Trial of Fire
Fandom: Kyou Kara Maou
Pairings: Future Yuuri/Wolfram (with a bit of Con/yuu and Con/wolf for fun)
Warnings: Rated T for light violence, angst, and adult situations. Also, grammar mistakes may about, as I hadn't had the time to proof read this chapter.
Spoilers: Murata Ken's identity. Hints about Keys.
Notes: I must apologize for the delay in this fic. It hasn't been abandoned. But between the holidays and moving and toddler juggling, the time to write has been few and far between. Hopefully the next chapter won't be so long in coming.
"C-Conrad!" Yuuri quickly put as much space between himself and Wolfram while still being able to stay on the bed. He was sure Conrad's narrowed brown eyes were promising him painful death for the wanton violation his little brother's innocence. Yuuri swallowed nervously, suddenly noticing the family resemblance between his mentor and Gwendel…especially the angry creases around the mouth.
"What in the hell were you two thinking?" Conrad growled; actually growled, as he stepped over Gunter's fallen form as though it wasn't even there.
Two white faces stared mutely up at him.
The half-demon shifted his glare to Wolfram, who cringed as if struck. Yuuri let himself relax a fraction; guilty relief sweeping through him that maybe, just maybe Conrad was mad that Wolfram had violated his innocence…
"I thought we talked about this?" Conrad demanded.
"I couldn't help it…" Wolfram muttered.
"Could help it?" Conrad repeated incredulously. His breath expelled slowly in an angry sigh. "I trusted your word, Wolfram." Conrad's voice turned weary and laced with disappointment, causing the blond's head to bow low.
"It wasn't Wolfram's fault." Yuuri quickly spoke up, unable to see the two brothers at such odds after things had finally begun to patch up between them. "It wasn't either of our faults, really. Cheri sent us this bottle…and it spilled…." The Maou trailed off lamely.
"…?" Conrad's hawk-like eyes focused on him and Yuuri swallowed nervously. Never before had the taller man put him so on edge. Not even when he had thought that Conrad had betrayed all of them. Back then he was feeling hurt and confused, now…staring at the intensity of Conrad's expression –and how the cords in his neck were standing out from the unreleased tension—now, Yuuri was just plain scared.
"It was some of Mother's damn oil!" Wolfram burst out angrily, unable to cringe any longer before this man he had so often told himself was below him. "You know the power of that stuff! We couldn't control ourselves!" Wolfram's cheeks flared pink at that last bit, and he darted a sideways glance at Yuuri.
Staring at the two, Conrad slowly took it all in. Sharp eyes quickly noticed an overturned bottle peeking out halfway beneath their bed, its amethyst surface sparkling mischievously in the morning light. Bending low, Conrad scooped the vessel up, cautiously waving the spout beneath his nose for an experimental sniff.
Conrad's eyes darkened as his pupils expanded unnaturally. Clenching his teeth, Conrad abruptly flung the bottle away from him, causing it to smash against the wall and shatter. The two still in bed jumped at the sound, unconsciously pulling closer together.
"Mother…" Conrad breathed the word out like a mix between a curse and a sigh.
Shaking his head to clear it, Conrad strode quickly to the wardrobe and flinging it open, before throwing an arcing rainbow of clothes out onto the bed.
"You two have to get dressed." Conrad ordered over his shoulder as he fished out two knapsacks and began to shove clothes hastily into them. "Now." He clarified when neither of the boys moved. Both Yuuri and Wolfram quickly scrambled to their feet, sharing a confused look as the fought their way into the peasant clothing Conrad had laid out for them.
"Yuuri, you will need your wig and contacts. You are too recognizable without them." Conrad reached over and grabbed Wolfram's arm, making the blond turn around and face him.
"You will need a set of contacts too." Conrad murmured, unconsciously massaging his younger brother's bare shoulder. "One look at your eyes and the whole village will know what happened."
Wide-eyed, Wolfram nodded silently. With a slightly glazed expression, the blond automatically leaned into his brother's touch; practically purring. Feeling his stomach drop to somewhere in the vicinity of his kidneys, Conrad's blunt fingernails inadvertently carved a red trail in the pale skin of Wolfram's neck, earning him a cat like moan in response.
