This is my sixth? Story for the Kyou Kara Maou fandom. This one is a new spin on the dynamic between Yuuri, his Maou form and his growing powers. This story was inspired by mythology surrounding water, demonic possession and horror films. I was watching the films The Exorcism of Emily Rose and A Haunting in Connecticut the other day and I found myself putting Yuuri in the possessed character's place and I thought it fit really well with his own developing powers with a very dark twist. This is more of a drama because I don't think I can do horror very well, but here's a shot. I do hope you all enjoy it. Please review and leave your input, but no flames.
Note: I try to avoid using Japanese terms in an English story, so to avoid confusion between Shin Makoku demons and demons of the underworld kind, I will refer to the spirits as geists and evil demonic spirits as spectres.
Warning: Violence, Sexual themes, language.
Pairings: YuurixWolfram, YuurixOC (not really, don't get your panties in a knot)
Summary: After his 18th birthday, Yuuri's demon and human halves start to merge. The process is both physically and mentally painful for him and it is not uncommon for half-breeds to die during the process or succumb to insanity. Yuuri begins to see and hear things that aren't there, and a dark presence torments him daily fulfilling an ancient curse and determined to destroy anything it can touch. Yuuri tragically finds himself alone in his struggle when those closest to him refuse to believe him, thinking that he is simply suffering from the change and/or trying to get out of marrying his estranged fiancé, Wolfram. Will Yuuri break the curse? Or will he end up like hundreds of other half-breed demons and fall into madness?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Prologue – The Last One
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
'It will all be over soon. Please let it be over soon!' thought the lone figure as it stumbled up the stairs.
The young man was crouched; head swinging from side to side like a hunted animal trying to escape as he climbed further and further into the giant north tower of Blood Pledge. He was being chased, by someone, something, he didn't know what. Invisible hands grabbed and swung at his heels and the hem of his coat and tripped him. Behind him, he could hear the voices, always the voices. Calling for him, taunting him, begging for a thousand different things, either intending to force his hand or force his death for their own comfort. For days and months those voices had haunted him, spilling their secrets and telling him their sins, asking for a forgiveness that could not be given. It wasn't his to give but because he was the only one who could hear their pleas, they sought him nonetheless.
He had tried to listen, had tried to understand their plight for some of them were indeed desperate for help, for someone to care. He had tried to help them, but he found that the more he helped, the more they demanded of him, and some would threaten him if he did not comply with their wishes.
He could not stop the scream that tore through his body when the second he tripped and hit the stone stairs, the hands were all over him. Groping, touching and molesting him, molesting his body and his mind as they filled him with their hate, their regret, their sadness, their insanity. He found that he couldn't breathe as the weight of the emotions of a thousand souls bore down in his frail form. He struggled with everything he had to break free, but the hands held fast and he was trapped.
"Let me go!" He yelled, arms and legs flailing in any direction to break the icy hold. "Let me go, damn you! I can't do anything!"
He screamed again when the hands turned to claws and his skin was torn. He sobbed and begged for them to stop, but they kept yelling at him and wailing, drowning out his cries for mercy.
"Leave me alone!" He sobbed, tears streamed down his pale cheeks. "Leave me alone! Just go away!"
With a final cry, he somehow managed to break free of their hold. Without looking back, he scrambled to his feet and ran up the stairs, still hearing the outraged yells of the dead behind him.
* * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * *
Alphonse urged his legs to run faster.
He fought with all his mental strength to bite down the panic and fear that was growing inside his gut. He tore through the halls of the palace, a blue and red blur to those who stood still and watched him fly by with confusion.
Alphonse had never been so scared in his entire life. A trained soldier and magic user, he had been taught to never let his feelings get the best of him. He had perfected that skill over decades of service in the military and he prided himself on always remaining calm and level-headed no matter the situation. Except for this one.
He had no idea where his charge could be. He had left to get dinner when he returned and found that the room they shared had been torn to pieces and ransacked. The curtains were in shreds, the bed had been over turned and anything that was on the shelves and tables had been savagely thrown to the ground and shattered. The room's only occupant gone.
He was aroused from his shock when he heard a single cry from down the hallway and he immediately recognized it. He ran back into the vast hall just in time to see the thin figure of his charge disappear around the corner. He took off after him, shoving past anyone who happened to be in the way and ignoring the indignant yelps in his wake.
He turned another corner just in time to see a white clad figure disappear up the stairwell leading to the tower.
He had made it up three flights of stair when he heard a panicked voice.
"Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Just go away!" Along with another shrill cry and then quick footsteps up the stairs.
"Niklas!" Alphonse shouted. "Niklas, wait for me. I'm coming!" He rushed up the stairwell in hot pursuit of the other man.
