Disclaimer: I do not own Kyou Kara Maou or its characters.
Revised A/N: After a few people pointed out the little bit of Yuuri coming to the Bielefeld castle so fast, the timing issue began to bother me, too. I believe it takes several hours to go from the capital to Bielefeld castle. It just seemed unrealistic that Waltorana would leave that same morning and then five hours later Yuuri is confessing his love to Wolfram in person. So I looked the one-shot over and revised it a little so it would seem a little more realistic in terms of the time-line. Not perfect, but I hope better than it was before.
I also want to add that there will be no sequel to this. I attempted one because I got a few requests for it but midway through the rough draft I realized that it wasn't going to work. I like the way this one-shot ends and I don't want to mess with it. But don't worry, I have other stories that will give you glimpses of Yuuri courting Wolfram, of them already being married, and, the most important one of all, you will be seeing a lot of the 'mature Yuuri' in my fics. Thanks for all your reviews!
A/N: This is my first fanfic in quite a few years and my first for this particular anime. I had thought I left fanfiction behind but I grew addicted to this anime and became a huge fan of Wolfram. Well, I like all characters but Wolfram is my favorite. A few plot bunnies attacked me in recent months so I decided to jot this particular plot bunny down and this is the result. I actually wrote this several weeks ago but yesterday I received my second season of KKM after having bought the first season two weeks ago so I decided to celebrate a little by posting this up. Hope you Yuuram lovers enjoy!
Summary: Wolfram has given up chasing after Yuuri. He hadn't expected Yuuri to come chasing after him.
Wolfram von Bielefeld knew he couldn't capture the beauty of the butterflies as they fluttered above the potted plants and flowers on the balcony, but his artistic side wanted to at least attempt it.
He swirled his paintbrush in the colored paint on the palette he held in his left hand. He transferred the color onto the canvass on the easel and after a few strokes, he removed the brush and tilted his head, the tip of his tongue peeking out of the side of his mouth as he scrutinized his work.
As expected, the scene he had wished to paint didn't transfer onto paper the way he had wanted but nevertheless, he was pleased with the end result. His uncle Waltorana had hired a wonderful famous artist to help mentor Wolfram and it was his mentor, Jurgen Klen, who told him that Wolfram's talent wasn't in reproducing people and scenery but in creating his own images. Being told such a thing had been a blow to his ego; to think that he had wasted several years trying to paint something that he had no talent in capturing. However, once Wolfram decided to listen to the famous artist, Wolfram began to paint creative pieces that came from his own imagination. Jurgen had studied a few of his pieces and had asked him what he liked about his paintings.
Wolfram had studied his works and answered, "I like emphasizing the colors and the shapes the bold lines make." He had pointed to a particular favorite of his, filled with dark color to match his mood at the time. "See how they make geometrical shapes? Separate they mean nothing but put together it creates something unique." He had gone on and on and had paused in his speech only when he had spied a smile on Jurgen's face. "What?"
Jurgen's smile had broadened and said, "You, my talented student, paint what few people manage to paint in Shin Makoku. It's called abstract art."
Wolfram's talent blossomed under Jurgen's watch and his uncle had decided to hang a few of his pieces around the castle, wanting to show off the art that only a rare few were able to attempt and successfully create. To think that all this time Wolfram had been painting abstract art whilst trying to do exact portraits of people and scenery.
Perhaps he should have paid more attention to Yuuri's constant complaints about his painting skills.
Wolfram's mood rapidly went down hill at the thought of Yuuri. With a sigh, he looked out into the distance, seeing parts of the Bielefeld lands. For a year now, he has been staying with his uncle and he thought time spent away from Blood Pledge Castle would heal his bleeding heart. For a while, he thought his heart had been healed yet the last three weeks had proved otherwise.
He could still feel the heartache he had felt fourteen months ago when Yuuri had approached him and said with stumbling words that he wanted to dissolve the engagement between them. That had been the first time Yuuri had outright told him he didn't want to be engaged anymore and although Yuuri had looked worried, perhaps even scared of how his words would be taken, there had also been a glint of determination in his black eyes.
