A/N: I've been watching old movies again. No good can come of this .

Prologue

The Tendo house was a sound, calm place for all of twenty-two years. It is true that there were the occasional upsets every now and again, but they were nothing that wasn't displayed in every domestic area on this earth at one time or another. The family, which consisted of a mother, a father, and three girls of close and yet dissimilar ages, were highly respectable members of the town's high society. The girls were taught solely by tutors, were seen by the town as sweetness and light personified, and by the time the eldest was eight had seen more of the world than most adults had in their entire lives. They were the town princesses, the apples of every adult's eye. It seemed as though the pedestal on which they rested could never be toppled.

This was, of course, far too perfect a challenge for some to let lie.

It began with Kasumi, the eldest child. A sweet child, she grew to become the epitome of a fairytale princess, not only stunningly beautiful but kind to all, cursed to see the all world in its best light, which isn't all that bad for the person involved no matter how painful it seems to those without it. She had, at fifteen caught the eye of many of the world's best suitors. They bought her candy, flowers, cars, boats; anything they believed would give them the upper hand was hers. Unfortunately for them the girl had eyes only for Khan Narra, a rough boy who had transferred into her life from a country that only he, his relatives, and Kasumi's geography tutor knew of. He had come to live with his aunt, the chief chef of the Tendo estate, in order to study under the chauffer. Kasumi liked him within a moment, thought him darling within a week, and was smitten before the month was out. Completely certain of her feelings, she was able to become good friends with Khan and even change him for the better. He became a bit gentler in his words, softer with his actions, more dignified as time went by. He made nice with the Tendo's acquaintances, becoming good friends with Ranma Saotome, a particularly excellent friend of Kasumi's. (A friendship formed for reasons completely unknown to the world. However, we shall dwell on this later.) It became quite obvious that the union of Khan and Kasumi was inevitable, and it was no great surprise when one evening, in the middle of a party celebrating Kasumi's eighteenth birthday Khan asked to speak to her alone. Nevertheless, it -was- a surprise when the party was greeted with a tearful, unhappy Kasumi upon her return instead of a joyful couple. Excusing herself from the guests, she retreated to her room with her sisters closely behind where she shut the door softly, at on the corner of the bed and promptly burst into tears. It took several minutes for the story to get out, but the story the younger girls eventually managed to piece together was that Khan had left Kasumi for Agnes Picken, a giggly sixteen-year-old heiress from Rhode Island. Believing she herself was in the wrong, Kasumi swore to never again place her own feelings onto a person who wished only to be friends.

This was quite a scandal, providing the local papers with plenty of material for weeks on end. However, as the reporters saw this as a case of a rogue versus a lady, Kasumi came out of the incident labeled only with a temporary lapse of good sense and the Tendo name was left merely a bit scuffed. Still, it allowed the door of doubt to swing wide open.

Nabiki, the middle child, was a cool, collected child. Born with a good head for reason and sense, she could see that her family may not always be as well off as it was. An extremely beautiful girl in her own way, she had herself married off to the highest-ranking suitor at the age of seventeen. The boy she had chosen was a dumpy thing of nineteen who married Nabiki immediately after the engagement was arranged simply because his parents wanted him to. She was a whiz with money, both the making and managing sides of it, and so went off to university soon after the wedding, leaving her newly-appointed husband, Elbert to deal with the buzz surrounding this. Nevertheless, the family was still on steady social grounds as this was not an unexpected occurrence (considering where Nabiki's loyalties lay) and, although Elbert was a bit of a nuisance, he settled into the family pattern eventually and life went on as per usual.

The real trouble was Akane. At three years Kasumi's junior and one year behind Nabiki, she was the most confusing of the siblings. At times she could be as soft as a ballad, while at others she was like a jagged rock, ripping at everything that crossed her path. She could go from cool as ice to a red-hot poker, and back to ice again, all depending on how angry she was. She yelled, she screamed, and just when those around her were ready to throw her to the curb she would apologize and explain how rough a day she had been through, or the issue weighing on her mind. Akane was the hardest child to classify, and was therefore given her own category, a privilege most find it hard to live up to without abusing the power. Akane tried her very best though.

It was the strange friendship between the Saotome family's only heir and the Tendo family's eldest daughter that led to 'The Plan' as it was referred to. The two were polar opposites; she was a sweet, maternal girl while Ranma was a bit of a brat and more than a little obnoxious. He had studied various martial arts under numerous masters throughout the world, leading him to believe himself the best of the best. Not helping this egotistical behaviour was the fact that he was quite handsome and well admired, and he knew it. It wasn't so much that he a playboy as that he secretly prided himself on the fact that, if he was forced to find someone he could have his pick of any number of girls. Despite their obvious differences the two were great friends, so much so that for a time their families wished for them to join together in matrimony. However, after observing the children for a few weeks it became startlingly obvious that the friends would never see each other as more than they did at that point, with Ranma seeming to believe her closer to a mother or an older sister than a potential wife. With no great sadness, the families pushed the idea to the side and were soon so swept up in the Khan scandal that they didn't touch the matter until six months later, when a particularly odd style Akane had taken up consisting of pastel-coloured dresses and striped socks earned a snide remark from the unusually quiet Ranma. Glaring steadily at him, Akane proceeded to spend the next half hour trading insults with her sister's friend. By the time the two earlier polite acquaintances had managed to control themselves it was too late. The adults of both families began to notice a change that, looking back, had been going on for some time without their knowledge. The pair had been growing keenly hostile towards each other for years, throwing little barbs back and forth without the appearance of anything aside from polite inquiry in their parents' eyes. It seemed that this was simply the pebble that toppled the mountain, opening the gates to a flood of insults and anger.

