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“You cannot seriously be thinking of entertaining this.”

Yuuri has turned away to pour himself a cup of tea, yet the pinched look undoubtedly set on Mari’s face is one he imagines with utmost clarity. He shrugs, attempting to hide the trembling of his fingers. He nearly scalds himself in the process. 

“He has a pleasant disposition, and makes fine conversation.”

“You’ve known him all of a quarter of an hour.” Mari raises a brow. She moves to stand by the open window, the lace trimming on her collar ruffling in the breeze. Yuuri can tell by the twitching of her fingers that she’s itching for a cigarette.

“Surely the dance at Lord Leroy’s ball last week counts.” Yuuri himself does not seem to know why he appears to be half-heartedly advocating for Cao Bin as a prospect, but he’s been finding it increasingly arduous to focus on any singular task since he’d gotten a hold of Viktor’s letter a fortnight ago. 

The ache in his chest intensifies.

“The dance where I’d had to carefully extricate you from the perils of his two left feet?” Mari snorts. 

Yuuri winces as the memory of being subjected to Cao Bin’s errant and unruly steps provokes in him yet another bout of phantom pain. “Yes, well, the allemande is a particularly challenging dance to master.” 

Mari does not dignify him with a response to what is obviously a falsehood. She fixes him with a well-practiced shrewd look, fingers clenching in her gloves. “You do not love this man.” 

Yuuri startles from the plushness of the settee he’d begun to make himself comfortable in, nearly losing his page on his book. “I – but of course not. We’ve only just recently been acquainted.”

Mari continues on. “And he is not the only man in London worthy of being a prospect.” She pauses to mutter beneath her breath, “and I’d sooner move you to the countryside if he was, heaven forbid.”

“I am not exactly drowning in prospects, Mari nee-chan,” Yuuri says dryly, half-amused. The truth no longer brought with it a bitter sting. Yuuri has never been one to harbor any such delusions of grandeur, and he’s long since established to himself his plainness in the face of the ton. 

“You have never been the most perceptive, brother, and it seems you are afflicted with an ever greater blindness.” 

“And you, an affliction of a mind prone to the wildest of fantasies.” The irritation has caused the beginnings of a flush to traverse down the column of Yuuri’s neck, disappearing into the material of his shirt. This line of conversation never failed to vex him. 

Mari levels him with a scowl. “Enough of this talk, for you will never listen.”

“Finally something we agree on.” Yuuri bites back.

The room bleeds with a tension only two sulking siblings can bring forth, and they busy themselves with immaterial tasks – Yuuri with making his way through the chapter in his novel all the while ignoring the heaviness in his heart, and Mari half-heartedly gliding her fingers along the pianoforte, her back to the open window.

Another gust blows in, bringing with it the scent of freshly bloomed lilacs from the garden. The shawl Mari has loosely draped around herself trembles under its assault. 

Yuuri’s resolve to remain in a state of annoyance softens. “You will catch a cold sitting there.” He pats at the space next to him, an invitation.

Mari rolls her eyes in a vain attempt to disguise the upwards crook of her mouth. “Not all of us possess your delicate constitution, brother dearest.”

“You can hardly blame me for falling ill after having been caught in the middle of a rain storm.” Yuuri sighs. It had been months since then, yet Mari’s memory remained as sharp as ever.

“I can, and I will, for no one but a fool would agree to a race with Lord Nikiforov knowing the monsoon season was upon us.”

Yuuri stills. His stomach makes its discomfort known, clenching uncomfortably around the half cup of green tea and rice cakes he’d pilfered from the kitchens that morning. 

“Speaking of the man, is he not due to arrive back from his travels next week?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” Yuuri does not speak so much as mumble his response into the pages of his novel. The weight on his chest grows worryingly at the realization that Viktor himself had gifted this very book to him on the eve he had turned three and twenty.

(The note and pressed flowers it had arrived with, carefully tucked between twine and parchment, remains to this day in a special compartment in Yuuri’s dresser.)

“Surely you must be thrilled. You may think yourself crafty, but I see you rushing to the footmen every morning on the first day of the week, riffling through the post for letters from your dear Lord,” Mari smirks.

 “I do not rush to the footmen,” Yuuri protests hotly. “I walk. Briskly. It is good exercise, if you must know.”

“And so is horse racing with Lord Nikiforov, I presume. Tell me, brother - did you truly fall ill those months ago because the afternoon storm had caught up with you, or because you were too busy staring at Lord Nikiforov’s soaked-through shirt?”

Yuuri’s gasp echoes through the expanse of the sitting room, the flush spread across the apples of his cheeks competing with the rich scarlet drapery. He snaps his novel shut, rising from the settee and choosing to focus on a portrait of his aunt Minako instead of Mari’s gleefully twinkling eyes. “I know boredom tends to spark mischievous nonsense in you, but it does not have to be at my expense. I will withdraw to the library before you vex me even further.”

Mari’s cackles ring out all the way into the gardens.

+

Yuuri retreats to his room after supper, releasing a deep breath after the door has been shut behind him.

He slides beneath his sheets, pulling the covers all the way up until it falls just above his chin. He settles on his side, watching the nearby glow of the candlelight resting atop his desk, eyes lazily following the flickering shadows being cast onto the length of his bedroom. 

Then, he reaches out to pull a stack of letters from beneath his pillow, wrapped up delicately in twine. Well-worn parchment crinkles in the stillness of the night.

“I am the biggest fool in all of London,” Yuuri whispers to himself.

He carefully unravels the first of the pile, eyes skimming through every word as he’s done each night since Viktor’s departure months ago. This one, however, received a fortnight ago, has not inspired in him the usual warmth and affection a letter from Viktor is wont to do, but has left him feeling wretchedly bereft. 

 

My dearest Yuuri,

I am delighted to finally say we will be reunited once more in three weeks’ time. My business here in St. Petersburg has been concluded, though I suspect it has more to do with me being a rather prickly thorn in my Uncle’s side, who seems to look rather relieved to finally be rid of me. I admit I have been exceedingly loud with my complaints at being summoned here, and have made no secret my wish of returning to London. 

Thinking of you has been one of the few things keeping me from falling into madness. The winters here are nothing but ruthless, and I fear I may have aged in years as I have spent many nights bent over the estate accounts, trying to make sense of all these numbers. I hope you will regard me the same, despite the no doubt unhealthy pallor of my skin, courtesy of the ever-elusive sunshine. 