All he got for an answer was a pained wail. He wasn't even sure if Niklas had heard him, but he continued on.
Just when he thought that the stairs would never end. He reached the top of the stairwell. He saw the door flung wide open into the spring night. The full moon silhouetting the petite figure perched in the edge of the railing, staring down into the courtyard below.
Alphonse staggered through the doorframe, heaving, eyes fixed on the person in front of him.
"Niklas!" he wheezed, still trying to catch his breath. "Niklas!"
The man stiffened when he heard his name. He slowly turned around, seemingly unsure if this was his Alphonse or just another illusion.
"Al?" he said tentatively.
Alphonse looked up and gave his most comforting smile. "What are you doing up here, Nikki? Come down and let's get you back in bed. You look a mess." He really did. Niklas' brown hair was strewn about in a wild halo, his body was crunched over the rail, the wind blew his loose jacket and trousers around his too-thin form, the color drained form his face giving him a sickly pallor.
But it was his eyes that struck Alphonse the most. They were the eyes of someone who was being tormented and haunted. Scared and hopeless.
"Please." Alphonse said softly. "Get down, Nikki. We only want to help you!"
Niklas sneered. "You can't help me! They can't help me. They've only made things worse! The drugs, the needles, the painful magic, the feeding tube! It only hurts!"
"Those things hurt, but they will make you better, I promise." Alphonse tried to reason.
"No they won't!" Niklas shrieked. The force of his scream caused him to wobble precariously, his weight made the rail shake. "They never do! Because I'm not sick!"
Alphonse was at a loss. He knew of the hallucinations, the doctors had warned him of the change's side effects and how to deal with it properly, but he was never sure how to talk Niklas through them. "Yes you are. You just don't realize it because the illness makes you see things. Come down Nikki!"
"Why won't you believe me?" Niklas begged with heartbreaking sadness. "I'm telling the truth! I wouldn't lie about something like this!"
"I know you wouldn't, Nikki. Please don't be upset, just…just come down!" Alphonse said unable keep the rising panic out of his voice. He offered his hand to Niklas, cautiously moving closer to the hysterical man.
Niklas stared at Alphonse's out stretched hand. He contemplated whether he would go back with him and back to the probing and the medicine that made him puke, branded a madman and forever be a slave to the voices or end it once and for all and join them.
"Please, Nikki." Alphonse said with quiet desperation. "Please, I…I love you."
Niklas's blue eyes widened at Alphonse's confession. But he didn't know if Alphonse meant it or if he was trying to placate him. "You…do?" he asked disbelievingly.
"Yes, Niklas." Alphonse smiled. "I do. And I would never let them do anything to you that you don't want them to. I swear it. Just, please, come down from there."
Niklas hesitated for one moment. Alphonse began to worry again, but he calmed when a look of resolve and acceptance crossed his beloved's face. Niklas extended a thin hand towards Alphonse's waiting one. Long fingers ghosted over his short ones just within reach.
What happened next shocked them both.
Niklas was about to close his hand around Alphonse's when he felt something cold and vice-like grab the hand that was still holding onto the railing. It violently yanked Niklas's hand from the bar and tried to pull him over the rail. He screamed as his free hand grasped desperately for his lover, for anything to keep from falling.
Alphonse gasped when Niklas hand was suddenly torn from him. He barely had time to react when Niklas was dragged away from him and towards the five hundred foot drop from the balcony to the gardens. He scrambled forward just as Niklas's torso was flipping over the edge.
"Alphonse!" Niklas shrieked as he grabbed desperately for his lover.
As his love fell over the edge and to his death, Alphonse made one desperate grasp for the hem of Niklas' jacket, but he only caught the very tip and in an instant Niklas disappeared over the rail the only proof of his presence was the tortured screams of the two men.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Haunting of Yuuri Shibuya – Chapter One – Growing Pains
Conrad waited for his charge in the long hallway leading to the ballroom. He had spent the entire three day celebration escorting his king from one place to the other as he went about the various ceremonies and tributes that were given in his honor by the nobility and the people of Shin Makoku in honor of his eighteenth birthday. For three days and nights there had been endless feasting, toasting and dancing and other things associated with a royal birthday slash third anniversary of King Yuuri's reign. This would be the fourth and final night, the biggest celebration in which all the allies, aristocrats from all over the world would congregate for this final end-all-be-all party that would last well into the wee hours of the morning.
Conrad inwardly commended his godson for being able to keep up with the fast pace and endlessness of the proceedings. He knew that deep down, Yuuri would have been fine with a small dinner party and a few close friends and family, maybe even bring his family from Earth to visit and got out or something. But such is not the case for royal birthdays, especially the birthday that fell on the third year of the monarch's reign.
