His first roommate in the Academy is also nobility: not an Oak, of course, but the son of a magistrate based in the Third District, so not anything too shameful. He’s taller than Shuri by a good half-head, with long elegant hands and wispy-fine pale blond hair. His eyes are slanted and sharp and there’s always a smile that sits at the corner of his mouth, twisting it into a constant smirk.
He introduces himself on the first day, first to Papa, then to Shuri himself. Shuri forgets his name within half an hour.
The first couple of months go smoothly: studying at the Academy is harder than it was with his tutors, and the instructors are less likely to indulge him, but it’s still easy enough that Shuri hardly has to study. He spends most of the time with his roommate instead; they sit and watch other students practice with their zaiphon, and laugh together at how that one fails at proper stance, or this one can barely generate enough zaiphon to form a single letter. His roommate is properly deferential, never shows any more talent than Shuri himself has, but he shadows Shuri everywhere, his voice and his guardian both. Shuri likes him very much, but his name always remains just beyond memory’s reach; he knows he’s gotten it wrong at least four times just this semester, but his roommate never complains: just smiles, restates it, and moves on with the conversation.
Shuri’s happy; the world is spread before him, and the promise of it seems go to on forever. He goes home for winter holidays, special allowances made for the sons of rich families, and there are presents and all his favorite foods waiting for him. He thinks he could spend the entire time in bliss, when a letter comes from his uncle.
(Which is strange, the last time his uncle wrote was when–)
He doesn’t wait to hear the contents of this letter. Instead, he goes back to his room and writes a letter himself, addressing it to his roommate: he tells him that he’s quite happy that his roommate is a good sensible nobleman, working hard to make his family proud, and Shuri is proud of him because he knows his place in life. It’s a good long letter, and Shuri’s fingers are stained with ink by the time he’s done. And then it’s dinnertime, so he goes and has a meal with his parents and neither of them seem concerned at all about the letter from his uncle, so he lets himself forget, too–he tells them about his roommate, how he’s clever and hard-working and if only he had the right bloodlines, he could have been an Oak. Papa laughs and ruffles his hair and calls him a good-hearted boy; Mama kisses his cheek and sends him to bed with her laugh ringing in his ears.
Shuri goes to bed full and happy.
He dreams about being stuck in a narrow closet, pressed cheek to cheek with someone, whose soft breath is hot in his hair. The room smells too much like lavender and a little like apples, and it’s hot enough that he can feel a fine beading of sweat on his lip; he licks it away. When he tries to move, there’s barely any space for that–there’s the door in front of him and a skinny body pressed against his own. He tries to turn his head and something warm brushes against his ear, and it makes something in his stomach twist hotly.
He dreams that he straightens and tries to reach back to push the other person away; instead, his fingers curl around the jut of a bony hip–he can feel the sharp edge of it even through cloth–and there’s a stuttering exhale against his ear, hot and damp, and he squirms. It’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, and he gropes with his other hand, trying to find the doorknob. When he finds it, he almost wants to cry, yanking at it. He turns his head as he falls forward, as bright light cuts sharply across his vision, and sees sharp violet eyes staring straight back at him.
He wakes twisted under his sheets, his face pressed between his scattered pillows, damp with sweat and shivering from the chill where he’s kicked his blankets aside. For a moment he just pants into clean-smelling linens and tries to will the hot aching pressure between his legs away. He doesn’t want to–not here, not now, and certainly not after a dream like that. He tries to wriggle into a more comfortable position and hisses at the dragging pressure; it feels embarrassingly good.
Shuri rolls onto his back. He opens his eyes again and stares at the ceiling for a moment. If he breathes too deeply, he thinks he can smell lavender and apple. His breath hisses out through his teeth; he wraps his fingers around his cock and squeezes too hard; the breath leaves him in a startled yelp. He strokes rough and fast, trying not to think of anything, trying not to breathe too deep for that phantom smell. He just wants it over and done with. It feels good, but it’s irritating, it’s embarrassing; even though he knows he’s alone in his room, he can feel someone staring, some narrow-eyed judging violet-eyed stare, watching from under gold-pale shining fine hair, glaring over the lips pressed against his cheekbone, awkward and clumsy and he breathes in the smell of apples when he comes.
He catches a small cold at the end of his holiday, because he insists on sleeping with the windows open for the rest of his stay.
When Shuri goes back to the Academy, he requests for a roommate transfer. No one asks why, and he doesn’t explain. His second roommate has messy dark hair and dusky skin and an easy smile.
He doesn’t dream again.