[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 2187 words
Prompt: in simplified terms, Kris is a duke, Lay is a courtesan who has a jaded view on life and has trust issues.
Notes: see here. Unedited/unbeta-ed.


Yixing lay awake in his bed, staring out the window at the shadows of a couple lanterns outside the Duke’s guest room, blowing slightly in the light breeze. He let out a long sigh as he turned to glance down at Lu Han’s sleeping figure on the floor next to him; the boy had fervently refused Yixing’s offer to share the bed.

It was the new moon tonight, the first new moon in a very long time that Yixing wasn’t on The Star’s stage, putting on a performance. Tomorrow would be Yixing’s last dance, at least until he somehow managed to find a way back into Lady Pearl’s good graces again. He knew that this could hardly mean anything to the Duke but Yixing felt like he needed to thank the man for letting him undo a regret.

“What do you think, Lu Han? How do I tell the Duke ‘thank you’?” Yixing mused out loud at the sleeping child. Predictably, Lu Han gave no response but a soft snore in between even breathing. Yixing let out another sigh as he turned his focus up at the roof of his bed, hoping that the swirling pattern on the cloth overhead would be enough to lull him into a dreamless sleep.



Yixing took a deep breath as he stared at himself in the small mirror sitting on the table in the corner of the Duke’s guest room. He wiped at a small line of lipstick that seemed to have run away from him since he applied it a few minutes ago. He tried to calm his nerves with a deep breath, only to find it coming out shaky. Closing his eyes, his fingers folded into tight fists as he tried again, only to be interrupted by a clang from behind him.

“Oops,” Lu Han voiced sheepishly, getting to his knees just as Yixing spun around to find one of the stools around the table on its side.

With a long sigh, Yixing stood up to help Lu Han who had just about gotten the chair upright again. “Please be careful, Lu Han,” Yixing started, a scolding tone in his voice, “Lady Pearl was nice enough to let you come with me this time, but if it gets back to her that you’re running around tipping furniture over carelessly, she won’t let me take you with me anymore.”

Lu Han nodded understandingly as he finally, with Yixing’s help, put the chair back in its place. The courtesan let out a soft sigh as he watched Lu Han hop onto the uprighted chair. He doubted it would matter even if the Duke managed to get out to Lady Pearl that Lu Han had been a poor guest; everyone at The Star loved the boy anyway. He had a way with words, always complimenting the girls on their outfits, calling them pretty and convincing them to sneak him snacks. Yixing was pretty sure Lu Han had even convinced the stone faced Lady Pearl to do something for him.

“So, you excited to dance for the duke?” Lu Han piped up, picking up a pair of chopsticks to poke at one of the snacks Minseok had left them this morning.

Yixing raised an eyebrow as he took the seat beside Lu Han. “Why would you say that?”

Lu Han shrugged with a grin before stuffing a whole piece of cake into his mouth, earning a scowl from Yixing. “I know I know, smaller bites,” Lu Han mumbled almost incoherently as he chewed, which only make Yixing scowl harder, “And don’t talk with my mouth full. Okay, okay. I promise I’ll be on my best behaviour later, when the Duke is around.” Lu Han smiled crookedly as Yixing reached over to wipe a dirty spot on the boy’s chin with his thumb.

“You should practice now, then,” Yixing retorted with a shake of his head only to receive a shrug in return before Lu Han reached for another treat.

The courtesan prayed silently that Lu Han would keep his word and act properly later.



Yifan paused for a moment in front of his guest room, hand stilling on the handle as he let out a sigh.

“Your Grace?” Ah Mei chimed beside him, shaking Yifan from his thoughts and reminding him what he was here for in the first place.

“Ah, yes,” Yifan replied after catching a quick glance of a concerned Minseok from behind Ah Mei. “I want you to meet someone.”

Ah Mei nodded, “Yes, Your Grace said they would be the Guest of Honour tonight?”

“Right,” Yifan answered before turning to the doors in front of him again and pushing them open slightly to find Lay wiping something from Lu Han’s chins before Minseok announced the arrival of the Duke. Yifan had to hide the small grin that pulled at the corners of his lips when Lay almost tripped trying to get up as fast as he could to greet the Duke.

“This is…?” Ah Mei asked from beside him, voice almost inaudible as she eyed Lay with a sceptical eye.