There was a superstition in Shin Makoku, that the first three years of a king's reign were fraught with all sorts of bad luck and misfortune, so much in fact that the third year was marked with huge party and various good luck ceremonies in which the gods were asked to give their blessing. In a way Conrad could understand the tradition. Certainly the first year of Yuuri's reign alone had been filled with a multitude of misfortunes that could fill an entire three years. War, kidnappings, political assassinations, racial tension, and marriage proposals had taken up the majority of the first year alone and yet they still had to deal with the drama and general pettiness of the aristocracy. Yuuri in his youth had somehow managed to get through it and come out the other end a stronger man for it.
Conrad turned his head when he heard the light thumps of familiar steps approach him. A soft smile appeared on his face as he watched his king and godson walk towards him with a pensive expression on his face. Yuuri looked up from his musings and gave Conrad a little nod in greeting. Conrad silently missed the days when Yuuri would give him a huge grin and a wild wave whenever he saw his godfather. But that time was no more. Now eighteen years old, Yuuri had grown into a young man. His face and body only bore tiny traces of the awkward boy he had once been. Shoulders had broadened, voice had deepened, legs and arms had grown longer and more muscular, the body filled out and he moved with an air of quiet control. He looked regal in his new black uniform and shoulder length hair that fell around his shoulders. The desire of every male and female noble in the kingdom and a fan base that rivaled Wolfram's. But despite all this maturation, Yuuri still possessed his kind and friendly nature, albeit more reserved and observant.
Conrad gave a slight bow when Yuuri came near. "Good evening, your Ma-"
"Ehp!" Yuuri reprimanded, holding up his palm. Some things never changed. Although Yuuri had recently opted for making a sharp noise instead of reciting his old call-me-Yuuri-speech to his godfather.
Conrad chuckled. "Good evening, Yuuri. Are you ready?"
Conrad tried not the chuckle when Yuuri gave a dramatic sigh and rolled his eyes. "I'm ready as I'll ever be. I just want to get this over with." Yuuri said. "What day are we on now?"
"The end of day three, Yuuri. This is the last one, I promise. Shall we get going?"
"If I try to run away…"
"We will seal off the gates and drain the fountains and the baths and hunt you down with dogs and the entire Voltaire cavalry."
"I thought so…Well, let's get a-going."
Conrad let Yuuri walk past him a bit before turning to join him. They continued for a bit in companionable silence, Conrad found himself having to keep up with the fast pace Yuuri's long legs had set. In a few years, he would be as tall as Conrad, a few more and he might reach Gwendal's height. This led Conrad to wonder what had the royal chefs been putting in his food to make the short boy grow so much in so little time.
Yuuri sighed heavily. "You know, we could be spending the money on something else rather than a huge party, like non-profit organizations and building schools for the poor."
"The party is for you to converse with your subordinates and the political leaders to build goodwill and friendship. All you have to do really is mingle and chat and dance and the like and before you know it, it will be over." Conrad said patiently.
"I did all that yesterday and the day before. I'm running out of things to talk about." The young monarch grumbled.
"I'm sure you'll find something to talk about. Did you prepare your speech?"
Yuuri frowned. "Yeah, I guess."
"You guess?" Conrad asked.
"I don't like it. It seems so…so…" Yuuri struggled to find the right word. "Corny, and kind of fake."
"But your speeches are always so welcoming and personable. Even the serious ones." Conrad said.
"I know. I just don't like this one. Gunter was telling me I need to make it sound more regal and monarch-y. But I couldn't get it right. It was just not me, you know?"
"Yuuri." Conrad gently touched Yuuri's arm reassuringly. "I'm sure it's fine. And writing your own speeches takes time and practice. You'll be fine."
"You sure?" Yuuri said skeptically.
"I'm sure. Here we are."
As they approached the grand entrance to the ballroom, they could hear the faint music of the chamber orchestra playing a light waltz as the guests waited for the guest of honor. As was custom, the king was always the last one to enter and begin the night's festivities with an opening speech, which Yuuri hated with a passion. He had never liked being the center of attention and he really disliked having to speak in front of large crowds, especially extra judgmental crowds like the nobility of Shin Makoku.
A shaky breath alerted Conrad's concern. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." Yuuri said. "Just a little nervous"
"There's no need to be. We are all behind you." Conrad said, smiling cheerfully, then a thought entered his mind. "By the way, did you remember to see Gisela this morning?"
"What did she say?" Conrad said, leaning forward to hear Yuuri's reply discreetly.
"She still can't find anything wrong with me. She doesn't know why I'm having these pain episodes as she calls them. They might due to stress. She just doesn't know." Yuuri said, sounding frustrated at the lack of a diagnosis. "She gave me some pain medicine and said to let her know if I have another 'fit'."
"Did you take it?"
"Did you rest this morning like we told you?"
