“Victor!” Chris exclaims, spreading his arms wide with a large grin as Victor ducks out of the covered carriage. Victor can’t help but smile back.
“Chris,” Victor greets, giving his friend a warm embrace before stepping back.
It has been far too long since Victor last saw his best friend, over a year ago at Christophe and his omega’s wedding in London. Since then, the newly mated pair have been tucked away at Christophe’s country estate, reveling in each other and the privacy of being so far from the courting scene in London. It seems to have worked splendidly. Victor’s smile only widens as he takes in Christophe's omega Phichit, stomach round and swollen with their first pup.
“Phichit,” Victor greets, bowing low as he grabs the omega’s hand to leave a courteous kiss on his knuckles. “You look absolutely radiant.” When he rises Phichit has a fond smile on his face, shaking his head softly.
“That’s what everyone keeps saying but I mostly feel enormous. It’s good to see you, Victor. You look well,” the omega says, placing a hand on his stomach. Christophe tsk’s his tongue, coming up to slide an arm around the omega’s waist.
“You look absolutely lovely, darling,” Christophe says and Phichit turns to look up at him, adoration written across his entire face.
“Silly alpha,” Phichit says as Christophe’s other hand comes to rest on the swell of the omega’s stomach. “You only think so because it’s your child inside me.”
“I fear I would be helpless to your charms either way,” Christophe says with a wide smile and Victor has to look away, the scene almost becoming unbearably intimate as Phichit goes up on his toes to leave a soft kiss on his alpha’s cheek. They are just as loving and smitten as on their wedding day and Victor envies them greatly, even though he tries to push it down.
Victor is still unmated, for no omega has ever caught his interest in a way that has led him to an official courting. Being a Duke at such a young age has been more a curse than a blessing, nobility all but throwing their omegas at him.
Similar to Christophe who holds the title of Marquess, Victor as a Duke has his own estate. They were both given titles in their twenties, as their parents passed away hastily. Victor’s in a raging fever, Christophe's mother during childbirth and his father of old age. They have been friends since childhood, and he is Victor’s dearest.
The omegas have been beautiful, with scents sweet and demeanors fitting for a proper omega, but Victor has found no interest in them at all. There has always been something missing. That is how he finds himself unmated at the age of thirty-two, lonely and hollow. His estate is flourishing, his investments prosper, and still, the only thing that brings him joy is his dog and the rare occurrence he gets to meet one of his true friends, such as Christophe or Lord Yuri Plisetsky.
The lavish dinners with large parties have grown stale, balls out right dull. Even if Victor enjoys dancing, the company of the younger and younger omegas give him no satisfaction. In the latest year, since seeing his previously unmated friend find happiness in the sunshine whirlwind that is Countess Phichit Chulanont, Victor has started to realise that he might have to give up to defeat, and prepare to spend his days alone with only his dog to keep him company.
The couple seems to have gathered themselves from whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, as Christope’s hand lands on Victor’s shoulder, breaking him out of his rambling mind.
“It’s good to see you my friend,” Christope smiles and Victor returns it and nods. Around them, servants are bustling about and Victor can see his valet being led into the estate with his luggage, led by Christophe’s butler, undoubtedly being led into the guestroom Victor is going to stay in.
“We have prepared the blue guest room for you, since Christope says you prefer it,” Phichit says as they start to move inside, Victor plucking off his gloves and jacket, handing them over to a footman who hangs it up in the foyer.
“How thoughtful. I have always loved the view of that room,” Victor admits as they venture further into the estate. Christophe;s estate has a lovely garden, and the blue guest room overlooks the pond there.
“I agree, it is a shame that ours over looks the forest instead of the garden but it can’t be helped,” Christophe says as he gestures towards what Victor knows is the sitting room.
“Yes, sometimes one wonders what our predecessors were thinking when building the house and forming the estate. No matter how closely I read the old transcripts I can not understand why the kitchen is located on the far end of the estate and the stairs to the dining room in the other,” Victor agrees as they make it into the light green sitting room, sitting down on the plush deep green couches, Victor on one, Christophe and Phichit on the other.
“Yes, one would love to know what went on in their minds,” Christope agrees. “How is London? I gather you come from there and not from your estate?”
“Yes, I had some business and decided to stay at an inn for the night before coming here, it was not even worth opening the town house for. London is the same as always,” Victor says with a sigh as he leans back into the couch. “Dusty, dirty and loud.”
Phichit and Christophe both laugh at that, carefree and easy, and Victor gets swept up in it admitting a chuckle as well.
