In the Dark

By Elmina

The L'Renouille castle library was mostly dark. The faint moonlight coming in from the windows made the bookshelves look eerie, but the only person in the library was too busy reading to notice. The 16-year-old boy was so concentrated in his book that he hadn't even noticed how late it was.

This particular evening Klaus Windamier was reading an old book about several border fights between Highland and Jowston City-State. He found the book very interesting, especially the part where the author analyzed the tactics used in the battles. Most of the time, the author disagreed. Klaus made some notes while reading and thought of how he would have done it.

A little more time passed, then something made the boy look up from the book. He located the noise quickly - the wind outside was strong, and it made the unclosed shutters rattle against the window.

Klaus opened the window and closed the shutters, but not before he took a look outside. It was partly cloudy, and the moon was high up in the sky.

Huh? It must be past midnight already... He thought as he closed the window. Mother would get worried if she knew I'm still up.

The boy sighed. He was on a month-long vacation from the Soledt Academy of Military Science, where he studied to become a strategist. Unfortunately, just a few days after he had gotten home, his father had had to leave.

General Kiba had gone down to the Muse-Highland border to settle some local skirmishes. Klaus would have gone with him, but his mother had fallen ill. She was staying here at the castle, and so was he. He didn't mind, really; this way he had unlimited access to the library at all times.

He went to pick up the book from the desk and took it back to the shelf. He then gathered his notes and blew out the candles that were lighting the corner where he had been reading. Sleep didn't sound too bad... After all, he had promised earlier that if his mother were feeling better in the morning, he would take her to the garden.

He left the library and closed the door behind him. There were fewer torches in the corridor than usual, but that didn't bother him. He knew his way around the castle well enough.

Klaus followed the passageway to the end and turned around the corner, only to get the unpleasant feeling that he was being watched. He walked down to the next intersection and turned, although that wasn't where he was going. He glanced at the other corridor - there was no one there.

Must have been my imagination...

He returned to his original route and walked to the door that stood between this corridor and the hall beyond it. There was no one around there, so he just headed down the next hallway, turned around another corner and headed for the door at the end of the corridor.

Why do I still have this odd feeling about someone being here...? The boy thought as he turned around the next corner. Strange...

He walked towards the door, stopped in front of it, reached out for the handle... and froze as he felt a strong hand on his shoulder.

"Aaahh!" He yelped, spinning around and dropping his notes.

There was a man in a White Wolf uniform standing in front of him. The man took a step back, looking at the boy apologetically. "Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you... Sir."

"I-I a-almost thought that..." Klaus stuttered as he stared at the man for a while before kneeling and gathering his notes hastily. "You know... assassins and so on..."

"Well, I'm no assassin, sir," the man said with a smile as he offered his hand to the boy to help him up. He held firmly to Klaus' hand until the boy got up on his feet again. "Just... The door here is locked. You might want to take another route to get to your quarters."

"It is?" Klaus glanced at the door. "I guess I need to go around, then... Well, uh, thank you. Good night."

The man patted him lightly on the shoulder and let him pass. Klaus headed for another door, clutching his notes. He had to walk through several corridors before reaching his destination.

When he entered his room, which was near the rooms where his mother was staying, he still had the feeling of discomfort, and he had no idea why.

* * * * * * * *

The next day was clear. Since his mother was feeling strong enough, Klaus had taken her out to the garden and was now sitting with her under a tree, reading a book to her. He read slowly, analyzing the story in his mind as he read it.

"So, are you going to the ball tonight, dear?" Eliza Windamier asked her son, smiling gently.

Klaus raised his head from the book. "Huh? I had almost forgotten about it... I don't know, really. Should I?"

"Oh, Klaus. You spend most of your time sitting in the library all alone. You never go anywhere. Being around people is good for you, you know. Besides, while your father isn't here, surely someone must go there to represent the family."

"Yes, mother..." Klaus answered, smiling. "All right, I'll go. I wish you could come, but you need rest... But maybe we could go for a little walk after I finish this chapter?"

His mother nodded, smiling again. He continued reading, wondering if he really should go to the ball tonight. Yes, he remembered it now. King Agares had arranged it to celebrate the day he had been crowned, and there would be a lot of people there. Klaus didn't really care about these kinds of things, but his mother was right. His father wasn't here, so someone else from the family needed to go there.

He shrugged, read the rest of the chapter and then helped his mother up so they could walk around the garden.

