Conrad skimmed the paper, not a bit surprised by what the precise handwriting revealed. Truthfully, he'd been waiting for this and was only surprised that Wolfram had waited this long to request an extended leave.
He signed his approval - noting the open-ended return date - freeing his young brother from the confines of Blood Pledge Castle and his duties as soldier in service to the Maou. Duties that hadn't been necessary since Yuuri returned to Earth nearly seven months ago.
Conrad was too aware of his brother's loneliness and isolation – younger than most of the soldiers, nobility among common men, the Maou's fiancé, seemingly abandoned amid would-be rivals and detractors. Was it any wonder the youth over-reacted so often?
Yet, lately, Wolfram hadn't shown much of any reaction. He attended practice drills faithfully, showing improvement in hand to hand combat and overall stamina. He attended the duties required of a von Bielefeld, of a son of the former demon queen, and of the Maou's fiancé, all without complaint. He tended to Greta with a gentleness that Conrad hadn't seen in Wolfram for years. And each night he retired early to the king's private bath where he'd sit in the steamy water until fatigue – and sometimes Conrad - sent him to bed.
Conrad set the signed form aside for filing and took up a small piece of parchment, writing a brief note for his brother, then thinking better of it. Scanning the other papers on his desk he determined that there was nothing that couldn't wait another day. Out of habit, he tidied the desktop before heading off to find Gwendal.
"I've already granted his request. I just thought you might want to talk to him before he leaves."
"I do have the authority to override you." Gwendal's threat was an empty one and they both knew it. Keeping Wolfram confined to the castle would serve no purpose other than giving them the illusion of keeping him safe.
"I could ask Dorcas to accompany him. They get along fairly well."
"If you'd like. Gisela won't be happy, but I can offer her a new assistant." Gwendal was already making notes, rows of chicken scratch that only he could decipher. "I assume that arrangements have been made for Greta?"
"Mother's taking her on a cruise. They'll be leaving at the end of the week." Conrad smiled at Gwendal's faint "hrff" of irritation. "Her studies must not be interrupted."
"Wolfram's made arrangements for that. Gisela's cousin will be traveling with them. She's recently served as a nanny for Siegfried von Christ's youngest."
"Wolfram's given this some thought. How long has he been planning to leave." Gwendal frowned at Conrad as if the man were privy to their youngest brother's secrets.
"This isn't exactly unexpected. Not since Ulrike went into seclusion." Conrad replied mildly. He and Gwendal had avoided this topic for months. "Perhaps going home will be good for Wolfram."
Gwendal made a gruff sound in the back of his throat and looked away from Conrad's hopeful eyes. Neither of them was foolish enough to believe that – as the child of a fourth son, Wolfram held no real status, and there were many among the von Bielefeld's who questioned his legitimacy given that his mother hadn't actually terminated her marriage to Dan Hiri before marrying Wolfram's father. Factor in his brother and fiancé being half-human and Wolfram wasn't exactly welcome in most von Bielefeld homes.
"I suppose he'll be staying at Emerald Villa." Gwendal's frown lines deepened at the memory of his one brief visit to Wolfram's inherited home. It was an ancient hunting lodge that had been added to, piecemeal throughout the years. It had been rundown and dismal forty years ago when it had been, he suspected, mockingly, renamed Emerald Villa, and presented to Wolfram as his inheritance. Gwendal could only imagine what it must be like now.
"There's no point in offering workers or supplies." Conrad's thoughts mirrored Gwendal's. "He'd never accept and the von Bielefeld's would consider it an insult."
"That inheritance is an insult!" Gwendal rose out of his chair, face reddening in anger. "He was entitled to more than an overgrown hunting shack hidden away on the edges of von Bielefeld territory. Mother's marriage was sanctioned by Shinou; they have no right to question it or deny Wolfram his heritage."
"You can tell Lord von Bielefeld that, certainly," Conrad replied lightly, though his expression was deadly serious. "But Wolfram will be angry with you for interfering." Conrad placed a hand on Gwendal's arm. "Our situations are not the same. We must let Wolfram deal with this as best he can. The von Bielefeld's are within their rights, just barely. Until they overstep, we just have to accept their actions. All we can do is encourage Wolfram to return to us soon."
"He won't be back." Gwendal muttered darkly. "Not until the Maou returns. Perhaps not even then." The brothers parted without another word, both knowing that Gwendal was correct.
