Title: Wake in Winter

Author: Morgan

Fandom: Kyou Kara Maou!

Genre: Romance, Drama

Raiting: PG-13, eventually NC-17

Summary: Yuuri and Wolfram share a winter night together that changes everything. Eventually NC17. First part of an ongoing epic romance. Slash.

Part One

"We've been separated from the group." Wolfram said between deep breaths, brows knitted together. He was slumped, hands on his knees, sweat beading along his hairline, smudges of dust on his cheeks and hands. He was flushed and his voice was dry as snow collected on his shoulders.

"Aa." Yuuri inhaled slowly and deeply. He matched Wolfram in disarray. They both slumped against the towering trees of the brittle forest, trying desperately to regain their breath. Their lungs were burning, but the air was sharp and cold. It was the dead of winter and snow was beginning to fall in the human forest.

Ambushed by the last human army to oppose New Makoku, the small group of Gwendel, Conrad, Yozak, Yuuri and Wolfram were clearly in hot water. There were many human soldiers, too many to count. Hundreds, by the look of urgency on Conrad's face as he yelled over the shouts and clang of metal for Wolfram to take his majesty and escape. To leave the others to fight.

Yuuri hadn't wanted to go. He was not that sort of king. He wanted to stay, he wanted to fight. He couldn't bring himself to leave his friends behind-

But Wolfram would hear none of it over the din, and grabbed his arm, tearing into a sprint. It was all Yuuri could do to keep up with his fiancé as they hurtled through gray, unfamiliar woodland. Besides, remembering the look on Conrad's face made him wonder if, though his intentions as a king and friend were always so noble, now was not the time to risk his life. After all, as Gwendel often said, his life was not his own. It belonged to New Makoku now.

"Ugh!" Yuuri suddenly groaned, dropping his face into his palms. He ground his teeth in frustration. "This isn't right! We should be back there, helping the others!"

Wolfram fixed his king with an indignant green gaze. "You know that Conrad would never allow you to endanger yourself like that! Even if you are our king, we cannot obey orders that might guarantee your death." There was a fleeting shred of sympathy in those emerald eyes, but it was promptly squashed.

Yuuri was too frustrated to answer. He knew, in any case, and understood- he just didn't like it.

Wolfram snorted at the lack of response and stood up straight. He tried to suppress a sudden shiver, but failed. It was cold- very cold. The temperature had begun to drop right before the attack, and had fallen steadily with the sun as he and Yuuri ran through brush for what had seemed like hours. In truth they had only been running for half an hour, but the pace had disoriented them, along with the thousands of unfamiliar trees, all tall and gray and dead, that had rushed by. They were hopelessly lost, even if they were safe from immediate danger.

Wolfram sat down on a fallen tree trunk, long since turned into a lifeless husk. He brushed new snow off his shoulders and hair. "They'll be fine, Yuuri. Quit pouting. They'll find us soon- Yozak and my brothers are excellent trackers." His voice lacked most of its usual hardness.

Yuuri relented to his perpetual optimism and sat up, rubbing at his eyes. "I know… I know they'll be okay." He rubbed at his nose, too, which was quickly turning as flushed and cold as his pink cheeks. "I just… you know I…"

"Yuuuu-ri. Really. There's nothing to worry about." Wolfram said with feigned finality, trying to convince himself as much as his fiancé.

"I know." Yuuri quietly replied.

They sat like that in the cold for several minutes, each thinking, faces solemn. It felt eerie and disheartening to be in such a situation again, after so many months of burgeoning peace with the human countries. Slowly the snow turned into rain, a freezing rain.

Wolfram noticed that Yuuri had begun to shiver. "Come here, wimp." He said with an expressive roll of the eyes.

"I'm not a-" Yuuri began to automatically respond, but Wolfram was by his side so quickly, draping his own blue uniform jacket across the dark-haired boy's shoulders, that Yuuri found he couldn't even finish his sentence.

"Let's try and find some sort of shelter before we freeze to death." Wolfram said grudgingly as he quietly fumed about his inability to use fire majutsu in the human lands. He could've built them both a fire by now in mere seconds!

It was slow going, now that the temperature had dropped and sitting still for so long and being slowly but surely soaked through had chilled them. The snow was not thick on the ground, but the rain was freezing and stinging, and both boys walked stiffly and warily. Being huddled under one jacket hindered their pace as well.

