Fandom: Twisted Wonderland
Summary: Four times someone realizes how Malleus feels. And the time he finally realizes it himself.
Word Count: 3,032
Note: Something I've been thinking about for awhile. Some Malleus fluff because why not?
Leona grumbles as he trudges through the halls. Profesor Crewel had sent the Ramshackle prefect after him. He follows behind you as you walk ahead, hands stuffed in his pockets. Despite rolling over when you found him, you persisted until he got annoyed enough to give up on a peaceful nap.
“You’re such a goody-goody, herbivore,” he grunts.
Tossing him a smirk, you pause to poke at his arm. “Professor Crewel said he’d give me extra credit if I managed to drag you to class. How could I pass up that opportunity?”
Scoffing, he swats your hand away. “Your grade doin’ that bad?”
“Kinda… Malleus has been helping me out with potion theory. But Grim tends to mess up our potions because he just dumps everything in without reading the instructions.” You sigh while shaking your head. “I’d be doing fine if it wasn’t for that…”
You presume walking. “To think the overgrown lizard would actually tutor someone,” Leona grumbles. “Ya should’ve asked Vil. He’s the potion expert.”
“I was, but I mentioned needing help with potions to Malleus, and he offered to help first. He knows just as much, I think,” you explain.
There’s a pause as you pass by the athletic field. “Child of man?” Speak of the devil. Malleus floats on his broom above. Leona feels his annoyance rise immediately as he lands.
“How fortunate to see you,” he says with a grin. His gaze flickers to Leona. “And Kingscholar.”
“Tch…” Crossing his arms, he only glares back.
“Hello, Malleus. How’s gym class?” you ask.
“Nothing too exciting. What about you? Are you off somewhere with Kingscholar?” Leona’s ears twitch at the mention of his name once more.
He blocks the both of you out once he realizes you’re actually lingering to have a chat. However, his keen eyes watch as you happily discuss some mundane topic. Gaze flickering over to the overgrown monster, his nostrils flair.
There’s a certain scent coming from the dorm leader of Diasomnia. It’s really only noticeable for those with enhanced senses, and it seems even he doesn’t notice. The way the lizard is angled toward you speaks volumes. Leona scoffs as he notices the slight dilation of his pupils. These are small things most wouldn’t pick up, but to Leona’s perceptive gaze, it’s like waving a giant red sign while wearing flashing lights.
And based on the way you’re reacting, you’re just as unaware. Just a couple of oblivious idiots. No wonder you both like each other.
He scoffs. Loudly. “Something wrong, Leona?” you ask, breaking away from your conversation.
“Aren’t ya supposed to bring me back to class?”
Eyes widening, you quickly grab his arm. “Sorry, Malleus, gotta go! See you later!” you spit out a rushed farewell before bolting down the hallway.
One glance over his shoulder, he sees a confused and slightly dejected lizard. Leona’s barking laughter echoes down the hall. He can’t wait to tease you about this once you finally know.
Ace’s glances don’t go unnoticed as Deuce takes a look behind them as well. “What are you looking at?” he inquires, seeing nothing of interest. It’s just you walking with Malleus Draconia while casually chatting.
The redhead gestures behind him. “Them! Isn’t it weird?”
“Uhhh… I mean yeah it was a little weird when he first started showing up, but the (Y/N) seems alright with it.”
“That isn’t the point! He’s been hanging around a lot lately. What’s one of the most powerful mages hanging around us scrubs? Isn’t it weird??” Ace hisses while throwing more glances behind him.
Deuce hums thoughtfully. “True… Maybe he just wants to make friends with other dorms?”
“Meh! I don’t know what you two are worried about. Obviously, he’s realized that I’m gonna be a powerful mage and wants to learn from me!” Grim boasts, cutting into the conversation.
Rolling his eyes, Ace snorts, “Only in your dreams.” Taking another peek, he nearly chokes on his spit. You’re busy tracing the palm of Malleus’s hand while muttering something about palm reading. The third year watches you intently as you point out something.
Even Deuce looks startled as they lock eyes. “See???”
“Hey, hench-human!” Grim turns to you both, crossing his arms. “Whatcha doin’?”
Pausing in your walk, you show Grim Malleus’s palm. “I read a book about palm reading a few days ago. I was just trying to see if I could actually read anything off Malleus,” you explain, still holding his hand as if it’s not a big deal.
“Palm reading?” Grim tilts his head as he stares blankly.
“Well, it’s a way to read into someone or even possibly guess their future. It’s all for fun though.” You point to a long line on Malleus’s palm. “See this is the life line. Depending on the length and curve of the line, it’s supposed to tell you how long you’ll live. Malleus has a really long one, so I guess that means he’ll have a long, prosperous life.”
“It’s a very intriguing method of fortune telling,” Malleus muses.
“Hey, can ya read mine!?” Grim asks, excitement on his face.
You glance at his paws. “Um… I don’t think it’ll work since you don’t have hands.”
“Mrrrww! What a load of baloney!” Grim huffs before rushing ahead. “I don’t need anything to tell me my future!” he yells.
Ace and Deuce had remained silent as they watched the entire exchange. Not once did you let go of Malleus’s hand. The owner of said hand doesn’t seem to mind at all. He looks entirely too pleased with himself.
“Do you think…?” Deuce trails off gaze wide.
“Yeah. I don’t know if we should be relieved or scared,” Ace mutters as they share a look while you walk ahead of them with Malleus in tow.
“Kalim, thanks for the invite!” You greet the second year with a smile
He returns the greeting with a big grin of his own. “I’m glad you could make it! And you brought Malleus!”
“I had to make sure this one didn’t forget the time,” you joke, nudging Malleus’s side.
“It’s my first time in the Scarabia dorm. I didn’t realize it would be so warm,” Malleus mumbles to himself. He’s busy looking around at the other party-goers.
“Please, enjoy the food and the music!” There’s a large table filled to the brim with amazing food.
“That’s a lot of food… though I’m pretty sure Grim’ll finish most of it,” you mutter, spying said cat already piling his plate up.
As Kalim leaves to greet more guests, Malleus turns his attention back to you. “What should we do?”
“We could get some food if you’re hungry or dance?” You point at the dance floor where everyone is gathered. The music is upbeat and loud.
“Hmm…” Malleus ponders for a moment, before deciding. “I’ve heard Viper makes excellent food.”
As you near the food, the students all part. You hand Malleus a plate, ignoring the looks and whispers. “Since this is all Scalding Sand cuisine, a lot of it will probably be spicy. Are you okay with spice?”
“Yes, I don’t mind.” You start putting one of everything on the plate.
By the time you’ve found a place to eat, you’re carrying three plates between the two of you. “Jamil really knows his stuff.”
“Everything is very seasoned,” he notes.
Kalim stops by once more after you’ve polished off most of the meal. “Did you like the food? Jamil spent all day preparing everything!”
Malleus nods. “Viper is indeed very talented. Please, send him my compliments.”
“Sure!” Kalim glances around, but Jamil is nowhere to be seen. “I’ll let him know later. I think he’s busy preparing some more food.” His gaze darts around before he seems to find what he’s looking for. “You two should join me on the dance floor!”
Malleus hesitates as he takes in the other guests. “I don’t know if I’m suited for this kind of dancing…”
“Don’t worry about how you dance, just have fun! Come on!” Grabbing both your hands, Kalim drags you two on the dance floor.
Some people stop to stare, but most are in their own zone. As Kalim starts dancing, Malleus stands there looking lost. Confusion spreads on his face as he eyes Kalim’s movements. “Perhaps this kind of dancing isn’t for me…”
You take his hand before he can leave. “Don’t worry, Tsunotarou, we can do this together. Just follow my lead.” The dance lessons Vil had beat into you awhile ago are about to come in handy.
Taking both his hands, you start swaying to the music. Eyes focused on you, Malleus follows your lead as you move quickly around the dance floor. It’s less polished than what Vil had taught, but it’s exhilarating to move around while throwing in a few spins. Ducking under his arm, you’re spun around and meet Kalim before being spun once more into Malleus’s arms.
Laughter and cheers fill the room as more people join. Malleus throws his head back in laughter as you spin him around. Green eyes glitter with joy as the music slowly fades away. Wrapping his arms around your waist, he pulls you close to his chest.
“Thank you, child of man. That was probably the most fun I’ve had dancing,” he whispers, pressing his forehead against yours as you attempt to catch your breath.
Standing a bit away, Kalim watches the scene thoughtfully. Smiling to himself, he claps his hands. “I’m happy for them!” His words are lost as another lively tune starts.
If you were to ask Sebek what he thinks about the Great Malleus Draconia tutoring a magic-less human, he would scoff. His lord has better things to do. So, he’s not sure if he’s still sleeping when he comes down to the library to study, and he sees the future king of Briar Valley teaching the Ramshackle prefect.
Sitting side by side with a few books open in front of them, they talk in hushed whispers. You’re hunched over with brows pinched together as you work on the latest potion homework. The young master points to something in one of the books. Eye lighting up, you quickly scribble something down with a satisfied nod.
