See a dark room, a bedchamber in a castle. See the pastoral moonlight sneak in through the window and transform the inhabitants into specters of shadow and silver brightness.

There are two of them, both lying stiffly on their backs below the coverlet, both staring stonily at the ceiling, breathings matched so that they may each pretend the other is asleep though one of them is worrying his lower lip, the other clenching and unclenching his hands.

They are both often referred to as children.

To say that is to use the term wrongly, however. In the dark-haired individual's case this is mostly because he has stumbled into adolescence, is making his slow and merry way towards adulthood like any youngster is eventually forced to. Yuuri is sometimes a boy, sometimes a young man, equally awkward and comfortable in both roles, walking back into childhood then forward into his future as a grown-up with the freedom of one essentially content with life and himself.

In the blond's case the reasons are different, centered on the main fact that Wolfram has never been a child. He is not an adult, not by a long shot, but over his entire life, over his birth and his earliest years and his later laid the shadow of war. It was bleak, inescapable, inevitable, and he always knew that it was coming, the same way he knew the sky was blue – he didn't always have a word for it, but it was always there.

It was there in his mother's suddenly brittle beauty, in the increasing wrinkles on Gwendal's forehead – he was only a youth by any standard, and already his hair was taking on a grayish tone, his hands grew rough with calluses. Celi stroked his face, her glad mien an ever more strained and crackling mask over the face of war, and he looked at her with dedication and love and pity.

Stoffel strutted around in Blood Pledge Castle as though he owned it, Raven a battle-torn shadow, following the thick blond man like the swirl of his costly cloak. Gunter hadn't much of a title at the time, he earned that only later, through his progress as a hero of battle, a shining white knight who laughed as he fought and then smiled sadly for those he had slain. His daughter was yet only a girl, though no more a child than Wolfram has ever been. She snuck through the corridors loaded with medical equipment, often at the heels of Lady Julia.

The pale blind dame was mild as milk, humble and understated and calm, and Wolfram sometimes thought he hated her. How could she sweep around like an ethereal revelation, pure and shining and unscathed, and sigh and pray for the deceased on both sides, condemn the war – how could it be right that she be that way when the war ripped everything away from everyone else?

Conrad smiled at her, in the sweet silly-stunned manner that Adalbert never quite pulled off, then rode off to battle and was hurt all the worse because for a moment he had allowed himself to believe in a better world. She died, eventually, and Adalbert was chased away by grief, defeated at last in a different kind of war, and Conrad might have followed if Yozak hadn't stopped him.

It would have been possible for Wolfram too to hinder his half-brother's descent into bitter failure, but the war had stolen even that from him. Humans had taken his innocence, had invaded his present, loomed over his very hypothetical future, and their filth had seeped into even what few cherished memories he had – even the brightest days were pallid with the realization that it's coming, but he could have dealt with that if it weren't for the sharp pain that was Conrad not telling him. For years and years there was only love, faith and trust and warmth, but apparently that was just a fantasy as well, for what could a human know, what could a human care for him if he wouldn't return that confidence?

Wolfram was a good boy, though. Yuuri assumes he was a spoiled brat, but he's wrong about this. Wolfram never got what he wanted, not any of it, so what was the use in throwing tantrums? No matter whether he acted well or badly it didn't earn him anything, so he might as well be good, might as well try and help out while all his loved ones rode out to war and was lost to him, one way or the other.

He had magic, but was too small for it to have developed to the point that it could actually be used. He was trained in swordplay but too young to test it out.

He couldn't really be a good boy, in other words. He was a good girl, though, smiled and smiled as a promise of hope as he waved at the army while it rode out; he allowed himself to cry on occasion but never more indulgently than to let them console him when they needed to feel needed; he sent flowers to the front, a scent of peaceful perfume to linger over the blood and death and terror.

He knew, though. He knew that life could only ever be lived in the shadow of death.

All the bleak years before the mad painful intensity of the war were followed by all the bleak years afterwards. They hadn't lost but they hadn't really won, either. Wolfram's hands smelled sickeningly sweet from all the blossoms he had plucked, for graves and grieving families and returning soldiers; to Celi clung the scent of female sweat and the stench of male, the odor of human ale and oil even after the negotiations were over and the delegates went home again; everyone else had acquired the distinct aroma of blood, which went from being so thick it could practically be tasted in the air around them to a ghost of a memory in the corner of a death-wise eye though never completely thinning out, for it had become part of them.

