1Yup. So, this was inspired by the cover of a doujinshi called 'Little Mermaid,' I believe. It was adorable, and as soon as I get some of my art for this fic Photoshopped, I'll post the link here.

This is a cross between Gundam Wing and 'The Little Mermaid.' It'll be some odd blend of the real story, the Disney story, and my own mind.

Warnings: YAOI, baby! ...and if you don't know what that means, run. Run far away.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just borrow them and return them a hell of a lot happier.

Pairings: 3x4 (TrowaxQuatre), 1x2 (HeeroxDuo) and 5x6 (WufeixZechs)

Character list: 'Mermaid' name posted first, corresponding G-boy second.

Ariel/The Little Mermaid–Quatre Raberba Winner. Awww!

The Prince Whose Name I Think Might Be Eric–Trowa Barton

The Little Mermaid's Bodyguard, Who Doesn't Actually Exist in the Real Story–Duo Maxwell

The Prince's Bodyguard, Who Doesn't Actually Exist in the Real Story–Heero Yuy

The Little Mermaid's Father/King Triton–Quatre's father

The Little Mermaid's Horde of Sisters–Quatre's twenty-nine–yes, count 'em–twenty-nine sisters

The Prince's Elder Brother, Who Also Doesn't Exist in the Real Story–Zechs Merquise

The Prince's Elder Brother's Convenient Servant–Chang Wufei

The King, Who Really Isn't Old Enough To Have a Child Zechs's Age–Trieze Kushrenada. 'Course, his name is Barton, for the sake of this story.

Assorted Merpeople–any of the cast of GW I've neglected except Relena, because I hate her and she needs to die. Oooh, maybe she can get eaten by a shark...

There will be no talking animals.

Chapter One

Quatre Raberba Winner was bored.

Really, really bored. He'd already finished his studies for the day, and managed to enrage half the castle with his attempts at organizing a game of kelpball–it seemed other people actually had things to do, rather than sitting around on their tails, waiting for something exciting to happen.

But, of course, as the youngest of thirty royal children–and the only male–he was well-kept in this gilded cage, never really expected to do anything except look pretty and smile at his coronation. He wanted to be like the rest of the boys his age, wanted to be swimming through the Reefs at the edge of Atlantis, wanted to be doing stupid adolescent male things like shark-baiting, but he couldn't because he was royalty, and quite apart from not being allowed out of the castle, none of the boys would ever speak freely around him. They'd never relax around him, always afraid that if they swore or did something mildly illegal, Quatre would have the lot of them arrested.

Not that he'd ever do that, but the fear was there and it was enough to keep all the boys his age away from him. The girls were another matter entirely, and that was partially why he was holed up in his room, gazing morosely out the window at the dolphins playing in the kelp beds. None of the girls really gave a damn what he had to say–he was a pretty face and a prince, on top of that, and so really, what did it matter what was in his head? His advisors would do all the thinking for him, right? He didn't need to be smart.

But he was, and he knew he was. He just wished someone would believe it, rather than assuming he just repeated what his tutors crammed down his throat. He wanted someone to talk to. That wasn't really so much to ask, was it?

He sighed. Gods above, he was so sick of being cooped up inside–if only he could get outside these damn gates, get into the ocean...up to the land...to the sky...

He shook his head. No use thinking about that, it was what had gotten him condemned to lifetime imprisonment in the castle anyways. Collecting things people had thrown into the ocean, things humans had lost...going above the surface to watch the seagulls wheel above him in the clouds, to hear the crash of the waves on the shore, to watch the otters diving for sea urchins...it was beautiful. And so loud, so alive.

Down here, it was dark and cold and quiet. Okay, maybe that wasn't completely fair–they did get a fair bit of sunlight at midday, and the market was plenty busy, as Atlantis was the capital city, always abustle with people everywhere, but it wasn't like he was allowed into the market. You never know, someone might try to assassinate him.

Yeah, right.

Here in the castle it was always "Yes, your Majesty," and "No, your Majesty," and "I beg your pardon, you Majesty." No one would speak freely with him, and they all treated him like he was made out of crystal carved so fine that it would shatter at the first touch. The halls were always respectfully silent, the servants always went quiet when he entered a room, and he was tired of it. He wanted to go somewhere, to have an adventure like he'd always read about in books.