As Sebek draws near, he bites his cheek to keep from raising his voice. “Young master?” he greets. He notes that others studying nearby have stayed a good distance away, which is right as Malleus Draconia deserves space to study.
His dorm leader looks up. “Hello, Sebek. Here to study as well?”
“Yes, sir! I needed more information for class.” He glances over to you.
Smiling at him, you gesture to the seat across from your own. “Do you want to study with us, Sebek? Malleus is helping me with potion theory.”
The half-fae jumps at the opportunity to be taught by his lord. “Of course I wo-” However, the words get caught in his throat. Malleus peers at him with a look that he hasn’t seen before.
Recalling some advice Lilia had given him, Sebek quickly shakes his head. “Erm… I would rather study on my own for now.” He quickly excuses himself to find a place to work.
He had thought he knew all about Malleus Draconia. However, the look he had given him is new. He isn’t sure what to categorize the look into. The way his lips pursed and brows pinched, spoke of annoyance. Yet, the flat look in eyes and the slight set of his shoulders, said more. What it said, Sebek would need to think about it.
Finding a table, he can’t help but look back. Malleus leans over to whisper something, which causes you to laugh. His lips spread into a smile, showing off his sharp fangs. His hand lingers on yours as he points out something on your work. His gaze focuses only on you even when you’re busy writing. There’s a softness to his eyes that Sebek has only seen a handful of times from someone else.
“Mother?!” he gasps loudly, standing up suddenly.
All eyes turn to him. Sebek slowly sinks back into his seat and ducks his head. The realization settles on him like a weight. Taking another peek, he can’t help but see his parents. They always share the same looks, looks of pure adoration and love.
There’s a constant frown pressed on Malleus’s lips. He realizes it’s a bit childish to be sulking at his age, but he can’t help it. His favorite human has been busy for the past few weeks. He hasn’t been able to see the Ramshackle prefect due to their duties taking over. He knows that duty comes before personal matters, but he didn’t expect them to be busy for so long.
Another heavy sigh echoes in the dorm living area. “Young master, is something wrong?!” Sebek asks, having counted that Malleus had sighed exactly sixteen times within the span of ten minutes.
Even Silver is a bit worried at the deep sighs from him. “Is there something bothering you?” he inquires.
Malleus waves them off. “My child of man has been very busy lately. I haven’t seen them for almost three weeks…”
“I did hear there were some renovations happening at Ramshackle,” Silver muses aloud.
“They said they would let me know once I can visit…” He sighs once more. 17 times now. His fingernails tap incessantly on the table as he’s lost in thought.
“Khee hee, it sounds like you’re quite fond of the Ramshackle prefect,” Lilia chortles, eyes shining knowingly.
Scratching his head, Sebek still can’t wrap his mind around his recent revelation. “Excuse my ignorance, but I do not understand what makes them so…special?”
Malleus frowns, fingers stilling in their movement. “They’re kind and brave. They’re wiser than most despite being young. They can be humorous and witty,” he lists easily.
Lilia grins, leaning over Malleus’s shoulder. “You’re more than just fond of them, hmm~?”
“Of course. I like…” Brows pulling together, Malleus stares off as his voice fades away. The other three are quiet as they watch him. There’s a sudden glint in his gaze. “I see now,” he mumbles to himself.
“Oh ho? Did you figure something out?” Despite the question, Lilia already knows the answer.
Standing up, Malleus nods. “Yes. I’m going to see the prefect now.”
Before anyone can say anything, he teleports away and appears at the gate of Ramshackle. The dorm is quiet despite the renovations that are supposed to be taking place. Walking up the path, the door is already open. He knocks, but there’s no response, though he can hear some noise from inside.
Walking in, Malleus heads in the direction of the commotion, which is coming from one of the many rooms. You’re setting down a table while Grim pushes a chair in place.
Grim is the one to notice him first “Eh? Hey, it’s Tsunontaru!”
Wiping your face with a clean towel, you greet him with the usual dazzling smile. “Malleus, what are you doing here?”
Your clothes are disheveled. You look sweaty and tired. Despite all that, he can’t help but think you look as wonderful as ever. “I wanted to see you,” he states plainly. “It’s been twenty days since we last spoke.”
“I’ve been so busy with redecorating the dorm, I haven’t had time to do anything else,” you say more to yourself than him. “Do you want something to drink?”
He shakes his head. “Can we go for a walk?”
“Sure! Let me clean up first. I’ll meet you outside.” Ushering him out to the hall, you leave to put on a clean shirt.
It doesn’t take you long to come back down. The path around Ramshackle is familiar and worn. You’ve walked the same route with Malleus many times. He’s quiet as you round the corner to the back of the dorm. With the slight curve of his brow and the way his gaze remains unfocused, you can tell he’s thinking about something. You wait patiently for him to tell you whatever is on his mind.
He finally comes back to the present. “I had a sudden revelation today,” he starts, “about myself. It was quite surprising. Have you ever felt anything so strongly that it changes how you view things?”
“Well,” you hesitate before nodding, “yes, something like that has happened recently.” You chew the inside of your cheek as you pick your words. “Recently, I’ve been thinking about my feelings and how they’ve changed for a particular person. I may have known, but I chose to ignore it out of fear.”
Inhaling deeply, you let the confession tumble out. “I…I like you. A lot. As more than just a friend!” You feel suddenly too warm as lime green eyes study you with such intensity.
Malleus holds out his hand, void of his usual gloves. “May I have?” You give your hand to him without a second thought.
He places it, palm down, over his heart. You can feel the thumping of his heart, and it almost seems to echo in the quiet night. “Malleus?�� Your voice is barely a whisper as you stare at his hand that covers your own.
Using his other hand, he reaches out to cup your cheek. His thumb rubs against your face with an aching slowness. “My heart knew how I felt, but it took a bit for me to realize how I feel about you. I was planning to confess to you, but it seems you’ve beaten me to it.”
Leaning into his touch, your eyes close briefly. It feels almost like a dream for him, one he doesn’t want to wake up from. Eyes opening once more, you ask, “So what now?”
“I’d like to court you properly, if you’ll let me.” The look on his face is serious with a touch of wonder.
You grasp the hand that’s stroking your face and interlace your fingers together. “As long as I can court you too.” He’s sure you can feel his heartbeat quicken as he responds with a bright smile and a squeeze of your hand.
It’s no surprise to some when they see the two of you hand-in-hand the next day.
could you write something where sebek gets turned into a cat and his so takes care of him?
Hissy Green Kitty
Fandom: Twisted Wonderland
Word Count: 2,277
Notes: Cue another accident in Crewel’s class 😅
“It's a dried lizard tail.”
“NO! It is a fresh lizard tail!”
Sighing, you rub your temples while glaring back at Sebek. Despite your obvious affection for him, sometimes he could be bullheaded.
“Sebek, Professor Crewel definitely said dried lizard tails. I even wrote it down.” You tap your notebook.
“You must have misheard! He said a fresh lizard tail!” His brows drew together as he waved around the jar of fresh lizard tails.
Glancing around, Professor Crewel is too busy with some other students to come over. “Grim, can you put one dried lizard tail in the cauldron?” You hand him the container holding the dried lizard tails.
“DO NOT DO THAT!” Sebek yelled, attempting to, unsuccessfully, swipe the container from you. You hold it above your head, out of his reach, with a smirk. “Put a fresh lizard tail in!”
As you two argue over which ingredient is the right one, Grim decides to dump both in the cauldron together. He gives it a stir but backs off when it starts emitting a black smoke.
“Uhhh… (Y/N)!” Grim’s cry breaks you away from your heated argument.
Eyes widening comically, you’re not sure what to do. “Professor Crewel!”
Before the professor can react, the cauldron shakes violently as it bubbles over. Sebek crushes you to his chest, shielding you from the explosion. The mixture in the cauldron splashes all over Sebek. There’s a moment of silence before you hear a distinct ‘pop’ and then smoke fills the area.
You no longer feel Sebek’s arms around you as the smoke clears. “Sebek?” Looking around frantically, you don’t see him anywhere.
“He left his clothes,” Grim points out. Sure enough at your feet is a pile of clothes. His lab coat is covered in goo.
Bending down, you hesitate. “Di-did he…?!” But then the pile of clothes move. Suddenly, a fuzzy green face pokes out. Intense eyes you know well stares up at you. “S-Sebek!?”
“Meow?” He jumps. Slowly he raises one paw and waves it around, and then the other. He looks at himself as best as he can, turning in circles to look at his tail.
Grim snickers as he tries to pat the top of Sebek’s head. “Hehe, he’s small now!”
Sebek hisses and swipes at Grim. He starts meowing loudly and insistently. “C-calm down, Sebek! I’m sure we can do something…?”
“Bad pups, you didn’t listen to my lecture last time,” Professor Crewel admonishes. He shakes his head as he takes in the sight of the destroyed cauldron. “I said one frozen lizard tail.”