But enough of my grievances, for I am sure you have heard enough. I have something of paramount importance to share with you: I will be conducting my travels back with the most dazzling of companions, a pretty young lady who has entirely captivated my heart. I cannot wait for you to meet, for nothing would delight me more than the two dearest things in my life becoming the best of friends.

Ever yours,

Viktor

 

It remains a miracle Yuuri has yet to toss the letter into the fire and watch every word crumble into ash. 

His heartbreak is, of course, through no fault but his own. Viktor has never been anything more than a dear friend despite Yuuri’s many late-night longings, caught up in shameful fantasies the hazy witching hours so cruelly brought with it. 

Some part of Yuuri had always held out hope, no matter how weak, and having so clear a confirmation that Viktor’s affections laid entirely with somebody else served to quickly extinguish that flame. 

The news of Cao Bin’s interest just that morning seemed almost as if the heavens itself was prompting Yuuri to let go of his childish fancies. 

He had never once seriously considered marriage with anyone. That is - anyone who was not Viktor. 

Perhaps, however, it was time.

+

“How is it possible that you have grown even more radiant in the months I have been away?”

Yuuri nearly drops the glass of champagne he has just swiped from a passing server. His face floods with color. “Viktor,” he whispers, barely managing to speak over the unspeakable pounding of his heart.

“Yuuri,” he responds, clutching Yuuri’s gloved hand in his, stooping lightly to brush a soft kiss over his knuckles. He ignores the disapproving look Lord Crispino shoots at them, instead flashing Yuuri a dazzling smile. 

Viktor has indeed grown paler in his months in Russia, yet the silver sheen of his hair shines becomingly under the ballroom lights, while the deep blue of his coat serves to complement his eyes splendidly. He looks as dashing as ever, and the ache in Yuuri’s chest grows tenfold.

“I see you remain to be ever the flatterer,” Yuuri clears his throat, taking a sip from his glass to distract himself.

“Is it truly flattery if I speak the truth?” Viktor winks.

Yuuri attempts to steer the conversation into safer, more comfortable grounds, all the while willing the flush in his cheeks to disappear. “The truth, my Lord, is that your duties in Russia have kept you from riding, therefore the chances of me being crowned the winner come our next race is looking rather promising.” 

“Oh, how you wound me so!” Viktor clutches at his chest in his ever dramatic fashion, sparking the tittering of several young ladies gathered around the refreshments, eager eyes sneaking glimpses of him from behind their elaborate fans. 

Yuuri has missed him so greatly he thinks he may burst with it, his very skin vibrating with the urge to touch, no matter the impropriety. 

“Perhaps, however, you can make it up to me by honoring me with a dance?” Viktor holds out an expectant hand in front of him. 

Yuuri blinks.

They have danced together previously, of course. But never when Yuuri is trying so strongly to banish all affection for Viktor in his heart, in an effort to save himself from even more pain. For a brief, wild moment, Yuuri is hit with the dizzying fear that Viktor has brought along with him this mystery person he seems so eager for Yuuri to meet tonight, and a bubble of excuses meant to aid his escape begins to flood his mind. 

Uncertainty flashes in Viktor’s eyes when Yuuri’s silence has extended for longer than what is appropriate, prompting Yuuri to quickly slip his hand into his. He could not bear to see such a look on Viktor’s face.

Viktor leads him to the dance floor. “I ask that you do not judge me too harshly, for it has been a while since I have danced, and moreover with someone as skilled as you.” 

Yuuri settles in across from Viktor as soft violin strings begin to fill the room. “It is not me you must request pardon from, my Lord, but rather the prying eyes of the ton, who seem to already be frenzied at your sudden arrival.”

“I do not care what they think.” Viktor’s gaze bores into his. As if to prove his point, the hand resting against the small of Yuuri’s back pulls him in a step closer than what is necessary. The familiar, crisp scent of leather from his riding gloves fills his senses, along with something so unmistakably Viktor. 

It’s intoxicating.

“Do you?” Viktor asks.

“No,” Yuuri whispers. He finds, to his surprise, that he speaks the truth.

“Good,” Viktor smiles.

They begin to circle one another, right hands bent in front of their chests, palms meeting in the middle like a prayer most divine. 

“I thought of coming straight to your estate as soon as I'd arrived, but I had been chastised quite thoroughly by Lady Baranovskaya, claiming it was most improper to forgo a bath and fresh clothing.” 

Yuuri cannot help the laugh that escapes him. “You have barely returned and yet you are already giving that woman grief. Must you always disrupt the peace in your household?”

“Must you ask questions you already know the answer to, my dear?” 

Yuuri does not recall how their faces have come to be so close to one another. The tip of Viktor’s nose is nearly brushing against his cheek, the fine silver strands of his hair tickling at the shell of Yuuri’s ear. Surely, at this proximity, the clamorous beating of his traitorous heart must be entirely known to Viktor.

“It does not hurt to ask,” Yuuri manages to whisper. His eyes have been drawn down to the plush of Viktor’s lips, which has, to his utter shame, been a recurring star in many of his imaginary bedroom explorations. 

“No, I suppose it does not.” 

Yuuri nearly startles as Viktor’s hands find their way to both sides of his waist, lifting him a foot in the air in one smooth practiced motion. 

“I have terribly missed doing that,” Viktor says wistfully.

“Are the balls in Russia not to your taste, then?” Yuuri asks lightly. He is, in truth, preparing himself for what could quite possibly be the tale of how Viktor has come to meet his lady. The next few seconds tick by at a most painstaking pace as Yuuri holds his breath.

“They are perfectly fine. They are, however, lacking in one thing.”

Yuuri frowns. “And that is?”

“A suitable dance partner, of course, for you are all the way here.” 

“You need not flatter me, my Lord. I am certain there is no shortage of fine ladies and gentlemen who can keep up with you on the dance floor.” 

“Do you truly think that?” Viktor asks, eyebrows furrowed.

Yuuri shrugs. “Russia –and London – is a big place, and I am but one man.” 

“You do yourself a great disservice with that line of thinking, my dear.” Viktor’s gloved thumb briefly reaches out between them to cup tenderly at his cheek, before quickly traversing down the length of Yuuri’s arm to clutch at his fingertips. Viktor spins him around in their next move, Yuuri’s back to his chest, yet Viktor’s piercing look remains impossible to escape. 

A most dizzying rush of breath departs from Yuuri’s lips before he silently pleads with himself to gather his wits. Viktor’s heart belongs to another, and it would do Yuuri good to remember that before he brought shame to both Viktor and his family by acting on his selfish desires.

He opens his mouth to speak, to ask of this lady who has driven Viktor to write such beautiful lines in his letters, but his throat dries up at the last second along with his courage. 

