Title: Wake in Winter
Fandom: Kyou Kara Maou!
Genre: Romance, Drama
Rating: 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.
Back at the castle, safe and thrust once again into massive amounts of paperwork and subtle intrigue (spawned by gossiping maids), Yuuri found time passing normally again. A few times he and Ken returned to their world, played baseball on their small team, and enjoyed Miko's homemade curry- but not for long: the Original King obviously intended that the largest amounts of their time be allotted to New Makoku.
So a few days went by, then a few weeks, then, before Yuuri knew it, a few months had flown by, and he had mostly forgotten about the whole cave-incident with Wolfram. Wolfram was still his usual self, boisterous and loud- if a bit more subdued than usual. There was one thing, however, that Yuuri simply could not bring himself to forget, especially at night, when New Makoku was quiet, and slept- leaving their king to lie restless.
Since the first day of their return, something had changed. Yuuri couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he knew it in the way his chest tightened as he lay in bed, listening to the sound of Wolfram breathe.
The first night had been awkward. Yuuri had gone to bed early, tired, and Wolfram had purposefully stayed out later, talking with his brothers of the ambush. When the door to Yuuri's room finally opened, he feigned sleep. The air was heavy with silence, and though his eyes were closed, Yuuri could feel Wolfram standing in the doorway, looking towards the bed.
The Maou had no idea why he was so tense. It had just been a… a type of survival tactic. Wolfram's first duty was to his king, to protect his life. As strange as it had been, Yuuri knew it was common sense. But as person, a teenage boy, he was still unsure of how to react to what had happened. He had managed to avoid Wolfram's gaze since the others found them, and it seemed that the stubborn, still-embarrassed teenage part of his mind was determined to keep it up tonight.
Eventually Wolfram closed the door behind him, and the click of his heels on the floor crossed to the dresser, where he was surely changing. Yuuri remained still in the bed, let his lashes flutter as he listened expectantly. The rustle of cotton meant that Wolf was in his nightgown by now, and then there was the soft clang of a sword in scabbard being hung on the wall. Morgif, disturbed from sleep, made a slight moaning noise as his nighttime partner swung slowly on the wall beside him, then went back to sleep. The soft echo of feet padding on the floor drew closer to the bed, then Yuuri sucked in his breath as the mattress dipped down. He was still tense.
Wolfram lay quietly for a moment- a moment that turned into several minutes. Yuuri could feel those emerald eyes on him, on his neck, the back of his head, his tanned shoulders. Tiny hairs raised on the nape of his neck. Wolf was watching him.
A sigh with far too much sadness. Then, a minute later, the gentle sound of sleep, of blurred, even breathing.
Yuuri rolled delicately off his side and breathed a sigh of relief. He let a hand fall to his forehead, risked a glance at his slumbering fiancé. Wolfram lay haphazard under a thin single sheet, blonde hair, gleaming in the moonlight, fanned out over his flushed cheeks. He really did look like an angel, as much as Yuuri choked on that thought- knowing that the blonde was anything but.
Yuuri stared at the ceiling. He supposed he was glad that Wolf had gone to sleep and not said anything about last night… had not confronted Yuuri about it. Glad that the blonde intended to pretend it had never happened for the sake of their pride. Right? Yuuri's brow creased in contemplation. This was too complicated and weird of a matter for him, a normal baseball-loving guy, to think too much about. He should just get some sleep, long journey or not, he was sure Conrad would be up bright and early for some running and sword practice in the morning.
Yuuri lay back and closed his eyes. A cool nighttime breeze fluttered by, raising goosebumps on his arm and reminding him of the chill of the cave that night. Spurred by memory, he instinctively listened for the sound of Wolfram's even breathing, and settled on it, slow and rhythmic and soft. Just like that strange morning, he listened to it as he slipped into a state of half-sleep, and let his own breath slow to match it. Soon, even as he sipped further and further into sleep, the room grew still, and nighttime was just that- a color of the sky, dark like the dream-world just beyond his eyelids. He felt every tiny hair on his body move with the breeze, felt each leaf sway outside his window, knew intimately the sound of air rushing over Wolf's lips, the heat of his skin a foot away in the bed, was acutely aware of the feel of cotton sheets on his weary body.
With his chest rising in perfect synch to Wolfram's, Yuuri slipped deep into the second most peaceful sleep of his life.
It went on like this for months. During the day, the boys lived normally. Yuuri practiced sword fighting with Conrad, made amusing grimaces every time Morgif went after a passing maid. He ate breakfast with Wolf and Greta, studied the history of New Makoku and learned more and more about his magic, his majutsu, with Günter, and spent hours attending to (dealing with!) matters of state with Gwendel at his side, solemn as ever. A few halfhearted attempts at action and adventure were contributed to by many parties including humans, the Original King, and Aldeberto alike, but the castle remained mostly quiet.
