Konrad’s lips curved, as Yuuri stared at Günter in horror. “Why do I have to take dance lessons?” Yuuri said.
“Because, Your Majesty, when visiting other dignitaries, it is proper for you to dance with their spouses during welcome banquets,” Günter explained, taking an instrument and bow from its case. Sunlight spilled through the windows of the atrium, causing the golden strings to gleam. “It is a show of respect and smoothes the path for negotiations.”
“Can’t I just bring flowers?”
“It would be just like you to be so crass,” Wolfram said. He leaned against the wall on the opposite side of the door from Konrad, arms folded, wearing his usual irritated scowl.
Yuuri shot a glare at him. “I am not crass!”
“People like getting flowers,” Yuuri said defiantly. “I know you do. I was there when Greta picked you a bouquet.”
Roses bloomed on Wolfram’s cheeks. “Of course I liked it when our daughter gave me a gift.”
“I am sure flowers would be well-received,” Konrad interjected before they could get into a further fight, “but dancing will also be expected.”
“Fine.” Yuuri’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “What do I have to do?”
“Wolfram,” Günter prompted, as he perched on the edge of a stone bench with the cello between his knees.
Wolfram pushed off the wall, marched over to Yuuri, and seized his hands. Yuuri tried to jerk back. “Hey! What are you doing?”
“Teaching you to dance,” Wolfram said. “You can’t learn without a partner.”
“But…” Yuuri’s gaze drifted to Konrad.
Wolfram’s expression darkened. “Stop looking at Weller, you cheater! I am your fiancé. It is my duty to ensure you don’t make a fool of me.”
“I’m the one who’s going to look like a fool, dancing with you,” Yuuri said belligerently.
Someone who didn’t know Wolfram wouldn’t have seen the hurt Yuuri’s words caused. Wolfram dropped his arms and clenched his fists. “I knew you were too much of a wimp to be a respectable Maou.”
“Don’t call me a wimp.” Yuuri stepped closer to Wolfram and held up his arms. “I’ve seen dancers on television. I know what to do.”
“Obviously, your ‘television’ doesn’t know anything about dancing.” Wolfram changed Yuuri’s arm positioning. “Your left arm should be locked at a slight angle and your right hand is on your partner’s shoulderblade. There should be consistent spacing between you and your partner,” Wolfram narrowed his eyes, “and don’t you dare get any closer.”
“Your Majesty looks so dashing.” Günter fanned his face. “If only I might be the one dancing with you.”
“It would be difficult for you to dance if you’re dead,” Wolfram stated coldly.
“But someone needs to play the music,” Günter said quickly. He picked up his bow and rested it on the strings of the cello. “On your word, Lord von Bielefeld.”
Konrad rested his foot against the wall behind him and watched with silent merriment as the dance lesson commenced.
Wolfram nodded to Günter and the throaty sound of the cello filled the atrium. The beats of the tune were easy to hear, and Wolfram counted along with them aloud. “One, two, three. Two, two, three. Three, two, three. Begin, two, three. One—”
Wolfram started to step back, but Yuuri didn’t move. “Yuuri.”
“Oh! We’re starting.” Yuuri stepped forward quickly – right onto Wolfram’s foot.
Yuuri winced. “Sorry.”
Wolfram glowered, adjusted their arms, and backed up slightly. “Remember to keep the space. One, two, three. Two, two, three. Begin, two, three. On—ow!”
Yuuri lifted his foot from Wolfram’s. “Oops.”
“Listen for the count,” Wolfram said. Günter continued playing. “One, two, three. Two, two, three. Begin, two, three. One—”
Yuuri stepped forward with the wrong foot.
Wolfram grimaced and pushed Yuuri back. “You always start with the other foot. One, two, three. Two, two, three. Begin, two, three. One—ow.”
“Don’t be sorry, get it right. Begin on two. One, two, three. Tw—ow!”
“Shut up. Again, on two. One, two, three. Two, ow, ow.”
Konrad tried to keep his shoulders from shaking with laughter. Günter continued playing, eyes closed, lost in the music.
Wolfram pushed Yuuri off both of his feet and reset their position. “Again,” he ground out. “Go on one. One—ow.”
Yuuri withered under a fierce glare and lifted his foot off Wolfram’s. “I know. Other foot first.”
“If you know, then use the other foot first!” Wolfram squared his shoulders and clasped Yuuri’s hand tighter. “On one. One, tw—ow.”
“I barely stepped on your foot!”
“You shouldn’t be stepping on it at all!”
“Then, move them out of the way!”