Wolfram had swallowed and asked, "Why?"
Yuuri had looked surprised before he had cleared his throat and admitted, "I met a girl . . ."
Enough said. Shin Makoku's king had gone into what had obviously been a well rehearsed speech of how the engagement had always been an accident and how Yuuri always meant to break it but it wasn't until he met this girl at some party and blah, blah, blah.
Wolfram hadn't wanted to know anymore. He had merely said, "Ask Gunter how to write a proper request to dissolve the engagement. Then you'll get your wish." Wolfram had walked away then, leaving a gaping Yuuri still standing in the middle of the hallway.
A week after that, Yuuri had introduced a noblewoman he was going to court to everyone at the castle. Yuuri had seemed hesitant to introduce the woman to Wolfram and vice versa, but despite the pain Wolfram had been feeling, he had smiled to reassure Yuuri that all was well. Yuuri had smiled his beautiful smile and Wolfram had promised he wouldn't be the reason for Yuuri losing that smile. He would accept the courtship and not interfere.
He turned on his seat, eyes landing on a young boy, the son of one of the maids in the castle. "Yes?"
"My mom told me to tell you its tea time. Where do you want to drink it?"
"Tell her I'll have my tea in the gardens."
The boy nodded and ran out of Wolfram's spacious bedroom. Wolfram sighed. It would take a while to polish the young boy's manners when in front of nobility but he wasn't in the mood to start at the moment.
Wolfram began to put his painting supplies away, glancing at the butterflies that still fluttered on top of the flowers. He enjoyed watching them, their delicate wings rapidly moving. Beautiful yet fragile. That was how Yuuri's friend, Murata Ken, had referred to him before Wolfram had left Blood Pledge Castle. No one else had noticed his departure but Wolfram hadn't been that much surprised to see the black-haired, dark-eyed man approach him in the stables. Not much escaped the Great Sage's notice.
"Beautiful yet fragile," Wolfram murmured to himself as he washed his hands in the basin. He snorted, the same way he had snorted that night.
It hadn't been that much of a hardship to decide to leave Blood Pledge Castle. Yuuri's courtship had ended after just one month when it was discovered that the noblewoman had been pregnant with another man's baby. Wolfram had been there to comfort the hurt double black, inwardly pleased that he no longer had to witness the subtle display of affection between the two. Hope began to grow, hope that the double black would look at Wolfram and decide to court him, to give them a chance.
Even the smallest spark of hope led to great disappointment.
Another woman caught the desirable king's eye and a new courtship began. Wolfram really should have expected it. Yuuri was twenty-one, had grown into his full potential, both physically and magically. He could still transform into the Maou when angry but he had better control over the transformation and had better control over his water maryoku. The king was seen as a great catch, not only for his looks but for his status as well.
Wolfram well understood that. Ever since his coming-of-age ceremony Wolfram had been seen as a great catch as well, and it was all he could do to dodge suitors that never seemed to get the hint that he hadn't been interested. It wasn't until he had become engaged to Yuuri when the suitors had stopped coming.
They came back as soon as the engagement was dissolved.
Yuuri had taken full advantage of the women who flocked around him and when his new interest was introduced to them, Wolfram had plastered a smile on his face and while they exchanged pleasantries, Wolfram had decided he wouldn't stick around to see Yuuri court another woman. It had hurt too much the first time and he hadn't thought he could stand going through it a second time. He had decided that he needed time away, time to heal. A month, maybe two.
He had no idea he was going to stay away for a year.
He had been in the process of throwing a bag filled with his belongings over his horse's back in the stables in the middle of the night when a cough from behind startled him. He had spun around, hand instinctively going for the hilt of his sword.
"I come in peace," Murata had said, raising his hands.
Wolfram grumbled. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in bed like everyone else?"
"That's a question I should be asking you. Can't you make some fireballs appear? I would like to talk to you while being able to see your face."
Wolfram had hesitated but then created a small fireball, letting it float in the air between them, filling the stable with just enough light to see Murata and vice versa.
