viernes, 19 de mayo de 2017

forget-me-nots

forget-me-nots

by esutonia

Summary

"Yuuri had to admit, his curiosity was piqued. He had heard stories of the Snow Queen

before, but had never thought that she was real. Then again, he thought, if those fairies that

kept snatching twigs from their woodpile existed, why wouldn’t their queen?"

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen meets Yuuri!!! On Ice.

Notes

Full disclosure: I have never written fanfiction before. Like, ever. But I noticed a startling

lack of Snow Queen AUs in this fandom, and I believe that I can help fix that. At first,

Victor always seemed like Kai in The Snow Queen. But the more I think about it, the

more I want to see this flipped on its head. I hope I have represented the characters to the

best of my ability.


Story the First: 

The Imp.


Once, there was a small village, nestled in between mountains far in the North. Few people lived there, but they shared a solemn familiarity that could only be found in tiny, isolated communities.

Everyone, even the mayor, lived in stone cottages with thatched roofs and chimneys. Children regularly gathered together to play games outside, while their parents cooked meals indoors and gossiped. However, magic lived in this land. And not all magical beings meant well.

For once there was also a malevolent imp, who was one of the meanest, most spiteful creatures to ever live. He was terribly skilled at magic, and he created a most horrible invention: a cursed mirror, that, when looked into, made everything beautiful in the world shrink away, while all ugly things were blown massively. He who looked into the mirror found nothing but ugliness all around him. The most beautiful rose morphed into a twisted weed; a freckle on his sweetheart’s cheek became a grotesque wart on the face of a witch. Over time, someone who looked at the world this way became cold and spiteful, just like the imp.
The imp, of course, showed the mirror to everyone he could find. He horrified the townspeople, one by one, until every person in the land had seen that mirror. This was not enough for the imp— who else could he frighten with such an ingenious thing?
An idea came to him, one day: he would fly the mirror to the heavens and flash it in the faces of the angels. How delightful, he cackled, it would be, to see their pearly faces twist in shock and disgust! The imp hefted the mirror, slippery and cold from the snow, and carried it into the sky.
He dragged it higher and higher, past the trees, past the mountaintops, past the small village that was nearly invisible under a blanket of snow. The frigid glass felt heavy in the imp’s grip, sliding steadily down. Finally, the mirror fell from the imp’s spindly fingers and plummeted back to earth. 
It shattered into a million pieces as it hit the ground, and an icy wind swept the tiny shards all over the land.
Imagine, how much havoc that mirror caused! Pieces blew like dust, settling into cracks and
crevices across the kingdom. Some were made into windowpanes, so that all the little girls and boys saw disgusting wastelands when they looked outside. Others were made into spectacles and magnifying glasses, tainting the sight of the young and the elderly alike. Others, still, flew into people’s eyes and were buried under their skin, turning their bodies cold and vengeful and their hearts into lumps of ice.
The imp was not bothered by this at all, of course. In fact, he laughed fiendishly at the mess he’d made, fluttering off into the wind.
And when the fine mirror particles settled back to the ground, a most terrible thing happened.


Story the Second:
The Queen.

Chapter Summary
"Just outside sat a woman, with snow-white hair and pale blue skin. She wore an
intricate crown of ice and held her head high, frozen hands holding a white fur mantle
around her shoulders. He could do nothing but stare at her in surprise and fear."
Chapter Notes
I'm posting the first two chapters of this fic together, as I felt that chapter one didn't
quite set up the story all by itself. More strange things are to come....
See the end of the chapter for more notes