Well, you were both wrong…
“Um, professor, how do we get Sebek back to normal?” you ask, gesturing to the agitated green cat.
He shakes his head. “He’ll most likely return to normal by the end of the day. I’ll have you both dismissed from the rest of classes.” Snapping his pointer, he tells the rest of the class, “Clean up everything now.”
Once everything has been cleaned, you scoop up a still annoyed Sebek. He squirms in your hold as you head to lunch. Sebek manages to wiggle out of your hold and land gracefully on the ground. He starts meowing at you.
“I was only holding you because I didn’t want you to get lost in the crowd,” you explain.
His tail swishes back and forth as his meows quiet down. “Ya can understand him?” Grim asks.
Shrugging your shoulders, you follow Sebek as he takes the lead. “I can kinda understand based on his personality.” He easily dodges around students, who do double takes at the green cat.
At lunch, Sebek balances from your shoulder as you grab food for both of you. He points at the things he wants with his paw. You're thankful he isn’t a big cat because trying to carry two trays and a cat is hard enough. You set the tray down at your usual table, and before you can even sit down, Ace and Deuce slide in across from you.
“It’s true! Sebek’s a cat!” Ace wheezes as he takes in the very annoyed cat sitting on the table.
Sebek hisses before loudly berating Ace. Though, it only comes out in meows. The redhead pounds the table as he laughs. Deuce is busy inspecting Sebek’s cat form.
“Stop being so mean, Ace.” You roll your eyes. “Sebek is only like this because he protected me from the exploding cauldron.” From the corner of your vision, you watch as Sebek straightens up and puffs out his chest. He looks almost smug.
“So, those ingredients made a transformation potion?” Deuce mumbles. “Do you think it could be replicated?”
Poking at the food, you chew thoughtfully. “I’m not sure. Professor Crewel didn’t seem too concerned. Maybe this has happened before?”
Ace wipes away tears, having calmed down. “Even as a cat, he’s as loud as ever.”
Fur standing on end, Sebek looks ready to pounce on Ace. However, you reach over and gently stroke the top of his head. He seems to calm down after a moment. “I wonder how long this will actually take? Professor Crewel said by the end of the day…”
“At least you get out of classes,” Ace sighs. “Man, I kinda wish I was turned into a cat if it meant getting out of Trein’s lecture.”
“Of course that’s what you would get out of this,” Deuce mutters.
“Wanna say that a little louder, Deucy? Huh!?” As the two bicker, you turn your attention to Sebek.
Watching Sebek attempt to eat is an amusing feat. He can’t use utensils so he decides to stick his entire face in his plate. It’s a mess to say the least. He ends up getting most of the food in his fur rather than his mouth.
“You’re covered in mashed potatoes,” you chuckle.
He glares at you before turning up his nose. “Alright, I’m sorry for laughing.” Reaching over, you wipe him off as best as you can. “I think you’ll need a bath.”
You didn’t think a cat could look mortified. Ear pressing flat against his head, he leans away. “No need to be embarrassed, it’s not like you're naked.”
“MEOW! MEOW! MEOOOOW” He vocally protests.
“You can’t just spend the rest of the day covered in food,” you try to reason. He vehemently shakes his head. “I promise to just wipe you down with a wet towel.” Relenting, he nods.
You scratch the top of his head. “Of course you would be embarrassed to be given a bath as a cat,” you chortle.
“Oho? So the rumors are true!” Lilia arrives at your table with Malleus and Silver in tow. “Our Sebek has been turned into an adorable kitty,” he laughs. Lifting Sebek up by the scruff of his neck, Lilia proceeds to tease him.
Sebek cries out while trying to get out of his hold. “We heard that there was a potion accident and that the Ramshackle prefect was involved,” Silver explains.
“It seems that Sebek protected you from the accident, which is very admirable,” Maellus adds as he eyes Lilia playing with cat Sebek.
The green cat freezes. You can almost see the tears in Sebek’s eyes as he stares at Malleus. “Yes, he did. Very knightly of him,” you praise, watching as he preens.
Lilia sets Sebek down. “We’ll leave him in your care until he’s back to normal.”
“Mrow?” He tilts his head to the side. Then quickly shakes his head. “Meeeeow! Meow! Meoowww!”
Wagging a finger at him, Lilia tuts, “You can’t do much in this form. Silver will be fine for one day doing patrol alone.”
It seems that today would be a day where you not only see a cat look mortified, but also a sulky one. You pat him on the head as the three leave. “I’m sure they’ll be okay,” you try to reassure him. He only lays down on the plate of food.
After finishing lunch, you bring Sebek back to Ramshackle. “Stop squirming, Sebek!” You hold him an arms length away as he tries to wiggle out of your hold once more. Grim had managed to sneak off somewhere to avoid helping.
Carrying him into the bathroom, you plop him down in the sink. “You’re one fussy cat,” you mutter.
He attempts to climb out of but only slides back in. The sink is rather deep and the smooth sides don’t allow any purchase for his claws. “Meeooow! Mrooowww, meowww!”
“Nope, you’re not getting out of there until I get all that food off.” Sighing, you grab a clean towel and a bottle of shampoo. “I wonder if this is safe for cats… Technically you’re human, so it should be fine?”
If he still had eyebrows, you’re sure they’d be raised. You carefully lathered him before cleaning him off with a warm towel. Thankfully none of the food was particularly stubborn, so everything comes off easily.
Clean and dry, you bring Sebek to the living room. “I have some work to do. I guess you can do whatever… whatever cats do.”
He wanders around a bit, hisses at the ghosts, and finally settles down on your lap for a nap. Perhaps being a cat is tiring?
An hour into reading, you fall asleep on the couch. You wake up only because the grandfather clock chimes loudly. Feeling groggy, you blearily stare at the still sleeping cat on your stomach. “Hmm… You’re kinda cute in this form too,” you muse aloud.
Gently, you move him to your lap so you can sit up. Petting him, he purrs much like a truck. Snickering, you wonder if you should film this for later. However, your phone is nowhere in sight. You watch as Sebek yawns before stretching and kneading your lap.
He looks up at you with big eyes. “Hello, sleepy kitty,” you greet with a soft smile.
“Mrrrow…” Leaning down, you press a kiss to his forehead. You’ve been wanting to do that all day. He purrs, content, as you lean back on the couch.
You lazily stroke him as your eyes drop shut. Then…
Your eyes fly open as you feel a very heavy weight suddenly on you. Smoke fills the room but clears quickly. You meet the surprised gaze of your very not feline boyfriend. “S-Sebek?!” you wheeze out.
Scrambling off you, he leans on his haunches, still on the couch. Touching his face, he stares at his hands. “I’m back? I’M NO LONGER A CAT!” As Sebek cheers, you cover your eyes. “(Y/N)! Why are you covering your face?”
“You’re naked!” you shout, suddenly very embarrassed.
There’s a beat of silence as you peak through your hands, but you keep your gaze upward. Sebek’s face slowly turns red as realization dawns. He looks like he wants to stick his head in a hole.
“AV-AVERT YOUR GAZE!!!”
Covering your eyes once more, you hear him stumble. “Your clothes are still in my room,” you tell him. You, thankfully, decided to bring them with you, though the lab coat couldn’t be saved.
Feet pounding up the stairs, you’re left alone on the couch. After a few minutes of silence, you lower your hands. You wonder if Sebek will ever come down as the minutes tick by. By the time ten minutes have gone by, you start getting antsy.
Standing, you head to your room. Knocking on the door, you wait for a response, but none comes. “Sebek? Are you…okay?”
Pushing the door open, the half-fae is sitting at the foot of your bed. Staring off into space, you can tell his brain is running a mile a minute. His eyes are wide in shock still as he mutters unintelligibly.
“Sebek?” Standing in front of him, you call his name a few times. “Come on, Sebek. I know it’s embarrassing, but it’s not like I saw anything.”
He shakes his head. “To be nude in front of someone like that is uncalled for in a knight! I have shamed not only myself but Lord Malleus’s name as well!”
Reaching forward, you cradle his head against your chest. “Considering the circumstances, I’d say it’s fine. You had no control over when you would transform back, so it’s not like you were naked on purpose.”
Wrapping his arms around your waist, he breathes deeply. “I guess you’re right… It would have been worse if I had changed back in front of our classmates.”
“See, it’s not that bad.” Running your fingers through his hair, you chuckle. “You were very cute as a cat. I’m gonna miss all that fuzz.”
Sebek pulls back, a frown on his face. “I did not like that experience! I was unable to do anything in that form…”
Cupping his face, you kiss the space between his brows, making him release the tension there. “As cute as you were in cat form, this form is my favorite.”
“I should be getting back to my dorm…” He glances reluctantly at your door.
“Or, you could stay a bit longer? Professor Crewel did say you’d be back to normal by the end of the day. And the day isn’t over yet.” Smiling slyly, you crawl on the bed while trying to tug Sebek with you.