"Ah! Perfect." The Great Sage grinned at him. Wolfram stared at him blankly. Well, stared up at him blankly. Murata and Yuuri had grown a few inches and now both men towered over him.
Wolfram had crossed his arms. "Look, I'm on borrowed time here, okay?"
"Oh, you mean the soldier that is supposed to be making his rounds pretty soon? Don't worry about him. With the help of Shinou, he won't be coming by for another twenty minutes or so, plenty of time for us to chat."
"What do you want?" Wolfram had demanded. He wanted to leave, not talk to Yuuri's friend.
Murata had lost his smile, his dark eyes staring intently at him through the thin lens of his glasses. "Is this how you solve your problems? Running away instead of talking to Shibuya?"
Wolfram had barely held back a flinch. "I was going out for some fresh air."
"I could believe that, if it wasn't for the rather large bag on your horse and how you are dressed all in black rather than your blue uniform. Plan to cover your hair, too?" Wolfram said nothing. "It would help if you did, you know. You have quite noticeable features. Blond hair, green eyes, pale milky skin." Murata smiled. "I like looking at you."
"Are you . . . coming on to me?" Wolfram had asked warily, taking a step back.
"No, just stating facts. If you don't cover your hair someone is bound to notice and there goes your plans to escape."
Wolfram had been utterly confused. Was Murata trying to stop him from running away or was he helping him?
Murata sighed and looked around the stable. "I can't stop you from running away but I can tell you this. Shibuya is still naïve now as he was when he was fifteen. He can be oblivious, which can make him insensitive to other people's feelings. He doesn't notice that flaunting his new girlfriend around is hurting you." Murata returned his gaze to Wolfram. "The rest of us do."
It had been unnerving to learn that everyone had apparently been able to see right through him after he had tried so hard to hide the pain behind a friendly smile.
"I figured you would run away eventually," Murata had continued. "You may have a temper and explode when angry but you are more sensitive to pain and suffering than anyone else. You keep things inside, your heartache, your turmoil, your confusion, and when you are hurt, you tend to cover it with anger or with happiness. You hardly ever let anyone know how you truly feel on the inside."
Wolfram had grunted, still choosing to remain silent, neither admitting nor denying that last observation.
Murata had slipped his hands inside the pockets of the robe he wore over his pajamas and leaned back on his slipper-clad heels. "You're beautiful yet fragile. Brave as you are, when it comes to matters of the heart you can easily be broken into a million pieces."
Wolfram had snorted. He so did not want to hear all of this. Facing his own feelings has always been a problem; the last thing he had wanted was for Murata to tell him that Wolfram could break because of love and emotional pain. How pathetic was that?
"I asked Shinou to keep an eye on you. He told me you were going to take off tonight."
"Why is this any of your business?" Wolfram demanded.
"Because whether you believe it or not, I care about you. Your ancestor, Rufus, was the same way as you. Keeping things bottled up, although he didn't have the temper you have. He was more mellow." Murata sighed. "Listen, running away doesn't help. You need to talk to Shibuya if you truly want to get over him, confront him. You won't get the closure you need to move on by just running away to your uncle's place." Wolfram huffed, not bothering to ask the noisy idiot how he knew where Wolfram had planned on going. The Great Sage always knew everything. "Did you tell Greta?"
Wolfram had closed his eyes at the mention of his adopted daughter's name. "Now you're trying to guilt me into staying?"
"It's a simple question."
"No its not and you know it." He opened his eyes but stared down at the ground. "And no, I didn't tell her. At least not verbally. I left a note."
"Of course you did."
"She'll understand. She's the reason why I felt I needed to leave. She said I was unhappy."
"Did you tell her why?"
"Of course not. She likes Yuuri's, uh, girlfriend. She's always wanted a mother."
"Did you leave a note for Shibuya, too?"
Wolfram had growled. "No. I felt I didn't need to. I left a note for Gwendal and since Gwendal goes through the mountain of documents in the office first, I knew he'd get to it before Yuuri. He'll understand."