Only the nights were out of the ordinary, Yuuri often thought. Or so he thought at first, because over the weeks and months since their return from that fateful ambush, the young Maou had grown quite accustomed to this night-time ritual of meditation.
Wolfram noticed it the third night in. He wasn't quite asleep when, out of his sheer habit of being attuned to Yuuri's behavior, he noticed that the dark-haired boy, as he slipped into sleep, had matched his breathing with Wolfram's, and that Wolf's heart seemed to beat to the rhythm of his king's. He lay listening, stunned by the sudden flow of memories from that night, and entranced by the returning feelings of absolute peace that seemed to envelope the two boys in the bed. After two nights of thinking Yuuri was ignoring him, the realization that they were once again sharing a half-sleep state of shared mediation hit Wolf like a sand bear full-throttle. If he hadn't been falling into such a tranquilizing state of mediation and relaxation, his heart would have been hammering itself to pieces. But as sleep slowly and stealthily claimed him, Wolf didn't have the time or energy to contemplate this development. He simply let himself go, fading as if he was floating in a stream, as if his heart was beating underwater, sluggishly, in slow motion. He could almost feel the blood that pumped through his veins, and hear Yuuri's. They seemed to churn through sleep together.
Each morning the boys awoke in tangent, still melded in meditation, almost connected though they didn't touch. Every dawn they would lay listening to each other's breath, aware of each trill of a bird outside, aware of every drop of morning dew that lay across the sheets, the fine sheen of cool moisture in the air, the twisting of the cotton sheets around their bodies. It took several minutes to come out of this deep, undisturbed state of meditation, but once they fully awoke, neither could ever remember having slept so thoroughly and peacefully in their lives.
They didn't speak of it, even though both Yuuri and Wolfram knew they were sharing something unusual, something to be kept secret. They would rise and go about their daily routines, and nobody in the castle knew any differently.
Conrad is the first to notice the changes, but he doesn't bring it up. Murata, the second to notice with his unfailingly sharp intuition, is more bold with his schoolmate and king.
"Ne, Yuuri… something's different."
Yuuri, flushed from the heated bath water, turned to squint at the Great Sage through clouds of gentle steam. "Ehhh? Whadda you mean?"
Ken shrugged. He looked less calculating without his gleaming glasses on; he looked more his current body's age. "You seem to be more alert these days, more relaxed. You're no longer walking around tripping over stuff because your head's in the clouds. I guess that's what I mean." Murata grinned in his usual sly manner. "You seem more calm and refreshed."
"Ah." Yuuri, clueless of course, smiled in his good-natured way. "Maybe I'm just growing into the shoes of the Maou, like I was meant to." He said with sincerity. Dark bangs clung wetly to his forehead.
"Na, maybe." Murata murmured. "But you know, I've noticed Sir Von Bielefelt seems different too. He's not as rash… it's as if he's mellowed out."
At the mention of Wolfram, and with his friend connecting their behavior, Yuuri's oblivious, innocent smile faltered. "Ah… I'm sure Wolfram has… has many things on his mind." Yuuri offered, then sank a bit lower into the steaming water, blowing soft bubbles as he avoided his friend's gaze.
Murata watched the young Maou for a moment with unabashed curiosity. Theories, speculations, and of course, perverted musings flitted through his mind. He was definitely going to find out what had happened between the Prince and the Maou. Nothing short of severe head trauma could stop him and his legendary curiosity.
Many more months passed. Yuuri and Wolfram spent each day going through the motions of normal, everyday life, and while Wolf still hounded Yuuri about cheating occasionally, he cherished the fact of where the dark-haired boy spent each night, despite that his love continued on unrequited. Ever since that night in the cave, when Wolfram had realized that it would probably always be so, he had contented himself to serve his Maou well, and enjoy his friend's company. There was nothing else he could do. In this way, those nights of perfect meditation became priceless to Wolfram. What he didn't know was that to Yuuri, they were too.
Almost a year had passed since that fateful winter night, and so had Yuuri's 16th birthday. And just as he had once told his friend Murata, he was certainly growing into the Maou's shoes. While Yuuri still maintained his trademark stubbornness and silliness, along with his famous good nature, he also had more discipline, and more skill with the sword. Wolfram stood back and watched as Yuuri started to become a man.
