Rule 1: Princes and princesses have limited power compared to the King and Queen. They are not allowed to change laws and cannot punish others for crimes against the kingdom. They can, however, convince those that do have the power to change laws or punish people.
Viktor closed his eyes and breathed in. He could smell the newly blossoming flowers and the fresh air. This was the perfect spring day to come back home. Of course, he never intended to leave in the first place. However, war required a royal to lead the troops, and with the King and Queen passing, Viktor had no choice.
Due to the King of Arias and his wife’s ability to make peace, it was the first war in 50 years; however, after they passed away 8 years ago, threats from the Kingdom of Acevada began. They were threats that young and naive Viktor chose to brush off. He thought Acevada would never go through with the threats, not to mention, he couldn’t meet their demands.
That was Viktor’s first mistake. The Kingdom of Acevada reigned fiery against Jurua, a town on the southern border of Arias full of innocent people already struggling to survive. Houses were burned down, and many residents had to flee the town. The people that survived lost most of what they had and were begging for help from the kingdom. The rest were taken by Acevada. Viktor still shivers thinking of the letter they sent to him, describing the horrible torture the villagers endured.
Viktor tried his best to help the survivors, sending as much money as he could to help restore the town and offering the homeless free housing until they were able to find a permanent home. Even though he did all he could for the people in need, he still lied in bed wondering: what if he did take the threat seriously? what if he had sent knights to protect the village? what if he did something, anything to stop those soldiers from taking children away from their parents?
However, Viktor didn’t do any of that. He instead ignored the threats and paid for it with his people’s blood.
Since Viktor was still a prince by law, there wasn’t much he could do. He wasn’t allowed to make any new laws, and he couldn’t create a new peace treaty either. However, the threats didn’t stop, and Viktor had no possible way to meet their demands without sending his kingdom into chaos. He had to find a loophole and fast.
Thankfully Viktor did. Yakov, the general of the royal army and Viktors guardian, had the power to declare war if the Royal family was not able to. Considering the only royal alive had no power to do anything, technically Yakov could go into battle if he desired.
However, that was not Yakov’s desire, and it took a lot more convincing than Viktor thought it would take. Yakov was well known to be stubborn and even more so with Viktor. It took at least a month for Viktor to get Yakov’s attention and even longer to prove the need of war. Viktor eventually influenced Yakov but had to agree to follow the traditions of declaring war. Viktor had to fight in the front lines with his soldiers, and had to cut off his long silver hair, sending it to the enemy. With no hesitation, Viktor agreed, and within the afternoon they set off to recruit soldiers.
It has been 8 years since then, and Viktor has never grown out his hair since. He figured cutting his hair was punishment for letting that town suffer, the loss of all those soldiers, and letting his kingdom down. Yakov often argued with Viktor saying it goes against tradition and there will be more mistakes he makes when he becomes king.
“True, but at least I will remember the worst mistake. Please Yakov, I can’t… I can’t go through that again.” Yakov stopped lecturing after that and let Viktor keep his hair short.
Now the war is over, and Viktor is on his way home. He will get to see Makkachin and catch up with Christoff, Otabek, and Yuri. He will finally have time to rest and think about what he learned, how to be a true king, how to rule over his people properly, and most importantly, he will be able to find a spouse to rule by his side.
A few days earlier...
Yuuri laughed on the wet grass, trying to block himself from the soapy water that seemed to be aimed at him, as Makkachin and Vicchan shook their wet fur. Today was bath day, and the two dogs were giving Yuuri trouble by jumping in and out of the basin. By this point, Yuuri thinks that Makkachin and Vicchan are actually the ones giving him a bath.
Yuuri waited until Makkachin and Vicchan stopped shaking their fur so he could continue. He dipped the pitcher into the basin and filled it up with water. He poured the water over both poodles not caring anymore about the water touching his already soaked clothes.
When Yuuri was just about to dry Vicchan with a fluffy towel he heard a voice yelling.
He flinched. Celestino was walking across the green field calling out his name. Celestino always lectured Yuuri not to bathe the dogs in the gardens; he said that it could ruin the plants. Yuuri thought he was far enough away not to be caught bathing the dogs in the castle’s gardens, but apparently not.
“Celestino! I-I’m sorry I’ll find a different place to-”
Celestino raised his hand and shook his head. “I’m not here because of that, besides it would be useless since you’re finished. Clean up this mess and come to my chambers when you’re finished.”
Yuuri scrunched his face and tilted his head, “Why?”
“I’ll explain when you come.” Celestino then walked away. Leaving Yuuri with two energetic poodles and a nearly empty basin.
8 years earlier
The soldiers flooded Jurua with fire and blood, piercing their swords through any one they could find. Yuuri couldn’t deny that he was terrified. He and his parents were able to survive, but Mari, Yuuri’s sister, fought the soldiers until her family could get to safety.
