Chapter 1: A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes
No matter how hard and furiously he scrubbed at the metal surface, the dirt just wouldn’t come off. He tried boiling water, soap, even soaked it in for a couple of hours in hot water before trying again but this one spot just wouldn’t come off. It was mocking him, taunting him to try again and again just to fail all over again.
Eijirou felt personally offended. He was good at what he was doing, wearing his work clothes with pride and never turned someone down in the desperate need of help. So, when the kitchen boy came running to him, sobbing violently, that he just couldn’t get the pot clean, he hadn’t hesitated for a second. That was just this morning, and after spending hours over hours with this pot, he was close to just throw it out of the window.
In the time the pot soaked in hot water and soap, Eijirou met his other obligations, but his mind was occupied by different possibilities to get this damned pot clean. It was mind-numbing and frustrating, but Eijirou was nothing but persistent. When he returned to the kitchen after cleaning up the dinner table, the water had cooled down long ago, cleared from all the foam. Eijirou grabbed one handle, bringing the pot close to his face and inspecting the dirt. Which was still there. He grabbed for a washcloth and rubbed at it feverishly.
He sighed. Probably the 20th-something time in the last few minutes. The pot has to be clean for dinner preparations which had already started so he needed to do something about this. Fast. On the spot, he grabbed some drying cloth, wiped it just barely over the surface so it wouldn't trickle and sprinted out of the kitchen.
Clutching the pot under his arm, Eijirou took sharp turns, almost colliding with maids carrying bed linings or other errand boys. Every time, he threw an apology over his shoulder but didn’t stop until he reached the door at the far end of the corridor in the east wing of the castle.
The east wing was their designated place to live, to wash, to prepare. The kitchen was the place that connected their wing with the main building, so that the food could be carried for breakfast, dinner, lunch and other snacks directly to the dining hall or the royal chambers without taking detours. The west wing was used by higher personal such as academics, advisers, and physicians. Eijirou was only once in the west wing, a special occasion when he arrived at the castle when he was around 7 years old and had to be examined by the royal physician.
He screeched to a halt, when he finally arrived at the wooden door, small cracks showing its age, and knocked at it with a fist.
“Come on in!”
Eijirou’s lips spread to a grin when he entered. “Denki!” He exclaimed. Denki’s head jerked up, his blonde hair swinging with the movement, and his eyes settled on Eijirou.
“Hey.” He pushed some of the herbs he had in his hand back into its small pouch, pulling it close by its strings. “What can I do for you? Do you have another scratch? Or”, he trailed off as he saw the pot under Eijirou’s arm and raised his eyebrows in question.
Denki was the only assistant for the physician designated for the lower standing staff. Since the physician didn’t deem it necessary to be present at all times, or at all, he left Denki most of the time alone. An untrained assistant was enough for their lot. But nobody minded as much. Denki wasn’t especially good as a physician, by all means, but he was enthusiastic and took everything seriously. They were grateful they had him, and everyone trusted him with their lives, way more than the royal physicians who would just let them die anyway.
Eijirou held up the pot, the dirty spot low on the side, almost at the bottom, showing it as an affront to his very existence. Some of the soup had spilled and was burnt to the metal, the audacity it had.
“It won’t come off. Do you have something that can be used for that?” Eijirou’s was as serious as it could get, prioritizing this problem above else. “We need this pot for dinner preparations.”
Denki’s smile slowly fell and looked at Eijirou stone-faced. “I have medication for humans only. Not for kitchenware.” He deadpanned.
“I knooow.” Eijirou whined, stretching the last syllable. “I just thought, you could have something… like when you wash out a wound or something. That stuff really burns, maybe it washes out food stains as well?”
“That’s not how it works, dude!” Denki threw his hands up in the air, shaking his head in disbelief. “Flesh works differently than meta-“ He stopped midsentence, eyes growing distant in thoughts. “Actually.”
Denki whirled around on his wooden stool, leaning down to grab a small bottle from under his desk. The flask was bulbous and contained a clear liquid, which Eijirou eyed curiously.
“You could be onto something.” Denki’s eyes sparkled. He was about as adventurous as Eijirou and together they destroyed enough furniture and each other’s belongings, everyone grew wary of them.
He ushered Eijirou closer, pointing at his desk to put the pot down on it. “This is alcohol. It is used to clear out dirt and filth out of open wounds and burns like a bitch, but that’s because it literally dissolves the dirt.”
Eijirou met his eyes with the same intense sparkle. “Dissolves.” His lips curled into a wide grin. “Do it!”
Denki uncorked the flask, tilting it just lightly to drip some of the highly concentrated solution onto the metal. Holding their breath, they looked at the dirty spot. Nothing happened. Their faces grew disappointed, Eijirou furrowing his eyebrows. “That’s it?”
Denki looked at the flask, took a sniff at it and made a face. “That’s definitely alcohol.” Confused, Denki whirled the content around in its container, humming as he thought. “Ah!” Eijirou flinched as Denki grabbed the hem of his shirt and scrubbed on the metal.
“Look!” Denki pointed at the spot, ignoring Eijirou’s outcry. Eijirou followed Denki’s finger and squinted his eyes at the pointed spot. And sure enough, the dirty spot didn’t look as dark and burnt anymore. They looked at each other open mouthed and squealed.
Denki grabbed for a rug that lay around, dripped it slightly in alcohol and before he could even offer it, Eijirou yanked it from his hand and scrubbed at the metal vigorously. It took a few hard scrubs but after a good minute, the dirt was finally gone.
“You’re a genius!” Eijirou beamed at him.
“So they say.” Denki pushed his hair back, leaning back and basking in the compliment.
“Thanks, man!” Eijirou smacked his shoulder, making Denki doubling nearly over, and was almost out the door when Denki yelled after him.
“Wait!” He huffed, rubbing his shoulder. “Is it already time for the banquet?”
Eijirou walked on the spot, shaking his head. “Not yet. The day after tomorrow. Some arrived today already though, so they wanted to host them some pricy dinner.”
Denki nodded. “Alright. Off you go. What would they do without their best all-round-talent?”
Eijirou jerked his hand up with a thumbs-up and bolted out the door. When he arrived back in the kitchen, he returned the pot to its rightful place. The kitchen boy spotted him almost instantly and jumped against his chest, squeezing him in a tight embrace.
“Thank you, Eijirou!”
Eijirou petted his head and grinned. “No problem.” The boy let go of him and resumed his duties, now with a small spring in his step. It was all Eijirou needed to know that all the hassle was worth it.
He rubbed his forearm over his sweaty forehead. He wore a small headband so that his raven black hair wouldn't fall into his face but it wasn’t enough to soak up all the sweat he accumulated by running through the whole east wing.
The rest of the day was spent in preparation for dinner, Eijirou taking on every task dutifully. He was only allowed in the main building on really special occasions since his appearance seemed to not appease to everybody with his black hair, red eyes and pointy teeth. That wasn’t all too bad, Eijirou could run around the east wing to his heart’s desire and helped out wherever it was needed.
By the end of the day, his body was aching pleasantly, energy almost completely spent he could fall asleep on the spot. His friends had other plans. When Eijirou opened the door to his chamber, actually a joined chamber with three other, his friends were sitting in a circle on the ground, talking animatedly.
Eijirou yawned, walked around them to just fall down on his bed but Hanta grabbed him by his wrist. “Dude!”
Eijirou yawned again, trying to convey that he wasn’t in the mood for it but, like always, they either didn’t understand or just ignored it. Hanta pulled him down, scooting over to make some space for him and Eijirou stumbled to the ground.
“What is it?” He sighed defeated. It was easier to entertain them for a while and then hit the sack instead of fighting them. He looked up with drooping eyelids, eyeing the small pot, small like a cup. It was bulbous and brown, a dark lid closing over it. The material seemed to be clay and, therefore, wasn’t see-through, not revealing its content.
His friends didn’t answer him immediately, looking at each other conspiratorial.
“We… don’t know actually.” Denki finally said. “We try to find out.”
Eijirou raised an eyebrow at that. “What?”
“It was just… there!” Mina gestured at their room. “When I came in it was just sitting on the ground and we can’t open it.”
Now, this caught Eijirou’s attention. His eyes sprung open, now eyeing the pot more warily. Hanta nodded at him in agreement, crossing his arms.
“Yeah, we all tried but nothing. Denki threw it against the wall, but nothing.”
Eijirou pressed out a surprised laugh. “What.” He shook his head at Denki who just shrugged. “Was just testing it.”
“But touching it… doesn’t do anything?”
His friends all shook their heads, so Eijirou took the pot with his fingertips, still careful as if it could explode any moment. He turned it around a few times in front of his face, turned it upside down to feel anything of its content but he only felt the weight of it, no movement inside.
“Huh.” He hummed, pursing his lips. He cautiously put his hand on the lid, giving it an experimental tug and with a low pop opened it. Eijirou’s eyes grew wider by the second, Mina taking in a sharp inhale while Hanta and Denki hold onto each other in support. Eijirou swallowed.
He slowly lifted the lid and peered inside the pot. At first, it was hard to see, the room already dark only lit by two candles, but when he squinted his eyes, he saw the outline of some gooey-ish liquid. He held the pot tipped against one of the candles to see better, confirming that it was indeed some creamlike substance, now shining in a deep red in the candlelight.
“Okay.” He hummed. Okay, what? He didn’t expect anything, but this was a little underwhelming. His friends pushed their heads into his line of vision, trying to see inside the pot as well. Tilting the pot slightly to let them see better, he looked at the lid in his hand. Turning it around to see if something was inscribed to explain the substance. Nothing.
“What is that?” Mina asked nobody in particular but they all just shrugged.
“Is it edible?” Denki mused, chin pinched between his thumb and index finger. His eyes locked with Eijirou’s and they both grinned at each other but before Eijirou could even move to dip a finger inside Hanta grabbed his wrist.
“No! Geez, guys, I wonder why you aren’t dead yet.” He shook his head. “Please don’t eat strange stuff out of magical appearing jugs.”
Denki and Eijirou looked down, huffing disappointedly but mumbled a low apology. Mina rolled her eyes. “Guys.” Before anyone could stop her, she dipped her fingers inside. Hanta yelped, jumping backwards.
“Huh.” He hummed. She pulled her fingers out, dipped in the red substance and rubbed it between her fingers. “Weird.” Eijirou leaned over, eyeing it curiously and sniffed at it.
“What does it feel like?” he asked after not smelling anything.
“I… don’t know. It doesn’t feel like anything. I only know it’s there because I see it.”
Denki and Eijirou dipped their fingers inside instantly, ignoring the groaning from Hanta. Similar to Mina, Denki hummed. “That’s like totally weird.”
Eijirou stayed silent, blinking in confusion. “Yeah, I totally can feel it.”
Mina and Denki head snapped up and squinting their eyes. “What do you mean, you can feel it?”
“Well, it feels gooey and cold and… like some of those pastes you smear on scratches.” Eijirou nodded at Denki. “But somehow different. It’s hard to explain.”
“That’s so weird! I don’t feel anything at all.” Denki shook his head.
“Maybe it is for Eijirou.” Hanta contributed, breaking his silence. Their heads whipped around, Eijirou blinking a few times.
“Look”, Hanta gestured vaguely at the pot, “we couldn’t open it, Eijirou could. We can’t feel it, Eijirou can. That sounds to me that whatever it is and whoever brought it here, wanted it to be opened by Eijirou.”
Eijirou stared at the red substance at his fingers, tuning out the bursting voices of his friends. A substance just for him, huh? What could he possibly use it for? For what is it to be used for? Rubbing it between his fingertips, a strange thought formed inside his head as if it was planted there by somebody else and without thinking it through, when did he ever?, he ran his fingers through his hair, smearing it through it.
His friends shrieked, Denki almost doubling over as he crouched before him, Mina and Hanta wailing their arms around helplessly. Eijirou just blinked. He didn’t even realize what he was doing until his fingers were in his hair.
Their silence was broken by a slow gasp. Denki’s eyes widened, opening and closing his mouth over and over again.
“What the… Dude. What. Guys. I don’t…” His eyes didn’t leave Eijirou’s hair but growing slowly in panic. Eijirou finally snapped back from wherever his thoughts were and pulled at his hair.
“What?! What is happening?” He heard the tremble in his own voice. Did his hair fall out?
“Eijirou!” Mina gasped and scrambled to her bedside, rummaging through the few belongings everyone was allowed to own and pulled out an oval-shaped mirror. It was cracked and split the image into five separate, smaller ones but was still useful. She held it in front of Eijirou’s face.
Eijirou wasn’t sure what the mirror showed at first, blinking a few times, then he yanked the mirror out of her hands and stared at his reflection. His gaze fixed on his hair. His red hair. His blindingly, screaming red hair.
His eyes darted upwards, panic slowly rising inside him, then back to his reflection. Still red hair. He grasped one of his longer strands of hair and pulled it in front of his eyes and sure enough, still red.
He ran over to their water bucket and unceremoniously dipped his whole head under water. With his fingernails, he scratches over his scalp, through his hair to try to wash out the color. He emerged his head after a few moments, staring at the water that was as clear as before.
Silently they just stared at each other, at loss for words, helpless and confused.
“Okay.” Hanta raised his hand, pushing Eijirou down on his shoulder. “We need to think this through. No need to panic. It is probably harmless.”
“Harmless?” Eijirou winced.
“Well, at least it doesn’t burn or itches. Maybe it’s toxic, but at least not instantaneously.” He shrugged.
“Not helpful!” Eijirou’s elbow connected with Hanta’s arm, earning a strangled yelp.
“Yes, yes, sorry.” He rubbed at his arm. “Maybe it’s only temporal. Maybe it will wash out tomorrow.”
Eijirou raised his eyebrows, unconvinced. “And if not?”
“Then we’ll think about something else.”
It didn’t wash out the next morning. Eijirou stared at his reflection in the water, bracing himself at the edges of the bucket. His hair was still fiercely red. It wasn’t actually that Eijirou minded. He liked the color red. And he thought it suited him. Even if he was shunned because of his red eyes, the color held something mystical to him. Red looked good on him, he decided.
However, he was just one of the lowest ranked errand boys in the royal castle. It could cost him his head if he showed up with sudden red hair. Maybe even burnt alive on suspicion of witchcraft. He shuddered. They had to do something.
His friends looked as helpless as yesterday evening. Their eyes flitted around each other, but no one came up with an idea. Denki then grabbed for one of Eijirou’s headbands and knotted it around his head. He pushed every strand of hair underneath it, pulled the headband a tad bit tighter for good measure and nodded at his work.
“At least, no one will see.”
Eijirou frowned. This wasn’t going to end well. Still, he took a glance at his reflection in Mina’s mirror, turning his head from left to right and back again, seeing no loose strand and nodded in defeat. There was nothing else they could do for now. They had to start their work soon and didn’t have the time to experiment around with his hair. When push came to shove, he could always shave his entire head.
It was nerve-wracking, to say the least. Eijirou tried his best to not think about his hair, but whenever it felt like his headband would slip or someone grabbed at him or he bumped into something or someone, his hand jerked upwards, holding on to it tightly. Some of the other working staff either eyed him a little suspicious or curiously but they let it slide without saying anything. They knew Eijirou was a good boy and whatever he did with his head, it probably involved Denki and an unsuccessful experiment.
They weren’t wrong. Still, bright red hair wasn’t something he could just wear and excuse it due to an experiment. That would scream for punishment or worse. So he kept his mouth shut, didn’t talk about it and tried his best to do his work.
When the afternoon came around, he sprung to the opportunity to help the maids with washing clothes. He grabbed one of the tubs and carried it outside, one arm pressing it in place on his hip, and followed the maids towards the river behind the castle. He searched for a place a little more upstream, not in the mood for the usual chitchat, washing in peaceful quiet.
He was halfway through the dirty clothes when he held a shirt in his hands adorned with golden stitches, detailed decoration webbed into its front and the royal crest embroidered into each side of the collar. Eijirou almost let it slip through his fingers in shock. He only had to wash bed clothing and some staff clothing, not royal garments. It must have been separated wrongly.
He stumbled a little, his feet lost their footing on the river bed, they slipped and he fell over on his back with a loud yelp. He stretched out his arms in a last attempt to safe the royal shirt and submerged almost fully in the water. Fortunately, it was still shallow were he stood, but he was completely soaked for now. Scrambling back to his feet, he examined the shirt in his hands and sighed in relief as he saw no water or dirt on it.
Wadding out of the water, Eijirou pulled down his headband that now really had shifted on his head. Carefully, he placed the royal shirt of the branch of a nearby tree, a short distance to the river, and pulled his shirt up. It was still cold, the spring still lingered with a light chill, and he was not keen to catch a cold.
In hindsight, he couldn’t say why he didn’t hear any hoofbeats approaching. There was no rushing of water, the noise of the other maids was downstream and didn’t carry all the way up to where he worked at, only a few birds were chirping but not even remotely loud enough. The fact was, as soon as he had his shirt pulled over his head, he was facing a horse straight on.
His eyes widen and after a second stumbled backward. His eyes flew upwards to the rider, that looked at him with squinting eyes. It was definitely someone with nobility. Not that riding a horse within the royal grounds were an indication, but the garment of the horse, the expensive looking horse-riding clothes and the excessive jewelry on both rider and horse were a pretty good implication.
Before Eijirou could drop to his knees, the rider’s eyes darted towards the royal garment still wafting in the slow wind at the tree branch.
“Ah, are you here as well for the banquet the day after tomorrow?” A smile dripping with fake cheerfulness stretched on his face. “It is always so boring at them, don’t you think? Old men trying to impress each other.” He shook his head not even giving Eijirou a chance to speak up.
“Well, I must say, I look forward to it now.” His eyes looked up at his red hair. “This will give them the shock of their lives.” He laughed airily. His eyes were sparkling in anticipation of entertainment at the banquet at the expanse of someone else.
“Now then, I will see you at the banquet.” He turned his horse around and galloped the way he came from.
Eijirou let out a breath he didn’t know he held in. His heart was drumming against his chest, jumping high into his throat Eijirou thought he would throw up any moment. His hands trembled as he slowly kneeled down, trying to take deep breathes. He just escaped death by an inch. He could have been killed for his hair, for his lack of proper mannerism in front of nobility, maybe even theft for royal garment if the rider would see it that way.
Mechanically, Eijirou stood up and finished his work in a daze. Apparently, he had half the head to put back on his shirt, tugging his hair back under his headband, when and how he didn’t remember. He didn’t even remember walking back to the east wing, bringing the tub back to the wash chamber and returning to their sleeping chambers. Furthermore, he didn’t remember taking the shirt with him.
But here he was, sitting on his bed, royal garment clutched in his hands, staring at it blankly. What a mess he was.
Mina was the first of his friends to return and she stopped dead in the doorway, surprised to see Eijirou here since he always was the last one to return.
“Eiji—” she interrupted herself when her eyes fell on the shirt in his hands. She took a step in the room and shut the door close with a bang, jolting Eijirou out of his daze. He yanked the shirt behind him, eyes wide in shock.
“What happened?” Mina’s voice wasn’t serious very often, she was the most optimistic one of them and probably kept them all sane with her cheerfulness. So, when she was the one to get serious it meant business. Eijirou could already feel the tears prodding behind his eyes.
“Mina.” He sniffed. He lunged forward, pushing himself into her arms and just held her close. A few tears fell as he trembled and inhaled shakily, thoughts still in shambles.
“Tell me what happened.” Mina urged again, softer this time. She stroked Eijirou’s back, tangling her fingers through his hair. And Eijirou told her. His words came out a little shaken, sometimes with a short stutter. When he finished, he let go of her, rubbing his hand over his eyes and took in a deep breath.
He sat back down on his bed and buried his face in his hands. “What should I do?” He mumbled.
There wasn’t a lot he could do. Either he could just ignore it and hope the noble wouldn’t ask around for someone with bright red hair, the best option. Or he could confess but it would probably cost him his life. But if the noble would ask around, there was a good chance Eijirou was going to be found out with, well, his screaming red hair.
Mina hummed in thoughts, arms crossed and head pushed back into her neck. Before she could voice her opinion, the door opened again for Denki and Hanta. They were laughing but as soon as they saw the other two remaining silent in a grave atmosphere they shut up. Mina shortly recollected what Eijirou just told her.
“Holy… Dude.” Denki shook his head. He plopped down to the floor, leaning back into his hands. “You okay?”
Eijirou just shook his head, still hiding his face behind his hands. Hanta sat down cross-legged, leaning his elbow on the bed. “Cutting it is still an option.”
They all stood silent, knowing that it was the most reasonable solution. It wasn’t uncommon to cut the servants’ hair and no one but them knew his hair was red. There would be no correlation to some noble asking for a person with red hair and Eijirou cutting his.
“Alright.” His voice was void from any emotion. It was the only option he actually had to avoid any consequences that didn’t involve him dead or heavily mutilated. He didn’t want to count on some possibility, that the noble would just forget about it. No, he would probably boast about it and wouldn’t rest until he found him again.
He grabbed under his bed for his little bag, pulled out a blunt knife but still sharp enough to do the job and handed it to Mina. Even if it was a shave and no actual haircut, he didn’t trust Denki and Hanta with a knife on his hair. Mina took it silently and sat down behind him on her knees, driving her fingers through his hair one last time.