Only once in the past year had they attempted to talk about the meditation. Wolfram had mentioned it to Yuuri one night as they sat alone under the stars. Greta, now 8, had fallen asleep with her head in Yuuri's lap. Yuuri slowly stroked her hair with a kind look on his face. Wolf watched in contentment. When the blonde had looked at the stars, they had seemed so vast and bright in the velvet sky, and the moon, round and milky, had drawn his throat closed in a powerful emotion. The moment had felt right. He turned to Yuuri.
"Yuuri…" He started, and trailed off when the dark-haired boy paused in his smoothing of his daughter's auburn curls to look at his fiancé.
"Ah." The Maou acknowledged. Wolfram swallowed heavily and did not continue immediately. Yuuri tilted his head to the side a bit. "Wolfram?"
Wolfram drew up his courage and smiled softly at Yuuri, who was a bit taken aback by the sincerity and tenderness of the emotions in the blonde's delicate features. "I'm really glad. I'm glad we can share… ah… at night, when we…" he fumbled for words, flushing slightly.
"I… um!" Yuuri jumped at the reference. He knew what Wolf was about to bring up, and he was suddenly very, very uncomfortable. They had never spoken of it before. If he was to admit that he liked it…! To acknowledge that it was happening…!
The thought made Yuuri panic and he cut the rest of Wolf's words off with a nervous slew of excuses. "I um, I need to get Greta to bed, she has lessons early in the morning, and we should be getting some sleep too, we ride out for Big Shimaron tomorrow at dawn, and, and-"
Wolfram's face, which had fallen into a dark weariness at the start of Yuuri's rushed words, was hidden by a curtain of his hair. He looked up now, trying desperately to feign a normal expression. "It's alright, I'll help you." He stood and picked up the slumbering Greta, holding her in his arms as Yuuri jumped up and distractedly brushed invisible dirt and blades of grass from his pants. "Let's head back to the castle."
The next morning, as they mounted their horses and prepared for a long ride, Wolfram watched Yuuri quietly. It didn't take long for the dark-haired boy to feel those intense green eyes on him and turn. "Ne? Wolfram? What's wrong?" Yuuri asked in his typical selflessness, having already forgotten about the previous night's confrontation of sorts.
"Are you ashamed of it?" Wolfram asked out of the blue, in a moment of true seriousness. He had thought about his fiancé's reaction all night long.
"Eh?" Yuuri asked, realization beginning to creep up on him.
Wolfram tried to summon up his usual wall of anger, his façade of arrogance, to protect his heart. But it was no good- he was in too deep. He couldn't find the false self, and in its place, his eyes filled with a ghost of the pain and sadness he had felt on that winter night. "Are you ashamed of what we do at night?"
Yuuri's first coherent thought was not something mature, or even pertaining to what Wolfram was talking about. It was simply, I really hope no one heard that. It sounds really bad.
Wolfram steeled his face to the emotions, and fleeting, they were gone. "If you wish it so, I will no longer sleep in your room. If you do not like it…" he was trembling. "If you hate it, I… I…"
Yuuri's second coherent thought was that he couldn't remember ever seeing such sadness and hurt in the blonde's eyes. He felt something change in him, something twang like fingers on violin strings, something deep. Something in his heart shifted, if only slightly- but the seed had been planted.
And now it began to grow.
At the sight of Wolfram trembling slightly with the raging emotions inside him, fighting to keep them at bay, Yuuri's compassionate and selfless side, his stubborn kindness, beat out his gut reaction of panicking and fleeing emotional confrontation. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"No, I don't hate
it!" He said in gentle frustration, searching for the right words.
"It's just… it's embarrassing…" The teenage boy in him
was cringing. "I… I do…" This was like pulling teeth- "I
do like it." He finally got out, and avoided Wolfram's gaze.
The blonde's whole face had just lightened, his pursed lips parting
in subtle elation. "It's hard to say, because… we're both,
you know, men…"
Yuuri sneaked a glance at Wolfram, and felt the tension leave his shoulders as he saw a beaming face smiling back at him. "But I do like it. In fact," he became suddenly sheepish, and picked at his horse's reins, "I'm not sure I could sleep the same without it."
He didn't have anything else to say, nor the courage to do so, but it was enough. Wolfram's parted lips closed suddenly in a truly happy smile, and he straightened up in his saddle. Conrad called them both to front of the group. They nudged their horses forward, and spent the rest of the trip in mostly friendly silence.
Of course, as time passed, Wolfram knew that Yuuri still thought only of him as a friend, and as much as it hurt him to know that his love would never be requited, he was happy enough just sharing the simple things with his Maou. Simple things like friendly bickering, meals together, playing with Greta, riding out to see New Makoku's subjects together, practicing swords. The nights in perfect, matching rhythms of sleep and breathing and stillness. These Wolfram treasured.
