written for magi secret santa 2016, for annciel7! I don't usually write gen but this was a lot of fun~~ :D
Hakuren glances around the room surreptitiously, trying to see if anyone else is as bored as he is. Hakuyuu looks calm and focused, but with him that could mean anything; he has always been the best at maintaining a respectful facade. Kouen is sitting straight up, rapt with attention, but that's not surprising. He's the one who thought they should attend a meeting about historical record preservation. Koumei, on the other hand, looks like he's nodding off. Oh, no.
Koumei is just a little too far for Hakuren to reach, or he'd try to nudge him awake. Instead, he can only watch as his head slowly falls forward, bit by bit, until it's obvious that he's napping.
The speaker drops a scroll and it loudly clatters across the floor. There's awkward shuffling and apologies but more importantly, Koumei jerks up, obviously wide awake now, and Hakuren breathes a sigh of relief.
The meeting continues, moving onto proper storage regulations for older scrolls, and at least Kouen is happy. Hakuren can be excited for that, even if he'd rather be anywhere else. This isn't exactly the most exciting part of government to him.
Koumei coughs loudly, badly faking any attempts to be subtle. Oh. Oh, Hakuren hopes this is going where he thinks it is. Koumei is inadvertently going to rescue them all from this meeting.
"I don't feel good…" Koumei says quietly, coughing at the end.
Kouen brushes him off. "We are in a meeting," he hisses at his younger brother, and Hakuren watches on with concern.
Koumei coughs again, and it shakes his whole frame. He tugs on Kouen's sleeve, trying to get his attention. "I think I-"
And then he collapses in an elaborate display, the meeting screeching to a halt around him, and Hakuyuu and Hakuren rush to his side. The speaker pauses mid sentence and drops his scroll again, and the noise gets lost in the panicked sounds from the other court members in attendance.
"The only thing…" Koumei says weakly, stirring in Hakuren's arms. "The only cure...that I know of...is bedrest...and my pigeons...and some books…"
Hakuren pats his head and hugs him close. "You all heard him! We have to get him to his chambers!"
"We should find a cure for Koumei's weak body," Hakuren proposes. They're standing around outside Koumei's chambers, waiting for news from the doctors, and it just seems to silly to stand by uselessly. "You know, how he's always tired and ill? I think it might be something-"
"He's just lazy," Kouen says gruffly, cutting him off.
Hakuren shakes his head. "No, no, don't say that. We'd be happy to help."
"I'm saying it because it's true," Kouen clarifies.
Hakuren gestures at the window, in what he hopes is the direction he wants. "I've heard of someone who can heal any illnesses, no matter what, you just have to journey to where they live, deep within the mountains.
Hakuyuu nods. "I think I've heard of this healer."
Kouen shakes his head again. "No, I assure you, my brother does not need this kind of treatment and attention."
"No, I think it's necessary," Hakuren says, grinning. He wants a way to escape the palace for a few days, and a relaxing trip up to the mountains would be a perfect excuse. Maybe he can even convince Hakuyuu to come along and actually unwind for once.
"Prince Hakuren, I wouldn't want you to waste precious resources on my brother's laziness," Kouen says, but Hakuren is having none of it.
"It's not a problem! Really, you don't have to be so modest. We're happy to help," Hakuren tells him.
"We should leave him to the court doctors for now," Hakuyuu says. "And prepare for our trip."
Success! Hakuyuu apparently decided to come along all on his own. That makes Hakuren's job easier; now all he has to do is focus on relaxing. And maybe convincing Kouen to calm down some.
Kouen looks scandalized. "I'm sorry about Koumei! He doesn't need-"
"Nope!" Hakuren interrupts. "No more complaints from you. This is what family is for." He slings an arm around Kouen's shoulders and leads him away from Koumei's chamber. "You should come along, too. I don't want you just laying about and fretting over poor Koumei's illness."
Kouen shakes his head. "This really isn't necessary. I-"
"Well, more sunshine, er, travel for me and Yuu then," Hakuren replies. "We're off to prepare!"
Hakuren shoulders his pack and raises a hand to shade his eyes from the sun. It's a bright, clear day, warm but not sweltering; it's perfect for traveling. They're going on foot, at Hakuren's insistence. He said that it's because they'll be less noticeable and it will make the mountain ascent easier, but mostly it's so no one else tags along.
Kouen, however, has other plans. "You cannot go through with this," he insists, bowing before him and Hakuyuu. "This is too much."
Hakuyuu waves a hand. "If it worries you so much, you are welcome to come along."
"There are things that must be done around the palace, and I cannot just run off-"
"You'd be helping you dear little brother," Hakuren says. "What could be more important than that?"
Kouen looks over at Hakuyuu, who nods in agreement, before scowling. "I suppose that is true. But this isn't as serious as you two seem to think, and I want to make sure this...supposed healer understands that."
Hakuren shrugs. "Sure, whatever you say!"
Kouen brings up the rear, grumbling the whole time. Hakuren tries to tune him out and instead focus on the positive parts of the day. They're out of Rakushou, out of stuffy clothes and meetings, and enjoying the fresh air is even better than expected. He glances over to watch Hakuyuu and grins. He hasn't seen his brother look so honestly relaxed in far too long. They really need to do this more often.