Yuuri’s eyes flicker shut, well-aware this may very well be their last dance together, trying to savor every feeling. He spins back around to face him, chest aching at the sight of Viktor. 

His skin burns at Viktor’s touch. His waist, the small of his back, his palms where they are once again pressed up fingertip to wrist, circling each other in a final pose. 

The music comes to an end, and people begin to retreat to the sidelines for some refreshments. 

“Forgive my rather transparent attempt to keep you from other people, but would you honor me with another dance, my dear Yuuri?”

He hurries to agree, but a flash of movement from the corner of the room lends him pause. It is Cao Bin, conversing with a few other gentlemen, giving Yuuri a polite yet pointed look. 

The rush of feeling that had taken root in his chest rapidly deflates. “I am terribly sorry, my Lord, but I am afraid Cao Bin has taken the last spot on my dance card.”

Viktor blinks, steps faltering. He chances a glance at the man, who seems now to be standing straighter, fixing the cuffs of his coat sleeves. “In that case, it may be wise for me to ask for your next two dances now, for when the next ball comes.” 

People would undoubtedly speculate whether these two dances would mean anything, yet Yuuri knows Viktor has never been one to care for social conventions. 

“They are yours, my Lord.” Yuuri replies softly.

The thought that it may well be at this coming ball where Viktor debuts the object of his heart hovers over Yuuri like a heavy monsoon cloud for the rest of the evening. 

+

The next day finds Cao Bin standing in the Katsuki sitting room, proposing marriage.

Mari, as a chaperone, is trying (and failing) quite spectacularly not to burst into a violent coughing fit, her face coloring a concerning purple in the process.

Yuuri nearly drops his biscuit onto the carpet. “Oh,” is the first thing he manages to say.

This single syllable, said in such a despondent tone, should have been enough to deter the common suitor, yet Cao Bin seems particularly immune to whatever frigid draft has managed to suddenly materialize within the shut confines of the salon. “I realize it is quite sudden, and I have not been calling on you for very long, but I see great potential between us. I only ask that you consider it.”

“I – well, that is, –” Yuuri stutters, feeling quite suddenly as if he cannot breathe. Why on earth were the windows shut?

“You need not give me an answer right now,” Cao Bin continues. “But I would like to know, if this is something you can see ever happening.”

“I– “ Yuuri’s voice wavers, getting lost somewhere between the frantic buzzing in his ears and the sound of Mari clumsily thumping at her breastbone to dislodge the tea that had gone down the wrong pipe. Yuuri had thought he had sufficiently prepared himself for the prospect of this reality taking place, yet it appears he had been mistaken. The idea of spending the rest of his days with this man before him casts a chill upon his very bones, and he cannot, for the life of him, chase away thoughts of spun silver and sparkling blue eyes. “I do not know, my Lord.”

“I see.” Cao Bin says in resignation, almost as if he had been expecting this outcome. “I must admit I am disappointed, although I cannot say the odds were ever in my favor. Everyone has warned me of Lord Nikiforov’s long-standing affection for you, but I had thought, perhaps, that in his absence, you could be persuaded.”

Mari sets her teacup down after she has finally regained control over her airways. “Well,” she smiles, and it is one she directs towards those she wishes to particularly be rid off, “I think that concludes this session, yes? My Lord, if you please, I shall escort you to the carriage.”

She leads Cao Bin out of the room, leaving Yuuri frozen on the settee, still attempting to parse the man’s words into some semblance of order. 

Viktor’s long-standing affection? For him ?

Surely it must not mean what Yuuri thinks it to mean. Viktor’s affections were perfectly platonic in nature. So much so, in fact, that he wishes for Yuuri to strike a friendship with this young lady from Russia who has captured his heart. 

The room has started to spin in circles around him, aunt Minako’s portrait and the velvet drapery and the well-loved pianoforte swimming in and out of focus. 

“Yuuri?” Mari asks hesitantly from the doorway, watching him in concern.

“I am not feeling well,” he says hurriedly, attempting to compose himself. He rather thinks he is doing a horrendous job at it. “I am going for some fresh air.”

“Would you like some company?”

“I would like to be alone. Please.”

He heads into the gardens, settling on a bench and staring blankly at the horizon until the dusk hangs low in streaks of deep coppers and ambers. The field beyond calls out to him, the site of many a race between him and Viktor, of laughter and companionship shared in the summers where Yuuri had grown to love him.

If Cao Bin’s words had not been said in jest, and Viktor truly held affection for him in that regard, how could Viktor so casually mention falling in love with another in the same letters he has declared Yuuri to be his darling, casting Yuuri aside as if he were the spoils of the last season? He could not imagine Viktor to be so cruel, and comes to the conclusion that everybody else is simply mistaken. 

He has just ruined one of the few matches he may ever have in his lifetime, all for a love that will never be reciprocated. 

 +

Nighttime has fallen over London, yet Yuuri finds he cannot depart from where he has settled by the foot of the hearth in his bedroom. The jinbei he is wearing is wrapped loosely over his figure, while the pile of Viktor’s letters is scattered haphazardly over his lap. A dimly flickering candelabra lays to his right, uncertain to make it through the night. 

He sets the latest letter aside, chest alight with a dull pain that has never truly dissipated. He parses through the remaining ones, fonder memories rising to the surface as his eyes adjust to Viktor’s looping handwriting in the semi-darkness. 

 

My dearest Yuuri ,

It is but my first week back at the St. Petersburg estate, yet the number of times I have had to stop myself from instinctively walking to the stables to commence our morning race has been rather alarming. It is always with a dull ache that I realize I can no longer spend the start of each day with you, at least for the time being.

Darling Yuuri,

The few cherry blossoms have begun to bloom in my Uncle’s estate, and I cannot help but think of the stories you have so generously shared with me of your homeland. Do you think you would fancy a visit with me someday, and show me all your favorite haunts? I think you would look lovely with the cherry blossoms softly falling all around you.

My dear Yuuri,

You must tell me more about Lord Leroy’s country-side ball. Did Lord Crispino truly chase out a gentleman for handing his sister a glass of champagne? As much as I find him a most temperamental young man, I must admit he is a rather constant source of amusement, especially when he glares at us so whenever we dance. Personally, I am of the opinion he is simply jealous, for my dance partner is the most skilled and captivating of the ton.

It is rather a moment too late that Yuuri realizes his eyes have begun smarting, and that the moisture rapidly building along his lash line has now spilled onto the pieces of parchment before him. He manages to salvage most of them before they are irreparably ruined, setting them on the desk, yet cannot quite seem to put a stop to the tears streaking down his cheeks.

