Disclaimer: I do not own Kyo Kara Maoh.
Pairings: Yuuri x Wolfram
Warnings: Mentions of mpreg, shounan ai
Our Once Upon a Time
By V. Shalyr
16. Our Ever After
Wolfram opened his eyes drowsily at the feel of a familiar hand sneaking up the inside of his leg. He grumbled something incoherent into his pillow, which earned him a low chuckle from the person behind him as a mouth moved to latch onto the base of his throat. The blonde moaned and turned so he was lying fully on his back and blinked rapidly, trying to clear away the blurriness of sleep.
"Wha—what time is it?"
"Hmmm, a bit past ten," Yuuri replied, settling himself comfortably on top of him.
A bit past… Wolfram's eyes shot wide open and he tried to sit up. "Yuuri! We're going to be late!"
Yuuri growled in irritation, rearranging his weight to prevent the blonde from getting away. "No we're not. I've already informed Gwendal that we aren't going to be at that meeting. I've had enough of meetings for the week. We are going on vacation. I see no reason why we can't start a few hours early."
They had gotten back late the night before exhausted from an ambassadorial trip to one of the human countries and had fallen into their bed practically already asleep. The two weeks before had consisted of practically nothing but meetings, negotiations and peace talks. There was that party after the signing of the treaty, but neither of them had enjoyed it as these political festivities tended to mean being polite to everyone and talking and dancing with people they may otherwise have preferred not to associate with. Wolfram had been intensely unhappy about all the court women who seemed intent on crowding his king and husband, trying to get the Maoh's favor, and he could more than understand Yuuri's desire for some time to themselves after all that. Still…
"But, Yuuri, you have a lot of paperwork to catch up on before we can go pick up the kids."
Yuuri muttered something that sounded suspiciously like a curse on all paperwork. The double black was more interested in pinning his angel to the bed and seeing what kinds of cute sounds he could get him to make. The paperwork had been waiting for more than a week while they were busy with foreign affairs. It could wait a little bit longer.
Wolfram gave up. Yuuri knew exactly where and how to touch him to make him give in and forget about everything else. Not that Wolfram was complaining really. He loved being with Yuuri and having his undivided attention. He felt it was his duty to remind Yuuri of his, but it was still up to Yuuri whether he did these things or not. He was the Maoh after all, and there had to be some advantages to that. And Wolfram could go along with his decisions content in the knowledge that he had tried—maybe not very hard, but tried nonetheless.
Wolfram's eyelids fluttered shut and he tangled his fingers in his king's dark hair, drawing him closer as Yuuri's lips returned to his own. Warm hands caressed his sides, coming to rest on his slim hips, and it occurred to Wolfram that, much though he missed them, it was probably a good thing that the twins weren't currently at Blood Pledge Castle. The two young Mazoku did have a nasty habit of interrupting their parents at the most inconvenient of moments.
Conrad paused in his conversation with Yozak and turned towards the two figures racing across the Academy gardens towards him. He had taken up a part time teaching position at the Academy a few years ago, which he found himself enjoying greatly. And it was especially rewarding to watch his nephews growing up.
The twins raced up to him—or rather one of them raced and the other followed at a more sedate pace.
"Look at what we found!" Cory exclaimed the moment he'd skidded to a halt in front of him. Conrad knew it was Cory because Mikale never exclaimed over anything. It wasn't that he didn't get just as excited. He just had a much quieter way of expressing it.
Looking at the thing being brandished under his nose, Conrad smiled at the ball of fluff with its large, dark eyes staring quizzically back up at him and maybe a tad bit frightened.
"It's a baby bird," Cory exclaimed excitedly, and quite unnecessarily. "We think it's a starwinger."
"A blue starwinger," Conrad agreed. "It's very rare. Where did you find it?"
"It was in the grass by the orchards," Mikale told him, coming to a stop beside his brother.
"It probably fell out of its nest," Conrad mused aloud. He fixed the two boys with a stern look. "You should put it back as soon as you can."
Cory pouted. "Can't we keep it?"
"It's only a baby. Don't you think it'll be scared if you take it away from its home?"
"But we'll take really good care of it!"
"Its mother will be frantic if you take it away," Conrad scolded him. "How do you think your parents would feel if someone just came and took you away?"
The twins looked at one another, imagining their parents' reactions and shuddering in unison. It would be a close contest as to whether the Maoh or his consort would be more furious, though at least Yuuri would ask questions first… Well, probably… as long as neither of them was hurt. Wolfram would probably just burn them to a crisp, forget the questions.
"We'll take the chick back now," Mikale said, placing a placating hand on his brother's shoulder. Giving Conrad and Yozak a polite nod, he proceeded to lead Cory away back the way they had come.
Yozak whistled and shook his head when the twins finally disappeared from view. "I wonder how the little tike got to be so calm. He certainly didn't inherit it from either of his parents."
Conrad shook his head. "Don't let Mikale fool you. They can be perfect little devils sometimes when their parents aren't around, though they tend to be on their best behavior when they are. Wolfram doesn't let them get away with anything. His Majesty is a little more lenient, but he's still pretty strict about the rights and wrongs of things."
Yozak chuckled. "Parenthood suits them, doesn't it?"
Or perhaps not so surprisingly when you took into account the fact that both Yuuri and Wolfram were such passionate individuals. They weren't perfect by any means, but they had the most important thing. They cared.
"So when are they coming to pick them up?" Yozak asked, taking another sip from his glass.
"Wolfram is heading over to the Shibuya mansion first. His Majesty should be here to retrieve the twins shortly, and then all four of them will be having a late lunch with his Majesty's parents before heading to the temple."
"So how long with they be gone?"