He thoughtfully takes in your words before nodding. “Just in case I turn back, it would be in the best interest of all that I stay a little longer until we can confirm the effects have fully worn off.”
Laying on the bed together, you wrap your arms around Sebek. A tangle of limbs, you relax as you snuggle closer together. You’ll miss kitty Sebek, but having him hold you close is much nicer.
The Prince's Tutor
Fandom: Twisted Wonderland
Summary: You're hired as Cheka's personal tutor. While working, you get to know the second prince, Leona.
Notes: Just something I've had partially written and wanted to finish. I guess this would be in line with my royalty AU I did with Malleus. This also exhausts the list of actually royal characters from the game (does Idia count?). Might have some errors here and there that I missed, sorry in advance! Hope you enjoy all of Cheka's cuteness!
Word Count: 9,064
Warnings: Attempted kidnapping, violence, some swearing, Cheka being adorable
As much as Leona wants to ignore his nephew, he can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that a stranger is leading Cheka out of the palace. The naive brat follows without thought as he excitedly chatters. A person he’s never seen before, leads the kid by the hand while nodding enthusiastically.
“Hey!” His voice echoes in the hallways.
Cheka looks around before a smile stretches across his face. “Unca Leona!” The cub lets go of the stranger’s hand to launch himself at Leona.
Grunting as the pint sized twerp barrels into him, he pulls him off immediately by holding him by the back of his shirt and unceremoniously dropping him on the ground. “Where do you think you're goin’, brat?”
“Teacher (Y/N) is taking me to the detached wing for lessons!” The boy isn’t bothered by the rough treatment as he springs back onto his feet.
You offer Leona a tentative smile, which he does not return. “Teacher? You’re the new brat’s tutor?” He sizes you up and isn’t impressed. You're a herbivore for one thing.
Nodding, you bow politely. “Yes. I was recommended by Cheka’s old tutor.”
Though you have no reason to lie, Leona isn’t completely convinced. You look green with the enthusiastic glimmer in your eyes. However, he decides to let it be. It isn’t in his nature to pursue further than needed. As long as it doesn’t seem that you’ll be kidnapping the furball, Leona’s fine.
Waving you off, he turns around to head to his room. “Ya whatever you say.”
“Who was that?” you ask Cheka.
“That’s unca Leona! He’s the bestest unca!” the boy explains. His eyes sparkle with joy, and you can’t help but smile back.
You had heard of the royal family, though you hadn’t had much time to study the lineage before arriving. Seeing the beastman glare at you was a first. Cheka’s father was very welcoming and open when you met him briefly. You chalk it up as everyone having their own personalities and quickly forget the encounter. No use worrying about things that are none of your business.
Arriving at the detached wing of the palace, you enter the large library. Once you have Cheka settled, you start on the first lesson. “We’ll be learning about the history of magic. Let’s start with how magic first came to be…”
Later in the day, Leona happens upon you again. This time, you’re talking with his brother, or at least trying to. Farena’s too distracted with Cheka to really pay you any mind, and the expression on your face shows your growing irritation.
Leona tries to slink away without being noticed, but the fuzzball immediately catches him. It’s like his nephew can sense him from miles away. “Unca Leona!”
Hopping down from his father’s hold, Cheka runs up to him and wraps his short arms around his leg. “Let go,” Leona grunts through gritted teeth.
Cheka beams up at him as he clings on. “Today I learned about the history of magic! Did you know that magic existed a long, long time ago?!”
Rubbing his temples, he sighs, “Yes. Now, get off, brat.”
“Leona!” Farena comes over and claps him heartily on the back. “Have you met, (Y/N)?”
You give him another polite smile though he sees the way the corner of your mouth twitches downward. You’re gripping a stack of papers tight enough to wrinkle them.
He scoffs and shrugs off his brother’s hold. “Yes. Tell your son to let go of my leg.”
Farena chuckles. “He just misses his uncle!”
Coughing, you interject. “Your highness I-”
“Please call me Farena. I insist!” he interrupts, giving you a blinding smile.
Lips pressing into a thin line, you look put out. “Your highness, I do need to go over the rest of the curriculum with you. I’d like to know if you think these will be suitable for your son.”
Waving you off, his brother takes the stack of papers you hold out. “Alright, alright. I’ll look at these later tonight and let you know tomorrow.”
Sighing, you bow. “Thank you, your highness. If you’ll excuse me, I still have to finish settling in.” You give them both one last bow before making a hasty retreat.
Scratching his ear, Leona watches as you disappear. “Where’d you find this one?” he asks, a bit interested as you don’t seem dazzled by his brother like everyone else. He wonders how long that will last.
“(Y/N) comes from the Queendom of Roses. And came with high praise from many teachers and scholars.” Farena glances down at the documents. “It seems they are very meticulous.”
During the conversation, Cheka had released Leona’s leg. Climbing onto his father’s back, the boy hangs there while peeping at the documents. “What does that say, papa?”
Farena chortles, “It says a lot of work for papa tonight. I’ll see you later, brother!” Leona is finally left in peace. There’s not much to do, though. It’s not like anyone expects anything of him.
He decides to find a place to nap. Like always.
A few days pass since that encounter, when Leona bumps into you again. Quite literally this time.
Papers fly in the air like snow. “Aaach!” You fall back on your butt with a thump before giving him a withering look.
Leona stands there above you as the papers fall to the ground. He didn’t even move back an inch when you bumped into him. “Ya goin’ somewhere, herbivore?” he asks, amusement coloring his tone. Guess non-beastmen are all weak if a little bump sends you tumbling to the ground.
“...” You don’t bother to respond as you gather your scattered documents.
Picking up one that landed on his foot, Leona quickly scans it. “Is this the brat’s curriculum?”
“Yes. I made some edits since your brother thought the last one was too much for Cheka,” you reply. He catches the frown that quickly fades into a neutral expression.
From the looks of the one sheet, you plan to teach Cheka basic magic and runes. Something most kids his age would not be learning until a few years later. “He might be right.” Knowing Cheka, the little furball will quickly lose interest.
Huffing, you snatch the paper out of his hand. “I believe he can do it. He showed great interest in the history of magic and learning fundamentals during our first session. He just needs to be engaged.”
“And how do ya plan to engage a six year old?” The boy has too much energy for Leona’s taste. Even Cheka’s old tutor had a hard time keeping him on track. He liked to ask too many questions that would quickly spiral out of control.
For the first time that day, you grin. “I have my ways, your highness.”
His ears twitch. “Hmm… Have fun with the twerp.” He walks past you without another glance.
“Now I want you to visualize the broccoli,” you tell Cheka. The young boy stares at the plate with the single broccoli you placed in front of him. “They look like small trees, don’t they?”
Cheka nods. “Yeah! They’re like small green trees!”
“Right! So imagine reaching forward and plucking this small tree from the plate.” You watch as the boy’s brows furrow deeply. His golden gaze is focused on the broccoli. Finally, he slumps forward.
“Nothing happened…” he pouts.
Ruffling his hair, you gently encourage him, “Don’t worry, Cheka. These things take time. You’ll get it soon!”
Though he smiles back at you, you notice it isn’t as bright. “Alright. Let’s do something else.” Clapping your hands together, you rummage through the trunk of things you had brought from home. “We’re going to do a reenactment of a myth”
“Reenactment?” Cheka pops the broccoli in his mouth without you noticing.
You hand over a few props. “It means we’ll be putting on a play pretending to be the characters of the story.”
“Papa and I play pretend all the time!” Excitement shines in his eyes as he takes the offered clothes.
Beaming, you put on a hat. “Then you’ll be a pro at this!”
Unbeknownst to you, a certain lion is sitting further in the back of the library on a windowsill. He chuckles as he listens to you start the story.
“So you like chess?” Your voice interrupts his thought process. A little annoyed to be disturbed, he gives you a glare but it doesn’t phase you.
“And so what if I do?” He should have played in his room in peace. But it’s being cleaned at the moment, so he had to find a different place away from others. Hence being in the library you use for Cheka’s lessons.
Shrugging, you tap the queen. “I learned a bit but never could actually grasp the game. It takes a lot of skill and foresight to be good. I don’t know much but looking at the board, I’m assuming you're a pro. That’s amazing.”
A compliment is not something he expected to hear from you. Nor is it something he’s heard in a long time. “The thing about chess is that you can play it alone. You don’t need anyone else,” he mutters.
Moving away, you bow. “Sorry to disturb you, your highness.”
You turn to leave, but he stops you. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t like a match…”
Your eyes widen a fraction as he notes a small smile form on your face. “I don’t think I’ll be much of a challenge.”
He shrugs and gestures to the chair opposite. You sit down as he places the pieces back to their starting positions. “Take it as a chance to learn from a master.”
“A very humble master,” you tease before focusing on the board.
And true to your word, you aren’t much of a challenge. He manages to beat you in five moves. Despite losing so quickly you ask for another game. Occasionally you ask about certain pieces as your memory of the game is hazy. Despite beating you multiple times, Leona finds it entertaining. You don’t get discouraged even after losing every time. And you don’t lose as quickly each time.