Okay, he realized it was childish. He realized he sounded like a spoilt little prince, but that's what he was, wasn't it? He could allow himself his juvenile fantasies in his own head, couldn't he?

There was a knock at the door and Quatre's head snapped up. Duo? Back so soon?"

"Hey, Q-man?"

"Duo!" With a powerful flick of his blue-green tail, Quatre was across the room, diving into Duo's arms and hugging his friend for all he was worth. "My gods, it's so good to see you! I'm going mad, being locked up here!"

Duo chuckled good-naturedly. He'd heard Quatre rant about being caged often enough, he could recite some of his ramblings by heart. "I know, Kat. I've told your father it's not fair, but–" he shrugged "–you know how it is, getting him to listen to anything."

Quatre grinned at him. "Where were you? Were you undercover? Father wouldn't tell me where you went, so I assumed it was a secret–can you tell me?"

"Yeah, I guess." Duo tugged at his long, unbound chestnut hair. "Long as you don't mind getting untangled first? This is going to hurt like a bitch if we don't get you out soon."

"Why isn't it braided?" Quatre unwound several strands from his forearm, being careful of the delicate membranes stretched between the fins on his wrists. Duo had the longest hair Quatre had ever seen on a man–far past his waist where smooth bronzed skin (Duo spent more time at the surface than Quatre could ever hope for) tapered into deep emerald scales. It was thick too, and Duo usually wound it into one long braid, but today it floated free around him, which was unusual.

"Ah, well, y'know–" Duo glanced away and busied himself unsnarling a knot in his hair. "Just–stuff. And I wasn't on a job, no. Just taking a vacation."

"Where'd you go?"

"France. Hung around on those tiny little island, played with seals, sunbathed." Ah, so that explained the golden glow to his skin. "Tried to get you permission to come with me, but you know what it's like, trying to get your old man to give you a day pass. Brought you back something, though."

"Yeah?" Quatre tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice. Duo knew what a passion he had for human things, and maybe while he was in France he'd picked up something interesting! Like a fork. Quatre couldn't ever have enough forks. They were fascinating.

"Mm-hm. Two somethings, actually." Duo separated his hair into three large chunks and expertly wove them into his customary braid, hands moving rhythmically; he'd done this so many times he didn't even have to look anymore. He tied the braid off with a bit of string made from seaweed twisted together. "Here," he said at last and held out his hand to Quatre.

A gold chain dangled from his fingers, glittering in the occasional ray of diluted sunlight. There was a small oval in the center of the chain and Quatre squealed. Jewelry!

He took the necklace delicately, almost reverently, from Duo's hand. He examined it hungrily, the little links all intertwined ingeniously to create a narrow but well-fortified chain. "It's beautiful," he whispered, touching the gold pendant. "Where did you find it?"

"Snagged on a rock. It looks like a seagull picked it up and dropped it–it was stuck inside a crack in the stone like it had fallen from the sky. You like it?"

"Yes! Gods, yes! Thank you, Duo!"

"Ah, no problem. Ooh, look, the little pendant-thing opens."

Quatre flicked the tiny gold clasp and discovered, to his delight, that it did open. The small lid folded back to reveal two minute paintings. Quatre frowned for a moment, he knew how badly paint and canvas held up to seawater, but seeing his glum expression, Duo interjected, "Don't worry, they're behind glass."

And they were, both ingeniously encased behind a thin layer of glass. It was waterproof, it seemed, as no moisture had beaded beneath the protection. Quatre smiled in relief–he hated it when his treasures were damaged by the world he lived in.

The paintings were extraordinary, so tiny and perfectly detailed that he almost believed that he was looking at real people, just...very small ones. They were gorgeous, both of them. The face on the right was fiercely handsome, with brilliant blue eyes and long, silver-white hair. He didn't look much older then twenty-five, despite that hair, and he was smiling in a ravenous, predatory sort of way that reminded him of the pictures he'd seen in books (the few that were still intact after their underwater journey to the open-air cave where Quatre kept his treasures) of...what were they called...wolves. Yes, this man looked like a wolf, ferocious and proud and beautiful.