"You can accompany me to the border," Wolfram told Dorcas. "There's no need for you to stay away any longer. Gisela will want your help with the herb planting."
"Actually," Dorcas ran a hand over his bald head and laughed self-consciously. "Gisela's got a new assistant. She wasn't exactly pleased with the way I laid up some of the herbs to dry." He couldn't suppress a little shudder at that particular memory. He knew first hand that Gisela was a lot scarier than the Maou.
"Then take a vacation." Wolfram shrugged, but the rigid set of his back made it clear that he didn't want Dorcas accompanying him to Emerald Villa. Dorcas couldn't imagine why - the name alone made the place sound interesting. He let his imagination wander as he and Wolfram rode on in silence.
"Sir Weller! Sir Weller!"
Conrad was instantly awake, sword in hand as he raced to open the door to his chamber. Frederic, one of his personal guards nearly fell into the room.
"Sir! Sorry to disturb you. Ulrike requests your presence immediately."
"Has Gwendal been informed?"
"Yes, sir. She requested an audience with both of you. She sent her carriage. It's out front."
"Thank you, Frederic. I'll be ready to leave in five minutes." Conrad closed the chamber door and hurried to dress. Years of practice enabled him to dress and prepare himself with time to spare. Gwendal joined him a minute later and they traveled to the castle of the Original King in worried silence.
"Sirs." One of the guards greeted them and escorted the two men into the main chamber where Ulrike knelt on the dais, waiting. She dismissed the guard, then bowed to the two brothers.
"Forgive me for disturbing you so late at night. This matter could not wait for morning."
Gwendal nodded his acceptance of her apology while Conrad offered an understanding smile.
"You are aware that I have been in seclusion for several months. In all that time, Shinou's voice has been silent and my efforts to locate and transport Yuuri Heika and the Great Sage have been blocked. Until now I suspected that some evil force was working against me but..." She looked as if she were on the verge of tears of joy. "Tonight Shinou Heika sent me a vision. Yuuri Heika had been injured and was recovering. He is now well enough to travel and Shinou Heika wants me to send him to Emerald Villa."
"Why?" Gwendal demanded. "That place is hardly fitting for the Maou, and there are no troops there to protect him."
"That is why I summoned you. The time will not be right to transport Yuuri Heika until much later today. I thought you might want to begin preparations to travel to Emerald Villa to meet him."
"We'll send an advance guard at once." Gwendal stated firmly.
"You will not," Ulrike replied just as firmly. "Shinou Heika was clear. You are not to leave until noon today, no earlier. Lord Wolfram's personal guard is with him. That should provide enough protection for the few days it will take you to reach Emerald Villa."
Gwendal frowned and grumbled softly, letting Ulrike and Conrad exactly what he thought of that.
"Wolfram will be with him," Conrad reminded Gwendal soothingly. "Perhaps time alone together, away from their usual responsibilities will be good for them."
"Provided Wolfram doesn't beat Yuuri into a bloody pulp for being gone so long." Gwendal's frown deepened. "And as long as the von Bielefeld's don't find out that Yuuri is there."
Conrad nodded his understanding of Gwendal's concern, looking at Ulrike for permission.
"Don't let me detain you any longer, sirs." Ulrike rose gracefully and motioned towards the door. "Please give Yuuri Heika my greetings."
Conrad rose, bowing formally and took their leave in silence.
"Dorcas!" Wofram's face was red with frustration as he tried to make the soldier see reason.
"You told me to take vacation," Dorcas repeated. "I just happen to be taking it here." He gestured to the simple campsite Wolfram had set up. He was only a few hours ride from Emerald Villa, but he didn't want to get there after dark. He'd already sent most of his personal guard on ahead to announce his arrival and would make a proper entrance in the morning.
Wolfram scowled up at Dorcas, but he knew he would never be as intimidating as Gisela. He blew out a breath and motioned towards the small fire and the pot of stew simmering above it.
"Help yourself to dinner. You're on clean-up."
Dorcas agreed cheerfully and dug out his kit. He'd worked up an appetite following just out of sight of the stubborn aristocrat. Filling his bowl and mug he settled onto the ground and ate, content in the silence.
"You're not doing anyone a favor, especially yourself." Wolfram looked out towards the trees fringing their little clearing. "Emerald Villa doesn't exactly live up to it's name."
"Then why is it called that?"