* * * * * * * *

Klaus sighed. He had been stuck at the ball for a few hours now, and there was no escape in sight. There was food and dancing, but right now he was interested in neither. He wished his father were here... He enjoyed his company, and at least that way he wouldn't feel so lonely.

He spent his time watching how Colonel Culgan and Captain Seed danced with some noble-born ladies. Both men were good dancers, especially the older one; he certainly knew how to treat a woman. Klaus had to smile to himself - he happened to know Culgan's personal preferences. These ladies here were simply the wrong gender to arouse the colonel's interest.

He knew the man well enough to call him a friend. They had actually once had a conversation about relationships, especially those between two men. He didn't have to fear anything from Culgan though; he knew quite well that the colonel had his eyes on a certain red-haired captain.

Klaus spotted a group of White Wolves standing by the west wall. There were two captains there - he knew the other but didn't remember the name, and had a vague memory of seeing the other... However, there was someone he had seen recently. The man whom he had met in the corridor the previous night was standing next to the other captain.

When Culgan and Seed stopped dancing to get something to eat, Klaus wandered to where they were and ended up talking to them for a while. Seed joked about Klaus needing to go find himself some female company, but the young man just smiled as a reply.

They chatted about nothing in particular, but when the conversation turned to some of Culgan's men, Klaus decided to ask about the person whose existence somehow bothered him.

"Do you know who that is?" He asked Culgan, nodding towards the man in the White Wolf group.

"Hmm?" The silver-haired man took a glance at the group. "Those men... that's Captain Welsh, to his left is someone whose name I can't remember, next to him is Captain Quinn, and that man is Quinn's right-hand man. His name... Ah yes, Niro. He's the youngest son of Lord Greenwood. Why do you ask?"

Klaus shrugged. "Saw him in the castle yesterday... Was just wondering who he was. Never mind. There are too many people here anyway; it's very hard to remember all their names..."

The redhead on Culgan's other side winked at the boy. "Ha, why even bother trying? Too damn many nobles for me. Come on, Culgan, let's go get some more wine..."

The colonel was dragged off. Klaus watched the two for a while, then went to get something light to eat.

After getting the food, the young strategist walked to the back of the ballroom. He didn't feel like dancing after being forced to do so earlier this evening. He had taken a few pieces of fruit with him and found a place to sit down from one of the chairs beside the wall. His eyes studied the people in the room as he gnawed on the fruit, wishing to get out of there.

"Bored?" Someone asked, sitting down in the chair next to him. Klaus turned to look at the person - it was Prince Luca.

"Well... Kind of, yes."

"Ha." The prince took a look around before returning his eyes to the young strategist. "Then I'm not the only one. I don't know why father arranges these pointless parties."

Klaus shrugged. "One part of having a Court, I think."

The dark-haired man laughed a bit. "Should've expected to get an answer like that from you, even when it wasn't an actual question... Oh well. Maybe we can keep each other from getting bored, hmm? I heard your father went to take care of the little trouble down south. So, why are you rotting here?"

"Yes, he did. I would've gone with him, but mother is ill..." The boy replied quietly, somewhat troubled by the fact that he had ended up talking to the crown prince. After all, the rumors said that the prince wasn't completely sane... But from what he could recall, Luca had never acted hostile towards him. From the few times they had talked, Klaus only remembered that the prince was quite nice.

"And so, you got stuck here." Luca leaned back in his chair, yawning. "Guess we share the same fate then. There was no way for me to avoid this either."

"Not really, my lord. You are the Prince of Highland, after all..."

The prince shook his head, looking amused. "Ranks you are born with... Quite bothersome sometimes, don't you think?"

"Well..." Klaus smiled a little. "Sometimes maybe. But could a country like Highland work without them? There must always be a leader... In this country, it's the king, and then the prince. The rank has certain symbolism to the people and all that."

"You're right about that. But there are still some things I don't quite understand. You see..."

* * * * * * * *

When the ball finally ended, Klaus realized he had been talking with Luca for over an hour before the prince had to go see the guests off. They had talked mostly about military things. The young strategist had never thought the prince would be interested in tactics; Luca was known to get tired of things like that quite easily. And whatever the rumors said, the man was actually good company.

Klaus left the dance hall and walked lazily towards the section where he and his mother were staying. It was late, but he was in no hurry. He could sleep late in the morning, then go to the garden with his mother again and later to the library.

He thought about the conversation he had had with Prince Luca. It was the first time he had talked to the man for that long. The prince certainly didn't seem insane to him; rather, he was quite pleasant. However, Klaus had seen him on the battlefield once, and there the man seemed quite different.