"What about Sir Weller?"
"Jeez, what is this, an inquisition?" Wolfram had glared at Murata and when the black-haired jerk merely lifted one dark brow, he answered through clenched teeth, "No. I didn't need to. Gwendal will tell him and my mother. They'll both understand."
"Huh. You keep saying they'll understand. Do you truly believe that?"
Wolfram had had enough. He turned towards his horse. "You know what? I'm leaving. I don't want to talk to you anymore. I just want to get out of here."
"Shibuya just needs time to see that you're the one for him."
The words had been said softly but it was enough to freeze Wolfram in his movements. He stared at the white coloring of his horse's coat. He swallowed.
"If you talk to him, he'll stop parading his girlfriend in front of you and eventually he'll realize that you are the one he wants. Didn't you notice that both girls he chose to court are blond-haired and have green eyes? Those are the same features Shibuya tends to enjoy looking at. He wants you. He needs you. You're his match. You toughen him up when he needs to be tough, you comfort him when he needs comfort, you see his flaws and help him work on them, you see his strengths and do all you can to help him use those strengths to the best of his ability. No one, absolutely no one, suits him more than you do. Eventually he'll realize that he wants you and only you."
Wolfram had been silent and had felt tears prick his eyes. He had wanted to believe it, he really did, but he couldn't afford to. Maybe Yuuri did want him, but who was to say that the wimpy king would ever actually acknowledge it? Yuuri had been raised in a world where men being with men were seen as taboo and ugly. Wolfram's future here in Blood Pledge Castle seemed pretty bleak to him and he had not wanted to waste his time loving someone who might never love him in return.
He had climbed up on his horse. He looked down at Murata. "If you care about me, I appreciate it if you pretend we never had this conversation." Wolfram hadn't waited for an answer. With the click of his heels, he had run into the night.
As he recalled that night, Wolfram left his bedroom and made his way to the Bielefeld castle's gardens outside. A table was set for him with a plate piled with sweets, a teapot, and an empty cup sitting on top of a saucer. It was a beautiful, peaceful setting. The weather was wonderful, the sun shining and a few white fluffy clouds slowly moving across the sky. There was a slight refreshing breeze, making all the flowers and trees sway, spreading the wonderful floral scent around. More butterflies fluttered around, a couple flying around his head before moving on.
He sat down on the lone chair, poured some tea and nibbled on a cupcake, picking up the book the maid had left for him by his teacup. He read while he sipped, but he couldn't pay attention to the words on the page. Eventually he put it back down and stared down into the clear, brown liquid of his cooling tea, seeing his reflection. Sad green eyes stared back at him and he wondered if anyone had missed him yesterday, if anyone had noticed his absence. Greta might have. They had been exchanging letters throughout the year and once she had even come to Bielefeld castle and stayed with him for a few days. She might be the only one who wondered why he hadn't been at the wedding after he had written to her to say that he would be there.
Perhaps he should have gone to the wedding after all.
Three weeks ago, a wedding invitation had made its way onto his uncle's desk. Wolfram had been painting and Waltorana had entered his room, silently handing him the envelope. Frowning, Wolfram had opened the envelope and slipped out what had looked like an invitation of some sorts. The words written there had made his heart stop.
Yuuri Shibuya, 27th King of Shin Makoku, and his fiancée, Emma Finster, cordially invites you to their wedding . . .
Wolfram hadn't even known Yuuri had been engaged. He looked up at his uncle, completely shocked. "I don't—when was he—?"
"He became engaged four months ago," his uncle had said, answering his unfinished question. "I hadn't wanted you to know at the time because you were still healing." He had seemed to hesitate before adding, "That invitation is for you. I received my own invitation."
Wolfram had looked at the name written on the envelope and sure enough, there was his name, written in what Wolfram had recognized as Gunter's handwriting.
"I will not force you to go," Waltorana had assured him. "But you can't hide here forever."
His uncle had left and Wolfram had been left alone to decide what he should do about the invite.