"The name is a gift from my relatives, like the property itself. A little joke at my expense. Von Bielefeld's are famous for their blue eyes." Wolfram reached up to touch the blue jewel that he normally wore at his neck, forgetting for a moment that he was wearing simple traveling garb. His uniform, and the jewel that symbolized his rank and family affiliation was packed in one of the saddlebags.
"So we won't have to worry about family stopping in for tea." Dorcas offered a smile with his bit of optimism. "And no aunts pinching your face and calling you 'Dumpling'."
Wolfram managed a smile at that one. "I get pinched enough by my mother, but even she never called me something like that." He shook his head at the idea. "I can barely promise a roof and four walls, but the no-family-visits is fairly certain."
"That's my idea of a vacation!" Dorcas thumped his now-empty bowl down for emphasis and the two men laughed.
Yuuri groaned and pulled himself out of what appeared to be a very dirty fountain. It was filled with leaves and other debris and the water had a definite greenish-cast.
He rested on the cracked ledge, wincing at the pain in his leg. The cast had been off for almost three weeks, but it still hurt a little if he bumped it. Stupid accident! A little rain, a careless driver and he'd been sidelined for the entire baseball season. And now he was somewhere unfamiliar in Shin Makoku and would probably have to hike all over the place in wet clothes only to get mugged by Gunter and yelled at by Wolfram.
Yuuri sighed and pushed himself to his feet. Since no one had rushed to greet him, he guessed he'd better go find them.
"What are you doing here?"
Yuuri turned to face his fiancé, surprised at how glad he was to see the familiar face. "Wolfram…"
"Don't bother explaining, Yuuri. I'll go find some dry clothes and some of my guards will take you back to Blood Pledge Castle." Wolfram hurried away, but Yuuri could see the exhaustion in Wolfram's face. There seemed to be bits of leaves in his blond hair and his casual clothes were spotted with dirt.
"Wolf! Wait!" Yuuri tried to hurry after him, ignoring the stiffness in his leg. He glanced up and stopped abruptly. "Where are we?"
The house was a monstrosity – an unappealing mixture of architectural styles and building materials seemingly stuck together with no purpose other than making the place bigger and uglier. The grounds in front were overgrown in places, sparse in others. The few people around were clad in common clothing and seemed rather confused by his appearance.
"Welcome to Emerald Villa," Wolfram replied, continuing on into the interior of the house without bothering to look back at Yuuri or wait for him to catch up.
"Wolf! Would you wait a minute?" Yuuri was huffing now, out of breath from having to hurry after months of near immobility.
"I told you to wait where you were. You never listen." He pointed towards a simple, straight-backed chair. "Now sit down and wait. Do not follow me. You may be the Maou, but this is my house and I do have the right to decide what happens here."
Yuuri gaped, watching as Wolfram marched through a doorway and out of sight. He started to drop into the chair, but stopped when he realized he was still wet. He didn't want to ruin Wolfram's chair. He would have retreated to the outdoors if he didn't know it would make Wolfram even more irritated.
Crossing his arms, Yuuri sighed and looked around at the poorly-lit entrance hall. The floor was simple polished wood with scattered, threadbare rugs. The sparse furnishing was mismatched and in poor repair. There were no portraits or wall hangings and the few knick-knacks were more utilitarian than decorative.
"Heika," Dorcas entered from a doorway on the far end of the room and bowed immediately. "I was not aware that you were expected." He blushed to the top of his shiny head and tried to hide the armload of vegetables he was carrying.
"It was a surprise," Yuuri offered with a self-conscious laugh. "Wolfram's not exactly happy to see me."
"Forgive me for saying so, Heika, but I don't think it's your arrival he objects to. Lord Wolfram has missed you. But," Dorcas gave up fumbling with the vegetables and stepped closer as if sharing a confidence. "I don't think he likes people to see his house."
Yuuri glanced around, understanding why his proud fiancé would react that way. Still, the place seemed far less stuffy than any of the castles Yuuri had been in. "I like it," he assured Dorcas.
"I do too," Dorcas agreed with a decisive nod. Hearing footsteps he flinched and tightened his grip on the vegetables. "Excuse me, Heika. I have to get these to the cook."
Yuuri excused the soldier and turned towards the sound of the footsteps in time to see Wolfram emerge carrying a bundle of clothing and a thick towel. "Thank you." He took the towel gratefully and wrapped it around himself. "I was getting cold."