So, it must be because he takes fighting seriously...

He stopped by one of the big windows to admire the view; he was on the second floor and the window gave a nice view of the garden. There were a couple of guards standing by the wall farther away, obviously not too concentrated on their job. He smiled, watching the trees tremble lightly in the wind.

When he turned to continue, he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Just a short glimpse, but it had looked like a figure standing near the wall. When he took a better look, he couldn't see anything there.

Huh? What...?

He shook his head. It was just shadows... Besides, he was feeling a little tired, so his eyes were probably playing tricks on him. But somehow, he had the feeling he wasn't the only person in the hall.

Again? I really don't like this feeling. It's the same feeling I had yesterday...

He continued, trying to get rid of the thought. As he turned around the corner and stopped in front of a door, he saw another shadow moving near the window... and it stopped as soon as he did. He was being followed.

Don't run; act like you haven't noticed. If it really is someone following you, then be ready. Chances are it's just someone going in the same direction you are, and... things like that. Stay calm...

There was always the chance that someone wanted him dead, since the loss would be great to General Kiba. City-State, perhaps? There were more than enough possibilities. Still, for an assassin, his follower sure wasn't too skilled.

You're letting your imagination run wild, he told himself, steadily continuing towards his quarters. The corridors were all empty, and the whole place was so quiet it felt pretty eerie. He walked forward, trying to ignore the fact that his mind insisted on running.

Just a little more...

When he finally reached the room he was staying in, he grabbed the key from his pocket and fumbled the door open. His hands were shaking, but he got the door open fairly fast. He entered the room, slammed the door shut, locked it and then just leaned against it, breathing heavily. He couldn't hear anything from the corridor; the place was as silent as it had been earlier.

There's no one there. But... why am I so nervous, then?

He shook the thought off and went to bed, not even bothering to take his clothes off. But as he curled up under the sheets, he couldn't help but wonder what was happening to him.

* * * * * * * *

Klaus didn't sleep that late the next morning; instead, he spent the morning with his mother and took her to the garden in the afternoon. The day was warm and sunny, and his mother liked sitting outside. Actually, the weather was almost too beautiful, and the young strategist had the feeling it might storm late in the night.

He read a few more chapters of the book for his mother before she mostly nodded off in her chair. A maid offered to stay with her, so the boy got up and went for a walk.

He left the garden and went down to the courtyard to watch the soldiers practice. He stood there for a couple of minutes, his eyes wandering around the practice field. The men there were all White Wolves; the man instructing them was none other than Prince Luca himself. Klaus had to admit he admired the man. He knew that the White Wolves did too; after all, they were willing to sacrifice their lives for him.

The prince noticed him and said something to one of the officers before striding across the field. He stopped a few feet away, an unusual smile on his face.

"Good afternoon, my lord," Klaus greeted as the prince stopped in front of him.

Luca laughed a bit, sheathing his sword. "Drop the formalities, will you. So, what brings you here?"

"Nothing really. Just walking around..." Klaus briefly studied the closest pair of White Wolves having a practice match before returning his eyes to the prince. "You're here to train your men, I presume?"

"Mostly," Luca answered, keeping his gaze on the boy, an oddly gentle look in his eyes. "Walking around, huh. Sounds good to me... I could use a break. Mind if I join you?"

The young strategist blinked. "Well... I guess not, sir."

"Well then." The prince nodded to him and headed for the gate. Klaus followed, having to take a few quicker steps to catch up.

They walked out of the gate to the outer area of the castle, turning to follow the path by the wall. They followed the path for a few minutes until they reached a small garden area with a pond and several flowerbeds, and stopped on the small bridge that lead over the tiny stream. A couple of White Wolves were following them, but they stayed farther away, out of hearing range.

"Such a nice day to practice," Klaus finally stated, trying to make a conversation.

"Indeed," the prince said, leaning against the railing of the bridge, looking at the sky. "If only everyone here practiced so hard, this army would be much more effective..."

"Well, you could always order them to," the boy commented, glancing at the sky as well. "It's not as if you didn't have the authority."

"Hmm. Well, maybe if I..."

* * * * * * * *

They chatted for about half an hour, mainly about things related to Klaus' father. Klaus didn't mind; at least it was a subject he knew a lot about. He watched a few birds sitting in a nearby tree, listening as the prince told him something related to the First Royal Highland Army. He then turned to look at his chat partner and was about to comment something when the prince suddenly changed subject.