"It's an odd sort of anger though, don't you agree?" Nadoka Saotome commented when the four had settled in her sitting room to talk that evening. "What I mean is, my son may fairly sure of his abilities-"

"As he should be!" her husband interrupted.

" But I've never seen him choose to start an argument unprovoked." She went on as if no one had cut in. "Do you believe there's some sort of feud between the two?"

"Perhaps, Akane -does- tends to let these things build up." Nadesico Tendo answered, wondering at her daughter. "Still, wouldn't she have come to someone if there was a problem?"

"Now wait a moment, are you calling my son-." Genma Saotome started before being checked by his wife.

"Now really Genma, you know perfectly well what Nadesico meant. And she brings up a good point, wouldn't Ranma have brought it up with us if he no longer wanted to call here?"

"Perhaps Ranma wished to spend time with Kasumi." Soun cut in before his old friend could start. "After all, they do rather like each other."

"Well than, why does he always insist on coming here?" Nadoka questioned, "Twice this past month alone I've asked whether he'd like to invite her over and each time he insists it would be better if they met where it's most convenient for Kasumi so that the ride over doesn't upset her. She swears she's still in a very delicate state and that even the slightest thing could set her off. I believed him before, but perhaps . . ."

The four exchanged excited glances.

"It -could- be something else . . ." Soun said, nodding slowly.

"I've read about this sort of thing happening, something about a child's psychosis with change." Nadesico added.

"Well, why not help them along? After all, if they already have feelings for each other . . ." Genma rubbed his hands in glee. This was perfect! The families would be joined and the children would even be happy, keeping his wife happy. The best possible outcome!

The matter was discussed in great detail, and by the morning a decision had been reached. It was considered best if the children had full choice. They did not live in the past, after all. If the children decided against the idea, it would be gone, no further questions asked. If, however, the pair approved of the idea in the slightest they would go through with it.

* * *

Ranma was woken from a particularly nice dream by the sound of near deafening clanging right beside his ear, which turned out to be his father banging pots together as quickly as he could, almost making a rhythm. He was ordered to dress as quickly as possible, and carted towards the stairs before he had finished buttoning up his shirt. Grumbling all the way, he was a bit surprised to notice they were heading in the opposite direction from the dining room, but had little time to question as they arrived in a parlor where his hosts, his mother, and Akane were seated. With his father's 'help', Ranma was seated next to Akane facing the four adults. As soon as Genma had settled into his seat they began.

Taking a deep breath, Nadesico began. "Akane, Ranma dear, we have something we'd like to ask - or more, propose to you."

The grin fixed on his father's face and the strange, excited glances between the two older men every few moments gnawed at something deep within Ranma's gut, trying to explain in what seemed like a foreign language just what was going on here. All the while, Nadesico tried to find the right words to break the news to them.

"That is, we were wondering if you two . . . Or maybe you wouldn't, of course that's perfectly all right. But if you might consider it, we would like to know if you might-."

Genma cut her off mercifully. "Boy, you and Akane are engaged."

"Excuse me?" Akane said, jumping from her seat. "When did this happen? Don't -we- have a say in this?"

Nadesico rushed to calm her daughter down. "Now Akane, I was just about to say that Ranma and yourself have complete control over whether this goes on or not. It's merely an idea."

"Well good because I refuse! What on earth convinced you that he and I would make such a cute pair? We spend most of our time arguing! Besides, he spends far too much time worrying about himself for a serious commitment."

"Oh, this from the girl who can't eat breakfast because she has a hard time choosing what she wants!" Ranma said, glaring at her back.

Akane twirled around to face him. "Indecision isn't a sign of a fear of commitment!"

"A decision is a commitment, isn't it? So if you can't choose, you have a fear of it." He smirked at her before turning to face his mother. "Still, Akane's right for once mom. I don't want her anymore than she wants me. We just wouldn't work out, she's too much of a . . . Well, she's just too much. We have none of that chemistry that's supposed to be there."

"Exactly!" Akane nodded. "We'd end up fighting over every little thing."

"And she'd probably suggest we set aside our feelings which would only let them pent up." Ranma agreed.

"And he'd eat us out of house and home."

"And she'd probably try to make something new and kill me in the process."

"I bet you'd sic your bimbos on me."

"They aren't -bimbos-! They're perfectly intelligent."

"And madly in love with you? That really isn't much evidence of a brain. Speaking of which, I'd be strung along like all the rest if I married you!"

"What? Don't be ridiculous, of course you-."

Nadoka shook her hands around and cried. "Enough!" The noise died down instantly. "There, that's much better. Now, we've heard your concerns and if this is really how you both feel it would most likely be best to leave this where it is."

Ranma and Akane slowly returned to their seats, calming quickly now that they knew they had won.

"Well good." Akane nodded.

"Best news I've heard all day." Ranma said. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like to go have some breakfast."

The group agreed to this and Akane led the way, with the fathers grumbling in the rear. It was all too bad, but the matter had been settled in their wives' eyes, and although the two hadn't got their way they would have to accept it. Everyone else was happy.

"Well, you win some, you lose some, eh Tendo?" Genma growled as he slapped Soun on the back.

"So true, Saotome. So true."

* * *

It was therefore a great shock two years down the road when the Tendo family woke one morning to find a short note taped to the door explaining that the reason Akane was nowhere to be found was that she had eloped with Ranma.