Snowflakes danced in the air, shimmering as the weak sunlight glanced off the crystalline pieces. He squinted, tilting his head towards the sky as he tried to make out the six points of each flake. His short, inexperienced legs toddled across the ice with little coordination as he took in the winter landscape with childlike wonder. A sudden motion caught his eye and he looked directly in front of him, a second too late. Something shiny cut across the corner of his vision—something silver—
“Yuuri!”
He was dimly aware of something solid against his back, cold already seeping into his thick winter coat. (It’s blue, his favorite colour. Though it would be black soon, judging by the water that it is undoubtedly soaking up.) A pair of skates slid into view as Yuuri propped himself up with one arm, and another arm, clad in a white winter jacket, reached down to help him up. “Yuuri, are you okay?” He looked up, finding a pair of large brown eyes worriedly fixed upon him.
Wincing, he accepted Yuuko’s hand and got to his feet (as gracefully as one could manage, in full winter gear with baby fat to spare).
“I’m fine, Yuuko.”
Another pair of hands gently braced his back and shoulder, as if afraid that Yuuri would shatter like a shard of ice. The owner of the hands speaks quickly, in nervous sentences. The jagged words hurt Yuuri’s ears; surely there was no need to worry so much.
“I’m so sorry about that! I didn’t see you, I’m so clumsy. Are you alright? I’m so, so sorry.”
Yuuri turned his head, and was shocked by a pair of blue, blue eyes. They were bright and lively and fixed on his face in concern, and Yuuri might have been enamored instantly if he hadn’t been slightly concussed. The strange boy’s hair caught the sunlight, silver as a fox’s fur. The rest of his face was shrouded in shadow, having blocked the sun as he towered several inches above Yuuri.
In a moment, Yuuri gathered up his scattered thoughts.
“It’s alright, it was my fault,” Yuuri said, feeling slightly guilty for the boy’s frazzled reaction.
“Oh, but I didn’t mean to knock you down! Are you sure you’re fine? You’re so small, I could
have crushed you!”
Yuuri didn’t know whether or not to be offended by this. Yuuko wrapped one arm around
Yuuri’s shoulder, and grasped his opposite arm securely.
“Yuuri’s a tough one. He’s already fallen ten times today; one more knock won’t hurt.”
“What? Ten times? Are you a hockey player or something?” The boy’s rosy cheeks changed
shape as he smiled.
“No, it’s my first time on the ice,” Yuuri mumbled, burying his face in Yuuko’s coat.
“Wow! The first day it always rough,” the boy said, “even if you don’t have clumsy people like
me hanging around the pond. But you know, I’ve been on the ice for five years now.” He puffed out his chest slightly, face flushed with pride. “I could help you get better at skating. If you’re not still mad at me for what happened.”
Yuuri couldn’t help but snap his face up at him, eyes widened incredulously. For even if Yuuri had just been bowled over a minute before, the tutelage of an older and wiser child is tempting. He barely opened his mouth to say yes before Yuuko blurted, “he’d love to!”.
The boy’s (beautiful) smile widened, and he formally extended his hand to Yuuri. “Okay. I’m
Victor Nikiforov, and I am very sorry for hitting you just now.”
Yuuri wiggled his right hand free from Yuuko’s grasp to shake Victor’s hand. “I’m Yuuri
Katsuki. And I accept your apology.”
Round, brown eyes locked onto blue, blue eyes.
That day, two children bound their lives forever.
Years passed, and the young and toddling boys grew tall and gangly, albeit at different paces.
They never forgot their shared love of the ice, and so grew together like roses in a garden. Victor and Yuuri felt very much like family, and, indeed, their families grew close as well.
Victor with the blue, blue eyes became Yuuri’s dearest friend. They spent nights by the hearth at each other’s homes, bundled in blankets still big enough to cover their growing bodies and reading fairy tales by firelight. Victor’s grandfather would regale them with his adventures in the King’s army as Victor and Yuuri hung onto every word, even after Victor’s little brother Yuri (affectionately nicknamed Yurio, much to his chagrin) had long fallen asleep against his shoulder.
They had even adopted a pair of poodle puppies together as teenagers, though Yuuri’s Vicchan had long since passed on.
Even as young adults, they were still the best of friends. Victor had stayed in the village for far longer than the other ambitious men. Part of it was for Yurio’s sake; their grandfather would be heartbroken if the now-wild teenager got himself into trouble. It would pain Victor to uproot his dog, Makkachin, from his lifelong home as well. But Yuuri always suspected that Victor was afraid of leaving behind all his friends and family, even if it meant sacrificing a lustrous career away from home. Regardless, Yuuri could hardly complain about having his childhood friend by his side. Apart from Victor, nearly all of Yuuri’s other friends had long since scattered or settled down. Yuuko still lived a few houses down from Yuuri, but with three children she had different responsibilities.
Although he was twenty-one and old enough to start a life of his own, Yuuri preferred to help his parents manage their small, aged inn. It was the only place in town where travellers could rest for the night, and though his parents had managed it for as long as Yuuri could remember, they were getting older and needed their children’s help (even if they never said so). So Yuuri helped his mother cook and serve meals for their ever-dwindling guests while his sister, Mari, and father cleaned the rooms and greeted customers. It was a simple existence, or be sure, but Yuuri was never one for complexity. He enjoyed the simple things in life: planters of forget-me-nots, pork cutlet bowls, and blue eyes.
But every once in a while, he escaped from the house and sprinted towards the frozen village
pond, worn ice skates in hand. He had grown leaner and braver since his early days of skating, twirling and flying freely as a bird. His thick winter fleeces were forgotten; he was no longer afraid of the cold. On the ice, he spoke with his body, with emotions that he could never show in any other way. The music played in his head, a tune he had once heard at a village parade, one with fiercely driven strings and fiery passion. All other thoughts fled his mind, occupied only by that music. When he spun to a stop, the spell broke; the world rushed back to him like a cold gust of wind.
Across the ice, a lone blurry figure applauded. Yuuri squinted, attempting to make out the figure’s face, but only seeing his silvery hair. He broke into a warm grin, skating to the edge of the pond where he was engulfed in a great hug. Not a second later, a big bundle of curly fur attempted to leap into his arms, attacking him with a flurry of doggy kisses.
“You were amazing,” Victor said, his warm breath tickling Yuuri’s ear. Makkachin sits down in the snow and barks once, his long tail wagging and tongue lolling happily.
“What are you doing here?” Yuuri asked, pulling away. “Are you skipping your chores again?”
He adopted a scolding tone, but his eyes were fond. He greets Makkachin as well, stroking his fluffy head.
“No! Of course not!” Victor retorted indignantly. “I stopped by your house earlier to invite you over, but your mother told me you had gone out. Without a jacket, too! Are you crazy?” At this, Victor produced Yuuri’s winter coat and draped it over Yuuri’s shoulders.
Yuuri clutched the coat around himself, grateful for the warmth. He rolled his eyes at Victor, but didn’t push his hand away. “Come on,” Victor said. “Dedushka made pirozhkis for dinner. You don’t want Yurio eating them all.” With an arm still around Yuuri, Victor helped Yuuri exchange his ice skates for boots and walked him home, the dog bounding ahead eagerly. Yuuri felt warmth in his cheeks, and his heart fluttered like a bird in his ribcage.
In a few months, Yuuri’s skates made their home in the back of his closet, where they would stay for the rest of the warm season. The snow in the village largely disappeared, save for the snow caps on the mountains. More guests came through the inn’s doors; it was a better time for travel, after all. Though not all guests were exactly “normal”.
Yuuri remembered the last snow of that winter; the way the snowflakes seemed unusually fat and clumped, so that he could see them outside his window even with his less-than-ideal vision. (“We’ll get you some spectacles, dear,” said his mother. “As soon as the next merchant who makes them comes by.”)
“The snowflakes look like white bees, don’t they?” Yuuri mumbled, to no one in particular. He rested his chin on his arms, folding them across the windowsill as he looked up.
“The Snow Queen is out there, leading them on,” Mari said, cigarette between her teeth.
“Snow Queen, huh? Is that a real thing?”
