Kidnapping, assassination attempts, and a siege all sounded romantic in stories. But not when Yuuri experiences all three of them in consecutive and horrifying order. Not when his face is dirty and sides aching from all the running. Clothing torn and stained with blood not entirely his own. Yuuri is tired and scared. A thousand other nameless but terrifying things.
And all he can think about is the man hunkered down next to him. Conrad, his white knight in shining armor. His savior. His best and first friend in this strange and dangerous place.
Yuuri’s hands clench into fists as a shiver wracks through him.
Conrad whips around. “You are--”
“I’m fine,” the maoh insists. “Just give me a minute to calm down.”
Yuuri starts when he suddenly is pulled to a chest and arms wrap around his back. Pulling him in close. And the dam breaks.
“Conrad,” Yuuri murmurs in a choked voice. “I thought… I thought we were going to die.”
Conrad breathes into his hair, a whisper so faint as to be the wind. “Julia.”
And Yuuri closes his eyes so that his tears won’t fall.
“You cheater! I’m your fiancé.” Wolfram’s voice is shrill, cheeks red with genuine anger. The warm sea breeze tugs at his blond hair, but he hardly seems to notice.
Yuuri blinks stupidly. “But--” he begins only to be interrupted.
“I can’t believe you would do this to me.” His hands curl into fists, but Wolfram doesn’t move.
Yuuri is taken aback, clearly stumped, but he tries again. “But I haven’t--”
His supposed fiancé doesn’t seem to hear him. “And to think all this time... all this time I’ve been loyal to you, and you’ve been cheating.” Green eyes glare at him with enough force to scorch.
Some part of Yuuri is surprised he hasn’t been thumped yet. The rest of him is still attempting to figure out what’s going on. “But I haven’t done--”
Wolfram makes his ultimatum. “I can’t be with you if you won’t be faithful. We’re over.” With that, he whirls on his heels. The blond stomps off, head held high, leaving a bewildered maoh in his wake.
Yuuri for his part just gapes. “But I haven’t done anything,” he murmurs and watches flabbergasted as his former fiancé stalks away.
“It’s just wool,” Yuuri sheepish informs him. “My mom and I went and picked out everything we thought you’d like. There are a bunch of different colors and types. And… here.” He holds out the waterproof container.
Gwendal just stares. But he slowly and hesitantly reaches out to grasp it. His fingers slide over the plastic as though trying to pet the wool underneath.
“I hope you like it,” the maoh continues as one hand rubs the back of his head.
“…I do.” Lord von Voltaire nods at him and holds the box closer to his chest as he backs away. Like he’s scared his king will take the gift back. “I really do.”
Yuuri can’t help the boyish smile that spreads across his lips as he watches Gwendal return to his seat. The box is tucked away underneath the man’s desk, but Yuuri can tell that Gwendal is very aware of its presence as he picks up his papers, eyes not moving. And something inside of him tells the maoh to take a chance.
“You know, Gwendal--”
“I believe Wolfram was looking for you,” the man interrupts. “You better go find him before he tears the castle apart.”
“I… Alright,” Yuuri replies with slumped shoulders.
Gwendal doesn’t notice. He just studies the papers in his hand.
“I’ll see you later. Bye, Gwendal.”
With that, Yuuri walks out and shuts the door behind him.
And he braces himself for impact. Sure enough, a blur of grey and white hits him with the impact of a mazoku missile. It is all Yuuri can do to keep his feet as Gunter’s arms wrap around him with strength of a vise.
“Oh, heika! I’m so glad that you’re back,” the man sobs into his hair. “It was so long. Too long.”
Yuuri wiggles his head free enough to gasp for air. “I… only… went… to see… Ulrike. Just… a few… hours.” He fights not to blush as his advisor hugs on even tighter, pressing every inch of them together.
Gunter’s face is suddenly next to his, looking but not really seeing. “Are you ill, heika?”
“I’m not sick!” Yuuri insists as the man invades his personal space once again.
“But your face is so red and hot to the touch,” Gunter replies innocently. “I’ll get you something. Anything you want.”
Yuuri feels something inside snap. “I want you to look at me.”
“Heika, I always look at you.” The response is easy and without thought.
“My name is Yuuri.”
And Gunter freezes. He jerks back as though struck, but his hands remain on Yuuri’s shoulders. The maoh, in turn, shuffles his feet. Gathering his courage.
“Gunter, do you… do you… What do you feel for… I mean…”
His advisor for once seems to understand. “Of course, I love you, heika. You are the maoh, my ruler and leader. Wise and brave. Just and loyal.”
But that wasn’t quite what Yuuri wanted to hear.
Yosak’s smile is contagious. Voice gravelly but smooth when need be. Muscles rippling and always steady as he holds his sword. Fast and strong and moving quicker than most people can follow. Smart, cunning, trickier than his mother when she really wants something.
It’s no wonder that Yuuri feels inadequate in comparison. He’s short and weak. And were it not for baseball, he’d be horribly out of shape. He’s not a great student like Murata. He doesn’t have any special abilities and can’t use magic worth a shit unless his alter ego takes over.
But when Yosak grins and winks, Yuuri thinks it may not be so bad.
“Heika,” his spy says in that playful tone. “All alone out here?”
“No, I’m not,” Yuuri responds honestly. “You’re here.”
“That I am, heika. I’ll always be here when he need me.” Yosak beams then and one hand ruffles the maoh’s hair. “Let’s go back to inside. It’ll get cold out here soon enough.” He leads Yuuri from the balcony with a hand on his elbow.
“Thanks, Yosak.” Yuuri gives him a smile of his own, which is immediately returned.
“No problem.” The man reluctantly lets him go. “Well, places to be, heika. I’ll see ya around.”
Yuuri looks after him, watching as he continues down the hallway. At the corner, however, Yosak pauses. The maoh sees him gift the three maids with a winning smile and wink, both very familiar. Pausing to whisper something in the ear of one.
Yuuri feels his heart sink.
“You need a consort, my cute maoh. Or at the very least a concubine,” Cheri adds with a hand on her chin. “Such things are expected and so very pleasurable.” There is a dangerous sparkle in her green eyes.
Yuuri feels his cheeks instantly burn red. “I… But I… And I…” He stumbles over the words and backs for the door. “I… I’ll consider it.”
Then, the young maoh makes his escape. He all but runs down the hallway as far and fast as he can. He leans against the wall some indeterminable amount of time later, struggling to catch his breath. Mind running through what Cheri-sama had said and the realization that it is inevitable with his particular brand of luck.
With a heavy heart, Yuuri thinks about his options. And shudders.