She grabbed a handful of hair, pulled it back tightly and positioned the knife at his hairline. Eijirou closed his eyes, waiting for the scratching sound of metal against hair. But it never came. Instead, he heard Mina gasp, letting go of his hair.
He blinked in confusion. “Mina?” he croaked.
“Guys!” She gestured to Denki and Hanta to come closer and when the leaned over him, they gasped as well.
“Eijirou!” Denki turned around himself once before he grabbed for Mina’s mirror, still laying on the ground next to her bed, and shove it into Eijirou’s hands. “Look!”
Eijirou hesitantly held on to the mirror and glanced at his reflection. His breath hitched, bringing the mirror closer to his face. His hair was turning black again. The red seemingly growing out of his hair, starting from his roots the color slowly disappeared downwards until only the tips were seemingly burning. And then it was gone. Only raven black hair.
His head whipped up and his eyes darted from one pair to the other. “What the…?”
Mina started laughing first of them, the other tuning in shortly after. They were all laughing and wheezing on the ground and on the bed, holding onto their sides. Relief was all they felt. Eijirou whipped away one of the tears that spilled, rubbing the heels of his hands against his cheeks.
Mina kicked him playfully against the hip until he turned around to look at her. She was nibbling at her lip, an evil grin on her lips and eyes full of excitement.
“Eijirou, I have an idea.”
“This is fucking bullshit.” He growled for the fifth time and snapped the second quill in under 30 minutes. The ink was pooling around the tip of the quill, the parchment absorbing it slowly, rendering the already written text illegible.
“Your Highness”, the academic said, voice tired and done with his antics. “It is exactly because of this show of mannerism that we both have to go through this. Again and again until you’re presentable at today’s banquet.” He walked away from the table, the book he was holding tucked under his arm as he searched a nearby drawer for another quill. He returned to Bakugou’s side and handed him the writing utensil.
Bakugou grabbed it violently, scrunching up the parchment with one hand and tossed it away. He pulled out another sheet of paper from the side drawer of his desk and pounded it on the surface in front of him. His tutor sighed.
“All of us, least of all you, do not want a repetition of the disaster from the last banquet.”
Bakugou’s shoulders tensed up and a scowl formed on his face. The last banquet wasn’t pleasant, to say the least, and he was well aware of it. But it wasn’t his fault, all of the nobles were talking shit at politics with their fake generosity and phony helpfulness. If they really wanted to change something, help the poor and raise the level of education in their jurisdiction, they would have already done something. They had ways and means. But no, they were all just talk and no show and Bakugou had enough.
They had deserved to be screamed at, to be told they were doing jack shit and had no fucking backbone. But, yeah, maybe it was little over the top to drench the person he was facing in soup. Bakugou had apologized for the broken bowl to his parents but not what he had said. He still meant it.
“Won’t fucking happen again.” He grumbled as he jotted down what he had already written before.
“It sure will with your current attitude, Your Highness”, Aizawa mumbled. “This banquet is unofficially an apology for your behavior from last time, you have to play your part as well.” He tapped his wooden pointer on Bakugou’s head.
“I know.” He snarled. “Still don’t wanna. What good does it do if I suck up to them and pretend and do fucking shit as they all do? Gonna run my future kingdom into the fucking ground, that’s what’s gonna happen.” Scribbling down the last word, he leaned back with his arms crossed in front of his chest.
“It is one thing to say something to just please the people around you and another to stay courteously. You can fight all you want and achieve everything you set your goals at, but I am sure you are well aware that you will not get there if you do not appease your entourage. They are part of your future kingdom as well.” Aizawa strolled around the desk, leaning his back against the windowsill and opened the book again.
Bakugou muttered under his breath, inhaled deeply with pursed lips and listened to Aizawa’s lecture again.
After another hour, he was finally dismissed from his class about proper banquet etiquette, all notes neatly tucked away inside his desk where he would probably never look at them again. Morning class ended a little later than usual, since he had to rewrite some of his note two times, and, therefore, he was a little late for lunch. He walked just a tad faster down the hallway, ignoring all the maids and servants making a curtsey and bowing, and strutted towards the dining hall.
The doors were opened for him, giving way for the view of a long table in the middle of the room. His parents sat on the far end, his mother at the head of the table and his father to her left, her right place empty. The other seats were occupied by various nobles chattering with each other. Somewhere in his head all the names, their jurisdiction, families and so on were filed but Bakugou wasn’t in the mood to entertain each and every one of them. He gave them a courteous nod, that he could do, and took his place beside his mother.
“How nice of you to join us.” She gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes, fixing Bakugou in his seat. He shot her a glare but tried to sound as calm as possible, voice wavering just a little with disobedience.
“I apologize, mother, I was held up with my classes. We covered most of today’s subject, internal and external affairs, so we can move on to our next topic tomorrow, finances and distribution.”
His mother nodded at him, pleased, finally giving him an earnest smile. He huffed, turning away from her to face his plate. Soup. Again. Their kitchen needed to be more creative to not always start with a soup. His mother raised her glass and all conversations came to a halt, mirroring her action. Bakugou grabbed his glass with an eyeroll.
“Thank you all for coming. It is always a great joy to host for my esteemed guests. This will only serve as an appetizer for today’s banquet in the evening, so please leave room for enough food.” Their guests chuckled at that. “Again, thank you for coming and enjoy yourselves.”
After Mitsuki took the first sip, the rest of the table followed suit and then they started to eat. Bakugou could hear snippets of conversation between different nobles but most of the time he tuned them out in favor of his sanity. He couldn’t stand this hypocrisy, the fakeness. They could all just go away, and he would still reign over the most prosperous kingdom they would ever see.
After the soup came the fish and after the fish came the meat and after the meat came dessert. Even if there were always different fish and meat, it was still the same dish. The dullness of his everyday routine sometimes drove him crazy. He chewed at his food mechanically, sometimes answered a question directed at him but only single wordily to not be bothered again. After he finished the dessert, he asked to be dismissed which his mother thankfully permitted, and he almost fled the room.
Bakugou was on his way to the fighting area outside in the courtyard, needing to get rid of this pent-up energy when an all too familiar face walked up to him. Internally, rolling his eyes hard at him, Bakugou only slightly rolled his eyes externally.
“Your Highness”, Monoma made an almost mocking bow, “it is nice to see you again.”
Bakugou grunted at first but took a deep breath. “Count Monoma.”
“Ah, how overjoyed I am for the young Highness to remember the name of the person they drenched in soup. I will be ever grateful.” Voice pasted in smugness, Bakugou had to muster all his patience and inner strength he had, to no grab Monoma by the throat and hurl him out the window.
“The fuck you want?”
“Ah, ah, ah. Your Highness, that is not the proper way to address a fellow noble.” Monoma shook his head slowly, one hand at his cheek.
“I can address everyone however I want. I am still above you”, he growled, leaning in closer. “Just because you have some favoritism playing into your hands, for now, does mean fucking shit to me.”
Monoma sighed, propping one hand at his hip and looking Bakugou up and down. “Don’t worry, I know exactly where you and I stand. And it won’t be long that you’ll regret making me one of your enemies.” He winked at him and walked around him to ditch him. Bakugou was seething.
“Ah, before I forget”, Monoma turned his head slightly over his shoulder as he kept walking, “this evening promises to be entertaining. I always love surprises.” He chuckled airily and then he was gone behind the next corner. Bakugou furrowed his brows at his last statement, searching his memory for any surprise to be but came up empty. He shook his head; he wasn’t going to be played with.
His feet carried him to the courtyard, already or still in full swing. They were at peace at the moment, his mother was holding a tight reign over her kingdom, but nevertheless, it would be their downfall if their military forces didn’t train as if war could break out any moment. It wasn’t something Bakugou hoped for, not at all, but the frequent work out helped him not going on a rampage every now and then.
He was handed one of the training swords as soon as he arrived, already a familiar face in their rings, and took on a sparring partner. It was freeing to be seen as some kind of equal within the training grounds. It took them some time to get used to their prince training with them instead of private lessons but soon enough they didn’t mind him anymore. Well, it wasn’t hard to not treat someone as royalty if every other word was a profanity.
Soon enough, Bakugou had risen in strength, strategy, and stamina and, unfortunately, not many could put up a real fight for him anymore. He often was the one training them now, which he liked doing as well but wouldn’t say out loud, but still. A sparring partner that could hold a candle to him would be fucking great once in a while.
By the time, Bakugou was called by one of his mother’s advisers, he was covered in sweat. He had ditched his jacket long ago, but his shirt was soaked in his own sweat, sticking at his back. He rubbed the salty liquid from his eyes with his sleeve and walked up to the advisor.
“Your Highness”, he bowed deeply, “your esteemed mother asks for you to prepare yourself for the upcoming banquet. It is asked to wear the garment she prepared for you, as well as”, his held up his nose a tad higher than necessary, “make Your Highness look presentable.”
Bakugou narrowed his eyes at him. He knew he looked like a mess right now, but what did the servant expect when he was sparring and instructing sword fights? He just nodded at the adviser who abruptly turned around and strutted away. Bakugou grabbed his jacket, returned the sword and walked back to his chambers in which a bathtub was already prepared with hot water.
Stepping into the bathtub after peeling out of his clothes, Bakugou sighed. A warm bath after hours of working out was what he needed. The rosy smell not so much. He grunted and shouted for one of the maids he knew was waiting just around the corner.
“Your Highness”, she kneeled, facing the ground.
“Don’t put any rosy shit in the water next time”, he scoffed, collecting the petals in the water and dumping them on the ground. The maid reached for them immediately, stuffing them into her apron.
“Of course, Your Highness. Forgive me, Your Highness.” She walked outside backward in a deep bow, not looking up once. Bakugou leaned his head back, eyes open and staring at the ceiling. He liked being a prince. He wanted to be the king of this kingdom and rule it to be the greatest kingdom the world has ever seen. But sometimes he felt, there was something missing. Something he couldn’t see. Whatever it was, he was sure he would find it before he would be crowned.
He knew he didn’t have much time so Bakugou scrubbed himself clean and left the bathtub after a few minutes. After drying himself, he took the clothes his mother had chosen for him and were waiting for him on the dresser. He huffed. She always liked dressing him up in ridiculous outfits, mostly in strange colors. This one was no exception.
Black pants with silver ornaments that went from the hips to his knees, curled around them in elaborate design and a black jacket, barely long enough to fit above his belt. It was adorned by the same silver ornaments on the hem of the sleeve, curling upwards to his elbows. The seams in the middle of the jacket, just were it parted and held fast with clips underneath, were in a bright orange going from the bottom high up to his collar and curling over his shoulders around his neck. On the collar were the royal crests embroidered and the finishing touch were the silver buttons, two lines each four pieces in the middle of the chest. It had a military touch with the sharp silver edges on his shoulders and overall, Bakugou couldn’t say he hated it. It was better than most of his outfits.
Bakugou had to swat away some hands trying to apply some powder on his face before he stumped down the hallway towards the ballroom. The two wings flew open as soon as he was within reach, making way for him to enter the room. The only people attending were the same people he saw at lunch which wasn’t unusual since it was still early in the evening and most of the invited guest wouldn’t even arrive before 8 pm. Some heads looked up when he entered but he didn’t pay them any attention, taking his rightful place next to his mother for now.
As the evening went on, more and more noble men and women and people entered the ballroom, everyone was announced as if they all didn’t know anyway who they were and Bakugou had to go greet them in his mother’s stead. It wasn’t even two hours before Bakugou felt his patience wore down. Shaking hands with too many old geezers with their smug grins, kissing the rings of too many arrogant women and entertaining the rest of the guest who thought it was a good idea to strike up a casual conversation with him. As if they all didn’t know how much he hated these events.
Usually, some, dared he say it?, friends attended these kinds of events as well and made it at least endurable but this month they were indispensable at their estates, leaving him hanging at the most crucial moment.
When Monoma perked his head up in his immediate proximity, the last of his patience went out the window.
“The fuck do you want?”
“Your Highness!” Monoma stifled a satisfied laugh. “That’s not how you greet your guests. I thought you had learned from last month.”
“I already fucking greeted you this afternoon”, Bakugou narrowed his eyes, hands balled up to fists by his side. “And we established already that I can talk to you however I want. Or do you want to learn how it feels like to disobey directly to the crown prince?”
The smile on Monoma’s face faltered slightly. “Ah, Your Highness, we all know you just have a little bit of a bad temper and no one would be thinking, I did something outrages to incite your wrath.”
“Care to find out?” Bakugou leaned forward, the deepest growl in his voice he could muster, and his eyes fixed on him like his prey. His lips were stretched in a menacing grin, finally wiping away the smugness on Monoma’s face.
“Have a good evening, Your Highness.” Was all he said as he escaped through the masses. Bakugou huffed a little satisfied to himself. His eyes met the gaze of his mother raising an eyebrow at him which he answered with a subtle shrug and pursed lips. If they all couldn’t take a hint, he would make them.
Another half an hour went by without people approaching him and Bakugou actually believed he could make it through the evening without punching someone when he caught the glimpse of something outrageously red. His head whipped around but even with his concentrated eyes, he couldn’t find what caught his attention.
It could have been just a decoration on one of the exaggerated dresses everyone wore or some piece of jewelry but Bakugou trusted his guts and slowly walked through the crowd keeping an eye out for everything red.
There was a movement to his right, a flash of red and without hesitation, Bakugou squeezed through the people standing in his way. When he emerged at the back of the room, he saw a small circle of people his age. His brain offered some helpful information about their names and statuses. All but one.
A young man, probably the same age as him as well, stood inside the circle, unmissable with bright red hair. The top half of his hair was pulled back into a bun, a few braided strands at the sides while the lower half fell down almost to his shoulders. His lips were stretched into a wide smile, crinkling the corner of his eyes and showing a row of pointy teeth. There was no way Bakugou would forget someone like him, but his brain was empty. He couldn’t even remember him getting announced.
His presence was finally registered by the small group and they all bowed slightly before him. With a little confusion, he noticed, that the redhead only did after he saw the other do it.
“Your Highness”, they greeted him with fake smiles on their lips. He only grunted in confirmation, eyes fixed on this unknown person. One of the members of the little group caught on to his staring and cleared his throat.
“This is Kirishima Eijirou”, he gestured towards him with his palm up, “we were just talking to him since he wasn’t familiar to us.” The guy, Baron Iida Tenya his brain spat out, pushed up his glasses up. “We were just confirming he wasn’t anyone suspicious with his appearance and all.”
The redhead chuckled a little at that and Iida continued. “He was telling us, that his family was just recently established, not yet announced to the royal family and his family thought it would be a good idea”, Iida shook his head in disbelief, “that their son would slip into one of the monthly banquets to make connections.”
Bakugou’s eyes never left Kirishima’s face, taking in every inch of it, noticing how Kirishima’s eyes were rested somewhere in the distance. His smile never left his face and Bakugou could see his Adam’s apple bob with every swallow.
“If you want him to be removed from this event because of his rudeness and punish his family for this unsolicited behavior, I am more than happy to receive the order, Your Highness”.
At that, Kirishima’s eyes widen and finally snapped back. His eyes were fixed on Iida but then moved over to Bakugou. He could see Kirishima's surprise and the twitch in his legs told him, he was about to flee the moment he would be in danger. What a daring guy.
“No.” He finally said, eyes narrowing down on Kirishima. “I will personally be the judge of this character and decide what to do with him.” Iida and the rest of their group were taken aback but they didn’t utter a word of disagreement, leaving them with a courteous bow to them.
Kirishima crossed his arms behind his back, tilting his head to the side slightly. “What can I do for you, Y-Your Highness?” Stumbling over his own words, huh?
“Where lays your jurisdiction?” Bakugou took a step forward, crowding Kirishima farther against the wall but he just leaned against it seemingly unfazed by Bakugou’s attempt to intimidate him. His fingers were tangled against each other in front him, his whole posture oozing out relaxation. It kind of ticked Bakugou off.
“Rather far in the north of your kingdom, Your Highness. Just right at the border, I am not certain it… that you know about it.” He coughed a little, averting his eyes from Bakugou’s face.
“Fucking try me.” Bakugou growled. How dare he imply he didn’t know all the jurisdiction of his own future kingdom? Kirishima looked back at him, they were about the same height but Bakugou still managed to tower over him with his presence alone.
“Chiba.” Kirishima answered single wordily. “Some small part of it.” He added scratching his cheek. Bakugou’s eye’s narrowed just slightly. Chiba was a not so familiar region to him, there was not a lot of business to maintain, no immediate threats from the north, no internal conflicts. It wasn’t strange he didn’t hear about a newly established noble family from there.
He nodded at him sharply and leaned back. To his satisfaction, he saw Kirishima drawing in a deep breath. Before he could say something else, one of the servants carrying a tray and offering small bites to the guests walked up to them.
Kirishima stepped forward and put one of them straight into his mouth before grabbing two more and held one of them towards Bakugou who took it a little dumbfounded. Kirishima grinned after swallowing down his first bite and then grinned at the servant.
“Thanks, man!” He chirped and took another bite for good measure.
Both Bakugou’s and the servant’s eyes widen just a fraction. Before the servant bowed their head and walked away, Bakugou could swear he caught the small tug on their lips, almost as if to suppress a smile.
His attention snapped back to Kirishima who was already at his last bite. “What the fuck was that?”
Kirishima blinked, licking the remaining crust from his fingers. “Huh? What?”
“That”, Bakugou pointed vaguely in the direction the servant disappeared to, “thanking them.” Bakugou’s eyes narrowed. He never saw a noble thanking a servant for doing their fucking job.
Kirishima, however, looked at him as if he was the one to say something utterly ridiculous. “What about it?”
“That’s their job, they don’t need to be fucking thanked.”
Kirishima had the audacity to laugh at him. He caught himself immediately, though, having half the mind to be coughing about it in embarrassment. “Well, you know, it’s probably not their dream job to kiss everybody’s as—to be overly polite to everybody around them, carrying food around that they can’t eat and have to starve until they’re dismissed.” He shrugged. “And even then, only get some leftovers if they’re lucky. The least I can do is thanking them for their hard work.”
Bakugou blinked. He didn’t even know what expression to wear to that statement, so foreign to his thoughts. His eyes lowered to the bite he still held in his hand and then turned his head around to really look at the scene. There were servants walking around with different plated trays, some with food some with refreshments. Other servants walked around with well-hidden rugs to clean up dirt as soon as they spotted it. There were a few servants who had designated nobles they attended to exclusively, never stopped walking around to find them whatever they wanted or needed, leaning in to provide information.
And not once saw Bakugou someone bat an eye at them, no word of gratitude, hell, their whole existence wasn't even acknowledged by pretty much everyone. Even he himself only just seconds ago didn’t question their presence, taking them for granted.
Bakugou gritted his teeth. He never learned about servants and their work, it was just something that just was. So why irked it him so much that he didn’t think about this earlier?
“You alri—is something the matter, Your Highness?” Kirishima had given him the time to process his thoughts and only piped up quietly.
“Of fucking course.” Bakugou snapped back, stuffing the bite into his mouth. That was something he had to address later.
Kirishima smiled at him warmly, actually smiling at him without fake friendly attitude. Bakugou’s thoughts couldn’t keep up with so many revelations in such a short time, so he did what he was best at. He scoffed at Kirishima.
“Aren’t you here to steal information to make your family look better? You’re talking to the fucking prince right now, better seize the opportunity.” He crossed his arms as he spoke.
“Dud—I mean, no!” Kirishima laughed again. This time not as restricted and it rang pleasantly in his ears. “I just wanted, well, get to know the current members of nobility so I won’t make a fool of myself, you know, by not knowing them.”
“Don’t you have a tutor to teach you?”
“Your Highness”, Kirishima chuckled but not in any condescending way at all, maybe a little sad, Bakugou mused, “not everyone has the same privileges you enjoy.”
“Hah? Do you call me a spoiled brat?” he quipped. Now, this was getting interesting. A nobody challenging his authority.
“Not at all”, Kirishima held up his hands, “I was just saying that you can’t just project your experience onto everybody else.” Bakugou swallowed around his dry mouth. Why was Kirishima hitting all the right nerves so effortlessly?
“I don’t!” Now, that was pretty convincing, wasn’t it? “You’re a noble and most nobles I know, do have a tutor to learn about this stuff because it is common courtesy to know about nobility and its different families.” He huffed out annoyed but satisfied. It wasn’t wrong what he said. Everybody had at least one academic who would teach them about the royal family and every other important noble. He wasn’t in the wrong here.
“But knowing most doesn’t mean all, you see?”
“You—” – “Katsuki!” Bakugou jerked around almost getting whiplashed as his mother walked over to him. “My dear boy”, she smiled in an icy voice. “Why are you raising your voice constantly?”
“This fucking dimwit thought—“, Bakugou turned around, already prepared to grab Kirishima by the arm but his eyes only met empty air. His head whipped around, looking for the red hair but he was standing alone seemingly talking to the wall.
“This little fucker.”
