Author's note: From what the anime tells us, the war happened 20 years before Yuuri got to Shin Makoku, and according to the manga Wolfram is 82 years old when that happens. Thus, on the ep. in which Yuuri goes back to the past and meets Julia, Wolfram should be around 60 years old. I'm setting this around 4-6 years before that, which would make Wolfram between 56 and 58, if my maths haven't completely rotten.
Pick Out Your Cloud.
Wolfram was so startled by hearing another voice so close to him that he almost fell from the branch he was sitting on. That tree had been his secret hiding for over fifteen years: not even Conrad had known about it. Whenever he had been teased, denied something or just felt lonely, he had climbed upon it and he had gazed upon the landscape of Shin Makoku until there was nothing else in his mind.
Finding out a young woman sitting on the branch below him, her skirt dancing over the wind as her legs dangled from the branch was not only unexpected, but also pretty much qualified as an offense on his book.
The woman gave a soft laugh, but not the annoying kind some of the maids had, the one that even Elizabeth seemed to have at times; if it hadn't seem she was laughing at him, he would have even called it charming. He was also infuriated that the woman didn't turn to see him. "I said that this is an amazing place, Prince Wolfram."
Wolfram blinked, wondering just who the woman was and just how she knew his name, getting more and more peeved by the second.
"Who are you?" Wolfram finally snapped. "And how do you know my name?"
The woman turned towards him with a smile, her long hair moving over the breeze, and Wolfram had a small second of feeling ashamed when her unseeing eyes strangely focused on him, before he remembered that he was the victim in this case.
where the words jump off my pen and into your pages
"Wolf!" Celi cooed, interrupting her meeting with a cheerful voice, standing up from her chair and interrupting whatever Raven had been telling her: if Wolfram hadn't been so angry he'd have realized that his mother was probably relieved by the interruption. "Ooooh, and I see you've met Julia!"
But he was angry, and his mother had just brought the main reason about why he was. He put a hand in front of him to stop his mother from hugging him, taking a deep breath before he glared.
"That woman says that she is going to teach me!"
Celi cocked her head, giving him a smile. Wolfram felt the woman get inside the room, where she was immediately greeted by Stoffel. He clenched his jaw and directed all of his attention towards his mother.
"Well, she is." Celi told him calmly, taking his arm and dragging him towards one of the chairs. Before he knew it, he had a cup of tea in front of him and some pastries. Celi just smiled at him before turning to give a smile towards that Julia. "Julia was kind enough to accept taking over your classes while Günther deals with some family troubles."
Wolfram stood immediately after that, banging his palms against the table, making his chair tumble and his uncle, Raven and his mother wince: not Julia, though; she just took a sip of her cup and daintily put it back on its plate..
"I don't need another teacher!" Wolfram yelled. "Günther has taught me everything I need to know! I want to be in the army! I'm old enough to go! It's not fair that I'm the only one staying!"
Celi looked at him sadly. Wolfram knew more than enough from hearing the soldiers and the maids talk about how it was now more dangerous than ever to even dare to venture near human territory and, when he had asked Gwendal, his brother hadn't denied the possibility of a war coming up, he had just frowned even more.
The fact that Weller could spend months out of the castle and the constant troubles the Noble Families were having were also good proofs of the close possibilities of war.
"You're still too impulsive, Wolfram." Celi sighed, shaking her head a bit, even if her tone of voice was final. "According to Günther, your sword technique isn't as good as it should be, you don't follow orders and you're constantly losing control over your maryoku. I might be unable to forbid you or your brothers from joining the army forever, but I most certainly will try to make as sure as possible that, if something happens, you'll three survive. I'm sorry Wolfram, but your request to join the army is denied at the moment."
Wolfram glared to his mother, but she just kept her eyes looking at him, a firm decision over her green eyes. Clenching his jaw, the prince turned around, strutting his way out of the room and making sure to let the door close as loudly as possible.
if there is a horizontal line that runs from the map off your body straight through the land shooting up right through my heart
"That wasn't very nice."
Wolfram closed his eyes and tried his luck counting until a million or Julia went away. His patience had been drained more than thin that day and, even though he usually tried not to snap at women (growing up with Anissina tended to have that effect on you), Shinou knew that he was very close to doing so. For some reason, this woman rubbed him in all the wrong ways.
Wolfram made a noncommittal sound, keeping his eyes firmly glued over the setting sun. He hadn't climbed the tree, his now former hiding place: since it had been found out, he didn't see the point on doing so. He was just leaning against its bark, keeping his arms crossed.
When the woman moved to stand besides him, hands calmly clasped in front of her, Wolfram vowed that whatever happened wouldn't be his fault. He had given her enough chances to understand that he didn't want her nearby at all.
