Title: a royal pain (i of ? )
Series:A very AU version of HanaKimi
Character/Pairing: Umeda-hime, Io, "blonde artist" (guess who, senpai!), "court seer", "loud red-haired errandboy/page", "quiet dark-haired page", "tiny page who Umeda-hime might know something about"
Rating: at least in the PG-13 region
note: this is likely to be ongoing. Simply because I'm having too much fun, really. warning: a good dosage of crack, tis' to be taken with a grain of salt,
for: 31days lj, fairytale month, february first, "a beastly proposal"
All fairytales begin with "once upon a time" they say.
They have morals embedded, long lost tales, legends buried in the weaving and unweaving only to weave the fibers again with another telling.
It is the ending of this story which is most important. This tale ends with "you idiot"
But, this is ahead of the story.
Before the beginning, there was the faint lines of strings on the loom. And this is the framework of the telling.
There once was in a far off kingdom a royal family. The king and queen were kind, but getting on in years, even if their looks belied just how long they had ruled. They still resembled a young newlywed couple – and still acted the part, every single day, as their children would wearily say.
They had three children. The oldest, was Io, who was just as sharp as she was lovely,
the middle child, Umeda was very beautiful, he was also fierce and given to violent fits of sarcasm. Rio was the youngest, and she was small and showing the same beauty and strength.
(As Umeda-hime often said, "that kitten has claws" – however, even he knew enough to say it out of her range of hearing)
ii Umeda reclined deep within the castle's stone walls on a couch of the finest material, silky and soft with floral patterns going down the side. There was cigarette between his lips, and he was clad in little else. A blonde painter happily filled the canvass with paint, and cooed about Umeda's beauty – which he ignored.
He didn't mind being painted as long as it didn't drag on too long, if it got someone else off to watch him naked, then Umeda might be persuaded to let them enjoy it.
The painter was annoying, but then so was the constant threat of being married off and getting dragged off to royal meetings. It was difficult to say which was more irritating of the two.
From the halls there was the resounding echo of heels. This gave Umeda some measure of warning when the door flew open and Io came in, clothed smartly as always – and Umeda was sure that there was hellfire in her eyes.
"Hokuto, you need to get married." Io said.
"Knock if it bothers you." Umeda said absently, blowing out smoke all the while.
Io lifted her eyes heavenward and threw a nearby blanket over him.
"The Kingdom cannot go much longer if you keep turning down perfectly fine partners! Marry now, or I'll marry you off to Kinuko" she said, with a certain smugness.
Umeda nearly choked at this, then crushed the cigarette in his bare hands, and reached for another pack, smacking it viciously until another cigarette came out.
"And don't worry, I've already prepared your dress for tonight" Her lips curved into a wicked smile. She lifted up the specially made dinner gown. Satin and brocade and lace, the most uncomfortable hellish damn thing. (When Io wasn't trying to marry him off, Umeda usually went without any clothes – people tended to not bother him that way.)
He cursed under his breath. The artist across the room beamed. Umeda sent a scowl his way, it only made the stupid artist smile more. Idiot.
The dinner party was not getting off to a good start.
"Look at me that way again and I'll put my cigarette out in your eye." Umeda-hime said.The prince hurried off.
The dress was fucking scratchy and uncomfortable, and if one more fucking relative said that his biological clock was ticking and that his hips were so narrow that he'd have to start early if he wanted to have many children he would kill someone. That thought was the first happy thing of this night, and he reveled in it.
"Hmm, a black aura" said the youngest of the court seers. He watched from the sidelines with a blank expression.
In the corners, three pages stood at attention. The redhead laughed a little to loudly, though one look from Io was all it took before he quieted down. She had an exceptionally good aim, as the redheaded boy had found out many times.
Umeda-hime was already on his fifth cocktail, and his eyes idared/I any prince to approach him.
"What a...fearsome princess." said one prince, out of Umeda-hime's reach and range.
"We once did consider hiring a dragon, and even brought him out, but Umeda took one look at the dragon and said if we didn't get this pungent heap of bones out of there, he'd kick him so hard that his head would be mistaken for his tail. The dragon found another deal then" Io said, conversationally.
The prince paled as she continued.
"However, it does make for a much cheaper alternative to knights. Whenever a troll or demon comes around, we just send Hokuto their way. Within hours they always tend to go to rival kingdoms. I think the record is a total of two hours, and that poor beast looked like he'd never be quite right again."
It was almost noon, and the king, Io, and Umeda were gathered at the dinner table in the main hall for an 'emergency meeting. To Umeda, whose head still pounded from last night, it was too damn early. The king was ever silent, as usual, the 'emergency meeting' was more Io talking to herself than anything else.
"So, the dinner was unsuccessful" Io said.
"Obviously." Umeda-hime growled. He was already irritated from last night's party, not to mention his head felt as if it were in a vice, with someone pressing it tighter and tighter, until the insides almost felt as if they'd seep out. (and he was expecting a "I told you not to drink so much" from Io any damn minute now)
"Dragons are out, as are any other type of monster." Io said, she twirled her quill before checking the list again.
"A pea under the mattress? Hmm, it's been done to death."
"You could have them test out the mattresses in far more interesting ways." Umeda said boredly.
She ignored his comment as if he had said nothing and continued.
"I suppose... the best thing is a masked ball. Whomever survives it will get Hokuto's hand in marriage."