Maybe it was fate, or maybe it was blind luck (probably the latter), but Wolfram's sharp eyes spotted a dark opening between the sprawling roots of two trees. They ducked below snow-laden branches and stumbled under the rift. A dark tunnel led down into the earth, a canopy of exposed roots protecting the mouth from the wind and snow. Stepping gingerly inside, Wolfram, who went first, scouted for signs of occupancy. There were a few scraps and remains, old dried droppings- it was obvious that the furry tenant had vacated some time ago.

"Ah, it's clear." Yuuri said from behind him, dripping ice-cold water. He gazed about the large cave-like tunnel with childish fascination. "This is just like junior high summer camp!" He exclaimed through chattering teeth.

"What?" Wolfram asked, turning to stare at his fiancé in mild confusion.

"Ano, nevermind…. Ah ha ha." Yuuri grinned sheepishly, then rubbed his hands over his arms as another batch of shivers coursed through his thin frame. Trails of rainwater sluiced down his cheeks.

"Here." Wolfram laid his jacket out on the ground. It was damp. All of their clothes were soaked with snow and freezing rain. He then stripped off his shirt and laid it down over the jacket. "We need to get out of these clothes before we get sick. Lay down."

Yuuri stared at Wolfram then laughed as he shivered, and sounded an awfully lot like he was hiccupping. "What! Why? Can't you just make a fire?"

"This is human territory, you idiot!" Wolfram quipped. "Besides, everything is wet! We're soaked to the bone!"

"Ah…" Yuuri contemplated as his limbs began to go numb. "Ah. Oh well. If it can't be helped."

He joined Wolfram on the ground at the back of the tunnel, sitting down on the jacket. They were both shivering and Yuuri couldn't feel his face or fingers. Wolf was already pulling off his boots and socks, and made gestures to show that Yuuri should do the same.

Yuuri tugged off his jacket and shirt, but didn't get much farther as he began to grow dizzy. His heartbeat was slowing down and he couldn't seem to command his hands anymore. His vision swam and he slumped.

Wolfram made a startled noise and caught him, worry in his features. He suppressed his own shivers and began to peel the rest of his fiancé's wet clothes off.

Yuuri gave the blonde a skeptical look through his hazy vision, but relented to his being undressed by the boy as his body was racked with too violent of tremors to do it properly. He felt his blood starting to churn more and more sluggishly, as if he was freezing over in the cold hard ground. Wolfram seemed to be dealing with the caustic weather much more adeptly than him, so he gave his trust to the other boy, knowing that Wolfram had probably been trained, as a soldier, to deal with these sorts of situations. Besides, he was so sleepy he could hardly think straight.

"It'll be okay, Yuuri." Wolfram whispered more to himself than to his king as he laid Yuuri down on the jackets and stretched out beside him. "The others will come for us soon. We'll be back at the castle in no time." He tugged the driest pieces of clothing over their trembling bodies, tucking it in around the edges.

Vaguely, in some last aware part of his mind, Yuuri tried to react to the embarrassingly physical position he was now in. He wanted to blush and pull away, put some sort of respectable, manly distance between them, but he was just too cold. So cold.

His body felt like a frozen dead weight, with limbs and fingers and a face that he couldn't feel or move. So, even as embarrassing as it was, he was secretly relieved when Wolfram turned onto his side and pressed his chilly body up against Yuuri's. Yuuri could just barely tell that Wolfram was blushing, but he knew that the boy was doing what he knew was best to save his Maou's life.

Wolfram drew Yuuri close under their makeshift covers, entangling their legs and wrapping his arms around the other boy.

The heat wasn't immediate, but it came. Yuuri couldn't keep his eyes open, but even in his state of half-sleep, he could feel the warmth of Wolfram's body infusing into his own. It was the slow beat of a heart pushing a gradual rhythm back into his blood. It was a small but welcome fire to the freezing tremors that had shaken him earlier.

Half-asleep, Yuuri murmured in contentment and shifted closer to Wolfram, seeking more of that shared warmth. He pushed his body up against the blonde's, aligning them perfectly, like two pieces of a puzzle, and tucked his head into Wolfram's shoulder, then sighed.