"Two weeks, I believe, unless an emergency comes up. But I doubt anything will happen that we can't handle without them. Things have been very peaceful."
"They have, haven't they?"
And both of them fully intended to treasure that peace and ensure that it lasted for as long as they could. Perhaps it was because both of them had fought as soldiers on the front lines of battle in those long years of war that seemed so much like just a nightmare in the glow of this golden era. Perhaps they'd just both gotten to that age in life when you realized that there were so many more important things in life that one should hold dear, like life and living itself. Whatever the reason, they would be the first to admit how much the current tranquility meant to them.
"So," Yozak said, finally interrupting the comfortable silence that had settled between them, "this means you don't have to be available for babysitting, right? I don't suppose you'd consider taking me out for dinner?"
A faint smile made its way onto Yuuri's face as the elaborately carved buildings of the Academy came into view. The sight of the place always brought back pleasant memories of his own school days. There had been plenty of frustrations too, of course, but he'd always been an optimistic sort of person and he preferred to focus on the good points rather than the bad.
Memories. Talk about something you racked up a lot of, living for as long as they did as members of the Mazoku tribe.
Pulling his horse to a halt in the courtyard, Yuuri had barely swung himself down to the ground when he was greeted by two excited shouts.
"Hey," he greeted the two boys with a wide grin, crouching to catch them in a bear hug. "I'm glad to see you two looking so well. How have your classes been going?"
"Mikale still beats me at sword fighting more than half the time," Cory complained, pouting.
"That's better than all the time though, right?" Yuuri asked, amused. "Did you try asking Conrad for extra lessons?"
The younger twin pulled a face. "Are you kidding me? Volunteer for more schoolwork?"
"And you wonder why I'm still better than you," Mikale observed dryly. Turning back to his father, he added, "I believe the headmaster gave Uncle Conrad our school reports to pass on to you."
"I guess I'd better go see him then. Do you know where he is?"
The twins led him to the garden where Conrad and Yozak were still engaged in conversation. The two men stood up the moment they saw their king, but Yuuri waved them back to their seats.
"No need for those formalities now. Seriously, I'd have thought you two should know that by now." Coming to a stop in front of Conrad, Yuuri gestured behind him towards the boys. "They said you had their school reports?"
"Ah, yes." Reaching into the bag he had set on the ground at his feet, Conrad retrieved two folders and handed them to him. "I don't believe the headmaster trusted them to hand these over as is, though I don't see why. They've both been doing quite well this semester."
Last semester had been another story, but Conrad felt no need to bring up that fiasco again. His baby brother had been upset for quite awhile over the matter, an unusual occurrence where the boys were concerned and memorable because of it. Despite being a rather selfish person in a lot of ways, Wolfram was incredibly unselfish when it came to the people he loved and in his ability to be proud on the behalf of his husband and his children. And he was often, in fact, immensely proud of all three. Conrad rather suspected that that was why he also got so upset when any of them did things that crossed the line of what he considered right and proper.
Cheating on an exam definitely crossed that line, and it had crossed it quite severely in both parents' books.
And even though it had been more of a prank than anything on the part of the twins, they had gotten a right scolding from both Yuuri and Wolfram. It was hard to say which was worse. Everyone knew Wolfram had a royal temper, and he could yell with the best of them. But his temper could die as easily as it flared up, and deep down, Wolfram forgave the people he cared about even more easily than Yuuri did. Yuuri, on the other hand, had this way of looking coldly at a person without saying a word that could really make a person squirm in earnest. It worked great for the king when he needed to deal with uncooperative politicians, and quite frankly, a little frightening if you were on the receiving end for any length of time.
Flipping through the folder, Yuuri glanced over the contents before turning to his sons with a raised eyebrow.
"You two got the same scores in both history and strategy," Yuuri noted, slightly surprised. Usually, Cory got the high marks in the former and Mikale in the latter.
"We took our own tests," Cory assured him with a slight huff. "The teachers scheduled Maryoku exams at the same time and you know we can't take that for each other."
"Ah." The double black hid a smile. So the teachers had wised up in that respect over the past few years. After all, with Mikale being a water user like Yuuri but Cory being a wind user, they couldn't exactly pretend to be one another when asked to demonstrate their Maryoku. Aside from their personalities, it was one of the only really different things about the twins.
"You really shouldn't even be thinking about it, you know," Yuuri scolded them. "It's cheating, and it doesn't help you get a good education. Besides, you know how angry your mother was last time it happened. And he can be pretty scary when he's angry."
"But you make Mommy angry all the time."
"I do not!" Yuuri protested. "Er, not seriously. And, well, your Mommy's kind of cute when he's angry."
The twins exchanged looks. Their Daddy apparently didn't have very good survival instincts. Though seeing as he was the king and currently the most powerful Maryoku wielder in the kingdom, maybe that gave him some leeway to be a bit more idiotic now and then. And they had a feeling watching their parents that deep down, their Mommy found the trait somewhat endearing.
Parents could be so confusing sometimes.
"And anyway," Yuuri continued hastily, "you know he only gets angry because he cares."
"Yes, Father," the two chorused, though they were still a tad too young to fully comprehend what he meant. Understanding would come with time.
Behind the king's back, Yozak was struggling to hold back his laughter and Conrad had lifted a hand to hide his smile. Sometimes, the life of the royal family seemed so much like a dramatic comedy that it was hard not to be amused. At other times, it felt like the kind of sweet romance that left onlookers feeling oddly wistful.
"Thank you for keeping these, Conrad," Yuuri said, turning back to the two older men. "We'll be on our way then. If anything really important comes up, you two know where to find us."
Conrad nodded. "Of course, your Majesty. I hope the four of you enjoy your vacation."
"I certainly plan to."