It was supposed to be different. No, it was probably always supposed to be like this, shades of suffering going from black to gray but never touching white, but damn if they were going to stand for that. Celi couldn't wash the tang of uncut men off, but she drenched it in the artificial scent of courtship, drowned the echo of screams and tears with the pearly sound of her laugher. She was always surrounded by adoring faces, worn by people needing her to be their symbol, be their goddess and their hope and their Something Better to fight for, and Wolfram has never seen anyone so lonely as she was there on her throne, waving at the court until her arms ached too badly for her to lift them.

She was worse off, even, than Conrad covering the hatred inside him with easy-won love for and from others, worse than Gwendal all alone in his office, the only one who could hold them all together know, that could steer this sinking ship than their kingdom had become.

It was obvious, as was her pain, her loneliness never sharper than in the wee hours of the morning when another faceless stranger sneaked out of her chambers with a little of her light in his eyes – it was so obvious that nobody raised protest or blame when she fled.

Wolfram isn't stupid, and he realized exactly where he was headed, beautiful blond boy that he was and is, the only one who can take her place. He won't do that, because he couldn't bear to run away and thus it would destroy him, would seep all his life and love out of him to give to other people until he had nothing left. He will not become the Queen.

Instead he threw himself into the position of prince, but it takes too much energy to convince himself that his men follow him due to his prowess in this field when everyone knows they do it because they're in love with what he symbolizes. He's the princess, painted pained and pretty, the one for whose sake they fight the monster.

A warrior was never what they needed, especially not from him. Their kingdom is filled with brave strong men, and there are already several capable soldiers in Blood Pledge Castle. There's Gwendal to shepherd the army and the councils, down-to-earth Gwendal too broken by the endlessness of his duty to take the hand Anissina occasionally offers him before disappearing back into her lab. Gunter is there too, to handle what slips by Gwendal, to reign what the other rules. Conrad fits the spot as perfect servant swordsman, and Yozak takes care of all the odd jobs, infiltration and sudden rescue, with Ulrike doing the communication with the spiritual side. Gisela supports and heals, Elizabeth sits like a rose in her castle.

Even though they are all occupied trying to forget, Gwendal knitting and knitting though the tools for that will never feel as natural in his hands as those of destruction; Anissina making crazy inventions to help or amuse in atonement for the war-machines she previously constructed; Gunter willingly losing himself in the romantic fantasies that were with him even during the battles; Conrad looking for purpose with Yozak trying to keep track of him; Gisela locked into the moral safety of helping; Elizabeth and Celi found wanting and fled – even though they are trying to be different they never will be, and there's only one role left, only one lacking that will be desperately, desperately needed again. One that only Wolfram can fill.

He rebels against the idea of being their maiden sacrifice, however, and so when Yuuri comes along they all cling to him, needy, frantic, Wolfram does too because this is his salvation, all their salvation – if this boy can truly be their king, their ruler and protector and prophet, if he can give them inspiration to fight and kill and die for him, then they're saved, then the bleakness and anticipation can finally be defeated and fade, they can all be free.

And just for a little while, it works. Yuuri does not possess charisma or authority, but the soul-core all the demon kings carry makes up for that, and he's bright and bubbly and almost disgustingly kind. Naïve, too, and inexperienced and ineffective, but still. He brings them all on these little adventures, happy ones that end well, constitute and single, manageable task. And who cares what they leave behind afterwards, when it gives such relief to be the hero of the day? Who has the energy to think about all the millions of starving children in the world, when it's so easy to feel good about helping just the one you happened to stumble across?

Who cares about big treaties and oppressed people and everyone left behind, when Gwendal's forehead loses a wrinkle or two, when Conrad's bitterness reaches dark grey instead of black, when Wolfram is allowed to be a failure?

That all ends now, because it's coming again, the war will sweep over the world and tear everything apart anew, and an occasional show of power and a childish laugh and endless lenience just don't cut it. They have to believe in Yuuri, they need that hope to keep themselves afloat, but it's clear that beneath the surface layer of absolute faith they're all readying themselves for disappointment. Yuuri will fail and they will have to take over, they'll have to fight and kill and possibly die, and the day of doom is drawing ever closer.

And then it does begin, the armies are coming. Predictably Yuuri insists on trying to talk to them, can't be persuaded otherwise even by the sight of burned and ransacked villages – it's not anyone's fault, he claims, we'll handle it together.