“Yeah,” Mari replied, with an unusually grave expression on her normally-deadpan face. “If she comes in, I’ll light her on fire. Nothing but trouble from their kind.” She turned away, shuffling footsteps disappeared down the hallway.
Yuuri had to admit, his curiosity was piqued. He had heard stories of the Snow Queen before, but had never thought that she was real. Then again, he thought, if those fairies that kept snatching twigs from their woodpile existed, why wouldn’t their queen?
He sat up, wedging his fingers under the sill and pushing the window up. Puffs of snow landed in his hand as he stuck it outside, and they settled there for a good few seconds before melting.
Above, the clouds churned with a grumpy grey expression that resembled Yuuri’s Russian
History teacher (“Don’t be upset, Yakov doesn’t like anyone,” Victor assured him).
A cold gust blew dozens of the snowflakes through the window, cutting through Yuuri’s thin
shirt. He shivered and shut his eyes, despite having weathered much worse winters. When he opened them, he nearly jumped out of his skin in shock, flying back from the window. Just outside sat a woman, with snow-white hair and pale blue skin. She wore an intricate crown of ice and held her head high, frozen hands holding a white fur mantle around her shoulders. He could do nothing but stare at her in surprise and fear. She gave him a smile that did not reach her eyes, and reached out to caress his cheek. He flinched; her hand stung with cold. The Snow Queen smirked at this, as if delighting in his discomfort, but retracted her arm. Then, with a wave of her hand, a gust of wind carried up a great deal of snow from the drifts outside. The snow swirled around her, temporarily obscuring her from view. When it cleared, she was gone.
He blinked hard, still unsure of what had happened. The snow, steadily gathering at his knees, forced him off the floor and towards the window to close it. As soon as Yuuri’s fingers forced the wood together with a satisfying thud, warmth returned to the room. It was as if the Snow Queen had never been there at all. Except, Yuuri noticed, for the delicate leaf-like pattern of ice that coated the closed window, and the quickly-melting snow around him. What Yuuri did not notice, however, was the Queen’s curse, bestowed upon him with a flick of the hand.
The cold broke its hold on the village the very next day. The sun emerged, forcing the clouds to beat a hasty retreat, and warming up the frozen ground. Within hours, the snow miraculously melted, revealing green grass and flower buds. Despite his shock, Yuuri tried to ignore his nagging anxiety.
Yuuri traded ice skating for gardening, moving his forget-me-nots outside and tending them
lovingly. Though he couldn’t see the flowers as well as he used to, their colour was vibrant and familiar. Sometimes, he and Victor would sat out in the sunshine, making flower crowns and bouquets and enjoying the breeze. As his fingers wove together the delicate stems, Yuuri hummed a tune he was once taught by Michele, a friend of his from school. Occasionally, Victor would mumble the lyrics absently as he was reading beside him.
“Stammi vicino, non te ne andare
Ho paura di perderti…”
“Yuuri!”
Both Yuuri and Victor’s heads snapped up, fixing on Mari jogging across the yard towards them.
She held a small oblong box, nearly shoving it into Yuuri’s arms. “You’ll never believe what
happened,” she panted. “It arrived in the mail today. A pair of spectacles. For you.”
“Me? But—who could have known—” Yuuri began, stopping when Mari shook her head.
“No idea. Don’t get too excited though. You never know who’s behind it. I’m helping Mom make dinner, I’m supposed to watch the pot.”
“Well—um. Th-thanks,” Yuuri said, looking down at the innocuous box. Mari shrugged, turning on her heel and sprinting back towards the house.
Victor shut his book, leaning over Yuuri’s shoulder. “Who would send you something like that?”
“No idea,” Yuuri replied. He cracked open the box, revealing a pair of beautifully-fashioned
spectacles. The rims were blue, and shimmered like ice. They were almost as beautiful as a certain pair of eyes, Yuuri thought, but it fled from his mind the next moment. Gingerly, he picked them up from the box, as if afraid that they would break in his hands. He was mesmerized, almost frighteningly so. Victor watched with curiosity as Yuuri carefully opened the arms of the glasses and slipped them on.
As soon as the frames settled before Yuuri’s eyes, the village bell tower struck five o’clock.
“Ouch!” Yuuri cried, hand flying to his chest. For at the same moment that the cursed spectacles, which contained the shards of the imp’s ugly mirror, were worn, another single shard struck Yuuri
Katsuki in the heart. The Snow Queen planed curses elaborately, you see. The mirror, which
caused all beautiful things to turn ugly to those who looked in it, had been given to Yuuri. He felt no pain, but the glass was embedded all the same, and quickly began to turn his heart to ice.
“Yuuri! Yuuri, what happened?” Victor’s blue, blue eyes snapped to Yuuri’s figure, brows
furrowed in worry. He reached out to touch Yuuri’s shoulder, but recoiled when Yuuri suddenly turned his head towards him.
His expression was utterly blank, devoid of all emotion. There was no sparkle in those wide
brown eyes, the smallest flush in his rounded face drained. His mouth formed a hard line, and Victor flinched reflexively.
“My, what gray hair you have,” Yuuri sneered. “Trying to look like my father, Victor?”
Victor’s worry turned to hurt. “Wh-what? What’s going on with you? Yuuri, this isn’t funny.” But Yuuri had already turned away, frowning at the forget-me-nots in their planters.
“Ugh. This flower’s petals are misshapen. And that one has holes in its leaves. They’re all quite ugly, don’t you think? Of course they are.” With that, he uprooted the plants one by one, crumpling them in his fist and carelessly tossing them aside.
“Yuuri! What are you doing?” Victor got to his feet to stop him, but Yuuri jumped up much more quickly and sprinted away from the yard. Victor gave chase, remembering that Yuuri had never once run a foot-race without Victor “accidentally” letting him win. Something was wrong with Yuuri, though; his pace far outstripped Victor’s, and he was quickly lost among the trees. Victor doubled over, panting, his mind racing; were the spectacles cursed? That was the only explanation for Yuuri’s sudden change in behavior. This was no longer his sweet, red-in-the-face Yuuri; it was a mockery of his true self—a cruel substitute. Victor was willing to run until his legs gave way if it meant finding Yuuri, but he knew that he couldn’t hope to catch him as it was. The sky, completely cloudless a few minutes ago, was quickly being obscured by heavy clouds. He felt the wind picking up and shivered in his light coat, knowing that snow was approaching. He turned back, and ran as fast as he could to Yuuri’s home to alert his family.
He struggled in the snow by the time he arrived. The storm, by that time, had grown into a
blizzard, and the snow climbed steadily past his ankles and obscured his vision. Without bothering to knock, he barged into Yuuri’s house. Almost immediately after stammering something coherent to Yuuri’s parents, he ran back to the front door to search for him. Mari tackled him from behind, arms around him in a death grip.
“You can’t go back out there,” she yelled, her voice anguished. Victor fought her, but Mari was every bit as strong as her father and stubborn as her brother. She wrestled him to the floor, where he slumped in defeat. He smacked the door with his hands, silently cursing the winter’s cold.
When Yuuri intercepted the forest path, he felt oddly light and refreshed. His heart, rapidly
cooling, felt no strain from his run. He walked along the road, away from the village and into the heart of the mountains. The air grew colder and snow began to fall, but Yuuri did not feel cold. In fact, Yuuri did not feel much of anything. At a bend in the path, he glimpsed a white sleigh in the distance. He jogged to catch up, meeting a regal-looking woman seated in the driver’s spot. With a flick of the wrists, her sleigh halted. Her blue, frozen hands clutched onto white leather reins attached to two plow-horses made of ice. She smiled at Yuuri, her crown of ice catching the fading light.
“You came, sweetheart,” she purred. She leaned sideways and kissed Yuuri on the cheek, causing ice to radiate over the side of his face. He ignored it, bowing obediently. The Snow Queen offered her hand, helping him into her sleigh. “Come with me, darling. You are far too lovely for this place.” She shed her fur cloak, draping it over Yuuri, who wore only a light jacket. The Queen’s hair, long and white, cascaded around her shoulders as she spurred the horses onward.
Yuuri’s heart no longer soared like a bird. It was growing colder by the minute, and except for a brief moment of fear that he felt at the Queen’s kiss, he felt no pain. He felt nothing at all. And though he recalled something blue, blue and beautiful, he glanced at the Queen’s frostbitten face, and decided that ice was so much prettier.