Leaning back, you let out a sigh, “I think I’m all chessed out.”
He tips the queen on the board back and forth. “You’re not bad. You learn quickly. With some practice, you could get better.”
“Maybe even good enough to beat you?” you ask.
Smirking, he flicks the queen on its side. It rolls across the board to you. “Not even in your dreams, herbivore.”
You let out a laugh that lights up your face. For once you don’t have the stern teacher facade he’s seen you wear most times. Only with Cheka do you look like you’re enjoying yourself. He still remembers the sound of your voice as it fell and rose while you pretended to be different characters. You're much more animated when you’re relaxed and let your guard down.
Leona wishes he could be anywhere but here. Farena’s wife had foisted Cheka onto him just as he was going out. She knew he couldn’t say no, and so today he’s on babysitting duties. Where’s the brat’s nanny?
“Unca Leona! Look!” Cheka points to a small pastry stall. Rows upon rows of sweets and confections are on display. From the looks of it, the seller is not from around the area. The young cub eagerly runs over while Leona follows at a leisurely stroll.
Cheka presses his face against the glass case. “Can I have one, huh??”
“Yeah, whatever.” It’s not his fault if the kid eats sweets before dinner.
As the young boy eagerly points to a chocolate covered treat, the stall owner rings him up. “That will be 500 thaumarks.”
Leona stares at him blankly as Cheka is already eating the treat. “I don’t have money. Just bill it to the royal account.”
The stall owner nervously looks between him and his nephew. “I-I’m sorry, sir?” The confusion is written all over his face. Leona feels his irritation grow.
“I don’t carry money on me. Just go to the palace and ask to be paid. They’ll know what to do.” He starts to turn away, but the stall owner is still persistent.
“P-please wait a s-second!” This is why he doesn’t deal with non-locals, they don’t know the rules.
“Unca Leona, are we going to jail?” Cheka asks, golden eyes wide.
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Leona almost snaps at the stall owner when a familiar voice calls to them. “Leona? Cheka?”
You’re carrying an armful of groceries as you near them. Dressed in more casual clothes, he almost doesn’t recognize you. Cheka grins as he bounds over. He wraps his arms around your waist, nearly making you lose your balance.
“(Y/N)! What are you doing here?” You set down the bags to give him a proper hug.
“I was doing some grocery shopping. What about you?” Your brows draw together as you chuckle. “You have chocolate all over your mouth, Cheka.”
The boy furiously rubs his mouth with the back of his hand. “Unca Leona and I are spending the day together! But since he doesn’t carry money, we’re going to jail.” He nods solemnly.
You tilt your head to the side as you give Leona a questioning look. “We ain’t goin’ to jail, brat!”
“I would hope not. You’re too cute for jail, Cheka,” you joke. Pulling out your wallet, you glance at the stall owner. “I can pay.”
“Yaya!” Cheka cheers as he jumps in the air.
You hand over the money. Picking your groceries back up, you ruffle his hair. “My treat. I’m done for the day, so I’ll be heading back.”
Before Leona can say anything, Cheka follows after you as he calls over his shoulder, “Let’s go, Unca Leona!”
Muttering under his breath about being bossed around, Leona reluctantly follows. As Cheka runs ahead, you glance at the lion with an amused smile. “So, the great prince Leona was about to go to jail?”
Snorting, he crosses his arms over his chest. “As if. I’ve never had issues with paying. Everyone knows to bill it to the royal account. Apparently you out of towners know nothing.”
“Royal account? It must be nice to not worry about having to carry money.” Shaking your head, you can’t imagine the life he lives. “Maybe just carry a bit around just in case something like this happens again. I won’t always be there to bail you out.”
“As if I need you to.” He rolls his eyes before grabbing one of your bags.
“You’re only holding us up by carryin’ all those,” he scoffs.
He can feel your stare but resolutely looks forward. “Thank you,” you mumble as you catch up to his long strides.
Most people in the palace know not to linger or rest in certain places. Those spots are reserved for a certain lazy lion. So, when Leona arrives at one of his napping spots under the acacia, he’s not pleased to see a figure resting there.
He’s about to kick the intruder out when he realizes it’s you. A book rests face down on your chest. You snooze with your mouth slightly ajar. It’s a funny sight.
His annoyance fades slightly. Too tired to go to another spot, Leona plops down next to you. There’s plenty of space for him. He’ll let the transgression go this time.
Sometime later when he wakes up, you’ve somehow moved so that your head rests against his shoulder. You’re drooling on his shirt sleeve. Clicking his tongue, he pushes you none too gently causing you to fall over and wake up.
“Huh?!” Sitting up, you rub the sleep from your eyes. “L-Leona?”
He sneers at his wet sleeve. “Ya drool like waterfall, herbivore.”
Picking up your book, you apologize, “Sorry… I can pay for it to be cleaned?” you offer, trying to wipe the leftover drool away.
“Tch. Maybe next time you sleep with your mouth closed.” Standing, he stretches and yawns. “Later, herbivore.”
Watching as he leaves, you wonder when he arrived.
“Cheka has improved exponentially. I think he’ll be ready for more challenging material in a year or so,” you inform Farena. Giving him Cheka’s mid-year report, you hand him a thick packet with your notes and observations.
Farena browses through the notes. “I’m glad to hear Cheka’s doing so well! He’s such a bright boy, but sometimes has a difficult time staying focused. I can tell you’re doing great work, (Y/N)!”
You bow your head. “Thank you, your highness.”
The door to Farena’s office opens and Cheka pokes his head in. “Papa!”
“Cheka!” The man beams as the young boy runs over to him. He hops into his lap as Farena hugs him. “What brings you here?”
“Unca Leona said I should stop bothering him and come find you,” the boy explains.
Ferna chuckles as he turns to you. “Are we done here?”
You do have a few more things you want to go over, but decide you can save it for another time. “I’m all set. You can keep the report. There's a plan for the next six months you can review and let me know what you think, your highness.”
Giving the prince one last bow, you leave his office. Shutting the door, you head back to your guest residence. Much like the rest of the palace, the guest quarters are just as lavish. There’s a fully functional kitchen, which you have stocked with food. You could have the royal chefs cook for you, but prefer making your own meals.
As you put together dinner, your thoughts wander to a certain second prince. Leona is an interesting character to say the least. He’s the opposite of his warm and friendly brother. Oftentimes you spot him napping in various places. It doesn’t seem like he has any duties and spends his days doing whatever he pleases.
You’ve heard the whispers of the staff.
He’s the second born, so there are no expectations for him.
He’s rude, prideful, and arrogant.
He’ll use underhand tricks to get what he wants.
His unique magic is terrifying.
He's good for nothing.
Even gossip has a grain of truth. Yet, you try not to cast judgment on him beyond what you’ve learned from your interactions. Leona is rude, prideful, and arrogant. But he’s also cunning and a brilliant strategist. Though he shows a strong distaste for his nephew, he does watch out for him in his own way. He seems to have a softer side, though he’d probably kill you if you ever said it to his face.
You don’t realize you’re smiling as you think about him.
“Unca Leona, can you show me your unique magic?” Cheka asks, his eyes sparkle with curiosity.
Somehow the brat had found him while he was snoozing. He had made sure to hide away from prying eyes as much as possible. Yet, no hiding place is safe from Cheka.
Not even bothering to open his eyes, he tries to shoo him away. “No. Leave me alone.”
Cheka persists. “Please! (Y/N) said everyone has a unique magic and I wanna see yours. Pleeeeeeaaaassssseeeeee!”
Leona sighs, exasperated. “Listen, brat, my unique magic isn’t for fun and games. People can get hurt, and I would rather not get yelled at by your mom.”
The young boy droops. “Okay…”
Rubbing his face, Leona stands up. There’s no napping now. “Where’s your tutor?”
He perks up. “(Y/N) is at the guest house. They said I can always visit whenever I want. Do you wanna visit them too, Unca Leona?”
Leona is already heading in the direction of the guest house. “Yeah, somethin’ like that,” he mutters. Cheka scampers after him eagerly.
Arriving at the guest house, the door is open so he lets himself in. “Oi! Herbivore, you home?”
There’s the sound of crashing and the two follow the noise. In the kitchen, you're picking up a fallen pot. “Leona?” You eye him quizzically as Cheka immediately runs over to you.
“We wanted to visit!” the boy exclaims. He stands on his tiptoes as he eyes the freshly made chocolate chip cookies set on the table.
You hand him one. “What do I owe for this surprise visit?”
“The kid wants to see some unique magic, so I thought since you’re his tutor, you’d be able to show him,” he explains, shaking his head.
You absently hand Cheka another cookie as he makes grabby hands at you. “I guess I could show him. My unique magic is basically useless for combat so it should be safe.”
Turning to the boy, you bite your lip. He has chocolate all over his face. “Come on, Cheka. I’ll show you my unique magic.”
“Yay!” He grabs your hand as you lead him outside. Leona follows quietly behind.
