Chapter 2

Yuri awoke slowly, from the best sleep he'd had in ages, to a rather strange sight.

"And one, two, three..." A small grunt, as if of slight but habitual exertion. "One, two, three..." A quiet voice, mantra-like, going through a well-accustomed routine. "And again..."


"One second... two, three, lunge..."


"Yes?" A sigh of exasperation, a shnk of metal on metal.

"Wolf, it's... very early in the morning..."


"You're up... and dressed... in your full uniform..."


"And you're doing your sword drill. Indoors. In the dark."

"Yes, Yuri, I am." This said in a voice of total, utter exasperation, with overtones of

"Uh... why?"

"Because I couldn't sleep," Wolfram snapped, unsheathing his sword again and taking up a new position. "And because I, unlike some useless wimps around here, actually have an interest in improving my skills." He lunged fiercely, imagining that he was lunging at a fierce and terrible enemy, rather than an inoffensive patch of air just in front of the curtains. "Although, I suppose, at leastI actually have some to improve in the first place..."

"Hey! What did I do?" Yuri protested, half sitting up among the tangled blankets.

"Nothing," Wolfram said, tersely. Exist. "Go back to sleep."


Wolfram gritted his teeth and speared another vicious, incorporeal opponent through the stomach. "Why not?"

"Because I won't be able to sleep either. You're making too much noise." This said, Yuri sat up fully among the rumpled sheets – nightgown slipping down off his shoulder yet again because every single particle of the infinite universe and all its wonders hated Wolfram von Bielefelt with the passion of a thousand fiery suns - and stared at Wolfram intently. Wolfram pointedly ignored him, and slashed fiercely at yet another invisible enemy, conscious all the time of a pair of black eyes focused unsettlingly on him.

"Yuri, will you stop staring at me? It's creepy and it's putting me off."

"Sorry," he said. He didn't stop staring.

"What?" Wolfram snapped, seriously irritated. "Do I have something on my face? What's the problem?"

Silence for a second, then - "No problem," Yuri said, smiling, and hopped out of bed, finally (ohthankgodfinally) gathering the folds of material up to cover – er. Yes.

Wolfram really had to sort out this pyjama situation. Things were getting ridiculous.


By that evening, matters had not improved. After the dismal failure of the morning's sword drill as a distraction from the memory of Yuri's silk-clad skin, Wolfram had given it up in disgust, ordered his horse saddled and rode out of the castle in a cloud of dust and bad temper.

After only half an hour's hard ride, though, he slowed his horse to a slow trot, then a walk – there was no point in hurrying, since the point of the exercise was to stay away from the castle – and his damned fiancé – for as long as possible.

It was so unfair, though. On the one hand, there was Yuri, prize idiot, all-round useless wimp, stealer of thrones, instigator of unwanted engagements, attempted wriggler-outer of said engagements, unfaithful and uninterested fiancé, generally awful horseman and an essentially useless human being. On the other hand, there was the Yuri who sometimes showed himself to be, well. Passable. In a manner of speaking. Not, like, heroic or anything. But. You know. Not a complete waste of space. But how was it possible that both of them could be the same person? And why did that person have to look so bloody good in a pink nightgown?

Wolfram sighed. Pining for an unrequited love was so overrated.


The woods around the castle, although certainly very picturesque from the castle windows, turned out to be, well. Rather less than exciting. Having left the castle in such a tearing hurry, Wolfram had somehow taken the wrong turning, and by the time the sun started to sink in the sky, he was, well. Not lost, per se, since he could see the castle if he climbed a tree and squinted. But it was certainly a long way away, and he'd managed to forget his cloak and as a result was bloody freezing. Also a trifle damp, in the aftermath of a short cloudburst earlier in the afternoon.

It was at this auspicious point in the afternoon's proceedings that Wolfram fell off his horse.

As he would later explain to a crowd of semi-sympathetic relations and amused onlookers, it wasn't a fall, exactly. It was all the horse's fault, anyway, and what business did the stablemaster have sending him out on a horse that was clearly badly-trained and unsuitable for the fiancé of the King of the Great Demon Kingdom? And as for the –

Wolfram, Gwendal would snap. Get on with it.

- it was a squirrel. The stupid horse shied when a squirrel ran across the path, and he hadn't been concentrating and he fell off the horse.

Staring up at the dripping canopy, Wolfram was too stunned to say anything.

"Ow," he said, blankly.

Or, well, not quite.

He went to roll over onto his side -

"Oh, hell," he moaned, as a sharp pain shot through his ankle. That would just be too much. But no, sure enough – it was definitely twisted, at the very least. If he was lucky. If not, sprained – maybe even broken, and that'd put him out of commission for weeks –

"Yuri," he growled to the damp, empty clearing, "I'm going to kill you."


A/N – So, I did eventually write some more to this! Sorry about the wait, guys . The third and fourth parts should be finished and posted... soonish? I'll try my best! Thanks again for all the wonderful feedback, and more is always appreciated XD xxx – 8/1/2011