"Hrrm," Wolfram muttered and turned around again. "Follow me then. I'd never hear the end of it from Conrad if you caught a cold."
Yuuri could barely take in all that he was seeing as they passed through several rooms into the kitchen. He had the impression that the mismatched shabbiness of the entryway was the standard décor. Even the kitchen was dimly lit and oddly shaped – long and narrow where the other castle kitchens were squarish with large open spaces for people to move around.
Dorcas greeted them as they moved towards the fireplace and Wolfram poured Yuuri a large mug of coffee.
"We'll go over here while you change into these dry clothes. Then you can drink that and get ready to leave."
Yuuri didn't bother to argue, he'd save that until after he was warm and dry. He'd forgotten how much he really hated getting sucked into random water sources in order to travel between worlds. Peeling off his soaked clothing and toweling dry was the best sensation in the world. He sighed happily and pulled on the soft, well-worn clothes that Wolfram had brought him. He looked down and smiled at the sight of himself in tan leggings and forest-green tunic.
"My shoes are too small for you," Wolfram said quietly, taking up another mug and pouring himself some coffee. Dorcas had apparently left to resume his chores.
"Mine will be fine if I can set them by the fire for a while. We just have to make sure they don't get toasted." Yuuri dropped into a chair and sighed happily. "It's nice and warm here."
"Enjoy it then. I'll get some of my guards ready to escort you to your castle."
"Wolf!" Yuuri reached out and grasped Wolfram's arm, waiting until he had his fiancé's attention before continuing. "I missed you. Couldn't I stay here with you?"
Wolfram almost relented, Yuuri could see it in those expressive green eyes. But then those eyes darkened and Wolfram moved out of Yuuri's reach.
"You'll be more comfortable in your castle, Heika."
Yuuri was used to Wolfram's yelling and his anger, but this was something different and he didn't understand. Desperate to keep Wolfram from sending him away, he leaped up from his chair, only to drop back into it with a cry of pain.
"Yuuri?" Wolfram was beside him instantly, scanning his body for whatever had hurt him.
"It's okay," Yuuri tried to reassure his fiancé with a small laugh. "My leg does that sometimes, since the accident."
"What accident?" Wolfram demanded, kneeling in front of Yuuri and running his hands carefully over the limb, as if searching for damage. He would normally demand that Yuuri disrobe so he could check the skin for bruises or cuts, but he didn't want to make him walk right now, or take him away from the warmth of the fire. It would just have to wait for later.
"I was riding my bike home from baseball practice and a car swerved in front of me. It was raining and the ground was really wet. I tried to stop, but ended up falling and breaking my leg. It was in a cast for a long time. I couldn't get the cast wet so I couldn't come here until the cast was removed."
"If the cast was removed, why does your leg still hurt?"
"It usually doesn't, unless I twist it or stand up too fast."
"I suppose that's why you were gone for so long." Wolfram was softening a little and Yuuri rewarded him with a big grin.
"I would much rather have been here." Yuuri looked around the kitchen, taking in the little details he'd missed before. "After I drink my coffee would you show me around? I want to see your house."
"I suppose, since it's technically yours too. Or will be once we're married." Wolfram watched Yuuri warily, waiting for the usually rejection. Instead he got a smile.
"I'd be glad to share with you, Wolfram. But I don't have anything this nice that I can offer you."
Wolfram frowned a little in disbelief. "Did you hit your head in that accident too? You think this place is nicer than Blood Pledge Castle?"
"No, no, no." Yuuri protested. "The castle is nice, but it's not really mine. It belongs to whoever the current Maou is. This place is yours, right?"
Wolfram softened a little, looking around as if the shabby kitchen were suddenly different. It didn't look quite so bad.
"Ah!" Yuuri exclaimed, draining his coffee mug. "Much better. Now how about a tour?" He stood up a bit slower this time and only felt a slight twinge in his leg. He carried the mug to the sink and rinsed it, turning it upside down on the drain board.
"You should leave that for the servants."
"Why?" Yuuri had never really adjusted to having people wait on him. It was nice once in a while, not to have to do laundry or dishes, but sometimes he liked the simple, mindless tasks that let him daydream.
"Speaking of which…" Yuuri looked around curiously. Blood Pledge castle was always full of people and noise. Wolfram's house was oddly quiet and there was no one else in the kitchen with them. "Where is everyone?"