"You know, Klaus," Luca said quietly, looking at one of the flowerbeds situated near the wall. "I rather enjoy talking to you."

"Is that so, my lord?" The young strategist smiled, still looking at the dark-haired man. His expression became a little surprised when Luca turned, and he saw how calm and friendly the prince looked.

He didn't get a reply; instead, the man reached out and seized him by the jaw, staring into his eyes for a moment. Klaus stared back for a while until he realized he was blushing and had to close his eyes. Luca laughed a little and let go.

"Have a good day, Klaus Windamier." With that, he turned and headed away from the garden.

Klaus blinked, then looked down, taking a few deep breaths. He felt a little confused, and at the same time, oddly nice. He soon shook off the feeling and sighed. He then turned to leave as well; if his mother were awake, she would probably like to have some tea with him.

But the look in Prince Luca's eyes haunted him all the way back to the inner garden.

* * * * * * * *

The storm banged the shutters against the window loudly, making Klaus jump. He went to close them just as he did a few nights ago, muttering something unclear to himself. It was pitch black outside. He watched for a moment, wondering how it could be so dark... and then the lightning divided the sky, the blue light blinding him momentarily.

He finished the task and glanced around; the library was dead silent. A servant had brought in some candles earlier, and they were half-burnt now. It was probably past midnight already.

He returned to the table where he had a couple of books open, shuddering. He could hear the thunder crashing outside. He had been here reading way too late again, and that, combined to the storm made him uneasy.

I'd better go.

After putting the books away, he blew out the candles and sat down, closing his eyes and listening to the storm. The thunder wasn't directly on top of L'Renouille and was probably heading away, but it was close enough. He stayed still, clearing his mind for a moment and just sat there.

About fifteen minutes passed before he finally got up and left the library. He walked through the corridors, listening to the thunder outside and watching the lightning occasionally light up the halls with a bright white glow.

He crossed a hall and started on another passageway when he thought he heard something. He glanced around but couldn't see anyone.

Not again...

He cursed himself for staying up so late. His imagination was playing with him again, making him feel quite uncomfortable for no real reason.

This is ridiculous, he told himself and turned around the corner... just to bump into someone.

"Deep in thought, sir?" a man's voice asked as Klaus backed away a few steps, looking apologetic. It was Niro the White Wolf again; this time, he was dressed in casual clothes.

"I... guess," the boy mumbled as a reply. "I'm sorry... I didn't..."

"No need to be sorry. Say, isn't it a little late for you to be wandering around the castle? It's past midnight..." The man smiled warmly, folding his arms. Klaus shrugged and tried to smile back.

"Probably is. I... got stuck in the library. Well, guess I'd better go then."

"Let me walk you to your quarters," Niro offered, and before Klaus had a chance to resist, he was pushed gently towards the door at the end of the corridor. He sighed and nodded slightly, heading for the door. Niro followed, his footsteps echoing in the empty hallway, once again shortly lit up by the lightning.

It took them a couple of minutes to reach their destination. The White Wolf obviously wasn't the talkative type, but Klaus wasn't in the mood for conversation anyway. He was just happy to be freed from the feeling of being stalked.

They stopped by the door. The young strategist opened it and turned to face Niro. "Well... thank you. Good night then."

"What, not going to invite me in, pretty boy?"

Klaus took an involuntary step back, staring at the man. "Excuse me?"

Niro grinned. "I would think I made myself quite clear, young Windamier. See, I like watching you. I also followed you last night. Shame that you were in such a hurry..."

"So it was you..." Klaus mostly whispered. He backed away slowly into the room, keeping his violet eyes locked on the man. "But... why?"

"Yes, it was me," The White Wolf said, stepping closer and grabbing the boy by the shoulder. "Why? I just said. I like watching you... Such a delicate being you are, too. Now, no need to be afraid. I don't want to hurt you... But if you don't cooperate, I might end up doing just that."

The young strategist squirmed, trying to get away. He was smart enough to realize what the man wanted and wasn't exactly willing to play along. He opened his mouth to scream but Niro slapped his hand over his mouth.

"Didn't I tell you not to do that?"

A few seconds later, Klaus found himself hurled to the floor. He hit his shoulder on the bedpost, helplessly yelping from the pain. The White Wolf turned around, closed and locked the door and then took the few steps he needed to get to the boy.

The strategist was dragged to his feet and brutally kissed. He tried to hit his attacker but wasn't able to hurt him, at least not enough to make him stop. He was then thrown to the floor again, and Niro stopped to remove his cloak, laughing. The lightning crashed again somewhere outside, but Klaus had long forgotten about the storm.