"We should head back," Kouen begins, and Hakuyuu shakes his head.
"It'll be good for you to spend some time out of the palace, Kouen," Hakuyuu says firmly.
Hakuren laughs at Kouen's frown and throws an arm around his shoulders to try to calm him down. "There's no shame in enjoying yourself sometimes."
"It's not worth wasting time and resources on such frivolous things."
"But enjoyment isn't frivolous," Hakuren insists. "It soothes the soul and the mind, and leaves us clear headed and open to our true potential. It is only when the mind is empty that our actions can be full."
Hakuyuu chuckles. "You sound almost like a philosopher."
Hakuren sticks his tongue out and gives Hakuyuu a cheeky smile in reply. "You and Kouen aren't the only studious men in the family." He turned around, walking backwards with his chest puffed out. Why, I'd say that I'm-" Hakuren squawks as he falls over a bush, windmilling his arms in a desperate attempt to stay upright.
Hakuyuu laughs at him.
"Ooof... at least I landed on something soft..." Hakuren replies in the split second before he realizes the something soft he landed on is a bear.
The bear roars mightily, and Hakuren goes scrambling backwards as it rears up.
Thinking fast, he pulls out a magical item and sets it off, surrounding himself with flames, and the bear goes running. That's a nifty trick. Hakuyuu whistles at him and claps, while Kouen looks even more worried.
"Nice show, Ren," Hakuyuu says as Hakuren slowly disperses the flames.
He grins. "Thanks! You know I'm always here to save your ass."
Kouen grips the hilt of his sword. "We need to return to Rakushou. There is no reason for you to risk your safety out here while my brother lazes in bed under false pretenses!" He gestures angrily. "This is no place for you two!"
Hakuren shoots his brother a knowing look. "Should we tell him?"
"I think we might have to."
He shrugs. "Your call, Hakuyuu."
Hakuyuu clasps a hand on Kouen's shoulder. "We know that Koumei is faking it, or exaggerating at the very least. But Ren and I both wanted some time away from Rakushou."
"I don't understand," Kouen says, scowl deepening. "Why are you going to a healer if you know he's faking his illness?"
Hakuren gestures at the beautiful countryside. "This! Some freedom! We're not going to a healer, we're going to enjoy the great outdoors without anyone bugging us!"
"You knowingly lied to the court to get a free day?"
"Sure did," Hakuren answers, still grinning.
Kouen stares, looking between the two of them. "And you both knew this?"
Hakuyuu nods. "I do like time off occasionally. It's not an unreasonable want."
He continues to stare, looking lost and confused as he begins to fully comprehend the situation. "I need to sit down."
Hakuren laughs agains. "It can't be that surprising! We're human too."
"It's just so irresponsible. I can understand wanting personal time, but deceiving-" he begins, moving to sit down on a nearby rock. It's half covered in ivy, shiny green leaves reflecting the sun.
"Kouen!" Hakuyuu yells, interrupting him. Kouen pauses, and Hakuyuu points at the sprawling ivy. "Poison ivy. You shouldn't sit on that."
Kouen looks at it cautiously, before an unsettling smile slowly forms on his face. "I think I have an idea for aiding Koumei's illness."
They return from the "mountains" the following day, just as the sun is beginning to set and the skies are rich purples and reds. They're all in better spirits, especially Kouen, and Hakuren is pleased with their success. Kouen marches them directly to Koumei's chambers, their bounty firmly in hand.
Koumei is napping when they arrive, scrolls and pigeon feathers strewn across his bed around him, and Hakuren almost feels bad for his fate. Almost.
"We have returned," Kouen announces, loud enough that Koumei startles awake.
"Wh-what?" he asks sleepily, rubbing at his eyes. "Hello, brother."
Kouen strides over to his bed and holds out his hand, poultice presented in his palm. "This has been prepared from herbs given to us by the great healer of the mountains, to aid your illness."
Koumei blinks at it, obviously confused at the offering, before taking it from Kouen. "I- Thanks. I'll use this later."
"No, I insist you try it now. Hakuyuu and Hakuren went to great lengths to find this for you, and you should honor their sacrifices."
Hakuyuu nods seriously, and Hakuren does his best not to laugh. He's impressed with Kouen for keeping up the ruse this long, and he's not going to be the one to ruin it now.
"Well, I guess there's no harm…"
Kouen smiles, and it's still unsettling. "You apply it to your face."
Koumei sticks his finger in and smears a generous amount to one cheek, before he screeches in pain. Red blossoms across his cheek, the beginnings of an incredibly itchy rash, and Kouen laughs deeply. Hakuren can't contain himself now and loses his calm, laughing as well and leaning on Hakuyuu for support, who has somehow managed to contain himself enough that he's only chuckling.
"You shouldn't deceive your family," Kouen finally says, once the laughter dies down.
Koumei whines and scratches at his face, but manages a small smile. "At least I'll have to stay in bed until this clears up!"