Wolfram sat across the table from his uncle and the rest of the court with their families. He had the false pretenses of holding on to the napkin in front of him daintily, as if the tea they'd been serving would give a horrible stain to the rest of his clothes.
In truth, his uncle looked overjoyed. He had shown up a little late compared to the rest of the attendees, but he would probably brush it off as being fashionable. Cheri had summoned them all for a rundown of the wedding proceedings, and had sat Waltorana at the head of the table. His eyes were gleaming and his cheeks slightly flushed, and he looked as if he had accomplished something.
Wolfram had never been an idiot. Brash, perhaps, but never stupid. He had come to terms with his standing months- years ago- and, to put it simply, could care less what Yuuri now did with his private life. The only thing he had been struggling with was how to place himself in a world where Yuuri was now his king and only his king- he'd been so wrapped up in proving something that wasn't real that he had forgotten his responsibilities.
The main point was that his brother was happy and that was clearly due to Yuuri's advances. He could have figured out for himself, asked the two of them, but rumors flew fast in the castle. He could guess which ones were true and which ones hastily fabricated.
To Wolfram, Conrad was a stuttering, love stricken mess- but obviously his efforts had come to fruition- and this, Wolfram had noticed. Cleverly. With the eyes of a hawk.
In the midst of all of this, Wolfram had to admit that he had played a part in which he could have prevented any misgivings towards his king. He could have stood for Yuuri when Waltorana found him in the middle of the night, spewing his thoughts on how to trap the King into an engagement that would eventually lead to Bielefeld prosperity.
He didn't know Beverly, and didn't aim to know her. But he knew that Waltorana had picked her from the bunch, had told Yuuri that a contract with Shinnou could be broken later on when he was tired of being married to someone he didn't love, to just get it over with, and to "Why wait for someone who told you himself that he doesn't love you?"
Yes, Wolfram could have said something. But he'd be better remembered if he made his grand objection now.
Yuuri was streaming down the corridor, fingers clutching at Conrad's, expertly dodging the maids carrying wedding flowers. Conrad had never once been dragged along, but he didn't have the heart or the mind to complain.
Yuuri chose the perfect time to look back at the man. Luckily he had a clear path and wouldn't run into anything.
"I don't really know what Wolfram is planning-" he paused due to the the velocity of his movement and his strained breathing, "but if what the maid said is true, then I'm kind of worried he'd choose today of all days to blow up on me."
He turned back around and curved a sharp turn up a flight of stairs. For a moment Conrad followed blindly, looking down the other hallway which would have led them straight to the meeting room. Yuuri, as if reading his mind, reassured him.
"Less people the long way around. We'll take the top balcony!"
Waltorana was gazing lovingly at his nephew. The sugar in his tea had long since melted, but the victory he was about to taste would be far sweeter.
Cheri was chattering along with the other girls of court about the gorgeous splendor of the upcoming wedding. At least she was happy with his doing. But it didn't stop the glares of the two prince brothers to pierce his attention.
The meeting hadn't quite yet started. Gwendal was to his left and had tilted his head ever so slightly to suggest he wanted to speak.
"I'd like to ask you where my other brother is. No one seems to be able to find him, and I'm quite sure he's invited to this."
Wolfram bit his tongue and tried heavily to not overhear their conversation, but couldn't help being attentive to the way Waltorana was so easily shrugging off his older brother.
"I'm not really sure where Sir Weller is. Perhaps at the stables? With the horses?"
Gwendal's wrinkles flared and his knuckles clenched.
"No, actually. The servants are to tend to them today. I'm quite sure I sent someone to give him word of today's meeting days ago, but perhaps he's forgotten?"
Waltorana flashed another venomous smile.
"Perhaps. But, you know, I heard His Majesty and Sir Weller have recently had a falling out, and they just simply cannot be in the same room with each other. Sir Weller is probably just avoiding unnecessary confrontation."
Wolfram twitched with his annoyance.
"Brother, I do not wish to hear someone slash another respectful man on the pretenses of rumors. I did not come here to sit with someone so low as to allude to the gossips of kitchen maids and farmhands. We should take this meeting elsewhere."
Waltorana's rage flashed briefly and for only Wolfram's eyes to see. He knew what the man was thinking. You are of this family. You are of my blood. He didn't really give a damn anymore.
Before Wolfram could open his mouth, Gwendal raised his palm gently, issuing silence between the three of them. Luckily the tryst had been kept down to slight murmurs, and Cheri and the others were still oblivious to it. As if to keep Wolfram from speaking up anyway, Gwendal pointed to the newest addition to the meeting table.
