Title: Kaede; the Warrior Princess?!!

Chapter Two: Meet the Princess!

Gender: Non-Yaoi…SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!

Pairings: SenRu and MakiFuji

Rate: PG-13…I suppose!

Warning: Rukawa and Fujima, in this fic, are girls…as you may have guessed!! Aside from that, there is major OOCness and some swearing, but nothing serious!

"Dialogue"

/Thoughts/

-Places and time-

Flashbacks

At the palace Akira and Koshino were greeted hospitably by the King and his advisers. As soon as they reached it, they were ushered to the throne room, where they met the King of Shohoku King Toru Hanagata and the head-minister Maki Shinichi.

"You honor us with your visit, Prince Akira;" Toru smiled warmly at the young Prince. "It has been so long since last saw you. Back then you were only a 5-year-old little boy, and now look at you. You've become a fine young man."

Akira scratched his head nervously, A shade of red flushed his cheeks.

"Well, your Majesty," He smiled sheepishly, "The honor is all mine…and it has really been a long time since your Majesty visited Ryonan. Time runs fast and you don't realize it."

"You're absolutely right. But I'm mad at you... and at your father, too."

"Why's that, your Majesty?"

"All these years, neither you nor your father thought of dropping by to say even a single 'Hi'."

"I beg your forgiveness, your Majesty. Anyway, here I am visiting you, and well…who knows maybe the bonds between our Kingdoms would get even stronger than it is today."

Toru and Maki exchange meaningful glances, before the latter said, "And why is that, your highness?"

"Well…as his Majesty said." Akira's face was turning redder and redder "I've become a young man and my father thought that it's time for me to…"

At this moment, the guards, standing by the door, announced Princess Kaede and her companion's arrival.

King Toru and Maki put heir hands on their hearts, praying that Ayako had caught and prepared the Princess properly as soon as she arrived. While Akira flushed the sexiest smile he could muster, and locked his eyes on the entrance, where the Princess of his dreams would light up the room.

However, his smile faded into shock when his 'Venus on Earth' appeared. Akira's eyes studied the 'Princess' who entered the room. She was in black and white hunting attire with a long sword hanging from her waist and, a huge broadax on hand. Her raven-black hair was cut short messily, allowing long bangs to reach her eyes.

Akira's eyes widened as he recognized her as the boy they had met earlier in the woods.

Ignoring Akira and Koshino's presence, Princess Kaede bowed in front of her 'now heavily sweating' father.

"Your Majesty," She said with her usual cold voice "I've been informed that you have asked my for presence. Thus, I've come as fast as I could from the woods…How may I serve you, Sire?"

"Well," King Toru wiped the sweat from his forehead. "I wanted you to welcome with me our royal guests, Prince Sendoh Akira of Ryonan and his cousin Lord Koshino Hiroaki, who came to pay us a friendly visit for a couple of weeks."

Princess Kaede looked at the shocked young men, bowing her head slightly.

"And to what we owe this honorable visit, Prince Akira?" She asked coldly, daring him to say anything about marrying her.

"Well," Akira swallowed hard, trying to find an answer, "As…I was…saying…to his…Majesty…it's time…for me…to…take…some…responsibility…in running…my Kingdom…so…so…my father…sent…me…to…to…to…talk with…his…Majesty…about…about…about…some…trading affairs…bet…between…our Kingdoms." Akira sighed in relief when managed to say that.

"I see," Kaede looked at him; victory was sparkling in her icy-blue eyes.

"I think that his highness Prince Akira and his grace Lord Koshino would like to have some rest before dinner," Maki said, trying to save the situation. "Guards, please show their lordships the way to their chambers."

With a bow, Akira and Koshino left the throne room leaving King Toru, Maki, Princess Kaede and Aida behind.

When the four were alone, Kaede looked at Aida and said sarcastically, "Did you see that Aida? His royal highness has chickened out and changed his mind. He doesn't want to marry me anymore."

"You knew about Prince Akira, didn't you?" King Toru exclaimed angrily. "You knew about his intention to propose to you. That's why you came very quickly so he could see you in these clothes."

"Yes, I did," Kaede answered coldly, "And there wasn't any reason to change out of them, anyway, because he already had seen them on me, when we met in the woods."

"You 'MET' in the woods!" Toru was at the edge of breaking down. "You mean he 'SAW' you scampering about in the forest wearing those clothes?"

Kaede nodded adding, "And I was about to separate his head from the rest of his body too."

Toru slapped his forehead. "That's unbearable…my only daughter was seen in the forest exploring, and wearing guy clothes! And by whom? None other than her suitor! This is unbearable…no wonder he had changed his mind."

"As if I care," Kaede snorted, crossing her hands in front of her chest. "And that idiot is 'NOT' my suitor."

"Kaede," King Toru breathed deeply, trying to modify his rising anger. "You will go right now to your chambers and don't get out until dinner, understood?"

"But, father…" She tried to protest.

"I SAID NOW, YOUNG LADY!" For the first time in his life, King Toru lost his temper completely.

Princess Kaede stormed out the throne room, followed by Aida.