Wolfram looked away, his body tensing and tone sharpening. "Forgive me for not having enough staff, Heika."
"Wolf! Don't be like that. I was just asking."
"Do you want your tour or not?"
"Yes, please." Yuuri dropped the subject for now. He'd wait until tonight. Wolfram was sometimes easier to handle when he was tired.
Wandering through the sprawling house, Yuuri exclaimed over interesting pictures and oddments, filing the gaps left by Wolfram's silence. When they reached Wolfram's bedroom towards the end of the tour, Yuuri dropped onto the bed with a happy sigh. All that walking after being transported had tired him out.
"Come on, Wolf. Rest with me a minute." Yuuri patted the bed and gave Wolfram his best pleading look. The blond muttered something under his breath, but settled down beside Yuuri without further complaint.
"I'm worn out. Think anyone would mind if I stole you away for a nap?"
Wolfram propped himself up in his elbows and frowned down at his fiancé. "Why are you acting like this?"
"I told you. I missed you. I was pretty banged up after the accident so I had to stay in bed a lot. Gave me time to think."
"Hrmf." Wolfram didn't sound convinced, but he did lay down, reaching for the extra blanket and draping it over Yuuri before covering himself.
"Thank you," Yuuri mumbled and promptly fell asleep. Wolfram stared at him a while until sleep lured him away.
As usual, Gunter had overdone things. Conrad reined his horse and gave commands to his men to set up camp for the evening. While they worked, he rode back to the end of the caravan.
"Everything all right, Wil?" He guided his horse along side of the rear guard. The small welcome party intended to greet Yuuri had grown into a 100 person entourage that included craftsmen and their equipment as well as raw materials. Conrad had managed to convince Gunter to stay behind only by agreeing to take "a few things to make Heika more comfortable". If he'd known exactly what Gunter meant by that he might have just brought the man instead.
He wasn't looking forward to Wolfram's reception. Conrad didn't believe for a minute that his younger brother would appreciate the implication that his house wasn't suitable for Yuuri.
Wil offered Conrad an easy smile and nodded. "This is a good lot, Sir. No problems. I imagine they'll appreciate some food and rest, though. They didn't have much time to prepare this morning."
"We're headed to a clearing just ahead. Stephan has already started the campfire."
"Then let's move!" Wil grinned and urged his horse to a faster pace. Conrad took the challenge and urged his own horse to match stride.
Yuuri woke alone, stretching and blinking as he looked around in confusion.
Oh. Right. Wolfram's house.
He leaned over to the far side of the bed to see if Wolfram had ended up on the floor like he usually did. Yuuri had no idea how Wolfram could be so restless and still sleep so soundly.
Determining that he really was alone, Yuuri pushed himself out of bed, wincing as he moved his sore leg. Maybe he should ask Wolfram if there was a healer around, just to get rid of the leftover aches and pains. He was anxious to start playing baseball again and didn't want any problems because of his leg.
Thinking of baseball always reminded Yuuri of Conrad. He wondered if he'd see his friend this visit or if he'd spend the whole time here with Wolfram. The thought didn't bother him as much as it would have before the accident. He really did spend a lot of time thinking while he was stuck in bed.
He'd thought about Gwendal's perpetual scowl, Conrad's steady encouragement and Wolfram's constant irritability. He had learned that there was much more to each of these men that he depended on and it made him want to learn more.
He especially wanted to learn more about the blond who'd accidentally become his fiancé. He'd often dismissed Wolfram's behavior as bratty, but Yuuri's long recovery time had let him really examine Wolfram's actions without the distraction of his words.
Feeling a little guilty, Yuuri glanced towards the door to be sure it was closed before starting his investigation of Wolfram's private chamber. Like the rest of the house, the room was dim and shabby, but there were items here that showed obvious care.
A dressing table held a lumpy knitted animal that might have been a bearbee. Beside it was a delicate painted vase with a single bloom each of the flowers Wolfram's mother had named for herself and her three sons. Beside that was a wooden toy meant for a young child, and in front of all these items lay a child's sword.
The drawers held an assortment of brushes, odd socks and little boxes and jars containing things Yuuri couldn't identify. Feeling bad for invading Wolfram's privacy, he closed the drawers and turned towards the bookcase.
There were several of Anissinia's novels here as well as some books on etiquette, history and military strategy. Art books and sketchpads were interspersed with well-worn children's books.