“A dancer,” Yifan finished for her, hoping to dispel any prejudgement Ah Mei might have about his ‘guest’. “She’ll be putting on a show for us before dinner.”

The Duke chanced a look in Lay’s direction, tucking his hands behind his back as he watched the courtesan smile politely and bow in greeting towards Ah Mei.

“Her name is Lay,” Yifan continued to explain, stepping up to stand next to the courtesan across from Ah Mei. He held out an arm to gesture towards Ah Mei as he turned to face Lay, “And this is Ah Mei,” he introduced, “Daughter of our General.”

Ah Mei nodded in acknowledgement as Lay bowed again, “It’s nice to meet you, My Lady.”

Yifan hesitated a moment before he cleared his throat to continue on, “Unofficially, Ah Mei is also my fiancé.” He felt Ah Mei shift beside him, and he glanced over briefly to find a slight tint of pink colouring her cheeks as she turned away slightly, a smile tugging on her pink lips. Hiding a chuckle behind a cough, the Duke turned his attention back towards Lay, now wearing a blank look that Yifan had trouble reading; did he imagine the odd twitch of the courtesan’s eyebrow, or the curious falter behind that smile?

Ah Mei shuffled quietly, but loud enough to draw the Duke’s attention from the odd expression on Lay’s face. “Ah, well, Lay, we’re looking forward to your performance tonight. I must take my leave for now; I’m sure some of my guests have already arrived and require my attention.” Yifan nodded once towards Lay before he turned to leave, gesturing for Ah Mei to join him in walking back towards the Main House.

As Minseok closed the guest room doors behind them, Yifan chanced a last glance through the shrinking gap of the door, catching a pair of shaded eyes upon a face he still couldn’t read.

*

Yixing stared at his sleeve as the room doors closed with a slight clack of wood on wood.

Fiancé.

The courtesan’s eyebrows came together at the term, wondering why the word seemed so odd. He couldn’t say that it bothered it, but it stood out at him, suddenly reminding Yixing that the Duke had a proper life outside of his visits to The Star.

“I’d like to remind you that he is a duke, that he is royalty, that he has responsibilities as one.” Minseok’s words rang in his eyes as Yixing stared blindly at the bottom ledge of the doorway.

With a final shrug a minute later, Yixing sighed and turned back towards the room; he had more important things to focus on than politics between dukes and generals, like his show tonight.

Quite possibly his last show, ever.

He took a deep breath and sat down in front of his mirror and picked up his stick of kohl, willing his hand to stop shaking nervously as he brought it up to his eyes.



Yifan joined his guests in polite applause at the end of Lay’s performance, smiling extra wide when he made eye contact with the curtseying courtesan on stage. He found himself unable to look away even as Lay bowed a last time and disappeared behind hanging sheets. The Duke’s guests turned to raise glasses at their host, showering questions on where the Duke had picked up such a beauty.

“Will she be joining us for dinner?” One of the Emperor’s many advisors piped up, prompting a chorus of similar requests for the Duke to ‘share this beauty with them’. Yifan hesitated behind his smile; he’d never imagined inviting Lay to join dinner, to share him with his guests.

“I’m sure Miss Lay is hungry,” Ah Mei piped up finally beside him, agreements flying out at the Duke, making him wonder if any of his fellow politicians ever agreed on anything on such a united front on anything professional.

With a defeated sigh and a finger to his lips, Yifan got to his feet, straightening his robes as his guests cheered victoriously, wives shaking their heads with barely concealed amusement at how easily their husbands were excited. “Alright, alright,” he conceded, “I’ll be back in a moment, I have to prepare our poor dancer for all of you idiots,” he joked, beckoning for Minseok as he left the room, laughter following after the pair as they exited.

*

Yifan paused at the door of Lay’s room, staring at the wooden panels sternly. “Stay here, Minseok. I need a minute with Lay,” he said before pushing the doors open, his manservant nodding once before stepping up to close the doors behind the Duke as requested.

Lay stood up hastily from the marble table in the center of the room, stepping out to bow deeply in greeting. “Your Grace,” the words tumbled out clumsily, slightly alarmed.