At first, he had thought he could handle it. He hadn't wanted to admit that he was still hurting over the loss of his ex-fiancé after a year away from him. He had told his uncle he would go. Then when the time came to leave and head towards the country's capital where the ceremony would be held, Wolfram had felt physically sick. The idea of sitting with hundreds of other guests as he watched the man he still loved declare his eternal love for a woman hurt him more than he thought possible. He couldn't go. He had told his uncle he had changed his mind. Waltorana had studied him and Wolfram had been pretty sure he had looked as pathetic and miserable as he had felt. His uncle had nodded and left for the wedding, gift held firmly in his hands.
That had been yesterday morning. Wolfram tore his gaze away from his reflection and continued to sip his tea, watching the butterflies. Yuuri was married now. Shin Makoku now had a queen to bow down to. Wolfram wasn't sure he would ever be able to bow down to her. He wasn't even sure if he would ever be able to go back to Blood Pledge Castle now that Yuuri's new wife would be living there, sleeping in Yuuri's room, in the same bed as Yuuri, perhaps in the same spot Wolfram had once slept in when they had still been engaged to each other.
He gulped down the rest of his tea and finished the sweets on the plate. He needed to distract himself. His fingers itched to paint but he didn't want to bring all his painting stuff to the gardens and he didn't want to go back up to his room. It would only enhance the loneliness he felt. He grabbed his book and left the table, walking around the garden until he found a nice spot on the grass. He lay down and determinedly opened his book. He had to think of anything other than Yuuri and his wife.
Just like earlier, he failed. Disgusted with himself, he tossed the book aside and simply stared up at the sky, trying to make shapes out of the few clouds that floated above. His view was pleasantly blocked by a couple of more butterflies, the same butterflies that floated around him earlier. He lifted his hand, as though reaching for the sky, and the butterflies fluttered around his fingers, weaving around his wrist, briefly landing on his palm before flying around again. One was chasing the other. Blue wings fluttering anxiously after the black wings.
"Beautiful yet fragile," Wolfram whispered. He closed his eyes.
Seconds later, a hand clasped his still outstretched hand, and Wolfram's eyes shot open, widening when a pair of onyx eyes peered down at him.
"Yuuri?" Wolfram gasped.
The king smiled down at him. He was straddling Wolfram's thighs, splendidly dressed in a black uniform, royal cape draping over his back. "Hi, Wolfram."
Wolfram blinked, wondering if he was dreaming. He glanced at their joined hands and tugged, trying to release his hand. Yuuri held on. Confused, unsure, Wolfram lowered his arm and Yuuri followed suit, hands never releasing.
"I . . . What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be celebrating your wedding or something?" The question wasn't asked out of sarcasm, it was a genuine question.
Yuuri pursed his lips. "I should be celebrating, except that my fiancé never showed up."
Wolfram gasped. "She left you at the altar?" Who would do such a thing?
Yuuri smiled. "No. She graciously cancelled the engagement. I'm talking about my other fiancé, the one I never truly wanted to let go but did anyways."
He had another fiancé? Wolfram blinked up at him.
"Not getting it, are you? I've only ever been engaged twice. Emma was one of them. You were the other."
Wolfram's heart began to race. "I don't understand." He really didn't.
"Emma and I talked yesterday. She sought me out. I was in my room getting ready for the wedding when she sneaked in. She said she wasn't sure if we were doing the right thing. She felt as though throughout our entire courtship, I had someone else in my head. I assured her that it wasn't true, of course. She asked me whom I thought about when I first woke up, who was the last person in my head when I go to sleep, who do I envision growing old with, who makes my heart race just by a mere mention of a name. She asked all sorts of question. I thought about it." Yuuri leaned down and rubbed their noses together. "The answer to all those questions was you, Wolfram."
Wolfram gulped. Was this really happening?
Yuuri continued when Wolfram said nothing. "She helped me realize that I wanted you, that I've always wanted you. I was hurt when you ran away, and the longer you were gone the more I thought about you. I wanted to come after you but Gwendal said you would return when you were ready. Sometime in the last year, I realized you were in love with me and that by courting the girls in front of you, I was causing you pain, so I agreed with Gwendal. I told myself you would get over me and come home. You'd be surprised how much the idea of you getting over me bothered me."