“Stupid Viktor,” he whispers to himself. How could he say such tender words and have them mean absolutely nothing? 

He sits for another few, long minutes in front of the fire, contemplating what to do. Should he burn the letters? Throw them all in the flames and let them be consumed until they were nothing but ash and dust?

The decision, however, is taken out of his hands when a rather violent sound erupts from somewhere in his room. Yuuri startles, looking wildly around for the source of such a noise. He finds nothing, growing uneasy until the sound once more arises in the quiet of the night, resembling almost a pebble crashing against a hard surface. 

He rises to his feet, taking the candelabra with him as he hesitantly makes his way to the window. He pulls the drapes aside, eyes adjusting to the darkness that stretches on for miles. A flash of silver catches his eye, dimly illuminated by his candlestick, and he shrieks nearly loud enough to awaken the entire shire. His only assurance that the Katsuki household remains to be blissfully unaware of what has just transpired is the memory of the large bottle of sake that had been shared amongst them during supper. 

It is Viktor’s face that stares back at him, eyes wild and hair bedraggled, balanced precariously on the brick molding running along the outside of Yuuri’s room. He flashes Yuuri a weak smile.

“Are you absolutely mad?” Yuuri hisses, spurred into action by the fear of Viktor hurting himself. He quickly unlatches the window and offers his hand out, which Viktor grips with a firm, grateful grasp. He heaves himself up on the windowsill, sliding one leg in after the after until he finally finds himself on Yuuri’s blessedly solid bedroom floor. 

Viktor brushes errant patches of dirt and the occasional blade of grass off his coat with a flourish. “Well,” he says, slightly out of breath, “that could have gone much worse indeed.”

“What if you had fallen?” Yuuri whispers under his breath hotly. “What if someone had seen you?”

“It is the dead of the night, and there is not a single soul out in this side of London.” 

Yuuri rakes his eyes through Viktor’s figure, briefly noting the mud speckling his boots. The bottom half of his trousers had not been spared either. “What on earth could have possessed you to ride on horseback all the way here at this hour?”

“I have questions that need urgent answering,” Viktor says, and the intent way in which he is staring at Yuuri makes him terribly conscious of the fact that he is dressed so informally, in only a loose nighttime jinbei no less.

“And this could not have waited until morning?” Yuuri asks incredulously.

“No, for I did not know whether the morning would see you an engaged man.”

Yuuri gasps. 

Viktor begins to pace anxiously through the length of Yuuri’s room. Part of Yuuri marvels at how he has never seen Viktor look so uncomposed as he does now, yet the confusion remains at the forefront of his mind, fogging his other senses. 

“I have heard, just this evening, from Lord Leroy no less, that Cao Bin has been calling on you, and is even considering the prospect of marriage.” Viktor pins him with an expectant look. “Is this the truth?” 

“I do not see how that has anything to do with your rather unorthodox appearance in my bedroom.” 

Viktor looks upon Yuuri as if he has just been slapped, an angry flush spreading on the delicate rise of his cheekbones. “Then forgive me for asking, but I have been racking my brain the entire evening, trying to think of where I have gone wrong. But why him? Why Cao Bin , of all people?”

Yuuri swallows thickly, the rather sudden urge to once again weep creeping up on him in such an overwhelming manner. It was truly humiliating, standing before the man he loves, having to explain why he has just sent away one of the few suitors he will potentially ever have in his lifetime, for that man was not Viktor Nikiforov. 

“I…I do not know.” Yuuri lies, fiddling with the fabric of his jinbei, wishing for all this to be a fever dream he can soon get over with. 

Viktor’s face crumples. “Do you love this man?”

Yuuri’s lips part open in shock, and he cannot help the emphatic “No!” that escapes him.

Relief passes through the shadows on Viktor’s face, before it is quickly replaced with hurt. “Then why?”

“Because I do not have the luxury of choice, my Lord!” Yuuri finally says, voice hardening, chest heaving up and down in an effort to control the rush of emotion flooding his entire body, the buzzing in his ears nearly deafening. How could Viktor be so obtuse? Did he truly want Yuuri to spell out his own deficiencies? 

“I see,” Viktor replies, and Yuuri is stunned at how cold he sounds, eyes shuttering in that detached, unseeing way. “So it appears you have never even regarded me as an option, then.” 

Yuuri chokes out a breath, resisting the urge to stamp his foot down like a child throwing a tantrum. “Why are you doing this to me?” He asks miserably. He finds, to his horror, that a fresh wave of tears has begun to streak down his face.

Viktor pales at the sight, looking as if he has just seen a ghost.

It is a most bizarre thing indeed that possess Yuuri to hiccup on a watery laugh. “Do not tell me the great Viktor Nikiforov is afraid of tears.”

Viktor is in front of him in two great strides, cupping his cheeks with trembling hands. “Please do not cry,” he says softly, thumbing away at the droplets. 

Yuuri slaps his hand away, glaring through the haze in his vision. “Do not tell me what to do.”

Viktor takes a step back, but the anger in Yuuri’s chest has already been ignited, growing now to a dangerous, blazing beast of a thing. “You do not ever get to ask who my prospects are or why I am considering them, not after what you have done.” 

“What I have done?” Viktor asks, eyebrows making a steep ascent into his hairline. “Please, enlighten me then.”

“You truly do not know? You are a selfish creature, my Lord, if you have not seen the pain you have caused me by declaring yourself in love with another after you have spent your months away writing tender words to me nearly every day.” 

The near-silence in the room is almost oppressive, nothing but the steady inhale and exhale of breaths accompanying the crackling of the fire for a few, long moments. It eventually dawns on Yuuri what he has just revealed, and the sudden emergence of shame feels like a bucket of ice cold water that has just been dumped all over him. 

“I do not understand,” Viktor begins, eyes awash with confusion, but Yuuri will hear none of it and has started to retreat to the doorway, the urge to hide and take cover away from Viktor the only thing governing his mind. 

“You must leave, please.” Yuuri says, his body a violin and notes of panic playing on it like a most sordid song, “I have exhausted everything in me. I can no longer do this.”

“Then you must have received an entirely different person’s letter,” Viktor says firmly, eyes sparking with a sudden heat, “for the only person who has captured my heart is you.”

“What?” Yuuri says, voice nothing more than a whisper. His heart feels as if it may burst free from his chest as it pounds in a maddening staccato rhythm. 

“I have thought of no one but you, Yuuri, in all of my time in London and Russia.”