The painting to the left was...the only word Quatre could think of was breathtaking. The blonde man had been pretty in a flashy sort of way, but this man...he peeked shyly out at Quatre from underneath a fall of mahogany hair that flopped over one brilliant green eye. The painter had even managed to capture the man's slight blush, as if he didn't enjoy being the center of such attention. His eyes were deep, soulful and smiling, and Quatre felt an unfamiliar flutter deep in his stomach. Where the blonde had looked like one of those sinfully beautiful demons Quatre had read about, this brown-haired boy had the face of an angel. He was softer and kinder-looking than his counterpart; the artist had once again outdone himself. He'd managed to capture not just the boy's image but a bit of his soul.

"It's perfect," Quatre breathed. "They're perfect. Who are they?"

Duo shrugged. "Dunno. Didn't see either of them when I was there. They might be dead already, Kat. This might be one of their relative's necklaces."

Quatre sighed. Yes, it was possible, but he didn't want it to be true. He wanted to meet people like this someday...wait. "You saw people? Like real humans?" The plight of the beautiful boys in the locket was almost instantly forgotten save for a twinge of regret in Quatre's heart. "Tell me about them!"

Duo flushed scarlet. "Hold on, Kat! I didn't say I saw anyone! Where'd you get that idea?"

"The fact that you're blushing is a pretty good indicator." Quatre smiled sweetly at Duo.

"I...fuck, Kat, do you know what the penalty is for being caught 'fraternizing' with humans?"

"I believe it's death for a peasant. Since you're captain of the Royal Guard, though, they'll probably just pull your fins out. Still, can't imagine it'd be too pleasant..."

"Kat, don't joke..."

"You know I won't tell. Come on, Duo, you're the only link I have out of this place...Please?" He looked up at Duo with all the pleading cuteness he could muster until Duo growled and shoved him away affectionately. Duo never could resist the puppy eyes.

"Yeah, okay. Long as this doesn't get out, hunh?" Quatre loved the street accent in his voice, he really did.

Quatre nodded eagerly.

"I was sunning out on this deserted old beach, right? I was careful, I'd watched it for three days and I'd never seen so much as a hint of anyone coming down there. I figured it was safe.

"So I'm all stretched out on the sand, and my tail's in the water, of course, and I wake up to see this...this man standing over me. He's just looking at me and I'm about to have a heart attack, 'cause man, if he went screaming to the villagers that he'd seen a merman, I was fucked. But he just kept staring, like he'd never seen anything more fascinating in his life. And he was standing over my tail, so I couldn't get away from him."

"What did he look like?" Quatre interrupted.

"Gorgeous. Dark, dark brown hair, eyes the colour of the sea at night...he was all wet from swimming in the ocean, and I tell ya, those cotton clothes of theirs don't leave much to the imagination." Duo leered and Quatre blushed.

"So anyways, we're both just sitting there frozen and then he holds out his hand to me and says, 'Are you alright?' Like he came up on beached mermen all the time! It didn't even faze this guy! I couldn't speak, though, and I guess he just assumed I didn't understand French, 'cause he tried in English, too. He stepped aside so I could get to the water. 'Go ahead,' he says, real soft like he's talkin' to a scared animal. 'I won't hurt you. Go on.' And I did, I was underwater before he could even move, he spooked me that bad."

"What that the last time you saw him?" Quatre was excited now–he wished he'd been there, been there to see a real live human! It was amazing!


"You went back, didn't you?"

Duo looked away and that told Quatre all he needed to know. Duo liked this guy. He'd never have compromised his security otherwise. Poor thing.

"Yeah, I went back." Duo's voice was surprisingly bitter. "Gonna clap me in chains, Your Highness? Throw me in the dungeon? I broke a law, yeah?" Duo only got defensive when he was upset, and Quatre knew that, but it still stung, having his one friend angry at him.

"I'm sorry," Quatre said automatically. "I didn't mean...I mean...I've never seen a human, I just...just wondered..." Tears were welling in his eyes now drifting into the water, and he wondered what it would be like to feel those tears hot on his cheeks, without the barrier of the ocean around him, and it just made him cry harder. He wanted to be free, wanted to be like them! Dammit, he wanted to be human!