Yuuri frowned, eyes slightly out of focused. The breeze ruffled his black hair. "I told myself it was because I cared about you and that by getting over me you would find someone else who might hurt you. You wouldn't believe the number of excuses I came up with to explain how I was feeling about you and your absence. Emma understood and said she would cancel the engagement. I apologized profusely and was already thinking how I should apologize to the ten noble families and all the guests that traveled all that way for nothing." The frown disappeared to be replaced with another smile. "Emma said that instead of letting all that go to waste, I should marry you instead. It didn't cause me to panic or freak out. It made me happy. It was the best damn idea I've heard in ages."
Wolfram couldn't believe what he was hearing. He swallowed and for a moment, those same butterflies, the blue and black one, caught his attention over Yuuri's shoulder. Now the black one was going after the blue one. Yuuri caught his attention again.
"We both knew you received an invitation. I had struggled when making the guest list if you should come. Part of me had wanted you there because I wanted to see you; the other part didn't because I wasn't sure if coming to the wedding would cause you more pain." Yuuri ran a hand through Wolfram's blond hair, as though trying to comfort him for any pain Yuuri had caused him. "Eventually Gunter decided for me, saying that by this time you should be okay. So I expected to see you coming with your uncle. The plan was that I would wait until you sat in the pews and all the guests were there before we announced that we weren't getting married. Then I would give a wonderful, elaborate speech of how Emma wasn't right for me because there was someone else who already had my heart, I just hadn't known it yet, and how he was the one I wanted to marry." Yuuri gave him a disapproving look. "Except you never showed up."
When Yuuri didn't say anything, Wolfram realized the king was waiting for an explanation. His throat was parched, his tongue felt raspy, but he forced himself to talk, not knowing what else to do. "I couldn't do it. I thought I could but then I woke up yesterday morning and the idea of watching you standing at the altar, marrying someone else . . . I couldn't do it." He looked away, turning his head so he could stare at the flowers and not let Yuuri see the tears that were stubbornly trying to escape. He was just as stubborn; he was not going to cry. Their hands were still clasped, he noticed, and the black butterfly was still chasing the other. He watched them.
He felt Yuuri press his forehead against his shoulder. "I hurt you," Yuuri whispered. "I know I did. Despite being twenty-one and having matured a little, I'm still oblivious to other things, like when my best friend is in love with me. I should have known. Why else would you stick to the engagement? No one would strive so hard to convince someone else they were engaged unless love was involved. But I was too wrapped up in my own issues with guys getting married to notice. Then when I met Alda . . ." Yuuri gave a snort into the fabric of Wolfram's blue uniform. "She looked like you. She could have been you're twin. I think that's why I went after her in the first place. She was you, except safer. She was a woman. It was easier. When that courtship ended, I went after Emma. Someone else who looked like you, except she was missing your temperament, your bravery, your boldness, your sharp tongue. She was nice and I care about her, but I think she noticed that I found something lacking in her. I think she noticed that despite being engaged and preparing for the wedding, I wasn't really thinking about her. She was right. I wasn't. I was thinking about you."
Yuuri rubbed his face against Wolfram's shoulder. "I was excited at the prospect of you coming home once the invitations went out and it was obvious to everyone around the castle that I couldn't wait for you to come back. 'Wolfram's coming home.' Those were my exact thoughts. You were coming home, to Blood Pledge Castle, to your family." Yuuri nudged Wolfram's neck with his nose. "To me," he whispered. "That's where you belong, after all, home with me."
The black-winged butterfly was still trying to catch up with the blue one. Wolfram found himself silently cheering the black butterfly, some part of him wanting, needing, the black butterfly to capture the blue one because if it didn't, Wolfram felt all would be lost.
"When you didn't show up with your uncle, I asked him where you were. He looked irritated with me and gave me a look that reminded me of one of yours. You know, the one that says 'You are such an idiot.' But as his king, he had to answer me. So he said you were here, safe, sound, and hurting."