“And what of this lady you wish me to meet? This lady you have brought all the way to London?”

“Do you mean Makkachin? The stray I discovered on my Uncle’s farmlands?” At Yuuri’s stunned look, he continues, “She was a small, pitiful thing when I found her during a snowstorm, and is now one of my most loyal companions. She is currently at my London estate, being house-trained by Lady Baranovskaya.”

“I–,” Yuuri says, voice wobbling, a most discordant mix of relief and humiliation rushing through his chest. He sets himself down by the foot of his bed so as to not fall to the floor in a most ungracious heap. “Oh, I have been the most foolish man.” He hides his face behind his hands, the shells of his ears a scarlet red.

He continues to hide even as Viktor gently pries his fingers apart. “Yuuri, please. Let me see you,” he implores.

He eventually acquiesces, though it is with great hardship that he does so. 

“Do not marry Cao Bin,” Viktor says, eyes vulnerable and blazing all at once, “do not marry anyone else but me.”

“Yes,” Yuuri whispers, mind still swimming at this most serendipitous turn of events. Viktor cups his cheek gently, and Yuuri sighs as he leans into it, caressing the back of Viktor’s hand in his.

“You do not understand the fear that gripped me the entire night when I had heard the news from Lord Leroy. You have made me a madman, Katsuki Yuuri, unable to sleep or eat until I eventually found myself scaling the walls of your home like a thief in the night.”

“And you, my Lord, do not understand the heartbreak I have faced for weeks upon receiving your letter, thinking you had found yourself a wife.”

“What a pair of fools we make, hm?” Viktor says with a small smile.

“But at least we are a pair.” Yuuri presses a kiss to the palm of Viktor’s hand, impossibly aware of the hitching in Viktor’s breath. A shiver runs through him at the realization that he is alone in his bedroom with the man who has played a starring role in his nighttime fantasies, clad in nothing but his flimsy sleepwear. A maddening pulse of heat lances through his stomach, stubborn and unrelenting.

Gathering the last of his wits and his courage, he opens his mouth to ask, “If I ask you to kiss me right this instant, will you?”

Viktor’s lips part open in shock, yet this is the last of it that Yuuri sees, for not even a second later finds his mouth pressed up against Yuuri’s, a firm and most delicious pressure snaking its way past his lips and entwining with his tongue.

Yuuri’s gasp echoes in the non-existent space between them, swallowed up by the heat of Viktor’s mouth. They tumble to his bed in an ungraceful heap, Yuuri sprawled on his back and Viktor hovering over him on his hands and knees. He is staring down at Yuuri like he is a dinner spread he would like to devour, the blue of his eyes nearly consumed by darkness. 

“Touch me,” Yuuri whispers. 

Viktor groans. “You will drive me to an early grave.”

His mouth latches on to the column of Yuuri’s throat, laving at his pulse-point almost in worship. Yuuri, in turn, makes deft work of Viktor’s buttons, unspeakably grateful for the man’s decision to forgo a waistcoat in his haste to see Yuuri. He marvels at the first sight of Viktor’s chest, lightly sprinkled with a layer of fine hair, and finds his throat drying at the toned ridges of his stomach, glistening with a thin sheen of sweat. 

“May I?” Viktor asks, gesturing to the flimsy knot keeping his jinbei together. Yuuri agrees with a short jerk of his head. 

“Beautiful,” Viktor whispers as he disrobes Yuuri, running elegant fingers down the expanse of his torso. He experimentally fumbles with a nipple, and Yuuri finds he cannot help the breathy exclamation that escapes him, a hand instinctively coming up to silence himself in shame. 

“You make the most heavenly of sounds,” Viktor says as he suckles another mark into his collarbone, “and I would spend all night attempting to draw them out of you, were it not for fear of Lady Mari chasing me out of your life forever with a rifle.” 

The possibility of being discovered in such a compromising position does little to damp Yuuri’s arousal, not when he is privy to the sound of Viktor’s hitching breaths and the most beautiful flush overtaking his cheeks. “I would never let her harm you, and we are to be married, after all. Should I not enjoy my soon-to-be husband?” 

“Perhaps we should wait until after the wedding before we go any further,” Viktor suggests, yet his voice wavers with obvious desire.

“If that is your wish, then so be it. But if you are doing this for my sake, fearing you are playing with my honor, then you must know you have had my heart entirely since I first set sights on you, and I have spent many nights in this same bed pleasuring myself to thoughts of you.”

Viktor stares down at him, stunned, and is silent for all of five seconds before he grips the back of Yuuri’s neck to pull him into a bruising kiss. “Do you have any idea,” he grunts, falling to his elbows so he can grind his hips firmly against Yuuri’s, “what you do to me?” His hardness is a heavy weight against Yuuri’s thigh, and his own length twitches in desperate anticipation, heat curling low in his gut like a blazing furnace. 

“No,” Yuuri blinks back at him slowly, breathless, “but perhaps you can show me, my Lord.”

He guides Viktor’s hands to the waistband of his jinbei, leaving the decision up to him even as his cheeks redden with his own boldness. He would have never in his wildest fantasies thought himself capable of acting so brazenly, yet the sight of Viktor’s swollen, red-bitten lips and roguishly tousled hair, the feel of his elegant, slender fingers claiming every expanse of Yuuri’s skin, and his scent, simultaneously musky yet floral, tinged slightly with sweat, is enough to drive Yuuri into utter depravity. 

The feel of Viktor’s lightly calloused palm, blazing to the touch, wrapped around his length is enough to send a ripple of pleasure through his spine all the way to his toes.

“Oh, god,” Yuuri whispers as Viktor pulls his jinbei down his hips, letting it pool somewhere around his ankles in one smooth motion. He kicks the offending garment off his person, not caring in the slightest as it flutters to the floor.

He lies entirely naked before Viktor, who is still dressed in his mud-stained trousers. Yuuri cannot help the way his eyes stray to the noticeably large bulge tenting his front, fingers twitching at his sides with the urge to touch. 

“I am the luckiest man in all of London,” is the last thing Viktor says before he descends upon Yuuri with his mouth.

Yuuri shrieks.

They both freeze, launched into hyper-awareness by the fear of having awakened the entire household, yet at the lack of footsteps and creaking floorboards, eventually resume their activities after collective, breathless giggles. Viktor’s tongue runs along the underside of his length as his hand continues pumping him, sending Yuuri into a blissful, writhing frenzy. The burning brand of Viktor’s lips around him is something he has never before felt, his own guilt-ridden, brisk ministrations on himself paling now in comparison to the sensations Viktor is bringing out from him. It is only the thought of what he has seen in those secret books Mari keeps hidden under her floorboards that compels Yuuri to gather his wits amidst the cloud of pleasure he finds himself to be on, long enough to brokenly gasp out Viktor’s name. “Wait–” he says, and immediately finds Viktor’s worried gaze upon him, mouth sliding off his length with an obscene pop .

