Warning: Cross-dressing, and there will be a kiss in later chapters. Sorry if this first chapter moves fast and some characters are OOC, but this is only my second fanfic in this fandom. I tried to keep everyone IC, but I may or may not have failed. It's FANfiction- if you want the real characters then play the game.
Pairing: CloudSephCloud YAOI! SHOUNEN-AI! Homophobes may now leave- click the back button.
Sephiroth sighed. This was truely getting ridiculous.
His parents- well, his mother at least- were desperate for a grandchild. With good reason, not that Sephiroth would acknowledge it. He- the crown prince- was the only son of King Vincent, borne by Vincent's first wife- the late Queen Lucrecia. Vincent's new wife was a spunky princess from the nearby kingdom of Wutai- now known as Queen Yuffie since her marriage. Queen Yuffie really wanted a grandchild- boy, girl, whatever- so the royal line could keep going and so she could spoil the child rotten. She also decided it would be a good idea to pass on her Materia stea- um, gathering- ways.
Unfortunately for them, Sephiroth had no intention of bedding anyone until he was married, and no intention of marrying anyone until he had fallen in love. King Vincent had tried to set him up with a number of princesses- Princess Tifa, who he had almost decided to strangle because she was so damn annoying; Princess Aeris, who he had bored him immensely with her laid-back, tree-hugging attitude. (Of all things, she kept on going on and on about how the Planet could speak to her and how it foretold doom. She had been saying this for years, and no one really took her seriously as nothing had ever happened.) Lastly, they had even tried to set him up with Princess Scarlett, but quickly rethought that as she had slept with three of the palace guards before.
Now Yuffie was so desperate for a grandchild she was trying to make him find the perfect person to marry by hooking him up with all the elidgable women in the land. It had been three months, and no luck. All the women either cowered before him (There was a rumour going around that he was made of ice- it came from being a cool-headed General and winning any war fought with his kingdom.), threw themselves at him (He was an attractive man, no doubt about that), or would babble on and on and on about nothing of importance.
'A full day is too long- give me five minutes and be done with it.' Sephiroth thought. Each of his 'dates' lasted almost a full 24 hours- from 12 noon to ten the next morning. His mother would inform his next date that they were to report to the palace at twelve, and tell Sephiroth who had been called and what her name was.
Carefully, Sephiroth checked his watch.
'Nine fifty. Ten more minutes...' he thought, smiling slightly. This particular woman talked- a lot. Her voice grated on his nerves the more he heard it and was about ready to throw the poor woman out the window.
"I'm sorry-" he said, cutting the woman off in the middle of whatever she was saying. She looked baffled. "- but it's almost ten- perhaps you should pack?" Each woman that came here knew perfectly well that he wouldn't allow them to stay even an extra minute if he didn't like them. Thus far, all his dates ended with the woman packing up and leaving exactly at ten, and not a second later. The woman just stared blankly until he turned and left, his personal guard following after him with a jaunty wave at the rejected female.
"Man, I felt sorry for you there Seph!" Zack laughed after the woman was out of earshot. "She was hanging all over you- obviously desperate." Sephiroth resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Zack was the only one daring enough to call Sephiroth by a nickname- none of the other men dared, too afraid he'd have their heads on a platter the instant they tried.
"Not as bad as some of the other ones- they actually managed to sneak into my bed chambers." he reminded Zack, who winced sheepishly. A few of the more desperate and shameless woman had actually snuck into his bed and very nearly been decapitated- Sephiroth was a very light sleeper with very good battle instincts and reflexes. The poor women had been traumatized.
"Yeah- but I have to sleep sometime!" Sephiroth sighed as they reached his chambers.
"I'm just about ready to forget this whole thing and call it off. This is getting us nowhere, and is only making me frustrated..."
"- but not in any of the ways that Queen Yuffie wants you to be..." Zack added, laughing at his own joke. Sephiroth just allowed a slight smile to cross his face.
"Speaking of my mother, go get the file on the next woman." Sephiroth said. Zack just nodded, turning around and waving good-bye as he went in search of the queen. Sephiroth slipped into his chambers and reclined on his large, silk-covered bed, sliding his sword out from his belt and leaning it up against his bed. He picked up a book from his bedside table and began reading. Reading was relaxing and he had to relax before each new girl was brought in or else he'd be short-tempered.
He had just been getting really into the story when Zack returned with the requested file, barging right into Sephiroth's room without knocking. Sephiroth again resisted the urge to roll his eyes- he had given up on telling Zack to knock because the dark-haired man never did. He held out his hand for the file and it was quickly handed over, Zack pulling up a chair to listen in on all the details of the next woman.
"'Name: Cloud Strife. Age: Twenty-one. Home: Nibelheim.'" Sephiroth read out loud, then stopped. "Not much known about this one." Zack shrugged.
"The queen opened it up to all people, and not all write a lot down. Check out the picture, though." Zack said, smiling. Sephiroth moved the paper he held to see the picture beneath.