"He said that?" Wolfram asked. He was mildly surprised at his uncle's words, not having expected his uncle to reveal the pain Wolfram was still feeling to the source of that pain.
"Well, he didn't say hurt. He didn't have to. I knew then and there that I couldn't wait for you to come to me. After all those years of you chasing after me, it was my turn to come chasing after you. Emma urged me to go and said that she'll tell the guests the wedding was cancelled." Yuuri laughed softly. "And then right before everyone's eyes one of the guests on her side proposed to her when he overheard us. It seems she also hadn't realized that she's in love with her best friend. They were in the process of getting married when Waltorana, Conrad, Gwendal, Cecilie, Gunter, Murata, and I took a carriage and a couple of horses and came over here."
Wolfram's eyes widened and he jerked his head around to stare up at Yuuri. "They're here?"
Yuuri grinned and jerked his head to the right.
Wolfram turned his head again and his eyes widened even more when the aforementioned people stood several feet away. They all quickly looked away, acting as though they hadn't been staring at Yuuri and Wolfram all this time. Wolfram wasn't fooled. He felt his cheeks heat up. He peeked at Yuuri before quickly looking away himself. Wasn't Yuuri embarrassed? Yuuri straddling him was fairly intimate and Wolfram had never thought that the king would find the courage to do something like this in front of other people. It was definitely bold for a king Wolfram had long ago labeled as a wimp.
"I saw your paintings."
Wolfram looked up at the man he loved. "You did?"
"Yeah, the ones hanging in the castle. Waltorana pointed them out to us on the way out to the gardens. They were different but beautiful. Sad yet hopeful."
"You understood it?" Wolfram didn't think anyone understood his art except for Jurgen. Not even his uncle had actually understood what it was he was hanging on the castle walls.
Yuuri nodded. "I studied art in my last year of high school. Your uncle told me what you now painted was abstract art and as I looked at them, I saw the sadness you felt, the pain, and it hurt me because I knew all of that was because of me. But within every painting, there was always some spark of light, some hope that everything would be okay."
"You do understand it," Wolfram breathed, completely amazed.
Yuuri stared down at him, studying him, black eyes moving over his features. "I promise you that everything will be okay. You know why? Because I love you. I love you so much. I've done a great disservice to you, Wolfram. For the last five years, I've caused you nothing but pain and for that, I am forever sorry. I'll spend the rest of my life making it up to you."
Yuuri loved him. Wolfram hadn't misheard him. Yuuri loved him. So why wasn't Wolfram jumping for joy? He bit his lip and drew a little more into the shell he has been in for the past year, afraid to accept Yuuri's love. Afraid that all of this was some cruel illusion someone had given him.
Yuuri gave him a crooked smile. "I can see it in your eyes that you don't believe I love you. In that case, maybe it's a good thing we didn't get married today. I'm going to have to court you, won't I? Prove my love to you. I can do that."
Courtship? Wolfram blinked rapidly, trying to wrap his mind around the idea that Yuuri not only loved him, but was going to court him as well. The butterflies distracted him again. The black one was closing in and the blue one didn't seem to be running away anymore. It just fluttered there, blue wings flapping wildly, as though waiting, waiting for the black one to prove itself
"Will you let me court you?" Yuuri asked softly.
Wolfram returned his gaze to Yuuri's face. He looked sincere, honest. Wolfram whispered, "When you look at me, what do you see?" He had no idea why he asked that. It just came out. But now that he asked it, he wanted to know. Did Yuuri just see a pretty blond who was temperamental and bratty? Or did he really see him?
Yuuri looked confused for a moment but then he slowly answered, "I see someone absolutely beautiful yet who's so fragile he doesn't realize that if he's not taken care of, he'll shatter into a million pieces."
Those words were so eerily similar to Murata's he had to wonder if Murata told Yuuri about their late night conversation before he ran away. "I'm not that fragile," he murmured.
