IN HIS SHOES
Disclaimer: I do not own Kyou Kara Maou.
This is my first attempt at writing a multi-chaptered fanfic. This story is… well, a Yuuri and Wolfram love story. I know, I know… nothing new there. In fact, some of you must be thinking, "Do we need another one?" Well, I say, even if we don't need another Yuuri/Wolfram fic, I would still like to try to present yet another one because I'm writing it from a slightly different angle.
The so-called different angle that I have in mind is adding a side story about the dynamics between Yuuri and Wolfram and their older brothers, Shori and Conrart, to the main plot of developing Yuuri and Wolfram's relationship with each other. I think that there is, or there should be, a more in-depth story about how Yuuri and Wolfram feel about and interact with Shori and Conrart respectively. The matter of brotherly love /sibling rivalry that Yuuri goes through with Shori and Wolfram with Conrart, as shown in the series, has always fascinated me and made me want to write something about it. (And if you have read my previous works, you will know that my favorite character in KKM is actually Shori and I would like to give Shori another chance to appear as a main character in a fic. laugh) For this reason also I used the title "In His Shoes", like the Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz movie "In Her Shoes", which is also about siblings.
In any case, since this is multi-chaptered, I hope I won't quit halfway. So wish me luck and hopefully you will enjoy this story.
Chapter I: Goodbyes
Which one is harder to do: saying goodbye or talking with Anissina?
No one liked to be left behind. Especially by the person one loves and cares about. It made one feel like he was being abandoned. There was no feeling worse in this universe than the feeling of being abandoned. Even if in reality this was not the case, that the person leaving was not really abandoning him, it was still difficult to watch the back of the person one loved and cared about walking farther way out of the reach of his hands. It was also difficult saying goodbye with a smile in such occurrences because… to be honest, how could one smile and say goodbye when he does not even know when the person he loves and cares about would return? But perhaps the most difficult thing of all was for one to manage to overcome all those difficulties above and actually do them all and then getting hit by the realization that… it was all for nothing.
That person he loved and cared about did not even glance his way when he said goodbye with a smile. Forget about expecting something like "goodbye, see you again soon" because when he mounted on that horse next to his guardian he only looked straight ahead of him and avoided any eye contact. His guardian was the one who said all the goodbyes and told everyone not to worry because they would be back in no time. He, on the other hand, had a steel glaze on his eyes as he ignored the whole world around him. Perhaps it had something to do with the destination of their journey and the dangers that lay ahead in it. Perhaps he did not sleep very well last night. Or perhaps it was simply stomachache. But one thing was for sure; that person never said goodbye. Not even in a whisper.
The whole world seemed oblivious to his plight. No one realized how much he hurt inside, seeing that person he loved and cared ride away without saying goodbye. They all sighed dejectedly for a minute or two but then they all perked up again and went about their own business as if nothing happened. Perhaps that person's mentor held on to his sadness longer than others did; he wailed for a few seconds longer but even he quickly got over it and started to excitedly immerse himself in the planning of that person's next lesson for when he returned. Yes, one was alone in his plight. He was all alone in the helplessness of feeling abandoned. No one could understand. No one would understand. And he would go to hell first before his pride let anyone find out.
Thus, one tried his best to cope with looking at an empty chair next to him at mealtimes and sleeping alone in a big bed at night. One also tried his best to care for the daughter that one shared with that person without showing her a sad face. And one tried his best to carefully not show any emotion every time that person's name was mentioned. If one could, one would just stop loving and caring for that person because all of the above were hard to do. Sadly, one could not stop loving and caring that person because that was the way one's heart worked: it wanted to find and chase a happily ever after ending.
"Still moping, Wolfram?" Lady Anissina von Khrenikov, possibly the most intelligent and also the most insane being in Shin Makoku, asked one day.
Lord Wolfram von Bielefeld glanced up from his book, which was actually authored by said lady, and shot her a sharp gaze. "I am not moping."
"Sulking, then?" she offered.
The lady let out a disbelieving snort that somehow managed to sound quite elegant despite the mocking tone it produced. Anissina rounded the table where Wolfram was resting his arms upon and approached the boy she rather affectionately dubbed as Little Lord Brat. Wolfram followed her every move warily. One would be wise to do so because Anissina was known to extract the most brilliant and most dangerous inventions out of her pocket and stick it on any Mazoku within her sight. That 'honor' usually fell to his older half-brother Gwendal von Voltaire but he was not here. Wolfram was here. And here was Wolfram, doing what Gwendal had always warned him to do when Anissina was around: Be Cautious. Prepare to Leave AT ONCE.