She wasn’t trained to fight, for she only knew how to run an inn. Nevertheless, Mari still stood against the soldiers and distracted them enough for Yuuri and his family to get away. Mari… Mari never came back. Yuuri was heartbroken, he still is, and he knows that feeling will never go away.
At age 12 Yuuri lost his home and his sister. He lost hope and he had no idea how to get it back. That was until Prince Nikiforov sent the royal guard.
At first the Katsuki family was sent to live in a small neighboring town. While the place didn’t feel like home, the townsfolk made sure Yuuri and his family were safe and fed. They were able to help the Katsukis by sending men to Jurua to help rebuild a larger bathhouse to help more of the homeless until they could get on their feet again.
While Yuuri’s parents helped rebuild the inn, Yuuri found himself often alone, playing with his puppy Vicchan. Yuuri would go to the woods to be alone trying not bother the adults. He would wander down the old, worn path and try to find something interesting to do.
During those few months Yuuri learned how to become independent. In other words, he learned how to cry alone, hugging Vicchan for comfort. He would cry for his friends, Yuuko and Takeshi, who hadn’t been found after the attack, he would cry for the old bathhouse, and most of all, he would cry for Mari.
It was on one of these days when Yuuri was crying in the woods that he met Viktor. He had left his parents, who were waiting to meet more guards; although, it seemed more than just guards were excited to see them. Yuuri didn’t think too much about it and went off to his favorite spot in the woods. He was sobbing and clutching Vicchan as though the poodle was a stuffed animal. He was so invested in soaking Vicchan’s fur that he did not realize the shadow that came to reside over him.
“Mhm.” Jolting and dropping Vicchan, Yuuri quickly turned around and saw a teenager with silver hair. He was standing there staring at Yuuri with his mouth open as though he wanted to say something. Instead, it was awkward silence.
After what felt like an eternity, the silver haired boy finally spoke up. “Is that a dog?”
“What?” Out everything this teen could say, Yuuri would have never thought “ Is that a dog” would be one of them.
“Is that a dog?” The boy repeated pointing at the little poodle standing next to Yuuri, staring warily at the stranger.
“Yes?” questioned Yuuri. He was too shocked to think of anything else to say.
The boy’s eyes widened with excitement, which confused Yuuri even more. It didn’t help that the teenager grabbed Yuuri and dragged him back to town. The boy’s hand gripped Yuuri so tightly that he couldn’t get away. With no choice, he was taken to a group that involved his parents, a few guards, and a scowling old man.
“Yakov! Yakov, I found him!”
The scowling man turned towards Yuuri and the silver haired teen. He looked straight at Yuuri then turned back to the group, who were talking mostly to Yuuri’s parents. Yuuri stood outside of the group, confusion and anxiety clouding over him. It didn’t help when he noticed that he was still holding the teens hand. Yuuri yelped and pulled his hand away, the boy looked at Yuuri confused but returned looking at the grown-ups.
After a few minutes the Katsukis parted from the group. Yuuri’s father grabbed Yuuri’s shoulder and led him to a spot far enough away that no one would be able to hear them; however, everyone’s eyes followed them as they walked away, even the sky-blue eyes from the older teen.
Toshiya Katsuki grabbed Yuuri’s attention by kneeling in front of the 12-year-old. “Yuuri, there is something we need to talk about.” At this point, the boy’s mind began to panic. “You see that boy that’s a little older than you?” Toshiya pointed to the silver haired teen, he was still looking at Yuuri with an intense gaze all while being yelled at by the man named Yakov.
“That’s Prince Nikiforov. He’s going to be the next king. He helped us build our bathhouse and helped a lot of people from our town. He is also in charge of an upcoming war, Yuuri, and that is a lot for a boy his age. He needs a lot of people to help him in order to win, and he especially needs help at the palace. More specifically, he needs help taking care of his dog.”
Yuuri looked at his father and scrunched his nose in confusion. “What does this have to do with me?”
Yuuri’s parents both looked at each other, he could see the worried looks they passed each other. “Yuuri, the kingdom doesn’t have animals, no one knows how to take care of them. They are so rare that Prince Nikiforov had to come all this way just to find someone who knows how to feed a dog. Apparently, when he learned that you take care of a poodle, he asked us if he could have you living at the castle and taking care of his pet.”
“I know this might be overwhelming, and it is your choice,” Toshiya continued. “But the prince offered to pay you. Your mother and I… well, I’ll be honest with you. Your mother and I probably won’t be able to take care of you... we are already struggling to feed ourselves.”
Yuuri looked up and he could see the exhausted loving faces of two parents. He could see how tired they were and Yuuri began to understand what they were saying. It wasn’t that they didn’t love him. They just couldn’t take care of him. It was better to have him living in a castle than starving to death during a war. He couldn’t let them go through losing another child; it was already painful to lose Mari, it would be even worse to see their only child suffer and starve to death.
Putting on the bravest face he could, Yuuri said, “I’ll do it.”