsuki has no choice but to look up at him. “I know what you can do to make it up to me.”
Katsuki stiffens up, swallowing. “Um… what?”
“Be my friend, Katsuki!” Victor beams, and finds he’s not even pretending to smile that much. “You seem like a nice person, and I want to get to know you.”
Katsuki narrows his eyes. “I’ve been avoiding you for days.”
“And I’m, like, four years younger than you.”
“And you’re… You’re very popular. You’re Victor Nikiforov.”
“I am.” Victor nods along with Yuuri’s points, even if he doesn’t see the reasoning behind them. “Though I’d prefer it if you called me Victor.”
For one moment, Katsuki eyes Victor, a refusal written clear as day in his pinched expression. But as the seconds tick by, the tension slips away, and a small smile spreads across his face.
“Then… Call me Yuuri.”
“Yuuri! We’re going shopping!”
“Ah, I shouldn’t—”
“Let me clarify.” Victor rests a hand on his shoulder, startling him. “I’m going shopping and I’m kidnapping you to go with me.”
“K-kidnapping is illegal, you know!” Yuuri squeaks as he lets himself get dragged off for Victor to buy him an entire new wardrobe.
“I’m not really powerful. Or good at anything.” Yuuri sighs into his knees, pulled up to meet his face while he sits next to Victor.
“Yuuri, that isn’t true at all.” Victor frowns. “How dare you put down my favorite person.”
“Favorite?” Yuuri’s tone is serious, even though Victor swears he can see the corner of his mouth twitch up. “Even more than your mamas, or Makkachin, or Chris?”
Victor gasps, bringing a hand to his heart. “That’s not fair, Yuuri! Fine. You’re my favorite Yuuri. The best Yuuri I could ever know, and I don’t ever want to not know you.”
Yuuri grins a little, and brings his head up. “I… I feel the same.”
“Um… this is Vicchan.”
Victor gasps, covering his mouth. “Ohmygodhe’ssocute!”
“Victor… are you crying?”
“N-n-no,” Victor says as he sobs.
“You… you want me to call you Vitya?” Yuuri’s cheeks turn pink as he sits at the edge of Victor’s bed. Chris isn’t always around their dorm, which is fine by Victor. He loves his friend, but knows he can overwhelm Yuuri at times. Not to mention one on one time with Yuuri is almost as comfortable and easy as breathing, and Victor wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Or at least it’s supposed to be that easy. But it’s not right now.
Victor lounges back on his bed, trying to get comfortable, but Yuuri looks so stiff today and it makes something in Victor feel unsettled. So he tries to reach out with one of the few things he has left to offer.
“Yes! Yuuri, you’re my best friend—though don’t let Chris hear that.” Victor tries his best to give a bright smile. “You can call me Vitya.”
Yuuri frowns, though if anything his cheeks turn even pinker. “I-I can’t take your word for it when you’re smiling like that.”
Victor’s smile becomes even more strained. “Like what?”
“Like you’re forcing it.” Yuuri glances away, eyes on the floor. “When you look at me, I don’t want that. I just want Victor.”
Victor’s heart stutters in a way that’s probably unhealthy in his chest. No one notices or cares about that kind of thing, save for his mamas. Victor himself hardly even noticed, his face moving before his mind caught up with it. Something warm and bright blooms in his chest, spreading through his limbs until he can’t resist anymore, he launches forward and tackles Yuuri to the bed, a real grin spread across his face. “Then you’ll have me. But only if you call me Vitya.”
When Victor pulls back, Yuuri’s face has, impossibly, turned an even brighter red.
Yuuri sucks in a deep breath, large brown eyes searching Victor’s face. “V-Vitya,” he breathes Victor’s name like something precious, something sacred.
“There, that wasn’t too hard, was it?” Victor beams at him, hair falling over his shoulder and next to Yuuri’s face. It’s nice to have someone he’s so close to, that he can trust enough to let use his diminutive.
And Yuuri… Yuuri reaches up, wrapping a hand around the back of Victor’s neck, and pulls him down so that their lips brush together.
It’s over so quickly that Victor doesn’t even have time to process it. Yuuri’s eyes are even wider than before, his cute flush gone and leaving him nearly as white as a sheet.
“I, um…” Yuuri licks his lips, lips that were somehow on Victor just second ago.
Victor has been pursued by other students before—in fact, he often encourages it. The only time he’s ever had to hunt down someone was when it was Yuuri, and that hadn’t been remotely romantic.
Yuuri shoves Victor off, scrambling off the bed and snatching the books that he’d brought over to study with Victor. He needed help finessing his magic, something Victor had a little more control with, but of course they got to chatting instead and…
And what just happened?
“I’m s-sorry.” Yuuri turns for just a moment, but it’s long enough for Victor to catch tears in his eyes. “I’m so, so, so sorry.”
And then he’s running out the door.
Victor doesn’t know what just happened, he doesn’t know what to say. Obviously a kiss isn’t exactly the way to make this one better, but he knows he has to do something. He scrambles off the mattress, running barefooted out of his dorm.