After the king had departed with the twins in tow, Yozak turned to Conrad with a bemused frown. "So what was the occasion again?"
His captain shrugged, pouring himself another cup of tea. "It's the New Year on Earth. I understand there are many celebrations going on around this time. I expect his Majesty wishes for his family to experience them."
Not to mention it was a great excuse for getting away for a few days just to relax and have fun. Royal families always did seem to have such a hard time getting a proper, quality vacation.
Jennifer exclaimed in delight when she opened the door to find Wolfram on her doorstep. "Oh, Wolfie dear, it's been so long! How have you been?"
Returning her warm embrace, Wolfram smiled. "It's good to see you too, Mama. And we've been well. A bit busy, but I guess that's to be expected."
"I suppose it is," she sighed, giving him another squeeze before standing back so she could look him over from head to toe. "You really haven't changed at all. So, when will Yuuri and the boys get here?"
"Hopefully, soon. We're supposed to leave in just a few hours."
"But you will stay for lunch, won't you?" Jennifer asked, though the determined gleam in her eyes said it was more of a demand than a request. "It's been so quiet around here, especially with Shori traveling to Earth all the time."
"Of course we will," Wolfram assured her, following her through the entrance hall and towards the kitchen. "Do you need any help with that?"
The two chatted happily about their respective families until the doorbell rang again and Jennifer went to answer it, leaving Wolfram to keep an eye on the stew and prepare the vegetables for the curry. Wolfram smiled to himself when he heard the excited voices of the twins telling their grandmother about their day. Moments later, familiar arms slid around his waist from behind and Yuuri leaned forward to press a kiss to his temple.
"I assume this means we're eating lunch here."
"Your mother insisted."
"I expected as much." Resting his chin in his consort's golden hair, Yuuri glanced over the ingredients spread across the counter. "I'm surprised you still remember what Mom does with all this stuff."
"It's only surprising to you because you never knew," Wolfram sniffed. "And I'll have you know that I have excellent memory."
"Of course you do," the double black agreed, "and often for the strangest little details."
Wolfram snorted but didn't protest. He could admit privately that perhaps this was sort of true. The two of them fell into a comfortable silence, punctuated by the distant laughter of Jennifer and their sons. It was a wonderful sort of feeling, Wolfram decided, leaning a little bit more into the warm embrace of his king. He loved having his own family. It was amazing how much these three people could mean to him.
"Hey, Wolf," Yuuri said softly, his breath tickling the blonde's ear, "what would you think about moving to Earth for a few years when we retire?"
"Isn't it a bit early to be thinking about that? The next Maoh hasn't even been named yet."
"It's just a thought. So would you be okay with that?"
"If it's what you want to do, then it's okay with me." And they both knew he meant every word. As long as he was with Yuuri, he was happy. It had been that way since they were children.
Yuuri smiled faintly, tightening his hold on the petite blond Mazoku in his arms. He really was lucky to have met someone who could and did love him so completely.
"Thanks. I guess we'll see."
Lunch lasted well past noon with Mikale and Cory recounting some of their academy exploits and the adults trading details about their work. When most of the food had disappeared, they retrieved their bags and all headed towards the nearby temple. Yuuri didn't really need to go all the way to a temple to call up a portal, but the pool in the temple had steps leading down into it, and they decided that it would be more convenient—especially with it being the first time their children would cross the world boundaries. Walking down into the water was simpler and less intimidating than leaping into a river.
Cory peered into the pool as the water began to churn. "Are we really going to another world?"
"Sure are," Yuuri told him, ruffling his hair. And the two boys should be grateful that he'd perfected the art of making cross-world portals before they'd been born. Wolfram certainly hadn't enjoyed the experience much.
The fire Mazoku grimaced a little, glowering at the whirlpool. He never did like traveling this way. It was almost as bad as being on a boat. "Let's get this over with."
"Make sure you tell Shori to come visit us more often," Jennifer said, giving them each a hug before moving back. "Just because he's going to be Earth's next Maoh doesn't mean he's exempt from visiting his parents now and then. I expect to hear all about what he's been up to."
"We'll be sure to tell him to keep track of it all," Yuuri said, grinning. "And I'll personally send him back here if he forgets to visit."
Taking Wolfram's hand, Yuuri gestured for their sons to step into the water ahead of him. "Relax and let the water move you. If you struggle too much, it makes it harder to guarantee we'll all end up in the right place."
"You mean we can end up in the wrong place?" Mikale asked, his brow furrowing in slight concern.
"Not if you listen to your father," Wolfram replied.
Once all four of them were standing around the whirlpool, Yuuri cleared his throat. "Ready? Good. Let's go."
And they all stepped forward as Yuuri poured more power into the portal, and the whirlpool roared up around them.
Aizawa Akai glanced at his watch once more, frowning. He'd been told that they would be arriving at this lake in just a minute or two. How they could be so sure, he had no idea, but then that was magic for you. Even after all these years, he had trouble really, honestly believing in it.
But whether he believed in it or not, it seemed that the magic had been right this time. As the digital numbers of his watched changed to eleven o' clock A.M., the water of the lake began to stir. Within seconds, a vast whirlpool had formed, making Akai take several wary steps back. Then four people were stumbling out of the lake, two of them looking like they'd walked straight out of his childhood memories.
Akai found himself smiling despite himself as he hurried to meet them, bringing several towels with him. "Hey, long time no see. You two practically haven't changed at all."
"Akai?" Wolfram asked, shocked. "Is that really you?"
The man laughed. "Sure is. Akami wanted to come too, but it's a little inconvenient for her right now. She got married a year ago, you know. They're expecting their first child in just a few more months."
"We're really sorry we couldn't make it to her wedding," Yuuri said apologetically, but Akai waved it off.
