A/N: Well, well, it appears as though I've actually decided to write another (and chaptered, my how frightening!) story...I may continue on a random whim sooo...yeah. -coughs- I'm sorry if I disappoint anyone by rearing my ugly work so randomly like this and...egh. Once more, all criticism accepted, flames too, as I usually don't tend to write AU'ish things but this story just jumped me after looking at five hundred too many fanarts. XD; So, uh, usual warnings? AU, shounen ai, future crack...
Disclaimers: It pains me more than you'd know to admit I don't own a single scrap of Kyou Kara Maou. -throws another temper tantrum-
If he closed his eyes and breathed in deep, he could almost smell the acrid smoke of war.
Wolfram von Bielefelt stood on the balcony overlooking the gardens, and past that, the city. If he squinted, he could even make out the war brewing at the borders, just make out the smudge of oily gray that signaled the fires sure to be raging there. With his eyes closed, Wolfram could picture himself there. He could imagine the glint of steel in firelight, his sword dripping with the blood of his enemies, weaving between the cracks of armor. He could feel the blast of heat from his element as it shot from his fingertips, hear the pained screams and agonized squeals of the dying, smell burning flesh mingle with fresh blood. He could smell the smoke, feel it in his lungs, choking, suffocating. It was thrilling. It was revolting. It had to be done.
With his eyes closed one more second, he could pretend he was there for another hour, doing battle. Sir Weller was sure not to be far off, he could hear the man's voice - normally so gentle and smooth - now hoarse from barking out commands, scorched by the battle. The ground would be slick with blood, and Wolfram could feel the ache of exertion in his bones. His muscles screamed in protest with every slash, every parry numbed his hands, his incantation for his majutsu drained him more and more of his energies, sounding dull when they came from his cracked lips. The wind would be heavy with death and...
...And not so cold, not so refreshing as it was now. The prince slowly opened his eyes, a frown touching his lips. The battleground is where he should be. But it wasn't where he was.
Wolfram von Bielefelt was, after all, the third and essentially useless son of the current Queen, Cecilie von Spitzweg. Her oldest son had taken on all the responsibilities required of a good ambassador and statesman. After all, Gwendel von Voltaire had all the tact and determination to handle tedious negotiations. Conrad Weller, the half-human son, had the experience to be the soldier. He had the comradeship that brought and held men together; he had the war tactics and the skill to wield his sword expertly and mercilessly. Wolfram had no desire to follow after his oldest brother, after all, it was clear the blonde who took after his mother was as impatient a boy as there ever was. Couple this with the youngest prince's fiery temper and you were just begging for another war with the demons to rise. Secretly, Wolfram had always wanted to follow his second oldest brother's footsteps. He wanted to be there in the midst of battle too. He wanted to carve his name in history with his steel, and win glory. Simply, he lacked the experience. No – he was robbed of it.
Instead, the Fallen Angel prince was confined to his mother's castle, kept behind doors and given excuses. He watched ambassadors from the enemy come and go, watched the wrinkles on his oldest brother's forehead multiply, watched the women of the castle sob and sigh, constantly distancing themselves from reality. He could see it in all their eyes. They all wanted this to be over with, all wanted it to go away. He wondered why they wouldn't just let him go and end it. Surely his help would be needed out there, in the frontlines. Wolfram was confident, after all, that he could stop the war himself if they'd only give him a chance to be out there. Surely after the Third Prince dealt his justice and proved to the demons and to his own people that he could be a far worse nightmare than anything ever dreamed, they'd certainly give in and beg for peace. Nothing could stand against the wrath of Wolfram von Bielefelt, after all. Especially since their precious Demon King resided in another world, to escape the war.
Behind him, there was a knock at his bedroom doors. The blonde considered not answering, pondered the perks of ignoring the summons. He also considered the punishments, and shuddered inwardly at the look and disappointment in store for him from Gwendel. Even worse, would be the sigh to escape Sir Weller's lips when he returned and heard of the youngest son's insolence. Sir Weller was sure to give the boy a thorough talking of the importance of obeying orders, and proceed to rub salt into his wounded pride by including somewhere in the lecture why this was a reason he was not permitted into the war. The pure white feathers on his wings bristled at the thought.
"Bull shit," was all he could push past his tightly pursed lips, before turning on his heel to answer the door. Storming past the lavish bed, past the desk where piles of notes in messy handwritings and books of all sorts gathered dust. When he got to the ornate wooden doors - polished to a sheen that it almost could act as a replacement mirror - he pulled them opened and shot the soldier in the doorway a look laden with scorn, and issued a growl worthy of any lion, "What?"
The soldier had gotten far too used to the petulant teen to pay any more attention to his fits. Rather, the heavily armored man straightened himself in the proper way demanded by protocol, and saluted. In a clipped voice that spoke of years and years of more training than the teen he was addressing, he made the announcement that Wolfram's presence was requested in the war council room. Even stranger, Gwendel himself had issued the order. The blonde's grip tightened on the brass handles of the doors, brow furrowing as he gave himself to thought. He doubted Gwendel would've finally caved into his demands of being sent to the war. He also highly doubted his war tactics were any more wanted than a commoner's was, especially with Gunter around. Those two could conjure up plans for victory that were near flawless. Then what could he have possibly done to merit this summons?
"Uh...Sir von Bielefelt...?"