Now Duo just looked tired. "I'm sorry, Kat," he said, pulling Quatre into his lap. "Don't cry, baby. I didn't mean to make you cry."

Quatre was really sobbing now, his whole body heaving, and he buried his face in Duo's collarbone, being careful not to accidentally cover his gills. He hated being like this! He hated being here, being locked up for the crime of being curious! He wanted to go above the surface like everyone else did at least once in their lives. He wanted friends, not just Duo, who probably only stuck around because he felt bad for the lonely little prince, all by himself all the time because his sisters were busy and his father never had time for him. He wanted to be able to say he didn't want or need Duo's pity, but he did; if Duo ever got promoted, ever got put into the actual army–Quatre didn't know what he'd do. Go crazy, probably.

"Shhh...it's okay, Kat, it's okay..."

"I'm sorry!"

"I know you are, baby, I know. It's my fault, I just miss Heero–" Duo snapped his mouth shut, but he'd caught Quatre's attention and the little blonde looked up at him with imploring baby-blue eyes still red-rimmed from his crying jag.


"That's...that's his name. The boy that found me."

"You know his name?"

"I heard someone call him that. I never spoke to him."

Quatre smiled shakily. "Just sat around on rocks and flashed your fins at him, hunh? That why your hair wasn't braided?"

Duo looked sheepish. "I didn't flash my fins."

Quatre grinned. "Not even a little?"

Duo blushed. "Well, y'know. Maybe a little."

Quatre burst into laughter. "You were flirting with him! Did he even realize it?"

"I don't know. He talked to me a lot. I guess it's cause he didn't think I could understand."

"What did he say?"

"Not much. Just stuff about his family, about his worries, about...about how glad he was to have found someone that wouldn't just ignore him. He's a prince's guard, too, but it sounds like the royalty up there's full of a bunch of assholes. They just treat the servants like...like dolphins or something."

"They keep people as pets?"

"They might as well. The only thing Heero's missing is a collar around his neck. I wanted to tell him about you, but I didn't want to make things worse. You'd like him, though. He's kind of shy." Duo's fingers went to his throat, to a necklace Quatre had never seen before. It was some sort of shell, it looked like mother-of-pearl, but cleaner than Quatre had ever seen anyone manage to make it. It was a perfect circle with a tiny hole drilled at the top and a thick black cord looped through the hole.

"Did Heero give you that?"

"He left it on the beach for me. I think he figured out that I wouldn't come close to him."

"That must've been hard. But...jewelry? Doesn't that mean a lot to people? And especially something so fine! I've never seen mother-of-pearl like that, even in the market."

"I know," Duo said, a little sadly. Quatre tucked his head under Duo's chin and rested his own, smaller fingers on top of Duo's. "I know. But Kat–we're gonna be stuck down here the rest of our lives. What's the use in falling for something we can't ever have?"

"I don't know," Quatre said. "But can you really give Heero up so easily?"

Duo gave a short, bitter laugh. "You're too damn good at reading other people, y'know that?"

Quatre smiled and tapped his temple with one slender finger. "Empathy, remember? Not a great quality for a future king, but what can you do?"

"Hm. 'S fine." Duo smoothed the hair back from Quatre's forehead and kissed it softly. "Makes you a good friend."


It was past midnight, and Heero probably should have been back by now. Not that Trowa was worried about his own safety–he could defend himself perfectly well, Heero was just there for added protection–but he was worried about Heero's state of mind.

He'd always been painfully shy, and his silence could be misread as hostility, but Trowa knew better. Heero glared, yes, but it was only out of concern for Trowa's safety. He took his job very seriously, although the attempts on Trowa's life had been few and far-between. Trowa wished Heero would loosen up every once in a while. It was so rare that he got to see anything but mission-oriented Heero.

So rare that he looked anything but pissed off.

Trowa realized he was fiddling with the curtain-pull and he scowled. He was worried about Heero and he didn't like being worried. Like the tensions between England and France weren't enough, like the heavy, inescapable cloak of his responsibilities to the Crown weren't enough, he had to worry about Heero, too.