Frowning suddenly, Conrad jerked away. He strode quickly around the bed and over to the window, which he shoved open harshly as he took in great gasping breaths of air. Behind him, Wolfram blinked and shook his head, as if he'd been sleepwalking.
"Conrad…" Yuuri's voice came timidly beneath the muffling folds of fabric. Once his head popped though the neck of his tunic, the dark-haired boy focused the whole of his pleading gaze on his mentor. "Are you mad at us?"
Innocent eyes (faded now to from dusty black to a foggy sort of gray) stared guilelessly up at him, free from any awareness of what just had transpired. Of what almost transpired.
Conrad was well versed to his mother's tricks. And as such he knew it was dangerous to remain so near these two boys with such pheromones floating so heavily in the air. But abandoning them now, while they were mentally so lost and confused… well, that would be unthinkable. Besides, Conrad was a soldier. It would take more than some bottle of perfume to make him do anything that would go against his own code of honor.
"C-conrad?" The name sounded insistent and desperate all at once.
Conrad reached out to cup Yuuri's cheek—thought better of it—and hastily shoved the betraying appendage into his pocket. Instead he graced Yuuri with a warm smile, one that did more to relax Yuuri's fears than words could ever do. "No. I am not angry with either of you. But, I do have to get you both out of here and quickly." Conrad's hand clenched inside the concealing depth of his pocket and he forced a smirk across the lean plains of his jaw. "And, once we are safely away from the castle, you both are to go to the nearest stream and scrub yourselves pink." He commanded, his tone joking but his eyes deadly serious.
If they didn't this already complicated event could quite possibly turn into some deranged three-way that would take a lot of talking to explain away once everyone 'sobered up'.
"But what about Brother?" Wolfram asked as he fought with the ties of his green tunic before sighing and finally letting them hand loose. Which offered both Conrad and Yuuri a fair glimpse of creamy flesh between the gaps of cloth. Staring, Yuuri gave a little moan and hurriedly covered it up by clearing his throat. But Conrad found himself concentrating more on the blond's words than his skin, the direness of the two boys' situation more sobering than all the fresh air in the world.
"We mustn't tell Gwendel anything. If he knew what has happened he'd be forced to…" Conrad trailed off abruptly, his expression dark.
"I'd be forced to do what, exactly?" Gwendel asked archly from the shadows of the doorway. Behind him stood Yozak and Cheri – the latter's expression one of stunned disbelief—and nearly a dozen palace guards.
"Is it true?" Gwendel demanded, his hand clenched tightly around the knob of the door. Yozak, studiously ignored the lot of them, his normally jovial expression grim as he knelt down to shake the fallen Gunter into consciousness. Cheri merely stared silently at the two boys, her face twisted in an expression of one who is about to witness a horrible accident and could in no way prevent it.
Yuuri opened his mouth, prepared to deny everything in the face Gwendel's raw anger, which radiated off the man like a physical force. To his surprise he felt a small hand reach out and grasp his own in a tight but sweaty grip. Wolfram stared forward stoically; though his face had grown so pale it was almost translucent.
"It is." The blond said steadily. "Last night Yuuri and I consummated our relationship." Yuuri felt the grip on his hand tighten for an instant. A reassurance maybe? Or a show of apprehension? Yuuri wondered, all the while pondering on the word 'relationship' and trying desperately to apply it to the recent flurry of events.
"You consummated nothing!" Gwendel's hand slashed out before them like a sword. "You two weren't wed, remember?"
Yuuri fell back a step reflexively, his back bumping into the hard lines of Conrad's chest. Conrad gripped Yuuri's shoulder, offering his silent support. From the corner of his eye Yuuri thought he could see his mentor's other hand move to rest lightly against the small of Wolfram's back; maybe showing his little brother that neither of them was alone in this. Yuuri found himself giving the blond's hand a little squeeze, which caused the appendage to suddenly grip his own in a desperate grip.
Gwendel rubbed his eye as if it pained him to even look at them. "All you've succeeded in doing is destroying your own future!" he spat out before his face seemed to crumple in on itself.
"Why couldn't have you just waited?" To Yuuri's shock there was raw anguish in the dark-haired man's tone. "A wedding would have taken a week, at most, to prepare." Gwendel gaze swept over Yuuri as if he wasn't even there and focused intently on the pale figure beside him. "What possessed you to throw your life away?" Gwendel's voice cracked.