“We have not been in ages, I gather we won’t for a while,” Phichit says, hand swiping over his stomach.
“Yes, I have been up for business a few times but it’s getting harder and harder to pry myself away. Even if it is still months until the arrival, there is something unsettling about being away for too long,” Christophe says with a soft smile.
The door to the sitting room opens and instead of the expected footman there is a maid there, holding a tea tray. He’s in the customary black dress uniform with long sleeves, high collar and long billowing skirt. There is a white lace head piece on his head, a stark white apron covering the front as well as a high white collar and cuffs. The omega looks slightly flushed, cheeks tinted with pink, and he’s absolutely gorgeous. Deep brown doe eyes, with long lashes that swipe at his rose tinted cheeks with every blink. A cute nose that slopes down to plump pink lips, slightly parted and wet. His cheekbones are high, but cheeks soft, jaw sharp. He’s the most beautiful person Victor has ever seen. He’s halfway to standing to greet this magnificent creature when Phichit speaks, bringing him back to his senses, trying to wrap his mind around the fact that this is a maid, a servant, and not a nobility omega.
“Yuuri, is something the matter?” Phichit asks, straightening in the couch as he addresses the maid. The omega’s flush deepens, coloring his cheeks crimson, and he looks so lovely Victor finds it hard to breathe.
“I’m terribly sorry my Lady but Alexander has fallen ill and I was the only one availibe as Karpsiek is helping Lord Nikiforov’s valet. I did not want you to have to wait for tea. I hope it’s not too much trouble,” the maid, Yuuri, rambles as he approaches with light steps, placing the tray on the coffee table in front of them. As he leans down, Victor gets a hint of his scent, smooth vanilla, sweet cherry blossoms and smokey sandalwood filling his nose and his senses. Victor has to hold back, so not to lean forward to completely bask in it. It smells heavenly. Who made this creature, looking so wonderful as well as with such a mouthwatering scent. Unmated too. There is no hint of alpha in the omega’s scent, and it makes something in Victor’s chest rumble.
“Of course not Yuuri, do not worry about it,” Phichit assures as Yuuri pours them each a cup with steady hands. “How is Alexander?”
“Just a fever, but a high one,” Yuuri says, handing a cup to Phichit first. Victor can’t stop looking at the omega’s face, his profile just as beautiful as he is facing forward. He is so close too, Victor isn’t sure he’s ever been this aware of the distance between him and another person before. He feels his heart hammer in his chest, and has to fight hard to not let the entire room soak in the scent of his attraction towards this lovely omega.
“Have you sent for the doctor?” Christope asks as Yuuri hands him his cup.
“Yes, Mrs. Park has sent Henry to fetch Dr. Carter so hopefully he will be here soon,” the maid answers, turning towards Victor with a cup. Their eyes meet and Victor feels lost, as if sinking into deep, deep waters, heart racing, lungs without air. He does not mind in the slightest. It would be a sweet death, to go with eyes as lovely as that on him.
“Thank you,” Victor breathes softly and the maid’s eyes widen slightly, small rush of scent filled with attraction and surprise rushing towards Victor as the omega straightens, hands wiping nervously at the white apron.
“Thank you Yuuri, you always have a good head on your shoulders,” Christophe praises and Yuuri shakes his head.
“I don’t know about that. Please enjoy your tea. I am sorry for the impropriety.” He courtesies once towards the marquess couple and then carries the tray with him towards the door. Victor can’t take his eyes off of him, and just as Yuuri is about to step out of the door, the maid raises his slightly lowered head to glance toward him, before disappearing out into the hall. Victor is on his feet in an instance, ready to follow the omega out, unwilling to let him out of his sight. A hand on his arm stops him.
“Victor,” Christophe calls, and it brings Victor out of his head, eyes blinking as he takes in his friend’s shocked face. “What is the matter?”
Victor clears his throat, embarrassed for getting so caught up in his head, but who wouldn't be, with someone as lovely as that right in front of them.
“I- I’m sorry,” Victor says, looking down at Phichit who is looking up at him with worried eyes. “I do not know what came over me.”
He sits reluctantly, grabbing his tea cup to take a few sips, hoping it will calm him. Christophe sits as well, both of the other men looking curiously at him. Something starts to itch under Victor’s skin, a new and unwelcome feeling as he tries to think of anything to talk about, anything at all that does not involve the lovely omega that just left. He comes up with nothing.
“Who- who was that?” he asks, when the temptation grows to big. “I do not think I’ve seen him here before?”
The crease between Phichit’s eyes deepens as he looks over at Victor, placing his cup back on the table.