Story the Third:
The Enchantress.
Chapter Summary
"He lost track of time; all that he thought of was the way Yuuri rubbed the back of
his head when he was embarrassed, the way his eyes widened comically when he
was surprised. He vowed to himself that he would not rest until they were together
again. Spring bloomed around him, and he felt great sadness that somewhere, Yuuri
was still cold and frozen. That last sunny day with him seemed a lifetime ago. A rare
moment of warmth, and it was stolen so quickly."

Chapter Notes
I'm looking back at these chapters and I'm really sad that the style is changing! From
now on the plot will be very dialogue-heavy, so now there are fewer flowery
descriptions to indulge in. (Although that's probably a good thing for you guys....)
I did also change the chapter titles, for continuity purposes. It does sound pretty
pretentious to start every chapter with "in which", now that I think about it. But
enough talk.

Word of Yuuri’s sudden disappearance spread around the village like wildfire. His parents,
heartbroken and sick with worry, begged anyone with a lick of faith to pray for his return, and so the villagers did, for the Katsukis were a well-liked family. Victor asked the hunters to search for Yuuri with their hounds. The dogs would invariably lead their owners into the woods, sniffing along, then stop suddenly at the river’s edge, which ran by the school and churned violently. Day by day, the villagers came to the same conclusion: that Yuuri, being a restless young man, had escaped to the woods and drowned in the river.
Victor dragged Makkachin outside every day, vainly following the forest path in the hopes that someday, a black-haired boy would come wandering round the bend. The snow, which had returned full-force, climbed to his knees and stung his face, but Victor would not relent. He shed no tears, lest they freeze to his skin. Somewhere inside him, he clung to a scrap of hope that his dearest was still alive. But the late March cold leached the warmth from his bones until he could no longer stay outside for more than an hour, and he began to doubt his faith.
He ran to the river alone, in a last-ditch attempt to get Yuuri back. His beloved ice skates hung by their laces from his hands, well-worn. He crouched at the riverside, listening to the low roar of the rapids forlornly.
“River, please bring Yuuri back to me. He is my dearest friend,” he pleaded to the waters. They did not reply. “Please,” Victor whispered weakly, trying to hold back his tears. “I’ll give you my only pair of ice skates, just please give him back.” He undid the skates’ laces, dropping them into the water. The river carried them along for a meter, but slowly pushed them back to shore. Victor heard the river speak breathily, like the sound of the current. I do not have your Yuuri, it said.
Angrily, Victor scooped the skates up and tossed them downstream. “Give him back!” He
screamed, falling to his knees. Tears rolled down his face hotly. He crushed the snow under his hands, and his back shook with silent sobs. “Give him back,” he repeated, weakly.
His ice skates bumped the shore at his feet, borne up against the current, and Victor opened his eyes. He is not here, the river soothed. You must find him. Find your love, it called. He lifted the skates from the water, and wiped away his tears. “I will,” he said.
“I’m leaving,” Victor said suddenly, during dinner that evening. Yurio scowled, stabbing a cooked carrot, and his grandfather looked up, curious but unsurprised.
“Are you going to find him, Vitya?” His grandfather asked. The lines of his face seemed to grow deeper, but his smile was warm. Victor nodded.
“How are you planning to do that?” Yurio asked. The boy’s gaze bored into Victor, scrutinizing him. “You’ll freeze to death if you’re not careful.”
“I don’t know,” Victor simply said. “I’ll just have to look.” He put his fork down, scooting his
plate away. His grandfather’s eyes twinkled. He tugged on his greying beard thoughtfully. “Take Makkachin with you,” he said. “You’re excused.”
“I will, Dedushka,” Victor replied, a determined look on his face as he got up from the table. “Try to be well-behaved while I’m gone, Yurio.”
“Don’t be a moron and get yourself killed,” Yurio grumbled. Victor, who seemed to understand, ruffled his brother’s hair fondly and headed off to bed.
“Ah, what the young do for love,” their grandfather hummed.
Victor felt sure that wherever Yuuri had gone, it was somewhere beyond the woods. Somewhere even farther north than their village, if such a place even existed. So the next morning, he and Makkachin rode out on a borrowed horse, a vague route in his head. The snow was receding around them, as if the previous blizzard was only a funny memory, and the woods gave way to yellow, then green, fields.
He lost track of time; all that he thought of was the way Yuuri rubbed the back of his head when he was embarrassed, the way his eyes widened comically when he was surprised. He vowed to himself that he would not rest until they were together again. Spring bloomed around him, and he felt great sadness that somewhere, Yuuri was still cold and frozen. That last sunny day with him seemed a lifetime ago. A rare moment of warmth, and it was stolen so quickly.
After some time—he did not know how long he had been travelling—he approached a lush
meadow populated with flowers of every kind. He could hear them singing cheerily as they
swayed in the wind, and he listened to their music as he passed.
Oh, to have legs of willow and a heart of oak, lamented the poppies. Enjoy your journey, traveller. 
Yuuri? A face unfamiliar to thine eye, said the pansies. Beauty is plentiful; do not fret over such trifles.
Be careful, the clovers warned. Tread softly, for the belladonna is as beautiful as she is deadly.
The flowers were beautiful, but they were brainless and carefree. He looked around for Yuuri’s favorite flower, the forget-me-not, and found none in sight. Victor came to a hill, with a tiny cottage hidden behind the crest. Fields of wildflowers stretched as far as the eye could see, on a carpet of bright green grass. The house was crawling with rose vines, and planters at the windowsills spilled over with marigolds. Thinking that he had nothing to lose, Victor approached the cottage’s door and knocked politely.
He was greeted by a young woman, wearing a dress made of cheap, rough fabric but tailored with the expertise of a seamstress. She had long black hair that billowed around her shoulders, with golden brown skin and a smattering of freckles across her nose. She smiled with painted red lips.
“Hello, miss,” Victor greeted.
“Good day. What is a traveller like you doing so far from home? Come, have a cup of tea with
me,” she said, and pulled him inside by the arm without waiting for an answer. Makkachin
narrowly squeezed in the door before it closed.
She sat him down at a small kitchen table while she busied herself with the kettle. Victor, slightly perturbed, glanced at the cottage’s interior. Rough-hewn cabinets and vases of flowers on every flat surface surrounded him. These flowers did not speak, for they were dead; however, Victor felt quite captivated with their beauty, and with the woman’s beauty….
“Have you seen a young man named Yuuri come by here?” He asked the woman. “He has black hair and glasses…” he trailed off, fixing his eyes on a particularly stunning bundle of amaranths.
“Who’s that?” She set a cup of tea before Victor. “I added some honey and milk. My name is
Anya, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you,” Victor said. He sipped the tea. Its flowery aroma enchanted him. “Did I tell you why I was here? I can’t remember if I did, sorry….” His head felt like it was too full and too empty at the same time.
“Don’t be sorry!” Anya giggled. Her dark eyes were so shiny. They vaguely reminded Victor of someone else’s eyes...then again, maybe they really had been Anya’s eyes all along. “I’ve been so lonely, all these years. You can live with me, and we’ll be best friends forever.”
“That sounds nice,” he replied dreamily. The enchantress’ spell had made him quite quickly forget  about Yuuri, his village, and his family. Like a collector, she wanted to have him as her company.
With a subtle incantation, all of the forget-me-nots in her home (and there were many) withered beyond recognition; she did not want Victor to see them and remember his friend, for then he would soon leave her, just like the last.
Victor wholly forgot about his life before meeting the enchantress, instead languishing with her by his side. He wove flower crowns in the meadow alone, always wondering why Makkachin kept trying to drag him away from the house. He and Anya tended the gardens together and made pelmeni that reminded him of some place that he could never remember. And Anya always greeted him with a smile that could never settle with him. Her smile made him happy, but he felt dissatisfied as if she had never lived up to his expectations.
He rarely ever spoke to the flowers, but as the summer dwindled he spent more time outside in their company. “How do you do, flowers?” He said cheerfully.
‘Tis a golden day, is it not? The dandelions said. Do you hear the calling of the winter geese? The cold is on its way, I fear.
Truly rosy, I must say, quipped the bleeding-hearts. All and well to get some rest, though; the snow does make a perfect blanket.
How I dread the autumn’s tawny decay, chimed in the buttercup. ‘Twas such a long time ago, but I forget it not.
“Forget it not….” Victor mumbled. Hadn’t he heard that phrase somewhere before? Perhaps in a book or a song?
Makkachin trotted up, nosing him in the side. Victor patted him on the head, but he whined in dissatisfaction. Victor looked over, and saw Makkachin with a flower between his teeth. “A gift, for me? Makka, how kind of you.” It was a modest flower, with five blue petals and a wispy stem, but it was the thought that counted—
“Forget-me-not!” He cried, jumping to his feet. “Oh, Yuuri must be waiting for me!” Swinging around, he caught a glimpse of Anya’s figure moving around the kitchen and his mind spun with panic. As quickly as he dared, he crept around the house to untie his horse and shed his jacket to fashion a makeshift sling for Makkachin to ride with. He threw on the horse’s bridle and saddle in record time, climbing on and spurring the animal forward.
“Oh, thank you, Makkachin!” He hugged the dog tightly, letting him lick his face all over as he tucked the flower into his pocket. “It’s almost autumn now. Yuuri’s going to be so mad at me.” If he’s still out there at all, he adds grimly.

