Disclaimer: I do not own Kyo Kara Maoh

Claimer: I, chop4tess, own this story, its plot and any and all original characters

Hello and welcome to the last, yes the last, chapter of KKM: Rise of the White Tiger. I hope you all have enjoyed following Ryan, Alviss and Elvira's story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

I tried to wrap up any loose ends in this chapter but I may not have succeeded….

Beware of dorky surnames in this chapter. I had to come up with surnames for Alviss and Elvira. Elvira's is ok but Alviss'...well you'll see =)

There is a link on my profile to a drawing I commissioned an artist on to draw for me featuring Elvira, Alviss, Ryan and Kirai. Please have a look if you like, the drawing is really good.

Edit 20 June 2012 :- Due to implementing its 'no MA content' rules I have edited the lemon out of this story. I hope this chapter has not suffered too much as a result but hey, what can you do?

Chapter 10: Sweet Sixteen

It had been six months of hell. There was no other word to describe it. Ryan had never felt so tired and drained in his whole, admittedly short, life. Ryan was currently lying in his bed in Blood Pledge Castle waiting for the knock on his door that would signal the beginning of another morning. Sunlight crept into the room through a chink in his thick curtains giving the room a dim golden glow. Ryan rolled onto his back and stared up at the canopy of this four poster bed. He would have liked nothing more than to curl up and go back to sleep but six months of being woken up at seven in the morning had taken its toll. Now Ryan's body clock automatically woke him up between seven and eight regardless of whether he had to be up or not. Ryan closed his eyes and sighed as he ran over the past months in his mind.

After meeting Ryan and his ragged group on the field before the Black Forest Josak had whipped a pigeon from seemly out of his sleeve and written a quick letter to Yuri and Wolfram before sending the pigeon on its way. Shortly after the large group had moved off at a gentle pace back to Shinmakoku. It had taken just over a week to traverse the distance and they had received and sent pigeons no less than five times over the course of their journey. The Ten Nobles along with Yuri and Wolfram had been waiting at the steps of Blood Pledge Castle to greet Ryan and his companions. Wolfram had hugged Ryan so hard the black haired Prince had found it difficult to breathe. After being hugged and lectured for running off on his own by his parents, Ryan was then dragged off by the Nobles who all demanded explanations.

Ryan shivered as he remembered standing before the serious looking Nobles telling his story. He just knew the Nobles hadn't believed him back then. Over the following months the Nobles had placed an armed guard on him who followed him everywhere he went. The only privacy Ryan could get was when he was in his room. They would even watch him while he was in the baths in case he 'tried to give them the slip' as one Noble had put it. Ryan had been forbidden to talk with Elvira, Alviss or Kirai while they were cross examined and questioned on their part in their joint venture.

It had taken nearly four weeks of meeting with the Nobles to convince them that Alexander had been a threat and yes that threat had been taken care of. By the time the Nobles had started to believe him, Ryan was ready to just accept exile to get away from their demanding questions. In fact Ryan was pretty sure that if it hadn't been for his parents' stout belief in him he would have packed his things and run away after the first week. Yuri and Wolfram defended him at every turn and consoled him when it all became too much. Ryan had had no less then three breakdowns in the past six months as the stress pilled up.

Alviss, Elvira and Kirai hadn't had a good time over the past few months either. While the Nobles were willing to give Alviss and Elvira some lee-way as they may well have been following orders given to them by their superior, Kirai received no such treatment. The Nobles wanted to know everything about David's plans and how the riders were created. While Ryan wasn't included in these conversations he had heard that Kirai had answered all the Nobles questions in his usual bored manner. Ryan wondered several times how Kirai was coping with all this. He didn't have the arms of loving parents to run too when the weight of the world seemed to be sitting square on his shoulders. The few glimpses of Kirai Ryan got showed the ex-rider looking grumpy but healthy.

Elvira and Alviss seemed to be coping with the Nobles invasive questioning as well. Ryan scrunched his face up. How come all his friends could brush off the stress and turmoil of the past six months but he couldn't? It was a serious blow to his pride. At least the Nobles had finally reached an agreement. Last month the Nobles had publically announced that Ryan and his friends had been found not guilty of any and all charges against them. Basically Ryan, Alviss, Elvira and Kirai went from suspect number one to heroes in the space of a morning. Now everyone wanted to know all about their 'heroic' journey and how they battled off an evil that would have seen them all destroyed. All the attention had made Ryan extremely uncomfortable but said attention wasn't likely to die down any time soon. Today marked the eve of his 16th birthday, the day he would chose which surname he would carry for the rest of his life.

If he chose the name Bielefeld then he would stand to inherit all of the Bielefeld lands and fortune from his dad when Wolfram died. If he chose the name Shibuya then he could well end up being the next Maoh. Shinou had made it clear that he had no intention of choosing the next Maoh. All his meddling in the past had been as a result of him needing the four forbidden boxes and their keys all in one place. Shinou had wanted to be freed from the darkness in his heart which Yuri had done, now he just meddled for personal enjoyment. Being a ghost was pretty boring apparently.

Ryan sighed and rolled over onto his side. The soldier outside his door would be knocking on his door any minute now to wake him up for breakfast. The Nobles wanted to meet him that morning to discuss which name he wanted to take. Ryan had spent most of last night sitting up with his parents talking about which name he should take and the pro's and con's of both. Ryan hadn't told them his decision although he already knew which name he wanted to take. A loud knock interrupted Ryan's thoughts.

"Prince Ryan, your father sent me to wake you." A loud voice called through the wood. Ryan sat up with a yawn.

"Ok, I'm awake I'll be out in a minute!" Ryan called back before getting out of bed with a sigh. Ryan wandered over to his curtains and threw them open letting the brilliant sunshine pour into the room. He then set about washing his face and brushing his teeth before hunting for some clean clothes from his closest. As he dressed Ryan found his thoughts drifting to Alviss. Since the Nobles had voted unanimously that they were all innocent and had acted with only the best interests at heart (which Ryan personally thought should be bloody obvious), they had been allowed to talk with each other without guards hovering over them like black thunderclouds.

Those meetings had, generally speaking, involved frantic kisses and desperate touches. Ryan blushed as he pulled his white shirt on. The memory of Alviss's arms wrapped around his waist while Alviss devoured his mouth made Ryan feel hot all over. To be fair, they hadn't been able to even speak to each other for almost five months after finally getting together. For two teenage boys they had showed remarkable restraint. Ryan wasn't ashamed of his feelings for Alviss, but he also had no desire for the entire castle to know about the two of them either. There was also the problem of his parents to consider. Yuri and Wolfram had always been overprotective parents but lately they had become insufferable. Ryan understood why they felt the need to care for him more than ever but it was grating on his nerves.

Pushing thoughts of Alviss aside for the moment Ryan finished getting dressed and opened his bedroom door. The guard nodded at him and they walked down to breakfast together. Although Ryan had been cleared of any wrongdoings his father had insisted on at least one guard keeping an eye on him for the time being. It made finding a way to be alone with Alviss, interesting, to say the least. It is most likely the real reason we haven't done much together, Ryan thought with a humourless smile. Ryan turned down a corridor towards the dinning room and gazed around in wonder. Preparations for his birthday party tomorrow were in full swing and more dignitaries and foreign royals arrived by the day. The castle was full to bursting and the maids were stretched thin as they rushed from one room to another.

Ryan sighed as he walked down the brightly lit corridors. With all these people of wealth and influence around it made finding time to himself difficult. All these people wanted to meet his parents and him as soon as they arrived. Word of his adventures had spread far and wide so Ryan often found himself repeating his story over and over. He then had to stand and nod politely as he was told how wonderful and brave he had been. It was all so false it made Ryan want to be sick. These same people would be happy to condemn him if he had been found guilty of treason.

Ryan stopped walking to glance out of the window that looked over the courtyard. There were no carriages arriving this early in the morning but soon the yard would be crowed to bursting with the final late arrivals.

"Is everything alright Prince Ryan?" The guard inquired and Ryan jumped slightly. He had forgotten the man was there.

"Oh, yes everything is fine."

:-:

Wolfram growled in annoyance. His hair was sticking up in all directions and he hadn't even changed out of his nightgown yet. There were dignitaries to look after and he was in no fit state to present himself as Yuri's husband. Wolfram scowled down at the source of his un-Wolfram-like behaviour. He was currently eight months pregnant and his huge stomach made things complicated to say the least.