One bright, sunny day in New Makoku, many were gathered in an excited, noisy buzzing of color. There was the smell of good food, the sound of local music, and the beat of dancing. It was Greta's 9th birthday, and Yuuri had thrown his precious daughter a wonderful party.
The day went wonderfully, with Gwendel having made the cake himself, and Conrad having constructed something he called a 'piñata,' which he claimed was from Yuuri's world, which made Greta even more excited. There were games and Mazoku traditional dancing, which Yuuri couldn't stop laughing at to do properly, and a pie fight where Wolfram purposefully let Greta win by nailing him in the face twice.
That night they were all exhausted. Covered in pie, Yuuri and Wolfram retired to the bath together.
"Ah, that was the best party I've ever thrown." Yuuri said in contentment as he lazily washed the remaining cream from his dark hair.
Wolfram watched the Maou in amusement. "Idiot, have you ever even thrown a party before? I bet it was only your mother having them for you when you were a child." He laughed at the mental image of a little Yuuri in pigtails and a party hat.
"Hey!" Yuuri defended his honor. "I threw one for my brother when he got into his top school. And, and for my friend in the fifth grade…" He trailed off sheepishly, and Wolfram started laughing.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter as long as Greta had a wonderful time, ne?" Wolfram reached over to muss up the Maou's hair. "Which she did."
"Yeah!" Yuuri nodded sagely. "I'll throw her one again next year."
"Okay." Wolfram agreed, and they soaked for a bit longer in the hot bath water companionably.
That night, sated and warm and sleepy from the hot bath, the two returned to Yuuri's room and changed quickly into pajamas. Climbing into bed, Yuuri curled up under the covers, sighing softly, and Wolfram sprawled out, silky blonde hair spreading over the pillows. Out of habit, they each grew quiet, and as the night breeze passed over them, looked for each other's breath and heartbeats.
Yuuri stirred, and eyelashes fluttering, turned onto his side so that he was facing Wolfram, so that he could better seek out the other boy's breathing. As he turned, his hand, curled into a ball, fell against Wolfram's. His eyes opened slightly and he started to pull his hand away in a natural reaction- but Wolfram, half-asleep and warm, curled his fingers around Yuuri's fist before the other boy could pull them away, then mumbled something in his sleep.
Yuuri opened his eyes all the way and looked cautiously at his fiancé, as if suspecting him of trying something funny. But Wolfram lay sprawled like an angel shot down from above, mouth parted and cheeks flushed in slumber, golden hair all over the place. Yuuri watched him curiously, eyes trailing over the silken locks and lashes. He slowly and hesitantly uncurled his fingers, and laced them with Wolf's, pressing their palms together. Wolfram murmured again in his sleep and unconsciously pulled the dark-haired boy closer.
Unsure of what to do, but unwilling to wake Wolfram and disturb his sleep, and especially unwilling to have to explain their hands when the blonde awoke, Yuuri complied with the sleeping but still demanding prince and scooted closer on the bed. He lay on his side with shoulder touching Wolfram's, and one leg thrown over Wolf's. His breath brushed over the blonde's pale neck, and their fingers fit together so well… it was like pieces of a puzzle, Yuuri mused.
In the back of his mind, he knew it was strange- if anyone should walk in, what they would see- but still, the closeness, the slight touching, the curled fingers… it reminded Yuuri of that night, and although he blushed thinking of it, he knew that the sensation of sleeping like that, in someone's warm embrace, to wake in those arms- had been something huge for him, something he'd never experienced before, would never forget. It had awakened a part of him that once sleeping, was now starting to stir. The unwelcome desire to feel that again.
Yuuri knew that something like that would never happen again, the skin-to-skin embrace, the night of being safe and warm and sheltered in another's arms. But… though he would never admit it, this was nice. This closeness to Wolfram. He forced himself to think of it as a friendly thing. Like their meditations… just an expression of their trust in each other. Good friends.
Thinking about it this way kept all other thoughts at bay. Thoughts like how good it had felt to feel another's skin on his own, to feel Wolf's breath on his neck, his heart beating right up against his own, Wolfram's eyes that winter morning, so full of an emotion that frightened him in its intensity and sincerity. By thinking of what he and the blonde shared as a sign of their friendship and only that, Yuuri was effectively blocking out every single thing that his body had been trying to tell him it yearned for.
And, snuggled close to Wolfram, their breath falling into rhythm and their hearts beating as one under a perfect velvet sky, Yuuri fell asleep and dreamed of nothing but illusions.
/to be continued