Chapter End Notes
Note that Anya is an enchantress, not a wicked witch! 'Tis a very important difference. She's
not a villain, just... a bit misunderstood.


Story the Fourth:
The King and the Skater.
Chapter Summary
"He missed his grandfather. He missed Yurio, snarky comments and all. But most of
all, he missed Yuuri. He tried not to think about it, for he feared his heart would break
entirely. His boots crunched over the dried leaves with the rhythm of a toy soldier.
The steady steps kept his mind in tune, blank for as long as he could."

Chapter Notes
I very much enjoyed writing this chapter. I have to admit, I thought JJ was a really
pretentious guy in canon but the guy's grown on me. Isabella is 100% amazing and I
would so love to see more of her.
Also, my French is pretty bad, so if I messed up the grammar please correct me. Yo
estudio español, desgraciadamente.
Please enjoy!

The stars led the way in the cooling nights; Victor could see the silhouette of Orion peeking out in the great night sky. Polaris led the way north, as did a tugging in his heart. It was as if he was tied to Yuuri by an invisible string.
He did not care for the changes in the scenery. In his younger years, he rarely left the village;
logically, he knew that he should be excited, but could not bring himself to enjoy any of the
unfamiliar surroundings. It was as if he was living a very long dream; he could only hope that bringing Yuuri home could somehow wake him up. He scavenged his way across the map, stripping berries from bushes and trapping the occasional rabbit. The fields had melted away, and he found himself in yet another anonymous forest. His entire being ached.
He missed his grandfather. He missed Yurio, snarky comments and all. But most of all, he missed Yuuri. He tried not to think about it, for he feared his heart would break entirely. His boots crunched over the dried leaves with the rhythm of a toy soldier. The steady steps kept his mind in tune, blank for as long as he could.
Makkachin barked, suddenly diving into the brush. “What, Makka?” Victor asked. The dog
emerged from the foliage, shaking fallen leaves off vigorously. On his head perched a tiny
hamster, no bigger than a mouse and with soft orange fur. It gazed up at Victor with black,
mournful eyes. Boldly, Victor offered his hand to the small creature and let it clamber on.
“How do you do, little fellow?” He murmured. “You haven’t seen a black-haired human around these parts, have you?” The hamster perked up in interest.
“Why, yes, I have!” It chirped. Victor yelped, nearly dropping the poor thing.
“You talk!”
The hamster’s nose twitched irritably. “Of all the strange things that have happened to you, you’re shocked by a talking hamster?” It had a point, Victor had to admit. “Anyway,” it continued, “it seems that you speak of my young master. Do you search for him?”
“Yes, yes, I do!” cried Victor. “He has black hair?”
“The darkest!”
“Is he a figure skater?”
“Only the finest!”
“And you know where he is?”
“I do!”
“Oh, thank you! Thank you!” Victor said, hugging the hamster close. “Where is he?”
The hamster hesitated. “It’s, ah...a bit of a long story. My young master is a very talented skater, yes he is, you see. A few months ago, he received summons from the Prince himself to be an entertainer at his court. He was quite overjoyed, yes, and he has gone off to the Prince’s castle. He shall travel the land in the Prince’s troupe, yes he will.”
“Oh, no.” Victor’s face fell.
“I got lost on the way, yes. In the middle of his travel song.” The hamster’s ears drooped. “I miss him so.”
“Will you take me to him?” Victor asked. “You may ride along with me, and I will bring you back to your master.”
“That would be ever so kind of you,” The hamster replied gratefully. “The last I heard, they were headed back to the Prince and Princess’s palace, they were.”
And so Victor tucked the small hamster into his shirt pocket and mounted his horse, a new
determination in his heart. He spurred the horse forward, and it flew through the trees.
“What do you suppose we’ll do when we get there?” Victor asked. “Surely we can’t waltz into
the Prince’s home unannounced.”
“If the young master is still there, perhaps we’d find him at the servants’ quarters. Unless,
however, they have departed overseas. I know where he lives, yes. He must be worried sick about me.”
Victor worried his lip in silence, instead nudging the horse’s sides gently to pick up the pace. They rode for an hour in silence, watching the landscape whizz by.
“There it is!” The hamster squeaked, poking his head out and pointing his nose towards a
magnificent white castle toward the east. It neighboured several sprawling farms, no doubt run by the Prince’s lords. “Ride past the castle.”
Beyond it lay a massive lake with crystal-clear water, all but a few trees cleared away. It looked so strange with no trees around it, Victor thought. It was almost as if the lake had fallen from the sky.
Fifty meters away was a copse of yellowing trees that surrounded a long row of barracks.
“Perhaps the servants may be more welcoming of a stranger than the Prince,” Victor wondered aloud.
“We won’t know until we try.”
They left the horse behind at the lake, allowing it to drink in peace. Victor held the hamster in his palm, allowing it to point the way. Makkachin trotted happily behind, tongue lolling. Despite probably being empty for most of the day, the servants’ quarters was clean and well cared-for. There were even a few trellises that bore grapevines on the outside walls of the building. The biggest section of the barracks also boasted the largest doors. Victor was a villager at heart, but even he knew a parlour when he saw one. The hamster looked up at him expectantly. “What are you waiting for? Knock!”
Victor held back the lump in his throat and tried not to let his hands get sweaty, lest the hamster detect his nervousness. He picked up the brass knocker and knocked three times. A middle-aged housemaid opened the door. “Hello, Ma’am—”
“Is Phichit there?” The hamster cut in. The maid raised her eyebrows, as if she was more surprised at such an abrupt greeting than hearing a hamster speak. “Who?” Victor asked.
Both of them ignored Victor. “Come in,” said the maid, stepping aside from the doorway. Victor moved across the threshold quickly, and stood at the edge of the parlor politely. He glanced around awkwardly as the maid disappeared down the hall. Somehow this wasn’t how he had expected their grand reunion to go. Makkachin looked up at him with soulful eyes, his tail still wagging.
In a minute, footsteps emerged from the end of the hallway. Could it really be? That somehow, Yuuri had made it all the way over here? He couldn’t suppress a feeling of hurt for being ditched over a career as a figure skater. For the prince, but still.
The maid reappeared, curtsying. “Your young master,” she addressed the hamster. She crisply turned and marched back the way she had come. Victor held his breath.
From the hallway emerged a young man, with dark hair and wide brown eyes. He was lean and graceful in a way Victor appreciated. But he was not Yuuri. His skin was tanned, sun-kissed, in a way that Yuuri’s never was, and even though Victor had not seen his friend in months, he knew that the real Yuuri was a fair bit taller than this man. Victor deflated in disappointment.
“Young master!” The hamster cried. Not-Yuuri’s eyes lit up like two stars, and he rushed towards them. He tackled Victor in a bear hug and hugged the little hamster close.
“Oh, thank you thank you thank you!” The man cried, overjoyed. “Oh, Arthur, I thought I’d
never see you again!”
“Arthur?” Victor questioned. “That’s his name?”
“Yes. And you’ve brought him back to me! I couldn’t thank you enough. I’m Phichit Chulanont,”
Not-Yuuri (Phichit) said, pulling away.
“Victor Nikiforov,” he replied weakly. “And I was happy to help.”
“Victor was very kind to me, yes,” Arthur piped up. Victor is immensely grateful that he doesn’t mention Victor’s previous interest in meeting his “young master”.
Phichit beamed. Arthur climbed from Phichit’s hand to his shoulder and settled there comfortably.
“But seriously, what can I do to repay you?” Phichit asked. “And I mean anything . I could get the Prince to help you."
Victor hesitated for a moment before speaking. He told Phichit everything; his best friend’s
disappearance, the enchantress named Anya, and Arthur’s help. Phichit’s eyes softened as he listened intently. “Have you seen Yuuri pass by here?” Victor asked, when he finished telling his story.
Phichit bit his lip. “I’m afraid I do not know this person.” His mouth formed a hard line, and his eyes sparkled. “But, I am determined to help you as much as I can. Come with me, and the Prince himself shall assist you.” And with that, he took Victor by the arm and led him outside, across the grounds and into the Prince’s palace. Faithfully, Makkachin followed.
“He prefers to be called the ‘King’,” Phichit whispered conspiratorially. “That means you should address him and the Princess as ‘Your Majesties’.”
“Understood,” replied Victor.
Phichit smiled and greeted the door guards, who stepped aside and waved them in. He pulled Victor across the vast foyer and through many rooms, nodding at the many maids and butlers they passed. Victor felt dizzy as he watched what seemed like dozens of wallpapers flash by. The pair stormed into a brightly-lit dining room, where a man and woman appeared to be having lunch. They were both lavishly dressed in the finest clothing; Victor assumed that they were the Prince and Princess. The Prince was speaking animatedly to his wife, winking and using strange hand gestures. Perhaps it’s a royal habit, Victor thought.
“Your Majesty,” Phichit called. The couple both looked up in surprise. Victor flushed, feeling
extremely self-conscious at his (probably disheveled) appearance. With the confidence that
seemed to belong to a peer rather than a servant, Phichit released Victor’s arm and marched down to the head of the table, where the Prince sat, Victor trailing a few steps behind. “King Jean-Jacques, I have a favor to ask. It is of the utmost importance, and I believe only you have the power to help.”
Jean-Jacques raised his eyebrows. “Oh? You flatter me! What is it, Phichit? And who is your
friend here?”
Victor bowed respectfully. “Victor Nikiforov, Your Majesty,” Victor said.
“Please help Victor, my friend,” Phichit cut in. “He is kind and trustworthy, sire, and he needs your help.” He gestured to Victor, as if telling him to explain his story to Jean-Jacques. So he did, sparing no details.
“You poor man,” the Princess said, giving Victor a sympathetic look. She turned to her husband expectantly. “I believe him,” she told her husband. “And,” she added, lowering her voice, “Je crois qu’il est amoureux complètement. C’est l’amour vrai, si j’aie jamais vu ça. Il a besoin de notre assistance, non? ” Victor averted his eyes politely, pretending he could not understand.
Jean-Jacques smiled fondly at her. “Anything for you, Isabella.” He fixed his piercing, but not unkindly, gaze on Victor. “I will help you, Victor. You shall receive the best guidance in your journey to the Snow Queen’s palace, for I have reason to believe that she is behind this. I will provide you with a coach and horses, in true JJ style.”
“Ah, but that’s not n—” Victor began. Phichit threw him a look. “—I mean, I am deeply indebted to you, sire.” He bowed again. “Thank you.”
And so, Victor was given a bed for the night, and his horse was put up in the royal stables. A few years ago, Victor would have never believed he would someday be the guest of a “King”. But his heart was heavy with the knowledge that Yuuri was still lost, all alone, and not even Makkachin could reassure him. He hugged Makkachin close, and after hours fell into an uneasy slumber. 
The following day, Victor was dressed in fine but sturdy clothes. He was given thick snow boots and trousers with woolen mittens, and with them an expensive-looking fuchsia coat. Makkachin received a much-needed bath, provided by the royal groomers, and a healthy supply of bones to gnaw on the journey. But the coach was the most lavish gift by far; crafted of shiny cherry wood and pulled by two white horses. (“We’ll take care of your horse. He’s had a long journey,” said Phichit.) Jean-Jacques and Isabella saw him off personally, waving away his thanks. 
Phichit hugged Victor hard, wishing him good luck. “When you find Yuuri, bring him back here so I can tell him how lucky he is to have you,” he said. Arthur shook Victor’s little finger
formally, thanking him for his help.
Victor said farewell to all of them, his heart filled with gratitude for their kindness, and waved goodbye as the carriage pulled away from the great white castle. He watched it grow smaller in the distance until it disappeared completely.


Story the Fifth:
The Robber.
Chapter Summary
"Victor leaned against a not-so-wet part of the wall and slid down. 'Nothing more to
do than wait, Makka,' he sighed. Water dripped from the ceiling somewhere in the
dark dungeon, ticking away the seconds."

Chapter Notes
I can't believe I started this chapter NOT shipping OtaYuri and finished it with a new
OTP. Oh no...I am descending to a deeper circle of YOI hell. Please enjoy while I
atone for my sins.