"That's okay. We know how busy you guys usually are. After all, running a country's not exactly a walk in the park, right?" Crouching down, he grinned at the twin boys. "Hi there, my name's Akai. I don't believe we've met before."
While Wolfram looked over the introductions, Yuuri went over to the bag that Akai had brought and located the cell phone that he had used last time he'd been on Earth. A short search revealed a series of text messages from his brother. It seemed Shori had originally planned on being here, but been delayed by work. Well, there was hardly anything anyone could do about that. Yuuri knew better than anyone how the responsibilities of being a Maoh could interfere with one's personal life. Sending a message back to let Shori know that they'd arrived safely and would head over to visit Akami first, Yuuri slipped the phone into his pocket and turned back to the others.
"So then, shall we be going?"
Akai had arrived at the lake in one of the Mazoku organization's vans, an organization he was now employed at. His father and mother, he explained, had had to be relocated a few years back, and getting a job at the organization had been one of Akai's ways of making sure he could keep in touch with them. There were other reasons too, of course. He enjoyed his work, and it fascinated him to have the opportunity to learn more about his father's heritage. But mostly, it wasn't all that different from working for any other large company.
"We'll be picking Akami and Daichi up at the hospital, if that's all right," Akai told them, steering the car onto the road leading back towards the city.
"That's fine," Yuuri said, leaning back in his chair and moving to drape his arm around Wolfram's shoulders. His angel leaned his head against his shoulder, closing his eyes gratefully as the car picked up speed. He'd never grow to like these metal monstrosities, no matter how fast and convenient they were.
In the middle row of seats, their sons gazed through the windows with emerald eyes full of wonder at the scenery flashing past, pointing things out excitedly to one another as the first buildings came into view. They'd seen pictures of Earth cities in their parents' photo albums and the books Uncle Shori occasionally brought back, but that only added to their enthusiasm at finally getting to see the real things. Luckily for them, they didn't get motion sick as easily as their mother, and so they could enjoy the experience unhindered.
Akami was thrilled when they pulled up before the hospital. She'd grown up into a beautiful young woman, and she fairly glowed as she hugged the two Mazoku and introduced them to her curious husband. Apparently, she'd told him quite a lot about them. She'd been even more ecstatic to meet the twins.
"Akai and I are twins too, you know," she told them conspiratorially.
"Yup, just not identical ones like you two. We're fraternal twins. That's why we don't look that much alike."
On the way back towards her house, Akami insisted on sitting in the middle row with the twins while her husband sat with Yuuri and Wolfram in the back. Both boys were fascinated by the fact that Akami was going to be having a baby, and kept pestering her with questions. Mazoku pregnancies were rare, and they knew little about these sorts of things, not having yet hit that age in school where these matters were taught.
Akami just laughed. "I still have a couple months to go. I'm really hoping that she'll be born around the time of the cherry blossom festival. It's always so beautiful around that time, and the weather is so much better—not nearly this cold."
"What was the weather like when we were born?" Cory asked curiously, turning to peer over the back of his chair at his mother for answers.
Wolfram sniffed. "It was storming because your father was being a wimp."
"Hey," Yuuri protested, "I was worried about you!"
Emerald green eyes softened and looked away. "I know, but you really needn't have been."
"Can you really make it rain?" Daichi asked, impressed. Being one hundred percent human, he'd only just started to learn about Maryoku after meeting the woman who was now his wife. And even with all her stories, he'd yet to actually see any magic.
"Daddy can do much more than that," Cory interrupted before Yuuri could reply. "He's amazing. You should see his water dragons."
The king just smiled to himself. It was nice to be admired by your kids.
"There hasn't been that much fighting though, has there? Back in your world?" Akami asked, her expression taking a turn towards worry at the mention of water dragons.
"No, it's actually been fairly peaceful for the last couple years."
"Because of a lot of people's hard work," Wolfram added, a little disgruntled by the memories of all those ambassadorial visits and political meetings. "Yuuri's managed to get most of our neighbors to agree to signing peace treaties, and to start trying to work together towards reform. There are some countries that still oppose the idea of an alliance between Mazoku and human lands, but mostly, they don't dare to actually initiate any violence. Not anymore, anyway. There was this one battle a couple decades ago, but it was an overwhelming victory for our side." He smiled a rather satisfied smile at the memory. "And Yuuri scared them pretty good."
"That's good then," Akami concluded, wrapping one arm around her belly and smiling. "So let's talk about happier things. I'm sure you'll all love the New Year's celebrations..."
Shori joined them for dinner at a Chinese restaurant not far from the Japanese Mazoku organization headquarters where they would be staying once again. Clad in a black suit and tie, no one would even guess that he had been born and raised in another world. He greeted them with a tired but welcome smile, and they chose seats around the single round table in the private room that had been reserved for them.
"I'm glad to see you four doing well," he observed, nodding to his younger brother and his family. "Enjoying your vacation so far?"
Yuuri grinned in return. "Immensely. It's nice just to have a break once in awhile. I'm sure you're starting to understand."
"Definitely," Shori sighed, removing his glasses for a moment to massage the bridge of his nose. And he hadn't even taken over all of the Earth Maoh's responsibilities yet. Most of it was still currently being overseen by Kivan, who had left on business to America only the week before. "Listen, I've been having some problems with the local politicians. I was hoping you could give me your opinion on the matter."
"I'm all ears. Tell me about it."
Sometimes, it was a little disturbing that his younger brother had more experience with and knew more about running a country than he did, but Shori was getting used to that. And as a smart man himself, put aside any unhelpful feelings of embarrassment to ask Yuuri for advice when he needed it. Because, whatever else he was, Yuuri was undeniably a great king and one of the most respected Maohs since the original one.