"Are you alright Wolf?" Yuri smiled as he edged closer to Wolfram. Wolfram was well known for his pregnant mood swings where he went from happy to angry in seconds.

"No I am not alright," Wolfram snapped. Yuri flinched, oh boy here we go. "I am fat and bloated and ugly." Wolfram crossed his arms and his bright green eyes flashed, daring Yuri to disagree with him.

"You are not fat," Yuri tackled the first statement with fierce energy. "You are eight months pregnant and I happen to think that you look beautiful."

"Well I feel like a bloated whale!" Wolfram looked like he was about to cry now. Yuri sighed and stepped up behind his husband and hugged him tightly.

"When I look at you I see a fiery, beautiful and proud Mazoku without who this wimpy Maoh couldn't possibly cope." Yuri smiled as Wolfram's lips curled upwards at the corners. "When I look at you I thank every God out there that you waited so long for me to realise how much I loved you. When I see your large stomach I feel a surge of pride knowing that this," Yuri cupped Wolfram's belly gently with both hands, "is our baby and the proof of our love."

"How long have you been rehearsing that little speech?" Wolfram snorted but his cheeks were pink with pleasure. Yuri smiled and kissed Wolfram's cheek. After 17 years of marriage Yuri had learned how to handle Wolfram's temper and what to say to calm him back down again.

"Come on, Ryan will be wondering what has happened to us." Yuri kissed Wolfram again before stepping away. Wolfram nodded before heading towards his wardrobe to take out his blue uniform. This uniform had been altered to allow for Wolfram's rapidly growing stomach. Yuri finished dressing and helped his husband dress as Wolfram couldn't bend down anymore.

Soon they were heading to the private dinning room that the royal family used whenever they didn't have dignitaries to entertain. The castle was full of noise as soldiers and maids rushed around in a controlled chaos following one order or another. Yuri took Wolfram's arm and the blond blushed but made no attempt to pull his arm away. Yuri had soon learned during his courtship of Wolfram that the smallest gestures of his affection often had the biggest impact. The guard standing in front of the dinning rooms doors bowed and opened the doors for the royal couple and Yuri nodded in thanks. As they stepped into the room Yuri ran his eyes over the occupants.

The head of the table was empty with two chairs next to each other for Yuri and Wolfram. On the right hand side of the large rectangle table, sitting directly adjacent to where Wolfram would sit; was Gwendal. Next to Gwendal was Gunter and the two were deep in conversation. Sitting next to Gunter was Honey who was laughing with her sister Gisela. Next to Gisela, dressed in her usual black outfit, was Cecile. Yuri was pleased to see his adopted daughter Greta sitting next to her grandmother while buttering a slice of toast.

On the left side of the table directly opposite Gwendal Ryan was eating a slice of fruit while nodding at his uncle Conrad who sat next to him. Next to Conrad sat Josak who was teasing his son Joey who sat next to him while Seth giggled at his twin brother's expense.

Yuri felt his smile widen at the sight of his family. In only a few short weeks another member of the family would be born. Yuri touched Wolfram's belly lightly and Wolfram smiled at him. Ryan was the first to spot them.

"Morning dad, morning father," Ryan smiled.

"Good morning Ryan," Yuri smiled and Wolfram echoed the greeting. After a round of 'good mornings' and a grunt from Gwendal the family settled down to eat.

:-:

"So you are confident that this is the choice you wish to make?" Lord Wincott asked tucking a lock of pale blue hair behind his ear. Ryan nodded as he stood before the Ten Nobles minus his parents. He had just told the Nobles which surname he wanted to carry. Ryan wouldn't be formally presented with his chosen surname until the party tomorrow evening but the Nobles liked to be prepared. Ryan had spent several long nights talking about this very decision with his parents at great length and he was confident that he was making the right choice.

"Very well," Stoffel boomed with a huge grin. "If that is your choice then so be it!" The other Nobles agreed and Ryan smiled wishing they could always decide things so quickly. After a few more words Ryan was allowed to escape. Ryan closed the doors behind him with a sigh. At least that is over.

"Ryan," Ryan glanced up hearing his name. Kirai stood before him his face guarded. Ryan straightened up with a welcoming smile.

"Kirai, is everything alright?"

"Can we talk?"

"Oh dear, that sounds serious." Ryan tried to joke but when Kirai said nothing Ryan turned serious. "Ok, let's walk." Ryan turned and walked towards the sunlit gardens away from listening ears. Kirai fell into step beside him. Ryan's guard had already been dismissed so they were alone and could talk freely.

"I'm leaving," Kirai announced and Ryan stumbled in shock.

"What?"

"I just, I don't belong here Ryan," Kirai looked around the sunlight gardens. Insects buzzed to and fro landing on the brilliantly coloured flowers. A light breeze ruffled the boys' hair and clothes.

"Then where do you belong?" Ryan asked quietly. Kirai glanced at him before looking away again.

"I will find somewhere."

"Kirai, you can't just live your whole life alone!" Ryan exclaimed in frustration. "There are people here who care about you, isn't that enough?"

"Who the hell cares about me?" Kirai scoffed.

"I do," Ryan said firmly. Kirai stared at Ryan in shock. For a moment the only sound was the wind rushing through the trees. "I know how you feel about me Kirai and I know that you know that I care about someone else." Ryan looked down at the green grass before raising his gaze to Kirai's. "But please don't feel that this means you have to leave. I want to be your friend and, well, it may be selfish but I want you to stay." Ryan flinched. How insensitive is that? Telling someone who loves you that you want to be friends and you want them to stick around? Ryan was about to take back what he said when Kirai spoke.

"All my life I have been used by others in order to further their goals. I have never been able to make my own decisions." Kirai looked up at the blue sky above them. "But then I met you and I started, for the first time, to really think about what I wanted but the underworld spirit prevented me from ever being truly free. Now I am free from the spirit who tormented me so and I have no idea what I want." Kirai looked so lost at that moment Ryan almost hugged him. He held himself back not wanting to give the ex-rider the wrong idea.

"My father has granted you sanctuary within Shinmakoku, why don't you stay here until you have it all figured out? There is no need to go rushing off. Besides," Ryan grinned, "if you left now you would miss my birthday party." Kirai snorted, glancing sideways at Ryan. I should have just left, Kirai thought to himself. One glance at those pleading green eyes and he couldn't bring himself to leave.

"I will stay, for now." Kirai relented and the smile he received made it all worth it.

"Good, do you have somewhere to live?"

"I will continue to use the room your Nobles gave me when I arrived." Kirai shrugged. The room was tiny, barely big enough for the bed and the chest of drawers crammed into the tiny space but it was good enough for Kirai.

"Excellent," Ryan nodded. He opened his mouth to say something when he heard his name being called. Ryan glanced over his shoulder to see Gisela waving at him. Ryan waved back and turned to Kirai. "I have to go now I'll speak to you later ok?" Kirai inclined his head. Ryan turned and walked over to Gisela who smiled at him.

"Hello Prince, how are you?"

"Fine, I heard you wanted to speak with me?" Ryan asked tilting his head to one side. Gisela nodded; and although she didn't lose her smile her face went serious.

"Come with me for a moment." Gisela beckoned him. Ryan, very puzzled, followed the healer back to her private office in the medical wing of the castle. "Ryan, we need to have a little talk."

"I seem to be having a lot of serious conversations today." Ryan commented lightly although he felt suddenly very nervous. Gisela smiled and motioned for Ryan to sit. Gisela sat behind her desk and leaned forwards to fix her gaze on Ryan's.

"Ryan, we need to talk about your relationship with Alviss." Ryan felt his face turn red as he squirmed in place.

"I'm not sure what –"

"I saw the two of you kissing yesterday." Gisela cut in and Ryan fell silent. "I have a pretty good idea of what is going on between you two."

"Oh," Ryan paused, "Have you told my parents?"

"No although that does answer my question of if you had told them." Gisela arched an eyebrow and Ryan shook his head. "I see."

"I will tell them!" Ryan blurted out, "Just, just not yet." Ryan trailed off lamely making Gisela smile gently.

"Its ok Ryan I understand." Gisela reached out and placed a hand on top of Ryan's. "I am talking to you as a medical professional, not as a parent. My concerns are entirely medical in nature."