He doesn't let anyone under his command kill.

Slowly his subordinates start realizing that their kingdom's strength is a weakness, since it allows their king to believe they can afford this behavior. In reality they cannot, and while the Maou shows up every now and then to wreak temporary havoc in the enemy lines, Yuuri still cannot sustain him for extended periods of time, and their adversaries soon learn to keep out of range during the entity's presence, only to attack all the more furiously just afterwards, while Yuuri's collapsing and they're occupied tending to him.

It comes to the point where Gwendal calls Murata to his office: they spend half an hour in there, and ten minutes later the Great Sage just so happens to fall into a fountain, dragging the king with him to the world they were born in.

They can start truly fighting back, after that: Gwendal leads the army, flanked by Conrad and Yozak and Gunter, and they slaughter their way through the enemy lines. Anissina's inventions spread fire and death around them, the earth itself trembles under Gwendal's command, swallowing human soldiers, a whip of wind complements the steel in Gunter's hand, and the two halfbloods seem not to need magic to hold their own.

Home in Blood Pledge Castle Celi smiles and waves and smiles some more, crying only behind closed doors; Elizabeth, who has come for safety, waves as well and nods gracefully; Gisela heals and heals until she collapses from stress and exhaustion, and Ulrike spends day after day kneeling on the floor in prayer. She looks and feels like a little white ghost, and at length finds herself wondering why she serves a divinity which enjoys the idea of a girl begging him without much hope of being answered.

Wolfram is brought away from the fighting he wasn't all that good at anyway and sent back in order to practice his magic. He sits beside Ulrike in the shrine for hour upon hour, meditating towards the heart of fire: being the direct descendant of the Original King that he is, he has power than no other living person can dream of. Being the rash and impatient person that he is, he has never managed to successfully tap into all of it. Now he has no choice.

In between sessions he plays with Greta and joins his mother and Elizabeth looking pretty and pure and giving the people something to fight for.

Greta, a war-child like himself, cries for Yuuri. Wolfram, knowing far too well to ask anything at all, lifts her up into his arms and rocks her in silence.

The magic has always been there for him to grasp, and now he does. There's no time to learn to handle it properly, though, he's to ride back to the front immediately when he's mastered it sufficiently to be of use. He doesn't protest, and the battle is over almost the minute he arrives; Dorcas spots him and sends for Gwendal, who can't come personally but orders Conrad to take care of the matter. Swallowing pride and bile, Wolfram allows the brunette to escort him onto the battlefield. He stares at his elder brother rather than at the carnage, is aware but prefers not to think about just how Conrad creates that calm circle around him.

"To the front row," Wolfram tells him tonelessly when he opts to stop at a hill, and after a quick glance he nods and continues to cut a blur of steel and blood around them. They enter into the thick of battle, past a not-really-surprised Gwendal, has Gunter join their little group. Minutes later the three of them are poised in front of the enemy, their own army having retreated to wait behind them. Conrad pants but does not stop swinging, Gunter is a motion of white and silver; Wolfram stares straight ahead, right into the setting sun.

His hand trembles when he raises it but he's probably the only one close enough to notice it.

"Burn," he says.

They do.

Fire fairly explodes through the enemy lines, far more absolute and terrible and thrilling than any previous magic or science. There are only ashes left when the tremor from Wolfram's arm has infected the rest of his body and he slumps bonelessly. Conrad catches him as he falls, strong steady arms around the little brother he has never stopped loving.

It's ridiculously like what has happened thousands of times with Yuuri, save that the recipients of this magic will not get away unscathed, have become ashes to ashes, and there are too many of them, ludicrously too many. Wolfram will never be able to do such a thing again; it was too soon, too little time to train, to learn to handle such powers, and the action now has damaged him. He's still powerful, considerably more so than he was before the endless meditation in the temple, but not anything like this.

Still, the burning halted the war. It's not over, but negotiations are now as plentiful as battles. Shin Makoku is a strong country, but it's badly injured and the enemies are many; they cannot be allowed to see just how badly they have managed to hurt the demon land.

Wolfram burns the foot soldiers at the battlefield, smiles charmingly at the commanders during dinner.

Murata doesn't live to watch.