“What is wrong?” he asks, resting his hand on the jut of Yuuri’s hips, rubbing soothing circles at the skin. 

“I would like to try something,” Yuuri says, and it is only through a miracle that his face has yet to burst into flames. “Something that involves you being inside me.”

Viktor blinks, and Yuuri is surprised to find that it is on Viktor’s face instead that the most fetching flush has begun to appear. He clears his throat, adjusting the material of his straining trousers. “Do you have oils of some sort in here?”

“My dresser should have a jar containing some coconut oil. I use it on my hair when I bathe.”

“That will do.” Viktor reaches out to rummage around his bedside drawer, returning triumphantly. Viktor unbuttons his trousers, sliding it off his person in an almost tantalizingly slow fashion. Yuuri’s heart jumps in his chest as Viktor’s cock reveals itself to him, pretty and flushed and nearly weeping at the tip, and he finds himself lost in thoughts of what it would feel like to have his lover’s length filling his mouth entirely. 

He thinks he would enjoy choking and gagging on such a thing, and grows suddenly flustered. 

Viktor caresses his cheek. “This will be easier with you on your hands and knees, my love.”

He moves to help Yuuri maneuver into the position, yet Yuuri cannot help but wonder how many times Viktor has engaged in a tumble for him to acquire the practical knowledge on such things. Something sour curdles in his stomach, and the feeling must show on his face, as Viktor hurries to press a tender, lingering kiss of reassurance against his lips. “I have not been with another since I first laid eyes on you, and I would not dream of even comparing them to you, solnyshko.” 

Yuuri flushes and eventually settles on all fours, fighting the urge to hide his face in one of his pillows, feeling ridiculously exposed and vulnerable. He hears Viktor fiddling with the jar lid behind him, anticipation building in his veins, and nearly gets the breath punched out of him in a soft oh as Viktor’s slick, oil-coated finger breaches the tender flesh of his rim. 

He rests a steadying palm against the small of Yuuri’s back, chin hooking over his shoulder, peppering his shoulder blade in wet, open-mouthed kisses that leave goosebumps erupting across his skin and his nipples pebbling. The hand on his back moves to tug wetly on Yuuri’s length, and he gasps as another clever and artful finger finds its way inside of him, crooking against a spot that has him seeing stars.

Ah ,” Yuuri says in a breathy exhalation, instinctively pushing back against Viktor, his toes curling into his sheets. He spends another few minutes floating along a haze of pleasure before he feels the head of Viktor’s slick-coated cock pressing tentatively against the fluttering ring of muscle, and he swivels his head back to give Viktor a heated look.

“Please,” Yuuri whimpers, watching a bead of sweat traverse down the column of Viktor’s throat, pooling in the triangle of his collarbone. 

“Blyad ,” Viktor hisses, and it's all the warning Yuuri receives before he breaches his entrance, both hands on either side of Yuuri’s hips to steady him as he pushes in at a torturously languid pace. Yuuri hitches in a breath, eyes falling shut in a fit of pleasure, before flashing Viktor a curious look from behind his shoulder a few moments later. 

“Why have you stopped moving?” he asks, and belatedly realizes he is pouting.

Viktor’s jaw is a ball of tension, and it is through gritted teeth that he says, “I am afraid you feel much too good around me, my love, and I fear this may end too soon if I do not firstly compose myself.” 

Yuuri takes a moment to lose himself in the sensation of Viktor’s thick, heavy length throbbing inside of him, and gives in to the experimental urge to clench around him in fluttery bursts. Viktor groans deep and guttural as if he has been struck, quickly snaking a hand around Yuuri’s chest to pull Yuuri’s back flush against him, while the other hand plants itself firmly on the bed. 

“You are,” he growls, starting a most brutal pace that sends the floorboards creaking beneath the weight of his bed and Yuuri scrabbling for purchase on the sheets, “a troublesome little minx, aren’t you?”

Yuuri cries out as Viktor’s cock brushes against that ball of pleasure inside of him, throwing his head back in open-mouthed ecstasy. Viktor catches his lower lip in his, suckling on it as Yuuri reaches his hand out behind him to clutch at the back of Viktor’s head, keeping him firmly in place.

“Do you have any idea how often I have thought of taking you like this?” Viktor moves to suck a mark into the junction of his neck and shoulder, leaving a trail of saliva glistening from his red-bitten lips to the column of his throat. “Of having you in our marriage bed and bringing you to completion over and over again?”

The sound of their flesh meeting each other in wet, rhythmic slaps echoes obscenely in the semi-darkness of Yuuri’s room; Yuuri whines, feeling tears build at the corner of his eyes as heat pools low in his gut, a constant, building pressure. “I wish to see you,” he sobs out wetly, tightening his hold on the soft, silky strands on Viktor’s head, tugging. 

Viktor pulls out of him with a slick pop, and before Yuuri finds the wherewithal to make an indignant noise of protest, Viktor has somehow managed to flip him on his back, grabbing at his knees to pull his legs wide open, and plunges back into him in one smooth motion.

Yuuri wraps his legs around Viktor’s waist, canting his hips up to meet the newfound angle of Viktor’s thrusts; his back arches delicately off the bed, his toes curling against Viktor’s flank, his lips parting in a soft oh , eyelashes fluttering. 

“You are the most beautiful thing I have ever laid my eyes on,” Viktor chokes out as he plants his knees against the bed for purchase, continuing to thrust relentlessly into Yuuri’s tight, scorching heat. 

Viktor’s normally crystal clear eyes are alight with almost a drunken haze, and his hair is falling over his forehead in sweaty, tangled strands of silver. Yuuri has never felt more in love. “I feel entirely the same,” he manages to say amidst the stars prickling behind his vision.

Viktor hovers over him, nearly bending Yuuri in half, reaching down to suckle at the peak of his nipple while his free hand thumbs at Yuuri’s leaking, straining cock. 

Vitya ,” Yuuri gasps, “I’m not going to last,” he says in warning, except Viktor has already stilled above him at Yuuri’s exclamation of endearment, eyes closed in bliss and mouth slack, and Yuuri feels something thick and wet spurting inside of him, trickling down the curve of his backside and down the plush of his thighs. 