While the two double blacks discussed business, Wolfram introduced his sons to the selection of dishes arrayed across the table. He drew some comparisons to food from their homeland, and then demonstrated the proper use of chopsticks.
Partway through the meal, the twins grew bored of listening to the adults and wandered away from the table. They ended up beside a fountain in the middle of the restaurant, designed like a miniature, rocky mountain riddled with tiny waterfalls, caves, and cliffs.
"Look!" Mikale exclaimed in surprise, drawing his younger brother's attention to the pool of water about the mountain's base. "They have fish."
Crouching down, Cory peered at the tiny, golden shapes beneath the rippling surface. "Why would you put fish in a water fountain, do you think?"
Mikale shrugged. "I suppose because there's no reason not to."
"That's not a very good reason."
"No, it's not, is it?"
This last comment had been made by one of the waitresses who had stopped when she'd overheard them. Coming to stand beside the fountain, she smiled at them.
"Fish are considered very lucky creatures in my country. They represent bountifulness. That's why you can find them in so many restaurants."
"Oh." The twins exchanged looks of understanding. Things people kept or did because they were good omens or brought good luck. That they could understand. The people at the temples were always talking about them.
Suddenly, Cory chortled. "I don't think Mommy would think much of fish being lucky."
"No," his brother agreed, lips tugging upward in a grin of his own. "He hates fish."
Turning back to the waitress, Mikale added politely, "Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, miss."
The woman's smile widened, and her eyes sparkled with amusement. "You're very welcome. You two boys are so adorable. Your mother must be a very beautiful lady."
This earned her a puzzled look.
"Mommy is a lord," Mikale informed her seriously, "and he is. Daddy always says so and so does everybody else."
The woman blinked. "You know, 'lord' is for men, dear. Women are called 'ladies'."
The child looked at her like he thought she'd gone a bit crazy. "I know that. Mommy is a man."
"…Oh, well, men can't be mothers because they can't have babies, dear."
"Daddy says Mommy's special."
Fortunately for the by-now very confused waitress, the twins spotted their mother frowning at them from across the restaurant at that moment and hurriedly excused themselves. As they returned to their chairs, Wolfram gave them a reprimanding look.
"You better not have been bothering that woman. And don't go off like that again without telling one of us. We were worried. This world might be more peaceful than ours, but that doesn't make it safe."
"Yes, mother," both boys said in unison. Wolfram couldn't help but smile at that, which the boys knew he would.
"Good. Now, finish your vegetables or you won't get any dessert."
After dinner, they made a stop at Daichi and Akami's house to drop the pair off before finally making their way back to the organization headquarters. Shori had had a suite prepared for them on one of the uppermost floors, and their luggage was speedily brought up for them. The rooms were spacious but simply decorated, which both the Maoh and his consort preferred. The suite's one concession to extravagance was an entire panel of floor to ceiling windows forming one side of the sitting room, which offered a magnificent, panoramic view of the city. The entire family loved it.
"The view from the roof's even better though," Akai told them, to Akami and Shori's agreement.
"Then let's go see!" Cory exclaimed, wasting no time in hurtling back out the door into the corridor beyond. Mikale waited a little longer, making sure their parents were following before dashing after his brother.
"They sure are full of energy," Akai observed, stifling a yawn. It had been quite a long day.
"You've done your part," Shori told him. "Perhaps you should go home."
But the younger man shook his head. "I'm fine. Besides, I've got the day off tomorrow, so I can sleep in."
"The city hasn't changed all that much from up here," Wolfram observed, stepping through the open doorway onto the roof after the younger members of their party. He'd been up there a few times with Conrad back while he'd still been carrying the twins and they'd taken shelter here on Earth. Out of all his relatives, his Little Big Brother was the only one who seemed to share his appreciation of—if not necessarily his interest in—art. And he'd patiently watch Wolfram try to sketch the sprawling cityscape in the sketchbook Shori had bought for him, giving suggestions now and then in his calm and brotherly sort of way. The memory brought a soft and somewhat wistful expression to his face. He'd even managed to sketch a picture Yuuri said was good on one of those excursions, and he always knew when Yuuri was lying about his art—which was almost all the time.
"Not that many years have passed here," Yuuri reminded him.
"That's true." Tugging his jacket closer about himself, Wolfram turned to look up at Yuuri. "Do you remember that restaurant we went to? The day we went to watch that movie."
The Maoh grinned. "Of course I remember. How could I forget?"
"I always think the city's more beautiful at night," Akai told the two boys who were right up near the railing that lined the edge of the roof. "And in a few nights, there's going to be a fireworks show. I bet that'll be something you don't get to see the likes of back in your world."
"Fire-works?" Cory repeated, baffled. "What are fire-works?"
Akai opened his mouth to explain then shut it again and scratched the back of his head. "Uh, good question. I guess you could say that they're... things that explode when they get up into the sky and make a lot of colorful sparks..."
Yuuri and Wolfram left the boys on the roof discussing fireworks excitedly with "Uncle Akai" and retired indoors to the room where they were going to be staying. It was such a pleasant change of pace, not having to worry about the responsibilities and dangers that came with their positions as a kingdom's royal couple. And being on Earth meant that nobody was going to suddenly come bother them with political issues or castle emergencies.
"I'm glad they're having fun," Yuuri sighed, closing the door behind them and wrapping his arms around his consort, burying his nose in his soft, golden locks. He loved the smell of the shampoo Wolfram used. It reminded him a little of roses. "It reminds me of the first time we were on Earth. Everything was so new and strange and amazing."
"I suppose we had fun then too," Wolfram conceded after some thought, "after we found each other anyway."
Before that, it had been a miserable and confusing adventure.