"She's just trying to protect you. I understand how frustrating that can be, but…"
Wolfram snorted. "How could you possibly know?"
Julia turned towards him, giving him a slightly bittersweet smile.
"My father does the same with me, since I'm blind." She gave a small embarrassed laugh after that admission. "Almost everyone around me does something similar, actually. I'm guessing that since you're the youngest, it's probably the same."
It was Wolfram's turn to feel embarrassed, so he turned his eyes back to the sunset, a soft flush over his cheeks and nose.
"I'm not that young."
Julia hummed, tilting her head to a side. "You don't sound too old… you're… fifty?"
Julia gave that soft laugh again, a pale hand reaching to cover her lips. Wolfram was surprised when he found himself almost smiling back, so he huffed and closed his eyes again, trying to ignore Julia's presence at all. However, his idea didn't work, since he kept up glancing towards the woman, who finally sat against the tree, hands holding her knees.
"You're still too young to be so angry." Julia said after a while. Wolfram didn't answer since he was supposed to be ignoring her, even if, to avoid answering back, he had to bit his tongue. "I could help you, you know?"
Wolfram snorted again. "With my sword technique?" He did have a twinge of guilt at that, but it was too late to do anything anyway. And, since he was still refusing on having a teacher, he hoped that that would scare away the sweet voiced lady.
To his surprise – and chagrin – Julia just turned her face towards him, blind eyes closed.
"Sadly, my sword technique is terrible, so we would have to search another answer for that." And with that Wolfram stopped pretending he wasn't listening, moving to also sit down. "But I can help you control your maryoku, and if you follow my instructions, then you'd be hearing orders. That would be two out of three, right?"
Wolfram frowned. His mother would certainly take Julia's reports seriously so, if the lady said that he was ready, Celi, as the Maou, wouldn't have more remedy than allow him to join the army, right?
He nodded to himself and then, realizing that Julia couldn't know that, spoke.
"Okay, I'm listening."
how light can play and form a ring of rain that can change bows into arrows
"Dancing. That's your great idea?" Wolfram raised an eyebrow, still without moving. When Julia had told him that she had an idea about how she could help him with his sword fighting, he had been thrilled and had been just about to calmly and solemnly go to retrieve his sword (not bolt, as his sudden urge commanded), but then Julia had taken his wrist and started pulling him towards the ballroom.
"Dancing." Julia confirmed, her hand warm and soft over his skin. It hadn't taken long for Wolfram to stop treating her as if she could break at any moment. Julia might seem fragile, but Wolfram would vow up and down to anyone who cared to listen that she could very well be more than devious when she wanted: there had to be a reason other than her beauty for Adalbert von Wincott to be so smitten with her.
"I know how to dance, Julia." Wolfram rolled his eyes, but allowed the woman to pull him along.
"That'll save me a little bit of work then." Julia told him, finally letting go when they got to the ballroom. Wolfram shook his head at the woman's ideas of practice before opening the door.
He was quite surprised to find several maids and servants inside, even one of his mother's musicians, looking every bit as confused as him. The only one that wasn't confused was, of course, Julia.
"Thank you all for coming, I know how busy you are." Julia's smile eased the confusion of most of the people present there. "It'd really help Lord von Bielefelt and myself if you could please, spare us a couple of minutes to dance?" at the confusion that was starting again, Julia bowed her head, hands clasped in front of her.
That caused an immediate reaction. Most of the servants immediately nodded, moving to get in pairs. The musician took his violin and moved towards Julia, bowing low.
"Lady von Wincott, what should I play?"
"Something traditional, please. Not too complicated but still, something animated."
After the musician nodded again, Julia turned towards him, taking out a pale blue scarf from one of the inside pockets of her gown, giving him the smile that constantly caused him to fear for the sake of his eyes.
"Now, Wolfram… you said you knew how to dance, right?"
Julia smiled as she moved towards him, wrapping the scarf around his eyes. It smelled just like her, but Wolfram had barely a moment to consider this when the woman was taking his hands on hers, placing one of his hands over her waist, one of hers on his shoulder and the other one taking his. At that, the music started, a happy, folklore tune he barely recognized. Go figure.
"What? Like this?"
"You trust too much what you see, Wolfram. Trust more in what you know." With that, it was Julia that started guiding through the dance at first, while Wolfram tried to make sure he wouldn't kill Julia's feet, or bump against someone else, even above the constant stream of muttering and laughs the servants were causing. He heard Julia's laugh at his voice.
"You know how to dance. The fact that you can't see now, shouldn't stop you from doing it. One-two-three, one-two-three, bow deep and twirl, hands-take-each-other and twirl again."
Embarrassed, Wolfram frowned. "And what does dancing have to do with fighting?"