"Yes, Mother." Yuuri rolled his eyes. "I'll just have to endure it. It doesn't seem to be getting worse."
Conrad looked the double black straight in the eyes. "If you experience any sort of pain." He said seriously. "I simply insist that you alert me, Gwendal, Gunter or Wolfram immediately."
"I mean it, Yuuri."
"I will!" Yuuri said irritably. "I'm not a kid anymore, I can look after myself."
"I just don't want you to feel like you have to push yourself. We care about you."
"I know and I appreciate it." Yuuri gave Conrad a small smile. "I will let you know if anything happens."
They were interrupted when a lavender haired man dressed in white robes poked his head through the doors to the ballroom. "There you are, your Majesty!" he whispered. "We were beginning to wonder where you had gotten to! It's time for the introduction. Are you ready?"
"Yes, Gunter, I'm ready." Yuuri said pleasantly. "Conrad's just giving me my customary pep-talk. Aren't you Conrad?"
"Well, if you are finished. Will it please you if we begin the introduction speech?" Gunter asked.
"Yes." Yuuri nodded. "Go ahead and get started."
"Yes, your Majesty." Gunter dipped his head in respect and closed the door. Yuuri and Conrad heard the music gradually stop and Gunter's airy voice enthusiastically begin his introduction of the king.
Knowing Gunter, Conrad knew they had at least five minutes as the royal advisor made various flowery allusions to Yuuri and his accomplishments. He turned hesitantly towards Yuuri who now stood at his side, focused intensely on the closed doors. Even though he was still and quiet, Conrad could tell by the changing glints in Yuuri's eyes that the younger man was juggling a dozen different thoughts through his head at once, planning, organizing, adjusting, coping. Something that would have been unusual a couple years ago, but now Yuuri tended to think about things a little more and say less. Conrad guessed it came with age and with the responsibilities of ruling a kingdom. Or it could be due to the heated conversation Yuuri had in his office that morning with Gwendal and Gunter and Wolfram's uncle. Conrad had not been present, but from what he had heard, Waltorana had demanded that Yuuri make a decision and announce his plans for his engagement during his speech. Period. Needless to say, it had not gone smoothly between the king and the hotheaded Bielefeld patriarch.
Conrad opened and closed his mouth a couple times before finally breaching the question. "Have you come to a decision about what you and-"
"Yeah." Yuuri replied shortly, automatically assuming the subject of Conrad's question.
"Did you talk about it with him?"
"What are you going to do?"
A very slight shrug. "What is there to do? It's been three years and no sign of ending it. The aristocrats demand that I marry a demon and soon so that in the untimely case of my horrendous death, there will be someone to take over."
"So you're..?" Conrad drifted off, letting Yuuri fill in the blank..
"I'm going to marry him." Yuuri stated with sullen finality. "That's part of my speech, a big wedding announcement so everyone can relax. God forbid, my love life concerns only me." A slight sneer curved Yuuri's lips.
"Is that what you want?" Conrad pressed.
Yuuri gave a short bark of a laugh. "Since when did what I want matter?" He said bitterly. Then his face softened. "It wouldn't be so bad. It's a smart choice. Wolfram comes from a powerful and wealthy family, he has all the training and credentials, I suppose. He's proven his devotion and his trustworthiness." Yuuri paused. "He's also my best friend. I'd rather marry my best friend than a total stranger."
"Marriage is a serious thing, Yuuri. Once it's done it cannot be taken back. It's much harder to end a marriage than an engagement." Conrad warned.
"I know." Yuuri said dismissively. "Besides, nothing will change."
Conrad was about to tell Yuuri that such was not the case and that everything would change, but when he opened his mouth, he heard the final words of Gunter's speech.
"-and now it is my greatest honor and pleasure to introduce the Protector and Voice of our beloved nation, the pride of Shin Makoku, our savior and redeemer, His Honored Majesty The 27th Demon King, Yuuri Shibuya!"
The crowd burst into thrilling applause and a few shouts eagerly welcoming their young king.
Yuuri straightened his posture and trained his face into a calm smile akin to the ones Conrad always had. He steadied himself and lifted his chin and walked deliberately through the doors as the doormen opened them with royal flourish. Before he stepped into the blinding light of the chandeliers, he turned to face his godfather one last time. Conrad was momentarily struck by the steady gaze Yuuri gave him. His black eyes holding more depth and understanding than most people would associate with the young monarch and a little bit of sadness.
"It's for the best. You'll see." And with that, Yuuri turned his back to Conrad and strode out onto the landing.
* * * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * *
Yuuri had to blink a few times before his eyes could adjust to the magnificent lights of the ballroom. A roaring applause assaulted his ears as the audience renewed their efforts when they saw him appear from behind the ornate black painted doors. He moved to stand between a smiling Gunter and an ever stoic Gwendal and face his guests. He looked out over the many heads gathered below him and was unnerved at the sheer number of people that had somehow managed to cram themselves into the ballroom, making the space, which was at least of size of a baseball field, look cramped and small. The walls were decorated with thousands of flower garlands and ribbons and the ceiling had no less than six giant crystal chandeliers, fully lit and glowing like a row of suns.
Yuuri breathed, trying to fight back the growing anxiety that manifested in his gut. He knew that nervousness would only make things worse and for the last few weeks, it could trigger a fit. He took a moment to gather his wits and size up his audience. He felt a small twinge of comfort when he saw that most of the guests were good friends and acquaintances he had made over the years of his rule. Among his friends from Caloria, Franchire, and Svelera, there were dozens of ambassadors, messengers, and relatives of people Yuuri had only met two days before, but nonetheless deserved an equal amount of attention. His eyes automatically sought out the comforting faces of his fiancé and daughter. He saw them standing among the nobility from Bielefeld near the front of the crowd of course. Since they were only fiancés, there was no need for Wolfram to stand next to him while he gave his speech. Wolfram, along with his uncle Lord Waltorana von Bielefeld acted as representatives of their family together. Greta stood next to her father, looking very much like the king's daughter in an elaborate pink chiffon gown with lace trim and pearls woven into her curly dark hair. Wolfram was dressed in his formal uniform, though now it bore touches of black embroidery and trim to signify his status as future Consort. His golden hair framed his fine face that was dressed in its customary scowl. No doubt, Wolfram was probably still mulling over the conversation they had that morning in his office.
Yuuri met Wolfram's gaze for a bit and the blonde man twitched an eyebrow impatiently when Yuuri lingered a split second too long. Yuuri cleared his throat and gathered his wits and addressed the expectant crowd.
"Aristocrats and allies, friends and family." He began making sure his voice was big enough to carry to the back of the room, but not obnoxiously loud. "I thank you all for joining me and my kingdom in this wonderful event, the third year of my reign as king of Shin Makoku." Yuuri smiled politely at the responding applause and patiently waited for them to die down before continuing. "I speak for everyone when I say that these past three years have been a great challenge, we have all faced a multitude of changes; a new king, new alliances and the renewal of old ones. We have had to make great adjustments for the sake of our collective kingdoms and fiefdoms and the sake of those who serve us loyally. We have had to make personal and outward adjustments as humans and demon come together for the first time to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity and personal growth as we share in our desire for peace for our kingdoms and for the world in the hopes that our efforts will make it a better place for later generations."
Another round of applause. Yuuri smiled again.
"You have all done a wonderful job in making this vision come true. While there will still be those who oppose this vision, I believe wholeheartedly that it is a vision worth pursuing no matter what and perfectly capable of achieving. I thank you all form the very bottom of my heart for all that you have done in the name of peace. And in this fourth year of my reign as King of Shin Makoku, we will overcome even more challenges and make this world even better. Together."
A particularly enthusiastic applause coupled with cheers and shouts of encouragement from his closest friends. He continued.
"In regards to together, I have an announcement to make. It is one that most of you have been waiting for since the beginning." Yuuri nodded his head towards at Wolfram, who had maintained a stern look throughout the speech. The few who caught this gesture chuckled good –naturedly. Greta clasped her hands together hopefully, a wide smile on her face, knowing what was to come.
"It fills me with great joy…" Yuuri closed his eyes briefly, doubt stirring within, gathering his thoughts. He opened them with a determined gaze and said. "To announce the wedding of Lord Wolfram von Bielefeld and myself to be held in six months time and to extend my personal invitation to all of you in attendance to share in our joy."
There was a pause that lasted a second or two before the audience went wild with applause and cheers of congratulations and whistles. There had been much speculation and rumors surrounding the relationship of his majesty and lord Wolfram, most had thought the engagement would end and that the special announcement in Yuuri's speech would be his new bachelorhood and subsequent availability. True, many were so convinced of this that they brought their children, nieces and nephews along in the hopes that they could court the king and if not him, his fiancé. But such was not the case, and those hopeful had to bite down their disappointment and properly congratulate their king.
Yuuri's smile widened, happy that he had made it through the speech. He looked down towards his fiancé. Wolfram was currently being jostled and fussed over by the various members of his clan, a thin smile pressed on his face, while Greta clung to his arm, mouth moving a mile a minute, finally happy that she would be a part of a real family. Yuuri was glad that at least he was making his daughter happy and he hoped that ultimately he had made the right decision. Deep down, he was upset that he had been pressured into making a decision on his engagement that morning and he felt a tinge of anger that Gwendal, Gunter and Waltorana had ganged up on him like they did and forced him to decide. Yuuri, after being told if he didn't do something and soon, there would be terrible consequences in the form of political upheaval, hesitantly conceded to wed Wolfram. He had spent the entire day trying to convince himself that this was the right thing to do and he would be doing this for the sake of the country and make Wolfram and his daughter happy.