Turning around in Yuuri's embrace, Wolfram leaned up to kiss him. Yuuri smiled faintly, one hand moving into his angel's silky hair so he could tilt his head further and deepen the kiss, the gesture easy and familiar after so many years. Wolfram closed his eyes, sliding his arms up around his king's neck.
Finally, Yuuri reluctantly pulled away. "Let's move this to the bedroom, shall we?"
Wolfram started to laugh, but it turned into a squeak when Yuuri abruptly scooped him up into a bridal carry and headed for the door at the far end of the suite. "Yuuri! Did you lock the door?"
"Maybe, maybe not. Deal with it later."
"On your head be it if someone walks in on us."
"Hey, there's always the lock on the bedroom door." Yuuri's grin turned feral. "And anyways, it's not exactly a secret here that we're married. I'm allowed to make love to my consort if I want to. And the boys have heard you screaming for me before. You remember when Greta explained to them that I wasn't hurting you."
"Don't say things like that out loud! And Greta told them it was a game."
"Well, I certainly didn't think she was going to explain to them the truth at their age. Stop worrying. We're on vacation. I'm sure Akai will keep them busy. He's not an idiot."
Wolfram opened his mouth then shut it again with a shake of his head as Yuuri set him down on the bed. "I think you're spending way too much time being a politician."
The kind of politician that got what he wanted no matter what and had a reply to everything.
"It comes with the job."
The blond Mazoku smiled and reached up to tangle his fingers in his king's dark, dark hair.
"I want a daughter," he informed him, tugging the double black down onto the bed with him. Wolfram said it like it was somehow Yuuri's responsibility to make sure it happened, which it kind of was—but it also kind of wasn't.
"I thought I told you already that we only got twins last time when you wanted them because we were lucky," Yuuri reminded him, murmuring the words into the pale skin at his collarbone. "Even Shinou doesn't have that kind of power."
"I know. But maybe we'll be lucky again."
Yuuri detected a hint of sadness under his words and settled on making a sound of agreement before moving up to capture his angel's lips, whisking his mind away from more unpleasant thoughts. He knew what Wolfram had probably been thinking about. They had both been rather reluctant to see Greta go. He could still remember the day they'd first met her fiancé way back before she'd officially taken the throne of Rawsha...
Dark eyes stared at the letter in his hands. "What does she mean she's bringing her fiancé?"
Running the comb through his hair a few times and giving himself one last glance in the mirror, Wolfram walked over to the bed where his king was sitting and sat down beside him, peering over the piece of parchment which had arrived in an envelope just that morning signed by their foster daughter. "Well, obviously, it means that she's bringing her future husband."
Yuuri frowned in dismay. "She never mentioned being interested in anyone before."
"Yes, she did," Wolfram corrected him. "You just don't like to listen when she brings it up."
"I listen! It's just—well, we've never even met this man before. How do we know he'll be good to her?"
Wolfram leaned against him, resting his head against Yuuri's shoulder. "We'll just have to make sure of it. The letter does say that she's bringing him for a visit. If we really disapprove, we'll just let her know."
Which was true and the reasonable way to go about things, but a notion that nonetheless took some getting used to. Luckily, they'd had a week between the arrival of that letter and the arrival of their foster daughter to do just that.
When the carriage that had been sent to retrieve Greta and her potential significant other from the border finally arrived a week after her letter, it was to the sharp gazes of an intent and scrutinizing royal consort and a Maoh wearing a diplomatic smile that gave nothing away.
Eylis had heard many stories about Shin Makoku's royal couple, many of them from his fiancé, but just as many from other, possibly less reliable sources. He'd heard that the Maoh was a pacifist, and that he greatly opposed violence unless absolutely necessary. He'd done many things in order to bring peace—not only to Shin Makoku, but many of its neighbors as well. But don't do or say anything foolish, Greta had warned him quite sternly. Yuuri might be kind hearted, but he was also the demon king, and he had a reputation for being one of the most powerful demons in history.
Standing before them right at this moment in the courtyard of Blood Pledge Castle, however, Eylis couldn't help feeling that the shorter of the two with his glaringly intent, emerald stare was the more intimidating. He had to admit that the blond demon was every bit as beautiful as people claimed he was, but people also said he had a fiery temper that could be rather volatile. He couldn't help feeling like he was being judged the longer the blonde looked at him, and he wasn't sure what the outcome would be.
"Your Majesties," he greeted them hurriedly, bowing deeply to both Mazoku. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Greta's told me so much about you, and I look forward to learning more about your amazing kingdom. We both fully intend to uphold the alliance that her sister created with Shin Makoku."
It turned out that Eylis and Greta had met at Rakell's coronation anniversary celebration. Rakell herself hadn't actually wanted to throw a party, but her people had insisted. After all, the return of their princess had marked a era of great change for them, and a great change for the better. He'd heard that the younger princess had been raised by Mazoku and had approached her out of curiosity, since he had a trace of Mazoku blood himself from several generations back in his family tree.
Just giving Eylis the grand tour of the castle took until late afternoon, and they rounded off the evening with a leisurely stroll through the vast gardens before retiring indoors for dinner.
"Your are from a merchant family?" Yuuri asked, taking his seat at the head of the long table. He'd tried time and time again to get some smaller tables in the formal dining hall, but this was one thing about the castle he hadn't been able to change yet. Besides, ridiculous as it was for small parties, the double black had to admit that these long tables had their uses during formal banquets and celebratory parties.
"I am," Eylis confirmed, sitting down next to Greta, who had dropped into the chair to the Maoh's left. "My father is a merchant, and his parents before him as well, although my great grandparents were craftsmen."
"He's already started helping with our economic policies," Greta chimed in. "He has some really great ideas and has been of great help."
"And what did you do before that?" Wolfram asked, "I don't know much about education in Rawsha."