Yet Anissina did not stick any inventions of any nature on Wolfram's face or head or any body part visible externally. What she did do, however, was smack the top of Wolfram's head with her fist. It was funny how such slender fingers could produce such a strong fist that gave his head a painful throb but Wolfram did not feel like laughing at the amusing fact. He yelped in annoyance.
"What did you do that?! Get away from me, woman!" he shouted.
Anissina did not budge. She tipped Wolfram's chin with her finger and made him look up. She stared into his green eyes and said, "You are moping and sulking and you know it. Ever since His Majesty left on that trip to Human Territory with Conrart you have been moping like a baby who lost his favorite toy. This is sad and pathetic. You are a noble and proud Mazoku. You are a prince. You are not supposed to mope."
Wolfram pushed Anissina's finger away from his beautiful chin. "I am not moping and do not touch me." Wolfram closed his book and tossed it on to the table. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have better things to do than stay here and listen to this nonsense."
Anissina laughed. The sound of her laughter came across as cynical to Wolfram. He narrowed his eyes on her. She placed her hands on her hips in a bold manner and said after her laughter subsided, "Denying that you are moping makes you look even more pathetic."
Had this place If only this place was not been filled with so many books containing ancient Shin Makoku texts and royal documents, Wolfram would have unleashed his fire and burn Anissina. But he would never do that. Not if he wanted to survive Gunter von Kleist's sword. Knowing this, Anissina laughed again. She was apparently amused at Wolfram's valiant attempt at restraining his anger. She was also apparently pleased by the flash of annoyance showing in Wolfram's green eyes. It looked more like the non-moping Wolfram; the Wolfram that she and everyone knew before the king's departure to Human Territory with Conrart Weller, the king's name-giver and Wolfram's other older half-brother. Anissina hoped that her boldness would continue to bring out the fire in Wolfram's eyes although she was still careful as to not bring out the real fire that Wolfram could produce with his Maryoku.
"What are you smiling about?" Wolfram snapped.
"You, Wolfram. I'm smiling at you," Anissina said. "I am pleased that you're showing a little bit of your fierce nature." She paused. "We've missed that."
Wolfram said nothing. Anissina continued, "You might have thought no one noticed but I did, Wolfram. I know what it feels like to say goodbye to someone you care about and to not receive anything – not even a glance – in return."
At the look of surprise on Wolfram's face, Anissina chuckled. "What? You didn't think I would notice? May I remind you, boy, I am very smart and nothing escapes these brilliant, sharp eyes of mine! Well, actually, Gunter suspected something too. But I figured it out much faster than he did. You can forget about denying. I watched you when you said goodbye to His Majesty. Oh, the look on your face when he didn't even turn to acknowledge your goodbye! It was a surprise that you did not break into a million little pieces that time! I quite admire your strength!"
"Shut up," Wolfram hissed.
Waving her hand dismissively, she said again, "The point is, Wolfram, I know. I know what you're going through. And I hope you won't wallow in self-pity or sadness or anything like that because that is very unbecoming of a handsome – wait, I mean, beautiful young prince such as yourself."
"I do not need any kind of advice from you, Anissina."
"On the contrary, Little Lord Brat, you would be wiser to take one from me! I have just the thing for you!" Anissina announced dramatically.
That was exactly what he was afraid of. Wolfram instinctively took a step back. Anissina laughed at his reaction as if knowing Wolfram's paranoia for her inventions. Once she finished laughing, she cocked her head to the side and regarded Wolfram even more amusedly than before.
"What do you find so appealing from His Majesty anyway?" Anissina shot straight to the heart of the matter. "If you like people with black hair and black eyes, the Sage is also available, you know?"
"It's not that!" Wolfram snapped.
"What is it then? Is it his strong Maryoku that attracts you to him? You've always admired people stronger than you, wishing you could be like them. Right?"
Wolfram wanted to lose his temper now. But Anissina spoke again before he could do anything. "If it is strong power that you seek in a partner, then might I suggest you to go to the courtyard below? I think you will find that there is someone as strong as Your Majesty downstairs who you would find just as physically appealing. He has black hair and black eyes too, just like His Majesty."