Oh gods...

Klaus could only pray that a servant passing by would hear something. His mother's quarters weren't that far either... Maybe, just maybe someone would hear the struggle. All he could do was try to protect himself; to try to fight what was inevitable, knowing that there was no escape.

Niro grabbed him by the collar and pulled him up, his other hand wandering hungrily on the boy's lean body. Klaus squirmed again, vowing to himself that if there were no way to prevent this, he would give no response. Tears formed in his eyes, and he tried to kick the man assaulting him.

"Stay still..." The White Wolf commanded, proceeding to remove the boy's clothes. He started by ripping his shirt.

Klaus struggled with all his might. "No!"

"Be quiet!" Niro slapped him hard, making him fall down again. Klaus cried out, but before he had time to scream, he was thrown onto the bed. The White Wolf pressed him down, slapping his hand over the boy's mouth as he worked on removing his clothes again.

The young strategist sobbed, knowing he had lost. He didn't want to think about what was to happen; he truly didn't want to know. When Culgan has once described what he did with Seed, he had mentioned that it always hurt a little, even though the two were being careful and were both ready for it. Klaus sure wasn't ready. He only wished he would lose consciousness as soon as possible and not feel anything.

And then there was a crashing sound as the door was kicked open.

Klaus barely had time to realize what had happened. In the blink of an eye, Niro was off of him and thrown against the wall. He just lay on the bed half-naked, staring as Prince Luca picked the White Wolf up and threw him across the room, growling.

"You worm! You do not touch him! No one touches him!"

There was a sound of something breaking. Niro had landed on top of a chair and it had fallen apart, pieces of wood shattering all over the floor. Klaus covered his face as the prince grabbed the man again, drawing him up to his feet and slapping him and yelling something the strategist couldn't comprehend. Niro was then thrown to the opposite side of the room, and Luca stopped to glare at him.


As Klaus finally recovered from the shock, he crawled to the other side of the bed and drew a sheet over himself. He was trembling as he watched the scene, not really understanding what was going on. He blinked as Luca drew his sword, pointing it at Niro.

"You... Die!"

"My lord... please..." Niro groveled, his back against the wall.

"Lord Luca!" A calm voice from the door called. A moment later, Culgan and Seed were inside.

Culgan was there first. He caught Luca from behind, one hand grabbing his left shoulder and the other quickly catching the prince's right arm. Seed, just one step behind the calm colonel, stepped in between Luca and the White Wolf. He pushed the prince back, helping Culgan to separate the two men.

"Out of the way," Luca hissed, fire burning in his dark eyes. He tried to free himself from Culgan's hold, but while it wasn't actually too strong for him, it was quite firm.

"It is not wise to kill your own men. It would affect the morale of the others," the silver-haired man stated. He waited until Seed dragged Niro to his feet and pushed him towards the door, beyond the reach of the crown prince of Highland, before letting go.

"Scum," the redhead cursed as he threw Niro out, seizing him by the arm before he got up again.

"Not you too, Seed," Culgan said calmly, keeping his eyes on Luca. "As I said, it's better if you don't kill him. We'll take care of him."

"...Fine." The prince glared at Culgan briefly before turning around. His expression grew cold, and the insanity reflected in his eyes slowly faded.

"Meanwhile..." The colonel nodded in the direction of the bed. "Are you all right, Klaus?"

The young strategist raised his head a little. His mind was finally clearing up, despite the fact that there was a blur of fear that wouldn't go away. His eyes were still clouded with tears, and he couldn't keep himself from shaking.

"I... think... so," he stuttered, gathering the sheet around himself and sitting up.

"It's best if someone stays here with you," Culgan continued. "My lord, would you please go fetch someone?"

"I'll stay here myself," the prince replied, not looking at the older man.

The silver-haired man walked to the other side of the bed, knelt down, and placed his hand on Klaus' shoulder. "Klaus?"

"I... don't... mind."

"If you're sure..." Culgan got up and went to the door. He stopped to look around, making a mental note to tell a servant that the room needed to be cleaned. There were pieces of broken furniture lying around the floor as well as random items.

Klaus lay back down and nodded slightly, eyes closed. "Y-yes."

"Try getting some sleep." The colonel gave him a worried look before turning and closing the door behind him.

Luca sat down on the bed, staring at the broken chair. A couple of minutes passed but nothing happened. Klaus didn't seem to be able to do anything but lay still and tremble. Finally, the prince sighed, mumbled something to himself, and took his boots off. He then lay down next to the boy, drawing him closer and gathering the sheets around him.