With Makkachin cuddled in his lap, Victor dozed as the day rolled by. By nightfall, the coach
had made its way into yet another deep patch of forest. The surrounding conifers completely
blocked the sun from view, so that it was pitch-dark even as the sun set.
Unbeknownst to its passengers, the carriage was spotted by a group of bandits hiding in the trees; who, upon seeing the coach’s rich exterior, could not possibly let this prize slip by. The poor coachman sat oblivious as no fewer than six pairs of eyes watched him.
A black figure darted into the path. The white horses shrieked, rearing up and jolting Victor
awake. He leaned over to the window and pulled back the curtains, but could see nothing through the darkness. The thieves pounced, leaping onto the roof of the carriage and seizing the reins.
They ran the coachman through with their sabres. He dropped dead to the ground as the thieves yanked open the carriage doors and dragged Victor out by the arms. Makkachin snarled, jumping at the heels of the assailants.
“Down, Makka!” Victor commanded. Makkachin heeled, his lip still curled and growling. Victor raised his head to the thieves proudly, shoving down the deep fear in his gut. The oldest thief of the bunch, an old wizened hag, pressed a silver knife to Victor’s throat and smiled menacingly.
Deep wrinkles were carved into her face like cracks in a block of wood, but she had a pair of
sunken eyes that were black as night. Another robber stood behind Victor, restraining his hands. 
“A pretty prince we have here, don’t we?” She crooned. Her cronies snickered and closed in
around them. “A fine price he’d fetch. Who shall we send the bill to, young man? A little
girlfriend, perhaps?” They laughed.
“The prince will have your heads for this,” Victor replied, but he could not keep his voice from shaking. The old robber woman pressed the knife harder against his skin and he gasped.
“Then again, why risk our skins keeping this one alive? I can already tell he’s trouble,” she hissed.
She whipped her head around and barked at her men. “Strip this one of any valuables,” she
ordered. “Wouldn’t want blood staining this lovely clothing.” Rough hands took Victor’s coat and searched his pockets. Satisfied, the robber-woman grinned at him with rotten teeth.
“Now then,” she said. “On your knees.” He complied, his legs weak with fear. She lifted his chin, tilting his head from side to side as if choosing which neck vein to sever first. The silver knife glinted in the dim light and it pressed hard into the side of his neck. Not for the first time, Victor felt like he was about to die. He closed his eyes.
Suddenly, the pressure of the blade vanished and he could hear the old woman screeching as she was pulled back. Victor blinked, gasping as he released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
The silver knife bounced onto the dirt and a black boot kicked it into the underbrush.
“Savages,” a voice growled. “Just take the fucking carriage, all of you.”
Arms hefted Victor to his feet and shoved him towards the carriage. A man pinned the old robber woman against the back of the carriage, letting her thrash until she tired. “I’ll watch him!” The man yelled. “You’re such an idiot! Do you realize how much shit we’d be in if I had let you murder him?” Victor stumbled into the carriage and the door closed, muffling the conversation. He sat there, dumbfounded. Makkachin whined, nosing Victor in the side.
The fight died down and the carriage stopped rocking. Then, the doors swung open and a robber, a young man, sat down across from Victor. He whistled, and the carriage tottered into motion.
Victor stared at the man, who took up the seat nonchalantly. His dark hair was unusually wellkempt for a thief, and by the lantern light Victor could make out his slightly sulky expression. For all of his charm, Victor could find no words to say.
“Uh…” he croaked. “Th-thank—”
“Don’t mention it,” the robber cut in. “As much as I’d like to say that I helped you out of the
kindness of my heart, I’d be lying through my teeth. Though you did look pretty pitiful out there.”
He smirked.
“Then why did you save me?” Victor blurted.
The robber furrowed his brows. “You...remind me of someone I once met. A long time ago.”
“Really?” He asked eagerly. “I happen to be looking for someone, as well. Try me. I remind you of whom?”
“That’s not what I meant—”
Victor waved the words aside. “What’s so similar about me and this person?” He pestered. “If it helps, I grew up in a little village called—”
“Your dog!” The robber exclaimed, exasperated. Makkachin perked up, as if understanding. “A friend of mine once told me about his brother and dog. The dog had curly brown hair, and the brother was tall and annoying and had silver hair.” He flushed, embarrassed. “But I now realize how stupid it was to bring this up.”
“No, no, not at all—hey, were you a friend of Yurio’s?”
“You’re his brother? What the hell happened to him?” The robber looked dumbstruck.
“It’s a long story.”
The robber leaned forward, his hand outstretched. The corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile.
“I’m Otabek Altin. I’ve seen some crazy stuff in my time. Try me.”
Victor shook his hand after a moment’s hesitation. “Victor Nikiforov.”
“I know.”
Victor told his story to Otabek: about life in the village, his best friend, and his travels across the land. By then, he had told the story so many times that it flowed easily. Otabek listened intently, asking no questions. Finally, he spoke to Victor.
“So what happened to Yuri? Your brother, I mean.”
Victor hesitated. “I don’t know. I assume he’s okay, but I haven’t seen him or my grandfather for months. I expect they’re worried about me. How do you know Yurio, anyway?”
Otabek smiled fondly, gazing out the window in thought. “We used to be friends in school. We were both outsiders: I was too quiet, and Yurio was too wild.” Victor gave him a sad smile. “He complained to me all the time about his ‘annoying big brother’, but it was obvious that he admired you.” His expression turned serious. “I moved away from the village when I was ten, after my mother died. I was sent to live with my aunt up north, and—well, you’ve already seen what she’s like.”
“I don’t blame you. It is difficult when the family’s wants do not align with the heart’s.”
“And I can tell that you won’t be happy until you have your best friend back as well.”
“In that, we are the same.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes. All that could be heard was the rolling of the carriage
wheels and the clop of the horses’ hooves.
“I’ll help you,” Otabek said suddenly. “I’ll help you find your Yuuri.”
“You really will?” Victor’s voice sounded pathetically hopeful, but he didn’t care.
“When we get home, I’ll help you escape and get you on your way. But when you return to your home, tell Yurio... I’m still alive. And...I miss him.”
Victor nodded. “Yurio never told me he had a friend like you. He must have really loved you, if he wanted to keep you a secret from us. Please come back. I’m sure he’ll be waiting.”
Otabek’s eyes were soft, and his smile fond. (Victor knew, with sorrow, that continuing to live this life would destroy Otabek’s kind heart, and he pitied him for it.) “I think we were both afraid of losing each other,” he replied.
The carriage shuddered to a stop before a rundown castle. Its blackened bricks were covered with moss that grew from giant cracks in the façade. Gnarled trees surrounded the property, which was not at all like the Prince’s open farmlands.
Otabek’s face hardened and he pulled Victor from the carriage unceremoniously, yanking
Makkachin along by a rope tied around his neck. The other robbers fell back as Otabek escorted the prisoner into the castle and down a long spiral staircase, which led to a wet and moldy dungeon. He shoved Victor into one of the open cells and produced a length of rope, which he loosely tied around Victor’s hands to give the impression that he was restrained.
“Wait until they’ve all gone to bed,” Otabek whispered. “I’ll come and get you then.” With that, he swung the door shut with a loud clanking that echoed up the stairs. Loudly, he said, “And I don’t want to hear a word from you, pretty boy, until morning!”
Otabek whirled around and marched back up the stairs where he came.
Victor leaned against a not-so-wet part of the wall and slid down. “Nothing more to do than wait, Makka,” he sighed. Water dripped from the ceiling somewhere in the dark dungeon, ticking away the seconds.
A few hours later, Otabek’s footsteps padded down the steps. Lifting his head, Victor rose and shook off the fake restraints around him.
As quietly as he could, Otabek unlocked the cell gate, oiling the hinges with a small bottle before swinging it open. The pair (plus Makkachin) tiptoed up the spiral stairs, where Otabek led them through a set of rooms to a back door.
One of the coach’s beautiful white horses stood near the edge of the woods, neck bent to the
ground to eat grass. It had already been bridled and saddled, and it carried a few full saddlebags. 
Nearby, a few full crates sat on the ground.
“There’s some food with the horse for you,” Otabek said. “And—” he reached into one of the
crates. “Some warm clothes, for where you’re headed.” He presented Victor with a warm knitted coat and a new pair of gloves. Though they were less flashy than the ones Jean-Jacques had given him, they felt much warmer. In the pocket, Victor found an old, but still working, compass. 
“There are many ways north,” Otabek said. “Just ride until you can ride north no longer. There are settlers along the way. They know the Snow Queen’s territory much better than I do.” 
Victor’s eyes filled with gratitude, and he hugged Otabek. “You are loved, back home,” Victor
told him. “Please return.”
Otabek smiled. “Perhaps I will. My aunt will most likely kill me when she finds out I’ve turned you loose, after all.” He helped Victor mount the white horse and settle Makkachin comfortably in front.
“Thank you,” Victor said. “Thank you so much.”
Otabek shook his head. “Just go.”
Victor didn’t need to be told twice. He nudged the glorious white horse’s sides, and like a bird it took off, galloping away with the Northern Lights shimmering in the heavens.


Story the Sixth:
The Northerners.

Chapter Summary
"The hours dragged by, the warmth slowly dying from his body like a lantern
running out of oil. Perhaps it was the Queen’s magic that drained the life from those
who dared venture near her home, in the same way that someone with a heart of gold
breathed life into the flowers until they whispered sweet nothings into his ears."

Chapter Notes
We're winding it down here, folks...
A couple of new character cameos are here! I really wish I had expanded on them
more, but, alas, the story must go on! I'm trying to balance out plot points with setting
descriptions, so I apologize if I get a little long-winded at times.

