Believe in Time IV
Disclaimer: Kyou Kara Maou does not belong to me and I make no money from this work of fanfiction at all.
The halls of the empty castle echoed dully as Wolfram walked down into the newly created catacombs, towards the cold room that would become his tomb.
Wolfram… now, that was a name he had not let himself use for quite a long time. Three hundred years had passed since he had let the name fall from his very own lips. There had been a time when Wolfram had said his name, over and over again, just so he could recall how it sounded. When he was alone, before bed, in the rare times he had gotten a chance to bathe.
Then the times he had been alone became less and less. Bathing was a chore, done hurriedly with his friends; time alone was an illusion, just like sleep. He had slowed down, saying the name once a day, once a week, once a year… until he no longer even thought of it anymore.
Wolfram belonged to a young man with a husband and son to look after. The King, Shinou Heika, was who he was now. He had made decisions that would affect the course of the country. And it was his country. Not just Yuuri's, not his mother's… His. He had done all of this for Yuuri, and in the course of events, fallen in love with his own people.
The doors were open before him, glowing faintly. He had built his Castle above the original seal that was to hold him- this room was an extension. The altar therein would be his resting place, forever.
His power was fading. His steps began to falter, growing more halted. The long sleep that he had put off was finally catching up to him.
For years he had used his power to stay awake, to keep moving when there were battles to fight, wars to win and policy to be made. When he had finally realized what was happening- that he had become the Original King, and that it had been himself he had seen in the painting- he knew what he had to do. He knew he would have time to catch up on his rest. Here he would wait, eternally, in the sleep of death.
Dead, but not dead, and his spirit would be free to watch over the kingdom he had come to love with all his heart.
When he had he finally begun to understand Yuuri so much? He had met his people, and had fallen in love with them. Once, he would have done it only to make Yuuri happy. But to feel it for himself…
He sighed, and he was content.
The long sleep pulled at him, as he barely managed to collapse on the altar before all the strength bled out. The faint light in the room became dimmer and dimmer to his eyes, breaths became slower.
One more moment awake as he lost all vision. The sounds became more and more distant and all he knew was his own breathing.
In… out… in…
Yuuri looked up at the blond man, trying to find the strength to lift his hand to touch His face.
The face was so beautiful and familiar, and it was covered in ashes and tears.
"I didn't want it to come to this! I never wanted it to come to-"
Yuuri smiled. His body was heavy and numb- but he managed to awkwardly bump his fingers to his face.
Yuuri heard himself rasp- far deeper, though familiar. The Maou's voice, perhaps? It couldn't be heard far above the rattle in his chest.
"For a while- I hated you."
No he didn't… did he? He'd never hated Wolfram
"But I'm glad it was you."
"I tried- I tried to save you- I never wanted to kill you- but-"
"I was foolish. I should have…" He heard himself cough up blood. "I should have listened."
"We'll find a doctor! It doesn't have to end like this!"
Yuuri felt the coldness seep up from his toes to his neck. The world was drifting away from him.
"I've never hated anyone like I hated you…"
He woke with a start, hand reaching out to find Wolfram's side of the bed.
"But I've never loved anyone else."
Murata frowned as he walked through the Palace of the Original King. Shinou had been oddly silent for the past few weeks.
Weeks filled with Yuuri's pain, and his family's sorrow. They mourned Wolfram as if he was dead, and it seemed that Shinou was content to leave it that way.
He could not leave this as it was. Conrad was confused, and Yozak was pissed. It was wrong for Wolfram to stay in the Seal, if it was already fading away.
//Why won't you speak to me?//
The old bastard seemed perfectly content to leave things as they were. For the life of him, Murata could not understand.
"Hey- you going to visit- you know, him?" someone asked, and Murata looked up to see his friend standing there. Murata smiled faintly. It was good to have someone there…
"Ah, I am. He… he's been too quiet lately. If there was anything Shinou and Wolfram had in common, it was his inability to shut up," Murata explained, fidgeting. His eyebrows knit in thought. "I don't like this at all…"
"Yeah. You'd think he'd be gung ho about coming home to his sweetie after, what, four thousand years of chastity? God knows if I was him, Yuuri wouldn't be sitting for months."
Murata covered a smile with his hand. It did make him wonder… especially since Yuuri had come home after disappearing. He was exhausted, emotionally speaking, and unable to talk about whatever had happened. He had gone from denial to pure mourning, and the entire Castle had mourned with him.