Wolfram finally broke free of the tight circle of people and made his way up the grand staircase to Yuuri's side. Green eyes met black and neither broke contact until the demon prince had reached Yuuri's side and taken his hand and stood beside him. Yuuri offered him a confident smile that got him a 'hmph' in return. He could tell that the announcement had not quite sunken in for Wolfram. He wondered if the proud demon had resigned himself to a life of matrimonial purgatory and the thought of salvation was nearly impossible to comprehend. Yuuri hoped that in the end, he could make it up to Wolfram for all the years he had been by his side.
Yuuri addressed the audience one last time, making sure his voice carried. "Please join me and my fiancé in celebrating our marriage and another successful year for our kingdom!"
The audience cheered as the couple silently descended the stairs to join the party. Gwendal, Gunter and Conrad following close behind them.
Gunter leaned over to whisper in Yuuri's ear. "Excellent! Eloquent as always your Majesty! Never had there been such a beautiful speech that so accurately captured the spirit of the celebration!"
Yuuri smiled brightly. "Thanks, Gunter. I couldn't have done it without you."
Yuuri heard the typical swoon of "Oh your majesty!" as he reached the bottom and was immediately engulfed with dozens of well-wishers as the music began and the food was finally brought out to the hungry and jovial guests.
* * * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * *
Yuuri quietly sipped at his drink, seated at one of the long tables that lined the dance floor. In between the stream of guests talking to him and congratulating him, he had found time to sit and rest for a bit. The food had been exceptionally good this evening and Yuuri, who had not eaten since very early that morning, had made the mistake of eating just a little too much. He had been careful of his manners of course, forcing himself to not wolf down everything in front of his guests, but he had managed to fill his growling belly nonetheless. So he sat, nursing a glass of sweetened wine, waiting for his stomach to settle before the first dance.
Yuuri was feeling particularly relaxed. The last three days had been busy and stressful, but the various events and duties had gone by smoothly and quickly. He was glad that this was the last of the endless parties and social gatherings he would have to endure for quite some time, at least until his wedding.
The young king scanned the occupants of the huge ballroom. He had taken to silently watching his guests mingle with each other whenever he had the chance. His mother would call it people-watching and Yuuri found it interesting and insightful.
Anissina and her brother, the head of the Karbelnikoff, were bickering about something. It appeared form the twinkle in her eyes that Anissina was trying to convince her brother of something, maybe a new invention or funding for a new one. Stoffel von Spitzweg was chatting up Lord Gyllenhaal and Gwendal was talking military things no doubt with Lord Brunswick. Conrad was by the punch bowl with Yozak, who had forgone his usual dress in favor of a dark red tunic and trousers, they were talking quietly, probably reminiscing if the faraway look in Conrad's eyes was any indication. Greta was sitting with Lady Cheri, gaudy as ever, dripping with precious stones, they were pointing and giggling at all the handsome young men in the room, one particular brunet seemed to have their attention. Wolfram was engaged in a very serious conversation by the balcony with his uncle. Waltorana's back was to Yuuri and he could see the glances Wolfram was giving him, whenever he spoke.
'Waltorana's probably giving him instructions on how not to screw this up' Yuuri thought dryly.
Contrary to what others may have believed, Yuuri was just as good at reading people as the last person. He just didn't always show it or use it to his advantage. Or maybe he did. Some had said that Yuuri had a gift for making friends with just about anyone, enemy or not and it could be attributed to his understanding of that person and connecting with them on their level that keen observation would allow. Some would use their understanding of another to exploit them and certainly it was the rule of thumb in politics, but Yuuri preferred to use his observations to bring out the best in people.
Right now, Yuuri's observation skills were telling him that his retainers were tense and watching him very closely. Closer than normal. Despite their separate conversations, Yuuri could tell that they were watching and waiting for whatever they thought might happen if they took their gazes away for one second.
Yuuri couldn't blame them really. His health hadn't been in the best shape lately. Too much work and not enough rest was the accepted explanation, but Yuuri couldn't help but feel it may be something more. Especially because of the unexpected pain he had been having.
Yuuri was interrupted from his thoughts by a sharp cramp in his abdomen. He immediately set down his glass and placed his hand over his stomach, pressing into it to relieve the discomfort.
"Oh!" He whispered, careful not to cry out and draw attention. He took several deep breaths to try and ride it out. Sometimes, the pain would go away after a few seconds and it would be as if nothing happened. Other times it would linger and intensify to a crippling agony that gripped him for hours.
