3. One Shot (Hakuryuu/OC): Hakuryuu finally has some time at hand and so he decides to go on a picnic with his wife and their children.
As ruler of a country one barely had any time for private matters. The little bit of free time one had was used for one's family, but even that little time was not enough to really call it "family activities" or "family time". Most of the time Hakuryuu only had time to eat lunch and dinner with his wife and their children. It hurt Hakuryuu to not be able to spend more time with his family. He had grown up with a father, who was always busy with battles and meetings, and two older brothers, who both were part of the army and therefore were always on the way as well. He could barely remember his own father and most things he knew about him, were stories told by others about a man called emperor Ren Hakutoku. The same applied to his brothers Hakuyuu and Hakuren to a certain extent. Although those two always tried to spend as much of their free time with their younger siblings Hakuryuu and Hakuei, who was Hakuryuu's older and only sister, there were only a few memories left with them. Their death was the most present memory of them. Hakuryuu still had nightmares of the fire incident and he probably would never get rid of them.
However, there was a memory of his family left that he loved to remember, despite it happened at a time were everything was already nothing but play pretend. For him it had been real back then. The smiles, the laughs, the love and the happiness! It had felt so real! Knowing that he it was not, pained him so much, yet he still liked this memory, since it was one of the few in which his whole family had spent a day together. It was also one of the few memories in which his father was his father and not the emperor.
Not far from Rakushou was a small forest with a lake. It was a nice spot to relax for a bit and think about the world. As a child and teenager he had liked to spend some time here. Unfortunately, he hardly went there. When he had been a child, he hadn't been allowed to go outside without a guard and as a teenager he had other problems, like an insane mother, who tried to destroy the whole world, for example. Now as an adult he had no time as well. An emperor had a lot of duties to fulfill and most issues he had to deal with could not be postponed. His family understood this, but he could see how sad they were, whenever he had to decline any offer of family time. He wanted nothing more than to be a part of his children's life. Differently than him, they should remember their father as their father and not just as emperor, with whom they happened to be related with. That was the reason why he tried to at least keep up with simple tasks like teaching his kids how to cook, fight, ride a horse and so on. While the last two things were relatively easy to incorporate into his daily schedule, cooking was harder. In the end, the evenings, shortly before the kids had to go to bed, where the only time, he could really spend time with his children. Fortunately, his kids were well-mannered and sometimes they just would sit through a meeting with him, just to be near him, even the youngest ones would keep quiet. But this also reminded him of how terrible he was as a father and how much his children needed him. His wife often told him that he worried too much and that he did more than most other fathers would have ever done. This was a fact his feeling did not care about and therefore he still felt horrible, despite his wife's and even his children's reassurance that he was a great father. He knew very well that he worried too much about everything, but what should he do? One could not control their own feelings and this was annoying in itself! Because then he was annoyed by being annoyed of being too worried, which annoyed him again. A vicious circle! Only broken when he was with his loved ones, who always had a nice story to tell about their day.
When the first opportunity arose, Hakuryuu took it without thinking much about it. A day off from work was something seldom! He had worked like an idiot to assure that the most important work was done and that the rest could be done by his servants. The only thing that may be able to stop him from going on a picnic with his family, was a war or doomsday. However, there was no reason for any of this to happen in the next few days! So, why bother with thinking about it – yes, for once he did not worry himself with unlikely obstacles.
His wife and his children were all so excited, when he announced his plans to them. Sadly, his children had not left Rakushou until now and so it would be the first journey outside of the city.
A whole day only with his family! That sounded so great and somewhat surreal! Hakuryuu was happy and excited himself. His wife together with their oldest daughter would make the food – Hakuryuu had offered his help, but was rejected and even threated to be thrown out, if he dared to enter the kitchen! Unbelievable!
Well, it was always nice to eat something made by his wife or his daughter. Both were excellent cooks and very creative. Hopefully they would not forget to make the meals well-balanced and not only sweet – those two were such sweet tooths and they were not the only ones. On the other hand, they had well-balanced meals at lunch and dinner, so there was no reason to fear that this may not be the case for the picnic. And here he was worrying about unnecessary again. Life would be too easy without unnecessary worries. And just thinking about a life without unnecessary worries: how horrible! Hakuryuu would not complaint! Preferably a boring life than one with so many worries. He was a simple man, with simple needs and wishes! But one could not have everything, right? And his life was not so bad. All his loved ones were in good health, he was in good health, the empire was doing well – consequently the majority of his people were doing well too – and no sign of trouble. What could a ruler wish for more?
The weather on the day of the picnic was wonderful! A soft wind, a warm sun and birds' twittering. Since the way to the small forest was long they got there horseback, with the youngest children riding with Hakuryuu and his wife. Their others children were already trained in horse riding. As long as they stayed closed to their parents, everything was fine.