At that, Wolfram's head snapped up. He could not help himself as he asked, "Who?"
But Anissina's only answer was her escaping the library through the side door and vanished behind it. Wolfram growled. He wondered why communicating with Anissina was such a chore. Annoyed, he vowed not to follow Anissina's suggestion whatsoever. He was not going to the courtyard to see just who this person was who was 'strong and physically appealing'. He was not going to let Anissina influence him in any way. He would rather die first before he let that happen. With that resolve, Wolfram kicked his chair back and stalked away from the room, exiting it from the same door Anissina had gone through and went to sulk and mope somewhere else.
"I'm terribly sorry that he's not here when you arrived!" Gunter von Kleist apologized frantically as he tried to prepare a set of appropriate clothing from Conrart's closet for their newly arrived guest. "You see, he wasn't expecting you, of course. If he knew you were coming, he would be here! And it's such a great surprise to have you here! You usually only come here when he is…"
His voice trailing away, Gunter suddenly came to a very, very dreadful realization. If the guest was here, and he was usually here because the king was in trouble, then it meant…
"OH NO! YOUR MAJESTY! ARE YOU TROUBLE?!"
The guest could not help but be amused. He let out a chuckle that Gunter ignored because he had already begun questioning the king's safety. Gunter went on about wanting to write a letter via pigeon post to inquire about the king's well-being to his traveling companion, Conrart. Apparently the king's mentor had forgotten completely that just this morning at breakfast Gwendal had read them all a letter that Conrart had written to him that they were well and already approaching Cavalcade while the sun was warm and the sea breeze felt so refreshing and that His Majesty was having quite a nice time. (Gwendal had, of course, omitted the part where Conrart wrote that the reason why the king seemed to be having quite a nice time was because he was not in Shin Makoku, tortured under those history lessons that Gunter inflicted on him.) Gunter had forgotten all that and continued rambling until he forgot to prepare a set of suitable apparel for their guest.
At this point, the guest, who had already visited this bizarre kingdom several times for both serious and not-so-serious errands, understood that he was now completely on his own. He grabbed those clothes from the bed and quietly put them on. Conrart's clothing fit him perfectly because they had the same size. He also felt no guilt for borrowing Conrart's outfits without telling him first. After all, Conrart had done the same to him the last time he visited them. What was a shirt or two among friends?
His visit here turned out to be completely useless. He wondered when would be a good time to come back to his own place. He had come here with one sole mission to drag the king of this so-called Great Demon Kingdom back home to help him with something and now that mission was rendered futile because the king was not here. He had a deadline to catch and he was running out of time. He should just go back to where he belonged as soon as possible.
But it would be terribly rude of him to just hop back into the portal that took him here. After all the effort he made to ensure that he could come here to see the king, it bothered him to no end that he was going to go back empty-handed. So perhaps he should just stay for one day or two and see everyone here. Not everyone here was a complete stranger to him, after all. In fact he actually had a relative living here.
"Gunter!" he called out to stop Gunter's frantic rambling. Gunter stopped long enough to pay attention to his question. He asked, "Where's Greta?"
At the mention of Greta's name, Gunter started to lose it again. "Oh, poor child! Poor, poor child! What should I tell her?! That His Majesty had probably perished in fire or lost at sea!"
This was enough to send him running away from the room to find Greta on his own. For the life of him, the guest could not understand how on earth the king could stand living here with Gunter. He would go crazy within minutes of being in the same room!
Of course, just because Gunter was a bit weird it did not mean that the guest would not appreciate guidance from him about directions in this castle. He had arrived at the staircase leading downstairs to… well, God knows where. And he did not know where to proceed. Where was he supposed to go from here to find Greta? He swore; this place could never fail to confuse him!
Just when he was about to step down, someone suddenly appeared at the bottom of the staircase. He was about to ascend. But he did not. He stood in his place, surprised and transfixed, while the guest regarded him with the same look, only milder. After a few long minutes of remaining in the same position, it was finally time to acknowledge each other.
"What are you doing here?" Wolfram finally asked.
"Visiting my brother," Shori answered.
"He's not here," Wolfram replied. He hoped his voice did not sound too spiteful when he said that.
"Do you have any idea how I can reach him?" Shori asked.
Pain flashed in his eyes at that question. He looked away before turning around completely. His parting words to the king's brother were, "How should I know? He didn't even say goodbye to me."
TO BE CONTINUED