No, damn it. That wasn't fair. It wasn't Heero's fault, this precarious political position they were in. It wasn't Heero's fault that Trowa had been born a prince. He was completely entitled to his own problems, completely justified. If Trowa had been a better friend, he'd have followed Heero and made him tell him exactly what was going on.

If, if, if. Heero was the closest thing to a friend Trowa had ever had, and even that was tenuous. There was still that gap between their stations, still the tense air between servant and master, and Trowa hated that with a passion. If he was ever king (God forbid) he'd make sure servants got the respect they deserved. After all, they were the ones that kept the country running, really. Not some pompous ass sitting on a throne–

These thoughts were edging dangerously close to traitorous, and Trowa clamped down firmly on this line of thinking. If he ever let any of this slip, he'd be exiled in a second, son of the king or not.

Second son. What a joke that was. Prince in name only, no chance of ever becoming king, no chance of ever changing anything about the way this miserable country was run. He had more than he knew what to do with, and he couldn't make a difference no matter what.

Ah, but he'd worried this problem to death. There was nothing he could do, nothing he could possibly change about his position, short of murdering his older brother or staging a coup d'etat, and he loved Zechs. The man was as much of a pompous ass as their father was, but kinder. He would be a good king, if only he learned to pay more attention to the common man. Zechs wasn't stupid, just a bit...shallow.

C'est la vie, he thought bitterly. (That's life)

The door creaked and Trowa jumped about a foot into the air, whirled around, hand already scrabbling for his rapier, leaned up against his desk. "Heero!"

Solemn blue eyes watched him, and if Heero was as startled as Trowa was, he gave no indication of it. He carried an oil lamp and it cast hot, unhealthy shadows on his face, making him look worn and haggard and ill. "Heero?" He set down the rapier and crossed the room, pressing the back of his hand to Heero's forehead. He was burning up!

"Heero! Vous avez le fièvre! Êtes-vous malade?" (Heero! You have a fever! Are you sick?)

"English, please," Heero croaked and the lapsed into a violent coughing fit. "Can't concentrate on French..." Ah, right. English was Heero's native language. Well, not really, he was from Asia originally, but Trowa didn't speak any of the Eastern languages, and Heero had been taught English from the time he was a very young child, so it was almost like a first language to him.

"What on Earth do you think you're doing? You're soaking wet! And in only your shirtsleeves in the middle of December! Are you mad?"

Heero chuckled at that. "I must be," was the cryptic reply before another fit seized him. Trowa steered him gently toward his bed, alongside Trowa's own.

"You need to rest. I'll have the doctor look at you first thing in the morning...what were you doing outside at a time like this?"

Heero was looking more than a little glazed by this point and he flopped down onto the soft pillows and sheets while Trowa methodically shucked off his sodden clothes and replaced them with heavy woven sleeping clothes. The shivers were beginning to abide and Heero snuggled contentedly into the plush covers. "Lookin' for him."

He was sick, he must have been, Heero never answered a question as straightforwardly as that. It was the fever talking. "For who?"

"My mermaid."

Fever. Fever, Trowa, he's delusional. Dammit, he's really sick! "Mermaid? I thought you said you were looking for 'him.'"

"Mm. Pretty mermaid. He's beautiful, Trowa, I wish you coulda seen 'im."

"Heero, mermaids are women."

"I know. Merman's an ugly word though. He's too pretty for that."

Okay. So Heero had gone out in the middle of the winter, horribly underdressed to take a swim in the ocean and search for a mermaid who was actually a man. Yes, of course, that made perfect sense. Trowa just shook his head, chalked it up to the fever, and wadded Heero's wet clothes up on the windowsill. He pulled a heavy blanket over his still-shivering friend and tucked it under his chin. "Sleep now, Heero."

"Thank you, your Highness."

"Heero, don't. Call me Trowa, please."

"Mm-hm. Trowa. Want you to see my mermaid. He sang for me, did I tell you that?"

"This is the first I've heard of your mermaid."