Wolfram flushed, but held his fiancé tighter, under the thin cover of their clothing. He was extremely aware of Yuuri's skin against his own, damp from rain and smooth, and the soft mass between Yuri's legs, which pressed against his thigh. He rested his cheek against the dark head and sighed, eyes fluttering closed. Yuuri's hair smelled like soap and wildwood and baseball gloves. He inhaled deeply and felt tears prick at his eyes. He fought them back and replaced them with an unflinching determination to do everything he could to keep Yuuri safe and warm until the others arrived. He knew Weller would find them sooner or later. He trusted his brother more than the older man knew.

There was the shrill whistle of wind at the mouth of the cave. Snow had begun to fall again. Wolfram drew Yuuri closer, as close as they could be, and drifted off to sleep.

:----------:

When Wolfram woke, it was slowly and peacefully. He had not jumped at some sudden noise, nor reached immediately for his sword. Instead he opened his eyes and registered immediately the warmth in his arms, the soft smooth skin against his own, the slow and steady breath against his neck, the mousy dark hair on his cheek. He didn't flush or flinch, simply lay there with Yuuri in his arms, watching the rain fall softly outside the mouth of the cave.

It had grown dark, and was certainly night. The snow had stopped but the rain still fell, albeit if lightly. Wolfram wondered how the search for them was going, if Yozak and the rest were able to pick up any signs in the melted sludge that was surely the forest floor. They had left no footprints in the snow, as it had all melted by now.

Wolfram pushed such urgencies from his mind, and, although reluctant to leave such warmth, began to pull away from Yuuri. He was hungry and needed to see what, if any, provisions they might have had on them before the attacks. He was sure he had some sort of food in his jacket pockets.

"Stay." The voice was small and faint and soft, slurred with sleep. Wolfram paused, looking down at his fiancé, whom he had assumed to be still sleeping.

Yuuri's eyes were still closed, but his right hand tightened on Wolfram's wrist, and his left, which was splayed across the blonde's chest, curled into a fist. "Don't go."

Wolfram hesitated, then lay back down and reached up a hand to stroke those soft, damp, dark locks of hair. "Okay. I'm not going anywhere."

"Okay." Yuuri echoed in a sleepy, childish voice, then relaxed against the other boy's chest and fell back into slumber.

Wolfram watched the even breathing of his king for a few minutes, then lay his head back and looked up to the dim ceiling of their shelter, a tangle of dead, entwined roots. He felt something sharp throb in his chest, and he swallowed heavily, brows knitting together. This was almost painful, this intimate embrace, this tangling of their limbs and aligning of their skin. Wolfram knew it was temporary, knew it was merely for survival. When the night cleared, when the others found them, this would end right here, in this cave, and Wolfram would return to the pointless, unending pursuit of a love that would never be his. The story would be told and Yuuri would probably laugh and blush and be teased by Yozak, while Conrad looked on with an endeared smile. Wolfram would be yet again left behind, standing among thousands of others in the wake of Yuuri's all-encompassing friendliness. Not any more special that every other Mazoku and human that Yuuri loved- equally. As their king. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the end, he was nothing.

The pain was not physical, but it hurt just as much as any other injury he'd ever received. Lying there listening to Yuuri's soft breathing, and the patter of rain on tree limbs and dead leaves outside, Wolfram thought of his fiancé's earlier words: Stay… don't go, and knew he'd probably never hear them again. His love for the Maou was the biggest joke in all of New Makoku; everyone knew that it was unrequited.

Why did he still go on? Wolfram pressed his cheek to the soft black locks and stroked them softly. Because of this. Rare moments, stolen here and there, when he realized that even his unrequited love was the only love he'd ever truly feel.

Wolfram knew he could never love another, even though a little of his heart broke every day. That was why he put on his boisterous outer shell, his mask of nonchalance, his façade of jealousy. He had never felt anything as powerful before as the love he nurtured for the boy that slept in his arms, and the extraordinary king that he would follow to the ends of the earth, no matter how many boats he had to ride on.

:----------:

The morning dawned early, and it was the soft sounds of rain still lightly falling that woke the two boys. They drifted out of sleep, eyes fluttering open, still entangled, melded together like one in warmth and rhythm. They lay in silence for a long time, not wanting to move, despite the situation, which should have been more awkward- but strangely, wasn't. Yuuri had pushed aside what embarrassment he'd had left, and had long since accepted that they had simply done the only thing they could do to keep from getting sick and possibly dying from the conditions. And it had worked so well, that he found he didn't even care how strange their situation was- he was so comfortable and warm that he'd even forgotten about the ambush, and was content to lay still in Wolfram's embrace.