“Katsuki, language!” His mother hissed. “Do I have to remind you this banquet is held because—” – “because I’m a fucking imbecile. I already got that.” Bakugou was wheezing. Never ever had someone dared to ditch him like that.
“I have to go.” And then he proceeded to leave his mother alone. He saw her roll her eyes when he vanished inside the crowd again. He wouldn’t let him go away with this just like that. It took him approximately 10 minutes to find his red hair pop out through the masses again. With a few big steps, he was facing him again as he stumbled through pleasantries with other nobles.
Bakugou stopped, crossed his arm and just observed this spectacle. Kirishima was visible nervous talking to them, giggling a little undignified whenever his phrasing was not courteous enough or he didn’t actually get what the other nobles were talking about. He stumbled through stories about his family and their duties, but somehow everyone around him was being in a good mood. They laughed with him, touching his arm and shoulder, expressing even encouragement to be more confident.
Bakugou’s eyes flitted over the poorly assembled outfit of him. It looked a little worn out, the colors not as popping or the stitched and embroideries were losing some yarn. Except for the shirt. It was white with golden stitches, adorning both the hem of the sleeves and his chest, hugging him tightly and Bakugou just noticed how muscular he is. A loose scarf around his neck obscured the family crests on his collar, unfortunately, so Bakugou couldn’t search his memory from what family he descendant.
As Kirishima began fidgeting with his fingers, playing nervously with one of the lose threads, Bakugou finally showed mercy. He stepped up right beside him and grabbed his arm.
“I apologize for my rudeness, but Kirishima and I have somewhere to go.” His voice belittled his words, echoing undisputed authority. The nobles around them bowed immediately, nodding in acknowledgment and ushered to the sides when Bakugou pulled Kirishima with him. With a strangled noise, Kirishima followed him.
Bakugou dragged him out the door, through the hallway until they stopped in the courtyard. It was already dark outside, the moon beaming in the night sky with no clouds. The air was chilly and they both shuddered when they stepped through the door.
“Wha—” Kirishima sputtered, head whipping around. Bakugou let go of his arm, his hand strangely tingling at the loss of his firm grip on strong arms. He definitely was built.
He walked over to the barracks, where a makeshift weaponry for training sessions was situated and grabbed two wooden swords. In silence, he threw one of it at Kirishima who caught it with both arms, fumbling at first.
“You know how to fight?”
Kirishima licked his lips, examining the sword in his hands. With a slow nod, he held the sword up in one hand, positioning himself in a fighting stance. Now they were talking. Bakugou grinned in delight and mirrored a similar stance.
“First dropping his sword or getting hit, loses.” He bellowed before lunging at Kirishima. Their swords clunked against each other, sliding off the rough surfaces but Kirishima pressed on. Bakugou took a step back, letting Kirishima lose his balance for a second and lowered his sword to strike against his arm.
Kirishima caught his fall with one wide step, raising his sword vertically to intercept Bakugou’s strike. Bakugou could see his thigh flex as he pushed himself up, his strength yanking his sword upwards and making him tumble two steps back.
Kirishima took another wide step and lunged his sword forward, the tip pointing against his chest. Bakugou drew his sword close in an arching movement from the side, blew Kirishima’s sword away and with the momentum of his spin tried to slash against Kirishima’s leg. The latter, however, had stumbled forward when Bakugou had blown away his sword and made a forward roll, dodging the blow.
It didn’t take Bakugou long to notice that Kirishima was jack shit at sword fighting. There were some basic movements even a squire could perform just by watching and there was no finesse or even strategy. Just brute strength. And hell, was he strong. Bakugou could feel it in every strike he parried and every stance he either tried to break or needed to push against. Kirishima was strong both passive and active. If he had the right instructor, if he had one at all, he could probably rise in the military ranks without a hitch.
But Bakugou wasn’t weak by any means. And he could think, something Kirishima seemed to lack. Still, he entertained them both for a little while, enjoying his straining muscles whenever he pushed against Kirishima or parried a strike. They were at it for probably half an hour, both drench in sweat, hair glued to their foreheads and both grinning widely towards each other, when Bakugou took a few fast steps forward, entering Kirishima’s personal space by forcing one leg between his, twisted his ankle and yanked it against Kirishima’s calve from behind.
By the sudden loss of his footing, Kirishima flopped backwards and fell down hard on his back. Bakugou leaned down, his sword hovering over Kirishima’s throat and grinned at him as he huffed out small pants.
“My win.” He breathed.
Kirishima was panting a little bit more than him, body flush against the ground, and he had to take in a few breaths before grinning back at him.
“Your win.” His head thudded back against the muddy ground and he closed his eyes for a moment to calm his breathing. Bakugou lowered his sword and when Kirishima opened his eyes again, he offered him a hand.
Kirishima eyes wrinkled by his wide grin as he grabbed the offered hand. Bakugou yanked him up and rubbed his sweaty hand against his pants. His eyes drove over Kirishima. They both were filthy as fuck.
“We should take a bath before returning to the banquet.” He huffed. “You’re hair is so dirty it looks black.”
Kirishima’s eyes sprung open as he finished his sentence, grabbing one of his strands that fell out of his braids and stared at it in the moonlight.
“I… I have to go.” Kirishima stammered and before Bakugou could even register the words, Kirishima sprinted through the courtyard like the devil himself was behind him. When Bakugou sprung to action to follow him, he already darted around the corner of the barracks and when Bakugou reached that point he didn’t see Kirishima anywhere.
He was gone.
Chapter 2: More Than a Dream
This chapter contains a small scene of animal gore! Just a little bit but to keep you all safe <
Here is the second chapter!! I hope I'll find time to write the rest of this fic this week, work is gonna be tough the next few days ;^;
I am actually so surprised by myself I didn't let them smooch the second they met because that's all I want them to do but noooo I needed to make them and me suffer through all their oblivious bullshit because we all know they are stupid oblivious
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
In record time, Eijirou thought he never ran this fast, he sprinted down the small space between the barracks and the castle walls, shot through the next door inside the east wing and ran towards the servants' sleeping chambers. Fortunately for him, most servants were either occupied by the still ongoing banquet or were already in their rooms.
When he arrived at his door, he jerked it open and closed it immediately after he entered, leaning against the cold wood and catching his breath. His heart was still pounding against his rib cage, he thought it would crack through the bones.
“Eijirou!” Mina jumped to her feet followed by Hanta, Denki nowhere to be seen.
Eijirou slowly slid down the door, huffing out a small whimper and buried his face in his knees. His friends were by his side right then, grabbing his shoulder.
“W-what happen? You were gone for so long!” Mina cried out, voice cracking with emotion.
“You’re covered in dirt, what the hell?” Hanta examined his attire, dusting off the slowly drying mud from his arms and shins.
“So many people… questions… prince… swords…” Eijirou pressed between tight lips. He grasped at his hair, groaning.
“What?! Slow down, what happened?!” Mina, slowly losing her patience, shook a little more insistent at his shoulder. Eijirou groaned again, trying to order his thoughts himself. Hanta, an angel in disguise, held Mina’s arm and shook his head.
“Let the man breathe, he just needs a minute.”
“Maybe we don’t have a minute!” Mina countered. “Eijirou, are you being followed? Did the prince send someone after you?” Eijirou shook his head against his knees and only then Mina allowed herself to calm down. She let go of his shoulder and sat down next to him, Hanta following her example, all three with their backs against the door.
Eijirou drew his breaths in and out, slowly regaining control of his emotions. He let go of his hair and leaned his head against the door, blinking at the ceiling as if he just realized where he was.
“There were-“, his voice broke and he had to clear his throat, “there were so many people, asking me all this stuff we thought up in advance and at first everything was fine. I just wanted to eat something and then leave, that would be enough. I was so afraid some of the servants would recognize me.” He groaned again just imagining that.
“And then”, he blinked, swallowing, “the prince was there. I was introduced. To the prince. As a noble. To the prince. Guys, I talked to the prince! The prince of this very kingdom. Me!” His eyes sprung back and forth between Mina and Hanta, growing more and more erratic as he spoke.
Hanta put a hand on his shoulder to calm him down. “Did he notice something?”
“I… I don’t think so.” Eijirou inhaled. “We talked just a little bit, I think I offended him.” He laughed dryly. “I thought I was going to die right that moment, oh my god. And then, and then, the queen walked over. Guys, the queen!” He buried his face again in his hands, shaking his head in disbelief that had really happened.
“I panicked and ran. Just straight into the crowd. I wanted to leave but then those nobles came and, hell, I talked my mouth off, guys, I don’t even remember anymore what I was rambling about. But they were laughing, that’s good I guess.”
Mina chuckled slightly. “Leave it to Eijirou, the humble servant boy making the nobles laugh in the face of his own death.”
“Not funny!” Eijirou wailed. “But then, the prince was there. Just, appeared out of nowhere, grabbed my arm and took me outside. I almost hugged him. I mean, I was so fucking terrified but I was finally outside. And then.” Eijirou stared at the ground, tilting his head in thoughts.
“You what?” Hanta and Mina said in unison.
“We… He took some wooden swords, gave me one and then we fought? I don’t know guys, that was so surreal I don’t even know.” He shrugged helplessly. “For like half an hour? Then he beat me, obviously, and said something about taking a bath and how filthy we are and that my hair looked almost black.” He gestured vaguely at his hair that was, in fact, back to his original black color.
“And then I bolted. Just straight away. And here I am.”
Mina huffed out a breath, opening and closing her mouth, changing whatever she wanted to say every second.
“At least he doesn’t know who you really are.” Hanta said with a shrug. “Could be worse.”
“Worse? I insulted the prince and fought with him on equal terms! As if impersonating a noble wasn’t bad enough, but behaving like that in front of the crown prince? I am a dead man walking.”
“Geez, drama queen, relax.” Mina patted his shoulder with a little too much force, making him wince. “I think, that was a successful evening.” She grinned at him.
“How so?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Well, you talked to nobles, ate their food, talked to the prince, who spent time with you alone”, she wiggled her eyebrows at that, “and nobody found out.” She clapped her hands in conclusion.
“I…”, Eijirou sighed. “I mean, you’re not wrong. But I won’t do that again. Ever.” He huffed, crossing his arms.
Denki entered the chambers shortly after that conversation, or at least, tried to since they were all still sitting in front of the door, holding it close. He got a short recap of what transpired, made an equal conclusion as Mina and Eijirou just sighed in defeat. He let them believe, that this was a success but insisted that he won’t do it again. He shoved the strange pot under his bed, hopefully forgetting about it soon enough.
The first two days were hell. Eijirou was so paranoid, he couldn’t sleep, made simple mistakes at work and was just a total wreck. The third day was a lot better. He finally could sleep a few hours at a time and didn’t jump at anyone who called him. On the fourth day, he accepted that nothing would happen. He was fine.
He sat in the kitchen on a low wooden stool, helping to peel the potatoes. A tedious, ungrateful work nobody liked doing, but Eijirou liked to rise to the occasion and took on the task. Half of the basket was peeled, half of them not. He craned his neck, rolling his shoulder with a loud crack and started on the next potato when he overheard the two cooks at the oven next to him.
“Another banquet next week? What are they thinking?”
“I don’t know, man. They decided yesterday and now we have to get all the ingredients in time. I think they don’t understand this fucking job. We can’t just make a list with everything we need.”
“But why another one so soon? Aren’t they, like, just for show? Showing off their money and stuff like that?”
As they spoke, Eijirou listened with half an ear, he didn’t care about another banquet since it didn’t concern him, a servant walked up and filled his tray with snacks. He chimed in without hesitation.
“I heard it was a request by the prince himself.” The cooks’ head whipped around. “No kidding. Something about internal affairs or something like that. Strengthening the bond between their juris… jurisdi… the different regions within the kingdom.” He shrugged. “I think they said something about inviting every noble family from the Chiba region.”
Eijirou let his knife fall down, clattering loudly on the ground. He blinked and grabbed at it, apologizing under his breath. A cold sweat broke out on his back, his heartbeat increasing.
“Rumors have it he is looking for…” Eijirou slowly looked up to the servant, trying to hear better what he was saying and their eyes met.
“You!” The servant inhaled sharply. Eijirou sprung to his feet, grabbed the servant by the collar and yanked him outside. The tray fell to the ground with a loud clatter, probably everyone looked up at the commotion but Eijirou was already out the door, pushing the servant inside a small broom closet. It was big enough for two people, but they still had to stay so close to each other their knees brushed.
“What the-“ – “Shhh!” Eijirou covered the servant’s mouth with his hands, frantically shaking his head. The servant gave a slow nod and Eijirou lowered his hand.
“Holy shit, dude! You’re the one… the one with the prince! You said thanks! I knew it, no noble could be that nice.” He chuckled in disbelief while Eijirou was regretting every life choice he ever made, ticking off every option he had to survive this.
“Dude, chill! I won’t tell on you!”
Eijirou’s eyes focused back on the other servant. “You won’t?” He croaked.
“No, man. That is just… wait, what exactly were you doing there?”
“I… I don’t know, something like a bet and it went out of hand and ugh.” Eijirou slapped a hand on his forehead.
“I think the prince is looking for you.” He bit his lip. “I don’t know how much you hear down here, but the prince and the mysterious red-haired noble are the talks of the castle! Like, everybody saw how you and the prince left together and he came back alone, raging. Geez, I mean, I knew how much a storm he could curse but that was from a higher level.” He crossed his arm, shaking his head.
“And now he demanded another banquet, asking specifically for the nobles of the Chiba region, dude, he has it bad for you.” A grin spread on his face and in every other situation he would be overjoyed at the sight of the same row of pointy teeth but right now, his ears were ringing.
“Wh—No! We… we just—” He shook his head. “We were just talking and fighting.”
“Fighting, huh?” The servant wiggled his eyebrows at him. Before Eijirou could interject, the servant held up a hand. “Relax, man. Don’t worry, I won’t tell a single soul, promise. I’m rooting for you, for whatever thing is happening between you and him.”
“The is nothing happe—”
“If you want to, I can be your ears and eyes inside the castle.” He nodded at himself. “I let you know if I overhear more about this occasion.”
“But… No, man, I mean, thanks. Thanks for not telling anybody and all that. But I don’t… I’m not doing that again.” Eijirou shook his head. “If anybody else will find out, I’m dead. Like, literally dead.”
The servant rolled his head from one shoulder to the other and hummed. “I get it.” He nodded. “Okay, I tell you what. Just listen, for now, okay?” Eijirou nodded reluctantly.
“Like I said, everybody is talking about it. Like, all the servants that were present and even the personal maids from the prince. Something like he is nicer to them or something. I think, he really likes you. And like every servant has an easier time with him being not his usual grumpy self. So, I’m totally rooting for you.” He shrugged. “My suggestion is the following: I tell the other servants about you, just the ones who saw you at the banquet. You will attend the next banquet and we’ll help you out. And then you two can live happily ever after. Or just have a nice evening, don’t care. Just think of something that you can’t see him again after that.”
Eijirou was baffled. That was the most ridiculous, preposterous, ingenious idea if he ever heard one.
“Everyone would be on board?” His thoughts were running a mile a second. If he could attend one more banquet and somehow make a possible excuse that he won’t come back ever again the prince would have to let this go and he would never live in fear again.
“Of course! Like I said, we’re rooting for you!” He snapped his fingers right in front of their faces, remembering something. “I’m Tetsutetsu, by the way.”
“Eijirou”, Eijirou mumbled perplexed.
“You gave him your real name?” Tetsutetsu raised an eyebrow at him but chuckled slightly at first, then louder. Eijirou had to cover his mouth again, shushing him.
“Sorry”, Tetsutetsu whipped a happy tear away. “This is the best. I like you, man. You have balls.” He nodded again, gripping at Eijirou’s hand. “You in?”
Eijirou’s eyes darted around from Tetsutetsu’s face to his hand to his grin. He inhaled deeply, grabbed his hand as tight as possible and nodded. “Alright.”
As soon as they left the broom closet and Tetsutetsu sprinted back to the kitchen, remembering that he was just in the middle of serving food, Eijirou took to his heels and ran the whole length of the east wing down the same corridor a few days ago and just kicked in the door to Denki’s workplace.
“WHA--!” Denki threw the small flask he had in his hand in the air startled and just barely caught it. “What in the?!”
His head whipped around and narrowed his eyes at Eijirou. “Dude, don’t make me lose my job by destroying my ingredients.”
“S-sorry.” Eijirou stammered, honestly embarrassed.
“What’s going on?” Denki chirped, already forgiving Eijirou. The latter sat down on the other wooden stool, sighing.
“You won’t believe this.” He shook his head. “There will be another banquet next week and I’ll be attending.”
“You what?!” Denki sprung to his feet, hands on Eijirou’s shoulders. A wide grin spreading over his face, he nodded enthusiastically. “Knew you’d come around. How come?”
Eijirou briefly summarized his conversation with Tetsutetsu and their plan before he took a deep breath and stared at Denki, chewing on his lips. “What do you think?”
“That is probably the worst and best plan I have ever heard!”
“That’s what I thought!”
They burst into a small laughing fit, wheezing. Denki held his side, rubbing over his eyes. “Okay, dude, we need to make a plan. We need”, he fumbled over his desk, grabbing for some ink and paper and started scribbling as he spoke, “Mina needs to give you some more clothes, you can’t wear the same from last time. We need to gather enough information about other families in Chiba, so you actually play a believing part to be from that jurisdiction. We need to maybe polish your overall appearance a little, like”, he gestured a circle around Eijirou’s face with his quill, “maybe some powder, new hairstyle.”
Eijirou couldn’t even close his mouth as Denki spoke. When did his friend became so proactive and even had some really good advice? He shook his head to bring himself back to the moment and then nodded. “Y-yeah, sounds good!”
“And you have to learn to speak a little more proper!” Denki actually chided but still grinning. “Though, the prince seemed to like you nonetheless, so…” He trailed off, shrugging. “I don’t really know. Being yourself seemed to be the best course, I guess.”
The next days were pure stress. Not only because every servant was involved in the preparations for the banquet since it was on such short notice. The chambers had to be prepared for the guests, clothes, tablecloths and draperies had to be washed, food had to be harvested and bought and hunted, dished had to be polished, the floors had to be mopped and so on. It was a little miracle, no one has dropped dead yet.
When it was only two days until the banquet, they had a little bit f time to breathe. Most of the tasks were fulfilled, there will be another rush the next day but for now, Eijirou could actually work on their other plan.
Mina had gathered some different garments while washing clothes, slowly piling it up. Eijirou didn’t know how she could get away with it, but he suspected the other wash maiden had heard about his ordeal as well and helped out. In fact, probably everybody had heard about it by now, judging by all the knowing looks he got.
Tetsutetsu pulled him aside a few times to give an update, but nothing noteworthy has changed. Nobody has heard any other reason for the banquet to be held but the personal maids are still recounting pleasant encounters with the prince.
So, when Eijirou had the opportunity, he grabbed all the clothes Mina had gathered, shoved the mystical jug into his pocket and sneaked outside, up to the river stream. He knew Mina could help him a lot more but Eijirou wanted to try out some stuff himself. He had relied on his friends so much the last week, he wanted to lift some of their burdens.
He hid behind the trees next to the river, folded out his clothes and smeared some of the substance into his hair. It was strange how the pot never seemed to become emptier. But who was he to question some magical pot of hair dying substance?
The next step was to come up with an acceptable outfit with his limited choices and a new hairstyle.
The two days after the banquet, Bakugou was just furious. Outstandingly furious. He snapped at everything and everyone, making them stay out of his way altogether. It was better for everyone involved. He was outraged, to be just ditched like that. What was Kirishima thinking who he was? He was just a lowly noble, just recently established and then he ditched him, the prince?
It was both infuriating and humiliating. He knew he wasn’t the most amiable person to ever exist, but he thought that Kirishima didn't mind because, well, he didn’t evade him because of it and could actually hold a conversation without licking the ground he was walking on. It was… nice. To talk to someone without being held to the standards of a prince, to just be a man.
Nevertheless, he ditched him. Just after they had the most exciting sparring fight he had in a long time. Did he do something wrong? Did he say something? Did he insult him by kicking him in the mud? It could be all three possibilities.
After he finally got himself out of his self-pity, Bakugou at first thought about just forgetting about Kirishima. They would probably never meet again. That was okay. He didn’t need him. Then, when he was being dressed by his maids, Bakugou wasn’t sure why but something Kirishima had said popped up in his head, he looked down at the maids, observing their movements, and asked:
“Should I”, the maids’ heads jerked up in alarm as they heard him growling, “stay differently, so you can reach better?” He was one head and a half taller than them and they often had to stretch to their toes to reach his shoulder or even get a stool to stand on. The next few seconds were filled with silence, nobody moving, until Bakugou’s face moved back into his usual scowl.
“Could you”, the maid behind his back quietly piped up, “hold up your arms, your Highness?”
The other maids held their breaths, staring at Bakugou to see his reaction. He nodded sharply and held up his arms as he was asked. The maids exchanged some confused looks but didn’t question his behavior. As they dressed him, the other maids started to request some simple posture changings which he did without complaining. Dressing took less time than usual.
“Thanks.” He mumbled when they hurried out the room and they made their curtsies with small smiles to their faces. Huh.