"His songs were so beautiful. Couldn't understand a word he was saying, of course, but it always kinda felt like he was singing for me." This was possibly the longest sentence Trowa had ever heard out of Heero. It was such a shame that the boy was only friendly when he had a dangerously high fever.

"Go to sleep now, Heero," Trowa said, brushing the boy's hair out of his face. "Concentrate on getting better."

"Miss him," Heero mumbled thickly, sleep already beginning to take over. "Three days...haven't seen him in three days..."

"Sleep, Heero."



Heero awoke with an aching head and what felt like a mouth full of cotton. He was hot, too, what with the blankets piled on him, but his limbs felt too heavy to move and he was so sapped of his strength that he knew he'd never be able to push the heavy covers away. He could only lie there and stare at the ceiling.

There was a shift in the bed next to his and he wondered if the Prince was awake. He shouldn't be troubling him, God knew the Prince needed his rest, but...he was so thirsty...

No, no, no. He wouldn't disturb Trowa. Prince Trowa. Whatever. He'd just lay here quietly and wait.

For what, he really didn't know. His whole body hurt, and that wasn't a good thing because it meant he wouldn't be able to properly perform his duties. Sure, he'd been trained to fight while ill, but his abilities were significantly limited. Damn it all.


"Nn," was all he managed. His tongue was glued to the room of his mouth.

"How are you feeling?"

"Water," Heero rasped, and Trowa held a glass out to him. Heero tried to reach for it, but he was so weak that the covers barely shifted. Trowa smiled ruefully and held the glass to his lips, tipping it slightly so that Heero could drink.

He gulped at the water gratefully, although he felt awful for making Trowa take care of him like this. He was the servant, not Trowa! He wasn't supposed to be getting sick and relying on his master to take care of him!

"Thank you," he croaked.

"You gave me quite a scare, Heero," Trowa said, setting the emptied glass down on the bedside table. "I didn't know if you were going to pull through."

"It was just a fever," Heero said, shifting again under the oppressively hot blankets.

"Just a fever? Heero, you've been delirious for three days."

"Three days?" Oh God, three days! How could he possibly have allowed himself to compromise Prince Trowa's safety like that? All on a whim, all for the damned mermaid! He shouldn't have gone out to search for him, shouldn't have allowed himself to become distracted like that! Three days? Anything could have happened and Heero wouldn't have been there to save Trowa. Damn it!

Trowa was frowning at him now, and Heero cringed. Here it came. He deserved to be fired for this–no, worse, he deserved to be punished for this, for putting the Prince in such danger. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"Sorry? Heero, 'sorry' doesn't even begin to cover it."

Had Heero been a more expressive man, he might have been crying. As it was he schooled his expression into a blank, polite look that spoke nothing of his pounding heart and that horrible fear that they would send him back to England or worse, back to Japan, and then he'd wind up like Chang, playing the coy courtesan to some stuck-up noble.

It seemed that the European love of the exotic extended to bed partners as well.

"I was foolish. I compromised your safety for my own selfish reasons. I apologize, Your Majesty." Had he been able to move his neck, he would've bowed his head respectfully. As it was, he averted his eyes.

"What? Heero, that's not what I'm angry about."

"It's not?"

"Are you kidding? You almost got yourself killed! I thought I was going to lose you!"

"Lose me?" Heero was completely confused now. Trowa wasn't angry that he'd put him in danger?

He blinked a few times and shifted his gaze warily back to the Prince who was looking quite bewildered. Trowa was usually so quiet, this outburst of emotion was rare for him. Then maybe he really had frightened his prince?

"Yes. Lose you." Trowa's gaze shifted away from Heero's. He was embarrassed, that much was clear even without the telltale flush of pink across his cheeks. "I don't need a bodyguard. I've been trained to fight."

"I know. I've seen you at fencing practice. You're very talented."

"Thank you."

"But your Majesty, you can't possibly be watching everyone at once."

"But you can?"

Heero opened his mouth and closed it again. Trowa was right. He didn't have a response to that one.

"Heero, I need a friend more than I need another servant. I need to know I can trust you."