“Yuuri? He’s my ladies maid. I brought him with me after we wed. He’s been with me since I presented,” the omega says. That would explain it. Victor would have no reason to meet Phichit’s ladies maid at all, this is just a very happy coincidence.
“I see,” Victor answers, his fingers tingling around the cup with the need to know more. “And you are happy with him?”
“Very,” Phichit agrees with a smile. “I know it is not proper to say so but I would consider him my closest friend. He knows all of my secrets.”
“As our servants often do,” Christophe chimes in. “We should be very happy they are so loyal to us, and strive to keep them as happy as possible to keep them that way.”
“Do you know if he is spoken for?” Victor asks, eyes trailing to the door where the omega disappeared. He did not mean to ask, but the words tumbled out of him anyway. He has never been very good at keeping his opinions quiet. The cup in Christophe's hand slides out, and with a soft thud it lands on the carpet, thankfully not breaking.
“Victor!” the other alpha says with wide eyes, Phichit looking equally shocked, jaw dropped and eyes wide. “I never took you for the type of alpha who tries to seduce their ways into unmated omegas’ beds to leave them improper and possibly without prospects.”
Victor gasps, eyes snapping to Christophe as an anger he has not felt since he was a green boy and newly presented rises in his chest.
“I would never!” Victor exclaims, placing his cup back on the table. “He is the most wonderful omega I have ever seen, I would never want to violate such a wonderful being.”
“What are your intentions with a question such as that then?” Christophe snaps.
“To find out if I would be able to court him of course,” Victor exclaims. A shocked gasp falls from the mated pair in front of him as they stare at him with wide eyes.
“Are you serious about this?” Phichit asks, leaning forward slightly.
“Very,” Victor says, trying to push as much conviction into his voice as he can. “Never have I encountered anyone so lovely before. Chris, you know me, I do not fall so easily.”
Christophe is still looking as if struck by lightning by the admission, while his mate seems to be adjusting to this apparent change quicker.
“I will not have any improper suggestions towards him from you. He is very dear to me and I will not see you hurt him, is that understood?”
Victor nods frantically, excitement filling him at the thought of being able to show his affection towards the omega.
“I swear to you I am utmost sincere,” Victor promises.
“How would you go about it then?” Chrstophe asks, still looking quite frayed at the turn of events.
“I shall have to get to know him of course. Court him.” Victor is already thinking of lovely dresses he’s seen in shop windows he could buy the omega, jewelry that might fit him or flowers he would enjoy. Perhaps he has a sweet tooth and Victor can buy him sweetmeats.
“Court him?” Phichit says slowly. “Victor, he is a maid. I- I’m not sure he’s even able to court. He has a job here with very little free time, no relatives to chaperone. You can not call on him since he lives in the estate. He won’t get invited to balls where you can ask him to dance. There is no dowry. I can not see how you can properly court him, as you would a Lady.”
“I shall have to try. I desperately want to know him,“ Victor pleads. Surely all hope can’t be lost just because Yuuri is a maid, the idea seems preposterous.
“Vey well,” Phichit says with a soft smile, something far more mischievous glimmering in his eye. “I know that he is to walk into town for some errands for me tomorrow. Why don’t you escort him, and see what you make of it, hm? If at the end of the day you still find him as enchanting, ask to court him properly and I will see to it that it can be done.”
“Would you, really?” Victor’s heart is pounding in his chest, hope filling his entire being.
“Of course. I care deeply about Yuuri and only wish for him to be happy. If you can convince him to let you court him, I see no problems with it. It would give me great pleasure to be able to see him at balls and dinners, even if I would miss greatly to see him every day, were you to marry.”
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Christophe asks, eyes traveling from his mate to his best friend. “Think of how the town will talk, if Victor decides not to follow through with the courting to propose, Yuuri might be made a laughing stock. It might ruin any other prospects, for people will surely think that he...”
“Are we to stand in the way of what could be love?” Phichit asks with warm eyes. “Do not fret dear. I’m sure Victor will do right by Yuuri. If not, I shall happily kick his ass and back talk him to all that I shall ever met.”
Phichit turns then, the threat being pleasantly delivered but holding great weight as it hangs between them. Victor sees it now, the fire that Christophe must have fallen in love with raging, the cunningness hidden in the omega’s gentle and otherwise joyful demeanor. Victor has underestimated him. It’s good he had no intentions of treating Yuuri with anything other than respect, for he is sure he would pay greatly for it.
“What do you say Victor? Do we have ourselves a deal?”
The omega reaches a hand out and Victor takes it in an instant, giving one firm shake.