He follows soon after, stomach growing sticky with his own spend. 

Viktor collapses beside him, boneless and spent.

“You have murdered me, my love,” he murmurs into Yuuri’s pillow. Still, he lifts a hand to allow Yuuri access against his chest, and Yuuri lies there, hair tickling at Viktor’s chin as he listens to the steady beating of his lover’s heart, contentment and love radiating out of him in waves. 

Viktor takes him repeatedly throughout the night in increasingly adventurous positions. They explore one another’s bodies for hours on end, rutting and writhing against each other like animals driven to pure, carnal instinct; sweat and spend cooling on their skins, no longer distinguishable from the other.  

Yuuri learns to muffle his whimpers into his fist as Viktor props his hips up on a pillow, pushing his thighs apart and exploring him from the inside with his clever, prodding tongue. Viktor resurfaces some time later with a wild look in his eyes, begging for Yuuri to sit atop his face. Yuuri stares back at him like he is a madman, immediate refusal spilling forth from his lips. 

“You will suffocate!” Yuuri says, aghast. Viktor levels a pathetic look of utmost pleading upon him, which serves to eventually thaw at his previously steadfast resolution. He ends up coming undone in just a few minutes, the hand gripping the bed headboard still trembling in aftershocks, watching Viktor’s smug look from beneath him, his lover’s mouth swollen and slick. 

Yuuri broaches the subject of pleasuring Viktor with his mouth sometime after midnight, bashful yet determined. He takes Viktor in his mouth in slow increments, unsure what to do with such a foreign weight against his tongue. Viktor guides him with soothing whispers and gentle tugs against his scalp, and it takes a considerable amount of effort on Yuuri’s part to refrain from choking as Viktor spends down his throat some minutes later, tears stinging hotly at the corners of his eyes yet not wanting to waste a single drop. 

In an act of utter depravity that Yuuri pretends to have entirely no recollection of, they find themselves pressed up against his writing desk during the witching hour, the fire by the hearth long burned out, Viktor’s cock plunging in and out of the well-used, quivering muscle of his rim. He inserts two oiled, dexterous fingers just before his next thrust in, and the feeling of being filled nearly to bursting by both Viktor’s cock and fingers at the same time sends the back of Yuuri’s knees violently buckling. 

He remains upright only through the weight of the desk before him and Viktor’s steady, burning grip on his hip. His lover is murmuring nonsense in half-delirious Russian against his neck, his chest pressed flush against Yuuri’s back, the antique piece of furniture croaking out its last life as its rocks along with them. 

Yuuri spends against the wooden desk, managing to send out a delirious prayer of thanks that Viktor’s letters are lying safe and dry to the side, spared from their frantic, frankly unhinged lovemaking. He had never, even in his wildest fantasies, thought himself capable of such deviant acts, and momentarily finds himself unable to face Viktor, instead hiding his scarlet and sweat-drenched face against the tabletop. 

“Why are you hiding from me, my love?” Viktor whispers behind him, pressing a kiss to the shell of his reddening ear. “I have had you more times that I can count on just this night alone,” he chuckles.

Yuuri whines in embarrassment. “I cannot help but feel like such a lecherous being.” 

“Was our lovemaking not pleasing to you?”

Yuuri frowns, still staring down at grains of wood instead of what he’s sure is Viktor’s equally perspiring face. “Of course it was.”

“Then why the shame? We are in love, are we not? And we are to be married,” Viktor coos into his neck. “If it were up to only me, we would soon find ourselves in the chapel by daybreak to say our vows, yet I fear our respective households would burst into histrionic fits at such a spontaneous wedding.” 

Yuuri nods in agreement, although he finds he cannot immediately shake off his flustered demeanor. He had never imagined he could ever gather the courage to open himself up so vulnerably and wantonly to Viktor, and yet here he stands with Viktor’s softening cock still inside of him, the shape of his lover now so intimately familiar just by one night alone. It is a most titillating thought. 

“Come, let us go to bed before we collapse in exhaustion,” Viktor finally says, gathering Yuuri up in his arms and tucking them both under slightly dampened sheets. They sleep for a restful, if not brief, three hours spent wrapped in each other’s arms, evidence of their hours-long exertions still scattered around them. 

Yuuri awakes feeling tender and sore in the most unimaginable of places, muscles protesting with every little twitch of movement, and rather feels as if he could stay in bed for an entire week. It does not, however, stop him from clinging to Viktor when dawn begins to break through the horizon, clutching at his stirring form in a pitiful attempt to have him stay. 

“I will be back, my love,” Viktor soothes him, brushing away the tears that have begun to gather in the corners of Yuuri’s eyes. “I will simply return to my estate, make myself presentable and fetch the ring, then come riding back to you, demanding for your hand in marriage.”

Yuuri’s stomach squirms excitably. “The ring?” he asks. “You are already in possession of one?”

“But of course,” Viktor says, sounding almost amused. “It is a family heirloom, and I had my Uncle dig it out of the depths of the Nikiforov treasury during my stay in Russia.” His eyes soften as he cups a warm hand around Yuuri’s cheek. “The very thought of asking you upon my return was enough to help me endure the dreadful distance between us.”

Pain lances through Yuuri’s heart as he entertains a reality in which he had accepted Cao Bin’s proposal, Viktor’s feelings and intentions remaining forever unknown to him. The thought fills him with a chill, and he clings desperately to the man who will soon be his husband in an effort to banish it. 

“I will have to immediately inform Lady Baranovskaya about the wedding of course, for she will surely want a hand in planning it,” Viktor begins to mutter to himself, eyes alight with the prospect of a grand celebration. “Oh! And Makkachin, I wonder if the tailor could have something quickly done for her,” he muses.

“I wish to meet her,” Yuuri says, almost shyly, for in his head he had built up Makkachin to be a devastating figure of heartbreak, yet she has turned out to be Viktor’s most loyal furry companion, bringing his lover comfort in the months Yuuri could not provide it. 

“Naturally,” Viktor says, eyes twinkling, “for she has played a most pivotal role in our relationship.”

Yuuri pinches his side, and Viktor swallows down a yelp. “Yuuri!” he pouts, betrayed.

The household soon comes alive in a clamor of bustling from the kitchens, urging Yuuri to quickly herd Viktor out of bed. He assists his lover with clothing himself, smoothing down the buttons of Viktor’s shirt and balancing on the tips of his toes to leave him with a soft, chaste kiss.

Viktor sighs happily into his mouth, deepening the kiss. He rests a hand over the curve of Yuuri’s backside, dipping him low in a recreation of one of their favorite dances, watching the glittering morning light wash Yuuri in a heavenly glow.

