For KHR Rare Pair Week 2020 on Tumblr. Lightning Day - Bookshop AU/Curses
A kick to her ribs made Luce falter in her reading.
"What's wrong?" Reborn asked, immediately on alert. At least his hand didn't fly to his gun like it did a few weeks back, when their unborn daughter first kicked.
Luce smiled, and handed Reborn the book she had been reading aloud. "I think our princess wants to hear her papa's voice now."
As if agreeing with her, a lighter bump nudged her stomach.
If someone had told her the thought of reading a fairy tale book out loud would make the world's greatest hitman look so uncomfortable, Luce would have probably believed it, but never thought that she'd actually see it on his face like this. "I'm not one for fairy tales, Luce."
She tipped her head a little. "Oh? But you're kind of like someone from a fairy tale yourself, Reborn."
At that he gave her a skeptical look. "As an antagonist, maybe."
While the thought of him as a sort of dragon, guarding the tower with a princess who looked rather suspiciously like their yet-unborn daughter was safely cradled in with the ferocity of a father deeply besotted with his child was quite funny, Luce was very inclined to disagree.
"Would you like to hear the fairy tale about your papa?" she asked the bump that her stomach had become, as she took Reborn's hand and laid it against the place that had last been kicked.
Reborn opened his mouth, but was silenced when the baby kicked again.
With the daughter in agreement and father not going to be disagreeing, Luce began. "Well, once upon a time, there was, a princess, named Luce."
Reborn smirked a little at her referring to herself as a princess, but as someone who was basically a princess – of a mafia family, sure, but a princess nonetheless – Luce wasn't entirely wrong in that title.
"And she, like all the women in her family, had inherited a Sight. It was something that let her, and her mother, and her grandmother, all be able to see the future – something not everyone could do."
Without breaking contact with her stomach, Reborn quietly sat next to her.
"It was both a gift and a curse," Luce whispered. Because it was. The Sight allowed the Giglio Nero to protect itself, but it also drove them mad.
What else could someone like her, like all the Giglio Nero women be called if not mad?
"And so the princess wasn't in a tower, but it always felt like she was trapped in one – far away from everyone, so high above that she was lonely, constantly."
She didn't See everything, but she Saw more than the average person.
Some said the fear of the unknown was inherent in all. But in those who had the souls of adventurers, the unknown was a challenge that incited excitement and passion.
"To those who knew, she was always either a monster or a princess. Black or white, and nothing else."
The Sight extinguished any and all chances of excitement and passion in Luce, just like it had in all the Giglio Nero women. It isolated them, so that even when they were among a crowd of people they were distant.
"All that changed, however, when the princess Saw a terrible vision."
Unlike with the six others of the seven chosen, Luce had been met with visions of the Giglio Nero's demise. Threatened with the bloodied halls of the castle she'd grown up in, the dead bodies of those she cared about, Luce had no choice but to take the only path that she Saw would not lead to the outcome she couldn't let come – and that was to follow the directives of the man in the iron hat.
"She met six others – proud, powerful souls all talented in their own rights."
Fon, serene at heart even as his fists could bring about a storm. Verde, whose intellect was as bright as a bolt of lightning in the dark of night. Skull, whose sturdiness had earned him the title of Immortal in a world where only death was certain. Lal, firm and unwavering and proud. Viper, master of the arcane.
Would she have ever met a man like him, in her tower? Would she have met any of them, become close to them the way she ended up doing in her tower, guarded so preciously by the Giglio Nero?
"And the one with a soul like the Sun," Luce said softly, because he was like the Sun to her, and not just because of his Flames. Because he was impossible for her to not notice, because his presence could not be ignored, because he lit up her sight. "Told her, in her weakest moment, that if there was a thing such as fate, then it was his fate to destroy whatever predestined path he didn't fancy."
When she grew to care for them, when she told them about why she, the next head of the Giglio Nero, was here instead of being back with her Famiglia, when she finally snapped and spilled what she had only confided to the current boss of the Giglio Nero, that there was a shadow hanging over her head and she was afraid that by escaping the predestined path she was being herded like a rabbit being hunted, Reborn had merely taken off his jacket and laid it over her shoulders before telling her thus.
With words as simple as that, which could be interpreted as arrogance, he had somehow shattered the curse hanging over Luce's head, the fear that she was only ever a princess or a monster, a puppet of fate despairing at the paths she was dragged down.
Reborn taught Luce how to hope, when since birth what she Saw had taught her how to give up, how to not want, how to make do. He taught her how to want.
"And just like that, the sunny knight broke the princess out of the tower, by showing her a rainbow instead of the monochrome she knew."
Reborn huffed. Luce smiled at how cute he was being, and rubbed her stomach.
"And I suppose they lived happily ever after?" he asked, gruff with embarrassment.
"We're working on it," she replied. "But right now, I think we're making very good progress."
The rain was heavy, as if the skies themselves grieved the loss of Luce.
"I told you, Luce," he said, to the marble gravestone. His voice was childish, thanks to the curse that had affected them and taken her in the end. "I told you I wasn't one for fairy tales."
In the end, he had been unable to do anything about the curse, and the tomb before him was the proof of his helplessness.