"I don't understand."

"Ryan….have you and Alviss had sexual intercourse?" Ryan spluttered at the direct question his face turning beet red.

"N-no of c-course not!" Gisela frowned and stared at him. "We haven't I swear! Why, do I have some medical problems or something?" Ryan panicked.

"I am just concerned about you, or even Alviss, getting pregnant." That statement shut Ryan up. He stared at Gisela in stunned silence. "Usually male Mazoku pregnancies can not occur until the male in question is in their mid-20s at least. This is because their bodies are not fully developed enough to handle being pregnant. As the male matures so does their Maryoku and the stronger the Maryoku the more likely a pregnancy will occur. This is the same for female Mazoku too in many ways. Female Mazoku with a strong Maryoku are more likely to conceive a healthy child than those with a low Maryoku."

"But I'm only 15, well, soon to be 16 but still!" Ryan exclaimed and Gisela nodded with a smile.

"True, but I have never seen a power like yours before and Alviss has shown remarkable control over his gifts for someone of his age. I just don't want you to get into the situation where you find yourself carrying an unexpected surprise." Gisela squeezed Ryan's hand and the black haired boy nodded.

"Ok, so we need to be careful?" Ryan squirmed; this was a very embarrassing topic to discuss. Gisela released Ryan's hand and stood up to remove a small box from a self.

"I understand that you and Alviss are both young boys so take this. These will prevent any unwanted surprises from happening. If you run out then come and see me and I will give you some more." Gisela handed the box to Ryan. Ryan opened the box to see several small packets inside it. He picked up one such packet and stared at it stupidly. Realisation dawned as to what he was holding and he blushed madly before practically throwing it back in the box and slamming the lid shut.

"I can't take these!"

"Ryan, I know you are embarrassed by all this." Gisela's voice was kind and caring as she sat back down. "I would like to tell you not to have sexual relations until you are older but if you don't need them, then great, but if you do then at least you have them. Besides, if you did conceive a child, it is unlikely that you could carry the child to term." Gisela gave a sad sigh and Ryan blinked in surprise.

"What do you mean?"

"Carrying a child, for both male and female Mazoku, is very difficult. It drains that person's Maryoku in order to create a healthy child. Much like how female humans need to eat more food during a pregnancy to create a healthy child. Your body wouldn't be used to the drain and so you could run out of Maryoku. Running out of Maryoku could result in your death. In order to protect itself, your body would expel the source of the drain on your Maryoku."

"Oh," Ryan said quietly as he stared at the box in his hands.

"It would be like a human female starving herself during a pregnancy, her body wouldn't be able to cope with the stress so it would try to save itself. It is harsh but it is also the truth." Gisela reached out to take Ryan's hand again. "Your dad has very strong Maryoku and he was a good age when he had you so he didn't have any problems. Your uncle Conrad was a different story. He may not be able to control an element but he does have a small amount of Maryoku that enabled him to become pregnant. Your dad actually passed a lot of his Maryoku onto your uncle while he was carrying to protect the twins."

"My dad did? But is that possible?" Ryan asked amazed.

"It is a difficult and draining process but it can be done." Gisela sighed. "In theory you could be supported by your parents' Maryoku or the baby's father's Maryoku during your pregnancy but your body would have difficulty processing the Maryoku and you may well end up miscarrying regardless."

"So in conclusion, don't get pregnant?" Ryan said trying to lighten the atmosphere. Gisela laughed and nodded.

"Exactly, that is what those are for." Gisela pointed at the box and Ryan blushed. He had almost forgotten it was even there. "Now," Gisela stood up, "I have work to get back to as I am sure you do too." Gisela winked and Ryan stood up.

"Yeah, um…thank you Gisela for," Ryan waved the box in the air.

"You are welcome." Gisela smiled. Ryan left the office hoping that no one knew that lay in the innocent looking box he carried. Ryan's face burned all the way back to his room as he hid the box under his bed where the maids wouldn't find it. If one of those gossiping maids found that it would be all over the castle within seconds.

Ryan flopped back on his bed with a sigh. Pregnant huh? Getting pregnant wasn't something that Ryan had worried about until now. Even when he accepted that he was in love with Alviss he hadn't even thought about babies. In truth Ryan didn't want kids; the thought of having a screaming baby to run around after filled him with dread. Not to mention changing nappies. Ryan made a face. Then babies grew into rude little children who talked back to you and generally drove you mad. No, babies were defiantly not on his list of things he wanted before he died.

Anyway, Ryan was going to have a baby brother or sister in less than four weeks. He was sure it would only convince him that he never wanted kids of his own but the experience would be good for him. His parents could deal with nappies and being woken up every hour for feeding. He would just wait until the baby grew up so he could be the responsible older brother.

Ryan reached down to gently press his hand against his stomach. Children represented a huge responsibility that Ryan knew he wasn't near ready for yet. He very much doubted Alviss wanted kids either. Actually, now he thought about it, Alviss would make a good father. But not yet, after all, his dad had been in his 80s before he was born and he had turned out fine. Besides, Alviss would be far too busy with his military training to even think about having a kid to look after. Not to mention they were both Mazoku and therefore had, literally, hundreds of years ahead of them yet.

Deciding to not worry about kids until much much later in his life, Ryan stood up and stretched. His parents had invited him to afternoon tea and they would be very upset if he was late.

:-:

It was getting late and the sun was starting to set when Ryan suddenly bumped into Alviss. Literally. He muttered an apology only to look up and see Alviss.

"Alviss? Oh man, I'm sorry for walking into you like that."

"No harm done," Alviss smirked and Ryan frowned.

"What?"

"What do you mean what?" Alviss dodged the question with a question. Ryan scowled in annoyance.

"You look like the cat that has stolen all the cream." Ryan tilted his head as Alviss laughed.

"I do?"

"Stop answering my questions with questions!" Ryan fumed making Alviss laugh harder. Suddenly a wicked light appeared in Alviss' eyes and Ryan found himself fetched up against the wall with Alviss' hands on his waist and his lips covering his own. Ryan relented at once. He moaned softly and opened his mouth as Alviss nipped his bottom lip gently. Ryan raised his arms and wrapped them around Alviss' shoulders pulling the water user closer to his body. Eventually Alviss pulled away to gasp down much needed air. Ryan laughed breathlessly and shook his head.

"You cheated," Ryan grinned looking at Alviss through narrowed eyes.

"Guilty are charged," Alviss grinned kissing Ryan's chin.

"Don't even go there." Ryan groaned, "I never want to be interrogated by those nine ever again."

"So you will do whatever they say to avoid having your actions questioned?" Alviss inquired innocently. Ryan paused for a second before shaking his head.

"Never."

"Good, because there is no way my Ryan would just do as he's told in order to have an easy life." Alviss grinned licking Ryan's ear. Ryan shivered in delight his fingers fisting the material of Alviss' jacket.

"Unless the order is a good idea." Ryan panted out starting to feel very hot as Alviss nipped his ear again.

"Hmm, naturally." Alviss hummed in agreement. Then Alviss captured Ryan's lips once more and the two fell silent as they concentrated on kissing. It was Ryan who pulled away first this time as he gulped down air.

"Damn, we are getting good at this kissing business." Ryan groaned leaning forward to steal Alviss' lips in another kiss.

"Practise makes perfect, as the saying goes." Alviss chuckled before letting Ryan capture his lips again. Ryan hummed softly in agreement; his lips and tongue were otherwise occupied at the moment. The sound of voices drifted towards them and Ryan froze before pulling back from Alviss' lips. Before the water user could say anything, Ryan had pushed Alviss away from him, straightened his clothes and sorted out his hair. Alviss frowned, feeling stupidly hurt by the action. He knew as well as Ryan did what could happen if their relationship was discovered. It still hurt to see Ryan pretending that nothing had happened even though his lips were red and swollen. The two soldiers didn't see the boys in the near darkness of the hallway and they soon disappeared around the corner.

"That was close." Ryan coughed nervously.

"I love you." Alviss blurted out before he could stop himself. Even in the darkness he could see Ryan's eyes going wide as his face turned red.

"Oh, yeah, me…me too, you know…" Ryan shifted from one foot to the other clearly uncomfortable.