The snow began to fall in earnest. It had scarcely been an hour since he had escaped, Victor
reckoned. With every biting draft of wind, Victor silently thanked Otabek for the clothing he
gifted him. While his face felt numb with the cold, he couldn’t complain about frozen hands.
The forest path had disappeared long ago, so that when Victor turned his head around he could only see the horse’s hoofprints, leading back the way they had come. Even then, the night was making that a challenge. Makkachin was warm against his body; he felt reassured just by his presence. From the small patches of sky that peeked through the trees, the Northern Lights undulated evenly like the sea tide. Its green flares were brilliant, and he thought of Yurio’s eyes.
The horse ran on until the trees became sparser, the snow deepened underfoot and the weather had become unbearably cold. They journeyed into a land that had never seen spring; the wind flung tiny grains of ice around. Years of constant wind had sculpted the snow drifts around him into
smooth figures, much like sand dunes. Victor shivered. The cold was like a sickness; it seeped into his skin and rattled his bones until he felt as if he would never be warm again.
They came upon a lonely house sheltered underneath a rocky outcropping. Its roof was steeply sloped, so low it nearly touched the ground on either side. To Victor’s relief, he could see weak lamplight in the windows. The horse visibly shrank in cold as Victor dismounted; he stroked the poor creature’s nose in apology, promising him rest.
He meant to knock politely, but his hands shook and thudded against the door awkwardly. He huffed and shoved his hands deep into his coat pockets, stamping his feet. Even his mouth was cold; his breath no longer made puffs in the air.
To his surprise, it was a young man who answered the door. Even more unusual was his tanned skin and sun-bleached hair. Victor did not care though. His mind was far past the point of caring.
Like a man who had seen it all, Victor ignored the man’s surprised expression and simply said, “I’m travelling north. How far is the Snow Queen’s palace from here?”
The man raised his eyebrows. “You seem cold,” he replied. “Come in, and tell me why you’re
here.”
A few minutes later, Victor and Makkachin were both swaddled in heavy blankets, a third one heated by the fire having been given to the horse. Again, Victor told his name and story to the Northern man, who introduced himself as Christophe. Unlike Otabek, Christophe occasionally cast down his eyes in sympathy, or politely interrupted to ask a question. Makkachin gnawed on a frozen reindeer bone obliviously, basking in the firelight.
“You’re still at least four hours away from the Snow Queen’s territory,” Christophe told Victor, apologetic. “I may, however, know someone who can be of help to you. I will write a note; take it to her. Baba can do something.”
Christophe straightened up quickly, as if he had realized something. He hurried over to a closet, rummaging within until he emerged with a pair of ice skates in hand. “For you,” he said, giving them to Victor. “An old pair. I have a feeling you might need them.”
Victor was surprised. “Thank you,” he said. “For everything.”
For a while, a blanket of silence settled between them. He changed the subject. “I can’t help but wonder—what is a Southerner like you doing in a place like this? I don’t mean to be rude, but you look like someone from the warmer lands.”
Christophe laughed dryly. “A change in scenery,” he joked. He looked away, his long eyelashes silhouetted against the fireplace. “A life free of indulgence, just for a while. When I return home, I’ll probably have a better appreciation for the summer.”
“You and I can both agree on that. I think I’ve nearly forgotten what the sun looks like.”
Christophe snorted, mouth turning up at the corners slightly.
No sooner than Victor and the animals had thawed out, they set out again. Victor’s grandfather often said “a day is but a second to someone who has waited for years,” but he couldn’t disagree more. Now that he was so close to the North Pole, Victor was determined to rescue Yuuri as quickly as he could. 
Christophe gave Victor a letter, which he accepted with thanks. Waving goodbye to the little
house, the horse ran with renewed energy. Victor also felt the fire’s warmth sticking to his coat, and a hopeful fluttering in his heart that had died down long ago. Makkachin nuzzled into Victor’s coat, sleeping soundly despite the howling of the wind. He ran on, guided by the light of the aurora and a tiny beat-up compass.
The hours dragged by, the warmth slowly dying from his body like a lantern running out of oil. Perhaps it was the Queen’s magic that drained the life from those who dared venture near her home, in the same way that someone with a heart of gold breathed life into the flowers until they whispered sweet nothings into his ears.
Victor had to admit, if it wasn’t for Makkachin’s incessant barking, he wouldn’t have even noticed the house buried in the snow. Actually, it wasn’t even a house, so much as it was a burrow. Only a door stuck out from the white landscape, and that too was sloped downwards like a trapdoor. If he was being honest with himself, Victor was expecting some old crone to greet him at the door. (He was never the most intuitive person.) Instead, he found himself sitting on the kitchen floor sipping hot tea with a girl no older than eighteen, with the most unusual auburn hair and blue eyes.
His hands cupped the mug and he stared at the curls of steam as the girl named Baba read
Christophe’s note across from him. The room was so hot that he was sure he was sweating under his coat, but he dared not complain.
“He really called me Baba?” she laughed. “And here I thought I’d left that nickname behind a
long time ago. I guess my name is only Mila in my head.”
“Otherwise, he flatters me,” she said airily, carelessly tossing the paper onto the nearest counter.
“But I sympathize with your story.” She turned serious.
“What did Christophe mean when he said you could ‘help’ me?” Victor asked. Without a word, Baba—Mila—stood up, walked across the room and hefted a heavy book from her small shelves. She flicked through the pages quickly.
“For you,” she continued staring at the book, “you wouldn’t need anything special. A pair of
skates, perhaps.”
Victor furrowed his brows. “I don’t follow you.”
Mila glanced at him. “The queen is a very powerful being,” she stated matter-of-factly. “Quite frankly, if you were anyone else, I would discourage you from going on this suicide mission.”
“But,” she raised a finger to shush his protests, “you are not just anyone. You are a very persistent man. You have the most powerful magic of all: love. Love will always find a way. You do love this person, right?”
He thought about radiant days on frozen ponds, black-haired boys with baby-deer legs. Tiny blue flowers and the hands that planted them. Italian tenors and Spanish guitars. Love, he realized, was in the little things.
On the ice, Victor was everything: confident, beautiful, skilled. But Yuuri Katsuki made him
dizzier than Biellmann spins, wilder than river rapids, and shyer than buttercups. Yuuri took that perfect Victor Nikiforov and made a mess of him. And he loved every minute of it. There was no epiphany or shocking realization about it. Loving Yuuri came to him as easily as skating.
It was the easiest sentence he had ever said.
“I love him.”


Story the Seventh:
The Lovers.

Chapter Summary
"Victor’s body started to shake, but not with the cold. He bent his head over Yuuri’s
still form; over the eyes that did not see and and the mouth that no longer breathed.
How long had he skated there, alone? Had he hoped that someone would save him?
Was he disappointed that Victor had failed?
Of course not, Victor thought despairingly. I was too late from the start."