“Yuuri,” Wolfram’s frustration was palpable, “start on one. One, two, three. Ow, ow, ow.”
Yuuri frowned at his feet, after taking them off of Wolfram’s toes. “This dancing thing is hard.”
“It’s because you have absolutely no breeding.” Wolfram dropped Yuuri’s hand and stepped back.
Yuuri raised his frown to Wolfram. “You’re quitting?”
“Only wimps quit,” Wolfram said with a sneer. “Which means, you’re the one who’ll be quitting.”
“I’m not a wimp and I’m not quitting!”
“Then, get it right!”
Yuuri crossed his arms. “Maybe if I had a better teacher, I would.”
A rush of color flooded Wolfram’s face. His eyes narrowed. “Take off your shoes.”
“Are you deaf as well as incompetent? I said take off your shoes.”
Yuuri glanced at Konrad with confusion. Konrad shrugged. “Why?” Yuuri asked.
“I’m going to teach you as they teach children. Though, children are still more advanced than you,” Wolfram said. “Günter. Stop playing. We’re starting over.”
“Wha- oh.” Günter halted his bow and blinked several times. The music notes faded from his eyes. “His Majesty has succeeded already? Such an impressive Maou we are blessed with!”
Yuuri removed his shoes and set them by Konrad. “Now what?” he said.
“Come over here and stand on my feet,” Wolfram said, holding up his arms.
Yuuri stared at him, baffled. “I thought stepping on your feet was bad.”
“Just do what I tell you.”
Yuuri approached warily, glanced at Wolfram’s feet, and then at his face. “Stand on your feet?”
Wolfram grabbed Yuuri and yanked him close. “Up.”
“What about keeping the space—”
“Eep!” Yuuri climbed onto Wolfram’s feet. He adjusted his stance so he wouldn’t slide off in his socks. Wolfram locked their arms in dance position. His face was inches from Yuuri’s, their chests pressed fully together.
Konrad watched as Yuuri’s face turned pink, matching his half-brother’s.
Wolfram cleared his throat and tightened his grip on Yuuri’s hand. “I am going to dance, and all you have to do is feel my steps and the way you move with them.”
“O-okay,” Yuuri said awkwardly.
“Very well.” Günter moved his cello back into position. “If only I could be that close to His Majesty…”
“Günter,” Wolfram growled.
The music began again, softly at first, then growing steadily in volume. The notes caressed the air, accompanied by the taps of Wolfram’s shoes on the stone floor as he danced.
Wolfram moved in a slow circle around the atrium, and Konrad heard his quiet counting as they passed close by. “One, two, three. Two, two, three. Three, two, three. One, two, three. Two, two, three. Three…”
Yuuri seemed completely enthralled, eyes locked with Wolfram’s, as if no one else existed in the room.
The song ended with a long, drawn out note, falling away gently in the sunlight. Wolfram stopped, but didn’t release Yuuri. They stood face-to-face, chest-to-chest, feet on top of feet. A sharp look from Konrad shut Günter’s mouth with a snap. A charged silence filled the atrium.
Yuuri moved first, almost jerking away from Wolfram. Wolfram’s posture stiffened and his hands clenched into fists. “Well, did you learn anything?” he snapped. “Or am I just wasting my time?”
Yuuri hurriedly put on his shoes. “I’d say the second.”
Konrad winced inwardly at the hurt he saw flash on Wolfram’s face. Wolfram’s lips compressed and he stalked towards the exit. “Whatever. I have better things to do than waste my time with such an inept wimp.”
Yuuri flinched as the door slammed behind Wolfram. Günter set aside his cello and rose excitedly. “You really must learn how to dance, Your Majesty. Luckily for you, Günter is here! Come and put your arms around me—”
Yuuri sent a panicked looked to Konrad. Konrad sighed silently and pushed off the wall. “I’ll teach him, Günter. He still needs you to play the music.”
“Yes! The music!” Yuuri grabbed Konrad’s arm and dragged him into the center of the atrium. “Play for us, Günter.”
Günter slumped unhappily. “As Your Majesty wishes.”
Konrad set the dance position and nodded to Günter. The bow drew across the cello strings. “Begin whenever you want, Your Majesty. I’ll follow your lead, and don’t worry about stepping on my toes.”
“Right. Okay.” Yuuri shifted his hand on Konrad’s shoulderblade, glanced at the door, and then started to dance. “Ooone, two, three. Two, sorry! Three. One, two—oops. Three, three, um, one. Something, something. One, two, three. Two, two, three. Three, two—sorry!”