Standing outside, you close your eyes. “Let the green touch the lands wherever I go. Grow! Flourish! Nature’s blessing.”
Suddenly all around you, grass springs up. Wild flowers grow and bloom. Leona watches as a sprout grows taller and taller. It flourishes into a sturdy tree with dark green leaves that shade you from the sun.
“Woah! That’s amazing!” Cheka runs over to the tree to touch the trunk. “It’s real?!”
Bending over with hands on your knees, you catch your breath. “Yup, everything made with my unique magic are real plants. It’s about a ten foot radius all around.” You smile weakly.
Leona reaches up to pluck off a leaf. “To be able to create life from nothin’ is a feat.” He turns to you, green eyes gleaming. “And here I thought you weren’t that impressive, herbivore.”
“Well it’s not like any of this is useful. I can’t grow fruit or anything edible. The plants only last as long as they naturally can in whatever environment it’s currently in.” You plop down in the grass with a sigh. “It uses too much magic, so I’m usually tired afterwards. I guess it could be a neat party trick…”
Cheka is too busy climbing the tree to notice your exhaustion. Leona lays down in the grass. “At least it’s the type of unique magic people aren’t afraid of. This makes an ideal napping spot.”
Peering at him, you notice the way he seems off in thought staring up at the canopy of leaves. “Just because your unique magic might be dangerous, doesn’t mean you are,” you point out.
He snorts. “Most people don’t think that way. They’re all too blinded by their fear.” Closing his eyes, he can hear Cheka chattering to himself while climbing back down.
The young boy comes over and flops down next to Leona. “This is so cool!” He points at a spot on one of the branches. “Look! Even the birds are coming to rest.”
Chuckling, you lay down as well. You're still tired from using your unique magic. “Sometimes it’s nice to just lay in the shade of a tree.”
Leona agrees with a non-committal hum. Cheka worms his way between you two. The three of you rest in the shade of the tree.
Suddenly Cheka asks, “Do you have someone back home (Y/N)?”
“Um, no. Why do you ask?” You’re a bit afraid to hear his answer.
Cheka sits up as he looks at you then Leona. “Then you can marry unca Leona! That way, you can stay here forever, and unca Leona won’t be so grumpy!”
“Hey, brat, sometimes it’s better to keep ya mouth shut!” Leona snaps, sitting up as well. His teeth are clenched and he refuses to look in your direction.
The boy doesn’t seem too bothered by his uncle’s words. “But papa said if people like each other, they should get married. You like (Y/N), don’t you?”
“That’s…that’s none of your business!” he growls. Scowling fiercely, he lays back down and turns on his side away from Cheka. “Don’t bother me,” he grunts.
“Did I say something wrong?” Cheka asks in a loud whisper.
Biting your lip, you try not to laugh. “Just let him rest.”
Flopping back down, Cheka sighs, “I still think you and unca Leona should get married,” he says honestly.
You remain silent as you mull over his words.
A week before Cheka’s birthday, the palace is abuzz. Many people run around with decorations throughout the week. Farena is busy organizing the party and has invitations sent out to just about everyone. You received a handmade invitation from Cheka to attend his party during one of your lessons.
As his birthday draws closer, the young boy can’t seem to sit still for his lessons. You decide to switch tactics. Instead of lessons in the library, the two of you spend time around the palace gardens. Practical magic application requires more open space, and it gives you an excuse to let Cheka run around a bit.
“Did you see that?!” Cheka jumps around wildly as his attempt to move some pebbles with wind magic finally succeeds. They only roll a bit but it’s enough to excite him.
You clap enthusiastically. “Wonderful job, Cheka!” He tilts his head closer so you can pat him. He smiles triumphantly as you ruffle his hair. “I can tell you’ve been practicing your concentration. You’re progressing nicely,” you praise.
Picking up the pebbles, you place them back in a pouch. You gesture to Cheka to sit down on a nearby bench. Rummaging through the bag you always carry, you pull out a wrapped box. Handing it to him, you watch as his eyes light up.
“Is this my birthday gift?!” He’s ready to tear into it.
Nodding, you chuckle at his barely restrained excitement. “Yes. I thought you could open my gift early.” In reality, you don’t want Cheka to make a big fuss over your gift at his party. He most likely would receive far better gifts from the many guests.
He eagerly rips the wrapping paper away. Pulling off the box top, he pulls out a small snow globe. Rather than depicting snow, it’s filled with grass and miniature flowers. There’s even a miniature tree like the one that grew when you used your unique magic. The flowers and tree grow before disappearing in a puff of green sparkle and then regrow again.
“Woah!” He holds it close to his face.
“I infused a bit of my unique magic in some runes. I thought a small plant world would make a fun snow globe,” you explain. It took you many trials and long nights to complete the gift. Infusing runes with your magic took precise control and a lot of patience. It sounded easy in theory, but you had learned how difficult it actually was.
“This is so cool!” He carefully set the globe back in the box before wrapping his short arms around you. “Thank you!”
Squeezing him tight, you smile brightly. Pulling away, you pat his head. “Alright, lessons are over for today. I’ll let you enjoy some time off before your birthday.”
Jumping up, he holds the box with your gift closer to his chest. “I wanna show papa my gift!” He’s off like a bolt of light.
Shaking your head, you pick up the rest of your things before heading to the guest house. You hadn’t planned to give Cheka something, but you also couldn’t resist the urge to make him smile. His joy is infectious. As much as you promised not to get too personal with Cheka, he had wormed his way into your heart.
You try your best to avoid bumping into people as you weave your way through the party. There are so many guests, and they’re all in merry moods. Cheka’s birthday celebration is nothing like you’ve ever been to. There’s so much food and drink, it seems to overflow. Music and dancers entertain the guests.
Beatmen, fae, humans and other magical creatures mingle and laugh. It was fun at first, but now you’re feeling tired. The excitement has become a bit too much for you. Sneaking out of the party, you manage to wander into the garden. The music and cheering is muffled, and the air feels nice on your heated skin.
Sitting down on one of the benches, you let out a relieved breath. “Too much excitement for ya, herbivore?”
Leona’s voice makes you jump up. You spy a set of bright emerald eyes staring at you. Sprawled out on the grass and mostly hidden by the bushes, he’s very hard to spot. Your heart still beats rapidly as you sink back down.
“Don’t do that…” You sigh. “I just needed a break from all that. It’s a lot to take in. Are parties usually this extravagant?”
He tilts his head before slinking over to you. “Usually. Farena likes to go all out when it comes to birthday parties.” He pushes you to the edge of the bench, so he can sit down. “It’s annoying but harmless.”
“So, what did you get Cheka?” you ask, curious since you didn’t see him give a gift during the present opening.
“A mechanical meerkat,” he answers. He shrugs when you give him a confused look. “Some toy inventor was trying to sell it a few weeks ago. No one was buyin’ it, but I thought the brat would like it. According to the inventor, it can lead you home if you tell it to.”
Peering at him, he doesn’t meet your probing gaze. “That actually sounds useful. You’re a good uncle, Leona.”
He grumbles something under his breath that you can’t hear. However, the way his ears twitch, you wonder if he’s just a little happy at the compliment. “Stop lookin’ so smug, herbivore,” he growls.
Grinning, you stand up. “Despite all your complaining, you care about him.” He scoffs but doesn’t deny your claim. “Come on, we should head back.” Offering him your hand, you meet his intense gaze with a fond look of your own.
Leona takes your hand, and you lead him out of the garden. Down the darkened halls of the castle, you two slowly walk back to the party while talking in low voices. You’re not in any hurry to return to the celebration.
There’s a night bazaar happening and Cheka is determined to go. You can only stand in Farena’s office and watch as the young boy begs his father to take him. Your paperwork was forgotten the moment Cheka had run into the office during your meeting.
“Please, papa! I really wanna go tonight! You promised last year that you’d take me!” he begs, his eyes wide and filled with pleading. The mechanical meerkat that Leona had gifted him skitters from the boy’s pocket to his head.
Farena sighs, shoulders slumping forward. “I’m sorry, Cheka. I really can’t. Papa has some very important meetings he needs to attend. I can’t push them off.” The unspoken ‘again’ hangs in the air.
Cheka’s large golden eyes fill with tears. “Bu-but…” His lower lip wobbles dangerously.
With a panicked look in his eyes, Farena meets your gaze. He stares at you for a moment longer before a smile stretches across his face. “I’m sure (Y/N) can take you though!”
“W-what?” Baffled, you can only open and close your mouth.
Cheka sniffles as he wipes his face before looking at you with hopeful eyes. “Really?”
You resist the urge to say what you’re really feeling by biting the inside of your cheek. “Of course! You’re not busy, are you?” Farena asks, his eyes pleading much like how his son was just moments before.
“I-I mean I had plans…” In reality, you were just going to finish grading Cheka’s last test and finish reviewing your future lessons. Very exciting things!