Yifan wondered idly if there would ever be a time that Lay didn’t look so stiff and… uncomfortable around him. A little taken aback by the self-forming thought, Yifan cleared his throat and made towards the table, gesturing for his guest to relax and to join him.

Lay was still wearing his dress from his performance and Yifan had to distract himself as he took a seat beside the courtesan; Lay certainly looked good in green and the idea that the courtesan had potentially specifically chosen the colour for the Duke pulled up on the corners of his lips.

*

Yixing watched warily as the Duke opened the lid of the empty teapot sitting in the middle of the table, some unknown thought drawing a secret smile on his face. While his curiosity desperately wanted to ask the Duke what it was that seemed to amuse him so, he bit his tongue, waiting for the Duke to speak first, to explain why he was here alone with Yixing when he should be out in the Main House entertaining his guests.

“I’d like for you to have dinner with me tonight,” the Duke finally announced after clearing his throat and fixing the already perfect collar on his robes, “My guests would like to meet the beautiful dancer.”

“Oh,” Yixing answered involuntarily, slight disappointment colouring the simple syllable though what he had been expecting instead he had no idea. “Of course,” Yixing amended, hoping to cover the slip, “When would Your Grace like me to make an appearance?” he asked gently, the end of his question getting clipped short in surprise as the Duke took his hand in his own, getting to his feet and drawing Yixing to his as well.

“Now. They’re already waiting,” the Duke answered, a curtness taking over the Duke’s typical casual tone. The Duke continued to pull Yixing’s arm to link through his own, a look of seriousness on his face that brought Yixing’s surprised eyebrows down.

“I’d like you to promise me one thing for tonight though,” the Duke whispered, so low that Yixing had to press in towards him to hear. “There’s a lot of … er… people and I don’t want you to get… lost. So just stick by my side, alright?”

‘Lost’? The room that Yixing had just left was hardly that big.

The Duke turned slightly to fix the shoulder of Yixing’s dress before bringing his eyes to meet Yixing’s, steadily holding his gaze expectantly. “Yes?” he prompted, wiping the look of surprise from Yixing’s face as he was reminded that he’d yet to give a response to the Duke’s proposal.

“O-of course,” Yixing answered with a small nod as he closed his fingers around the Duke’s arm, noting how the muscles under his touch seemed to relax as their owner smiled and let out a soft sigh.

“Alright,” the Duke continued, his familiar smile finally gracing his features once more, “But I hope you’re ready for boring political talk over dinner,” he grinned.

Yixing could only smile along as he followed the Duke’s lead, hand tightened gently around the Duke’s elbow; he liked how it fit there easily.

Comfortable.



A/N: Uh, yeah, this is a short and slow going chapter. I really hope to get back to updating more frequently, but given my history, I don't want to promise anything. *falls to ground in deep bow yelling apologies. Thanks for sticking with me until now, I'll do my best to get the next chapter up soon! On a side note, please check out my Storenvy! I'm selling some EXO acrylic jewelry and would really appreciate the support! Thanks! ^^

Date: 2014-08-14 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vidox-d.livejournal.com
Jaycee, it's been a while and wow! You still work on this? Amazing! I miss talking to you on twitter (I am @siwolssi) if you remember me lol.

Keep going on Jaycee!!!! I'm still (and will be) looking forward to the next posted part!

Date: 2014-08-15 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xingtae.livejournal.com
Hah Yifan bringing Yixing to an official dinner, by this point Ah Mei isn't even needed x) Everyone is going to love him and voilà! x)
Edited Date: 2014-08-15 10:09 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-19 01:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xingtae.livejournal.com
same people attend official dinners anyway :p prepare to be charmed huehuehue

Date: 2014-08-17 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yoonlove.livejournal.com
Oh. Do I see Yifan getting a little...possessive there? Hehe. So surprised to see this update! I'm glad you're still working on this~ Can't wait to see how this dinner will go. I am hoping for more possessive yifan and maybe him getting a little jealous too? Heheh

Date: 2014-08-22 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shade-of-kim.livejournal.com
thank you for updating! It was kinda painful to read when yifan was introducing yixing to ah mei, especially since yifan seems like he is still painfully oblivious and, dare i say it, ignorant.

I just hope yixing won't get hurt that badly. He needs to be happy soon because this is starting to break my heart.

Will be waiting for the next chapter!

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