"I don't know what's going on his head. He's always… been confusing. Part of it may have been his view of events. He's been working things from a different point of view of than I did- and it always seemed to work."
Murata waved his arms to eloquently shrug. "I just don't get it myself. I thought he wanted to come back."
"The only thing that would convince him otherwise would be Yuuri saying he didn't want him back," Yozak stated, shrugging as well as they began their descent through the bowels of the Palace.
"He'd always want Wolfram back," Murata muttered, looking towards the door of the altar room.
The light from the altar was nearly gone… and Yozak frowned. "Is that a good thing?" he asked, nodding towards the altar. Murata lifted his eyebrow, and picked up his pace. There was something wrong here…
Shinou's body seemed older than it had before. Older… and…
Murata put his palm on Shinou's face. There was barely any warmth left, and his lips were starting to turn blue. Murata pulled his hand back like it had been burned.
"Yozak! We have to find Ulrike! Now!"
The redhead blinked, taking a good look at Murata's suddenly pale face and taking a moment to feel the extremely cold room. It smelled like death.
Without a word the two men took off running.
It was another day without Wolfram. It was another day feeling like he had died himself, and the world was just pulling his strings like a puppet.
Too bad he couldn't die. Yuuri knew he had too much to live for and too many people who needed him. Logically, he would have given himself that argument over and over again.
It was so damn hard to keep on living. The worst parts were when he would turn around, expecting to find Wolfram there. It happened at the worst possible times. He would have thought it was his bed that was the worst reminder- but no. It was other things.
He would walk by the music room and be unnerved by the silence. When he walked by the window, and expect to here Wolfram drilling his troops. Walking by Lawrence's nursery, there was no lullaby or conversation.
Yuuri could walk by himself. Yet those familiar places, the clues that his husband had been there were gone.
Then why could he feel eyes on him? It was like if he turned around fast enough, he might find Wolfram there. Someone once told him that time healed all wounds. That person had never been to Shin Makoku.
He slowly wrote out his signature again, not reading the form above it. It didn't matter anyways. Just some stupid decree.
"I am sure that Anissina will be thrilled that you have decreed men have lost their voting rights." Gwendal stood over him, seemingly unchanged. Yuuri looked up. If he had been himself he would have noted the hollowness to the older man's cheeks, and his uniform was less than immaculate as it hung off his frame.
"Oh." Glancing down, Yuuri just marked through his name. "That wouldn't be a good idea."
"No, it wouldn't be… Yuuri," Gwendal began, before stopping himself. He seemed hesitant. "I know this may be too soon, but there are a few things you should…" The tall man stopped, and looked away. "Never mind. It is too soon."
Yuuri wasn't really listening, but looked up at him anyways. He had so rarely been locked in his own pain like this. He could remember… always, always… being able to look beyond his own pain. Not this time.
Silence descended, and Gwendal looked away.
"Did you need something?"
Gwendal cleared his throat.
Yuuri barely lifted his head as three bodies tried to force their way into his office at the same time. He didn't see the long train of people behind them.
"Ulrike?" He hadn't quite forgiven the small priestess. Irrational, surely, but he had no reason to be rational right now. "What are you doing here?"
The diminutive woman was out of breath, and Murata was standing right behind her. "It's Shinou-heika," she started to babble. He had never seen her so wide-eyed before. He noted absently that she seemed on the verge of complete panic. "You have to help him! Please!"
Yuuri tilted his head to the side. "What are you talking about?" he asked, voice distant.
"Shibuya! Tell me what happened when you went to the Palace of the Original King!" Murata yelled, all but ordered, face pale but his eyes sparking with anger. "What did you say to him?"
Yuuri closed his eyes as he laid his pen down on his desk. "He told me that my Wolfram would never come back. Then he asked me what I would do if Shinou awakened from his seal." Yuuri opened his eyes to meet Murata's. "I told him that if he did, I'd tell him to go to hell."
Yuuri counted his heartbeats in the following silence before everyone exploded.
"You- Shibuya, how could you do that?"
"No!" Ulrike was nearly in tears. "Heika, how could you do that?"
"How?" Bitterness welled up in his voice, and Yuuri made no move to hide it. "What did I do, hurt his feelings? That bastard has ruined so many lives…"
"Including his own," Murata spat back. "Dammit, Shibuya, if he doesn't let himself awaken from the seal, he'll die. Doesn't that matter to you? He's dying. As we speak, more energy drains out of him. If we don't do something he'll be gone forever."