Having the king of all people look at you with what can only be called puppy eyes is a very startling turn of events. “Leona can go with you too,” he adds with a grin
“Unca Leona!” Cheka cheers, all sadness gone without a trace.
Farena gives Cheka a big squeeze before letting the boy rush off to find his uncle. “I’ll see you at the front door!” he calls before the door closes with a click.
You meet his gaze, his eyes the same warm golden shade as his son’s. “I take it I don’t have much choice on this matter?”
The man shakes his head. “Of course you have a choice. I can’t force you to go.” He drums his fingers on his desk as he regards you with sharp eyes. “But Cheka’s so fond of you, I thought some more time together would be nice. If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to. Cheka’s a big boy, he’ll understand.”
Eyes narrowing, the easy smile on his face doesn’t seem so friendly. “As you wish, your highness.” You give a stiff bow before leaving his office.
You can hear Cheka’s voice drifting through the halls as you walk away. Shaking your head at your encounter with the king, you meet him at the front. Cheka is bouncing around excitedly while Leona scowls, his dark hair a mess. The meerkat hangs on his shoulders; it’s become his constant companion.
“I need to drop some things off at the guest house,” you tell them. Leona’s scowl seems to soften a bit when you come closer.
“Okay! Then the bazaar!” The boy grabs your hand. You can only give Leona a helpless smile as you're dragged along.
After putting away your things and grabbing some money, the three of you walk to the bazaar. It’s filled with people wandering about as they enjoy the food, entertainment, and festive atmosphere. Cheka tugs you to each and every stall.
He chatters non stop at everything he sees, pointing with wide eyes at the decorations. You listen to his enthusiastic ramblings while Leona follows a few paces behind. Eventually you stop at a stall to buy a few treats. Cheka is chowing down on a chocolate pastry from the same seller as last time.
“So, it looked like Cheka had just woken you up from a nap,” you comment.
Leona rubs his eyes. “The brat seems to have a knack for finding me regardless of how well I hide.” He shakes his head as Cheka starts eating another sweet. “How’d my brother rope you into this?”
Looking around, you notice a puppet show being set up. A group of children are already gathered in front of the makeshift stage. “Let’s just say your brother is very…persuasive when he wants to be.”
Snorting, you glance at Leona, who rolls his eyes dramatically. “He knows how to get his way.”
Nudging his arm with your elbow, you give him a teasing grin. “I’d say the same for you. The two of you go about it in different ways, but the end result is the same.”
There’s a sharpness to his smile. “I can show how persuasive I can be, herbivore. And I promise I’m better than my brother.” His emerald greens seem to darken as he holds your gaze.
Feeling heat prickle up your neck, you turn away. “Cheka! Do you want to watch the puppet show?” As you usher the young boy over to the show, you can hear Leona’s low chuckle, sending shivers down your back.
The puppet show starts after a few minutes. The story is rather morbid for a children’s play. The story revolves around a young man and his uncle turned stepfather, who may have poisoned his brother to become king. You become so engrossed in the play that you don’t notice Cheka slipping away.
There’s a particular moment in the play that causes you to turn to Cheka. “Did you see tha-” Your eyes land on an empty seat before frantically scanning around. Standing up, you urgently run over to Leona, who had opted to rest a bit away on a bench.
“Did you see Cheka?!” The fear in your voice is palpable.
He quickly sits up, eyes focused. “No. He couldn’t have gotten far.” Taking your hand, the two of you rush through the bazaar calling his name.
“Cheka? Cheka?! Cheka!” You split off from Leona hoping to cover more ground. As you rush by stalls and the throngs of people, you can only think of finding him.
Something shiny catches your eye near the edge of the bazaar. Rushing over, you realize it’s the mechanical meerkat that Cheka always carries. Though a bit dusty, the toy is perfectly fine. It immediately curls up in your hand as you pocket the toy. Moving away from the bright lights of the festival, you make your way through the dim streets and alleys in the general direction of where you found the meerkat.
You hear a loud sound coming from one of the alleys and carefully make your way over. Peering into the narrow passage, you can make out two figures struggling with a small figure. As the clouds suddenly part and moonlight fills the dark alley, your eyes widen. The two figures are struggling with a terrified Cheka.
“Let him go!” You rush at them as magic builds at your fingertips. However, Cheka cries out as a sharp pain radiates from the back of your head. Your vision blurs as you feel your body pitch forward. Everything goes black.
Waking up with a throbbing headache, you find yourself laying on your side. The grimy, cold floor rubs against your cheek as you struggle to sit up. Your hands are bound behind your back with rope as well as your legs. The world spins as you manage to sit up and take in your surroundings.
There’s not much except some planks of wood leaning against a wall, empty buckets stacked in a corner and a boarded up window. The air is stale and the only light comes from a door slightly ajar. You can hear muffled voices arguing.
“(Y/N)?” a tiny voice calls to you. Blinking as your eyes adjust, you realize Cheka is tied up as well. He sits with his back against a wall. His shirt hangs limply off of him and his face is smudged with dirt.
“Cheka, are you okay?” you ask in a low voice.
He nods, tears threaten to spill. “When those men hit you, I thought…I thought you wer-” his voice breaks into a muffled sob.
“It’s okay, Cheka. Shhh, shhh.” You keep your voice down as you try to sooth him. “I’m okay. You’re okay. And we’re getting out of here.”
Sniffling, he tries his best to calm down. “H-how?”
“Give me a second to think.” There’s not much you can use in the room. If you try breaking down the boards on the window, it might draw too much attention. The only other way out is straight through where the voices are coming from.
Testing the bindings on your wrist, they don’t budge. Drawing on your magic, you summon a small fire. As they burn through the rope, you try your best to ignore the pain as the flame licks your skin. Once the rope is burned enough for you to easily break them, you do the same for the binds on your legs.
“Cheka, how many men are there?” you ask, tossing aside the burnt rope.
“Th-three I think. They’ve been fighting for a while. I-I think I’ve seen one of them before.” Once free to move, you crawl over to Cheka and start working on his ropes.
“This will hurt, but you can’t make a sound. Okay?” Peering at his tired eyes, he nods slowly. You try your best to burn the rope without hurting him, but you notice the way he slightly jerks away before biting down on his lip.
“Almost there. You’re doing an amazing job,” you praise. Tears fall, but he remains quiet. You tug at the ropes and they easily break. Making quick work of the rest of the bindings, you sit on your haunches.
Contemplating your next move, you decide to get going. There isn’t much you can do, but you need to get out. Meeting Cheka’s gaze, you tell him, “I’m going to carry you. Hold as tight as you can and don’t let go. Whatever happens, don’t look. Okay?”
“Okay.” He scrambles to your side and loops his arms around your neck. Standing up, you nearly fall back down as the world spins and your head pounds. Using the wall to right yourself, you push through the bout of dizziness. You heft him up on your good side while leaving one hand free to cast magic.
“There’s going to be a lot of noise, but I want you to ignore it.” He answers by burying his face in your shoulder. Tightening your hold, you inhale sharply. Gathering your magic, you rush out the slightly ajar door.
It bangs open loudly, startling the three men. You recognize one as the stall seller from earlier. Before they can react, you quickly throw fireballs at their feet. You call upon the wind to whip through the small area. It stirs the dust on the ground and sends smaller objects flying.
“What the hell?!”
You squeeze your eyes shut as you make a dash for the exit. Rushing outside, you stumble a bit before breaking out in a mad dash. It’s still dark out, but the moonlight makes it easier to navigate.
They have two horses tied up nearby. Honing wind magic with sharp focus, you direct it to cut through the rope. The horses rear in fright and immediately run off. At least the kidnappers won’t be able to use them.
“Shit! Get them! Bring the brat back alive!”
You hold Cheka tightly against you as you pump your legs. Nothing else matters except getting to somewhere safe. At the outskirts of town, you can make the faint glimmer of lights in some of the houses. Urging your magic once more, a wind pushes against your back, allowing you to run just a little faster. You can hear the kidnappers shouting but don’t look back.
Cheka keeps his eyes squeezed tight like you told him, but his whole body shakes. You continue to mutter reassurances to him, though at this point you’re trying to reassure yourself too. Feeling the fatigue of using magic so much, you let the wind die down. You can only do a little more magic before it becomes an issue.
Passing by a few homes, you call out, “Please, someone help us!”
No one answers. You see houses that were once lit suddenly turn dark. Gritting your teeth, you adjust your hold on Cheka. You can hear the kidnappers getting closer. Rushing down side streets, you zigzag through the town. You knock over trash cans in different directions before bolting down a different alley.
There’s a brief respite from all the running once you can no longer hear the kidnappers. You set Cheka down to catch your own breath. Your chest burns from the exertion. The throbbing in the back of your head has gotten worse. Cheka stares up at you with worried eyes. He gnaws on his lower lip.
Glancing around, you spy a large, water drum near the door of a house. Usually used to store rain water, you notice the crack in the side of the drum. The house itself is dark and looks to be empty. There’s also a clothing line with dry clothes and a blanket hanging. There’s a sack leaning against the drum, and you can see a shirt sleeve sticking out of it.