When they reached their picnic spot, there was no holding back for the kids. While Hakuryuu and his wife set up the picnic, the kids were already running around, investigating the surrounding area and playing around.
Watching them made Hakuryuu smile. For a long time he had no family. After the fire incident, which killed his brothers, and the murder of his father shortly before that, he had to accept that all he had believed in had been nothing but a lie. His mother had never loved him – he had never been loved. His family was dysfunctional, no one real cared about the other one. They just played pretend and they were so good at it that they had started to believe their own lies of being a good and caring family. In reality they never had been one in the first place. There always had been hate and resentment. One was only worth attention, when showing military value. His cousin were all married of without a second thought – all for the greater good, ignoring the fact that it was just them sacrificing something, while the emperor and his sons never had to give something important up. No one ever asked about their well-being later on. No one cared. Hakuryuu was no exception. It was normal to him, only later he realized how wrong this was. His whole family was just a huge dysfunctional mess and living in it was terrible, especially when one knew that everything was a lie and when one was alone with it.
Fortunately, things had changed and he had a family on his own now. A wife, who loved him! A wife, he loved! A little bunch of well-mannered, overly curious and cute children that one day would take care of the empire. There were no words to describe how much he loved his children. Often he had no time to take them into bed, but he always would look into their bedrooms, when he was about to go to sleep, just to make sure that they were still there and fine. In Judar he had found a reliable friend – his first and only friend. Well, through his wife he had met other people, who slowly turned into friends – Hakuryuu was a bit reluctant to call them friends already, he had been a bit fast with giving this title to people in the past and he did not want to make the same mistake again. Hakuryuu's life had change for the better and he enjoyed every second of it. His past was still lingering around, but it became more and more distant.
Hakuryuu and his wife had sat down on the picnic blanket, snuggling against each other and watching their kids enjoying their lives. They had grown up so much already. Hakuryuu could remember very well, how he had changed their diapers and clothes, fed them, took care of them, when they were sick. He could remember how he felt when they said their first word and made their first steps. Of course, there had been bad times as well, but he preferred to remember their good times, when they got along with each other. He already had enough bad memories.
His wife had fallen asleep pretty soon after arriving. Their third son came after her in this regards. Always asleep! Only today he was full of energy. A rare sight, but pleasant.
Around lunchtime a few tummies got loud and so it was decided that it was time to eat! This was also seen as an opportunity to inform Hakuryuu about everything he had missed until now, which ended in this children talking across each other and him not understanding much of what was said. Diplomatic skills were need to assure that everyone had enough time to tell their stories without being interrupted – but as emperor this was a piece of cake for him, at least he did not totally suck at it. Children were no diplomats – they were more fun and innocent!
After-lunch naps were the best and highly liked and needed by his family. The youngest ones had their cuddly blanket and cushion with them, while the older one did not need them anymore – they actually did, but were too embarrassed to admit it. Luckily, mommy knew her kids better than anyone else and had packed their cuddly blankets and cushions as well. One had to let go of such things soon enough, so why take them away forcefully? There was no reason to do so.
What a peaceful view. His children next to each other, sleeping, his wife next to him, holding his hand and with a happy smile on her face.
Thinking about it, it had been awhile since the last time he really had look at her. He saw her face every evening and night, but now he had time to look at it more precisely. She had gotten more beautiful over the years. Her skin seemed a bit pale, maybe they should go outside more often or was she getting sick? Or was it because of her work? Not only his work schedule was full, but also hers. And she also took care of their children most of the time, since both agreed that their children should be raised by them and not some maids. As soon as they were home again, he would talk to her about this matter. For now he would just adore her beauty, her soft skin, her faint smile, her lovely smelling hair and her hand in his. He treasured every second of this moment!
A day was long and a nap did not last forever and so it happened that Hakuryuu had to play hide-and-seek, tag, play horse and a lot of other games with his kids. Never in life before had he felt so old! Why were his kids so lively and full of energy? Where did they take that energy from? In the end he was laughed at by them, because he could not keep up with them.
On a positive note, when they got back home his children were so tired that taking them to bed was easy and Hakuryuu had some time for his beloved wife, who was happy that they had some time to talk. Their daily life was always busy and in their short conversations, barely anything could be discussed, even during lunch or dinner, other things were more important, like their children that wanted attention, praise and love. To be honest, just sitting next to her husband in silence and holding each other's hands were enough for her. She did not need to talk all the time about everything, yet a lot of things had been postponed and needed to be addressed – and she missed Hakuryuu's wonderful voice. More time offs were needed for this family! The empire was doing fine and it was getting better and better with every passing day, so why not pushing some responsibilities to other positions? An emperor should focus on the important matters and not small issues. Other countries did so as well, so why not Kou too? But for tonight, they would not talk about politics, but their family and how much they loved each other.