"Sendoh Akira…it's all your fault and you're going to pay for it dearly," she murmured to herself.

"I must be dreaming!" Akira exclaimed, throwing himself on the bed. "It must be a dream…a very bad dream…no, a nightmare. Yes, it must be a dreadful nightmare."

"Tell me about it." Koshino sat at the edge of the bed. "My heart nearly stopped the moment I saw that 'Venus on Earth' of yours."

"Oh, please don't remind me," Akira groaned. "And to think that I've told her the purpose of my visit." He sighed deeply. "I'm doomed…she'll think that I'm totally a jerk…and what would King Toru think of me?"

"If I were you…I'd be thinking about your father right now."

"My father?!! What about him?"

"Your father said that this would be the last time for you to travel to find a bride…he said that once you proposed to her, you'd be marrying Princess Kaede whether you liked her or not…he won't sacrifice King Toru's friendship because of you."

"But I didn't propose to her."

"You've mentioned it to her…and surely she'll tell her father about the incident in the forest."

"I can't marry her…she'll kill me during our wedding night!"

"Akira, do you want my advice?" Akira nodded. "Let's stay the two scheduled weeks so you can get enough time to know her."

"KNOW HER?" Akira jerked from his place. "What is there to know about her? She's…she's…she's a masculine girl!"

"Come on, Akira…no matter how much she tries to act like men, she remains a girl. There must be something good about her…besides, she's pretty, even though she tried hard to cover it."

"Well, maybe you're right," Akira mused, sighing. "Ok…I'll try to know her better but you must stay near me in case she tries to harm me or something."

"OK." Koshino chuckled.

-Later in Princess Kaede's chambers…exactly in the dressing champers-

"Your highness, stay still!" Ayako tried to pin Kaede on her seat as she combed her hair.

"It hurts, dammit." Kaede shove Ayako's hand away. "I like the way my hair looks like. I don't want to comb it."

"Your highness, your father asked me to prepare you for dinner."

"I eat dinner every night with my usual hair style. Why should I change it now?"

"I think his highness Prince Akira's presence has something to with it, your highness," Aida said.

Kaede looked at him and then turned her gaze to Ayako.

"Is that so? Is that what my father wants me to do? To smarten up for that stupid hedgehog-haired smiley being?" she crossed her hands in front of her chest. "And am I supposed to wear a gown too?"

"In matter of a fact, yes, your highness," Ayako replied calmly, walking to towards the large clothespress. "You're going to wear this for the night."

She took out a sleeveless blue satin dress and showed it to the Princess.

"NO WAY!" Kaede looked at the dress with horror. "Over my dead body! I'm not going to wear that thing." With that, she left the room, slamming the door behind her.

Ayako sighed in defeat, shaking her head. Aida looked nervously at the closed door, before deciding to follow his Princess.

The door of the dinning hall burst open with full force. King Toru nearly choked in his drink when Kaede entered the hall, still wearing her hunting uniform. She glared at Akira and Koshino coldly as she took her usual place beside her father on the table.

"Kaede," The King knew that would happen, but at least he was hoping. "This is wrong."

"What is wrong, father?" She glared at him and then at the two guests who suddenly found their plates interesting.

"Never mind." He shook his hand in the air, he wanted badly to scold her, to slam her, to teach her that what she is doing was humiliating him but he couldn't do it to his only beloved daughter and of course in front of the guests. /Maybe later./ He thought.

Giving her threatening looks, he turned back to the nervous guests and tried to start a friendly chat again. Akira and Koshino sighed in relief as they thought that a fight might happen. They answered questions about their Kingdom lightly, and Akira was throwing a joke here and there. They would all laugh, but Kaede would just snort and shoot him with 'you-are-not-as-funny-as-you-think' looks.

"Just ignore her." Koshino whispered to him.

"Wish I can, but with those icy eyes of her. She makes me shiver!" he whispered back.

"Is there any thing wrong Prince Akira?" the King started to look worried again.

"No, your Majesty." Akira smiled friendly, thinking of how poor her father must be. How he can stand living with such a scary person!

The rest of the dinner went eventless, except from occasional glares and snorts from Kaede. After the dinner, King Toru invited them into a walk in the gardens. Koshino told Akira that it would be a great chance to have a proper talk with the Princess, which was rewarded with an odd look from Akira.

Gathering his courage, Akira walked to Kaede, smiling nervously.

"Would you like to walk with me, your highness?" He asked, hoping that his voice was sound normal.

Kaede opened her month to refuse but was stopped when her eyes met her father's, who was looking at her pointedly. Taking a deep breath, she nodded her approval.

The two walked through the peaceful gardens. It looked wonderful under the moonlight. There were roses and flowers from every kind, organized in a nice neat way. A fountain was at the center, spraying silvery water into a small pool filled with colorful fishes.

"The gardens look wonderful." Akira commented, trying to start a conversation as they came by the fountain. Kaede just looked at him briefly then looked away, ignoring him. She sat on the edge of the fountain and distracted herself by watching the swimming fish.

Akira sighed in defeat and stared down at her. He discovered that all the rumors he had heard of her were true.