They were interrupted by the chiming of a bell. and the queen came in, dressed in pink and ribbons, her long hair left long.
"Azu-papa It's tea-time" She said.
She was already fifty, and didn't look a day over twenty-five.
Azuma-ou considered this silently, and then took the cup and set it down, carefully, icarefully /I on the table before him.
He pulled her to him, and she giggled.
"I'll wait for it to cool" he said, softly, and she blushed as his lips met hers.
"And you ask why I don't want to get married?" Umeda-hime said, having seen the same damn display at just about every breakfast, lunch and dinner of his life.
By the end of the week, the
entire castle was decorated for the ball. The halls were covered in
cloth of all colors, red and purple, they hung like drapery,
translucent over the walls.
The stones were scrubbed, and the cobblestones outside shone like glass, but were far less fragile.
Within days the guests started to arrive. Princes and ladies and dukes and earls and countesses and everyone in-between. Everyone wanted to see the outcome of this ball, every newspaper in the entire empire was dying for this news, and the ladies knew that this would fill the gossip mills for months to come.
Umeda-hime had wormed his way out of Io's idea and implemented a different take for his costume. The black material fit over him like a second skin, the mask, made of coal black ribbon fitted snug across the bridge of his nose. ("and you are?" "A cat bugler" "why don't you go steal yourself an heir for once?!")
After the announcements which tried to be droll but only succeeded at being dull, the party started. It started earlier than most, with dinner served while it was still daylight, but then, Io wasn't taking any chances.
The first prince Umeda-hime danced with was portly, and two inches shorted than Umeda himself. The prince retreated after Umeda-hime "accidentally" stomped on his foot a few too many times, in his specially made shoes with a two-inch heel.
The next was taller and somewhat better at dancing, but ultimately, forgettable. The third approached before anyone else could, and took Umeda-hime's hand firmly, tracing a thumb across the back of his hand.
This dancer's hair was a pale gold and fell to his shoulders. His clothes were an outdated minstrel's garb, which looked as if it'd received some use beforehand. Either way, it fit him well.
"You look lovely tonight" he said in a low, sensual voice — still, despite the noise is carried about the sound of the crowd.
Umeda scoffed, and sent an inner scowl to whatever brought that flip of his stomach. (He made a note to not hit the drinks so hard this time)
The dancer was vaguely familiar, but Umeda-hime dismissed it.
He smelled different than the other princes, more of pine and damp moss as if he had tasted work and seen the open air before, it was more alluring than the flowery perfumes that most princes wore.
This dancer kept up with each move, even as the dance shifted to faster and faster, another prince cut in, one with red hair, probably from the north. Umeda thought he wasn't bad looking, but the kilt wasn't his thing.
The golden-haired dancer soon cut back in, and continued the dance they had already begun. The dancer carried his movements well, aligning to Umeda-hime's exact steps,
The clock chimed midnight, resounding through the halls, as every dancer stopped for one moment. The music tapered off and the crowd moved back as the tiny queen began to speak.
"Now, it is time to unveil!" The queen said, her own mask of soft white feathers, and white gown sparkling in the torchlight.
With that, she took off the feathered mask, revealing her doll-like features.
Within momemts, the other masks were felled, peeled off and lifted. Faces of every kind were revealed.
Umeda-hime stared at the partner who had managed to take every dance and beat out the others who tried to fill that spot beside him.
"The idiot painter?!" he yelled.
The queen looked disappointed. "I'd love for you to marry Hokuto, but traditions say only a prince can marry my son, however, it would be very romantic" She almost swooned from the romanticness of it all, and clung to her husband's arm to steady herself.
"Oh, I failed to introduce myself" the dancer said.
"I'm Hara Akiha, prince of a far away land. I had some—" he paused for a moment, considering the word "disagreements with my father. My mother disappeared when I was a child. Thus, I travel. "
His smiled waned for the moment, and a trace of something besides the suave idiot came through. In a moment, it passed.
always nearby, came out of the framework she always seemed to lurk in.
Her mask was ruby and her dress was scarlet, and seemed more slits than
dress, but she wore it gracefully, and made it look classic.
"So you'd marry him?" Io said.
"I've been in love with him ever since I saw him walking naked under the moonlight" Akiha-ouji said, sighing.
"Absolutely not!" Umeda yelled.
"I'll give you a cow as an extra incentive" she said.
"Throwing yourself into the bundle, Io?" Umeda muttered under his breath.
"Did you say something, Hokuto?"
And so Umeda-hime was married to Akiha-ouji of the far lands on the twelfth of the fourth month, deep in spring when the flowers were lush and in bloom.
It was the only recorded marriage ceremony where the bride had to be tied and gagged, and was wearing ionly/I the bindings, but Io said she wasn't taking any chances this time and Akiha had enough enthusiasm for the both of them.
(Akiha actually helped tie the bindings. It was said through the kingdom that perhaps this would become a tradition to pass down through the ages.)
Umeda was known as the fiercest queen in memory of any kingdom, and Akiha's rule was just, and anyone who underestimated him as only a featherbrained sugar-loving whipped lover of Umeda-hime found a very different side to his personality, and soon found their own respect for him.
And of course, there were many other stories, of rival barons and Io's son, of pages and seers and the monsters that Umeda-hime became well acquainted with.
But that, is another tale, for another time.