Frankly, he'd never been interested before, but this was a family matter. He always had energy for family matters.
"Well," Eylis started slowly, perhaps unsure if there could be a wrong answer to such a question, "I was mostly homeschooled early on. Public schools are a relatively recent development in Rawsha, at least for people like me, and then I attended college in the capital..."
This sort of mixture between casual conversation and subtle interrogation went on until dessert arrived. By that point, both the Maoh and his consort had to agree silently that Greta seemed to have found herself a reasonably smart and decent young man. His family hadn't come from nobility, but then neither had Yuuri's. There were far more important aspects to a person than his bloodline—like his character, for instance, and his dreams. Mostly, Wolfram studied the man's eyes as he spoke, watched the way they shone when he talked about their foster daughter, and he decided that maybe the man was just kind enough, just passionate enough, and just devoted enough for Wolfram to give his approval. Hopefully, Yuuri would come to the same conclusion.
Wolfram left shortly after to put the twins to bed, taking Greta with him to visit her foster siblings. Yuuri and Eylis listened to their voices moving farther and farther away until silence descended between them. Eylis fidgeted nervously, suddenly keenly aware that he was seated at a table with the demon king. He couldn't think of anything to say. Finally, the Maoh broke the stillness.
"You'll take care of her."
It sounded more like an order than a question and Eylis gulped. He wondered why he'd ever thought that the Maoh was less scary than his consort. Those dark, piercing eyes seemed to bore right into his soul. The double black didn't tack on an "or else" but he didn't have to.
"Good." Abruptly all smiles, Yuuri stood up. "I suggest we all retire for the evening then. We've got an outing to the countryside planned for tomorrow and I'm sure we'll want to be well rested. A servant will show you to your room. I shall see you and Greta at breakfast."
...Greta had her own children now. In fact, she even had her own grandchildren. Yuuri and Wolfram visited when they could, and tried not to think about the growing generational gap too much.
The Maoh took a certain pleasure in the half mewl, half gasp that fell from Wolfram's lips as he pressed into his angel's warm, pliant body. Quite frankly, Yuuri was surprised that they hadn't had any more children with how active they were in their love life even after so many decades of being together. Then again, Mazoku simply didn't conceive easily. It was one of the major reasons why the Mazoku population had declined so much over the centuries, plus the wars that had wracked their lands before. And Wolfram's ability to bear children had come as a magical gift, and no one seemed to know how that factored into everything, not even the one who had given the gift to begin with.
In any case, Yuuri certainly wasn't complaining about trying.
Three pairs of green eyes looked from the food Shori had just passed out to them to the adorable, fluffy, four-legged creature seated a little ways away at another park visitor's feet.
"You said these are called hot dogs?" Wolfram repeated, sounding more than a bit disturbed.
Following the direction of their dismayed stares, Shori snorted. No wonder the three looked so horrified. "Oh no, don't worry. It's not made from dog. Although there are people who eat dogs, it's not a popular thing to do in most places."
Wolfram and the twins breathed their own sighs of relief before continuing on to try the food. They had arrived at the amusement park a short while ago and Shori had volunteered to buy lunch for everyone while Yuuri had been dispatched to look for a map and check the performance schedules. Wolfram vividly remembered the last time he'd been at an Earth amusement park, and he had to admit that even now, he found the idea of it somewhat hard to wrap his mind around. Every time he heard the people screaming as the coasters zoomed past above, he wondered just how crazy Earth people had to be to subject themselves to such trauma—and take such delight from it. Still, the twins seemed to be having the time of their lives, and that was reason enough for Wolfram to come again in the future.
Just as long as he didn't have to actually go on any of the rides himself. But then his husband and his brother in law could accompany the kids on those.
"Looks like we've got a busy day ahead of us," Yuuri announced, brochures in hand as he arrived at their table. Claiming the empty chair next to Wolfram, he unfolded the brochure and surveyed its contents once more. "So where would you boys like to start? There's going to be a bird show in half an hour at an open-air theatre pretty close to here, or we can start with the rides. Looks like there are also a lot of carnival games just a short walk away."
"Carnival games?" Cory asked curiously.
"You know that giant stuffed teddy bear your uncle Gwendal has?" Yuuri asked. "Your mother won that at a school carnival our first time on Earth. A lot of carnival games give you prizes if you can beat them."
"Prizes?" The two boys exchanged excited looks. If there was one thing they both enjoyed, it was a good game with a prize at the end. And they'd always loved that giant teddy bear.
By the time they returned to the organization headquarters, the twins had accumulated enough stuffed animals to make the drive somewhat uncomfortable—plus a couple of tiny fish that Yuuri had caught for them. Trying to catch those tiny fish with paper nets was really far too difficult without the help of Maryoku, the twins had decided after their fifteenth net had broken, and their father had finally given in to their pleas for help. Yuuri eyed the mass of prizes, wondering just how he was going to transport it all safely back home with them when their vacation was over.
"Don't worry about it," Wolfram mumbled, his head tucked under Yuuri's chin. The twins had fallen asleep amidst the stuffed animals in the back row. "We're not letting them bring all those back. Most of them aren't even good looking."
"You don't think they'd be too disappointed?"
The blonde sniffed. "They had enough fun getting them, and they can keep their favorites. It's not like they're going to play with them all once we get home. Besides, they've already got far too many of Big Brother's knitted toys."
"I guess that's true. I wonder if this is what it's like to be a normal family."
"I'm not sure you two could ever be a normal family," Shori observed from the driver's seat, glancing at their reflection in the rearview mirror. "But I suppose it's pretty close, as far as normal, Earth families go."
