Musings of a Boy Emporer

WSJ: *^_^* I love Rudolph! He's soooooo kawaii!

Ryou: *looks hurt* More then me?

WSJ: *shocked* No! Never more then you Ry-chan! *hugs* I don't own Zoids or the song. ^.^;; Little bit of Marianne bashing. I can't stand the girl, even if she is princess of wossname. Anyone ever think that maybe the reason Rudolph didn't struggle too hard to recover the ring and reclaim the throne was her? *growls*


Rudolph whiped his forehead with his sleeve, leaving a small smear of grey paint. Smiling in saticfaction he took a step back to admire his work. "Not bad..."

There came a knock on the door and the sixteen-year-old boy emperor winced at the shrill voice that echoed through the locked portal. "Rudolph-sama! Are you all right?"

Rudolph sighed and walked over to open the door, letting his fiancee in. Marianne was getting on his nerves more and more every day, but he had to be at least courtious to her. "Yes Marianne? Anything wrong?"

The fifteen-year-old took in his paint-splattered clothes and face and the brush in his hand with a slight note of surprise. "No, not really. I was just wondering why you've been in here all day. You paint?"

Rudolph shrugged. "Recently aquired hobby. None of it's very good."

Marianne's eyes lit up. "I'll bet they're all portraits of me, aren't they! Can I see?"

"Well, actually Marianne," He didn't get a chance to finish before his fiancee had pushed past him and run over to the easel set up next to the window. She glimpsed the picture and her expression of innocent bliss turned to one of awe and amazement. "Oh Rudolph..."

Look what I've done,

This picture I've painted.

She reached out to brush her fingers over the picture, but Rudolph's hand darted out to gently grab her wrist. "Don't. It's not dry."

Marianne turned woodenly, as if only just remembering he was there. "Y-your Highness, what-"

Rudolph sighed. The only time she actually bothered to use his title was when she was upset. "Look Marianne, no one was ever supposed to see it, ok? Just shut up and forget you ever saw it."

"B-but Rudolph-sama, why?"

Rudolph sighed again, much more heavily this time, and sat down on the bed, motioning for Marianne to join him. She took one last owl-eyed glance at the painting and then did.

"Do you have any idea...?" Rudolph asked, leaning forward so that his elbows were resting on his knees and his head was in his hands. "Do you have any idea of the weight on my shoulders? It's so hard sometimes! I almost wish I wasn't Emperor. I really, really envy Van and Fiona and the others. They can travel where they want, they can do what they want. They don't have to be worried about attempted assasination every three steps!"

"But Van's just as famous as you," Marianne said, clearly puzzled.

Rudolph gave her a look and tried not to be annoyed. "Yes, but he's respected. I'm just well-known. I haven't done anything to deserve praise or honor. Sometimes I think the most noble thing I ever did was let Prozen fake my funeral."

Marianne's face took on a concerned look. "Surely you can't mean that!"

It looks like my heart,

Or what still remains.

Convinced of the weight,

Your interpretations

Are not what I see,

I wish they could be...

Rudolph sighed again, and Marianne thought she detected a slight tremor in it. "Marianne, I'm not a perfect person, no matter how convinced you are that I am. I make mistakes, just like everyone else!" Marianne jumped a little as he rammed his fist into the heavy oak bedpost nearest him.

She bit her lip and stood. "I-I'll go, if you want."

The emperor sighed and let his shoulders drop. "Nah, stay. I guess I could use the company."

Marianne nodded and sat back down beside him. "You're so quiet lately. Is it just the stress catching up with you?"

"It's everything!" Rudolph threw his hands up in a gesture of submission and jumped to his feet, stalking back over to the easel and picking up his brush. "The stress, the weight, you..."

Marianne blinked. "Me?" She frowned. "Rudolph, I know you don't love me. I know you never have and probably never will. But up until now I'd always hoped... I'll leave. I'll leave and never come back. I'll get Rosso and Viola to break the engagment. Just say the word."

Rudolph had filled his brush with red paint and for a minute the only sounds in the room were the swish of brush against canvas. "No," he said after a moment. "I'll say it again, stay. You're right, I don't love you, not in that way. But you've always been like a sister to me. You treat me as a person, and not just the emperor. I appreciate that. Please," He put down his brush and Marianne saw his shoulders shaking, just a little. "Stay with me."

Can you stay for a while?

Try to imagine this...

Could you be for a while?

I can't remember it...

Could you fall for a while?

Cause I can't escape from this...

Marianne, though concerned, sat still as Rudolph again picked up his brush to put the finishing touches on his painting. Finally it was finished and he put down the brush. He sighed and let his shoulders drop, as if his life's work was suddenly finished.

He turned and gave Marianne a small smile, then held out his hand to her. "Care to join me for dinner?" And suddenly he was the prim and proper Emporer Rudolph again, not the scared little boy of a few minutes ago.

Marianne mused, as the two of them walked toward the dining hall where Rosso and Viola would certainly be waiting for them, that Rudolph almost seemed to be two people. When he was out in public, the reigning monarch, he was someone completely different then when he was on his own, in his room, painting.

But which was the real Rudolph? Maybe neither. Maybe both.

The crown never suited him at all, Marianne realised suddenly. He should have been a hero like Van, not a king. It didn't fit him, and the crown was beginning to chafe on his brow, like a shoe that didn't quite fit right, but you had to wear anyway because it was the only pair you owned.

And suddenly, Marianne had an idea.

Try to explain

The way that the frame

Doesn't quite fit the image,

Or surround the edge.

It stands on display,

What do you see?

Behold all the new gray...

What's become of the old me?

Van Flyheight glanced over at Thomas, a look of shock on his face. "Are you serious?"

Thomas gave him a side-ways look. "You're a bad actor Van. But Lady Marianne clued me in too, so don't act dumb!"

Van grinned, rubbing a hand behind his head. "Aw, gee Thomas, I'd really like to, but..."

Rudolph gave them both exasperated looks, causing Fiona to giggle. "Don't worry Rudolph. It's like this all the time here. You'll get used to it."

"Yeah," Moonbay added, slapping the ex-boy empoer smartly on the back. "You'll fit in in no time at all! Welcome to the Guardian Forse your ex-highness!"

Rudolph smiled, genuinely grateful. "What would I do without you? I just can't believe Marianne was so willing to take over all duties as Empress, leaving me free to join you guys."

Irvine shrugged, then gave Rudolph a small, conspirative smile. "Girls do funny things for love."

Can you stay for a while

Calling, crying, ashamed of what I am not

Really failing, falling, into this cage and I can't escape?

No I can't escape

No, I can't...

Empress Marianne sighed wearily, flopping down onto her bed. "Ohhh..." she moaned, massaging her stiff shoulders. "Rudolph, I hate to admit it, but you were right..."

She glanced up at the painting she always hid behind a black velvet curtain if anyone came in, and sighed again. "Rudolph-sama... I love you... I miss you..."

From the shadows surrounding the window, which was a little way open to let in the warm summer breeze and soft moonlight, two eyes shone.

"I love you too Marianne..."

But it was too low for the Empress to hear, and meant to be that way.

Above the mantleplace, a portrait hung.

There was no artist's signature.

So look what I've done.

This picture I've painted

Doesn't quite fit

Or surround the edge.

But I remember it much redder...


WSJ: Before you ask, I have no clue what the painting is of. You all can chose your own interpretations. Mine is that it's Rudolph, painted all in grey, except for Raven's birthmark on his cheek in bright red, which is actually the symbol for 'destruction' in some culture or another... *sweatdrop* Whatever...

God bless minna-san!