The next day, he paid attention. To the waiting staff, the errand boys, the servants, the gardeners. And, as Kirishima said, no one paid them any mind, not even half a glance. They just did all the work without complaining, not one hurtful glare against someone who bumped into them or dirtied the hallway just a second after it was cleaned. Maybe, just maybe, there was some truth in what Kirishima had said.
The day after that, he walked inside the chambers of his mother first thing in the morning. He didn’t care that the guards advised against just walking in without announcing himself but he ignored them in Bakugou-fashion. He kicked the door in without knocking, his mother jerking from her bed. His father kept on snoring next to her.
“Mother.” He growled.
“Son.” His mother slowly rose, glaring at him. “What could be so important for my precious son to wake his mother from her well-earned sleep in this manner?”
Bakugou had to bite back some inappropriate remark, biting his lower lip. “I want you to hold a banquet. For me.”
Well, that stunned his mother to silence. “You what?”
He rolled his eyes, hard. She didn’t have to make such deal out of it. Sure, he never ever asked for a social event he had to attend, especially not in his name.
“You heard me. A banquet. Like the monthly thing. Just, make it for internal affairs. Reinforcing the friendship between the castle and the jurisdiction of the Chiba prefecture.”
“Internal—Katsuki, who are you?” His mother grinned at him. “Or is this about a certain red-haired man?”
“I—No!” Bakugou spat. “What the fuck, mom?” He groaned. “I actually act like the prince you always wanted and then you make it about something stupid like that? Just. Do it.” His lips tightened in a straight line. “Please.”
Mitsuki had to blink a few times to register what her son had just said. She knew when to push and when to just shut up, she was the one who raised him, after all.
“Sure thing, Katsuki.”
Bakugou nodded and stormed out her sleeping chambers without saying anything else, seething. That took a lot of his energy. The next days were pretty similar to his usual routine. Classes, sparring, dinner, and lunch. However, since he actually paid attention to their personal, he saw the strained faces, the hectic in their movements and the hurried gestures. It probably wasn’t easy to prepare such a huge banquet on such short notice.
Bakugou actually felt, what audacity his feelings had these days, guilty. Guilty for putting so much pressure on them on top of their usual workload. So, when he happened to overhear some of the servants talking about the menu, what kind of proteins they still needed, he asked them, if it would help if he hunted down a deer.
The looks he got were always like a punch to his gut. Was it really so strange to ask if they needed help? Well, yeah, he answered himself, he never did in the past 19 years he had lived here. Nor knew he about anybody else who did.
That was why he now was riding down the cobblestone path behind the castle walls towards the forest, the royal hunting grounds. The bow was fastened at his saddle for now until he arrived at the forest, a quiver on his belt. Even though there was some pressure of time, Bakugou was relieved to get out of the castle again. He steered his horse down from the paved way and rode towards the small river that streamed parallel to the path towards the forest.
His horse strode leisurely, not stopping but taking its time to walk through the high grass of the riverbed. Bakugou led his view drift into the distance, relaxing for the first time since a few days. A red do next to a cluster of trees drew its attention to him. He squinted and stopped his horse, one hand on the handle of his hunting knife. He silently cursed himself that he didn’t bring his sword, but what good would a sword do at a hunt anyway?
After observing the red dot for a few seconds, Bakugou noticed it was moving just slightly back and forth to the river and back to the trees. It seemed human alright. With a swift motion, he got off his horse and gestured the horse to stay put. They knew each other for long enough so it understood. Bakugou drew his knife and silently sneaked up to the patch of trees, squatting down to get a better view through the branches. And what a view he got.
Kirishima only wore his pants, open at the front. His chest was bare, seeing the dark happy trail from the navel down and Bakugou could finally confirm that he was built. Like a wall. His hair was pulled back into a sloppy ponytail, a few strands framing his face. His mouth was pulled in a frown as he grabbed one of the shirts laying on the ground and put it on. Kirishima tucked the shirt in, tugging on it for good measure and walked towards the river to look at his reflection.
Bakugou felt his face heat up, his heart accelerating its beating. He wasn’t a peeping tom so he put his knife away, stood up straight and cleared his throat.
Kirishima spun around so fast, he almost lost his footing, stumbling violently before catching himself and leveling his eyes on Bakugou. His cheeks rose in color ever so lightly, but Bakugou decided to ignore it for now.
“Y-Your Highness?” Kirishima croaked, fumbling with his clothes, tugging at his hair, a nervous wreck some would say.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Bakugou crossed his arms. Even if he was in no position to judge, this was still inside the castle walls, somewhere far away for people to see, so why would Kirishima sneak around to try on his clothes?
“I- uhm”, Kirishima stammered, slowly walking towards the shirts that were laying on the ground to obscure Bakugou’s view on them, kicking at them with his heel to gather them up. Bakugou raised his eyebrow at that.
“I was…”, Kirishima looked over his shoulder, biting so hard on his lip Bakugou thought it would draw blood and sighed in defeat. “I was looking for something to wear for the banquet.”
“You’re coming?” Bakugou could just hope he didn’t sound as eager as he felt.
“Well, yeah”, Kirishima shrugged. “Your Highness invited all noble families of the Chiba jurisdiction, would be kinda impolite to not attend, I guess?” The first smile from him finally stretched over his face.
“You’re damn right.” Bakugou scoffed. Then his eyes drove over Kirishima, finally looking at the outfit Kirishima wore. “That looks fucking hideous.”
“What, really?” Kirishima frowned, looking down at himself. “I was pretty confident in this.” Bakugou huffed a small laughter, covering it with a cough. With two big steps, he was right beside Kirishima who looked at him with big eyes. Trying to ignore his gaze on him, Bakugou eyed the different shirts, pants and the two vests. Not exactly the wardrobe of a noble.
“Why for fuck’s sake are you dressing up in the middle of the royal castle walls?” He grumbled. There was no heat in his words, he realized that himself already, just curiosity. Kirishima coughed, scratching his neck. He kneeled down to his shirts, pulling at their hems.
“Well, I”, Kirishima bit his lips. Bakugou subconsciously filed it under a nervous tick. “I don’t have that much to choose from.” He silently said, chuckling dryly. It didn’t fit him. “It’s not much and I have to dress myself. Something Your Highness probably isn’t used to.” A wink at him and Bakugou didn’t know if his cheeks heated up in humiliation or embarrassment.
“Fuck off.” He huffed as he squatted down as well and earned a more earnest chuckle. “At least I know that this shirt”, he jabbed a finger against Kirishima’s firm chest, “doesn’t fit your pants.”
“But the pants are nice, aren’t they?!” Kirishima cried out in mocking despair.
“They are.” Bakugou grunted. He pulled at some of the shirts, eyes going back and forth between the shirts and Kirishima's black pants until they settled on a white shirt with a puffy collar and sleeves. He grabbed it and hold it in front of Kirishima who eyed him curiously.
“Put this on.” He ordered, grabbing for one of the small vests. In the corner of his eye, he could see Kirishima undress before pulling the other shirt over his head. His eyes darted down at his chest for just a second before staring back at the vest in his hands.
“Okay.” Kirishima tugged the hem into his pants, fastening the cords at the frills of his sleeves. Bakugou helped him with his left sleeve and threw the vest in his face. Kirishima chuckled and tucked his arms through the open sleeve holes, butting it up. There were just three buttons, ending just shy under the poof of his collar, accentuating his broad chest just a little more.
“Do I… Does it look good?” Kirishima smiled shyly at him, doing things to his gut. Bakugou nodded once before Kirishima trotted over to the water, examining his reflection. Seemingly pleased, he offered Bakugou a wide grin.
“Thank you!” He beamed at him. Huh, it actually feels nice to hear a thank you for something he did.
“You still didn’t answer why the fuck you’re inside the walls.” Bakugou growled. “Nobody in his right mind would sneak up inside just to play dress up.”
Kirishima looked caught, fumbling with his sleeves. His eyes darted around, looking everywhere but at Bakugou.
“Stop stalling. Just fucking tell me.” He snapped.
“I—”, Kirishima sighed, “I mean no harm, I promise. I can’t… I can’t tell you, I’m sorry.” Bakugou’s eyes narrowed down at him but couldn’t find any sign that indicated he was lying or wanted to deceive him in any way. He scoffed.
Kirishima threw him another apologetic smile. “Thanks.”
An awkward silence stretched between them, making both of them uncomfortable. Bakugou glared at the ground, stuffing down the slight pricking feeling in his chest.
“So”, Kirishima walked up to him, “what are you doing here?” Bakugou threw a glance over his shoulder to see his horse grassing right where he left him.
“On my way to hunt.”
“Oh!” Kirishima exclaimed, clapping his hands. “For the banquet?” He nodded.
“Anything in particular? Deer? Boar?”
“Mhm”, Kirishima hummed. “I wonder how it’ll taste?” he mumbled. Bakugou wasn’t sure if it was meant for him to hear but he huffed, nonetheless.
“Like fucking deer. I don’t think deer tastes differently in other prefectures.” Kirishima threw him an unreadable glance.
“Well, I’m gonna find out anyway, huh?” Kirishima smiled at him.
“You want to come with me?” They blinked at each other before Bakugou’s brain caught up with his mouth. He coughed, taking a step back.
“Forget tha—“ – “Sure.” They spoke at the same time. Bakugou’s gaze shot up, meeting Kirishima’s, cheeks slightly reddened.
“Ah, but I don’t really know how to hunt, so I won’t be of any help.” Kirishima scratched his cheek. “Sorry.”
Bakugou huffed. “I’m more than capable enough. Just don’t scare it away.” He turned around on his heels, not looking if Kirishima followed him, only hearing his footsteps falling in line behind him. He took the reins of his horse again when they reached it and climbed into his saddle again. He stepped out of the stirrup iron on Kirishima’s side and threw him an awaiting glance.
Kirishima hesitated only for a second, taking a step forward and grabbing the hand Bakugou offered. It was warm. Kirishima put one foot in the stirrup and with a little effort, Bakugou pulled him up. Kirishima slid behind him in his saddle, his back flushed against Kirishima’s chest. He hoped Kirishima wouldn’t notice how hard his heart was hammering in his chest.
Bakugou steered his horse back on track and silently they rode towards the forest. Kirishima’s breath tickled against his neck, sometimes his ear whenever he turned his head to look around, gasping voiceless at the view or an animal or whatever he deemed interesting. Bakugou tried really hard to focus on his environment, but that proved really hard with Kirishima literally all around him. His breath and voice surrounding his head, his arms pulled lightly around his waist, their torso’s and thighs pressed against each other.
“There.” Kirishima mumbled softly into his ear. Bakugou could feel the tips of his ears burn, just where he felt Kirishima’s breath. He pointed carefully between two trees and when Bakugou followed his line of sight, he saw a deer, antlers growing high above his head.
Ever so slowly, Bakugou reached for his bow, stroking over Kirishima’s thigh with the motion, pulling out an arrow with his other hand. His motions were slow but without hesitation, assertive. He drew his arrow, aimed with one eye closed, feeling Kirishima’s chest rising against his back. Their breathing was in synch, he felt Kirishima exhaling by his chest flattening and let go of his arrow.
The arrowhead shot through the branches right above the deer’s front legs through his ribs, killing it instantly. Kirishima gasped again.
“Amazing.” His grip tightened around Bakugou’s waist.
“I fucking know”, he grumbled more out of reflex. He fastened his bow back on the saddle and galloped over to their prey. He slid down from the saddle, landing on the ground with a soft thud and kneed down. Pulling out his knife, he heard Kirishima land behind him, and slit his knife through the deer’s throat to let it bleed out.
“We let it bleed out and then the kitchen staff will take care of the rest.” He explained without being asked to, seeing Kirishima nod next to him.
“You never skin and gut it yourself?”
“What? No. It’s all dirty and gross.”
Kirishima laughed airily. “Well, I think, if you want to eat something you have to go through the whole process.”
“But you never fucking hunted yourself. So, you don’t actually deserve to eat deer yourself.” Bakugou shot back. Kirishima didn’t say anything, just held his hand open for the knife. Groaning at himself, finally catching up what was going on, he handed Kirishima the knife. For someone who was praised to be a genius he sometimes was a little dense.
“You never ate deer before.” He answered himself quietly. Kirishima hummed and began to hold up the knife before stopping.
“What now?” Bakugou rolled his eyes.
“My clothes!” Kirishima put the knife down and stripped off his vest and shirt with deft fingers. His skin was slightly flushed as he kneeled back down, grabbing for the knife again. He set the knife at the bottom of the deer’s throat, Bakugou could see Kirishima’s muscles tense up as he pulled the knife from left to right in one firm stroke.
Immediately, all innards fell out. Fortunately, it already bled out enough from its throat so not too much blood came out through the cut. Kirishima wiped the Knife on the grass to get the excess blood off from it and then grabbed at intestines and stomach and whatnot. He just grabbed it with his bare hands. Bakugou stared at him as if he wasn’t human.
“You… you just do that?”
Kirishima blinked at him. “Why not?”
“Because—” Bakugou stopped himself. Because it’s the servants’ job, was what he wanted to say but knowing Kirishima well enough, he would insult him with this thinking. He nodded, took a deep breath and watched Kirishima gutting the deer. After a short while, Kirishima began to explain what he was doing. He couldn’t name much of the anatomy of the deer, Bakugou filled these blanks, but had extensive knowledge about the right procedure to prepare a deer to be cooked.
It took them about half an hour to get all its intestines properly wrapped up, another half an hour to skin it, and then strapped the deer on the back of Bakugou’s horse. They opted to walk beside the horse, Kirishima said to have an eye on the deer so it wouldn’t slide down but Bakugou understood that he didn’t want to strain his horse too much with two grown men and a deer on its back. No way, he would ride then.
Bakugou had taken Kirishima’s clothes and held onto it for now since Kirishima’s arms were still dipped in blood right up to his elbows. After exiting the forest, Bakugou steered them back to the river and Kirishima could wash his arms. When he emerged from the water and strutted over to him, asking silently for his clothes, Bakugou had to force himself to give it back to him, he had to admit.
“Thank you, Ba- Your Highness.” Kirishima snapped his eyes to the ground as he stumbled over his words, pulling the shirt over his head. Bakugou squinted his eyes at him but let it slide. He crossed his arms and waited.
“No, really, thank you.” Kirishima said again. “For, you know, taking me with you and”, he gestured at himself, “helping me out.”
Bakugou huffed and pulled himself back into the saddle. “Whatever.”
Kirishima beamed at him. “See you at the banquet.”
“You better will.” He steered his horse back to the cobbled path, hitting its flanks with his heels and galloped back to the castle before he could look back.
Eijirou stood at the river as long as he could see the prince ride away. At the same time, he wished for Bakugou to turn around and to just ride away as fast as he could. Bakugou took the decision from him as he galloped away. He let out a breath he didn’t know he held in.
He squatted down, hands to his face a made a noise between a squeal and a giggle. No, this couldn’t be happening. No. Nope. Eijirou walked up to the patch of trees, grabbed all the clothes and, finally, ran all the way back. He already took long enough as it was. He ignored all the looks he got and was relieved he could say his red face was because of the running.
He slid into his chamber and stuffed the clothes under his bed, changing out of his current outfit. He put on his simple linen clothing, pulled his headband around his red hair and ran all the way back to the kitchen and asked for something, anything to do. He needed to be distracted.
After tackling every possible assignment, Eijirou made his way back to their chambers when it was already late. He stumbled into the room, trying to be as quiet as possible but as soon as the door swung open, his friends were on their feet, lighting a candle.
“What happened?!” They all whispered loudly in unison.
“I—” Kirishima stuttered. His brain provided him instantly with his memories of today’s afternoon, Bakugou’s eyes constantly roaming over his own naked chest, his body pressed against him, brushing against each other with every step the horse had taken. His face flushed unbelievable hot.
“You met the prince, haven’t you?” Mina gave him a knowing look, receiving nothing but a nod in confirmation. His friends high fived each other.
“Guys”, Eijirou whined, “that’s not something to celebrate. I will only meet him once again and then never again. This just makes everything”, he huffed in annoyance, “more complicated.”
His friends followed him with his eyes as he prepared for bed, exchanging glanced.
“What do you mean?” Denki asked.
Eijirou’s shoulders tensed before falling down. “You know what I mean.” He shook his head. “Alright, let’s talk hypothetically.” He sat down on his bed, his friends following suit. “Hypothetically, I like him. And he liked me. We met at the banquet, becoming even better friends. Yeah, well, surprise I have to move to another country, so see you never again.” He groaned. “This will just… suck.”
“And if you just, I don’t know, play along for a little longer?” Mina asked quietly.
“Deceiving him? Playing someone, I am not? Yeah, great. And either it will suck even more when we have to stop seeing each other or he’ll find out eventually and take it upon himself to stab me to death. I don’t want to…”, he clenched his jaw, “I don’t want to lie to him anymore. I mean, hypothetically, if I liked him, lying to the person you like is just not right.” Eijirou fell backward onto his pillow, both arms spread to his sides, bumping against the wall with his knuckles.
“Just two more days.” He mumbled into the almost darkness. His friends stayed silent. There wasn’t anything they could say because deep down, they knew Eijirou was right. There was no possible solution that a prince and a servant could ever be friends, let alone anything else.
Eijirou tried not to think about the upcoming banquet too hard for the next days but that was kind of impossible since every waking second he was reminded that it was happening due to all the assignments their wing was flooded with. The day before the banquet was especially brutal. Some of the guests had already arrived and demanded attention on top of preparing for the event. Eijirou still was grateful, working and running around at least occupied his brain well enough to actually think about that he would be attending as well.
Well, until it was finally was the day of the banquet. His thoughts caught up with the impending task at hand and made him jittery. His hands trembled, his mind wandered. What he couldn’t really grasp was, was it just anticipation acting as a noble or did he, as a matter of fact, not want to part ways with the prince? He didn’t know and, to be honest, he didn’t want to know.
When it was finally time to get ready, all the other servants ushered him out of the kitchen, encouraging to do whatever he wanted, with a wink, that they could handle the rest. With a heavy sigh, he left for his chambers where Mina was already waiting for him.
“Wow, you look like you’re on the way to a funeral.” She smacked his back. “Cheer up, you’re gonna see your prince tonight.” She chuckled with a knowing look.
“He is not my prince”, he grumbled in response but, oh no, did he want him to be his? Shaking his head, he banished the thought as soon as it came up and pulled out the clothes he prepared for tonight. Mina helped him dress, to give a few knowing tucks so it framed his body just the right way.
Eijirou had already smeared some of the substance into his air before he went to bed last night, not entirely sure how much time he would have for getting ready. Turned out, enough time.
“Sit”, Mina ushered him to sit on the floor in front of the bed, sitting down behind him. She brushed his hair with a broken comb and started to part his hair. Slowly she started to braid different wisps of hair on the side until it united in the middle of the back of his head and became one thicker braided tail, which was slightly raised with a black bow. The end of the ponytail was fastened with a thin black strand.
Eijirou carefully drove his hand over his hair, feeling the tight strands and when Mina handed him her mirror, he let out a tiny gasp.
“Mina!” He turned his head from one side to the other, a few shorter strands on his forehead bobbing with the motion, and his smile grew. “That looks amazing! Thank you!” He turned around fully and pulled her in a firm embrace. Mina laughed into his shoulder.
“It’s not difficult to make a pretty person pretty.” She tightened her hold for a second before they both let go. “Eijirou”, she tugged at his frilly collar, stroking over his vest.
“I want you to know, that we will be on your side. Whatever will happen, whatever your decision will be.”
Eijirou nodded, trying not to cry on the spot. Mina patted his cheek. “You still have time to cry. As soon as I’m finished with you I won’t let you.”
“Mina!” Eijirou wailed, again, pressing his face into her chest. She patted his hair and hushed him.
“Don’t worry, we’ve got you.”
He nodded, took in a deep breath and sat up again. “Alright.” Mina grabbed some of the make-up utensils she could gather over the span of last week with the help of other maids and started to apply some powder on his cheeks, drew a fine line on the wing of his eyelids with charcoal and dabbed some red substance onto his lips, making them even rosier than they were anyway.
“Perfect.” Mina admired her own work.
Eijirou took his time to mentally prepare himself, just staring at the wall of their chamber, Mina at his side, holding his hand. They went through the plan often enough he could recite it by heart. In hindsight, he was grateful for Tetsutetsu to get all the other servants on board with this over the top stupid plan. It took some pressure off his shoulder, especially, since the servant who was announcing the guests was as excited as everybody else and could play the part, so he didn’t have to sneak in again. Particularly, because this is an event hosted for his apparent home prefecture and it would seem pretty odd that he had to sneak in for that.
Come in, eat and drink something, tell Bakugou he needed to leave the country because he was promised some young maiden in a far away state and then leave. Easy enough.
Bakugou was in high spirit in the past few days. High spirit meant, he didn’t snap at everything and some of his heat left his voice, but rarely someone noticed. Still, Bakugou could feel a little change in his mood. Was it because of the little trip with Kirishima? Probably. But he wouldn’t admit to that out loud.