"Hmmm." Yuuri wrapped one arm around his consort, rubbing his back absently as he watched the scenery go by outside. Then he smirked and turned to catch his brother's gaze in the mirror, "So, Shori, Mom demanded that I ask you if you've been seeing anyone."
Shori winced. "She's still going on about that?"
"You should just be grateful that Wolf and I were able to give her grandchildren, or else she'd really be on your case."
"I am eternally grateful. And you can just pass along the message that no, I'm still not dating anyone."
"Actually, I would suggest that you tell her you're thinking about it," Yuuri advised. "She's been asking Wolfram about persuading me to send her over here so she can help you. IF you don't want her "help", I'd suggest you work hard at making some progress on your own."
Shori's expression turned horrified at even the suggestion of their mother coming to Earth to take charge of his love life. "Shinou help me. That would be just like her, I suppose. Find then, tell her that I'll start looking. Who knows? I guess it's remotely possible that I'll meet someone at the New Year's party. Oh, did I mention that Kivan and his entourage are coming here for the New Year's party?"
"No, I believe you left that part out." Yuuri sighed and grumbled, "Damn, I hate going to parties with important people."
"Don't forget that you happen to be one of those important people."
"Yes, I know. And that's the biggest annoyance right there."
"Well, he is still Earth's Maoh. It would be rude of him not to greet the visiting Maoh and his family."
"I suppose." The younger double black's resigned look softened as he drew his now-dozing angel closer to him. "Guess it's a good thing that Wolf insisted that we bring at least one set of formal clothes."
When they finally drew into the parking lot, Yuuri woke Wolfram and the twins, and the five of them divided up the day's rewards to be carried back to their rooms. Then Shori bid them all goodnight and Yuuri left to place calls to both Akai and Akami while Wolfram helped the twins prepare for bed.
As Wolfram moved to tuck his sons under the covers, he spotted a book on the nightstand that hadn't been there the night before. He picked it up and turned it over. "What's this?"
"Uncle Akai said that Aunt Akami said to give it to us," Mikale explained. "He says all the stories in them are Earth fairytales. He told us a few of them too—like this one where a nice girl has to do all this work for her mean stepmother, but ends up marrying a prince and living happily ever after."
Wolfram raised his eyebrows. "Happily ever after?"
Mikale nodded solemnly. "Apparently, they don't all end like that, but we like the ones that do. If stories have to have endings, I definitely prefer happy ones."
The corners of Wolfram's mouth twitched upward in amusement. Maybe it wasn't all that realistic, but he would too.
"Can you read one to us?"
Cory looked up at his mother, green eyes pleading, and Wolfram was suddenly reminded of himself when he'd been just a child, looking imploringly up at Lady Celi and asking her to read the storybook to him because Little Big Brother wasn't home to do it. She'd always been too busy though, and he'd end up stumbling through the pages on his own, determined not to complain but feeling quite abandoned nonetheless.
Shoving the memories away, Wolfram moved to sit on the bed between them. Rifling through the pages of the book and glancing through the pictures, he surmised that most of the stories were about princesses and princes, warriors and witches and simple maidens dreaming of faraway things. And again, he remembered that night just shortly before he'd met Yuuri at that party when his mother had tucked him into bed and told him that he'd marry a prince one day. A slight smile made its way onto Wolfram's face at that; a prince, she'd said, who would sweep him off his feet and be with him for the rest of his life. Then he'd met Yuuri. And even though it had taken some time for the double black to get around to the "sweeping Wolfram off his feet" part, the blond Mazoku had been content to wait because he hadn't been lonely anymore.
"It'll be your own little fairytale," his mother had said.
Shaking his head, Wolfram flipped back to the first story in the book and settled back against the headboard. Happily ever after, was it? Well, he could certainly live with that.
"When's Daddy going to be back?" Cory asked, snuggling close to Wolfram's side and pulling his blanket up with him.
"He's just making final arrangements for tomorrow. Akami and Akai wanted all of us to go to the beach together. He'll be back when he's done. Now, if you want me to read you a story, you're going to have to be quiet."
Cory clamped his mouth shut quickly, wide-eyed. On Wolfram's other side, Mikale wrapped his own blanket about his shoulders and waited patiently, his intent watchfulness reminding Wolfram of Yuuri when the Maoh was in deep thought.
His smile widened and Wolfram cleared his throat, returning his attention to the words on the page before him. "Once upon a time..."
In a few more days, they would have to return home to Shin Makoku and their many duties and responsibilities. And maybe it was a bit too early to be thinking about "ever after". But as he finished the story and set the book on the nightstand after the twins had fallen asleep, and Yuuri met him at the door with an amused murmur in response to his angel's stifled yawn, Wolfram could say with absolute truth that yes, he was happy.
Once upon a time, there was a little angel with hair like woven gold and sunshine. He was very beautiful, but also very lonely, for everyone in his family was very important and had little time for him. Until one day, he met a young prince with hair and eyes the color of darkest night, and he laughed with him and made the angel smile. The angel was happy, and the prince fell in love with that smile, although he did not yet really know what it meant to love.
They played together almost everyday after that. The angel devoted himself to helping his prince become a great king, and the prince dedicated himself to creating a kingdom where he thought both of them could live in peace. And as they grew older, they both secretly promised themselves that someday, they would marry...
AN: I'm a bit amazed at how long this story got. I originally intended it to be much shorter. In any case, I really enjoyed writing it, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it.
To those of you who made suggestions for this story, thank you. I will take them into consideration if I write any other stories on this world. A lot of people have asked for a sequel. I'd love to write one and I have some ideas, but I'm currently really busy so I'm not sure how long it will take me to get around to it.
I was a little shocked when I actually met a man called Gwendal at a Christmas party. I didn't know that was a name people actually had these days.
Anyways, I hope you all have a great week:)