“Viktor,” Yuuri protests half-heartedly, sounds of disapproval turning into breathy, aborted gasps as Viktor nuzzles into his neck, leaving a string of wet, open-mouthed kisses. He suckles a most lovely shade of red into the tender patch of skin behind Yuuri’s earlobe, feeling himself steadily beginning to thicken in his trousers. Yuuri, clad only in the top half of the jinbei he had picked up from the floor, responds in kind. 

“Perhaps,” he mutters as Viktor begins walking them backwards to the bed, “just a few - ah! - more minutes… oh , that feels heavenly.”

Viktor sets Yuuri down by the foot of the bed, shucking his trousers down only halfway as he plants a knee on the mattress, his other foot firm against Yuuri’s bedroom floor. Yuuri wraps nimble legs around his waist, his heels digging into Viktor’s back to pull him flush against him. 

Viktor thumbs at his reddened, abused hole, finding it still lubricated and loose from last night’s and early morning activities just some hours ago. He presses in without much resistance, groaning as he bottoms out. “Are you sore, my love?” he pants against Yuuri’s neck, keeping at a steady, languid pace.

“Incredibly so,” Yuuri affirms, not sounding bothered at all in the slightest. In fact, he looks rather pleased if the haze in his eyes is any indication. He watches as the head of Viktor’s cock slowly pumps in and out of him, his entrance quivering with a pleasurable, profound sort of ache as it greedily accepts his lover. Viktor pauses to place a kiss against the inside of his knee, looking up at him through his eyelashes. 

“Mhm. Shall I go slow, then?”

“Absolutely not. There will be plenty of time for that in the marriage bed,” Yuuri huffs, urging Viktor on with his heels.

Viktor laves at his nipples in worship, leaving them pebbling in the early morning chill as a trail of saliva glistens over them. He goes over them in precise, circular motions, Yuuri’s hitching whines filling the room, his abdomen clenching involuntarily with every swipe against the pink buds of his chest. 

They attempt to muffle their moans into each others’ mouths, yet there is no hope of masking the movement of the bed as the headboard thumps violently against Yuuri’s bedroom wall. His only consolation is that it is not a wall he shares with Mari or any other room for that matter, and once more loses himself to the eye-rolling sensation of Viktor’s cock inside of him, unraveling him thrust after careful thrust.

Viktor grunts in frustration as the bed continues to scrabble against the wall, finally deciding to take matters into his own hands, quite literally, by hauling Yuuri around his waist, lifting him off the bed, and into his arms. Yuuri yelps as they both nearly pitch backwards, yet they eventually find their balance as he tightens his legs around Viktor’s waist and throws his arms around his neck. “A little warning would have been appreciated,” he says, attempting to sound stern. The effect is rather undercut by the breathless quality to his voice and the desperate bouncing motions he’s making onto Viktor’s cock, mouth slack and eyes glassy. 

“I’ll be sure to inform you the next time,” Viktor replies, licking a long, wet stripe from the base of his neck to the underside of his jaw. 

Yuuri clenches around him in retribution, taking pleasure in the way Viktor’s pelvis stutters against his, momentarily losing its pace. He pins Yuuri with an unreadable, heated look before he plants his feet firmly against the ground, grasps his hips nearly hard enough to bruise, and drives into him in an unrelenting, pounding rhythm, the angle of his cock hitting Yuuri’s sweet spot unfailingly with every thrust. 

Ah, ah, ah,” Yuuri attempts to muffle his whines into Viktor’s neck, tension building in telltale pinprick points within him. “Oh god, Vitya, ” he cries out, tightening his calves around Viktor’s trim yet powerful waist, feeling the way his lover is beginning to tremble with exertion and his own approaching climax even as he continues to plunge into Yuuri’s tight heat.

“You could bring me to completion just by your sounds alone,” Viktor admits in a strained whimper, seeking out his mouth to exchange wet, desperate kisses that grow increasingly sloppy as they both approach their undoing. 

Yuuri spills between his and Viktor’s stomachs, legs spasming around his lover’s waist just as Viktor buries deep inside of him, a wet type of heat igniting and pooling within Yuuri like molten gold. He has yet to clean the previous traces of Viktor in him, feeling marked and claimed in every possible way. Come a few hours it will be with a wedding ring too, and Yuuri is helpless to stop the warmth unfurling in his chest. 

Viktor sets him back on the bed and cleans them up with a washcloth, making sure to gentle his movements as he approaches Yuuri’s sore entrance. He laves at the inflamed rim with his tongue afterwards, hands pulling Yuuri’s thighs apart to give himself better access, and when he begins to cheekily lick into him and breach his delicate entrance once more, Yuuri groans breathlessly, overstimulation finally rearing its ugly head. “Viktor, please,” he begs, “you will not have a husband at all if you do not stop.”

Viktor chuckles before taking mercy on him, departing with a soft kiss to Yuuri’s still-twitching thigh, finally tucking himself back in his trousers. 

He settles beside Yuuri’s sprawled, boneless form on the bed, carefully brushing the hair from his lover’s sweaty forehead. “I, too, fear my bits may fall off before we even reach the aisle,” he says mournfully, eyes slightly glazed over. 

“S’okay,” Yuuri slurs, clumsily patting his cheek. “I shall love you regardless.”

Viktor pulls him into a bruising kiss, eyes blazing. “And I, you. Most dearly. Most ardently.”

Yuuri lazily kisses back before finally putting his metaphorical foot down, lest they once again end up entangled in bed with Viktor’s trousers halfway down his legs and his cock buried inside of him. He helps Viktor sneak out his window and watches as he dashes to the gardens, where his horse greets him with a grumbling exhale of breath and an irritated tail flick. 

Viktor blows him a kiss as he rides off back to his estate, and Yuuri rolls his eyes if only to mask the joyous squirming in his chest. 

+

He affects a state of shock when Viktor calls on him exactly an hour later, holding a gleaming, ornate wedding ring in hand as he goes down on one knee on the Katsuki sitting room floor. Viktor pretends his joints are not loudly protesting from their very enthusiastic couplings that had spanned the late evening hours until the break of dawn, while Yuuri squirms in his seat, trying to find a position that brings him the least amount of discomfort. 

Viktor flashes him a roguish wink when he notices, prompting a pretty flush to spread through the apples of Yuuri’s cheeks. 

Mari snorts at them from where she is stirring her tea, muttering beneath her breath. “Fools, the both of you. You shall have a very happy marriage indeed.”

And that they did.