He noticed a difference in how he was treated by the servants as well as much as he treated them differently. Not that he thanked them for everything they did, it was still their job, but he at least acknowledged their existence, gave them a short nod when, for example, one of them brought him a snack or he saw maids dusting off the busts in the hallway. Which made them a little less… afraid of him, Bakugou dared to say. He didn’t think it was bad to be afraid of him, it meant respect. But somehow, being asked by his staff if he liked his tea rather with one or two spoons of sugar instead of just needed to be told how he wanted it, felt something akin to trust to him.
Trust with the people he wanted to lead.
“Did something good happen, Your Highness?”
Aizawa pulled him out of thoughts. He didn’t listen for the past few minutes, he assumed. Blinking the thoughts away, Bakugou wore his usual scowl etched on his face.
“The fuck you want?”
Unfazed, Aizawa turned back two pages and sighed. “Just asking. I thought for a second there, you were smiling. Must be a trick of my mind.”
“Damn sure it was.” Bakugou snapped but turned his face down to the desk. Just in case. There was no way, such stupid, sappy thoughts would make him smile. Fortunately for him, Aizawa didn’t care much about his current mental state and continued or rather repeated his lecture about the Chiba prefecture. Bakugou was making sure he knew about each and everything of the regions so he could host the best banquet they had ever attended.
Time flew by, the day filled with his usual routine of lecture, lunch, greeting some of the early guests and getting ready for the banquet. He noticed as the maids dressed him that they were a little more fidgeting, suppressed smiles here and there. He didn’t stoop so low as to ask what was that all about even if his curiosity was stretched to its limit. Instead, he looked at his reflection in the wide mirror, tucking at his collar and sleeves to make himself more comfortable, and thought about someone he might, he better be, meet this evening.
Kirishima was a mystery to him. Starting by his appearance, what noble did have red hair? And it looked natural, he couldn’t really be at fault but he could try to get some hair masks or whatever, so it wouldn't be that red. But it matched his eye color which was satisfying. And of course, the main reason he was such a mystery was his demeanor toward nobility. There was leisure in his speech, his gestures, his being he wasn’t used to in a noble. Which was refreshing. He felt like talking to a human being and not someone who recited the usual pleasantries. Especially, he felt he could talk to him freely. Because or Kirishima’s leisure he didn’t feel like Kirishima forced himself to speak with him or to kiss his ass, just, he was honest.
He wanted to know the secrets Kirishima harbored. There was something he didn’t tell him, obviously, and it felt like a challenge. Was he worthy enough to encode this enigma called Kirishima Eijirou?
His feet brought him to the ballroom, he nodded toward the servants opening the door and received small bows, and entered the room which was slowly filled with attendees. Automatically, his eyes scanned the crowd for a specific redhead but didn’t find anything. He tried to ignore the disappointment in his chest. Taking in a deep breath he made his way to the side of his mother, greeting everyone who stopped him.
Whenever the door opened, his head jerked up, squinting at the people coming in and whenever it was not a specific red-haired man, his scowl grew deeper.
“What made you so peeved, my dear son?” His mother nudged him with her elbow, pushing it deep between his ribs and he suppressed a wince.
“Shut up. Nothing.”
“Hum.” She hummed, grin growing a little wider, a little wickeder. “Awaiting someone?” Bakugou narrowed his eyes on her and clicked his tongue.
“Why would I? Just waiting for everybody to arrive to eat, I’m starving.”
“You sure, you aren’t thirsty?”
Bakugou chocked on his own spit and spun around. “Mother—” but before he could finish his sentence, the door opened again and his ears heard the quiet announcement.
“Sir Kirishima Eijirou, first and only son of Lady Kirishima Tomoya.”
Bakugou’s voice died in his throat as he looked up to Kirishima walking through the doors, wearing the outfit he put together for him and an elaborate hairstyle. Maybe it was the chandelier or the lightning overall but to him, it looked like Kirishima was glowing.
He didn’t hear what his mother said to him, just walking right up to Kirishima who was already getting attention by other bystanders. He pushed through them until he was right in front of him.
“Finally decided to show up, dumbwhit?” He crossed his arms, taking a quick once over glance at Kirishima before settling on the small smile that appeared on his face.
“Aw, did Your Highness miss me?”
“You fucking wish.” His fist shot out against the other’s shoulder earning a small grunt, but it turned into a chuckle. Kirishima rubbed at his shoulder and shook his head.
“Need to work on my reflexes so I can kick you’re a—to win fair and square.” He coughed and scratched his cheek.
“Why the fuck do you think I care about your wording?” As if caught, Kirishima’s eyes shot open, blinking.
“Uh, I…”, his hand traveled to his neck, rubbing at it, “I mean, you’re still the prince and I’m far beneath you, so”, he shrugged as he trailed off, eyes looking up at him sheepishly. “Do you… don’t want me to?”
Bakugou glared at him with a small grunt and shrugged. “It’s whatever. I don’t care.” Kirishima hummed, leaning over a little.
“Then, Your Highness, please let me kick your ass next time we spar.” Bakugou’s eyes narrowed down on Kirishima’s beaming smile and shoved his shoulder at him.
“Big words for someone who couldn’t even get one hit in.”
“I almost had you… that one time, I think.”
Bakugou chuckled ever so lightly at the contemplating look on Kirishima’s face. “You and thinking? I highly doubt that.” When their eyes locked, his heart stuttered for just a second when he saw the tiny, yet warm smile meant for him.
“So, you do can laugh.”
“Fuck off!” Bakugou shoved at him again but Kirishima was laughing wholeheartedly already.
For the next hour, they kept on bantering, trying to one-up each other for their next sparring session and walked around the room. Bakugou had to stop every now and then to hold an obliging conversation with which he really could live without. His eyes always trailed off to his side, where Kirishima was apparently glued to him, never really leaving him but not chiming in in the conversation. Afterward, when they were alone again, Bakugou listed off some trivial information of the noble they were talking to. Not to impress Kirishima or anything.
Then, a small bell was rung, and his mother invited their guests to join her at the dinner table. Bakugou made a face and lead Kirishima to the table, scanning it for Kirishima’s name badge and was pleasantly surprised to find him seated directly at his side. Whoever decided their seating order needed to be thanked. He almost pulled out the chair to offer it to Kirishima but could stop himself in time. Instead, he sat down on his own chair, registering by the movement next to him that Kirishima sat down as well.
“Do you know what will be served?” Kirishima leaned in and whispered to Bakugou. He just shrugged.
“Probably the same as always. Soup, fish, meat, dessert.” Pushing his lips up a little higher in a scowl. “Always the same.”
Kirishima tilted his head at that. “You… don’t like having four different courses?” Bakugou rolled his eyes and groaned.
“No, Shitty-shima, I don’t like having the same four courses every damn day. I thought we have top chefs who like to experiment and give us something to look forward to and not this bland shit, every day.”
His mother cleared her throat and shot him a meaningful glare which he answered in the same manner. She rolled her eyes and stood up, all conversations died down.
“My honored guests, it is my pleasure to welcome you at our home.” She raised her glass. “It is not only a joy for me to see you come from a faraway place to strengthen our bonds but, as well, that my son takes it upon himself to fight for these bonds.”
He scuffed under his breath but Kirishima nudged his knee under the table, nodding at him with a smile.
“So, thank you, my dear son, Katsuki, to present us this opportunity. Would you like to say something yourself to our guests?”
‘No’ was the first thing he wanted to say but clenched his jaw to not blurt it out. His eyes found Kirishima’s and he sighed. He stood up with a glass in his hand, looking them all over once.
“Thank you for following my invitation when I reached out for you. It is a great honor to have you all assembled in these halls and I hope to nourish our relationship with newly found friends and allies.” His expression turned a little sour. He hated speaking as if he had a stick up his ass. “Then, let’s toast to our friends and eat to our heart’s desire, I’m fucking starving.” He down his glass and sat down.
Kirishima was the first to break the stunned silence with a laugh and the others followed suit. Pleased by himself, Bakugou gave his mother a courteous nod who in turn fixed him with a knowing look in her eyes, dancing between him and Kirishima. He chose to ignore that and turned his attention back to Kirishima who was beaming at the soup that was brought in.
“That looks delicious!” He gasped as a bowl was put in front of him.
“It’s fucking soup.”
“Yeah, well, Your Highness, even ‘fucking soup’ can taste pretty good!” Kirishima mimicked his words with the same grumpy expression, Bakugou assumed he was wearing right now and kicked Kirishima under the table, earning a snicker.
It was fascinating to watch Kirishima eat a simple potato soup as if it was some blessed meal. His face beamed with every spoonful, humming every other bite and when he wiped his bowl clean with the slice of bread, it was pure bliss on his face. It was fucking soup. And yet, it made Bakugou enjoy his own soup a little more, admitting that it, in fact, did taste pretty good.
When the fish was served, Bakugou witnessed a rather peculiar situation. He was just quipping back in forth with his parents, when he out of the corner of his eye saw that Kirishima was grabbing for the wrong knife regarding eating fish. When he was about to say something, Kirishima locked eyes with the servant on the other side of the table. They shook their head so lightly, it was only visible if you look for it. Kirishima then moved his hand to the next, another shake and when he touched the right knife, he got a nod. They exchanged a subtle smile and the servant was gone.
As if nothing had happened, Kirishima turned back to Bakugou, grinning at him.
“Do you know which fish will be served?”
Still a little dumbfounded what he just witnessed, Bakugou shook his head. “Fish.” He deadpanned. Kirishima chuckled at him.
“I sure hope it is fish since it is the fish course. Man”, his eyes grew distant, “if that’s all it takes to be a prince, I have a pretty good chance to become one myself.”
That earned him, at the same time, a hard kick under the table and a chuckle from the queen. Kirishima’s quiet yelp was accompanied by his flashing cheeks as he shot a glance towards the queen. A shy smile formed on his lips.
“This is Sir Kirishima Eijirou from whom I’ve heard a lot recently, isn’t he?” The queen asked between bites.
“Y-yes, Your Majesty.” Kirishima bowed his head slightly and Bakugou could see him fumble, apparently undecided if he was allowed to continue eating or waiting for some conversation. He rolled his eyes and nudged his knee, nodding at his fish. Relief washed over Kirishima as he took the next bite.
“I haven’t seen Katsuki hold such a long conversation in a long time without chasing the other party away. What’s your secret?”
Kirishima snorted slightly but shook his head. “No secret, Your Majesty. Just honest… I like the way he is.” Another smile, almost fond, formed on his lips and a bit of fish fell from Bakugou’s fork as he stopped it right before his mouth. Ignoring the heat forming on his cheeks he bit down hard on his fork.
His mother just laughed. “Oh, dear Sir, that is truly fascinating. Do tell, what is it you like about my son?”
“Mother!” Bakugou almost shouted, heads turning to see what the commotion was about. Bakugou glared at his mother, having a silent conversation with his eyes alone. Which Mitsuki choose to ignore.
“What is it, Katsuki? I just thought it was nice to know about redeeming qualities you have I’m not aware of.” Her smile stretched on his face, every inch of it smug.
“Oh, is it so hard to believe someone likes the son you raised? That is really reassuring.” Bakugou snapped with fake hurt, lashing his anger out on his fish. The queen waited for another second before bursting out in a fit of laughter, dispersing the heavy atmosphere that had formed. Bakugou grumbled.
Kirishima touched his elbow with his own, searching for his eyes. He glanced over, pursing his lips. Slightly leaning forward, Kirishima held their gaze and whispered.
“For what it’s worth, I like how determined you are, among other things.” He had the audacity to wink at him. Bakugou felt another wave of heat rising up his face but also in his chest, tightening around his lungs. He grunted in response.
When they were finished with the fish, Kirishima leaned over again. His eyes were cast down, his fingers twitching at his napkin.
“I—Can we talk after dinner? There is something I have to tell you.”
Bakugou’s eyes narrowed. “Why not tell me fucking now?”
Kirishima shook his head, a sad smile on his lips he didn’t like one bit. “We should talk… in private.” Bakugou rolled his eyes but nodded.
“Whatever.” Whatever, indeed. It wasn’t important that his heart clenched by the sorrowful look Kirishima wore or that he held his breath when he thought about what Kirishima had to tell him in private.
When the meat course was served, his mother raised her glass again. “I want to thank my son since he was the one who shot the deer for us today.”
Quiet ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s were uttered.
“Kirishima helped.” Bakugou grumbled. His mother raised her eyebrows, tilting her head.
“Oh? I wasn’t aware of that. Of course, thank you, Sir Kirishima, as well. How come?”
“I—” Kirishima’s eyes widened and Bakugou saw him looking over to him in search for help.
“We just kinda ran into each other. And since I was on my way I just invited him to tag along. He was the one who—” Kirishima stepped on his foot and shook his head almost undetectable. Bakugou stumbled a little over his words and glared at him.
“We both took it down.” He said in the end. His mother nodded again, forming polite conversation with the person next to his father, throwing Bakugou a meaningful look. But Bakugou had already turned his head to Kirishima.
“What the fuck was that about?” He hissed. Kirishima shrugged at him noncommittally.
“I don’t want people to know.” It was rather formed a question as he raised his voice at the end. Bakugou pinched his nose with two fingers, taking a few deep breaths. Why in the world was he keeping up with this? There was no logical reason and he was well aware of that fact, making it even more frustrating to him. Glancing back to Kirishima and seeing him savoring the meat, however, he decided it didn’t matter really that much that he knew why.
“Are all banquets like that?” Kirishima asked in between bites.
Bakugou finally started eating as well. “Mostly. It’s literally a banquet, dumbass.” He scowled at Kirishima’s chuckle. “Sometimes there are dances, though.”
“Dances?” Kirishima beamed at him. “Aw, man, that would have been great.”
“What, you like dances?” Bakugou perked one eyebrow up. “Don’t look like one to dance.”
Kirishima shrugged. “I… don’t actually. I mean, I don’t know how”, lowering his voice Kirishima poked at his meat, “but I wanted to attend a formal dance for so long, you know. Preferable after I learned how to dance.” Another chuckle.
Bakugou eyed him for a second, an idea forming inside his head and before he could stop himself, he said: “I could teach you.”
Kirishima’s head jerked up, staring at him with glistening eyes. “You would?”
“Idiot”, Bakugou cleared his throat, chewing the rest of his meat in his mouth, “that’s what I said, didn’t I?” He fixed his eyes back on the plate since he couldn’t bear looking further at Kirishima’s blinding smile. A few seconds went by without Kirishima answering so he chanced another glance.
Kirishima separated the vegetables from his meat with his fork, poking at it absentmindedly. His smile was already dropped and Bakugou felt his chest tighten, again. Should he see his physician about this?
“Got a problem with that?” he snapped instead.
“Huh?” Kirishima blinked up at him. “No! No, not at all. It’s just…” he bit his lip, avoiding his gaze. “I’ll tell you later, okay?”
“What’s with all that—” – “So, Sir Kirishima”, his mother interrupted him mid-sentence and he had to count from 10 backward to no yell at her.
“Why didn’t your mother come to join us today? I would have thought, she would be delighted as a recently declared Lady?” She took a long sip, fixing Kirishima in his seat with her eyes.
“Y-yes, Your Majesty.” Kirishima voice sounded raspy. “She extends her thanks for the invitation, however, she couldn’t make it because of her health.”
“Oh, dear. I hope she will get better soon.” Bakugou’s mother held a hand to her chest, shaking her head. “I hope she can join us for the next banquet. I’d like to meet the woman who raised such a good boy.”
“To see how it’s actually done?” Bakugou finally quipped. He wasn’t to let it slide that she kept interrupting him and made a fool out of him. His mother shot him a glare.
“For you to see how to treat a mother right, my dear son.”
He heard Kirishima stifle a laugh next to him, so he jerked his head around. “You fucker like laughing about me?”
“N-no”, he grinned, holding a hand up in front of his mouth, “it’s just… I’m happy to see you’re having such a good relationship with your mother.”
“Wha—Where did you get that idea from?!” Bakugou blinked at him incredulously. Kirishima leaned back against his chair, humming.
“Well, you can only really banter like this with someone you actually care about, don’t you?” A fond smile spread over his face. Did he wear make-up? Bakugou noticed the thin black line on his eyelid, giving his eyes a more edged shape. And before, he thought Kirishima looked a little pale, but now he saw the rosy cheeks shimmer through the face powder.
He grabbed his glass and took a long sip, whipping the excess wine away with the back of his hand.
“My old hag and I aren’t—” he couldn’t finish his sentence, as the giant clock on the wall struck 12, the first bell ringing through the hall. Rolling his eyes, Bakugou waited for the next beat to continue but he noticed Kirishima freezing up beside him, his eyes wide.
“It’s already midnight?” he barely breathed.
“Huh? Yeah. We started dinner rather late because of those stupid late runners.” He shrugged and picked up the last piece of meat with his fork.
“I have to go.” Kirishima almost threw down his cutlery, standing up with a screeching chair. Bakugou almost choked on his own spit and whipped his head around.
“What? Why?” He snapped. But Kirishima had already pushed the chair back far enough and took a step back.
“I… I am so, so sorry. I need to go. See you later, Baku—Your Highness!” And with that, he jolted around and started running. Bakugou wheezed. Not again. Kirishima would not ditch him again. With a sharp push, he stood up from his chair, on foot already planted firmly on the ground to give him leverage. He thrust forward only to collide with a servant who suddenly appeared from the side.
Bakugou toppled over with the person but could retain from falling down by rolling over his shoulder. The tray flew high up, falling down with a loud clatter, and dishes shattering on the ground. The servant held his side but was already kneeling down on both knees, head almost touching the ground.
“I am incredibly sorry. Please, forgive me, Your Highness.” Their voice quivered slightly and Bakugou clicked his tongue, growling under his breath. He punched the ground with his fist, flinching just barely at the pain.
Kirishima was gone. Fucking again.
Chapter 3: So This Is Love
It is done!! ahhhh I am so happy I didn't cut it short to make due for KiriBakuWeek even though I liked to finish in time /)(\ but I'm pretty happy with this!!
Took a little longer b/c of work and stuff but here it is! hope you have fun <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tears were stinging in his eyes as he flew down the corridor, refused to be shed and as soon as Eijirou reached the east wing, his hair had turned black fully. He leaned against the wall with one hand, gasping for air. Eyes squeezed shut, he tried to forget the hurt in Bakugou’s eyes as he ran away from him. That couldn’t be happening. They had a plan. After tonight they wouldn’t meet again, ever. But now, now Eijirou couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t give Bakugou at least some kind of explanation.
Slowly, he let go of the wall, swallowing down his dry throat and trudged back to his sleeping chamber where his friends were already waiting for him. He opened the door and he didn’t need to say anything, they kind of got what happened just by looking at him. Silently, Mina walked up to him to give him a tight hug. Eijirou leaned his forehead against her shoulder, breathing in with a shudder.
“I like him. I like him so much.” He muttered. Mina patted his hair, carefully untangling the braids.
“No, it’s not. This is the worst.” Eijirou gritted through his teeth and grabbed onto Mina’s sleeping shirt. “I don’t… I want to see him again. But”, he had to swallow down the tears, “I don’t think I should.” He stood back up again. “I mean, I should give him something and not just let him hanging, you know, but”, he shook his head, hair falling down over his ears, “I’m not worth it. I’m a lowlife servant and he’s the goddamn prince. This was all a fucking dream and it’s time to wake up.”
As he said that, he stepped away from Mina, grabbing at his vest and shirt and ripped it off himself violently, almost ripping it.
“Eijirou!” Hanta and Denki cried out, rushing to his side. “Calm down!”
“I am calm.” His voice trembled, belittling his own words. He huffed out in annoyance, trying to find back his composure. “The more I see him, the more I stall the inevitable, the more it will hurt. If I just draw a line now, we are done for good. He will be furious a few days, I will be fed up with myself a little, and then everything will be back to normal.”
Nodding to himself, Eijirou grabbed his nightshirt and pulled it over his head, just to be faced with Denki, hovering directly in front of him. He wore the maddest expression he had ever seen on his face.
“What the fuck, Eijirou?!” he growled.
“You actually believe that? You actually think we would believe this bullshit?” He spat, hands trembling at his side, balled into fists. “Even a blind man could see how much you’re hurt by all of this and how much you like this stupid prince. Why not take a goddamn risk, for god’s sake?”
At first, Eijirou was taken aback. He had never heard Denki raise his voice, not in anger at least. Furthermore, not directed at him. This was something he never expected to experience at all. But then, heat grew in his chest, furrowing his eyebrows.
“Taking a risk? You want me to be hanged, is that it? That’s not ‘taking a risk’, this is playing with my life, do you understand this?” He shouted. “What do you think would happen? I get all lovey-dovey with the prince and he would, I don’t know, make me his mistress or—oh, yeah, why not marry him to be king right away? Ah, right, because I am a fucking servant.”
He panted at the end, taking in a sharp breath. Denki and he glared at each other until Eijirou scoffed and walked over to his bed. “I’m done. Good night.”
Helplessly, Mina and Hanta stood next to each other while Denki clicked his tongue.