"Then why can't you say it?" Alviss hadn't meant to start this conversation, he really didn't. He had just been thinking about Ryan when he had suddenly appeared in front of him. At first he had wanted to tell Ryan what had happened between him and Ryan's parents but they had sworn him to secrecy. Ryan would find out the results of that talk tomorrow night.

"I don't know!" Ryan exclaimed drawing Alviss' attention to the conversation. "The words just stick in my throat."

"It's not that hard to say them." Alviss countered. It came out far harsher that he had thought. Alviss kicked himself when he saw Ryan flinch.

"Just because you say it to every guy or girl you date doesn't mean it's just as easy for the rest of us!" This was going all wrong. They were not supposed to start arguing over this.

"I have never said it to anyone other than you!"

"You expect me to believe that?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I damn well do!" Alviss suddenly realised he was gripping Ryan's arms tightly. He blew out a breath and released Ryan's arms. "Look, let's not fight over this."

"I'm going to bed." Ryan turned to walk away. Alviss panicked; suddenly he feared that if he left this hanging between them it might spell the end of their relationship. In a desperate move Alviss shot forward and wrapped his arms around Ryan's waist and hugged him from behind.

"Let me go Alviss." Ryan's voice was tight but Alviss could feel his shoulders shaking.

"I'm sorry for bringing it up," Alviss whispered softly. "It just makes me feel so insecure when you can't say that you love me."

"You should know that without me having to say it." Ryan snapped but there was no real bite to his words. He sounded more tired than angry.

"I know I should, but I want to hear you say it, at some point." Alviss closed his eyes and hoped Ryan wouldn't hold this against him. After a long silence Ryan sighed softly.

"I need to go now, my parents will be wondering where I am." Alviss paused before releasing Ryan and stepping away. Ryan sounded a lot calmer now and Alviss no longer had that feeling that he was going to lose him. Ryan turned to give Alviss a gentle smile. "I will answer you Alviss, I promise." That said, Ryan turned and disappeared into the darkness.

Alviss sighed and ran his hands over his face. He knew that Ryan had feelings for him but he needed to hear it. For so long he had admired Ryan from afar never daring to believe Ryan could want him back. Now Ryan was happy to kiss him and touch him but he still wouldn't say those three words. Why?

Ryan mentally kicked himself, and then he physically hit himself for good measure. Why couldn't he say those words? He wanted to say them, he yearned to say them but they just wouldn't form in his mouth. Maybe it's because I'm forcing it? Words like 'I love you' should come from the heart. Ryan stopped walking and rested his head against the cold stone of the hallway. Alviss loved him, and it was selfish of Ryan not to say the words back. Ryan curled his hand into a fist. He would say it tomorrow, at some point. Ryan's shoulders slumped in defeat but he knew without a doubt, that if he couldn't tell Alviss he loved him, he would lose him.

-:-

(Next day – early evening)

The party was in full swing. Ryan glanced around the vast hall in wonder. Decorations covered every surface and banners bearing his father's crest hung from the ceiling. People wandered to and fro in elegant ball gowns and smart tunics. Ryan didn't even know a third of the people present yet they were all there for him. It was a rather humbling experience. Ryan swallowed as he peeked out from his hiding place behind the wall. The grand staircase was in front of him and any moment now he would have to descend those stairs and be presented to all those people as his father's heir.

Ryan didn't regret his decision to take the name Shibuya instead of the name Bielefeld. The second he had stood in front of those Nobles he had known he wanted to take his father's name. If his dad had not been pregnant with his younger brother or sister the choice would have been more difficult to make. But now Ryan at least had the hope that his sibling would chose the name Bielefeld on their 16th birthday party and thus continue his dad's name. Great uncle Waltorana had not been pleased with his choice but he had calmed down when he realised that by taking the name Shibuya, Ryan might well be the next Maoh. With Shinou no longer choosing the next Maoh it would be up to the people of Shinmakoku to decide their future King. Although, Ryan had a feeling the Ten Nobles would be the ones to choose the next ruler of the Mazoku lands.

"You ok?" Ryan jumped about a foot in the air with a barely stifled yelp. He turned to see Kirai grinning at him.

"Kirai, you almost gave me a heart attack!" Ryan hissed. "I am terrified enough as it is without you sneaking up on me!"

"Sorry," Kirai grinned not looking sorry in the least. Ryan puffed out his cheeks and tried to rein in the desire to smack Kirai in the face. "I don't know what you are so nervous about. You've faced down Alex in the Black Forest, this should be easy." Kirai shook his head.

"Ha, right now I would rather fend off a hundred of Alex's black wolves wearing nothing but a pair of fluffy slippers while armed with a teaspoon." Ryan retorted glancing at the mingled gentry both Mazoku and human. Kirai snorted with laughter and Ryan's cheeks heated up as he realised Kirai was forming a mental picture of what he had just said.

"Now that I would like to see," Kirai winked. Ryan glared at him.

"You know what I meant," Ryan glanced back at the crowed hall and felt his anger melt into fear. "What if I mess up tonight? Everyone who is anyone in the whole Mazoku-human alliance is here, they would all see it. And I bet I know a few who would never let me forget it." Ryan gulped. "If they think me weak how could I ever expect them to respect me? Maybe I shouldn't take over being the Maoh from my father." Ryan trailed off tugging at the stiff collar of his new jacket. This jacket was the deepest black picked out with sliver and gold thread, a birthday present from his parents.

"No," Kirai said firmly making Ryan look at him in surprise. Kirai's voice was harsh and his eyes bore into Ryan's like lasers. "Do not talk like that Ryan! You saved every demon in that room from death. You know Alex would have killed them all if you hadn't stopped him."

"But –"

"No buts! You saved them Ryan don't forget that. If I had even suspected you were weak I would never had followed you into that battle. I'll bet Elvira and Alviss think the same." Kirai's glare softened and he put his hands on Ryan's shoulders. "You will make a fine King, I know you will." Ryan opened his mouth but he had no words. Instead, he threw his arms around Kirai's neck and hugged him tightly. The ex-rider stiffened before relaxing slightly into the hold.

"Thank you for coming tonight." Ryan whispered softly. He felt Kirai nod against his shoulder and he smiled. Ryan released his friend and stepped back just as the trumpets sounded. His parents had made their entrance. Ryan turned to see his parents walking down the hall while the crowd parted before them, their heads bowed in respect.

Yuri was wearing his black uniform with a purple sash wrapped around his shoulders held in place by a large red jewel. His head was head high and he walked with confidence and purpose. Yuri nodded to the dignitaries on his left and right as he walked towards the main staircase. On Yuri's left looking every inch a royal consort, was Wolfram. His golden locks shone in the soft candlelight, his eyes were bright with excitement and a hand lay protectively over his large stomach. He was dressed in his pale blue uniform decorated with sliver and gold. He too, nodded towards the Nobles and royalty gathered here for his son's 16th birthday party.

Behind the royal couple came the rest of the royal family. Gwendal led the way with Gunter on his left and their daughter next to Gunter. Gwendal was dressed in his green uniform with elegant patterns of gold and sliver stitched across his shoulders. Gunter wore his trademark white and purple robes with his lilac hair pulled up into a twisted knot at the back of head. Flamboyant Gunter was in his element as he swept down the hall wearing a huge smile. Honey wore a dress of pale green with emerald jewels at her throat.

Behind Gwendal was Conrad dressed like his brother in his brown uniform picked out in sliver and gold. Josak strode down the hall on his husband's left looking smug, his usual outfit replaced by a smart dark brown uniform to reflect the formality of the event. Joey walked next to his father looking arrogant while his twin brother Seth walked on his dad's right looking rather scared.

Cecile and Greta brought up the rear both looking beautiful in long elegant ball gowns. Cecile's dress was pure white making her look like an angel with her blond curls pulled up behind her head. Greta wore a yellow sleeveless dress that matched her skin tone perfectly. The hem of the dress swirled around her ankles as she walked. Her hair had been put up for the event and many young men were staring in obvious interest.

"See, your parents don't look worried at all." Kirai pointed out in a hushed whisper. Ryan frowned at Kirai grinning face.

"Why should they be worried? They've done this hundreds of times." Ryan hissed back.

"If they thought you were going to make a fool of yourself they would be worried about you. They are relaxed which means they have faith in you." Kirai countered smoothly.