Pretty, pliant and well-mannered, Beverly had sat into a newly acquired chair with her hands upon her lap. She was only two seats away from Wolfram, though the spaces in between them had not been filled yet.
This was the first good look he had got at the girl. And, without doubt, she would suit Yuuri quite well in the eyes of their people. Brown hair so dark it looked almost ashen, she seemed to be the spitting image of Yuuri in female form. Almond eyes and deep irises. The only thing she was missing was the unmistakable hue of coal the Maoh carried as his appearance. She steadily turned towards Wolfram with a smile that made him flinch from her gaze.
Gwendal nodded at him slowly and greeted Beverly with an equal bow. "Miss Beverly, an honor to see you before the day should be started."
"And you, Lord Voltaire," her voice was light, and crisp- "so that we may know each other better before I am to become a part of your family."
She paused and glanced back at Wolfram.
"Although I have never been introduced properly to your youngest brother. Wolfram Von Bielefeld, was it?"
Wolfram's anger was stirred differently. She was nice. An actual nice fiancée that was about to rip Conrad and Yuuri's world apart. He found it so strange, so ironic, that he was beginning to be so wrapped up in their affairs.
"Greetings to you as well, Miss Beverly." It was the best he could come up with.
Waltorana, in his stubborn action to get noticed, bowed deeply so that his forehead nearly touched the red oak of the table.
"Ah, Beverly. A jewel you are today. I'm overjoyed about the prospects of your and His Majesty's future together."
He laid many papers among the table that he had pulled from his coat inlet, all of them leafed in gold.
"It is such an honor that I hold the royal engagement forms for the two of you, and that I be responsible for such a high ranked position."
Wolfram nearly went sick with the uppity language of the courtroom. He was about to roll his eyes at Gwendal when something caught his eye.
Beverly was speaking with Waltorana still, so he allowed his eyes to drift over the papers he had presented. He was telling the truth; he held the official seal, stamp, and letter of the royal engagement. Shibuya Yuuri Harujuku Fuuri was clearly written, in the sloppiest hand Wolfram had ever witnessed, across the bottom of the parchment itself. Beverly had curved her name in response.
And yet there was more than one paper.
A small, wretched sliver of one, beneath the piles of the engagement documents. When Yuuri had signed it, he obviously had been upset. He had just written: Yuuri.
It was the very contract Yuuri had signed and handed over to Shinnou.
The door to the outward balcony hadn't been used for years, so the hinges had rusted and splintered the wood. It had probably been used by maids years ago to hang laundry from the rooftops, but Conrad broke it down easily without caring about past grievances.
They were climbing up stairways that would lead them outside and back down to the main entryway of the castle foyer, where the meeting room could easily be accessed. By the way Yuuri was taking two steps at a time, Conrad fathomed they didn't have much time to spare.
The endless flights of stairs were coming to a halt, and one last double-door blocked their path onto the balcony. Without much effort, Yuuri pushed it forward, and it snapped open with a gust of wind.
Almost instantly, applause wafted to the balcony and attacked their sense of hearing: shrieking whoops and hollers, whistles and loud instruments. Conrad, in his confusion, covered his eyes with his arm to block the sun. He could see nothing but white, and hear nothing but the screaming of the people below him.
Yuuri was laughing, he noticed. Pointing and laughing, smiling at the thousands of people waving up at him.
When Conrad could finally focus in on just what was going on, he widened his eyes, unbelieving. People were throwing white grain that symbolized a pure marriage up at them, though it hardly reached the height they were at. Waves of white ribbon were being flung around, cries for longevity and prosperity being yelled. The utter loudness made him want to shield his ears.
Yuuri was covering his cheeks and laughing, half from the embarrassment and half from the shocked look on Conrad's face. He had to yell for Conrad to hear him.
"I don't know if they have ever actually seen my fiancée!" He shouted, "They probably think it's you!"
For a moment, Conrad stared at the young man in front of him, his black eyes squinting in the sun and laughing at his embarrassed face. His feet moved as his resolve snapped into place- he snatched Yuuri's hand and pulled him from the railings, running toward the meeting room so that he might stop his and Beverly's wedding.
"My gracious Lords!" It was Cheri who had stood and grabbed the attention of everyone, her ridiculous dress enough to catch the eye. "I'm so excited to have you all here on this day, to celebrate the royal union of the Maoh!"