The blonde shook his head, erasing his thoughts. "I'm going." Came his curt reply, and in moments he had stepped out, past the guard, and was striding down the halls. His mind was roiling with ideas, wondering over the purpose of this. Thoughts bounced in his head, making him almost miss the place he was to rendezvous. Almost. His feet seemed to stop of their own accord when he nearly passed the door, making him have to back track a little. The prince stood before the rich mahogany doors, suddenly dreading them. Something about this did not sit right with him. Something in his gut twisted and writhed, making him feel a slight bit sick, as though he were on a boat...
Then he shook it off and set his face in a scowl. There was nothing to fear, this nervousness was ridiculous. There was no point in stalling, no need for these queasy tensions in the pit of his gut. His hand moved to take the handle, and he breathed in deep. The castle smelled of faint mildew, masked heavily with perfumes of meadows. It was pointless. The meadows were probably now totally up churned, the grass burned to their roots. The animals had fled, and the only feet to pass through were those of the soldier marching to war, trampling and killing, blood stuck to the bottom of their boots. He'd rather his mother burn incense more suited to their situation, burn some grass or animal flesh. It'd be a more suitable reminder to everyone about the world they lived in. Then he pulled; stepping back as the doors opened, and steeled himself for what would happen...
To his surprise, there wasn't much. Gwendel sat at the head of the long table, elbows on the table; fingers interlaced to hammock his chin. His stern blue eyes betray no emotion, and his permanent frown was neither harsher nor lighter than normal. His wings were folded neatly, and nothing about his hunched stance alerted Wolfram as to the reason for neither his summons nor his unsteady feelings. To Gwendel's left sat a man - someone Wolfram had never seen before. He was youngish - perhaps Conrad's age - and had dark hair. He was a demon, Wolfram could tell right off the bat. He lacked the formal wings of Fallen Angels, and his hair was far too dark to be considered one of them. Glasses perched at the end of his elegant nose; his blue-purple eyes were as serious as Gwendel's. He was dressed in formal clothing of a rich blue color, far darker than Wolfram's own blue uniform. The suit - formal as it was - seemed simple, the only part really standing out on the handsome man was the elaborate golden decoration at the collar and sleeve hems. Gunter stood behind Gwendel, a faint smile on his face. That should've worried the blonde prince...it was an inkling as to something had gone in their favor, but what had it to deal with Wolfram? The prince could only march in and stand at attention at the very end of the table.
"This is Shouri Shibuya," Gwendel began, indicating with a flick of his eyes that he was referring to the single ambassador to his side. Wolfram nodded curtly, giving a small bow to the guest in greeting. He did not dip lower than necessary - Wolfram would not bend to a foreigner's will. Especially the will of an enemy. With a cough showing Gwendel didn't quite approve of the disrespect, he continued, as if to rub into the prince's ignorant face his mistake. "He's the Demon King's elder brother." If Gwendel expected him to gasp or to pale, he was sorely disappointed. The statement was met with a mere raising of elegant blonde eyebrows, and the ambassador gave a soft cough, his eyes sliding to look at Gwendel. Gwendel carried on as though he hadn't seen the action. "We have spent three days and two night negotiating, Wolfram, and have finally come to an alliance..."
Wolfram was growing impatient with these talks. Yes, so what if Gwendel had finally brought peace and ended the war? What was he thinking to summon him down here just to inform him of that when he could very well just mention it in passing at the dinner table? Wolfram would admit, he slightly resented the fact that war had come to an end without him lending a hand, but at the same time, a small part of him rejoiced. There would be no more death on their sides, no more names read off lists growing longer and longer, no more body counts. They could call this uneasy truce, and life would... "Forgive me, Brother Gwendel, but if that is all you have to say, then allow me to tell you congratulations and be on my way." The blonde gave another curt bow, and was about to turn on his heel when Gwendel's voice halted him.
"Wolfram. The truce deals with you."
The blonde gritted his teeth slightly. He knew that. As a Fallen Angel and as a person living in this world, he knew this treaty dealt with him. After all, it meant that the smoke in the distance would fade, and... "Does it, Brother?" The sarcasm was biting enough to wipe the smug smile from Gunter's face, and cause a frown to appear between Gwendel's brows. Shouri's eyebrows shot up in interest and a faint muttering came from his direction. Wolfram chose to ignore it.
"Indeed. We've come to several agreements... Not only will peace be restored between us, but our courts will be blended into one."
This news elicited a slight perk of interest...and more than a hefty dose of anger. Blend their courts? What was Gwendel thinking, so sully their palaces by hosting and actually mingling with such curs! And they couldn't exactly merge into one just like that, without something to tie them together. The hostility and distrust would be too much, and...
"They've agreed to give us back Frankfurt, along with the several ports they've taken from us. All the lands in the East shall also now belong to us, and they will get Slvera and Francshire. We've both agreed, though, to allow the ruling families to continue to do so."
Wolfram frowned at that. Francshire, as small an island as it was, was still quite important. Their silks were excellent, and the trading route passed straight through the area. Their produce, as well, was exceptionally fine, and he saw no reason to forfeit the place like so. "Is that all?"
"One last thing. To successfully blend the courts and ensure peace and unity in the future..." Gwendel paused for effect, letting the words sink in. He watched the turmoil in his little brother's face, saw the unease once more flit into his evergreen eyes. This wasn't easy, as one might've assumed just by looking at his blank face. After all, Gwendel had worked hard to get that Shouri man to agree to this. However, the price he requested was high, but for the sake of the future...
"Well? Spit it out!" Impatient. He always ways, but to be left dangling at that cliffhanger? Wolfram couldn't handle it. He'd waited long enough, watched Gwendel's look of stone, felt the nausea creep back into his stomach. There was something definitely wrong about this and...
"We've decided to give your hand in marriage to the Demon King."