"Oh great, so if I do mess up not only do I embarrass myself in front of all these people I also ruin my parents' faith in me." Ryan muttered feeling rather pathetic.

"Stop being so negative!" Kirai's voice was still low but it had a sharp edge that made Ryan jump as if he had been yelled at. "Stop whining and go show those fat lazy blue bloods what real leaders are made of."

"Blue bloods?" Ryan echoed still reeling slightly from Kirai's words.

"A name for people born into wealth and position." Kirai waved a hand as if this didn't matter. "Now stand up straight and make me proud!" Ryan glanced down to see his parents standing before a raised dais on which their thrones sat. A smaller chair had been placed to the right of the chair which Wolfram sat upon which in turn was on the right of Yuri's chair. Ryan's family took their places in a semi-circle around the steps leading to the thrones.

Ryan heard his Uncle Gunter's voice in his head explaining how everything worked during their practise run that afternoon. His father would make a small speech then the trumpets would sound, this would be Ryan's cue to walk down the steps and across the hall to his parents. His father would welcome his son and introduce him as 'Prince Ryan Shibuya' for the first time. It had all seemed so easy when the hall had been empty.

"Oh hell," Ryan muttered as he took a deep breath. His father started talking but there was a faint buzzing in Ryan's ears so he couldn't hear a thing. His heart started to thump hard and fast against his chest and he felt dizzy. Just as Ryan was wondering if he was going to pass out, throw up, or both, a pair of sapphire blue eyes met his. Time seemed to freeze as Ryan stared into Alviss's eyes. Alviss was smirking at him and his eyes shone with an emotion that made Ryan's knees weak.

"You can do this." Ryan could have sworn he heard Alviss's voice in his head but he dismissed it as fantasy. Yet, suddenly walking down there in front of all these strangers didn't seem so bad anymore. Ryan found his heart rate slowing down and breathing became easier. It was sappy and cliché but Ryan found himself not giving a damn what any of the people here thought of him as long as Alviss looked at him like that. I will tell him, Ryan thought back to their conversation last night in the darkened hallway. For the first time Ryan felt like he could walk right up to Alviss and tell him that he loved him. Not yet, Ryan thought as his parents turned to smile at him and trumpets sounded, tell him tonight when you are alone.

It was like a dream. Ryan walked down the staircase his eyes fixed on Alviss's face. He didn't once look down at his feet but he never stumbled either. He reached his parents and blinked in surprise. He didn't even recall walking away from Kirai. Wolfram stepped to the side and Ryan smiled at his dad as he took his place between his parents. He realised with a shock of surprise that he was already as tall as his dad and only a few inches shorter than his father. In a few years he may well be taller than both of them.

"My friends from nations across the world, human and Mazoku alike, I present to you my son on his 16th birthday." Yuri spoke his voice strong and his eyes proud. "As many of you know, Mazoku choose which surname they wish to carry on their 16th birthday, this choice affects the rest of their lives and is not a decision to be taken lightly. My son has made his choice." Ryan felt his heart skip and his father placed a hand on his shoulder. The fatherly pride and love that shone in Yuri's eyes made Ryan feel like he could do anything. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to make his father proud of him. "I present to you, for the first time, my son and heir, Prince Ryan Shibuya!"

The crowd erupted into cheers and Ryan felt his face split into a huge grin that stretched from ear to ear. His father smiled at him and Ryan jumped forward to pull his father into a hug. Yuri laughed and returned the hug, the cheering and clapping intensifying. Ryan released his father and turned to his dad. Wolfram was beaming at him with that same fierce love that his father had for him. Wolfram opened his arms and Ryan needed no further invitation. He buried himself in his dad's embrace as the sound of the crowd became muted and distant.

"I couldn't be more proud of you, my son." Wolfram said his voice strangely tight as if he were holding back tears.

"Thank you," Ryan whispered back. He released his dad and turned to smile at the crowd gathered before him. Standing near the front of the crowd stood Elvira and Alviss, both grinning at him. Ryan met Alviss's eyes and felt a happiness like he had never felt before rush through him. His parents were proud of him, his family supported him, his friends were there for him and he was in love with someone who just may love him back. This was what people spent their lives searching for, moments like this made life and all its hardships worthwhile. It was sappy, it was cheesy and oh so perfect.

"Before the celebrations can get underway I have some announcements to make." Yuri paused to wait for the noise to die down before he continued. "All of you know the heroic quest my son embarked on to save this world from war and death just a few short months ago." Many people nodded and muttered to their closest neighbour and Ryan felt his cheeks grow warm. "My son did not travel alone, and tonight I wish to publically thank the two who travelled and fought beside him. Alviss Aquarius and Elvira Falcon please step forward now."

Alviss was the first to step forward his sapphire blue eyes bright and his head held high and proud. He was wearing the steal grey uniform of all common Mazoku soldiers and Ryan could practically hear the snobbish sniffs from the élite. Alviss may not hold a high place within Shinmakoku's armies but in Ryan's mind he was the bravest soldier around. He cut a fine figure in his formal military uniform.

"Alviss Aquarius, in recognition of your bravery in the face of terrible danger I present to you this medal of bravery and courage." Yuri waved a hand and one of the palace maids seemed to appear out of thin air. Yuri took the medal from the box the maid held but instead of pinning it on Alviss's chest he handed it to his son. "Would you like to do the honours my son?" Yuri winked and Ryan grinned back before taking the medal.

"It would be an honour." Ryan replied formally before walking up to Alviss. Alviss looked like the cat who had stolen all the cream. He was grinning broadly and Ryan wondered if it would be physically possible for him to puff his chest any further out before he passed out. "Alviss, my dear friend and comrade, none is more deserving of this medal than you are today."

"Thank you My Prince." Alviss bowed his head and Ryan felt his heart do a giddy jump in his chest at the word 'my'. Hopping no one would notice the goofy smile on his lips; Ryan attached the medal to Alviss's chest. The crowd clapped and Alviss bowed again.

"I also have a gift for Alviss Aquarius," Wolfram stepped forward holding out a hand. One of Wolfram's soldiers stepped up and handed a neatly folded uniform to Wolfram. Wolfram took the clothes then stepped before Alviss with a challenging smile. "Alviss Aquarius, you have displayed true bravery and courage along with an astonishing control over your element of water, I thereby offer you a place within my own personal regiment of soldiers." A gasp echoed through the whole hall making it sound as if a gust of wind was sweeping around the hall. Even Ryan felt his eyes go wide. Alviss was a penniless orphan, not a well bred noble, for someone like him to serve in the regiment that marched under the colours of the Maoh's own consort was unheard of.

"It would be my honour to accept this gracious gift from my Lord Von Bielefeld." Alviss replied with a deep bow. Ryan had the sneaking suspicion that his dad had already offered this position to Alviss as the water user didn't seem in the least surprised by the offer. Alviss took the dark blue uniform and Ryan grinned as the crowd clapped in astonishment. Alviss gave Ryan a heated look before walking down the steps to join the front lines of the crowd.

Elvira came next. She was wearing a beautiful sliver dress which had a tight bodice and loose flowing skirt. Ryan realised with a shock that this was the first time he had seen her in anything other than trousers. Elvira dropped into a neat curtsey before his father that Ryan just knew she had been practising that in the mirror for hours. The thought made him grin.

"Elvira Falcon, never before as a human shown such loyalty to the Mazoku in the face of such impossible odds," Yuri smiled gently, "as a result I give you the highest honour I can bestow upon you." Yuri turned and reached into the box that the maid still held. He pulled out a medal in the shape of a circle with a cross inside it. The medal was sliver in colour with a black and scarlet ribbon. A gasp went around as some of the persons gathered closer to the front recognised the medal. "This medal is presented to only those Mazoku who have proved themselves to be the bravest of us all in battle. Take it now Elvira Falcon and be proud of the knowledge that you are the first ever human to receive this honour and the first female ever!" Yuri grinned as the crowd erupted into cheers. Elvira blushed madly as she curtsied again. Ryan took the medal from his father and pinned it to Elvira's dress.

"I have no words to properly thank you for the strength and intelligence you showed that carried me forward in my efforts to protect our people." Ryan smiled. Elvira blushed prettily and took Ryan's hand in hers.