It was a pretty good picture, he had to admit. With each file he recieved a picture of his next date so he'd know who to look for. Cloud Strife was apparently a rather pretty blonde woman with bright blue eyes. From what he could see she didn't seem to have much of a figure and seemed rather gentle.
"She's quite the hottie, isn't she?" Zack asked, smiling. Zack routinely went through the file before handing it over to Sephiroth. Sephiroth shrugged.
"I'd have to meet her. You know I don't judge on looks alone."
"Yeah, or you would have taken... what's-her-name... Tifa? Now there's a figure-"
"I don't need to hear it." Sephiroth said, tossing the file carelessly on the table next to him. Zack smiled.
"You'll find someone- I know it." Zack happened to glance at Sephiroth's watch and his eyes flew open. "Shit! We start new SOLDIER training in ten minutes! Bye!" Zack took off, leaving Sephiroth alone.
Sephiroth just smiled wryly and began reading his book again, not noticing as the tenth hour slowly became the twelfth, and he sighed when he heard the familiar lunch bell ring.
'The next one's here.' he thought, putting his book down and walking towards the dining room- a private room set aside just for him and his dates, so they could 'get to know' one another. Without thinking, he grabbed Masamune from its place where he had left it earlier and slid it into his belt. He always had it with him, regardless of where he went.
Zack was busy with the new recruits for the castle defense force- SOLDIER- so Sephiroth went to his next date alone. He opened the doors to the small hall and instantly his eyes went to his next date.
The sight almost took his breath away.
The picture, he decided, did not do Cloud justice. Cloud's hair was so much more golden than it had appeared, and her eyes seemed to glow. She was prettier than the picture. (Note: Cloud is still a man- cross-dressing warning! Sephiroth thinks Cloud's a girl, so I'll be referring to Cloud as 'she' for this next scene.)
"Oh, hello." Cloud said, looking up from where she had apparently been staring at her lap. Her face went slightly red upon seeing him, and Sephiroth decided that her now liked that particular shade of red.
"Good day." Sephiroth replied evenly, sliding into his seat. "Feel free to begin eating whenever you wish." He had noticed that the blonde hadn't put any food on the plate in front of her. At his words, the blonde began to reach for a variety of foods- not just salads and fruits, like many other women had, hoping to impress him with somehow- but for the meats and the cheeses too, eating like she hadn't a care in the world. She still ate politely, chewing each bite before swallowing and keeping her mouth closed. Sephiroth was greatly surprised when she kept going back for more and more food- she had a healthy appetite, apparently. Once they had finished eating, Sephiroth asked Cloud to walk with him, and they abndoned the interior of the castle for the peaceful rose gardens. After they got outside, Sephiroth broke the silence
"Do they not feed you or what?" he asked, half-joking. Cloud shot him a sheepish glance.
"I've always had a pretty big appetite... sorry."
"Don't apologize- at least you eat. I've seen other women who think it's impressive that they only eat vegetables, fruits, and salads." Sephiroth actually surprised himself with his words. Why did he say that?
Cloud laughed, a musical, sweet sound. Sephiroth found himself paying rapt attention to it, as though it were a lifeline. He almost joined in, the laughter was so contagious.
"I was glad when I was told to come in." Cloud said abruptly, changing topics. "I almost couldn't believe it."
"Why?" Sephiroth asked, slightly curious. "Do you like the palace and wanted to see what it was like?" Many women had come here just in case they could be the one to snag the prince, and in doing so ensure that they would live in wealth and power for the rest of their lives. Sephiroth found himself slightly disappointed at the thought that that might be why Cloud had come, but...
Cloud was shaking her head.
"No. I wanted to meet you, actually." With a soft chuckle, she glanced to the side. "Seems foolish."
"Not at all." Sephiroth said, drawing her attention back to him. "You're one of the few people I've met not after the wealth of this place." Cloud smiled.
"I'm glad to hear that. I'd hate to be like everyone else, especially because I'm pretty sure I'm a special case." Sephiroth was about to ask what she had meant by that when she changed topics, obviously trying to keep him from questioning what appeared to be a sensetive spot "So, how are things with the army and SOLDIER? I read the articles from the last war we fought..." she explained. Sephiroth smiled. If it was one thing he knew, it was war.
"They're doing wonderfully. We've increased the number guarding the palace..." They kept on talking for hours- an actual conversation, not just one talking at the other. They had actually gotten into a debate about one of the battles, but had decided to call it a draw as the dinner bell rang, interrupting their talk.
"I guess we'd better go back, huh?" Cloud said, smiling. She had been smiling almost constantly, her eyes twinkling in what seemed to be uncontrollable happiness. Even when they were fighting and she had been arguing her point with Sephiroth, her eyes had maintained that happy glow.
"We should." Sephiroth said, smiling lightly as he offered her his arm. She took it.
Dinner was filled with the buzz of conversation, both discovering new topics to talk about, though occasionally Cloud would steer the conversation away from certain topics- mostly things about herself. He'd be deflected whenever he asked something too personal, and that only made him more intrigued.