"Sleep," he ordered quietly, petting Klaus' hair. "Just sleep... that bastard is gone, and I'll make sure he never gets near you again..."

Klaus didn't reply but nodded and tried to relax. The fear was still haunting his mind, but having someone he knew with him made him feel a little better. Not that he could say that he really knew the prince that well... Still, there was no doubt in his heart that he couldn't trust Luca.

Eventually, he calmed down. He was feeling quite warm and comfortable, resting there in the older man's arms. Luca kept mumbling something to himself; Klaus couldn't hear all of it, but what he did hear soothed his mind.

"...Never, little one. I'll personally kill anyone who tries to touch you like that..."

Klaus smiled, half-asleep. The prince continued but the strategist didn't hear what he was saying as he fell into a peaceful slumber.

* * * * * * * *

Once again, Klaus was alone in the library. It had been four days since the assault, but he was still feeling slightly insecure. He had heard that his attacker had been demoted and sent to guard the southern border after getting beaten by Lord Greenwood, but he had a dagger hidden in his clothes, just in case. It didn't help that the last few days he had still had the feeling that someone was watching...

Stupid paranoia, he told himself and tried to concentrate on the book he was reading.

He gave up after realizing that he had been reading the same page for the last fifteen minutes. He got up and walked to the window, watching how the yard bathed in the warm sunlight. He sighed; his mind was wandering too much. He would never be able to complete the book he was reading at this rate.

Someone entered the library, and Klaus turned his head and glanced at the door. It was Prince Luca, wearing armor as usual. Klaus didn't remember ever seeing the man in the library before.

"Something interesting outside?" The man asked him, stopping by the desk where Klaus had been reading earlier.

"No, not really... I'm just taking a break," the young strategist answered quietly, turning around.

"Hmm." Luca studied the boy, taking a few steps towards the window and sitting down in one of the chairs lined by the wall. "You seem uneasy about something. Anything I can do?"

"I..." Klaus looked down, not wanting to bother the prince. "Nothing you'd be interested in, my lord."

"Are you sure? I don't have anything else to do, so I can just as well sit here and listen to your worries."

Klaus smiled a little, returning to his seat. He had no idea why the prince would be willing to do that. He wasn't about to bore Luca too much, but if the prince really wanted to hear, he guessed it was better if he told him.

"Well. You know... after that... incident... I've been a little nervous, I guess." He glanced at the open book on the desk then looked at the prince again. "Maybe it's just my imagination. It probably is... after something like that, people tend to be cautious."

"So true," the older man noted, nodding slightly. "Go on"

"Are you sure you want to hear?" Klaus asked, only to get a slight smile as an answer. He sighed and continued, still a little unsure. "Uh... Well. It still feels like someone is following me. Culgan said it'll probably pass in a couple of weeks, but..."

"I don't know. Maybe it'll pass sooner," Luca said with a friendly smile.

"Think so?"

"Well..." The prince got up and walked to where Klaus was sitting, stopping behind him. "Maybe if you knew who's been following you the past few days..." Luca put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You see, you have been followed. Didn't mean to scare you, but I just wanted to make sure..."

"My lord?" Klaus turned his head to look at the man. His eyes were met by a pair of dark ones that were studying him calmly, obviously a little amused by the fact that he was so confused.

"I swore it once, and I will do it again. I'll never let anyone hurt you. You're something I have my eyes on, and that means I will kill anything that tries to hurt you in any way. Understand that, little one." Luca touched the boy's face shortly, then leaned down and kissed him lightly on the lips.

The kiss was over in a few seconds, but it left the young strategist quite dumbfounded. Luca just smiled, petting his hair a little before stepping back.

"Well, if you'll excuse me now. I think it's time I make sure my men are practicing properly. I'll see you later, little one."

Klaus could only stare as the crown prince of Highland left the library.

Cute lil divider image

Author's notes:

It's actually damn hard to write shounen-ai with Luca, but I hope I managed to keep him somewhat in character. This is pre-game, so he's not that insane here.

I had the fic idea originally for another pairing, but I only had a page of that fic done - a handwritten page, I might add. The idea was good though, so I decided to use it. Here it is, then, only with slight changes. This isn't exactly "innocent shounen-ai / yaoi" as requested, but as I just said, it's hard to do anything "normal" with Luca, so... I wrote this. Hope you liked!

- Elmina (June, 2004)