Yuuri winced when the pain did indeed grow. It wasn't enough to cripple anything, but it certainly threw him off a bit. He quickly trained his face into a calm mask, sitting up rod straight in his chair. He grinded his teeth and occupied himself with taking another sip from his glass. Still breathing deeply, Yuuri positioned himself to hide his affliction.
For all his efforts to hide, Yuuri might as well have been screaming for the reaction his barely noticeable actions got from his retainers. Like a signal going off, Conrad and Yozak, Gwendal and Gunter, and Wolfram all turned their heads like a choreographed dance to where Yuuri was seated. Conrad, Gunter and Wolfram were the first to excuse themselves from their respective conversations and swiftly made their way to his table. Gwendal stayed put and watched from his position out of the corner of his eye. Yozak followed behind Conrad.
Wolfram was the first to reach him. He came to stand directly in front of Yuuri, blocking him from view of any curious onlookers. He leaned over discreetly, concern flickering through his green eyes.
"Yuuri, are you alright?" He whispered. "What's wrong?"
"I-I'm fine." Yuuri said evenly and hoped the color in his face didn't drain like it usually did when this happened. He looked up at the demon prince and smiled brightly. "No big deal."
"Are you in pain?"
"Are you or aren't you?" Wolfram said curtly. He leaned in even closer so that Yuuri had no choice but to look him in the eyes. "Is it another fit?"
"It's not that bad, just a stomach cramp." Yuuri assured, he leaned away from his fiancé, they were too close. "I might have eaten too much is all."
"Your Majesty! What's wrong?" Conrad said as he finally reached them.
Wolfram answered for him. "The wimp says he's fine." From his tone, it was obvious he didn't believe that for a minute.
"Are you sure, Yuuri?" Conrad said carefully.
"What is wrong with his Majesty?" Gunter seemed to have grown out of Conrad's shoulder. "Oh, your Majesty, what ails you?" He asked with his classic flourish, he bent over with his hand hiding his mouth. "Is it another 'fit'?"
"Guys!" Yuuri said exasperatedly. He weakly waved them all back. They immediately gave him a few inches of space. "I said it's okay! I ate too much and I got a cramp. Happens all the time! I'm okay."
They all stared at him for a moment. It was clear that they didn't believe his explanation. They knew from experience that he tended to hide things from them. Yuuri seemed to have a fear of being a burden or causing undue trouble and yet he still got himself into it on a regular basis. Yuuri also liked to hide any illness or injury he might have. Especially this.
But Yuuri wasn't backing down.
"Don't make a scene." He warned.
Wolfram looked like he was about to say something when Gwendal, having excused himself from Lord Brunswick, joined them.
"Is he alright?" He asked brusquely.
"We don't know, he won't tell us!" Wolfram said irritably
"Whatever it is, take care of it. It's time for the opening dance." Gwendal said. He looked at Yuuri. "Are you capable of dancing?"
Yuuri thought for a bit. The pain had, thankfully, lessened to a dull ache that he was positive he could endure for a few minutes. He could handle one dance and then he might be able to excuse himself from the party and go lie down.
He stood up slowly from his chair, finished off his wine and gave his best signature carefree smile. "Sure, I can dance for a while." Without waiting for an answer he grabbed Wolfram's arm, ignoring the blonde's protests and dragged him out onto the dance floor.
The first dance had been pre-chosen by Yuuri himself. It was the nice and slow Calorian waltz, similar to the European waltz and the one dance Yuuri could say he was good at. He took Wolfram's right hand into his left and placed his right hand on the blonde's slim waist. With a nod to the orchestra, the music began. Yuuri lead his fiancé through some basic steps before doing some small turns. He made a wide arc with his partner around the entire floor, not once looking down at his feet or faltering.
"You've gotten better." Wolfram mumbled, expertly keeping up with Yuuri's steps.
Yuuri chuckled nervously. "I've been practicing with Gunter. We finally found a dance I could do halfway decent."
The corners of Wolfram's mouth twitched, the only indication of a smile. "My feet thank him."
"Yeah…" Yuuri breathed a little harshly. It seemed the ache had decided to renew intensity. He collected himself and pulled Wolfram into another turn.
As his body rotated, Wolfram's eyes never left Yuuri's face. His eyes narrowed when he picked up on Yuuri's slight hiccup.
"Are you sure you're alright?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
"I'm okay, Wolf. Really." Yuuri said defensively.
"No, you're not. You may think yourself matured and controlled, but you're still a god awful liar." Wolfram pulled himself closer to Yuuri as they continued to twirl around the dance floor. "And you should know by now, you can't hide from me. I'm your fiancé."
Yuuri sighed. "I know."
Yuuri studied Wolfram for a bit. "Are you okay, yourself? I'd thought you'd be a bit happier. Given the news."