'Who exactly is she?' he asked himself. He could relate so much to her- he didn't want to rush things, but he knew that she would definately be staying beyond a day. When dinner was over, Queen Yuffie came by to talk to them, King Vincent in tow to protect her. She had argued many times that she didn't need it, but he never listened.
"Sephiroth!" she exclaimed happily, throwing her arms around her much taller son. "How's it going?" she asked quietly, a hint of seriousness in her voice. Ordinarily, he would respond with a stressed 'Perfectly fine- how many hours until ten tomorrow?', but today...
"Wonderfully mother. Can she stay?" He felt Yuffie stiffen in surprise, then squealed loudly and hugged him even tighter.
"Of course, of course! That's great!" Yuffie skipped back over to Sephiroth's father. Vincent had a slight smile on his face.
"I'll leave you two alone!" Yuffie said, humming as she and Vincent headed off to the gardens.
"That was Queen Yuffie, right?" Cloud asked from the other side of the table. She hadn't heard any of the quiet conversation between the three at the front. Sephiroth nodded.
"Shall I walk you back to your temporary chambers?" he asked, coming around to offer his arm again. She blushed slightly and nodded, twining her arm with his and they walked towards the guest chambers- not too far from Sephiroth's own. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zack give him the thumbs-up sign, pleased that Sephiroth had found someone he liked.
At the door to Cloud's bedroom, they stopped.
"Goodnight. Sleep well." Sephiroth said. Cloud nodded, then hesitantly leaned forward and placed a light kiss on Sephiroth's cheek before saying a quick 'goodnight' and darting into her room. Sephiroth's shocked expression melted into a smile, and he almost whistled as he walked to his chambers. He hadn't been in this good of a mood in a long time...
In Cloud's chambers, 'she' shed her disguise, first sliding off the long wig and then the confining dress he had been forced to wear all day.
Cloud stretched his legs, a smile on his face.
'It was well worth dressing like a girl to get to meet him, be close to him...' Cloud smiled as he turned to the mirror. 'Aeris was right when she said I could pass as a girl.' He had been Princess Aeris' bodyguard and had developed a close friendship with her. Ever since he had been young, he had dreamed of meeting Sephiroth, the prince, the general, every woman's dream... and he had no clue when Sephiroth had become his dream as well. He had wanted the general so badly... Princess Aeris had noticed, and had been the one to tell him how he might catch the prince's attention. Cloud had been intrigued, but he thought that it wouldn't be a very good idea. Once he told them that he was a man, he'd be kicked out so fast he wouldn't realize it until he was already over the border. Aeris had- laughing- suggested that he simply not tell them. She had had dresses made by her own personal dressmaker so that they'd hide his masculine form. They couldn't hide his lack of breasts, but they helped diguise that he was a man, at least. Every dress he had had long sleeves to hide his muscles, and he had even had /lessons/ on how to be a proper woman. It had been humiliating, but he had learned. Even if the prize was only one short day with Sephiroth, he'd take what he could get.
'At least I don't have to apply makeup.' Cloud thought, internally sighing with relief again. Aeris had declared that his face was feminine and clear enough- he wouldn't need the bulky powders and paints many real women needed.
Cloud stretched, yawning. It had been exhausting to keep up his disguised voice and disguise his mannerisms all day, and he was glad to finally walk normally, not in tiny little half-steps.
A knock came at the door, and Cloud almost jumped out of his skin.
"Madame? We've come to help you with your bath-" a nervous maid said. Cloud nearly cursed for having forgotten that many nobles requested maids or manservents to come and help them with the necesity of bathing.
"No need, really! I'm fine." he said, trying to sound feminine but firm.
"Are you sure, ma'am?"
"Yes- don't worry about me!" Cloud said, praying for the woman to go away. He couldn't have any help when bathing- 'girl' Cloud couldn't request manservants for help, and Cloud couldn't have females bathing him!
"Okay..." Light footsteps traveled away from the door, and Cloud relaxed.
'That was close- I can't let my guard down just because it's night.'
Sephiroth strode back to his chambers, not surprised to find Zack waiting for him there.
"So? How'd it go?" he asked, excited. Sephiroth smiled.
"I think it went quite well- and Cloud seems to think so too." Zack slapped him lightly on the back, doing a mini happy-dance.
"That's great! You've finally found someone you like! I'm happy for you, man."
"Something's odd, though. She wouldn't tell me anything of herself other than her name..." Sephiroth frowned. "It makes me think she has something she's hiding..." Zack stopped dancing.
"Like, something bad?" Zack knew that Sephiroth had first-rate instincts, and was rarely wrong when he had a gut feeling about something.
"No- just different. She was a most intriguing woman." Zack shrugged.
"Well, then I guess she'll tell you eventually." Sephiroth nodded, all thoughts on Cloud.
'I'll enjoy learning more about her...'
End Part 1 of 3
Like it? Hate it? Too bad- it's how I write. It gets better later- I was originally planning for this to be a one-shot and realized that it was way too long!
Tune in next week for Part 2!