"I will always come to your aid My Prince. I thank you, Your Majesty for this honour and gift." Elvira bowed her head first to Yuri, then Wolfram and finally Ryan. Ryan grinned at her and she smiled proudly back. Elvira picked up the hem of her skirts and walked down the steps to stand beside Alviss.

"Now the formalities are over, let the party begin!" Yuri called out and more than a thousand people cheered and clapped until the hall rang with their merriment.

:-:

Ryan had never danced with so many people before. Heck, he had never met so many people before. Young men and ladies seemed eager to take his hand and twirl him around the dance floor. Ryan had never been so grateful that his dad had pushed him to have some intense dancing lessons over the past few weeks. Ryan spun the pretty blond in his arms around and she giggled batting her eyes at him. Ryan smiled but made sure to keep it polite rather than flirting.

"May I cut in?" A voice interrupted and Ryan glanced over his shoulder in surprise to see Alviss standing behind him grinning. Alviss had already changed out of his grey jacket and put the dark blue one on instead. The blue matched his dark hair and made his eyes look brighter. Ryan swallowed down a rush of desire.

"Of course," the girl, Ryan had long forgotten her name, giggled releasing Ryan to give Alviss the 'come hither' eyes. Alviss bowed then took Ryan's hand and waist.

"Shall we dance My Prince?" Ryan shivered at the possessive way Alviss said 'my'. He nodded and Alviss stepped forward gracefully. The girl blinked in surprise before realising that she had just been dumped and turned to stomp off in a huff. The music changed into a faster tempo as Alviss and Ryan stepped across the dance floor.

"That colour looks good on you. It's going to be strange to think of you as one of my dad's men. I hope you are ready for his intense training." Ryan smiled letting Alviss lead the dance around the floor.

"It is a great honour to be counted among Lord Bielefeld's men," Alviss grinned steering them around another couple without breaking their stride. "I have you to thank for this Ryan."

"You earned it Alviss." Ryan countered as his cheeks grew hot. "My dad would never have invited you to join his division if he didn't think you were good enough."

"And that is why this is such a great honour for me." Alviss spun Ryan around catching him in his arms. Ryan was close enough to feel the beat of Alviss's heart before Alviss stepped back. Dancing with Alviss was as easy as breathing. Ryan felt comfortable and safe in Alviss's arms. He wasn't worried about stepping on Alviss's toes or making a fool of himself in front of some foreign dignitary. They almost seemed to move as one body across the floor.

"I am really proud of what you have achieved Alviss." Ryan admitted his cheeks hot. Alviss blinked then smirked and put his lips against Ryan's ear. Ryan shivered in delight at the sensation of Alviss's hot breath against the sensitive skin.

"I am very proud of you too, My Prince." Alviss chuckled and all the air left Ryan's lungs leaving him feeling dizzy.

"Why do you keep on calling me 'My Prince'?"

"Now you have taken your father's name you are a Prince through and through." Alviss's hand slipped lower down Ryan's back. Not so low it would be considered improper but low enough for Ryan to notice the difference.

"I prefer you calling me Ryan." Ryan breathed as Alviss spun him around again. Ryan stepped closer to Alviss and tilted his head to stare into sapphire blue eyes that seemed to look straight through him.

"Very well…my Ryan." Alviss teased. Ryan wondered if his whole face would burst into flames it was so hot. Alviss stepped faster to keep up to the music and Ryan stepped out with him. They cut a fine couple sweeping across the dance floor. Many other couples stopped dancing to watch them. Among those watching the dance were Ryan's parents who sat upon their thrones. Yuri was glad to see his son smiling so happily but Wolfram was rather suspicious.

"Why are you scowling?" Yuri leaned closer to Wolfram to whisper to him.

"I don't like the way Alviss is holding our son." Wolfram muttered darkly. "Just because he has been promoted to one of my troops doesn't give him the right to touch my son." Yuri sighed and glanced back at the couple.

"I don't see anything wrong with it." Yuri mused. Wolfram rolled his eyes.

"That is because you are dense, wimp."

"Don't call me a wimp." Yuri felt his lips twitch upwards at the nick-name. Yuri glanced at his husband and felt that same rush he had felt the first day he had seen him. It may have taken years, literally, for Yuri to understand what he was feeling but now that he did he was never going to let Wolfram go. This beautiful man had given him a healthy son, who was rapidly growing into a fine young man, and another was on the way. Yuri leaned closer and placed a gentle kiss on Wolfram's cheek. Wolfram turned red and gazed at his husband in shock.

"What was that for?"

"Oh nothing," Yuri smiled. Wolfram huffed and turned back to watching his son with narrowed eyes but Yuri could see the smile that curved his lips and the red stain across his cheeks. Yuri glanced back to the dancers and his gaze once again fell on his son who was saying something to Alviss.

:-:

Kirai watched Alviss and Ryan dance with a frown. He knew that Ryan had made his choice; he knew that he should accept Ryan's decision and move on, but that was proving to be more difficult that he thought. Ryan had chosen Alviss as his partner and it would just be pathetic for Kirai to try and steal Ryan back now. Kirai scowled again as Ryan laughed at something Alviss had said. Kirai was too far away to hear what they were saying. The music and the sound of laughter and voices drowned out everything within a two meter radius.

Kirai couldn't understand what it was that had made him stay. He had wanted to leave and never return. Just find an isolated spot where he could live in peace. Maybe after spending so much time with Ryan and his friends he no longer wanted to be alone? Kirai glared down at his drink as if it had somehow done him a great injustice. Ryan had begged him to stay and Kirai had been unable to deny Ryan anything. Ryan could beg Kirai to drink poison and he would do it. It was those damn green eyes that did it.

What am I doing here? Kirai wondered glancing back at the dancing couple. I don't belong here. Why should he stay here wishing he was the one holding Ryan in his arms? To stay would be to torture himself with what he could never have. Maybe that is a little over dramatic, Kirai berated himself.

"Um, hi there." A soft male voice interrupted Kirai's inner musing. Kirai glanced up to see a good looking boy with thick slightly curly brown hair and green eyes standing on his right. His eyes a much lighter green than Ryan's and the two boys looked nothing alike, yet there was something about this boy that reminded Kirai of Ryan. Kirai arched an eyebrow as he looked the boy up and down. Kirai knew at once that the boy was human, which meant he was likely the son of one of the human leaders whose country was a part of the Mazoku-human alliance. The boy looked no older than 16.

"Hello," Kirai answered slowly wondering what the boy wanted. He had not received anything from Yuri or Wolfram tonight at his own request. He hated being stared at by people as if he were an animal in a cage. Besides, his own reward had more material use that Elvira or Alviss's medals. He had been given the right to live here in Shinmakoku and he had been excused of all the many crimes he had committed while under David's power.

"My name is Casper," the boy looked nervous but when no reply was forthcoming he ploughed on regardless, "Would you like to dance?" Kirai's other eyebrow shot up and he stared at the boy in shock. "With, um, with me?" Casper gave Kirai a shy smile that had Kirai's protective instincts running wild.

"Ok," Kirai even surprised himself by agreeing to dance with this boy but the way Casper's green eyes lit up made it worth it. Green eyes, my one weakness. Kirai smiled to himself as he followed Casper onto the dance floor. He took the boy's waist and hand without a second's thought. Although he had never danced before, Kirai was a quick leaner and he had been watching the others dance all night. Casper's face lit up in a beautiful blush as Kirai pulled him close. Kirai smirked and started to dance. Casper was light on his feet and soon picked up the pace and flow of the dance. Kirai was making it up as he went but Casper kept in perfect step as if they had been practising this dance for months.

"Kirai," Kirai spoke after a few minutes making Casper glance up at him.

"I'm sorry?"

"My name is Kirai." Kirai waited for the reaction, the shock, to set in. This boy might well recognise his name as one of the riders who attacked Shinmakoku not that long ago. Kirai expected Casper to push him away or maybe even scream for help. Instead, Casper gave Kirai a brilliant smile that lit up his green eyes and made dimples appear in his cheeks.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Kirai."

"Oh no," Kirai gave Casper a devious smirk as he took Casper's hand and kissed it, "the pleasure is all mine."

:-:

"Well I never thought it could happen." Ryan grinned looking over Alviss's shoulder.

"What could never happen?" Alviss asked.

"Kirai is dancing with a very cute boy." Ryan nodded towards the ex-rider who was indeed dancing with a cute boy. Alviss didn't recognise the boy but then he barely knew a handful of people here tonight. "I never thought Kirai would allow anyone to get close to him like that."