Wolfram averted his gaze from Yuuri, focusing his attention on the onlookers who whispered conspiratorially behind lace fans and gloved hands. No doubt they were scrutinizing the royal couple's interactions, how close they were, how much they talked and touched each other during the dance, as if it was a clear indication of the state of their relationship or lack of it.
"I… know things have been tense between us lately." Yuuri continued. "I know that I haven't given you the recognition you want or deserve. Things have been just so busy lately, I never gave it much thought, but I think this is a good thing. It will be good for the country, you know? And besides, we won't have to worry about marrying strangers, we'll be married to a friend and you'll be spared any embarrassment and I can be free to rule without the nobles on my case all day. It will be fine. It will be fine."
"Are you trying to convince me or yourself?" Wolfram said harshly.
"What?" Yuuri said. The pain made a tiny jab under his ribs. He could feel it crawling up his stomach and into his lungs. He tried hard not to wince. He reflexively tightened his grip on Wolfram's hand.
Wolfram didn't seem to notice. He stared at Yuuri with a conflicted expression, a dozen tumultuous emotions playing behind his deep green eyes.
" I know very well what this marriage means politically. I know that my family has been pushing for this union since the day you slapped me. For three years, I have waited for you to make good on your promise and stood by as my reputation crumbled around me and I became the butt of every unrequited love joke across the kingdom."
Yuuri grimaced slightly. He knew very well about Wolfram's reputation and what it had come to. He wasn't deaf or blind, he saw the looks people gave him and he knew of every rumor that surrounded the both of them. "Well, now your reputation can be salvaged or you can make a new one." Yuuri stated simply. "No one will question you or the engagement." He never referred to it as 'their' engagement. It stood alone as a single entity in Yuuri's mind. Some strange other that impeded on their friendship.
"This isn't about my reputation!" Wolfram hissed.
"Then what is it about?" Yuuri asked, the pain making him speak a little more harshly than intended. "If this is about my feelings, then don't worry about it." He looked deeply into Wolfram's gaze. "I care about you, Wolfram." He said with as much conviction as he could muster. "I trust you. You're, like, my best friend. I can do this, for you, for the kingdom. It will work out, you'll see."
Wolfram looked at him sad and angry. "So that's it? We'll just stay friends for the rest of our lives? Everything stays the same? You should know better by now, Yuuri."
"Wolfram, I- ah!" Yuuri gasped, he suddenly let go of Wolfram.
It was like a white-hot knife had been driven into his gut and sliced up to his chest. Yuuri could no longer hide his suffering when the pain that had been toying with his insides finally decided to reveal itself in the most devastating way possible.
Yuuri's knees gave out from the shock and he collapsed against the frozen form of his fiancé. He weakly gripped at the fabric of Wolfram's uniform as he tried vainly to keep his body from sliding to the floor. The room began to spin and his vision blurred. The loud pumping of blood through his ears drowned out the sounds of gasps and cries for help. He vaguely felt Wolfram grab his upper arms and gently lower him to the floor and call out to him. Out of the corner of his vision, he could see Conrad and Yozak rushing towards him. He heard the muffled voice of Gwendal trying to gain crowd control and push back any curious spectators. The last thing he remembered through the haze of absolute agony was Conrad picking him up like he weighed nothing and swiftly carrying him out of the ballroom.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * THYS * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, what do you think? Good? Bad? What the hell is going on?
Can I clear up a few things?
Because this fic is rated T and may go up to M, I have made Yuuri and Wolfram a little older. And since they are older, they still have their original personalities just toned down a slight bit. I wanted to make Yuuri more insightful and mature and not nearly as dense as most authors like to make him. I figured that in a few years, Yuuri would have grown up a bit instead of stayed the same. That's what irritates me about fan fic authors and even the writers of the anime, All the other characters get to develop and grow but Yuuri stays the same and not only is that unrealistic, it's unfair. It's like the Wolfram fangirls (no offense) use fan fiction to bash Yuuri and it's become this bash-fest of anti-Yuuri proportions! Yuuri is fifteen and then sixteen in the anime, how do you expect someone that young to act? Like a full-fledged adult? Heck no! And a teen boy nonetheless, teen boys are notoriously homophobic, it's in their DNA, but it has nothing to do with hate, it's about society's pressures on teen boys to act manly and part of acting manly means liking girls. Yuuri is a product of his environment. Wolfram isn't a pitiful little victim either. Half of the behavior that fangirls call cute, the DAPA would call verbal and physical abuse. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Yuuram, I just think there needs to be more balance.
Ahem, I seem to have gone on a slight rant. Do pardon me. I mean no offense.
Please review and tell me what you think. But please be nice.
Ciao Bella! - EB