“Fine, whatever.” And slipped under the blanket in his own bed. There was nothing left to be said. Eijirou had turned his back to his friends and stared against the wall. He wasn’t tired at all, at least not physically. His mind was numb, and he would prefer for sleep to take him but, of course, his body was still trembling by adrenaline rushing through his veins. The events still fresh in his mind, Eijirou struggled to find any sleep that night at all.
So, when he deemed it reasonable enough, Eijirou got up before the others woke up and quietly stole out of the room, searching for the first thing to work on. The other servants, fortunately, left him alone, giving him small smiles and some nods instead of talking to him. Maybe, the bags under his eyes were indicator enough he didn’t want to talk.
Most of the morning he spent with peeling potatoes, carrots and other vegetables. Mind-numbing activities that didn’t require a lot of thinking but attention nonetheless. When he saw the cooks getting ready to prepare the soup for lunch, he walked up without thinking this through, but he did that already rarely enough.
“Do you have other recipes as well?” His voice, raspy from being unused since yesterday, sounded foreign to himself. The cooks looked up, giving him some kind of glare.
“The prince thinks, cooks would experiment with the food a little more. It became kinda bland to him.” The words came out mechanically.
“Hah?” One of the three cooks rested his hands on his hips, fixing him with his crooked eyes. “So, a servant wants to tell me how to do my job?”
Eijirou shook his head, already drained mentally by this short conversation. “I was just saying. The prince got bored of your food.” The words were harsher than he intended but still held truth in them. The cook was seething at him.
“You little mon—” another cook held him by his arm. “Calm down!” He pushed him back, standing between Eijirou and the cook. He threw Eijirou a glance over the shoulder before turning his head back to the other cook.
“We already talked about this. The others and I”, he gestured vaguely towards the other cooks, “we were thinking about… mixing things up a bit. We have like three recipes for every course and even we think it’s boring.” He turned his back now to the cook and stared at him with wide eyes.
“What did the prince say?”
Eijirou blinked, slowly remembering the evening. “He said, that it was bland. Like, I don’t think he meant the taste but… variety? Getting always four courses, same order, same recipes he is used to. Thank kinda thing?” He shrugged.
The cook nodded, already far away in thoughts. “Thanks for bringing this up. We can work with that.”
Eijirou just nodded as the chefs were already starting to discuss their next step. Eijirou didn’t linger any longer, returning to his task. Except, now his thoughts were filled with the memories of last evening. Biting his lower lip, Eijirou tried to concentrate on the kitchen knife in his hand, pulling down to skin the potato, dropping the skin in the basket, peel down the next str—
“Ah!” Eijirou hissed as the knife cut into his thumb, not too deep but enough for it to draw blood immediately, running down the length of his finger. “Damn it.” He put the tip of his thumb in his mouth, sucking the blood from it and stopping the wound to bleed further with his tongue.
Excusing himself with a raised hand at one of the other servants who was peeling vegetables, Eijirou stood up and slowly walked down the hallway of the east wing. Maybe he was procrastinating to get to his destination and on other occasions, he would just continue his task without complaining but he was working with food and the cut needed a professional assessment before he could finish his work.
Needing more than double the time than before when he ran this way, he reached the wooden door. He gave the door a sharp knock, waiting for the usual “Come on in!” before entering.
Denki sat on his wooden stool, this time with some books, cataloging their inventory. He looked up and his smile froze just a little on his face. Eijirou’s chest tightened. He pulled out his thumb that was still oozing little droplets of blood, showing it to Denki who raised an eyebrow at him.
“What did you do this time?” His voice was a careful balance between polite and worried.
“Peeling potatoes. Was a little distracted.” Eijirou mumbled, eyes staring at Denki’s desk to not meet his eyes. Denki hummed in response and was already pulling out a drawer at his side.
“Sit.” Was all he said, Eijirou following the order. There was an uncomfortable silence between them as Denki began to disinfect the cut, tapping a cotton ball dipped in alcohol against it.
“Listen”, Eijirou professed, “I’m… I didn’t really mean what I said yesterday. I’m sorry.” He hunched his shoulders, bowing his head as he apologized. Denki didn’t stop his action, pulling up a band-aid and pressed it on the cut, sealing it for good.
“I’m sorry, too.” He mumbled. Eijirou looked up to see Denki making a face at the ground. “I… I don’t know, I was agitated and said things I didn’t mean. Of course, I don’t want to see you hanging and I get what you mean and I know it must suck for you the most. I was just excited because something, you know, was happening and I…”, he huffed, taking in a small breath, “I may have been a little jealous.” He grumbled reluctantly in one single breath.
Eijirou blinked. “You like the prince?”
“What? No!” Denki’s head shot up and looked at him as if he grew another head. “How did you… No! That guy is the worst, I have no idea what you’re seeing in him!”
“Then why would you be jealous?” Eijirou shook his head, not getting it. Denki groaned, slapping one hand against his forehead.
“Because something was happening to you. You got to talk with nobles, could dress up, getting all private with the prince, hell, you have magic hair dye!” Denki threw his hands in the air. “And I sit here every day, doing nothing. Treating cuts stupid servants get by getting distracted over fantasies with the prince.” He threw Eijirou a smug grin.
“Wha—” Eijirou felt his face heat up, knowing Denki was right. “I didn’t fantasize about anybody.” He mumbled. “And more important, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let you out of the loop. You helped me all the time and I just let you do your thing without thinking about it. Mina and Hanta, too.” He bowed his head, hands rested on his knees. “I’m really sorry.”
“Dude”, Denki slapped his shoulder, “it’s okay. We both kind of fucked up. So,” he raised his hand, “we good?”
Eijirou clasped at it with his own, squeezing it without hesitation. “We good.” They grinned at each other. Eijirou couldn’t imagine living and working here without Denki by his side. Or Mina and Hanta. They were sometimes the only reasons he didn’t succumb in self-loathe or lost his sanity. He didn’t know if he could handle losing anyone of them.
“So?” Denki leaned his cheek on one hand, propped up at his desk, drawing out the syllable.
“So what?” Eijirou raised an eyebrow, earning Denki rolling his eyes at him.
“Did you really mean it that you didn’t want to see the prince again?”
Eijirou huffed, pulling at the hem of his sleeve. “I do”, he croaked. “I really do”, he repeated a little more confident. “It’s the best course of action. I want to end it”, he took a deep breath.
“But?” Denki prompted.
“I want to talk to him one last time. Like, just not vanish and his last memory of me would be me running away from him from a banquet.”
“And himself running into a servant? Priceless.” Denki chuckled. “No, I get it.”
“He did what now?” Eijirou’s eyes threatened to pop out.
“Oh, you didn’t hear?” Denki grinned. “Tetsutetsu kinda walked into him to cut him off from following you but they’re both pretty strong so, you know, tray went flying, people were falling, dishes got destroyed, the whole package.”
Eijirou groaned into his hands. “Even more important, I need to talk to him.” Another shake of his head. “And thanking Tetsutetsu.”
Denki crossed his arms, humming in thoughts. “You could wait for the next banquet, but you could…” He trailed off waiting for Eijirou to look at him. “There is another possibility. I need to look into it first, but there is a chance you could talk or see him again before that.”
“What do you mean?” Eijirou blinked. Denki leaned over, looking around as if he was afraid someone would listen in to their conversation, dropping in volume as he continues.
“There is a new guy, a servant directly appointed to some of the nobles living in the castle. Word has it, that he smuggles in and out different kinds of wares. You could”, he shrugged, “get a message or something inside to the prince.”
Eijirou gasped, adjusting his voice the same level as Denki. “That could work?”
“I don’t know yet”, Denki huffed, “like I said, I would look into it first. Nothing good would happen if they fuck up or something.” Eijirou nodded in agreement. Their next step had to be carefully planned and executed. And they probably had to act fast, knowing Bakugou, Eijirou could imagine that he was fuming right now and would act rather hotheadedly.
“Can you get in contact with them? As soon as possible?”
“I can try. Don’t know if it will work, so maybe think of something else, too.” Eijirou patted his shoulder and grinned at him. Eijirou answered in kind and nodded at him.
“Thank you, Denki, really. I owe you so much already.”
“Nah”, Denki waved at him in dismissal. “Don’t mention it. I’ll let you know as soon as I know what’s up.”
Eijirou thanked him again before finally returning to the kitchen, continuing his work. His thoughts were mulled over by thinking about what to tell Bakugou. He could just meet up with him in private and tell him about his ‘engagement’, leave and never come back, like they originally planned. But will it really work out that way? Eijirou made a face at that. As if Bakugou would just say, yeah, ok, alright, farewell. Sure.
Eijirou grabbed for his next potato only to grab at empty air. Turning his head around slightly, he was met with an empty bucket. He looked over to the other servants peeling away, he stood up and walked over to their pantry to retrieve the next batch of potatoes. Or maybe carrots, to mix things up. He chuckled at himself.
After opening the door, he looked around for the next bucket of vegetables and saw them in the far back. He made a big step inside and as soon as he reached the bucket, the door fell shut. With a small yelp, Eijirou jerked up and gritted his teeth.
“Are you Eijirou?” A voice, low and raspy but surprisingly even echoed through the room.
“What the…” Eijirou stood frozen on the spot. His eyes were slowly adjusting to the darkness but only saw the fuzzy outlines of the racks at the wall.
“You want something from inside the castle?" The voice continues, bouncing from one wall to the other.
“I…” Eijirou blinked, croaking, “I don’t? I mean, I want something to get inside the castle?” Not really knowing what was going on, he just hoped, the person or whatever was what Denki spoke about. He listened to the silence that followed.
“What do you want?” A whisper, something like air blowing through the room.
“A message to the prince.” He whispered back.
“Just a message?” The voice rasped into his ear, making him flinch and jerk around. He was surrounded by nothing but darkness. What did the voice mean by that? That was what they would be doing, right? Denki said, they worked to smuggle goods in and out and he wanted a message in. To the prince.
“What do you want?” The voice, now heavier inside the room, boomed. Eijirou yelped, pressing against one of the cupboards. What if someone would hear them? He swallowed, feeling a little unsafe.
“I… I don’t know wh-what you mean!” He stuttered, eyes darting around into nothingness.
“What do you want from inside the castle?” The voice, almost soothing now, caressed the outside of his ear, making him shiver. A face popped inside his mind, a smug grin, a boisterous laugh, a calloused hand.
“The Prince.” He breathed barely audible, but the heavy atmosphere vanished almost immediately. Taking a deep breath, Eijirou fumbled along the cupboards, hands reaching in front of him, as he stumbled against the door. With a hefty push of his shoulder, the door swung open without resistance. The door yanked open, crashing against the wall behind it.
Slightly panting, all eyes were on him. He huffed out an awkward laugh. “Got a little claustrophobic.” Swallowing hard around the lump in his throat, he stepped back into the pantry, grabbing the first basket he could reach and heaved it outside. That was… something. He returned to his spot with the other servants and started peeling the carrots.
Trying to push the memories about what transpired in the pantry to the back of his mind, concentrating at his task to not cut himself again, the morning passed in the blink of an eye and when midday came around, he met up with his friends to eat lunch. As soon as they entered the dining hall for servant, Eijirou ushered them to the far back of the room away from the other servants and sat down on the small wooden table, he kicked Denki against the shin.
“A little warning would’ve been nice!” He hissed.
“Ouch!” Denki rubbed his shin. “What are you on about?”
“This”, he gestured vaguely through the air, “informant or whatever it is you talked about. He ambushed me in the pantry.”
“Wha—” Denki blinked at him, obviously confused. “Hold on, I haven’t had time yet to talk to anybody!”
“What?” Turning confused himself, Eijirou squinted his eyes. “But they…” he shook his head. “They asked what I wanted from inside the castle and I said, a message and then they were… gone?” Eijirou blinked into his food. The pantry was empty when he entered and still was empty when he left, and there was no other way in or out except from the only door. The color drained from his face.
“I think I talked to a ghost.” He whispered.
Hanta almost spit out his food, coughing violently, getting help from Mina who slapped his back. “Why do you…”, he wheezed, “think that?”
Eijirou summarized what happened to him in the pantry, leaving the table in an eerie silence. "I don’t know guys. That was so weird. I didn’t even get to say what the message was about! What… I don’t know what will happen now! If something will happen.” He groaned, hitting the table with his forehead. Mina winced and patted his shoulder.
“Well, maybe it was some good fairy or something”, she encouraged, “finally letting you realize what you want and help you out.”
“By trapping me in the pantry and ominously whispering in my ear? What a nice fairy.” He didn’t even look up, grumbling against the wood. Mina just patted his back again, ruffling his hair.
“We will figure things out. Cheer up, it’s not very you to mob around like that.”
Eijirou groaned. He knew that already. It wasn’t by choice this was getting to him like this, that wasn’t the plan at all. He just wanted to have a little adventure, a little fancy food and what did he get? Feelings for the prince. Great.
“You’re not there for once, and shit happens.” Uraraka shook her head in exasperation. Her brown hair bopped with every step her horse made, straightening her back as it stepped over a tree trunk in their path. “What did you do?”
Bakugou growled, following her with his own horse over the tree trunk. “What the fuck was I supposed to do? Running after him with food all over me and no goddamn idea where he ran?”
“You could have asked the guard at the door.” Midoriya jabbed from the side, finally catching up with the other two. Todoroki still trotted a little back, enjoying the view and apparently not partaking in their conversation. Why the fuck was this half-and-half prince here anyway?
“Yeah, sure, asking the fucking staff what to do. Oh, Your fucking Highness, what a great plan.” Bakugou bit back, only earning a roll with his eyes.
“I was just saying. Not my fault, if you’re were so blind about what to do.” Midoriya spurred on his horse as soon as he was done, already feeling the daggers Bakugou’s eyes were throwing at him. Bakugou hunted him through the high grass with his horse, screaming profanities at him.
After a few minutes, they fell back in step on the path with Uraraka and Todoroki. Bakugou growled at the princess as she opened her mouth. “Think carefully, what you want to say.”
“Stop being so dramatic, Bakugou.” She slapped his shoulder hard. “Will you see him again?”
Bakugou scowled, glaring on the path ahead. “I don’t know.” He quipped. Uraraka hummed in response, bobbing her head back and forth.
“Well, the question is, will he attend the next banquet? If not, there is no chance you will see him again, right?”
“Why not?” Todoroki asked from behind. Apparently, he didn’t pay any attention whatsoever.
“Because”, Bakugou jerked his head around, spatting, “there is no fucking record of the Kirishima family. I have nowhere to send a stupid message.” He turned back around, already seeing the castle walls growing bigger. They had ridden around for a few hours, mostly talking about Kirishima, to Bakugou’s delight and demise. He actually enjoyed talking about the redhead but the way Uraraka analyzed everything they said and did, apparently it was painfully obvious, they were in love. Bakugou had almost laughed out loud. He? In love? With some random noble? What a fucking joke.
They galloped the rest of the way until they reached the massive gate. Some of the servants prepared a little pavilion, accepting the reigns of the horses as they stopped in front of them. Bakugou swung his leg over and swooped to the ground. His thighs were aching pleasantly, stretching his arms high above his head, he sat down on one of the chairs. The other three followed his example.
“You know”, Uraraka sank into her chair, sighing, “you should come to visit me next time. I don’t want to travel all over the country every time.”
“That was your stupid decision, not mine.” Bakugou scoffed. “I didn’t invite you shits. It’s not my problem you collect other trash on your way and bring it to my doorstep.”
“Kacchan!” Midoriya gasped. “At least have some decency to refer to your castle as dumpster so we feel like we belong.”
“The fuck?!” Bakugou growled but before he could continue, a servant brought a tray with teacups, carefully putting them on the round table. Biting his lip, Bakugou eyed the servant. Seemed new. He slowly picked up on the faces of the servants and their individual role, this one, however, didn’t ring a bell. Their hair tousled up in different direction made him look somewhat undignified, even when their eyes locked for a second, they shined indigo in the light. The second passed too fast for Bakugou to really think about it.
“What about ‘King of the trash heap’ as a new title?” Todoroki mumbled more to himself as he drove a finger over the rim of his teacup. Bakugou smashed his fist on the table with force, the cups clanked at the impact.
“I’ll give you fucking trash, you piece of garbage.” He growled at Todoroki who sat in front of him.
“Your insults have been better, you know?” Unfazed, Todoroki shrugged, waiting as his tea was poured. Uraraka and Midoriya snickered behind held up hands.
“Maybe he mellowed out after finding true love.” Uraraka pressed out between her lips before bursting out in laughter, holding onto her cup. Midoriya held in his own laugh for another second but snorted and the damn broke before he followed Uraraka, tears already forming in his eyes.
“Kacchan and… and… love.” He wheezed between gasps. Bakugou hoped for the instant magical power to explode their heads off with his hands to make them shut up and regret they ever lived. The servant leaned down to pour his tea, obscuring the view to his friends and whispered under their laughter so quietly, Bakugou nearly missed it.
“Special delivery for Your Highness.” He tipped against the saucer with his little finger as he set down the cup again, bowed and took his place next to the other two servants standing with one arm angled in front of their chests, the other folded behind there back and eyes fixed forward, always at the read to fulfill any task they were assigned to.
Bakugou took a deep, shallow breath, trying not to show his discomfort. What did that mean? He’d love to just grab his cup and look under it, to see what the servant meant. He was about to just scream at him what arrogation he took to speak to him like that, but something held him back. Maybe curiosity, maybe pride, maybe anticipation. Bakugou didn’t know and he didn’t want to find out with all this audience.
He grimaced, slurping at the scalding hot tea to keep his temper in check. His tongue burnt but he didn’t let it show, just gripped tighter at his teacup. A small smile played on the lips of Todoroki as he observed the other two laughing, keeping each other from calming down by making the other laugh more.
“So”, Uraraka finally huffed out, evening out her breathing and wiping away a tear, “what are you gonna do about it?”
“About what?” Bakugou snapped. Uraraka rolled her eyes, snickering again.
“About this Kirishima guy, obviously, stupid.” She slurped at her tea and hissed. “Ah, hot.” Bakugou grumbled.
“Why the fuck are you so interested in that, angel face?”
“Well, my dear Katsuki, because I want to get to know this man who actually isn’t fed up with you but can stand you and make you feel things.”
“He didn’t do shit”, spatting, Bakugou’s leg bounced up and down. His patience was nearing its end. Midoriya leaned back, hand on his chin and in thoughts, he muttered.
“This man must have nerves made of steel or something. Stonecold, maybe. Probably some kind of preference for being humiliated or pain. Ah, it could be, that he is just entertained by Kacchan and runs away because it gets too mu—” Bakugou threw his cup against Midoriya’s head, spilling his hot tea on him. Midoriya shrieked, holding his slightly reddened face.
“Izuku!” Both Uraraka and Todoriko were on their feet, dabbing at the liquid with their napkins.
“Bakugou!” Uraraka quipped in anger. “That was uncalled for!”
“He is uncalled for. In fact, you all are.” He balled his hand into tight fists and crossed his arms, jerking his head to the side with a menacing grin on his lips. “Why don’t you just fucking leave?”
“Don’t worry”, Midoriya waves at them, rubbing on his face. “It’s not that bad. And Kacchan”, a small smile on his lips and eyebrows furrowed, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean what I said. We will leave you alone.” Pushing the chair back as he stood up, he grabbed Uraraka and Todoroki by the arm. “But don’t even think we’re going to leave. Just calm down and find us whenever you want.”
“So never.” Todoroki mumbled as he stumbled to follow Midoriya. Uraraka said something as well but Bakugou had them already tuned out, not looking back at them. His eyes were fixed on the table and as soon as he heard the horse steps fading away in the distance, he took in a shaky breath.
“Finally.” He exhaled and raised his hand to the saucer he was eyeing the whole time, lifting it up slowly in case the thing was something dangerous. But what dangerous thing could be put under a simple saucer? Apparently, nothing dangerous just a piece of paper folded once in the middle. Squinting his eyes, Bakugou snatched it from under the saucer, let the ceramic fall down with a light clink and unfolded the paper with two fingers.
“Meet me tomorrow at the trees when the sun goes down. – K.”
Bakugou’s eyes widened with every time he read it again and again. Without realizing, his heartbeat increased, and his cheeks reddened ever so slightly. His head whipped around to look for the servant who seemingly brought the message to him but only the other two servants stood at their designated place.
“Where is the other one of you?” He grumbled at them, making them flinch to attention.
“Your Highness?” One of them asked, swallowing as he blinked in confusion.
“You were three”, Bakugou rolled his eyes. “Where is the one who poured me my fucking tea?” The two servants exchanged a glance, the first one getting visibly nervous.
“I—I’m sorry, Your Highness, I don’t know what you mean? There were only us two for you today.” They looked at each other in silent, Bakugou trying to process what being said. How in the world was that possible? He clearly remembered this disheveled servant with the—Bakugou squinted. There was someone else, wasn’t there? Shaking his head, his mind became fuzzy. He clenched around the paper and blinked.
How did he get that piece of paper? Well, it didn’t really matter. Important was that he was going to see Kirishima again, tomorrow. His heart jumped into his throat for a second in excitement but Bakugou pushed it down. They would meet and he could yell at him for ditching him at the banquet in such a humiliating manner. His mother was laughing at him for scaring Kirishima away for hours.