Eventually they were both fully awake; but something had changed. Something in the air, in the way they lay entwined as one, in the way they had spent the night sharing their warmth against the bitter cold, had left both boys drifting in a new kind of consciousness. They were still, like the dewy air, and while they were both very aware of their surroundings, they felt no desire, no compulsion, to react to anything.

Whereas normally Wolfram would have been out of bed dressing and then making the rounds, and Yuuri later being woken by Greta and dragged about and outside for breakfast, they instead lay comfortably together, unmoving, simply breathing, untouched in their cocoon by the cold winter air. Yuuri, with his head against Wolfram's chest, listened to the heartbeat and the soft pattern of breath. Wolfram closed his eyes and did the same. It had been so long since either of them had been held, and neither had remembered it could feel so good.

The stillness, the closeness, the concentration on each other's breath- they began to fall into meditation. Yuuri remembered something his grandfather, a shrine-keeper, had once told him about seeking peace of body and mind to live a full, healthy life. "Once you achieve a light meditative state, your mind will automatically search for a soothing focus. If you allow it, your body will harmonize itself with that focus, your breath will synchronize with it, and your mind will clear. Hold the peace you find there."

Yuuri finally understood what the old man had meant. It didn't even seem odd to him that the focus he had found was the rise and fall of Wolfram's chest against his own.

Wolfram was experiencing the same thing. His breath was synchronizing with Yuuri's, and not even his trained soldier's alertness was a match for the soft rhythm that engulfed his senses. They began to slip deeper into their shared state of quiet existence.

As he drifted farther down into the relaxed, meditative state, Yuuri found that while he was aware of everything around him, he also felt separated from it, apart from it, as if all that mattered was the rise and fall of Wolfram's chest and the quiet intake and outtake of his breath. Yuuri felt every clump of dirt and pebble beneath him, felt the slight movement of each of the hairs on his forehead where Wolfram's breath stirred them, and the twin throb of the pulse in the blonde's neck against his shoulder, and his half-hard cock against Yuuri's stomach.

For Yuuri, and undoubtedly for Wolfram too, there was a wonderful nothingness in his mind - no anger, no fear, no expectation, no thoughts coming much too fast; nothing but the unfamiliar sensation of synchronicity, of absolute peace.

They stayed that way for a very long time, until the sounds of birds greeting the morning broke the silence.

:----------:

It was not long after the boys had finally stirred from their relaxed state to stretch in the bright morning light and relieve themselves as the rain slowly stopped, that Yozak, Conrad, and Gwendel arrived. A little beat-up but with nothing broken, the three older men stumbled upon the cave right after Yuuri and Wolfram had finished dressing in silence. They had a little food with them, and the quiet party split it up and ate what they had. It was going to be a long, tiring journey back to New Makoku, with no good results to show for their strenuous trip.

As Yuuri listened to Yozak recount their amazing escape from the ambush and Gwendel's prowess in building a shelter from fallen tree limbs to rest before the search, he couldn't help but steal a glance at Wolfram, who sat quietly cross-legged to his left, chewing on a piece of dried fruit. The blonde was unusually quiet, strangely withdrawn. Yuuri still blushed a little to think about what they had shared last night, and didn't really want to tell the others about their unorthodox method of staying warm- and Wolfram was obviously respecting his wishes by remaining silent. Yuuri found himself glad that his fiancé seemed unconcerned about sharing those details, seeing as Yuuri would much rather keep those to himself. He knew that what they had done was basic survival, but he still wasn't sure how to react, on a more personal level.

They had slept nude together all night, entwined like lovers, then shared a meditation that morning, which might easily be considered more intimate than the bare embrace. Yuuri had never before done those things with anyone, and he never thought that he'd do them with Wolfram, fiancé or not- he still thought of the blonde as merely a good friend, nothing else. And was simply playing along with the "engagement" thing until… well, until Wolfram had had his fill, maybe.

Yuuri stared at his feet as he ate some of the bread Yozak had brought. He knew from his Buddhist grandfather that while it was hard enough to reach a state of perfect meditation, it was far more difficult to do so with someone else. You had to truly, deeply trust that person. This revelation turned an invisible wheel in Yuuri's mind, and something changed in him at the moment- something fundamental about the way he thought of his fiancé. The Maou didn't know it yet, but it was going to alter the course of the future he had imagined for himself quite drastically indeed.