Her skin was so pale as if the sun had never touched it. Her foxy eyes are dark-blue with sparks of pride and power. Her raven-black hair was shining like silk. Her lips were full and red as a red brier rose in the middle of the spring season. Her body was lean and slender yet strong and well-shaped.

Akira smiled to himself. Koshino was right. She was pretty even if she tried hard to cover it, which Akira determined to know why.

"Why are you staring at me?" Kaede asked coldly, noticing Akira's gaze on her.

"Nothing," Akira said, shrugging. "I was just wondering why a beautiful young Lady as yourself acts like a stubborn warrior."

Kaede glared at him. "That's none of your business." She said firmly. "And do not call me beautiful again or you'll find your head separated from the rest of your body before you can even blink."

Akira raised a surprised eyebrow. "You are a strange person, your highness." He said, sitting by her side. "This is the first time I meet a girl who doesn't like to be praised."

"Maybe because I'm not like the girls you have met." She said arrogantly. "So do not try to compare me to them."

"I made a mistake," He said, smiling. "I apologize."

Kaede snorted, but didn't say anything. They sat in silence for a while before Akira spoke again.

"I'd also like to apologize about the incident in the forest." He said. "I'm sorry if I offended you in anyway."

Kaede snorted again and looked at him. "Why don't you say it and save us all the bother?"

Akira looked at her, surprised. "I beg your pardon?"

"My father knows that you have come to propose to me, Sendoh Akira." she said. "I didn't even have to tell him about what happened in the woods to guess your reasons for visiting. Everyone knows that the great Prince Sendoh Akira of Ryonan is looking for a wife." A smile lit her face as she heard Akira cursed under his breath. "However, you don't have to worry, Prince Akira. My father will not break a lifetime friendship with your father just because I didn't meet with your qualifications of a wife. It is true that Ryonan is an important ally for Shohoku and Shohoku to Ryonan and the two Kingdoms complete each other. And it is true that your father and mine hope that they would unite the two Kingdoms if we marry, but, if this marriage didn't happen, it won't be the end of the world."

Akira stared at her, very impressed. She was the first female actually knows about politics; and her analysis of the situation was prefect.

Ignoring his stare, Kaede stood up. "I think I have given you the solution to this ridiculous situation. We are through, Sendoh Akira." She said, walking away. "But don't you dare to judge me, coz you really don't know me that well."

"What about you?" He snapped, following her. "You have declared war on me just because I told you I'm intending to propose to you! How did you know that I don't meet your qualifications of a husband?!"

Kaede turned around, glaring daggers at him. "I wasn't born to follow anyone. Ever since my birth, I was prepared to lead not to be led." She hissed. "No one is qualified enough to be my husband…so you better close this subject or I will send your head to your father in a box."

Akira stood in front Kaede, not knowing what so say. He was surprised the amount of anger that flashed through her dark-blue eyes, and at the same time, irritated by her arrogance. They glared at each other for few moments before Akira cleared his throat.

"Listen," He said calmly. "We have started the wrong way. Let us forget my real purpose for this visit and start all over again…as friends. Then, we may talk about the marriage issue, if you wanted to, what do you say?"

Kaede studied Akira for a moment, considering his suggestion.

"Ok," She said. "I'll give myself a chance to know you better and I may consider rethinking about your proposal, if you ever thought of proposing. But on one condition, Sendoh Akira, do not interfere with my life."  She warned.

"Agreed." Akira said. "But I have my condition too…you have to allow me to get closer to you."

"As long as you don't interfere with my duties, I don't care." She said, shrugging.

"Deal, then." Akira smiled, extending his hand. Kaede regarded the hand for a second then extended hers, exchanging handshakes.

Koshino was lying on his bed, reading a book when Akira returned to their assigned chambers. He raised an eyebrow as his cousin changed his clothes, ignoring him completely.

"Have you killed her?" he asked curiously.

Akira stared at him strangely before he murmured a soft "No."

"Good." Koshino smirked. "Now that's an improvement!"

Akira snorted, lying on his bed. "Don't count on it too much!" He sighed deeply. "That woman is the strangest one I've ever met in my life!"

"Well," Koshino said. "She was raised to be an heir to her father's throne. Aida told me that King Toru had raised and treated her as if she was boy all her life…so it is understandable that her personality would be strong and independent."

"Well, that's an understatement!" Akira murmured under his breath. "She does not see any one qualified enough to be her husband. She said it with her own month."

Koshino chuckled in amusement. "You also don't find her qualified enough to be your wife, do you?"

"Yes…I mean no…I mean…" Akira sighed deeply. "I don't see how she could be a wife while walking with a sword in one hand and broadax in the other! Can you imagine her attending a royal ball in her outfit?"

"No, I suppose not." Koshino chuckled.

"Anyway," Akira said, sighing. "Princess Kaede and I agreed on a truce in order to know each other better! But that doesn't mean that I'm going to marry her!" He said quickly, noticing Koshino's sly grin.

"Yeah, it means nothing…just having some peace with someone who never gave it to any one…even her father!" Koshino grin widened seeing his cousin's protesting face. "Ok…ok," He agreed on not talking about this thing anymore.

To be continued…