The Prince

By Ysabet

Notes:  Hi!  Errrrr… this is rather weird, I admit (like what else is new with my fics?).  It was posted as a present/commentary for the last chapter of Kouri Arashi's "Falling Is Like This" (which, if you haven't read it, should be read IMMEDIATELY.  Do not stop, do not pass Go—just get out of this fic and read it.  But read "Live Through" and "Somewhere I Have Never Been" first, or you'll be utterly lost.  They're flat-out magnificent! AND are here in this category…. Just go read, then come back here later, okay?.......... anyways… I wrote this after reading the last chapter, and another poster (HangedMan, who writes seriously good commentary) nudged me into putting it up for reading.  Dunno if this was a good idea or not, but whatever… here it is.  I think it's rather pretentious and all that, but so it goes.  You can probably figure out the characters rather easily…..

Um, Kouri Arashi?  I hope you don't mind me doing this…..  If you do, say so, and I'll take it down.  Okay? (dives beneath a pile of printouts to hide)

"Once upon a time there was a terrible prince who lived in a far and distant kingdom. He was evil and deliberately cruel, killing and torturing his way across the land, spreading sorrow and wanton distruction in his path with each passing, bloody day. He would have gone on with this over many centuries, but something happened to him, something great and very strange..... someone to whom he had done a great and terrible wrong came to him one day and told him: "it doesn't matter anymore to me-- it's not important, and I have more interesting things to think about now than how you hurt me.""

"No-one had ever told the terrible prince such a thing before; he had, in fact, come to relish the thought that his intervention of pain and death was the most important and traumatic (and above all, *interesting*) thing to happen in the lives of his victims. He could understand being feared, hated and despised; he could NOT understand being ignored or forgotten-- or dismissed as simply unimportant."

"This made him think. And the more he thought, the more he changed; before, he had avoided understanding anything other than the pleasures of Shiva, of the burning ground and the joys of ravagement. Now he realized that someone could actually *think of something else* after his shadow had passed-- and that was a mortal blow to his pride."

"The terrible prince grew melancholy (or as melancholy as such a murderous being could get); if he lost importance in his victim's eyes, then he lost it in his own. What could be so powerful that it could replace the terror and trauma that he had caused? He called upon his most potent ministers to aid him in learning this, and the answers that they gave him puzzled him deeply; forgiveness and love. He did not understand forgiveness (and his victim hadn't said that he had forgiven him, just that he had better things to do), and he did not understand love (besides which, his victim did not love him. THAT was certain enough). Somehow... he thought that simply *knowing* these answers was not enough."

"So the terrible prince gave himself up to a study of those two things which he previously had found so worthless, forgiveness and love, which he still could not understand. He could not forgive; he did not love. But he could think about them..... This so consumed his time that he forgot to ravage and destroy, and his every waking hour became a part of his study and were no longer devoted to the hunt or the kill. He could not love-- he did not understand love; he could not forgive-- he had done unforgivable things. And so this tore at his heart, eating it away, until at last it broke and the candle of his life was blown out."

"And he died, and his spirit was STILL so caught up in the consuming curiousity that had held him that he could not fall into the Hell that awaited him; instead he hovered, halfway between the land of the living and that of the damned, linked by the lightest of threads."

"At last, the one whom he had spoken to so many years before came to find him, looking puzzled. "I remember you, but you aren't quite as evil as you used to be, or you would have fallen; what do you want to do now?""

"The terrible prince looked at him. "If I fall, will I finally understand?""

""No; that's part of Hell-- nobody understands anything there, they just suffer. If you learned things there, you might be able to move on-- and they hate that sort of thing.""

"The terrible prince looked at him still. "If I stay here, will I finally understand?""

""No, you'll just get bored. And boredom is vastly overrated, even among the dead.""

"So the terrible prince gave up the last of his pride, staring down at Hell. "Then will you help me understand?""

"His former victim thought about it, then sighed and nodded. "I suppose....." And so he caught him by one hand and took him elsewhere, to a place above Hell and below Heaven and sideways to Earth, where he gave him up into the hands of his superiors. "Teach him," was all he said, walking away; "I have better things to do with my time-- and better company to spend it with.""

"The terrible prince stood in his new place, listening as his lessons and tasks were explained to him; he would learn forgiveness by helping others to forgive themselves and their evildoers, and he would learn love by teaching others that something better and stronger than hate existed. He still did not understand..."

"But as he watched his former victim walk away, disappearing among the sakura trees, he smiled a little and shook his head. "Teach me?" he said-- "I think the teaching started already, a long time ago."

"And the terrible prince turned away, to begin his lessons and learn about forgiveness and love; for he, too, had more important things to do than to just suffer."

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Silly, ne?  But that's it.  Things change………. Ysabet