"They are only dancing." Alviss frowned and received a look that said 'are you stupid?' "What?"

"Never mind Alviss," Ryan smiled and allowed his gaze to shift from Kirai to Elvira. Elvira looked so pretty in her sliver dress, it made her blond hair stand out and her eyes look bluer. She was talking to a young man that Ryan recognised as the half Mazoku half human son of one of the human Kings who was here tonight. He had only spoken briefly to the handsome brunet but he had seemed friendly and kind. Ryan was pretty sure his name was Kyle or something like that. Kyle, or whatever his name was, said something that made Elvira blush and smile.

"Ah it seems Elvira has found herself a suitor." Ryan blinked and glanced at Alviss who was watching Elvira. "I was wondering what was so interesting that you were ignoring me to stare at it." Ryan blushed and ducked his head.

"Sorry," Ryan said guiltily.

"Nothing to apologise for, I am also glad that our friends are having a good time tonight." Alviss smiled and Ryan's heart flipped in his chest.

The song ended and Ryan and Alviss stopped dancing to clap with the rest of the guests. The conductor bowed before introducing the next song. This time the song was slow and romantic. Ryan felt even his ears turn red as Alviss pulled him close. The waltz had always been a difficult dance for Ryan but with Alviss leading him it became easy. He just lost himself in Alviss's blue eyes and forgot about everything else. The music flowed around them adding to the romantic atmosphere. The flickering candlelight created shadows that danced over the walls and ceiling.

"I could stay like this in your arms forever." Ryan felt his whole face burn as Alviss stared at him in shock. I didn't mean to say that out loud! Ryan ducked his head mortified that he had said something so sappy.

"As could I," Alviss said so softly Ryan almost didn't hear him. Ryan blinked then felt the biggest, most stupid, goofy smile spread across his face. He was grinning like a fool and he didn't care at all.

:-:

"This is a great party Your Majesty."

"Conrad, surely I don't need to keep reminding you after all these years to call me Yuri do I?" Yuri frowned and Conrad laughed.

"Of course not, Yuri, I guess the formal atmosphere carried me away. Everyone keeps calling me Lord Weller." Yuri grinned as his brother-in-law pulled a face.

"Now you know how I feel." Yuri teased and Conrad grinned back.

"I see Ryan is enjoying himself," Conrad looked towards the dance floor where Ryan danced with Alviss. "Alviss will make a fine addition to Wolfram's troops."

"Yes he will, although I fear for his safety." Yuri tugged at his collar looking concerned. "He has been dancing with Ryan for awhile now and Wolfram looks ready pop a blood vessel." Yuri glanced at his husband who was talking with his mother. Wolfram kept shooting dark glances at the dance floor where their son slow danced with Alviss.

"But you are ok with Ryan and Alviss being together?" Conrad asked carefully. In truth, Conrad had no idea which parent would be more overprotective of Ryan. It seemed that Yuri was pretty relaxed about the whole thing however.

"They are only dancing." Yuri frowned, "Why should I have a problem with that?" Conrad blinked several times. Good grief he really is dense at times, Conrad thought affectionately. He had assumed everyone in the hall had noticed how Alviss held Ryan close to him, or the way they looked into each other's eyes. Apparently Yuri had not. "I don't understand why Wolfram is being so grumpy about it." Yuri continued not noticing the shocked expression on his brother-in-law's face.

"Maybe Wolfram is just being overprotective." Conrad shrugged, "How about you distract him from his brooding by asking him to dance?"

"Good idea Conrad, thanks."

"No problem Yuri." Conrad chuckled as Yuri hurried over to where Wolfram stood. Yuri reached Wolfram and his mother-in-law just in time to hear the end of Wolfram's sentence.

"– and if he thinks I'm going to let him get away with it he has another thing coming!" Wolfram huffed crossing his arms over his chest.

"Who has what coming to them?" Yuri asked making Wolfram jolt.

"Oh Yuri, I didn't see you there."

"What were you talking about?" Yuri asked curious but Wolfram waved his question away.

"Nothing important," Wolfram wouldn't meet Yuri's eyes making the Maoh suspicious but he pushed it aside for now.

"Anyway, would you like to dance Wolf?" Yuri held out a hand and Wolfram stared at him as if he had just grown a second head.

"Err, what?"

"Dancing, with me…" Yuri trailed off feeling rather stupid with his hand held up in the air. "Come on Wolf we haven't danced together properly since Ryan was, like, three years old."

"Oh, well, of course I would love to; I was just surprised that's all." Wolfram was blushing again. Yuri smiled and stepped forward.

"Come on then, beautiful mother of my children." Wolfram blushed furiously and glared at Yuri for calling him a 'mother' but there was no force behind it. Wolfram took Yuri's hand and squeezed it.

"You better not step on my toes wimp."

"Of course not my love," Yuri said in his best obedient-husband voice making Wolfram smile. Yuri led Wolfram onto the dance floor and pulled him close. Soon they were dancing together as if they had never stopped. Other dancers stepped away from the dance floor or just slowed their own dancing to watch the royal couple sweep across the floor. Ryan noticed his parents dancing and he grinned. With everyone watching his parents now would be a good chance to escape.

"Come on Alviss, I need some air, I'm exhausted." Ryan tugged on Alviss's hand and the water user nodded and followed him towards a set of open glass doors. Everyone was watching the royal couple dance so no one noticed the royal son and his suitor slip into the night.

The night air was surprisingly cold after the heat of the hall. The sheer amount of people heated up the hall to almost unbearable levels. Ryan sighed happily as a cool breeze lifted his hair and cooled his skin down. All that dancing had worn him out. The moon had risen at some point during the night and now hung fat and heavy in the sky. The stars shone down silently watching events unfold beneath them. Everything was painted with a gentle sliver glow. Shadows stretched out across the grounds like black fingers but with Alviss beside him Ryan had no fear of them. Music and laughter floated through the open windows of the hall dancing on the wind. An owl hooted somewhere and small animals scrabbled around in the undergrowth.

"Ryan…"Alviss trailed off and Ryan turned to look at him over his shoulder.

"Walk with me," Ryan smiled and walked further into the gardens cut to perfection for the party. Alviss fell into step beside Ryan as they left the politics of the party behind them. "It is beautiful out here tonight isn't it?" Ryan stopped walking to glance up at Alviss. Alviss also stopped and looked at him. Ryan felt a smile tug his lips when he noticed that even though he was gaining on his parents, Alviss was still a head taller than he was.

"Yes it is, but the company makes it even better." Alviss smiled and Ryan snorted.

"You say such sappy things."

"But you love it," Alviss teased reaching out to touch Ryan's face. Ryan felt his breath catch. Alviss's fingers were rough from training with a sword for most of his life and they felt so good against his skin. Ryan turned his face into Alviss's palm.

"No, I love you." There it was. Ryan had said it. He felt his heart summersault in his chest as Alviss stared at him in silence. Then Alviss's face broke into a warm smile that made Ryan melt.

"Well that is good, for I would hate to be in love all by myself." Alviss smiled and Ryan felt the air leave his lungs for the second time that evening. For weeks they had only been able to sneak in secret kisses and light touches as Ryan's parents and the ten Nobles hadn't let Ryan out of their sight. Ryan had wanted to take their relationship slow, afraid of rushing and ruining what they had together, but right now with Alviss looking at him like he formed the centre of his world, he couldn't resist anymore.

Ryan closed his eyes and tilted his head up. Less than a second later he felt Alviss seal his lips over his own. Ryan sighed in contentment and opened his mouth. Alviss slipped his tongue into Ryan's mouth making him moan softly. He felt Alviss's arms wrap around his waist pulling him in close. Their bodies fit together perfectly as if they had been made for each other. One of his hands tangled in Alviss's thick blue locks as they kissed. Heat blossomed in Ryan's stomach and spread along his limbs. Ryan gasped and kissed Alviss fiercely. He wanted to feel Alviss's hands on his skin. He wanted to burn Alviss's kisses into his memory so he would never forget them. He wanted to burn his image onto Alviss's very soul so he could never touch another without thinking of him.