"In a fight, your personal space will be reduced to the one you can create with your sword." One-two-three, but it was interrupted as he bumped against someone; Julia apologized without stopping. "Not only that, you might find most of your senses overwhelmed. Just like here you're trying not to bump with someone, you've to be certain of the way the air shifts, of every little noise you hear."
He snorted even though it did make some kind of sense that he wasn't going to admit. "I'm a fire elemental, Julia. I thought we were over with the breathing exercises for Maryoku."
Julia left his reach as she bowed and then twirled, pressing her hand against his as they slowly turned together in half a circle. "Without air, there's no fire. Without breathing, there's no air. It's all connected." Julia's voice seemed to merge with the melody, and Wolfram frowned as he tried to keep the proper steps, hear her voice, and still keep away from the people dancing. "Then, for your maryoku, it's indispensable that you learn how to control your breathing, and to recognize the way wind coexists."
Internally, he rolled his eyes. "Then, should I have just asked Günther about it? All this time?"
"That'd be a very good idea, Wolfram." Julia agreed, moving away as the melody ended and changed to something a little faster.
He frowned again. For a so called pacifist, Julia just seemed to know a bit too much about how to properly fight. "How do you know so much about fighting?"
"I hear when Adalbert practices or teaches…" then she laughed, making them twirl in sync with the music. "And I might have asked for his advice."
(i found a thrill) who we were isn't lost before we were us
It wasn't new to him that Julia frequently had the strangest ideas about what could be considered training to gain control over his Maryoku, or even for sword fighting. Dancing ended up being one of the least weird things he did: there was a part of him that was fairly certain that half of the trainings she came up with where just for her amusement.
Even that, he couldn't understand how going out for a picnic could count as training. Still, even if he had complained quite loudly about losing time, Julia ignored his antics and said that they'd go early.
With a crown of flowers and a collar to match, after several sandwiches, Wolfram was pretty sure that this was just Julia's idea to get him to 'relax'. Hmphf.
"When are we going to train?" He asked, picking up grass leaves and letting them fall again.
Julia hummed. "You'll know."
"Patience, Wolfram, is a tree of bitter roots and sweet fruit."
He glared at the woman, who just laughed. After a while, it had stopped being so unnerving that she always seemed to now what face expression he was doing. It still startled him sometimes, like how he never could sneak out on her, but he had come to accept it as one of Julia's talents.
"What are you thinking so hard? You should be careful, or you'll have wrinkles like Lord von Voltaire."
Just like telepathy.
"You can ask, Wolfram."
So he did. Julia didn't seem to get angry at his question, didn't even stop her silent weaving of flower stems until she too had a crown that she put on herself. Wolfram was pretty certain that she wasn't going to answer.
"I was born blind." Julia tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, raising her face towards the sun. "My father spent several years trying to search for a way to heal them, but there was no sickness to heal. It just was the will of Shinou."
Wolfram snorted. "And you agree with that? You're just like Weller."
Julia laughed. "I'll take that as a compliment. Am I right to suppose that you don't agree with that?"
"Of course I don't." Wolfram shrugged before laying completely over the grass, arms crossed behind his head. "The Original King was nothing but a Mazoku, just like you and me. I agree that the he had an amazing maryoku and that he did great things, but the level of devotion people put on him it's too much."
Julia hummed softly, twirling a flower stem between her fingers. "Aaah… you know? Adalbert says the same thing."
Being compared with Julia's fiancé, even in that offhanded way, made him blush. He huffed, turning his face to look at the way the soft breeze wove itself through the flowers.
"Have you ever wondered?" he asked suddenly, just to break the silence that with Julia always seemed to be so much more.
"Colors? I mean… you can make forms out of your fingers, but…" he didn't know how to end his question, not after he realized just how cruel it could be.
"Sometimes." Julia didn't turn away, didn't even flinch, but her voice sounded just a little sad. Wolfram had another moment to feel like an ass for making that question, before he moved to sit by her side, biting his lips while he thought what to say.
"It's like… the ocean, the field. When the breeze blows, the grass bends and then returns. And… the sky is also like the ocean, I suppose. Clouds are the foam."
Julia did turn to see him at that. Wolfram felt himself flush at what seemed a silent scrutiny of him, something that always unnerved him, but then Julia turned her face to the front, her face set in complete concentration.
Pleasantly surprised, Wolfram tried to think of more comparisons he could make for Julia, something that her other senses and her maryoku couldn't translate to her.
"The green of the grass and the leaves is… strong. And silent. It seems it could take on against a storm and win."
Julia's smile turned much softer and Wolfram was almost certain she could understand his words, warm accomplishment settling on his chest.
"What else? How is the sky when people say it's endlessly blue?"