They all clapped graciously, Beverly's hands dainty and quiet compared to Waltorana's or the others. Wolfram took note that even Adelbert, so aghast at being invited to such a thing and at Yuuri's request, had managed to show and was even clapping (albeit slowly and reluctantly) along.
Many of the lords called out in agreement.
"Yes! It's finally time!"
"It's exquisite that the Maoh found someone who suited him!"
Beverly didn't seem phased by the compliments and continued to sit upright in her chair.
"As you know, the main event will occur today, with many weeks of festivity following afterwards."
The lords murmured in agreement but Wolfram gazed to his older brother. Gwendal seemed to be paying attention to his mother, but the ever present wrinkle between his brows deepened as time went on. Waltorana was as cocky as ever, and yet the other lords seemed to be pleased with the proceedings and virtually innocent. They had no clue what they were destroying.
Wolfram tentatively looked at the representative of the Grantz family. That he was here was miracle enough. But the man was so uneasy around the nobles. There would be no reason to come to this meeting. He would get nothing of it. He was anxious to the trained eye, looking around and seeming to look for someone.
What Wolfram couldn't pretend to not notice was the files under Waltorana's hand. The scrawny signing of Yuuri's signature was enough to make him angry. His uncle had never fully explained what he had told the young king that night, but from the gist of it, he had been manipulative in a way that feigned his innocence; surely Shinnou himself would have stopped him if he knew Waltorana had done it for his own advances.
The only thing Waltorana had admitted to was telling the king of the blood contract. He had mentioned to Wolfram that he had told Yuuri of the contract and how it would be such an easy way to get out of his situation, of being forced to see so many nobles who thought they may have been his "appointed bride." Knowing Yuuri, his argument with Conrad atop of the promise of getting out of royal interviews was more than enough to get him to force the contract over.
Gwendal's eyes deftly met Wolfram's gaze, understanding and sympathetic all at once. He had warned him to keep his tongue still before the meeting had even begun. But it was all so difficult, since he had just met solid ground with Conrad. Since he finally understood both his brothers and respected them, and had grown himself, to keep his tongue was to betray all the years they had struggled for peace within the family.
He couldn't help but think of a few moments ago, when he had found Conrad in the morning before anyone knew where he was- the lazy look of content in his eyes and the solid brace of confidence in the way he moved again. Wolfram had told his brother that there was nothing he could do about today, and to enjoy what he had left. Which was true.
There was nothing Conrad could do about it.
In a split second, Wolfram gazed at his mother apologetically but without remorse, knew the time was now or never, and snapped away from the table, the chair he was sitting in flying towards the other wall. In his chaos the other lords jumped in surprised, swerving to witness the young prince lunge towards Waltorana.
His fury was evident, he was sure, as the other women yelped in surprise and flung away from Wolfram's presence. Waltorana feigned surprise and confusion as Wolfram leered at him. He flew backwards in his chair as the boy's fingers deftly grabbed the papers that were flying everywhere, his mind's eye set on finding the one thing that chained Yuuri's fate to this hideous man and the clueless girl mere feet away from him.
Cheri was calling to him, running from her side of the room, but the table was too long for her to get across it to stop her rampant son.
In a whirlwind the other lords scrambled from the tables and Adelbert was laughing boisterously, and at last Wolfram's fingers clenched the single sheet of paper that had Yuuri's horrible signature drawn across it, and the paper was grasped and flung for everyone to witness in the midst of all the different lords' yells and fears, and Wolfram, alone, stood on the table.
At that exact moment, Yuuri ran and flung the door ungraciously open to the meeting room, Conrad a split second behind him, dazed and confused and his hands outstretched to Wolfram's figure as if to stop him.
The room silenced a bit, and they all witnessed their king, the Maoh, walk anxiously towards his ex-fiancé. Conrad was quickly noticing just how many people were there, their eyes catching his, all of them witnessing how close the two had been upon entering the room. He followed Yuuri's beeline, thanking Shinnou that he had grabbed his sword before they had dashed from Yuuri's room that morning.
"Wolf, is this because of what happened? We just talked about this-!"
Wolfram turned around quickly, the contract in his hand, and Yuuri went white at the sight of it.
Waltorana had come to him in the middle of the night. Conrad, moments before, had just confessed that he had never loved him, and Yuuri was in the midst of an agonizing torture that he didn't quite know what to call. He had been very much alone in his room, and the man convinced him that he would not be able to convince his protector otherwise. He had been down the hall the entire time, hearing Yuuri's arguments, and Conrad's response. A blood contract. A way to stop the never ending streams of people he could never satisfy, a way to bury any remnants of the feelings he had for his knight, and a way to get on with his life.