Fire seemed to blaze inside of him out of control making Ryan tremble. He was never so glad he no longer had control over his element fire; he may have set the whole garden on fire. Instead his new powers flickered into life by creating a wind that whooshed around them making their clothing and hair swirl. Alviss pulled away making Ryan whimper in a very un-manly fashion. Alviss sniggered and Ryan opened to his eyes to see Alviss's lips were red and swollen and his hair was messed up. Ryan had never seen anything so sexy in his life.

"As much as I would like to continue this….someone might see us." Alviss panted and Ryan smiled.

"Let them see," Ryan tilted his head up and kissed Alviss firmly on the lips. Alviss smiled against his lips before pulling back.

"Ryan," there was a warning note to Alviss's voice as he arched an eyebrow. That fire was still burning in Ryan's veins and he wanted so much more than Alviss was offering right now.

"Then let's go someplace they won't see us, Ok?" Ryan unknowingly took on a sly look, "Besides you haven't given me my 16th birthday present yet."

"Pardon?" Alviss frowned, thinking of the sliver dagger he had given Ryan that morning. Ryan just winked and, grabbing Alviss's hand pulled him back towards the hall with a confused Alviss following him.

:-:

"Isn't young love just so cute?" Josak sighed watching the Prince and his lover walk hand in hand to the hall.

"Indeed," Conrad sighed also watching his nephew.

"Should we tell Wolfram and Yuri that their son is about to be deflowered?" Josak's lips twitched as Conrad gasped.

"Josak he is your nephew!"

"Yes I know, but I'm not the one who is going to be –"

"Well," Conrad cut his husband off, "I think we should leave the boys in peace. Ryan is a smart and confident boy and Alviss is a gentleman. I think we can trust them not to get into any, err, compromising situations." It was hard for Conrad to think of his nephew as sexually active. He could still remember the day Ryan was born, he had been so tiny back then, but he was 16 now, almost a man.

"Don't you remember being 16 and in love?" Josak wrapped an arm around his husband's shoulders as Ryan and Alviss vanished from sight.

"I wasn't in love when I was 16."

"Oh?" Josak smirked and Conrad's face turned slightly red. "I think you had the hot's for a certain orange haired hunk." Conrad snorted.

"I don't recall any orange haired hunks. But I do remember a skinny orange haired boy who couldn't even swing a sword."

"Tease," Josak muttered kissing Conrad on the cheek. Conrad laughed and led his husband back to the dance floor.

:-:

It was easy to sneak out of the hall and upstairs. Most of the guards were watching the gates into and out of the castle or prowling around the hall like hungry wolves. Ryan could feel the excitement and lust twisting his stomach into knots. His heart thumped so loud in his chest he was sure Alviss could hear it. Neither boy said a single word but Ryan knew Alviss knew where he was going. Nerves clawed at Ryan's insides. Does Alviss want this? Did Alviss feel the same? Did he want this as much as Ryan did? Where things moving too fast? Ryan was a mess of longing and nerves by the time they reached his room.

Ryan opened the door and Alviss stepped into the room. No candles were lit but the curtains there thrown wide open filling the room with the silver light of the moon giving the moment an almost unbearable romantic atmosphere. Soft sliver moonlight spilled through the large windows almost as bright as the sun.

Ryan bit his lip as he closed the door quietly behind him and locked it. He leaned back against the door and stared at the floor. Now he was here he was feeling terribly nervous. Maybe this was a bad idea? Ryan looked at Alviss but the water user still had his back to him after walking further into the room. The fire that Alviss made flare up in his stomach had faded away leaving Ryan feeling cold. The silence stretched on becoming more and more uncomfortable.

"Alviss…" Ryan was barely aware that he had spoken. His voice came out weak and uncertain. Alviss jumped as if he were lost in thought before he turned to face Ryan. Ryan could see the moonlight reflecting in Alviss's eyes. He swallowed as Alviss walked towards him and he felt that heat return in force. Alviss framed Ryan's face in his hands and kissed him. The kiss was gentle and chaste compared to their earlier kisses and didn't last long before Alviss pulled away.

"Ryan, we don't have to do this." Alviss whispered against Ryan's lips. Ryan blinked and looked into Alviss's eyes. "I don't want you to feel pressured into doing anything you don't want to do."

"But I want to," Ryan said softly. "I really want to." Ryan pulled Alviss back down for another kiss. That fire burned through him as Alviss ran his tongue over his lips and Ryan opened for him. Alviss pressed his body against Ryan's which in turn pressed Ryan harder against the door. Ryan moaned and wrapped his arms around Alviss's neck pulling him impossibly closer.

"Oh Ryan," Alviss groaned reaching around to squeeze Ryan's ass. Ryan bucked his hips in surprise making Alviss moan again. Alviss pulled back again making Ryan groan in frustration. "Ryan..."

"What is the problem here Alviss?" Ryan snapped, frustration making him lose his temper. "I thought you said that you loved me?"

"No Ryan, I do love you. I want you I do but…" Alviss trailed off before sighing. "I don't want you to feel you have to do this to please me. I am happy to wait for you. I won't stop loving you just because we are not having sex." As nice as Alviss's words were to hear, Ryan just groaned in frustration.

"Thank you Alviss but you have to trust me a little too." Ryan arched an eyebrow. Before Alviss could answer Ryan took one of Alviss's hands and shoved it boldly up against the front of his trousers. "See," Ryan breathed his eyes fluttering, "I want you so don't keep me waiting. I love you Alviss."

Alviss gazed at Ryan for several long minutes before he kissed him with a passion that made Ryan's knees weak. Their tongues tangled in a battle of dominance that Alviss soon won. Ryan let out a squeak, which he would deny later ever having made, as Alviss picked him up his arms around his waist. Ryan wrapped his legs around Alviss's waist and held on tight as Alviss carried him to his four poster bed. Alviss dropped him on the bed with a thump knocking the breath from him.

"S-sorry," Alviss stuttered slightly as he climbed on the bed beside Ryan. "You make it hard to stay in control."

"Then don't," Ryan panted pushing himself into the middle of the bed, "lose control right here right now here with me." Alviss stalked towards Ryan on his hand and knees. The sight was so erotic Ryan found it difficult to breathe.

"You might regret saying that to me." Alviss growled and Ryan thought he would cum right then and there.

"I doubt it. Now give me my real birthday present." Ryan smirked and Alviss growled again before leaning down to kiss him breathless.

For the rest of the night the two young lovers lay tangled together on Ryan's large bed. Ryan remembered Gisela's advice and managed to retrieve the box she had given him from under his bed. Alviss had teased him unmercifully for what seemed like a lifetime until Ryan pulled him down on top of him to shut him up.

It had hurt, their first time, even though Alviss tried to be gentle. Alviss gently kissed away the tears until the passion their bodies created washed away the pain, engulfing them both in a love so pure their bodies almost seemed to glow. Being joined so intimately with the one he loved changed something within Ryan. He couldn't explain it, and he didn't want to, but something was different.

Ryan had no idea how long they touched each other. Time seemed to freeze as they explored each other's bodies with eager but tender shyness. It seemed to last forever and no time at all before they both slumped on the bed, exhausted and sated.

"Hey, are you ok?" Alviss spoke as he gently ran his fingers through Ryan's sweat dampened locks. "You passed out on me for second there."

"Hmm, yeah I'm ok." Ryan smiled. His limbs felt heavy and he had a peculiar floating sensation. Alviss laughed and leaned down to kiss Ryan's temple.

"That's good," Alviss grinned. Ryan smiled and grabbed Alviss pulling him to lie against his body. Alviss didn't fight the contact; he simply curled his body protectively around Ryan's and pulled the covers over them both. Ryan curled up in Alviss's arms his face pressed against Alviss's chest. "Are you sore?" Alviss asked noticing Ryan flinch slightly.

"A little," Ryan admitted, "but it was totally worth it." Ryan gave Alviss cheeky grin. Alviss blushed and snorted.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it. Although it seems I have some practicing to do."

"Hmm true, but you are not 'practicing' with anyone but me." Ryan poked Alviss hard in the chest. Alviss laughed huskily and hugged Ryan.

"The thought never even crossed my mind."

"Good," Ryan yawned. "Oh and one more thing," Ryan glanced up at Alviss with a smile. "I fully expect you to be here when I wake up, Alviss Aquarius."

"Your wish is my command, My Prince."

The End

I would still love to receive a review =)