Conrad was suddenly standing in front of them, his arms spread out as if to protect the two boys from his brother's words. "Surely, you are not suggesting that this is a capital offense!" Conrad's own voice was incredulous and strangely tight. "They were engaged for heaven's sake!"
"That was how things were done in the old days, was it not?" Gwendel asked bitterly. He pinned Yuuri with a furious glare. "Of course the Maou of the time seemed to always get away with a slap on the wrist." His glare switched for a millisecond to the silent form of his mother before stabbing back into Yuuri like a knife.
"Why Wolfram, your majesty?" Gwendel's stare seemed to see into Yuuri's very soul, and quite obviously, found it lacking. "Certainly you could have just found some human girl from your own world in which you could have sewn your wild oats." Gwendel spoke accusingly. "Why would you choose to so utterly destroy someone of whom you called a friend? Was it that enjoyable to toy with my brother's feelings?"
"I-I didn't…I…" Yuuri stammered, the word 'destroy' beating against his brain like a trapped bird.
"You are going too far, Gwendel." Conrad's eyes were narrowed dangerously.
"Am I?" Gwendel sneered. "Was I the one prepared to throw away the future of the whole kingdom by smuggling these two out from beneath our noses? What were you planning, Conrad? To build a little cottage in some far away human village? Or perhaps to take them back to Earth, where news of their little forbidden indiscretion could be hidden in a culture of stupidity and lawlessness?"
"Brother, just let me explain…" Wolfram butted in desperately, as if his account alone could shield the other two from blame.
"I want no excuses from someone who would so readily turn themselves into a common whore!" Gwendel's words shot out like acid. Wolfram's face went white.
Conrad carefully constructed calm front broke. "How dare you…" Conrad growled. "To your own brother!"
"Thanks to all this nonsense I probably won't have a brother by the end of the day!" Gwendel hisses, his jaw taut in an effort to control himself.
Yuuri gasped as Conrad's arm swung back. Gwendel stared numbly at the fist coming towards his face, not even trying to block. Yuuri closed his eyes in the dreaded anticipation of flesh hitting flesh.
What he heard instead was like a collective indrawn breath.
"Mother!" Conrad voice was tight with disbelief.
Cheri stood calmly before Conrad's halted punch, her cold stare reminding everyone in the room that she was once the leader of the whole country. Right now though, she was just a mother, so it seemed like nothing for her to turn around and smack Gwendel firmly across his right cheek.
Yuuri turned as Wolfram jerked reflexively when the blow landed. The blond's strange colored eyes watered slightly.
Yuuri leaned towards him, his voice creeping quietly from the side of his mouth. "Does that mean something? The slap? I mean—is it like the engagement thing but maybe reversed or someth—"
"It's sort of hard to translate…" Wolfram replied in a low voice as his hand came of to rub at his own cheek, as if he could still feel his brother's hand there.
"Well, just the gist will do." Yuuri whispered desperately as he stared at the tense trio in the center of the room. "I'm completely lost here!"
"It means…" Wolfram searched his heart for the words. " It means, 'Stop. The path that you're taking is wrong. We are family. I want to protect you. I – I l-love you… Don't…don't destroy yourself…."
Yuuri's eyes widened. "It means all that?" he asked.
Wolfram didn't answer. Yuuri glanced over and was shocked to see tears streaming down the boy's pale face.
"Forgive me…" Gwendel muttered, drawing Yuuri's attention back to the center of the room. His long hair hung before his face like a chastised child as he stared fixedly at some patch of floor off to the side of Cheri's heel-clad feet.
"If you're all done hurting each other…" Cheri's face stayed firm for the briefest of moments, before transforming into an expression of grief. "It's all my fault." She admitted. "I snuck in here last night and stuck one of my bottles of Love Oil on their dresser."
"What?" Gwendel looked shocked. "Why? You of all people know the consequence of their actions."
It was Cheri's turn to cast her eyes downward. "I didn't mean for things to go this far. But after seeing how well the oil in the bath seemed to work, I thought it couldn't hurt to give them another little nudge."
"What?" Yuuri blinked. "In the bath?" Beside him, Wolfram's eyes widened and his breath suddenly came in ragged gasps.
Cheri nodded sadly. "I had just gotten out of the bath when Wolfram ran past. He looked so upset that I didn't want to bother him with such trifling details."