Yuuri resisted the temptation to look at the sketchpads and moved on to the chest at the foot of the bed. Here were art supplies and something that resembled a small guitar in a soft leather case. Yuuri replaced everything and decided to stop snooping. If he were here long enough, he hoped that Wolfram would willingly show these things he obviously treasured.
Curious about the instrument and wondering if Wolfram actually played (and if he played better than he painted), Yuuri left the room determined to seek out his errant friend.
"Excuse me," he approached the young woman shyly. She stopped sweeping the entryway and bowed.
"Please, don't." Yuuri urged her to straighten and look at him. "I don't mean to disturb you, but I'm looking for Wolfram."
"Lord Wolfram is in his study, Heika. Would you like me to show you where it is?"
"Yes, please." Yuuri laughed self-consciously and rubbed the back of his head. "I think it would be easy to get lost here."
"Not really, Heika. Emerald Villa might be a little… different from most royal houses, but I think it's nicer. Not so formal and stuffy. At least not since Lord Wolfram inherited it." The woman blushed, realizing that she'd been so forward in front of her king. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean…"
"No, no," Yuuri assured her, waving his hands. "I haven't been here long, but I understand what you mean." He smiled at her and continued to follow as she led the way through rooms and along corridors until they reached a non-descript wooden door.
"Lord Wolfram's study, Heika. Do you require anything before I return to my sweeping?"
"No, thank you." Yuuri waved her off and knocked on the solid door. There was a long wait before the door opened and Wolfram looked out, frowning in irritation. "What? Oh, it's you. Come on in Yuuri."
Wolfram stood back and let Yuuri in before closing the door firmly again. He motioned Yuuri to a seat and returned to his own behind a large desk with what appeared to be a map spread across the top.
"You might as well see this." Wolfram watched as Yuuri moved close to the desk, leaning over and studying what turned out to be a blueprint of Emerald Villa.
"You're planning to add… no," Yuuri looked up at Wolfram, confused. "It looks like you're planning to completely rebuilding this place."
"Not exactly," Wolfram corrected him, reaching down for a rolled up parchment. Spreading it out overtop the first, he pointed. "Here's the current plan. You can see it's a mess. I want to get rid of these wings." Wolfram pointed to the two slightly shorter wings leading off from the back of the main house at odd angles. "And later, those." Wolfram pointed to the two similar wings extending from the front of the house.
The original design of the house somewhat resembled a 6-armed octopus with a large structure in the center, two larger wings extending out to the sides, and the smaller wings – the ones Wolfram wanted to get rid of – extending out of the front and back of the central structure at odd angles.
"The way things are now, it's too hard to heat this place and all these unnecessary rooms are taking up valuable ground that could be used for planting. The new plan," Wolfram rolled up the plan showing the current design and set it aside, pointing now to the intended design. "It's easier to navigate. The essential rooms are closest to the kitchen and the lesser used rooms are farther out, with fireplaces that can be used when needed. We can landscape the front, all along here with ornamental gardens and have the entire back for vegetables and herbs. If we plan things right and work hard, there will be enough crops to sustain everyone here through the winter with some leftover to trade for the things we need but can't make or grow ourselves."
Yuuri blinked several times, stunned by this unfamiliar person inhabiting his fiancé's body. He'd never seen Wolfram like this – but he liked it.
"What?" Wolfram demanded in a tone Yuuri knew too well.
"I like it!" Yuuri assured him. "I think…" He looked directly into Wolfram's eyes. "I think it's brilliant. What can I do to help?"
"Hmph." Wolfram looked away, his face tinted pink. "It's not that easy, wimp."
Yuuri grinned at the familiar name. That was the first he'd heard it in a long time. Although it was kind of weird that he'd missed that. "So how do we make it easier?"
"Typical," Wolfram scoffed. "Spoken like a king who never has to think about details like money."
"Hey! You haven't seen my allowance!" Yuuri moved around the desk, closer to Wolfram. "I don't expect anyone to be rich, Wolfram. Especially not me. But you are a noble."
"Do you sleep during Gunter's lessons?" Wolfram scoffed. "Just because I'm part of the aristocracy doesn't mean I'm rich. It doesn't even mean I'm wanted!"
Wolfram's words hung between them, almost echoing in the cluttered room. Wolfram reddened, then went pale, his eyes wide with something that might have been fear. Without a word he fled from the room, leaving a stunned Yuuri staring after him.