"On the contrary, you're more fragile than you think. I understand you now. I understand why you explode the way you do sometimes, why you always accuse me of cheating, why you don't like it when others worry about you. You don't want anyone to know just how fragile you really are, how easily hurt you can be." Yuuri used his free hand to caress his cheek. "I can take care of you. I've done a horrible job in the last few years, but I can promise that from now on, I will take care of you and make sure you never shatter."
"But what happens if you decide I'm not the one you want to marry either?" Wolfram couldn't help but ask. He looked at the butterflies, kept his attention on them, seeing them through blurry eyes that were filled with unshed tears. The blue one was edging away now, slowly, as if frightened. "What happens if you court me and on our wedding day, you come to me and say we're not doing the right thing? Because if that ever happens, I think I'll shatter."
"Didn't you hear me? I will make sure you never shatter, not under my watch and definitely not by my hands."
The black butterfly made its descent slowly, as if trying to reassure the blue one.
"I . . ." Wolfram wasn't sure what to do. His heart said take a chance, his head was saying not to take the risk. He was so confused, conflicted, afraid yet hopeful of what Yuuri was offering him.
"All right, maybe this will convince you." Yuuri used his free hand to cup Wolfram's chin, angled his face, and then lowered his head, pressing their lips together. Wolfram's eyes widened and he heard a shriek that could only come from his mother. He knew his cheeks were flaming red, not only at the knowledge that his whole family and friends were seeing this but also at Yuuri actually kissing him, willingly, without any coercion on Wolfram's part.
Yuuri pulled away with a wide smile, not at all looking embarrassed over what he had just done. In fact, he looked rather triumphant. He glanced over to the group of people. "I believe I have no choice but to marry him now, do I, Gwendal?"
Wolfram was bewildered by those words. Face still burning with embarrassment and a bit of shyness, he glanced at the group and was surprised to see them closer than they were just a few minutes ago. All were smiling—well, except Gwendal, who only had one side of his mouth somewhat curved. But he looked pleased and his face was smooth of wrinkles.
"No," Gwendal responded softly. "There is no longer a choice in the matter."
"I-I don't understand," Wolfram stuttered, although something tickled his brain, telling him something important just occurred and he should definitely understand. This whole situation had thrown him off-kilter, though.
"You've been publicly compromised, Wolfram," Yuuri patiently explained. "That means I now have to marry you in order to protect your virtue. But I'm sure your family will understand if we marry after I've courted you."
"You . . . manipulated me?" Wolfram asked dazedly. Then he scowled when it all finally clicked in his head, blissfully happy yet unsure of how to show it. Automatically, he covered it with anger. "You manipulated me," he yelled, unlocking their joined hands—hands which had been clasped together for the entire time—and shoved Yuuri. Yuuri let out a squeak and fell back. Wolfram sat up, glaring. "How dare you manipulate me? If you think for one minute that I will tolerate you manipulating me during our marriage so help me I will—"
Yuuri began to laugh, getting up on his knees. He pulled Wolfram against his chest and enfolded him within his strong arms. Wolfram tensed. "You're back," Yuuri whispered in his ear. "My wonderful, temperamental, sharp-tongued blond of a fiancé, I love you so much. I swear I'll make you happy."
Wolfram blinked over Yuuri's shoulder, watching the black butterfly finally enfold the blue-winged butterfly within its much bigger wings, as though hugging it. The black one succeeded in capturing the smaller blue-winged butterfly.
They made a beautiful picture together.
Wolfram smiled slowly and returned Yuuri's hug. He buried his face in Yuuri's neck, feeling the tears he had tried to so hard to hold back slipping down his cheeks, and whispered, "I love you, too."
A/N: Didn't quite come out the way I had planned. Wolfram was supposed to put up some token of resistance but I actually like the way it turned out. Hope the transitions of past and present didn't confuse anyone. I might come back with my other one-shots if I ever manage to finish them.
I'd appreciate any comments or helpful criticism, even if it's just to tell me I misspelled a word. I revised it several times but sometimes a phrase or word manages to fly under the radar.