He remembers all of his incarnations, each and every one; hundreds of lives, most of which ended in pain and all of which causing him pain, either through remembered torment or through remembered joy that he has lost. Though he's never mentioned this to anyone, he goes insane mostly every life, carries too much strain not to. The time he lasts seems to grow gradually shorter as well, and in this madness now, this war – he's slipping and isn't sure he minds.

The final straw comes the day he returns after leaving Yuuri in the other world and goes off to the temple to train Wolfram von Bielefeld, the damnably beautiful blond whose face is an exact replica of the only one Murata remembers with absolute clarity, the one he's been obsessed with through all the blurring pasts of all the people he has been.

Murata likes Yuuri, who doesn't?

But it's Wolfram he dreams about. The priestesses whisper about how his dark eyes often go blank, how his mouth falls open frequently while he talks to the blond: he's haunted by the persistent fantasy in which he pins Wolfram to the altar and fucks him. The Original King will watch him bury his hands in the soft golden curls he still remembers the smell of, from almost a thousand years ago, will see him bury himself in the pliant body whose doppelganger took and then abandoned him.

Wolfram is completely unaware of all this until the day he leaves, which is the day Murata kisses him. It's over, his dream and his life both, the second their lips connect. Wolfram is frozen stock-still with shock and Murata moans all his endlessly helpless and hopeless desire into his mouth before the blond hits him, green eyes disgruntled and maybe disgusted and perhaps disappointed.

After he has left Murata splashes his feet in a puddle of water, escapes in a similar puddle on the street outside his own house. Brushing droplets of wetness from his hair and face, he straightens his clothes and catches the bus that will deliver him to Yuuri's home.

"Go through the pond there," he says and points at the little artificial lake in the park, then walks straight out into the road. The truck hits him fast enough that there's barely any pain at all.

Yuuri is returned to a Shin Makoku in chaos. He falls into a fairly large lake, kicks his way out of the water and finds that the surroundings seem faintly familiar. A walk later he smells ashes but doesn't understand what it means, is still himself enough to run towards instead of away from the stench even though he knows it's war, and, come to think of it, why hasn't anyone come to pick him up, and Murata's dead.

He runs and runs from this fact and soon stumbles upon a place that at first sight he doesn't recognize at all – a ruined building on a burnt stretch of land, fallen and blackened stones. All of it drenched in blood and littered with trash and… are those bodies?

Dozens of dead and dying priestesses, mutilated, murdered, clothes and bodies ripped, burning, bleeding. Right in front of the altar, which has been made to fall as well though it has not been explicitly broken, lies little Ulrike. Even she, the sad woman with the body of an eternal child, has blood on her thighs and in her eye sockets.

Conrad finds him shaking and vomiting and caressing the dead Head Priestess' cooling body just before nightfall. The brunette is leading a small troop back from a raid and stopped by to investigate rumors about the temple being sacked; his men curse and some even cry, and he smiles that sad little smile that means he's given up, he was broken long ago and now the pieces are falling apart, and he extends a hand to Yuuri and drags the boy king up to sit with him on the horse.

Yuuri yells and sobs and accuses all the way back to Blood Pledge Castle. Conrad has no answers so says nothing in return.

It turns out it isn't just the temple that is suddenly unfamiliar; Yuuri hardly recognizes the court either. There's grimness and decadence in the air, humans and alcohol aplenty in the Great Hall where Celi and Wolfram and Gwendal and Gunter sit dining with several delegates.

Yuuri stares in uncomprehending horror as Wolfram smiles and smiles at the man beside him, not the brash grin or the milder ardent expression Yuuri has seen before, not a smile for Wolfram himself but for someone else, a duty-demanded expression of utter sweet delight.

He has probably never been more beautiful than he is now, first smiling, then flinching as the stranger trails a clumsy hand up his leg below the table, then smiling again, and he and Yuuri each think they are going to be sick.

Conrad and Yuuri later tell Celi and her other two sons what has occurred at the temple grounds. Wolfram goes pale and stumbles to the window to throw up, thin body in pink gown wracked by violent spasms.

Gwendal sends the two youngest ones away together, and they stagger out in silence, leaning on each other.

Conrad stares at his feet as his elder brother says painfully to their mother, "You know what to do."

"They smell," Celi complains.

"Use perfume," Gwendal instructs. He's a pimp and his family whores for him. "I'd do it myself if I could."

Celi tells him that she loves him, says the same to Conrad, then goes to do the deed.

It isn't long until she falls ill and dies.