"We don't need him anymore." His own callousness surprised him, but Yuuri was beyond caring right then. "His time has passed with the boxes and the Sovereign. He's made his last deal. The priestesses can go home and find a life for themselves. We can finally get things done without having to worry about what the Great One wants," Yuuri spat. "His time has passed."
"Dammit, Shibuya, no! You don't know what you're saying! He's done all of this for you!""
"Don't know? Don't know? I know all I need to! He's done all this for a man who died four thousand years ago!"
"He did all of this for Shibuya Yuuri, damn you, all of it. He did all of this because he wanted you to rule this kingdom, he did this because he believed in you. How can you let this go? See beyond your own pain! Wolfram is still fucking alive and all you can do is wallow!"
"He said that my Wolfram will never be coming back," Yuuri answered slowly. "Never. How can I forgive that?"
"Because if you don't act now Wolfram really will be dead," Murata hissed. "He will let himself die because he doesn't believe he deserves to exist any more. How can you do that to him after all he's done for you?"
"What are you talking about?" Gwendal interrupted, obviously confused. "I thought we were talking about Shinou-heika."
Murata looked at him, and shook his head, before starting to laugh. It bubbled up, making him sound like he was taking a perverse pleasure in this moment. Yuuri narrowed his eyes.
"Daikenja," Yozak muttered, shaking his shoulder. "Pull yourself together. Its pretty obvious what happened, ain't it?"
Murata was too busy frothing to be coherent. "You can't- he will- dammit, Shibuya, you can't just let him-"
The others at the door started to crowd inside the door.
"Perhaps Yuuri is right," another voice called, and in filed Cecile, Gunter and Conrad. "His decrees have caused pain to many." The woman's eyes were cold. It had been at Shinou's decree, after all, that she had three times been wed.
"Mother, he did it so that we might all exist," Conrad protested. Her eyes widened at his words. "I- I don't think he did it to be cruel…"
"Do I have to be the one to tell everyone?" Yozak muttered, running his fingers through his hair as he forced his way into the room. "Fuck… there is a reason that Shinou said Wolfram wasn't coming back. He can't- Wolfram can't because he's not Wolfram anymore."
"That's because he is Shinou-heika."
If that sentence had been spoken by Murata, Yuuri might have suspected subterfuge. If it had been Yozak, he would have still disbelieved it. If anyone had said it but Conrad, he might have laughed in his or her face.
Conrad's voice softened, after having interrupted. "I didn't find out until it was too late to do anything, Yuuri. But it is the truth. The deal that Wolfram made to save your soul from the Sovereign, was that he give up his life. It was his life, not his death, that Shinou-heika wanted. It was Wolfram's destiny to go to the past. It was his destiny to found our country and to fight the first war. His life was asked for, and he gave it. Shinou-heika is who he is now, and… he can't be Wolfram again."
All sound died again in the room, and Cecile looked faint and Gwendal's eyes nearly bulged in their sockets, and Yuuri… Yuuri… was just numb as the words sank in.
Images, perhaps memories, flickered behind his eyes as he tried to take it in. The bastard who had done all of this was Wolfram. Wolfram had gone back to the past, had lived out his life there, as another person. He could remember Wolf-chan asking him to die. He remembered being turned down by a man with blond hair and blue eyes, saying that he was married and would never break those vows. He remembered… other things… too fast for his conscious mind to process but always knowing that Wolf-chan had been there, and had given up as much as he had ever asked of him.
"I told him to go to hell," Yuuri repeated, voice breaking. "I told him that I…"
"And because of that he gave up the will to live," Murata snapped. "Let's get this straight. He told you, basically, that he can not and will never be Wolfram again. He was over four hundred years old when he entered the seal, Shibuya. Well preserved, certainly, but no where near young anymore. He's physically older than everyone here. His mind has been free while his body stayed in suspension. And I'm going to ask you this once, Yuuri- can you welcome him back as he is?"
Yuuri's hands clenched the desk, before he jumped towards the door. He took off running, fists clenched and arms pumping, not even bothering to call for a horse as he ran through the streets of the city.
Too much was going on, almost too much to take in. He had thought Wolfram lost, and this was nearly as bad. So close, yet so far. Wolfram had lived his entire life in the past. He had lived it without Yuuri there. Did he find someone else while in the past?
Immediately Yuuri dismissed that- from his own disjointed impressions, Wolfram most certainly had not. Wolfram had done all of this…
…forged a kingdom…
…fought hopeless wars…
…become the greatest ruler that Shin Makoku had ever known…
All for Shibuya Yuuri.