"You signed this, Yuuri."
Wolfram broke him from his mind and the other lord's flinched at Wolfram's voice. Beverly, who had managed to not lose her head in the chaos, was held to Cheri's bosom towards a window in the back wall. The only one still at the table was Adelbert, his palms face down, and he was smiling, waiting for the next move.
"I did, Wolf. I did sign that."
"But you signed this because of a manipulation that you couldn't avoid, and you did not realize that it would be a permanent situation!"
Gwendal stood from the wall, where he had shielded his mother in fear of Wolfram's powers going wild.
"Wolfram, now is not the time-"
Wolfram jumped down from the table and in front of Yuuri, ignoring his eldest brother. Conrad, in defense, walked ever closer to Yuuri's side, trying to ignore the volume of the whispers now tracing their way among the people in the room.
"A contract. You signed a contract because-"
"Not because I wanted to just get away from you, Wolf. Honestly, I-"
"I don't care about that!"
Wolfram looked disgusted, and the entire room gasped in shock. Moments ago they had permanently believed that the prince's behavior was due to his losing of the Maoh as a fiancé, and that he would not be able to deal with the jealousy.
"Is it true?"
One voice broke from the whispers.
It was Beverly, her dress a little mussed from the commotion, and she carefully crept toward the two young men centered at the table. Her right hand held the neck of her dress to keep the buttons from falling apart.
"A contract. I don't know much of them..." she caught Yuuri's eye- "but they can't be good."
Waltorana stood from his position at the head of the table, behind the chair he'd been hiding behind. He was laughing slightly, gesturing towards his audience in mock announcement.
"Every wedding is a contract! They can't possibly be bad. Why don't we take a look at this-"
His biggest mistake was walking a single step towards Wolfram's heated stance. In result, the prince's free hand suddenly flared to life and flames came to his command, and the people went into another panic.
Yuuri was shouting and Beverly was moving back, a bit wide eyed, as Conrad attempted to move his body between his brother's and Yuuri's.
Wolfram Von Bielefeld heard none of it and had finally snapped under the falseness of Waltorana's lies. His flames immediately engulfed the contract he held in has hand, and the god forsaken Royal's table along with it.
In an uproar the lord's families fled from the scene, the royal children screaming and following their panicked parents. Adelbert watched and broke into hysterics at the sight of the Royals he hated so much running for their lives, but Yuuri was just amazed at the sight of the contract bursting into flames and flying away into ash. Gwendal was calling for water before the flame grew too strong, ushering out as many people as he could.
"Honestly!" Wolfram shouted, "The fire isn't that bad!"
He laughed at Waltorana's stunned face as Yuuri's laugh of relief met his ears. The Maoh moved forward in disbelief, reaching blindly at Conrad's back, the contract burned and defeated.
YATTA! I've finally updated! I know why it has taken me so long, but I'm so glad to finally get this out and reach the crescendo! I am so glad I've got to this part, finally! There will be a few more chapters left, don't worry- I won't leave you without a good Conyuu clincher!
I wanted to give Wolfram his last thunder, and have him use his temper to good use! I really hated making Waltorana so damn evil in this story, yet he is a bit of a hardhead in the anime, anyways. I hope you guys enjoyed this update, and the slightly different take on the way I wrote it. I wanted to throw in some extra opinions from more than just Conrad! Plus a little brotherly love, 'cause heck, this is a bit of years after the anime- they better all love eachother by then!
And we finally meet Beverly! Not sure if she will be more included. Though I do like the idea of her. But I'm not much into Original Characters, so, blah.
Favorite part of writing this chapter?
Adelbert's laughter, yes.
GREAT THANKS TO ALL OF MY REVIEWERS AND READERS!!! An outstanding thank you, thank you thank YOU!!! to : pyrrhicvictoly, xJacksonx, ELENIOFME, I.h.o.o.q., Miss Plague, Sea Queen, markyc58, Shippygirl, sweetsally, yume-m, isamu-michi, Freaking Cage, Katie, Nadeshiko Tenshi, Adrianerose, Anon, St. Tranny, dogpiss, eternaltorture, amuto1283, anime-videogame-maniac-pie, and hellcat92!!!
THANK YOU for staying with me throughout this long time of drought!! I know, I know- I need to step up the updates!! I will try my best... I hope you all enjoyed! Thanks so much for sticking with it!!