"Trifling deta--?" Wolfram croaked out incredulously, his face whiter than ever.
Like the bright light at the end of a tunnel, Yuuri quickly spied a way out of this messy situation. "See?" he laughed. "This is all just one big mistake!" the dark haired boy didn't catch Wolfram's sudden stiffening beside him. "This never would have happened if it weren't for Cheri's misplaced aphrodisiacs! It's all one big mistake!" Yuuri grinned disarmingly, idly wondering in the back of his mind why everyone's grim faces suddenly looked even more upset.
Wolfram jerked his hand out of Yuuri's own. "Well… there you are." He stated to Gwendel in a tightly strangled voice.
Gwendel spared the blond a sympathetic glance before sighing and striding towards the door, where the guards had inexplicably disappeared. Only Yosak and Gunter remained.
"I didn't think this type of show needed an audience." Yozak stated as way of apology. Gunter just stared at him with unusually solemn eyes.
Gwendel nodded distractedly as he once again rubbed at his eye. "Gunter. Take Yuuri down to the courtyard. A shrine maiden is waiting there to take his majesty--" the others in the room didn't miss the slight edge the man gave to Yuuri's title. "--To the temple. He will be Ulrike's problem from then on."
"You can't do that yet." Conrad protested. "You can see that both Yuuri and Wolfram have things they need to work out. To separate them now would be cruel."
Gwendel met the man's gaze steadily. "Nevertheless—"
"You can't!" Unbidden, Conrad's hand found its way to the hilt of his sword.
"Do you choose to go against Shinou's will?" Gwendel's tenuous patience snapped. "Do you really think that by not complying to His Will that you are doing any good for them?"
"It seems as if all I've been doing lately is by Shinou's will." Conrad said softly, his hand not leaving his sword. "It's about time we start thinking for ourselves."
Gwendel shook his head sadly. "Yozak. Sir Weller is obviously not in his right mind at the moment. I suspect he's been in contact with that oil as well. Could you please lock him up somewhere for now? You can let him out once all the smoke clears from his head."
"Yes sir." Yosak said as he walked steadily towards his friend. Conrad's lips thinned but his determination didn't waver before the redhead's approach. Yosak reached out carefully --like one trying to pet a wild animal—and took hold of Conrad's arm.
"At this point the young master's life is more important then his love-life, right?" Yozak hissed in Conrad's ear as he stared at Wolfram meaningfully. Conrad's face hardened before crumpling in defeat. His sword-belt dropped suddenly to the ground.
"Come along now, Sir Weller." Yosak said pleasantly as he guided him from the room.
"Conrad?" Yuuri called after his mentor, confusion lining his face.
"It's time for you to leave as well." Gwendel stated as Gunter's hands came to rest atop the young man's shoulders.
"The carriage is waiting." Gunter said, his voice sad.
"B-but why?" Yuuri began pulling against the long-haired man's surprisingly firm grip. "What about Wolfram? What am I supposed to do there? Won't anybody tell me what in the world is going on?"
"Do not trouble yourself on my account." Wolfram said in a cold voice that froze Yuuri's spine. "I am fully capable of taking care of myself, Your Majesty."
"Wolfram?" Yuuri's legs kicked out and hit the doorframe, momentarily impeding his progress out the door. "What's wrong?" His wild gaze searched the other faces in the room. "What's going on? I thought we sorted this all out?"
Gwendel pushed Yuuri's legs out of the way as he pulled a reluctant Cheri away from her youngest son. Giving the dark-haired boy a helpful push, Gwendel succeeded in forcing all four of them out into the hallway, leaving Wolfram in the room. Alone.
"If you care at all about Wolfram," Gwendel said in a low and angry voice. "I suggest you do exactly as your told." He wordlessly signaled to some guards down the hall before turning to look Yuuri square in the eye. "As for what to do in the temple, well, I suggest you pray and pray hard. Wolfram's life may depend on it."
Yuuri got one last panicked look as Wolfram's thin figure before the door slammed shut and the two guards stood firmly before it. But that one look was enough to stun Yuuri speechless. He didn't even remember the long walk to the courtyard or getting into the carriage. All he could see as the horses raced away from Blood Pledge Castle was Wolfram's eyes; their strange gray gaze narrowed in hatred.
They had been staring straight at him.