Crumbling the paper in his fist, Bakugou stood up and left with his horse. The servants looked after him for a few seconds and shrugged. It wasn’t their place to judge the sanity of royalty.
Bakugou tried to occupy his mind with sparring matches at first. A few hours of just mindlessly swinging his wooden sword at his guards and their poor attempts to block did the trick and he actually did get the message out of his mind. But as soon as he lay down his sword, wiped away the sweat with his shirt, his thoughts began to wander again. He had more than 24 hours to kill before he could see Kirishima again and tal—yell at him.
After a restless night, filled with too many dreams he couldn’t recollect, Bakugou was rather grateful for the oncoming lesson about cultural awareness. Having his mind off again, was the best choice. Bakugou was by no means someone who would run away from his problems, but he couldn’t stand the fact that he just couldn’t do anything about it. He had to wait until nightfall to confront this problem. Running in circles with his own thoughts would be just a waste of time and he would never waste his time on anything.
So, why spending so much time with Kirishima? Even having thrown another banquet for him to meet? There was an answer at the back of his mind but Bakugou ignored its prodding against his thoughts.
How he managed to get through his lesson, to have lunch and to get through the whole afternoon without driving insane, Bakugou couldn’t say. He was just too relieved to see the sun slowly set, basking the garden in orange light. The tip of his quill tapped on the paper in front of him where he was writing down some notes from today’s tutoring, calming his nerves.
Slowly, Bakugou stood up, put away his writing utensils, took another glance at the mirror to straighten his clothes and slipped out of his room. He didn’t want to run into somebody and either have to make small talk or have to tell them where he was going, so he made a rather big detour, taking all the hallways that are not being used mostly until he reached one of the backdoors through the garden.
This door had been his way out when he was a child and wanted to play outside instead of learning inside, driving his tutors nuts. Bakugou smirked at the memory. Now he used it again in the purpose of getting away without getting noticed, stealthily walking along the wall until he arrived at the end of it where it crossed with the river.
Following the river upstream, he reached a cluster of trees after about 15 minutes of walking. The cluster of trees was where he accidentally ran into Kirishima once and Bakugou hoped, these were the trees Kirishima meant in his message. At least, the view was mostly obscured by the thick undergrowth even from the castle, even more so at night. Bakugou took a deep breath and walked towards them.
The sun has now almost set, just a glimmer of red and purple at the horizon, but when he got closer, Bakugou already saw Kirishima leaning against one of the trees. His red hair flashed through the green leaves, contrasting just right, and framed his face as it was open and not styled in any way. He wore simple clothes, plain dark brown pants hugging his legs tightly and a white shirt, hanging loosely from his shoulders. Kirishima was biting his lips, almost looking bored, but his fidgeting fingers at his sleeves indicated nervousness.
As Bakugou saw him, he had to stop for just a moment. It just, it was perfect. All the pent-up anger vanished and he felt nothing but relief to finally see Kirishima again. He must have rustled at the grass or Kirishima could hear his screaming mind, as he jerked his head at his general direction and when their eyes met, a warm smile spread on his lips. Pushing himself up from the tree, Kirishima tilted his head and waved him towards him.
Bakugou scowled, not used to be summoned, rather the opposite, but walked over, nonetheless. Kirishima made some steps backward, so when Bakugou caught up, they stood in between the trees, not visible to anyone around them.
“What do you want?” Bakugou crossed his arms, trying to put enough heat into his words to not sound all too happy to see him. Kirishima hummed, both hands on his hips.
“I thought I take you up on your offer?”
“My what now?” Bakugou huffed earning a light chuckle from Kirishima that resonated warmly inside his chest.
“Your offer, Your Highness, did you already forget?” A sheepish smile sneaked on to his smile. “About dancing.” He almost whispered. Bakugou’s cheeks flushed up, turning his head away to hide them, pushing his lips into a scowl.
“That’s what this is about?” He grumbled but already stepping closer. Kirishima pursed his lips to suppress his smile.
“As well.” He shrugged.
“What do you know about dancing?” He groaned, finally admitting defeat that he was no match for Kirishima and be swept away in his pace.
“Well, you need two people.” Kirishima tilted his head in thoughts, humming. “Actually, you need music, right?”
“Little late for that, huh?” Bakugou smirked and took another step forward to stay right in front of Kirishima who looked at him with big eyes. A little late, Bakugou noticed a small scar on his right eye. He needed to ask him about that sometime. But for now, he put it into the back of his mind.
His hand reached out to connect with Kirishima's forearm. Kirishima didn’t flinch, just kept his eyes on Bakugou’s face, roaming all over it but not meeting his gaze. Bakugou let his hand slid down until their fingers brushed against each other, slowly lifting them up and holding Kirishima’s hand in his own, a little loose but firm enough that it wouldn’t slip away. His other hand encircled Kirishima’s waist, planting the palm of his hand on the small back of Kirishima. For now, letting some space left between them.
Bakugou could feel his heartbeat pulsing in his chest, vibrating through his whole body and tingling in his ears. His face probably was at least at flushed as Kirishima’s, who sheepishly grinned at him, trying to follow his gestures.
“Where do I…?” Kirishima held up his other hand, hovering in front of Bakugou’ chest.
“My shoulder.” Bakugou scoffed. Kirishima nodded, finally putting his hand on its designated place. Bakugou could feel the tenseness in Kirishima as he slightly squeezed his shoulder. In response, Bakugou tightened his grip, trying to reassure the redhead.
“Put your left foot back.” Only grumbling, Bakugou stepped with his right foot ahead and with his arms pushed Kirishima backward. As Kirishima stumbled by the sudden movement, Bakugou held him up firmly with his arms, growling.
“Y-yes, Your Highness.” Kirishima stuttered, lowering his gaze to watch their feet move. Bakugou repeated the same step and Kirishima followed him this time.
“If we’re doing this, you can call me by my name.” His voice sounded almost vulnerable even to him, which he didn’t like at all, but this was Kirishima. That was okay. Their eyes met again, Kirishima blinking at him with wide eyes, stopping his movements.
“Ba-Bakugou?” He swallowed and Bakugou rolled his eyes. “Or Katsuki?” It was only a whisper, but he felt his blood freeze for a second to burst past the boiling point within a second. His ears flamed up, his eyes widened, and he had to take in a sharp inhale.
“You can call me by my first name, as well.” Kirishima wore a bright grin on his face, cheeks flush. His hand trembled ever so slightly and Bakugou squeezed it.
“Eijirou.” The name rolled from his lips like molten butter, soft and warm. Similar to him, Kiri- Eijirou’s eyes widened. His smile grew a little smaller, less confident but, oh, so warm and full of affection. They stared at each other for another few seconds, before Bakugou slowly began pushing Eijirou back again, falling in back with their steps again.
Kirishima’s eyes lowered again to follow the steps, eyebrows furrowed in concentration and nibbling at his lower lip. For some reason, Bakugou found it endearing. He enjoyed watching Eijirou being so earnest.
“You have to look your partner in the eyes, y'know, dumbass?” Bakugou huffed, prompting Eijirou’s eyes to snap up.
“Well, yeah, but then I don’t… I can’t follow.” His lips were a mixture between an apologetic grin and a pout.
“Just follow my lead.” With a little more force, Bakugou pulled Eijirou toward him, pressing them flush together. Their faces were mere centimeters away, Bakugou could feel his breath tingling on his lips. Eijirou’s hand on his shoulder tightened its grip, grabbing at his shirt. He wasn’t entirely sure, if it was his own heart or Eijirou’s that was hammering in his chest, he just felt its vibration coursing through his body and enjoyed the adrenaline.
With their eyes fixed towards each other, Bakugou continued to push Eijirou back and then sideways, turning them around with the next step. Eijirou still stumbled but Bakugou’s grip was too tight to make it matter. He held him firmly against his chest, his other hand’s grip was rather loose, almost careful. There was no music, the ground was uneven and they had to adjust to the branches hanging low in their way, but to Bakugou it was perfect.
“Katsuki”, Eijirou breathed against his lips, his eyes a little hooded, making Bakugou’s cheeks flush again. How can one word, his name nonetheless, have such power over him? “You’re so beautiful.”
Bakugou didn’t think. Whatever it was, his brain wanted to say in response, whatever his mind told him to do, he didn’t listen. His body moved on his own, but he wasn’t the only one who moved. Their lips met right in the middle, Bakugou didn’t have to lean in all that much. Eijirou’s lips were so unbelievable soft, gently pushed against his own.
Bakugou stopped moving them, but pulled Eijirou impossible close, clenching his hand around the fabric at Eijirou’s back. His hands were still held tightly together, resting at their sides, while Eijirou’s other hand traveled from Bakugou’s shoulder over to his neck, playing with his short hair.
Inhaling a little sharp, Bakugou parted his lips unconsciously. Eijirou took this as an invitation to push his tongue between his lips, licking inside over his own tongue. Responding to that, Bakugou pressed their lips together a little tighter making their teeth clink against each other. His tongue darted forward, grazing over Eijirou’s tongue and teeth and sucked on his lower lip, earning a small whimper.
Eijirou’s hand moved up into his hair, grabbing at it forcefully, eliciting a grunt from Bakugou. It occurred to him, he liked being a little manhandled himself. Still, not wanting to give in, he bit down on Eijirou’s lip, sucked again and pushed his tongue now into Eijirou’s mouth after he gasped in excitement.
They fought some more with their tongues, teased each other with sometimes rough bites and pulls until they slowed down. Their lips were parted, Eijrou’s upper lip between his own, as he took in a trembling breath.
The next second, he tasted something salty on his lips, a different wetness on Eijirou’s with saliva glistening mouth. He slowly pulled back, swallowing as he saw Eijirou’s eyes filled with tears. Furrowing his brows, he slowly let go of Eijirou’s hand and back, cradling his face in them to wipe his tears away with his thumbs.
“What’s wrong, Eijirou?” He whispered with a ragged voice, heart beating in his throat. Eijirou let out a stifled whimper, looking him into eyes.
“I…”, a small hiccup formed in the back of his throat. “I can’t.” His lips quivered, new tears spilled over and something in Bakugou froze.
“What do you mean?” Having not much control over his voice, it sounded harsher than intended. Eijirou closed his eyes for a second, a deep crease between his eyebrows. His face was contorted in pain, but his hands grabbed at him so eagerly, one hand still in his hair, the other on his waist grasping at his shirt as if he thought Bakugou would vanish any moment.
“We can’t meet again.” Eijirou pressed out between tight lips, followed by a small sob. Bakugou’s hands slowly let go of his face, tightening at his shoulders.
“What the fuck do you mean by that?” He growled, now louder. His heart was still beating hard but not with excitement and affection anymore but hurt and confusion. They had just shared the most passionate kiss he ever had in his life, their affection for each other almost palpable.
Eijirou inhaled a trembling breath, meeting his gaze directly as he exhaled. “We can’t see each other again. I can’t… I can’t say why, I’m sorry, Katsuki.”
Bakugou let go of Eijirou’s shoulder for good, taking a step back and shaking his head. “What the fuck, Eijirou? What in the ever loving fuck?” His voice increased in volume until he was almost shouting. “You come here to do this… pulling this fucking stunt, kissing me and then telling me, you fucking can’t?”
Eijirou winced at every second word, pulling his shoulders up to duck his head. “I… I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t… I just wanted to tell you that and then…” His voice broke, another sob stifled behind tight lips. It broke Bakugou’s heart all over again and he wanted nothing more to hold Eijirou close to him again, sooth his pain away, but he refused. It fucking hurt.
“You can’t do that!” He screamed, balling his hands into fists. “What the fuck is going on?” This was not how he imagined this evening to play out. Sure, he expected shouting and yelling from his side but just to tease Eijirou a little and then they would be back at their usual banter. Not… not this!
“I’m sorry. I… I don’t want to make any excuses, I just want you to know that I li—“, he snapped his mouth shut. “And that I can’t meet you again. Ever.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Why. Not.” Bakugou’s voice trembled in anger, he was seething at this point. “Was this just some play for you?”
“No! Katsuki, please, no.” Eijirou shook his head, his hair flying around his face. “I would never… I didn’t think this would happen.”
“Yeah, well, fucking surprise. It did happen. And now you just wanna run?” Bakugou snapped. “Fine!” He shouted again. “Fine, Eijirou”, he drew the name out in a snarl, “just leave. Like you always did. I don’t care. I don’t fucking care.”
Eijirou’s eyes widened, staring at Bakugou who in return just glared. He crossed his arms, holding his chin up and fixed him with a challenging look. With a slow exhale, Eijirou took the first step. And the second. He walked passed Bakugou, who was struck with astonishment. Actually, he didn’t believe Eijirou would leave, it was a bluff.
He wanted to turn around, to yell after him to come back, but he stared ahead into the darkness that was heavy on his shoulders and around him. His hands tightened their grip on his biceps, probably leaving bruises but he didn’t care. He didn’t. care.
If it were a few minutes or an hour, Bakugou didn’t know how long he stood rooted on the spot. He waited for Eijirou’s footsteps to fade out into the darkness and then waited. And waited. For something, for nothing, for anything, he didn’t know. When the moon shined high and the cold wind picked up to blow around him, he finally turned around and walked back to the castle.
The way back, his return to his room, how he changed and went to bed, it was all in a daze, he couldn’t remember any of it. His mind was filled with the evening, bouncing back between the most amazing kiss and the utter heartbreak that followed. Sleeping was a hassle, he tossed around from one nightmare to another, each involving Eijirou.
When he awoke the next morning, he felt like a mess. Completely unrested, head still not being able to wrap around what happened and just pure anger bubbling inside his chest. What did Eijirou think he was allowed to just do that? Just playing buddies with the prince and kissing him? Did he just fool around?
Breakfast was served at his bedside and he even ignored his servants, not wanting to deal with anyone for the time being. This day would need enough of his energy already, at least he could keep his anger in check for a few more minutes. Chewing on his bread took an extra 5 minutes just for him to not choke on it, drinking his water in one gulp, then he finally got up. With the help of some maids, he got dressed and deemed himself presentable.
The morning was spent with his tutor, fortunately, since it kept his mind occupied with stupid interferences between borders and the upcoming issues of finances in these regions. Pushing all his worries and, ugh, feelings aside, making himself numb, Bakugou dragged himself to lunch where was greeted by his friends already sitting at the table. He completely forgot they were still here.
For a second, he considered running away a valid option, before he snapped back to himself. Bakugou Katsuki never ran away. Without a word he took his place at the head of the table since his mother wasn’t present, growling at his plate.
Ignoring his friends, for now, they probably sensed his foul mood being worse than usual, leaving him alone, as the soup was served. Inwardly rolling his eyes, he grabbed for his spoon, not expecting much of the soup as usual, but was surprised, nonetheless. The soup was clearer than usual, some bits and pieces of pasta and chicken, garnished with a little bit of vegetable.
Amazed by the rich flavor despite the almost clear liquid he turned to face one of the servants.
“What is this?” His voice was grating like gravel, not being used that much today.
The servant bowed slightly as they answered. “Chicken soup, Your Highness.” Nodding, Bakugou continued slurping his chicken soup. It was new, something he hadn’t tried before and decided it was a good addition to the menu. Even the fish course was more exciting than usual. A different fish, maybe imported, was backed in a heavy crust, a white creamy sauce on the side. He almost dared to hum around the taste in his mouth.
“Why change the fucking menu?” He almost barked at the servant who broke a little sweat. Another bow as they answered.
“We received some recommendations, Your Highness.” Biting their lips, they continued. “Is it not to your liking?” Bakugou huffed, shaking his head.
“Nah, it’s… whatever.” He turned back to his food, finishing it with gusto. When the meat course was brought out, Bakugou finally looked up to face his friends, feeling refreshed and energized enough to deal with them. They were having a light conversation over the meal, discussing the internal affairs of their own kingdoms, exchanging pieces of advice.
Bakugou was about to say something when Midoriya’s shirt caught his attention. His eyes practically zoomed in on it. He knew that shirt.
“Where did you get that?” His voice was barely more than a whisper but filled with rage, their heads whipped around. Midoriya blinked in confusion as he felt his glaring eyes on him.
“What are you talking about, Kacchan?”
“Your fucking shirt, where did you get that goddamn shirt?” The grip on his fork tightened, almost bending the metal. Midoriya looked down at his white shirt with golden decoration and embroidery, a high collar adorning the Bakugou’s family crest. It wasn’t too detailed but royally all enough.
“Uh”, he cleared his throat, “my own clothes were soaked if you remember. And I was given this by your maids. It is a spare shirt for guests, I guess?” Midoriya shrugged. “If that’s a problem I can return it, my own shirt should be clean and dry again by now.”
Bakugou didn’t listen anymore as his gaze drifted into the distance. His mind worked in overdrive, connecting the dots he was too blind to see until now. All the little hints he chose to ignore. The nervousness around other nobles, the lack of knowledge about proper etiquette and speech, the lacking attire, his overall being. He wasn’t a fucking noble at all.
Bakugou was seething. He was a fucking idiot.
At first, he just had put one foot in front of the other, Katsuki’s words still ringing in his ears, but then he got faster and faster. Running through the high grass, tears stinging in his eyes he refused to spill. It wasn’t his place to cry, he didn’t deserve that. It was his fault everything went out of control in the first place.
Clenching his jaw, Eijirou suppressed a scream from deep within, stumbling over the plastered path back to the east wing. Panting heavy, he walked down the hallway, one hand on the wall for support, he didn’t trust his legs to hold him up any longer. His thoughts were muddled, no sane thought formed when he stood in front of the kitchen.
Eijirou pushed the door open, greeted by darkness the same as in the hallway. His heart was beating high in his throat as his breathing slowly calmed down. Wandering with his eyes through the room, Eijirou entered without really knowing why. He should return to his sleeping chamber. He should talk to his friends. He should somehow forget about this utter disaster he caused.
“Didn’t go as planned, huh?”
Startled by the smooth voice, Eijirou flinched, eyes darting through the room. “Wh-what?” His voice broke halfway, still struggling with air.
“I thought I gave you the perfect opportunity and you ruined it.” The voice continued from another place to his right.
“I…” Eijirou swallowed. He remembered the voice from before when he was in the pantry. “Who are you?”
“Is that really important?” The voice sighed a tad annoyed. “Why didn’t you come clean right away and have your happy ever after?”
“My what now?” Eijirou could have laughed at the absurdity. “He’s the fucking prince if you didn’t know?”
“And?” The voice flew through the room. Eijirou tried to make out something in the kitchen but there was no movement at all.
“And I’m a servant. Last time I checked, that wasn’t, well, ideal.” Regaining his composure, Eijirou rested his hands on his hips, furrowing his eyebrows. “And it is rather important”, he sing-songed into the room, “to know who you are. Since, I don’t know, you seem to be quite involved in this-“, a vague gesture, “thing and I want to know who does what with this, you know, peculiar situation.” Eijirou was met with silence and he was afraid whoever or whatever, he wasn’t so sure at this point anymore, had already left.
Then he saw some movement in the corner of his left eye and he jerked his head around. A person, human alright, leaned against the kitchen counter, arms folded loosely over their chest. Their hair was wavy and stood up in different directions, their eyes glistening teal-colored even in the darkness. Gulping, Eijirou turned towards the newcomer.
“I wanted to give you a chance.”
“A chance at what?”
“Love.” The person rolled his eyes unnecessary excessively. If a question mark had a visual expression, Eijirou mimicked it flawlessly.
“I’m sorry, I don’t follow.” Eijirou shook his head, holding one hand up. “Can you start from the beginning, please?”
It looked like the person was about to give up but took a deep breath in and rolled their head around. “I gave you something you could use for your benefit to find your true love and all that. But you fucked up, big time.” They shrugged.
“I… I don’t know what to tell you.” Eijirou huffed. “I—What was I supposed to do, then? Confess my undying love for him, falling into each other’s arms?” This situation was ridiculous, Eijirou was sure, he would wake up any moment or talk to thin air because he was going insane. He hunched his shoulders, shaking his head at himself, at the situation, at everything.
Snapping back to the present, Eijirou took a step back. “What?”
“You heard me, Eijirou”, their voice grew deeper. “I wanted you to confess but you stopped, breaking the spell.”
“Spell?” Eijirou mumbled, taken aback. The person huffed, driving one hand through their hair.
“Listen”, they grumbled, “I’ll give you one last chance. You won’t have the thing anymore, so you have to meet you Prince Charming as who you are. No take backs. Just, man, be honest and see what happens.”
Eijirou wanted to laugh, to tell him that it would be all futile but the next second, the person was gone. He was facing thin air in a dark kitchen. Blinking a few times, then rubbing at his eyes, Eijirou turned around himself but nothing changed. He was alone.
With too many things that had happened in the past few hours, Eijirou finally returned to his sleeping chamber, relieved to find his friends past out on the floor. A small smile formed on his lips as he took their blankets and covered them with it. He took his own blanket and rolled up between Mina and Denki, his head resting on Hanta’s stomach. It took him some time, but eventually, he drove off to sleep.