Trust him? Friend? Heero had never been more confused in his life. He wasn't a servant, he was a slave, brought from Asia by European explorers when he was scarcely more than a baby and trained to protect his master at all costs. Trowa owned him, and he'd heard his whole life how awful nobles were. The other slaves he'd lived with, they'd been bought and sold before. They'd told him stories, stories of what it would be like, being owned, what he was expected to give up.

But Trowa had never asked anything of him. Hadn't even insisted that he protect him, really, that had been more the king's idea than anything else. Heero had been expecting to be bought by one of the lesser nobles like the ones that visited the Market from time to time, buying the young and beautiful for entertainers, the older for backbreaking work. Heero had never been purchased. He'd gotten into scuffles with his trainers more than once, when they'd begun to harass someone too young or weak to defend themselves, and he'd always been kept away from the Market, subjected to training and punishment to mold him into a demure, meek slave.

But then the Royal Family had come to the Market, demanding to see the finest they had to offer and Heero was, of course, not included. He'd been there, though, watching from the shelter of a doorway, because Marié, a woman who'd been as good as a mother to him, had been up for auction. She was the best cook they had, and although Heero hadn't wanted her to go, but he knew the Royal family couldn't afford to mistreat the woman who prepared their meals, lest she accept a bribe and slip a poison into the king's dinner, so he had been sort of glad when the king chose her.

Even if he'd never see her again, she would be safe. Heero had fought for her when the trainers made their rounds and his hard work had paid off. She was going to be alright.

He'd just turned to go when a hand closed on his shoulder and he'd stiffened immediately. The Prince had taken hold of him, though he hadn't known who it was at the time and quietly asked his name.

Heero was all too used to wandering noble hands and he'd grabbed the Prince's wrist and twisted it backwards, snarling that he didn't like being touched. Nothing had shown in that single visible green eye, but Trowa had done something with his foot, managed to sweep Heero's legs out from under him, and then twisted him around so he was flat on his stomach in the dirt, arm behind his back.

"Not bad," Trowa had said with the faintest hint of a smile.

And just like that, Heero had found himself cleaned up and shipped off to France, of all places, where he was promptly cleaned again, because the British didn't do it right, dressed in clothes finer than he'd ever seen and shunted back to the Prince's bedchamber where he'd sat on the bed, trembling, all the stories he'd ever heard about the first night in a new master's house rushing back to him all at once. Trowa had found him there, knees pulled to his chest, completely naked in the middle of his bed and hadn't even raised an eyebrow, just wondered aloud what Heero thought he was doing.

But Heero's throat had closed itself off with terror and he hadn't managed to do anything more than emit a small, frightened squeak and bow his head, waiting for the inevitable.

It hadn't come. Trowa had thrown him his clothes and told him that wasn't what he'd been purchased for. The next morning Trowa had woken him up at the crack of dawn for fencing practice, and with no explanation at all, Heero had found himself training to become a knight alongside his prince, who stolidly refused to answer to 'Master.'

"Yes, Heero, 'friend.'" Trowa had seen the confusion, the hesitation, and he was staring Heero down in that way of his that brooked no argument, just obedience and compliance. "So I don't want you running about in the middle of winter soaking wet, you understand?"

Heero nodded dumbly.

"Good. Let's get you out of that bed now. You're starting to smell."

Heero wanted to smile, but he was sure from the look on Trowa's face that it came out as more of a pained grimace. Which, he guessed, was okay.

For now.

Okay, squeezles! Tell me whatcha thought of that!

Two things before I let you go:

Interaction between Trowa and Heero–too strained? They're the hardest characters to write, so be kind, yeah? I'm trying to get them down, but it'll take some time and they won't be perfect–remember, this is an AU. Heero won't be as emotionless, as he hasn't been 'conditoned' to be so, and they'll all just generally be less traumatised. I'm trying for a happy story here.

And the last thing, France is the country they live in solely because I kinda-sorta speak French. It is in no way historically accurate, it's an AU. Remember, don't pick on the historical details–mermaids don't even exist, for crying out loud!

Next Chapter:

Quatre plays with killer whales, Duo angsts, Trowa hates politics, Heero's sexually repressed, and Zechs is a horny little bastard. Oh, and Wuffie shows at last.