But Yuuri’s not in the hallway. Victor’s not even sure which stairs Yuuri used, or if he’d gone off to his dorm, or the dance studio, or the cafeteria. Knowing Yuuri, he won’t be letting Phichit know where he is either, and… Gods, Victor needs to study for his finals. He can’t run all over the campus right now, when Yuuri probably needs some alone time as it is.
He’ll see Yuuri tomorrow, and they’ll talk.
But tomorrow is no good. Yuuri—predictably, in retrospect—avoids him. He doesn’t answer texts, and the one time that Victor goes to Yuuri’s dorm, he only gets sympathetic frowns from Yuuri’s friend and roommate, Phichit.
Not that he even has any idea what to say when he sees Yuuri next.
He cares about Yuuri more than anyone, differently than anyone, and he always wants him to stay by his side, it’s just… Yuuri’s still so young, and Victor’s old and they should get through school before even considering something like this. Victor refuses to until Yuuri’s old enough, it’s too weird and not right, otherwise. But it’s important to Yuuri, obviously. They need to talk about it.
Except… they don’t.
Victor would be lying if he said there wasn’t a tight coil growing in his gut, unsure of how to tackle any of this. Because there’s a chance Yuuri won’t forgive him, won’t want to be around him if he doesn’t handle this right. So, Victor just… doesn’t handle it. He and Yuuri go to the same school, they’re bound to run into each other. Maybe Victor will think of something perfect to say by then.
It was so much easier to chase when Yuuri was just a face, just a graceful dancer whose song called to him, but now he’s Yuuri. He’s Victor’s best friend. His nose crinkles adorably when he laughs, he’s incredibly shy around new people but can be incredibly bold for the ones he cares about, and…
About a week later, there’s a freak accident in one of the dorms; some idiot used their magic to set the place on fire and destroyed nearly the whole building. They all have to leave for a couple of months while repairs are made, and when they all come back to school, there’s one noticeable person absent:
And there’s absolutely nothing Victor can do to change that, despite the fact that he wishes he could. Victor chased a stranger into being his best friend, but when his best friend needed chasing, he didn’t chase him. He chose not to address this, and now he has to deal with the consequences.
And the consequences, quite frankly, suck.
Ten years pass in a blur of politics and magic and fake smiles that Victor can’t help think that Yuuri would hate. He’s become more adept at reading people now, moving beyond charming them to working them, to talking his way into and out of anything, and it’s after long days of talks and negotiations like this one that he thinks of Yuuri.
He shrugs off his jacket, heavy in ornate beading and embroidery, and lush in rich fabric. His impulse is to just drop it on the floor and let it wrinkle, let it get dirty. But he knows better. He hangs it up like it should, to get magicked clean later.
In retrospect, Yuuri’s actions were obvious. Victor should have seen it coming from miles and months away. The way he had a smile just for Victor, his easy blushes, and his gentle teasings. He cared deeply for Victor, and Victor barely looked at Yuuri in return. He called Yuuri his best friend, but had he really reached out and paid as much attention as he should have?
It’s silly for him to think about this as often as he does, to have these regrets when surely Yuuri’s moved on. He’s considered texting to ask, but Yuuri could have a different cell phone number by now. And maybe Victor could go and visit Yuuri and his family, but would they consider that rude? There are cultural differences, and Victor has to think not just of himself, but the country and people he represents.
Even if he doesn’t want to.
It’s been ten years, and this shouldn’t haunt him.
But it does.
Victor flops down in a chair, taking in a deep breath before Makkachin leaps up onto his lap and knocks the air right back out of him. Once he can, he laughs and gives her the scratching she always deserves. “I missed you too, girl.”
He should get up and walk her. He should get up and see if he has enough food in the fridge for dinner. He probably has a dozen different things to do, and people to call, if he dared to look at his to do list. And even if he’s let the relationships that matter to him wither, he is meticulous about his work life.
But… just for a few minutes, Victor lets himself have the luxury of daydreaming about what Yuuri grew up to be. He’s stayed well out of the public eye, to the point that he isn’t even on any of Phichit’s social media anymore. Sometimes, though, Victor will stumble upon an odd article about Yuuri’s philanthropic work, or some deal he’s negotiated. There are rumors that he’s become a highly powerful magic worker, and Victor doesn’t doubt that.
Victor sighs. It’s silly. People drift apart all the time and never see each other ever again. But there are just so many regrets here, it’s hard to just forget—
His phone ringing snaps him from his thoughts. And there are only two people who have his mama’s wedding song as their ringtone.
He gently nudges Makka off his lap and then scrambles over to where he’d placed his phone down on his desk, catching it at the very last second. “Mom, are you all right?”
Mom scoffs. “Can’t we just call you, Vitya?”
Victor’s stomach begins a slow descent. “You just got back from a vacation, and you two and I all know that your staycation begins immediately with a day of quiet and, well,” Victor clears his throat, “wife time.”
“I told you he was too smart.” Mama sighs. “You should just tell him.”
“I thought you were going to tell him?”
“Mamas.” Victor sighs. “Just tell me. I like surprises, not suspense.”
“Very well.” Mom sighs. “Vitya, we can’t put it off any longer. You’re getting married in a few months.”
For a moment, Victor’s mind goes incredibly silent.
And then it starts shrieking like something from a horror movie.