The next morning was hectic in person. They all slept in and were woken by another maid, storming through the door and yelling them awake. His friends wanted to ask him about yesterday evening, Eijirou could see it in their eyes, but there was no time and so he gave them an apologetic shrug. He didn’t want to talk about it anyway.
The morning was filled with their daily tasks, a little mixed up since the kitchen took his advice to heart and switched gears in the kitchen, trying out new recipes and the servants had to run back to the kitchen every once in a while, to taste the new food. Not that anyone complained, eating gourmet food wasn’t something they did often, so everyone tried to get as many bites as they could get. Eijirou being one of them of course.
When they finished their tasks, lunch was prepared and served already, Eijirou had some time to breathe. He walked down the hallway towards his sleeping chambers, wanting to use their break to finally catch up with his friends. They probably thought the same and approached him from the direction of their rooms.
A door was opened by a loud crash, so everyone in the hallway jerked around towards the sound. The kitchen door stood wide open, in the doorway seething, grumbling the prince. Eijirou’s blood froze inside his veins, all color drained from his face, rooted to the ground he could just watch as Katsuki’s head snapped around, glaring at everyone around him.
After a few seconds, the servants snatched back to attention, bowing and doing their curtseys, it was too surprising to have the prince in the east wing, the servants wing. Katsuki stomped down the hallway, tearing open every door and growled inside. Before Eijirou could even form the sane thought of either fleeing or confronting Katsuki, their eyes locked.
Katsuki paused every movement, eyes fixed on Eijirou, squinting them a little. His eyes darted upwards to his black hair pulled back, then snapped back on his face and his pupils lightened up with recognition.
“You.” His voice boomed through the hallway, his legs making wide steps towards Eijirou. Swearing he was on the edge of a heart attack, Eijirou could do nothing as Katsuki walked up right in front of him and grab him by his collar. His knuckles turned white at his grasp, smashing Eijirou against the wall, pushing his face so close, their noses were almost touching.
“You little fucker.” He growled. “Did you have fun? Was it fun for you to play this game? Huh?” His voice grew louder by the second, screaming in Eijirou’s face. “Who was on it? Everyone? Playing this fucking game. What the fuck, Eijirou”, he spat his name out like a curse. Only stabbing him right in the gut would be more painful. “What the fuck were you thinking pretending to be a fucking noble, you fucking dickhead? Was it a bet? Or just your fucking stupid brain telling you, you had it in you?”
“Katsuki…” Eijirou could only whimper, holding onto Katsuki’s arm as support, not trusting his legs which felt lifeless. However, Katsuki let go of him, almost throwing him to the ground.
“That’s still ‘Your Highness’ for you, servant.” His voice pierced through every layer he had mustered to build up, wounding him deep in his heart.
“Yes, Your Highness. Please, forgive me, Your Highness.” Eijirou leaned forward, forehead touching the ground. It was silent for a second, he could only hear his own heart beating, the blood rushing in his ears.
“Never”, Bakugou rasped with impossible menace, “ever, show your face in front of me again.”
Eijirou inhaled sharply, gritting his teeth as tears shot into his eyes. The prince’s feet turned away, slowly walking away. His footsteps echoed through the silent hallway until they faded away, leaving a heavy atmosphere. And Eijirou broke.
Tears spilled from his eyes, a grating sob left his throat, a muffled scream into his arms filled the hallway. He felt dimly the hands and arms of his friends around him, but he didn’t really register anything around him. His chest froze unbelievable cold, tightened around his heart, he had to grip at his shirt and trying to heave in another breath. It didn’t work.
Another sob left him, hiccupping through his tears, Eijirou gasped for air. Distantly he heard Denki telling him something, but he couldn’t think, couldn’t see, couldn’t hear. The prince had found out and he couldn't even explain himself. Death would be a valid outcome now.
“Eijirou!” Mina shrieked, slapping his cheeks. It burnt. “Breathe, you fucking idiot!”
Stunned into silence, Eijirou’s eyes slowly wandered towards Mina’s tear-drenched face, sobbing again. But he could breathe. One trembling breath, another one and he buried his face into her shoulder, pressing his head against her.
Somewhen, they had dragged him into their room, away from all the prying eyes and tucked him into bed, where he fell asleep. Exhausted from crying, from the emotional state he was in, he still hiccupped in his sleep, but it was better than being awake.
Bakugou was mad. Furious. Eijirou, this servant, had thought deadly serious he could deceive him, the fucking prince, and get away with it? Sure. Bakugou scoffed as he trod back to the main part of the castle. Well, he wouldn’t punish Eijirou right away, Bakugou thought. Just not yet. He didn’t want to think about him for now.
With fast steps, he walked up to the training area, ripped his vest open to throw it at the next best servant, grabbed one of the swords and just took on the first opponent he could find. It wasn’t long that the guards who were taking their training sessions caught on that the prince was in a very bad mood. They tried to avoid him but to no avail, Bakugou took on everyone at least once.
In the end, he was the one who was dripping in sweat, heaving because he used up all his energy. Usually, he wouldn’t have fought this recklessly, but this was what he had needed. Senseless fighting and adrenaline pushing him to his limits so he could just fall dead tired into bed. His hands were trembling as he grabbed his vest, he had to walk slowly back to his room so he wouldn’t fall over by his jittering thighs. Well, it was a good training session. He hadn’t thought about Eijirou for a few hours.
After entering his room, a few maids ushered in as well, already preparing his bath. They helped him out of his clothes, folding them neatly even though they would just be thrown into the basket with the other dirty laundry.
Bakugou leaned his head back in the tub, arms leaning over the bathtub edge, and exhaled. He just wanted to forget today, just for a little bit.
“Do you want me to wash your hair?” One of the maids asked. She was one of the more daring one’s Bakugou had learned over the past few weeks. It seemed, she had respect for him, of course, but she still knew when his explosive behavior was appropriate and when it was just downright rotten character.
“Whatever.” He scoffed and closed his eyes. Just a moment later, he felt her hands against his head, shielding his face as she poured water over his hair to wet it. She applied some shampoo in his hair and started massaging his scalp, rubbing it with just the right amount of strength.
“May I ask you a question, Your Highness?” Her voice was earnest and as Bakugou opened his eyes she looked him straight into the eyes. He squinted at her.
“Don’t expect a fucking answer.” His eyes wandered back to the other maids who stood at ease next to the tub, exchanging a nervous glance he didn’t miss.
“Why was it so bad for Eijirou to impersonate a noble?”
Her voice felt like a knife stabbed into his chest, making him inhale sharply and his eyes shot daggers at her.
“Why? Why the fuck not?” Already shouting, he sat up. “He fucking thought it would be fun to play with me, the fucking prince?! How stupid can someone be?”
Her head tilted to the side, one finger against her cheek. “Did it look like he made fun of you, Your Highness?”
Bakugou’s head snapped around, shampoo slowly dripping down his face. “I can fucking imagine how he badmouthed me behind my back by all of you.” His arm shot from the water as he made a wide gesture towards the maids. “He probably talked his fucking mouth off, couldn’t shut up for a second, this fucking dumbass.”
“Do you really think that about Eijirou, Your Highness?” She stood back up, taking the bucket into one hand and filled it with water.
“Why wouldn’t I?” He scoffed.
“Because to me, it looked like you were both in pain.” With nonchalance, she dumped the bucket over his head to wash out the shampoo. Bakugou grunted, squinted his eyes shut as the shampoo ran over his face. Eijirou’s face appeared in front of him, tears threatening to spill. He shook his head.
“He fucking lied to me the whole time. Could have told me sooner if he was so damn serious.”
She shrugged noncommittally. “If your reaction would be like that, I wouldn’t have told you anything, as well. And for the lying part”, she put the bucket back down, grabbing for one of the towels laying on the drawer, “if Eijirou had ever lied to you, you would have known. He is the worst liar if you have ever seen one.”
Bakugou stood up and let her put the towel around his waist, glaring at her hands. His mind played all their conversations back, which were indeed not a lot but Eijirou had talked a lot. But he had to admit, whenever it was about his upbringing, his provenance or his general being as a noble he either avoided the question or talked to someone else about it. Never to him.
His face must have shown something, as the maid took another towel and dried off his hair. “Eijirou is a good man. Always the first to help, listening even though it’s not his forte, putting everything and everyone before himself. It must have probably eaten him alive to not tell you.”
Bakugou grunted, pulling the towel from her hands and rubbing his hair dry himself. “Get out, all of you.” His voice didn’t permit any protest and the maids all made a quick courtesy before leaving his room.
“You”, Bakugou called after the maids, hoping the right one would understand. She apparently did, as she stilled in the doorway, head slightly bowed.
“What’s your damn name?”
“Tsuyu, Your Highness.”
Bakugou scoffed and waved her away. She stepped outside, closing the door behind her and leaving Bakugou alone in his room with his thoughts.
Waking up the next morning proofed to be torture. His mouth was dry, his eyes burnt and his head felt like it would split into two. But fortunately, Eijirou had the best friends someone could wish for, so when he sat up, groaning through a hoarse throat, he found a glass of water and little bit of bread and cheese next to his bed. His eyes would have teared up again if he didn’t feel completely dried out.
It took him about 10 minutes to feel human again. Eating and drinking to calm down his stomach and giving himself some energy, washing his face in the small bucket and getting dressed in clean clothes did the trick.
When he grabbed under the bed to retrieve the small pot, his hand grasped at empty air. “Huh?” Eijirou kneeled down to look under his bed but only saw the thin sheet of dust and his other belongings. For a second, his mind went into panic. Where did it go? As he sprung to his feet, he froze, staring at nothing. Did it really matter? He shrugged at himself. It wouldn’t be used anymore, anyway, it was better that it was gone.
Eijirou used this day to distract him from any intrusive thoughts that were scratching at the back of his mind. His friends and the other servants probably got the hint and tried their best to accommodate, giving him tasks to busy himself or roping him up in mindless chats to make him laugh.
It was hard at first, feeling like he deserved to feel devastated, yet, over time, Eijirou felt like himself again. When he was peeling potatoes, carrots and other vegetables or when he helped with the laundry or when he was swinging their little feather dusters, his lips spread into grins more and more often and after a while, heartful laughter rang through the hallway again.
After four days, Eijirou made the decision to not talk about what transpired ever again. Maybe, in a few years. But not anytime soon. It had been a stupid, stupid idea to begin with, it backfired immensely, he even got the prince involved and hurt. Well, he guessed at least. Probably just ensued more rage into the already hotblooded prince.
After a week, he felt like he was doing well. This would work. Sitting at a low wooden stool in the afternoon sun outside. The east wing was allowed to have an open space to relax and the servants used it often enough to get mindless work done there. Eijirou’s fingers were decorated by multiple band-aids already, a few more stuffed in his pockets waiting to be used for the next prick in his fingers.
“What do you think truffles taste like?” Hanta broke their comfortable silence, eyes fixed on the pair of pants pulled up to his face. The seam had opened at the side and it was tedious work to sew it back together strong enough to hold.
Eijirou was mending a few holes in a gardener’s shirt who fell into a patch of roses and ripped his clothes at their thorns, well, and his skin as well. “Like mushrooms maybe?” His tongue poked between his lips as he stitched the needle through the fabric without pricking his finger.
“But, like, a smooth mushroom? Or like a potato?”
“Since when do mushrooms like potatoes?”
“I don’t know, maybe truffles do.”
Eijirou hummed, blinking into the sun as he mulled over. “Depends on the texture, I guess? Truffles look like they are pretty dense.”
“That what I was thinking!” Hanta exclaimed, nodding vigorously. “And when you cook ‘em, they get all mushy like potatoes!”
“But potatoes only get mushy if you cook them for too long.” Eijirou retorted, shaking his head grinning. “You need to eat them when they’re still a little tender.”
“But mushy potatoes are better! Like, mashed potatoes, that’s the shit.”
Eijirou’s grin contorted as laughter bubbled from his lips. His hands tightened, as his body was shaken by it and the needle found the sensitive skin on his index finger, right under the band-aid. Eijirou hissed, still giggling as he put the finger in his mouth.
“That’s the sixth time!” Mumbling around his finger, Eijirou tried to fish out another band-aid as the door to their garden space was pushed open, the door creaking in its hinges as it slammed against the wall.
Both Hanta and Eijirou snapped around, eyes alerted. The other servant, Mashirao if Eijirou remembered correctly, stood in the doorway, catching his breath. His eyes darted a little erratic from Eijirou to Hanta and back.
“What is it?” His fingers found the band-aid and deftly put it around his slowly blood oozing wound. It was a habit that, when he pricked himself, it wasn’t just a nick or something, no, he always put so much force behind each stitch he smashed the head of the needle through his skin with force.
“The Prince”, Mashirao huffed, getting attention immediately, “he asks for you.”
Eijirou’s whole being froze, eyes growing wide. The shirt slipped from his hands to the ground with a quiet thud, his hands every so slightly trembled as his eyes shot towards Hanta who looked at him with as wide eyes as him.
“What?” Just above being breathy, he gasped. “What does … the prince”, he had to swallow thickly around the words, “want from me?”
“I don’t know”, Mashirao shook his head, “he just said you should meet him ‘there’” Holding his hands up, he motioned quotation marks with a shrug. “Whatever that means.” Eijirou almost stumbled onto his feet, catching himself with a wide step and coughed.
“I… I need to go, then.” His thoughts were working in overdrive without forming one sane idea of what could be happening, now. “There” had to be, well, there and that meant, no one would be able to see them whatever the prince planned on doing. Maybe he wanted to scream at him once more, by any chance killing him in effect and didn’t want anyone to see. There were too many possibilities running through his head that he didn’t even say goodbye to Hanta and Mashirao who watched him running along.
His feet dragged him outside the castle walls faster than they ever did, over the cobbled pathway along the river until he saw the cluster of trees. “There” had to be here, he couldn’t think of anywhere else. Eijirou slowed down, jogging the rest of the way up to the river, eyes straining to see anyone, someone.
The blonde hair was noticeable through the leaves as sunlight illuminated them, making Eijirou’s heart throb. Another step and he circled the nearest tree, not trying to hide his arrival at all, rustling through the branches and grass. As he entered the small clearing, his eyes locked with the prince.
He immediately averted them to the ground, bowing slightly. “Your Highness.” His breath was still uneven, making his voice waver through trembled inhales. There was no answer, no acknowledgment of him, so his hands were fidgeting at his side, but he refused to look up. Not without permission. He already had fucked up too much, it was a miracle he was still alive.
“Just”, the prince groaned, “fucking get up.”
Closing his eyes for a second and taking a small breath, Eijirou stood back up straight, finally looking at the prince properly. He leaned against one of the trees, arms crossed tightly across his chest. His clothes were as fancy as ever, his hair still stuck out in every direction undeliberatlye. Eijirou’s heart did another high jump into his throat, mesmerized by the view.
One of the prince’s hands reached behind him, pulling two wooden swords up and he threw one of them at Eijirou. Once again, Eijirou fumbled at the catch but didn’t drop the sword. Confusion unfolded on his face, eyes twitching.
“Fucki—” The prince scoffed. “I have a name, dumbass.” Without waiting for any reaction, Katsuki surged at him and only thanks to his impeccable reflex, Eijirou could parry the swing of the sword. Their swords slammed against each other, vibrating through his own grip.
Swallowing down his thousand and one questions that were at the tip of his tongue, Eijirou tightened his face, pressing against Katsuki’s sword. Earning a small smirk motivated Eijirou to fight fiercer. Pushing his feet deeper into the ground, he found his footing and pushed Katsuki back.
Eijirou saw him clenching his jaw as he tried to push against it himself, knuckles turning white at his grip. He huffed, took a step to the side and Eijirou stumbled only slightly, already expecting the move and swung his sword to the side.
Katsuki put his sword up, supported it with his other forearm to balance out the force of Eijirou’s swing.
“Explain yourself.” Katsuki gritted through his teeth as he took another step in, turning around himself to attack Eijirou from the other side. With a small yelp, Eijirou caught the movement, pulling his torso back to avoid the swing. His thoughts were racing as he held his sword above his head and slammed it down at Katsuki.
“I found magic hair dye in my room.” Their sword clashed above Katsuki’s head who gave him an incredulous look but didn’t say anything.
“We just-“, Eijirou was pushed back, “I accidentally took one of the royal garments with me on another occasion.” His face flushed by embarrassing himself. Katsuki’s sword flew towards his legs and Eijirou jumped to the side, preparing for his next assault.
“We came up with this stupid idea to impersonate a noble on the spot. It should have been for just an hour or something.” Eijirou sprung forward, lashing out against the other who parried every blow.
“But then you talked to me”, his voice broke just a little, “and you found me at the river.” Katsuki pierced his sword forward as Eijirou stroke out for another swing, gracing his side. Eijirou hissed and took a couple of steps back.
“And I couldn’t”, his eyes found Katsuki’s glare, “I couldn’t stop seeing you.”
There was a short hesitation, but Katsuki jumped forward, kicking against Eijirou’s ankle and slamming the hilt of his sword against his chest. Eijirou grunted painfully, falling backward. But the fall didn’t come. Katsuki grabbed at his shirt before he met the ground, hovering a few centimeters above it.
They were both panting, Katsuki’s eyes darted back and forth between Eijirou’s eyes, searching for something.
“Your Hi- Katsuki,” Eijirou whispered, “I like you. I like you so much, I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Katsuki’s eyes soften ever so lightly, his grip tightened and pulled Eijirou up to him, crashing his lips onto his mouth. Eijirou grunted quietly by the force but tilted his head for a better angle. His hands shot up and grabbed at Katsuki’s collar, pulling himself impossible closer. He felt himself being lowered, first his back than his head touching the ground and Katsuki leaning closer against him. Their lips were pressed against each other, not only in passion but in pure affection. Eijirou’s breath trembled through his nose as he felt tears forming in his eyes.
Katsuki slowly pulled back, giving in for another quick, chaste kiss, until they looked each other in the eyes again. Eijirou swallowed, licking his lips unconsciously but enjoyed how Katsuki’s eyes jumped down for a second. Their cheeks were both flushed and Katsuki huffed.
“You fuckin—” he mumbled, as a gust of wind blew through the clearing, whirling up some leaves. Eijirou squinted his eyes, holding up one hand to shield his face. Then he looked up at Katsuki again, seeing his eyes widen by the second, eyebrows furrowing.
“Your hair…” Katsuki reached forward, gliding his fingers through his hair and pulled one strand up. Eijirou looked at it from the corner of his eyes, mimicking Katsuki’s widened eyes. His hair was red again.
“What…?” Grabbing at his own hair, Eijirou pulled a bunch of it in front of his face. He saw some of the tips were still black but slowly turning red from the roots up. Not knowing what else to do, Eijirou laughed. It was a slight chuckle at first but grew louder and bigger. Pushing one hand against his forehead and draping one arm over his midriff, he laughed with his whole body.
“You’re going fucking nuts?” Katsuki huffed, plopping down next to him with one leg angled up. Eijirou took a few deep breaths, calming himself down. One tear dripped from his eye and he felt Katsuki whipping it away. Batting his eyes once, he turned his head and looked up at Katsuki.
“I like you.” His lips spread into a wide smile as he saw Katsuki’s cheeks slowly turning pink.
“You already said that.” Katsuki looked away, one hand pulling at the grass. Folding his arms behind his head, Eijirou kept his eyes on Katsuki, enjoying how flustered he got by the second.
“I fucking like you, too, goddamnit.” He growled, making Eijirou grin even wider. Still, he felt his cheeks warm up, his heart beating a little faster, betraying his outward composure.
“What do you mean?” Katsuki finally glared back down at him, subtly peeking down at his lips again. Eijirou had a thought on his mind but ignored it for the sake of grabbing Katsuki by his collar and pulling him down to his lips.
Before crashing their lips together, he lessened his grip, leading their faces gently together and kissing Katsuki again. His hands traveled from the collar to Katsuki’s jaw, cupping his face softly, moving his lips against the other’s pair. Katsuki gave in with a silent sigh, holding himself up with one hand next to Eijirou. They parted every now and then, changing their angle and slotted their lips together again.
After a few minutes, they parted for good. Their lips were both red and glistening, swollen by their many kisses. Katsuki kissed the corner of his mouth once more and leaned back. The sun was shining at his face, making him close his eyes.
“I mean”, Eijirou cleared his throat, resuming their conversation, gesturing between them both, “the prince-servant thing. I mean, I don’t know how this will work.” There were uncertainty and doubt dripping from his voice, he could feel it in his chest.
Katsuki’s head tilted to the side, eyeing him thoroughly.
“Did you fucking forget who you’re talking to, hair-for-brains?” Katsuki smirked. “I’m the fucking prince. I make the rules.”
Eijirou chuckled. “Well then, my prince”, he pushed himself up on one hand, purring as he leaned toward Katsuki, “what are your orders?” Hooding his eyes intentionally, invading his space, Eijirou knew what Katsuki was going to say.
“Fucking kiss me.”
And he happily obliged.
There will be a fourth chapter, some kind of epilogue but it will be pretty much just be smut ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ so the story is done!! I feel like there are some loose ends but i think i will just ignore that xD if you have questions you can always ask!
Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know, what you think! <3