An idea starts to form. “Cheka, I need you to be very brave right now. I know this situation is very scary, but I promise that you’ll be safe. Do you trust me?” You kneel so your eye level with him.
He nods solemnly. Any of that usual joy is gone, and it breaks your heart. “I trust you.”
“I need you to hide in that water drum. Hide in there and count slowly to one hundred.” You pull out the mechanical meerkat you had picked up. Thankfully it still works as it jumps out of your hand and climbs up Cheka to settle on his shoulder.
There’s a small smile on his face for a moment. “Then,” you continue, “once you finish counting and you don’t hear anyone around, I want you to use the meerkat to lead you home. You remember what Leona told you, right?”
“Yes… He said I just have to ask it to take me home, and it’ll lead me back to the palace.”
Nodding, you ruffle his hair. “Good. Now get in the drum and don’t come out until you’re done counting.” You pop off the lid.
Cheka climbs into the drum. He peers up at you. “Will you be okay?”
“I’ll be fine. We’ll meet back at the palace, I promise.” Giving him what you hope is a reassuring smile, you place the lid on the drum.
Grabbing the sack of clothes and the blanket, you dawn a large jacket and pull the hood up. You mentally apologize to whoever you’re stealing from and promise you’ll return everything. Covering the sack with the blanket, you hold it as if it were Cheka.
Breathing deeply, you give one last glance at the drum before running off. You can hear the kidnappers nearby and purposefully run by them.
“There! Get them!”
Running down streets and turning corners, you can hear them gaining. Just as you turn another corner, you come to a fence. There’s a stack of crates that you climb on to jump over the fence. However, the landing isn’t perfect as your foot lands the wrong way. You tumble forwards into the ground. Tucking the sack under your body, you come to a rolling stop. Getting back up, you wince as pain shoots up your leg.
One of the kidnappers, the stall owner, is rushing at you. As you attempt to flee, he manages to snag the back of the hood. You find yourself being dragged back. Then a clawed hand roughly grabs the back of your head causing the pain from before to intensify. Your eyes widen as you face rapidly meet the ground before you squeeze them shut.
The burst of pain as your forehead cracks against the cold ground has you seeing stars. You cry out, but the assailant doesn’t stop. Something cracks loudly. An animalistic howl rips from your throat. You swear your face is on fire.
“Hey, man, stop!” There’s some struggle before the clawed hand disappears. You feel the cold ground pressing against your cheek but can’t see anything beyond the tears.
Someone rolls you over and the blanket is torn away. “Fuck! Where’s the brat?!”
Three shadows hover over you in the morning light. You feel a foot nudge your side. “Where’s the kid!?”
Through the pain, you find yourself smiling despite your face protesting against the gesture. You hand twitches and shakes as you try to raise it. However, a heavy pressure immediately stomps on your hand causing another scream to be ripped from your throat. You can feel the bones being ground down by the heel of someone’s foot.
“Not this time fucking mage!” growls one of them
“We’re gonna ask one last time. Where’s the boy?”
Through blurry vision, you can see their faces. Your heartbeat thumps in your ears as you see a glint of a knife in one of their hands. You were supposed to be a tutor, that’s it. Yet, you somehow find yourself bloody, bruised and beaten. There’s nothing you can do.
Whatever adrenaline that was rushing through you before, dies down. Your body sags as all the fight leaves you. Closing your eyes, you wait.
“Not gonna talk…” The foot on your hand moves away.
“Just kill them! We need to get outta here before the guards are called.”
You wonder if Cheka made it back safe.
“Let’s get this ove-arhhhhgghhh!”
Terrified screams fill the air. You can feel the crackle of magic on your skin. Gentle hands gingerly lift you up. The warmth of another body feels like a relief from the cold ground. Something tickles your face.
“You’re all a bunch of idiots. Hurting someone from the royal family is a crime punishable by death!” Leona growls. There’s a sense of relief that floods your body. You're safe.
“Take (Y/N) back to the palace and have the royal doctor take care of the injuries,” he orders. You’re passed off to someone else.
“I am the one who hungers. I am the one who thirsts.” Distinctly you can hear the kidnappers shouting and feel the ground shake.
But soon you can’t hear anything. It doesn’t matter though as you allow yourself to slip away.
When you wake once more, you’re not in a grungy basement. You recognize your room at the guest house. Whatever aches and pains you had before aren’t as pronounced. Sitting up, you inspect your arms and notice your hand is bandaged up. You touch your face with your good hand and wince. There’s a dull throbbing all throughout your face.
“You’re awake.” The doctor, a cat beastman, enters. “How are you feeling?”
“Sore but fine.” You lean back against the propped up pillows. “Is Cheka okay?”
She checks your pulse. “The young prince is fine. Tired and scared, but he wasn’t hurt. You on the other hand needed a lot of fixing.” She clicks her tongue. “Your nose was broken and the area around it was extensively bruised. Your hand will need time to heal naturally, though I did reset it with magic. Your head should be fine after a few days, but you will feel some pain. Take one pill in the morning and one before bed. Drink plenty of water and get rest.”
Frowning, you set the bottle of pills down on the side table. “I’m Cheka’s tutor, I need to work.”
“You will do no such thing for at least a week,” she snaps. Her mismatched eyes glare at you as she shakes her head. “I will tell the king that you need rest or else.”
Shrinking under her gaze, you nod. “...fine.”
“Good. There’s some people here to see you.” Gesturing to the door, you finally notice Cheka peeking in.
He rushes to your side, but stops himself as he takes in the sight of you. “I’m sorry!” he suddenly cries out.
You panic as tears fall down his face. “C-Cheka? It’s okay! I’m fine!” You stroke his head with your good hand. “Everything turned out alright in the end.”
“B-but you got hurt because of me!”
Shaking your head vehemently, you give him a firm look. “You didn’t hurt me, Cheka. Those kidnappers did. Don’t ever think it’s your fault. Okay?”
Sniffling, he nods. “O-okay.”
Sighing, you give him a few more pats. “I won’t be able to do lessons for a week, but I’d like it if we could still hang out.”
Golden eyes brightening, he jumps up. “I’ll visit you everyday! We can read and play games together!”
“That sounds like a plan!” Giving him a big grin despite the throbbing pain, your heart feels lighter seeing him shine again.
He gingerly wraps his arms around you in a warm hug. There’s a cough that breaks up the hug. Leona casually leans against the door frame. “Come on, brat. Time to give (Y/N) some space.”
“Okay! I’ll be back soon. I promise!” He scampers off.
Leona saunters in and takes a seat at your bedside. “You look like shit, herbivore.”
“Thanks for pointing out the obvious.” The glare you throw him has no heat and a smile forms on your face.
He eyes you for a moment before shaking his head. “You’re a lot of trouble, ya know that?” There’s fondness despite the scowl.
“Thank you for saving me.” Your gaze softens. “I really thought I was done. I can’t tell you how relieved I felt hearing your voice.”
Leaning back in the chair, he smirks. “Ya owe me one.”
Eyebrows flying up, you warily ask, “What do you want?”
“Well,” he holds up three fingers, “you have to be my napping pillow whenever I ask. Play chess with me. And you can’t leave.”
Brows coming together, you frown. “I can do one and two, but three isn’t possible. You do realize I’m hired by your brother to be Cheka’s tutor? Once I’m no longer needed, I have to find a new job.”
Scoffing, Leona leaves the chair to hover over you. He’s dangerously close and you can hear your heart thumping in your ears. “I’ll just hire you as my tutor when the time comes.”
“You?” Despite his closeness, you still find the ability to laugh.
“Mhm. I believe there are some things that only you can teach me.” His eyes gleam brightly as he inches ever closer to your face.
You can feel his lips brush against your own. Squeezing your eyes shut, you wait. Even though your face hurts, you decide you don’t mind if he kisses you. Instead, you feel his lips brush against your forehead. Cracking your eyes open, your puzzled look makes him chuckle.
His eyes are darker than before. “The doc says you can’t do anything strenuous. She’d have my head if I tried anything right now. But once you're healed, everything is fair game.”
You feel very warm under his gaze. However, you’re also itching to heal as quickly as possible. You suddenly recall Cheka’s very innocent question about marrying Leona. Looking away from him, you wonder.
“Whacha thinkin’ so hard about?” he asks, noticing the way you can’t meet his gaze.
Shaking your head, you scoot over in bed. “Nothing. Since I’m on bed rest, you can comfort me.”
A single eyebrow goes up. “Gettin’ bold.” However, he crawls under the covers before hauling you closer to him.
Resting your head against his chest, you relax. “So, are we…?” You trail off, not sure how to ask.
He snorts. “Of course we are. Keep up, herbivore.” Leona holds you gently, being sure not to touch any of your injuries. “Just rest,” he orders.
Closing your eyes, you decide not to worry about the logistics. Right now, you’re not Cheka’s tutor and Leona isn’t a prince. You’re just two people. And it’s perfect.