Wolfram turned his eyes to the sky, and then turned to look at the way Julia's hair tumbled down her back, almost brushing the ground.
"Distant. And blue seems… cold."
He shook his head. "It seems… but it's calmer, not as aggressive as yellow or red… but it's warm. It gives hope." Wolfram finally tearing his eyes apart from her hair, clearing his throat, trying not to squirm.
If Julia noticed his sudden moment of awkwardness, she didn't say anything, just nodded softly as she caught up on his words.
"Do clouds really make forms?"
Wolfram blinked before frowning, turning to look towards the few clouds that were being lazily stretched upon the sky like paint over a canvas. When he had been a kid, his brothers and he had frequently watched the clouds: Gwendal usually just muttered that the clouds seemed to be cute animals; Conrad almost never said what he thought they were, but, if pressed, he would say swords or he'd point to a form and ask him what he thought they were. As, for him, Wolfram used to strain his eyes as much as possible to try to make out forms that, most of the times, he never saw.
"I guess." He said finally, smiling when he noticed a cloud that seemed to be a flower. "If you want to see something, you'll see something."
At his words, Julia turned towards the sky again before she turned her smile at him, warm and almost beaming.
"So, you pick out your cloud?"
The prince tilted his head in thought before nodding, smiling back to Julia. "I had never seen it like that, but yes. You pick out your cloud."
Julia laughed at his words, delighted, before she stood up, offering her hand to him. Wolfram doubted a second before he picked back his jacket and took her offered hand, feeling how Julia squeezed it a moment, probably in a silent 'thank you' before she let it go.
"You know, Wolfram?" Julia said while they walked back to the castle, tucking the one flower she had picked up over her hair. "You should try painting. I think you'd be amazing."
indigo in his own blue always knew this
He got inside Julia's room without announcing himself. As he had feared, Julia was packing some of her belongings, just the bare necessities, already wearing the Healers' uniform.
"Good afternoon, Wolfram." Julia's voice was calm, as if nothing was happening. "Did you finish with the assignments I left you?"
He slammed the door shut, glaring at the woman without uttering a word. But, contrary to all the other times in which Julia had pretty much ignored it, she sighed.
"I know you're upset, Wolfram, but…"
His glare increased. "You never even mentioned you were going to join the army! You're always talking about pacifism and yet–"
"I'm joining the healers, Wolfram, not the soldiers." Suddenly feeling as if he was being treated like a baby, Wolfram clenched his hands over fists. "I've passed my report to Celi-sama, to Lord von Spitzburg and Lord von Voltaire. You should be able to join the army soon."
Even the words he had been craving to hear for four years weren't enough to dissuade the sudden – and absurd - feeling of betrayal.
"If I see Conrad, should I tell him about your progress?" His jaw clenched even more at her words, eyes focusing over a base by her bedside: the Conrad-Stands-Upon-Earth were still fresh and its sweet smell suddenly made him angry, irrationally so.
"Weller is in love with you." He snapped, wishing the sudden sting of tears to go away. "Is that why you're going? Are you in love with him too?"
"I'm going because there are not enough healers." Julia said calmly, finally turning towards him. Wolfram knew her enough to realize that his words had bothered her, if even a little. He accepted that small, dark triumph gladly, even if the annoying feeling of sadness grew, making him turn his head to the side, avoiding Julia's silent face.
He heard Julia getting closer, and then, the soft whisper of her hand touching his face, turning it towards her. She got close enough to smell her hair, and Wolfram's eyes closed when Julia kissed both his cheeks softly, and he left them closed, trying to convince himself that it didn't feel like a goodbye.
"You'll be a great soldier, Wolfram. Just, always remember what it's important." Julia whispered softly. Wolfram tried his best to keep his breathing even, to avoid the sudden sting of tears upon his eyes, breaking apart from Julia, rubbing his face with his forearm and he gives a half hearted snort.
"You make it sound as if you're going forever."
Julia's smile was sad and enigmatic, but she gave a soft nod, reaching to take his hand and give a soft squeeze that, after a few seconds, Wolfram returned. "You're right. It's not a goodbye. We'll definitely see each other again."
if the rain has to separate from itself does it say 'pick out your cloud'
The day they learned that Lady Julia Suzanna von Wincott had died, it had been an almost perfect day: the blue sky seemed to stretch on forever, distant and perfect, except for a couple of clouds that Wolfram thought seemed to be doves.
Julia lied, just like everyone else. Wolfram was never able to forgive her that.
Twenty years later, it was an almost perfect day when the supposed new Maou was to arrive to Shin Makoku. Wolfram turned to see the sky and, if he was surprised by the way one particular set of clouds seemed to be doves, he never said it.