The Snow Queen had kept Yuuri as a toy at her palace for many months. She brought him there, at the last snowfall of the winter in Yuuri’s village, and gave him a set of skates made from ice. She stuck around for a month, but grew bored of her plaything. She wanted something more. 
“Give me a dance that can melt the winter, and you shall be free,” she said. Of course, she knew that there was no chance that Yuuri could do that on his own, expressionless and cold as he was.
“Until then, my dear, I must fly to the warm South and deliver my winter cold.” She kissed his cheek, which was now as frigid as hers, and departed.
Victor walked on, Makkachin by his side. The horse was in Mila’s care, having taken the brunt of the cold. Quite frankly, Victor was unsure whether the poor thing could walk another meter. At any rate, Mila had said that the Queen’s palace was just an hour-long walk away. 
The compass sat in his palm, the needle shivering as it pointed north. Polaris winked overhead, a pinpoint of white in the green glow. Its phosphorescence bloomed across the landscape, the sky edged with lavender sunlight. He could no longer tell the days apart, for they were so short and he had journeyed so far. The winds had definitely worsened since he had left Mila’s house. They swept the fine snow grains into his face, coating both of them in a layer of frost. 
Mila was right; within the hour, he glimpsed the spires of the Queen’s palace, sharp like icicles and spreading miles across the land. Despite the warm home that Mila had generously offered to him, he began to shiver miserably. It was one thing to grow up in a place with cold winters, but it was quite another to weather them nonstop. His arms were freed by the rucksack on his back, and he hugged himself to preserve heat.
Victor broke into a run, hoping to reach the castle before he froze entirely. Snowflakes danced in front of him, though he saw no clouds. Before him, the flakes coalesced in a whirlwind and formed shiny white lions—the Queen’s guards, no doubt. He halted in alarm as they crouched down, teeth bared and glistening.
Makkachin tensed as well, snarling as he crept forward to defend Victor. The dog threw a look at his owner, as if to say, “go on without me”. Then, Makkachin charged, baying a challenge. To his surprise, the lions seemed to cower, as if they were nothing more than kittens, and fled from the dog. Makkachin chased them, quickly disappearing in the storm. Victor started to follow, but realized that trying to find Makkachin on his own was not only hopeless, but would likely cost him precious time. He could only pray that Makkachin was safe and would eventually come back to him. He tore his gaze away from the retreating pawprints in the snow, and sprinted onward.
The palace loomed before him and he marveled at its sheer size. The sides of it stretched far past his line of vision, sculpted meticulously of packed snow and clear ice. Icicles hung dangerously from every buttress, and frosted pillars stood out on the facade. In front lay a massive courtyard made of polished ice, which nearly tripped Victor as he approached it. He took off his boots and replaced them with ice skates, leaving them at the edge of the yard. The movement of skating returned naturally to him, and he glided smoothly across.
As he grew closer, he could see that the castle had no front doors. Instead, it opened directly into a massive foyer; in the center, Victor squinted, he could see a figure skating circles on the icy floor. 
He moved faster, more desperately. The wind howled, and he screamed, “quiet!” at them.
Miraculously, they settled and the snow cleared enough for him to see the path forward.
He saw Yuuri, at long last, gliding lazily around the rink, pale and distant. He wore the same
clothing that Victor had last seen him in, though he wore a pair of ice blades that had frozen to his boots. Victor thought he had never seen such a beautiful sight in his life. He all but hurtled towards him, ecstasy and relief coursing through his veins, for it was his Yuuri, his wonderful, graceful, kind—
“Yuuri!” Victor cried. Yuuri did not respond.
When Victor crashed into him, sending both of them to the floor, he did not respond then either.
He did not respond when the cursed glasses, knocked loose from his face, flew sidelong and
shattered, and the wind picked up the pieces and blew them away. For his heart had long since frozen through; it was a cold lump of ice. He no longer loved Victor. He no longer saw him, no longer felt his arms hugging him tightly. “You’re so cold,” Victor whispered.
But Yuuri did not respond. “Are you still there?” Victor said in a small voice. “Please.” He
cupped his hands around Yuuri’s blue cheeks, finding no trace of the bloom that once lived in them. His voice was shaky. “Please.”
But Yuuri laid there; a cold figure pressed against a desperate body. There was nothing left to save within him. The world slowed down and watched, holding its breath.
Victor’s body started to shake, but not with the cold. He bent his head over Yuuri’s still form; over the eyes that did not see and and the mouth that no longer breathed. How long had he skated there, alone? Had he hoped that someone would save him? Was he disappointed that Victor had failed?
Of course not, Victor thought despairingly. I was too late from the start.
Victor Nikiforov had always been a strong person. He was there for Yurio when their parents
died, sacrificing a life outside of his village without a second thought. He had been there for Yuuri when Vicchan died, agonized that Makkachin was a constant reminder of what Yuuri had lost. He had kept his head up when Yuuri disappeared, with a sliver of faith in his heart.
But looking down at his only love cradled in his lap, frozen beyond recognition, Victor Nikiforov could not be strong.
He let go of his tears, and they rolled down his face. Sobs wracked his body as he held Yuuri’s cold head. He cried for love, and for loss. A single tear landed on Yuuri’s chest, soaking through the layers until it reached his heart. It touched the shell of ice that encased Yuuri’s heart, melting it utterly; for not even the Snow Queen could stand up to Victor’s love for Yuuri.
Yuuri blinked.
“Victor,” he said hoarsely. “Why are you crying?”
Victor’s eyes widened in shock. He pressed a hand to Yuuri’s face, as if he would shatter in his arms. “Where are we?” Yuuri asked.
Victor began to laugh. Tears of joy ran from his eyes and he clung to Yuuri like a drowning man. “We’re a long way from home,” he simply replied.
And he swept Yuuri to his feet, spinning him round with happiness. They were like children
again, chasing each other on slippery ice; only this time, they held each other by the hand. Yuuri began to smile, and Victor melted. They danced there, on the ice, to a glorious aria. Yuuri caressed Victor’s face with a cold hand, but Victor leaned into the touch gratefully. It was a lover’s dance, charged with passion and devotion that shook the palace to its foundations. The palace around them thawed, weakened to their emotion. It was a dance that melted the winter. It was a dance that set both of them free.
When the ice beneath their feet was too melted for skating and Yuuri’s ice blades were gone, they skidded to a stop. Their foreheads pressed together, fingers entwined.
“Stay by my side,” Victor whispered.
“I’ll never leave,” Yuuri replied.
And when they kissed, the winter broke. Victor kissed Yuuri’s cheeks, and they became rosy
again. He kissed his hands and feet, and they were warm again. He kissed his eyelids, and his brown eyes glowed. Finally, Victor kissed Yuuri’s lips, spreading warmth through both of them.
Their mouths fit together perfectly, completing a puzzle that neither of them realized was
unsolved. They parted reluctantly, and Victor withdrew from his pocket a tiny forget-me-not, still vibrantly blue and fresh as the enchantress’ garden. He tucked it behind Yuuri’s ear, and Yuuri blushed. 
“I didn’t forget,” Victor said with a smile.
They walked with their hands linked, the stars bright in the cloudless sky. The night air was
absolutely still, with no angry wind to upset its tranquility. Victor traded his skates for boots again when they reached the place where the courtyard once stood, now a field of packed snow and deep puddles. Victor kissed the back of Yuuri’s hand every once in a while, still flushed with joy.
A loud bark startled them both. Victor turned his head to see Makkachin bounding out of the
snow, tongue hanging from his mouth happily. “Makkachin!” He cried. The poodle tackled him in a flurry of curly brown fur and rolled Victor around, frantically kissing his owner’s face. Then, the dog jumped on Yuuri, who yelped in surprise. Makkachin sneezed, shaking snow all over Yuuri and Victor, but they laughed gladly.
Victor told Yuuri everything as they walked together; about the river, the enchantress, the prince and the robbers and Christophe and Mila. And Yuuri listened with shock and awe, shaking his head disbelievingly.
“You did all of that, for me?” Yuuri rested his head on Victor’s shoulder. “Silly.” But his smile
was fond, and his eyes soft.
Before long, they found Mila’s house again, who greeted them with joy and smothered them with warm blankets and tea.
“See? I knew you could do it,” she grinned. “He’s a keeper,” she said to Yuuri. “Take good care of this one.”
After they had warmed up by the fireplace, Mila took them outside where they found not only Victor’s horse, but a second horse with it. The two were nearly identical; Victor realized that this new horse must have been the second carriage horse. To its saddle, a note was pinned: Good luck, from Otabek. Victor smiled; he hoped that Otabek was on his way back to their village.
The white horses carried Yuuri and Victor to Christophe’s house, who also welcomed and
congratulated them.
“I knew you’d done it when the wind stopped blowing,” Christophe said to Victor. “Hah, I’d
probably be here all year if the weather was this nice.” He waved Victor off when he tried to
return his ice skates, and even filled their saddle bags with food for the journey. They bade
farewell, Christophe promising to stop by their village when he made the trek south.
They rode on, until the sun rose in earnest and the sky was a brilliant blue. But Yuuri would
always choose a pair of blue, blue eyes over the brightest summer day. The snow receded until it was no more, and instead green grass abounded underfoot. Ice plains gave way to coniferous forest, which gave way to deciduous forest. Hardy pines and sparse undergrowth soon became leafy oaks and maples jutting from carpets of fern and ivy. The earth awoke from its deep sleep; the birds twittered overhead and squirrels scurried from branch to branch.
The trees fell away and they flew across rolling hills, mosaics of farmland forming a patchwork around them. They thanked the prince and princess as they stopped by the castle, Phichit and Arthur at the servants’ quarters.
(“You should have seen the look on his face when he talked about you,” Phichit whispered
conspiratorially to Yuuri. “He’s head-over-heels in love.”)
Autumn had come and gone, and the dying leaves that Victor had seen before were replaced by verdant growth and new life. Spring had come at last. Flowering meadows sprang up in full bloom as they travelled farther south; Victor listened to the flowers rejoice as they and the horses rested under the warm spring sun. Makkachin ran circles around Victor and Yuuri, chasing butterflies, while Victor wove flower crowns. They sang their old songs together, now understanding their true meaning.
"Stammi vicino, non te ne andare
Ho paura di perderti…"
And when they kissed in the flowers with the sun in their eyes and silver and black hair
entangling, the winter seemed nothing more than a dream.
Soon, they recognized the thatched roofs and stone cottages of their villages, smaller now that they had passed childhood. The one church in the town rang its bell proudly and the villagers milled about, enjoying the coming of spring. Hand in hand, they ran to their homes, greeting their old friends joyfully.
Yuuri’s mother and father were overjoyed, crushing their son in a hug and shedding countless tears. Mari embraced Victor; she did not speak, but Victor understood nonetheless. Yuuko and Takeshi appeared as well, their three girls swarming them with questions and demanding their story. It was as if, Victor realized, nothing had changed at all. But he and Yuuri, exchanging a knowing look, were undeniably different. They had each other’s love, that which no storm could pry apart nor could any mirror distort. Their love was pure. It was all they ever needed.
Victor found his grandfather, Yurio, and Otabek at home. His grandfather pinched Victor’s cheeks and pulled him into a bear hug, scolding him for being gone so long, but Victor knew it was all out of love. For once in his life, Yurio hugged Victor first, grumbling about “scaring us all to death” with his face buried in Victor’s shirt. Deep down, it pained Victor to see his baby brother all grown up. But Otabek smiled, and Victor knew that, no matter how much he denied it, Yurio was happy to have Otabek back. He let that be enough.
All of Victor and Yuuri’s family and friends gathered at the Katsukis’ inn, together at last. They had braved the deathly grip of winter and now stood on the edge of a new generation, bringing life back to the world. Despite all that he had gone through, though, Victor could not bring himself to regret any of it. Not even the Snow Queen, who had taken Yuuri away from him. For even before that fateful winter, the Queen had never actually been that powerful. She gave winter to the village, but not before the springtime and summer made the sun shine all day long and the forget-me-nots bloom.
She could not take anything away forever; eventually, all of the lovely things she kept were
returned.
Victor smiled at Yuuri. Blue, blue eyes, Yuuri thought. Forget-me-nots, Victor replied.
It was their season.

Chapter End Notes
Hoooooo boy I died a little during this chapter. Out of happiness, of course. I hope
this satisfies your Victuuri hearts as much as it satisfied mine. I am very sad that this
had to end, but I'm already thinking of new ideas for fics. You are all wonderful and I
am incredibly grateful for your reading this.

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