Wolfram closes his eyes and doesn't cry. Later that day he can be heard screaming in Gwendal's office: "How important? Kiss him important? Suck him important?"

Yuuri doesn't know about that, but hours afterwards a disquiet Greta fetches him, tugs him worried through the castle and to another room where Wolfram's smiling again, that terrible smile from the dinner party. It's a frozen expression that doesn't change at all as the long-haired human in there with him slips a callused hand beneath his dress.

The Maou attempts to take over and Yuuri is horrified enough to be glad, but before anything can happen Conrad closes a hand around his shoulder, all sternness and not gentle at all.

"How can you?" Yuuri whispers. How can you stop me? How can you let this happen? How can you live with yourself?

"If you go in there," Conrad says, "I'll have to follow, and then I will kill that man."

Wolfram looks towards them in the doorway at the sound of his brother's voice, sees Greta and disentangles himself from the stranger, walks out to them, hushing at Yuuri when he attempts to speak. The four of them, soon three for Conrad leaves shortly, return to the royal bedchamber where Wolfram picks Greta up and tells her thank you and I love you and never do that again, never come close to such happenings ever again, promise me that.

Yuuri stands by just looking while Wolfram puts her to bed, then, safely out of the girl's earshot, screams, "What the hell are you doing! All of you, but particularly you, and with that man…! Wolfram, what's happening?"

The blond snags his wrist out of Yuuri's grip and says with icy venom: "I'm going to go to that man's bath, and suck on him until he signs what he has to sign."

Shocked and horrified and completely dejected and helpless, Yuuri passively watches him leave, then stomps through the castle in frustration until he happens upon the healing wing and enters to find Gisela. She seems as kind and helpful as she always has and he doesn't notice the tightness around her eyes or the strain along her neck until he has recounted all his frustrations and she explodes.

"Wolfram's doing what he has to do," she screams at him. "What we all have to do. He's the only one who can, the only one who can be that bright perfect princess we need. Now that Celi's dead it's only a matter of time before he'll have to let it consume him completely. There's no one else who can do it, who can be our Princess, but that doesn't mean he's the only one who has to try! You think I've never had to sleep with any of those disgusting human pigs? You think Celi didn't? Elizabeth, you remember her, the girl who were about to wed, she's been married off to a former enemy warlord, and the same will happen to Greta as fast as she's off age, and their husbands will beat them and rape them and there's nothing to be done about it. It isn't even properly rape, it's prostitution – rape's what happened to Ulrike, this is what we have to sacrifice to save the country. And Greta is lucky, through the mere fact she has someone who'd try and rescue her if it were possible – Wolfram would marry anyone to spare her, save he has to wed you so Gwendal can have some excuse to rule us." She takes a deep, uneven breath. "You wouldn't let us win the war, and now we're paying for that. You promised us the world, now we promise the world a cheap fuck – the difference is you couldn't deliver."

Indeed, Wolfram has had to give up peace's struggle to be a real, normal boy and instead must focus on becoming what perhaps he was always meant to be, do what he does best. He's become a pretty princess prostitute.

He and Yuuri both occasionally enter into battle, not often by any count but not seldom either. The boy king, shocked into compliance with the methods of the time by the horrors he has witnessed, sustains a Maou who integrates more and more with him and cares less and less about killing and hurting.

Wolfram raises a hand and spells fire over their enemies. "Aim for the ugly ones," he tells his men after his magic has run dry, while he carries sword and blue uniform but is too worn to fight. "Now that Mother's dead I reckon I'm the one who'll have to sleep with the survivors, and if that fat thing over there makes it I'll never forgive you."

Even here on the battlefield he's the Princess by now, and the soldiers smile and nod at him in adoration as he dances among them.

It is him they see for their inner eye when they say they fight for Shin Makoku.

'That fat thing' dies there on the battleground, but far too many others survive.

Gwendal's face is one big wrinkle. Gunter stares blindly out the window for hours.

Wolfram smiles and smiles and smiles.

Yuuri sits in a corner mostly all the time, feels that he is only able to talk to Greta.

Conrad stopped him from interfering once, but at one point the brunette sees a large bruise on his little brother's face and wordlessly storms into the room the blond just exited, draws his sword and has sliced the perpetrator's head off before Wolfram has managed to say a single word.

"Damn you," Gwendal says to Conrad as the three siblings are assembled in his office that night. "Until now we've managed to save Wolfram from having to go all the way with any of them, but after what you did today – he's going to have to sleep with the man's master, I hope you realize that."

"I'm sorry," Conrad says to his little brother outside in the corridor, feeling like a broken record that has played through his entire life.

"I'm not," Wolfram replies. "It was not very bright to kill him but I love you for it." And he smiles, the smile of the Princess, the smile carrying awareness that Conrad did it for him and thus giving absolution. "I do not, however, want that human bastard to be the first. I'd like for there to be love involved. And Gwendal's Gwendal and I don't think Yuuri likes me anymore, and Greta's a child, obviously."

Yozak watches them, hurt and bitter and broken.

Conrad has always wanted something else, and Wolfram is the only one who has ever been both ethereal and real to him, higher but graspable. Julia was too far above him, and Yozak too far below. Yuuri was a dream that has recently become a nightmare.

Not long afterwards the army is to take off again, for what is supposed to be the last great battle. Wolfram, golden and bright and wearing a thread of blossoms that are called Conrad Stands upon the Earth around his neck, is there to wave them off. He is their angel, fallen for them, and every single solider wears a flower, fastened on their amour, a Beautiful Wolfram.

Leaving Greta in Yuuri's awkward arms at the sidelines, Wolfram walks over to the commanders' horses, touches Gunter's cheek, turns his face up the expected way to be kissed by Conrad and Gwendal.

Conrad bends immediately and smiles with ardent brokenness and presses his lips hard to Wolfram's.

Gwendal looks tired and beat and squeezes Anissina's hand before leaning down and bestowing a peck on Wolfram's mouth.

Back in the royal bedroom that night, both inhabitants are once again sleepless for a long while. This time, however, Wolfram lies curled on his side, his back to Yuuri, dressed in a light blue pajama reminiscent of the darker boy's rather than the gowns he wears mostly all day now.

Yuuri slips into slumber at last, into a disjointed nightmare that he thinks is real while it happens, about blood and loss and death in the darkness, and he wakes up with the tips of his hair kissing his shoulders and his eyes slanted.

He can't really say he's changed into the Maou, because they are so much the same by now that they are both always conscious of what happens, but right now the entity is in control.

Yuuri is scared and almost shaking and wishes desperately for comfort of any kind. Wolfram, warm and living, is very close, and he wants to reach over and see if he's awake, so maybe they could talk or something, perhaps even hug, to gain some human closure: Wolfram might have changed but he's still Wolfram, and Yuuri still cares for and about him.

He's uncertain and tentative and quite unfamiliar with his subconsciousness, but the Maou is in charge now, and what they all call the Maou is a core of magic, something eternal and all-knowing and primitive, a powerful id that each demon king has to strive and tame with his superego.

Right now that doesn't work, and perhaps Yuuri doesn't truly want it to.

He reaches over and touches his hand to Wolfram's shoulder, slowly firms his hold around it until Wolfram sighs and stops pretending to sleep and rolls over.

He is beautiful beyond words, and Yuuri's so cold and scared and lonely, and he needs, they both need –

The Maou, lacking the uncertainty and doubt of its host, leans down and kisses the blond, who splutters and swats at him, green eyes widening in question.

"It's just…" the darker one says. "It's so hard, and you've been, we've all been, but especially you have been trying to keep everyone together, like family, even taking such care of Greta, and I just thought, maybe we could help each other."

And Yuuri hears the unspoken continuation: I want to comfort you like you've comforted so many, I want to ease your pain, I want us to be close.

Wolfram hears: You're just a whore so what does one more matter, and think about what I can do to your loved ones if you disobey.

The blond stays quiet for fear of choking on a sob, and his bedmate slowly strokes a hand down his face. "You like this, don't' you?"

And Yuuri hears: If you don't we'll stop.

Wolfram hears: If you don't I'll hurt Greta.

The fire elemental wraps arms and legs convulsively around the other, opens his mouth under the other's kiss and fishes on the floor for some lube. I loved you, Wolfram thinks, observing as though from a great distance the hot, ardent coupling between himself and the king. When it's over and Yuuri, completely Yuuri now, collapses over him, still inside, he stares at the ceiling and strokes the raven hair.

Buried in the tarnished wonder that is Wolfram, Yuuri is so pleasantly exhausted that even his underlying agitation can't make him think very coherently.

There is brightness here, splintering and darkening but still light, and perhaps just a bit of love as well.